After Four Years of High Achievement, Janet Yellen May Be Leaving the Fed at the Right Time
During his State of the Union speech, on Tuesday night, Donald Trump
took credit for the country’s strong rate of job creation, its rising
wages, and the lowest unemployment rate in many years. Meanwhile, Janet
Yellen, the person primarily responsible for these things, was preparing
to leave her post as the chair of the Federal Reserve Board. On
Wednesday, she chaired her final meeting of the central bank’s
policy-making arm, and Friday will be her last day at the Fed. On Monday
morning, Jay Powell—a Republican, investment banker, and current member
of the Fed’s board—will be sworn in as her successor. In a more just
world, Yellen would have been given a second four-year term, as most of
her (male) predecessors were. But late last year Trump decided to
replace her with Powell.
Having spent fourteen years at the Fed, and having been the first woman
to lead it in its hundred-and-five-year history, Yellen is leaving with
a record of high achievement. A fiercely smart academic economist—she
holds a Ph.D. from Yale—she served as a loyal and able deputy to her
predecessor at the Fed, Ben Bernanke. Upon taking the top job, she
quickly demonstrated a mastery of the communicative and political skills
that are necessary to run a large institution like the Fed. In speeches
and at press conferences, she explained the Fed’s thinking clearly and
carefully, doing her best not to lapse into the technical jargon beloved
of economists. Her colleagues liked and respected her, and she charmed
some key Republicans on Capitol Hill. (That helped to head off recent
calls, emanating from some corners of the G.O.P., for an inquisitional
audit of the Fed.)
She even got along well with Trump, a fellow New York native. (Yellen
grew up in Brooklyn.) Last November, when he announced that he would
nominate Powell rather than keep Yellen for a second term, he
“She’s a wonderful woman who’s done a terrific job.” This statement
raised the question of why he didn’t leave Yellen in place. It was
widely assumed that partisan politics were responsible: Yellen is a
Democrat, and Barack Obama nominated her, in 2013. But there’s also
another possibility. Trump may believe that, with Yellen out of the way,
it will be easier for him to lay claim to some of her achievements.
These achievements include overseeing a historic period of job creation.
“Under Yellen, the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen the most of any Fed
chair term in modern history,” the Washington Post’s Heather Long
pointed out last
In February, 2014, when Yellen took office, the unemployment rate was
6.7 per cent; today, it is 4.1 per cent. And almost three quarters of
that decline came before Trump entered office.
It should also be noted that, when Yellen took office, most economists
believed that an unemployment below five per cent, or thereabouts, would
lead to inflation. If the unemployment rate fell below a certain key
level, the textbooks said, prices would start rising. To head off an
inflationary spiral, the Fed would have to step in and raise interest
rates sharply—and such a move would risk a recession.
Yellen disputed this mechanistic view. Citing the fact that millions of
people had ceased looking for jobs during and after the Great Recession
of 2007-2009, she argued that the headline rate of unemployment was an
inadequate measure of the state of the labor market, and that other
metrics, such as the labor-force-participation rate, also needed to be
taken into account.
More controversially, she also argued that there could be important
benefits to the Fed running a “high-pressure economy,” in which the
unemployment rate was kept low and new hires were hard to find. In such
a situation, Yellen speculated, in a 2016
workers who had dropped out of the labor force could be drawn back in,
firms could be incentivized to make capital investments, over-all demand
in the economy could be higher, and wages and productivity growth—which
were languishing badly—could pick up.
This argument harkened back to one made during the nineteen-sixties by
an earlier generation of Keynesian economists, including James Tobin,
Yellen’s thesis supervisor, and Nicholas Kaldor, the British theorist
and policy adviser. With the rise of monetarism, new classical
macroeconomics, and so-called New Keynesianism, this type of economics
fell out of fashion. But, as Yellen perceived, it could perhaps hold the
key to breaking the recent pattern of low-growth, low rates of capital
investment, and stagnant wages.
