Dreary Tuesday

Ugh – more drizzle. Gray sky all day.

Angel beat the Yankees, and so they get to play ChiSox. Yanks and Bosox fall, and we get two different American League teams in the playoffs. So far, ChiSox lose Game One to the jet-lagged Californians. Methinks those Angels ain’t so jet-lagged (well, it’ll catch up to them soon enough). The Bosox’s championship last yet appears to set precedence for the ChiSox, so it’s possible that pigs may fly and yet another perennial loser team may end up being champs? Hmm…

Considering the line of work I’m in (focusing on the laws of anti-discrimination and all that) and my own interest in racial and ethnic histories of the USA, I still can’t make of my reaction of the following: when an Asian person walks up to you, an Asian person, and asks, “Are you Chinese?” (and yes, you are, but that’s besides the point), what are you supposed to do in return? I feel weird about it, and think of it almost as if it’s a total conversation stopper (before any conversation even begins). Perhaps this person is looking for someone of similar affinity or, perhaps this person (evidentally of Chinese origin and less-than-able English speaking ability) would like to speak to someone in Chinese (and I don’t fit the bill, as an ABC who has Learn to Speak Cantonese stuff collecting dust). Or perhaps I’m overly sensitive in feeling weird when someone asks “Are you Chinese?” – giving me that bad vibe of being seen as the “perpetual foreigner,” even to someone who’s also Chinese (who’d likely think less of me as an ABC anyway).

Daily News’ David Hinkley writes up on the 40th Anniversary of NYC’s All News radio station, 1010 WINS:

[….] The private anniversary celebration was held yesterday at Gotham Hall. The big public event was a listener poll earlier this year on the top-40 New York newsmakers of the past 40 years, with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani voted the winner.

Like all polls, it had some odd results – Bette Midler made the top 10 and David Dinkins didn’t make the list at all – but WINS published it and moved on.

WINS, as listeners know, rarely breaks its rhythm.

“With this station,” said general manager Greg Janoff, “people turn it on and within 30 seconds, they know if something is wrong. WINS has such a familiar sound that even a small deviation tips you off.”

In some ways, WINS’ sound hasn’t changed much in 40 years. The ticker. Traffic, weather, sports. Crisp delivery of the headlines. The three-times-an-hour news cycle.

“Give us 22 minutes and we’ll give you the world” is one of the city’s best-known slogans, though Janoff notes it does hide a small mystery: “No one knows for sure who at the ad agency first thought it up.”

Whatever that answer, [program director of WINS Mark ]Mason said the “22 minutes” mantra may also camouflage the fact that WINS newscasts are much different today than in 1965.

“The approach has turned almost 180 degrees,” he said. “In the beginning, the station concentrated heavily on traditional news like politics. But we found that what’s often more important to people is what affects them at that moment. When the Republican convention was here, we covered the political event less than the disruption.”

So in an age when many news/talk outlets channel everything toward the “big story” of the moment, WINS is more cautious. It takes a 9/11 or a Staten Island ferry crash for WINS to rearrange its news “clock.”

“We never break format lightly,” said Mason. “If we miss a traffic report, it’s a big deal. If we’re 40 seconds late for a traffic report, it’s a big deal.”

Whatever the WINS philosophy, it works.

In an average week, 2-1/2 million people at some point turn to WINS. If there’s a snowstorm, make it 3 million. In the weeks after 9/11, the total approached 4 million, an unheard-of number in today’s fragmented radio world.

“We’re as close to a mass-appeal radio station as you’ll find any more,” said Mason. “Because of what we do, our audience mirrors the city.

“We’re a utility. We’re like the light switch when you walk into the room. If you can rely on it to do the same thing every time you flick it on, it’s doing its job.”

Well, I can say that I spent way too many a late night letting the radio stay on 1010 back when I was in college, pulling all nighters and thinking that staying up with the Hawaiian overnight anchor Paul Guanzon would keep me awake. I liked how 1010 has its weird moments, when some stories sound unbelievably tabloid-y or brief to be taken too seriously, or how its on-air folks display their personalities (and their bios on the website are no less quirky).

