Thursday, July 14, 2022


Two older gentlemen were discussing painting and Grant Avenue back in the seventies, as well as the pottery studio where one of them has usage privileges at all hours seven days. You could tell what era it was, look at the old cars. No, the kite shop wasn't there then.
Which got me recalling how I ended up in Chinese coffee shops many years ago.


The Eastern Bakery had counter seating in those years, and as long as you were polite, not obviously barking mad, and reasonably quiet, the two counter ladies would keep refilling your coffee cup long after you had finished your snack when you were already devouring your third newspaper. I'd leave just before seven PM wired to the eyebrows.

It started with a red bean pastry (豆沙餅 'daau saa bing') and coffee. Within a short period of time I discovered lotus seed paste biscuits (蓮蓉餅 'lin yong bing'), mooncakes (月餅 'yuet bing'), steamed chicken buns (蒸雞包 'jeng gai baau'), coffee crunch cake, apple pie, and an abbreviated version of the American breakfast: fried eggs, sausages, hash browns, pile of rice, and hot sauce. All of which was washed down with endless coffee.

I was alone, not much used to American conversation, spoke with an accent (having spent from two till late teens abroad), and preferred the necessarily tenous and tightly formatted social environment of a coffee counter over the sports nonsense of the lounge at school.
Bluntly put, I wasn't very socially talented.

[It isn't that I'm particularly self-conscious of the accent, but a lot of 'Muricans will remark on it, and suggest that because of it I should not have opinions or even thoughts. It's sort of English-Bostonian-Continental. Very problematic for Midwesterners especially.]

At the bakery on Stockton Street today I had an egg tart and milk tea.
杯咖啡 豆沙餅

Over the years I've kind of drifted away from red bean pastries and coffee.

Grant Avenue is not the vibrant main drag it used to be, the Eastern Bakery did away with the lunch counter and the waitresses a long time ago, and because of the pandemic Chinatown is not exactly boomtown USA. But the neighborhood will survive.
That is to say, I hope it survives.
It's a refuge.

The rest of the city is filled with angry street people, crazed drug addicts, belligerent loonies, yuppie twats on their cellphones, entitled office drones (junior stockbrokers, marketing types, and law office serfs), and dingbats with yoga mats.

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