Let Us Roam

Some very inspiring content from Leica – for their second film in the Let Us Roam series, the well-respected German camera maker teamed up with SoCal-based pro skateboarder-turned-photographer Arto Saari. A Finnish transplant, Arto talks about discovering skateboarding as a youngster and what that meant for him athe time, he talks about some of the challenges he’s faced in skateboarding, and then he discusses his move into photography, and how that has mirrored the excitement of exploring skateboarding earlier in life. Of course, it’s from Leica, so it’s just beautifully shot.

7 Ways to build your courage against impossible odds

“Fear has a place in our emotional life, and it shows up daily. Everything causes it.” Finding that motivation and courage to overcome that bitch of a feeling can just be so incredibly daunting at times, but as we all know, nothing in life thats worth anything at all is easy. Take it from a guy who is starting up his own biz and attempting to enter one of the most saturated markets in the world. Smart decision? Probably not. In fact, several have straight up called it foolish. But I’m alright with that because charging ahead against adversity, is in my head, not half of the battle, but half of the fun. Finding ways to overcome those dumps and challenges is absolutely invigorating because once you snap out of it you realize that there is really nothing to fear, and you also set yourself up in perfect position to overcome the very next challenge that comes your way.

Here’s a list of seven ways to boost up your courage and tackle the world. My personal favorite is “do things that others don’t.” As Steve Jobs said in the movie JOBS, “don’t do things better, do things differently.”

1) Follow your authentic purpose
2) Predict your future by creating it
3) Do things that others don’t
4) Turn every obstacle into an asset
5) Embrace failure
6) Say no — make tough calls

They’re in advertising.

In NY there are some big buildings, and lots of residential area for advertising. There’s always the option of advertising on a billboard but to be a real eye catcher you need to go big. That’s when they call in the “wall dogs” the crazy guys that drop down on scaffolding and paint on these walls. As an end result those photo realistic ads were actually painstakingly handpainted on to the walls. Check out the video of these “wall dogs” as they describe the crazy job that they do.

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2014 Preview

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Last week, I attended the final meeting of the Programming Committee for this year’s Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Next month’s screenings will be the thirtieth annual showcase of movies, shorts, and other cinematic endeavors presented by the Little Tokyo-based collective of activists and entertainment insiders. I belong to neither camp but am flattered and honored to be included, and firmly believe that film festivals continue to play a vital role in the promotion, evolution, and appreciation of cinema–especially in the digital age. Easier editing, cheaper distribution, and instant access can be helpful but certainly don’t make mentorship, promotion, or curation obsolete.

The most enjoyable part of my volunteer position is getting to introduce screenings, and sometimes even conducting Q&As with filmmakers. This year, I will have the honor of presenting three very different movies:

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Friday, May 2
CGV2 at 9:45

The Pinkie (Japan, 2014) – Lisa Takeba’s International Fantastic Film Festival-winning full-length feature starts off with a serious bang. A low-life slacker is caught sleeping with a gangster moll and gets his pinkie cut off as punishment. The severed phalange flies through the air and is miraculously discovered by the lowlife’s childhood stalker who uses it to clone her object of desire. The slacker, his more upstanding clone, and the stalker form a mutant love triangle that does battle with the yakuza thugs.

Although the taut piece is a dynamo of brilliant color, this definitely ain’t no art movie. The extremely creative violence and jaw-dropping brutality will impress the hardest-core gorehounds: Cookie cutters are used like throwing stars, a hand blender becomes a dental tool, and a man suffocates on his own boogers. Fans of Seijun Suzuki, Takashi Miike, and Katsuhito Ishii’s more outlandish crime movies will dig it, and so will lovers of Sushi Typhoon’s fun-loving gore. I’m really stoked that the filmmaker will be in attendance for a sure-to-be-lively Q&A after the movie’s L.A. debut, and there will also be a short, “Unusual Targets,” which will also be represented in the post-screening discussion.

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Sunday, May 4
CGV2 at 12:00 p.m.

Blue Bustamante (Philippines, 2013)) – Writer and director Miko Livelo takes a downer of a subject (Filipino Overseas Workers) and skillfully and lovingly mashes it up with a tribute to Japanese sentai programs from the ’80s in which giant, colorful robots save the world from skyscraper-sized rubber-suited monsters over cardboard cities. The weapons are cool, the villains are awesome, and the low-production value of this indie flick is refreshing compared to the glossy-but-soulless CG that passes for children’s entertainment these days. Even the accurately cheesy soundtrack music reinforces that Livelo is no poseur trying to cash in on the nostalgia of Asian Boomers with money but a true fan of the genre.