The experience of the past eight years shows that it took a big dip in
the unemployment rate for median household incomes to recover some of
the losses they had suffered during the recession. Only when the jobless
rate fell below the level previously considered safe did hourly wages
rise by more than the inflation rate. Yellen welcomed these developments
and sought to extend them rather than choking off growth prematurely.
Even now, in the ninth year of the post-2009 economic recovery, the
federal funds rate is only 1.5 per cent. The rate of inflation, as
indicatedby the Fed’s preferred measure, is also just 1.5 per cent—below the
Fed’s official target of two per cent.
It could be argued—and it has been argued—that, with such a low
inflation rate, the Fed has no business raising rates, even slowly.
However, a case can also be made that the Fed’s expansionary policies
are responsible for a stock-market boom that is now turning into a
bubble. Sensitive to both of these critiques, Yellen’s Fed has been
removing the monetary stimulus slowly, in baby steps.
Thanks to Trump and the Republicans, the Fed now faces another challenge
in the form of an additional boost to the economy provided by a
front-loaded tax cut. Should the Fed stick to its current policy stance
and accommodate this new stimulus? Or should it perhaps accelerate its
interest-rate hikes? Yellen won’t have to make that call. The onus will
be on Powell, who must be keenly aware that any hint of the Fed adopting
a more hawkish approach will bring down upon him a Presidential Twitter
fusillade and more—including the possibility of disruptions in the
markets. Yellen certainly deserved another term, but she may be getting
out at the right time.
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February 1, 2018 at 12:38AM
United Airlines Honors Lost Plane Ticket From 19 Years Ago
You know the feeling you get when you unexpectedly find money in your pocket, or that sense of relief when you find something lost after days of searching for it? Now imagine discovering an old airline voucher and learning it’s still redeemable. Well, that’s exactly what happened to John Walker when he discovered his unused United Airlines flight voucher from 19 years ago.
According to WFMY News 2 , the Greensboro, North Carolina resident recently found his unused United ticket in a box under his bed, among other old documents and birthday cards. The ticket was dated back to a United flight on December 31, 1998 from Nashville(BNA) to Sacramento (SMF) and went unused.
“Over the years, this box has been under there, I just never really thought about it,” said Walker in an interview.
Along with the ticket was a letter Walker received from United that addressed the 19-year-old refund request for his flight. The letter stated that the “domestic wholly unused non-refundable ticket(s) can forever be applied toward the purchase of another domestic non-refundable ticket, for the customer named on the ticket.”
After finding the letter, Walker contacted United by sending a direct message to the airline’s Twitter account.
“No one knew what to do with a paper ticket because by this time paper tickets were long gone,” Walker said. “They hadn’t been issued for 10 or 12 years.”
According to Walker, a customer care associate explained that the “forever” referenced in his letter was no longer under a binding agreement because United went bankrupt in 2010, which meant all debts, including airline tickets such as his, were discharged by the airline. Lucky for Walker, his then $378 paper ticket and is valued at $571.60 today.
“They decided to honor it partly because of the letter even though it wasn’t legally binding. But also, because I think it was just good customer service on their part,” said Walker.
Feature photo by Zach Honig
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February 1, 2018 at 12:15AM
Course of Empire: Part One
Barbara Smaller has published more than four hundred cartoons in The New Yorker since 1996.
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January 31, 2018 at 11:49PM
Sabre Corp. to integrate multisource hotel content into GDS
Sabre Corp. is taking a new approach to how it deals with hotel inventory.
Traci Mercer, senior vice president of lodging, ground, and sea, said that for the first time it will integrate multirepresentational hotel content with traditional GDS content.
Home to this union will be the new Sabre Content Services for Lodging, a solution designed to accommodate multiple sources of content.
In the past, Mercer said, if both Sabre and an aggregator had a hotel in their inventories, Sabre would stick with its own listing and “say no thank you” to the aggregator’s.
