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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Parents just don't understand


Or at least old-school ones don't. This morning, Wendy and I took her parents and aunt to the house so they could see the renovation's progress. We're pretty stoked on how it's turning out, but I'm not so sure they feel the same way.

They're just not that impressed by details like concrete floors, architectural forms, cabinet-depth refrigerators, or outdoor panels that light up. Hardcore Chinese parents are wired like that.

Then, as we stepped out of the custom, three-panel pocket door, Wendy's dad immediately spotted the coatrack standing amongst the clutter in the backyard. When the renovation began, I didn't store the item or donate it, but left it at the house for workers to use.

Interestingly, I rescued the piece from my Yeh Yeh's employment office when he retired and have kept it with me from two rental residences to now. Wendy's parents commented that they just don't make furniture like it anymore.

As we parted ways, Wendy's dad folded down half of his Camry's backseat and angled it in through the trunk!

I don't have anything else to add, except that it's only a matter of time before Eloise tells similar stories about Wendy and me.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obits lives


Ex-Pitchfork/Drive Like Jehu/Hot Snakes Rick Fork's new band is called Obits. Download a song from Sub Pop now and catch them on the road later.

Hope + Jesus + Dave


"Sometimes Always" live on Letterman circa '94.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tim Time again


Remember the interview with skater Chad Tim Tim from GR57? Element has a trailer for the upcoming Sole video with some fresh footage of the new dad. (BTW, I've been wearing his new shoe, and it has a nice, simple look and great feel.)


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

To Whom It May Concern


February 24, 2009

Protection One
PO Box 49292
Wichita, KS 67201

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter to cancel my home alarm service through your company. Although I have been quite happy with Protection One for roughly 10 years, two recent occurrences have motivated me to sever our contract.

1. When renovation began on my property and I called your operators to cancel service, I was informed that I was in the midst of a year-to-year contract and could only put it on hold. Cell phone services and apartment leases shift to month-to-month after a year, so why should an alarm service should be different? The notion that customers should time their moving, renovation, or comparison-shopping around your company's billing cycle is outrageous. (That this stipulation was added mid-service and communicated via an insert with billing material is even more offensive.)

2. When I called Protection One to request the installation of new wiring while construction was taking place and walls and wiring were being repaired, I was told that such service would cost hundreds of dollars per hour for labor alone because my contract was on hiatus and not active. Basically, I was forced to choose between (a) paying ridiculous prices to make the house look nice or (b) paying less later on but suffering exposed wiring and damage to my newly finished walls and floors.

This second instance is what led me to hire an electrician to install the new wiring for a reasonable price, cancel my contract with Protection One, and seek out a new alarm company.

I realize that I am obligated to honor the remaining months of my contract--which I will do promptly and unhappily--but I will ultimately save money in installation costs, have a better-looking house, pay less per month, and, most importantly, not give my hard-earned dollars to a company that is more interested in gouging me than in retaining my business.

Please send me an invoice letting me know how many months remain on my contract and how much money I need to pay to be freed from your lousy company.

Thank you,

Martin Wong


Monday, February 23, 2009



Departures, directed by Yojiro Takita (left), won Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st annual Academy Awards. The Japanese movie about an unemployed cellist who is forced to take a job as a coffiner stars Masahiro Motoki (The Bird People of China, Gonin, Longest Night in Shangai) and Tsutomu Yamazaki (the cowboy from Tampopo). The film is arty but not obnoxious, funny but not goofy, touching but not melodramatic, and very, very understated and smart. See it for yourself in May, unless Regent pushes up the release date after last night's big win. (I picked up the Oscar, and it was heavy!)


Sunday, February 22, 2009



This weekend, my brother Greg and I attended a lunch celebrating the recent wedding of my cousin Shannon and his wife Cary. Congratulations! Uncle Margin, the doctor who delivered us, was there, too. Just think, he was the first person we ever saw. The first person to spank us, too!


