News

New Kozyndan print for SuperAwesome at OMCA + much more!

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Show reviews: OFF! at Amoeba; howardAmb, Bobb Bruno, Sandy Yang, and DSS at The Smell; Ray Barbee and Paul Kwon at Pacific Standard 2; RFTC and Dan Sartain at The Echoplex

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Whoa, the new OFF! album is a beast and Tuesday’s record release in-store at Amoeba Hollywood kicked ass. Not some lukewarm sampler but a full-on, raging 16-song set! Of course for this particular band that adds up to about 30 minutes but damn. Quality minutes of world-class hardcore punk from the originals, measured with Sabbathian darkness and riffs. (more…)



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Giant Robot Time: 4.11.14 – Suspects artwork now available online!

 

giant robot time: 4.11.14 | art by: ray young chu


 

SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot

April 19 – July 27, 2014

Reception: Friday, April 18

Oakland Museum of California

New Exhibition Coincides With 20th Anniversary of Giant Robot Magazine Celebrating Asian American Pop Culture and Beyond

(Oakland, CA)—This spring, the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) presents the major exhibition SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot. On view in OMCA’s Great Hall from April 19 to July 27, 2014, the exhibition features 15 contemporary artists that have been inspired by the artistic sensibility of Giant Robot throughout its 20-year evolution.

Co-curated by Giant Robot visionary Eric Nakamura and OMCA’s Associate Curator of Art & Material Culture Carin Adams, SuperAwesome presents new or recent works by California and international-based artists affiliated with the culture and aesthetic of the popular magazine that brought Asian, trans-Pacific popular culture to mainstream audiences in the United States. Artists featured in the exhibition include: Ako Castuera, Sean Chao, David Choe, Luke Chueh, Hamburger Eyes, Andrew Hem, James Jean, Kozyndan, Masakatsu Sashie, Shizu Saldamando, Rob Sato, Amy Sol, Deth P Sun, and Adrian Tomine. Art works in the exhibition represent a range of mediums, including mural art, sculpture, illustration, portraiture, large-scale installations, graphic novels, photography, and more.

In addition, the exhibition features Giant Robot magazines and ephemera, vinyl toys, custom vending machines, and the original Giant Robot Scion XB. Designed by Eric Nakamura, inspired by Nintendo’s Famicom gaming console, and fabricated by Len Higa, the car-turned-interactive gaming station boasts built-in sound and projectors. Visitors will be able use the car to play the original game Return of the Quack by Chevy Ray Johnston with graphics by Matt Furie.

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Are you a Giant Robot SuperFan?

OMCA is collecting stories of what Giant Robot means to its many fans. Join other SuperFans and give Giant Robot a video shout-out. Your video could be featured in the exhibition, SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot or in our online video gallery.

Keep it simple! Make a self-shot video using your phone or webcam. What are you waiting for? Send your video testimonial file or link to [email protected].

Ice-Bat Batman / Wedgehead Robin Vinyl FiguresFunko – Uglydoll x DC Comics


Wedgehead as Robin! He’s got one eye on crime.

30 Postcard Set / Cats Are Weird and More ObservationsJeffrey Brown


Cartoonist Jeffrey Brown’s drawings perfectly capture the humor and quirkiness of cats.

Alarm Clock Projection Gun / Lens MugThumbsUp!


We’ve restocked a handful of fun accessories from ThumbsUp!!

XOXO Postcard Set / RiftJames Jean


Rift is a richly detailed fifteen panel accordian-style book.

30 Postcards / CursivDavid Choe


Cursiv is a black and white collection of drawings, sketches, writing, and ephemera.

 

The FlipBooKit Show

April 26 – May 14, 2014

Reception: Saturday, April 26, 6:30-10 PM

Venture into the world of amazing art – that moves! Giant Robot Artists and creators of FlipBooKit team up to bring their art to life.

The work of over 40 artists, animators and sculptors will be showcased in the first official FlipBooKit show. Featuring hand-cranked miniature movie machines, the FlipBooKit presents animated art in a tangible, physical form. Experience the revival of this nostalgic art form as it breathes life into the moving picture in a whole new way.

