Monday, August 02, 2004

The Critical Moments

How was my weekend? I get to watch some movies over the weekend. I watched Gangs of New York, Something's Gotta Give, and Matchstick Man.

In Gangs of New York, I was horrified to learn that the gangs, the Natives and Dead Rabbits, battled for the control of Five Points. The battle scene were brutal, vicious and horrifying. I think it was pitiful that guys prayed for their sins then fight (some got killed, of course) and got maimed badly. Then a gang won the control of Five Points, life goes on.

Needless to say, I was curious to know where the Five Points is since it is located in Manhattan and hello! I am in Manhattan! Char and I tried our best to find it -- apparently, it is not there any longer. According to, Five Points was the intersection of Mulberry, Little Water, Anthony and Orange streets along with the Paradise Square on it. It was located in the western part of Chinatown, just north of City Hall. Paradise Square has been altered and changed to Foley Square, probably to halt the repeated gangs' battles. Today, it serves the most ironic of all -- the Foley Square is littered with many courthouses, issuing the laws or rulings for the city of New York.

It was common knowledge that a clumsy tourist gets in that area is unlikely to come out alive. It was not just poor area, it was deeply impoverished to a point where people are just ... savages. Yes, Irishfolks were ruthless, barbaric and stupid. The area was clogged with too many Irish immigrants who fled the famine in Ireland -- it was not 100% Irish folks that did it, African Americans, Chinese and Italians contributed to the problem as well -- but the majority of perpetuators are Irish. Mainly because the majority of them emigrated from Ireland in a quick succession.

You have to read the history of Five Points. Suffice to say, I'm glad that it is gone. It is an embarrassing testament to Irish's barbaric activities in New York. I am 1/2 Irish. Before you could yell at me about my current name. Taylor is English, obviously. But is it really mine? No. You see, my father's parents lived in a community owned by a coal mine company in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Back then, there were no Social Security, pensions, retirement funds et al. My grandfather was killed in an accident related to Coal Mines explosion (which is very common back then), my grandmother knew that in a short time, the company will evict her from her house because it is owned by the company. You see, the company owned the community. It is common that in a community owned by the coal mine companies, men outnumbered women. My grandmother quickly married another man whose last name is Taylor in order to have a place to live and raise my father and my aunt. It was such a hard life for my grandparents, stucked in the midst of nowhere in the Appalachian Mountains.

If not for my grandfather's death, I would be Ricky Callahan. Not bad, eh? I don't like Taylors, though.

Anyway, back to the Five Points, I was pretty embarrassed at the atrocities. The Irish gangs even hosted the betting on "bull-baiting", that is to chain the bull and let the dogs attack the bull, to see how many dogs the Bull would kill before it succumbed!

Basically, the film made me curious and dig the dirts on the 'net -- I find it very interesting. It is no secret that New York is the melting pot. The melting pot is rarely peaceful, it takes violence to become cohesive to make what New York is all about.

New York in 1940

Modern NYC in Pre-9/11


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