Date: October 21

Time: Around 3:28 p.m.

Location: Columbus Park, walking north, until sitting on some rocks near musicians.

Weather: Agreeably cool, cloudier.

Background: In thirty minutes, we walked around the entire southern half of the park, a distance of approximately one thousand feet. After exiting to view the contents of the paper funeral store, we reentered the park and sat on some rocks near several Chinese musicians.


Transcript of observed events:

Dictation: Music returns, banjo with snakeskin backing. Sitting on rock, eastern side of park. Mennonite disaster service on blue sweatshirt. Sun down, revealing new Geary building visible in southern skyscape. Dad pushing baby with funeral clothes on, all black, armband, pushing baby in a stroller.

Artist: “This is a good spot.”

Writer: “Very different.”

Dictation: Mourner talking on cell phone. Car alarm going off. Tip a dollar to the musicians. Musicians happy to be photographed, happy to have dollar. Much more melodic than dissonant opera music. White people more inclined to wear leather shoes, stylish young looking new Yorkers more inclined to wear leather shoes, nylon Velcro, rubber soled shoes worn on Chinese.


Dictation: Two new soccer teams playing, in 20s, 30s. Many people wearing full on winter clothes, the elderly.

Photographer: “What’s the weather like in China?”

Artist: “Even in the south, it will get cold in the winter. The North is like Russia. Beijing definitely gets covered in snow.”

Dictation: Beijing getting covered in snow. Mild form of cerebral palsy, walking fine, but has a funny gait, stilted gait, Chinese man in a suit 40 years old. Old Chinese women eating sticky buns full of meat. Old man asleep with his eyes closed, sitting upright, with a hearing aid. Mourning man returns with daughter and baby, mourning man appears to have Asian children, sleeping man wakes up.


Dictation: Mother scolding daughter for scuffing up her patent leather boots, father scolding daughter, probably nine years old, son six years old, watching soccer game. Daughter’s name is Hazel, mother has similar shoes, son has Texas Longhorns hat on, another nip of scotch.

Dictation: Warmth in belly. Lots of Nikes. Middle-eastern young man with blazer with sticker that says Love Yourself.

Artist: “Fake Nikes, rip-off ones, are made from pieces of real Nikes. People take one thing, ringlets, laces, sole, pocket a few extra ones every day, and then sell them to the people who make the fake Nikes. Fake Nikes are something like seventy-five percent Nike.

Dictation: End of the soccer match. Top several floors of Freedom Tower visible, skycranes, still under construction, not currently worked on, Sunday, the day of rest.

Artist: “Significant that it’s Sunday.”

Writer: “Yes, agreed.”

Dictation: Lots of purple pants, jackets, significant? Little girl with purple beret. Star Spangled Banner played by Chinese men.

Writer: “Wow. Listen to that.”

Artist: “They’re butchering it, but somehow still playing the whole thing.”


Dictation: Little girl getting piggyback ride on her brother’s back.

Writer: [after musicians finish playing] “Play ball.”

Dictation: Chinese musicians start playing anthem again. Thoughts on such a startling coincidence. Amazement. Then: remembering that we gave a dollar.

Writer: “Francis Scott Key, namesake of later novelist Francis Scott Fitzgerald.”

Dictation: Hard shot on goal saved by goalkeeper

Artist: “Really?”

Dictation: Competing music. Wondering what the park is like at night. Soccer ball kicked across the street and out of the park, west side.

Dictation: 3:55 pm.

Writer: “And that’s a wrap.”


(This is part 3 of a nine part series. To read the Fourth Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Chinatown click here.)