Los Angeles Nista Episode 11 – Revisiting my time with Giant Robot and a link

I haven’t done any public speaking about Giant Robot magazine since it bit the dust in November 2010. So I was surprised and flattered when my friend Eddie Solis (from the band It’s Casual) asked me to be on his radio show which has featured the likes of Chuck Dukowski (Black Flag), Keith Morris (OFF!, Black Flag), Dimitri Coats (OFF!), pro skater and musician Mike Vallely (Elephant Skateboards, Good for You), and Rick Kosick (Big Brother magazine, Jackass).

My particular episode streamed live on Monday night, and I was indeed a good fit since the magazine that Eric and I started was definitely a product of Los Angeles, punk rock, and even skateboarding. Eddie and I talked about all of those things and how they factored into the stapled-and-folded zine that became a mini-art and culture empire. I’ve had a lot of thoughts and emotions bottled up since moving on, and it felt good to let some of it out. Hopefully that came through.

I also got to play some music: J Church, Cringer, Clive Chin, Santic, Dirty Beaches, Romanes, Guitar Wolf, Paranmaum. Eddie played some track from the upcoming Good for You LP, too, featuring Mike V and Greg Ginn. Cranking and sharing your favorite music is the best.

Driving home, I began thinking about how great it felt to talk about the work I did, especially since the magazines are basically out of circulation and its memory is fading like a fart in the wind. Yet Giant Robot’s impact and spirit are still being felt, not only through the work that Eric is still doing in the world of indie art but also through readers who have gone on to to rad things, like Eddie.

Check out the podcast HERE or on iTunes and let me know what you think.


GR Pop up at Lost Weekend Video, SF. 6/18 Meet Bonnie Burton, Author Star Wars Craft Book

Lost Weekend Video and Giant Robot Presents

Meet Bonnie Burton, author of Star Wars Craft Book at Lost Weekend Video

Saturday, June 18th 2011, 5-7pm.

Lost Weekend Video (Giant Robot Pop Up)
1034 Valencia at 21st Mission District
San Francisco, CA

Author Bonnie Burton, a Star Wars fanatic is the brains behind Grrl.com and produces tremendous amounts of posts, tweets, and pop culture knowledge via multiple social networks. She’ll be at Lost Weekend Video as part of the Giant Robot Pop Up shop signing books and providing crafting knowledge. If you purchase a book, she’ll grant you a craft package that you can assemble on the spot!

Giant Robot was born as a Los Angeles-based magazine about Asian, Asian-American, and new hybrid culture in 1994, but has evolved into a full-service pop culture provider with a shop and gallery in Los Angeles, and a website at giantrobot.com

No Comments

Giant Robot at Ball State University – Thursday November 6th 5-7pm

Come meet Myself and Martin Wong on the campus at Ball State University.
It’s a campus lecture that’s hopefully about Giant Robot, and it’s work with popular culture – all kinds – from mainstream, to Asian, and Asian American. It’s on:

Thursday November 6th 5-7pm.
Ball State University is 2000 W. University Ave. Ball State University. Muncie Indiana 47306.
L.A. Pittenger Student Center – FORUM ROOM

If you live in Indiana or any of the surrounding states. You should come by and say hello, it’s not often that we’re in Indiana.

No Comments

Dirty Hands World Premier – Harry Kim and David Choe Los Angeles Film Festival – The Crest

I like Photos of Harry Kim and David Choe. This one says it all, doesn’t it? It was before the film, Dirty Hands was to start. Harry holds a bouquet of flowers. Harry with flowers! He’s holding up a ticket to get in and he’s wearing a tie-dye t shirt that says, Arizona on it. David stands next to him, with a Sharpie and film festival badge in hand, arm around his great friend. Both not knowing how other directors might handle a beginning of a film festival film, often with red carpet bravado and pompousness. This was the opposite. It was as if they handed the keys to the prison to the inmates. Everything was turned on it’s head. Yet, a huge staff of support was there for the film, even if it was just from friends. Meanwhile, a line spanned down the block. It was long. 

