We All Got Our Own Thing Going On (And We Find People to Share Them With)

A few weeks ago I saw in the morning on my way to work:

A bunch of people in the bus station looking up, mouths slightly agape. They were watching a huge TV screen that had been temporarily set up in the bus station to show the World Cup. A guy energetically said to people who passed by, “Koozie koozie koozie,” offering free foam cup holders from the TV channel that sponsored the viewing.

A large group of people in the park listening to someone praying over a microphone. People were dressed up, milling around, and some were carrying platters of food. They were Muslims celebrating Eid, the end of Ramadan.

A woman walking two dogs whose back halves were paralyzed and were walking with dog wheelchairs. An older man bent down to pet them. A woman with two dogs of her own stopped to talk to her, and they chatted about their dogs. The first woman described the disabled dogs’ different personalities.

Glimpses of different worlds and the important things happening in each of them. I loved coming in contact with them in the span of twenty minutes.

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I Finally Watched the Final Five

Yesterday my summer cold kept me out of the office and in bed, which means I finally got to watch a bit of the Summer Olympics… only two days after the closing ceremony. I watched some men’s and women’s swimming and women’s gymnastics, just a couple of hours in all. The ever-reliable Bob Costas commentated on NBC, the American TV channel that airs the Olympics. Like his entertainment counterparts Ryan Seacrest and Nagui, he is ubiquitous, sometimes a bit cheesy, and a complete pro. He’s hosted the Olympics since I started watching them.

Two weeks prior, I was standing on the subway platform after a night with Klimt at the Neue Galerie and wine with two friends on a friend’s rooftop when I realized that I had forgotten to record the opening ceremony, which was airing at that moment. I enjoy watching the opening ceremony—it’s the time when the inevitable controversies leading up the Olympics are set aside for a brief moment for people from different countries to come together, feel inspired, and soak in the atmosphere of something greater and longer-standing than themselves. I love seeing the variety in attire, looks, and sizes of the teams as they wave their flags and their countries are announced in English, French, and the host country’s language. It’s the beginning, where hope reigns before wins and losses have accumulated and more scandals have broken out due to drug use or misconduct (lying about being robbed, really? Way to represent the USA). Every participating group gets a chance to showcase their best athletes. We finally see what the host country has been spending its money on and how it wants to present itself to the world. I didn’t watch Rio’s this year—tant pis.

I guess I’ll never be as excited for the Summer Olympics as I was when the Magnificent Seven competed in 1996. The U.S. women’s gymnastics team, they were seven teenage girls, all a few years older than me, and I knew all of their names. Shannon Miller, Dominique Dawes (“Awesome Dawesome”), Amy Chow, Dominique Moceanu, Amanda Borden, Jaycie Phelps, and of course, little Kerry Strug, who vaulted into the spotlight by clinching the team gold while injured. There was a lot of talent, a lot of drama, and a lot of tears during those games. There’s nothing quite like being a kid and looking up to these amazing athletes who now look like kids to me.

Coupe du Monde

You might be familiar with the typical Parisian café scene. People sit on chairs facing outward and people watch.

69.cafe.2014aLast night I saw a funny reversal of that. To accommodate World Cup viewers, Häagen-Dazs had set up chairs facing away from the street and toward a wide screen TV.69.cafe.2014b

There’s This Event Called the Super Bowl

For the past week, the front page of my local paper has been featuring: the Super Bowl.
The local section has been featuring: the Super Bowl.
The sports section: you guess.

In New Jersey and New York, billboards have been reminding us that the Super Bowl would take place on February 2nd. Store windows and kiosks have been displaying game merchandise with the Super Bowl logo and jerseys for the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.ImageYou might be wondering why two states hosted the Super Bowl this year. In fact, MetLife Stadium where the game was held is home to the New York Giants and New York Jets, New York’s football teams, but it’s actually located in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

It was the first time that the Super Bowl was held outdoors in cold weather. Back in mid-December, Super Bowl and state officials announced their plan to deal with potential snowstorms. Thousands of people and trucks would be ready to make sure a blizzard didn’t stop the game.

Luckily, Super Bowl Sunday was mild compared to some of the snowy and freezing cold days that preceded it.

Last Wednesday, Broadway, the main avenue in Times Square, closed off thirteen blocks to traffic for several days of events open to the public.

The night before the beginning of the events, I happened to be in the area around midnight. Event staff and security were out in full swing.ImageImageImageOn Saturday, some friends and I checked out what all the hullaballoo was about.

First of all, that stretch of Broadway was temporarily renamed to “Super Bowl Boulevard.”ImageThis is the back of a 60-foot high toboggan ride that was set up in the middle of the city. Yep, people sled down a 7-story ramp in the middle of the city with high-rises on both sides.ImageFans sported jerseys and caps of their preferred team.ImageImagePersonally, my favorite part of the Boulevard was a truck giving out free ice cream.

As you can see, the Super Bowl is a big deal in the U.S. When I was in college, one of my male classmates cried over the outcome one year. However, not everyone cares about it—I know a fair share of people who don’t know who’s playing or who only watch the game for the commercials and the half-time show. If you’re not familiar with American culture, it probably sounds strange to view the pauses during the sporting event as the main attraction.

Advertising during the Super Bowl has become a huge production—companies pay millions of dollars to show their ads, which are generally of high production quality and almost like short films that go for an inspiring or humorous message.

As for the halftime show, this year’s featured popular singer Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Though it only lasts half an hour, the show has all the trappings of a high-profile concert. Mars’s performance featured a dramatic entrance, a full set of backup singers, glittering gold suit jackets and black ties, and an element that even most big-name concerts do not have: fireworks.

So that’s that. Now what will local journalists write about?