First Official “FlipBooKit” Exhibition with art by:

APAK, Aya Kakeda, Aaron Brown, Jeffrey Brown, Stasia Burrington, Sean Chao, Shawn Cheng, Luke Chueh, Eleanor Davis, David Horvath, Mari Inukai, KMNDZ, Jerome Lu, Cassia Lupo, Monkmus, Kwanchai Moriya, Rob Sato, Deth P Sun, Katsuya Terada, Jesse Tise, Scott Tolleson, Yoskay Yamamoto, Jeni Yang.

Heather Cardone, Rachel Koukal, Tanja Rector, Neil Sanders, Hoppip, Tom Bunker, Patrick Burnell,  Csaba Klement, Carmen Luceno, Jeremy Sengly, Jason Clarke, Tiffany England, Ofelia Marquez, Pernille Kjaer, Hope Kroll, Alexandar Lansang, Buster Moody, Daniel Pagan, Colin Raff, Akio Segawa, Cindy Suen, Alexander S. White, Elaine Chen, Elena Renn, Metalnat Hayes, Natalie Gamble, Xray Dreams and More.

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GR2: Kendama Night Photos!By ERIC

A group came from Las Vegas and another from SD on a wednesday! Thanks much everyone.

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David Choe Time Lapse Mural for SuperAwesome at OMCABy ERIC

David choe cranks out a mural of SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot at OMCA.

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Punk Photos B-Shots Exhibition Continues at BalconiBy ERIC

Who knew that 20+ years after shooting the pics, I would have an exhibition of some of the shots at my favorite cafe – Balconi Coffee.

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2015 Sawtelle Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90025

2062 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025

 

    



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GR2: Kendama Night Photos!

A little late on the Krom Kendama Night starring Matt Ballard and Thorkild May. A group came from Las Vegas and another from SD on a wednesday! Thanks much everyone. We’ll do this again.

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Giant Robot Time: 4.4.14 – Suspects opens this Sat. 4.5 at GR2!

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Giant Robot Time for this week.
Come and see Suspects at GR2!



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New Music Reviews: RFTC, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Bongoloidz, California

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New music. Not from publicists (although I appreciate their good looks) but friends! Mario, Fredo, and Adam are not only rad drummers but the raddest dudes. And my new pals in BC/BC are the best, too. But I actually bought all of the official releases because music is worth paying for–especially from homies.

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Rocket From The Crypt – Hits 6 x 7″
While not as coveted as the “He’s a Chef” split-single with Wayne Coyne and Biz Markie, these one-sided city-specific 7″ singles are quite rad for any RFTC fan. And while the series of covers originally sold at European tourstops is called Hits, the songs aren’t exactly household names–except for maybe Venom’s “In League with Satan.” Somehow, RFTC’s version channels both a conga line and “Sympathy for the Devil”! Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” is probably the most-played song of the originals, although I know it better from the episode of The Simpsons where Lisa meets Bleeding Gums. Rocket’s version is unironic, epically long, and especially cool. The Buzzcocks are probably my favorite band to get the treatment, but “Love Is Lies” is not a single going steady but a cut from Love Bites. The way it starts off mellow and become epic reminds me of a Tom Jones or Neil Diamond anthem. Wow. The San Diego band’s take on Red Lorry Yellow Lorry’s “Spinning Round” nicely contrasts a dark, plucky goth bassline with its trademark heavy horns sound. Covering the Boomtown Rats’ “My Blues Away” is definitely more interesting than taking on that other band from Dublin. More garage rockin’, for sure. Out of all of the bands from London, Status Quo is similarly bold choice but the take on “Shy Fly” cements the band’s links to the tradition of pub rock. The Casbah counts as a pub, right? Buy your set of singles from the merch table like I did at The Echoplex (pictured above) and help fill the Swami van’s tank on the road! [Swami Records]