Dirty Hands website.
Meet the parents. Harry Kim’s parents on the left, David Choe’s parents on the right. None had seen the film yet. They were proud to wear the Dirty Hands T shirt by Upper Playground. That alone was a great sight. They had no idea what was upcoming and what adventures their kids went on together over the last 8 years. Seeing each other was a great start. Here’s a little back story. Evidently, Harry got into trouble perhaps at the hands of David’s older brother. The Kim’s were apprehensive of the Choe clan, they haven’t spoken in years and years. The film brought them out and together last night. It was a sight at the after film party at Asuka restaurant next door. The elder Koreans sat at a table, talked, and were often seen pointing fingers happily at their kids. Something was brewing and only they know what that is, but being proud was definitely part of it.  The crowd was energetic, they laughed, clapped, and I only heard great things about the film.

Here’s that long, long line. Some got turned away. The theater was packed for this film. If you got in, it was a special night. David Choe hid out and didn’t want to be in the awkward scene of having his parents see him say and do the nuttiest things. I introduced the film, and that was actually tough, since, it’s easy to talk about David Choe, but this time, it was about Harry, and he got a huge cheer when I mentioned his name. The film went off without a hitch. I video taped the Q and A, and I’ll see if I can get that up soon.
My friend Bobby Hundreds. We stood next to each other after the film, taking it in. A nice dude walked by and said, “whoa, my two favorite bloggers next to each other.” I figured that was Bobby’s friend and I got to ride his coat tail for a second.
That’s David before the film.
David and James Jean, the cover artist of Giant Robot 54. We sponsored the after party at Asuka. See the banner that’s sagging? Dave put it up. He doesn’t know tape as well as paint.
Dave signs Converse. He’s featured in an ad for Converse, wish we got that ad in the mag. 

That’s Jessica Sanders, filmmaker – a true paparazzi shot.

This guy got everything.
The scene at Asuka. You can actually make out the parents in the background in the black t shirts!
After after party at Barcade in Korea town. You can actually play games inside. We were there until near 4am.
It was Harry’s night, and maybe year. I can’t tell you how proud I am of this dude. People discount Harry a lot. Imagine, Dave’s a world famous type of artist, there’s been this dude tagging along shooting footage. No one has seen much, and it’s been dragging so long, it seems like it would never ever come out. But lo and behold, this man has major talent along with his staff. Great editing job as well.
That’s big brother, Jimmy Choe on the left.
Even though Harry had a great time, David sat on his face, sweaty nuts to the chin. In this way, these dudes haven’t grown up at all. 
That’s Yoshi Obayashi, he’s a comedian, his brother is a pro skater with the same name.

The night obviously ends in Korean food. The weird thing was that at almost 5am, there was a soccer game on, and I’m sure it was Korea playing, and there were people actually there to watch.


Korea Society Talk This Wed May 28, 2008 New York City

I’ll be in NYC for a day or so to talk to whoever shows up on this panel discussion. It’s about stuff I like, Toys!

The Korea Society
950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, Eighth Floor

Please join us for a lively talk on Korean toys and their fascinating origins in the interplay between Korean, Japanese and American pop cultures. This panel is presented in conjunction with our current traveling exhibition, Toy Stories: Souvenirs from Korean Childhood.

Joshua Bernard, editor, CollectionDX.com
Eric Nakamura, publisher, Giant Robot Magazine
Joanne Rudis, design director, Fisher Price/Mattel
Seho Kim, creative director, The Korea Society

$10 (members) and $15 (non-members)
Buy tickets online or RSVP to (212)759-7525, ext. 355 email.

About the Panelists

Joshua Bernard, editor, CollectionDX.com
As a child of the ’70s, Joshua Bernard was raised on Shogun Warriors, Speed Racer, Starblazers, Voltron and George Lucas. His obsession for Japanese toys and culture was the impetus behind CollectionDX.com, his popular Web site for toy collecting. Joshua collects Korean and Japanese toys, has written for Super7 magazine and co-authored the book Tokyo Underground: Toy Design and Culture in Tokyo.

