Monday, June 23, 2008

photos: 5th Annual Dash Point Pro/Am Comp

This past Saturday was my second outing with Northwest Riders and the Dashboard Skim Board team, now for the 5th Anual Dash Point Pro/Am Competition. My guys did great — Richard and Issac both walked away with cash prizes! The event itself was a huge success as well; according to a few local experts, events that have been running for decades don't pull the crowds the Dash Point Pro/Am does. I'm constantly amazed at how successful these guys (who barely older than me, mind you) have been and continue to be. Another pretty cool aspect of the comp was the skill and age level. There were divisions for U16, Women, Amatuer and Pro, all of which drawing full and diverse heats.

I shot with my telephoto (70-200 f/2.8 IS) for the most part, but then switched to my wide angle (16-35 f/2.8) toward the end for some experimentation. It was a cloudy day, so I ended up overexposing a lot of my shots which was unfortunate… but on the whole it was a pretty good day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

music: 107.7 The End Summer Camp II

After thoroughly enjoying The End's Summer Camp earlier today (yesterday?), I've made some important revelations. One, very important, was that I truly love music. The other, slightly less important, was that I cannot stand emo kids.

I was about to review this show, or day of shows, when I thought to myself, "You know, you're going to be reviewing music all summer — why not take this day and just enjoy it without critiquing?" So, that's what I did. The results were amazing.

I was able to just lose myself in the music. The feeling I got, especially during the sets of Flobots and MGMT, was surreal: I felt lifted, absorbed. I felt mesmerized. I felt these things and remembered why I was drawn to music in the first place and why I can never seem to escape (as if I'd want to).

The only thing shaking me out were the obnoxious emo/punk kids who were clearly there for either Armor For Sleep (the former) or Pennywise (the latter). I mean come on — who moshes while there's a cello onstage? It's an unspoken rule, or at least one I never thought would need to be clarified.

I was really proud of Nada Surf frontman Matthew Caws for calling these kids out during their set: "This isn't that kind of show you guys. If you want to punch each other in the face, that's fine, but do it somewhere else." That drew a lot of middle fingers, and one of the crowd threw a belt onstage. Between songs, drummer Ira Elliot buckled it around his neck and yelled out, "Hey, thanks, this is awesome! Brown on one side, black on the other — it goes with everything!"

I was part of an oddly diverse crowd. On one hand, there were hoards of brace-faced teens and tweens who really seemed to young to be at a punk rawk show. On the other hand, there were more than enough big, tattooed, beer-drunk men. Oh yeah, and the one guy wearing a slasher mask: really? But if nothing else, my fellow audience members kept the day interesting.

And, despite the need to defend myself from the annoying alcohol-and-testosterone-fueled antics of a few, my first experience at Marymoor Park was a great one; as usual, music conquered all. And, because I couldn't completely turn off the reviewer part of my brain, here are a few thoughts:

• Flobots' Brer Rabbit can dance. Like really, really dance, beyond words. Props.

• The lead singer/guitarist of MGMT, Andrew Vanwyngarden, is a total psychadellic badass.

•Destructive on-stage antics are only funny for so long. Luckily, Armor For Sleep frontman
Ben Jorgensen took the first dive, throwing his guitar and then falling backwards into a stack of amps. And when Nada Surf's Daniel Lorca threw his base, well, that was pretty great too.

•Putting a cymbal above your head is a really cool thing for a drummer to do, especially if you drum for Nada Surf. More power to you Ira.

•As much as I love them, Pennywise didn't feel as fresh as I thought they might. Guitarist Fletcher Dragge was so pissed off — first at the government, then the Microsofties, and finally the on-call paramedics — that it actually became a little tiring. Warped Tour might be a better home for the prolific punk-rockers.

• That being said, the "Blitzkrieg Bop" cover played by Pennywise featuring Flogging Molly's Dennis Casey on vocals was one of the high points of the day.

•Flogging Molly is, was, and forever will be the most talented and entertaining Irish musicians to ever explore and transform the punk genre. That, and the best spokesmen Guiness could ever hope for.
So, a really good day — good bands, good weather (suprisingly enough) and good friends to enjoy it all with. Thank you 107.7, KNDD, The End. Taking over the world.

Oh, and I officially have a small crush on Mackenzie Roberts, the lovely (and wildly talented) lady who is responsible for the viola behind the Flobots. Wow.

Monday, June 9, 2008

op-ed: Fox Anchor calls Obama "fist pound" a "Terrorist Fist Jab"

From a Huffington Post report, gathered from Media Matters:

During the June 6 edition of Fox News' America's Pulse, host E.D. Hill teased an upcoming discussion by saying, "A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently." In the ensuing discussion with Janine Driver — whom Hill introduced as "a body language expert" — Hill referred to the "Michelle and Barack Obama fist bump or fist pound," adding that "people call it all sorts of things." Hill went on to ask Driver: "Let's start with the Barack and Michelle Obama, because that's what most people are writing about -- the fist thump. Is that sort of a signal that young people get?" At no point during the discussion did Hill explain her earlier reference to "a terrorist fist jab."
I hate FOX News. If you can call it news. Check out the clip below.

