Sunday, May 29, 2016

Uncle Frank's Tai Chi Tips

When I was doing Crime watch somehow some on eof the older American guys who would later learn from me was talking about whether Uncle Frank did Martial Arts. Now this is actually more than just American Stereotyping. Some Asians may groan and say, "Just because a person is Asian and is old doesn't mean they know Kung Fu."

But look, if you were to make a movie about the Drama in Chinatown, and it was made in Hong Kong.. frankly all the powers that be would have superhuman Kung Fu as well. This is because, Jin Yong wrote a lot of novels where the people in these political positions had secret and powerful Kung Fu. Part of it is just for entertainment.

Plus, Chinese people like to explain greatness through practice. Training done after birth. Whereas Americans like to explain it through Divine fight or genes. I.e. you are great because it is something you are born with and this power cannot be taught.

So if Uncle Frank made it to an old age, it must be because of some 9 ring manual.

In any case, as far as I know Uncle Frank did not do Martial Arts. In fact, he told me he was really into ping pong instead. But there were a couple of times when doing crime watch when his quick reactions going over s step or other things like that made people wonder.

But Uncle Frank did talk about a cousin or something that did Tai Chi.

"Everyday he would go to the basement to practice at night with all the lights off. Every day he practiced for exactly three hours. Always in the basement. Always with the lights off."

This sounds vague and I think Uncle Frank thought it was weird.

But I admired the daily discipline of this man who I had never met... and actually I totally understood why someone might want to do it in the dark. Not so much to hide the technique... but there is something psychological and even spiritual about enveloping yourself in darkness. Like the practice is somehow deeper and more subconscious. I noticed this when I practiced in  the dark outside. And that was not complete darkness. However, my basement is not great in terms of air quality and I think air quality is very important for your practice as well.

Well for my next post I'll probably write something about Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The whole owing a life thing

I was watching some vids on Facebook of a Chinese American Actor- Nathan Jung or something like that. Some of the clips also had Bruce Lee in "Here comes the Brides."
And one thing that came up was the "If I save your life, now you owe me your life." I saw this concept come up in the Corrupter too. Interestingly, I've never seen this concept in a Chinese movie. There is the whole idea if someone does something for you, they owe you. But if you saved a crime boss's life, he would give you a reward or whatever but they aren't going to suddenly become subservient to you or something. 

I also found all the old old stories about the Tongs, like way back, to be really interesting and how most of the stuff out there is just plain racist. I mean essentially these organizations are just that. Groups of people. Just like the Sons of Liberty or any other organization. 

I bought Wing Kai To's book about Chinatown and it mentions some stuff, basically a round up of Chinese people way back in the day which was both cartoonish and racist.  But looking at all the old stories.. I mean when do they stop? The same sort of thing was happening in the 70's with raiding gambling houses, and mostly it seems just because the police get to pocket a lot of the money, and with all the stereotypes in the movies and TV.. I mean nothing really has changed much. You look at a Charlie Chan movie and his kids are IVY league and they compete well at sports and they make it into the American dream already. So theoretically if you look at that then, then now Chinese should be accepted and part of the mainstream. But instead... it seems like it's almost the same situation now as it was then. Or maybe things got worse during wars with Asian countries, and now things are getting better again as we are fighting wars with Middle Eastern countries. 

To find more human stories am I going to have to go collect those myself? I mean for the really old ones not that many people are alive who can tell those. Maybe some were passed down. In fact there are a lot of stories that are just floating around and people seem to take it as a mark on future generations if your past generations were involved with crime somehow. 

Shoot if that's the case then what about slavery? Nobody really feels to guilty about that? I mena people talk about the Kennedy's being bootleggers but does anyone really think the name Kennedy and think the word shame? How about Warren Delano? His name came up because Ted Cruz quoted him in a debate. He was a big time Opium dealer in China, and FDR's grandfather. In fact, that makes me wonder if that there was some lasting connection between families that made it possible for the head of the Boston Tong to get FDR as a lawyer. What's the story their? The point is, a lot of the ways Chinese culture and Chinatown's history is represented is not only one sided.. it's just boring. But the truth is so interesting and historically significant. I mean I've been to places where much less was turned into some tourist attraction and really pumped up like it was a big deal. 

Nobody is going to pump up Chinatown FOR Chinatown. In the end Chinatown has to do it for itself. Either that or an outsider has to be able to cash in big time for doing it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tongs, Sun Yat -Sen, Kuomintong, FDR and Boston's Chinatown

So here's an old story. Apparently way back in the day, like 1904 there once was a gangster named Szeto Mei .--- (I'm not blanking out the name. I'm just blanking out on the name) The Tongs were tight and Chinatown really was a separate world. I mean there were guys in queues back then having been forced out of California after building the railroad they had settled in Boston, right near the train station where they got off. Working stiffs made hardly any money. This was the era of phrases like "a chinaman's chance" having real meaning. But the Tong's controlled a ton of money. Because if you had money, where did you spend it? Gambling prostitution and opium.

So Sun Yat-sen is running all around too trying to start a revolution. Revolutions cost money. Revolutions also mean whoever your revolting against (the Manchus) will try to kill you, even if you're abroad. So Sun Yat-Sen ahd to hide out. A Chinese guy in a white neighborhood? yeah that kind of sticks out and even in a Chinatown you have to hide.

So he did spend some time in Boston, living on one of the Chinatown buildings for 4-5 days... or rather hiding there. Szeto took him in.. and of course if you are asking for contributions, it is the Tongs that are organized enough and rich enough to provide that money.

So later on 1911 Sun Yat-Sen actually launches a successful revolution... and you can read about that in the history books.

So apparently Szeto got so brazen once that he actually killed a white guy in Chinatown. Probably if you killed Chinese people it didn't matter, but a white guy, that's going to court.

But if you have the money and connections and the right lawyer you can get off.

Szeto did get the right lawyer. A very smart Groton educated (where he was manager of the JV baseball team) young man, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Crazy huh? Of course this was before he became president.

Dude there is a lot of crazy stuff and historical stuff that happened in Boston's Chinatown, but who don't here it on tours. There should be plaques about this stuff and mean this story that I just told (of course unverified and all that) is CRAZY! But I'm sure people could fact check. But people assume that oh Boston's Chinatown is just a quaint little neighborhood. They don't realize how historically significant it is for Global politics. I mean think of the movie that would make?

High rises in the 90's

So, the Bay Village opinions are not something always shared on this blog, but chilling in the playground I had a nice little conversation with one of the residents.

