I went to NYCC this past weekend. Here are some photos:
This past weekend I had a brunch date with Diana at Cosme, the NYC-based restaurant of Enrique Olvera (he opened up Pujol in Mexico City, where I ate during my friend’s birthday trip). The prices were decent for the large of amounts of food that we ate, compared to Olvera’s flagship eatery where my 6-course, 2-hour meal cost me about two-hundred US dollars. Of course, everything at Cosme was served family style (or at least it could be; Diana and I shared plates), and the portions were more than adequate for two people. Here’s what we had:
Drink: Michelada with Geyser Gose. Hands down the best Michelada I’ve ever fucking had — and I’ve drank a lot of Micheladas.
Plate 1: Chicken Chilaquiles with Salsa Verde. It was a bit messy trying to scoop onto my plate, but that’s probably because I’m a klutz. Still, it was your standard chilaquiles, and I was very impressed by the very fine slices of jalapeño peppers.
Plate 2: Duck Enmoladas with Mole Rojo and Creme Fraiche. It was so good with the duck cooked to perfection, and the mole sauce was very reminiscent to the flavors I had at Pujol (though I reckon the mole wasn’t age for a year as opposed to Olvera’s famous Mole Madre).
Dessert 1: Churros With Mexican Hot Chocolate. I think these were better than the ones I’ve had at Pujol: a nice, crisp exterior and such a delicate and fluffy inside.
Dessert 2: Husk Meringue and Corn Mousse. Perhaps the best dessert I’ve had in a long fucking time. The flavors were intense: a nice saltiness with a subtle sweetness. The texture is what you’d expect from a masterfully-crafted meringue, and the corn mousse was delicious.
All in all, if you’re in the Flatiron area, go here.
Each time I go to work, I’m bombarded with advertisements along my subway commute: posters and marquees about technical colleges, campaigns for new phone apps and websites, and the occasional breast enlargement ad.
I can’t help but notice the design and art direction of each ad. More often than not, the typography isn’t as tight as it should be: the kerning between letters are inconsistent, especially around the more common letters with space issues like “S”, “O”, and the combination of “A” and “Y”. This isn’t so much of a typographical problem for the corporate ads who can pay for quality designers, but rather everyone else. It just seems there isn’t as much careful attention to detail to the type. In my head, these type of companies just hired a recent liberal arts graduate to design their ads… or worst yet, an intern with an inattentive art director.
Now don’t get me started on stock photos and photos in general. It seems that every local ad just goes to iStock and download whatever image best suits them, and it shows: happy looking students who appear too beautiful to go to that school, travel photos that look too goddamed generic, and way too miserable-looking drug abusers on substance abuse ads. I’ve learned from design school and my various jobs that stock photography and footage is the troublesome, double-edged sword in the creative world: sometimes it’s a necessary evil when a designer runs out of options, but it’s best to use your own images or hire a professional photographer to take the photos you want.
Lastly, I notice the messaging and copy: more often than not, these ads are trying to be clever and edgy but most of them can’t seem to find the right humor. In the end, it’s a clusterfuck of incomprehensible satire. On the other hand, sometimes there’s too much copy on ad, and as a subway rider, you usually don’t have the goddamn time to read a fucking paragraph. My advice is to keep the message short, simple, and absolutely concise. Riding on the train now, I’m looking at three ads whose headlines end with questions (“is this a job or purpose?” and “Have you found the you in you?”). Not only are these pretty dumb rhetorical questions, but they’re followed by a massive amount of tiny-sized text.
Well that’s my rant on design of commuter ads. Get your shit together, New York.
This gets me angry, but for different reasons. I love dogs, and I’m Asian, but this type of short-sighted ignorance to protest a horrible practice in China in Chinatown New York where they don’t eat cats or dogs seems so unjust. It’s like protesting ISIS in Bay Ridge with its significant Muslim population, or Haiti’s corrupt government here in Crown Heights. It doesn’t make sense.
You can read the article from ReAppropriate here:
Since 2009, one festival in China has caused a stir in the animal rights community. The festival — the Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival — was inaugurated that year, and immediately resurrected controversy over the ethics of consuming dog meat. Pictures of dogs crammed into tiny wire cages have shocked netizens for the last several years, along with reports that as many as 10,000 dogs are slaughtered annually at the festival.
