This old-fashioned Chinese restaurant on U.S. 50 in Falls Church, Virginia, appears to be out of business, and suffered poor reviews for years. It's a time capsule of an American, and Chinese-American, cultural moment.…
Along with a mediocre takeout-style buffet, Harvest Moon was a cavernous banquet and event hall, commonly used for large weddings. Here’s the view through the entrance. The names of whichever couple was last to hold their wedding here are, for now, preserved by abandonment.
A place like this is a nonrenewable cultural resource. A restaurant is a business, but it’s almost like an organism too, a living repository, a little compendium of folkways unique to the era in which it was started and the people who started it.
Except in a self-conscious and cheeky way, where nostalgia is the explicit theme, nobody is ever going to open a restaurant quite this again, with its combination of décor and menu, its plain fare that was once unusual, and its formal service and table settings.
So when there's a fully preserved commercial entity like this along a churning, ever-changing commercial strip, it feels almost like a museum. It's cool. But it's sad, in a way. It almost reminds me of the last individual of an endangered species. Alive, but already extinct.
I know this sounds dramatic, but I think a lot of people feel this way, even if they can't put it into words, even if it sits below consciousness. In fact, I think a fair amount of NIMBYism is something like this, searching for an expression.
I find that I appreciate these things more when I understand that they’re impermanent - that a business or a cultural era is a dynamic thing and not an object you can encase in amber. It's similar to my idea of having funerals for buildings.
.@katherinewzhao @chineseeateries you might enjoy this article I wrote

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More from @ad_mastro

20 Jul
Here are some of the afterlives of Kinney Shoes, a defunct national retailer fondly remembered by many a kid growing up in the 60s. I tracked down and photographed every Fairfax County, VA location and what it is today.…
Believe it or not, every building in this photo essay began life looking almost exactly the same!…
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19 Jul
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Designed in the 1950s as the local shopping center for the adjacent neighborhood - single-family houses sit right across a back alley from the strip mall - it's now a magnet for the Bangladeshi community in Northern Virginia and beyond.…
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19 Jul
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But for something that sprang up out of nondescript sprawl in the 1980s (and much of it more recent) this is pretty convincing quickly built urban environment
However, because of its origin as a modern density corridor and not an actual urban neighborhood, the old highway through here is pretty much fully intact. Wide, fast, loud. Trucks. Heavily pedestrianized but still intimidating in many spots.
Read 7 tweets
28 Jan 20
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Or even Amazon, where the product search pages, the combination of algorithms, fast, custom production, global shipping, and sellers chasing and mimicking algorithms, produce results like this. Page after page of increasingly spammy, word-salad titles and brandless, generic junk.
Read 17 tweets

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