Super Bowl XL & Chinese New Year: The Weekend in Review

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02/09/2006

Peterboro St & Cass Ave, MI 48201

Neighborhood: Uncategorized

Super Bowl XL was just a few days ago, and Detroit and its suburbs did their best to present a great image. Visitors did not see our homeless, as they were tucked away in various city and suburban warming centers or temporary shelters . . . Manna House, South Oakland Shelter, Most Holy Trinity Church, Salvation Army facilities, etc.

In an ironic twist of fate, Detroit’s Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick joined forces with a prominent local businessman, Roger Penske, to promote our area’s many positives to the Super Bowl visitors . . . What an interesting pair! Kilpatrick is known as the nation’s hip-hop mayor, and recently won re-election by infusing the campaign with a “city versus suburbs” dimension. Penske is a white suburbanite who runs a multi-billion dollar enterprise. He led the Metro Detroit (Super Bowl) Host Committee.

Kilpatrick and Penske collaborated to ensure a successful Super Bowl, by galvanizing business and civic leaders and thousands of volunteers to work together. It seemed like a monumental task, but both leaders did the job. As much as I personally dislike Kilpatrick, I must give him credit for representing our community well. Penske worked tirelessly, and I was impressed with his commitment, energy and effort.

Enough about the Super Bowl, as football really isn’t my “cup of tea” . . . Quite frankly, I was more excited when Detroit’s Comerica Park hosted the 2005 Baseball All-Star Game this past July.

At one time, Detroit used to have a small Chinatown located near Wayne State University. The area has disappeared, but there are plenty of Chinese restaurants, language schools and grocery markets in the Detroit metropolitan area.

On January 28, 2006 I had the pleasure of attending a Chinese New Year’s Eve Party at Stevenson High School in Livonia (a Detroit suburb). I was invited by my sister-in-law, Julia, who immigrated to the U.S. ten years ago and became an American citizen in 2005.

I had never been to a Chinese New Year’s celebration before. The 2006 Chinese New Year – the Year of the Dog – officially began on January 29th.

The affair started off with an extravagant buffet dinner in the school’s cafeteria, with food items representative of Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. There was an abundance of meat, vegetables and rice. A bountiful feast! I learned that the Chinese not only enjoy eating, but believe that eating good food brings harmony and closeness to relationships. I also discovered that they place a great deal of importance on a food’s texture, flavor, color and aroma . . . I ate black moss seaweed and dried bean curd for the first time in my life.

The dessert table consisted of Chinese pastries, red bean soup, and tangerines. My taste buds did not like the soup. The baked goods were either overly sweet or bland and tasteless. The tangerines were quite sweet, and I was told that tangerines are considered to be a symbol of abundant happiness.

After the buffet, there was over two hours of continuous entertainment consisting of 17 separate parts or programs featuring Chinese music, song and dance. Most performers were young, and wore bright and colorful costumes . . . Red and yellow were the predominate colors. I especially enjoyed watching the Chinese dragon dance and the juggling act, and listening to the haunting sounds coming from large barrel-type drums.

There were about 300 people in attendance. The great majority were of Chinese extraction, and very little English was spoken . . . As a result, I definitely was an observer rather than a participant. I became acutely aware of everything around me . . .

Towards the end of the evening, I went outside of the auditorium to look at the various food and craft items that were available for purchase. After buying a few things, I strolled around for about 30 minutes.

I listened intently as a group of high school seniors talked about their hopes and dreams for the new year. There was a common thread. All were hoping to get accepted to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Some expressed concern that they might not get in because of the university’s continued reliance on subjective, non-academic criteria in their admissions policy. To compound this strange reality, historical data has shown that the university had turned away qualified “over-represented” Asians (to include the Chinese) to make room for “under-represented minorities.”

Happy Chinese New Year!

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