Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Homeless in Chinatown and Downtown

I was biking around at night all the way down to the harbor and through Chinatown. I noticed some young children and their families wandering around looking at the ocean. Some couples that had the look of opioid users and  some people sleeping. Homeless people that you don't usually see during the day. That is to say, you wouldn't necessarily know they were homeless. Downtown had many younger men who I would guess did have jobs, but with rent so high, having a job doesn't mean you don't sleep on the street, especially during the summer. It just makes more economic sense.

I noticed that downtown was being repaved so that it would eventually look like a Disney version of downtown... which is better than what it has been. There was a fruit stand open.. I mean this was midnight.

There were clubs and bars.. the "Hong Kong" that were hopping and this was Monday night. Who goes to these clubs on a Monday night? I guess downtown was going to be a place for tourism. Soon it would be complete.

It feels like Boston has slowly been taken over by New York. I mean the Times owns the Globe, yeah we have the Red Sox, but the way the neighborhoods are organized and renamed and redeveloped. It feels like money and power came from somewhere else and said, "here's what we're going to do." It could be seen as good or bad. In Downtown's case there was a sinister plot to devalue everything and by it back up dirt cheap and only start developing now... but once it is built up... will the result be better?

It felt pretty safe. I mean these homeless young men did not seem on edge. Considering they were just going to go to sleep outside and unguarded. Other neighborhoods are more on edge in broad day light.

Chinatown was mostly closed (this was midnight) which is interesting because I remember when it used to be so crowded at night that it would take 2 hours just to drive through it. There was a feeling of that old night life.. a bit of it, but not really.


A young man walked up to me asking me for money for food.

"You want to eat? Let's go eat right now." What the hell I was in a weird mood. Might as well eat together and see what his story was.

He had a bit of a speech impediment and his story changed from asking for money to look for food to looking for the shelter (it was too late to get in. I knew that but didn't feel like telling him) to burying his mother. He had come up here from New York. He started taking of his sweatshirt and told me to feel his bicep to prove that he did not do drugs as well as looking at discharge papers from a mental hospital.

I'm not saying he was lying. But by no fault of his own, he could not exactly explain what he wanted for me to do for him. I think he wanted $20.

I gave him a dollar which hurt his feelings. "Man your just mean." he said to himself.

But bury his mother or no, I wasn't giving him more than $1. If we went to eat somewhere together, that would be different. To be honest I was feeling friendless and was biking around because I had been kicked out. I had considered just leaving town so I saw that perhaps I was not in that much a different position than these other guys. The main difference was I had money (which could easily be taken) and there was the possibility that I was not truly kicked out. After all, as I thought about it, who was going to take Noah to camp tomorrow if not me? Perhaps the decision to kick me out was not thought through.

Wandering around I found that the best place to lie down were these pretty nice chairs they have by the harbor. That way you can sleep, but you don't quite look like you are homeless. What with the bike helmet and all that. You still have that appearance of potentially having money and just hanging out for fun.

I weighed my options and decided to chance heading back.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Displacement Skits

I saw a video on Facebook of the Chinese Progressive Association doing "displacement skits."

In the video I saw people I worked with to get out the vote doing skits with elderly people to give them confidence to unite against their landlords for unfair rent hikes. Now before you say that hiking up the rent is just normal, there's nothing wrong with it, that's the market... we are talking about one month the rent is $600 and then the next it is like $1500. Stuff like that. Basic slumlord type stuff.
Americans watching this skit might just look at it and say that is nice.

Thing is, that type of skit was the same stuff that they did in the Cultural Revolution. I have spoken to activists from other communities outside of Chinatown. DSNI, JP, and when I say that a lot of people in Chinatown think that the CPA is Communist, they say, "No their just activist."

But when you look at a skit like this... culturally, it is Communist. In fact it is very much a product of th cultural revolution. Even the song at the end was straight from the Cultural Revolution and I am guessing the elderly know the words by heart because when they were Red Guards when they were in middle school. Even a lot of younger people from Hong Kong know those songs and sing them proudly.

Now I was raised pretty anti-Communist. My mom had a red Book at one point and my Dad was pretty upset about that and when enough people who had been through that stuff either in Vietnam or in China saw the book and said something about it... well my mom eventually tossed that shit so as not to offend anyone.

There is a strong Anti- Communist sentiment among the older Generation of Chinese and Taiwanese in America because before you could only come to this country if you were from the anti-communist stock, or if you some sort of special genius from China.

But times change right?

I remember helping a neighbor for their citizenship and there was a strong emphasis in questioning about whether you have ever been part of the Communist Party. Since in China, the party was something ou had to get into, most Chinese can honestly say no... And some dishonestly say no. After all, if you have money to get to the States, chances are you have connections. But most people were part of the Red Guards. It was like the Hitler Youth. If you are a certain age from Germany, you were a part of that... or you are some sort of survivor right?

Now, since moving to JP I have actually met and done Community work with people whose parents were Communist. American Communists. White Communists.

Tell the truth I have never had any ill feeling towards these types. White Communists and especially Black Communists get a pass. I mean if you are Paul Robeson and you want to be Communist because Capitalism meant that you father was capital because he was a slave... I can understand you being a Communist.

But when these old ladies used to come in for Chinese Treatment chanting people's Liberation Army shit while I was massaging their feet with Teet Da Jow I got into some shouting matches.. yeah with old ladies.

Kind of like, "What the Hell are you even doing in this country then? If Communism is so great Go back to China."

So part of me has a knee jerk reaction like that. While I simultaneously think the CPA is doing good work and I think I would probably work side by side anyone in that skit for the same causes.

Actually stumping for Diana Hwang I ended up having a conversation with someone about Housing. About how I wasn't 100% on board with rent control or even Section 8. I grew up in Section 8 and I realized that had I not, shit my parents probably would have bought a cheap house that would have been worth a million.

"Yeah but not everyone could ahve figured something out or moved in with relatives and if you owned that house you would probably rent to new immigrants and you would just be part of the system." Came an angry response from a very nice young woman but the heat was on and I just let it slide.

But the thing is... "Part of the system?" Yes. That is the American dream, to be part of the system. And not all landowners are evil. In fact most of them aren't. And Communism? We saw what that was about.

But nowadays "Communism" is not the threat. America doesn't care too much about skits like this. It's not going to get you into trouble to protest.

Terrorism is the new word of fear.

But it gets you thinking, 50 years ago doing a skit and singing a song like that would probably have gotten you locked up. 50 years from now, will the ISIS flag be accepted in America and there will be some other new thereat that is unaccepted?

You might say you can't do the comparison that I just did. But actually I think you can.

But a better comparison is probably the Confederate flag and a Confederate demonstration.

I actually watched the skit, and I just sort of recognized what it was and it didn't bother me. But because I could accept that.. I think I could probably accept the Confederate Flag more easily too.