Bongoloidz – S/T CD
Although Fredo Ortiz is best known for his percussion work for the Beastie Boys, his Kickstarter-funded solo project starts off more like Fluf or late Jawbreaker than the Atwater-based (at the time) rappers. Songs like “Subtle Breeze” and “Sompniphobia” are guitar-powered cruisers straight out of the early ’90s and totally rule, but other songs show other facets of the multi-instrumentalist’s abilities, sounds, and tastes. “Japon” has an electro groove complete with processed vocals, “Sk8 Dance” has a cool dark wave feel, and “Facky Freak” has a cumbia vibe (my favorite live song). There’s even some Taiko action! If it sounds like the songs are all over the place, that’s because they are. Yet they all sound great together because Fredo is no dabbler: The multitude of styles comes straight from Fredo’s huge heart and talented fingertips. Very cool cover art by Mackie Osborne, too. [El Bomber Records]

California – Live Recordings
Recently, I received a mysterious package of live recordings (not demos) of a new band featuring Adam from Jawbreaker and J Church, Dustin from The Insides, and Jason from Monsula, Pinhead Gunpowder, and Green Day. Who else is on the songs, where they were recorded, and how far the band will go is unclear but I’m digging the music. “More like Big Star than Big Drill Car,” I was warned and I have no problem with that. “Woodson Lateral” could be an allusion to the much-loved Oakland Raider but its patient groove goes better with driving down the I-5 than driving to the end zone. It’s rootsy but not dusty, with cool breakdowns. “Almost Home” has a little more twang and bashing and is mostly smooth with Tom Petty-like asides. Bitchin’. “Hate The Pilot” is the probably heaviest, punchiest song of the batch, and contemplates what happens after not killing the messenger. I swear there’s some Mick Jones-style riffing at the end. So good, so what’s next for this un-Googleable band? [Blackball, Adeline, or the highest bidder]

Bad Cop/Bad Cop – Boss Lady 7″
My pal Aaron told me that his girlfriend was in a punk band that just signed to Fat so I had to check them out. In only took a few seconds of listening to the band’s debut 7″ for Fat to realize that the title of this single doesn’t refer to The Man but the badass women of the band itself. They are bosses and their songs are as personal as they are tight as they are rocking–proof that aggro and melodic aren’t mutually exclusive. With killer drums that recall Bad Religion, buzzsaw guitars, and supremely confident gang vocals that are harmonized as they are pissed off, the San Pedro band attacks crappy exes, stupid dudes in the pit, squares on the street, and anyone else who might be uncomfortable with their unapologetic punk rockness circa the early ’90s. “Asshole” is a killer song that you’ll never get to hear on the radio, so you better catch ‘em live or buy the record. [Fat Wreck Chords]

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Kowloon Walled City/City of Darkness Revisited

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Perhaps you remember the Q&A with photographer Greg Girard way back in Giant Robot 22. It delved into City of Darkness, the amazing coffee table book he made with fellow photographer Ian Lambot exposing the interconnected maze of adjacent buildings and connecting alleys that made up Kowloon Walled City. The ultra-dense city block was notorious among Hong Kongers for being separate from building codes and law enforcement alike, and was made famous in movies such as Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express and Johnny Mak’s Long Arm of the Law. So I was stoked when Greg recently informed me that a redesigned edition of the book is in the works.

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While locals didn’t seem to care much when when Kowloon Walled City was leveled in 1993 to make space for a shiny new airport, Greg says that he and Lambot have been impressed by “the unexpected ways in which it was turning up as an obvious inspiration in popular culture, and also being referenced in architecture, urban theory and other areas.” So on 20th anniversary of the demolition they decided to update and expand City of Darkness.

The revised edition will be 50 percent bigger than the original one (which was already a brick) and include never-before-seen photos as well as extra text derived from interviews with ex-cops who patrolled the area in the ’60s and ’70s as well as a government survey from the period which lists the exact number of brothels, opium dens, strip clubs, pornography theatres, and dog meat restaurants. Sounds amazing, right? Find out how to support the book–and perhaps get signed copy as well as an archival quality print–at the City of Darkness Revisited Kickstarter page.



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My Punk Rock Photo Exhibition “B-Shots” at Balconi Coffee

The opening night for my exhibition, “B-Shots” was Sunday March 31st at Balconi Coffee in West LA. I imagined it would be myself and a few friends rolling through. It’s not an “art show”, as I imagine art shows. This is more of a document of a time period. The late 80s and early to mid 90s.

