Thursday, December 31, 2015

First Night First Day GBCCA

I have never fully done the first night thing. When I was a kid I vaguely remember ice sculptures while skating at the Public Garden. A couple years ago we did the First Night Parade for the Kung Fu Federation.... but when you're in it you don't get to see much of what other people are doing. And this year I brought Noah down to watch the ice sculptures actually being made. We ended up seeing some sort of parade and Chinese drummers. A Calliope and dancers. And then at the Library we did arts and crafts provided by the GBCCA. Noah wrote Spring (chun) and Luck (fuk... yeah some parents looked at me funny.) And made a little lamb left over from last year I guess (or that the old year) and you could make a monkey too but they ran out.

I love GBCCA. They do a Dragon and drumming and all sorts of stuff.

 They are awesome and First Night is awesome. This year you don't even have to pay for a button.... and people thought that the new Mayor wouldn't be able to provide. The truth is the Corporations stepped it up.
And now it seems like it's better than ever. But still I will not be going back there tonight why? Well I have an opportunity to hang out with some friends and we will be elsewhere. Not sure why but it seems to be the same story every year.

Tomorrow I hope to head back to Copley Square with the family though.

Tonight is a big night for Chinese restaurants too as that is an American Tradition.. to order Chinese food. Anyone doing that? This is a tradition I did not really fully understand until.. well a few years ago. I even worked that New Year's eve extra helper bit without fully understanding it in high school. ( I suppose that's a story worth telling.

Chinatown I'm sure will be open for business, maybe will head in, and if you are by Boston Common and get a chance, there is a display at 2 Boylston, the China Trade Center, about Boston Chinatown's History (more on that to come.)

I was thinking, the Christmas Holiday has become Huge in China, with hotels paying big bucks for real white guys with real Santa beards. And American New Year (and for Jews Christmas) has ties to Chinese food, plus there is an obvious lead in to Chinese New Year. I mean Chinese arts and crafts and Lions And Dragons are just easy for American New Year... and then it's not like you feel the holiday season is over if you have something to look forward too, Chinese New Year. So all these holidays just go well together.

I mean what kind of craft to you do for American New Year? It's too hard and the Chinese are already doing stuff. Just go with it. THat GBCCA thing was just genius.

Anyway, Happy New Year.. and it's true that little arts and craft thing at the library has me realizing that Lion Dance time is right around the corner.

Philadelphia Chinatown: Alternate Universe

It's pretty fun going to another Chinatown. It's like walking your own streets, except it's completely different. Some people will argue, why go to a whole other city just to go to the Chinatown, isn't that limiting yourself?
A lot of people from the older generation used to do this when they went to New York.

But hold on, we didn't JUST go to Chinatown. It's also fun to check out your own community. But let me do some quick comparisons with some other groups.

Jews in the Middle Ages.

In the Middle Ages in Europe, Jews were legally put into a separate category, required to wear identifying hats (stuff that Trump suggests we might look at doing today for Muslims coming into the country) But anyway, they were tucked way, in their own little ghettoes. Ghetto is in fact a yiddish word right?

But they could still travel. They would travel from this Warsaw's Ghetto all the way to Prague's Ghetto. They had to stay among themselves for protection.

African Americans in the 60's

Malcom X said in his autobiography (written by Alex Haley) that all you had to do to find out where the African American people (he used the older outdated and politically incorrect language probably... but later in Africa he starts using African American) anyway to find out where to hang out with other African American people you just had to look in the phone book for the Lincoln High School or the Lincoln Boulevard. I laughed out loud when I read this because nowadays, you only have to look for Malcom X boulevard. I wonder if he knew that it would be his name on the street one day.

But again Malcom X would look up where to go mostly for fun and social reasons. African Americans gathered in a community not by choice, in fact wealthy African Americans will often move to affluent white neighborhoods.. as do Chinese. But you still might want to look up your own people.

Well Chinatown is a place that everyone might want to look up. You could be any flavor of human other than Chinese and still want to check out Chinatown fro the food or handbags or whatever. Grace had looked up a restaurant online that had rave reviews. I thionk it was called Dim Sum garden. We went in and it was packed. There was a huge line.

"You want to wait for this?" I mean it's not like we can't find another Dim Sum place. In fact I looked at the line and the crowd. There was one old Chinese lady sitting down eating. But the line was full of white people, A white woman holding a baby in one of those baby carriers. Holy crap if she's willing to wait in line like that then the food must be good right? I looked at what some other white people had ordered. Steamed Baos and Chung Yao Beng Scallion pancakes. Okay Grace makes those at home. They might be great, but was it worth the wait?

We went to the place next door. Joy Tsin Lau.

We used to have places in Boston like this. Old Old School. Not only were the walls plastered with decorations and photos of that old school variety, but it even had the art work of grandchildren and "Good Job on Your Performance recital!" awards. Wow. I remember my friend from Hong Kong saying that Boston was so backward for having a place like that. That Hong Kong hadn't had a restaurant like that since the 70's.

No Boston doesn't have a place like that. So this Philly place was special Awesome portions... Well I'll do A separate post on this later.

We walked down the street and I bumped into my best friend and his mom and aunts from Boston. What the hell? I remember my Mom saying that they had walked through Philly's Chinatown with my dad and bumped into friends from Boston.

But none of us are forced to visit Chinatown. We are doing it because we like it. We don't NEED Chinatown, but it's nice to have.

Grace went to get a powerball ticket at a DVD place (yes DVD's) that still rented out VHS. Does Boston still do this? Maybe but you don't notice when you visit all the time.

We Bought Wah Moi preserved plums (or I suppose I could call them sugar plums at this season) and the kids ate those as we continued our touristy walk.

I have to talk about parking too because that was a story in itself. But in any case, though you might go to New York for the Statue of Liberty and you might go to Philly for the Rocky Statue, there's nothing wrong with going to the Chinatown too. There are other places to get Chinese food in Philly (more on that later) but the place that says Chinatown on the map is the easiest one to do without having to look it up on line.

So that's why you see articles about Chinatown's disappearing. The set in stone, written on the subway map Chinatown's are shrinking. But there are more Chinese communities or mixed communities where there is awesome Chinese food.

