Chutzpah Hotel in downtown Tucsonby Hugh Holub on Dec. 08, 2010, under politics
Latest news is downtown hotel owner Humberto Lopez will close the Hotel Arizona after the gem show if the city government doesn’t bail him out and give him some kind of sweetheart deal to fix his aging hotel and build a new one.
There’s a Yiddish term for this called “chutzpah”.
Chutzpah is the quality of audacity, for good or for bad. The word derives from the Hebrew word ḥuṣpâ (חֻצְפָּה), meaning “insolence”, “audacity”, and “impertinence.” The modern English usage of the word has taken on a broader meaning, having been popularized through vernacular use in film, literature and television.
In Hebrew, chutzpah is used indignantly, to describe someone who has over-stepped the boundaries of accepted behavior with no shame. But in Yiddish, chutzpah has developed ambivalent and even positive connotations. Chutzpah can be used to express admiration for non-conformist but gutsy audacity. Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish defines chutzpah as “gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible ‘guts,’ presumption plus arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do justice to.” In this sense, chutzpah expresses both strong disapproval and a grudging admiration. In the same work, Rosten also defined the term as “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.”
One hopes the Tucson Mayor and Council realize that Lopez is holding himself hostage, and no one really cares if his hotel closes.