Monday, January 30, 2006
Xin nian yu kuai::Chinese New Year::Year of the Dog
Sunday I was in Chinatown at the Chinese New Year Parade shooting one of my interviewees who studies King Fu at the Ng Family School. Back to my old stomping ground, Wentworth Ave.
I found Bob Bartoski on 25th and Wentworth carrying a school flag while nearby some of the 10 year old students were practicing a short form for demonstration. The Proviso East High School Marching Band was warming us as was 2 groups of Bag Pipers. Even my old elementary school, Haines was represented.
Odd looking at a place 45 years on. The Chicago New Years parade is like the shortest parade in the history of the form. It lasts about 20 minutes with floats by a lot of politicians. The best thing about the day is the same thing I loved when I was a kid, the dragon dancers and firecrackers. I still love it. There is nothing like good cheap food and a cup of hot jasmine tea on a cold day after the parade.
Chinatown has changed a bit since I lived and worked there in restaurant kitchens cleaning otu nasty ass aluminum garbage cans before the invention of garbage bags. There is a Sun Yat-Sen museum over one of the restaurants I used to work at and a Yang Tai Chi School on the second floor now,
I met Bob on the Fall River Count Dante website. Bob got an History Aqward for writing a paper on Chicago politics that discussed Count Dante and the early history of martial arts in Chicago.
Bob is a dedicated martial artist who drives in from the far South Side to workout at the NG Family School several times a week.
Bob has a copy of the Fall River World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets. I did not realize there were two editions until I saw his copy. The book is based on John's original edition. It is missing sections. The Aguiars of Fall River, official heirs to the Black Dragon Fighting Society legacy and this guy Ashida Kim have been feuding over the intellectual copyrights for the Black Dragon name, the logos and even the Count Dante's name.
The Ng Family School is right near my old elementary school, John C Haines. There used to be a Kung Fu School on 25th and Wentworth when I was about 14 and would visit Chinatown, but you could not join. The door would be shut if they saw you looking in during the summer. I picked up a move here and there from a few pals at Haines and I could buy books of forms from the souvenir shop on 23rd Place. I never got a lesson from John but he would tell us a lot of cool stuff. I think I showed him a book I got at that shop one of the rare times we would run into him downtown arounf Chicago and Rush or around Oak Street, as we evaded the police who always mistook us for shoplifters(No it was not me and my boys) and he might have wanted to get a copy.
Bob and I had a nice cheap lunch at a cafe after the parade and talked a little bit. He heard about the Kankakee article. Lots of work to do. I am fundraising and have started a new company in the middle of all this. Bob is a young guy, about 30. It is interesting to see how John Keehan is percieved a couple of generations later.
Meanwhile, heavy metal Count Dante and the Black Dragon Fighting Society is about to come out with a new CD. I have a budget to get to and a business meeting to prepare for. So I will continue this later