Monday, January 19, 2009

Baltimore / Sneaker Hunting with 奶奶!

1/3 - 1/5/2009

[The final issue in a series of eight, looking back on the
happenings and travels of my Christmas holidays spent
in New York, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, and
Washington, DC.]


Ray had returned to DC the previous evening to spend
the night at my grandmother's place with Lydia and me.
The next day, after picking up Soyoon from her cousin's
house, we headed back to Ray's home town of
Baltimore for a (well-researched on his part) day of
eating, browsing, and cultural cultivation.

First stop: Ray's friend's dad's Korean restaurant.

Appetizers... Yo I haven't had Korean appetizers (小吃?)
since the summer. The yellow pickled radish (Danmuji/
단무지) is my favorite, which I would consume in large
quantities along with rice, to supplement my meals in



Deep-fried beef - awwww man. We finished off this
whole plate in addition to our own individual entrees.

Lydia's Korean omelet.

My Tchamppong (짬뽕), spicy Chinese-style (word?) seafood soup.


Afterwards, we headed downtown to walk off our lunch, perusing the
collections at the Walters Art Museum.

Even in the old days Koreans used metal chopsticks... Huh.

Scrimshaw rat, this joint was seriously lifelike (if not



While Lydia finished up her tour of the museum, Ray,
Soyoon, and I headed outside to walk around in the
brisk winter air.



The country's very first monument constructed to
honor Washington.



? tag, park bench, Mount Vernon, Baltimore.

After we finished up at the art museum, we headed a
few miles farther out of the city center, to Baltimore's
Book Thing, a literacy project in one of the many
underprivileged areas of Baltimore.

At Book Thing, donors come by to drop off old, excess,
and used literary materials; they then reside in a
warehouse-style building, sorted by volunteers into
various categories, awaiting and inviting clientele to
come pick through their stacks.

I found a few items to take away - including a Chinese
text published by 北京大学出版社 - but my find of the
day was a paperback copy of Thomas Merton's Life and

Finishing up at Book Thing as dusk settled over the city,
we drove back to Baltimore's famed Inner Harbor,
parking Ray's car on the border of the Inner Harbor and
Little Italy. Still full from our expansive Korean lunch,
we decided to wander around the waterfront before
finally hitting Little Italy.

The National Aquarium's glass wall, which encloses a
microcosm of an entire tropical setting, including
3-story waterfall.

Outside the Baltimore Maritime Museum, several historic vessels
bob and sway at anchor, including this submarine.

As the sun set, we slowly wandered through the
nearby waterfront shops; then, after a pasta dinner
in Little Italy and pastries from the near and well-
reputed Vaccaro's bakery, we headed back down
in the direction of DC, where Ray dropped Soyoon
off back at her cousin's, then Lydia and I back at my


On the final day of our stay in Bethesda, my grandma
asked me if there was anything left that I would like to
do or see before heading home. Having a generally
satisfying time between scanning the Mall and
Smithsonian on foot, running errands and cooking with
her, and our day in Baltimore, I could think of only one
last wish.

For nearly as long as I can remember being interested
in streetwear and fly hip-hop clothings, Commonwealth
has been one of the names that I always was checking
for online. With several store exclusives, a clean online
shopping interface, and consistent stocking lists of the
flyest status and names in the game, they are one of the
stores that give boutique shopping its name.

However, not spending much time recently in the DC
metro area left me with few-to-no opportunities to drop
by the store and check out their brick-and-mortar
operations for myself. But, with a morning and
afternoon to kill before my dad could arrive back in the
area from Delaware, grandma decided to roll with me
and Lydia, and we headed out, GPS in hand, to try and
find our way over to Florida Avenue.

The brand-new GPS (my Christmas gift to my parents,
promptly lent for my stay in DC) got us there without
any issues (my grandmother: 这样的机器很好用的!).

The store.

Down the street, right next to Stussy DC, lies Commonwealth's second
retail location, For the Greater Good. Carrying a lineup of slightly more
mature streetwear brands (APC, Clae, Creative Recreation, etc.), the
store brings more dimension to the area's mercantile lineup.

KAWS mats and t-shirts in Commonwealth.

DC's Florida Ave., 1700 block: Stussy DC, For the Greater Good, and


We returned to my grandmother's apartment in the mid-
afternoon, and my dad arrived shortly thereafter,
bearing gifts and more burdens for grandma...

My parents, as a graduation present, had purchased a
BAPE cardigan for me, imported from Japan. Sadly, a
Medium cut turned out to be somewhat larger than we
had expected and, after my slimming summer in Korea,
it no longer fit. Thankfully, Grandma had been
vocationally and for a long term employed as a
seamstress in the old country, before and even during
the first portion of her current life in America.

Despite having not done alteration or full-out tailoring
work for several years, Grandma still keeps her sword
sharp, with no fewer than three sewing machines still
in working order in her bedroom workspace. After
taking a few measurements, she set to work on taking
in the cardigan.



After eating a dinner of leftovers (and what leftovers
were had from the last week!), we bid farewell to 奶奶
and headed back up to Delaware, to spend the night
at home and then spend the following day on public
transportation, on our return trip to New Haven.

Oh, and our morning excursion into DC bore fruits
beyond the (immensely more important) spiritual
blessing of my grandmother sharing in my hobby,
pursuits, and interests.

Commonwealth was unloading a good chunk of
warehoused inventory at great prices - I almost copped
a pair of premium Barkley AF1 highs for $50 (less
than 30% of their original asking price of $175) - and
various other items, for reasons of recession and
holiday shopping season pricing, were being sold on the

However, there was one pair of kicks that grabbed my eye upon my
first scanning the store.

A pair of Nike Air Footscape Wovens, marked down, and in my exact
size, to boot.

But not just any footscapes:
The CLOT/ACU "Rasta" Footscapes: originally limited to 24 pairs,
released in 2006 to celebrate the opening of CLOT's 上海 retail boutique
ACU, these joints were initially available only to Clot family & friends
(including Edison Chen, his girl, top designers, and friends like jeffstaple).

Later in 2006, these dropped - to great fanfare and scarcity - as a
quickstrike edition in the States, and promptly sold through whatever
size runs were available in stores. This pair was only preserved via
falling prey to the maze that is Commonwealth's stock warehouse,
and had sat in silence for nearly two years, until they were found and
pulled out into the store, awaiting a size 8 foot.

On ice, waiting for the summer summertime...

series fin.

1 comment:

jchan985 said...

haha ancient metal korean chopsticks. amusing.

and those are really funky sneakers.