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Art, News

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.


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.

photo 1

photo 3

photo 2

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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.

photo 1

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.

photo 2

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Events, GR2

GR2: Wed April 2 6-8pm Kendama Night with Krom Kendama


KENDAMA NIGHT at Giant Robot 2
April 2 Wedneday 6-8pm (and we’ll keep going later)

Come spend time with KROM KENDAMA professionals Matthew Ballard and Thorkild May, who is visiting from Denmark.

KROM KENDAMA is perhaps the greatest kendama maker in the world and you’ll have to chance to meet their representatives.

For any information about Giant Robot or Kendama Night, please contact Eric Nakamura ([email protected])

Giant Robot 2 is at
2062 Sawtelle Blvd LA, CA 90025

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Music, MW, News

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


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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MW, News

Tales of Print revisited: 20th anniversary of Giant Robot mag talk at GR2


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.


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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Art, News

Giant Robot Magazine Talk: Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong


(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

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.

Hoon Lee

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



Game Night Earth Defense Force Photos

You can’t beat an evening of video games that include robots defending the Earth against bugs. Couple that with pizza and drinks and you have it – a perfect Game Night. We have to thank D3 publishing for everything. Look at those happy faces. R0020920Game Night Earth Defense Force

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Giant Robot 20 Years: More Photos

Here’s a few more images from the reception.

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

GR Time at this link!

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Reception photos from GR2 for 20 Years: Art X Mags

Some photos from GR2 for 20 Years: Art X Mags. Photos by GR and DJ Tony Jr. It was a awesome night and there’ll be more to come.



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Music, MW, News

An interview with Zhang Shouwang from Carsick Cars


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


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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Punk Rock Photo Exhibition 3/30 6-9p at Balconi Coffee – B Shots

A long time ago, I shot black and white photos of bands in LA. The negatives were lost for years and I just recently found them. Although there’s even more that will one day turn up, I’ll be showing a decent grouping at Balconi Coffee in West LA. Here’s the FB event page. I’ll write a few “liner notes” for the photos. Bands included in the shots: 7 League Boots, Antioch Arrow, Beck, Big Drill Car, Bikini Kill, Courtney Love, Drive Like Jehu, Dwarves, Fishbone, Jane’s Addiction, Jawbreaker, Jesus Lizard, John Spencer Blue Explosion, Kurt Cobain, L7, Living Colour, Firehose, Mudhoney, The Nymphs, Public Enemy, Slug, Sonic Youth, Supersuckers, Unwound.


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


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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