The American Half Smile

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The American Half Smile

“Peace begins with a smile.”Mother Teresa

I’ve perfected it. It is known around the world as the American half-smile.  It is a smile that does not reach your eyes. It is faking kindness for a second to be considered a polite person.

I grew up in New York where you don’t have eye contact or smile at anyone – just in case they suddenly have the urge to lunge at you, steal your money and slit your throat. I had to learn the half smile when I moved to California. It is a dead giveaway that you are American. Most cultures do not have this.

In China, Russia, and Eastern Europe , people don’t smile on the street. It is impolite to show emotions in public to strangers. Smiling at strangers make others question your motives or your sanity. 

Before  the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese authorities wanted to get more people to smile . Their approach was to encourage Olympic stewards to clench a chopstick between their teeth to develop their smile muscles.Russian border guards were also instructed to be less intimidating and smile more to be more welcoming to visitors. The  French tourist authorities also occasionally attempt similar measures. In Norway and Finland they say when  a stranger on the street smiles at you, he is insane, drunk or American.

 When I was younger and spending a summer on Mykonos, I moved into a house with other people. I immediately introduced myself. I was going to be living with them. “You’re American yeah?” said the very cute Australian guy.  “Yes, I guess you can tell by my accent.“ He replied that only an American would walk into a room and introduce themselves to everybody.

Studies blame our friendliness on the immigrants. They say that countries with less homogenous populations learn to smile and get along with all different kinds of people. 

Also Americans love their white straight teeth. By and large, the American dental care is far superior to most countries. Not everyone in the world flosses. We flash our smiles  around like the Amex cards that a few non-American businesses take. Un-naturally white, perfectly straight-toothed smiles have “U.S.A.” written all over them.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Things I Learn From People Watching

Things I Learn From People Watching

“I like to prowl ordinary places and taste the people from a distance.” Charles Bukowski

People watching involves observing people to get a feel for the beauty and rhythm of the community around us. It’s about creativity and using the moments of watching to try to guess at another person’s story just from observation. People watching is a thing now. “Lets have a coffee and people watch’. It’s an activity like golf.

Observational learning occurs as a result of witnessing another person, but is performed later and cannot be explained as having been taught in any other way. People watching is very insightful and informative. It allows us to see humanity in all its diversity and similarity. Watching  other cultures interact in an airport teaches you very quickly that we are more the same than different.

Some places are better for people watching than others. New York, Paris, Tokyo, Miami, Rio de Janeiro and London present ideal venues for people watching because people know they’re on display, and being seen. Any city where people dress up to show the world their fashion flair or sense of style is likely to be an ideal people watching place.

The first thing I notice about people is clothes. What is the identity they want to portray to the world on this day? Are they wearing designer logos, team clothing or travel souvenirs? Are they being vintage or homeless? Sometimes that is hard for me to decipher. People who are too perfect looking fascinate me  – every hair in place perfectly made up and manicured. I wonder how much time they spent on that.

Tattoos are very interesting to me. What is so important that they want to see  everyday in the shower? If they are covered in tattoos (which I find beautiful), I wonder what it is they are hiding.

People are art – the way they sit , fold their hands, walk, run, laugh, frown, chew, admonish their kids, fight with their boyfriends or adjust their clothes. I love observing how people form groups and how their body language reveals what they think or feel.  It’s like deciphering a code. The way people carry themselves communicate their self-esteem and their emotional state.

The newest people watching activity is from homeland security. If you see something, say something. I’m not going into this because I do not know if I have any paranoid ignorant readers or not.

The most important thing is not to get caught. You don’t want to come across as a voyeur or psycho. Be conscious of other people’s need for privacy, space and respect people. Realize that you too are likely the subject of observation now and then, perhaps even as you’re people watching today.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Top Ten Movie Locations That I Would Like To Visit

    Top Ten Movie Locations That I Would Like To Visit

 “There is something particularly fascinating about seeing places you know in a piece of art – be that in a film, or a photograph, or a painting.” Sara Sheridan

Some of my favorite movies and movie scenes did not take place on a Hollywood set or in a studio. Ordinary and extraordinary places were transformed forever in cinematic history. I see Holly Go Lightly at Tiffany’s in New York and Sylvia and Marcelo in the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Movies bring their stories to places in the world . Here are the top ten movie locations that I would like to visit someday.

1. Stanley Hotel “The Shining”

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park Colorado was the inspiration for Stephen King to write The Shining. Though it was not in Stanley Kubrick’s film, it was used in the television miniseries. Kubrick’s feature film is on a continuous loop on all guest room televisions. The best time to visit the Stanley Hotel is during the Stanley Film Festival April 30 – May 3, 2015. The Stanley Film Festival showcases classic and contemporary horror films and interactive scary experiences all weekend. It is the perfect horror vacation weekend. Don’t miss it if being scared is your thing.  http://www.stanleyfilmfest.com

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2.Baseball Field “Field of Dreams”

The homemade baseball field in the middle of an Iowa corn field is really in Dyersville Iowa. 65,000 people visit a year. You can show up, walk around, play some catch and melt into the corn. It is kept up like the movie. Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.http://www.fodmoviesite.com

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3. The Apartment “Amelie”

Most of the Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain is shot in Montmartre, Paris.  It is here where she decides to change the lives of those around her while she struggles with her own isolation. The grocery store is Au Marche de la Butte Rue De Trois Frères at Rue Androuet. The entrance to the apartment is just around the corner at 55 Rue de Trois Freres. Not far away is the Lamark – Caulaincourt Metro station with the beautiful double staircase. The Cafe des 2 Moulins  at 15 Rue Lepic where Amélie works is a real place.