Services too? Not sure.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A BCEC Christmas Pageant

Boston Chinese Evangelical Church is one of the biggest churches (in terms of members) in Chinatown. They rent out buildings to hold services, it's not just the building you see.

I have friends who attended the Church at one point or another. And it would be good for someone from the Church to post something about their experience (hint hint)

But I'm just going to post about the time I went to their Christmas Pageant.

For some background, we had an altar to my dad and some statues of Guan Yin and Faht Siu at home. It wasn't a real traditional Chinese altar in terms of rules or whatever. But it had fruit and  incense.

But Christmas was always spent with my white family. So for me Christmas and Christianity was always seen from that perspective. Catholic, and old and traditional. People were Christian because their ancestors were and not because there was a question of "if" you believed. It was just something you did. The way lion dance is done.

I went to the little church and saw the play. Chinese Children dressed up as Mary and Joseph and the three wise men. It just seemed so odd to me.

Then they told everyone to close their eyes and said, "Now without opening your eyes, raise your hand if deep in your heart, you believe in Jesus Christ " maybe they said as your lord and savior too. Actually at the time I did not consider myself a Christian. But I raised my hand. and here's why. I did believe in Jesus, in a television special kind of way. They had this thing on TV with a child Jesus making clay birds into real birds.

Yeah sure I believed in that. I still do. Why? Because I believe that ANY child can make clay into real birds. They make all sorts of things come to life all the time, everyday. So that's how I believe in all that, poetically, mythically, and sure, in an alternate reality sense, literally... but not scientifically

So I raised my hand.

"Now everyone that raised your hand line up here and everyone that didn't line up over here."

So they started splitting people up into groups. I heard later the "Non- believer" group made crafts. So I had raised my hand... but I actually went with the nonbeliever group. Why would I do that? Because I knew that I believed something but that was for myself and I knew I believed it in my own way. I also knew that it was not quite the way they believed it. In other words.... Jesus was the son of god, and was a special child, and that every child is a son of god and a special child (including me.) So I knew in terms of church and all that, even though I had raised my hand, I identified with the non believer group.

But I didn't make crafts because my mother pulled me out of there so fast and we never went back. In fact she was pissed that they had made distinctions like that.

Everyone I met who was from that Church later on was always really nice.

But even when I got interested in going to a Church in Chinatown, for some reason I couldn't get past that memory.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Tai Tung on Harrison Ave: May's Cake House

This weekend we went to May's Cake house. I couldn't believe it, It was like it had never closed. Same workers, same customers I bumped into.
"Where are your kids going to school now over here? Oh over where you are."
"How about you?"
"We're over in Brighton where we live."

Same, We all assume that the other lives in Chinatown. But actually none of us live in Chinatown, somehow we all just end up gathering here.

I looked for a Bak Tong Gao but didn't see one. I had a craving for that sticky glutinous rice. But I did see a Siu Beng. A pancake like Mochi with red bean filling. Actually these are one of the things I always like about May's because they have the kind with the red bean filling and the kind with the lotus paste, plus it is one of the treats that they will actually stick into a little plastic bag. I'm not sure why that turns me on, but somehow it just looks nicer and flatter, even though the plastic just goes in the trash and is bad for the environment.

I didn't bring the kids in, I just chose for them because they stayed in the car with their mother. This street you can still pull that double parking hopping out craziness if you have two adults and work in concert.

Hot Dog Bao and Hong Dao Bao. A Dahn Taht. And my Siu beng. That was it and we were out.

As I walked out I looked at this little micro- neighborhood of Chinatown. Bakery, Pharmacy, Restaurant, Church, Wholesale restaurant supply (and when I had been here Kung Fu school.) If you were in one of the those Wild West Towns in the old Cowboy movies, I guess all it was missing was a Saloon.

I thought, "Why didn't I ever go to that Church when I lived here?" I guess because the Moh Goon was my Church and I was meditating and practicing Kung Fu all the time and that sufficed for my Spiritual needs.

I think I'm going to spend more time writing a bout this little block. Especially since I spent so much time here. And maybe I should write a little bit about the Kung Fu school and what it was to the neighborhood of Tai Tung. It still exists, it just moved to the CCBA building. But I think there is a huge difference in how it interacted with the community when it was right there on the first floor and the playground was right outside.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Home Health Care position.

招聘: 家務料理/老人護理服務, 能說流利普通話/廣東話


你想開始一個個人回報豐厚的事業, 為老人服務, 幫助他們安坐在自己的家中?






Job Openings: Mandarin, Cantonese & Other Languages, Home-Makers/Health-Care for Seniors

There is immediate need for Mandarin and Cantonese speakers, but also hiring for all languages.

Hi Everyone!
Would you like to start a personally rewarding career working with seniors and helping them remain in their homes?

There is a local health-care provider that is hiring immediately for Mandarin and Cantonese speaking candidates as Home-Makers/Companions.

These are paid positions.

They are open to the right candidates who are willing to get training in Home Health Care services, as well as hiring professionals in the health-care field.

Home Health Aides are encouraged to apply as well. 

If interested, please email info or resume to
​  ​ or call 857.312.0961

Baos: Hing Sing

I like different bakeries for different reasons. And actually since everyone knows everyone in Chinatown, I always feel like promoting one place might piss off someone else who knows me. I even remember my mother walking by a bakery. We knew the owners well and she said, "Quick hide the Baos." Because she didn't want anyone to see that she had Baos from another place. She then started to Rationalize to me that had she known that we were walking this way, she would have bought baos from there, it just so happened that we went a different way...

Anyway, one of my favorite places for the traditional baos, is Hing Sing, right near the Chinatown Gate. I n full disclosure, I also know thus owner and his family, but it was a favorite of mine before I knew him.
This is where I go when I want a plain traditional staple type of Bao. Red Bean is red Bean. Dan Taht is Dan Taht.
 Basically the stuff that is out front in this bakery, is the stuff that if you go to the more modern looking Bao places it is in the back in a smaller section. There are no birthday cakes or Tapioca drinks or plastic wrappings. It is an older bakery and it just stayed the same in look and feel as the bakeries were in my childhood. I love the knew stuff. But sometimes you just want the old stuff too.

