As I’ve been posting irregularly – well, apologies in advance for the long post below.
Saturday: dentist in the morning; afternoon Xmas shopping. The new Borders at Penn Station/MSG (where McGraw-Hill’s place used to be) – cool. Plenty of variety of books, I must say (well, two floors of wide space should allow for that, you’d think; sometimes I feel that the Wall Street one is a little cramped).
Then, I went to Columbus Circle’s Time Warner building to further the goal of shopping. Walked a bit in Central Park – where upon I spy an only-in-NY thing: a parade of people dressed in Santa Claus suits or elf costumes, plus one Hanukkah Harry in blue (seriously – he was yelling out “Happy Hanukkah,” and his costume – a blue version of the Claus robe – had white letters stitched identifying him as “Hanukkah Harry”). I couldn’t get myself to ask them what was up. They didn’t show up on the local news (no, it wasn’t that important, I guess). If someone knows, just let me know, pretty please.
As we New Yorkers look forward to the swearing-in of Gov-Elect Spitzer on New Year’s Day, we can also look forward to having the first Asian-American female in the State Assembly: Ellen Young got profiled in the NY Times on 12/13/06 (along with the new assemblyman from Brighton Beach, Bklyn, who is a foreign-born from Russia). Jonathan P. Hicks writes:

“This is part of a trend that has been going on for some time,” said John H. Mollenkopf, the director of the Center for Urban Research at the City University Graduate Center. “And there will be more of this happening as time goes by.”

If voters and New York City residents paid little attention to the election of these two Assembly members, it might well be that they have become accustomed to ethnic firsts. In the last decade or so, the city has seen the election of its first Asian-American Council member, John C. Liu, who is also from Flushing. During that time, Queens elected its first Hispanic assemblyman and councilman, Manhattan elected its first Dominican assemblyman and councilman, and Brooklyn elected its first Jamaican-born councilwoman.

The new Assembly members won two of the most hotly contested Democratic primaries in New York City, and won by the narrowest of victories. [Alec] Brook-Krasny won his primary by about 140 votes, and Ms. Young won a three-candidate primary by fewer than 100 votes.

Ms. Young was an aide to Councilman Liu and has become known in Flushing as an advocate for immigrant issues, having organized programs to help immigrants fill out Census forms. She also has served as the president of the Chinese American Voters Association.

Her election reflects a political coming of age for Asian-Americans in Queens. After Mr. Liu’s election to the City Council in 2001, Jimmy Meng became the Assembly’s first Chinese-American member in 2004. But Mr. Meng decided not to run for re-election this year, citing health concerns.

Ms. Young said that since her election, she had been approached by a number of Asian-American women in her district who say they consider her election an important milestone. Slightly more than 50 percent of the 22nd Assembly District’s residents are Asian-American.

“There are quite a number of Asian woman who say that I have inspired them,” Ms. Young said. “And they are looking to me as something of a role model. I think it’s nice. But I tell them that I didn’t run because I’m an Asian-American, but that I have been dedicated to my community for 28 years.” [….]

As I understood it from NY1’s website, which linked to the NY Times’ article: “Inside Albany” – the show aired on local PBS stations to cover NYS government, is coming to an end. Darn shame. It was a good watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon flipping to Channel 13 and seeing what actually happens in Albany. And, these days, I don’t believe our local broadcast news does that in particular depth.

The passing of Peter Boyle, who played Frank Barone on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

And, in today’s paper: the passing of a NY icon – the voice of the “It’s 10pm; do you know where your children are?” Tom Gregory of Channel 5 apparently had quite a broadcasting career than just his line, but still – memorable.

Interesting AP article posted on MSNBC – what explains the longevity of ER? “It’s the writing, stupid.” Well, we’d like to think so, don’t we? But, I’d like to think there’s almost an implied contract between certain tv shows and audiences – people develop a kind of suspension of belief to stay committed to a beloved show, no matter how it’s written or what new character they bring in to stay “fresh.” I mean, come on – why else did Bonanza lasted for as long as it did? Oh, well.

World’s first cloned cat has… kittens. Aww. Uh, and eerie.

The Rosie O’Donnell debacle on “The View” – wherein she imitated the Chinese language to ridicule the coverage on Danny DeVito’s conduct on “The View” thereby offending Asian-Americans – well, she apologized. I certainly cringed when I watched the clips on the news of O’Donnell’s so-called joke. Too many of us grew up with the nasty kids in the playground yelling “ching chong” and I was pissed that an adult like O’Donnell was putting it out there on mainstream tv; there were others ways to joke about the coverage on DeVito. NYC Council member John Liu had called for an apology; and apaprently O’Donnell apologized – but after her spokesperson released a statement along the lines of “well, sorry you didn’t find it funny and no offense was intended.” A group of minority journalists haven’t quite considered this matter as resolved. The San Francisco Chronicle appears to have the most comprehensive article on this, so far as I can tell.
And, last but not least: Time announces its Person of the Year. Over the last several weeks, they were polling readers and celebrities and even published some of the ideas; some two or so weeks ago, Dr. Andrew Weil suggested to Time that the American voter be the Person of the Year because the American voter was the one who brought change and got the (now tenuous) Democratic majority in the Senate – an idea I applauded (and – well, based on what Time printed, it was pretty obvious on whose side of the Congressional aisle Dr. Weil seemed to be!). Besides, otherwise 2006 didn’t strike me as that great a year. So… guess who’s POY this year? It’s… “YOU.” Eh? Time’s Lev Grossman explains:

But look at 2006 through a different lens and you’ll see another story, one that isn’t about conflict or great men. It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It’s not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing. It’s a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it’s really a revolution.

And we are so ready for it. We’re ready to balance our diet of predigested news with raw feeds from Baghdad and Boston and Beijing. You can learn more about how Americans live just by looking at the backgrounds of YouTube videos—those rumpled bedrooms and toy-strewn basement rec rooms—than you could from 1,000 hours of network television.

And we didn’t just watch, we also worked. Like crazy. We made Facebook profiles and Second Life avatars and reviewed books at Amazon and recorded podcasts. We blogged about our candidates losing and wrote songs about getting dumped. We camcordered bombing runs and built open-source software.

America loves its solitary geniuses—its Einsteins, its Edisons, its Jobses—but those lonely dreamers may have to learn to play with others. Car companies are running open design contests. Reuters is carrying blog postings alongside its regular news feed. Microsoft is working overtime to fend off user-created Linux. We’re looking at an explosion of productivity and innovation, and it’s just getting started, as millions of minds that would otherwise have drowned in obscurity get backhauled into the global intellectual economy.

Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I’m not going to watch Lost tonight. I’m going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I’m going to mash up 50 Cent’s vocals with Queen’s instrumentals? I’m going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?

The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME’s Person of the Year for 2006 is you.

Yeah, that’s right. Blame it on YouTube. What is this world coming to, right?  Anyway, congratulations to you – uh, us – on being POY.