Friday, February 20, 2009

Book club


I posted some pictures from the This Is Progress release party and signing that took place last week at Hennessy + Ingalls, but never got around to writing about the actual book, which was made to commemorate 10 years of the Matix skate clothing brand. It's a somber-looking book with thick, glossy pages that has a very serious feel. Interesting, because the contents are very loose.

Yes, there is some amazing skate, snowboard, and surf photography, but the emphasis is on the team's creativity, from skating to design to photography. So along with a sampling of Daewon Song's ads, board art, and portraiture that is scattered around the book, you see his actual doodles that were used to develop the Matix clothing brand's logo. I actually thought there would be more paged dedicated to him.

Each contributor was given five questions pertaining to how they see progress, as well as however many pages they wanted to express themselves. Most of the answers are pretty short, but Marc Johnson's aren't. He also provides a few spreads of art--taking found photos or ads and tweaking them with text and word balloons. The Monty Python-esque piece on the right was used on a limited-edition T-shirt that came with the book at the event.

Most of the skate imagery shows up in the photographers' sections. Giovanni Reda has contributed to GR, and specializes in shooting skaters in New York. His gritty pages feature the likes of Huf, Donger, Jeff Pang, and Talib Kweli in the Empire State. Harold Hunter!

Paul Park spins out in a different direction, contributing his photography from the anti-war movement. It's odd to juxtapose this sort of action with that of skating and the skating lifestyle, but also important. It's an aberration that I like.

Perhaps the best thing about the book, which is much more than a collection of old ads and catalogs, is that it lets you look into the minds of the photographers, designers, and even businesspeople that contribute to Matix. Everyone knows about the skaters, but this shows a broader picture what what it takes to make a brand grow.

The Rip Zinger book by Tomonori Tanaka was published by Stüssy last year, but it's still new to me. As the title suggests, it chronicles the Japanese skate photographer's trip to the U.S.

Instead of showing the gnarliest spots, most famous skaters, or controversial imagery, he tries to give a feel for the lifestyle. I like this shot of Rip City Skates because it's where I acquired the book. (They've been selling Stüssy for decades, but are clearly an old-school skate shop not a streetwear boutique in any way.)

The actual skate photography includes some recognizable faces (Dressen?) but is mostly anonymous pushers that you'll never see again.

The nice hardcover book is definitely on the arty end, and even features guys like Guerrero playing music (not shown) or Thomas Campbell in the studio (below). The style is rich and dreamy, and apparently he shoots with a Ricoh GRD and GX100!

Sorry, no discount rates on Amazon. Buy the books at the Stüssy site or stores or Hennessy + Ingalls. For some of you, it's a tax write-off, no?


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Housetop to bottom


Went back to the renovation site this morning. Now that the rain has gone away, the metal siding and roofing guys are going at it full steam. I think it's shaping up pretty well...

This was going to be a secret hideout. Instead, it's where the a/c and heating unit rests.

The polycarbonate by the side door is up. The back door area is pretty much done, too. These parts look really slick.

The crew cutting siding and deciding where the screws will go in the roofing...

This is what water heaters look like now. No Master Cylinder lurking in our backyard.

The kitchen is almost done. You can see the counter looping up onto the ceiling and turning into an eating surface. We still have to treat it with oil. The wood that covers the vent duct still has to be painted white, too.

This is the master bath. The custom vanities are up, and so are the stock IKEA medicine cabinets. Looks like we need a shower curtain and rod.

One of my favorite things about the house is that its front is still intact. There are new windows, refinished floors, and a fresh paint job, but it's basically the old form.

New lamp, though... We got it from DWR for 60 percent off with free shipping!

From the street, our house doesn't look obnoxious or scream "New!" at passersby--just a hint with the soon-to-be white metal box peeking over the top.

The house is cruising along. Now it's time to get the landscaping plan in motion.

Stella Lai on Sawtelle


Yesterday afternoon I met artist Stella Lai at GR2 to give her some copies of the new issue--which features an eight-page article on her--and catch up over tea drinks. I told her that I'd been taking a survey, asking people if they think the woman on the cover is protecting the critters on the bottom right (hidden by her fingers) or if they are hiding from her. Rats, I've been wrong all along... Yes, the magazine should have been out a week ago, but it's catching up.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009



These cards surfaced in the GR office. Where did they come from? How old are they? Is the one in front supposed to be blackmail? I know that looks kind of like me behind the sticky black bar, but I swear I've never been to West Virginia and I don't even drink.