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4. The Place “Whale Rider”

This film tells the story of a 12-year-old Māori girl and her family’s struggle to accept her ability to lead, despite the tribe’s tradition of being guided by men. But it is the spectacular little visited Eastern New Zealand scenery that captures us as well. Whale Rider was shot in Whangara, New Zealand, which is 10 hours from Auckland by car. The Māori village with thirty residents wasn’t prepared for the hordes of fans. The land is private, so book a guided visit through the Gisborne Visitor Information Office (gisbornenz.com). You may be able to book Hone Taumaunu. He is one of the film’s cultural advisors who leads a two-hour tour: Walk on the beach where Pai’s namesake landed 1,000 years ago, see the house where the movie was shot, and learn about the Ngati Konohi people.

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5. The Bench “Forest Gump”

The bench was located on the north end of Chippewa Square Park at the corner of W. Hull and Bull streets in Savannah Georgia. It was situated near the one way sign.   Forrest told his life story on that bench to anyone who would listen. It was there only for the filming of the movie and is now in the Savannah Museum down the street – which makes the tourists and fans of the film very sad. The benches in the park are replicas of the “Forest Gump” style.  You can sit down on any one of them and try to tell a stranger your life story. (the original)

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6. The village, bamboo forest ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”

Most of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was shot at Hengdiang Studios which is equal to Universal Studios in China. You can visit the the studio and sets. There are hotels, restaurants, and tours. It is now the largest film studio in the world. The village where Wudan master Li Mu Bai has gone to retire and meditate is Hongcunzhen in Anhui province. The 900 year old village is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. The village is supposed to resemble the outline of an ox. Water flows through or around  every house in the village to keep the yang and insure eternal prosperity. The tree top fight between Li and Jen was shot in the Anhui Bamboo forest near the village. It is the largest bamboo forest in China and also has a bamboo museum nearby. Jens flashback with outlaw Lo was filmed in the Ghost City in the Gobi Desert in China. It is hauntingly beautiful but not much tourist infrastructure so you will have to be adventurous if you go.

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7. Park Hyatt Hotel “Lost In Translation”

The Park Hyatt is located in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. A lot of the movie was shot in Shinjuku and Shibuya. Bob spends most of his nights in the New York Bar on the top floor. There is a one night “Lost In Translation Package” which includes the spa (also in the film) and a free drink in the New York Bar. It is still glamorous with great views of the city.

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8. The Deli   “When Harry Met Sally”

The famous fake orgasm scene in this movie was shot at Katz’s Delicatessan 205 Houston St, NY, NY. Growing up in NY, I would have the pastrami on rye but you may want to have what she’s having.

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9. The bookshop “Notting Hill.”

Trying to recapture the magic of Anna Scott and William Thacker while walking around Notting Hill is not hard to do. The blue door is at 280 Westbourn Park Road, just off Portobello’s Fruit and Vegetable Market. Interestingly, this was the flat at the time of the film’s screenwriter Richard Curtis. The interior was a film studio. London flats are not usually that large. There used to be a “Travel Bookshop” off Portobello Road on Blenheim Crescent, which inspired William Thacker’s bookshop in the film. It is now open again as The Notting Hill Bookshop at 13 Blenheim Crescent. The Travel Book Company owned by William Thacker doesn’t exist.

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10.The steps “Rocky”

Re-enact Rocky’s run up the 68 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA . Try not to hum ‘Gonna Fly Now’ too loud.

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Any more?

Gonna Fly Safe.

JAZ

Ten Things That Separate New Yorkers From Los Angelenos

Ten Things That Separate New Yorkers and Los Angelenos

“When its 100 degrees in New York, it’s 72 in Los Angeles. When its 30 degrees in New York, in Los Angeles it’s still 72. However, there are 6 million interesting people in New York, and only 72 in Los Angeles.” Neil Simon

Comparing people in NY and LA is like comparing apples (big) to oranges (they grow them).

1. If a person in NY says they hate you, they hate you. If a person in LA says they like you, they hate you.

2. Women in LA like to be “healthy”. They are tan ,(usually fake) do juice cleanses, eat kale and hike in the canyon. Women in NY like to look pale, very skinny and on the verge of death.

3. In LA, you are judged by the car that you drive. In NY you are judged by your address. No one actually has to see your apartment, but where you have chosen or can afford to live is who you are.

4. People In NY eat dinner late. People in LA eat dinner early because they have to go to the gym in the morning before work.

5. LA could be burned to the ground at any time or destroyed in an earthquake. New York could be under water or snowed in. So be correctly prepared.

6. People in LA seem tired and move slowly (unless they are jogging or power walking). People in NY always act like they had an extra cup of coffee that they didn’t need.

7. People in NY hang out with interesting, motivated people. In LA they hang out with the people they grew up with.

8. The car is still king in LA though they are trying very hard to improve the public transit system. So don’t text or pick your nose while you are driving. In NY most people cannot afford to park their cars so public transportation is the norm. Keep your head down, avoid eye contact and grab that seat before someone else does.

9. In Los Angeles, they know how to make a good salad. In NY, they know how to make a good bagel, pizza, egg roll with duck sauce and cannoli.

10. People in LA are always between projects. People in NY better be doing something with their lives.

Fly safe,

JAZ