So my flight into New York this week was cancelled, and with my old roommate also out of town, I don’t have a solid idea of what state our Chinatown building is in (except that there is definitely a freezer-full of sausage and shrimp lying in wait). Like much of the country, I’ve been obsessively monitoring the news and interwebs this whole week, trying to get a grasp of the scale of mayhem (or for those Uptown, lack thereof).
What has become painfully clear is that not only were some areas devastated beyond recognition (Staten Island, Breezy Point in Queens, Lower East Side, Coney Island), some have also been virtually ignored by authorities in the relief efforts. While it certainly hasn’t suffered the same structural damage and loss of life, one community that has experienced gross inequities in post-Sandy recovery includes — SURPRISE! — Chinatown.
While lower Manhattan has been without without power all week, Chinatown and the LES have also suffered water shutoffs in public housing, food shortages, and a huge vacuum of information from officials about just what the fuck to expect next. While people wait in endless lines for help, FEMA and city officials have for the most part been conspicuously absent.
Thank effing goodness for CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, which has been the only organization to address the dire and immediate needs of the community. CAAAV became first responders by providing phone charging, in-language information, food, batteries, and mercifully — a system to check up on elders and the disabled in high rise buildings who are cold, hungry, and in the dark — stuck in their buildings without working elevators. Meanwhile, just next door, Wall Street has Xmas lights lit up in the streets.
As CAAAV leadership well understands, this isn’t the first time Chinatown has clearly not been a governmental priority for recovery efforts (9/11), and it likely won’t be the last. Thankfully, many volunteers have showed up to make donations and drop off supplies. Check out updates from CAAAV on relief efforts and needs here, and if you can’t go in person, please consider making a donation.
Let’s demonstrate to the people of Chinatown and LES that we care about them, even if Bloomberg and the NYC hypercapitalist, profit-driven agenda don’t seem to give two shits about immigrants and people of color, the working class, and New York’s most vulnerable residents.
It’s no secret that my veneration for drag queens, throwin’ shade, and yes, ovahness — is near unconditional (and borderline obsessive)…but GRRROOOOOAAAANNNNN.
Dude’s like one step away from yellow face. And if we’re getting technical here, there’s many things one could point out about this video (besides Mike Diamond) that aren’t Japanese, one of which is — it’s filmed in CHINATOWN. And can we please just slaughter and bury that chopsocky font please!?! KonichiDON’T.
Thanks Princess Char Char!
You Guys!! Did you know that James Dolan, the Exec Chairman of Madison Square Garden, Inc., owner of the NY Knicks, and gifted music man, has a long and storied history — especially when it comes to
profiting off of working with talented Chinese Americans — that stretches all the way back to his great-great grandfather James Leland Dolan? And you guessed it — it involves the The Transcontinental Railroad!
Yessiree, read all about ye olden times, when “Knickerbockers” was part of common lexicon and harpsichord was the instrument of favor. Plus, being illiterate with pyro tendencies didn’t necessarily prevent one from becoming filthy rich. Confused? Yo, son — get your history lesson!
Thank Groban that esteemed scholar and historian Terry K. Park was able to delve into the dusty annals of US history and recover this little known, yet influential tycoon.
photo by Michael Appleton for the NYT
The illustrious NYPD, in partnership with the equally humanitarian Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), recently raided a building in East Chinatown — which houses many hometown associations, shops, and even medicinal practitioners — in what they called a “crackdown on a hive of criminality”. Read the rather ridiculous details here.
Although they claim that the cash confiscated is proof that the laborers and retired workers mainly from Fujian province are linked to a Chinese criminal gang and part of “one of the largest illegal gambling operations uncovered in New York City’s recent history”, maybe these folks just like some down time between grueling jobs to play some social low-stakes games of mah jong, cards, and pool. Y’know, like Christmas at yo auntie’s house.
In addition to confiscating mah jong tables, the authorities took a few thousand dollars from a safe and off of folks playing in one hometown association’s small office. They reason that cash found in this raid, along with similar raids, just goes to show that that illegal gambling is goin’ down. But among a population of immigrants who are often unbanked, get paid in cash, and may operate mutual assistance-type lending circles for those down on their luck, you’re not going to find a lot of checks and platinum cards. Which means that some of these folks may have just been carrying their day’s wages on them, which then got snatched up by the authorities as evidence of their criminality.
Authorities also raided the building because of “illegal medical care:”
In the recent raid, officials arrested two men in an office behind an unmarked door on the fourth floor. The men, Qiu Jiaxi, 67, and his son, Qiu Lu Hui, 38, were “examining and treating patients by injecting them with unknown substances and giving them a variety of unidentified pills,” the New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said in a statement. They “lured unsuspecting patients into their office and put their greed before the health and safety of their victims.”
