Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yom K & Digital Homeroom

Sunday was spend working until I hopped the bus to meet my friend and high holiday buddy Naomi for our pre-Yom Kipput dinner in Los Feliz. We loaded up on carbs and water at Il Capricio taking in some great salmon topped with scalloped potatoes in a tangy kalamata sauce and eggplant parm that was surprisingly light to fill up before the fast. While eating the tiramisu, I accidentally inhaled the chocolate powder and almost got myself written out of the book o' life (see under: Goodie's headache powder). We then made our way to Temple Beth Am for the kol nidre service.

As Naomi and I took our seats, a woman carrying a cute baby made her way to the seats behind us. As we waved and smiled at the baby, the woman remarked, "I think I know that look, you left your child at home or under someone else's care for the evening." This led to some serious laughter on our parts. It was at the start of Rosh Hashanah at erev RH dinner that the host thought we were dating, now we have progressed in this period to Yom K to be married and have kids.

The service was nice, I'm searching for the Kol Nidre meditation that I found rather moving. I also never realized till I started looking for the meditation that the Kol Nidre prayer is something that anti-Semites point to as a fact that Jews can't be trusted. They say that the prayer absolves Jews of all vows and obligations, and lets them cheat- silly anti-Semites don't understand that it refers to vows to G-d not man. "Antisemitism is the socialism of fools," said Augustus Bebel.

The day o' atonement continued the next morning. I found a rather interesting shift had taken place in the prayers for our country and for Israel. The prayer for our country goes:

Our God and God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country, for its government, for its leader and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach them insights of Your Torah, that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst.

While the prayer for the State of Israel says:

Shield it with Your lovingkindness, envelop it in Your peace, and bestow Your light and truth upon its leaders, ministers, and advisors, and grace them with Your good counsel.

In the past, I had prayed for the US domestically and Israel externally- protect us from the Bush admin, and protect Israel from outside foes. This year, it changed up a bit. As we gave the prayer for the country, I said out loud, "God bless Barack Obama," which got a few amens. Meanwhile, I prayed for Israel's protection from the zealots in government.

After services, Naomi and I lounged around my place- trying not to think about the hunger. We found a great cure to take care of the waning time before we could eat- sheshbesh (backgammon). The game required just enough concentration to take our minds off food. We broke our fast over some pretzel sticks dipped in dulce de leche and some turkish coffee and Argentine pomelo soda, before gorging ourselves on yuppie Middle Eastern food at a nice place called the Desert Rose. Harissa-covered baked brie, chicken kabobs with garlic mayo, not a bad way to break the fast.

Yesterday I was a guest at a journalism class to discuss my photo exhibit. Prof. Pat Dean saw my exhibit and was gracious enough to invite me to speak in the "digital homeroom" class. I began my lecture by making everyone close their laptops. I said, "you don't need to take notes, and your facebook status can wait." I spoke a little about my work, and explained about the original Family of Man exhibit. I brought in a pub d case study on the Family of Man and had a few people read out loud to get everyone on the same page. Then I discussed how I created my exhibit and the history behind the specific photos that were up on the wall.

I then ducked out and back to my own class, which was taking place on Pub D LatAm. We were discussing the differences between Kennedy and Johnson's policies towards Latin America, how we had a switch from democracy promotion to nonintervention and stability. We looked at the Peace Corps' role in pd, and the case of their expulsion from Bolivia in 1971. The expulsion came about over anger over the US assassination of Che in Bolivia (see under: the CIA's greatest hits) and Peace Corps promotion of contraceptives (see under: know your audience, especially in a conservative society).
Shockingly, because it seems like I just got back, but midterms are starting up and I remain superbusy.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What a long, strange week it's been

I mistakenly thought that life would slow down post-gallery opening. Hopefully things will slow down so I don't have to do long weekly roundups.

Monday I went to see Walt & El Grupo with some pubd friends.
I took the metro out to Hollywood to meet my friend Kaitlin, who was ferrying me to the theater. I first stopped at Famima, which to my great delight I found to be a Japanese convenie (convenience store) transplanted to America. The store had all sorts of onigiri, pocky and other assorted Japanese goodies. I chatted with the store clerk, he told me it is Familymart in Japan, makes more sense. I was beaming as I snacked down on triangle onigiri with salmon and tuna fillings, finished off with a redbean paste bun.

