Sunday, March 03, 2013

Pickle vodka, Corned Beef Special; Globetrotter Diplomacy

I finally had a night out last nigh t, and went out with Alan- the Kurdish violinist AV scholarship student.  We went down to the Central West End, and stopped at a vodka bar called Sub Zero.  They had some amazing vodka-infused concoctions.  Jars of fruits in colored liquids, ranging from blue to red.

Alan had a peach-mango-infused vodka, while I had a pickle-infused vodka.  The giant half dills sat floating in the green-tinted vodka.  The pickle vodka was delicious.  It was like drinking juice that was cut with a light hint of vodka.  I was designated driver, and quickly decided this place was dangerous.  Alan tried one more vodka, which was also delicious.  It was a pineapple-infused vodka with big rings sitting in the yellow still.  His drink tasted tasted like a pineapple cupcake, with hints of vanilla.  Yum.  As we were sitting there, we got chatting with two older women about the vodka, and Alan learned an important new word of the day: "cougar."

We headed out to another place called Lester's, a sports bar decked out in Cardinal garb and Stan Musial regalia.  Alan got to try the deli classic Corned Beef Special.  Corned beef with coleslaw and russian dressing on rye.  I was a bit shocked that the place put the coleslaw and russian dressing on the side- but with a name like Lester's, it's not quite a Jewish deli.  I only cringed a little when he started to put ketchup on the sandwich.

We watched the Harlem Globetrotters, which he loved.  The crazy antics were perfectly translatable.  And as everything relates to public diplomacy, it got me wondering about whether the Harlem Globetrotters were ever sent abroad as basketball ambassadors.  The State Dept is doing more through sports diplomacy, and a lot with sending basketball stars abroad to places like South Sudan.  Although not under State's auspices, the remarkable visit of Dennis Rodman to North Korea is a bit of bball diplo.

I got my answer while writing: apparently Rodman traveled to NK with 3 members of the Harlem Globetrotters.  Great!  This Undersec for PD would make the Harlem Globetrotters live up to their name, and send them trotting around the world as Basketball Ambassadors.  Their brand of comedic basketball is much more suited for PD purposes.  Sometimes the competitive side of real sports spill over (see under the Georgetown-China brawl), but the irreverent Harlem Globetrotter antics fits squarely within the Barnum-Bernays School of PD.  To make people love you, you have to make them laugh; hearts and minds are won through the belly (gastrodiplo) and belly laughs.

On a final note on an apropos subject, Public Diplomacy Magazine's new issue is on Sports Diplomacy.  Congrats to the staff of PD Mag for a great issue!

1 comment:

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