I caught a cool video story today on NYT.com, about a Double Dutch competition held in Harlem. (You may have to do a search for it once you get to the NYT video page). Interestingly, the competitive African American tradition, which counts the number of times you can jump rope in two minutes and then add on layers of amazing acrobatic...
Think â€œukuleleâ€ and youâ€™ll invariably get a quaintly exotic image in your head (and the wrong pronunciation â€“ itâ€™s â€œoo-koo-leh-leh,â€ not â€œyou-koo-leh-lehâ€): warm sun, swaying grass skirts, coconut bras, colorful cocktails with umbrellas, and palm trees and a beach in the background.
Itâ€™s true, the ukulele is a stringed instrument that was born in Hawaiâ€™i (albeit it has its actual origins in a Portuguese instrument that was brought to the islands by 19th century sailors) and given its name, which means â€œjumping fleaâ€ in Hawaiâ€™ian. And itâ€™s also true that the ukulele, which basically looks and acts like a miniaturized, four-string guitar, has helped spread Hawaiâ€™ian music and culture for a century, since Hawaiian music first caught the fancy of mainlanders during a 1915 exposition in San Francisco.
But the cute little uke isnâ€™t just a tool for strumming up tourism to Honolulu.