photos: Jason Barber at Trabant

I just got back from a quick study break at Trabant Coffee and Chai, where my buddy and fraternity brother Jason Barber played a few of his songs at open mic. I popped off a few shots while I was there — open mics are a great chance to shoot live music in a chill setting — and headed back home. For the record, I was actually really impressed, especially with his first song. I'd never heard Barber play his own stuff before, but it's good to know I'm getting guitar pointers from a guy who knows what he's doing. Back to the photos… after a brief interruption by a drunken wrestling match that will surely go down in Xi Deut lore, I decided that editing up a few photos would be a much better use of my time than studying labor history. Screw you Samuel Gompers.


review: Nas's "Black President"

The latest from NYC rapper Nas, in collaboration with DJ Green Lantern, is a the latest in a long line of support for Obama from the music community. The brilliant piece of pro-Obama hip-hop comes off of the new mixtape "The Nigger Tape," just after Bob Dylan's endorsement a few days ago and the viral Will.I.Am song and video "Yes We Can" from earlier this year.

Not only does he remix Obama's acceptance speech, but the hook is sampled from 2Pac's "Changes": "And though it seems heaven-sent, we ain't ready to have a black president."

The track boasts a smart set of rhymes, too; Nas brings up Calvin Coolidge's KKK connection and Andrew Jackson's mixed Native American blood. As the Obama clip in the beginning says, "They said this day would never come." And Nas respons with the rallying cry, "Yes we can, change the world."


Friday, June 6, 2008

news: No more bonfires? Say it aint so…

According to a Seattle P-I report, Seattle Parks and Recreation officials are considering reducing or eliminating altogether the fire pits at Alki and Golden Gardens. Under the proposal, in July the department would reduce the number of pits at Alki from the current 6 to 3, and at Golden Gardens from 12 to 7. The next year, they would have the option to eliminate them entirely.

This is the second time in recent memory that the waterfront tradition has been threatened: in 2004 a violation notice was sent from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to the city after someone set a couch on fire at Alki Beach. However, 1,200 people signed a petition to save Alki's bonfires, and 100 others signed a petition to save the ones at Golden Garden.

Now, environmental concerns are threatening the fires once again. According to a memo to the park board from the staff, "The overall policy question for the Board is whether it is good policy for Seattle Parks to continue public beach fires when the carbon emissions produced by thousands of beach fires per year contributes to global warming."

However, there are some strong arguments in favor of leaving the fires alone. More staff have been assigned to the two beaches, and the number of fires using illegal materials has dropped by two-thirds. Restrictions could cause illegal fires and fights over the limited number of fire pits. Charging fees to use the pits could cause disproportionate availability for youths and low-income people.

[Editor's Note] Do these fires really present a threat in the battle against climate change? Though I don't have much evidence in front of me, I'd wager the effect of even a few thousand bonfires would be far less than the carbon emissions of a handful of cars. Despite the environmentally friendly mindset of Seattle and its residents (myself definitely included), I'd be surprised to see a tradition like this be disposed of for minimal benefit. The Parks & Rec board meeting is next Thursday night… I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens. If you want to make your voice heard, show up at 7 p.m at the park department's offices (100 Dexter Ave. N).

Thursday, June 5, 2008

sports: NBA Finals, Game 1

In the battle of what ESPN's John Hollinger called the immovable object versus the unstoppable force, well... the old saying that "defense wins games" has been repeated for a reason. The Celtics sealed off Game 1 of the Finals series cleanly with a 98-88 victory, and their solid play on both ends seems like something they could easily duplicate three more times.

In this contest, it was Paul Pierce's reentrance and back-to-back threes in the third quarter — after he had been carried off the court and put in a wheelchair — that put momentum behind the Celtics not even Kobe could stifle. He did a good job of stifling Kobe, too.

On that note, the 2008 MVP didn't make the kind of blow-out performance he's known to make: though he dropped 24 points, he was only 9-26 from the floor and 0-3 from behind the arch. It certainly wasn't the 39 points he put up versus the Spurs last week.

KG double-doubled, with 24 points and 13 rebounds in a solid performance from the league's Defensive Player of the Year. There was an even distribution of points among four of the five Boston starters, all scoring at least 15.

Sam Cassell also deserves some MVP status; the guy's 38, but that didn't keep him from making some crucial plays tonight in just 10 minutes off the bench in the first half.

Monday, June 2, 2008

news and photos: Wing Luke Asian Museum

On Sunday morning, I trekked into Seattle's International District to report on the latter half of the Wing Luke Asian Museum's two-day grand opening extravaganza. Despite the fact that I was (literally) temporarily deafened by the traditional firecrackers that scared the living hell out of me, I really enjoyed the performances outside and the museum itself. This was definitely an experiment in my courage as a photographer; I didn't want to interfere with a culturally important ceremony, but I also couldn't get a shot from the middle of the crowd, so I hopped the rope and perched against the building literally right in front of the dance. The shots that resulted from that move were exactly what I wanted. Below are four of my favorites, in addition to the story I wrote from an amazing noodle restaurant about three blocks away.

