This Old Shot Of A Serene Cook On The Downtown Eastside

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by Andrew Morrison | Photographed by Nina Raginsky on the Downtown Eastside in 1973, the shot is entitled Mr. Wong, Day Cook at The Only Seafood Restaurant. It’s one of many Raginsky shots included in the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Canada. I love all the evidence of hard work: the filthy apron, the dented pot, the mangled mosaic floor, the grease-stained backsplash, and the pans no doubt getting hot on the burner. All of it is juxtaposed against Mr. Wong’s calm, almost bemused expression, so free of ego in the eyebrows. There’s a serenity to him, as if he’s just carefully selected the filet of fish in his left hand for his own late lunch. If the clock in the reflection is right, it’s nearly 3pm, which is to say the rush has already come and gone. Perhaps, Mr. Wong is taking a break or preparing to clock out. In any event, I like the photo. As we noted recently, The Only hasn’t been around for quite some time. Here’s some shots I took of the place – already long derelict – a couple of years ago.

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