Eric Nakamura, publisher, Giant Robot
After graduating from UCLA with a degree in East Asian Studies, Eric got his start in the magazine business at Larry Flynt Publications. He is currently the publisher of Giant Robot, a magazine and Web site dedicated to Asian American pop culture. Eric has also produced the independent film Sunsets, shot photos for punk rock bands and designed t-shirts.

Joanne Rudis, design director, Fisher Price/Mattel
A 1993 graduate of FIT’s toy design program, Joanne Rudis began her career in Chicago at Strombecker (Tootsietoys). From 1993 to 1995, she designed Sesame Street wood toys, die-cast metal toys and Disney bubble toys for Strombecker. In 1995, she moved to Rhode Island to work for Playskool, the preschool division of Hasbro, where she focused on their Dollhouse line. Rudis joined Fisher Price in 1997. She is currently the design director for the Disney licenses at Fisher Price.

Seho Kim, Creative Director, The Korea Society
Kim received his BFA degree from Rhode Island School of Design and his MFA from Parsons School of Design/New School University, where he was the 2003 commencement speaker. He is the winner of the 2006 Spotlight Award, the 2006 American Design Award and the 2005/2006 Magellan Award for excellence in communications in design. He was worked on projects for W Hotels and The Store, and illustrated Go for Kids, a multi-paneled children’s book published in 2001.


UCLA Talk Asia Institute

Asia Institute got us in to speak today. It started off with a Thai to go lunch and a bunch of questions from the many students who are part of the Asia Pacific Arts and Asia Media web publications out of UCLA. Many have titles, some are interns, but they asked a bunch of questions relating to magazine making. I was challenging myself to remember a whole room of people. That’s William with the glasses, the woman on the right is Debbie, but the names started to fade away. Check out all of their links, including the Asia Institute.

This is what the talk looked like. Behind the project sat Tritia Toyota who’s a newscaster in LA. I assume she’s still active doing a lot of projects and she took a lot of notes during our talk. Why? I have no idea. She probably didn’t realize it, but I’m a long time fan and I watched her broadcast often. I remember her best on NBC. Check out the video below, it’s old, but her cadence is perfect and her hair amazing. A touch of blush and a more natural make up style made her better than the rest. In a way, I think she was the true prototype of the Asian American woman anchor. Connie Chung was a big name, but her style was over the top.

A fun fact is that punk band, The Dickies, recorded a song called, “I’m Stuck in a Pagoda with Tricia Toyota” They spelled her name different, who knows why. I wonder what she thinks of the song? Had I got to speak with her, that would have been my first question. 

The talk went well, and it was supposed to include a little about finding a job that’s untraditional. I think we did a fair job in showing how it is. The weird thing is that the event took place in the faculty lounge, even as a student, I never got to go inside. Now, I get to see what it’s all about. 


last bits chicago and ny

Walking around downtown Chicago, I couldn’t help but notice this theater. I’m not offended or anything like that, if anything, I’m a bit nostalgic since I know this was created in an era when Oriental was a word, when Oriental could have been a rug, and if you look at the top of the sign, it looks like a genie’s hat or a Taj Mahal. Ford makes it way at the bottom of the sign as well, which looks unfitting. I wonder, why does the McDonald’s have a green “L”?

At the UIC men’s bathroom, I saw this sign again. I’ve blogged it once before. But this one had some additional lines added in implying, put finger in butt, and you get bacon. It makes strange sense, but it’s creative.

This was in NYC. I’ve seen this before, but it’s funny to see a tag added to the “street art”. I guess I like street art when it’s neat like this. 

Remember Ming Tran? Vegan Supreme Marshmallows? The song by Gob, Hookups ads, or the video below?  She’s in NY and might be piloting a plane you travel in. Yes, she flies now.



Yvonne Lau, a professor at DePaul University invited me to appear on her show, ConversAsian that shows in Illinois. Before you mess with it’s name, know that it’s been around for years. It’s fairly free form, it’s Yvonne and a subject sitting across from each other in a simple room. It’s what you’ve seen on cable access, but this one focuses on Asian Americans. Rare actually, isn’t it? I made it through two segments easily, each being 28 minutes. There’s no editing, so if you decide to melt down, you can’t take it back.