And if you want to know "What should I get?" Please, you just point at stuff and ask for it.
The pull is not the a knew twist. It's that the Egg tart is really well made. Or whatever type of filling Bao you want.

The first recollection of being able to tell a difference between bakeries was that my Sifu's family ordered the Rice Cakes (Bak tong Go and Wong Tong Go) from here when they went to Hahng San, or go up the mountain to bow to the ancestor's grave. They bow with offerings of Fau Yuk, Chicken, and the starch was the White and yellow rice cakes. I never thought anything of Rice cakes until I ate those and realized they were pretty good.

Do I go here all the time? Well, when I had a stroller or wagon, I would stick with Bao Bao's (no stairs) Great Taste (again no stairs) or May's (yes stairs but it is the closest to the T. Plus at one point I got away with sending Shao in by himself while I waited outside.

But Hing Sing was the place that I really have that craving for. I don't know if they use more butter or what. But if I go to Dim Sum with Grace.. actually Grace will be the one to have that craving for Hing Sing Dahn Taht's So we will forego that pastries that come with dim sum to get the heartier versions from Hing Sing and bring them home.

What's your favorite Bao? Do you have a Bakery that you go to for specific things?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Baos: Part one: Closed Bakeries.

"Don't you go to different bakeries for different Baos?" asked an old friend Kim. 
The truth is, before she had asked me this question, Baos were something that I stuck in my mouth when I was mindlessly hungry. It wasn't a meal. It wasn't real food. It was just something to make the hunger go away temporarily. I mean I knew that the Coffee House one the corner wasn't that great. But they were open late. The location was right in the center of Chinatown. So I actually ate bao's from there regularly. They were also fast. 
May's Cake House was a little better, but I ate there regularly too because it was right across from Moh Goon. In fact, I had my little dream breakfast. Wake up late. Go over there, get a bao and eat it at Moh Goon. Hong Dao or Hot Dog usually. They weren't bad. It's just that I would never have a craving for a bao exactly. I was just hungry and that was the closest thing. Plus the people who served there knew me and were nice to me, and I was semi-related to the owner. But later on the real reason I always went there, even when there was ply wood all around, was that it was the closest place to Tufts Medical Center. 
You know, when May's Cake House closed, nobody got in an uproar the way they did about Maxim Coffee House. 
I realized then that as "small" as Chinatown is, it is actually still broken up into even smaller neighborhoods. When I was at the Moh Goon at Tai Tung, I tended to stay down there. I went to the Produce place across the street, I would go to the Bao place across the street. I went to Chinatown Cafe. It was like a small Chinatown within Chinatown. 
I only went to the Coffee House when I did Crime watch. And interestingly, Crime watch tended to Patrol in the center of the businesses. 

My Kung Fu Territory was Tai Tung,  Tufts, May's Cake House.. that area... and  later when Shao went to BCNC I stayed down that area too. 

Now when I street sweep I chose to Sweep Tyler because the Moh Goon is on Tyler and still there is a little community within a community there too. Most of the businesses are hair salons which means nothing to me since I cut what is left of my own hair. 

May's Cake is supposed to re-open, but that closing actually changes life more than Maxim Coffee House (not to be confused with Maxim bakery). Because that corner was a big area for restaurant workers to get picked up in a van to go to work. I mean May's. Maxim Coffee house is a pick up spot too, but there are other bakeries around. May's was the only one down there. You would see all the workers in the morning with a coffee and a bao, smoking waiting to be picked up by a restaurant van to go to the suburbs, or even JP (I saw the Food Wall van there once.)

That little section still has Tai Tung Pharmacy (which a lot of old Chinese people get their prescriptions from even if they live in the burbs. They might pick up scripts after or before Church. Or they don;t speak English well enough so going to that Pharmacy means they don't have to bother their kids. CVS might have Chinese speakers, but do they sell Ming Po and World Journal? Can they get a coffee and a bao across the street while they wait?

Well now that May's is closed they can't do that, but they can get some Char Siu or Fau Yuk to bring home from Chinatown Cafe. 

Chinatown is more than just restaurants. It's the grouping of several Chinese like businesses that you might need to have in one spot. Gambling house? Gotta eat afterward, so restaurant's pop up. 

But the bakery, the Chinese Duncan Donuts, the blue collar Starbucks that will give you protein instead of just sugar and caffein, used to be the indication that the Chinatown is healthy. If you go to a bakery, chances are it's a daily ritual and you have some sort of tie to the community. 

You saw African American kids in May's Cake house all the time. They were there because they lived there, or they went to Josiah Quincy School. After a while, they probably even start ordering in Chinese. If not, you can always just point. In any case they are not tourists. 

Maxim Coffee House is going to be a new Chinese Bakery. And May's should re-open as soon as the building is fixed up. But it's true that Bakeries are more the life pulse of the community than restaurants. D.C. doesn't even have them from what I've heard. I mean you can't make money off tourists selling Baos that are less than one dollar. 

But restaurants can make money selling alcohol and big meals. People will drive all the way somewhere to eat dinner. But their not going to drive all the way somewhere for Coffee and a Bao. They are more likely to just opt for Duncan's or Starbucks. 

Next time, though let's talk about some of the Bakeries that are open, and some of the differences between them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Quincy question: Part 2 Where are the services?

I asked last time where you would think an immigrant Asian Buddhist Monk living at a Temple in Quincy would seek services. Well I saw a monk leaving the AACA on Tyler street. I asked him which Temple he was from because I thought maybe there finally is some sort of Temple in Chinatown and that I should check it out. I mean I saw monks before, but I always assumed that they were doing something for a University and decided to come into Chinatown for some reason. By the AACA is not a restaurant. Why was he here?
It turns out, he lives in a Temple in Quincy and he was just going to the AACA for English class.

Why is this weird? Well... an English class seems like a really easy thing to set up. Is there a lack of English speakers or people who can teach English in Quincy? So he has to get on the red line at Quincy Adams station, go all the way into downtown, switch to the orange line get off at Tufts Medical, and that's every week or whatever.

(I should check out the English class for the blog I know.)

So as big as the Asian and Chinese population in Quincy is people are still coming from there into Chinatown for certain services.

Chinatown is still the center for a lot of things even when it really doesn't make sense.