Again you might want to say, Communism and the Cultural revolutions and its songs stood for Justice. Things just got out of hand. Those 80 million people dead, that wasn't supposed to happen.

Confederates have their apologists too. Read "Gone with the Wind."

It's just a sign that Chinatown is changing. The make up of the people living there are changing. Before the people living there were staunchly anti-communist. Now? They aren't and the U.S. Government is actually fine with it because they are fine with China's government. We trade with them. We owe them money.

And again, I'm not trying to rail on the CPA here. Hopefully I'll still be allowed to go in there after this post. In fact if anyone wants to write a response to this feel free.

Before the CPA was accused of having Communist leanings and I was assured over and over that it was all BS. But when I see a skit like that and a song like that.. if it walks and quacks like a duck.....

And I'm not necessarily against it, as long as there are no mobs grabbing Landlords out of their homes and beating them up.

I even participated in the City Hall celebration for the People's Republic of China's Independence day on October 1st. I make friends with new comer Chinese people that are proud of their country and the party that runs it. Fine. They play that new Chess game that's all about the PLA fighting. Cool.

But hey, there is a change here. A difference. And I just feel like I should say something about it.

If only to point out that something like that would have been unthinkable in the Chinatown I grew up in. Where Double 10 was a huge event. I mean it's still a huge event, but before there really were no Communist Sympathizers. Not out in the open like that anyway.

And though I accept it....and even recognize that the community needs that energy and organization....yeah I guess part of me still doesn't like it.

But people who do like it.. who maybe even love it.. their story is as important or maybe even more important than mine in this new Chinatown.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sup ji

beginning part

Films at the Gate Performance

Looking up.

So I know that I aready wrote about this, and I am kind of bummed that I can't watch the Sunday movie... but hey I'm tired, the kids are tired.. I mean Noah went to sleep pretty late last night and he's got camp tomorrow. Above is a picture of us with Master Xuan Yun of Daoist Gate. He has his own blog actually at
 I'll try to get more of his story for the Blog later in an interview. I shave a lot of people I want to interview but it's going to have to wait until school starts. And I thought I was running out of stories...
Here are some pictures of our performance. Video to follow. Watching the video made me and Grace crack up so hard! Part of it is that I am seemingly going so hard against a 6 year old. 

I'm going to try and get more involved with ACDC as well. Things are looking up for the Chinatown Blog. To tell the truth I was thinking of letting it die out. Now I realize there are a ton of stories out there. Maybe I should get petitions to sign or something like that to recruit more people like the Cape Verde Network did in Onset. I knew I would learn something if I joined that group. I see a lot more potential fro the Chinatown Blog now. 

Films at the Gate performance

Films at the Gate performance

We went down to the Films at the Gate to do a quick Kung Fu performance before Daoist Gate and then the beginning of the movie which was the Woman Knight of Mirror Lake.
Fun times.

I will say this, I didn't realize that after Kung Fuing for one number that I would be unable to scratch out Nam Yi Dong Ji kerng or even 世界第一等 
properly. Oh well. I made a fool of myself in front of all of Chinatown. But it was such a rush. Shao dropped his stcik, stuff was forgotten, but in the end I got someone coming up to us saying, "I just want to say that you guys are super awesome. It wasn't a traditional performance but we had our little niche.

Plus we got a front row seat for Daoist Gate. I really should interview them for the blog at some point. I talked to the Si Mo for a bit but maybe we can put something more formal together.

I wanted to show Shao other people who practiced to perform, and also to take a look at Tsing Yi.

The movie was pretty awesome. Jonah had to leave. Too scary, Gunfire and blades slicing necks etc.

Then Noah had to pee like 5 times. (Thanks to him downing a Bubble Tea) So of course I had to choose 5 different restaurants. I hadn't realized that Imperial Garden or whatever it was is now 1986 owned by Fan Huang who also owns Spicy World... which is so ignorant of me because he told me that. Anyway I have to go back and eat there.

I also saw that Moon Villa has been re-done... pretty cool, Maybe I'll go eat there too, I have someone in mind to share that meal with....

We eventually moved to where I could watch him on the playground and the movie.

A little girl came over and was fascinated by the Dragon Kei Lun Lion head I had. I don't know what to call it because it's sort of like all three things. It looks most like a Kei Lun you see in Statues and paintings, but not like the ones they play.

"She loves pretending to be a Lion head at home with the chair ever since we saw a performance here>' said the mother.

"Well I made this one look." I showed her that the inside was cardboard and so in other words, she could make one too. "It's easy."

"Easy for you."

I had kind of simultaneously been proud of my Kei Lun, but also looked down on it, because I know it looks crude. Not clean. But I realize now... it's good enough man. Actually the fact that I made it gives me more power over it, and freedom to part with it.. like how I just left it there when I took Noah to the bathroom. I mean, I don;t want to have to make a whole other one from scratch, but in the end, anyone who would steal it would be stealing flour water and paper.

It kind of made me realize I should do some kind of group in JP and in Chinatown where we get a bunch of kids to make lion heads. The art teachers all do it in middle schools. Shoot if you did that right before Chinese New Year that would be pretty cool, then all these little kids could bring their homemade heads into the streets. Maybe I could get BCNC or ACDC to go in with me on it. All we need is flour and recycling and some glue and paint really.

I also met up with some of my old Kung Fu family that said hey, no matter what happened, of which I know only a little about, you should still come by and visit. I haven't seen you in a while and at least you should visit Sifu.

Which is true.

The gate  really felt like a little village. Shoot I should hang out down there more often. Noah was tired though so I can see why I don't. On the way home we got a cookie because Noah wanted to get something to eat Not to eat eat (we had eaten dinner at Double Chin's, the Sup Chau Ngau hau and the Chinese Spaghetti. Pretty awesome.) But he wanted to eat just for fun. Shoot while the warm weather still permits maybe I should go into Chinatown and take advantage fo the fact that Double Chin's is open until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays.

It was a great feeling being able to watch a movie in Chinese and eat Baos. I mean when can you do that? And it was for free. Maybe I'll sneak back out to catch the last movie on Sunday.

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Chinatown feeling

Okay maybe it's weird that I keep comparing Boston's Chinatown to a fictional TV Show, but in Hell On wheels, the main character goes to Truckee's Chinatown and the first thing is he feels lost because he is surrounded by Chinese people and Chinese stuff going on and nobody speaks English.

You usually see this in American TV shows and movies. The moment of "What the hell is going on?" Whether it is Chris Tucker in Rush hour, or frankly it used to happen in Boston's Chinatown. Not to me... but I would often get approached by white guys that were like "Do you speak English Thank God!" and then they would ask me for directions or whatever. This was a long time ago before GPS on smart phones.