On to Westwood with Kaitlin to catch the movie with friends. Walt & El Grupo was a very interesting piece on Walt Disney and his animators being sent south to Brazil, Argentina and Chile to serve as goodwill cultural ambassadors, gain the opportunity to collect material for South American-inspired characters and help check Nazi influence in the southern cone. The documentary was good, and brought back a lot of nostalgia for my days down south. It was especially interesting because I had just studied about the Disney endeavor and the actions of the OCIAA. My friend Naomi had arranged for the director Ted Thompson to be at the showing, so we got to chat with him afterwards about Disney's trip and his own project.

Tuesday I had my Pub LatAm class, which was fascinating as always. We looked at the coming of the Cold War in Latin America, and the difference of interests in Latin America and the US. In the US, interests can be seen as security, prosperity and idea promotion, usually in that order; in Latin America, it is more along economic development. In the post-WWII world, there had been a flowering of democracy in Latin America, and a focus on the economy by reformist, democratic regimes. Meanwhile, there was a real dichotomy between LatAm regimes, between dictatorial regimes that were obsequious towards the north for survival support, and the democratic regimes concerned with economic development. Where the US saw the threat of communism taking over via democratic means, many of the democratic regimes saw only minor threats of minor parties to be dealt with in the electoral process- therein lies the basis for major misunderstandings. It didn't help that the foreign policy luminary George Kennan visited Latin America and returned with an extremely paternalistic policy memo that was starkly opposed to the nuance he showed in the USSR.

Another major misunderstanding came from the sale of raw materials to the US by Latin American countries during WWII to the US at below market value. This was done because many of the countries genuinely saw the fascist threat and assisted in the war effort- there was also a promise of recoup and aid after the war. That never exactly worked out. Truman essentially told Latin American leaders, that yes, the promise existed but he couldn't act on it at the moment given all the aid going to Europe under the Marshall Plan, and the remainder going to Asia as part of the containment policy. Truman asked for patience and said it would come later; when Eisenhower came to office, he nixed the aid and said the promises would be recouped via trade.

Meanwhile, we discussed the Bolivian, Guatemalan and Cuban revolutions, the role of diplomacy and public diplomacy carried out all three. In Bolivia, the MNR carried out some serious diplomacy to placate the US that it wasn't communist- but the bulwark against communism, that property would be respected or compensated, that the regime was not a threat. Geography, some visit diplomacy by Eisenhower's brother and lack of overall US interests in Bolivia saved the day for the MNR and the US didn't oppose.

Things were a lil different in Guatemala, where the United Fruit Company ran the banana republic. Guatemala's geography worked against it in this case, being only 1000 miles from New Orleans and on Mexico's southern border (domino theory! if Guatemala goes, there could go Mexico). Meanwhle, the huckster Eddie Bernays ran an incredible pr campaign for the fruit magnate. All led to the CIA carrying out its famous 1954 coup against the Arbenz regime. So came the death of the Good Neighbor policy.

Past became prologue as the next revolution popped up in Cuba- as a few sides learned from Guatemala. First, Castro did some really adept public diplomacy via Herbert Mathews to sell himself as a Washington-esque revolutionary figure and was not a communist, which he professed over and over. Second, the anger at US actions in Guatemala made it far more hesitant to do anything in Cuba, and was also taking Castro at face value. There was also some serious underestimation of the situation in Cuba, based on the belief that it didn't matter who ran Cuba because it would always be in our orbit. All fascinating and always my summaries don't do justice to the discussion.

Wednesday I met with Prof Pat James to discuss my trip to Japan, which his office- the Center for International Studies supported. As a thanks, I brought him a fabulous bottle of sake I got in Obuse. The sake was smoother than mother's milk, I tried it at the factory. Then I hopped the metrolink train and was off to the desert in Corona for Kenya's installation as her Kiwanis club president. The event was lovely, but a little hard at the time because it reminded me so much of my rotary days and my friend Jerry. Kenya gave a great speech and will do great work as the club pres. I caught a ride back with her gentleman caller Vim in his audi convertible, which made for a nice ride back to Lalaland.

