Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Papered Wall Of Forsyth Street

an excerpt from the nytimes
When a Papered Wall Acts Like a Web Site, By SARAH MASLIN NIR
MANY people hustle right past the wall pasted with paper fliers on Forsyth Street, in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge. But others make pilgrimages to this easternmost reach of Chinatown, where scores of advertisements, most handwritten in Chinese, are posted, their phone-number strips curling like beckoning fingers.
The wall functions as an offline Craigslist — a Craigswall, if you will — where Mandarin and Cantonese speakers do brisk business renting rooms to longtime residents and newly arrived immigrants for whom English and the Internet are as yet unnavigable. There is a similar wall inside a grocery store in Flushing, Queens.
Though the wall on Forsyth Street advertises mostly apartments, Margaret Chin, who represents Chinatown on the City Council, said she had seen all kinds of fliers around the neighborhood, including complaints about particular lawyers.
“If you have something to say,” she said, “you write it up and you just post it up.” The custom of hawking goods and ideas by poster and placard took hold in China after the 1949 revolution, said Lincoln Cushing, co-author of “Chinese Revolutionary Posters: Art From the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.”
In rural towns, “You would have this wall that would be taken over” by placards, he said. “People stand in front of this wall and read this, and they respond by putting up their own character poster.” Flier-covered Chinatown, he said, is quite likely “an echo of that.”

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