On Sunday, I headed down to Chinatown with my camera to see and photograph the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade. I love Chinatown because it really feels like you have been transported to another country and yet it is smack in the middle of Manhattan. It's not just the Chinese street signs, the smelly fish stands, the faux Rolex/luxury handbag dealers, the zillions of Chinese people milling about--it feels like there is a sense of lawlessness there. Perhaps Chinatown is one of the last places in this city where there are some crazy shenanigans going on, and we don't even know the half of it.
When I got out of the subway at Canal Street, there was absolutely no indication where this parade was taking place. No signage, no nothing. Again, are we in America? Everything is labeled in America. A web site indicated that the parade was happening on "the main streets of Chinatown." Okaaaay. Finally, I walked in the direction of Little Italy, and that's where I found the crowd. I nestled myself into the third row and then pushed my way to the second row. I almost made it to the front, but a little Asian lady elbowed me in the stomach and got ahead of me. She was four feet tall and her child had an eye patch and so I thought they probably deserved the front row more than I did. I was jealous of all the press cameramen who had access to walk around on the streets, but I don't think I did too bad from the third/second row, given that there were lots of heads (and elbows) in my way the whole time!
After the parade was over, I was hungry so I found this street cart that was selling fried everything on a stick. (You want something fried, they had it!) It looked completely dirty (I could have sworn I saw breaded raw meat just sitting there in a bucket. Was it chilled? Who knows?) For $1.50, I bought myself a fried chicken leg. The man wrapped it in a little piece of paper, and I stood at the sidewalk and ate it up. Seriously, it was one of the best pieces of fried meat I had ever had. The crust had just the right amount of crunch, and the meat was juicy and tasty. It made me think about all those hip places in NYC right now serving overpriced fried chicken because it's the cool thing to do nowadays, and I smiled at my delicious discovery. Chinatown--it's where it's at.