Thursday was a tough day, as my thoughts were with my friend Jerry- whose funeral was that day. Since I couldn't go to the funeral in Houston, I went to synagogue and said the Mourners Kaddish. There was an interesting discussion about the EU and public diplomacy As luck would have it, who came to address our Pub D Africa class but the South African Consul General and Deputy Consul. I shocked them fully by greeting them in besotho. The discussion was a reminder of the complexities of Southern Africa, and a bit of a reminder of the emnity between the ANC and Israel to this day. The new South Africa and Israel don't always get along so well because the ANC was close with the PLO and Israel supported the apartheid government.

Friday I had an Indian lunch at the 23rd st cafe with my friend Mark Preston - a first year and the new sheriff of pub d. On to my theories of diplomacy class with Prof. Wiseman. Our topic this week was IR realism and diplomacy. It was my turn to review the work of the esteemed IR academic theorist Prof. Hans J. Morgenthau's Politics Among Nations. His work was a stunning take on power and diplomacy. He very systematically lays out the functions, instruments of diplomacy and its role in preserving peace. It was pretty heady stuff, and almost a little of surprising tone from one of the fathers of Realism (to be sure, a classical realist) who clearly took a wide view on the role of diplomacy in international affairs- my critique being of most realists that they focus on power alone and miss the other important factors. Morgenthau is easily the most realistic realist I have come across. We had discussed Machiavelli and his writings on diplomacy and impact on realist thought. I started off my review stating that Machiavelli's work is fine for petulant princes squabbling over petty intrigues, but if you want to be a statesman, Morgenthau's piece is a requirement. I went on to re-brand his work from "Politics Among Nations," to a far catchier "The Statesman." Sorry Hans, but if you want the work to be held for the bible of diplomacy that it is, you have to get a better title.

Overall we had a fantastic class and came up with some interesting metrics to explain international relations. Here goes the fuzzy math: Domestic Policy + Foreign Policy + Diplomacy = Statecraft; DoPo + FoPo + Diplo + Public Diplomacy = 21st Century Statecraft. But keep in mind that PD is really a force multiplier so it could also read PD Squared. Meanwhile, Intention + Capability = Threat; yet the balance must be calibrated because intention is not of the same value as capability and far too many conflate the two and give equal weight to unequal factors. This is possibly the first math equations i have understood in years.

We escaped from our Lab of Diplomacy and took to The Lab for a drink after class. Then I was off to return to the Cromwell Premier League (CPL) cricket match, where my team- the Mumbai Indians squared off against the Bangalore Royal Challengers. Our opponents laughed when I chided them for not using the proper name of "Bangaluru." 'Twas nice to be back on the pitch. I batted terribly in practice, but turned some heads with a few diving catches. I will be good at this game with just a little more practice. A teammate named Swami worked on teaching me how to spin bowl- both leg spin and off spin. Next up is the googlie. Anyway, unfortunately we lost. I didn't do much, the ball never came to me and I didn't get to take my licks at bat. Still fun, and always a joy to watch and hang out.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pictures at an Exhibition

The title of the review of my exhibit by Andrew Wulf, a fellow at CPD. A lil excerpt:

Public diplomacy in the 21st century is more about the richness and sharing of human contact than anything else, the discovery of common ground while still maintaining personal values. Rockower invites us to take a trip - a number of trips, really - from Xi’an to Cusco, Lesotho to Saigon. Ultimately, what this exhibition and this photographer have accomplished is no small feat. These are not travel photos, nor a personal diary. Answering his own question as to the defining message of the 1955 exhibition, the poet Sandburg wrote this:

There is only one man in the world
and his name is All Men.
There is only one woman in the world
and her name is All Women.
There is only one child in the world
and the child’s name is All Children.

Following the original concept, this new exhibition deserves commendation for unpretentiously, idealistically, and effectively reintroducing all of us to each other.

Check out his full review on the CPD Blog.

Andrew's words mean a great deal to me because he is an immensely talented museum curator. He curated the phenomenal When Windmills Are Giants

Which exhibited the story of Don Quixote through manuscripts such as:

His newest curation masterpiece is called From Zero to Infinity, and brilliantly weaves together a bevy of religious texts, iconography, colors and other works:

I termed his exhibit, "From Zero to Incredible"; I guess you can see we have a mutual appreciation for each other's work.

On Mr. Frank and moi

My friend Daysha saw this in a photo review and said she thought of moi: "He was in the right place at the right time, but he also had the right reflexes, a dancer’s combination of precision and abandon. And he had the right instincts or, maybe, attitude. For some people a camera is armor. For Mr. Frank it was an antenna, a feeling and thinking device."