In people's minds (Chinese Americans) they will assume for instance that I tried to get my kids into the Josiah Quincy school. I mean I went there and I liked it okay. They had a pool and a gym. But that was because I lived down the street. Why, if I no longer lived down the street would I try to get my kid in there?

People can start rattling off how it has better test scores and all that. But I went there. I no how that works. The Chinese kids are smart so the school gets a higher rating. It has nothing to do with the actual class. It has to do with their parents taking them to the library on Sunday and testing them in math questions on the spot just like they are tested on the correct term to call a relative. a bak? a suk? Kow few? Whack! They say stress helps you learn faster.

If the parents speak English, even if they are from China, they will tend to not like Josiah Quincy School actually and may move out to the suburbs if that is an option for them.

And yet still, it is in people's heads that the first choice would be Chinatown. Because it still is the center. Is it because Boston is bigger than Quincy and Boston's Financial District is bigger than Quincy? I'm not sure.

There are people (white people) who are all for making Quincy the new center. They want Chinatown in Quincy because they appreciate Chinatown. They aren't Chinese. They just like having a Chinatown down the street. Isn't that interesting?

Now Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center has started to expand into Quincy too. So Quincy is rapidly getting services. But to me, it just seems strange that still, even with QARI and all that, someone would be in Chinatown to learn English.

Of course this has got to be a temporary thing. Eventually Quincy will have better resources fro the Asian Community. It has too. They even have elected officials that are Chinese there. So when all the services are in Quincy, will Quincy then become the center? And if Quincy becomes the Center, does that mean that Chinatown in Boston will fade away?

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Quincy Question: part one

You cannot talk about Chinatown, whether it's disappearing or expanding or changing... without talking about Quincy. Chinatown used to be the center of Chinese community... and it still is. But Quincy is becoming a hub too. Not only is it growing and are there more and more Chinese there, but people are saying, "Chinatown is as good as gone it will all be in Quincy in the future." or "Chinatown should just move to Quincy."

But does the growth of Quincy's Chinese community (and other Asian community things that  benefit from a Chinese hub), mean necessarily that Chinatown has to shrink? Do the two compete or help each other?

My mother in law is Taiwanese, and she never has anything good to say about Chinatown. Sour face and junky this junky that... "not as good as New Jersey... Not as good as New York."

But when we went to Kam Man, here eyes glazed over and lit up at the same time and she moved like a moth to the fire waving goodbye to us, unable to control the pull toward the the supermarket, a buzzing of Asian Commerce. A movement of life.

She's traveled the world and she always has something good to say about Kam Man, or rather Kim Men.

"Much better than Chinatown.... why not move to Quincy."

The first few times I went to Quincy I really enjoyed it. I was surrounded by Asian people, eating my pre-made food court food (which I actually enjoy more fro some reason), snarfing it down. I felt that touristy feeling. It's awesome to go get your food, and not really be part of the community. Why? I don't have to worry about how I look because I don't know any of these people. I don't have to wave every two seconds. I can just snarf my food down. I mean I knew people who lived in Quincy at the time. But in Chinatown it's like you know everyone. The second I put my hand down I have to lift it back up to wave at someone else. Not a bad problem to have. But sort of difficult to finish chewing your food.  And then if you don't say hi... that can cause trouble right?

(I no longer have this problem in Chinatown btw. It is now full of a ton of new faces I don't recognize who speak Mandarin. It is now surpising when I run into someone I know.)

As we went to Quincy over and over... well I did start to recognize people and I realized that Quincy is not it's own Chinatown... I mean it is... but there is a lot of connection and carry over between the two communities.

Well more to come on this.

Till then, ponder this scenario.

You are an Asian Monk living in a Buddhist Temple in Quincy. You want to learn English because you are in America. You take classes to learn English at:

a) the Buddhist Temple where you live, because in addition to religious services it offers an English/Vietnamese or Thai or whatever exchange where Americans can learn a new language and monks and other immigrants can learn English.

b) A community center in Quincy because due to the vast amount of Asian Immigrants there are a ton of English conversation groups and classes or

C) Chinatown.. which supposedly has become nothing but "an ethnic playground" according to a New York times article promoting New York's Chinatown and jabbing Boston's.

Here is the part at the end where I ask you to buy my book and share and subscribe to my blogs.
btw: if you live in the Jamaica Plain Area, I'm starting a Kung Fu and Meditation class at the First Baptist Church on Centre Street. It's not going to be free but it will be extremely affordable. Like $20.00 a month affordable. $10.00 if you sign up with a big group.  Jan 12th! 8-9pm sign up ahead of time.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Chinatown McDonald's

When Chinatown McDonald's closed down I did not feel one bit of sadness in my body about it. And yet, thinking back I realize I actually have a ton of memories tied to the place. It's just that I refuse to shed a tear for any McDonald's even though the chain represented feelings of safety and magic in my youth. I imagine people who were raised staunchly Catholic but grew to have political views opposing the Church, might feel the same way.

When I was a young Chinatown tween and began going to go to Kwong Kow Chinese School on Sundays, instead of every week, McDonald's was where my two hour respite from Chinese culture being rammed down my throat would take place. There was dulcimer in the morning, maybe some Kung Fu at Bo Sim Mark, maybe some painting, two hours of break and then three hours of sitting at a desk for Chinese School or something like that. I am hazy about the details.

I just think it is telling that I would choose to go to McDonald's of all places, when I was in Chinatown.

But McDonald's was cheap. It had those burgers and fries that clogged your arteries in that feel good way (until you got yeet hei) that made you feel like a real American. I would stuff the junk into my mouth while quickly doing my Chinese homework the "fast" way. That means instead of writing out each word properly, I would try to do it assembly line style, one stroke all the way down the line then another all the way down the line. That way I would be able to complete years of Chinese homework without ever having to actually learn Chinese.

Old Chinese men would step in and try to help me. Young Chinese men would try to sell my mother things. Like subscription to a magazine, or membership to a church.  It is true that Chinatown was one of the few warm places in the winter with nice tables where they wouldn't kick you out right away.

One Chinese New Year, before I started really doing lion dance (I had only taken a summer course at Kwong Kow with Jing, who would later be my Si Hing, running the class.) I took my classmates and a teacher from Roxbury's Nativity Prep to see the Chinese New Year Parade. Claudio and Stephen, and Mr. Mayo.

