it's chinatown

100 Days of Trump Day 51: Chinatown

Welcome back to 100 Days of Trump where we try to explain WTF happened in 2016 through 100 works.  So quick announcement, none of you reblogged to my last installment on the Wire, and I am very disappointed in all of you.  Because to properly appreciate Chinatown, I feel you should first check out the Wire and the first two seasons of Veronica Mars, because the movies about how the system itself is fundamentally broken.  Actually Veronica Mars is in many ways a spiritual sequel to Chinatown, alongside Who Framed Rodger Rabbit…no I’m not making that up.  

   So yeah, Chinatown is one of the all time greatest films ever made…ever.  Like seriously, this is a really good movie, one of my all time top ten and there is a reason why critics go insane over it.  I could go on for hours talking about how brilliant this movie is and how well it uses film to convey its message how does this relate to Trump?  Well….its kinda hard to say without spoiling….so I am going to spoil.  If you haven’t seen Chinatown, go watch Chinatown now, everything below is for people who have seen it. Enjoy this picture of the poster and don’t read on until you’ve seen the movie.  

   Oh yeah, real quick, the director is a horrible human being, like really terrible person, doesn’t make the movie any less good, cause you can enjoy the movie and hate the artist.  

     Seriously if you don’t want spoilers, stop reading, go watch the movie.  Ok for everybody else….yeah that ending.  Think about the feeling you get in your gut when you see that ending, and then think about the feeling you had when you found out, contrary to everything, Trump won the election.   I wanted the motto of 2016 to be “Forget it Jack, its Chinatown”   Because holy fucking shit, did that just hit hard.  I literally heard the sound of the beeping when the election results came in.  

      So yeah, rich rapist gets away with everything he wants, welcome to American ladies and gentlemen, you can go fuck yourself.  But a lot of you are thinking “Yeah, I know that there is no justice here, I was there on November 9th as well, whats new?  Well I think it is important to understand why Polanski thinks the villains always win in the world.  Lets talk about Roman Polanski, horrible person who understands why horrible people win.  Polanski is a Polish Jew who was a child…during the Holocaust and in addition to enduring horrible suffering himself, lost pretty much his whole family.  Then he lived in the brutal Soviet Occupied Poland trying to make movies without getting the ire of the censors. He was finally able to flee to France where anti semetic/anti immigrant sentiment grew so strong he decided to go to America instead.  There he met actress Sharon Tate and they got married and when she was 8 ½ months pregnant…she was tortured to death by the Manson Family…oh and for awhile there Polanski was blamed.  So…yeah if anybody has insight on how shitty human beings are to each other, its Polanski.  Of course all the sympathy you might have had for him is lost when after this experience, he raped a child so…..yeah, way to lose all your sympathy.  But I bring this up because Polanski is very aware of how unfair the world fundamentally is and his movies reflect that deeply.

  Specifically, Polanski indicates that the reason why evil wins so often is that the forces of good are too foolish to properly stop them.  See Nicholson character in the movie is a decent detective, but not a great one, he is trying really hard to be Humphrey Boggart but instead he keeps fucking up.  Because he believes himself to be in a noir film, he makes assumptions about how the world works based on noir logic.  He thinks that the world operates like a movie, where the hero in a dramatic moment manages to save the day or that reality will follow genre conventions and that beliefs makes him blind to the reality.  Anybody ever see the Maltese Falcon?  you know the ending confrontation with the Femme Fatale and Boggart?  He clearly thinks he is having that with Faye Dunaway’s character, except being more violent about it…when…

   And of course the implicit sexism present here, his understanding of the world is formed from the media, and he is assuming she is the evil corrupting women…and in doing so screws everything up if he had bothered to listen to her they could have avoided this mess.  Fiction is comforting, it is exciting, it teaches us about the world, there is a reason why I am recommending so much of it for understanding Trump, but it is critical to never mistake fiction with reality.  The epic showdown with the villain where you confront him with his evil ways sounds dramatic, but in reality it goes like this.  

   We have trouble of conniving of evil because we don’t want it to be true.  We want the world to believe that father’s don’t molest their children and that the rich don’t pull incorporation moves to screw over the poor on a massive scale, but this happens all the time, we just don’t want to believe it.  And whats worse, when we think we know how the world operates, it leaves us blind sighted to the unexpected, as the election of Trump proved all too well.  “you may think you know what is going on”

    We need to understand exactly what we are facing without illusion if we want a chance to defeat it, and the desire to retreat into fiction only serves those who do well with reality.  LIke how Cross’s scheme is dependent upon farmers xenophobia and ignorance to cover up him stealing their water.  And the best part?  That scheme actually happened, that was true, its part of the history of LA today Forget it Jack, its Chinatown indeed.

Chinatown , San Francisco // Now this Chinatown is the most true to its name Chinatown I have ever been to. Having lived in both China and Hong Kong, this place is incredibly authentic. The little bakeries lining the streets serve the same soft and fluffy buns and cakes, and (from what I heard) amazing dumplings reminiscent of those in the more highly rated restaurants of Hong Kong, which is a level that shoots high above the clouds. It was so vibrant, and so colourful; red and gold lanterns swung from between the buildings, and fluorescent sign posts advertising their own respective restaurants and shops and specialities, from ‘Sichuan style pork’ to 'finest ginseng in San Francisco’, flashed brilliantly in bright whites, yellows, reds- all various colours. The energy and hustle of the little shops reminded me so vividly of Hong Kong; it’s a very business like ordeal - you are in and out; there’s no time for small talk like “So how long have you had this place?”, it’s “Hi I would like two pork buns please to go, thank you.” The tinkling of change from one hand to another. The shouts of the employees (usually family members, I’ve noticed) calling for replenishes. The cracking of plastic bags with two perfectly round white pockets of deliciousness sitting happily at the bottom. “Thank you!” A amiable nod and smile from the employee. “Next!” And you are done within the space of two minutes. Incredible. I love it so much. It practically is a home away from home for those from Hong Kong or China. I highly recommend Chinatown to anyone in San Francisco, and for those of you who inhabit this city, well, I’m extremely jealous.


Squall and Rinoa dance.


Roman Polanski’s 1974 classic Chinatown is many things. It is a murder mystery. A family melodrama. It’s a film noir, a neo noir, a sunshine noir. But also: Chinatown is a Greek tragedy. In Greek tragedies, the protagonists are accomplices in their own downfall. They can’t escape their tragic fate, no matter what they try. The outcome is certain from the start.

The same goes for Chinatown. Its ending feels strangely familiar, almost like a déjà vu. That is no coincidence. All elements of the tragic ending were carefully set up. Screenwriter Robert Towne and director Polanski filled their film to the brim with premonitions of its own ending.

Congratulations! You are now registered for the 2016 Chicago Chinatown 5K & Youth Run.

It’s on July 9th. I’m going to be running three miles in Chinatown in mid-July. I love Chinatown but its streets in the area where we’ll be running are not what I’d call a smooth, level surface. And it might be melting because it’s Chicago in July.

On the other hand, there’s like six places to get bubble tea within thirty feet of the finish line.