Did you know that the largest “chinatown” in NYC is actually in Sunset Park Brooklyn and that it used to be “Little Norway” but it isn’t anymore?
We spent some time there during the Spring as we paid an old Chinese lady to stick needles into my wife during this most recent pregnancy. She prescribed giant sacks of herbs, twigs, mushrooms and barks to brew into teas for a “beautiful baby” and it worked! The teas alone were a fascinating view into an ancient world of mystery, but the visits to that neighborhood were pretty fascinating too.
So while Jo had her treatments, I wandered around the streets snapping shots on my phone. I accidentally discovered that if you hit the volume up button, it takes a picture without having to use the touchscreen! So I took some of these pictures with my swinging arm as I walked so as to not seem like a creepy douche.
Let’s get started!
I really truly passionately love finding things like this. Someone brazenly and carelessly infringing on the most recognizable cartoon character and spitting it out in hopes that some toothless kiddie will semi-recognize it and beg Mommy for a quarter to ride Mickey. From this angle, actually – it almost looks like him, but maybe only this angle. The colors are amazing and vibrant in spite of the cracks and chips. How old is this artifact?? Has it been here since the 70s? It’s almost as timeless as the real artifact.
Chinese Old People Service Center?? What a find!!! This is the moment I really committed to documenting my walk, but it was probably the best thing I saw all day. It’s the kind of direct translation stuff you expect to find in tourist areas in China. Either way, I can’t wait to take my broken Chinese old people to this shady building for servicing.
Okay, I just have a thing for medical illustration and that kind of utilitarian model-making. Those doctor’s office / health class / internal organ models that have been made adorable and toy-like and palatable. But this collection looks especially non-Western to me. Maybe the bent left arm thing is normal for these kinds of models, but at first glance I thought these skinless motherfuckers were asking me to dance in the most gentlemanly way.
This was in the same window as the medical statues (so not the word for that shit, I’m certain). Seems unrelated. Beauty? Also the school’s name seems like it’s a front for some other shady business. Like “Quick man, just any name that sounds like a real American business. Also, where did you put all the bomb-making equipment? I checked under the cocaine piles.”
Again, I was taking pictures on the sly. Snapping away on my phone as I walked. The movement of my arm created some fun warpy distortions. I’m sure people have said this a bajillion times, but these old shitty iPhone pix are sure to be our era’s nostalgic polaroids. Most of my photos of my kids are courtesy of our tired old phones.
I couldn’t resist. You may know I have taken on some power animals for guidance and inspiration, including the mighty tiger of my Chinese horoscopical birth year. It’s hard to tell but this is a young Chinese lady… I had the strong feeling that there was a numbers racket (and probably many other such underground shenanigans) all over the place. Awesome!
Okay, most of my pictures ended up looking like this, but this is actually a fair depiction of the crowded streets in a way. Open storefront after open storefront of stuff. A ton of fish / shellfish spots and places like this.
Here’s a pretty normal style neighborhood pharmacy. But still very Asia. They can’t let go of cute, the Asians. What does it mean to them?? Is there a class at the New School where I can learn the role of cuteness in Asian culture?
There were a bunch of “malls” inside of buildings where smaller vendors come together, pool their cash for a consolidated shopping experience. It felt more like a shitty comic book convention with cheap stuff everywhere. No offense. There was such a mix of wares though. I went downstairs in this one mall and there was (strangely) a pretty normal computer store.
Then there were traditional herbs and dried stuff. Again, I wasn’t trying to look weird – snapping pictures of their crazy stuff. Hence: blur.
And, not to judge – but there was bin after large bin of Dried Fish Bladder. I could’ve walked out of that small shop with ten or so large garbage bags filled to the top with Dried Fish Bladders. I doubt I need that many. I haven’t needed any at all, up until this point.
There were a couple places to buy “traditional” sculptures and “art”. This expression was so specific and cool. Half the vendors gave me a similar look. I was warm and friendly and pretending that I come here all the time to buy statues and bladders.
Back on the street, this awesome sculpted display thing tried to get me into their store which sold mostly iPhone cases. It worked.
I guess this one doesn’t say much about anything, but it’s another covert snap that says NYC.
Lastly, this is a very Brooklyn shot – low buildings, ancient fire/police alarm. The flier is the only thing that gives the specific location away.
Lastly lastly – I stumbled on this on my way to pick up the wife. Awesome music practice session followed by another broken English sign.