on-air tantrum?

Cropped photo of Ann Curry

Cropped photo of Ann Curry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wasn’t sure how I felt about Ann Curry‘s meltdown on national TV as she exited from the Today show this week. I’ve admired her reporting and interview skills for a long time. I also thought she was a wonderful role model for Asian-Americans like myself. She’d climbed the corporate ladder with seeming class and elegance. With quiet humility Ann Curry was able to have it all. No hyper, in-your-face, beauty queen, she was one of us who happened to have a job hosting a morning TV show.

Being front man for the big boys means megabucks are at stake. The catchy ad that flashes across the screens at theaters says it all “GO BIG OR GO HOME.” Looks like Ann Curry wasn’t projecting big enough for the small screen. 

When I heard of her ouster from the Today Show, I felt sorry for Curry. However with bigger concerns occurring daily…people out of jobs, homes lost in wildfires, children dying from heat exhaustion, the tremendous growth in petty theft, pedophiles on trial…Curry’s situation paled in comparison. 

Hearing that she was receiving millions in a contract buyout didn’t make me overly sympathetic toward Curry either. Just enough since she was a woman, an ethnic sister, who slid from the summit of her career. Lucky for her she’s still working for NBC as a roving journalist. A job she’d had prior to her ascension. 

A smack to her ego for sure, but Curry’s lifestyle remains intact. The same can’t be said for millions who are unemployed through no choice of their own.

Forget That ‘Today’ Star–Weep for Today
by Joe Queenan

EVERY YEAR or so Americans get really upset because somebody insanely famous loses their job.
     First it was “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien, who whined and whined about getting purged from a job he was unqualified to fill in the first place. People were outraged. People were exorcised. People thought he got a raw deal. In fact, he got a payout of at least $30 million for taking a hike. And then he landed another show on TBS that also paid him millions. A show , like his stint at “Tonight,” that has mostly had crummy ratings. If he loses that one, we’ll never hear the end of it.
     But that will have to wait. This week, the nation’s lonely eyes turned toward embattled “Today” talk-show host Ann Curry. Stiff, distant, short on pep and nobody’s idea of fun, Ms. Curry was reportedly being offered $10 million to leave the venerable morning talk show and go back to being a real journalist. Ten million dollars. All in 20s.
     On thursday, Ms. Curry stepped down from “Today” (but she will stay on at NBC). Whatever the final financial deal, many people thought it was horribly unfair for her to get the ax. Was it her age (55)? Her gender? Or her performance?
     Just try watching her . Forget about paling in comparison to Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira. Based on what I’ve seen, Hillary Clinton has more pizazz than Ann Curry. And a better sense of humor. 
     Anyway, who cares? The number of unemployed young African-Americans in this country is staggering. The number of unemployed young people in America in general is staggering. In Spain, almost a quarter of the people are out of work, a Depression-era level. And, yes, when last I looked, lots and lots of people in developing countries were still hungry and poor and miserable.
     So explain to me why Ann Curry getting the bum’s rush was important news?
     Earlier this week, I found out that one of my wife’s young relatives had just lost his job. He has a house. He has a 3-year-old. He has a problem. One of my closest friends was recently forced to retire from his job due to kidney failure. And a weird blood disease. And, oh yes, cancer. The 60-something clerk at the convenience store I frequent, a guy who used to work in finance, is now happy to have a part-time job manning the checkout counter. The 70-something cashier at a local drugstore, a woman who fled Castro’s Cuba in 1959, recently got tossed out into the street.
     In April, in the space of 10 days, four people I know were forced into early retirement. They worked in the fields of education, air travel, publishing and journalism. They weren’t needed anymore. 
     Join the club. A few weeks ago I heard some noise outside my office and found a man in the hallway who used to work for a brokerage firm banging on every single door looking for a job. Any job. Nobody answered; I am the only person in this building whose office is still open for business. The other suites have been vacant for years.
     So explain again to me why we’re supposed to care about Ann Curry? Or Conan O’Briend? Or Indiana’s Sen. Richard Lugar, finally given his walking papers after 40 years? Or anybody else in the fields of sports, politics or entertainment?
     Maybe it’s time we redirected our concern and started showing some compassion for the truly unfortunate. Most of the people I know who lost their jobs recently lost them because of the economic downturn. They didn’t lose them because they were stiff or wooden or incapable of pretending that Al Roker is actually funny. None of them is self-pitying. None of them is overpaid. And none of them ever got $10 million to go away.
     So we can all hold the tears when Ann Curry’s name comes up. My advice to her is simple: Get yourself a real job. Not a job where you sit on a couch for two hours and gasbag with the planet’s most fiendish self-promoters. No, a real job.
     The kind of thing millions of Americans can now only dream of.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan. 15, 2010) Lt. Gen....

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan. 15, 2010) Lt. Gen. P.K. Keen, deputy commander of U.S. Southern Command, talks about humanitarian aid distribution with Ann Curry of NBC News at the Port-au-Prince National Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. United States military personnel are conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Haiti in the aftermath of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Stumberg/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sorry, Ann. You’re a big girl now. Dry your eyes. Dust off your bruised ego and get back to doing the job you’ve a real talent for…directing the world’s attention to the plight of the downtrodden. It may not be glamorous. It may not pay as much. But it contributes so much more to society than a job that elevates gossip to the level of substantive, thought-provoking conversation.

Civilization has made great strides in advancing the way our needs are met. On the other hand, we’ve made very little progress in what we find entertaining. Watching others writhe and squirm under the media’s spotlight continues to captivate, just as the slaughter of Christians for sport captivated the Romans of old.

today’s message…avoid the spotlight…

hugmamma.