Quite a compliment indeed, ty Daysha.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Accept no substitutes

Warning, there is an impostor Wandering Jew about. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) has sent out their own wannabe itinerant Hebrew. Lame.

PD for PR

A little public diplomacy for a public diplomacy photo show. I made the CommLine, the Annenberg newsletter and also their website.

Russia and Realism

The LA Times reported this morning that Russia is moving slowly towards helping the US on Iran- something they have been reticent to do in the past. This comes in wake of the US decision to abandon the missile defense shield in Central Europe. While the so-called realists bemoaned the sell-out of Poland and the Czech Republic, the reality is that Russian, or the real threat of Iranian missiles, never really loomed that large and caused more of an irritant with Russian relations than was worth the benefit. This is a true realist move of sizing up real interests and getting Russia on board regarding Iran rather than poke the bear over unsubstantiated missile threats. Kudos to Obama the Realist, maybe this will shut up the naysayers who have been claiming Obama has no achievements to show for his foreign policy endeavors. Probably not, but one can hope.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Brand India, Apples-to-Apples and Honey, 5770, Jerrybear, India Calling.

"Life loves those who love life."
-Walt Disney

Welcome to emotional rollercoaster that is my life. Things got a lil crazy starting last thursday at the opening reception. I was chatting with Prof. Jay Wang and his guest Sudhir Horo who was in for a nation branding seminar the following day. The seminar was on Brand India, which Mr. Horo and his company theideaworks had worked on. They invited me to participate since many of my photos exhibit India.

Friday I was running around with my little sis, taking her to In-and-Out Burger for the first time. She headed back east and I headed to the brand seminar, which was during a class but Professor Wiseman let me duck out for a bit to attend. The seminar was really interesting. Guests included the joint secretary for India's Ministry of Tourism, the assistant director for the Ministry of Tourism. I met them- not exactly realizing their roles, and gushed over my love of Bharat. At the seminar, they went over the Incredible India campaign, a terrific showcasing of India's colorful brilliance. I spoke about my travels to India, my fascination with it, how I had sent half-a-dozen friends in my wake (see Rockin' through Raja). The question was asked of what of India did not make my exhibit, to which I responded that I didn't have any of India's majestic terrain in the exhibit, and hope to visit the north and Kashmir someday for that.

I ran off to my Theories of Diplomacy class to discuss diplomacy and Cold War cables (Kennan, Novikov and Roberts). We discussed different aspects of event diplomacy and summitry, including the difference between summits as events (media) or process (diplomatic actors), also about funeral diplomacy and how the the burial of heads of state can be impromptu summits.

From there, I headed with Naomi over to our friend Elyssa's house for some family time over a Rosh Hashana meal. Delicious round challahs with raisins, and great traditional RH food. After dinner, we played my favorite game, Apples to Apples, of which they had a Jewish edition (Apples to Apples and Honey!).

Saturday was Rosh Hashana, and I went to services with my friend Naomi at a conservative synagogue in West LA. The services were very nice, with the best haftarah reading I ever ever heard (done with the most soft, subtle grace). The sermon was a little too apt, as the rabbi spoke of the art exhibitions of our lives.

After services, I got an amazing phone call. Venkat of the Indian Ministry of Tourism at the Brand India seminar called to invite me to the Hollywood Bowl sunday for India Calling, an night of Indian music and culture put on by the ministry and National Geographic- which they would introduce me to. The coup of his news was that the Indian Ministry of Tourism wants to send me to India to do a photo shoot!! They want to send me to the north so that I can do more landscape photos. Incredible India indeed! Not sure of the full details, but exciting news.

Naomi and I went to celebrate over sushi in Little Tokyo, and I went back and was flying high until I got some news that rocked me. My friend Jerry Morales from my South Africa Rotary trip passed away. He had been ill for a while but had been fighting for so long that I almost forgot he was ill. Jerry was the warmest friend, always the center of attention and causing everyone else around to laugh at him or with him. Jerry was truly someone who loved life, and he was loved for it. He will be missed.

