August 25, 2012

LA Strange: Korean Ghetto

Yeah, yeah, yeah…  I live in Korean Ghetto.  Theoretically, the building is still in K-town.  But there is a Mexican street vendor track permanently parked at the front.  And I am pretty sure people that occupy (yes, I mean occupy) building next to mine are all Hispanic.  And all five senses are there to vouch. 

1. Sight
I definitely have a view.  Mostly of the building an arms length’s away from mine.  However, aside from the scorched grass, which methodically gets a trim every Saturday and a shower every other morning at 420, gas meters, and metal bars, I see a lot of tennis shoes set out at the windows.  I am assuming, for the purpose of drying them out.  Which is puzzling, as I do not remember last time it rained.  Yes, the weather is always wonderful in sunny Californa-yay! Plus, if I got some wet shoes, would I set them out on the window sill? Hmmm… Wait, maybe this one belongs in smell category…

2. Hearing
Oh the sweet, un-replicatable, un-mutable soundtrack of K-town. Every weekday morning thru my bathroom window I hear my neighbor across the alley frying something in lard. Just the sounds of sizzling clogs my arteries right up. Persistent warning of a smoke detector. Screaming car stereos at ridiculous hours of the night (oh wait...that's just me). Hot Latin mamas yelling for their children.  Annoying ice cream truck tune (I didn’t realize they actually existed outside of cartoons).  Startled car alarms. Tireless police sirens.  Yapping dogs (someone even has his wireless named “iHearUrPuppyBarking”).  Hispanic Lil’ Kim talking on the phone in the middle of the night so loudly that I can clearly make out every single word.  I swear if I knew even a lil’ Spanish, I could probably learn the rest of the language from that convo. 
3. Smell
Fried onions – constantly.  Lard (is there a different word that would convey this any better?). Something that feels like stuff soaked in greasy tomato paste. Raw garlic chicken. Smoke. Lard. Pot. Showers. Did I mention lard? Morning mugginess of this fabulous city. Yup, all the usual stuff.  Though I don’t think anyone bakes around here.  I guess I am due to add a new kind of fragrance to this social establishment.
4. Taste
There are a lot of restaurants in Koreatown.  I don’t know if Koreans are any good at any other trades, but food they’ve mastered.  Although I haven’t eaten in any of the nearby spots, the food must be not only super delicious, but also super nutritious - cockroaches get bigger than my palm.  Every time I see one, it scars me for the rest of the week. Oh yeah, I am scarred permanentemente.  I do shop at a small Korean market that is a couple of blocks from my flat.  I have already tried seaweed, seatangle, picked relishes, squid, fish cake, kimchee, shirataki noodles, and I am still trying to figure out what salted shrimps might be used for.  Produce is definitely not from Korea, however, – too beautifully fresh.
5. Touch
Hmmm…  This one is the least used one. I supposed, if I could actually extend my hand out of my window, I would probably be able to touch the neighboring building. I could definitely toss stuff across the alley.  Otherwise, I try to touch as little as possible in my ghetto for sanitary reasons.
Yeah, yeah, yeah...  William Dillard was absolutely right: “Location, location, LOCATION!”


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