But even recently, like last year or so, I helped a fire fighter translate for a guy that had passed out. But in the end of wasn't of much use. But everyone on both sides just felt more comfortable that someone was there that could speak Chinese and English.

But I was walking through Chinatown the other night and I saw a bunch of tough 20 something's with motorcycles....And tough kids hanging out in Chinatown is nothing new. There used to be a lot of fights in the 90's and I'm sure before that as well.

I remembered seeing group after group of gangster looking Asian kids and at one point chances are that I would look into a group of youth like that and recognize at least someone and be able to shake hands and nod what's up.

This time though the tough 20 somethings... were white.

 It felt weird.

That whole, "Yo you know where you are? Your in Chinatown!"

Now I've heard before people say that Chinatown isn't like it was, better or worse.

I know there have been fights in Chinatown where Chinese have well, been sort of embarrassed.

But I've never felt like, "Holy crap I'm going to get my ass kicked by a bunch of white kids in Chinatown."

Now these guys weren't doing anything wrong. They weren't threatening me. But I sensed a bravado and confidence in them. Not necessarily a lack of respect, but.. I could feel it for the first time. Not just know it but feel it. Shit, if these guys were to jump me the difference between me being in Chinatown and South Boston did not exist. There would be no difference.  I mean I can pass for white anyway.. but still.

Another time I walked passed a group of hipsters. Again, I guess this is nothing knew, nothing strange... but it's just that I felt something different that the power structure was absolutely irreversibly different. I know I wrote a previous article saying how Chinatown was weak. I know it's more touristy... but I guess watching that Hell On wheels show really showed me the mind set of how White people used to view Chinatown, as a place of confusion and bombardment of strange things. A slight discomfort... and what they felt of it now. The place to go to. A place for them.

I mean in reality it was always so... but I just never felt it before. It was an "Oh Shit" moment maybe even a "We totally screwed up moment." I don't know. I can't really explain it.

But I have always been for making Chinatown more open. Tourists are good it;s awesome, it means more money even if I'm not the one making it. Maybe it's just that the GPS on the phones makes people feel better. Hell maybe there's a lot of Pokemon Go being played.

But suddenly I felt like this is completely and totally not my neighborhood. It is their neighborhood. And by them I mean the tourist.

This year, these last few months actually I have gone from feeling like a local, moving more towards a tourist, to the point where now I feel like an outsider beyond even that and it scared me.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


I don't know if anyone has been watching "Hell On Wheels." But I have seen all 50 episodes. There is even one in the least season entitled "Chinatown."

I once did a little lecture tour fro a school group from Concord in Chinatown. I have since seen many such groups coming through. Mainly I just showed some Kung Fu and answered some questions, which just being half Chinese, I was able to answer quite well since I have read so many books about Chinese culture to satisfy my own curiosity.

The meta narrative for Chinatown's in general, ie what most Americans believe is that  there was the railroad and then the Chinese came east on that working their way to places like Boston slowly. In fact the Mural at Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center would pretty much have you believe the same thing.

But the Chinese historical society exhibit shows evidence of Chinese New England and in Boston well, even before we were the United States of America.

That being said, there were families that came here from railroad work of a kind. Frank Chin's Grandfather sold herbs in the railroad camp and decided to come to Boston to open up shop for Chinese workers here (a shoe factory brought a lot of Chinese here as scabs during the Qing dynasty as I recall.)

And watching "Hell On wheels" I mean there are obvious representations that are curious.. but it looks like they tried. I don't know why Angela Zhou's Cantonese seems to be worse than mine... maybe she is really a Mandarin speaker, but that sort of thing makes me want to watch a show more. It gives me a boost in confidence in my own Cantonese.

But some aspects of the way things were done were just so... familiar.

Any I love the show, I hope it doesn't end after this season, but I think (as I have written on My Kung Fu Dad blog) that we could still use a show from the Chinese perspective. Where the protagonist is Chinese. I mean Chang is a strong character.. but he is a bad guy. And once again the strongest "good" Chinese character is a woman and inevitably there will be some sort of Romance with Bohanon. That is if the show remains on the air.

I'm just saying it's a good idea to get some of these old stories, family histories down... befor etheir gone and the only stories we have are from shows like Hell On Wheels and we have to rely on that as the only story being told. They did well.... but that doesn't mean we shouldn't make our own right?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Needles in Chinatown

So I'm not the only one pissed off about this apparently. This e-mail was forwarded to me.

"Please be advised, as the CCBA Crime Watch Team member, I have picking up used needles, almost everyday at the alley of Oxford Place, the alley is full of garbage and very dirty. I believe the drug users are using there as their heaven.

The second place, is the Tiananmon Memorial Monument has been gathering many DKs, they hanging around there also cause trouble.

Please notify the proper authorities for their  attention and take action.

Thank you!"

The playground where I was picking up needles is getting redone. 

And I had stopped any sort of clean up because my kids were out of school... but hey they are going to go back to school and suddenly I get this e-mail. Maybe  it's a sign.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Kite Fest 2016

It's pretty cool to drive up to a park to see a fish swimming in the sky. There was also a Dragon kite that we stared mesmerized at the sound and the movement. "It moves like a Night Death" said Noah .. or maybe some other name of a Dragon from "How to Train your Dragon" Pint is, the thing looked alive. Now when you do Dragon dance you can;t actually fly through the air. But the kites can.

You know this festival at Pope John Paul II park in Dorchester has a lot of potential. But I was wondering if it got as crazy as a SOWA type thing would I still want to go? Right now it still has that local feel. I'm spoiled because basically the whole park is to us. I don't have to worry about my kid getting snatched. 

Once you get food  trucks and Music blasting... then you need other types of permits first of all. But does that really make something better? For some reason it makes it more crowded. I vaguely remember some sort of Kite Fest at Copley Square as a child that focused more on Japanese kites. Part of the draw was there was a make you own kite table.

But with this one, you get some really cool kites out there, and you have the space to fly them. There is usually more people on the Saturday, but so far I have only been to the second day for two years now. It's definitely something worth checking out every year. 

Dorchester Dim Sum and Cotton Candy

 You know ever since I learned that 10 years ago there was a petition to change  Fields Corner to Little Vietnam if do look at Chau Chau City in Dorchester differently and i look at the whole Chinatown situation differently. I mean I know that technically Little Vietnam does not equal Chinatown or Quincy's Kam Man does not equal Chinatown... and some people might say.. Hey Vietnamese and Chinese are two different things. Yes but they are related right? Also a lot of people are both. Ethnically Chinese people who passed through Vietnam and therefore speak Chinese. But even if a Japan town started opening up somewhere in Boston I feel like it would make sense for the Chinatown Blog to cover that.

But also while Chinatown could disappear, Little Vietnam is still growing. It's on it's way up. True maybe ten years later you will have the High priced Condos coming up in Field's Corner for the same reasons they are going up in Chinatown. Well all the more reason to blog about it right?

