Monday, January 25, 2016

Gambling on Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is coming up. For me Chinese New Year is always about Lion Dance and red envelopes... and that's about it. Grace asked her Youtube "Sifu" what a Chinese New Year dish would be. His response was that he's been posting Chinese dishes for 2 years.. if she could get a dish from that, he didn't know how to help her.
So she asked for a specific Chinese New Year dish... and his response was that his adult son liked all the Jook Sing American Chinese food.

I vaguely remember vegetariasn dishes and sweet fu jook tofu skins... but for me again, I don't know much about what food you are "Supposed" to have.

There are a lot of traditions and they are becoming simplified. A lot of people go out on New Years (Or is it New Year's eve?) So when I lived at the Kung Fu school we would go to Boston Bowl and see that a majority of the people there were Vietnamese, dressed to the nines (especially the girls.)

In other words, for different people there are different traditions. One of those is gambling.

Now gambling with your family is pretty cool I guess, especially if it's not for high stakes. In that way it's really more like you are just getting together and playing Mah Jong.

But some people go to the Casino or the Gambling houses in Chinatown.

I heard that back in the day you could actually make money on Chinese New Year (if you were shameless) and visit all the gambling halls, with out gambling. Everyone going in there got a Hung Bao of $100.00 They made money back of course because most people would be going to gamble anyway. And they would bet that extra $100 pretty quick. But you totally could just leave after watching a few things and go home.

Now, I haven't been inside a gambling den since I was three. That's right. I was in a gambling den when I was three. But I have become increasingly against gambling as I've had more and more negative experiences with it. Not with me gambling. I don't gamble because my father was an addict for sure, and I know it's in my genes to be an addict. (Noah's too. I can see how intense he gets at stupid gambling games at like Story Land. No good.)


I agree with one of the parents of my students.

Nei Yang do hai shu.
That if you gamble on Chinese New Year.... even if you win.. .you lose. I mean what the hell are you doing at a gambling hall or a casino on Chinese New Year. So that's your real family? The people you gamble with? You loser.

Shu, jau gung ga shu

If you lose, then you are even more of a loser.


I think Mah Jong and gambling games are part of Chinese culture. I grew up playing with gambling chips.. stacking them and sticking them between my toes, and the house had dominoes and packs of dice. I love their smell and how they looked. I associated these objects with a connection to my father because they had been his... and he had been partial owner of a gambling house.


But how many hours did he spend away from me because he was gambling? And we only had four years together. The money lost, yeah that sucks. My mom and him could have bought a house with that money, when the land was so cheap.. And now that house would be worth millions.

But then maybe I wouldn't have the children I have now, and I have gotten attached to them So I wouldn't trade a house and other kids I don;t know for the ones I have now.

But the time.

Even if I had hit the lottery and become a billionaire I could not buy back those hours that my dad spent gambling for him. Hours in a dark smoke filled room wher everyone is focusing on cards or tiles and the energy, the Chi of the area is just low low low.

It's true. Even if you win, you lose. You lost your time, your health, and likely, you will lose that money gambling later, or be robbed walking home.

The roar of Mah Jong tiles brings character to Chinatown... but I really think it's time to start changing things.

I mean I really don't want to do lion dance to "bless" these places. They should all close.

But I understand that people need a place to play the cards. We can't shut these places down cold turkey. We need a nicotine patch.


What if more legitimate places ran Mah Jong nights, even gambling nights, the way churches run bingo nights.

In fact how about that, the churches?

You may ask, well what's the different?

Well you could pay to get in the door, and then gamble with monopoly money or whatever. Just for the feel of it. Or you could keep everything low stakes, the way Good Times used to have low stakes black jack run by the lottery. You could have the police actually run it and have it be a fundraiser for some police run charity. And not only that, you could get the gentrified people into the game, have it be cosplay or something too, some other type of gimmick.

I mean Mah Jong was actually big in the states in the 1920's and white people would dress up in Chinese clothes and actually yell what you had to yell in Chinese. The Jewish community has kept the game as part of their tradition.


Mah Jong is probably good for old ladies to keep up some sort of social life and also reduce chances of getting alzheimers. But even with low stakes, it becomes a problem when these Pau paus forget to eat or to take their insulin and end up collapsing at the Mah Jong table.... yeah it happens.

Let's move toward legitimizing this game. Bring it out of the shadows of gangsters set ups and cut throats and bring it into the open in a controlled way. Keep what is beneficial and slowly clean away the damaging aspects of the behavior.
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