Apparently, people didn’t recognize Justice Scalia while he was marching in the Columbus Day Parade, reports the NY Times’ Fernanda Santos; the article “Who’s That Guy? Without the Robes, Grand Marshal is Mystery” (got to love that headline!):

Justice Antonin Scalia, the first Italian-American to serve on the Supreme Court, returned to his hometown…

The highest-ranking government official to serve as grand marshal, Justice Scalia shares an honor bestowed in the past on the actress Sophia Loren, the racing champion Mario Andretti and the fashion designer Roberto Cavalli.

Despite Justice Scalia’s prominence, few paradegoers recognized him, a reflection perhaps of the Supreme Court justices’ long tradition of limiting their public appearances.

Still Justice Scalia, wearing the grand marshal’s glittery sash, was stared at, photographed and saluted by paradegoers as he made his way up Fifth Avenue, from 44th Street to the grandstand on 68th Street.

“Who’s that guy?” Frank Duarte, 38, a civil engineer from Wood-Ridge, N.J., asked his friend Mark Campesi, who suggested that Justice Scalia “must be some Italian politician.”

Moments later, Debbie Simunovich pointed toward the grandstand and urged her daughters to look that way, too. “Hey, I think that’s Roseanne Colletti,” Mrs. Simunovich, 45, said, referring to the WNBC correspondent who was reporting for the station’s live broadcast.

Asked about Justice Scalia, Mrs. Simunovich said: “I don’t know who he is. But he’s Italian, so that’s good.”

At the grandstand, Justice Scalia smiled timidly and waved at a crowd of onlookers, who chanted in unison, “Italia, Italia.”

“I feel wonderful,” Justice Scalia told the reporters who had followed him for 24 city blocks, peppering him with questions about Harriet E. Miers, President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee.

He refused to answer questions about Ms. Miers, and, at one point, asked one of the hulking men in suits who made up his security detail to clear away the reporters who were blocking his view.

Lawrence Auriana, the president of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, which organizes the parade, said the grand marshal “has to be a role model for all of us.

“We want, as the grand marshal, someone who is at the top of his profession and someone of good character,” Mr. Auriana said. “Justice Scalia fits the bill. He’s a man of passion – and that very well represents us, Italian-Americans.”

Justice Scalia, 69, had marched at the parade once before, five decades ago as a student at Xavier High School in Chelsea. Yesterday, he walked alongside a yellow Lamborghini that carried his wife of 45 years, Maureen.

Justice and Mrs. Scalia watched, for three hours, the floats, Lamborghinis, marching bands and law enforcement contingents that passed under an overcast sky. […]

When people recognize Roseanne Colletti more than you, you got to wonder, just a bit. Or maybe not, considering how hard those justices work at not being recognized. People may get J. Breyer and J. Souter mixed up; J. Thomas could be just another guy or J. Ginsburg just another lady. I guess they like it that way. So it goes.

0 thoughts on “Dreary Tuesday”

  1. About the issue of how to answer “Are you Chinese?” This is one of the befuddling issues that only an ethnic American would face and find time to ponder about it.

    People in Asia ask this question all the time as a way to identify you, tribally or otherwise, to know you. It’s as normal as saying, “Hello, how are you?”. Once people come here, face it, they’ll get over it.

  2. Agreed – the old “Are you Chinese/fill in the blank ethnic/race?” is definitely one of those only-in-America issues.

  3. The interesting question is, why in America and not elsewhere? Profiling, in the rest of the world is as prevalent and practiced, whereas in the US, people try hard to stamp it out, eradicate it socially and legally. It’s one of those things where the other folks in the world, scratch their heads at the “strange” Americans.

    In the US, I found it irksome, but not to the extent of some folks that view it as an assault on their person, heritage, etc. I think that’s going a bit overboard. Here, I find that my background allows me a variety of ways to present myself depending on the situation which can be quite advantageous. It’s a bit of a game.

    Being out here and living here has given me a lot of great perspective of people (although NYC is great already). I think traveling ala National Geographic is one of the best things that a person can experience in life.

    I’m in my own personal “Amazing Race” 😉

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