July 4 Observed

Some observations. Pardon the lengthiness.

Let’s Go Mets! Wow, a sweep of the Yankees this weekend. Crazy stuff – neither would quit. Go Mets…

Catching up on the NY Times reading:

Linda Greenhouse of the NY Times does a year-end round-up of the Supreme Court. She observes what I saw Dahlia Lithwick and Walter Dellinger in Slate.com observes: is it really a matter of the pragmatic justices vs. the doctrinal justices? Hmm. And, I’m not sure what to make of her observation that Chief Justice Rehnquist is no longer the center of influence (or less of an influence). Oh, then there’s Prof. Cass Sunstein’s view that by saying less, the Supreme Court is sort of doing more (“In controversial cases, some judges are minimalists. They say no more than necessary. When they are asked to resolve the largest issues of the day, they try to do so as narrowly as possible,” says Sunstein). Interesting.

Interesting article in the NY Times, “Asian-American Trendsetting on a Shoestring,” about two Los Angeles guys, Martin Wong and Eric Nakamura, and their ‘zine “Giant Robot.” NY Times’ writer Randy Kennedy notes:

Mr. Nakamura’s self-image in publishing, and even as a Japanese-American, has always been that of an outsider. His Japanese is not good. Mr. Wong, whose grandparents were born in China, speaks no Mandarin or Cantonese. They met while writing about punk bands for various zines, and when they started their own — named after a 1960’s Japanese television series about a boy who controls a giant robot with his wristwatch — they were seeking to please nobody but themselves.

They wrote about Hong Kong movies and celebrities like Chow Yun-Fat, John Woo and Jet Li years before they became popular in the United States, but they once declined an offer to interview Jackie Chan because he had become too mainstream. And they often angered Asian-American promoters who saw them as allies.

“Usually it was these really terrible P.R. companies saying, ‘If you really cared about Asians, you’d write about this Asian actress,'” Mr. Wong explained. “But we’re just not interested in mediocre Asian actors in mainstream movies.”

Mr. Nakamura described the magazine as “the punk-rock kids in the corner who didn’t get invited to the parties,” but more often it has seemed that the magazine is the one not inviting people to its party.

With their reflexive self-deprecation and finely tuned cultural antennas, both men are aware of the danger that the underground culture they write about is becoming more mainstream, in part because of their efforts. And they are wary of their own success: of being seen, God forbid, as somehow grown-up and too serious.

The audience may not necessarily be Asian or Asian-American; ultimately, it’s all about what’s cool or what’s not or whatever:

With a decade under their belts, he and Mr. Nakamura say they have not come across any formula for putting out a good magazine. Mr. Nakamura once explained their editorial process to an interviewer this way: They agree on what’s bad (he used a more colorful description) and leave that out, and they agree on what’s good and leave that in.

“That’s still pretty much it,” Mr. Wong said, adding that besides health insurance and a salary, he feels fortunate to have a job that serves as the perfect cover for his obsessions.

“It turns me from being a fan boy into being a journalist,” he said. “If it weren’t for this, I’d be a stalker. Or a creep. Or something.”

Okay. Good to know that there are outlets out there to help people from doing strange things and toward something productive. Sort of.

Brooklyn in the house: this NY Times notices that on the Fulton Mall (mall in the dictionary sense, that is, a space where one walks (not the post-WWII sense of an indoor place to buy stuff), there are amazing pieces of historical architecture – just look up and see the ornate cornices, atop of the beauty salons, delis, and so forth:

[L]ooming above, preservationists say, are the reminders of the area’s 19th- and 20th-century grandeur, brick and stone relics of a thriving shopping and theatrical district serving Brooklyn and Long Island.

“You have to look up, particularly here, it’s so dramatic,” Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, said on a recent afternoon, pointing toward the Flemish-inspired gables, decorated in vibrant, multihued glazed terra cotta, atop a building on Livingston Street with a hair salon below.

Glad I’m not the only one who has noticed the beauty in the urban setting. Now, let me go back to enjoying the day off…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.