Why does this read like a pulpy fiction from the ’40s featuring a jaundiced Chinaman with long queue and fingernails on the cover? THEY’RE COMING AFTER YOUR WHITE WOMEN NEXT!!
“The Qius were charged with unauthorized practice of a profession, a felony, and face up to four years in prison...but he said that he had studied acupuncture and Chinese traditional medicine in China and in New Jersey, and that his father had been trained in China. Both, he said, had excellent reputations in the New York diaspora as well as in Fujian Province…“Coming to see us is the only option for them,” he said. The Qius stopped practicing after their arrests but returned to their office. During the interview, a stream of patients stopped by, but the Qius apologized and turned them away.”
It’s called fucking Chinese medicine, dipshits! Folk remedies, homeopathy, alternative medicine…whatever you want to call it. While it may not be offered at Beth Israel, hippy white people pay a lot of money to study it in naturopathic school, so just chill out let these poor people without health insurance get the type of care they’ve consented to and have probably been familiar with their whole lives.
Unfortunately, federal officials are continuing to investigate these “gangs”, and the US attorney in Manhattan has sued for forfeiture of the building. While the leaseholder doesn’t believe there was any wrongdoing in the building, he still plans to clear out the hometown associations because of all the attention they’ve received from the authorities.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this is all a front to kick residents out and take over the building to build condos in what is fast becoming highly sought-after real estate. I can’t believe in this day and age, and in a city that prides itself on being the most diverse in the nation, stretched taxpayer dollars are going towards harassing old immigrants playing mahjong, confiscating their meager wages, and denying limited English speakers their traditional medicinal practices. You don’t see NYPD and ICE swooping in on old Jewish ladies in Forest Hills playing American Mahjong, or busting in on Wall Street types playing cards and betting on fantasy football in cigar rooms.
The NYT article is tepidly, diplomatically titled: “Chinatown Gambling Raid May Reveal Cultural Divide”. No shit. How about: “Dick Moves All Around, With Racial Fuckery At Its Finest”.
Hipster Racism seems to be getting a lot of attention lately — from Lindy West’s excellent Jezebel article to Kyria Abraham’s exasperating, self-serving response, to this very recent example of Orientalist food truck foolery.
We here at BCB are well aware of this epidemic (we created a “Hipster Racism” category for the blog in 2009) and are pretty happy about the general increase in dialogue about it.
So for this Friday’s Fuckery, we present yet another culprit: Lucky 8′s China House (seriously), a new chic restaurant in Seattle’s Capitol Hill area, owned by Bracey Rogers and his wife Marcy Akiyama.
CBruhs met some friends at this joint a few weeks ago, and was swiftly irritated by its overpriced cooptation of ethnic food, lack of any (visible, maybe they were in the back washing dishes) Asian staff, and in particular, an ironically mustachioed server named “Tiger” who announced in rather dramatic fashion that he was about to make a bike delivery (for examples of why this is problematic, contrast this with the unglamorous, dangerous, and sometimes fatal reality of real Chinese delivery men).
Last night, BCB friend Louie Gong went to Lucky 8′s China House and was similarly not impressed by the stereotypical decor: kung fu movies, a gong, a giant to-go box, and drinks like “Phists of Phooey” (you just don’t fuck with a Bruce Lee movie). Basically what he describes as “a cartoon version of Asian culture…like they turned an Asian-themed slot machine into a restaurant.”
After Louie paid, Tiger apparently noticed his last name on the credit card. As Louie was walking out, he heard behind him: “Gong….Gong?? Hey, Gong!?” He turned around, and Tiger had gathered the cooks, picked up a mallet, and then for reals CLANGED THE EFFING GONG.
For Louie, this was a delightful reminder of how kids would mockingly chant “Goooong!” during basketball games. So thanks for that, Tiger — and thank you Lucky 8′s China House for serving up another shining example that there really is no difference between “Hipster racism” and just regular ol’ racism.
photos by Louie Gong
We’ve all been goin’ ga-ga for Korean tacos over the past few years, from Roy Choi’s groundbreaking Los Angeles-based Kogi truck to Seattle’s Marination Mobile…and countless imitators. The latest of which is your favorite suburban binge-drinking office party spot, T.G.I.F.! Or, Thank Goddess It’s Fracking Time for Korean Tacos Hells Yes Hi-Five Brah!!!
If you want a little something extra to go with those Loaded Skillet (teehee) Nachos or that bowlful of Tuscan Spinach Dip (TM), these tacos are made with Black Angus steak and they’re served with Sriracha, ginger-lime slaw, cilantro, basil aaaaaand jasmine rice pilaf. Let’s just ram the whole of Southeast Asia and the Asian subcontinent in there for good measure — and kinda skip over most of the Korean ingredients thing…kimchi and kkakdugi smells may freak out the mall walkers, brah!
Regardless, I will probably still order this mess next time I’m by the Westfield. In mah belly, it’s always Friday (Fuckery)!