No. Not my brother, either.

This woman wants to kick your ass


Mayuko and her sister Tsuzumi are half of the balls-to-the-wall rock band The Binges. Check out the double fury of their axe and bass tonight at Three of Clubs on Vine and Santa Monica or in the pages of Giant Robot 58, which is hitting the stands now.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One month to go


More random house photos from the last week or so. Above, the edge of the addition's roofline with exposed wood and beams (painted silver), hardware, and lighting. Below, with plexi covering going up. Hovering over the cantilevered steps that lead to the new kitchen, this is the first hint at the new living space. When lit, the glow will be like an X-ray machine.

Below, Michelle walking alongside the addition. Note the metal siding, which is still going up, as is the metal roofing. The sliding door (which leads to the "new" kitchen and family room) will be framed on the left and top by lit panels like the ones above.

One of the metal dudes takes a break.

In the "old" part of the house, the hardwood floors have been repaired and refinished. The walls have been painted. New hardware has been added. Yes, the doorknobs match the stainless steel refrigerator. No, the refrigerator will not remain in the living room.

The closets feature storage systems that we purchased from The Container Store. Not cheap, but the bedrooms are quite small and don't have much space for furniture. You can see that Eloise's closet has a ton of tracks because it is outfitted with four sliding doors so everything will be accessible. I think the extra bookshelf on the far right is a cool touch. You can just see the wooden edge. (Thanks, Rody!)

Eloise gets a feel for the new kitchen. Sliding door by Fleetwood. Cabinetry by IKEA--including butcher-block countertop that does a loop up the wall and will end in a small eating surface on the opposite wall. I know, I know... I've already described most of this and you can't wait for this to end. We feel the same way.

Future skate ramp?


Monday, February 16, 2009

Chickenboy and friends


Had pizza on N. Figueroa today and ran into some characters. Meet Chickenboy. You can see his details pretty well in the photo above. Below, you get a sense of scale. What's in the bucket? Is it something cannibalistic?

Shockingly, this tooth graphic comes off a dentist's office. There are plenty of nice-looking dental characters out there, but this one takes it to the next level with gums.

Here's Jesus (pronounced Hey-soos) giving the peace sign with his index and middle fingers. After downloading the pic, I realize that I blew it; the graffiti peace sign (the one that resembles a Benz logo) is obscured by a car.

Finally, three siblings (Angelyn, Greg, me) and three cousins (Lucia, Saoirse, Eloise).


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Friday night at The Crosby


On Friday I went to Santa Ana's finest spot for pizza and music. Here are two of my favorite guys, Chris from Free The Robots (and partner in The Crosby) and GR homie/contributor Ben (benclarkphoto.com).

My friend and Crosby regular Erin came up from San Diego to say hi and get some sweet potato fries with her dude, Gil (who happens to be Chris's bro).

Here's my brother, Greg, who's good friends with Gil and Erin. (Got it?) The pizza is really, really good.

Crosby regular Julia, Free The Robots partner/Crosby partner Phil, and half of Gil's face. I have now idea how I got to sit at a table with all these VIPs.

The Gaslamp Killer, whose DJing is as great as his hear, gets down while Jason (a.k.a. Nosaj Thing) sets up to headline the night.

Nosaj Thing has an album coming out on Alpha Pup Records and is ripping it up. Even Qbert was in the house to check it out. I'm serious. Santa Ana is the Daly City of Socal, yo!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Giant Robot 58


Time to start bugging your favorite newsstands. GR58 is on the way and advance copies are already available at the GR shops in LA, SF, and NYC (maybe not Silver Lake just yet)...

