Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Faces of Shanghai

Meet Wei Yufang and his family
魏玉芳 (山东籍 小贩) 我们的日子过得很苦,每顿都是煎饼就着咸菜吃,加上一杯白开水。孩子们想吃荤菜时,就烧一个鸡蛋给他们吃。只要不下雨,就天天早出夜归,每天做十五、六个小时生意。希望孩子们上好学,我那怕东借西凑也要让他们上大学,别象我这样没文化。大儿子很争气,每学期都得奖回家,我很开心。外出摆水果滩被地痞流氓欺负,让我伤心透了。

Wei Yufang (Shandongnese, Vendor): "We are leading a hard life and eat battercakes, pickles and a glass of water for all three meals. When our kids want meat dishes, we cook them an egg. We work more than 15 hours a day if it doesn't rain. We want our kids to be educated and not to live like us. I will risk anything if our kids can go to university. My eldest son is excellent and wins prizes every semester. I suffer being teased by local ruffians."

-:-Look into the faces of Shanghai residents through the lens of Hu Yang-:-

Photojournalist and artist Hu Yang has created a lasting record of Shanghai people in their living quarters. Each individual is introduced to us in their own words (see above). There is a total of 97 documentary photographs.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Cross-cultural Commerce - a lampoon

cartoon lampoon

Global profiteering: The art of profit-taking by selling stolen goods to ignorant consumers, a time-honoured practice that knows no scruples or boundaries...


Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Abaqondise Brothers - Kobanga Te

(Click on the left button - Turn up the volume on your computer - Wait for the sound file to load.)

Text: "Kobanga te , ibe kanta la" - "Hab' keine Angst, es gibt jemand, der passt gut auf dich auf." - "Don't be afraid, someone is watching over you."

Die südafrikanische Gruppe Abaqondise wird in ihrer Heimat bereits als die Nachfolger der weltberühmten und wesentlich mehr kommerziellen "Ladysmith Black Mambazo" angesehen.

Ihre rhythmischen Lieder mit den unnachahmlichen Klängen gehen einem sofort ins Blut.

"Abaqondise" bedeutet Freundschaft in der Xhosa-Sprache und man fühlt es deutlich. Es kommt in ihren Auftritten und in ihrer CD mit dem Titel "Kobanga Te" die ganze Lebensfreude Afrikas zum Ausdruck.

"Rhythmus hat keine kulturellen und sozialen Grenzen. Rhythmus kann von jedem Menschen erfahren werden."


That certain 'Je ne sais quoi'

CROSS-CULTURAL OUTLINE visits PARIS: Le Jardin des Tuileries

From The Paris Journals by Michael Howard, Essayist, Commentator and CROSS CULTURAL OUTLINE Contributing Writer

"French police cruise on rollerblades and wear big silver stars copied from western movies. They no longer have the billy clubs and weighted capes with which they were wont to bash students upside the head. Now they carry guns. Dark vans with tinted windows transport them around town to monitor the manifestations. A manifestation is a peaceful, prearranged parade by anybody for any reason. Sometimes the bus and metro workers strike in sympathy and the city shuts down. Cars jam the streets. The police blow whistles and shout at the stalled cars and generally make things worse. Many people take a holiday. The French love holidays and take them all the time."

"Everybody smokes everywhere. Cigarette boxes say "Smoking Kills" in big black letters on one side and "Tobacco Causes Impotence" on the other. A popular item is a cardboard container into which a cigarette pack can be inserted to cover the warnings."

"In Paris everybody does the Paris Walk. If you don't do the Paris Walk, people behind you will knock you down and step over you. The basic step is simple; you just shorten the length of your stride by half and walk twice as fast. Paris is one of the most crowded cities in the world and people walk closely together. You must do The Walk in an absolutely straight line. If you swerve, you will collide with oncoming pedestrians in a domino effect which tumbles walkers for blocks. Parisians can estimate distances in millimeters, which is why they drive the way they do."

"In a crowd you see faces from history. A Voltaire sharp-chin slit-mouth face, a pudgy big-nosed Louis face, a girl with the delicate features of an 18th-century marquise. Noble families who marry carefully can trace their ancestors back to the Norman Conquest."

"This is what happens at a good café in Paris. The owner greets you by name, body-blocks an elderly lady who is heading for your favorite table, asks whether you want the usual (a bottle of St. Véran), brings an extra plate of peanuts, and fills both glasses. Everyone in the café speaks French except the couple at the next table, who are in love and do not speak at all. When you leave, the owner grasps your hand, kisses your wife on both cheeks, and begs you to return."

"This is what happens at a bad café in Paris. You spot a good table for two on the terrace; but seconds before you arrive, a party of Americans steals one of the chairs. Your wife sits in the remaining chair to establish ownership of the table and you stand in front of it while 50 comfortably-seated people stare at you with amused contempt. You feel like a bad stand-up comic. Your wife lights another cigarette and pretends she doesn't know you."