In fact this opinion is pretty much the opinion of a lot of white people who aren't part of the Chinatown culture i.e. their not part of a Kung Fu school or they didn't grow up in the neighborhood. Instead they are coming here from wealthier backgrounds and they see what they see.

To them there is only that Chinatown is getting better and when asked about what they think about the opinion that not all the changes are good, the answer is that, "Some people just want to be King of the sewer."

It's not the main opinion on this blog... but if everyone were to write in... I think it might very well be the majority opinion.

But mainly hwy I decided to write this post was because this man brought up something I had never heard before. This man, appeared to be a gay man with adopted African American children, so he is probably very progressive and probably not racist, and most of his information will come from news sources...

But he said that in the 90's there was actually an opportunity to build several High rises in Chinatown that could have accommodated low income renters.  Menino was not the Saint or the powerful force he ahd become at that time. He was the accidental Mayor who appeared to be filling in until a real poltician (an Irishman) took the helm once more. It turns out that Menino became the longest reigning Mayor in a long time but this was not yet who he was.

So he could not antagonize the powers of Boston Chinatown and South Boston share the same district for City Council. (is that right? correct me. I know the share the same district for something) In any case, The Bulgers and the powers that be were completely against these high rises because huge buildings filled with people, filled with votes, from people who would probably be Chinese but definitely (at that time) people of color would completely shift the voting scheme of the district.

So Menino had to bow to the powers that be.

Interesting though isn't it?

Would those high rises have helped or hurt Chinatown?

Well for sure, the low income housing would have been there, because that was what it was going to be. Would those buildings have sudden;y become market rent? I assume they would be similar to Tai Tung Mass Pike and Castle Square . Basically more of that and that type of population in Chinatown. Which frankly, would have meant a stronger Chinatown.

I had never heard this. Just thought it was interesting. Shoot in the 90's I was in elementary school. What did I know.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Last Day of class

For my last day of my Intro to Kung Fu class... nobody showed up.  It's okay because the graduation ceremony I was going to have over at the Parent school, well I guess it wasn't going to happen now that I am separated. In fact thinking back, my idea of trying to bring students in through this introduction method was not well received when I mentioned it in the first place.

So I still waited around and practiced a little anyway.

I guess I am superstitious and take everything as a sign. I walked in and saw a young man lifting weights. I had seen him before... but today he was wearing a GI. I talked to him a little  bit and it turns out he does a few martial arts and really wants to get into MMA. I hope to work with him soon on something.

Later some kids came in and practiced break dancing. In past classes I think I had seen them and told them that there was a class in here between 1-1:45. But since nobody showed up to my class I saw no point in even mentioning it. I practiced a little and watched them practiced. And then I tried to recruit them. Because I had wanted to combine Lion Dance with break dancing... actually in a filmed scene. In a street Gang/ magic Lion Dance fighting scene that would have been the beginning of a movie based on Macbeth that takes place in Chinatown. I even wrote that crazy script. It was actually pretty stupid but I though that idea for the opening scene was kind of cool.

It wouldn't be Lion Heads to Break dancing moves. I've seen the Youtube videos. I'm not crazy about them but to each his own. I described what I wanted to the breakers. As I was describing it I realized.. man I am old and crazy and sound stupid. But they said no that it sounded kind of cool actually. Anyway I hope to work with them in the future.

Then I saw this young man who is a teacher now. I remember when he was just a kid. I had seen him a few years back as a young man. Now he looked like a tired man. Burnt out even. But in any case, he has a career. He is a teacher. That was a career I had once wanted before I switched to Criminal Justice... and abandoned that as well. It got me thinking, "Look at how a child has become a man with a career.. and I sort of have yet to grow up" or that's what it feels like anyway. I will probably turn around and my children will be more fit to be adults than I am. In fact, I notice as a get older I am becoming even less responsible. I doubt I am the only one. Maybe a rarity, but it can't just be me. Especially adults close to death. I mean at that point who cares right? I mean my mom was still trying to rearrange the house and all that to the very end. But I could imagine that some old people will really be like who cares about law or social norms right?

Anyway, I guess it was good that nobody came to the last class, because then I got to talk to some people.

Being a teacher all the time isn't good. You have to try to be a student 90% of the time in order to be a good teacher that 10% of the time.

In any case, I will start a new Intro to Kung Fu class on June 11th. I was going to have that class focus on grappling... but I think I am just going to see who shows up first and see what that crowd wants. We'll definitely have Lion Dance as a major theme in this class through. Push hands too and of course games
and basic strikes.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Crime Watch

Back in the day I did Crime watch when it first started. And that's really when I started to learn about how Chinatown was run. To the outsider, even to the outsider who lives in Chinatown, you assume that it is a neighborhood where people live and work. Well for instance let's take JP. I'm pretty sure a lot of the people who own restaurants in JP also live in JP. I could be wrong... but that's what I would assume. And it's what I assumed about Chinatown too. But it actually isn't the case. Anyway, I learned this doing Crime Watch.

So a lot of the people on Crime Watch did not live in Chinatown, but they owned businesses in Chinatown or worked in Chinatown. Yeah some just had their regular crappy job, but they did crime watch and were more involved in Chinatown than say.. .Canton, where they lived. That was kind of bizarre to me at the time.

But now I am sort of one of those people. I live in JP but I write the Chinatown Blog.

Crime Watch was a great idea. Tony Yee sold it to me like this. You make it safe for people to come in and go to the businesses. Therefore the businesses make money. Therefore the community benefits.

But after a while I felt like being on crime watch was just picking on homeless people and making young black kids either angry at you (for existing) or uncomfortable (for walking near them) But the way I always saw it... yes you are free to walk down the street wandering aimlessly in a large group of kids that is blocking the sidewalk and... aren't I also free to walk down that same street?

I just realized that there was something inherently antagonistic about the little vest we wore though. Not only that, but actual criminals totally knew we weren't cops, didn't have guns, and basically couldn't do much when it came down to it.

I figured there was another way.

I started just doing sprints and practicing Kung Fu in this Back alley behind the CCBA (which is now where One Greenway is so that is soon going to be one of the safest freaking blocks in Chinatown)  but back then it was just dark and people would go back there to do drug deals.

Being dressed in "street" clothes which also looked off.

I mean I would tie a shirt around my head like a bandana. So I looked like a thug... but then I didn't walk or act like one. I did not have that slow lazy walk. Instead I was doing sprints. Plus I was white. In other words, I looked like someone trying to look like a thug but maybe I was some sort of law enforcement. And for that I had people coming up to me explaining that they weren't doing anything illegal. Basically they thought I was undercover. But when I wore the vest, they knew I was nothing.