The Wing Luke Asian Museum will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $8 for adults, $6 for students and seniors, and free for kids under 5. Admission is free on the first Thursday and third Saturday of each month. For more information, visit

ABOVE: A young boy performs a routine with a traditional spear outside the Wing Luke Asian Museum. His routine, along with others, was part of the second day of festivities celebrating the museum's grand reopening.

ABOVE: Four performers dance during a ceremonial Lion and Dragon performance outside the Wing Luke Asian Museum on June 1. Each lion is made up of two people, with one in the head and one in the rear.

ABOVE: A woman dances outside the Wing Luke Asian Museum during its grand opening festivities as a part of the Lion and Dragon Dance performance.

ABOVE: A young girl pets a performer in traditional Chinese Lion costume. Many children were present and the ceremonial dance, and some continued on to the many children's areas inside the museum.

Wing Luke Asian Museum reopens to community's delight

Amid the deafening roar of fireworks, a cheer rang out from the crowd. The Wing Luke Asian Museum was perfectly situated into its new International District home.

On Saturday morning, the first day of the grand opening weekend celebration, supporters filled the block in front of the new 719 S. King St. to hear speeches from local politicians and to see a multicultural drumming performance. The next morning, a similar crowd turned out for a lion and dragon dance performance. As soon as the performances were finished, onlookers crowded to the entrance to catch a glimpse inside.

Joann Natalia Aquino, the museum’s public relations manager, was excited both about the museum’s expansion and the public’s support.

“The community has welcomed the museum with open arms,” she said. “We’re very glad to open and glad that the community has embraced us.”

The museum features peaceful lightwells, children’s areas, historic immersion exhibits, the Tateuchi Story Theater and the unique “George Tsutakawa: The Making of a Fountain” exhibition displaying fountains, paintings and sculptures of the Seattle artist.
The museum, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate, is the only Pan-Asian Pacific-American museum in the U.S. It focuses on three dimensions: contemporary space, historic space and a portal to Chinatown discovery.

Wing Luke was Seattle's first Asian city councilman. Elected in 1962, he served three years before dying in a plane crash after leaving an Okanogan County airport on May 16, 1965. A search, paid for by contributions from friends and supporters, found the plane over three years later in the Cascade Mountains.

Money left over from the search effort was used to start the original Wing Luke Museum, which quickly outgrew its 10,000 square foot original residence. The new location, in the old East Kong Yick Building, is about six times that size.

Originally a boarding house full of small rooms, the East Kong Yick building was often a first stop for those who had nowhere else to go when they arrived in Seattle. It has been mostly uninhabited for years, but after a five-year campaign by the Wing Luke Asian Museum that raised $23.2 million that’s no longer the case.

Architect Rick Sundberg made it a goal to save as much of the building as he could rather than gutting it, and in doing so saved the storytelling ability of the building. Century-old timber, refurbished and repurposed, lines the museum’s walls. Suddenly, the building became a source of pride for the community, combining past with future.

UW student Mitchell Fung, along with about ten of his fellow Zeta Kappa Epsilon fraternity members, helped with event staff to direct guests at the grand opening.

“We’re an Asian-interest fraternity, but for some of our members this is brand new,” Fung said. “This gives us a chance to learn about our culture and do what we can to help the community.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

personal: Past Love and a Singing Husky

George stopped singing a few days ago.

My little stuffed Husky (George, Washington... get it?) was a build a bear creation that had also been stuffed with a sound box that played "Beautiful Mess" by Diamond Rio. It was a Christmas gift from my ex-girlfriend. That was our song.

When a friend of mine squeezed him to set off the box — which I was convinced she'd do from time to time just to see my reaction — he didn't burst into slightly muffled song. I had to check for myself, but no… the stifled little voice was all worn out.

Never mind that she and I broke up over a year ago. Never mind that I initiated it. And now… now we're at different schools, with different friends, and have become significantly different people. It was weird seeing her in the grocery store back home, though, a few weeks ago. I hated my heart for beating harder. I hated myself for caring.

Love is a funny, funny thing. She was my first intoxicating brush with something that resulted in some of the best and worst times of my life. I think that will always stay with me. For some reason this line from Chuck Klosterman, from "Killing Yourself to Live," always resonated in my mind:

"The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different from anyone else, and they're often just the person you happen to meet the first time you really, really want to love someone. But that person still wins. They win, and you lose. Because for the rest of your life, they will control how you feel about everyone else."
In my mind, she was that person. Oh, Chuck, you're so fucking right.

Our relationship was far from perfect, and undeniably a little immature, but despite all its flaws that relationship is my realization of what love is. It was exactly what I needed then, an escape into something I didn’t really understand, but sort of liked. It taught me things I needed to learn, and not always “the easy way.”

I am over her. It’s been a year, and I’m a mature guy, and I can handle it. But every now and then a rogue thought slips into my head, maybe in passing, maybe in a dream. Maybe it’ll be some trip to jump off the docks at the lake, some hillside clearing where we watched the sun set, some formal dance where we had a little too much fun.

As great as those memories are, they’re still just memories. They’re in the past, and they’re not coming back. I’m OK with that.

And George will likely never sing again. I'm OK with that too.