Friday, June 15, 2007

City of (Thai) Angels

The long- awaited Thai Town Gateway was inaugurated this morning in a ceremony on a cordoned-off Hollywood Boulevard with a sizeable number of politicians, city staffers and community folk in attendance.
The project was spearheaded by the non-profit organization Thai Community Development Center (Thai CDC) which took six years to come to fruition.

The statue depicts a 6-foot tall bronze apsonsi, which is a guardian angel figure from traditional Thai folklore ("apson" being Thai for "angel" and "si" meaning "lion"). Situated on the southeast corner of Hollywood and Western, the statue will be joined by another sister which will be installed across The Boulevard, and two more sisters which will be placed on the eastern end of Thai Town near Hollywood and Normandie. The apsonsi were all made in Thailand and were transported to Los Angeles gratis by Thai Airways.

Speaking of Thailand, the name of its capital, Bangkok, is an abbreviated form of a phrase which is translated as "City of The Angels." So I need not explain the obvious similarity to El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles del Rio Porcincula. There are efforts to designate Bangkok as Los Angeles' 22nd Sister City, but the Thai capital already shares her wardrobe and goes shopping with the U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C. Still, with EPDNSLRDLADRP being the largest concentration of Thais outside of Thailand, the sister city boosters are trying to get D.C. to find anotha sista.

After comments by Councilman Eric Garcetti, Thai CDC Executive Director Chanchanit Martorell, Mayor Antonio Villar and Thai Consul General Jurk Boon-Long, the stragglers who stayed at the end were treated to some free Thai chow courtesy of Palms Thai Restaurant. Unfortunately, the great Kavee Thongpricha, a.k.a. Thai Elvis, was not present to grace us in song.

The unexpected highlight of the event happened while Garcetti was speaking at the podium, three gang wannabe-looking teenagers in black baggy clothes spotted Da Mayor, suddenly got star-struck and shouted, "YO! MR. MAYOR!" pointing and waving at him, one even took off his shirt. They did this about three times, and after the formal ceremony Da Mayor posed for pictures with them. They seemed to trip out at the fact that El Alcalde even acknowledged their presence, and even gave each other congratulatory high-fives and fist-pounds after their impromptu photo shoot with Antonio. Then one of the teens made some reference to his recent marital problems and shouted towards Da Mayor's way as he was leaving and said, "Blame it on ADHD, it's not your fault, Mr. Mayor!"

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