I was actually more impressed and thankful to the artists who came and lent support. Mari Inukai, Luke Chueh, Edwin Ushiro, Andrew Hem, Sean Chao, Rob Sato, Ako Castuera, Kris Chau, Leah Chun, and I know I’m forgetting some at this moment. There was so much talent in the room, it was overwhelming. It was also great to talk about the shows, the bands, and listen to some of them via a playlist. Also, I recognized Dee Plakas, the drummer of L7 in a group of folks who were checking it out. That was a holy shit moment! Although these photos are pulled from half of my negatives that I only recently found, I’m now bound to find the other half and compile an even larger collection some time soon.

That’s Kris Chau and Ako Castuera taking a look.
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A note I wrote about the exhibition.
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I made a zine for the exhibition, “From the Pit” along with a special display box made by Dirty Dean.
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A group shot near the end. Thanks for coming through. I’ll add a bit more some time soon.
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flicks by DJ Tony Jr.
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Mike Kelley retrospective at MOCA

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Last Friday, I attended the media preview for the Mike Kelley retrospective at MOCA and it’s amazing–the biggest showing of the much-loved L.A.-based artist’s work ever. It started with an assortment of short speeches, starting off with new MOCA director Philippe Vergne calling it a homecoming after debuting at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and making stops in Paris and New York. Mary Clare Stevens, Executive Director of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts described the artist’s personal involvement in the show’s evolution and Ann Goldstein, the former director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and exhibition curator, added that the show began as related to theme but shifted to chronology upon the artist’s death in 2012.

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MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson emphasized MOCA’s history of supporting the artist (who was part of the museum’s “First Show” and has been in almost 30 more including one that he curated) and added that the current stop includes a Chinatown-related piece that has never been shown in Los Angeles before. Framed and Frame (1999) is located on the upper floor, and challenges the audience with concepts of context but also alludes to the Downtown L.A. area’s punk rock history via sex and drugs paraphernalia mixed in with the traditional wishing well icons.

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Another large piece is Kandors (2007-2011), a collection of sculptures of Superman’s hometown reimagined from various comic book pages. The reference to the alien city, shrunken by the iconic hero’s arch-enemy Braniac and kept under glass, is esoteric to many but is folklore to hardcore comic book readers. Kelley created a video installation mashing up the four-color hero with the goth poetry of Sylva Plath, but never realized his plan to introduce the Art Forum scene to the Comic-Con crowd online. (more…)



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OMCA: Ray Potes Hamburger Eyes + David Choe

Ray Potes from Hamburger Eyes stopped in today to check out his prints. They’re gigantic and it’s part of a grid of photos being displayed in his section. Glad to see his curated images so large. I’m not sure how Hamburger Eyes is viewed everywhere, or if it’s viewed, but knowing the commitment to the craft of photography and taking it to the world of zines is amazing. Ray Potes and his crew do a lot for the world of photography. I’m proud of have them as part of this exhibition and it was great to see Ray for more than a few minutes since the LA Art Book Fair. I’ll see him again soon on April 18th.

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Meanwhile, David Choe just about finished his mural. It’s amazing how people tried to get in by “delivering food”. Did you really think you’d get into the doors? Security stopped some strangers from getting in. This piece shows a lot of maturity of David Choe. Can a face be obscured? Does each line need to represent something? Can it be abstraction? The work slowly changes in a great way. Not everything needs to be literal and clear. Glad to work with him again. Meanwhile catch him on ViceTV.

OMCA will be diligently working onwards for the SuperAwesome exhibition.

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David Choe Painting and Andrew Hem’s Mural at OMCA

I’m visiting the Oakland Museum of CA exhibition for the preparation SuperAwesome Art and Giant Robot. This might be the 6th or 7th visit now and counting and it’s looking great. I took a few pics of what’s going on including the already well documented mural by artist Andrew Hem who conducted great media appearances as well. The mural is huge and fitting for the space. It’s a rest spot at the entrance of the museum and people are already interacting with it. Great job Andrew! I’m glad to have him on board for it. See the extra photos for the details including his “giant robot” nod.