But eventually, Sabre realized it might be missing out on opportunities. While it is true that a hotel might be listed at different price points by different aggregators, the end products that are offered are not necessarily identical.
Hotel prices might include breakfast, an option for late checkout, access to a health club or any number of added features, Mercer said.
For Phase 1 of Content Services, “We said, ‘Let’s put all of them in here.’”
The result is that the user can see side-by-side comparisons of what exactly is on offer for any given price point.
Sabre Content Services for Lodging, which will launch later this year, has initial agreements with Bedsonline, TravelBound and the Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN) to create critical mass at the outset.
Bedsonline brings a portfolio of more than 170,000 properties in 120 countries, and TravelBound reaches customers in 190 countries and offers more than 50,000 hotels.
EAN will provide access to more than 350,000 properties worldwide and offer more than 650,000 exclusive deals on accommodations.
In total, the first phase will deliver more than 900,000 property options from both the Sabre GDS and non-GDS sources such as aggregators, redistributors and agency-sourced hotel content.
The integration of aggregator and GDS hotel content will make travel agents and corporate booking tool providers more efficient and effective and confident by increasing the depth and breadth of their hotel offerings, Mercer said.
She said Sabre will be launching with two or three more aggregators this year. “Then we will re-evaluate to see where we need to supplement our inventory.”
Sabre also is moving toward the release of APIs for large TMCs that have built their own user interfaces and want to use Sabre Content Services for Lodging’s inventory.
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January 31, 2018 at 10:19PM
9 Competing Airlines Donate $28 Million for Museum Makeover
Beginning late this summer, the National Air and Space Museum, one of the 19 world-class Smithsonian museums located on the National Mall in Washington DC, will undergo its first renovation in the building’s 41-year history. What’s more, nine major airlines are donating $28 million as a gift towards the renovations.
News of the 2018 revitalization comes off the heels of the announcement of the rare joint venture between the competing airlines. The $28 million will go towards the “America by Air” gallery. American Airlines, The Delta Air Lines Foundation and United Airlines contributed as lead donors while Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, Frontier, Hawaiian and Spirit have also contributed to the project. Southwest also contributed a gift last year and the welcome center in the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall” will be designated the “Southwest Airlines Welcome Center” once the renovations are complete.
“The generous contribution by the airlines not only signals their commitment to the storied history of air travel, but to inspiring young people to pursue careers in aviation and engineering,” said Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey, the director of the National Air and Space Museum in a press release. “These gifts help launch the museum on a trajectory to realizing the transformation of this important place.”
“America by Air” is one of the three main halls at the National Air and Space Museum; the gallery follows the history of commercial aviation in the US with anything from large aircrafts to airline uniforms on display. Highlights of the exhibit include a Douglas DC-3, the nose of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet that visitors can enter, a Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor and a Douglas DC-7.
The museum hopes to raise $250 million through private donations to fund future galleries. All 23 galleries and exhibition spaces in the museum will be transformed with the money raised and the project is slated to take seven years to complete. Donations will also go towards completely re-facing the exterior stone, replacement of outdated mechanical systems and other improvements supported by federal funding.
The museum will remain open during the project by dividing construction into two major phases with construction beginning this summer; the “America by Air” exhibit will be closed during renovations, however, but is expected to re-open by 2021. The contributions by the airlines will be recognized in the entrance of the new exhibit, which will feature a fresh layout with new design and graphics, an interactive experience and more accessibility throughout. John Plueger, chairman of the museum’s board, noted the rare opportunity to revamp the museum.
“This rare collaborative effort within the competitive industry of commercial aviation shows how important it is to inspire the next generation and the airline industry’s commitment toward that effort,” he said.