But anyway this past Sunday we did our Dim Sum in Dorchester right before heading over to the kite Festival.

I thonk my tastes have become very ABC, Jook Sing and American in that I no longer order Chicken Feet. I just order whatever is easiest, and gooey. Shun Jook guen. on the top there, which is tofu stuff. Egg plant on the bottom right and Red Bean Triangles on the bottom left. 

We wanted to order Vietnamese food too... but didn't really know how to. and Grace didn't want it that bad. The first few times we went here I spoke in Cantonese to people and there was the Vietnamese way of pronouncing Cantonese words often heard among the waitresses. But this time there were a lot of Taishanese accents too. 

Here is something that you don't see every day at dim sum.... Cotton Candy. Although I didn't want my kids to have any and didn't allow them to, nor am I a fan f Cotton Candy, I think the idea of having it brings a very festive atmosphere to an already exciting dim sum environment. It shows that you can take an old idea like dim sum, and maybe do something new with it. This picture doesn't show the final product which were giant cotton candy cluds bigger than the kid's heads. It was pretty funny.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

70% of an American Dream Trumps 100% of a dream that could be smoke.

I saw this article on Facebook about why some immigrants support Trump, talking mostly about Asians... and indeed I have talked to some Chinese and Vietnamese with ties to Boston's Chinatown and Dorchester's Little Vietnam, that have strongly supported Trump (while disliking his rhetoric, since LAST election.

 But I feel like what it also doesn't take into account, because in the end the author is an "anyone but Trump" voter, is that there is also a belief that Whatever Trump says that is bad, is what Hillary will do anyway.

In the 90's there was a huge influx of Fujianese immigrants. But a few things went bad, whether it was gangs or people dying on the trip over, not just to the U.S. but to other countries as well, I recall Hong Kong making a movie about an incident where a whole storage crate of Fujianese suffocated to death.

At any rate, the rumor was that after that, if a Fujianese applied for a Visa to the U.S. the document would be literally be THROWN back at them. So when Trump says he'd temporarily ban Muslims then back pedals on along rich Muslims in... he is saying something insensitive, but at least in rumor and feeling, many believe that is already done.

They focus a lot of Trump saying he doesn't want these or those immigrants. But always leave out that in the next sentence he wants to make it easier for those applying legally to get in.

Basically Trump doesn't look at people as people. He looks at usefulness. It's the old American Businessman thinking that got the railroad built. Yes we want Chinese... to work for us. Twice the work half the pay. Then they half to go back.

That might seem, no actually it is, mean, unfair cut throat.... all of the above. But A lot of Chinese were able to succeed because at least the got to send money back to China and when they went back 10-20 years later, they built Western style houses in Taishan and brought the whole area up through bringing back ideas as well as American Gold.  Being offered 70% of the American Dream with a bamboo ceiling isn't fair. But a lot of people will take it, demeaning racial slurs and all, as long as they think they can get that 70%.

Now Hillary's camp would say, but the democrat's are more inclusive etc.

But there are a lot of Haitians organizing and protesting right now that remember some of Bill Clinton's policies that ended up screwing them when they were in Haiti. Some of them are more riled up than any bigot you could imagine at Trump rally ending speeches and tirades against Clinton and her husband's policies with
"And I am willing to die for this!"

I'm not saying who you should vote for. I'm just saying it's more complicated than even the article mentioned.

As for me I know who I am voting for, but I am too embarrassed to say, which gives you the answer right there. The last two elections I voted for Obama but I liked the other candidates too. My vote for Obama ended up coming from looking at who seemed to be campaigning better (because what else can you really judge a candidate on.) Obama seemed more with it, with his images and rhetoric and more in touch with the American people. Not with their problems. That's not what I am talking about. But more in touch with how people think and how to use Social media... which candidate is better at that?

But if I were to run, here is what my policies would be.

1) we are going to build a TRAIN. The fast trains that already exist.. that will connect us with Mexico so that coming here to work legally will be so easy and convenient and the option of travelling home for holidays so easy that coming here illegally would be a stupid option instead of a better one.

2) Reform Policing heavily through privatization. The government will take a step back by simply policing private security companies that do the street work, with heavy emphasis on Community Policing modeled on Japan's system. Government would save a ton of money. Security (the new police) would get paid what most security officers get paid now... and they would be of a similar ethnic background too. Police unions would hate this and try to block it. To appease them, get all the really hard police that seem to be abusive and instead of firing them bring them over to the EPA which brings me to part

3) Strong Environmental laws with strong police. Oh you made a "mistake" as CEO of BP or Mayor of Flint Michigan putting thousands of Americans in danger of dying slow deaths or miserable lives of pain and suffering? That should definitely result in some policing videos resulting in choke outs and beatings. I.e. there is a place for those cops in society. It just isn't on the streets of communities of color. So this may not be justice. But it would be an improvement for all of American society.

And interestingly, most of my beliefs in this plan have come through looking at the microcosm of America that is Boston's Chinatown.

Chinatown does really well now because of the train system, because people are able to get in to work or eat here.

Policing has changed a lot through Crime Watch, through bringing the Police and the businesses closer together.

And some of the biggest problems in the community are dumping of commercial waste in the neighborhood.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Double Chin excursion

Photo Credit : Adriana Li and Chien Mei Chang

I realized when ordering at Double Chin's that my kids would really love pretty much everything on the menu. Actually my younger son will pretty much eat everything. I mean he's into shrimp, he's into lobster. But my older son has gotten picky. He likes things... I wouldn't say more American, and Double Chin is more Hong Kong style, but it's got that playfulness to it that I think makes it more acceptable to kids. It feels like a young person restaurant. Something hip. Not to say that if you are older that you can't find what you are looking for.. but check out that desert (which I just ordered as a meal.) It was the "Matcha Ma Call It."

French Toast with ice cream and cereal and fruits and all sorts of Mochi like things put all over it. It's like a playground of desert and breakfast. In fact every time I go here I think, "I have to find time to bring Noah here." Somehow though whenever in Chinatown with them, I always end up getting them Ha Cherngs or Baos at May's Cake House (the closest thing to the Tufts Medical Center stop) and then eating at the playground. But I can totally see how this would be the hang out place. When I was kid there was Cindy's Planet (which I actually only went to once but all the cool kids talked about it) and then for a while Best Cafe was this place all the cool kids went... of course I was always, even when semi part of this cool kid demographic... just visiting it or something. Glimpsing at it. Now I am the older guy going out occasionally, playing hooky on story and bed time... but as far  as I can tell, this the place in Chinatown. the trendy place designed for teens and college students... that's not who I necessarily see in there, but maybe that's because we all, in our minds, are in college or just out of college. 

