Roof view out of the Shanghai hostel

Not sure if this qualifies yet, but it’s raining cats & dogs out there right now.

Love me some summer thunderstorms :)

Patio of our Shanghai hostel (pretty nice place)


We arrived in Shanghai two days ago after our flight from Beijing was delayed for three hours. So far, I like it better than Beijing. Something about it feels like a more developed city. Things like subway rides and taxis are slightly more expensive, but it’s still way cheaper than in the U.S.

My final time in Beijing was spent with Joel’s class as they gave their final presentations for the projects that they had been working on all semester. It was pretty cool to see how the students from Taiwan, Beijing, and Los Angeles worked together for the past six months. That night everyone got together to go out, and we ended up with splintered groups going every which way until we all meet up at a small club called Propaganda. Prior to this, the group Joel and I were with wandered down an alley and sat for a while eating what Joel has dubbed ‘meat-sticks’ (ie. lamb, chicken heart, beef, etc.)

Our hostel in Shanghai is the nicest I’ve ever seen (even though its only my third.) The city is great, and the skyline across the Bund is incredible. Last night, we went to an acrobatics show that cost us just 80¥. We found our way over to the 280¥ seats, and the show was impressive – not Cirque status – but still cool.

I’ll try to get some photos up soon.

Hello world (Beijing)

Flight over from Seattle
View from the plane from Seattle... taken at 1am

So for the next three months or so, this blog will become the place where I put as much stuff about my summer travels as possible. Most of my posts will come from the iOS WordPress app, so posts will be short but hopefully frequent.

Today is my second full day here in China.

I flew in to Beijing at 10:30pm on Saturday night and stayed with my friend Joel who’s finishing up a class here. We’ll be traveling through the rest of China starting Wednesday. Yesterday we went to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square early in the day, and then I headed back to the airport to pick up our friend Dan, who’ll be studying at Nankai University. We took a bus to the school in Tianjin and found an awesome dive bar to celebrate Dan’s birthday at. Luckily his roommate speaks fairly good Chinese already, so he helped us get around.

I’m back in Beijing today. To get back (because another two hour bus ride didn’t sound too fun) I took the bullet train that runs between the two cities. It was awesome (350km/hr.)

Just checked in to my hostel for tonight and tomorrow night. It was impossible to find, but it’s really nice.

The air here is horrible, but that was to be expected. I wish I spoke Chinese, so I’m going to work on that in a few minutes. Things are pretty cheap, but I’ve spent more money than I intended to. Guess that’s just because I’ve been back and forth between here and Tianjin, and it was Dan’s birthday. Not a big deal.

I have some cool pictures on my phone, but I can’t seem to get them onto the blog.

This is going to be an interesting summer.

Mos Def redefined the rap live show last night

Mos Def: making avant-garde hip hop appeal to a mainstream college audience

I’ve been to a few hip hop shows in the past. Not nearly as many as punk, indie rock, or electronic shows, but still, a few. Mos Def’s show last night at USC’s Springfest ’11 was like nothing else.

I’m about as knowledgeable about Mos Def as the average guy off of the street; that is, I know “Ms. Fat Booty,” “Sex, Love & Money,” and I’ve seen a movie or two he’s been in. I can’t comment on how many of the songs he played – or flowed through – last night are his, but whatever it he was playing couldn’t have sounded more like the high-brow rap innovator that he is in my mind.

For the first fifteen minutes, I was waiting for a song I recognized to come from the DJ (we’d just finished a set by MURS who covered Rage and The Bangles). But when songs blended together and lasted ten minutes with extended interludes of Mos improvising over muddied beats removed of any mid or treble tones, I just went with it.

An anecdote: During the dead pause between two songs, someone in the crowd was repeatedly yelling, “Ms. Fat Booty.” Mos turned to face the guy and said, “Hey, this ain’t a jukebox show.” That pretty much sums it up.

The word to describe the set: weird. It wasn’t fun, but I loved it. I’m not sure if this is the best comparison, but it was what Portishead would do if for some reason Beth wanted to rap. It was fantastic.

New York, NY for a few

The Strand bookstore from the small second level

I’m in Boston for my last spring break ever. I promised a friend that I’d eventually come out, and although it took me four years, I’m here. We spent the past few days in New York. I lived in the East Village and Lower East Side during the summer of 2009, and I learned then why people never leave.

Also true.
Nowadays, this typeface gets more attention than anything it communicates
Because you never know all of the ways you can calculate 15%...
The stairs in Dylan's Candy Bar. Willy Wonka anyone?
Mother bird regurgitating its child. Or something like that.
Badass diorama.
Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger

A Return to Blogging?

Sooooo, it’s been about four months since my last post. That’s three months longer than I’d usually take to write a post. I think that’s due to the fact that I wanted the site to feature long in-depths reviews of some things I love, but I couldn’t dedicate the time to put the lengthy articles together. My fault.

As you can see, I’ve redone the design of the blog. Now, instead of each post having a lead image that takes you to the article, the entire story is given to you up front. Also, these posts probably won’t be as long as they used to be. I’d rather write stuff that’s short and timely than stuff that’s long-winded and old.

Hope you enjoy the new design. It’s adapted from Modern Clix. Aside from widening the content portion of the site, I converted the CSS grid layout to use the 960 Grid System. It’s pretty sweet :)



After having visited the various museums around LA (the Getty, Norton Simon, Huntington, and the various museums here at Exposition) over the past couple years, I finally made it to LACMA. Visiting museums presents a mild catch-22 for me: I don’t like going without a group of other people, but I don’t like to walk around with that group. I’d much prefer to go on my own and sit in one spot for a half hour if I want to without worrying about if the rest of the group is getting annoyed. Luckily, I’ve found that plenty of people feel the same way and don’t really care if we stick together as a group or not.

On another “freshman outing” coordinated by the grad Radomir, about 10 of us headed down to check out the latest addition to LACMA: the BCAM (Broad Contemporary Art Museum). We started off the night at Souplantation, which turned out to essentially be a step up from college cafeteria-style dining. After wondering why a Frank Lloyd Wright quotation was on the wall and having our fill of soup, salad, bread, and desserts we embarked on the traffic-packed journey that was 3rd/Fairfax/Wilshire to LACMA.After 5pm, everyone gets in free, so being the cheep college students we are, that’s exactly what we went for.

Starting off, the BACM goes top down (kinda like the Guggenheim I guess) and each of the three floors is massive. The first floor (which is actually the third) opens up to the exhibition that all the press in focusing on. The pieces are very large, metallic, incredibly shiny, balloon-shaped objects by Jeff Koons. These include dogs, an egg, and other things that are just big and colorful and reflective. Also in this exhibition are a few pieces by Andy Warhol. After spending a good part of a month focusing on Pop Art last semester, I’ve done a bit of reading on him and was very surprised to see his Elvis at LACMA. While only one copy was on display, it reminded me of the fact that they used to be displayed repeatedly overlapping across an entire wall. Very Pop and very gay, as was Warhol.

Of the three floors, the first had the largest pieces, the second had the most pantings/photography, and the third was all (I think) Richard Serra pieces. Again, last semester we spend quite a bit of time on installations and public art. Serra’s Tilted Arc was the focus of our discussions, but his two pieces at LACMA are far more interesting in my opinions. While Tilted Arc is clearly a prime example of how public art can be received by its audience (and I agree that it was very intrusive), these two were not out in public, and I think that their place in a large hall is perfect.  Both pieces rise up about 10-15 feet and are made of rusted steel. One piece is a massive figure eight and the other (which we didn’t spend much time at) was similarly contoured, but I’m not sure what its shape is.

After we left the BACM, we headed over the main part of LACMA, but our time was limited. In about an hour and a half, I saw some great Southern Californian pieces, a Rothko, two Pollocks, some Picassos, a Braque, and countless others. At 9, we were kicked out and LACMA closed. Naturally, we spend another hour driving aimlessly around LA and eventually wound up back on campus. It was a good night.

USC Libraries blow me away

Books ThumbnailSo I’m sitting in AFA (Architecture & Fine Arts Library) doing some research for the art history paper that is due next Monday, and I need to get a book. So I open my laptop and head to HOMER (the library catalogue database) to see if we have it. First try: score. USC just happens to have a copy of Modern Art and Modernism: A Critical Anthology by Francis Frascina and Charles Harrison from 1982. Lucky me, I can continue my quest to link Robert Morris’ “Notes on Sculpture Pt. 1” from Artforum to the two pieces of art I have yet to select. That the book was in the library was a pretty sweet coincidence that winds up happening about four more times until I’m fully confident that – here at USC – every book in the history of the universe is/was/will be located in one of our libraries. I say “was” because books get stolen. It always sucks when you do a search it is comes back as being due two years ago… But I stand firm, somewhere in the vast (and horribly creepy) bookstacks of USC lies the meaning of life.