However dressing like this might make tourists nervous too.. and the truth is a lot of stuff happens in Chinatown during the day.

"Are you going to quit your job to do Crime Watch?" asked someone else who was really into it.


And now that I don't have a job, I don't go in to do it.

In fact one of the memories that really made me quit was this homeless Hispanic guy covered in bugs lying on the ground. I told him in Spanish that the police were coming over (cause they were) and this particular cop was mean. I wanted him to leave before something happened. A bunch of old Chinese guys were just standing around looking at this poor guy lying there, maybe injured and laughing at him. This lack of compassion really disgusted me. I tried to lift him up and out of the way. But then the cop came over and used his tricks. The first thing he did was smile and act real friendly the way a bully does while stepping on the guy's fingers. He cried out in pain. Then he took out handcuffs and waved them back and forth.

"It will be a weekend in jail... today's Friday."

Now I'm sure there is method and reason for this behavior. Maybe it works. Whatever. But I didn't sign up for crime watch to pick on the weak.

I always thought that, you know how every movie about Chinatown always has the stereotypes on display. Some are bad (prostitution and gambling) but some are good (Lion Dance, Dragon Dance and Kung Fu)

So what if you have a bunch of people walking around doing Kung Fu or Dragon dance or holding class outside or jogging around in a Kung Fu outfit or Cos play or whatever. And they were the crime watch. Then they could really watch instead of intimidate and report back and also intervene if something was happening. You know, if someone was getting sexually assaulted and suddenly, even if you had 20 twelve year old girls in Chinese Folk Dance outfits right there... even they could intervene right? I'm not talking vigilante justice here.

But at the same time, these epople dressed up so festively, is good for tourism.

It's a thought right?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cleaning up

So I went and did my class and I did my sweeping up of the block. It's weird because I sweep that block because I feel tied to it because of Moh Goon, but I find out today that I am even more separate from Moh Goon then I thought. I hadn't realized I was totally kicked out to the point where I am no longer allowed to perform with them. I was upset actually because I had recruited some people to do forms for the festivals... and I know Noah likes to perform and frankly.. I like to perform.

I got a "what did you expect" type of a look. But for some reason, I thought that moving out of the house didn't equate with "Don't come back for Christmas either." I mean right? If I am the Kung Fu son, then I grew up and moved out. So we are separate. That doesn't mean we aren't related. So I wrote some stuff about powerful people. I can tell you for sure that if the roles were reverse I would have handled it differently.

So anyway.. I am officially Kung Fu orphaned... so I felt bad.

But then I realized the possibilities that have just opened up to me. I mean it's like being a Ronin. It's further permission to do what I want. Ironically, I will probably end up working pretty closely with the same people that applied pressure and are being used as the excuse for why I had to be kicked out. But the truth is, I am just being kicked out. It might have a little to do with political atmosphere, but in the end I think there was a break long before the blog started. I just refused to acknowledge it. It was like when everyone but you knew the relationship was over... and for what?

It really makes me wish I had left sooner. Like during high school... and moved on to doing something like MMA or focused on my career or... anything. But then I wouldn't have my kids so I guess there is a reason I stayed. I got something important out of it all, but for all that I sacrificed and did for the school...the truth is I know the break has to do with something much more simple than Chinatown politics. I have more to say about this, but it will probably be in a book rather than in a blog and might even have to be in fictionalized form.

But damn it's like waking up from a 20 year dream like, "Why did I do all those things then if in the end I am out? If I had just left after the first summer I would technically still be in and I wouldn't have all that baggage."

But then... maybe I would have baggage from something else. Maybe I would have joined the military instead, as Sifu was the one who really told me to steer clear of that type career. And if I had gone that route, maybe I would be dead.

And even with this, I still refuse to acknowledge that I am out. I really do. Like suddenly my Sifu is not my Sifu? We're just friends? You know what? I guess.. sorry we are separated but it doesn't work like that. You can divorce a wife and she is your ex wife. I never heard of no Ex- Sifu or Ex-Si Hing. It doesn't work that way. Yeah I don't listen anymore.. but sorry their is still a de-facto connection. But at the same time that doesn't mean that I have to follow orders.

I don't take orders from my blood family, but they are still my family.

Does this make me a traitor? or Runaway?

Well I never ran away.

The point is, in the mean time, if I am no longer part of the school (and so it's now kind of weird to be sweeping up cigarette butts on that particular block). But does that mean my son will not perform lion dance and Kung Fu ever? No!

 I'm going to start my own team.

Does that mean my team is against my old team?

I don't see it that way.

But someone will.

But how can I learn all this Kung Fu for so long and what? Just not use it at all? What should I do just end myself? No. It doesn't work that way. Of course i will continue to do what I have dedicated my life to.

 In fact I had been teaching classes and this and that but everything always sort of had the guise of feeding students back to the school. But since I'm not part of that school any more and "just friends" , no more Si Hing no more Kung Fu family, then well that sort of makes it easier to recruit a new team and start a new school. In fact it encourages me to redouble my efforts and try to work with anyone who will work with me. I don't know if I am to be shunned by all people powerful in Chinatown or what.

Pretty much I know certain people will talk bad about me, but they talk bad about me when I was helping them.

In fact I remember one time I did a performance for my dulcimer teacher and I met a parent of one of my students who smiled but then went back to the school saying, "Did you know that lo fahn jai is a traitor etc." until it was explained to him that no.. I taught at Kwong Kow and had learned there before coming to do Kung Fu and it's okay to be in a dulcimer and drumming group AND a Kung Fu school. I mean there really shouldn't be conflict with that right?

But anyway.. had I left then.. I would have been better off now.

The truth is the break happened mainly when I had kids.

Monday, May 16, 2016

AACA Clean Up meeting

Last week I biked in to go to the AACA clean up meeting. It was the same day that I chanced upon Tim Lavelle teaching Tai Chi by the Elliot Norton Park and so I was actually late to the Clean Up Committee meeting, but I knew I wouldn't be missing crucial info really.

Basically the CBA (Chinese Business Association... not to be confused with the CCBA though right now it is the same group of people controlling both really)  are planning on putting some cigarette Butt dispensers all around Chinatown. They will even pay for it and the businesses who are members and pay a membership fee will get the dispensers as a part of being members of the CBA.

We talked about the pros and cons of the model, whether college kids would steal it.