My dinner mates were trying o figure out what this restaurant used to be and I realized it was Apollo. I had never actually been to Apollo's but it was supposed to be famous for serving liquor to minors. Some Korean friends from high school went there and had stories about getting trashed before having to get a cab back to the fancy prep school I went to. You know Chinatown stories are almost more exciting when the protagonists are foreign, rich, and misbehaving in a way that they have to "escape." Sound like a story about some divers on the US Olympic team  in Rio. But anyway, Apollo was known more for the liquor than the food basically. 

Double Chin's is so much more wholesome looking. The new Chinatown. The Disney Chinatown where you can still order alcohol, but it is hard cider, instead of shots. And the Food is awesome. I would love to be in College and be heading into Chinatown to go to Double Chin's before or after clubbing. Gobble down noodles, or a Chinwhich, a half a duck, or snarf down ice cream on top of french toast. I mean where else does one buy that? 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Keeping your Chinese.

I ran into an old "Uncle" today on the subway. We exchanged kind words with him and my kids. But I realize now that I don't have much to talk about with old Chinese people any more than the weather. Before when I was on a team with them or studying Kung Fu with them there were stories to be told about fights about lion dance about this about that. Things to get heated over and excited. Voices could be raised. Now it's just going to be "Hi" smiles, "Oh your kids are gum dai gau la?" and that's pretty much it.

Feels kind of weird.

But if I am going to keep my Chinese I'm to make all new old Chinese people friends. Because once I know that someone speaks English.. that's it, that's the language I'm going to use. And most of the young people coming over nowadays, well a good number of them anyways, are college educated. I mean they might speak Chinese to each other... but why would they speak Chinese to me?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Walking Through August Moon

I got a lot more footage than this video.. though not a lot of Lion Dance footage. I don't know why I did that. I think it's because I can't stand try to video Lion Dance from far away. I'm just to spoiled. In fact, I don't even really want to watch it from far away. If I'm not getting special treatment to be right up in there, I don't even want to look at it... is that weird?

What I noticed was a lot of new organizations.. and also old, which I have yet to tap into and discover. I should go and do the rounds for the Opera groups. I should also go into this new Art studio that just opened up. Also there is an Asian American Association which Donnie Yen's dad is heavily involved in, if not a founding member. It's only 6 years old and is focusing more on the new immigrants. All stuff that is pretty interesting. I got there cards so I think I'll be making my way t do interviews with them soon. Maybe I'll upload the interviews as a taste... but they didn't really flow with the video I made.

I also learned that when filming something like the gate... even if it is just a lame shot of the gate itself... to film for longer, because you never know how long you might want to use it for in the video. Instead I had to repeat the clip and it looks lame. Now I know Mandy Chan, Sifu of editing that he is would have found a way to reverse it and have it zoom in and zoom out so that you wouldn't even notice that. But I'm not Mandy Chan. So I'm actually pretty proud of this little video I made.

Props to Paul Chan AKA Uncle Paul for coming up with some pretty deep stuff right on the spot like that. It ended up matching the previous performance's audio and then all that faded into the Chinese Opera playing at the end. That was pretty cool I thought.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Herng Ha identity

The following is from a draft of an article I am working on for Cabo Verde Network. For all I know it will never even be printed because as a comparison, maybe it is focusing too much on Chinese culture.

"One thing that I noticed that Chinese Communities have that Cape Verdean Communities (so far that I’ve seen) seem not to have is your Chinese School. Chinatown has Kwong Kow. Newton has GBCCA. There is a Chinese school in Malden. It’s a place not only to learn Chinese but a place to learn Chinese Cultural things. Folk dance, Chinese Yo Yo, Chinese dulcimer, painting, Lion Dance, Kung Fu… you get my drift.
I assume that Cape Verdean Community centers offer similar programming. But What I noticed talking to people is that it seems to be offered primarily to adults. It’s not a summer camp or after school program to push your kids into so that they can learn how to speak their language.
When Kwong Kow was more Taishanese, it was a place where, after all those hours, it was expected that you be able to write your name in Chinese, say a few words in “herng ha wah” the hometown language, in this case Taishanese,  and hang out with some other Taishanese and Chinese people. But slowly other types of Chinese came in, Communist China became a powerful country, Kwong Kow slowly started to use Simplified Chinese as well as the Traditional Chinese characters and to start teaching Mandarin. In fact much of their summer camp and after school is now conducted in English and there are just Chinese classes. This is viewed as moving forward and at first glance, the Chinese community got it and the Cape Verdean community could learn from that.
But letting these ideas sit around a little bit, I realized that Taishanese culture is slowly strangling itself to death, while Cape Verdean Creole Culture, though around for 500 years, is just getting starting to come into its own power, Cabo Verde network, perhaps being on of the first steps of organization toward greatness. For instance, Professor Manuel De Luz Goncalves has recently written a Cape Verdean-English dictionary. So this is what I hear when asked about why there aren’t Cape Verdean schools. That it is a new idea. While Chinese is one of the oldest languages there is.
However, I have never seen a Taishanese- English dictionary. The explanation for this is that the writing is the same. But there are Cantonese and Hong Kong ways to write down certain words which do not translate directly into Mandarin. There are many Taishanese (and Cantonese) phrases which you can’t write down in Chinese…. But Jook Sings (Chinese Americans) will easily use these words to Google stuff using a non standardized English spelling, and Google will understand it and get you write where you need to go. In other words, though the Chinese community seems to be ahead, the Taishanese Community, in terms of cultural awareness. Seems to be behind Cape Verdean culture.
Many Cape Verdeans used to call themselves Black Portuguese. And here is where you really see that Cape Verdean culture is moving toward something greater, where Taishanese culture is slowly and willingly allowing Mandarin culture to finally, after thousands of years of civilization, to kill it off. There are no Cape Verdean childrens schools because children in Cape Verde learn Portuguese in schools. So the equivalent organization in America would be a Portuguese school. And why have that? Why not just learn English? But once you suddenly start to feel that you are NOT black Portuguese, but you are awakened to a Cape Verdean pride, then you start to look at yourself and your community differently.
Portuguese is the language the language of the empire and Cape Verdean is the colony, with its own culture and language which has been mixing for 500 years, and may have basis in a native culture which depending on which article online you read, was there, or was not there. Cape Verdean Independence happened in July 5 1975, so that even though the culture has been around, that pride in it, to organize to preserve and promote it is just getting started. But it is there.
Taishanese in the meantime are slowly being further absorbed into Mandarin Culture, the Communist Chinese Empire. Many Taishanese Americans are starting to have that pride in a culture they lost. But nobody is doing anything about it yet. More self identified groups like Hakka, Hokien, and those types are similarly doing what I see being done in Cape Verdean Culture."

But writing this I realized there is a lot of work in Chinatown that I haven't been doing. I haven't reached out to the Hakka cultural association to see if there is a Hakka dictionary too or something like that. I haven't interviewed people about what they thought about learning Mandarin or Taishanese. But from my time I have heard what people had to say.

