Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Annotated Nexus - Page 64

64.0 Anastasia acts as peacemaker after Henry criticizes Mona. She encourages them to go out on the town as planned. Initially unsure where they’re going, the couple ends up where it all began for them: at Chin Lee’s on Broadway, where they fall in love again as they reminisce about the night they first met.

64.1    Headed for the subway
Silently, after leaving the apartment, Henry and Mona walk arm-in-arm with no clear agenda for their evening. They find themselves near the subway, so they hop on for Manhattan. Back at 9.5, I had done a bit of online research and guessed that the closest subway entrance to their home would have been Clark Street Station.

64.2    same old Broadway
“…same old neon hell’s afire,” writes Miller as he and Mona rise to street level from the subway. The couple is returning to the scene where they first met and initiated their relationship; see, for example, Sexus pages 50 and 261.

64.3    Chin Lee’s
Strolling down Broadway, Henry and Mona find themselves in front of a Chinese restaurant called Chin Lee’s. I had written a little bit about this place in my blog article about Wilson’s Dance Hall. Chin Lee’s was located at Broadway & 49th Street, across from Wilson’s. “Shall we go up?” asks Mona in Nexus, establishing that it was located on an upper floor. She leads Henry to the booth in which they sat during their first date here.

The story of Chin Lee’s is written about by author and activist Grace Lee Boggs, whose father, Chin Lee, owned a chain of Chin Lee restaurants in America, starting in the 1910s. In her autobiography, Living For Change (1998), she writes that her father had opened the Broadway location in 1924 (at the time, it was his largest location; others were located in Buffalo, NY, Providence, RI, Boston, MA, and elsewhere). Here, Lee Boggs confirms that the Broadway Chin Lee’s occupied the second and third floors of 1604 Broadway, with a seating capacity of nearly one-thousand. There was a huge neon marquee facing Broadway, and a smaller one facing the 49th street entrance. [for these details, see Lee Boggs’ autobiography, pp.8-9].

The restaurant was a huge success, because it offered a six-course meal and live entertainment for under one dollar. Another Manhattan Chin Lee’s was open in 1928, at Broadway & 44th Street. [p.9]

64.4    that first night—a thousand years ago
Miller refers to the night they’d had first eaten here as being “a thousand years ago.” In fact, it was during the summer of 1923 (see my post). In Nexus, Mona (June) recounts everything about that first date: the food, the conversation, the music (or at least Miller says she does, without providing us with the details). This loosens them up again. By the end of the dinner, they “looked at one another with new eyes, more hungry eyes, greedy eyes than ever before…”

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