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Two years after featuring China in “The Tank Man”, Frontline returns to the Middle Kingdom. This time, they’re focusing on the nation’s youth, of whom there are plenty (Of China’s 1.3 billion people, 72 percent are between 16 and 64, according to an article in the National Geographic). The episode, “Young & Restless in China“, airs Tuesday on PBS. 

I recommend “Tank Man” for anyone looking for a primer on the main issues surrounding China. It explores all the topics the media has focused on these past few months: human rights, censorship, economic growth, the growing class divide, the country’s insatiable appetite, its soft and hard power.

Frontline always produces top-notch work. “Young & Restless in China” should be another thought-provoking and gripping report.



That’s the trailer for David Maraniss’ new book, “Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World.” If you’re a sports book fan, you might have read his other books, “When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi” and “Clemente.” He’s also an associate editor at the Washington Post, a Pulitzer Prize winner and a total bad ass.

I just finished reading an excerpt from his book in the June 2 issue of Sports Illustrated. Maraniss has an interesting thesis. He argues that at the Rome Olympics “forces of change were at work everywhere.”

In sports, culture and politics, interwoven as never before, an old order was dying and new one was being born. The world as we know it today, with all its promise and trouble, was into view.

While I can’t dispute his argument for the 1960 Olympics, I can’t help but think that the 2008 Games in Beijing will be a confluence of radical and divergent forces — political, economic and social. Like 1960 for the late 20th century, 2008 is the “watershed Games” for the 21st century.

It’s no coincidence that this book is coming out this year. Its themes — angst, alienation, controversy, suspicion, perseverance  — resonant now. Maraniss (one digression: I was fortunate and lucky enough to see him speak at Poynter last month about the Post’s coverage of Walter Reed) is a PhD student of history. And it’s amazing to see the historical parallels from 48 years ago.

I’ll be picking up his book — once the library gets it in. I know, I’m a cheapskate. But he already got my money when I bought “When Pride Still Mattered.”

Staircase at Wing Luke

I stopped by the newly opened Wing Luke Asian Museum on Wednesday. It was so new the smell of the recently applied paint caused me to have a headache. No, it was not a tumor. 

The musem still have some issues to iron out. I arrived just in time to witness an Asian lady unbraid some poor volunteer for the museum not having signs for the bathroom. Take a chill pill, lady. This was the same lady who seemed to boast that she had given the museum a $20 check for her and her companion. Admission was $8, so she gave the museum four extra George Washingtons to make her feel special. She had more important things to do though, because she left after 10 minutes.

Not that there was that much to see anyway. The museum most likely opened a few weeks too early. There were only two main galleries open. The Community Portrait Galleries, which sounded interesting in the program, were empty.

There weren’t that many exhibits, especially for the $8 admission price — $9.50 if you wanted the Immersion tour, which I paid for (more on that later).

The George Tsutakawa Art Gallery was nice. That’s all I can really say about it. Nice. If you’ve ever been to the Seattle Public Library, you may recognize his work, the water fountain, “Fountain of Wisdom,” at the 4th avenue entrance. Perhaps it was the headache or the mild sweat that I was experiencing, but I just didn’t connect with the exhibit. One interesting nugget, however. His son, Gerry, sculpted the baseball mitt outside Safeco Field.

The other gallery, “Honoring Our Journey”, was a hodgepodge of pieces. It was like Asian-American studies 101 packed into 1,200 square feet. It lacked cohesion, in my humble and uncultured opinion. Again, it could’ve been the fumes.

So I went on the one-hour Immersion tour, led by Vi Mar, a wonderfully earnest woman. She led us to a section of the museum that was closed to the general public. It was preserved to look like the hotel that housed immigrants from China, Japan and the Philippines (the picture above is of the “old” hotel). Overall, the tour was underwhelming. I didn’t feel like I was immersed in much. I assume the five other people who went on the tour felt the same way.

Yet, I’m happy to see this museum in the heart of Chinatown. I remember going to the old Wing Luke, it was dark, tucked away, cramped. This museum is impressive, especially the entryway and main staircases. But I think the museum’s exhibits will never be its strength. The museum will flourish if it opens up its public spaces — the meetings rooms, the reflection areas, the library, the theater — to the community. And perhaps cut the admission by a couple bucks.

Here’s a link to a few photos of my trip.

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