The only New York Toy Fair
that I attended as buyer for Stratelibri
was in February 1997, and it was the usual massive circus at the Javits Center
. It was the most grueling Toy Fair ever for me, because Giovanni not only wanted to see everything at the show--I'm doing that every year anyway with my current business partners--but he wanted to chat up everyone and impress them with how important Stratelibri was, not only at Javits but also with what felt like every damn tenant of the Toy Buildings
further downtown. So we had appointment after appointment in both places, and we were in cabs between the two places the whole show: Normally you can do the whole thing, both places, in two days, though you have to be zooming. We were there for six days, trudging around the four floors of Javits and the jammed elevators at 200 Broadway, and talked to a lot of people. I don't think Giovanni
ever recovered from the physical toll that particular show took on him, the constant activity, the difficult schedule, the cold NY February weather, the thousands of sick and sniffling people he must have encountered.
Anyway, one of the people I remember from that show was a nice young woman from Hong Kong, who worked for some company that made some forgettable dollar-store crap or other. I asked her about the upcoming transfer of power from the British to the regime in Beijing: "Aren't you a little worried?"
She looked at me like I was from Mars. She didn't even say anything like, "Why would I be worried?" Instead, she gave me an expression that I suspect she normally reserved for the slower-moving members of the insect world, and said, "Oh, no." No explanation, just the world's strongest it's-a-Chinese-thing-you-wouldn't-understand vibe.
I thought of her this week when I saw the recent news from Hong Kong
that the Chinese government's "anti-subversion law" brought 500,000 people out into the streets last week to protest it. I hope Miss Dollar-Store-Crap was one of them.