My Sifu was extremely pro Taishanese. He would say stuff like, "Those Northerners think they are so great, but they didn't even know how to leave China, to go out and be educated by the world. That's why Taishan and the Canton was always wealthier in the past. They did trade. And Communism came they knew it was time to run. But then after the insanity was over they could come back with a ton of money and build up Taishan."

It's interesting that I was focusing on languages/dialects the last few posts, but hadn't even thought to bring culture and cultural identity into that. I had to hang out with Cape Verdeans for a day and sleep on it for a night before I even realized that there was something here in Taishanese culture, that had been here all along, but is not even talked about much.. at least not in English.

I mean come to think of it, every village has it's own cultural magazine, but is any of that stuff online?

Come to think of it, maybe that sort of thing would be frowned upon, prehaps even bee seen as rebellious to the government. I mean you can't even watch You Tube videos of Lion Dance taking place in Chinatown when you are in China. Hong Kong yes, China no. In a fear that something political might slip through, they just ban all of it, though the excuse is technical difficulties.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Little Vietnam

Usually I am writing about the Changes in Chinatown... which is related to Asian communities elsewhere as well. Today I am going to talk about Fields Corner. Because I happened to get a Cape Verdean perspective on this today. Actually, a couple Cape Verdean perspectives.. and I did not even realize that right near there or around there, is the Cape Verdean neighborhood in Boston.

Today is when I learned that there was a petition to actually change the name fo Fields Corner, on the Station stop, to "Little Vietnam."

"I though there were a bunch of other ethnic groups mixed in there though?" I said this, thinking about passing out New Year card invitations for Lion Dancing years ago.

"Nah, anything that closes down, they snatch right up. I mean I think they deserve it, to change the name. I mean if they got it. They're doing good. The neighborhood looks better now. But mad people were against it."

"Yo what is this shit! Look at this? This whole block is owned by them. You know how they got it now? They don't even care, they'll pay like $700,000.00 for a house just to hold onto it for the rent. Which is smart because think about it, it's like your bank.. but damn.."

What this did for me is look at things in a new light because after all that is a similar reaction, in different phrasing, that a lot of Chinese have about what is happening in Chinatown. But in Chinatown, you call it Gentrification. Which implies that it is white people moving in. You can't say just people with money... because the people cashing out have money now too don't they? And when the community becomes more and more Vietnamese... you wouldn't call that gentrification either, even though again, the people buying the properties must have money to do that investment.

Chinatown was not as big before and a good part of those buildings belonged to other ethnic groups... specifically Syrian Jews. But it wasn't so much that they were pushed out as they moved out, to Brookline.
Roxbury used to be Jewish too.

Now, this being the Chinatown blog, I still say be careful about people saying that Chinatown will always be here and that you can't compare Boston to D.C. and all that. Boston's Chinatown could be gone pretty quick. All it would take is three or for handshakes and contract. Boom. Done. And all you have is the gate, and the Non profits and the organizations... which would not really be Chinatown anymore but what is left of it, like the Polish American Association in Dorchester staring out at the highway.

But it's not necessarily a bad thing. To look at it from a Buddhist philosophy... change is part of life.. and if you can't accept this... then you will suffer.

Indeed the JP community lobbied hard to call itself the Latin Quarter. Something that is really to fight gentrification. However, the way it was viewed on Twitter could be summed up in a quote. "Gentrification... complete." That comment was a lack of awareness or a failure to have seen the meeting about giving JP that name.

But in many ways, there is some truth to that.

Littel Vietnam can get it's de facto neighborhood and even a name, making it ideal real estate property.. and then? The same thing may happen that is happening in Chinatown. Big towers of Condos. All it takes is convenience... and Fields Corner is right next to the red line which can take you Downtown and to the Financial district... a neighborhood which has been dead for while because of one man's plan to buy the whole thing up cheap and then build... which means that eventually, yes it will be built back up, and under the control of one person... kind of like Disney Land.

This stuff happens. In some ways it is horrible. But in the end... there are probably good things about it, too. It depends on how you look at it.

(Also for the record.. a good deal of the Vietnamese in Dorchester are ethnically Chinese. Perhaps I should explain this in another post.)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Ping Pong Time

You know it's funny, when I saw that this ping pong table was up, over at the Elliot Norton Park, I sort of imagined the people suing it would be old men.
Not so, these guys were nice enough to allow me to take their picture.I'll admit that it's not a great picture. I need to get better at that.

And I really should have got their names, got their story, tried to make a connection with them of some kind. I don't even know what region they are from. I started speaking in Chinese and then switched to English when i realized I couldn't assume that they necessarily spoke that language. I was headed down to GK... but still I should have asked a few more questions.

I think you could say this is some evidence of a Chinatown expansion. This park... will feel like Chinatown and will be a bridge to the Mass Pike Towers and the Castle Square Projects, which has a great deal of
Chinese living in them.

I mean it always had been right there.... but before it didn't feel like it was Chinatown. You couldn't tell. Now if you are a Tourist  walking through or using the playground you will assume it is Chinatown. Gentrification doesn't always mean shrinking. At least in the short term.

Jumping with GK

Yesterday I hung out with  the GK sisters.. kind of because my kids are out of town and it was a social thing to do. I did their work out.. and then a small group  (not enough to work on one of the upcoming performances that is NOT August Moon.) decided to work on Jumping and get some pointers... from me. (I feel like the time has already come where I have to remind people that I used to do Traditional lion dance. Because for a while, I have been teaching preschoolers and now I am even moving in a completely different direction. For instance, when people see MY performance at the Lantern Festival, there are roots in Traditional Lion Dance... but it isn't the same as what everyone else is doing.. to say the least.

Anyhow.... I actually showed a few drilling tips (which Grace later told me had been showed to her by Eddie Lau's son early on.. but nobody actually did them much.. and then, one of the women lifted me. And when she did, She said that I was actually easier to lift. I weigh 185. It has to do wit technique timing... that sort of thing.

But mostly what I got out of it was this. I haven't jumped and been lifted in a LONG time, like since I was a teenager of 175. I forgot the feeling. It is kind of like flying. Usually I am tail and although being tail is important, you don't get that feeling  of flying through the air... just a little bit I can see how that could be addictive.

It was a fun social thing and doubly so since I am just visiting. I always did feel more excitement as a ringer, a mercenary, and guy passing through for fun than when I was responsible for anything. Maybe I should hang out with them more often. If anything, it would be good material for the blog.

Revisiting "grounds for concern"

Remember this article in the Herald?

Today I give you this picture of the same place.