"Finally you find another chair and order wine. The waiter appears with a pot of muscadet and two glasses. He sprinkles your glass with a few drops and pauses reverently, no longer a waiter at the Café Bonaparte but a sommelier presenting a dusty bottle of Grand Cru Chateau Lafite Rothschild to the Minister of Culture. He is in fact only a waiter bearing a carafe containing a vile liquid the color of tap water tinged with piss. Without tasting it, you motion for him to fill both glasses. You do not taste the wine because you are embarrassed. You know that you have ordered the cheapest, most abominable wine on the menu, the glass misty with sludge from the bottom of the keg."

"On your right, two New Yorkers complain about their meal at one of the best restaurants in town. On your left, an ancient British couple cannot understand their menu, which happens to be written in English. With pictures. In the corner, a group of Germans loudly recall their student days in Heidelberg. The waiter overcharges you ten dollars on the bill and later presents his girl friend with the lighter your wife forgot."


[Text © Michael Howard ]

[Photo Credit: French MBA Club]


12-19-95 to 07-28-09

~ For O. & D. & W.: Forever Love ~

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Jungle in a Pot

Here you are, at home, sitting at your computer. Take a look around you: Is there any green you can rest your eyes on? Chances are, there is not.

Not everyone has a picture window with a view of a lush garden, park or copious greenery. For most of us, the view is that of the building across the street, or of the bus-stop, or of rooftops, or of the neighbor's garage, or of the fence around the adjacent property, all of them tiresome and drab.

And here we sit, pounding away at the keyboard, squinting at the screen, boxed in by walls, real or imagined. Time to make your space more user-friendly by adding a bit of green.

GREEN is GOOD for you!
Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri',
or Sprenger's Asparagus Fern

is an evergreen perennial with delicate needlelike leaves and ferny green arching or cascading branches. It is extremely hardy and thrives not just outdoors, but in containers as a houseplant or on a window sill.

This plant is inexpensive. Of all the possible houseplants, it does not require that you have the proverbial 'green thumb', as long as you pour a glass of water in the pot now and again to keep the soil moist. Asparagus Ferns are very forgiving and do not need direct sunlight. They do, however, need a nearby light-source if grown indoors (preferably near a window). This plant is the perfect option for your office, your home office, your apartment or your room.
-:- It is, what we might call, a cross-cultural plant -:-

Whether you are in Johannesburg, Munich, Chicago or Caracas, or anywhere in-between, go ahead, bring an Asparagus Fern into your life to brighten your 'interiorscape'. Your overworked eyes and stressed-out mind will thank you for it. And, who knows, pretty soon you might add a second plant, or a third to make your own private jungle.

(Fine print: No, we are not commercial growers or salesmen. We simply report on what works best in a given situation based on our own experience.)

Do you have a favourite houseplant? Tell us what it is.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Music For Your Eyes

~ ~ ~
Enter a new Dimension of Sight and Sound

This is a unique multi-media fusion of computer-generated 3D animations and audio, based on MIDI music which is processed to simultaneously drive the audio and the on-screen visualization. As we hear the sounds, generated with software synthesizers, we see each virtual instrument in the act of producing them.


Introducing Romanian Poet Ana Blandiana

Cross-Cultural Outline features Ana Blandiana

Two poems found in CONTEMPORARY LITERARY HORIZON, a European independent bi-lingual literary journal of poetry and prose in the English and the Romanian language published in Bucharest, Romania.


Frunze, cuvinte, lacrimi,
cutii de chibrituri, pisici,
tramvaie câteodată, cozi la făină,
gărgăriţe, sticle goale, discursuri,
imagini lungite de televizor,
gândaci de Colorado, benzină,
steguleţe, portrete cunoscute,
Cupa Campionilor Europeni,
maşini cu butelii, mere refuzate la export,
ziare, franzele, ulei în amestec, garoafe,
întâmpinări la aeroport, cico, batoane,
Salam Bucureşti, iaurt dietetic,
ţigănci cu kenturi, ouă de Crevedia,
zvonuri, serialul de sâmbătă seara,
cafea cu înlocuitori,
lupta popoarelor pentru pace, coruri,
producţia la hectar, Gerovital, aniversări,
compot bulgăresc, adunarea oamenilor muncii,
vin de regiune superior, adidaşi,
bancuri, băieţii de pe Calea Victoriei,
peşte oceanic, Cântarea României,

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Leaves, words, tears,
match boxes, cats,
sometimes tramways, queuing up for flour,
lady birds, empty bottles, speeches,
images stretched by the TV set,
Colorado beetles, gas,
bannerettes, familiar portraits,
Champions League,
gas cylinders, always turned down for export,
journals, white loaves, mixed oil, carnations,
airport welcomes, sodas, bars of chocolate,
Bucuresti salami, low fat yoghurt,
gypsy women with packs of Kent, Crevedia eggs,
rumors, the Saturday night soap opera,
coffee substitutes,
the peoples’ battle for peace, choirs,
the yield per hectare, Gerovital, birthdays,
Bulgarian compote, the assembly of workers,
superior wine, trainers,
jokes, the boys on Calea Victoriei,
ocean fish, Cântarea României,

:: Romanian lyric poet, essayist, and translator Ana Blandiana, born Otilia-Valeria Coman on March 25, 1942, in Timişoara, is considered one of her generation’s most significant literary voices and is known internationally as one of Romania's most outstanding poets. Deeply spiritual in her sensibility and patriotic in her loyalties, she wrote verse of traditional beauty and elegance. During her country's communist period she became a prominent dissident and later a respected public voice for freedom and democratic change. Ana Blandiana authored a total of 17 volumes of poetry, 6 books of essays and 4 books of other prose writings. Her work has been translated into 16 languages.