Images courtesy of National Air and Space Museum
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January 31, 2018 at 10:16PM
MeMe’s Diner Is Brooklyn’s Delicious, Delightful (and “Very, Very Gay”) Place to Be
If the theme of MeMe’s Diner, which opened in November, in Prospect Heights, is the subversion of norms—its owners, Bill Clark and Libby Willis, recently described it as a “very, very gay restaurant” in an interview with Jarry, a magazine that “explores where food and queer culture intersect”—the proof is in the literal pudding. One of the best things on the menu is a brunch dish called Milk and Cereal, which reimagines not only that archetypal combination (it’s a dome of luscious, tangy yogurt panna cotta so shiny that you can see the overhead lights reflected in its surface, ringed by supremes of pink-fleshed Cara Cara orange, wedges of kiwi, and a scattering of Corn Pops) but also the concept of brunch as a whole. At most restaurants, brunch is an afterthought, an easy way to make a high return on eggs and mimosas; for those dining, it’s often hell. At MeMe’s, it’s a wellspring of inspired delights, beginning with complimentary bowls of mixed junk-food cereals—Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Froot Loops, Lucky Charms—to snack on while you decide what else to eat.
Anything here that began as dough is an especially good bet: Clark and Willis, who oversee the dining room and kitchen, respectively, met while working at Ovenly, a bakery in Greenpoint. The Everything Bagel Babka looks more like a popover—but who are we to say what babka is supposed to look like? What matters is that it’s absolutely delicious, coated in the classic garlic-and-seed mixture, which goes flying like confetti as you tear off the crusty top to reveal flaky layers of pastry marbled with scallion cream cheese. Willis is a whiz with eggs, too: gently boiled and mashed into a silky salad, then topped with cherry tomatoes, nubs of blue cheese, and bacon, to be scooped into crisp leaves of iceberg; sunny-side up, on a shallow pool of yogurt strewn with kale and encircled by a moat of chili oil spangled with peanuts, pepitas, and sunflower seeds; scrambled, Texas-migas-style, tossed with salsa verde and julienned radish inside a snipped-open bag of Fritos. Throw in a side of deep-fried breakfast potatoes, doused in spicy maple syrup—or, for the health conscious, a bowl of warm multigrain porridge finished with a dollop of creamy chia pudding and nibs of caramelized pineapple—and brunch is made great again.
Part of what makes MeMe’s a “queer space,” and part of what sets it apart from many other New York City establishments, is Clark and Willis’s commitment to making it as welcoming and inclusive as possible, for both staff (many of whom identify as queer) and customers. Later this month, they’ll host an event for L.G.B.T.Q. people who work in the restaurant industry. On a recent Sunday, brunch was a family affair, with Clark’s boyfriend, a friendly hunk with a Tom of Finland moustache, playing host, and Willis’s mother, in town from Ohio, waiting tables. “This is the closest thing I have to a grandbaby,” she announced proudly as she dropped off a beautiful, plate-size cocoa Dutch baby garnished with brûléed bananas, melty dulce de leche, and chopped bacon. (Later, a joker waiting for a table rearranged the letters on the sidewalk message-board sign so that it advertised a “butch baby.”) The coffee was topped off swiftly, the soundtrack anchored by women-fronted post-punk bands from the seventies and eighties. “This place is la bomba,” an Oberlin alum declared.
At dinner, MeMe’s earns its designation as a diner. The menu veers toward comfort food as camp, in homage to Willis’s native Midwest and to Clark’s grandmother MeMe, for whom the restaurant is named. The snack bowls are filled from a tub of radioactive-orange spherical cheese puffs kept behind the bar, which is lined with stools upholstered in green vinyl. MeMe’s Manhattan—according to Clark, the original MeMe drinks one daily—goes down easy, as do MeMe’s BBQ Meatballs, juicy little orbs dripping with a sweet, hoisin-based sauce and served in a seventies-style ceramic crock with toothpicks. There’s an excellent patty melt on buttered marbled rye; mac and cheese made with pasta shells and sprinkled with Ruffles potato chips; a bountiful salad coated in Green Goddess dressing and topped with crunchy-skinned Buffalo fried chicken; an impressively fluffy meatloaf that’s somehow gluten free. Layer cakes beckon from pedestals; one with yellow layers soaked in ginger syrup and rum, its glossy marshmallow frosting speckled with coconut flakes, was so good that I ordered an extra slice to go. It’s food meant not to impress you, only to bring you joy. The best part is, it does both. (Entrées $8-$20.) ♦
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January 31, 2018 at 10:02PM
The more remote,the better: Why this adventurer loves difficult journeys
You run a travel company, Edge Expeditions, with your boyfriend Marley. On your site, you say: “We believe travel is often taken far too seriously.” What do you mean by that?
