December 18, 2014 21:44 UTC

USA

A Visit to an Asian "Night Market" in Los Angeles

LA 626 Night Market
LA 626 Night Market

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
From VOA Learning English, welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in Special English. I'm Faith Lapidus.  
 
And I'm Christopher Cruise.
 
This week on our program we take you to a night market in Los Angeles. We also talk about LA's Chinatown with a best-selling author who writes about the lives of Chinese immigrants.
 
Then, we take you to a beach near Los Angeles where, once a year, surfing mixes with religion. And later we find out why many television and film productions are leaving Hollywood.

Night Markets in California
 
Night markets in Asia are places where people enjoy street food and social gatherings.
 
"This is something we need."
 
In Southern California, the 626 Night Market in Los Angeles reminds George Ge of a night market in Taiwan.
 
"Everything is cheap and food, not very clean but taste awesome."
 
Six-two-six is the telephone area code for a mostly Asian neighborhood of Los Angeles. Jonny Hwang is one of the organizers of the 626 Night Market.
 
"Thailand, China, Korea, Japan have different variations of it. It's a staple of Asian societies there. Night markets have been around every day, every weekend. Thousands of people, people of all ages, families come out to have a good, safe time."
 
The 626 Night Market is like a market in Asia but it has a Los Angeles style. Aileen Xu enjoys it.
 
"What we have here is literally a huge melting pot, it's a fusion of all different Asians, and I mean, I think it's really representative of the Asian American population in L.A. because we're not all Chinese. We're, you know, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese. We're everything and we're mixed, and we have, we even have foods that are like Asian Latino."
 
And there is another difference with the night markets in Asia. This one in Los Angeles does not happen regularly. Jonny Hwang has only been able to organize a few night markets so far.
 
"Having this type of event of this scale in America, in LA, is very difficult. It's not like Asia where the rules are lax and you can almost do anything. Here, it’s a lot more structured."
 
He wants this night market to be held more often. He says it is a social event, but also good for the local economy.
 
"A lot of our vendors are local small business. A lot of them are entrepreneurs, first timers, and I think without this event, this platform, they would be hard-pressed to find places that they can participate."
 
The people who sell food and other products at the night market also have stores and restaurants, many of them in the local neighborhood. The night market lets them show their products to thousands of people in one night.
 
John Zhuang sells Taiwanese beef jerky, preserved plums and candied fruits. 
 
He says having a food stand at the night market will help his business.
 
People from as far east as New York and as far north as the Canadian city of Vancouver have visited and asked for the night market to continue. Organizers say they are working to have the 626 Night Market become a monthly and possibly even a weekly event.
 
Lisa See
 
Lisa See has written about the Chinese-American experience in best-selling novels like "Shanghai Girls" and "Dreams of Joy." Her recent books have been partly set in the Chinatown area of Los Angeles.
Author Lisa See at a movie screening in New York City last yearAuthor Lisa See at a movie screening in New York City last year
x
Author Lisa See at a movie screening in New York City last year
Author Lisa See at a movie screening in New York City last year

With her red hair and freckles, Lisa See looks Caucasian. But she is one-eighth Chinese and part of a large Chinese-American family. Her ancestors came to Los Angeles many years ago. Her great-grandfather, Fong See, helped establish Chinatown. She told his story in her book "On Gold Mountain."
 
"My first book was about my family, and I think that that kind of set me on a course."
 
Her later books have explored Chinese culture in China and in America.
 
"And now today, in Los Angeles, we do have the largest Chinese-American community in the United States."
 
Many immigrants have moved out of the city to the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles. But Lisa See says Chinatown still attracts immigrants from throughout Asia. She says they come for the same reasons that earlier generations came.
 
"You know, we all have someone in our families who was scared enough, brave enough, crazy enough to leave their home country to come here."
 
Lisa See says she'll tell more stories about immigrants in her future novels. 
 
Sacred Surfing
 
An interfaith worship service recently took place at a beach south of Los Angeles. The religious service celebrated the Pacific Ocean and the California surfing culture. The Christians, Muslims, Jews and others who were there believe the ocean teaches lessons about life and faith.
 
The coastal city of Huntington Beach, in Orange County, calls itself Surf City USA. Every morning at the beach, the surfers are out early to catch the waves.
 
Tom Morey is a longtime surfer who invented a kind of short surfboard called the boogie board. He says surfing is a passion and a lifestyle.
 
"Surfing to me is creation's most succinct metaphor, best metaphor, for how to live your life. Surf your life."
 
Once a year, an interfaith service called the "Blessing of the Waves" brings in surfers and others to celebrate their love of the ocean.
 
