Reporters on the Job

Do You Have an Appointment? Reporters in Tokyo rarely just "show up" hoping to talk to someone. Rather, requests are made, faxes sent, invitations issued, business cards presented.

But for today's story, the Monitor's Bob Marquand simply went to the contemporary art gallery at Tokyo's Mori Tower, a glittering and unconventional new complex (page 7).

"It turned out wonderfully," Bob says. "I talked my way through several layers of people and asked if the curator, David Elliott, would be willing to chat with a reporter. And in a sign of the different kind of spirit that's operating there, he did."

Bob soon found himself on the 51st floor, enjoying a spectacular view and chatting with Mr. Elliott - who had plenty to say on his gallery's fresh vision.

"One thing he hopes to accomplish is a change in Japanese attitudes toward their own contemporary art - to encourage a greater appreciation of the treasures Japanese can find right at home."

Calling Martha Stewart: What's the etiquette when you're dining with a sheikh? Annia Ciezadlo reports that in Iraq (page 1), tribal leaders often make key decisions over a feast. "They eat and talk for hours in courtly monologues that corkscrew into concrete demands," she says, noting that Sheikh Hussein Ali al-Shaalan spoke in elaborate sentences that would have made Henry James proud. "As we sat down, he began a long ceremonial speech. Dinner arrived. The guests, especially the Westerners, looked at it anxiously: Wait? Eat? Finally, my husband tore off a piece of bread and dipped it in the hummus. I glared at him, but Sheikh Hussein didn't miss a beat. 'I wish,' he said, placing his hand on his heart, 'that our guests would eat, and not wait - the food isn't just there to be looked at.' "

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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