Here's what's in it:
Cover art by/extensive Q&A with Stella Lai
Asian jello extravaganza
Chandni Chowk to China and then some
Pet Architecture by Atelier Bow-Wow
King of Remakes Roy Lee
Daniel Wu vs. Louis Koo
Hollywood hotshot Leonardo Nam
Gachi Boy director Norihiro Koizumi
David Choe continues to rampage
Visual turntablist Mike Relm
Thao Nguyen's hotel-all
Circa/Element skater Tony Tave
The hard-rocking Binges sisters
Return of the gummy
Balls to the Mall
Truckin' with KoGI BBQ
Plus: smart-ass music reviews, some anime that doesn't suck, and not as many typos

And much, much more...

2.12.09 - Matix signing at Hennessy+Ingalls


Following The Binges set at Amoeba, we went across the street to Hennessy+Ingalls to see if the Matix crew had arrived. The signing table appeared vacant, but the clerks informed us that the guys were milling around incognito and that if I bought a book, the brand's marketing manager would take me around to them. To be honest, the book's $50 price tag wasn't in my budget, but I kinda knew Lori and thought it might be cool to meet some of the Matix dudes. (Getting a free T-shirt with Marc Johnson art on the front didn't hurt.)

It was odd but actually fitting that the skaters didn't show up while the photographers did. Some things never change. Here's Lori with Anthony Acosta, who drew a Canon AT-1 on his page. He has the dubious honor of being the only photographer to have his name misspelled on his section's title page. He had the PMA, though, as you expect from a member of the In4mation army.

Mike Gomez, a Matix "insider," turned out to be a GR shop regular. He often spends Sunday afternoons at our Sawtelle shops. I think most of our customers have interesting gigs and accomplishments that we'll never know about. Now we know some of his. See the camera? My book was used as a prop in clips for Fuel TV's coverage of the event.

I recognized Giovanni Reda's name from skate shot credits that we've run in recent issues, listed some of them, and he said, "I did all of those. And don't forget Jaime Reyes." Damn, that was way back in issue 12! I'm impressed and flattered that he remembers us. Giovanni has all of those issues on file, and offered to help us out in the future. A very cool guy.

Colin Kennedy drew some tangrams on his page. The book has a DVD with the Matix tangrams animations that he developed. (Look them up on YouTube.)

Outside, I met Paul Park, who came up with a bunch of the Matix skaters and contributed anti-war photos to the book, which is centered on skating but is really about progress, as billed. Paul is super nice guy and longtime GR reader that I plan on keeping in touch with.

Okay, I did see one pro skater. Hanging out with Paul was Chocolate/DVS rider Daniel Castillo. I've been bumping into him now and then since our interview that ran in GR56. I introduced the Culver City local to Eloise, who was up way past her bedtime and was ready to bail. We told Daniel to say what's up to Daewon at the afterparty, and went home to look at the gorgeous book. A review will follow...

2.12.09 - The Binges at Amoeba


Took Eloise out on a two-part mission on a cold Thursday night. First, we went to Amoeba to catch The Binges in-store performance. Yes, we brought the noise-canceling headphones to protect her developing ears.

The show was rocking, and I introduced Eloise to Mayuko and Tsuzumi after their band finished and before they settled behind the table to sign autographs for fans.

Read more about the ass-kicking sisters of rock in the new issue of Giant Robot--at the shops now and hitting other shelves soon.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Steve Cradock solo track w/Paul Weller


Ocean Colour Scene guitar player Steve Cradock has released a new solo album. Download one a free track here. It features vocals by the King of Mods, who he's been backing for years.

Rock out at Amoeba, skate and destroy at Hennessy+Ingalls


The hard-rocking Binges (as seen in GR58) are playing a free show at Amoeba on Sunset tomorrow (Thursday) night at 7:00. Check them out, and go to the Matix booksigning across the street while you're at it.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rip City lives


My cousin asked for my advice on where to buy a skateboard and the answer was obvious. When I was a freshman at UCLA, didn't have a car, and needed wheels, a buddy took me to Rip City Skates and it was already old school.

