You wouldn’t know from the young, vibrant faces of a new generation of Chinese Americans that this past weekend they were actually celebrating 4711 years of Chinese cultural history. As the Year of the Horse dawned on us all, a small but proud Chinese American community in the Penn Quarters district of Washington, DC took to the streets to celebrate the cultural traditions that the elders surely experienced back in the old country many years ago. In spite of the fact that DC’s Chinatown is a mere shadow of what it once was (the 2010 DC census shows 24.84% of the local Asian population as ethnic Chinese), year-after-year the dwindling community goes through great efforts to keep this colorful event alive. With the relentless encroachment of the business community in the area, it is hard to say what the future holds for these types of events, specially as the ranks of the older generation continue to dwindle and a new generation looks to the suburbs to plant their roots. Even local newspapers have a tendency to point you in the direction of the Virginia suburbs and Maryland if authentic Chinese food is what you are after. That’s a pity, but perhaps somewhat typical of the realities being faced by similar communities around the country. Nevertheless, I am convinced that notwithstanding this reality, as long as we keep supporting events like these in the various ethnic communities around the country, something very precious will be preserved for future generations. And that, my friend, would be a good thing.
Just when you convince yourself that our nation’s capital is a stiff place, along come events like the Tour de Fat to prove you wrong. Wacky, irreverent, and wonderfully weird, this annual cycling event by the Navy Yards is about as fun as they come. It must be, because how else would you explain why all these folks ventured out on a hot, 92-degree day to party while pretending they were there to bicycle. OK, maybe it had something to do with the post-ride “beverages” available to them, but whatever the case, no amount of heat appeared to dampen the enthusiasm of these revelers. Too bad that the venue chosen is somewhat off-the-radar for most people. Put this event in the Dupont Circle area or Georgetown and they are going to have to triple the amount of “beverages” available. But maybe that’s the whole point: to be out of the way so people can let loose a bit. Whatever the case, it worked, not to mention that it was a great day to be around with a camera. I’ll definitely be back here next year, and who knows, I may just dress-up for the occasion.