Friday, June 15, 2012

The Margins of Time; Public Diplomacy, Two Straws

So as things went down last night, and  it became apparent I wasn't getting on a flight I had every business being on, I immediately tried to start making travel lemonade from United lemons.  People were screaming and yelling, rightfully so, but I just remained calm.  While the gate staff were in over their heads, and with angry passengers about, the manager came over and actually handled things well.  She calmed the situation down, and managed to get a crying adolescent on to an overfull flight.  I remained calm and compensated.  I hit the lira lotto, and spent an unexpected day at home.

Time is the most valuable commodity you can spend, as I once found out from the Time Bank.  I like spending my time on the margins.  The margins of time exist as unaccountable time space borne out of situations that should not be.  I can count a number of my most memorable days as days on the margin that shouldn't have existed.  The margins of time is always time well spent.  I spent my time at Tastee Diner, having breakfast with my brother.

We spent our time a quarter at a time at the jukebox.  Four songs; four quarters: deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans.  Oh, Johnny b Goode.  I got stuck in Folsom prison as time keeps passin' bye.  Harry went down to Georgia, while I was rollin' down the river of time that shouldn't exist.

As the jukebox blared I dreamed of diner diplomacy. Perhaps the hallmark of American gastronomy and gastrodiplomacy is the diner.  Nothing gives a more iconic and tangible taste of Americana than the diner.  I would turn American Corners into a diplomatic Sock Hop. Greasy spoon gastrodiplomacy. A cultural diplomacy diner with the jukebox on, while the ambassador is slinging hashbrowns, the PAO flipping pancakes and the CAO making milkshakes.  

5 comments:

Abba said...

http://wamu.org/programs/metro_connection/12/06/15/bethesda_diner_serves_up_tastee_late_night_grub

John Brown said...

Paul - And, perhaps, out-of-commission FSOs can hand out the Alka-Selzters ... Best, John

Paul Rockower said...

Abba: ty, the place is a classic.

John: Bromo-diplomacy? Is indigestion cause for bad pd/gastrodiplomacy? Could this rank up with Assad's bladder diplomacy?

j to the silv said...

I like your idea of the diner as the hallmark of American gastrodiplomacy, and it is quintessentially mid-Atlantic, though American may be overreaching. Which America, as always is the question.

It's interesting that you bring in the factor of time, which is important. I think the diner truly represents this part of the country - quick, greasy, and delicious. Bring your own alka-selzter (or out-of-commission FSOs), because it's not our problem if you can't handle it (similar to the attitude of a certain megacity on several islands up the coast). Down South, this changes - ribs and comfort food, slow cooked and slowly eaten over meandering conversations. Time slows, efficiency is given over to flavor. In California, time plays out as a stop-watch, pre-order - everything fresh, days old poultry, fish tacos right out of the water.

The idea of gastrodiplomacy is great, and one of the first things we do when learning about a new place. (It's very bad form to only eat McDonald's abroad, after all.) What do you think of gastrodiplomacy within a country? Can food help usher those that speak the same language and wave the same flag get a flavor of the differences they've just landed in?

P.S. - Hope you eventually made your flight!

Paul Rockower said...

J2Silv: Yes, you are correct that diners are more mid-Atlantic. Actually, I advocate a state-based gastrodiplomacy model, which focuses on state and regional cuisine rather than promotion of overarching American cuisine by State.

I do like the idea of domestic gastrodiplomacy as a form of inclusion. I did indeed make my flight and another one to Iraq, and I am taking in Kurdish gastrodiplomacy.