Sunday I met my "big sis" Kay and her friend Tracy who were down for my opening. We met in Hollywood and wandered around a bit before heading over to In-and-Out for some double-doubles. After we toured around Hollywood for a bit, plus a pinkberry snack, I made my way to Cafe Audrey to get some work done and meet Kenya for a cup o' tea. I had a cup o' rooibos in honor of my friend Jerry and our SA days.

Afterwards, Kenya left me at the Hollywood Bowl for the India Calling event, where I met Prof. Wang and Sudhir Horo. The Indian Ministry of Tourism was putting on a tremendous display of cultural diplomacy. There were traditional dances and handicraft stalls. Impressively, the crowd was pretty mixed, which means it was a good cultural outreach effort. Thanks Slumdog Millionaire for the fascination with all things India these days. My new best friends at the Indian Ministry facilitated a brief meeting for me with an editor at National Geographic Traveler and one of their photographer named Palani Mohan

We took our seats at the bowl and took in a night of beautiful music, dancing and colors. The Hollywood Bowl was lit up with different hindi designs. Ravi Shankar's daughter Anushka conducted a band put together by the maestro, and then later played an amazing fusion set. There was a fascinating Rajasthan group and dancers, who spun like a dervish and created a tornado of colors. Also a cool performance by Karsh Kaile, whose impish persona drew huge cheers. He wished everyone a happy Rosh Hashanah, a blessed Eid and a wonderful soon-to-be Diwali, pretty cool and so India. There was also a great performance by Malik Singh, who blended Indian music with reggae and had wonderful Punjabi dancers on stage. Kudos for an amazing evening of cultural diplomacy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The 21C Family of Man opening

The last few days have been a blur, but a pretty amazing whirlwind has swept through. My exhibit has cause a bit of controversy over my usage of "man." A gender and communications studies professor took umbrage at my gender insensitivity for using signage terminology like "Family of Man," "Faith of Man," etc. 21st Century Family of Persons really doesn't have the same ring to it. 'Tis okay, the exhibit last year on the border fence sparked its own controversy as critics complained that it exhibited "illegal aliens." I imagine that this controversy too shall pass.

My family arrived to LA, my mom, lil sister Ellen, grandfather and uncle, and "big sis" Kay. It was very special having family on hand to share this time with me, and I really enjoyed getting to show them my LA world.

The reception was a lavish affair and there was a large turnout for the event. There was an incredible spread of foods from all over the world, things like jerk chicken, curry pastry puffs and assorted cheeses. They even had Red Stripe beer from Jamaica- the Annenberg events people rock.

The affair began with remarks by Prof. Larry Gross, the Dean of the Communications School. He alluded to the controversy my signage caused, and spoke of the original controversy of the Family of Man exhibit. He was followed by Prof. Phil Seib, who is the director of the Center on Public Diplomacy. The avuncular Seib laughed about how many frequent flyer miles I must have racked up (sadly, no- I get no miles for long bus rides). Then Prof. Cull gave some wonderfully warm remarks about the program and my work.

Finally it was my turn to speak. I had been writing this speech in my head all summer (prob from the day I received the project- I am such a kosher ham). Here are my remarks, abbreviated without all the effusive thanks I offered. I titled the remarks "The Bridge":

As Khalil Gibran said of his magnum opus, “The Prophet”: ”Every word of it was the very best I had to offer.” This work that you see here is the very best I have to offer.

A more difficult task than traveling from Beijing to Cairo is putting together a photography exhibit in LA while not owning a car. It takes a lot of public diplomacy to put on a public diplomacy photo exhibit.

The best definition of public diplomacy I have seen has come from USC Professor Manuel Castells:
'Public Diplomacy is the…projection in the international arena of the values and ideas of the public… The aim of the practice of public diplomacy is not to convince but to communicate, not to declare but to listen. Public diplomacy seeks to build a sphere in which diverse voices can be heard in spite of their various origins, distinct values, and often contradictory interests.'

That is exactly what I am trying to build with my photo exhibit; that is what all of us in the Public Diplomacy program are trying to build through the tremendous education we receive here. It is about constructing a space where all are one.

This exhibit is about showcasing those elements that, in the darkness, bind us. Things like friendship, like family, like faith. That ephemeral quality that is love.

Public Diplomacy is about messages. As Gandhi said, “My life is my message.” So then, what is my message to you tonight?

I considered the words of St. Augustine, that which grace all my emails, “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel read only a page.” I considered the words of the Prophet Micah, which sustained me in my long travels and travails “Do Justice, love Kindness and walk humbly with thy God.”