I often feel this whole ‘adventure’ malarkey is taken too seriously—I’m convinced all those zip-off trousers and technical sandals somehow erode people’s sense of humor! Yes travel’s about exploring, experiencing, and coming home inspired, but it’s also important to have FUN! Just because we’re tramping across some distant land on a Very Serious Adventure, doesn’t mean we should forget to have a laugh. Laughter can transcend all ages, language and cultural barriers.
As well as running Edge and leading expeditions for your company, you’re an author, travel writer, speaker, and travel show producer. How do you organize yourself?
With the assistance of Earl Grey tea, yoga, and meditation! It sounds a lot, but I focus on one thing at a time: I’ll lock myself in a shed to write a book for eight months, work solidly on a TV contract for four months, then set aside time to give talks, write articles, and potter around my garden.
I’ve also learned the importance of saying no, and making sure I have space in my life. As architect Mies van der Rohe so wisely said: ‘Less is more.’
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January 31, 2018 at 09:09PM
Here Are Situations That Could Get You Free Miles From an AA Flight Attendant
A couple of weeks ago, we found out that American Airlines flight attendants will soon be able to give passengers in-flight compensation. FAs will be able to use an app on their tablets called iSolve to offer on-the-spot mileage compensation to passengers who are experiencing issues.
This raised obvious questions: How much would they be able to give? What situations would be eligible for miles? Will AA flight attendants now be continuously hassled for free miles?
Now, we’ve got some of the answers to this. First, The Forward Cabin has the scoop on what situations will score free miles. There will be “four service categories (IFE, Seat Issues, Catering and Cabin Comfort)” for which AA flight attendants will be able to provide miles “with specific reasons within each category.”
These reasons are listed in the internal memo as:
- IFE: IFE inoperable (Note: this does not include connectivity issues)
- Seat Issues: Broken tray table; Inoperable seats; Seat swaps
- Catering: Meal shortage; Missing special meals (Note: this does not include food for sale shortages)
- Cabin Comfort: Broken reading light; Dry cleaning
Some of these are obvious: A broken seat, tray table or IFE system are going to get you mileage compensation. Hopefully all you’ll need to do is bring it to the attention of the flight attendant to get the miles.
Some are less obvious: Does “dry cleaning” mean a flight attendant can offer miles as compensation if they spill a drink on a passenger? Is the “seat swap” compensation option available as a reward for when you voluntarily swap seats to allow a family to sit together, or just if someone has taken your seat?
AA won’t let its flight attendants grant free miles through this system for “connectivity issues” — which likely refers to inoperative Wi-Fi. This makes some sense, as the connectivity issues are usually out of the hands of the airline.
The Forward Cabin was also able to determine that the compensation amount will vary based on the elite status of the traveler. For example, a first class passenger on a two-hour flight will get the following for a broken in-flight entertainment screen:
- Non Status Passenger / Gold – 5,000 miles compensation.
- Platinum / Platinum Pro – between 5,000-10,000 miles compensation.
- Executive Platinum – 10,000 miles compensation.
- Concierge Key – 15,000 miles compensation.
We also learned that you’d be wise to not complain too much — the airline admitted in a podcast designed for employees that it tracks how much each individual customer complains. Jill Surdek, AA’s Vice President of Flight Service, explained:
The great part about this system is it feeds into a central database that is what’s used by reservations, by social media and by the customer relations team, so if we ultimately have a customer who seems to be taking advantage of this, we’re going to know.
