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I’ve been doing a fair share of reading up on music and lifestyle trends in Asia…with particular focus of course, in Shanghai. Every item I have read has alluded to this burgeoning international city that is soon to leave London, Paris and (maybe) New York in the dust. OK, OK for now… we’ll just stick with the “Shanghai is the NYC of China” claim. Whichever the case, the overall notion gets me amped and ever-so-antsy to check it for myself. Here are some of my findings:

  • In March 2007, a familiar name, Ticketmaster, acquired a majority stake in Emma Entertainment Holdings HK Ltd., a provider of ticketing and event promotions services, to expand operations in China. Emma Entertainment changed its name to Emma Ticketmaster to reflect the acquisition.
  • Since the advent of Emma Ticketmaster, China has become a viable place for major foreign acts to add to their world tours. Big names such as Bjork, Maroon 5, Harry Connick Jr, Celine Dion, Backstreet Boys are all performing this Spring. In addition, another big-name concert promotions company, China West Entertainment, is bringing over Incubus and James Blunt.
  • China takes pains to ensure concerts are politically correct. Artists are forbidden to perform content that would harm “national unity” or “stir up resentment” and promoters are asked to submit set-lists and lyric sheets for approval. Performers deemed to have hurt national sentiments are put in the freezer indefinitely, or until seen to have made due penance.
  • Knowing the above, in her recent performance, Icelandic singer, Bjork’s pro-T____ outburst at a Shanghai concert not only angered China’s wary cultural guardians, but annoyed music promoters who say politics is bad for business and worse for Chinese fans. China’s Culture of Ministry has now claimed that controls would be tightened over foreign singers and performers after Bjork allegedly closed her set with an unauthorized song, chanting “Declare Independence!” as a seeming dedication with the word, “T____!” twice, to close her show.
  • Here’s what Bjork had to say in response:
    • “I have been asked by many for a statement after dedicating my song ‘Declare Independence’ to both Kosovo and T___ on different occasions. I would like to put importance on that I am not a politician, I am first and last a musician and as such I feel my duty to try to express the whole range of human emotions. The urge for declaring independence is just one of them but an important one we all feel at some times in our lives. This song was written more with the personal in mind but the fact that it has translated to its broadest meaning, the struggle of a suppressed nation, gives me much pleasure. I would like to wish all individuals and nations good luck in their battle for independence. Justice!”
  • As a result, the Chinese government is continuing behind-closed-doors discussion on additional measures (pending approval) by the Shanghai Cultural Bureau with regards to foreign performers in China:
  • 1. Organizers must sign additional guarantees that performers will not comment on political issues from stage, etc.
  • 2. A 50% of the total potential box office must be paid as a deposit on the show to the Cultural Bureau. Should performers break the law, this deposit will be retained by the government. Additional fines may be levied.
  • 3. Artist performances will be closely monitored to conform to the government pre-approved set-lists.
  • 4. Artists will not be allowed an unapproved encore.

Oye!! Now I’ve been in the business of concert promotions myself… and Point #2 above is STEEP. This Bjork backlash has most definitely set course for a possible decline just as quick as its recent acsent of hosting foreign acts in the Chinese market. So fascinating…. I’ll be keeping my ears on this one…

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– song entitled, “Declare Independence” from album, Volta by Bjork (05.22.07)

. . don’t burn the day. .

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As I mentally ready myself to live abroad in a country where daily liberties that I/we as Americans take for granted are stripped away/censored, ie. accessing blogs for goodness sake – I just gotta say… I am happy and feel downright privileged to be an American Baby!

Some may have noticed my removal of a particular blog post from last week with regards to current affairs in a 5-letter country over yonder that begins and ends with a “T.” Truth is, I was on the fence all along with whether or not I should’ve posted on the topic in the first place, (knowing I have to carry my blog over), however, I felt the need to bring to light a tint of world affairs just the same as political headlines are brewing on our homefront. And since I am in the process of configuring shop to enable myself access to my fabulous channel (my blog) to my wonderful fans (that is, you) while I’m overseas, I need to have a “clean” platform in order for my connections abroad to be able to properly test/gauge censorship levels… All because the mere thought of having to have to relinquish my freedom of speech is just too hard for me to swallow! (More to come when my configuration is complete.)

