South Korea has been riding the wave following the global success of “Gangnam Style,” the catchy song made famous by singer Psy’s quirky music video — and the country has just launched another tribute to the song.
The country’s capital, Seoul, unveiled its new tourist police force this week, inspired by performer Psy’s unique sense of style. The same costume designer who outfitted Psy for his Gangnam Style video designed the uniforms for the law enforcers, decking the men and women out in bold blue jackets and a sleek pair of shades.Given the inspiration, it should come as no surprise that the famous song was also the backdrop to the inauguration ceremony held this week in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square. The 101-strong police force even performed a number of famous dance moves from the viral Gangnam Style music video, including the good old horse-riding sequence.
Seoul has seen tourist numbers rise in recent times, but this has also been followed by an increase in complaints from visitors about issues such as being overcharged. The new multilingual police force will assist travelers, crack down on taxis that try to gouge visitors and generally maintain law and order in the tourist hotspots.
Dudu Nobre, a Brazilian singer, has filed a lawsuit against American Airlines. He, his wife and producer are looking for $4 million in damages, claiming that flight attendants used racial slurs when talking to him and that they stabbed his producer with a sharp pen. So, the next time you’re wondering what could make the long flight from Sao Paulo to New York worse, in a world where amenities and seat space are declining seemingly daily, Nobre is equipped to let you know.
One flight attendant is said to have called Nobre a monkey repeatedly in Portuguese during the flight – pushing it further by making monkey-like sounds. Apparently, these sounds are the closest thing to comment, as American Airlines is remaining tight-lipped.
Karaoke is deadly. Deadly boring. That is, unless you happen to be quite drunk or with someone you are physically attracted to. I’ve never gone out to find a place to sing karaoke. But I have spent a lot of time in East Asia, where karaoke seems to seek you out. I’ve witnessed some violence as a result of the sing-along phenomenon. Usually, it stems from “you took my beer” rather than “hand over the mic.” Come to think of it, people get the most agitated when someone doesn’t sing, rather than when they sing too much.
But that wasn’t the case in Sandakan, Borneo recently. A 23 year-old man was stabbed to death in a fight that began when he refused to give up the karaoke mic. Abdul Sani Doli, the deceased, was apparently feeling the groove that night. Unfortunately, others in the bar were not. When he refused to give up the stage to the next person in line, an argument broke out. It only ended when Doli was stabbed by at least two other patrons on the street as he fled the scene.
The opening ceremony last week in Beijing was quite memorable. The sheer magnitude of the spectacle was, in fact, almost unbelievable. When former Olympic medalist and millionaire clothing designer Li Ning made his lap around the roof of the Bird’s Nest without falling or extinguishing his torch, China must have breathed a collective sigh of relief. The whole thing went off without a hitch.
But a bit of controversy has come to the surface recently. Remember that little flying singer with the pig-tails who almost stole the entire show? According to the ceremony’s music director, Chen Qigang, she was simply mouthing the words.
That’s not really a controversy. Singing in front of so many people is a lot to ask of someone so young.
But wait. The little girl, Lin Miaoke, was not even supposed to be part of the show. She was a replacement for the original singer, seven-year-old Yang Peiyi. Yang was not going to lip-sync. What happened? A sore throat? Stage fright?
Government officials and the ceremony’s producers decided to cut Yang in favor of Lin because Yang, with her crooked teeth and baby-fat cheeks, was deemed too ugly.
Chen explained: “The reason why little Yang was not chosen to appear was because we wanted to project the right image…”
Yang’s voice was still heard on the stadium’s sound system. Apparently, Lin didn’t have the singing chops to match her good looks.
Congratulations to Nuva and Oddsocks for correctly identifying this week’s Where on Earth.
It took a bit of wandering myself before I was able to find the monument featured in the above photograph, for the simple reason that government officials in post-communist Vilnius, Lithuania were hesitant to erect a bust of Frank Zappa in the center of town.
In fact, one must certainly wonder how a monument to singer Frank Zappa ever ended up in a city with which he had no connection and never even visited.
A few years ago, I had the good fortune to share some beers with one of the students responsible for this very odd monument. He explained to me in a dark Vilnius pub how he and his friends, caught up in the early 1990s euphoria of post-communist freedom, decided to honor one of their favorite American singers whom they clandestinely listened to during communism because authorities banned his decadent western music.
Amazingly, during a crazy time when all things seemed possible, the students were able to convince the city government of their worthy Zappa cause. Even more remarkable, was that the students commissioned local sculptor Konstantinas Bogdanas to create the bust. Prior to this commission, Bogdanas sculpted only what the state told him to sculpt, which was mostly Lenin statues and other heroes of the socialist revolution.
So, if you happen to be in Vilnius, seek out this ironic monument and spend a moment with the underground hero of an entirely different revolution, one which communist authorities often tried to prevent by threatening to “beat the Zappa” out of unruly dissidents.