Yet no matter how much fun it is to see adults in baggy tights pretending to pilot a robot or know karate, the movie wouldn’t be watchable if Livelo weren’t able to humanize the plight of George, capably portrayed by a straight-faced Joem Bascon. Independent Filipino cinema isn’t easy to see–not even in the Philippines–and I’m very excited about getting to see this movie on a big screen. It’s as geeky as it is touching as it is cool.

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Sunday, May 4
DGA2 at 8:15 p.m.

Lordville (USA, 2014) – Arthouse name Rea Tajiri stumbled upon Lordville during a long bicycle ride. Something about the New York hamlet’s ruins, energy, and history called out to the award-winning filmmaker. So she purchased a house in the rustic area and proceeded to make a deceptively simple, elegant, and haunting documentary about it.

Beautifully wide-angled static shots capturing the omnipresence of nature and a handful of humans (and mannequins) roaming among the spirits generate a calm, eerie ambience. It’s not unlike the feeling of an Apichatpong Weerasthakul flick–except that the all-enveloping forest’s beauty and power are real rather than surreal. Tajiri will be in attendance for a Q&A the movie’s L.A. premiere, and I wonder if she will remember me from way back when?

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Of course, there are other movies that I recommend…

Awesome Asian Bad Guys (USA, 2014) – Super-Villain Team-Up with The National Film Society dudes, Tamlyn Tomita, Al Leong, and others…
Concrete Clouds (Thailand, 2014) – Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s go-to editor balances art and melodrama
Final Recipe (South Korea/Thailand, 2014) – Epic Pan-Asian feast by Gina Kim featuring Michelle Yeoh.
Firestorm (Hong Kong, 2013) – HK crime flick with Andy Lau, Gordon Lam, and my pal Terence Yin.
How to Fight in Six Inch Heels (US/Vietnam, 2013) – Good guy/epic filmmaker Ham Tran makes a chick flick!
Once Upon a Time in Vietnam (Vietnam, 2013) - My homie Dustin Nguyen’s new martial arts Western!
Rebel Without a Cause (USA, 1955) – Before the Paula Abdul video, there was this.
The Road to Fame (China, 2013) - Documentary about a Chinese Academy of Drama putting on the Broadway show.
Shift (Philippines, 2013) – Very cool, gender-bending indie flick that takes place in a Manila call center.
To Be Takei (USA, 2014) - From Sulu to Stern, from actor to activist. With my pal Jessica Sanders’ “George & Brad Live Long and Prosper.”

And there is so much more… Browse the schedule and get tickets at laapff.festpro.com. Seeya there!

8 Questions With: John Pangilinan

John Pangilinan is something of a creative powerhouse – a one-man agency, even. Everything he’s achieved professionally has been through following his serious passion for cars. He first made a name for himself in the automotive industry by customizing a BMW, which lead to a gig at a tuner shop, quickly immersing him in different aspects of sponsorship deals, sales and marketing. This eventually lead his working for a creative agency for several years, allowing him to branch out and land his own clients. And somehow, in the midst of everything else, he still finds the time to contribute to Fatlace and continues to customize cars for the likes of Hyundai and Lincoln. Impressive highlights from 2013 include winning the SEMA “35 under 35″ award for his work in the automotive industry, and getting engaged in Hawaii during Pow! Wow! You can check out more of John’s work at his photography site, and via his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

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What are you currently working on?
Currently, I am working on preparations for the first event of the 2014 Formula DRIFT season which kicks-off here in Long Beach on April 4-5, the weekend prior to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. They are a client in which I manage the public relations and media communications along with helping with marketing and promotions. I am also in the process of wrapping up a couple online video projects and planning a few photography shoots this month. As well as finishing up proposals for project vehicles for the year and finalizing the build for a project Honda Ruckus which will be unveiled soon.

JP Edition Hyundai Genesis Coupe

How would you describe your job?
Challenging, fun and rewarding. I’ve worn many different hats over the years and selecting which one best describes me is often tough since I’m passionate about it all. Jack-of-all trades or professional multi-tasker are phrases that have been used to describe me. Whether its helping a brand with an advertising campaign or capturing photographs or building a project vehicle, at the end of the day, I help create connections and evoke emotions.  

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What does your average work day look like?
Aside from starting the day with a cup of coffee and orange juice, the beauty of my “work” day is that there is no average day. Each day is unique whether it be traveling, taking meetings or conference calls, going out on location for shoots, visiting clients or simply working from home and checking emails…and it all beats sitting at a 9 to 5 inside a cubicle or in traffic.

