Sunday, August 16, 2009

Canal Street Counterfeiters: The Bane of My NYC Life

Just over a year ago, I snapped the above picture of a policeman in the doorway of a Canal Street perfume shop being raided for selling counterfeit goods. My resulting story of watching the raid is here, and since even before then I have been resistant to walking through this area.

Some days however, I find myself having to confront Canal and the unrelenting black market bagmongers who crowd the corners and stealthily say to you "miss bags louieweetongucciprada louieweetonguccipradachannel?"

Since I'm typically the girl who charges down the sidewalk, face stonily set with a "don't fuck with me" directness, any obstacle in my path makes me extremely annoyed. I can forgive strollers and confused tourists, but not these bag men.

Today, for the first time, I talked back to one of them. As I attempted to make a right turn on the sidewalk, he blocked me to release his stream of "louiewuittonchannelpradagucci" and I loudly replied with a deep and pained "Nooooooo." A second after, leaving him in my dust, I realized how powerfully cathartic this exclamation had been.

Generally the rule in dealing with these counterfeit street salesmen is to be silent and continue walking, or reply with a simple "no." But today's heat, and the sidewalk crowding of Canal that always forces me to walk in the street, with traffic, kicked me to a new level of annoyance. Not to mention that I am also offended that the salesmen would look at me and think that I would be interested in their wares. Like I've said before, I've seen fakes in the slums of Shanghai and I've seen the same conditions behind the scenes in New York, and this whole business is deadly.

If all of a sudden my face appears on a milk carton or on a missing persons flyer, you should start by questioning any number of the gangs that operate the counterfeiting business in Chinatown. I plan to continue talking back.

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