All lovely, but my message to you tonight is that of a Hebrew saying, “Kol hulam kulo, gesher tsar ma’od, v’ hayikar lo lifached klal,” The world is a narrow bridge, and you mustn’t be afraid to cross it.

While the world may indeed be a narrow bridge, it is the role of public diplomacy to widen that bridge. It is the task of public diplomacy to widen that bridge so that more and more people will not live in fear of the world that exists on the other side, and so that they will not be afraid to cross that bridge.

That was the brilliance of the Family of Man exhibit- it widened that bridge that connects humanity. That is what I have tried to do here.

I will conclude my remarks with the conclusion of the year, as this opening comes just before Rosh Hashanah- the Jewish new year. It is an especially auspicious end of the year as it falls on the Sabbath. There is an old belief that such an occasion marks the coming of a peaceful year. I pray this is so.

The year that has past has been a year marked with hope and change. Let us pray that the year to come will be a year of peace and understanding fostered through public diplomacy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Opening gala

"Many men discover the whole world while seeking only to make a fortune. But as for you, my son, you will stumble on your treasure as you seek to discover the world."
-Amin Maalouf, "Leo Africanus"

After many months of hard work, my Public Diplomacy photo show opens today!!! The website is basically done, from a great effort by my friend Emilie. Check out: Still a few kinks to be worked out, but a great start.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stark, Good Neighbors & Puck

Still so busy, it is intense. Thankfully things have slowed a bit and I have had a few moments of pause. On Saturday I went hiking with my friend Anne. She and her PD friends were going hiking for a birthday. Different kind of PD as they are all public defenders. A real interesting bunch who geek out over their work as much as my Pubd friends do; lots of really interesting stories about the way our justice system works. We went hiking near Malibu in the Santa Monica Mountains. It was a beautiful hike that started off covered in fog, only to burn away. We meandered along dusty paths until we reached the top, and had a picnic lunch of chicken tacos with a good slaw. As we sat for lunch, some fog rolled off the Pacific and gave us a little shade from the hot day's sun.

Saturday night I went to see my friend Ha's movie premiere at the Peter Stark Program screening. Ha is a roommie and she based her movie, Lovers at the Gate, on another one of our roommates. Not the houseshaking amorous one, but another who would always stand outside the house with her boyfriend and never brought him in. She spun it into a cute movie from the guy's perspective of why he is never allowed in, ranging from her being a total slob, total psycho or other various scenarios. It was a cute piece and my room was used for a scene, albeit one of him imagining the room to be a mess. She used props, I swear.

All the movies were 7 minutes long, and there were some real brilliant pieces. One called LA.LA. Love of a modern LA tale done up in medieval narration. Ha's boyfriend Patrick, who is also in the program, did a brilliant piece called Blade Jogger, where a geeked-out movie buff goes to various famous sights of movies around the city on a pilgrimage. Another incredible piece was one called La Patisseria, done in Spanish and kind of a mix between Chocolat and Como Agua Para Chocolate. There was a piece called Sanctuary that was done in a shelter in some post-apocalyptic world that was truly creepy. It was all pretty cool, especially given that this program is so prestigious in the film school world, you are basically looking at the work of future top directors.

Sunday I studied, save a brief visit by my uncle who is in town for my opening. I gave him a little tour of campus, then took him for an aloo-gobi burrito at the 29th St Cafe. Monday was errands about town to do some last touches for the show.

Yesterday I had my Pub D Latin America class. We spoke all about the origins of the Good Neighbor Policy and its role in US Public Diplomacy to Latin America. We began with discussing the Veracruz Incident and how that was perceived in Latin America.

We looked at the beginnings of the Good Neighbor Policy under Hoover, who first mentioned such a notion and did a ten week tour of Latin America- the first US president to visit our southern neighbors. Hoover had the right sentiments, but wasn't able to move the ball forward for a number of reasons, including preoccupation with the Great Depression that shifted focus inward, a bad Republican brand in Latin America that was associated with dollar diplomacy and interventionist tendencies (send in the Marines!).