We talked about how the Tai Tung Park was very clean right now but that the Elliot Norton Park which is new, is so much cleaner than Tai Tung Park and how the new playground by the Gate is right next to all this smoking activity....and why is there such a big difference between that park... and the Elliot Norton park.

I brought up the difference, but I didn't have an answer at the meeting.

Though the fact that people from Bay Village frequent the Elliot Norton Park and would probably know how to complain... more effectively might be part of it.

Basically a lot of Chinatown is being cleaned up... because of gentrification. And as much as people say that word like it is a dirty word... there are actually good parts to it.

I actually brought up at one point (I don't even know why) that Chinatown could totally be gone in ten years and to just look at DC's Chinatown or lack thereof.

Then I was sort of politely shut down by someone who said that you can't make that comparison because DC's Chinatown was so close to the White House it was inevitable and Boston's Chinatown has so much Section 8 housing that it isn't going anywhere and not to be such a doom and gloom prophesier.

But you know what? I don;t think I am crazy to make that comparison. And yes Boston's Chinatown has a lot of Section 8 housing. But having grown up in and forced out of Section 8 housing, I also know that if something is given to you it can always be taken away. And the truth is even if you pay for it, it ca always be taken away. It is the way of the world.

I'm not saying Chinatown WILL be gone in 10 years. I'm saying don't write that possibility off.
Yes.. .maybe even Chinatown could end up being much BIGGER in 10 years. Sure. At any rate, bigger or smaller, it will be cleaner for various reasons outside of my street sweeping and meeting attendance.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Chinwich

The other day I went to Double Chin's and ordered the beef brisket Chinwich. I think the bread is scallion pancake. I guess it is a lot like those Taiwanese beef roll ups. But I do not deny.. that I have spent a few hours and days afterward thinking about how good that sandwich was. As a half Chinese Half European mix of an American.. that is the type of mix that... well that is the good kind of mix. The kind of mix that makes you glad that cultures fuse and come together.
I think that sandwich has the potential to break all the way through to mainstream America along with the Hot Dog and the Hamburger (German foods) and Apple Pie (Franco Jewish). At the same time it retains all the taste and goodness of the Chinese flavor. Crispy and beef brisket chewy... that feeling of gulping down goodness... man you have to try it.

My friend got the half duck and some vegetables. It looked good but I really wanted to try something that I couldn't get elsewhere in Chinatown. Plus I thought, "Can you really eat half a duck for lunch?" but yes you can, and will.

I might start making Double Chin my go to place.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Tai Chi in the park

Today I was in a rush to get into Chinatown and the AACA clean Up Chinatown meeting. (Which I will talk about next post) But I saw Tim Lavelle of Chiu Moh Kwoon teaching a group of people Chi Gung over by the Round Church playground by Little Panda. Now in the past I would have just observed. Maybe people seeing me following along may think that by me following along.. that means I'm not as good. Or... maybe it could be seen as me being subversive in some way or starting trouble. But I have made a decision to start absorbing everything around me, (martial arts and other wise.) and it's nice to be in the student position.

Sifu Tim Lavelle was running a class for a group of students who were visiting Chinatown from out of State. To be clear, they were all white. I had just seen another such group that was a Mandarin class at the CCBA a few weeks ago as well. And as I write this, I am reminded of the fact that I haven't e-mailed them yet.

Basically I definitely see these type of groups and tours as VERY important to Chinatown's future.

I also enjoyed the class. Sifu Tim had very good explanations for moves, applications, and Yin and Yang force, bringing in F=MA into the conversation about a hand technique relying on being relaxed and putting power at the end to generate the most force.

A bunch of Little Panda teachers and students passed by and saw me.

"Hey it's Kung Fu Laoshr.... learning Kung Fu?"

You know, I think if you did all the Kung Fu classes that are around and stiff online and actually practiced...I think would would not be bad at all. Potentially you could even become a master in this way by learning from your surroundings, putting in effort in your practice... and then of course the most important thing of all is Life Experience. It was really cool talking to Sifu Tim and the teachers from the school (I will post about who they were and why they had this event when I do some more research.) And doing the Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Tam Tui and Hung Gar as an intro student was really fun and quite relaxing.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Joy Less Club

For mother's day Grace and I went out to eat some hot pot. You can put together the name but I'm not going to come right out and say it for a couple reasons. Well you know what? Forget it actually because this "review" isn't going to be bad per se. It 's the new Joy Luck Hot Pot where McDonald's used to be. It's really a great location and will make the neighborhood better. You know, no more drugs in the bathroom or right out front. I love the view looking out and there wait stuff was mostly really nice. In fact one of the waiters was an old Kung Fu student of mine.

Our waiter was cool, but maybe a little, inappropriate in terms of what you say when Grace asked "Oh you have to choose the sauce?"

"Yeah?" but like in that teenage valley girl way, but toned down into an Asian male who is slick. I mean he was cool. He's just young. And probably since he works there, it seems obvious that you would have to choose. But when we did Hot Pot before, the sauces are all just there, you don't have to pick. Plus this restaurant also serves regular food. It's a bit confusing. When I go out to eat, I don't like to think. You know?

The place just opened and it seems like it hasn't really settled into the routine yet. Stuff comes late, things get confused. Plus there was a ton of wait staff. That seems expensive. The genius of other hot pot places seemed to be that you can charge a lot and that one or two people can handle the whole thing. But if you are doing banquets too, it gets confusing. Plus most of the money is probably made at the bar.

But what do I know. I'm not in the restaurant business.

"Open your own damn restaurant and see if you can do it better!" and that theoretical response would be correct.

The food was good though.

Suddenly some music started playing and these metro-sexual looking Asians came in doing a dance routine.

Grace thought it was cool. Like they were hired. Like "Lion Dance is out man, now we the metro/gay dance to bring you good luck."

I'm not saying gay or Metro in a derogatory way. Rather the type of clubbing music with movements and dress style. I may be being politically incorrect, but I am describing a culture that exists.

It turns out these guys, (who did not look like the stripper type, too skinny. I guess it could be called "stripper" music sort of) were not hired or invited! So what was up with that? They were quickly escorted out. That was hilarious.

We had the Mayonaise Shrimp of some kind and the surf and turf and a noodle dish. The sauce was forgotten and we asked the waiter covering for our cool young guy just to bring out whatever.

We gave a 15% tip based on the bill because the service was a little confused so I wasn't going to leave 20% you know?

But going home realized something was wrong with the math. I don't think we were charged for a couple of dishes. So what? Should we turn around and do an Honest Abe? No I don't think we will.