The parade was still such that you would have knee high firecracker paper like it had snowed red, and thick clouds of gunpowder that would engulf whole alley like streets.

My friends wanted to go to McDonald's so bad. There is a such thing ans too much Chineseness, especially when it is burning your lungs.

Later I would work at McDonald's. In fact it was one of the most skilled jobs I have ever had. I had to translate Taishanese into Spanish and back again. I saw people walking in and knew they were headed to the bathroom to have sex. I learned I am horrible with money.

One time, seeing a black man with his white girlfriend, I learned that you can be in an inter-racial relationship, and still be racist as hell. I also learned that I pass for white.

"Hey man," the black guy whispered, "Everyone in here be looking like monkeys except you and me. You know what I'm saying? Better be hoping they don't get no Vietnam flashbacks."

"What did he say?" my female manager asked in Chinese. I would not pass the hate along then. But I'll pass it along now because it's funny in retrospect. A lot of Chinese will say to me, "Wait I thought white people call them monkeys." So let it be known, I guess all of the many colors of primates of the homo sapien variety are going around calling the other colors monkeys.

But back then in that moment I could have strangled him. I just gave him his food and waved him away when he came back trying to charge his phone.

"What.. what are you half asian or something.. I didn't know."

Well that makes it okay then right?

I was pissed as hell when I worked there. After just a two hour shift when a friend said hi to me in the street (a Si Hing actually) I almost Kung Fued him because I was lost in my own self absorbed tired anger.

One time they asked a co-worker to go get fries from the freezer. After she was gone for a long time, I went to check on her. She had gotten stuck in there!

"Gau Sing!" she cried. I had saved her... sort of.

I also made friends in the short time I worked there that bordered on brotherhood. I would see these guys years later and I felt closer to them then the guys I had gone to high school with.

I also learned that I was lazy. I mean if you told me to do something I would do it. But for instance I didn't automatically restock stuff.

"Why don't you restock?" asked a diligent Fujianese coworker, in Cantonese. Now that's saying something. Not only did he find time to restock. He also found time to learn English AND Cantonese.

I shrugged. I mean there's no excuse right? I saw him later driving a really nice car still in his 20's.


I even had some sort of underworld meeting at McDonald's It was later on. I was sleeping at Moh Goon with my head toward the window and it was one of those really cold winters. Even though I had worn a hat to sleep the cold had gone in. I awoke not having slept enough and was told that I needed to accompany someone to a "meeting."

They say that Wai Siu Bo was not able to pull any tricks in Halinjiang. The people are too cold there for bullshit and will just kill you. (I have since met people from there at the playground and actually they were very pleasant. I met people from Russian cities north of there and they were pleasant too.)

That being said. I was cold and pissed and when I went to this meeting sitting across from some guy I knew and another tatooed guy I did not know I did not care what anyone was saying. I just sat there and didn't say a word of Chinese or English. But I can tell you, if I had been around people that were IRRATIONALLY violent, at that moment I would have engaged in absurd violence that had nothing to do with morality or justice and everything to do with the cold having frozen any sort of moral compass.

You know, we had this meeting there and exchanged paperwork... and we didn't even bother to order a damn thing. Now wonder they went out of business.

More about working there.

I smoked in the back with Taishanese guys, not because I wanted to smoke, more for the social aspect. I had never met YOUNG Taishanese guys who spoke Taishanese until then. It was weird. The manager from Hong Kong left and then suddenly I was like, "Did we just all switch languages?" Yes. Yes we had.

We dropped a ton of Apple pies once and put them all back in. They weren't baked yet so actually, no harm done. It's the baking that kills the germs.

"I'll never eat apple pie." Said one of the guys.

I spoke Chinese which was good. But nobody believed it. So they put a sign on my register that I spoke Chinese.... in English.

But even though I spoke Chinese I still got stuff wrong. For instance Yi tung chan (happy meal or Child's meal) sound a hell of a lot like Yi ho chan (combo number 2). I got a ton of "Sei Gwai Lo" 's from that guy.

Even though I was wrong in a way, if the counter hadn't separated us I would have smashed his face in because it was a mistake. I just looked at him instead.

I see all these viral videos of Fast food workers going nuts and am I surprised?

No! I was angry as hell from the assholes that wen tin there. People stuck in Chinatown, looking for an American oasis... only to find Chinese people working there. Yeah those people are going to be real friendly.

And then Old Chinese people, equally upset about everything.

Some of the old Chinese people were just there for the Yu bao (Fish fillet). It's pretty popular among elderly Chinese. It's cheap and now that I write about it... they didn't taste bad at all.

The owner once stopped by and was upset that I was unable to smile while I was trying to do the work. (it was my first week. But let's face it. I'm not really cut out for that kind of work. Except for the translating part. They needed me for that.) "That's the owner." They said in hushed tone as if I were supposed to fear her presence. I shrugged at that too.

Anyway, a hot pot place is opening there soon.

And my kids did not even really know there was a McDonald's there. They have been to McDonald's but they get Yeet hei for real. Like the kind where they throw up after eating chicken nuggets.

Oh Chinatown McDonald's I have so many memories of you. Pretty girls would go there for some reason, and drunks and bums, and wise old Chinese men passing on their culture....


I'd rather have a hot pot place any day.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Old Chinatown Stories

A friend of mine sent this to me. It is an old story from New York's Chinatown. I thought it was interesting that the article translated On Leong as "Peaceful Dragon."
"On" means safety and the character leong, means "good" according to google translate. I could see how it could be mistranslated as Dragon though.

This shows why its important to tell these stories, from the Chinatown perspective. Because their going to be told anyway, and if we don't get our own version down, the only version left will be someone else's.

Does anyone have any old gangster stories? The older the better. Because if everyone is long gone, then there is less likely to be an issue in me writing them right?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

龍光 Long Kong Restaurant on Cape Cod.

There are a lot of mixed couples nowadays. And it's no stretch to see an Asian and a White Person meet and fall in love. But if you know more about me and realize that basically my mother didn't really speak Chinese and my Dad didn't really speak English, you would wonder how they met. Did they meet travelling around the world in Asia?