And with the above, I might as well add a note on how vital it is for the American public to be educated and active in the upcoming election! Our “right” to vote must be acknowledged and exercised!! It is a RIGHT, YOUR right – Own it and Do something with it!

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Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen (06.04.84)

. . don’t burn the day. .

You insisted.
I resisted.

It took some time,
some 27, 34, 36, 40 tries.

You asked me to stay for a while,
But rhyme or reason I had none;
for heavy as stone was I,
with a preconceived idea of you.

Was not until we waved hello again the 41st,
that you swept me up, up and away
onward onto a sweet up and down joyride.

You caught me kicking out all the windows,
and asked, “Where are you going?”

Space between
closing in,
you took me by the hand and led me down by the river.
There stood before us –  a mighty dreaming tree.

Nine planets around the sun,
only one does the sun embrace.

Following your step into the light,
You cried, “Don’t drink the water!”
but rather, “Seek up an emotion…
and our cup is overflowing…”

Oh an’ another (little) thing:

“Look up at the sky,
with your mouth open wide.
Lick and taste.
What’s the use in worrying?
What’s the use in hurrying?
Turn, turn we almost become dizzy.
Some might tell you there’s no hope in hand,
just because
they feel hopeless;
But you don’t have to be a thing like that;
Take these chances;
Stand up,
Start with one step, however small.
Dream little darling, dream;
Dreamgirl, you be a ship in a bottle set sail.” ~~~~~

~~~~~ Stolen away was I on 55th and 3rd. ~~~~~

As I rewind and hit replay,
I was then such a fool to think
of you as a greedy little pig.
I must’ve had let you down,
for now I agree, we’re all proud monkeys after all.

Now steady as we go,
celebrate we will,
leaving busted stuff behind.
Everyday feels so right,
turning typical situations into those best of what’s around.

Hey captain,
Do what you will, always.
Walk where you like, your steps.
Do as you please,
I’ll back you up.

You persisted.
I conceded.

This I admit,
tastes so good.
Hard to believe an end to it.
Smell
Touch
Feel
How could this rhythm ever quit?
Bags packed,
on a plane,
hopefully to heaven…

Yeah!

And despite when the world ends,
you need not help yourself;
I’m coming waltzing back
and moving into your head.
So, break free,
collect your things,
you’re coming with me.

We’ll come away with something better.
Resting high above the clouds,
No restriction.

Would you not like to be,
sitting on top of the world
with your legs hanging free?

So damn lucky.

So damn lucky,
are we.

~ ml

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Izod Center – East Rutherford, NJ
(11.13.07)

. . don’t burn the day. .

Bonus Trivia: Who can tell me how many single-count songs were referenced above? 🙂

 

 

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Shanghai Pinghe School, I’m Yours!!!

Being my meticulous self – especially when it comes to contract negotiations, and cooperating with the Dean’s travel schedule, plus! the 13 hour time difference (Shanghai is AHEAD 13 hours; Yes, please take note for the future), it took quite some time for final drafts to finally land in my hands. But at last! I have signed on the dotted line(s)!

Quick Breakdown of the Process:

  • I negotiated the English version (of course).
  • Upon agreeable terms, (8) copies were furnished for my john hanock. Yes, EIGHT. They are not joking!
  • (4) School Contract – (2) in English / (2) in Chinese
  • (4) Foreign Expert Management Bureau contract – (2) in English/ (2) in Chinese

Here’s my moms and pops reading over the Chinese version…(and check out my pops rockin’ a baby blue t-shirt courtesy of Outkast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below! They have such a COOL daughter 🙂 ).

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Next Steps!

I gotta look into flights – for mid June – and visa stuff, try my best to tame my antsy’ness and eventually (still finding my groove here at home), pick up on some leisure reading and other miscellaneous stuff that I’ve put off doing.
Oh and here’s a lil’ sumn sumn About the Pinghe School and well, Shanghai:
  • Shanghai Pinghe is a private, boarding, international, bilingual school that is part of the International Baccalaureate Program (ooh la la!), located in the newly developed Jin Qiao Green International Community in Pudong, Shanghai.
  • Pudong, as I see it – having never been – is best understood as the “Brooklyn” to Manhattan in terms of geography. Much like how NYC is broken up by 5 boroughs, Shanghai is broken up by 19 districts. 9 of which make up “city centre” aka Puxi.
  • Puxi and Pudong are essentially divided by the Huang Pu River. (Puxi means “west of the Huang Pu River” and Pudong means “east of the Huang Pu River.)