Advertisements

japan, different perspectives

www.army.mil

Image by The U.S. Army via Flickr

Saw my physical therapist today. As with other alternative health practitioners, I find my sessions with Dieter and Jody mentally therapeutic as well. Perhaps it’s because they, along with chiropractors and massage therapists, are in “my space” as they work to heal my body. I find it easy to express my thoughts and feelings about a whole host of topics, especially about life’s ups and downs. Because these practitioners look to getting at the root of the problem, rather than prescribing drugs for the symptoms, their solutions are more organic. They resolve to get my body back working for me, not against me. I cannot recommend them enough. Carrie, Rachel, Jennifer, Dieter and Jody are my pit stop team. Whenever I need retooling, they’re on hand to service my “parts.”

Dieter and I spoke briefly of the devastation in Japan, as did Jody and I. What was interesting about the latter conversation is what Jody told me about a couple of her Japanese co-workers who have families in Japan. To her surprise, her peers expressed little concern about their relatives. One of them still had parents and siblings there. She seemed to feel they were fine since they were in the southern part of the island. The other staff member whose sister lived just outside Sendai, where the earthquake struck, explained that such natural disasters were commonplace. The implication was that the Japanese learned to live with them.

神奈川沖浪裏 Kanagawa oki nami ura (

Image via Wikipedia

Needless to say, I was as surprised as Jody. I thought of American parents who were frantically seeking word of their young, adult children who lived and worked in Japan. I thought of TV news pictures showing people flocking to catch flights out of the country, hurrying to get away from the nuclear contamination that threatens to spread. As I pondered the disparate views of 2 Japanese women, and 2 American women, I realized the answer lay in the differences in our cultures.

Honor of country and oneself is what drives the Japanese. They honor their gods, but the people control their own destinies. With their hands, their minds, and their steely determination, they forge ahead. They work through and around obstacles. They seem to take no notice of the words “no,” “can’t be done,” “not possible.” Instead they seem to embrace the words “let’s try,” “let’s see,” “if not this, maybe this.”

SHOW ME THE OBI ! -- THE OSHIMA ISLAND GIRLS o...

Image by Okinawa Soba via Flickr

On NBC’s World News with Brian Williams tonight, reporter Ann Curry spoke with several survivors. A middle-aged couple seemed to epitomize exactly what the Japanese are about. In the midst of a country torn apart, they were picking up the pieces, literally. They swept and scrubbed the tile floors, and along with neighbors, they carted snow from the surrounding hillsides, melting it into water. The men were shown proudly carving chopsticks from bamboo they had gathered themselves.

U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Jo...

Image via Wikipedia

Curry and her camera crew also visited shelters, one where young boys were seen laughing and clowning around for the the TV team. Another boy was drawing pictures, lost in his own world. The elderly were being tended to by others concerned for their fragile health. And local women sent food in the form of rice-balls, for the starving homeless. There was a general air of people helping people, as they patiently awaited their turn for help from their own government, or the outside world.

Oft-times I think we Americans tend to project our own world-view upon those of others. We can’t imagine that others would think differently. We proclaim English as the universal language, and our way of thinking as the most reasonable. Knowing the Japanese culture as I do, having been raised among them, I could guess at the reasoning behind the reaction of the 2 Japanese women who worked in the physical therapist’s office. My immediate reaction was the same as Jody’s. However, it was tempered by my knowledge of a culture that is world’s apart not only physically, but in its value system as well.

Two maiko performing in Gion.

Image via Wikipedia

 

so perhaps they don’t worry…until they have to worry…hugmamma.

“same sky,” empowering women

Economically empower a woman—you change her, her family, her community, her country… and eventually, the social & economic fabric of the entire world.

On Inside Edition last night, not a program I usually sit and watch, more like I glance at the screen as I’m walking through the living room. When something is of interest though, I’ll sit on the edge of the closest chair. If it’s worth watching, I may settle in for a few minutes. Mention of “Same Sky,” an organization that helps empower the women of Rwanda caught my eye. So I gave my full attention to the broadcast.

In 1994, 800,000 Rwandans were massacred. During this genocide, women were enslaved as sex victims. As a result they were inflicted with the HIV virus. Bearing children, these new mothers were unable to care for their offspring because they suffered the effects of the disease. Filmmaker Francine Le Franc was moved to help these women help themselves, and their families. Le Franc began “Same Sky,” a cooperative wherein the women learned to crochet. With their newfound skill, they were able to make beaded jewelry. The necessary tools are shipped from the U.S., and the finished pieces shipped back for sale in retail stores, and at home parties, and trunk shows. 100%of the proceeds are put back into the business, thereby enabling more women the opportunity to participate.

Le Franc decided “Same Sky” was a befitting name for the business venture, because ALL women live under the same sky. “They see the same stars and the same moon. Every woman. One dream.” TV host Deborah Norville remarked, “And they’re sold for a profit. This is not a charity operation.” Le Franc added “It’s a trade initiative, not an aid initiative. It’s a hand up, not a hand out.”

Check out the SAME SKY website for further information, and see familiar faces, like those below, who have joined in supporting the cause. The jewelry may be a little pricey for most of us, but for an extra special gift, they might just work. Nonetheless, we can join in celebrating the self-liberating, empowerment of these women of Rwanda…hugmamma.

Halle Berry in Seafoam     

Goldie Hawn in Butterscotch and Jade Green

Ben Affleck in Men's Wrap

Katie Couric in Clear Sky

Ann Curry in Caviar

Chelsea Clinton in Seafoam

Fran Dresher in Fire Red

Meryl Streep in Starry Night

Queen Latifah in Chocolate Brownie

Jesse Jackson in Men's Wrap

Joan Collins in Fire Red and Starry Night

Geena Davis in Sky Blue

Donna Karen in Fire Red (photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images)