And then I would have to tell you that they met at a restaurant on Cape Cod, where they were both working... and the first common language between them, was Japanese. They had both spent some time there. Supposedly later I think they owned part of it. Or was that another restaurant. I'm pretty sure they were one and the same or at least both on Cape Cod.
Yeah, I wasn't exactly keeping tabs on business details at the time. What am I looking at?

My dad would carry my blond headed self around Chinatown and people would say, "Are you sure that's yours?" 

I guess the circle was complete when I was questioned by police when I was carrying my first born around and someone had called the police wondering the same question. 

It turns out that Long Kong was a pretty famous restaurant in the Chinese Community, according to a Teet Da patient one time who came into the Kung Fu School. This is surprising because being so far away from Chinatown, the food was probably way more Americanized.

"Was the food really that good?" My Si Hing asked her. 

"It wasn't famous for the food. It was famous because that was where you went when you lost a lot of money at a gambling house in Chinatown. You needed to lie low while you earned some money to pay off your debt. But where would you work as a new immigrant who didn't speak English? You couldn't work in Chinatown. Cape Cod was far enough away."

So Long Kong had this Jianghu sort of atmosphere about it.

So everyone is lying low and meanwhile my mom is going around snapping pictures of everyone. Lol. After my dad died, my mom just gave up her part of the restaurant. Didn't have the time or energy for it. 

Here is one more pic of my dad before he had me taken on Cape Cod. It was sent to me by an Uncle (in the Chinese sense.) Maybe more stories about this time to come!

Article in Sampan

My article made the cut for this Sampan Edition. Some people have commented that my blog rambles. I will admit that when someone edits my stuff, it's a lot less rambling. This week for the sweep up I got a video on go pro... I even edited it. Then I exported it. And once I figure out what that means and how I can get it onto this blog, you can see a little video of us sweeping the street. As I right this, I realize that I edited out an argument over a parking spot... and that most people would probably be more interested in that clip I took out, than the rest of video.

By the way, I could really use some other contributors or write-ins to this blog. It would be awesome if we had different personalities and viewpoints. Even if they were anonymous. Obviously there are a lot of people who are way better at making videos and taking pictures than me, and that would be cool too.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Kung Fu Dad: Showa Festival

On Sunday I went to the Showa Festival.

Kung Fu Dad: Showa Festival: Sunday was the Showa festival.  Today is Pearl Harbor remembrance day... so I considered not posting this today. However, I think it is i...

I'm always inspired by what the students can do with paper. The Chinatown Festivals have the real thing in terms of food, and Lion Dances, etc. But it would be kind of cool to partner with a few schools, High school, middle school, churches, whatever, and have more stuff like what is at the Showa festival. Educational, fun for kids, that type of thing. Maybe even the Community organizations like CPA or CCBA, or the Chinese Freemasons. There is a lot of history to Chinatown. There should be a place to talk about it in a festive way while simultaneously bringing attention to certain issues.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Chinese Abuse

Abuse.... verbal, physical.. with use of the law and all that is a human thing. It crosses cultures. But I have noticed some things about Chinatown. It seems like, just like many insular communities, that people tend to abuse insiders more than outsiders. This may be surprising to most white people. Because they assume the opposite.

For instance, I spent some time at a boxing club in South Boston. They were selling jackets and these old guys just bought them. It had the name of the club and a giant shamrock on the back. These old guys were so happy to be working out and trying to get healthy and were proud that they were doing a boxing workout and therefore super proud of these leather jackets which had a giant shamrock on the back.

"Hey! I'm gonna wear this to Chinatown!" one of them joked to another old guy.

The other guy shook his head, "Your gonna get machine gunned down!" They laughed. They were joking... but they sort of believed that to be true on some level. If they dared to go into Chinatown with those jackets they would suffer death.

In fact, as long as they were going to be spending money, a red carpet would be rolled out for them. The Shamrock Leather Jacket would not be noticed so much.. only as a curiosity to a waiter who might think it a curious design.

What I am saying is for white people (who are there to spend money and not be drunk assholes) Chinatown is like a paradise.

But here's an example of someone getting robbed. An old Chinese guy goes to a Mah Jong Parlor on Tyler Street. He wins. "yay!!" or rather, "song ah!!!"

He walks one block to Tai Tung Village where he lives, and is robbed by two men.... Chinese... who also live in Tai Tung village. In fact, he sees them all the time. They know he has money because somehow they know that he just won. "Song ah!" just totally became "pok gai." Why rob someone from the community?

Because they can get away with it. This old guy won't even report it to the police. He could. The robbery took place outside of the gambling den. But, it's sort of tricky isn't it? To go to the police.. if you still want to go to the gambling den later.

In other words, when Chinese commit crimes in Chinatown, white collar or street, it tends to be against other Chinese.

Now I have heard in  the past (way back) that if you tried to sell drugs in China you would be driven out with machine gun fire. However that is also not the case anymore. In fact you have the lowest of the low going to do street level transaction in Chinatown because they can get away with it. It is open territory, as it were. Nobody controls it on the illegal side.

It seems that in Chinatown if anyone is abused, first of all it is usually not with a gun. (the last big event was 1991) And I've noticed a tendency for the abuser to be very close with the victim. They treat outsider with respect. If they want business from you, or they want you to move in as a tenant or they want you to help them with electrical work.. whatever, it is all smiles and politeness. You see the stereotypical humble Chinese Man or woman. You think, "Wow these are such great people, with such strong character. It must be their millenia of civilization that fostered such intrinsic moral behavior."

But then, pretty soon after you are actually their tenant, or you are done with whatever work it was, or they just feel comfortable enough with them for you to be considered "part of the family" as it were, people become assholes. It's like some broader version of domestic abuse. They will feel comfortable enough to shout and swear at you, and mistreat you and point their finger in you face and spit at you. Seriously.

I mean you see all these crazy shootings happening around the country for various reasons. I am shocked... just shocked... that more of that shit doesn't happen in Chinatown. I mean you see a lot of mental illness in the new comers who come over and are simply worked to hard, have bad living conditions and I don't know, worked restaurants in the suburbs and didn't have conversations with anyone for months.

