Go For the Gold

And today’s Gold medal performance for Most Ghetto Food Stand goes to:

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Cooking Chicken in a Shopping Cart!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

 

You can sometimes find her on Myrtle avenue in Bushwick, as long as the health inspector isn’t around.

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Olympic Update: Chinese Dominance

Last night I watched the Olympic opening ceremonies on the bar TV at work. The sound wasn’t on, so I missed what looks like a lot of songs by Britain’s greatest rock stars. Including Mary Poppins, every bit the rock star in her day, flying around on tour, showing up and leaving when she pleased, and indulging that out of control laughing gas habit.

There were lots of cute kids moments, I suppose which is mandatory for Olympic openings now. Mr. Bean also showed up with a great Chariots of Fire sequence where he hails a cab to get to the front of the pack and trips the leader to finish the race in first. The genius of Rowan Atkinson is how funny he can be without any sound at all, he’s a modern Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin.

The best part had to be James Bond parachuting the Queen into the stadium, which I caught the tail end of as a group of bar customers commented how serious Her Majesty looked. Wouldn’t you be a little more excited if you just parachuted into a stadium full of thousands of people with THE James Bond? Not if you’re British royalty apparently. She didn’t smile, she didn’t wave, she didn’t even seem to be breathing heavily. She stood there very stoic and British. I replied she should do the Raise the Roof gesture and shout “London’s in the hizouse!” and everyone laughed.

I found the video posted here:

http://mashable.com/2012/07/27/james-bond-escorts-queen-to-olympics/

Check it out if you missed it.

The parade of nations is always a good geography lesson as well as a quick indicator of the nation’s wealth. If there’s 30 million people and 3 made it to the Olympics, it’s a safe bet that most live in poverty.

American Samoa and Cameroon had the best uniforms that I saw, very culturally representative. I just hope they weren’t made in China.

Speaking of the Chinese, they are off to a flying start in Gold medal dominance as female 48kg weightlifter Wang Mingjuan has gained one of their first medals.

But the true Chinese dominance will be in table tennis. I guess it’s no mystery that the Chinese are good at a game that’s also known a Ping Pong, but let’s take a closer look at things.

Representing team Canada: Andre Ho, Grace Gao, and Mo Zhang.

Representing team USA: Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, and Timothy Wang.

Representing team Austria: Jia Liu

Representing team Poland: Zeng Yi Wang

Representing team Dominican Republic: Ju Lin

Representing team Argentina: Song Liu

Representing team Croatia: Yuan Tian

Representing team France: Yi Fang Xian

Representing team Australia: Jian Fang Lei, Justin Han, and Miao Miao.

Yes Miao Miao. Also known as Hello Kitty to her friends.

Add in China, and Taiwan, and the odds are pretty good someone of Chinese descent gets the gold.

Things Are Heating Up

First of all I’m getting excited for the upcoming football season. NFL camps started today. Locally Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez reported to camp and the speculation is beginning on whether Tebow can steal the starting QB spot.

Next, the Yankees have the biggest lead of all the divisional races as the baseball season winds down and millions of New Yorkers will be looking for them to win another World Series for their city.

And the opening ceremonies for the London Olympics will be happening later today. I love the Olympics. Mostly obscure but very talented athletes who have spent a lifetime training get what may be their only chance to score on the world’s biggest stage.

I’m not talking about a gold medal. I mean sex in the Olympic Village. It’s like an international spring break full of the world’s most beautiful physical specimens.

Runners, swimmers, gymnasts, decathletes, heptathletes, pentathletes, weightlifters, javelin throwers, discus flingers, shot putters, basketball dunkers, beach volleyball spikers, tae kwon do kickers, table tennis top spinners. If you hadn’t heard, U.S. Soccer hottie and sometimes loose cannon Hope Solo recently made some statements that there was a lot of action going on from her previous experience in the Olympic Village. 10,000 condoms of preparedness worth of action. In some cases, people who can’t even communicate verbally rely on the language of love. Or lust. Eat your wheaties and train hard kids. Someday you too could be an Olympian, just promise you don’t end up like Bruce Jenner.

Check out the opening ceremonies. Not for the silly costumes and fireworks, although one of my favorite movie directors Danny Boyle is in charge of the festivities. Watch it for the parade of nations and get an idea of which countries you’ll be rooting for. Bonus if you’re Australian and that made you laugh.

Then when you see them compete there’s a 90 percent chance they’ll be wearing 80 percent less clothing. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the Brazilian women’s beach volleyball players and all the female pole vaulters. But that’s just me. Maybe you’re a fan of team handball or fencing. Just remember, when the agony of defeat crushes their medal dreams, don’t be too sad, they might find the thrill of victory waiting back at the village.

Culture of Fear

It’s hard to ignore the news about the tragic theater shooting of Aurora. The stories honoring the victims whose lives were cut short are everywhere. Just this evening as I rode the subway a man read a paper in Chinese, filled with images of mourners and the aftermath.

