Sunday, November 24, 2002 ::: So I just finished reading a fascinating book about the new york neighborhood called "Five Points" which is now present-day chinatown, but was previously known as an overcrowded tenement slum populated by whichever poor immigrants happened to be coming in droves at the time. It's also the neighborhood where gangs of new york is set. Anyway, it makes for a pretty fascinating read as far as immigrant communities and networks go, and how the system of remittances and families pulling in chains of relatives is as old as new york itself. It's also a pretty interesting from an urban planning and public policy perspective as well, to see how over time these issues were dealt with by both private and governmental forces. There's a lot of Jacob Riis and How the Other Half Lives, which I'm now quite interested in seeing more photographs from. As a book I strongly recommend, as it's good history, but also well written and entertaining to read. The one area that it really seems to skip over is Five Points' role as a starting off point for immigrants who have just arrived in the US, a place where they make arrangements for further travel. Clearly, this was very much a central role for Five Points as far as immigrants as a whole in the country are concerned, and although it is a far more difficult issue to address owing to the transience of its subjects, I would nonetheless like to know a little more about that aspect of things.
Friday, November 08, 2002 ::: Sometimes things are cruel and horrifying and completely hilarious, like the list of british medical slang that appeared in this month's harpers. note to the mermaid: thanks for putting this up.
I haven't really been writing since the elections made me all grumpy. All the more so since I don't even have a senator or a real house member to vote for. In what was a stereotypical experience with the dc government, I had also been left off the voter rolls despite having registered several months ago and receiving not one but two voter registration cards. So I filled out a special ballot. There were no real close races, so I pretty much voted for whoever I felt like and who seemed like they deserved the office, which even led me to vote for a smattering of greens and republicans. I felt very magnanimous.
Friday, November 01, 2002 ::: So on tuesday I saw the high heel races, which were quite good - I'd say better than last year, since all the half-assed drag queens didn't show up owing to the cold and rain. Which meant that only the most dazzling, sequinned and gaudy, the creme de la creme chose to make their appearance. And what appearances they made - flirty stewardesses, a well-coiffed metallic medusa, a mme de pompadour, hello kitty (who required some leading around, but nonetheless looked adorable) and a host of others that I can't recall. The event just highlighted my need for a digital camera. MUST get digital camera. The actual race kind of reminded me of the scene in my fair lady where the crowd has a song and dance at the horse races.
"Vows, which covers the marriages of wealthy people with hyphenated names, is great entertainment. I try to read it as a different person every Sunday. Sometimes I’m a 15-year-old aspiring starlet in Florida, wishing my life was as glamorous as the young couples described, with their careers in publishing (her) and finance (him), or I’m a fundamentalist Muslim condemning the godless capitalist Jews and their decorated whore-brides, or a radical animal rights activist, lamenting the likelihood of slaughtered animals at the after-dinner meal, planning to arrive and throw fake blood on the bride. But it’s most fun to read as an anarcho-syndicalist with Marxist tendencies, because the Times makes it so easy:
These two people, Terence Trevor-Mills and Lauren Grape-Expury, the ignorant, self-righteous recipients of a false system of wage exploitation, will be united in April during a massive wedding spectacle funded by the profits stolen from the proletariat employed by their capitalist fathers. The union, which will culminate in the corporate-and-state-supported subjugation and sexual slavery of Ms. Grape-Expury to Mr. Trevor-Mills, will be sanctioned by a paid-for church father despite the thieving hypocrisy of the celebrants, and will be attended only by other ruling capitalists, who will be served by even more proletariat, each at chafe under the rule of their masters. The wedding will be followed by champagne, and then by revolution, as the workers arise and take what is rightfully theirs, including the beaded Mischka wedding gown and the heaped platters of canvasback duck."