I saw it when I worked at the bank. Certain people would come in and display bizarre behavior. The tellers would tell me, that they used to be normal, but they went nuts after a few years of "joh chahn goon." Working Restaurants. Okay most people don't go crazy I'm just saying that when someone does, people nod their heads. They don't act surprised. Hell, to tell you the truth, I was almost there too. My job wasn't that stressful but the totality of the circumstances with sleep deprivation added to the mix and I can tell you there were a couple of times when I did go off verbally. And again, it was because the people felt comfortable enough with me that they thought they could do that.

In Chinese culture, Respect is almost more important than familiarity. I mean people talk about the closeness of Hing Dai, brothers in arms. But Hing Dai don't live together yeah?

I'm sure for every example I have given there is a counter example. I've just noticed a tendency to respect the outsider more than the insider a lot, in Chinatown. In fact a lot of ABC's who do not have a white features like I do, cannot stand Chinatown for that reason. Whereas even though I am Chinese and certain things are said to me that wouldn't be said to a white person. There still may be a bit of a buffer or filter there.

What do you think? IS this similar to or different than other groups?
 Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Peach Farm

After the Election, Karen invited me out to eat. The restaurant was Peach Farm Seafood, or in Chinese Siu to yuen. The name is a reference to the Peach Farm Oath in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The novel was written in the Ming Dynasty about the Three Kingdoms period around 200 A.D. and the Fall of the Han Dynasty.) Kwan Gung (or Guan Yu in the article), Zhang Fei, and Liu Bei swore an oath of brotherhood at a Peach Farm. It might just be a literary work of fiction.... but there is still a family organization, Liang Jiang Association, that treats these three families as one because of this oath fictitious or historical.  
Rick Wong suggested this special banquet style meal for $200 (this was in Chinese so I may be off on details) and I think that's what we had.

We started with a soup.

I would call that Shark Fin soup. But as I am typing this, I realize that  I'm not sure Shark Fin soup is even legal anymore. But to call something imitation Shark Fin Soup would also be insulting to the restaurant. But that is what I would call this soup if I had to describe it to someone. So basically I don't even know what this is. Let's call it Shark Fin Style soup.

This is fried shrimp and pork.


"Why the hell do Asians take pictures of food?" 

"You need to get a better angle Adam."

"No Adam is only half Asian so he should only take half a picture."

Pea pod stems. Shun young dao miu. 

This is one of the best beef and broccoli I've ever had actually.

Lobster... which I am allergic to. But actually Chinese lobster is cooked with ginger and scallion, and both of those ingredients act as natural anti-histamines. 

Someone got a phone call. 
"No I can't come by.. I'm ganging out with the losing side."

"At least he didn't say he is hanging out with losers."

I was stuffing my face. But even if the taste of defeat is bitter at least the food is good right?

This was fried tofu which was then sauted again I think. There was shrimp in here too. 

And steamed fish. 

There was some argument over this chicken. One type of chicken wasn't available so another was substituted. I guess I should have paid more attention to that.

No Tong Siu or desert was left. We ended with Orange slices which I didn't bother to take a picture of.. but in retrospect, maybe I should have. They did look pretty. 

Thanks for the meal! And check out Peach Farm on 4 Tyler Street.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

CCBA President election: Opening the ballot box

I arrived at the CCBA to find it crowded but somber. Uncle Paul did not look like he knew he was going to win. But he was hanging out inside the office. Karen was pretty sure Uncle Paul would win even though she was running against him. Basically the rumor mill told me the odds were with Paul too. Why? First of all, Chinatown is extremely conservative. The U.S. has yet to have a female President. The organizations that vote in this election are mostly run by old men. They were not ready to see a woman in the head position.
Secondly, Paul Chan is older and has therefore been in the community longer. 

I'll add my own two sense to this and say that Uncle Paul seems like the kind of guy with laser like focus that can get the job done, especially when that job involves, laws, paperwork, loopholes, and pouring through stuff with language that would put me to sleep in 5 minutes. Attention to detail.. that's the expression I'm looking for. 

He also knows how to play the handshaking political game. In fact, everyone was very civil and polite to each other. There wasn't any trash talk or even strong perceived animosity. No raw emotion. At the same time the energy was real low like I walked into a funeral. If Karen knew she would lose I could see why her group would be like that. But what about Uncle Paul? He looked all stressed out too. Not sure what I was expecting. Maybe more lively conversation?

Now the great ceremony of Counting up the votes. The paintings in the back are of George Washington and Sun-Yat Sen.  This big box of envelopes was shaken up and then the envelopes with the ballots were taken out and ceremonially read.

Now you could sort of feel a quiet tension settle over the room. Most people here, were here because they had some sort of interest. It kind of felt like we were gambling or something. In fact as the votes were tallied up on the board, people also tallied up votes on pieces of paper like we were playing Bingo.
Actually before that happened Henry Yee stood up and said something in Chinese. He was representing Hoy Kew to say that his organization had been turned away from voting. How this happened was something to do with the fact that he signs it Hoy Kew Association but it is officially registered as Hoy Kew Center with the State of Massachusetts. To get negate his vote somehow his organization could be legally not recognized as legitimate and therefore not recognized in this vote. Sounds like a lot of paperwork for one vote.

Actually Wing Kay Leunng stood up and said the same thing about his organization. So.... a lot of work for TWO votes. After this brief display of emotion everything went back to being boring as hell. There was subtle stuff going on. People were watching each others reactions to try and gauge who voted for whom. But nothing I could get a picture of in words or digital image. I just noticed tension. 

So I just started taking random ass portraits of people because my group pictures looked horrible. This is Roman Chan. He was CCBA president when I started Crime Watch. I should interview him at some point. 

Here's a horrible group picture. 

This is Michael Wong. We used to do the Crime Watch thing together. He was also CCBA President. Actually it is interesting to note that it isn't like there are really two distinct parties of Democrats and Republicans. The movement is fluid. When I started crime watch almost everyone in the room was on the same side.

This is Karen Lee. She was running for President this time and had been Secretary of something or other in the past. She also tutored me when I was a child. 

Gilbert Ho was a past CCBA President. 

Hung Goon is the current CCBA President. 