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I’m at one end of the exhibition space that actually has more to the sides than I can show. There are some rooms that are getting cut off, including the entry way that contains Giant Robot highlights, the room with the Scion Famicar, a room with my personal collection of “stuff”, Adrian Tomine’s room, and so much more. But this photo tells a lot about how large the space really is. It’s 8000 square feet.

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There’s David Choe painting. He’s quick. In a blink of an eye, he can cover a wall, then like Kaiser Soze, poof he’s gone. As many of you know, I’ve known him for ages and it’s almost like old times. The music: Explosions in the Sky, and he’s off painting.

The exhibition is coming together with the efforts of everyone involved and there are many of them. I can’t begin to thank the folks who helped, there’s just too many, but there’s still another few weeks of serious installing that’ll be happening. I’ll be on board to help.

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Show reviews: Vandals and Descendents at Musink, Channel Three at The Redwood

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It was just a couple of weeks ago that I was having lunch with my friend Joe, telling him that I bought a ticket to his band’s upcoming show with the Descendents. He asked if I was bringing my daughter Eloise and I said no way! I’d want to be in front where it’s packed with all these big sweaty gross guys. And then he said something like, “No, I’ll get you onstage where all the families and friends of the bands hang out. Wendy can come, too! I’ll put them on the list.”
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Tales of Print revisited: 20th anniversary of Giant Robot mag talk at GR2

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First of all, thanks to Eric for making this 20th anniversary of Giant Robot talk happen. Can’t believe it was 20 years ago that we cranked out the first stapled-and-folded issue of Giant Robot and 4 years ago that the final glossy mag hit the newsstands. Coming back actually was a double homecoming for me since not only has the world gone on without the magazine for that long but the Giant Robot shop and gallery have soldiered on just fine without me! (Occasional blogging not withstanding.) So it was especially cool for me to be back on Sawtelle with Eric and so many collaborators and friends in attendance.

Of course, the event was a lot of fun. Eric and I have always made a great team not only making a kick-ass DIY magazine about Asian popular culture, but also giving talks about it. As usual, we shared stories about making the mag and pushing Asian culture, but this time we were able to point out friends in the audience who contributed words, photography, artwork, eyeballs, ad sales, and other forms of support from 1994-2010.

There was no need to encourage the crowd to apply the DIY aesthetic or punk rock spirit to what they love–as we used to do at colleges, museum, and other venues–because everyone in attendance was already an expert at that. Even the little kids who showed up, my 6-year-old daughter included.

I’d do a lousy job trying to recount what we talked about since we started off with an outline but went almost entirely freestyle. You’re better off listening to the podcast anyway. But I have been thinking a lot about what we didn’t get around to saying… How do I view the magazine in retrospect? How does making the mag echo in my life today?

The first thing that entered my mind when skimming back issues in preparation for the talk was that the topics of our articles were not obvious one. Especially in the early editions. Of course, underground, independent, and imported music, movies, and art were a lot less accessible back then but perhaps more importantly Asian culture was simply not cool in any way. We taste-tasted Asian hot sauces and canned coffee (with GWAR and ALL, respectively) before foodie culture existed. We wrote awesome articles about the Yellow Power Movement, Manzanar, and even rice cookers when Asians in America were written off as nerds.

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Mixing everyday Asian American culture with ripping punk bands, radical skateboarders, Hong Kong movies at their peak, and up-and-coming artists was natural to us but unheard of for the mainstream, and predated the global shift from West to East. Art, design, entertainment, and business were based in Europe when we started but today everyone knows that the present and future depends on Asia for inspiration and growth. Don’t even get me started about Asian pop culture. We will never take credit for making the shift happen but our loyal readers were definitely on top of it.

So the rising costs of paper and postage, fall of advertisers and distribution in print, and advent of digital media aren’t the only factors that drove Giant Robot magazine into extinction. There is simply no longer a need for a champion of Asian underdogs since we’re on top now. We’re not the ostracized and overlooked punks and nerds anymore. In many ways, we’re the jocks.