I'm sure once all the kinks get worked out this place is going to be awesome and will be a staple of the neighborhood. I actually didn't see a lot of white people, but after going to the theater district I would imagine they would come here. If you ordered the regular Chinese American food, Beef and broccoli type stuff, well maybe that's why they do restaurant style AND hot pot, and maybe they want to get in on banquets too. Food is good for sure. Very good. But I think they are losing money of wait staff. So many waiters... but still confusion and delay.

You know one things is our waiter was like, "I'm ___ and I'll be your server tonight." Like a white place. I think they are trying to do that, to appeal to the American. But it was weird for us, because we weren't expecting us. They have to work that out, whether they will be doing it Chinese Style or American style.. and even though I have heard this stuff that says that Chinese restaurants usually have "bad" service, David Chang of Momofuku wrote an article about why this is not the case at all and I believe he is right. The service is different.If you are used to Chinese service when you go to a white place you will be disoriented and not know what the hell is going on.

But this restaurant hasn't figured out yet how to blend the two. They may just have to put their foot done on one side. I would opt for Chinese service because then you can get the hardworking types that don't speak English but just get it done.

But again, I've never owned a restaurant and what the hell do I know anyway.

I think I will try them again in 6 months and see what's up.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Playground update

All from Linda See via Facebook

Here is what I know so far from talking to the guys working on it:

1. It should be ready for use by mid-next week. They are going to put down rubber padding around it.

2. They weren't sure if a fence is going around it. They said they personally aren't the guys who would do that, so they don't know, but they thought it was plausible that someone else has been contracted to do put one up.

3. They were not sure if it's permanent or not but they said it would be up until or through October at least.

4. It is being put up by the Greenway and some playground company whose name I have already forgotten despite having this conversation less than 2 hours ago.

That photo is from 9:30 am - there was a lot of progress done when I saw it again around noon. I will take some more photos and send to you tonight when I walk by again.

I am really excited about this as you can see!!

(Thanks Linda!)

Tai Tung Martial Arts

Today Was a really great day to be Street sweeping. Not much garbage either. Just some poo, and a bunch of cigarette butts. To get the equipment I went in with the maintenance man into the place where Moh Goon used to be. I peaked in at the back wall where the incense and firecrackers used to be stored.

Now it is only a storage area. I flashed back to all the Tai Tung Moh Goon memories I had before stepping back out, broom and trash can in hand.

It's kind of a shame actually. I mean I guess it works as a storage room. But obviously before the stuff was stored elsewhere. When it was kind of a rec room for the maintenance people that was cool because they needed one. But now it's just a place to store stuff and frankly, in a spot that could get a lot of rent if the right business has it. Maybe a Day Care (though there are many day cares) or a Martial Arts Studio. Or perhaps a community work out room that had Martial Arts, Yoga, a chess club, classes people coming in and out all the time. Just because we couldn't make it doesn't mean nobody can.

And by the way Mission Park had a similar room, which had all of these things. Lion Dance class too. The class wasn't that popular, but I think in Tai Tung they could make it work because there are so many residents or people with ties to those projects who could put together a group. Wouldn't that be cool? I just feel like that space, despite the fact that we could never turn a profit was meant to be a tea drinking old men chilling outside and youth running around Moh Goon that made the community safer and also brought outsiders in, in a good way. I mean, if the classes were super cheap or even free or crowdfunded you could have all these students join and also all the rich people gentrifying the neighborhood could mingle with some residents.. and when you have mingling like that, people can come together and get things done. It could be Mah Jong (in a more benign way than gambling) or chess or music or Kung Fu or anything. It doesn't really matter. Yeah there are a lot of community spaces already. But with the increase of residents... isn't there always a need for more?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Language and Communications Access for City Services

On May 10 their going to hold a hearing on Tuesday May 10 about this at City Hall. It was sponsored by Michelle Wu and Timothy McCarthy. Lydia Lowe e-mailed me a PDF and I really wish I knew how to just paste the image up here on the blog. But then I probably wouldn't even read it myself. I guess anyone can go to this thing. For me this highlights an issue that is actually more technological than cultural. I mean in a world with Google Translate and all that, why is this even an issue? I mean government especially local government.. especially Boston is SOOO far behind the private sector when it comes to the type of technology being used and also just the mindset. Individuals are catching up yes. And yeah you can Tweet to 311 and stuff like that. In fact you can Tweet to Michelle Wu and Marty Walsh.. and they'll respond! But as a system, whether it is housing or our schools I think you can see that  a lot of the way things are done hasn't changed since the 50's

The elderly and especially Chinese elderly supposedly are not online etc. But the 50 somethings all have "we chat"  I don't know what other social media type things there are in other countries because I am not that hip myself. There is LINE in Japan and I heard Wassup is big in Brazil. (AKA sup) I mean probably you would have an intern handle such a thing, getting the word out to constituents etc. Or maybe you go through Community organizations like the CPA.

Should there be someone working for the City that handles all these things? If there is.. are they any good? Maybe there should be more of a relationship between the City and certain parts of the Private sector. These are all issues that are probably complicated and potentially dangerous, and if not, will be seen that way at any rate.

Well if you are reading this in English, chances are you haven't had trouble with access to city services due to language barriers. And to turn the criticism inward, I am the Chinatown Blog guy but I do not have We Chat. And I can't write this post in Chinese. So I guess tell your friends and parents who have had issues. I definitely can't make this hearing.

New Playground by the Chinatown Gate

(Photo credit: Linda See)

Hurray! They are putting in a new playground by the Chinatown Gate. Apparently kids play here all the time so they might as well have something to play on. Of course this is also right near the highway basically and there has been some concern about the Reggie Wong basketball court being one of the unhealthiest air quality courts in the City. Come to thing of it.. JQS Upper school Basketball court also near train tacks and a busy street. But what are you going to do? In the case of this playgrund at least there are trees there and as those grow and fill out that should help.

Better not to know

I was talking to an old timer in Chinatown about my blog and he was telling me that some things are better not only not to write... but not know. Basically because if you know than you will become a target. If you actually write about it... then you will really become a target. He mentioned that a white guy had actually written a book about San Francisco's Chinatown. He said he was involved in gang activity under Shrimp Boy but since he was white, nobody believed his story but at that same time, people who knew it was true wanted to attack him. And that actually San Francisco, New York, Boston's Chinatown... they are all inter-related. There is so much corruption and shady stuff going down... that it's just better to keep you head down so you don't become a target.

