September 23rd, 2008
01:52 PM ET

You Can't Spell Fun Without U.N.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/23/art.un.jpg]
Jack Gray
AC360 Associate Producer

The U.N. General Assembly is underway here in New York. It gives the city such a warm feeling. The annual, obligatory gathering of a bunch of people who refuse to acknowledge each other’s presence in the room. Or, as it’s known in my family, Christmas.

The building itself is one of my favorite Manhattan landmarks. In fact, on the East Side, its stature is unmatched. Just driving past it makes me want to sing the Star-Spangled Banner. But enough about the Carvel Ice Cream shop on East 24th Street.

Back to the U.N. – it’s popular these days to debate its relevance. Does it play a vital role in world affairs or is it just an impotent group of international bureaucrats who use their diplomatic immunity to double park in front of Giorgio Armani?

What is certain is that the possibilities for awkward encounters at the General Assembly are endless.

I have always loved the story about how, years back, Fidel Castro snuck up behind Bill Clinton and tried to say hello. The White House totally freaked out. It did happen, it didn’t happen. They said hello but didn’t shake hands.

I don’t remember what story they settled on. All I know is that in my dreams President Bush and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez run into each other at the Olive Garden in Times Square and hash out an oil deal over a basket of breadsticks. Then they go see Patti LuPone in Gypsy.

And of course all these heads of state need places to stay. Some opt to stay at the residences of their country’s U.N. ambassador. Other’s opt for hotels. I can hear the conversation now: “Hello, room service? This is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in room 814. Can I get the chicken finger platter and an orange Sunkist? And I see you have the Sex and the City movie available on pay-per-view. Tell me, can I get that with Farsi subtitles?”

It reminds me of the weekend I spent in Vegas with Kofi Annan but that’s a whole other story.

The downside to having these world leaders in town at the same time is that the already gridlocked city streets are rendered impassable. Security is extraordinarily tight and motorcades are everywhere.

Last year, when I lived on the East Side, I took a walk with my dog to try to check out the scene. She’s a black lab and I got a kick out of thinking that people would perhaps think she was one of those unflappable bomb-sniffing dogs. Much to my dismay, our cover was blown when she vomited up a bag of Cheetos and joined a Free Tibet protest.

Maybe we'll have better luck this year.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360° • Jack Gray
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Great post Jack – love the dog. My dog likes Cheetos too. Has been known to eat a whole bag of them – bag and all. Thanks for the humor today – and write more often!!

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 23, 2008 at 10:18 pm |
  2. Ruby Coria, LA. CA.

    Hi Jack, cool article, Erica was right to check you out.. see you.

    September 23, 2008 at 7:57 pm |
  3. Deb from Boston

    Jack Gray should be promoted and or at least get his own daily blog- hilarious and intelligent at the same time- what's better than that?

    September 23, 2008 at 7:30 pm |
  4. Terra Hoskins

    Jack, I think I love you.

    Please write in every day. I have tears of joy rolling down my face–and I haven't even gotten past the Carvel shout out.

    September 23, 2008 at 7:17 pm |
  5. lizard

    Too funny ! When I visit NY I'll know how to find Carvel !

    September 23, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  6. EJ (USA)

    funny stuff Jack

    Btw, I tried to listen to Ahmadinejad's speech on CNN just now – and I just can't bear it. My attention span just isn't there. I'll tune in for the summary and reviews.

    September 23, 2008 at 4:36 pm |
  7. Stacy

    Ditto, Fay's post.

    Aw, Jack, Christmas in your family sounds sad, and possibly wildly entertaining. Does anyone pound their shoe on the table a la Khrushchev?

    Don't worry about the weekend with Kofi. Remember, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas–even with former UN heads.

    Hey, at least your dog is protesting for a Free Tibet. Mine's on a Free Mumia kick. It's really annoying.

    September 23, 2008 at 4:31 pm |
  8. Heather,ca,us

    Thanks for the great story Jack. Only in New York could you have a little bit of the world right there in front of you.

    September 23, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  9. Pati Mc, Camp Hill, PA

    Jack, hats off to you man, this is hilarious – you need to post every day. I am about to get chucked from my workplace for guffawing at my desk. You grabbed me with the title and it just steamrolled me – needless to say the FU.N. continued. Please write more often!

    Your "unflappable bomb sniffing dog" has the answer IMHO – if it makes no sense...barf on it. if only we humans could getaway with that one!

    All The Best Jack!

    September 23, 2008 at 3:32 pm |
  10. Susan


    I have read that just keeping up with the dietary restrictions of some of the UN members is a task in itself. It might be more important then what actually is spoken inside the chamber.


    September 23, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
  11. Scott Hornsby

    Nothing like a shot of Jack to get the day started with the proper perspective!

    September 23, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  12. Maureen, Newman California

    Thanks for the good laugh Jack !! I second Fay's idea.

    September 23, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  13. Julie San Diego, CA

    Yes, our political system is a big joke so a facetious post from Jack Gray is not inappropriate 🙂 Make it daily, guys. We need the laughs.

    How'd your dog get ahold of an entire bag of Cheetos?

    My Black Lab loved to raid the litterbox. We called that cuisine Southern Fried Cat Bombs.

    You haven't smelled true Dog Breath until you're greeted at the door by a 100 pound Black Lab with cat litter all over her snout.

    September 23, 2008 at 2:33 pm |
  14. Presley

    Inspired moments from Jack Gray make my day.
    I petition for a mandatory weekly blog post from Mr.Gray.

    September 23, 2008 at 2:22 pm |
  15. Fay, CA

    Can we get a blog post from Jack Gray every day please?

    September 23, 2008 at 2:01 pm |