Wednesday, September 27, 2023


It isn't surprising that the mahjong parlours irritate him, as they're noisy and deposit leaky garbage bags at either end of the alley that tempt and nourish the rats before the sanitation department picks up the trash. The problem being that elderly Chinese ne'erdowells like to eat while frittering their retirement away at the tables. Which means to-go-food, greasy paperplates, and unfinished snacks.

I don't think he himself has ever played mahjong. Local born Chinese of his generation aren't that type. Work hard, keep your head down, avoid wastefulness, alcohol, drugs, venereal disease, and white people. Make sure you live within your means.

There are, of course, certain names which are rarely ever mentioned. People who didn't do that. Men who drank, smoked, played the piano in low dives, or hobnobbed with politicians and gangsters. Women who danced in the evening. The boys who came back from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, and ended up pissed that their white fellow veterans had so many opportunities, despite, quite likely, being dumb as bricks.

[BTW: My father was often not considered a veteran despite having flown a bomber over Germany during the war. Because he had served as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. That was rather "foreign", you know.]

When American politicans talk about the good old days, a "kinder gentler era", what they are referring to is the period when Chinese Americans weren't allowed to cross Broadway or buy real estate in certain San Francisco neighborhoods, the unions didn't allow non-whites to join, and everybody was Christian even the Jews, or else. That started changing in the early sixties. Activists battered down the doors of privilege, but they were preceeded in their barrier-busting by generations of fighters breaking ground in many fields.

The term "kinder gentler era" is loaded and dangerous.
Cynical, elitist, and divisive.
Concerning the rats, I tend to sympathise with him. They're always an issue, everpresent. Unlike the local politicians, who only show their faces when there is something to be had in the neighborhood. So until people can force the city to arrange more adequate garbage management for the most densely populated part of the city, or there's an outbreak of bubonic plague which frightens the tourists, I would suggest felines.

Cats are affordable, pettable, and energetic.
Quite unlike the city bureaucrats.

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