This is what the control board looks like. I’m sure it’s not brand new, but it works. We talked about the beginnings of GR, where it’s been, where it’s going, Asian America, and what I think about it all. It’s fun to be able to air out your mind, especially when I’ve been thinking about things for a while. 
After the interview, Yvonne thanked me and said it was inspiring. If you see the broadcast, give me a shout.  


University Illinois Chicago

Talking at a the University of Illinois Chicago, which is a state school that’s supposedly not among the better institutions, it was a a great chance to talk to the people-the regular kids-which is pretty much how I got my education. 

1) The school is 25% Asian, and even with that, there’s no Asian American studies as a major. There’s a student Asian American office, but it ends there. One office, and 25% of the campus who’s Asian. It doesn’t compute, does it? The majority is probably 1.5 generation, which is maybe why it’s splintered. 

2) We talked for about 40 minutes to a decent amount of people, and then answered questions, then it became an impromptu signing session. Usually people just gather and take, but in Chicago, they lined up orderly.

3) The best part of talking to schools is that the kids who aren’t forced to come, really listen as compared to talking at a class where people just don’t care.

4) Another good part about doing it out of town is that these are all new folks who are just finding out about the magazine. Hopefully, they’ll stick around.

5) The good thing is that we got to eat Greek food for dinner. The future of Asian America? I’m not sure, it’s always cloudy, but today, I think we talked good game.


Japanese American National Museum Board of Governors

Norman Mineta… Read his wikipedia entry. He’s had an amazing career, including an airport named after him. He’s the first Asian American mayor in the US (San Jose). The San Jose International is actually in his name. And he was the only Democrat in George Bush’s regime. That’s out of control. Tonite I met him, Senator Daniel Inouye who I actually met before, and many others. Why? They’re part of the Board of Governors. At first, I thought they’d be like Arnold Schwartzeneggar, but they’re more like Asian Americans on a mission. But tonite, it was a special dinner to talk about the museum, it’s possible future, the next GR Biennale that’s in 2009, and how they fit in. The talk was maybe 30 minutes, and I went through a few slides. 

The Senator from Hawaii rolls without any secret service. Am I supposed to say that? Daniel Inouye has been a Senator since 1959. He must love his job. I can’t see him ever losing another Senate election. I’ll bet his punk rock son, Kenny could run in his father’s place and win right off the bat. Daniel Inouye is like Ironman. Also in the house was George Takei, my main man. He’s a cool guy, and is a part of the GR team, especially when it’s museum or popular culture related. When 2009 rolls through, he’s definitely going to be a part of this entire party. 

Read about Mineta
Read about Inouye

I heard some say that I did a fine job tonite. I tried to give a background of what GR is about, what we like to do, how we do things, and then I tried to show the museum and our exhibition, what it meant to people, and how diverse of an audience it attracted. In the end, we’ll need their understanding and support to make a Biennale or other shows, work. I also told them that all of this wouldn’t be worth doing if we didn’t have their support. Why would I ever want to faction out a place that desperately needs to be cohesive? That said, I think we’re all on the same page and on the same team. The last photo is all of us eating the leftovers. If I’m ever a “governor,” I guess I’ll eat with them. For now, I’m happy to hang out with these mofos.

Next stop Comicon NY. Be there later today or if not, I’ll be there on Sunday for sure. Depends on how early I can get in. Then the talks in Chicago. The first at UIC, and then a special morning session. 


Subverses panel discussion

Does that look sparse? Maybe. But as it went, more came in, and it didn’t feel like as many seats were empty. It’s a wide angle lens illusion. The talk itself was a lot more thoughtful that thought provoking at least to me than most panel discussions I am on. At this point in my life, being on a panel is about giving something to the people who attending to take with them, rather then dazzling them with useless “wow factor” facts and information. It’s always a difficult situation since being on a panel is also being an entertainer. If you’re not telling jokes and getting laughs which are good for a moment but are fleeting, then you have to care and hopefully have enough incite to offer some new thoughts about whatever topic you’re on. Hopefully the audience will understand what you’re talking about.