  • In 1990, plans were announced to transform the once mainly farmland and countryside-Pudong into its current-day status of the emergent financial and commercial hub of Shanghai.
  • Pudong was rebuilt with the western constructs in mind (ie. wider streets, more greenery and from my conversation with the Dean – the school and community also Go Green! Whoo!)
  • Pudong is home to the Finance and Trade Zone, Shanghai Stock Exchange, Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower – symbolizing Shanghai/China’s economic development.
  • So how is it like the BK? Well, check Exhibit A:shanghai_pudong-to-bund.jpg
In this picture, we are at the viewpoint of being in Pudong, looking outwards to Puxi, across the River. Connecting both are tunnels and 4 major bridges as well as a reliable subway system 🙂 .
The super major contrast between Puxi and Pudong is that it is essentially the old vs. new Shanghai. Without going into too too much, I can pretty much guarantee I will be frequenting Puxi for nightlife, eats, action and all that other good stuff.
  • Now back to the school – it being an international school, the students are generally children of expats and are taught in both Chinese and English regardless of country of origin (be it Greece, Ireland, Korea, Japan etc…)
  • I will be teaching primarily little rugrats, I mean 1st graders in the subjects of: English Language Arts, Social Studies and Integrated Science; as well as some electives to include 5th graders.
  • What got me most was the school’s philosophy: Educating students to become “elite, high caliber, world citizens” via “integration of western and eastern cultures.” Need I say more?
  • And as a bonus, my mother told me she likes the sound of the school…literally… as the phonetics of “Pinghe” relate to “Peace” … as in unity and world peace. 🙂

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Ok, that was enough education for today. Here’s one last pic to share my excitment…

View from infamous Puxi’s Bund, looking towards Pudong’s skyline….

 

 

I think I might have to do a double feature night of Lost in Translation (even though the film takes place in Tokyo, I will still be just as …lost…in…translation) and Shanghai Noon. 😀

In the meantime, I’m going to guest-read and do activities with my little niece’s 4th grade classroom later this afternoon…

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Signed, Sealed and Delivered by Stevie Wonder (08.07.70)

. . don’t burn the day. .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, maybe it doesn’t sound as inviting en espanol… but it’s still such a great movie!!

In light of Patrick Swayze’s recent diagnosis with pancreatic cancer, our friends at Showtime gave me an evening treat yesterday by showing the fantastic flick, Dirty Dancing!

Take a time-out in your day for a smile… Enjoy!

And of course this brought back fond memories of:

  • a) Patricio Swayze in Cancun with Jack, Gab & Jess. (fingers waving, March 2003)
  • b) My/Our (Cindy, Dan, Dora, Jack & Ned) rendition of Dirty Dancing, while stranded (taxi ran out of gas-twice… long story, another time….) alongside the highway in Peru – while we were leaving our MTV Beach House at Beach Asia (pronounced Ahh-Cee-Ahh) heading back to Lima. (Jan/Feb 2006)

“We’ve had the time of our lives….and we owe it all to you… ipod/radio-cooler!!”

Here are flashbacks photos for those who have no idea what I’m talking about…The last couple photos sum up the experience…

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But now for real, for real – my thoughts go out to Patrick and his family in hopes for a healthy and speedy recovery!… “Somebody who has taught me that there are people willing to stand up for other people, no matter what it costs them.” – Johnny Castle

I also recommend ya’ll putting it on your netflix queue and/or hit up your local video store. This movie never gets old…

dirtydancingsoundtrack.jpg“Time of My Life” by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes from soundtrack, Dirty Dancing (08.21.87)

 

 

 

. . don’t burn the day. .

Sooooo it’s been a week since I left the city and I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog front. (thank ya for those who’ve been checking in with me, regardless!) Reason being, I’ve been pushed and pulled by the fam in directions of all sorts since I’ve arrived… Plus, I really wanted to let all immediate thoughts and feelings of leaving the city subside a bit before I go off on the inevitable “I miss NY” posts…And even though I really DO miss the city right now, I will save for a later, more in-depth write-up.

