I need to begin by explaining this wasn't a dream. The Yellow Ribbon campaign is an effort to encourage Singaporeans to help released offenders get into more socially approved occupations and thus escape the ``second prison''. Part of the campaign is getting people to wear yellow ribbons to show support. At the stand in the mall they also let people buy T-shirts with prisons or the warning sign about an area being restricted which hangs outside prison. (Come to think of it, the T-shirt showing the ``Restricted Area'' sign, featuring a silhouette of a person holding up his hands at rifle-point, might be worth getting if you plan to meet Harlan Ellison.) There's also a ``yellow ribbon challenge,'' in which people go into a small booth and have to grab yellow ribbons blown up by a fan, which I don't really get into because they don't play the ``It's a Mod, Mod World'' music from Laugh-In.
A public art exhibition while I was there featured Lita Chow, Singaporean-Belgian performance artist. Her act -- all narrated by the host, who encouraged us to buy yellow ribbons to show support -- started with the inflation of a large balloon, over a meter in diameter. To the tune of ``Tie A Yellow Ribbon'' -- which as you might imagine was played a lot during this -- she climbed halfway in and walked along a sort of catwalk made up of her publicity posters on the mall's floor. She walked back onto the stage area (it wasn't elevated), and squeezed herself the rest of the way in, drawing applause and another appeal to buy yellow ribbons, while Louis Armstrong's ``What a Wonderful World'' played.
While sitting, she took off her shirt and skirt, revealing that she was wearing a black two-piece bathing suit. She then fussed around with the clothes and took out a flag of Singapore, which she held up and spread out inside the balloon. She set that down, took a marker, and drew on the inside a Chinese character I couldn't recognize. Above that she wrote ``Amour'', to the left (from the audience's view) she wrote ``love'', and below she wrote ``Yellow Ribbon'', accidentally but understandably writing the `N' backwards. She punched a hole in the lower side of the balloon and spread the flag out under her. She tossed out a small hat and curled up, and the balloon rapidly contracted. Finally she squeezed her way out of this shell.
Trivia: At the end of World War II, AT&T had a waiting list of 2,170,000 people hoping to get telephone service installed (at a time about 20 million people had telephones at all). Source: Telephone: The First Hundred Years, John Brooks.
Currently Reading: War for the Union, 1864-1865: The Organized War to Victory, Allan Nevins.