The festival — which is not sanctioned by the local government — is intended to celebrate a centuries-old tradition in parts of China where dog meat is considered a delicacy. Government officials insist that the festival is attended by a small minority of local residents. This doesn’t stop outraged animal rights activists, however, from protesting the festival as outrageous and unethical.
The question of dog meat consumption is, I think, a weighty one. While I have never consumed dog meat, I can find nothing more (or less) unethical about eating canines than any other meat considered acceptable for consumption in the West. Animals are not by nature categorized as “food animals” or “companion animals” — this is a human conceit. Dogs are no smarter than pigs, which are routinely raised and slaughtered for food in America. Cuteness is subjective. Other animals that Americans typically consider to be cherished pets are traditionally eaten in other Western nations, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and horses. Dogs slaughtered in Yulin are not treated less humanely than some livestock raised for consumption in America, where cows, pigs and chicken are routinely housed in deplorable and unsanitary conditions.
Let’s be real: for some activists, this really just boils down to an “ick” factor. Yet, cultural qualms about eating dog meat are just that — our qualms. Other cultures are equally as disgusted by how we view some animals — cow, for example — as totally acceptable all-American food sources. I may not be really up for eating dog, but I have little business telling someone else that they should abide by my disgust. It is culturally imperialist to assert that food sources I might find unappetizing has no business being on someone else’s plate.
Yet, animal rights activists rarely confront — or even acknowledge — how their actions blur the lines between a reasonable conversation about animal rights and historic anti-Asian stereotypes. This is not just a conversation about the ethical treatment of dogs. This is also a conversation about race, ethnicity, privilege, and stereotypes.
For centuries, anti-Asian stereotypes have included portrayals of Chinese as barbaric consumers of dirty and unimaginable food sources. The stereotype of the “Heathen Chinee” typically associated Chinese immigrants with the frequent eating of rat or dog as evidence of their cultural and moral inferiority to Whiteness, thereby co-opting a cultural culinary tradition to rationalize white supremacy. Meanwhile, we rarely consider how the development of traditions around “unconventional” meat sources is also as much about institutionalized poverty as it is about culinary interest. Itshould come as little surprise that the parts of China where canine meat is consumed are also predominantly rural areas where livestock may have been historically and seasonally scarce. In America, anti-Asian stereotypes about dog and rat meat were further reinforced by the fact that early East Asian immigrants to America were often trapped in indentured servitude and ghettoized to ethnic enclaves where more conventional food sources were simply inaccessible and unavailable. There is a certain economic privilege in moralizing about certain food sources, when the tradition may have its roots in systemic hunger and poverty.
Today’s animal rights activists ignore Asian Americans’ history of enduring stereotypes of the “Heathen Chinee” when they confuse the enjoyment of dog meat by some Chinese people as endemic to all Chinese people. Last Friday, roughly twenty misguided animal rights activists took to the streets of New York City’s Chinatown to protest the consumption of dog meat in Southern China. The animal rights activists claim they are interested in advocating that China ban dog meat festivals. Yet, to accomplish this, they spent a day harassing Chinese American restaurant owners and patrons, most of whom have zero connection with the Yulin dog meat festival, with a message of cultural intolerance and nativism.
Said one protester to the New York Daily News:
“That’s not how we roll in our country. If they … bring that tradition to our country, they’ll be investigated and will go to jail,” he said.
This protest was a clusterfuck of compounding stereotypes. The activists invoked the “Heathen Chinee” stereotype with their assumption that the consumption of dog meat is widespread in China. The activists invoked the Perpetual Foreigner stereotype with their organizing of a protest targeting Chinese Americans about the goings-on in parts of Southern China. The activists reinforced a White-normative framework of what is, and what isn’t, considered “acceptably American”. The activists even implicitly reference the Model Minority stereotype with their bizarre assumption that the actions of White animal rights activists are needed to galvanize Chinese people to political action.
Never mind, of course, that animal rights are increasingly an important issue for Chinese citizens, amid rising dog ownership among China’s wealthy and middle class. Since the festival’s inception in 2009, it has faced profound public backlash within China as activists gather at the festival and purchase and save dogs destined for slaughter. A recent poll suggests that as many as two-thirds of Chinese people oppose animal cruelty and support animal products produced humanely.
Yet, last week’s animal rights protesters in New York City ignored the burgeoning Chinese animal rights movement, and in so doing erased their work. Instead, they assumed that the West’s moral superiority regarding the ethical treatment of animals is needed to save Chinese people from our own barbarism.