And I told you so in this article here

It's going to be another Bakery. It will probably be a fancier place, because that is the trend, that's what sells. It will be the same owner as Top Bread from what I hear. The thing is, this was all pretty common knowledge if you asked people. One would think that is what reporters do. But what I have noticed is that when outsiders report about Chinatown, they sort of assume a culture of secrecy and mystery... which isn't always true. Either that or they just don't care.. or maybe they want to sell papers and ask a couple of people who won't know the answer and move on to the next article. I mean maybe if I was a journalist for a fancy newspaper I would do the same thing because I have so much work. 

But if you look at who owns the building (Uncle Frank) and, I don't know did any sort of research whatsoever, you would know that when a bakery closed down, that another Chinese bakery was going to open in it's place. It's not the end of Chinatown. Not this particular building right now. The changing of Chinatown yes. 80cents baos moving up to dollar twenty or  yikes! 1.50 baos maybe. But how much is a scone at Starbucks? Or a muffin at Dunkin Donuts for that matter? I mean even by looking at the political signs on the outside you could have guessed wildly and at least got which family association the owner belongs to. My point is.. (to toot my own horn).. that this blog is important because even with minimal resources... at I somehow manage to get a more accurate story... for Chinatown issues at least. I'm not really criticizing newspapers... because they gave me the idea to even write about this in the first place. If they didn't take notice.. I wouldn't have. However, it might be a good idea for them to read my blog too. I mean, the truth is, even if they want to ask around.. who do they ask? Do they speak Chinese? Do they speak the right dialect? Come to think of it, I stumbled on the answers to the questions of who owned the building by chance. So I can't blame them. It's not that they aren't good at reporting. It's just that in this particular case.. I happened to be better. In since my blog is so small, I guess I'm proud of that. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Toi san wah

S back to people learning foreign Chinese languages, that is languages they do not speak at home, back in the day everyone HAD to learn Taishanese. But the truth is even after that became not true anymore.. people still picked up Taishanese. Most Chinese who have been in Chinatown for a while still at least know how to pretend to speak some form of it, at least a few phrases.

And people tend to pick it up in the kitchen especially. Which gets me to thinking. Maybe I would be a lot better at doing this blog if I started working in some of the kitchens. Like a part time thing.

So a lot of people pick up Taishanese... and a lot more people pick up Cantonese... usually from TVB. Well that's mostly how I learned my Cantonese.

So it became a thing that if you were Taishanese and you hung out with a lot of Chinese and watched the kek jap n TVB would actually use Cantonese more when talking to your friends.

This is enough of a trend that I have heard a woman we were doing teet da for, which included among other things, the fire cupping that Michael Phelps has made famous now. But instead of just soreness she ahd some old injuries so Fore cups alone wasn't going to do it.

She was originally Taishanese, but I think she was born here or Hong Kong, but Herng Ha was Taishan.
She actually thought that Taishanese was just some weird accent that old people developed in their old age.

In fact the first time I heard young people speaking Taishanese was when I worked at the Chinatown McDonalds.. (now Joy Luck Hot Pot.)  Suddenly, after the last Hong Kong  person left (excluding me of course) the teenagers in the back started speaking very loudly in Taishanese and I was actually surpirsed because even though I knew it was a language, I guess subconsciously I didn't think young people spoke.

Now this trend isn't as true now because a lot of people come here and are coming here directly from China. Whereas before you got a lot of Taishanese who were passing through Hong Kong.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chinese, Taishanese, Fujianese... er... Hakka and Chiu Jow?

A friend of mind mentioned listening to little kids at the playground at the Chinatown Gate and how all the little kids spoke so many dialects fluently and even flowed from one to the other obviously they all had a knack for languages... and yet very few of them spoke English that well, either because they haven't been exposed to it that much or who knows.

A lot of Chinese parents told me I should only be speaking Chinese to my kids. "You don't have to be afraid that they won't speak English!"

But I don't know, I had trouble with Noah. Maybe I'll start trying again, to speak to them with a book. With a prop it is easier for me. Otherwise I have no idea what to say.

But having taught Kung Fu to kids. I noticed a similar phenomenon. These kids couldn't speak English.. but they could speak Cantonese Taishanese and Hakka, because of their neighbors.

It's an interesting relationship that Chinese Americans and non Chinese Americans, have with the Chinese languages.

Usually when I see something trending on the internet about Asian languages, it will be about how annoyed Asian Americans are that people assume that because they speak one Asian language, that they can understand others. This probably comes from two places. A) That many Asian countries used to use the Han language. In Japanese it's the Kanji, and I don't know what they called in Korea. To do a cross reference to a European equivalent... or Dah wang gong.. which Chinese people hate... Han language could be compared to Latin.

B) using this same reference... if you know Latin you can get the gyst of many Romance languages. That IS true in Europe. That is NOT true of the say Mandarin or ancient Chinese or whatever in Asia.

Interestingly, I heard these Chinese kids and old people talking about how great Latin was because English and other European languages are Latin. For the record, English is a Germanic Language. It has a Latin vocabulary because of the French going up in there. Okay I'm off topic but the conversation was with the girl at the BCNC desk and some old Pau Pau's so it's a Chinese perception of Europe that's why it's on this blog.

But getting back to learning a ton of Chinese langauges, Americans often think they are just dialects.. as in nt real languages. It's actually Chinese people's fault because they keep saying this too. And they will say how the real writing is Mandarin etc. that the writing is the same.... but there are actually Cantonese ways of writing. For instance you can write "Tai" to see. Some restaurant guy I shared a bed with at Moh Goon showed me after coming across my copy of the Three Kingdoms with one page in English and the opposing page in "Real" Chinese. Simplified Chinese mind you. I think it was the word for Eye and Little brother "dai" put together. In other words if you came across this character and you knew Cantonese and you knew the two radicals... you could infer that it was "Tai"  He then crossed it out saying I should learn such garbage. It wasn't "orthodox" It wasn't Jing Jong Chinese. But I guess a lt of the Magazines and pulp fiction type stuff he read was with these sort of characters. This is actually the type of thing that Americans love. Slang, unorthodox, counter culture. And yet we've been going around not knowing about it. I bet a lot of Americans would take an interest in learning this stuff even more so than Mandarin. Not for use... just for kicks because it's cool.

I mean most people that learn Chinese don't really NEED Chinese.

I'll revisit this topic again I think in my next post as well.

Construction at Tremont and Oak

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Gourmet China House with Showa students

Grace really wanted to try this new restaurant and so we decided to go with our Showa friendship circle students. Grace picked them up in the car while I biked in. I arrived first on my slow bike because parking is quite difficult to find in Chinatown. The down side was that I was wet. When I came in I spoke Chinese which had a curious effect. Then I recognized one for the waters as someone I had taught Kung Fu too. We spoke in English. "Hey you know he speaks "Bak wah"" 

" yeah I know him."

Side note, people calle Cantonese "Bak Wah." or Bak language. I don't think it is the same Bak as white. I was recently reading something historical about why it was called Bak Wah... and forgot to write it down.  That's worth a post on its own. 

