California’s Newest Holiday is Chinese New Year

During Chinese New Year, which lasts from February 16 to February 24, thousands of shoppers from China will visit South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, CA to celebrate the Year of the Dog and buy luxury gifts for friends back home.

This week Americans celebrated a national holiday called Presidents’ Day. But when they leave their homes and headed to the shopping mall they did not see pictures of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. Instead, in cities like New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas and especially Los Angeles, they were confronted by large posters, banners and statues of dogs.

Welcome to the Year of the Dog. Kung Hei Fat Choy!

It’s not unusual for one country to embrace the holidays of another. Largely for commercial reasons, Christmas is widely celebrated in China despite President Xi Jinping’s admonition that party members must be “unyielding Marxist atheists.” But California’s acceptance of Chinese New Year has been rapid, overwhelming and color coordinated in red and gold.

If the U.S. West Coast has a new retail religion, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, CA is probably Mecca. A temple to haute couture located 45 miles south of Los Angeles, South Coast Plaza’s New Year celebration runs for 20 days. The centerpiece is a bejeweled display of eight dogs and a moon gate in an Oriental garden festooned with ingots and gold coins over which hovers a massive string of firecrackers.

SCP does everything it can to make mainland Chinese fell right at home. Concierges at each of the plaza’s four entrances speak Mandarin or Cantonese, as do many sales people across its 251,000 sq. meters of retail space. Tourists from China already know the mall specializes in top brands like Harry Winston, Hermès and Gucci because of SCP’s extensive advertising on Weibo and WeChat.

“We understand how important it is to make it easier for Asian visitors to shop,” says Debra Gunn Downing, South Coast Plaza’s executive director for marketing. That’s why SCP provides complementary valet parking, a valuable perk in car-conscious California, and assistance from personal shoppers called “stylists” who will help discerning ladies assemble an ensemble. More

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More than 90% of Northern Iraq’s Kurds voted for independence, but Iraq, Iran and Turkey are determined to frustrate that ambition for reasons ranging from potential unrest from the Kurdish diaspora to the possession of Kirkuk’s oil.

Independence referendums aren’t that unusual. A 1999 plebiscite sponsored by the U.N. enabled East Timor to leave Indonesia. In 2014, Scotland voted to remain in the U.K., which two years later decided to exit the European Union. The dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993 that created the independent nations of Slovakia and the Czech Republic did not prompt turmoil in Europe. But when more than 90% of the six million people in the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq recently voted for independence Erbil’s neighbors threatened to crush the prospective country. More


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Immaculate streets and horse-drawn carriages augment the charm of Baden-Baden’s neo-baroque Theater. Composer Hector Berlioz debuted his operas here because he regarded the city as “a garden, an oasis, a paradise.”

Baden-Baden, the idyllic spa town at the foot of Germany’s Black Forest, draws spa-goers to its thermal waters and wine enthusiasts to its nearby wineries. But this place is also brimming with history. The Romans discovered the thermal waters 2,000 years ago, and you can visit the remnants of their baths in an open-air museum. But the time that still resonates is the 1800s, when the town was the summer residence of French, German and Russian aristocrats and artists. Clara Schumann, the noted Romantic pianist who was wife to composer Robert Schumann, had a house here. Hector Berlioz composed and debuted an opera in the Theatre, modeled on the Paris Opera. Dosteyevsky and Turgenev spent time in this green and walkable town, with its impeccable 19th century neo-classic buildings, flowering trees, museums, shops and public gardens.  More


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Restaurants Subliminally Control
Dining Experience With Color, Noise

Ever wonder why so many fast food chains use red and yellow in their logo? Research shows that color scheme is an intentional stimulant signifying happiness, energy – and hunger. They subtly tell consumers enjoy yourself, but to also get in and out. It’s not just color that successful restaurants are using — they have an arsenal of tools at their disposal to tantalize your senses and keep you coming back. When you walk into a restaurant, you may not notice the tempo of the music, the table shape, or the menu layout. But those details are influencing your entire dining experience from what you’ll order, to how much you’ll pay, to how long you’ll stay. More

Los Angeles
LA’s New Landlords

There are more than 225,000 Koreans living in and around Los Angeles and this week they have a new symbol of accomplishment, a glass-sheathed hotel, office and retail tower topped by an enormous, sail-shaped LED screen that nightly beams the Korean Airlines logo across hundreds of neighborhoods sprawling 336-meters below. The $1.35 billion Wilshire Grand Center is the creation of Cho Yang-ho, 68, the CEO of Korean Airlines and the airline’s corporate parent Hanjin International. More