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What’s the best thing about living and working in Long Beach?
Long Beach is an amazing city with so much culture and surrounded by creativity and I’ve been fortunate to live in Downtown for about 7 years now.  In that time I’ve really seen the steps the city has taken to revitalize and improve the area. I am able to walk to great spots and new developments whether its for lunch or to grab a drink, places like the Federal Bar and their 90′s hip-hop night, “Snapback,” James Republic, George’s Greek Cafe and more. Long Beach is centrally located to both LA and Orange County so its easy for me to drive up to LA for a meeting or shoot down to OC for some surf.

Working in Long Beach is awesome. The Formula DRIFT office is actually right across the street from my condo so it keeps things convenient and saves on gas. The two weekends in April for Formula DRIFT and the Long Beach Grand Prix is my favorite time of year with great weather and being outside to experience the sights and sounds of cars racing through the city streets, you just can’t beat it.  With AGENDA just down the street at the convention center twice a year I often play host for many of my friends that come into town.

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Where do you find inspiration?
I’m inspired by new experiences and challenges.  New experiences provide me with a fresh outlook on life and occurs between my interactions with people (friends, family, co-workers, etc), traveling, or even simple observations through the day such as seeing an image on Instagram.  Challenges provide motivation for me to learn more and do better. “Motivation is the push. Inspiration is the pull.”

JP Edition Hyundai Veloster Turbo

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up?
Growing up as a first generation Filipino in the United States, I knew I wanted to be anything but a doctor or lawyer, as that is what my grandparents really pushed me to go towards.  So naturally I rebelled and went in a different direction as I wanted to create my own path.  The first career that I remember thinking was cool as a kid was professional skateboarder or astronaut, actually I probably wanted to be a pro wrestler.

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What are you reading at the moment?
I usually jump back and forth between various books and magazines at any given time.  Reading creative, entrepreneur and biographies help motivate me. Amazon Prime is the best. Currently, I’m reading Show Your Work by Austin Kleon and the latest Monster Children magazine.

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What’s your favorite post-work destination?
Lately, I’ve found myself putting more hours working into the late night, so to unwind and disconnect for a bit before heading to bed or back to work, my happy place has become the couch, sitting next to my fiance and watching shows we’ve recorded.  I probably watch too much TV, but it really helps me relax plus there is so much great programs out there now from Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Mad Men and more. Ideally, I would like to end the day with a sunset surf session followed by a nice dinner and a cocktail at one of the local spots, but that rarely happens.

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Fuelband SE

Imprint’s New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 included “exercise more,” so I’ve been trying to take that to heart, with a lot of help from the Nike Fuelband SE. I’m not getting any younger, and I often struggle to incorporate enough exercise into my day while commuting by car. Something had to change, and I figured a gizmo might be the answer. I spoke to some friends, did some research online, and decided to test out the second-generation Fuelband from Nike. It quantifies some of your physical activity with a numeric value (or “NikeFuel” score). It doesn’t track everything. It does log points if you walk, run, jump, dance, stretch, or do anything which involves wrist/arm motion. It’s not as good for activities with less wrist motion – such as cycling, or push ups. So far, I think it’s very, very good. I like the app it pairs with, and it is very comfortable to wear, importantly. It turns out that making my daily activity into something of a simple video game really works for me. Four months into it, my baseline daily activity is up, and I’ve started more vigorous exercise on the weekends too – hiking and running. At the start of the year, our Strategic Planning department said that wearable tech was going to be a big deal this year and now I can see why.

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The Micro: The First Truly Consumer 3D Printer

It took a little longer than people had probably expected, but someone finally did it – the very first affordable 3D printer for the mass public just launched on Kickstarter a few days ago and has been met with an insane (and that is an understatement) amount of support. Conservatively listing their goal at $50,000 M3D LLC has just blown by that number in a blink of an eye. Case in point the fund had grown to $1.3M as of yesterday evening and literally increased overnight by about $500k to a cool $1.8M… with 27 days left to go. This project will undoubtedly become one of the highest fundraising projects in Kickstarter history and understandably so as 3D printing has, and will continue to, revolutionize the consumer goods industry, putting the power in the hands of the people.

Old old

SMNOVELLA

I recently purchased a bottle of perfume for my wife, she mentioned she really liked the certain scent. So I went out and got it for her, and I did some googling and realized I had just stumbled on to a company that’s been around since before 1612. Santa Maria Novella originating in Florence has been producing scents & elixirs centuries ago. For a great bio and amazing read check out the piece on Smithsonian.com. But it got me thinking in this day and age it’s really hard to think a brand that could even get close to lasting that long. Maybe Google? In case your wondering a few of America’s oldest include… American Express (1850), Brooks Brothers (1818), Poland Spring (1845).

