Monday, August 9, 2010

One to Miss: The Chinatown McStreetFair

Last year Chicago had a new election rule to follow.  They had to print all voting materials in Chinese as well as English and Spanish.  That's a pretty good indication that Chicago has a large, authentic Chinese population.  Most people who come to Chicago have heard of and often plan to visit our Chinatown neighborhood for some authentic Chinese food.  I've eaten there several times myself, and the food is fantastic.

So I really looked forward to getting a taste of Chinese culture at the Neighborhood Fair held in July.

This probably should have been my first hint that it wasn't going to be as traditional as I would have hoped:

It's sponsored by McDonald's.

To be fair, there were some things for sale that most people would regard as 'traditionally Chinese.'

And there are some examples of Chinese-style art:

And Chinese language signage:

 Though both the dragon art and the street signs are there all the time.  They weren't special for the Fair. 
For those not from Chicago, the brown street signs are 'honorary' street names.  They aren't actually used for anything but confusing people.  There was a tragic case of a person with a mental disability trying to call 9-1-1 and report her position, but she only knew the honorary name of her street and couldn't give her 'real address' to the operator, who couldn't locate a 'real street' based on the other name.

But for the most part, what you saw at this street fair was things like this:

 I later discovered that these necklaces had something to do with an anime I've never heard of before (and couldn't tell you if it's Chinese, Japanese, Korean or other).  Personally I just looked at them and went, "That's exactly what we need to be selling to our children in a city with an off-the-charts murder rate."  *sigh*.  Schools are going to have issues with these.
 And then there was a lot of this.  Just *stuff* for sale.  Like a drug store had belched out aisle 12 and 13 into the streets.  A lot of this stuff was probably made in China, but that's probably as "Chinese" as they get.  I mean, really, Q-tips?  Mug holders?  Ziplock bags?

I think these were the only pandas I saw.  Not that expected to see someone walking Sing-Sing on a leash or anything, but I'm not even sure I saw a stuffed animal.  Also, $2 for one cookie?  Ouch.
And the real mind-boggler?  On the center stage... Brazilian Samba Dancers.  Not that they weren't good or anything, but... I thought this was about Chinatown. 

Photographically speaking, I like this one for the stop-motion of the girl's flip.
 Oh, and here's a booth of either Mexican or Guatemalan goods.  Again, not what I'd think to find in Chinatown.

So I'm pretty sure I'll give this one a pass next year (if they have it again).  Maybe I just have a preconceived notion of what one should find in a well-known Chinatown, but this really was a big bust.

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