In any case when my family finally arrived I started telling the Showa students various stories about Chinatown. Mainly because we could see Hung Mun across the street. And Sun Yat Sen stayed thee hiding for a week, and another story I had mentioned before about FDR being a defense lawyer for a Chinatown mobster. Grace shook her head to change the subject because she said they probably didn't care about that.

But hey, getting your story out there is not about if someone "cares" about your story or not. Nobody would "care" about the mainstream history already out there that never talks about Chinatown it's just that you are first to learn about it in school and on tv and now, maybe you can find a Pokemon on top of it if you play that game.

Well Grace was in charge of ordering 

Now I'm not really a reviewer. But here is the gyst. We asked the students if they had been to Chinese restaurants in Japan and they said they had many times. They said that the taste was similar. I will guess that they are being polite because Chinese Food in Japan is supposed to be the top of the top. But they did say that the Japanese food in Boston was.... well they didn't say it was horrible but that is what they wanted to say. 

Gourmet China House is good. But I would say so are a lot of places. And it's good to try new restaurants even if you are ordering the same food. The main theme is Taiwanese food and so I ordered those scallion pancake rollups and left the rest up to Grace. I don't see a picture of the Scallion Pancake roll ups with beef.. and it might be because I grabbed it to eat right away. The above Pea pod stems (shun yung dao mieu) are always our go to vegetable because the cost of the dish vs. the cost of buying the vegetable in the supermarket comes out to the customer getting the best deal. In fact I have heard the restaurant actually loses money on this dish. 

Now here is the dish that made it worth it for the Showa students. As good as the Chinese restaurants are in Japan... Lobster is a New England thing. And Chinese Style Lobster is a Boston Chinatown Thing. You could say it would be Boston Chinatown's local dish to hold up as our "you have to try it if you are visiting" dish if we were smarter about promoting ourselves. I'm allergic to lobster, but I ended up eating some anyway. I didn't have a problem because the ginger and the scallion are natural antihistamines. Another reason to put this dish on a pedestal. The Lobster was also taken from the tank alive. Yet another reason to really push this dish. I mean  honestly, we should probably be working to make this lobster replace the steamed lobster with butter dish as BOSTON's dish. I mean what else do have? Baked Beans? Clam Chowder? The meat was actually very sweet. The food might have been heavy on MSG, but this is Chinatown, not Jamaica Plain. Could a Chinese Restaurant that focuses on Organic food maybe grown in a garden out back do well? Yeah, but we're just not there yet. Maybe next year.. and people will definitely complain about it being the ultimate gentrification. 

This was some kind of Taiwanese pork with Broccoli. Again. Pretty good. But looking at the table next to us, which did herbal soup and fish and other dishes that were on fire when they reached the table seems to have out ordered us. 

So these are the dumpling soups which everyone goes crazy over and then they are disappointed in. It used to be you could only get these at a Shanghai restaurant in Chinatown. The best I've had in recent years is a hole in the wall place in New York's Chinatown. But basically everyone is opening  "dumpling" this and Dumpling that. The first time I had this it was a novelty. People told me I wouldn't have the chopstick skills to pick it up without destroying the dumpling. Here is a curious thing Most of these dumpling things I have in Boston are easier to pick up. I.e., the outer layer is thicker... I think that also makes the dumpling not as good. I'm just saying that the dumplings might be "not as good" because they make them so even lo fahn's can pick up the dumpling with chopsticks.. otherwise you will feel like a failure.. .no matter how good the dumpling is. Okay maybe that is not it, but I think that this dish is our generations version of chicken fingers. Not to say that it isn't authentic. It is. It was invented in Shanghai in the 1930's according to Bourdain... but it has become what is hot.

The list of Hot Chinese food or Asian Cuising (ie stuff that sells is)

1) Sushi
2) Hot pot
3) Dim Sum
4) these soup dumplings

and after you become a little more Asian, or hang out with Asian friends or something the list expands to

5) Boba aka Jun ju Nai cha and one of it's many variations

6) Pho or Vietnamese noodles. This last one is really up and coming. I mean we bought a Korean nodle package of Vietnamese Instant Pho. Once another group starts to make your ethnicity food, that's how you know the food itself is hot. That's why Sushi is at the top there. I'm not talking about quality. I'm talking about, everyone wants to try it, so everyone starts making it whether it is their specialty or not. So a restaurant might have Dumpling in it... but that doesn't mean that dumplings is there thing, it's just the right words to get you in the door. Their specialty might be something else.

My kids love dumplings. They are easy to eat.  No bones. No skill involved. I mean yeah you have to drink the soup out of a dumpling but that can be easily learned without fear of death. A bony fish can actually kill you if you're not used to it. And that even goes for Chicken too. It's why Everyone Chinese always warns me, and it's why I've seen Americans (even Chinese Americans) have some trouble. In fact my boss at the bank when I was a teller was from Hong Kong, and one day he looked a little worse for the wear over some trouble with a chicken bone down his throat.

So again, the dumplings are today's Bourdain watching more metropolitan Mainstream American version of the Chicken finger and teriyaki skewers. It IS authentic Chinese food. But the table next to us did not order that. Shoot I don't even know what they ordered. Except I think they also ordered lobster. The most authentic is often the most difficult and most expensive because you can't let the nube chef handle that one. You definitely need the Sifu for the Fish that looks like parts of it are still alive etc.

But my kids will definitely always go for dumplings over anything else.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Digging in Tai Tung

I was hanging out at Tai Tung this week. The kids played with some of the Summer program kids. I remember teaching at Kwong Kow and bringing kids over there and being scolded by other programs "Did you reserve the playground?" I hadn't, but we just moved them to another park. It was because I hated teaching the kids Kung Fu inside. It was just depressing.

Anyway, Noah and Jonah dug up a giant grub.

"We found a bug that is white with an orange face and a a see through body and it poops white!"

  Noah hesitated, "Dai Dai will show you I don't want to go over there."

I didn't really believe them until I saw it for myself. At first, before we fully pulled it out and before we uncovered it, it looked like a Jelly fish that lived underground (Now that would make a good sci fi fairy tale!)
But it was a grub. The thing was huge! I know there is some kind of beetle around there.. but I don't know what the Grub would turn into.

I started to think back on all the things I 've read online about Tai Tung on the internet written by white people. How they love using the laundry mat and call it an isolated jewel of the city that reminds you of being in Hong Kong. There are many random stories about Tai Tung that would do well for the blog.

I missed the National night out this year.. but some of the past years I had been involved in sprung to mind.. and then I've seen pictures from before I was born of past Kung Fu performances also right in front of the same laundry mat. I remember quite a few stories just from that playground and I'm sure others have great stories too. Maybe I'll start with those for a while on the blog.