Nonetheless, I’ll always savor the feeling of being two guys in a bedroom, and later a garage, attacking boring, mainstream culture by treating friends from the underground like Jon Moritsugu and Lance Hahn as if they were the most important filmmakers and musicians in the world, as well as then-obscure Asians for overseas like Wong Kar-Wai and Yoshitomo Nara as if everyone had seen all of their movies and been following their trajectory in art. Of course, every issue would have a dozen such nobodies that we would treat as heroes in our universe. Most of them are still excellent in obscurity.

Because we never thought of the magazine as a mirror to Asian America but as a place to share our favorite people and things, my life hasn’t changed that much outside of not making a magazine. The Friday and Saturday before the 20th anniversary talk, I attended concerts with The Vandals and The Descendents and then Channel 3 before making a visit to the current Nara exhibit–music and art that were in the pages of GR. It might have been Ice-T or Steve McDonald who said “Giant Robot isn’t a magazine but a scene.” And for me (and Eric, and many readers, I suspect) it’s still a way of life. I scarf the food, dig to the music, devour the movies, and check out the art shows. The only difference is that I stopped collecting toys and only buy old punk records.

Long live Giant Robot. R.I.P. to my favorite magazine of all time.



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Giant Robot Magazine Talk: Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong

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(podcast of the talk at bottom)

Giant Robot Presented Tales of Print March 23rd, 2014.

I doubt there could ever be closure to Giant Robot magazine unless the door gets completely slammed, meaning no shop or gallery. Maybe I’d have to drop dead for that to happen. But then again, there are huge parts of my life, especially in new projects where Giant Robot magazine is a completely unknown part of my past. It’s amazing how many folks don’t know it. Then, there are moments when it’s brought back to life for an instant.

It’s great to speak with Martin about a period totaling 16 years of our lives. How can you do that in a window of two hours? You can’t, but you can fly through ideas with the broadest of strokes. We showed some slides of magazine stories from different topics, including travel, art, cinema, food, and history. Contributors, volunteers, friends, family, and past cover artists came through. It was nice to see their faces. The talk went for a little over an hour and a half and frankly, it went by a little too quick. There’s so much to say, so much minutiae that you can’t remember on the spot, and so little time. It was a long road to issue 68 and although 69 isn’t happening soon, you’ll never know what might happen. It’s one of those, “it can happen, but should it?”

A few questions came up and those were always nice to hear. Gladly, again our friends were the ones asking. It was fun to go over things again and even in this post, it’s hard to sum things up. Maybe it’s best to let them be changing memories, so that it lasts infinitely. Like that final episode of Lost, I wish I could flash sideways and hang out again.

Meanwhile, the 20 Year exhibition at GR2 continues, and the line up of artists might be one of the greatest ever, but part of that, is thanks to the legacy of Giant Robot. Imagine, among the first to join in when I sent out a call to artists? It was literally Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara. Both of whom I haven’t heard from in ages, jumped on right away. The many other artists as well, from way back to the final. It’s an honor and it’s great to keep working with many of them who I still see on a regular basis.

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Q&A With Actor Hoon Lee

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Hoon Lee, being bowled over.

Don’t diss “Banshee” star Hoon Lee on Twitter, even if you’re just kidding.

Lee had tweeted about an upcoming guest appearance on an episode of “The Black List” and I replied, tongue in cheek, “You’ve been on my black list for years.” I was rewarded with a fan of Lee’s telling me to “Back the fuck up!”

After I assured the tweeter that I was only kidding and that I was writing a profile about him, she gushed, “Mr.Lee is an awesome actor! He takes you into the heart of the character.” She added, “and he’s CUTE as hell!” Others had similar thoughts.

After watching two seasons of Cinemax’s hit show “Banshee,” it’s easy to see why Lee has so many fans. Apart from his ample acting chops, Lee is the most imposing Asian male presence ever in an American series. The man is as muscular as an action figure and can hold the menacing gaze of a panther. Lee’s cut enough to go shirtless, but for “Banshee” he takes it to another level: He squeezes into tight skirts. Job, Lee’s character (pronounced the biblical way), is a cross-dressing hair stylist and genius computer hacker who snaps lines like, “Suck my tit!”