The same dude--I think his name is Jim--sold me a Natas SMA board back then, and he was there today! Such a cool guy with no vibing or hustling. The man just wants to sell customers the proper stuff so they can shred to the best of their abilities. And there's so much history in the shop. I'm not even talking about personal memories and gear.

Above, autographed boards by Skull Skates icon Dave Hackett and Wes Humpston, who designed the Dogtown logo.

Four members of Black Flag (Rollins, Martines, Ginn, and C'el or Kira...) and TA.

Ollie Gelfand, inventor of the ollie.

Lester Kasai. I met him in Hawaii, and one of these days we'll get around to interviewing him in GR.

Above and below: the one and only Gonz.

And GR homie Cab. There's tons more, but the board was assembled and it was time to roll. Yes, you could shop online or go to a megastore like Active or 9 Star, but why? So you can give your hard-earned money to some suits or get ignored by cooler-than-thou kids in ugly streetwear? Rip City is a living part of skate culture and history that should be appreciated, experienced, and supported. And it doesn't hurt that they've been offering a $99.95 complete setup for as long as I can remember...

Pinche Shin Chan


Promo stuff can be extremely wack, but this is actually pretty good. GR intern Julienne holds a votive candle made by FUNimation to commemorate DVD 1 of Season 2 of everyone's favorite pendejo, Shin Chan. Funny series, nice candle.

Happy birthday, Eloise!


A year ago this morning, Wendy and I drove to Cedars in the dark--wondering if the snapping sound and subsequent leakage from her pregnant tummy meant anything. Sure enough, out came Eloise five weeks early.

So much has happened since then, I can barely recall what it was like before I was a parent. I'm sure Wendy can't remember what it was like before pumping and feeding... The biggest changes for me have probably been in scheduling: no more late nights at the GR office and having to be ready to jump out of bed any time after 6:30 in the morning. I've always had a pretty even temperament, so the nurturing and playing has been easy and fun. Oh yeah, there's also the warm, gushy feeling I get when I come home and she can't stop shaking her hands with excitement.

Eloise wants to talk and walk so badly. I'm going to miss her babbling and crawling after me, but it's exciting to see her wave, point at her feet, and bonk her head during strategic parts of books when I read to her. Culinary breakthroughs have included sharing our first slice of pizza at Angelyn's house, introducing her to hummus at Zankou, and witnessing her really get into blueberries at The Waffle. This week she'll attend her first rock show at Amoeba, an art show at GR2, and yet another dinner at gr/eats with her cousins. Where we go from here, I can only guess.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Next-gen GR readers, old-school GR helpers


This weekend was our architect/friend's son's first birthday. It was a real rager. Look at the before (below) and after (above) pics. Craziness. See all that color on the coffee table? There's Play-Doh, Duplo bricks, Cheerios, and other debris on the surface as well as on the floor. Some of the leftovers on the piano might be mine... Sorry about that.

Below is Christian about to do the "Korean thingy" where he chooses his destiny--kind of like Lone Wolf and Cub or New Legend of Shaolin, where the baby chooses between the toy and the weapon. Options included an architectural model, cooking whisk, some cash, and other stuff. He chose a pencil. What does it mean?

Above on the right, you can see Daniel--an old-school GR helper. A better view, below, with indie comics king/GR contributor/good friend Martin Cendreda and his daughter Margot.

Also around was all-star intern and contributor Christine. I haven't seen her since she took off for the East Coast for grad school. Remember her article about Gil Mok's cold-noodle soup? It makes me hungry just thinking about it. So great to see her.

No, Eloise hasn't grown a fourth tooth yet. That's cool. It's not a race and there's no rush. Hope she doesn't expect a huge party for her birthday, though. She turns one tomorrow!

12:15 a.m.


Between rain showers in SoCal...


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Thursday meeting


Went by the house for our weekly meeting and had the latest discovery. See the rain gutter over the porch? It turns out there's nothing behind it. It's like a lengthy, gaping wound that lets insects, moisture, and anything else into the space in the overhang. We have to do something about that. One more change order--hopefully one of the last.

Walking under the carport by the side, you can see the silver-painted panel next the sliding door, leading to the metal siding. It looks really clean.