One person leads a Muslim prayer. Another blows a ram's horn, a Jewish tradition.
 
Maneck Bhujwala, a Zoroastrian, reads a prayer in the ancient Avestan language.
Rev. Christian Mondor, left, talks with Fawad Yacoob of the Islamic Society of Orange County at the Blessing of the Waves ceremony in Huntington Beach, California, a few years agoRev. Christian Mondor, left, talks with Fawad Yacoob of the Islamic Society of Orange County at the Blessing of the Waves ceremony in Huntington Beach, California, a few years ago
x
Rev. Christian Mondor, left, talks with Fawad Yacoob of the Islamic Society of Orange County at the Blessing of the Waves ceremony in Huntington Beach, California, a few years ago
Rev. Christian Mondor, left, talks with Fawad Yacoob of the Islamic Society of Orange County at the Blessing of the Waves ceremony in Huntington Beach, California, a few years ago

"So we have actually prayers for all the major elements of nature, including the water."
 
A choir with immigrants from the South Pacific island nation of Tonga provides music.
 
Two Roman Catholic priests were also at the service. They are both surfers who have spent time at Huntington Beach. After the service, they went into the ocean.
 
Father Christian Mondor is 87 years old. He was helped onto a surfboard and caught a small wave. He was happy to get in the water.
 
"It takes a lot of skill, but it's a wonderful feeling when you're moving with the ocean, especially when you can stand up and ride it wherever you want. But just to be in the water is such an invigorating experience. And it's great to be back, all wet again."
 
One of the people at the service was Dean Torrence. He was half of Jan and Dean, the 1960s group that helped make surf music popular with songs like "Surf City."
 
"The sand, the ocean, the blue sky, the weather. I mean, what could be better? I'm very, very, very blessed to be here in a place that we call Surf City."
 
Hollywood
 
Hollywood is a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles, but to many people, it represents the entertainment capital of the world. Yet some television and film productions have been leaving for other cities and other countries.
 
We are on location in downtown Los Angeles on the set of a TV show called "Vegas" -- one of only a few new shows being filmed in the city. Steve Michelson is part-owner of one of the catering companies that serve food to people working on TV and movie sets. He says his business has suffered in the past few years.
 
"I have individuals doing jobs that two or three people used to do. A company yesterday called me; they have five catering trucks -- they want to sell them. They want to go out of business."
 
Some caterers are leaving Los Angeles and following productions to other cities.
 
Film LA is a nonprofit group that processes permits for on-location productions of movies, TV shows and commercials. Paul Audley, the president of Film LA, says there has been a big change especially in the television industry.
 
"This year, for example, we know of the 23 new television dramas, 21 of them are going out of state and they used to virtually all be filmed here. We had more than 80 percent of television, and now we're down to about 40."
 
Bela Bajaria at Universal Television says studio executives consider two main factors when deciding where to shoot a film or TV show.
 
"A big part of it is obviously creatively, that we can really realize what's on the page. The other equally as important part is actually, you know, a tax incentive."
 
Bela Bajaria says other cities have become more attractive to studios.
 
"It was about ten years ago, you know, New Orleans really came out with some first tax credits and a couple of the other states really followed."
 
In 2004, there were 16 film or TV projects in New Orleans. Katie Williams is the director of Film New Orleans. Speaking on Skype, she said that number increased to more than 50 this year.
 
"I don't think we would have any of that without the tax credit."
The famed Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, CaliforniaThe famed Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, California
x
The famed Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, California
The famed Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, California

New Orleans is in Louisiana, and Katie Williams says state tax credits for studios have helped the city's film industry grow.
 
"Ultimately at this point, anything a movie needs to make the project can be found here in this state, and specifically in New Orleans, so with that comes jobs."
 
The state of New York also provides financial incentives to the film and television industry. Douglas Steiner is chairman of Steiner Studios in Brooklyn. He says his studio is growing with help for the industry from Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
 
"It makes money, it makes money for the city. Bloomberg makes it easy to shoot in New York, and Governor Cuomo has made it affordable to shoot in New York. It employs tens of thousands of people that would otherwise not be working."
 
California also offers financial incentives to television and film companies. But Paul Audley of Film LA says these are not as large as those given by other states. 
 
"Unfortunately, we don't have enough of that money available to truly compete."
 
And the competition is global. Eastern European countries as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain are all competing for some of Hollywood's business.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dante de Lima from: Mundo Novo - Bahia, Brasi
12/13/2012 11:44 PM
Peço a Deus que os senhores nunca deixem de produzir essas verdadeiras aulas de inglês. Algo muito inteligente e eficiente. Muito obrigado!


