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see yourself in China

Hood Hing is perhaps the most appropriately named Chinese carry-out in Brooklyn. This photo was not snapped there, but may as well have been. Two blocks away, a wall-sized photograph of the Forbidden City decorates the wall of No. 1 Chinese Restaurant. Two blocks from that sits Kam Hong which itself sits a block away from Dragon House, and so on in a never-ending constellation of cheap eats, inch-thick plexiglass, and resentful transactions.

“Learn to chill, man. Learn to chill!” The jamaican-accented woman who ordered before me at Dragon the other day had at least learned the caustic rhythm of most transactions there since coming to the states.

Staring at oneself in the mirror that decorates one wall of No. 1 with a blown-up image of some monument filling the background might be as close as anyone from the ‘hood will ever get to mainland China. The forced optical illusion itself might as well be a visual metaphor for the gossamer relationship that exists between the purveyors of chicken wings with fried rice and the folks who order it. Still, carry-outs are as much a part of the street life as dice games, tinted-out luxury SUVs, and grandmothers who lean on flabby elbows and stare down into the lost concrete below.

In my neighborhood at least, the number of Chinese carry-outs is rivaled by the number of Jamaican joints. Black americans, as ever, stand on the service side of the counter unfolding bills and trying to make ourselves understood.



Comments:

    Yet again, the part sweet savouring, unflinching look at city life via Raafi R. M. So well put.

    “Staring at oneself in the mirror that decorates one wall of No. 1 with a blown-up image of some monument filling the background might be as close as anyone from the ‘hood will ever get to mainland China”

    You speak of the “hood” as some exotic place that you are far removed from. The above quote is insulting and sounds like an English explorer on an African safari. You are obviously an uppity individual from a well-to-do background. I’ve noticed other condescending language in a few of these posts. Furthermore, you didn’t even bother to research the picture on the wall. Instead you refer to it as “some monument.” It happens to be the Imperial Palace and it’s located in Beijing. I happen to be from this “hood” you speak of and it was as easy as asking someone behind the glass. Then you say, “Black americans, as ever, stand on the service side of the counter unfolding bills and trying to make ourselves understood” trying to convey to your audience that you’re “down.” You may be black, but you are not as “down” as you may want to be. Don’t take this as an insult, take it as a lesson. And educate your readers without sounding condescending. Brotha.

    It is my intent to portray a sense of otherworldliness in all of my posts, yes. Hence the category name “BK world” rather than something like “Brooklyn.” But an English explorer I am certainly not. I grew up in DC east of 16th St., and moved to a suburb in Boston far from the hood. As a result of the drastic bifurcation of my upbringing, I find most places to be somewhat otherworldly, yet strangely comfortable.

    I actually do refer to the monument earlier in the post as the Forbidden City, but chose not to reference it again by name the second time to generalize the experience. In fact, I asked the girl at the counter if the photo was of the Forbidden City after buying my food. “Tiananmen Square” she snapped at me. Not satisfied, I looked it up on Wikipedia once I returned home. Though the Wikipedia is sometimes inaccurate, the photo on the wall seemed to resemble this one listed as Forbidden City on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Forbidden_city_07.jpg , and not the ones posted on the Tiananmen Square entry here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square

    As for being a black american, that’s what I am, sorry. Moreover, my goal was to lament how likely we are to spend money at establishments owned by people other than ourselves in our own neighborhoods, not to pretend to be “down.”

    […] Progress is fascinating. It is one of what I imagine the joys of parenting to be. Name-brand architect Richard Meier has designed a building that ominously announces the arrival of haute city living to the ‘hood, or near it anyway — Hood Hing is a short block away […]