That’s Phil, Angryasianman.com

The panel was about popular culture but crossed into many avenues of fairly thought provoking discussion at least from my end. What could have been tired stories about Asian pop culture heroes, turned into issues of politics, “community,” Asian American representation, Asian vs Asian America. We were given a list of questions, which I didn’t read, and maybe I should have. I was forced to think a lot which I don’t have to do most of the times in panels or talks. We did get through all of their questions. It felt like a lot and usually time runs out quick, but we kept on going.

Jeff Liu from Visual Communications (yes go to the film fest in LA. May 1 – 8th) and Daniel Lee the professor at UCLA.

It was great to hear words from the other panelists. I learned about their perspectives, which differ from mine, but are backed up with their reasons and experiences. The audience questions were good too. They made me think, just to offer decent answers. If you missed it tonite, it might show up on video. The Subverses team did tape it. For maybe a few minutes, I felt in tune with where Asian America sits. It’s not great yet, but it’s moving, and that’s good.


Giant Robot three talks UCLA this thursday April 10, U of Illinois Chicago April 23, UCLA again April 30 – all different

CLICK on any of the flyers or articles TO MAKE LARGER!

April 10, thursday Eric Nakamura on a panel discussion about Asian and Asian American popular culture at UCLA. UCLA Asian American Studies Graduate Student Association presents “Asian American Popular Culture”

Support The 8th Annual SubVerses, a campus-wide event addressing Asian
American community issues and providing a forum of expression for a
collection of voices.

Please join us for a panel discussion featuring Daniel Lee (UCLA
Faculty), Jeff Liu (Visual Communications), Eric Nakamura (Giant
Robot), and Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man).

Date: Thursday, April 10, 2008
Time: 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.
Place: UCLA-MOORE HALL Room 100
405 Hilgard Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90095

April 23, 2008 Chicago
Eric and Martin speaking at University of Illinois Chicago. Here it is online.
Wednesday, April 23
4:00 p.m.
Student Center East, Room 302
Reception Following

April 30th Wednesday UCLA
WEDNESDAY April 30, 2008
Asian Pop Entrepreneurs: Giant Robot Returns to UCLA Careers in Asia talk with Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong, Co-Editors of Giant Robot
Hacienda Room, UCLA Faculty Center
3:00 – 4:30 pm
Reception to Follow – so come and eat food.

No Comments

the talk at UCLA link in case you thought it was fake.

Here’s a link to that talk at UCLA…

Wow, a career in Asia!? We’ll do our best.

Careers in Asia talk with Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong, Co-editors of Giant Robot. Sponsored by the Asia Institute.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
UCLA Faculty Center, Hacienda Room
Los Angeles, CA 90095


No Comments

Subverses next week Here’s the flyer

Hope the others are okay that there’s a robot in the flyer. We’ve been on panels in the past, and sometimes, GR becomes the bad guy, for a bunch of reasons like this flyer which may be leaning our way. But sharing is caring, right? The robot is all about shared love. A bit hard to read, since it’s a little small. Maybe we’ll unlock the mystery of what is Asian American pop culture since it’s a question people ask over and over for some reason.

No Comments

Mark your Calendars – GR talks.

We’re doing more talks.

First I’m on a panel discussion at UCLA. THURSDAY April 10, 2008 Moore Hall, Room 100 7-9:30 for SubVerses at UCLA.

Second, there’s one where Martin and I will be in Chicago on WEDNESDAY April 23, 2008 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Asian American Resource and Cultural Center (MC 203).

Then WEDNESDAY April 30, 2008
Asian Pop Entrepreneurs: Giant Robot Returns to UCLA Careers in Asia talk with Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong, Co-Editors of Giant Robot
Hacienda Room, UCLA Faculty Center
3:00 – 4:30pm
Reception to Follow – so come and eat food.

the drawing above looks like a dude talking… art by Jordan Fu


Yaba Daba

This is a story run about YABA in the Nikkan Sun newspaper. I’m in the photo in the left in the middle. But what does it say?