I actually don't know what this story is about because so far I haven't found out anything that theoretically I couldn't write about. I mean I would hurt some people's feelings or bring up some old stuff... I mean I guess I know w little bit of stuff that people would rather I didn't write about. But the truth of it is, nothing I know is anything like say, "Spotlight." That's pretty bad. Maybe there are hints of stuff that I know but the criminal stuff is just so common place.. I mean it's what you expect and the truth of it is, when it is explained it shows the human side instead of the demonized Chinatown underground depicted in those 1960's pulp fiction type stories which are extremely racist. I mean the stereotype is Fu Manchu. Anything in real life worse than that? And although this is no longer popular... is the common conception of Chinatown or Chinese people really better? It's just that recently we've been focusing more on Muslim Americans and Russian Americans. (Seriously watch some budget action movies.. recent action movies..  and pay attention to how they're depicted carefully. It's ridiculous.)

A long time ago a Teet Da patient who I assisted in treatment said to me about these stories, "They are good to know...but bad to be involved in."

I think that is closer to my standpoint. Of course by writing about it... well if I was an outsider journalist type I could just write about it and then move on to another city or another story or whatever. The Spotlight story about abuse in the Catholic Church only happened because an outsider was editor.

But here is the thing. When it comes to Chinatown.. there simply isn't a story that is THAT juicy. I mean the world exploded over the John Willis story. But when it comes down to it, the most interesting parts in White Devil involve John Willis's first contact with Asians (because that is interesting, meeting of cultures... but it wasn't even criminal at that point) and then the stuff about Steven Tse was extremely interesting.. and then when Johb Started selling Oxy. I mean that was interesting too but in terms of a news story it actually wasn't that big and in terms of a crime.. I mean he sold what is legal to sell with prescription.. illegally. Is that evil?

People really complain that the only reason the story was told was because John was white. But hey Bob Halloran is white and his audience is mainly white.. and at least some Chinese people are telling me that I shouldn't even KNOW certain stories let alone talk or write about them... so nobody tells the story. So the book never comes out. So the movie never is made.. and we all complain that Scarlett Johannson is playing an Asian (robot.. can robots be Asian?) and Ming Na, who starred in Joy Luck club, condemns this and when she got that Joy Luck Club part she really wanted to make sure there was no yellow face going on in the movie. (But one character that was originally mixed race and looked white were cast as full Asian. Should I as a mixed race guy who looks white feel underrepresented? I don't btw. And I get it that all the mixed race actors get to play straight white characters too so they gt a pretty sweet deal there.)

Anyway, if you don't tell the stories you don't get the representation. So maybe I should put it all in fiction then?

I don't know as Chinatown continues to disappear (despite denial of this) I think books and blogs like this are going to be increasingly more important.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Hanging out with Sifu Jim Six-Tiger

The first time I met Jim he was teaching at Woo Ching White Crane. I reached out to him because I am developing a Chinese Grappling course which I am going to offer in the Summer at Josiah Quincy which will focus primarily on the 10 animals as concepts, games like push hands and wrestling, some situation drills for self defense, meditative poses and techniques. 

I knew that teaching this course, I would inevitably be asked about Brazilian Jujitsu and/or MMA, and I had seen on Facebook that not only had Six-Tiger been doing Jujitsu for a while, but he had also put up some instructional videos (which I can't find on You tube at the moment) that showed real world application with his work as a paramedic. The idea that you or your students can "roll" full force without the participants getting hurt of injured really appeals to me, but I really dislike when Kung Fu is denigrated so I wanted to see if the perhaps you could take some concepts from Jujitsu and put it into Kung Fu. After all, the techniques of Jujitsu themselves, according to stuff you read online, originated in China. This is why I first wanted to approach a jujitsu practitioner who also had done Kung Fu and had real world experience implementing those techniques, and who knew where I would be coming from. 

At the end of it I realized that a) rolling and doing Jujitsu like things is pretty fun but that b) It's a complicated art form. So although I picked up a few things, my class over the summer will definitely be relying on push hands, positioning, and indicating strikes, rather than submissions. But I may take up Jujitsu or MMA or other Martial Arts or combat sports in the future. I think rather than detracting from what I have already learned, they will inspire more understanding and creativity. 

Since this is the Chinatown blog I also wanted to share Jim's Chinatown story, part of which I already knew but not in great detail. 

Jim was born in North Carolina and when he moved up North to live in West Roxbury, in the projects he had a difficult time. Essentially Jim had been fighting from early childhood all the way to adulthood. As a child he was taught to turn the other cheek which in many ways contributed to him being a victim. 

When he moved up North he decided he would no longer be a victim and began fighting back. He was a target because he was not from the city, an outsider. At some point he started winning his fights and became more interested in martial arts. (He had been forced to take Karate as a child but does not count that as part of his training.) He learned Taekwondo at Roslindale scale but having seen so many Kung Fu movies he really wanted to get into that martial Art. But as a tall African American male he also knew that he could look threatening and might not be accepted. He did not feel welcomed at many schools and also had some prejudices of his own. 

"I'll put it down to being young and being ignorant. "Jim said, "I thought that in order to learn Chinese Kung Fu, you had to learn from a Chinese man." He had spoken with a white Sifu and felt welcomed at that school, but wanted to check out one more school before accepting. He said that because of that, he always felt a little guilty when he saw the white Sifu later on because in a way, he had judged him by his race.

In the end he joined Woo Ching White Crane (where I also joined and studied and even lived)

"I thought that there was no way that Sifu was going to accept me anyway so when asked through translation why I wanted to learn I thought.. should I lie? Should I say I am seeking enlightenment? But I thought.. no I'll just tell the truth. Tell him that I want to look better while kicking someone's ass."

Sifu laughed at that. 

There was a tea ceremony that came next. 

"I was like "oooo I've seen this in the movies." I figured they thought I was going to do the wrong thing. But when I poured tea for Sifu, the looked at me surprised. Yeah! Kung Fu Movies helped!"

At some point Jim had a falling out with the school which we talked about awkwardly because well, as Jim said, "I know.. you were there." 

I am a blogger, but I am also, full disclosure, more or less Woo Ching's disciple. And even though I had my own growing apart with my Kung Fu family and even had to make a public statement on the blog to clarify this...spiritually Woo Ching and I are very much one family. I will not say cut from the same cloth because unlike my Sifu, I am not a true fighter. Whether that is from environment or something you just have to be born with... I'm not sure. But also being from the projects I feel it is important not to "front" and pretend to be someone I am not. Yes, when it comes down to it, I can fight. That doesn't make me a fighter. 

To get back to the post, I will gloss over this section. 

