Tuesday, June 04, 2002

You're invited to dine on diversity


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        Look at it like this: You gotta eat anyway. Might as well do it while meeting new people and casting a vote for diversity at the same time.

        Yep, says Shauna McKenzie, a 28-year-old Pleasant Ridge sales rep and photographer in the throes of birthing Food Chain Cincinnati, a project born out of a three-month leadership course.

        Two goals here: Get a bunch of diverse people together to make new friends and exposure different cultures through ethnic foods.

        Here's how it works: Anyone who wants to participate calls McKenzie and signs up by Friday. She'll randomly assemble groups of 10 or so — this is where meeting new and diverse people enters the picture — to go out to dinner June 13, 14, 15 or 16.

        They'll go to one of eight restaurants where McKenzie has already made preliminary arrangements: Simone's, Kaldi's, Ambar India, China Gourmet, Moy Moy, Mecklenburg Gardens, Manhattan West or Su Casa.

        Her goal is 250 diners. “It's all about intimate connectedness, especially now, with the unrest around town. Eat, meet, connect.

        “What I'm hoping is that a lot of people meet new people, discover new foods, have fun and get to know more about other people.

        “I have a lot of friends I go out to dinner with, but I'd like more. I think other people would too.

        “It's like, you know how people always say, "Let's do dinner sometime' but never do? This might force the issue.”

        To join up, call McKenzie at 476-6425.

        Semi-nekkid dancing: Meanwhile, off in the drafty world of people who prance around in tightie whities, Greenhills' Naked Cowboy (a k a John Robert Burck) has been attracting a ton of attention lately in Germany.

        Three weeks ago, the Galaxy, a Frankfurt football team, flew him over to sing at a game. “There were 35,000 fans and me in my underwear. Can you imagine? I was there six days and lost track of how much media coverage, but it was a lot.”

        So much coverage that the Stephan Raab show (a Letterman-type deal), gave him the Raab of the Week Award for the hottest new act of the week.

        And so much so that Galaxy general manager Tilman Engel invited him back last week for another round of appearances and asked him to be his guest at the Super Bowl next January.

        Germany has fallen so in love by now, he has also been asked to do a two-week tour with a German soccer league.

        “It's incredible to me. The first time Tilman invited me, I just asked for expenses. You know, plane ticket, hotel, food. He said no, he wanted to pay $1,000 a day. I've been getting it ever since over there. This is more money than I've ever had in my life.”

        And that's not all. He was also featured in the May 19 New York Times Magazine, in a fashion shoot with a model wearing a $10,000 Bill Blass dress. And, he says, the venerable New Yorker is also planning a feature, probably for the summer.

        “See, I told you,” he says, “persistence pays.”

        E-mail jknippenberg@enquirer.com. Past columns at Enquirer.com/columns/knip

       



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