Monday, September 14, 2009

Chinese Junk

When I was a little kid one of those things that would set my mind to wandering was the phrase "Chinese junk."  This described a marvelously different kind of little boat which could be found alongside the teeming rivers, harbors and shorelines in China.  There were people who lived on these junks and they sold merchandise and fish and vegetables and these little boats had those rakish kind of what I like to think of as "Owl and the Pussycat" sails.  Colorful, unique, tiny, safe and found on the pages of the National Geographic.

Along came the seventies and eighties and the definition of Chinese junk came to mean heroin.  Flooding this country and the world with this terribly addicting and deadly drug.

Now, it is several decades later.  Chinese junk has once again changed its definition and once again Chinese junk is deluging North America but this time instead of heroin the term denotes merely junk.  Dollar store junk.  Walmart junk.  Plastic picture frames.  Cheap blue jeans.  Toys with lead-based paint.  Carcinogens in the candies.  Deadly dog food.  The cheap crap we are all so eager to buy because it is so cheap and  we use it once and it breaks and we throw it out.  Chinese junk.

I liked the boats better.