Jim left the school and later joined up with Lee Sifu, who at one point had also shared a space at the Tai Tung school. Later there was also a falling out here as well. Much of which from my perspective seems to be from a language and cultural barrier. But there are examples of these "Game Of Thrones" as Jim put it, in all sorts of organizations even when everyone is of the same culture and speaking the same language. 

For Jim the whole time he was in Chinatown, from the beginning, he wanted to be accepted. And to be accepted he said that he would try his best to act Chinese and even identified himself as Chinese in the way he thought and did things, and sometimes "to the denigration of my own soul." Jim said. 

Inevitably while showing me the rear naked choke, I asked Jim what he thought about Eric Garner. I am the one that brought up race. Some Martial Artists online think that race has no place in Martial Arts. Not only do I beg to differ, but if you look at the history of Kung Fu, a lot of the movements surrounding martial arts, from the Tai Ping Rebellion, to the Boxer Rebellion, and even the more successful Republic of China and arguably the Communist Revolution (which suppressed some forms of Kung Fu but came to embrace and promote others) involved at least cultural identity if not racial and nationalist or political identity. 

Even without looking at China and instead looking at Chinatown, you can see a strong relationship between Kung Fu and the Chinese Americans need to band together and get stronger so as not to be bullied by white people.

We went out to eat and continued our conversation at Spicy World. 

I asked him what he thought about the changes in Chinatown that he has seen.

"Well some things are good but there are bad things that are caused by gentrification. Basically Downtown is swallowing Chinatown up and you have the South End swallowing it up on the other side. I don't think that Chinatown will be around in 50 years."

But as we talked more about broader issues of racial tensions in the country and the upcoming election I brought up that in many ways, Chinatown is the dream that a lot of leaders like Malcom X and the Black Panthers were searching for. I then recanted a bit and said that, of course now that the land has become valuable it can be taken back. 

"But they still have that money" Jim argued, "and they can take that down to New Chinatown" Six-Tiger was talking about Quincy. Essentially Jim was saying that as long as the Chinese worked together, even if Chinatown disappeared some form of it always pops up again somehow. Through our conversation he argued that if the African American community, the African Americans that have been here for 400 years, could learn to do what the Chinese or what the Afro-Caribbean Americans are able to do with community and business, that could make a huge difference. But the reason why the newcomers are able to do this is because they have not been beaten down by a victim mentality. They come over here ready to go with none of that baggage holding them back. 

Jim's Kung Fu and perspective helped me a lot for the plans I have with the community both in Chinatown and out. I hope to continue to learn from and gain support Six-Tiger and other Kung Fu and Martial Arts to help bring my own dreams to fruition. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hanging out with Sifu Edward Woodruff

Today I got the chance to hang out with Sifu Edward Woodruff. This is more of an intro because we will have to work out together which of the stories we shared with each other will go into the blog and which ones will not. However, just vaguely I will say that it was amazing to hear about the Kung Fu world in Boston's Chinatown, around the time that I was not even born yet. Sifu Woodruff, often called Mok Suk or Uncle Wood, in Chinatown back in the day, showed me a picture in black and white of him performing at Tai Tung Village. The reason why I want to talk about this picture instead of the many that he showed me, is that I have seen several pictures of Kung Fu people performing on those same steps at Tai Tung and I also performed there. But when I performed there, I only saw myself. I didn't see what came before. I had no idea about what came before and that there was a whole culture of Kung Fu here in Boston.

And even though I do know that now, or even had an inkling as a child, it is different to really peer into the details. In fact there are many things that people who do know.. assume I would know... after all doing Kung Fu in Chinatown and having these community ties and a blog... how can I NOT know. Well I can tell you that I am learning new things every day about the past.

Look into the past makes me think about the future too.

I mean Sifu Woodruff talked about reading my blog and seeing some similarities, of being a white guy who was sort of part of the Chinese culture while at the same time being an outsider in other ways. Although he is not mixed race, he is in many ways, MORE of an insider in Chinatown than I am.

When we ordered in Chinese both of us got those laughs and looks of "Wow your Chinese is very good." etc.

But what interested me most about his stories is that although his Sifu did not speak English, his contemporaries who were more American and did speak English were the well established and famous Sifus when I was a child.

Now people call me Sifu because I teach at this class or that class. But I have already seen this phenomenon. There are new Sifus coming over from China, from Shaolin Temple or Wu Dang, and they are surprised to see a strong culture of Kung Fu already here and more Americanized as well. What about ten years later or 20 years later?

Let's just say that I am glad that I am writing some of this stuff down.

My Uncle had said something about newer immigrants.. that for some reason, every group, especially a new group, always seems to think that it's just them. It's only they that go through these strange feelings and that well, other people just wouldn't understand who are outside that group. Now every individual is unique, let alone each culture and group. But there is often a lot of commonality.

I learned today that Sifu Woodruff and I have a lot in common even though we are from different backgrounds and generations. The funniest thing was that as we moved on from lunch at Hong Kong Eatery to Hong Kong Milk Teas at Eldo's when we both ordered in Chinese there... in addition to the first look of surprise at seeing frist one white face and then another order in Cantonese... there was the second look at both of our faces....

"You know you could be my son.." Sifu Woodruff laughed while recalling that exchange. I also think that perhaps that was what the woman at the register may have decided was the case. For certain... there must be some story behind two white guys speaking Chinese.

But the truth is, as I have been learning, even though people are surprised when I speak Chinese.. it is actually old news! There have been white people speaking Chinese in Chinatown since at least the 70's. It makes me wonder about even further back. I mean I saw some old footage of workers from the Qing Dynasty doing lion dance in Boston. The head was very strange looking. Not a Faht San head at all. Now... if they knew lion dance.. chances are there was Kung Fu too. Just because I have never heard anything about it doesn't mean there isn't a plethora of interesting stories of those old days that maybe we can also all relate too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dim Sum and Politics with Chris Wong

I got a chance to talk to Chris Wong, who like me volunteered on the Diana Hwang campaign. He was able to get a lot more involved so I thought it would be cool to trade stories. Obviously I am doing the whole thing from memory and chances are I will re-arrange and misquote. But anyway, here are some of the stories on the campaign trail from Chris.

"I didn't actually see you at Kelly's" This was the pub in East Boston where they gathered election night.

"I wasn't there because I had to take care of my children."

"Oh right. Well Diana took it pretty hard. She was very emotional. And since she came in 5th I don't know if she'll run again."

