lauryn surf's up & the beasties

New Lauryn Hill track that strangely finds it way on the "Surf's Up" soundtrack.
Lauryn Hill - Lose Myself

Plus a couple nice instrumentals from the beastie's upcoming album...

Beastie Boys - Off The Grid

Beastie Boys - The Rat Cage

japan day 07

Tomorrow I'll finally finish this huge catalog that I've been designing for the last couple months. Its been a trying process at times but overall a great experience. I won't shed a tear when the files ship out because honestly I'm sick of looking at it.

So this weekend, I'll be ready to blow off some steam and I'm am especially looking forward to Japan Day in Central Park this Sunday. This event will feature performance art, music, food, fine arts and technology. I'll post up some pictures soon after!

summertime ramblings

Summertime in Jersey. Not exactly a paradise... but we do what we can. Summer is all about hitting the Jersey shore. Friday afternoon traffic from the bridges across Philly to all southbound routes are maddening. We used to enjoy the quiet calmness and family atmosphere of Ocean City. But nowadays we opt for the outlet shopping, slots and dining in Atlantic City. Since our return from Vegas, we've been dreaming like degenerates that AC would adopt the relentless development of Sin City and provide us with endless amounts of empty fun!
More summertime traditions - bouncing out of work early and grabbing a mango gelati at Rita's Water Ice. Nothing's sweeter than that mix of mango water ice and creamy vanilla ice cream! Taking trips to the ghetto-fied attraction known as Great Adventure...or dipping in and out of malls. That's culture baby!

Years ago, summer in philly was about rockin' jeans shorts to your ankles with a fresh pair of white kicks and hitting the meat market known as South St. Twirling some newly bagged sneaker boxes from Samsun and grabbing a slice of Lorenzo's. Or driving along Kelly drive blasting Fresh Prince's "Summertime" (of course) cheering on bikers, runners and rollerbladers who braved the heat. Or waiting for next game of pick up ball - dribbling and watching the scene through a chain linked fence. Or catching a mindless summer blockbuster for the mere purpose of staying cool from summer in the city.

Last night we caught a late night showing of the forgettable "Pirates of the Carribean 3" flick. The sillyness of the movie was washing away from our senses as we stepped outside of the theater past midnight. When we pushed through the doors, we were greeted by a rush of warm late night air embodies summertime.

its a family affair

Last Saturday, I drove up to my uncle's house in Short Hills, NJ for a little family get together. Its been about a year since I've seen everybody, so I was prepared for lots of food with an interrogative grilling and a side order of tsismis (gossip) and some soap opera drama. This particular occasion was thrown in honor of my younger cousin's graduation from college. Seeing this kid graduate didn't make me feel older but I was blown away by how the young ones have grown and how much everyone else got older. I often carry a mental picture of everyone in their prime, so some of this party played out like a cheesy sitcom where the episode goes in the future and artificially ages the actors by whitening hair and simulating wrinkles with heavy makeup. Nonetheless, everyone was in good spirits and in typical storytelling mode.

Most filipino parties often breakdown socially by generation. Interestingly enough, we bucked the trend at the start and found ourselves eating with a bunch of "tito and tita" inlaws. I was running conversations with the table and later amazed my wife by confessing that I didn't know who they were (my apologies). I sensed from her reaction that this would not be good form in Japanese culture.

We moved on from that table and joined the more comfortable company of my older cousins to share some laughs., my wife commented that I was a 'tweener. I fit in between the group of college age cousins and the 40-something cousins with kids. Most of the college kids have thankfully matured to the point where they finally acknowledge my presence (even though I tirelessly played with them when they were toddlers). I was glad that we could now conversate - but relieved that they didn't include me in their "group". The older cousins fussed over their kids and seemingly searched for something exciting in my life to live vicariously through. I sensed that one of my older cousins (who I idolized) is stuck in a dead end job and blurted out, "Its a 9 to 5...nothing changes..." Then I caught him sitting there blanked out - looking plainly like a tired daddy. Not exactly encouraging my perspective on having kids...but hey maybe the guy just had a long day.

Suprisingly, no questions about when we were going to have kids. My parents must have slipped the word to leave us alone on that topic. Then I realized that my parents have been trying to satisfy their gossip hungry ears. Our occasional trips to NYC became translated as "Oh I hear you go up north to NYC all the time and you never stop by. All we get is a wave from the turnpike!". Many relatives were asking about my new job - since my dad forwarded my personal email to all of them without my knowledge. This is the same dad who used to travel in secrecy because he didn't want any of the relatives to find out and gossip. Now he's an informant! I guess he broke down during their interrogations. We've gained the rep of being a "very private couple". Its all good though - we all had laughs about it.

Then came the "grilling". I was questioned about my sister, my parents, my cousins in chicago and vegas...and just about anyone who wasn't present. One of my cousins concluded that I'm only good for the surface info...once you dig deep - I have nothing.

miss universe 07

Congrats to Miss Japan, Riyo Mori who just became Miss Universe 2007! I'm sure she's a national hero in Japan. Last year's Miss Universe runner up, Kurara Chibana made numerous tv appearances and commercials so I'm sure Riyo Mori will forever find a place as a "tarento" on Japanese TV.


Some cool illustrations from the Alakazam label, which was launched as an exhibition in Harajuku. Chief illustrators - Will Sweeny and Susumu Muukai.

7 years

Last Sunday, me and wifey celebrated our 7th anniversary with a return trip to Alma De Cuba for a nice nite out in Philly. As always, we reminisced about our unconventional "first" wedding day back in 2000.

It was a sunny Saturday on May 13th. I'm not superstitious, but I always imagine people reacting curiously in their head when hearing that number. Anyway, the sun was blinding its way through our apartment windows facing Spring Garden street in Philly. She was a vision in a white miniskirt. I was all heated in my navy suit - not just because it was hot, but because we were running late as usual. We're still notoriously late for any social event - company parties, meeting friends, or even a simple restaurant reservation for ourselves. I could always say I'm on "Filipino Time", but I don't know what her excuse is - Japanese people are supposed to be punctual. I must be a bad influence.

So we scooped our wedding license, our rings and headed out to Yerkes Wedding salon in West Philly. Maxwell's high pitched cover of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" shrilled off the radio as I whizzed through a maze of streets. I don't remember how I initially found this place - probably through the internet. There was no heavy research, just looking for a place that could accomodate a quickie in a short turnaround. At that time we were in a slight rush. She would graduate a week later and her student visa would expire. That's why there was no traditional proposal on my part. Our story is that we sat at the now defunct IHOP on Walnut Street and realized the convergence of her expring visa with the status of "us". From that point, a rush of events ensued. A pleasant day at City Hall to get our marriage license. A quick trip to Tiffany's in my baggy jeans and Timbs to grab the rings. You may notice that I skipped the informing the parents part. That would come later and deserves a separate story for itself. And then finally the big day at Yerkes.

The wedding salon was in reality a converted house with a number of nuptial rooms. We signed in and presented our license at a long makeshift table in the lobby entrance. Not exactly glamorous, but official nonetheless. We were led to a room near the back of the house. Nothing too memorable about this room. Kind of sparse with minimal wedding decorations. I think there was some sort of background frame that reminded me of a school play set. The official gave us his schtick and we were smiling at each other and stifling giggles for some reason. Following the vows and our kiss to seal the deal, the witness took our picture which we purchased for a small fee. We then exited literally through the back door of the house in wedded bliss. While driving away from Yerkes, we laughed more about the silliness of the wedding salon rather than reflect upon the gravity of our committment. We had lived together as bf/gf for 1 1/2 years at this point, so marriage provided no tangible difference other than the wedding rings on our fingers. So we followed the ceremony by lunching at an outdoor table of a restaurant in Old City. Surely, if we had a chance to go back, we'd do things differently. But somehow this story seems almost appropriate.

Whenever we reminisce about this day, we always conclude that we were being young. I guess 24 & 25 is not really that young - but we were young for that age. Young in terms of operating with a slight recklessness and a wide-eyed "us against the world" mentality. We were living in the moment because we were the future.

7 years later - sitting at this restaurant, I find myself enjoying the cliche of "growing old together" and appreciating the simplicity of sharing a dessert and a quiet moment together.

What a Job this is

I'm feeling this verse from Andre 3000 off Devin The Dude's "What a Job".
Kinda ironic since I post up music, but he spits some realness here.

We work nights, we some vampires
N****s gather round the beat like a campfire
Singin' folk songs, but not no Kumbaya my Lord
You download it for free, we get charged back for it
I know you're saying, they won't know they won't miss it
Besides, I ain't a thief, they won't pay me a visit
So if I come to your job, take your corn on the cob
And take a couple kernels off it that would be alright with you
Hell no! Yeah, exactamundo
But we just keep recording and it ain't to get no condo
And Candy Bentley fanny with no panties in Miami
And that cute lil' chick named Tammy that you took to the Grammys
See we do it for that boi that graduated
That looked you in your eyes real tough and said 'preciate it
And that he wouldn'ta made it if it wasn't for your CD number 9
And he's standing with his baby momma Kiki and she cryin' talkinbout
That they used to get high to me in high school
And they used to make love to me in college
Then they told me 'bout they first date, listenin' to my tunes
And how he, like to finger nail polish
I say hate to cut you off but I gotta go
I wish you could tell me mo' but I'm off to the studio, gotta write tonight
Hey, can you put us in your raps? I don't see why not
Devin it's the Dude you gon' probably hear him talking 'bout

midwest love

In honor of the Pistons-Bulls series (which hasn't been much of a series), new music from Chitown courtesy of Common and Kanye West and from Motown via Obie Trice and Dwele.
Common feat. Dwele - The People (Prod. by Kanye West)

Common - The Game (Prod. by Kanye West)

Obie Trice - Detroit Summer

weekend jazzmatazz

DJ Mark Ronson has that hipster appeal. I'll try not to let that bother me when I listen to his music. Same goes for Amy Winehouse. Despite the title of her lead single, she does need rehab. And not to be fashionable like other celebs that check in to rehab for publicity. She's truly a powder keg of self-destruction. But I dig her vibe. So do hipsters...but I'll try to ignore that.

Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse - Valerie

Much of my enjoyment of Gangstarr as a group was attributed to my love of DJ Premier's scratchology and sonic landscapes. I never fully embraced Guru as an MC. His overly monotone delivery was a perfect but often overshadowed aspect within Premo's sonic landscapes. Despite his current grouchy old school/old man reaction to his growing street irrelevance, I have to respect his longevity. 20+ years in hip hop is a rarity. And he still comes up with an occasional gem that will be overlooked. 2 tracks from his Jazzmatazz 4 project:

Guru feat. Common - Clarity

Guru feat. Caron Wheeler - Kissed The World

stylin' and profilin'

One of the unintentionally funny aspects of my job involves going through audio or film samples while designing the company catalog. These crappy samples may be funny in their own unique way, but they all end up in the same place - the recycling bin.

Yes, recycled but never forgotten. There was the amateurish hack job of a film (suprisingly not imdb-worthy) that featured a guest spot by a grizzly Luke Skywalker aka Mark Hamill. Or the job with John Davidson in a ridiculous half-teased/half spiked white haired wig on his CD cover. Or the countless number of jazz saxophonists who work the sax/sex pun ("Sax-ual Healing", "Sax-ual Satisfaction" etc) and pose on their beds caressing their saxophones either by themselves or with some trashy chicks. How about the local Jersey dentist who moonlights as a rocker and recruits his secretaries and stepdaughters to pose in whorish fashion on his CDs and posters (which are posted up in his office)? Or the rappers who offered to bring in the stripper that posed in disgustingly explicit photos which were discreetly cleaned up for the packaging? And then there's the occassional porn. We were tempted at one time to jump head first into that lucrative industry, but decided against the move - for fear of offending our large pool of religious clients. By the way, its the religious clients that end up being the most devilishly demanding and vain.

Recently, while sifting through some more forgettable samples, I came across an instructional audio CD called "Likeable You! - 7 Communication Strategies for Long-Lasting Relationships". The first "strategy" compares the impressions made by a raggedy dude with unkempt hair stumbling out of his beat-up car vs. a handsome clean-cut gentleman with a smile jumping out of his Mercedes in a beautifully tailored suit. I guess all Mercedes owners are supposed to be likeable. Anyway, this heavy handed example goes to show that somebody will form an impression of you within 4 seconds of seeing you. Talk about stating the obvious. But it made me think of all the times I've been profiled in my life.

Usually my encounters with social profiling have been harmless if not humorous. When I told my new co-workers that I lived in Jersey, many of them replied suprisingly, "Oh I thought you lived in Philly...". Besides assuming that I was younger than my actual age, they saw me (upon my arrival) as the urban kid, the hip hop kid...the kid who must live in philly aka killadelphia.
Actually when my current company first approached me at my school's job fair, the art director at the time gave me explicit bus route directions to their location without asking me if I owned a car. Of course back in my baggy jeans days of college, there were the cliched instances of store owners sending employees to follow me around their establishment. Sometimes it was obvious, other times they tried to be sneaky. But it never fazed me because there were always humorous episodes of misidentity - like when an southeast asian cashier at McDonalds told me I resembled the dalai lama. Or when an indian guy at the exxon repeatedly tries to speak to me in spanish. I can go on and on...but I won't go into the times I've been eyed up and down by our friendly NJ police on stops and checkpoints (do they do this anywhere else in the country?). Its ok if I'm with my wife, because we appear more responsible. But when I'm on my own ... hopefully I'm dressed in a "likeable" way. I'll be sitting in front of the cop - regretting that I didn't buy a Mercedes and rock a power suit.

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