Lee says he lost 30 pounds for his vision of Job. Staying in that shape isn’t always easy because in Charlotte, N.C., where “Banshee” is filmed, “You get hit with a biscuit every five steps.” He’s going to be hit with a lot more biscuits: “Banshee” was recently renewed for a third season.

You wouldn’t know it from seeing Job, but IRL Lee laughs easily and often. I caught up with Lee over ramen and pork buns–a reward for completing an intense physical workout session.

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Giant Robot: How did you prepare to get into Job’s mind for the first time? Is it easier to slip into it now?

Hoon Lee: The first time would have been my audition. The scene was a confrontation with “homophobes,” I believe the script called them, in a diner. I keyed in on the things I knew I could swing: a sense of vindication, anger, violent intent. Everything else, the sort of external affects of the character I just sort of took a stab at. The script certainly carried a lot of the character to begin with. The character seemed “full” on the page already.

There’s an adjustment period with Job — to settle back in after I’ve been out of the skin for a bit. And so much of what he does and says is quite different from my natural impulse. So I have to make sure I give myself a bit of a soak in the character before cameras roll. I wouldn’t say it’s “easier” but I would say I have more faith that I’ll find him if I put in that little bit of time.

GR: Banshee is infused with violence and sex. But after the initial shock wears off, it seems like an artistic choice, sort of like the excess of bullets flying around in a John Woo film. There’s something deeper under there. At the core of it, what does Banshee mean to you?

HL: Banshee, to me, is a continuation of American popular fiction — gothic fiction, detective fiction, comic books, pulp. Like many of those genres, and like sci-fi, I think it establishes its own rules — heightened drama, sex, violence — as a way of re-lensing common and persistent themes. Things like the search for identity, self-knowledge, reinvention. Or the bonds of loyalty and family. Innocence and corruption. Everyone in Banshee is sort of in the process of reinvention. Which is perhaps the single greatest American trope there is. So at its core, I think Banshee is about American reinvention in the face of forces that want to prevent that.

GR: You’ve always lived in the Northeast so is it a bit of a culture shock living in Charlotte during shooting?

HL: Yes! But in a good way. We’re only there part of the year so the change in climate, general civility and pace is actually very welcome. I get to enjoy it on its own terms, knowing I’m not really putting down permanent roots. Six months is long enough to feel you’re not really a tourist, but not long enough to grow tired of the good things on offer.

Hoon Lee _ Frankie Faison

GR: Are you anxious to get back to the stage? I’m sure New York’s dying to see you tear it up again in person.

HL: I’m dying to — that still feels native to me. I get excited to do readings or workshops of new things in particular. Sadly the timing doesn’t always work out. Our hiatus is broken up by the holidays so it’s not always easy to commit to a theatre project on either side of the New Year. But stretching new muscles in the world of television and film is proving very rewarding. I’m learning a lot about the process as a whole, not just the relatively small part that is acting in a single role.

But yes. Dying to get back to stage. Would love to do some classics actually.

GR: Like a dirty little secret, people still get off on memories of Sides: The Fear Is Real by The Mr. Miyagi Theater Company. The last time the Miyagi crew was together, some were saying it felt like there was still unfinished business. Can the world expect an updated Sides at some point?

HL: Man, I don’t know! It’s very gratifying that people remember that show so fondly. But it’s been a really long time! I would never say “never” and if the right opportunity presented itself I’d leap at it. But the original show grew very organically and I wouldn’t want to force anything. I think when the time’s right something will pop into view.

GR: You’re like Jeremy Lin in some ways–Harvard guy goes and does the atypical, the unexpected. What advice do you have to younger people who want to pursue the arts but have hardass parents who are set on them going to medical school or worse?

HL: I’m so not like Jeremy Lin — as anyone who has seen me do anything athletic will tell you.
Any advice I might give is going to sound either incredibly clichéd or so general as to be meaningless. Everyone’s situation is specific to them. I guess the only thing I’d say is if nothing else, make sure you are checking in with yourself regularly and with complete honesty. Drives and desires change and fluctuate. The romance of being an artist might fade with time and lead you to more practical thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with that. Similarly stagnation in a more secure job might spur you to a different artistic challenge. Be honest about what you are actually pursuing though because there’s more overlap than you might think between professions. And things like “creativity” aren’t reserved for the arts. You can find that everywhere.