We then looked at how the Good Neighbor Policy really developed under FDR, including a promised shift away from interventions in our neighbors affairs (To note, practically everywhere the US set up National Guard armies, a coup followed some years down the line, bringing in "our Son-of-a-Bitch"). Beyond FDR's shift away from internventionism and his nod toward the adoption of some norms desired by Latin American states such as juridical equality of states, FDR also carried out a massive public diplomacy program. There was an increase in trade, assistance and military training and exchanges, as well as some real cultural diplomacy outreach.

At the time, the US was very afraid of German public diplomacy to South America, and pd efforts to German, Italian and Japanese diasporas in South America. Germany also did international broadcasting through shortwave radio very well, and were up on the US for a period of time. FDR tapped Nelson Rockefeller as the head of Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA) to run cultural diplomacy affairs southward. There were a tremendous number of programs of cultural exchange carried out, as well as cultural diplomacy through film and radio (see under: Walt & el Grupo). There was also a bit of two-way cultural diplomacy, as the image of Latin America was shifted in the US perspective. Due to American PD efforts on behalf of America domestically, there was a real shift to see "Latin" as cool, and there was a rise in samba and mambo, and other accoutrements of "Latin" culture. As always, I do no justice trying to briefly outline to a fascinating class.

After class, just more running. My Mom and grandfather arrived for my opening, and we went out to Wolfgang Puck's bistro for pizza and salads- how LA. Now that my show is under control, I am able to reassess my relationship with the angels. The summer really put a dent in it, but as I am gaining a little space, I am also regaining an appreciation of the city as I am able to explore again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Obama the Socialist?

Obama is as much a socialist as those protesting him for being such are rocket scientists.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Up, up and away

It's a bird, it's a, it's my massive "The 21st Century Family of Man: Photography as Public Diplomacy" exhibit. All the photos went up today, with minimal nuisance. Tomorrow the signage goes up and soon the website will be launched.

Lots of tremendous help from Mauricio Vallejo- an art installer with the City of Los Angeles, Andrew Wulf- CPD Fellow and the museum curator at Doheny Library, and from all my pub d friends as well as from my friend Daysha. All the photos went up today, and already its getting kudos. I have already been invited to speak at a journalism class.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

two smiles

It's been a little while since I grinned ear-to-ear. First one came as I got all my photos in the Annenberg space for my exhibit. All the worries and stress, gone. It's all going to be okay.

Second one came in the Annenberg lobby as I watched President Barack Obama deliver his healthcare address. My lord he is incredible. Carry us home, Mr. President, and deliver us the care we need.

Not to compare myself to Mr. Obama, or the enormity of his healthcare challenge to my wee photo exhibit, but I laughed at the parallels of our two endeavors. Both got bogged down in the nitty-gritty and lost amid the two-bit players. In the end, all that was required was standing up tall, and using a little public diplomacy to communicate what really matters.

Recounting the days

Man, I have been busy. So much going on, so much to write about, so little energy. Let's see, maybe if I can work backwards I can get it out. I just signed up to play cricket again this fall. Mighty Vishnu has returned to Mudville.

I was hustling around all day trying to get the last details of the exhibit together. Roger Cohen of the NY Times was here today, I got to ask him a question in class about US public diplomacy towards Iran, and the effectiveness of Obama's nowruz message and the attempt at hotdog diplomacy.

Prior I had another great class on Pub D Latin America. We discussed the notion of Pan-American unity; the desire to spread American values through Manifest Destiny (somethings never change); the reset that Lincoln did for the American public diplomacy image in wake of the the civil war; the brilliance of Blaine's cultural diplomacy endeavor to bring Latin American leaders to the US for a long train tour; the creation of stereotypes of "the other"; the Roosevelt Corollary and the constant deployment of the Marines to Latin America; the Drago Doctrine's attempt to stifle such measures; Dollar Diplomacy; Woodrow Wilson's Mexican meddling; the near-war with Mexico over oil interests (see under: the lovely Doheny Library and the finances that made such a grand structure) and the use of great public diplomacy by Ambassador Dwight Morrow to stave off such a crisis. His tactics included bringing Will Rogers and Lucky Lindy down to south of the border, and that helped smooth out relations, not to mention some deft personal diplomacy on Morrow's part.

Bah, I am too swamped to continue. After the photo show is launched i will return to my prolific blogging. In the meantime, a huge Mazal Tov to my friends Vanessa and Jeremy, who tied the knot last weekend. I jetsetted on home to catch it, and was in DC for roughly 36 hours.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009