I get that activists angered about the Yulin festival wanted to do something about it. But they could have raised money or posted selfies supporting the work of Chinese animal rights groups. They could have written letters to the Chinese government, or even protested outside of New York City’s Chinese consulate where they could speak to the actual Chinese government. They didn’t need to confuse the difference between Chinese and Chinese American with their moral scolding. They didn’t need to trample over the work of Chinese animal rights activists by reinforcing the narrative of Eastern backwards-ness and Western enlightenment.
And they sure didn’t need to invoke the language of xenophobia with their “don’t bring this to our country” rhetoric. Chinese Americans are Americans. Most of us aren’t really down to eat dog; and oh, by the way, this is our country too.
This weekend was supposed to be a mini-vacation: I took a half-day Friday to go camping upstate with some friends, and even spent a chunk of money and my time trying to get Nico into a pet-sitting kennel. However, as I was leaving work at noon on Friday, I get a call from my friend that he was in a bike accident.
Apparently a car cut him off near Coney Island, and he crashed his bike. After visiting the doctor, his diagnosis was a broken elbow and a broken wrist. He decided it wasn’t the best choice to go camping (which I wholeheartedly agree), and since he was my ride upstate I decided not to go as well; I figured going by myself with two couples would be awkward, and since the weekend kennel was expensive enough as it is, I rushed to the dog boarder to retrieve Nico before I incurred any more charges.
I really wanted to go, as I’ve been talking to deaf ears about camping or going to a cabin since April. Still, I felt that I can save time and money if I just stayed behind. On top of that, my roommates went and I’d have the entire apartment to myself. It’d be a good, relaxing mini-staycation in itself, right? Nope.
Miraculously, my friend who broke his arm was willing to drive himself to Chicago the next day, so I was expecting to hang out with some of my other close friends who didn’t go camping. However, they called me later in the day saying they were driving to Atlantic City. They half-heartedly insisted I come, but considering they were already on the road and it would take me 3 and half hours to get there by train and bus, it’d be pointless. Their call, in my head, just seemed like a brag knowing full well it’d be a hassle to get there myself.
So how did all this make me feel? Alone. I’ve been berating my friends to rent a cabin for a weekend (ideally, for this upcoming 4th of July). I’ve entertained the idea of a road trip, especially to Atlantic City. But then again, my ideas fall short to my uninterested friends and only impulse drives them to do this stuff without me.
My lifestyle can’t rely on impulse; I have a 9 to 5 job with set vacation days. I have freelance work after work. I have a dog and an apartment and bills to maintain. I’m a fucking adult with responsibilities. I don’t think my good friends know how to plan anything (for instance, I waited an hour for two of them to show up at a goddamn coffee shop before they left on Saturday), much less appreciate my time or patient friendship.
I felt so goddamn angry and disappointed this weekend that I missed out on so much. And what gets me more upset is that it feels like they don’t care; friends knew I’d be unable to go camping this weekend after such high hopes, and I understand the unfortunate circumstances surrounding that bicycle accident, but I spent an entire 3-day weekend alone with my dog, doing laundry, cleaning, and making stuff for my Etsy shop. The same can be said of last weekend, and the weekend before that: uneventful and boring, sans people breaking or spraining their body parts. However, despite such positive expectations, this weekend went south so fast and was only compensated by a lack of social interactions but a lot of menial tasks.
It was Sunday afternoon that I decided that I need to start doing things on my own again: I had a lot of fun and much-needed time for reflection on my solo trips to Montauk, New Orleans, and Chicago. I need to stop relying on other people to find enjoyment or freedom from boredom. I need to start saying “no” to others and “yes” to me. Unless you’re paying me, my time is my time: I’ll choose what I want to do, when I want to do it, and care a lot less whether or not I have the company.
With that said, I’m going to start saving up to buy a car; I won’t have to rely on anyone to travel, and I can leave New York City and all its selfishness and solitude at any given notice — for a weekend or even permanently.
So if there’s any takeaway from this, I need to be more self-reliant for the sake of my sanity; I cannot rely or trust anyone to fulfill my own self-interests as I’ve so carelessly done in the past. It’s a fucking wheel: I put expectations on anyone, only to be disappointed by circumstance, apathy, or unrecognition of my own feelings.
I need to focus on my own needs rather than unconditionally put my efforts towards others, just to spiral into co-dependence and negativity.