Greg Girard on Revisiting Kowloon Walled City

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Sometime around 2000, I met Greg Girard the old-fashioned way: I sent a letter to the publisher of City of Darkness, a brick of a photo book about Kowloon Walled City that Greg made with his friend Ian Lambot. Through a series of letters, faxes, and phone calls, I eventually interviewed the then-Shanghai resident about the authoritative and gorgeous  publication for Giant Robot magazine. Since then we’ve continued to correspond and even had coffee when our cities happened to align.

So I was excited to hear from Greg that he and Ian were remixing the book with new photos, interviews, and information about Hong Kong’s infamously unplanned, unregulated, and unpoliced maze of slummy apartments and small businesses that ranged from unlicensed doctors and dentists to horror-show butcher shops to the requisite dope dealers, gambling dens, and whorehouses. The ramshackle collection of structures was torn down in 1993, the same year as the book’s first edition, but the sprawling, dense, and anarchic city block seems to be more popular now than it ever was when it actually stood. And so their volume is being reborn and revised, funded by Kickstarter. Receiving coverage from CNN to Vice, the project has already reached its funding goal but it’s not too late to support it and secure your own signed copy or print from the sure-to-be-jaw-dropping book.

What prompted you and Ian to revisit the City of Darkness book? A sense of unfinished business? Nostalgia? Public interest?
The book had remained in print since it was first published in 1993 and, over the years, Ian and I were aware of the unexpected ways in which the Kowloon Walled City was turning up as an obvious inspiration in popular culture and also being referenced in architecture, urban theory, and other areas. A couple of years ago, with the 20th anniversary of the demolition approaching, we decided that rather than do another reprint we would try to update the book to reflect the life that the Walled City had taken on so many years after its demolition. At the same time, it was an opportunity to revisit the content, add pictures that had been overlooked, and play with the layout–hopefully improving things in the process. It gave us the opportunity to conduct more interviews, which Ian spent a lot of time on in the past year or so, as well as source some fascinating documents that reveal a lot about the role of the police and their policies towards the Walled City. It turns out they were far more aware and involved than the myths would have it. There is a lot of new material. The new one will be about 50 percent larger than the original.

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Were you familiar with the tributes and references to Kowloon Walled City in Batman, Call of Duty, or even the Bay Area metal band?
I can’t remember how I first heard about Christopher Nolan incorporating his version of the Walled City in Batman Begins, but it was certainly high on our list when we started researching the many places where it has left its mark.

Where do the new photos come from? Favorite pieces that didn’t have space in the old design? Unprocessed rolls of film?
The new photos are from our own archives that got edited out in 1993, but looking at them today we wonder what we were thinking back then. There are also a good numb er of historical photos, and we are also licensing pictures from other sources such as HK film production companies that shot feature dramas there. Long Arm of the Law, by Johnny Mak, is a favourite. There’s a final shoot-out scene in the Walled City between the HK police and a gang from the PRC, former PLA soldiers, who have been robbing jewelry shops in HK. Which actually happened in HK when I was living there in the 1980s. The Big Circle Gang from the mainland carried out these robberies in Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the city’s main shopping and tourist districts, using AK-47s and hand grenades.

When was the last time you spent time looking at the images that you and Ian shot. How has the passage of time affected your impressions of them?
I probably didn’t revisit the Walled City pictures until 2012, more than 20 years after they were taken, when Ian and I started talking about doing an update. You probably know how it goes, looking at tim that has already been edited, with all the good ones already taken out. So many bad pictures, and then you come across a gem. Tastes change. One’s idea of what a picture can be changes. So, it has been a kind of a luxury to be able to go back and do this.

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And there are new interviews and research, of course. How did you settle on the topics? Tell me about the challenges of conducting research 20 years later?
The added interviews are all new ones conducted over the past couple of years. Tracking down former residents was tough. Dispersed all over HK. Some of course had died after 20 years. We knew there would be much of interest if we could get into the police archives, but that didn’t really happen. Instead we were able to interview some former police who had great stories about patrolling there in the ’60s and ’70s. In those days, the place really did host the vice for which  it got its reputation. By the time we started photographing in the ’80s, the vice there wasn’t any different really from what you would find in any working-class HK neighborhood. One document we were able to obtain is a very thorough government survey from that period which lists the exact number of brothels, opium dens, strip clubs, pornography theaters, dog meat restaurants, etc. You can’t help but wish to have been born a little earlier.

