Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I got my lunch from the "Bloody Angle" today

I got my lunch from the "Bloody Angle" in Chinatown today.

It is featured in one of the chapters in Gangs of New York, which I finished on the subway ride home today. It was actually a really enjoyable read and was filled with neat tidbits on the history of city.

As for the Bloody Angle, it dates back to when rival Chinatown gangsters were killing each other regularly around the turn of the century give or take.

This is totally how I imagine things were in the dirty (dirtier than now?) and dangerous streets of Chinatown back in the day. (The clip really isn't too bad, but it's probably not too work friendly I guess...)

Anywho... back to the Bloody Angle, here's how the author describes it (and yes, he is prone to exaggeration and yes it was written in 1928):

The police believe, and can prove so far as such proof is possible, that
more men have been murdered at the Bloody Angle than at any other place of like area in the world. It was, and is, an ideal place for ambush; the turn is very abrupt, and not even a slant-eyed Chinaman can see around the corner.

Nowadays it's just known as Doyers Street. A little less flashy, but I guess it works.

One of the other things that also made it a perfect place for jumping people was that there is an underground passage from Doyers to Chatham Square where gangsters would escape.

It's still there, just not marked in English. You go down a couple of flights of stairs and the passage is still there, its just lined with doctors and acupuncture offices and such. Unlike the streets, which are filled with signs in Chinese and English, in the passage there was very little English and most offices had absolutely no English signage. I definitely stuck out like a sore thumb as the only white dude down there. It was kind of neat.

Doyers Street, surprisingly wasn't too crowded. I guess because it was mostly hair salons and more things for locals, not too many restaurants or doodad stands. The lady I ordered from at the restaurant I did eat at didn't speak much English at all. After a painful few minutes of trying to order, she pulled out a little "touching memories" looking photo album and opened it up. It was filled with pictures of food and she had me just point to something. I'm assuming that means I wasn't the first to have so muh trouble there.

I guess a picture really is worth a thousand words, especially when nobody understands any words being said. That being said, I still don't think I actually got what I tried to order... but at least what I got was really good.

The story of the Bloody Angle is just one of the many fascinating things I learned about the city from that book.

The book was also fun because it was filled with random things like this about how "gentlemanly" one of the nastiest gang leaders in the history of the East Side around 1900 - Monk Eastman. He talks about how brutal he was and how often he would beat men up, but...

But Monk was always a gentleman; he was proud of the fact that he had never struck a woman with his club, no matter how much she annoyed him. When it
became necessary to discipline a lady for a lapse in manners, he simply blackened her eye with his fist.

"I only give her a little poke," he exclaimed. "Just enough to put a shanty on her glimmer. But I always takes off me knucks first."

At least he took his brass knuckles off, how chivalrous.

Now that I've finished that book, I swung by the library on the way home and got Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning. If you haven't heard of it or heard the phrase, it's in reference to New York City's "issues" in 1977. Hopefully it will be interesting... though unfortunately I already know it includes a lot about the va-jankees and them winning the World Series that summer... so well see.

New York City in 1977 also had the Son of Sam, riots, a blackout and a crazy mayoral races so hopefully it'll be a good read.

Well, in honor of this post being focused on Chinatown, here's something pretty random...

An explanation can be found here... sort of.

This was on the Cake Wrecks blog, which has some of the goofiest cake failures around. My brother and his wife introduced me to it, and I got a decent number of good laughs from it. That particular cake was apparently originally from a blog called Basic Instructions.

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