Featured image by Getty Images
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January 31, 2018 at 08:55PM
Making the Wall Disappear: A Stunning Live Performance at the U.S.-Mexico Border
On Saturday, the percussionist and conductor Steven Schick looked
through the wire-mesh fence that separates San Diego, California, from
Tijuana, Mexico, and said, “Con la música nunca se puede dividirnos”:
“With music, we cannot be divided.” He was addressing a group of Mexican
percussion players, who were about to participate in a singular
cross-border performance of John Luther Adams’s hour-long percussion
work “Inuksuit.” I was standing on the Mexican side, where the wall is
adorned with brightly colored graffiti and studded with messages, some
sentimental and some political. On the reverse, a gray, institutional
look prevails. We were on the far western edge of the U.S.-Mexico
border. The land slopes down to the Pacific Ocean, and the wall descends
with it, disappearing into the waves.
Not surprisingly, the project of presenting an avant-garde concert in
this politically fraught territory proved to be a logistical challenge.
It almost didn’t happen: the San Diego Symphony, which presented the
event, had been on the point of cancelling it when, at 4 P.M. last
Wednesday, final approval came through from the U.S. Border Patrol.
Weather had further complicated the undertaking: the torrential Southern
California rains that caused deadly mudslides to the north had washed
out roads on the American side, making access difficult.
Schick, a longtime member of the faculty at the University of
California, San Diego, had conceived of a border performance nearly a decade ago,
when he was preparing for the world première of “Inuksuit,” in Banff,
Canada. You can actually see the concept flitting through his head in a
video that Evan Hurd made
for The New Yorker in 2009. (See 6:30.) Schick said to
me that, in San Diego, “we often don’t even think consciously about the border here,
because it’s so much a part of our lives. Not to sound too much like
Sarah Palin, but I can actually see Mexico from the end of my street.
When I started working on ‘Inuksuit,’ this idea immediately occurred to
me. John’s piece is about sound moving around in whatever geography it
takes place in. What would it say about this rocky land by the ocean,
which has a human line running through the middle of it?”
Around two years ago, Schick began talking to Martha Gilmer, the C.E.O.
of the San Diego Symphony, about curating a percussion-centered
festival, which they eventually called It’s About
Time. It involved not
only a series of concerts by the orchestra but also allied events by
more than a dozen other organizations, including the San Diego Opera. “It
turned out that we needed the institutional strength of the orchestra to
make this happen,” Schick said. “Given the advent of Trump and the
tensions surrounding the wall, the Border Patrol rejected a lot of
proposals. A German orchestra wanted to do a protest concert, and were
turned down. But we convinced them that this wasn’t a purely political
gesture. I’d thought of this long before Trump became an issue. The work
was a wedding present for me and my wife, Brenda. It’s very personal for
me, and I wanted it to be heard first as music, not as a statement.”
That said, politics was on everyone’s mind, and provoked media interest.
Al Jazeera sent a film crew to document any signs of resistance. Schick
has not been timid on the subject of Trump: on Inauguration Day, he made
a statement in
conjunction with a concert he was conducting in San Francisco. He
declined, however, to describe the “Inuksuit” event as a protest. He
told me, “One could be forgiven for having all kinds of political
thoughts. But I’m mindful of the fact that Border Patrol went out of
their way to make this happen. After the rain, they opened their own
roads to us so our musicians could get their instruments to the fence.”
On Saturday morning, I drove south with Gilmer to the crossing point at
San Ysidro. A corrugated-metal wall, erected during the Clinton
Administration, runs along the border for fifteen miles. As it snakes up
and down hills, it looks like a junk-metal imitation of the Great Wall
of China. “I’ve seen a few walls in my time,” Gilmer said. For decades,
she worked at the Chicago Symphony, and travelled to the demilitarized
zone between North and South Korea and to the former border between East
and West Berlin. The Berlin Wall makes for an interesting comparison.
There, you saw colorful graffiti on the western side and featureless
concrete on the eastern.
Hundreds of cars were waiting in long lines to cross the border into
the United States. Tacos, sodas, knickknacks, and, curiously, puppies are for
sale as people wait. We parked and proceeded on foot, to avoid the delay
coming back: it can take hours to pass through on the weekend. The
border area is chaotic, with hulking new facilities under construction.
Prototypes for Trump’s border wall are on
display just north of the fence on the American side.
In Tijuana, a festive atmosphere reigned. It was a bright, warm day, and
several hundred people were milling around next to the wall. This area
and the adjacent American zone together form a place called Friendship
Park. At the center stands Boundary Monument No. 258, a historical
marker that went up after the end of the Mexican-American War. First
Lady Pat Nixon dedicated the park, in 1971, saying, “I hope there won’tbe a fence here too long.” At that time, a low three-wire fence
separated the two countries. In recent decades, the wall has steadily
grown in bulk, and a second fence was added on the American side,
creating a no-man’s-land strip, which is open only on weekends. The mesh
was made thicker, to prevent the passing of drugs and other contraband.
Gilmer greeted her husband and sons by touching pinky fingers. Schick
gave a quick pep talk to the ensemble: thirty-five players to the north,
twenty-nine to the south.
The performance began almost inaudibly, with musicians breathing into
paper and plastic tubes. Then Schick let out a foghorn tone on a conch
shell. This was a signal for a gradual crescendo, building to a gaudy
roar of drums, gongs, cymbals, sirens, and bells. I walked from one end
of the park to the other, holding my camera. The resulting
video will win no awards
for cinematography, but gives an idea of the happy clamor. The woman
wearing a visor and a sparkly jacket is Gabriela Jiménez, the
timpanist of the Mexico City Philharmonic. Rubén Hernández, Jorge Peña,
and Iván Manzanilla, leading Mexican percussionists, can be seen
alongside a number of their students, including Elián Sánchez, of
Tijuana, who is thirteen. By placing the camera against the mesh, I
caught a glimpse of the American contingent, which included four San
Diego Symphony players: Greg Cohen, Andrew Watkins, Erin Douglas Dowrey,
and Ryan DeLisi. Only performers were allowed in the adjacent strip; for
security reasons, Border Patrol kept the audience behind the second
fence. Some two hundred and fifty Americans showed up, having hiked
nearly a mile to reach the site.
I’ve seen “Inuksuit” several times, including a gloriously cacophonous
the Park Avenue Armory, in 2011. This one was overwhelming in its
impact, for obvious reasons. As I listened, I couldn’t help registering
the messages inscribed on the wall: “What God has joined together let
man not separate”; “Stop family separation”; “How many hearts must
bleed?”; “La poesía es gente con sueños” (“Poetry is people with
dreams”); “Love trumps hate.” Yet, as at other performances of Adams’s
remarkable creation, the sheer volume of the climax had the effect of
wiping my brain clean of concrete thoughts. I closed my eyes and found
myself unaware of the wall’s existence: the wire mesh did nothing to
stop the flow of sound.
In the final minutes, “Inuksuit” grows quiet again. Thundering drums
give way to shimmering triangles and cymbals. Samuel Peinado, one of the
younger Mexican performers, executed elegant bird motifs on the
glockenspiel. There was a faint rumble in the distance: I couldn’t quite
tell whether it was an American bass drum, a piece of machinery from
somewhere, or the ocean. The crowd grew quiet, too. A sense of
peacefulness descended—striking in a place charged by so much tension.
For a few long moments, the wall seemed to disappear.
Wild applause ensued, going back and forth in waves. The Mexican
percussionists greeted their American counterparts through the fence.
Schick shouted, “I will never forget this day as long as I live. Thank
you for coming from Guanajuato! Ensenada! Ciudad de México! And, of
Afterward, I spoke to Manzanilla, a former student of Schick’s, who had
brought six of his students from the University of Guanajuato, where he
teaches. “Half of them had never been on an airplane,” he told me. “Our
university supported the trip and arranged everything.”
Peinado said, “For me, this piece was so interesting because it was less
structured, giving me a creative space. It was a kind of rhythm not for
dance, for something more in your mind, this bigger process you are a
little part of.” Manzanilla commented on how much he enjoyed playing in
a public space, with tourists walking about. “It was advertised in
Tijuana, so many people came to hear this specifically, but others found
it by accident. We could see them trying to figure out what was going
on. It felt very special to play in this space because of that.”
At a San Diego Symphony concert the following day, the orchestra’s
tireless percussionists played Toru Takemitsu’s concerto “From Me Flows
What You Call Time,” with Schick conducting. Beforehand, Gilmer talked
about the “Inuksuit” performance, and quoted a message she had received
from one of the Border Patrol agents: “Events here at the border are
always about our differences as two nations, and this one was all about
our similarities—doing things together. As it is over, I miss it. I did
not want it to end.”
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January 31, 2018 at 07:40PM
Emirates First-Class Flight Attendants Know Wine, Makeup — And You
If flight attendants are front-line defenders, Emirates first-class flight attendants are the airline’s elite forces.
In Emirates’ first-class suites, top-notch customer service is as much a part of the Emirates “wow factor” experience as innovations like the digital virtual windows. Joanna Collins, a Dubai-based British flight attendant, recently shared some of the rigorous demands required to qualify for “special ops” within the award-winning airline.
Every passenger has a dossier
Before each flight, the flight attendants review the customers who will be traveling on board, including any VIPs. The flight attendants learn their names and any relevant information, which is also accessible through on-board tablets. In-flight, the tablets are also used to record their food preferences, dietary requirements, any hobbies, their incoming and outbound destinations, and even whether or not the passengers will be tired on the next leg of their travels. The information is then passed along to the next crew.
Passengers occasionally make strange requests. “I did have a couple ask if they could use a crew cart to rock their baby to sleep”, Collins said. “I told her that I would love to help, but it unfortunately wouldn’t fit our safety procedures.”
First-class calls for serious foodie training
Emirates’ first-class silver service dining calls for flight attendants to know in-depth about the cuisine and service they provide.
“In First Class, we have ‘silver service’ dining, so appetizers, main courses, and desserts are all served at different times, and customers can ‘dine on demand’ whenever they want. We’re taught all the etiquette about cutlery and the different plates used for each course.”
“When you’re serving things like Dom Perignon and Bordeaux, you need to have a thorough understanding of what you’re pouring. We need to know the difference between old world and new world wines, as well as champagnes, bourbons, whiskeys, and other spirits.”
There’s a dress, makeup, and jewelry code
First-class flight attendants may sport nude or light pink polish, or a French manicure. However, Emirates is very particular about the red associated with its brand, and red nail polish shades must fall within guidelines set by the Imaging and Grooming Department.
“An ‘Emirates red’ lipstick with lip liner is required,” Collins said. “We like to use Mac’s Russian Red because it stays for a long time.”
Eyeshadow must be either black or beige, and liquid eyeliner with the signature “flick” is recommended. Some flight attendants prefer a more natural look, while others opt for a bolder, creative look. The airline even offers makeup and skincare classes.
Hair must be pinned back either in a French twist or a bun, which can be dressed up with a red scrunchie. Pearl earrings, diamond or crystal studs, and simple watches are the only jewelry allowed.
A post shared by Emirates cabin crew (@emiratescabincrew_lovers) on
The standard uniform is a skirt and jacket set paired with a white shirt, and topped off with a hat and scarf. Every crew member wears the same color except for the chief flight attendant, also known as a purser, who wears brown.
Flight attendants are required to wear heels in the airport and during the boarding process, but are allowed to change into red flats after take-off if they prefer. After take-off flight attendants also change into “service attire”, swapping the standard uniform jacket for a vest.
(Feature photo by Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images
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January 31, 2018 at 07:35PM