Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reacclimating After Three Years Abroad

It's been two weeks and I still catch myself at random moments, like in line at the grocery store, being blown away by the fact that I'm actually living in the States again. Forty months was a long stretch to be away from friends, family and the culture that resonates subconsciously in my bones, and now suddenly it's done. After learning how to numb the distance, it's been invigorating to not have to anymore. I guess maybe that's part of what they call culture shock. It's good f@#%ing awesome to be home.

Right now our actual home is an old warehouse building turned into loft spaces in the Arts District of downtown L.A., near Little Tokyo. I've gotten used to living out of my suitcases, which is a good thing since the cargo ship carrying the rest of our stuff won't arrive here until some time in November. Being forced to live minimally has been a good reminder that there's a lot of crap I don't really need (except for my books and art supplies. Missing that stuff for sure).

Re-immersing back into U.S. culture has been a trip. Little things blow my mind. Giant stores like Ralphs and Target that carry anything and everything. Cars yielding to pedestrians. Everyone speaking English. Then there's the food. After friends and family, food has definitely been one of the highlights since returning from the land of beef, especially since I'm not much of a beef eater. Mexican food. Sushi. Vietnamese. Thai. New York style pizza. Did I say it's good to be home?

One of the biggest adjustments since returning, besides going from spring to fall and losing a summer, has been transportation. Annie and I made the decision to get bikes and Metro passes, and roll car-free. Mass transit in Buenos Aires is cheap and extensive, and we had gotten used to living in the city without a car. In L.A. it's definitely more of a challenge, and I admit being skeptical of it working at first, but not only does it seem totally doable living and working downtown or near the Metro lines, it's been the bomb to be out shredding a city on two wheels again.

So yeah, after two weeks, I'm still definitely dealing with some culture shock, but the only really byproducts of it have been giant grins and an occasional dance when no one's looking, so I'm not really sweating it too much right now.

The Last Stop
Above: One of my favorite moments since being back was Day 10. Battled city buses across L.A. just so I could touch the Pacific and tell her I made it home.

Currently Listening To:

Song: Home
Artist: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (official site)

Currently Reading:
Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey
by Chuck Palahniuk

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Homeward Bound

After three and a half years my time in Argentina is drawing to a close. In less than 48 hours I'll hop on a plane bound for the States. Bound for home.

It's been a wild crazy ride down here, full of ups and downs, like any good adventure should be. I would attempt to put what this all means into context for you now, but the truth is I still haven't been able to get my own mind wrapped around it. What I can say is that while one adventure is ending, a new one is about to begin. The Orange Gorilla, the mohawk, and I are bound for Los Angeles, where we'll continue our unending quest for world domination, and making cool stuff (not necessarily in that order).

Until then, I leave you with the last 4 things I made while living in Buenos Aires.

To Be Continued painting
20" x 34" (52cm x 86cm) | oil & acrylic on wood panel

Subway Pass #22
pen & pencil on subway pass

One Day. 12 Trains.
PHOTO: "One Day. 12 Trains"
I spent a day riding every line in the Argentine subway system. Check out the entire blog post here.

The Last Stop
sketchbook | pen & pencil

Currently Listening To:
Song: The Last Goodbye (listen)
Artist: The Kills (official site)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Buenos Aires Subway

Beginning & End Stations
Above: The entrances to the beginning and end of each line.

On a quiet Sunday morning, a day when the subway stations are relatively empty, I rode underneath the city for nearly 7 hours traversing the six lines of the oldest subway in the southern hemisphere from start to finish.

It is possible to do this on one ticket, which costs only one peso (U$S 25 cents), however I wanted to document the experience, so I exited each station at the beginning and end of each line and photographed the above ground entrance. Even after having to re-enter the system twelve times the whole trip still cost less than 20 pesos (U$S 5 dollars).

