Sunday, October 21, 2007

Porridge, porta potties, and tamales

I spent this past Sunday shooting street photography. I started out the morning in Chinatown where I had breakfast in my favorite Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant. They have an assortment of tasty soup noodles, pan fried noodles, and rice dishes. On this day, I had a hot bowl of fish porridge with a side order of Chinese donut, which is essentially elongated dough that is fried in hot oil.
After the meal, I took a short drive to downtown that is only a couple of minutes away.
I walked around for about an hour but didn't see anything that caught my eyes. Having been to downtown perhaps a hundred times or more, you would think I know the place like the back of my hand. What became apparent to me that I didn't realize before is that there's an undeniable connection between downtown Los Angeles and New York City: It is impossible to find a restroom when you need it most. Every fast food restaurant I visited did not have one. I would understand it if they denied non-customers. But paying customers too?! Shouldn't they have laws that require certain establishments to offer public restrooms. I'm sure they don't ask their employees to just hold it for an eight hour work shift. Whatever happened to the old saying, "customer is king"? Now, tell me, how could a king rule his kingdom without his "throne" ;) Anyways, after walking the distance of about 5 blocks, I was finally able to find a restroom on the bottom floor of the Grand Central Market. I must say that it was 25 cents well spent, considering you can't buy anything for a quarter these days. Except for a 10 minute meter parking and apparently a good piss. I find it ironic that both have time limit and if you run of it, you're screwed. And you know what's funny? The restroom was so crowded that they hired an employee just to stand inside it to make sure everyone who goes in pays the cover charge. That place is a gold mine. I figured, if the owner of the Dodgers, Frank McCourt, could make millions as a parking lot operator, why couldn't I become a millionaire as a restroom mogul? Taking a page out of Starbuck's marketing play book, I would have modernized porta potties on every block in downtown. I'm just kidding.
Anyways, I wasn't quite satisfied that I didn't get any good pictures, so I decided to drive 10 minutes away to Boyle Heights to see if I would have better luck. It was about noon by the time I got there. All day I've been craving for some good carnitas (roast pork) tacos. I found a restaurant on the corner called, Tamales Evas and chose to have lunch there. I was greeted at the counter by a very attractive young lady. She was articulate, and I noticed that she really enjoyed wearing jewelry. She had multiple rings on her fingers as well as bracelets. Since the restaurant's name is Tamales, I assumed that they must be pretty descent. I was not disappointed by my chicken and pork tamales. You can tell the ingredients were fresh and not simply pre-made and reheated in the microwave before serving it to customers. I like the little touches, such as making sure the plate is heated in order to keep the food warm. Just before I left, a couple of ladies came in with some kids. It was obvious that they are very close friends or part of the family. The waitress called them by their names and warmly kissed one of the little girls. It was a lovely scene. As I was leaving, I complimented the cook on his cooking, and he thanked me for saying that. I would definitely return again if I have craving for some good Mexican food.
I decided to take a stroll up and down the block to see what I could find. It was interesting seeing traditional Mexican musicians in their cowboy hats and guitars in their hands hanging outside different restaurants. They don't make much money performing for customers, but it's a living. After walking for about 3 or 4 blocks, I noticed a very colorful mural in a hidden alley that you see here. I had just purchased a new point and shoot camera- Canon G9. The widest angle on the camera is 35mm. Though I wish it could be wider, it does its job well. I did not have a tripod with me, so I just hand held the camera and took a series of overlapping shots. When I got home, I used Photoshop and digitally "stitched" them together. I'm no expert at Photoshop, but I'm satisfied with the result. If you would like to see the details of the mural, simply click your mouse on the photo to see an enlargement. You can do the same thing on any picture in my blog.

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Arielle said...

Hey George, thanks for posting about your day in Chinatown/Boyle Heights. It was funny and you also made some great "people observations" as I call them, about the Mexican restaurant, etc. Sounds like you had a pretty enjoyable day overall--despite your frantic search for a bathroom! :) I enjoy it when you write a bit more along with your photos. That mural is really cool. I love it! Thanks for sharing!


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