My impression is that you finished the book before launching the crowd-sourcing effort. What led you to that strategy for getting the book published?
That’s pretty much correct. We just went ahead and started working on the update, spending our own money as we always seem to do. But at the point of actually going to print there was no way we could afford to do that. The bill is just to big for a book of this scope. We had both vaguely heard about Kickstarter and other crowd-sourcing platforms. Here in Vancouver the folks from Kickstarter gave a presentation last summer, when they launched in Canada, and I went along to that with a pen and a notebook.

Any other other projects that I should know about or is this book taking up your entire life right now?
Oh most definitely this takes up your entire life once you take the plunge. I wasn’t really much of a social media kind of guy before this started and so I’ve been floored by the response. And I’m still very much a beginner in all this. As for other projects, from 2008-2010 I spent a good part of my time working on a project in Japan, Korea, Guam and other places in Asia where there are, or have been U.S. military bases, photographing on the bases and in the host communities. I tend to see things in terms of books, and this one isn’t finished yet.

Check out the video (above) and then visit the City of Darkness Revisited Kickstarter page for more information about Ian and Greg’s very cool project and how to support it.

8 Questions With: SOSU Sauces

“Aged in whiskey barrels for a unique, fruity, spicy, and smoky flavor. You’ve never tasted Sriracha quite like this before.”

Meet Lisa Murphy – Chief Sauce Maker (how awesome is that title?!) of SOSU Sauces. It all started with a good ol’ challenge in San Francisco. A friend had brought over some truffle mustard from France, which turned out to be amazing and made the group desire a ketchup that could complement it just as well. “Can you make a better ketchup?” her friend asked. Needless to say, Lisa rose to the challenge and combined farm fresh tomatoes, Sriracha, and lemongrass to create Srirachup. After being named a Good Foods finalist in 2013, Lisa set her eyes on her next big hit: Barrel-aged Sriracha. (As a whiskey lover, this sounded like heaven. DROOL)

Launching on Kickstarter to secure some funding, SOSU easily beat out their goal of $20,000 by more than five times to $104,000. Getting covered by several mainstream publications, such as VICE, Cool Hunting, and Chow.com, you know when they’re absolutely LEGIT when San Francisco Magazine says their sauce just simply “hurts so good.” Best of luck to SOSU sauces and thanks for the insight!

1. What are you working on?
I am currently running a Kickstarter project to launch our newest sauce to the market- Whiskey Barrel-Aged Sriracha.

UPDATE: Funded as of March 8th.

2. Where do you find your inspiration?
I grew up in Shanghai, China where there are an abundance of fresh produce, meats and seafood at the local wet markets. When I came to the U.S. I spent a lot of time with my aunt in the kitchen learning how she made traditional Shanghainese dishes. She encouraged me to experiment with flavors and not be afraid of trying new combinations. These two influences shaped my foundation for my sauce flavors – sticking with fresh ingredients, but playing around with bold flavors.

Last year, after I quit my job at a high-tech start-up, I spent 3 months in Southeast Asia, traveling and trying new sauces to bring back those flavors. I got to try a few varieties of sriracha sauce in different countries and was surprised to see how each country had their own take and flavors for the sriracha sauce. That inspired me to make my own sriracha sauce with the flavors I enjoy.

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3. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up?
I always wanted to have my own coffee shop. I liked the atmosphere of a coffee shop and how people in the community can gather at one location to strike up a good conversation.

4. What are you reading at the moment?
Ben and Jerry’s: The Inside Scoop, Cooked by Michael Pollan.

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5. How do you describe your job?
There’s no one description of my job. I am the Chief Sauce Maker, the delivery boy, the accountant, the owner, the sales and marketing rep, basically I get to be every role of my company. Everyday, I am learning and making mistakes.

6. What does your work day look like?
Everyday is different. For example today, I am doing follow-ups for the Kickstarter campaign, meeting up with another entrepreneur, making deliveries to the post office, and organizing details with another local food company about a collaborative event we are doing for their mac&cheese and our sriracha.

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7. What’s your favorite post-work destination?
Swimming pool, that’s what I am going to try to do later today. A good way for me to rewind the day.

8. Why sauce and the food business?
My mom used to ask me this everyday, why give up your career in high-tech and start your own ketchup and sauce company? “Isn’t it going backwards?” I can understand where she comes from, but I have a different mindset. I see an opportunity in sauces because there are too many that are made with low-margin ingredients and things like paste and high fructose corn syrup. As companies are trying to decrease the cost of their ingredients and increase the size, I am going in reverse, because I believe in a quality sauce that’s made with fresh ingredients. I do a lot of cooking at home and always believed that a good sauce can make any dish great.

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