Siding is going up in back, too. See that angled space over the sliding doors and to the left? It's painted silver with lights that will be covered by translucent panels. Walk into the sliding doors to enter the kitchen and family room. Rody from Cal Asia is really taking care of the details and making sure the angles meet just right.

From the family room you looking into the kitchen, you can tell that everything is installed. See how the butcher-block counter-top climbs the wall on the left and goes across the ceiling? It's going to go down the other wall and jut out as a small eating/food prep surface.

The other end of the butcher block extends to the side door and bends down to the ground, making space for a small trashcan. Another nice touch from John and Michelle.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

R.I.P. Lux Interior


1986 is burned into my head as one of the most musically packed years for me... I feel like my brother and I went to the Palladium a couple times a month to see the likes of PiL, Siouxsie, The Cult, and the Ramones. Opening practically every show was Social Distortion. But maybe one of the greatest live shows was The Cramps, with lead singer Lux Interior wearing a fishnet bodysuit and patent leather thong, deep-sixing the microphone during "Surfin' Bird," not to mention belting out hits like "Goo Goo Muck," "Faster Pussycat," and "What's Inside a Girl?" He collapsed at the end of the show and was carried off. I saw the band a couple more times, and they never disappointed.

The group was beyond rockabilly, goth, punk, or garage, and made their own genre of music... As of tonight, Lux is among the "Surfing Dead," probably trading hair secrets with Elvis, guitar licks with Bo Diddley, and tour stories with Joey Ramone.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, Smell of Female, Off The Bone, and A Date With Elvis are good places to start. R.I.P Lux Interior.

Beyond God, Elvis, and FMTM


Two great new songs from the revolutionary post rock band/friends of GR, From Monument To Masses are now available from the RCRDLBL site...

Paper Robots show and contest


Remember Shin Tanaka? We interviewed the King of Paper Figures back in GR56, which also marked the first of three punch-out inserts featuring his work. The final installment is coming out in Giant Robot 58 and, to mark the occasion, we're hosting an art show at the Scion Space in Culver City on April 11.

Shin has taken part in art shows before (see the sampling of flyers above and below) and they've showcased a variety of his works--from figures to shoes and more. But an important part of his work is that anyone can download templates, print them out, and make their own versions of his pieces.

In that spirit, our show has a contest element that allows GR readers (and everyone else) to participate. At www.giantrobotshin.com, you can download the necessary files to make your own Paper Robot. To enter the contest, just upload the embellished template and a photo of the assembled piece.

The public will vote for their favorite pieces, and so will Shin and the GR staff. The grand prize winner will win airfare (within the U.S.), lodging (in Joe Escalante's favorite town, Culver City), some spending money (we are not responsible for inflation), and a place in the show alongside Shin and other paper artists from around the world... Download the templates here. You're just killing time browsing the Internet now anyway, so what do you have to lose?

Gangs of Olympia


Tucked away in our P.O. Box this morning was an advance copy of the debut CD by Ian Svenonius' new group, Chain & The Gang. It seems to feature contributions from all of Olympia--including my friends from Old Time Relijun (Aaron, Ben, and Arrington) and Dub Narcotic Sound System (Chris and Brian). We received it too late to review for GR58, but this is a band you should know about since they'll be hitting the road with Calvin Johnson and the Hivedwellers...

Shiny shiny


Dropped by the house early this morning to sign some papers and caught a glimpse of the latest work, which includes refinishing the hardwood floors (still need satin finish) and putting up metal siding (and roofing). These are totally different parts of the house with totally different looks but they're coming together. I'll be spending more time at the house tomorrow for our weekly meeting, and will take more pics then...

Shiny shiny!


Monday, February 02, 2009

Bonus article


On Friday afternoon, we thought we were done with the magazine. Then an advertiser pulled out--not because of the economic crisis or anything like that. Actually, the owner of a co-branded logo wouldn't sign off of the design. Damn. But our bad news is your good news; we whipped up two more pages of content over the weekend.

Identify all the visible bands in the spread without double-clicking the image and get no-prize...









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