If you asked me why I did it I don't know that I could give you a definitive answer. Early in the experience, after realizing it would take much longer than expected, I wondered myself wtf I was doing. However once I stopped trying to rationalize the experience through the lens of a typical subway rider my time spent wandering subterraneously in the city that's been my home for the past three and half years started to make more sense. I wasn't aimlessly riding the train to "nowhere". I was taking it "everywhere".

Subway Doors
Above: The doors of the 12 trains I road traversing the 6 lines start to finish.

A Train
Above: The "A" Line train.

Wooden Subway Doors
Above: The wooden doors of the "A" Line train.

Subway Map Click on map to enlarge.

Currently Listening To:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Remember Studio Alamo

It's my last day renting a room above a bar in Buenos Aires as my art studio. The room sits empty today, void of easels and brushes, looking more like its previous incarnation of a dry-humped old hostel room.

Last Day In Studio Alamo

I suppose the art I created here will be my biggest takeaway from my 14 months in the space, although being above one of the city's popular (excessive) drinking holes definitely added a twist of lime and spritz of seltzer to my time here that I won't soon forget. Like the mornings when I'd cut through the bottom floors and was able to tell how crazy the previous night's clientele were by the degree to which my shoes stuck to the floor. Of course I won't miss the other days when a smell of barf hung in the air just a little too long, but thankfully that phenomenon was infrequent enough that other aspects of the experience like a presumably strengthened immune system or ability to sit at a bar "where everybody knows your name" easily canceled it out.

Left On the Windowsill
Above: Left behind on the windowsill

In the end the irony of it all makes me grin. The Gorilla and I made our final stand in Buenos Aires at an American owned bar called The Alamo. Thankfully though, unlike Davy Crockett and his comrades, in this demented version of the tale Jimmy and his Ape Army are able to survive the battle and have their deranged adventures continue on as they head back north across the equator pillaging and plundering towns and villages and leaving the Orange Gorilla in their wake. Or at least something like that. The ending is still a work in progress.

Gorilla Sticker Sighting #158 - Pillaging & Plundering
Above: Gorilla Sticker Sighting #158 - "Pillaging & Plundering"

Currently Listening To:
Song: The Great Escape (listen)
Artist: Patrick Watson (official site)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cheesy Radioactive Crack

Cheesy Radioactive Crack

Recently I was gifted a packet of gigantic smile-producing Kraft Macaroni & Cheese mix from my friend Ryan. Now, I should say that if I was home in the States, even though I grew up on it and it sustained me through college (the spirals are my fave), it's highly unlikely that I would buy a box of processed mac & cheese at the store, and this little white packet would be as weird a gift as the yellow-orangish, powdery contents that are within it.

However here in Argentina, coming across this cheesy packet reminds me of the scene in the post-apocalyptic movie The Road where father and son wayfarers come across something neither had seen in years - a can of Coke. Instead of stumbling upon a can of carbonated sugar water, it was like they had discovered a coveted magic elixir that was to be cherished.

It was similar when I mixed my pot of noodles today with this rare and elusive Kraft Mac & Cheese mix bestowed upon me from Ryan. My friend didn't give me a packet of unnatural powder that makes noodles a frightening radioactive orange color. Instead he gave me a packet of "awesome" which made my noodles into cheesy euphoric crack that momentarily brought me home. And that is quite a gift.

Currently Listening To:
Song: Hometown Fantasy (listen)
Artist: The Wooden Birds (official site)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Mohawk's First Birthday

The Mohawk
My Mohawk turned a year old the other day.
These are 10 things I've learned in that year.