This is Paul Chan aka Uncle Paul who was running for President.  "I read your blog Adam," he told me in the hallway, "It's kind of... rambling." 
It's true. 
I'll work on it. 
To the lower left is Rick Wong, former President and to the lower right is Tong Fung Ming, AKA Tong How Jerng. She was Principal of Kwong Kow for many years and leads a Tai Ting Senior group to do the street sweeping with me Wednesdays. She is also Karen Lee's mom. 

Remember when I interviewed Han and he said that all the community meetings are basically run by the same group of old people? (older people. Older than me. I'm not saying you're old. Age is respected in Chinese culture anyway right?) Well I guess these pictures can start to show that. 

They tally out the votes on a black board. 

Tense Tense tense. That's actually Uncle Frank, Frank Chin in the Baseball cap. I had some other pictures of him but they all came out pretty bad. 

Here's another one. I really want a new camera like all the cool reporters who write for real newspapers. 

This is Leurng Teem Gong (Spelling?) I have seen him around for ten years but I've never actually talked to him. Part of that is he doesn't speak English and doesn't seem to have any interest in Kung Fu. Most of the people whom I talk to who only speak Chinese must have some sort of common interest with me. Either their kids were in the same class as my kids... something. 
I guess I should interview him. He seems to be a major player in all this too.

On the back wall are pictures of the old presidents. Not all the way back though. CCBA was registered in 1923 but it existed before then. I need to talk to the Chinese Historical Society to see if I can get a historical view of the organization.

Halfway through people started clapping. I'm assuming that all of these people were for Paul Chan's side. And I assume they were clapping because he had reached the critical amount of votes. I .E. even if all of the other votes were for Karen Lee, Paul Chan would still be the next president of the CCBA would still be Paul Chan.  I.E.......

Well Uncle Paul won by more than double the votes. I guess it's been over 10 years since someone won in a landslide like that. I kind of felt bad for Karen. Again, since I know her better, I was leaning toward her. But I also knew that the odds were with Paul Chan. She also knew this and seemed to take it all in stride. 

And here is the winning team.... They look ecstatic.

And here is the final count. Chinese people write that character, "jing" instead of the tally marks we do in the west. It also takes 5 strokes to write. They do this in Japan too. Kind of cool right?

And this is everyone rushing out. Now I should try and get an interview with Uncle Paul, especially since he is the new CCBA President. "Not tonight." he said, "I'm going to go get drunk." Actually it's worth mentioning that after the whole ceremony Uncle Paul made a point of shaking hands with everyone and telling them he would still work together with them. And that's what a true statesman should do. He embraced Henry Yee and said that Hoy Kew was welcome back into the CCBA no problem... that sort of thing. I saw my my friend giving quotes to the press about how it is unusual for a candidate to win by so much.

"What did you think?" Hung Goon asked me coming out. I shrugged my shoulders. At first I thought there wasn't much to post about but I managed to throw something together. My pictures were crappy and you really need back story for it to actually be exciting. 

I mean what is at stake for this election? Are there different ideologies? I sort of know but not really. I guess I need to interview the past Presidents and the current president to get a better narrative going here. 

I think that this organization and this type of election is unique to Chinatowns. Other neighborhoods usually are centered around a Church or Synagogue or a local School. So I thought it would be kind of cool for people to peek into this world. What do you think? Does your community do anything like this? Share my post and comment on my blog. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

CCBA Election Today!

So today is the CCBA election. What is that? This Wikipedia article talks about the CCBA in other cities mostly. And this article talks about the inauguration of Hung Goon.  I called up Hung Goon and he said I can go into the room where they open up the ballots at 7pm. And I guess that's when I'll try to find out more about this event.

I heard that the Candidates president this year are Paul Chan and Karen Lee. I know both of them. But I guess I'm closer to Karen because she used to tutor me when I was Shao Bao's age, and I know her through Chinese Dulcimer.

Paul Chan I know through Crime Watch, and he handles a lot of the community stuff for Wah Lum Kung Fu as well.

I can't vote anyway though so it doesn't matter. Who can vote? The Kung Fu Federation Can, The Family Associations can, the Wang YMCA can (see it's pretty much just a community thing now.) But... if Scorsese or Hollywood in general made a movie about this election, they would totally film it in a way to portray mysterious crime bosses at work... that type of thing.

The reality is more boring and mundane (but having had actual triads my morther's apartment to run numbers as a child.... well the real triad work has it's mundane side compared to the movie representation.)

In any case, I'm sure the comparison of Hollywood vs. Reality would be interesting... and just this whole election will probably have some stories.

I'll find out more details tonight or tomorrow. I might have to rely rumor but I do think that this election, and this organization is pretty interesting, especially to people outside of Chinatown.

Basically CCBA is a "gong sau." They call that same type of organization a "Tong" on the west coast. One reason is to distinguish east and west coast. "Tongs are often represented on Cop shows in Chinatown as the great Triad organization. Of course this election and organization is basically a community non-profit. But when you say it like that it's boring. I'm sure once upon a time there was some sort of Triad affiliation and maybe other cities still have it. I don't know. Everything I know about all this is just rumor. So even I want to find out more just for myself.

Chinatown politics can get nasty... but you know what? I'm going to come at this and report it like it's some sort of festival.. a game.. a show. Partly because I'm not involved. But also because to someone reading this who isn't Chinese and only comes to the restaurants a few times a year, that is what it is.  In fact, I bet there is a way to spice these elections and things up in a festive way. The president could have a Dragon Stick for one. And what if we had lion dance on voting day like it was a holiday. I mean a lot of feelings and more than feelings have been hurt in the past over this type of stuff.

But that doesn't mean the future of Chinatown elections and politics can't be more like a PBS children's cartoon and less like an R rated movie.

I mean Lion Dance and Kung fu has shifted. And truth be told, so have these elections and organizations. So I'm following a trend.

August Moon 1984

Jere are some pictures my Mom took at the August Moon Festival in 1984

Feel free to identify yourself in these pictures. Some people look familiar... but I was a baby.

That's me. 

That;s Chung Wah Hong on the back. Now Bubor Cha Cha.

The something Toy restuarant is a Korean place now I think. I don't even know what it was. 

And I don't remember stages like this either. 

But I do see that the crowd is pretty diverse and in a way, even though things have changed. It's not that different either. I mean this festival looks pretty fun. I want to jump out and join it.