In honor of my discovery of Steal This Wiki (based on Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book), I present a bit of culture-jamming from the mean (har har) streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn — the above picture is of homemade stickers with slogans such as “We are rapacious developers” pasted onto a real estate company’s plate-glass storefront etched with “plain-folks” platitudes so unfriendly bohemians begin to bond with the nouveau riche couples snapping up million-dollar condos in post-industrial playland.

Bonus: I love public art, even if (or particularly when!) it’s a bit rough around the edges, as evidenced by this street scene from N. 6th —

Not content with the widespread press wrought by the Nano, the Tata Group just announced another big venture: a chain of tea shops for the 21st century.

An MSN reporter writes:

Tata Tea has forayed into the out-of-home beverage segment by unveiling its first outlet of Chai Unchai in Bangalore.

Sangeeta Talwar, executive-director, Tata Tea, said: “Chai Unchai is crafted as a retail space in the out-of home segment that connects with youth in an exciting and differentiated manner. The new adda or hangout is designed to be cool. It will neither be a kiosk nor a parlour but will have an ambience that is warm, friendly, unpretentious and fun.”

I’m interested to see their menu — will they kick it old school, or will they start to introduce new-fangled concoctions like bubble tea and smoothies? But ultimately, I’m a bit skeptical; if chains like this start pushing out the Everyman chaiwallah, an ineffably important part of Indian culture will fade from existence. The thought that the competing Moon Light Cafe and Sun Rise Cafe might give way to an outpost of Chai Unchai is amazingly depressing.

It doesn’t have the cachet of Astoria and it lacks the gritty appeal of the LIC arts scene, but for my buck, I couldn’t pick a better place in Queens than Rego Park.

Other residents (and real estate agents) highlight its proximity to Forest Hills (the fillet of Queens!), the easy commute to Manhattan (30 minutes door to door!), and the low crime rate (a 40% drop in robberies in the past year!). But for me? It’s the humble character of the neighborhood and the kaleidoscope of culture shifting and glittering on 63rd Drive, on Queens Boulevard, along Yellowstone and Woodhaven.

The gym I go to is locally owned, rather than an outpost of the overpriced Bally’s or New York Sports Club (also, its employees are always quick with a friendly greeting, initially winning me over by exclaiming, “Is named Platinum — better than Gold!”). Within a 15-minute walk from my apartment, I can buy Colombian chicken, find Thums-Up cola, get supplies to celebrate Chinese New Year, hum along to old Bollywood tunes at a Subway franchised by a chipper young fellow from Indonesia, delight in a knish, or procure a neon menora. And on balmy summer days, or even into crisp fall evenings, there’s a certain corner on which a group of five or six old men invariably play backgammon, kids occasionally peering over their shoulders to help them strategize.

It’s a cool, refreshingly authentic place to live when it seems everyone is urging us to consider Williamsburg or Park Slope, both dripping with irony and artifice and endless posturing about who has the best what. Sure, sometimes it means I miss a hip indie concert, and there’s not much of a nightlife (other than Wiggles!), but at least I don’t have to fight for groceries amongst a million tiny men wearing black eyeliner, flannels, and ever-tighter jeans.