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
12/12/2012 5:29 AM
Yes, In Japan, many food stands open at downtowns in the every evening. They are called Yatai and usually serve some staples of Oden, Ramen and Sake. Oden is a dish in which many ingredients like white radish, tofu, eggs, fried paste fish and potatoes are boiled together in a large pot with a soup seasoned with soy sauce and dried bonito frakes. Oden, Ramen and Sake are all hot suitable for colder season to get warm.


by: ahmed from: Sarajevo
12/10/2012 9:40 PM
Chinese food i had never tasted ,i hear that they eat little dogs,its horrendous... almost evry family or house in world have something from China with famouse title"Made in China" maybe one day we will have some parts of the body from China...with famouse tatto Made in China...

I work like turist guide in Sarajevo and sometimes have nice people from China,Japan,Korea and other Asia parts...and to fast the story i have in my plan to show them us famouse street where us crafts made some beautiful stuff of copper like kit maker and below evry stuff we had some writings...And I always ask them,do you know what was write below this kit maker....They say no,no ,no ,no evry say no we don't know... And i say proud on my crafts:Made in Sarajevo,can you belive.....and they reply with Aaa Aaa Aha....

Learn with The News

  • The MOM Incubator could save more babies in refugee camps who die due to complications of premature birth.

    Audio Low-Cost Incubator May Save More Babies

    Premature birth is the biggest killer of children worldwide. About one million babies around the world die of problems because they are born too early. Many of these babies could have been saved if they had been placed in an incubator. A young British researcher says he has found a solution. More

  • A screenshot from Cuban television shows President Raul Castro addressing the country, in Havana, Dec. 17, 2014.

    Audio US, Cuba Normalize Relations

    After the release of Alan Gross from prison, U.S. and Cuba announce policy changes that end more than 50 years of diplomatic isolation that began in the Cold War. Also in the news, India joins Pakistan in mourning after Tuesday's Taliban attack. And Sony Pictures cancels release of "The Interview." More

  • Audio How Much of You Does Facebook Own?

    If you use Facebook, your friends may have posted an update recently saying Facebook is not permitted to violate their privacy. But how much of your data -- things you post -- does Facebook legally own? Experts say Facebook's terms of service agreement clearly says they own most of what you post. More

  • India schoolgirls offer prayers for victims killed in a Taliban attack on a Pakistan military-run school, in Mumbai, India, Dec. 17, 2014.

    Audio India Joins Pakistan in Mourning Murdered Students

    India and Pakistan have long disagreed about many issues. But on Wednesday, Indian lawmakers and students lowered their heads and observed two minutes of silence in memory of 132 Pakistani children. The children died on Tuesday in an attack on their school in the city of Peshawar. More

  • Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki, center left, gestures next to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center right, as they pose during an election night event at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo, Dec. 14, 2014.

    Video Shinzo Abe's Victory Likely Raises Conflict with Neighbors

    Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in Parliament on Sunday. Mr. Abe’s win will permit him to continue economic reforms. At the same time, he can also pursue policies likely to increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors. More

Featured Stories

  • Video Music Shows in Private Homes Gain Popularity

    Attending a live musical performance, be it in a huge arena or a small cafe, is an exciting experience. But here in the U.S., a very different kind of performance is gaining popularity: house concerts. “There's just a totally unique experience as opposed to playing like a coffee shop or a bar." More

  • Lee Surrenders to Grant at Appomatox

    Audio Southern General Robert E. Lee Surrenders at Appomattox

    General Robert E. Lee’s military skill and intelligence helped extend the war between the states. But even his skill could not save the South from the industrial power of the North and its mighty armies -- armies that were better-fed and better-equipped. On Sunday, August 9, Lee surrendered. More

  • Uganda Playground for Disabled Children

    Audio Helping Uganda’s Disabled Children Play

    You may think that all children have freedom to play. But for children who look differently from others or have physical disabilities, the idea of play can seem far away. An organization in Uganda is seeking to change that. Read on to learn words needed to talk about this sometimes difficult topic. More

  • A microneedle used to inject glaucoma medications into the eye is shown next to a liquid drop from a conventional eye dropper. (Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek

    Audio Tiny Needles Treat Eye Disease

    Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness around the world. In the United States, more than two million people suffer from the disease. Now, researchers are developing very small needles that may offer a more effective and painless treatment for glaucoma and other eye diseases. More

  • The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement in Las Vegas

    Audio Mob Museum Tells About the Mafia in America

    The U.S. government has long used public money to fight organized crime. Now, public money is also paying for a museum in Las Vegas to tell about "The Mob,” and not everyone is happy about that. But some say it helps the local economy by bringing people to a part of Las Vegas that few visit. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs