9.30.2009

CHIVALROUS WITH YOUR SHANK



























Brooklyn and Philly and back again:

- Swimming Cities fundraiser on the Waterpod with Apocalypse Five & Dime.
- Riding from Governor's Island to Shea Stadium in Queens.
- The Nuclear Squirrel Tour.
- Sissy Bounce parties with Big Freedia.
- Getting hit by a car and having to carry my wrecked bike over the Williamsburg Bridge (better than just giving up and going home).
- Seeing an old friend and hearing his story of being attacked by a deranged student who bit off his finger nail.
- Gadgetoff 2009.
- Going to Philly and staying at Basekamp.
- Dark Dark Dark house show in West Philly.
- A BBQ on an abandoned ferry.
- The Maze at Death By Audio.
- Meschiya Lake & Baby Soda brass band.
- On the heels of Carlos' passing, losing another great inspirational friend. R.I.P. Beau Velasco. You will be missed.





MP3:

A Sucka Pants exclusive.

• Dark Dark Dark - That Light (Paper Colt Remix)

A band's place at last.

9.21.2009

YOUR GAME FACE GROWN OLD















(photos from the weeks that were upon returning)

It's good to be back:

- Hearing the phrase: "I'm a man's man" uttered in all seriousness.
- Watching an overweight mother eating the fries off her child's plate while the kid was distracted.
- Sitting across from a woman at the airport and watching as she simultaneously made a ring of food and trash around her, grabbed and jerked her kid around, and talked on her cell phone.
- Sign on a payphone: "Studio apartment available. Single pretty woman only."
- Being glad to be in a country with cheap fresh vegetables.
- Skinny dipping at Far Rockaway with the B.Q.B.C. (Brooklyn Queens Beach Club).
- There is now a turtle who lives in my kitchen. He's always staring at me.
- Monster Island Labor Day block party.
- These Are Powers playing in an alley under a railroad trestle.
- Riding fast late at night on the west side bike path, watching the lights of Jersey go by.
- Backyard BBQ with Brooklyn-style pool.
- My cat being "shell-shocked" from a flea infestation over the summer. She lives in the kitchen sink and tries to never touch the floor.
- Overheard from a cop to a man sitting on a milk crate: "So, you a married man?"
- NYC seems to still think vacant construction sites are better than old buildings.
- Getting an installation job on graveyard shifts, 6pm - 8am a few days in a row will mess you up.
- Seeing classrooms with "Be the change you want to see" posters while they run the A/C all night with the windows open.
- Missing Friday night because I didn't realize what day it was until after midnight.
- Culture-shock of going to the supermarket: full of large oxen-like people lumbering slowly around oblivious to anyone else, even their kids in tow who should obviously be in school right now.
- Getting caught riding in the rain still sucks.
- Going to some amazing performances on Governor's Island. Seeing Amaro from Eindhoven, and Marshall & Nona of Dark Dark Dark cooking and serving food for him in Dutch kitchen uniforms (wooden clogs).
- Shooting a Fashion Week party where Sarah from Parts & Labor/Noveller appeared to perform with her new band Cold Cave.
- More graveyard shifts.
- Going to see some friends give presentations at the Conflux Festival.
- Dark Dark Dark play a show, and it is so good.
- Checking out the Liger Beat "Cover Man Contest" party. Whoa.





MP3:

• Nurses - Technicolor

A band's place at last.

9.19.2009

HOME IS WHEREVER I AM WITH YOU













(B.Q.B.C. = Brooklyn Queens Beach Club)

Best homecoming I could have asked for. But pack it all up, summer's over.



MP3:

• Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros - Home

A band's place at last.

9.13.2009

ASK FORGIVENESS, NOT PERMISSION











(portraits of our friends and crew in Japan: Taku, Yoyo, Mattias, Kaji, Miri, Yuko, Kei, Andrea, Dirtyfinger, Gulgar)

As I return to the US, my friend reminds me that I am not-so-great at self-promotion. So here are a handful of links to things from this past spring/summer having to do with my photography. Self-promo vomit-time, go:

- Junk raft photos/slideshow featured in New York Magazine.
- Revel In NY interview video.
- Interview and t-shirt exclusively through Carrot Clothing.
- I awkwardly stumble through an interview I share with the Vivian Girls for MTV Brazil (click on the video "Bloco 2").
- One of my photos of These Are Powers is featured in Spin Magazine's "Sound Check".
- Some love from the Death Set on the Vans blog.
- Interview for Mossless.
- A blip in the NY Times for the Bicycle Film Festival.
- A nice pat on the back from How To Avoid The Bummer Life.

That said, I'm now looking for work. So hire/refer me time, go!



MP3:

• Zero Boys - New Generation

A band's place at last.

9.11.2009

TELLING TALES OF AVERAGE LOVE












(photos from Osaka)

We finish the ride from Tokyo to Osaka and begin the last part of our trip:

- We show up at 3am at a friend of a friend's place in Osaka and wake up our gracious host John, who then gangs out with us till dawn. He also has possibly the only tall bike in Osaka.
- Our first day in Osaka = sleeping in/recovering, a flea market at a temple, cooking dinner at John's place.
- Wandering around Osaka late at night and getting caught in the rain. I take shelter under trees in a park, which works, sort of.
- It turns out I picked up some poison ivy while sheltering in the park. It spreads all over my arms and back (where I am scratching the scabby jellyfish wound).
- We ride around Osaka with Bike Summer and another friend of a friend, May-Z, a messenger in Osaka. She is rad, and also turns out to have grown up about right next door to my hometown. Random.
- After riding around Osaka, there are games of blindfolded-smash-the-watermelon (or fancy new track bike, dependingon your friends' sense of humor), and water gun foot down.
- We go to the opening of another "Piss bike" (slang for track bikes, from "Pista") boutique.
- John kind of kicks us out, due to our now mostly nocturnal schedule (I think).
- Almost walking into traffic while watching two guys practicing their "hip-hop dancing" on the street in front of the mirrored windows of an office building.
- Going to check out the Osaka Cycle Center (bicycle museum).
- Going out every single night in Osaka to shoot till 3-4am, and pretty much striking out. When you don't got it, you just don't, and there's not much you can do about it.
- May-Z takes us in on our last night in Osaka.
- We have to wrap up our bikes to take them on the bus back to Tokyo, so we find some "leisure tarps" and make nice little packages.
- Back in Tokyo I am still amused by the trains that squeak/sigh like someone having sex.
- "Have you ever heard of a knuckle-rice-ball?"
- Spending my last day in Japan going to and from the airport to confirm that we will not be charged another exorbitant fee to check our bicycles. We tried calling, but the phone number for the Japan Airways office at the airport is not available for the public to use.
- Conrad DJs a Cumbia party in Roppongi, all of our friends in Tokyo come out. It's a great send-off.
- The reputation of the Japanese as being polite and patient completely dissolves as soon as you enter rush hour on the subway, or waiting in line at the airport.
- I leave Japan and head home to NYC. . .

Learn Japanese:
"Onaka Suita" = My stomach is empty (I am hungry).
"Yo" = Good.
"Oishi" = Good taste.
"Imaichi" = Not so good.
"Yokunai" = Bad.
"Shashinka" = Photographer.
"Hori shi" = Tattoo artist.



MP3:

• The Antlers - Two

A band's place at last.

9.06.2009

KARAOKE OUTPOST SURVIVAL

















(photos of the ride from Tokyo to Osaka)

We head along along the southern coast of Japan for Osaka:

- Leaving on the first day of the ride at 3:30pm to ride to Kamakura.
- Staying at a little house on the hills overlooking the ocean. Inside the house are a huge wolf skin with green felt fringe, a calendar with a drawing of a smiling watermelon and the words "Knee-grows", and shag rugs in patterns of boobs and female genitalia.
- Riding up a pretty big mountain (874 meters high) near Fuji in one day, mostly at night. We camp under some trees on the edge of a parking lot on the shores of a beautiful mountain lake. In the morning we go for a swim (even though we were told not to) and watch the tourist pirate ship ferries and swan paddle boats on the lake.
- While we were climbing the mountain, we kept passing/being passed by a Japanese couple on "Mama-chari" (Mama-cruiser) bikes. They made it to the top, but found that their brakes weren't really cutting it for the long steep descent. But we did get a group photo together before they left to take a train the next day.
- Finding an abandoned motel on the mountain.
- Flying 874 meters down the side of a mountain on our bikes.
- Encountering another cyclist with some pretty sweet riding shorts.
- I get stung by wasps and jellyfish all in the same afternoon.
- Getting sloppy directions to Toxic Works bike shop and going 20km past it. It is not until when we stop for directions at another tiny bike shop along the way do we realize our mistake. The owner of the shop then closes his shop and gets a high-top van to fit the tall bikes and gives us a ride the 20km back to the town we had passed (with his friends as a motorcycle escort). He even searches up and down the street to help us find the shop before dropping us off.
- Staying at Mamiya's house and bike shop, Toxic Works, in Shimizu-ku. He gives us all the floor space in his bedroom,, hot showers, cold beer, dinner, and custom wooden headset caps. He makes custom bikes out of used bikes/parts, including one with wooden handlebars. Unfortunately, used things (even cool ones) are not very popular in Japan.
- When we leave the next day we stop by the tiny bike shop that gave us a lift and deliver a custom-decorated bottle of sake as a thank you.
- We find some anime porn in the trash.
- Andrea gets sick.
- Pitching a tent along a raised highway. Getting four hours of sleep before being woken in a puddle of sweat by the sauna-tent affect.
- Riding VERY precariously through many mountain tunnels.
- Getting terrible directions (corroborated by more than one person) that send us from the coast inland, but to a road that turns out to be an expressway. We try to avoid it and find alternate routes, but eventually the hills force us on to it. We head up into the hills with cars and trucks screaming past us. After passing through a few tunnels we stop to collect ourselves at the side of the road after a particularly nerve-wracking one. After a few minutes, a couple cops pay us a visit. They are very nice and seem a bit nervous about their lack of English. They explain that bicycles are not allowed on the expressway and point the way down an on-ramp (the first one we'd seen) to another route that we didn't know about. Disaster was averted.
- Riding along some beautiful fortified coastline.
- Finding a great river for swimming, complete with a playground and "bouncy tubes" (see video below).
- "I will show a titty for a carrot right now."
- Conrad's favorite snack foods in Japan seem to always look like turds.
- Mochi in my moustache.
- Coming across a crazy junk shop/scrap shop with weird, crazy stuff inside.
- Sleeping in a tiny railroad-side orange grove.
- The half-abandoned swimming pool.
- An upside-down house.
- Meeting a weird Japanese version of a childrens-style Jimmy Buffet puppeteer hanging out at a public swimming pool in a park. He dressed up in an elephant costume and did a little performance for us. He would also hang out just outside the pool area with his puppets and make them dance, but no one seemed to ever watch him.
- My jellyfish wound eventually stops swelling and the thin "tattoo line" of blood turns into a raised line of clear puss on my back. It eventually bursts, bleeds, scabs over and scars.
- We develop a tendency to sleep in till noon, putz around, and then leave somewhere between 3:30 and 5 pm and then ride late in to the night.
- Cranking out over 140km in one day to make it to Nagoya, or to the outskirts anyway.
- Finally landing in Nagoya, but failing to connect with our contacts there. We end up sprawled out all over the sidewalk in front of a closed Starbucks, using their internet and gorging ourselves on snacks from a .99 cent snack shop.
- We solve the mystery of why dumpstering quickie marts in Japan is no good: .99 cent quickie marts with all of the day-olds.
- While riding to find a place to sleep, we encounter a girl splayed out on the sidewalk next to a crashed bicycle. We fear the worst, but it turns out she was just passed out drunk. We move her off the center of the path and hang out until she moves on under her own power (walking her bike).
- Sleeping in a eucalyptus grove in a graveyard park in Nagoya.
- Hanging out the next day at Cafe Jaaja with the friendly owners and their band mates.
- Stopping to stay at a "love hotel" we unexpectedly encounter in between Nagoya and Osaka. It is called Chapel Coconuts, and there are waterfalls, tiki torches, and animatronic birds. There is an issue though, since we are a group of four, but with only one girl. It turns out that two men are not allowed to get a room, even if it's just to sleep, which is what we wanted. So we have Greg go outside, rent it for one person, and then sneak Greg in later. In the morning he goes to Conrad and Andrea's room to wake them up by sticking half his body through the room service door and yelling at them. He then gets a prompt and stern scolding in Japanese from a woman who suddenly appears in the hallway.
- Greg gets the first flat tires of the Japan trip, both in the same day.
- Getting my lips stuck to a red bean ice cream bar which rips off chunks of skin. A little bit of blood with ice cream is still good.
- Riding up into the mountains at night on narrow, windy, no-shoulder roads with lots of trucks. It's stupid. A handful of close calls happen, including Greg's shoulder being clipped by a truck's rear-view mirror.
- After climbing a lot of long steep hills all night, we reach a long downhill tunnel with a separated bike lane. We fly down through the tunnel, hooting and hollering, and pop out the other side to be greeted by a breath-taking view of Osaka lit up stretched out below us. A perfect punctuation to the end of the cycling portion of our trip.
- Favorite food: Mochi.
- Favorite drink: Tangerine "sack" juice.
- Mainly what I live on: Rice balls and milk coffee.

Learn Japanese:
"Jitensha" = Bicycle.
"Sega takai" = High/tall (as in height/location).
"Tasukete" = Help.
"Mayotta" = I got lost.
"Hidari" = Left.
"Migi" = Right.
"Honto" = I see/really?
"Sugoi" = Super.
"Yama" = Mountain.
"Tatami" = Bamboo mat flooring.
"Kurage" = Jellyfish.







MP3:

This is your new favorite song. Such a brilliant pairing.

• Japanther + Spank Rock - Radical Businessman

A band's place at last.

9.03.2009

LOT LURKERS











(photos from the Tokyo tall bike building workshop)

Part two of Tokyo:

- Taku and Yoyo take us to a beach outside of Tokyo, where there are huge hawks dive-bombing people on the beach - trying to steal their food. Afterward we go to a traditional Japanese festival in the hills.
- Taku's shower is just a square tub he installed in his kitchen, next to his sink. The water comes out of the faucet that you angle over the tub and it drains through a pipe that you run out the apartment door. When not in use, you cover it with pieces of board and it's the kitchen counter.
- Late night noodle shops where you pre-pay at a vending machine.
- I like that police in Japan are the traditional kind you learned about in elementary school. They sit in their office, direct traffic, and give lost travelers (us) directions. . . very different from the municipal thugs we have in the US.
- Going to the opening of a fancy new bike shop, Geek Garage. The owner is really nice. Afterward we head to a hard-to-find bar owned by Westerners: Kinfolk.
- Greg and Conrad host a tall bike building workshop in the courtyard of a design school. Three tall bikes and a trailer are built in one day.
- Andrea joins us. Somehow her front wheel is too big for her fork and we think our departure will be delayed for a day while we find a replacement, but Andrea and I are able to swap wheels without a problem.
- A farewell dinner at Taku's.

Learn Japanese:
"Kampai" = Cheers.
"Chin-chin" = Male genitals.
"Sensei" = Master/teacher.
"Mizu" = Water.
"Sakana" = Fish.
"Onigiri" = Rice ball.
"Shoyu" = Soy sauce.
"Ikura" = How much?
"Nekojita" = Have the tongue of a cat (literally) - heat-sensitive mouth.
"Nekoze" = Have the back of a cat (literally) - bad posture/hunched back.



MP3:

• Roky Erickson - Night Of The Vampire

A band's place at last.

9.02.2009

CROWDED BY VACANCY















(photos from Tokyo)

We land in Tokyo before heading out on the road for the ride to Osaka:

- On the flight from Jakarta to Tokyo, I come down with the flu.
- It's hot in Tokyo, but really it's the near-100% humidity that gets you. It's so intense you can't ever really get dry. Various parts of my bike and some of my tools start to rust.
- Meeting up with friends of Nova (one of our friends in Indonesia) in Japan who promptly take us in to their homes and show us around Tokyo.
- Meeting Kei, who runs the activist space and info shop Irregular Rhythm Asylum in Tokyo. He promptly plans a party for us for the coming weekend.
- Going to a really good vegan brunch prepared by Yoyo in a bar on the one day that it is closed during the week.
- Taking my first hot shower in over a month, in a coin-operated booth at a laundromat.
- Getting caught in the rain while riding around Yoyogi Park. We take shelter under a pedestrian overpass and pass out, when we wake up we are surrounded by harmonizing groups practicing.
- Experiencing my first earthquake.
- Running into Mattias (of Road Kill Bikers) randomly on the street during one of his "Speed Night" group bike rides. We had been trying to find the club Conrad was DJing at that night, and Mattias promptly showed him the way.
- The party that Kei helps organize for us is at a little cafe called Lavanderia. Conrad DJs and I show photos while people take turns riding the tall bikes. It's gets big enough and crowded enough that the cops show up in response to a noise complaint.

Learn Japanese:
"Konichiwa" = Hello.
"Sumimasen" = Excuse me.
"Wakarimasen" = I don't understand.
"Arigato" = Thank you.
"Gomennasi" = Sorry.
"Hai" = Yes.
"Iie" = No (pronounced Eeyae).




MP3:

I know the movie takes place in Hong Kong and not Japan, but it's still a good fit.

• Shigeru Umebayashi - Yumeji's Theme

wiki.