Vague Thoughts on Chinatown, Weekenders

Towering above the pions, the fourth floor window by my work desk looked eastward over the drying laundry on Chinatown rooftops. The financial district and the east bay lied beyond, and on non foggy days I could actually see the water. The smokey smells of oil and MSG wafted in the window throughout the day, making me think that my office mates were continuously eating Chinese food.

But this sweet desk was temporary. Its rightful owner came back from holiday, and since yesterday I was relocated to a dark room off a hallway of glass-walled creatives. In another two weeks, I’ll be moving again to a “permanent” desk, though this building is so packed with people that the seating arrangement feels like a Ponzi scheme.

Work has been pretty good so far, as far as work goes. I’ve been “learning the ropes” as they say. I’ve been climbing ladders, synergizing, thinking around the box, smoking cigars, slapping asses, shaking hands, burning the midnight oil, basically just taking care of business in a can-do attitude sort of leadership role.

Since I’m right at the edge of Chinatown, I’ve been taking breaks by walking around. For all the complaints of inauthenticity and touristy feelings, Chinatown feels foreign. Off of Grant, everyone is speaking Chinese. Old ladies are shuffling up steep hills with the patience of a tortoise. Cheap produce is picked through by crowds of chattering people. The smells of Asia are everywhere: incense, garbage, dried fish, oil, chili, sewer, sour, sweet. Old men and women play heated games in the park, hanging out all day in the sun.

If not China, the neighborhood at least feels foreign. And while my wandering ways are on hold, I can trick my mind into thinking otherwise by just going for a walk.

The windowsill at work.

The view of laundry drying on Chinatown rooftops.

Park with lady on phone.


Two cooks eating in an alley.

Truck with boxes.

Unloading garlic.

Banksy mural protected with plexi.


Konami Code.

The weirdest cookbook I’ve ever seen. Two words: cash in.

A takeout lunch from a Korean cart.

The AT&T building.


Desert naan stuffed with dried fruit.

Last weekend was sunny. The whole town was in a gay mood, in part because of a gay/lesbian bike parade that ended in concerts. One involved the Backstreet Boys, minus one member (not Lance Bass). Dolores Park was swarming with characters over the weekend, and it made for amazing people watching.

J and I went scootering to eat, see the scenery, and enjoy the weather. We also acquired a fancy-pants futon and frame, at great expense to me.

Police horse in the Presidio.

Abandoned house on Dolores.

Chairmain Bao, a delicious mobile food cart serving high-end buns.

Our bao.

Abandoned used car dealership in the Mission.

Metal walls and deck garden.

Buddhist center.

Colorful alley.

Man with tattoos and cruiser bike.

Another alley.

Dolores Park walkway.


Fog spilling over Twin Peaks.

A big pink cloth for what is either the terminus of a breast cancer marathon or Christo sculpture.


Line of fog seen over the water from our apartment.

A big rainbow flag in the Castro.


Entering Stern Grove to go to a free Hawaiian concert.

The performers.

Grasses by the lake.

Massive koi in the pond.

Now when I sleep, it is on the layered fibers of cotton rather than a mattress filled with vinyl-smelling air!

One Comment

Nik, am really enjoying your blog, although I am still in 2005 and am determined to read it in order…just one question. What’s with the lobster in the coding?


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June 30th, 2010. Categories / San Francisco

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