I actually jumped in here and said that it is unlikely that anyone would run again until someone really steps down or moves up from a position. We like our incumbents around here. And the only reason why anyone ran was because Petrucelli took a lobbying job.

I was surprised that Chris was actually my age. For some reason I thought he would be a college student or something like that. He occupational background was mostly in the financial world and recently, Tech start ups. He grew up in New Hampshire in an all white town and speaks very little Chinese.  He is not your typical campaign door knocker activist that I ran into. He was a very clean cut well dressed, "SUITS" type of guy. In fact, even though he is Asian, given the crowd at the Dim Sum place we were at, I knew right away he was the person here to meet me. Everyone else, including me, was kind of grimy looking. So how did he get started?

"Well I always wanted to get a perspective of politics that was different from what I heard on the news and... Do you know of Chun Fai Chan? Well we sat down and we seemed politically aligned. I guess he was involved on the Elizabeth Warren campaign. He suggested that if I really wanted a different perspective, I should dive right in and volunteer. But instead of volunteering for someone like Elizabeth Warren, that I should get involved with something more local."

***Okay I should have taken notes but I forgot how he met Diana exactly. But hey this is a blog so I can always come back and change this... hence the stars to remind me***

"So instead of doing due diligence, "Chris laughed and I laughed with him because I also got involved quite similarly. It wasn't only that Diana was Asian for me. It was actually the MBTA petition that pushed me over to volunteer. For Chris there were issues that showed they were aligned as well. But like him I had jumped in... kind of for the sake of the blog as well.

"But what I was surprised about" Chris continued, "Was that when someone gave me marching orders... I sort of expected them to have all the answers. And that wasn't the case. It was sort of here are some flyers and go stand in front of this building.. and I was surprised by that.... Did you do the calls from your house? and door knocking too? Well I guess the most difficult calls or door knocking conversations for me were, one example was this guy I was talking to and I was trying to explain that Diana was really about getting women involved in politics and his response was, "Women in politics is good and all but I'm really and issues guy." And I was thinking, but didn't want to say, that Women in politics is an issue. I mean there were other callers who knew another candidate personally or were not Democrat or whatever reason outside of my control were not going to vote for Diana. But how did I, having just begin talking with this person, go about trying to convince them to vote for my candidate when they were coming from a different perspective. Do I do a quick Google search on statistics about women in politics? What?"

As I write this in front of the same computer that I made calls from I'm having some of the flashback to my bad calls or personal interactions which were mostly, if you asked someone who they were voting for, "None of your business." usually with some expletives added and a tone of voice that reminded me of the front walk bys of an Impact Model Mugging class.. right before the student goes eyes groin. Chris said that his worst call was when someone said they weren't going to vote democrat anymore because they they thought the campaigns had stolen all the calling lists.

"I explained that I think it was similar to how the white pages sued to work and that I was pretty sure the numbers were public. But I sort of wanted her to apologize for accusing me of stealing her phone number from somewhere."

All the calls are made using Hubdialer btw. So it's not like anyone is actually dialing a number.

But there were good interactions as well.

Chris recalled,"One time I was door knocking in Revere and they would ask me to come in and sit a spell and educate me about strategies for local politics. One family even invited me over for Easter Dinner and I definitely would have gone had I not already made plans. I mean there was a very broad response between getting accused of a crime and being invited to Easter Dinner."

I told a little of my story, which is in post after post of this blog and we talked about some things that we could do going forward. One thing that came up was the power of Unions.

"One of the most powerful moments I remember from the campaign was when the Carpenters Union actually came in one weekend to do door knocking. I mean that was the most people I ever saw there. Usually it was just a few college interns and that sort of thing. It was really an incredible moment to see that."

Master Plan

I'm just forwarding information from e-mails from Lydia Lowe below. But before you just go "whatever" I have some thoughts on the relevance of at least trying to be a part of city planning.
Recently a child was killed by an ambulance. Ambulances are high up they can't see children. The hospital is right near a day care and community center. Some people who don't know the history said, "Did it make sense to have a day care their?" They didn't know that the Day care was there first.

Look at the High way that cuts through Chinatown, rather highways. Right through residential areas.

And to look at other communities, JP is having it's Wake Up the Earth Festival this weekend. A Festival that was started to protest I-95 cutting through JP. guess what? I-95 is a straight line up and down the country, but it curves out and around the City of Boston. Just a thought. Here is the info about the Master Plan meetings.


Reminder:  The Master Plan Implementation Committee will have a special meeting tonight at 6 pm at BCNC board room with Bill Tuttle from DOT to learn more about the Parcel 25 and Parcel 26 planning and bidding process.

The regular monthly meeting of MPIC will be held next Monday, May 9th at 6 pm, also at BCNC. We will have updates and also have further community discussion about Parcel 25 and 26.

The next public meeting to inform the Parcel 25 and 26 Request for Proposals will be on May 17th (see attached and below).

Good morning –
Thank you for your patience while we worked on getting all the documentation online.  The web address now live and can be found at:
Also, attached please find the meeting notification for our next public meeting on Tuesday, May 17th at 6 p.m.  Please note that since due to the large number of meeting attendees we have changed the location to 10 Park Plaza – 2nd Floor conference rooms 1, 2, & 3.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments.
Thank you for your participation –

Monday, May 2, 2016

Chinatown Initiation

What is a Chinatown initiation? I know that this title will have some people thinking about gangs, especially given my previous posts about Bob Halloran's book about John Willis, "White Devil."
Maybe they will think I am talking about some sort of Kung Fu ceremony.

Actually I am talking about a young mother's story, about the first time she really felt a part of Chinatown.

 "A few weeks ago, a guy I only know by face from Chinatown left his kid with me to bring to his bus stop, while I was walking my daughter to daycare. We have seen each other many times before, but I definitely don't know his name or anything. Anyway, I have never felt more like I was a part of the Chinatown community than that moment, even though I literally just guided the kid down a few blocks on our way to daycare...I could not imagine that happening in another neighborhood."

Technically I live in JP now and I have left my kids at the playground while other families watched them. But I do remember a tightness of Community in Chinatown Growing up, especially in the Castle Square area and especially among the Chinese. I mean yeah we were robbed all the time, and there were problems with how it was then. But even among all that parents did look out for each other. In the high rises Some floors even left all the doors, not only unlocked... but open with the kids running up and down the hallways. Not every floor, and a lot of that changed even within my time there. I mean if your neighbors are selling drugs... not as good and suddenly everyone shuts the doors.

A lot of the old timers have been talking about that sense of community and how it seems to be lost a bit. Nice to know that in some ways it still is there.