1. Even though it seems totally obvious, it took me a month to remember that after getting out of the shower it's easier if I put my shirt on first before styling it.
2. Like cat whiskers, it's kept me from banging my head on low-hanging door frames more than once.
3. The only hair gel I've found in Argentina that works is appropriately named "L'Oréal Studio Indestructible".
4. Old guys seem more scared of it than old ladies.
5. It does not fit well in the backseat of most taxi cabs in Buenos Aires.
6. It does not help keep my head warm during the winter.
7. It's name is Apollo Creed. (no legitimate reasoning behind that. It just feels right.)
8. After a year, Apollo's shadow still makes me laugh when I randomly see it on the wall next to me.
9. It helps to have a best friend who's a rockstar at trimming it.
10. For the first time in my life I blow dry my hair...and I'm ok with that.
The Mohawk #2
Mohawk Silhouette
Mohawk Shadow
My Barber
Currently Listening To:
Song: On The Other Side (listen)
Artist: The Strokes (official site)

Currently Reading:
The Places In Between
by Rory Stewart

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Beginning of the End

Today marks the three year anniversary of moving to Argentina. When we left the United States we had no idea when, or even if, we would return. Not because we didn't love or appreciate the place we came from, but because when we left we didn't want to put any limits on what the adventure we were setting out on could be. However, our "indefinite" time in South America is now drawing to a close. After three years of living in opposite seasons in the southern hemisphere, in this big crazy amazing city, some time in the next two months we'll be headed back north on a one way trip bound for Los Angeles.

As it works out, this anniversary marks the beginning of our final chapter of living in Buenos Aires. Last week Gallery 24B (our apartment), and the artwork within it, saw its last visitors, and before the weekend was over a sea of corrugation had slowly started to spread through the apartment as packing and preparations began for the impending international move.

As we see friends now, some for the last time, they ask if I'm excited to be moving back. My usual response is usually "shit yeah". I can't wait to stuff my face with some New York style pizza, or hang with my family for the holidays (hasn't happened since 2007), however, I'm trying not to let my mind go there quite yet. The time for that will come soon enough. Instead I just try to stay in the moment, and keep taking in the experience of living in a foreign land as long as I can - my last few moments of being an least for now.

Three Year SunriseAbove: Sunrise over Buenos Aires this morning.

Currently Listening To:
Song: The Last Goodbye (listen)
Artist: The Kills (official site)

Currently Reading:
The Places In Between
by Rory Stewart

Thursday, June 30, 2011

DANKO Video 012 | Skatepark Yeti | Music by Say Hi

(having trouble viewing the above video? go here)

One of my copilots is a yeti.


Discosadness by Say Hi

ALBUM: Discosadness
SONG: Unless the Laker Game Was On

The song in Skatepark Yeti comes from the one-man band Say Hi (formerly Say Hi To Your Mom). While you might see Say Hi touring as a full band, when its time to make the music the man behind it all is Eric Elbogen. The song "Unless the Laker Game Was On" is a hidden gem off of his 2002 debut album Discosadness. What has Eric been doing since that first album? Staying busy making fantastical tunes. Say Hi just released it's 8th album - Um, Oh Oh. Check out one of his latest tracks, "Devils", here. You can get the latest Eric Elbogen and Say Hi news and goodness online at the following places:


Skatepark Yeti
Click images to enlarge.
Rock The Cradle 2010 by Groovehouse Photography

The image above used for reference comes from the lens of the talented photographer Eric Sauseda. I'm a huge fan of Eric's work, particularly his when it comes to skateboarding and music, so I feel fortunate to have collaborated with him on this piece. You can check out more of Eric's photographic awesomeness at Groovehouse Photography or catch him on twitter at @groovehouse.

Currently Listening To:
Song: Devils (listen)
Artist: Say Hi (official site)

Currently Reading:
The Places In Between
by Rory Stewart

Monday, June 20, 2011

Iguazu Falls

Double-decker red-eye bus ride.
An 18 hour pilgrimage North,
out of the cold gray city,
to see "the falls" under moonlight.
We roll into the highway night
with mysterious styrofoam bus food.
Headlights and sleep strobe by.
We wake up warmer.
Closer to the equator.
The roads are reddish brown.
Everything else is green.
Jungle green.