I woke up Friday having left Denver barely 24 hours earlier. I did my usual morning routine of checking the news on the internet to make sure the world was still spinning when I saw the terrible headline. Instantly I was on the phone to make sure my family was okay, because my nephew, a young fan of superhero movies, was looking forward to the new release. Fortunately, they had not been there, and the theater was located across town, and not a likely destination for them. Still, it’s these type of nightmare situations that make everyone stop and realize they must appreciate every moment spent on this planet.

I was reminded of living in Los Angeles eleven years ago and waking up in a grumpy mood to a phone call from a friend telling me to turn on my television. I saw the Twin Towers on fire and watched in disbelief as the events of 9/11 unfolded, wondering of the fate of my New York friends. It set a precedent in my life, where hardly a day goes by that I don’t log on to local, national, and world news to make sure I shouldn’t be extra prepared when I walk out the front door. It’s seems sad in a way, and I wonder if it is the influence of age and cynicism, or if we truly live in a more dangerous world than when I was a kid. It’s easy to have selective memory of what were the good old days, because in reality there’s probably never been a time in human history when wars, crime, and violence were not present somewhere in the world. Tragedy and hardship may always be affecting someone, somewhere.

Still, for nearly ten years we’ve passed the airport security checkpoints barefoot and beltless. We have come to question the institutions which used to be perceived to be cornerstones of our security. Are children safe to be left with priests, scout masters, and football coaches? Will public gathering places like schools, concerts, and sporting events, become maximum security crossings?

The Holden Caulfields and Travis Bickles of the world who stew privately and sometimes act out publicly walk among us. They may be our neighbors, our friends, our family, and everything may seem fine on the surface. Until we learn how to “profile” them, all we can do is make sure the people in our lives can stay on a positive track. Life isn’t always easy, and it definitely isn’t always fair. But do what you can to help those around you in need, and prevent them from falling into traps that make them believe the world is against them.

It was about seven years ago that a friend of mine committed suicide. I had not known him more than a couple of years, and we weren’t extremely close, but I still considered him a friend. He had two young children and was going through a divorce, and at the time was living with his good friends. Attending the funeral was painful to see all the people whose lives were affected by his passing, especially those close enough who had not realized the extent he was struggling with his demons, and had been helpless to prevent his actions.

Whether people take their own lives, or the lives of others, the effects are felt among the living. These traumas can be difficult to overcome. Reach out to those people in your life who matter. Remember those who you may have lost touch with. Remind them that they do matter to you. I didn’t write this to bring people down. Like many, I find this tragedy upsetting, and writing to me means many things, and this time it’s most important for catharsis. It is unavoidable that this tragedy will be talked about for a long time but we must resist the urge to create a culture of fear and continue to live and enjoy life.

Lost in Transition

I’m on my way out of Denver. I’m trying. There’s been some heavy hail and even tornadoes on the East Coast. I was supposed to fly out at 1 am, but 2:20 is the expected departure now. The last bar closed at midnight and kicked everyone out. I’ve started writing this multiple times, but an old laptop keyboard that is sensitive to my heavy handed typing style keeps erasing paragraphs at key moments. I’m reminded of so many great things that have happened to me traveling. Of course they couldn’t have happened without the not so great things. Getting stuck overnight in Narita airport in Tokyo on the way to China. Finding an internet cafe to write about my experiences and running out of minutes and watching a few thousand words disappear. Waltzing in late for my plane and completely skipping through security…in the days before September 11th. Oversleeping for my flight to Hawaii because I partied too much the night before, and forgetting to pack essentials like board shorts and underwear. Getting paged at the San Francisco Airport while sitting in a bar watching football, just because I was the last passenger not on the plane, but it was still ten minutes from takeoff. Getting deported. Yeah it happened, but you’re not getting that story for free.

I just love travel, the excitement of going to new places, familiar places that you haven’t seen for a while. Watching the other people and figuring out the tourists, the locals, the businessmen, the con artists. It’s all entertainment, and usually the worst incidents make the best stories, you just have to make sure you survive them. So I’ll wait a few hours more if that means we won’t be dodging golf balls of ice at 10,000 feet.

I’ll sit here and try and figure out the free airport wi fi that tells my computer it’s in Osaka, Japan and it’s really 4:30 in the afternoon, while people sleep on the floor in a mostly empty airport and a subsonic alarm goes off but everyone seems to be ignoring it. Am I the only one with dog hearing? Don’t you hear that annoying sound? Make it stop! The things I will endure to be crowded into a big metal can with 100 other people. Are we there yet?

