Memorial Day Weekend

Sunday night: my Alma Mater APA alumni group today did some theatre (Pan Asian Repertory Theatre‘s presentation of the play, “Tea” on the experiences of Japanese war brides) and dinner at Franchia (Asian/vegetarian cuisine and tea). I missed the play (but heard that it was good), as I was watching “Shrek” with the siblings per prior plans that couldn’t be avoided. I would have liked to have seen the play, so who knows whether I’ll catch it before it closes.

Franchia – food seemed very nice – meat-like food seemed meat-like, and good tea.

“Shrek” – hmm. Visually stunning. Some good one-liners. But, not nearly as good as, say, the first Shrek movie.

WNBC -Channel 4 in NYC – brought back its old “We’re 4 New York” promotion. It’s a catchy tune, and one can’t resist singing along. Thanks to the Power of Google, I found out why the promo’s back – Gothamist reports:

We talked with David Hyman, WNBC’s Vice President of Programming and Creative Services about why they brought back the classic campaign now and what they are going to do with it.

Why bring back We’re 4 New York now?
There are many reasons for it. We were considering doing a fresh new branding campaign, which we haven’t done in a few years and we thinking about different messages and what our message is exactly and all of the different platforms we are living with now. And we all started talking about 4 New York.

There are really very few campaigns that have had this resonance and response that 4 New York had over the last fifteen years or so. Very few broadcast campaigns in New York have had that kind of reaction and response and legs. We were thinking about it and we were thinking New York is strong, the station is strong and it was probably a great idea to bring back what is considered to be a great branding campaign.

I have talked to people, across all ages and stripes, when I mentioned 4 New York people just had this sort of wonderful glowing response to it. While we certainly don’t make our decisions based on that, anecdotally it was interesting to find that out. It has changed a lot since its infancy in ’92. This new campaign is more sophisticated than the original one. At the end of the day it is something that has a tremendous positive upbeat message, it doesn’t make any overt claims really and it is something that makes you feel good.

I agree – “We’re 4 New York” is a happy, feel good thing. The new version has the Sports Guys together (Len Berman, Bruck Beck – who’s turning out to be quite a busy guy, covering for Len on Fridays and Weekends, and then staying up late to be the back up for Mike’d Up on Sunday nights – and Otis Livingston) singing, Tiki Barber, Brian Williams, and of course Chuck Scarborough and Sue Simmons (the longest running paired anchors in NYC’s local tv). I kind of missed how the old one had Al Roker and Len together; but yeah, these days, Al’s the Man on the Today Show…

Ultimately, I do like the “We’re 4 New York” promo – it kind of grows on you, and it’s quite all right to be a promo that’s seen every couple of years; that way, no one gets to hate you and your promo.

As Asian-Pacific-American Heritage Month is winding down, I’ll link to the NY1 Special Report on APA’s. Seems like NY1’s theme for this year was on Carribbean/Latino Asians. Interesting – these would be Asians who are not just bi-cultural, but tri-cultural, even – Asian, American, Latino or Carribbean.

A NY Times article on how the folks in Flushing are learning to speak Mandarin to deal with the neighbors.

NY Times’ Mark “The Minimalist” Bittman on making a good burger. Check out the included video demonstration on his cheese lamburger “inside-out lamburger” – wherein he inserts smoked mozzerella cheese into ground lamb, grills, and makes what looks like a fantastic cheeseburger (although, I can’t say that I’m into lamb). As Homer Simpson would say: Mmm. Burger.

A NY Times Magazine’s interesting article on how we came to have the whole 5-cent returns for cans, and why can’t we have that for the ubiquitous water bottles – and what may be really happening with our society and the issue of recycling.

Interesting article in the Week in Review on tourists – “Ugly American” be damned: they’re all ugly. Paul Vitello writes:

EVERY summer, people all over the world become acquainted again with a deep truth spoken by the philosopher-tourist Steve Martin.

He was speaking for tourists everywhere, not just to France, when he said: “Boy, those French, they have a different word for everything!” [….]

But it is bad news only in those isolated cases (which you hear about if you talk to cabbies, tour guides and certain sarcastic individuals in sales) where the awe of Mr. Martin’s revelation is supplanted by the ugly reality of a culture clash — a tip denied, a personal boundary violated, or a long line at a drug store counter jumped by a family of Italian-speaking people, who forever thereafter shall be remembered by the offended party present (an acquaintance of mine) as those “ugly Europeans.”

Let it be said that no group holds a monopoly on the title of “ugly.” Tip-stiffing, line-jumping, excessive price-haggling, sidewalk-blocking-when-stopping-suddenly-to-take-pictures-of-a-person-playing-the-steel-drums — none of these are unique to any national group.

Expedia, the online travel service, conducted a survey of tourist boards around the world that rated British tourists as the most obnoxious. Some people in the tourism world claim that the Chinese, the newest wave of world travelers, are even more so.

Whatever. Is it time, at least, for retiring the term “ugly American” from the dictionary of foreign phrases?

The answer, according to experts in the rarified field of tourism anthropology, is a possible yes.

“Ugly” behavior in tourists is almost always in the eye of the people being toured; and Americans are no longer the only, or even the dominant group of tourists out in the world. We are now as often toured as tour-ing. [….]

To be an ugly tourist is to miss the fundamental truth in Mr. Martin’s statement. “It is to have an overall lack of understanding that there is such a thing as cultural difference,” wrote Prof. Inga Treitler, the secretary for the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology, in an e-mail message.

Valene Smith, an anthropology professor at California State University at Chico who pioneered the academic study of tourism and travel in the 1970s, said that the tourists most likely to be deplored by their hosts these days are not the euro-rich Europeans or the British or the standard ugly Americans but the Chinese.

“They have only been traveling widely in the last five years or so, but they are touring in numbers no one has seen before — by the thousands,” she said. “They behave as they would at home — there is a lot of pushing and shoving. Very few speak languages other than Chinese.”

Last summer, in an incident widely discussed among travel experts, she said, 40,000 Chinese tourists descended on the small German city of Trier to visit the birthplace of Karl Marx.

“It was quite a mess,” Professor Smith said. “No one was prepared ahead of time. The Germans were quite upset.” [….]

Gee-whiz. Chinese tourists making it possible to say… “Ugly Chinese”? Just ain’t good, man. Just ain’t good. Ugly Europeans. Ugly Americans. Ugly people, period.

And, on that note, take the good, the bad, and the ugly to just sit back and reflect on Memorial Day’s true meaning.

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