So, home life. I can’t even really say I’ve experienced “real” homelife yet because I’ve been living nomadically between my siblings’ houses and my parents’ house for the last 7 nights. Eventually, when I get myself into a groove, I can perhaps comment more. But nevertheless, I can say I’ve gotten a good taste of what the next few months will be comprised of…

Being the youngest (esp of a large family), I get fed all sorts of errands and things-to-do. Well, actually really anyone who has free time is fed all sorts of run-around stuff. But seriously, the fact that I’m home for a few months is like a blessing for them. And at this point, I’m not complaining nor not complaining ☺ I mean, in between my well-prepared, seemingly 6 meals-a-day…. (good thing I’m not lacking in the appetite/metabolism department)….

My time has been occupied with hitting the mall, visiting my grandmother (incredibly strong woman – dedicated post to come), helping out at family-owned hair salon, picking up my little niece from school and helping her with homework, running errands for parents, assembling kitchen curtain rods, fixing direct tv cable box thingy that my parents always somehow complain about, helping out my sister with her slide presentations for work (cough. corporate bull shhhh. cough), and I’ve even gotten a taste of true soccer-mom-esque duty of driving my expecting sister-in-law to the grocery store (Yay! for big, clean aisles at Stop n’ Shop!!)

I’ve also been reeled into primetime television by my fam. Pussy Cat Dolls’ Girlicious AND American Idol. Sheesh. Girlicious is just BAD BAD BAD for the future of American girls. But American Idol, I gotta say my vote is for David Archuleta!!! This was my first time watching this season and boy has real talent and is only 17! After seeing him perform Phil Collin’s “Another Day in Paradise,” I was/am hooked! I even youtubed the kid to check his previous week’s rendition of one of my faves – John Lennon’s “Imagine.” I believe in this kid so much I was almost tempted to rock the AI vote!! (But I did not…)

Basically though, all of the above = totally NOT the life I lead in the city.

But it’s all starting to settle in I suppose. However, this does not mean that I don’t quadruple-check myself on the daily ala…

  • “Am I really at home right now?
  • How much longer am I home for?
  • Is this all really happening? Why did I think this was a good idea?
  • If I were in the city right now, I would be _____.”

My framed NY-skyline propped up on my bedside table greets me every time I walk into my bedroom. This helps preserve my sanity! I now understand when others view and respect folks who “make it” in the city. I mean, I understood it before, but now… I get it. NY is not for the weak and weary. It requires your switch to always be flipped ON. But of course this brings out the love/hate relationship I have with the city. But enough about that for now, I’ll save for another post I promise.

So yesterday, my moms said to me, “You know, sometimes when I look out the kitchen window and I see kids walking home from school, I have flashbacks and see you and your brothers walking home (from school)…” That statement stopped me in my tracks as it is so emotion-packed. (Go ahead, go back and re-read it.)

Going about my daily life and decisions is challenging enough, but now to think what my parents must go through in their 70 plus years of life and seeing their “kids” all grow up and live their own lives is both remarkable and moving. They’ve done a tremendous job as parents to the point where they cannot let go of their parenting duties in current day. True parents by every definition, if you ask me.

My mother’s nonchalant statement of nostalgia answered all my quadruple-check questions as mentioned above.

  • “Yes, I’m home.
  • I’m here temporarily (key word – thanks jack!) for another 3.5 months. (intermittently ☺ )
  • I’m here because I’ll be half way around the world for a year-long term at minimum.
  • If I were in the city, I’d be checking for ways to turn my switch OFF.”

So, rather than being fixed on what I could be / would be doing and so forth, I’ve decided to approach my time at home with a slightly different angle. Despite the barrage of questions, incessant nagging, and consicimg0749.jpgstent check-ins, I somehow really do feel fortunate that I am able to return to where it all started at this point of my life. (I kinda have to or else the next few months are gonna eat me up alive.) But really, I’ve been out of the house since I was 18. A lot has happened between then and now; friends from home have alluded to my growth and maturity. But a lot has happened on the homefront as well. As much as I’ve developed as an individual, that same amount of time frame has transpired and has had its effects on family/home/hometown…and many things have just as well, stayed the same.