GR: What are your favorite toys?

HL: Right now, computers. Favorite tools and favorite toys. Especially the tiny handheld ones that look like phones…

Hoon Lee



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Giant Robot Time: 3.21.13 – Giant Robot Tales of Print is this Sun. 3.23 at GR2!

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GR Time at this link!



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An interview with Zhang Shouwang from Carsick Cars

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Is Carsick Cars the biggest independent band in China? Possibly, and they’re probably the best-known Chinese band in the U.S. as well. With the gorgeous drone of the Velvet Underground, experimental edge of Sonic Youth, and a touch of Kraftwerk, the group has familiar (and impeachable) elements for Western ears. I saw them at Los Globos last week during their current North American tour promoting 3, the new LP engineered by Hamish Kilgour from The Clean and mixed by Sonic Boom from Spaceman 3. Afterward, I had a short conversation with the band’s founding member, guitar player, singer, and leader, Zhang Shouwang.

The new album sounds great and so did last week’s show. How has the new lineup’s sound developed since getting together?
We spent a long time to create the chemistry, learn, and record. I think because we spent so much time at it, we feel comfortable with each other. We’re very stable and the two new members bring a lot of fresh ideas.

You knew the guys before, right?
It’s a small music scene in Beijing, and everyone sees each other all the time. After the last Carsick Cars group broke up, I had already played for fun with He Fan from Birdstriking and it was very natural for him to play bass in the band. It took more than two drummers to find Houzi. The rhythm of Carsick Cars is simple, but it’s not like anyone can do it. The other drummers didn’t really know how and had their own style.

You always play with the coolest drummers.
Wang Xu in White+ is the best drummer in Beijing. Most drummers there just play rock but he pays everything, such as jazz. (more…)



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GR2: Exhibition 4/5 – 4/23 – Suspects -Albert Reyes, Sean Chao, KMNDZ, Ray Young Chu, Prodip Leung, Aaron Brown

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Group Exhibition, “Suspects” featuring Albert Reyes, Sean Chao, KMNDZ, Ray Young Chu, Prodip Leung, Aaron Brown.

It’s always difficult to encapsulate the work of six artists who are participating in one exhibition. The theme is that each of them creates characters which ultimately become topics of questions and thoughts, hence, Suspects.

Artists Albert Reyes, KMNDZ, Sean Chao, Ray Young Chu and Aaron Brown reside in the LA area, while Prodip Leung hails from Hong Kong. Each approach art from different backgrounds which include graffiti, illustration, music, and simple creativity.

Giant Robot 2 – 2062 Sawtelle Blvd LA, CA 90025 310-445-9276

April 5 – April 23rd, 2014 6:30-10pm

 



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GR2: 3/23 3-5pm Sunday, Giant Robot – Tales of Print

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Giant Robot 2 – 2062 Sawtelle Blvd LA, CA 90025 310-445-9276

Sunday March 23th, 2014 3-5pm

Join us in a talk about Giant Robot magazine.

Established in 1994, Giant Robot began as a zine and grew into a full sized magazine sold around the world. Considered by many as influential in Asian Popular Culture and in pop culture circles in general, the magazine ceased publishing at the end of 2010, but it’s legacy lives on. Scheduled to appear are the editors Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong and other guests TBA. Projected photos, stories, and more. For any additional information, contact [email protected]



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An unofficial 20th anniversary of Giant Robot magazine post

The 20 Years Art + Mag and SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot shows at GR2 and the Oakland Museum of California, respectively, are coming up soon and Eric has assembled stellar lineups that boast many of the biggest-name artists who have appeared in the magazine and galleries. So many familiar faces, such great talent. The twentieth anniversary celebrations of Giant Robot’s first issue will be a blast, and I hope that some of you are able to attend them.

While I have not been involved in either event in any manner—art galleries and art shows are for artists not editors, I understand—I’d like to recall some other folks who were essential to my favorite magazine’s 16 years of publication. (more…)



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