San Francisco Chinatown is not what it seems.  Its ersatz exotica is built over a layer of beaux arts style buildings from the post 1906 earthquake era.  Look up above the tacked on pagoda eaves and you will see classic western detailing.

The Buddha Lounge at 901 Grant Avenue has one of my favorite neon signs, its red neon beckoning for a drink and a transcendent experience on a dark lonely night.  They say enlightenment can be found all around you even in a cup of tea.  I first learned about Zen Buddhism from reading D. T. Suzuki, the author most credited with bringing zen philosophy and practice to the US.  He might agree that indeed enlightenment could be found here in the neon sign  -- or perhaps Dean Moriarty would be inside seeking enlightenment in a shot of whiskey.  After all, City Lights Books is just a stones throw away.     

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