Either way, it feels good to take a breather from being ON all the time. I feel fortunate that I can call a TO and view things from the sideline a bit. It also feels good to be able to spend time with those who really started it all for me. It feels nice to walk down the street, breathing fresh, crisp air and see young lads play touch football and/or basketball with their fathers. It’s also pretty awesome to not have to think of what to prepare for lunch/dinner, but rather have all meals already planned out and prepared, just waiting for consumption. With all that said, what’s a few months pinned against the last 9 years I’ve spent as a free soul?

So, for now….

I think I’m gonna stay home.
Have myself a home life.
Sittin’ in the slow-mo.
Listenin’ to the daylight.
– lyrics excerpted from song entitled “Home Life” from album Heavier Things by John Mayer (09.09.03)

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. . don’t burn the day. .

I will go in this way
And find my own way out.
I won’t tell you what to be,
But I’m coming to much more.
Me.

Time is indeed moving slow but speeding, as I am one day shy from departing NYC (tomorrow, 02.28.08). With the birth of the blog and all, I’ve been able to document pretty much all my moves leading up to this point. (Great to have and be able to refer to when I’m 87!! I can say I was cool.) Slow but speeding it surely has been! My previous posts of Give Up To Gain and No Expectations alarmingly come to mind as I enter my remaining 24 hours of Manhattan-life. Crazy, crazy… even still!

As I’ve been counting up towards my days at home with the fam in Boston, I realize how much more of a “New Yorker” I am. The dual question of:

Has New York molded who I’ve become?

Or

Has New York simply provided me a channel to be the person I’ve destined to be?

This double-sided question came about after a friend recently asked me if I think I would lose my New York-sense in the same way I’ve lost a bit of my Boston-sense, while living wherever the road may take me…

Answer to All of the Above:

I may have lost my Boston accent and am pretty much ignorant to its city’s layout and workings, but I can not say I’ve lost touch with my homebody, family sense. And in that respect, Boston is essentially homebase for me, literally. My family and friends back home keep me grounded (regardless of my “big city” achievements) and for this reason, I still have a bit of the Boston in me (along with my sports teams). 🙂

New York has most certainly allowed me to break free from the borders of homelife and in turn, provided me with an outlet to express ideals that I’ve always had within. Growing up and attending public schools in my hometown, diversity was always prevalent, especially at my high school (at once, was the largest HS east of the Mississippi River). We had an after-school club for every ethnicity you can think of from Italian to Cape Verdean to Haitian to Jamaican to Irish to Asian. I was the chic who was in all sorts of nerdboxer.jpg/community commitees (National Honor Society, Executive Commitimg_3144.jpgtee, Student Senate, Key Club, Amnesty International) in addition to sports (basketball and moreso, track). (Go Boxers!) I weaved in and out of different circles with no problem. In fact, I was voted recipient of Housemaster Award (Green House) my senior year – an award voted by my student class for individual who possessed character, leadership, excellence in academic and community service… some gibberish like that.

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Having img_2926.jpggraduated in the top 10 percentile of a graduating class of 700 students, coming to NYU in ’99 was a pretty seamless transition on the level of size and multi-culturalism. I say this because during my freshman year, I met some folks from, say the west coast or midwest, who really had a tough time adapting to NYC and the NYU make-up. Me…Not so much. I felt at home. Options, independence, diversity, cultural stimulants, creative energies — all jumped at me and I loved it. With that said, I would think the latter, “NY has provided me a channel to become the person I’ve destined to be” is the more appropriate answer.

My next move to Shanghai (and/or wherever thereafter), will certainly not eradicate neither any of my “New Yorkness” nor “Bostonianess.” These are intangibles, already deeply rooted in the whole pie that is me. So, overall, it was kind of a silly question to begin with, but it definitely made me pause and analyze the whole scenario a bit. Confirming and reaffirming that this is me….

I will go in this way
And find my own way out.
I won’t tell you what to be,
But I’m coming to much more.
Me.

– lyrics excerpted from song entitled “#41” from album Crash by Dave Matthews Band (04.30.96)

(the song that started it all, 01/07)

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. . don’t burn the day. .

 

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