For the entire 3 years we've been living in Buenos Aires, we've been talking about making a trip to the Iguazu Falls which lie on the border of Argentina and Brazil. It's one of those must do things if you're down here for more than a week. With our time in Argentina drawing to a close, we figured we better get off our asses (then get back on them for an 18 hour bus ride) and check this one off the "bucket list". We planned our jaunt out of the city around the full moon. Seeing the falls during the day is an experience by itself, however, we heard seeing them at night, lit only by the moon, was insane. And it was.

Devil's ThroatAbove: Devil's Throat...the biggest, craziest part of the falls.

Iguazu Falls Under Full MoonAbove: Devil's Throat under the full moon. I took two long exposure shots to make the panorama. The lights on the other side come from the Brazilian side of the falls.

Iguazu Falls

Gorilla Sticker Sighting #0134 - Iguazu FallsGorilla Sticker Sighting #0134 - Devil's Throat - Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Currently Listening To:
Song: Black Leaf Falls (listen)
Artist: Sea Wolf (official site)

Currently Reading:
The Places In Between
by Rory Stewart

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Complete South African Sketchbook

Spent a month traveling through South Africa. This is the sketchbook from the trip.

(Having trouble viewing the images? They can also be seen here.)
The Complete South African SketchbookThe Complete South African Sketchbook


Front & Back CoverFront & Back Cover

Road Trip Day 2 & 3
Cape Point Lighthouse
The Waterfront
Robben Island
The (un)Official Car of South Africa
Coffee Bay
Cape Town to Durban
Cape Agulhas
Jeffreys Bay & Hogsback
Pass Right Keep Left
Umhlanga Pier
English Decoder & Final Leg of Trip
Secret Pocket
If Found

Currently Listening To:
Song: The Lobster Quadrille (listen)
Artist: Franz Ferdinand (official website)

Currently Reading:
The Places In Between
by Rory Stewart

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wild Coast to Durban

Road Trip Log Thursday April 14th, 2011
Jeffreys Bay departure.
Back cruising on the N2.
Petrol stop in Port Elizabeth.
Caffeine stop in Grahamstown.
Then north into the country side.
Mountain bound on Route 67.
Past waterproof shepherds.
Into the wet green altitude,
into Tolkien's playground.
The original "Middle Earth".
Hogsback, South Africa.
Couch surfing on the bluff.
Up in impenetrable fog clouds.
Damp to the bone.
Warm fire refuge with new friends.
Libations and storytelling until shut-eye.
Morning waterfall hiking.
Lunch and whisky at a 125 year old tavern.
Half-day of nothing.
Then back on the road,
towards the coast.
The Wild Coast.
Dodging hitchhikers and cattle,
goats and potholes.
And more potholes.
And always hitchhikers.
To Coffee Bay and the rolling Indian Ocean.
$4 beach hostel fish n' chip dinner.
Way off the grid.
Trading rolling papers for a fragment of internet.
Midnight drum circle.
Fade to black.
Breakfast in the car.
8 hours to Durban.
In the rain.
All day.
Kokstok petrol...Westside!
Rolling into civilization.
Rental car return.
Durban without bust.

Sketch - Cape Town to DurbanSketch - Cape Town to Durban

Madonna & Child WaterfallMadonna & Child Waterfall - Hogsback, South Africa

Road to Coffee Bay #1Road to Coffee Bay #1

Road to Coffee Bay #2Road to Coffee Bay #2

Westside"Westside" - Kokstad, South Africa. Ronnie, Mzingisi & Mlungisi at a petrol stop in Kokstad, South Africa. You can't pump your own gas in South Africa so sometimes I got to know the guys doing it for me.

Umhlanga PierUmhlanga Pier - Durban, South Africa

Gorilla Sticker Sighting #0080 - DurbanGorilla Sticker Sighting #0080 - Location: Umhlanga Beach - Durban, South Africa

Sketch - Umhlanga PierSketch - Umhlanga Pier

Currently Listening To:
Song: How We Roll (listen)
Artist: Plushgun (myspace)

Currently Reading:
The Places In Between
by Rory Stewart