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Wendy Lee Archive

Wendy Lee

There is Nothing Like the Shame (While Watching “South Pacific”)

November 15th, 2008
by Wendy Lee

ASTORIA, NY-

This past Veterans Day I went to see “South Pacific,” the 1949 musical that was revived this year to stellar reviews, numerous awards, and virtually all sold-out shows. I hadn’t seen the movie, but remembered many of the songs from my album that my mother played when I was a kid. And, despite wading through several James Michener novels at around the same age, I never read the book it was based on.

I knew it had something to do with World War II, and there was a love story or two, and maybe there were natives involved. But when I saw it, I realized it wasn’t really about men who think there’s nothing like a dame, and dames who want to wash those men right out of their hair. Above all, “South Pacific” is about racism.

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Wendy Lee

When I Met the Mets

September 28th, 2008
by Wendy Lee

ASTORIA, NY-

I did not grow up in a family that thought much of sports. We were library-book-reading, piano-practicing, Scrabble-and-Trivial-Pursuit-competing people. Occasionally my father played ping-pong, and he and my mother owned a pair of wooden tennis rackets that looked like they could have been used by the Gatsbys. There was a reason why the high school sport I participated in was cross-country running: it didn’t require a ball or an implement that you needed to whack at it with.

Thus, it is perplexing why, over the past three years, I have inexplicably but all-encompassingly become a Mets fan.

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Wendy Lee

My “Rent” History

September 6th, 2008
by Wendy Lee

ASTORIA, NY-

The musical “Rent” closes tomorrow on Broadway, and I’m probably not the only person who counts it as one of the influences that led them to move to New York.

It didn’t happen to me in the mid-90s, when the musical first came out and its edgy subject matter—as well as the untimely death of its composer—landed it in the news. I was in college on the West Coast then, living in a hippie-ish co-operative that was more interested in composting and solar energy than the angsty issues of urban bohemians.

No, I truly came to appreciate “Rent” after college, when I was living in China. The soundtrack was one of the few tapes that I brought with me from the States. And in my second year, when I taught at an all-girls school in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, I had the brilliant idea to teach “Rent” as part of a unit on American Culture.

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Wendy Lee

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Motherland

August 18th, 2008
by Wendy Lee

ASTORIA, NY-

As I was watching the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics on television, I recalled the moment seven years ago when Beijing won the Olympic bid.

At the time I was living in Beijing and working as an English-language copyeditor for China Central Television (CCTV), which billed itself as an international news channel with “timely, accurate, and objective” news. As one of the several foreign experts there, my job was to coax passable news stories from awkward translations and naked propaganda. More often, it was like trying to spin straw into gold.

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