Casinos, Chinatown and Clown Socks

My current office is on the edge of Oakland’s Chinatown.  Being Jewish,  I love Chinese food and have a great admiration of Chinese culture.  That being said, I know it’s dangerous on the sidewalks of Chinatown when thousands of  little old ladies are eyeing the fresh produce and heaven help anyone not smart enough to give them a 10 foot berth.  I’ve been elbowed enough to learn this lesson and its corollary:  if you decide to walk or drive through Chinatown, don’t be in a hurry.

You learn to expect the unexpected in Chinatown.  Yesterday, at lunch in a random Dim Sum cum Chinese BBQ joint (this was NOT a restaurant)  I watched in disbelief at the older man (70ish?) at the table next to us.  Too skinny and poorly dressed, he had his food in take-out containers and was shoveling his rice like the Mayans were off by six months.  None of this surprised me.  It was the bottle of the high octane Chinese liqueur he kept pulling out his bag, filling his tea cup with and shooting that captured my attention.  I’ve seen many things, but not this particular habit.  I’m far more used to seeing men on corners, wearing pants 4 inches to short and 6 inches to big in the waist asking for money while they gulp Olde English 800 from a 40 in bag.  The hidden bottle in a bag was new to me and it was 2/3 gone when I noticed.   I kept thinking, “why not drink at home?”   I’m going to be looking for this more often.

The sidewalk in front of my building is a very popular spot.  Every morning a bus stops there to take people to a popular Indian Casino in the wine country.  An hour before the bus comes, elderly Chinese men and women place their newspaper or bag on the curb as their proxy for the line and then they mill about.  I doubt the bus is ever completely filled, but clearly these people want “their seat.” Or perhaps they want to be the first off the bus.  I can’t imagine it matters; there are plenty of slots at the casino.  Today, roughly 10 minutes before the bus comes, there was an interloper at the point of entrance to the casino adventure.  There was an armored car, probably picking up money from the jewelry shop down the block.  I couldn’t help but wonder if the elderly herd realized they had better odds with the money in the armored car then they did with the slots 2 hours away.  And they’d be home sooner.

Another misadventure in expectations today involved The Today Show.  Ann Curry and Matt Lauer sat down for a hard hitting interview with the New York  man involved in a custody battle with his ex over a cute dog.  As appalled as I am that this story is being aired in the “mostly hard news first hour,” I was further disgusted at how stupid this story really is.  $60,000 has been spent by the man in NY, depleting his life savings.  A dog.  In dispute.  It happens. Let’s move on Matt.  Don’t you want to disect the killings in Mexico City with an drug catrtel expert?  Then we meet the man whosse dog was heartlessly ripped away.  Dark blazer, open collared dress shirt, mustard capris and clown striped socks.   I was aghast at what I saw and made Lambchop interrupt her hair-drying session to see.  I make her see all sorts of disgusting eye candy.  I think the dog is better of in California, far away from this guy.

 My mind started moving too quickly.  I cannot believe this man had $60k in savings.  What is he, a hit man for a criminal sideshow?  Has the mob moved from prostitution to the circus?  Did he win a lawsuit after being hit in a cross walk by a color blind elderly driver, losing control of their Lark?  He takes hipster doofus to a level the Mission has never seen.  But wait, there is more.  Who on the Today show staff booked this segment?  Why wasn’t it pulled when they saw what an idiot this guy was?  Who on the executive staff there is sleeping with guy’s mother?  I’m pretty sure he was Jewish and I want him removed from our rolls.  I feel dirty surmising we had common ancestors 5,000 years ago.  Even the “People of  Walmart” website would reject this clown.  When did NBC become the new home for Maury and Jerry Springer.  Wait. Never mind.  This segment is a prelude to the Manimal and Freaks of Science reboots.

 I guess there is one thing we should always expect.  Deep down, I know this, I say it often.  “Common sense isn’t.”  I guess realizations like this are the downside of a good upbringing.  I blame my parents.  It’s pretty hard to play off the stupidity we see every day.  H.L. Menken once said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”  I guess those kids on American Idol, who have no basis in reality and meltdown when they are told they are horrid, are closer to the norm than we’d like to admit.  And if you’ve read this far, I’m giving you a ribbon.  You’ve passively participated in my rant — you must be special too.

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