Stop the Linsanity

Jeremy Lin is going to Houston. Linsanity ends in New York. Is this a big deal? It’s a top headline on ESPN. It’s front of the sports page in Denver. I guess it’s a big deal, but then again it’s that boring time of year for most sports fans waiting for their favorite sports to resume. So we talk about trades and the possible combinations of players that will lead our team to a championship. Now Jeremy Lin is probably not the guy you think of as the cornerstone to a championship team, but while he was playing in New York, he brought excitement and a lot of wins. Oh yeah, and he was the token Asian guy. Before you go crying racism, I’ll tell you I’m Chinese, mixed with German, Irish, Scottish, and English too. Let’s admit it, the racism probably started when people thought a Chinese kid couldn’t play basketball, and Jeremy upset their stereotypes. Because Chinese people are too short, too bookish or whatever people like to think and say. And suddenly Spike Lee is high fiving this kid courtside because he was giving the Knicks a fighting chance. He definitely brought a lot of marketing value to the team, but apparently the Knicks brass didn’t catch that. The team that did, Houston, used to have Yao Ming, they might be aware of this fact. I was in China during the NBA playoffs of 2007. The Rockets had been bounced from the playoffs the week before but I passed a massive outdoor screen in Shanghai that was showing a replay of one of the games, and I’d bet the house it was because of Yao Ming. Jeremy Lin is going to sell a lot of Rockets jerseys. New York’s loss. Since I started this blog with a post about Jeremy, I’ll say good luck in your NBA career, I’m sure you won’t need an accountant for all the money you’re making on your new contract because you’re Chinese and of course really good at math.

Even more exciting for me as we work towards the end of summer is that NFL training camps will be starting up soon and I’ll get to hear all the drama surrounding New York’s two teams. From the World Champion Giants to the loudmouth led Jets, there’s going to be lots of hype. I was watching the HBO show Hard Knocks from last year because I don’t have cable and never saw it previously. It featured the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets and their big talking coach Rex Ryan. There were lots of funny moments because he’s one of those wild card coaches that plays around a lot. But my favorite was a preseason game between the Jets and Giants, when an unknown receiver for the Giants burned the Jets for 3 touchdowns. It was Victor Cruz who made a name for himself during the season and was a big performer in the Giants’ Superbowl win over the Patriots. He’s the guy that salsa dances when he scores a touchdown. It’s funny to watch in hindsight as everyone says “Who is this guy?”

Now this year, the Jets have our lord and savior Tebow and he’s sure to make things exciting, he always does. Can’t wait.

If you didn’t catch it earlier, I’m phoning it in from Denver. I snuck out of the city for a few days of relief from the city madness. It’s been relaxing, but I haven’t had much New York to write about. Not among the mountains, suburbs, strip malls, my neice and nephew, Yo Gabba Gabba. Time to go back.

Subway Crazy Pt. 2 Overheard on the Subway Pt. 4

It keeps happening. Crazy people on the subway. I feel like I’m getting more than my fair share. Is it bad luck? Is it the heat? In Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, a neighborhood in Brooklyn is in the middle of a summer heat wave and things keep getting more and more tense among everybody, from personal issues to race oriented, to economic inspired and eventually there’s a riot and Sal’s Pizza gets burned down. I sure hope it doesn’t come to that, but some New Yorkers are just way too tense. I want to go all West coast in my best impression of “Ted” Theodore Logan and say, “Chill out bro, you people need to be more excellent to each other.”

I’m leaving work today and this lady gets on the subway carrying a roll of carpet and a fan. I guess that’s clue number one that she could be suffering from the heat. No one offered her a seat, and I had the privilege of standing next to her. At first she seemed all right. A few stops later she was talking. To whom I’m not sure, but it involved frequent repetition of the words “bitch” and “whore” with “you think you’re all that” thrown in for a little punctuation. I think she was mad at no one giving her a seat, but it seemed like she might be singling out someone in particular. We were crossing the long stretch over the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and I was plotting my escape, but she left at the very next stop and there was no incident.

I stopped by the gym and got a workout then got back on the train home, and there’s this guy in a construction shirt and jeans with slicked back hair. I’m riding along thinking about what I need to eat for dinner and this guy answers his phone and starts speaking Russian. His side of the conversation sounded something like this: “Gorbachev stolichnaya trotsky lenin putin das vedanya rasputin SO WHAT?! Leningrad stalingrad kalishnakov rachmaninov babushka balalaka glasnost NO!!!!!”

Once again I’m standing near the offending party, and with this guy, the English words were so loud and pronounced, the whole subway turned to stare.

“Whoah dude, settle down. Your tone is most bogus.”

Scary people. But sometimes its not what you say but what you do. Or don’t do. Or doo doo.

I was on my way home a few nights ago and looking forward to the air conditioned relief of the subway car. As I stepped in my first thought was wet dog, but the smell grew much, much worse as the AC cycled it throughout the car. At the far end was a homeless man slumped in a pile. For all I know he was dead. His smell was a piss brine mixed with a shit sandwich and a side of puke, well fermented from a fine vintage, possibly a 2007. Half the passengers were sneaking past him to get through to the next subway car. I waited at the back with a couple others as we held our noses and waited for the next stop. As soon as the doors opened, we rushed out and jumped in the car behind us. I shouted “Don’t do it!” to the people entering the contaminated car and they must have momentarily thought I was the crazy one.

The safety zone was packed, and half the people already knew the story. We looked at each other and laughed, and one guy asked what’s up as we all stood crowded together.  I said, “There’s plenty of seats available on the next car.” And half the subway car laughed. The next three stops to Canal Street were a continuous exodus from the stinky car as more and more victims attempted to breathe again, and the former victims laughed knowing all too well what they had suffered. I love public transportation.

And yeah I couldn’t resist. The late, great Randy Rhoads on guitar: