Almost Home
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Almost Home

A Slight Detour

This blog is supposed to be about baseball but I just read about something that happened in the Olympics that I want to comment on so apologies for this deviation.

When the games opened with the traditional Parade of Athletes, one of the producers involved in televising the spectacle decided to insert a small picture over each team as it passed by the cameras to symbolize what each country represented.

For Italy, it was pizza.

For Romania, a picture of Dracula was dropped in. That’s right. The old vampire himself! The Romanians went crazy, objecting to use of stereotypes,

as did other countries like China which complained when an image of a bowl of rice was flashed — check me on that — only to be followed by a tortilla for Mexico.

But it was the pizza that got me. Okay, I’m as aware as anyone when it comes to the dangers of stereotyping, but PIZZA? This is personal so let me relate a tiny story.

I was a television correspondent for ABC News a number of years ago, based in Paris and covering stories throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It was often exhilarating. There were major events like the fall of the Berlin Wall, revolution in Iran, war in Afghanistan, and the battle against apartheid in South Africa.

But there were also some that weren’t so major. I remember being sent to Germany to cover the International Harmonica Playing Contest.

In Denmark, it was a Lego-Leg Building Contest for children. Okay, they can be fun to do and, when spaced out, represent a much-welcomed breather from hard news. But sometimes they came non-stop, one right after another. I had done like six in a row when I finished the harmonica feature and I was throughly fluffed out. Enough already!

That was when New York called and said they wanted me to go to. . .I forget the town but it was someplace in Italy and townsfolk were unveiling what they said was the World’s Largest Pizza.

Don’t get me wrong. I love pizza, but I audibly groaned when New York instructed me to head there and put together a piece for Weekend News. I pleaded with the executive producer that I would go berserk if I had to do another puff feature.

The producer finally took pity on me and said they would send someone else. In turn, I was instructed to go to Berlin and spell another correspondent who had been there several weeks twiddling her thumbs. Nothing’s going on I was told. “You’ll be bored stiff but at least you won’t have to worry about the giant pizza.”

A few days later, the Berlin Wall came down. What a great detour!

Berlin-Nov. 9, 1989

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Don and Petie Kladstrup

Don and Petie Kladstrup

American writers living in France, working on forthcoming book, “Almost Home: Playing Baseball in France.” Authors, “Wine & War,” and “Champagne.”