De ce nu se-amestecă totul?
De ce nu se-acoperă
Pielea lucioasă a pământului cu blană?
De ce nu răsare iarba verde şi fragedă
Pe spinarea fierbinte a fiarelor din păduri?
De ce nu le cresc pomilor aripi
Şi păsărilor rădăcini?
De ce nu ciripesc pietricelele fericite
De pe marginea râului?
Eu de ce nu învăţ să urăsc?
Eu de ce?
- O, Doamne, ce copil obositor,
Oftează îngerul.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Why doesn’t everything blend together?
Why doesn’t the shiny earth skin
Get covered in fur?
Why doesn’t green and tender grass spring
On the burning back of forest beasts?
Why don’t trees grow wings
And birds roots?
Why don’t the happy pebbles chirp
On the river bank?
Why can’t I learn to hate?
Why not me?
- Oh, Lord, what a tiresome child,
Sighs the angel.
[Published in CONTEMPORAN LITERAR ORIZONT, Anul II, nr. 5 (10), Iunie 2009]


- AMALGAMATED PERSPECTIVES presents 'Childhood' and 'Journey' by Ana Blandiana. Click here -


Monday, February 9, 2009

Ana Elsner shows Poetry as Theater

Co-producer and director Ana Elsner is proud to present

check it out

Three Nights of Performance Poetry


Showcasing Thirteen Distinguished Poets

on March 5, 12 and 19, 2009


This special three-part poetry series is designed to appeal to a large and diverse audience, targeting especially all those who are newcomers to poetry events.

It highlights select poets whose unique voices represent a sampling of the vibrant contemporary poetry scene.
If you reside in, or will be visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, you are invited and encouraged to attend this exciting and dynamic event.
: V e n u e :

The Randall Museum Theater in Corona Heights Park, 199 Museum Way at Roosevelt Way.

Maplink: Click here to see map

Free parking lot.
Muni #37

Call 1-415-554-9600 for directions.

Wheelchair accessible.

: P r o g r a m :

- First Night: "View Point Vistas"
on Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 7pm,
with featured poets Jerry Ferraz, Charlie Getter, Don Brennan, Rosemary Manno;
special musical guest Betsy Stein, violin;
hosted by Stephen Kopel

- Second Night: "Passion Unveiled"
on Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 7pm,
with featured poets Stephen Kopel, Jari Bradley, Christopher Bernard, Joan Gelfand;
special musical guest Don Prell, acoustic bass;
directed and hosted by Ana Elsner

- Third Night: "Lasting Impressions"
on Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 7pm,
with featured poets Ana Elsner, Al Averbach, Richard Beban, Lunation (Clara Hsu and Bill Mercer);
hosted by Stephen Kopel

-Admission to all events is free-

: S p o n s o r :

The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department


: Photo Montage of the PASSION UNVEILED Show :

(art work ©Ana Elsner)


A Word in Your Ear

"In an age when city coffers are depleted and public and community venues and facilities such as the San Francisco Public Libraries, SFPL, the San Francisco Free Civic Theater, SFFCT, director Glenn Havlan, several neighborhood rec centers and many other free city-run programs are being threatened with cut-backs, it is especially important to come out in support of local literary and community events before they vanish forever.

The Randall Theater Poetry Series is one such program. Attending one, two or all three of the poetry shows will not only inform and entertain you, but will also send a message to the appropriate city agencies that events such as these are in demand, are vital to the local community and deserve continued funding.

Yes, we are soliciting your engagement and presence at these three shows, not just for the benefit of the featured poets and musicians who are giving so generously of their time and talent without monetary compensation, but also to help us make an important point.

So go ahead, jump on our (poetry) bandwagon. There's room for all of us!

Thank you."

- Ana Elsner
Poet, Producer and Patron of the Arts
< click

: P E R F O R M E R S :

A Panoply Of Personalities


Christopher BernardJari BradleyRichard BebanAl AverbachClara HsuBill MercerJoan GelfandJerry FerrazStephen KopelPoet, director and host Ana ElsnerDon BrennanAna Elsner's musical guest: bassist Don Prell


Click here to see
The Cast


Click to see highlights of Elsner's past events and appearances


© 2009 CROSS-CULTURAL OUTLINE, an independent online publication. All rights reserved.