Postcard From Melbourne

Sound bite from home makes for culture shock

March 28, 2007|By KEVIN VAN VALKENBURG

The catch-22 of American culture is that, no matter how far you go, you can never totally escape it. It is, as rapper Jay-Z once opined, a gift and a curse.

Yesterday in the media room, I was sitting next to a very pleasant, very polite Japanese reporter who spoke almost no English. We exchanged a few grunts and hand motions, but for the most part, we were unable to communicate. And then her cell phone rang.

I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I realized she had Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady" as her ring tone. I desperately wanted to ask her why she'd chosen to claim this small piece of Americana as her own, instead of, say, "Tangled Up in Blue," "God Only Knows," or even Eminem's far superior "'Till I Collapse," the song often booming in Michael Phelps' earbuds before he races.

Alas, it was not to be. All my questions, it seems, were lost in translation.

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