mark your territory

July 26, 2012

Words & Art by Ellen Jong

NY Memory

I knew we’d crossed the river when the cartoon tools painted on the facade of the building greeting me waved their familiar welcome gaze. It was a Sunday tradition. Our first stop was to find parking and as soon as the car doors swung open my legs scurried me to the same place we went to every Sunday – a tiny dim sum spot in the alley in Chinatown. It was early 80’s and I was as tall as the orange vinyl covered stools. I climbed them to spin and eat my favorite shrimp cigars. After brunch we made the usual visits – the bookstore where my dad bought painting supplies for himself and where my sisters and I were left to run wild in its aisles. Down Mott St. I could smell the pancake balls from the woman in the box. I waited in line for my own bag. Next, down to the arcade which I was too scared to ever go into because of the huge clucking chicken that then, stood on the sidewalk at the entrance of the place; it was as big as me and laid plastic eggs stuffed w toys. The streets of Chinatown were a big playground, a maze of wonderment and of home. The streets, now 30 years old to me, are in me – the arcade is gone, the box has no scent of batter, the bookstore is lost in the mix but the alley… I am in the alley. I am the alley.

On view at The Little Chinatown Gallery, 46-48 Bowery
The alley runs between Bowery and Elizabeth St., below Canal St.
For one week only – ┬áJuly 25 – Aug 1, 2012

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