Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stephen Jackson revisited

... and just as I inhale, Stack Jack has ended his stay as a Warrior in a trade involving Richard Jefferson and a conditional first rounder. I will miss your pouting, adamant refusal to get back on D, and slow release. Booing will resume as normal.

PHOTO by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images via Sports Illustrated

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Monta and Udoh traded for Bogut and Captain Jack

Coming from someone tired of seeing the Warriors toil in mediocrity (too good to get a high draft pick, too bad to get into the playoffs), it's nice to see them roll the dice. This could turn out really great, or it can blow up in our faces. To be frank, watching the Warriors already feels like the TV blowing up in my face, so not much would change there. I would also officially like to welcome back Stack Jack. I've missed your pouting, adamant refusal to get back on D, and slow release. I will cheer you when you do well and boo you when you fail. Just like I do the with the Warriors.

PHOTO by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images via Sports Illustrated

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kony 2012 & The Right to be Inspired

It really bothers me how negative and derisive people are about Kony 2012. Deconstructing this movement like it's a scam or trying to defraud the integrity of people who claim to support it. None of that changes that children are suffering globally. It's something that we all should be reminded of whether you are knowledgable of it or not. So what if not every single person on your friend list that posts this video does anything about it. The possibility remains that someone eventually will. That makes it worth the effort.

Don't let your cynicism overshadow the issue. And don't let your distrust diffuse your sense of purpose or moral responsibility.

This isn't me grandstanding. This is me frustrated. You don't need to have dedicated your entire life to charity in order to be a part of something bigger than yourself. The only prerequisite to being inspired is inspiration. Stop being concerned with which of your friends follow through. Avoid patting yourself on the back over those who don't. If you claim to hold the moral ground over them, then effect change yourself and call it a day. While taking action now won't make you an activist, it can make you a compassionate human being.

Enough time has been spent arguing the matter. Just remember that no one group is forcing your hand in your pocket, so stop acting like it. You are free to be apathetic. You are free to be a cynic. You are free to do nothing and proceed with your day as normal. But the least you can do is get out of the way of those who are getting things done and those who want to try.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Legaci, Justin Bieber, and What it All Means

Bieber Hate: Drawing the Line

To be honest before these last 2 months or so, I didn't know much about Justin Bieber. I didn't know he had a youtube channel or that he had been discovered by Usher. By the time I first saw him on the We Are the World II music video, he was already an American phenom well on his way to stardom.

I listened to it a couple times but I wasn't floored by his hit single "Baby." At first glance, I thought he was a Disney channel clone destined to star in tv movies, headline a 3D concert, then eventually relegate himself to the bin of child stars who've outgrown their novelty. Simply, I didn't hate the kid, but I just wasn't into his music. But there had to be something special about him, as he had erupted into a media and cultural sensation overnight.

My interest piqued when my brother-in-laws group Legaci were invited to be Justin's backup singers after their youtube cover of "Baby" got them noticed. I watched several more of Justin's videos and listened to a couple more of his songs. I wasn't surprised by how popular he had become or the number of page views he had accumulated. What stunned me was the sheer number of people who've fabricated a hatred him. And not just a dislike for his music, but a dark disgusting out pour of death threats, profanity, and bile for what fans adoringly dubbed "Bieber Fever." As if his existence was somehow a detriment to society. Collectively among haters he had become the poster boy for bad music and posers alike. The solution they often pose to remedy this "Fever"? The resounding solution proposed by many morbidly enough is simple: Kill Justin Bieber. I can understand not liking his music or his style, but wishing death upon a kid is evil, and shows a severe spiritual ugliness and lapse in moral integrity. He's a kid singing pop music. If you isolate him as a detriment to society, you need to expand your perception of whats actually going wrong in this world.

A couple weeks ago I discovered a movement (of which I had to stifle my laughter), of Metal fans united under the common goal of flooding the Bieber music channel of dislikes and redundant messages of hate. No, this isn't my lead into why metal heads are dumb and are jealous of Bieber. I'm gonna give humanity the benefit of the doubt, and assume that not all metal purveyors waste their time waging war on pop music. I hate saying it because it's so damn obvious. Music like any type of art is subjective. It's why Nicolas Cage and Adam Sandler are huge box-office draw yet often gets panned by critics. There are no mass movements lambasting them with homophobic slurs and death threats, regardless of how awful their movies are. What makes them exempt, and Bieber an acceptable target? One article I read posed this question "Is it that you really hate his fans and not Justin Bieber?" Just something to ponder on...

Just saying its okay to have standards. We all have them. Just don't think you are the standard. The world does not revolve you or your opinion. Tomorrow your internet could go down, and your plight against musical injustice wouldn't be any less effective. Give it up and fight for something that doesn't make you look small and petty.

Haters. The key to surviving the fever is this: remember what his target audience is--kids and teens. Having gone to the concert I know this to be a fact. He is incredibly over among this age group for simple reasons. They enjoy his dancing, his singing, and his looks. What I saw were fans, both kids and adults, dancing and singing along. A mother in front of us danced with her daughter.
Is that really something you want to be pissed off about? C'mon, I know there are a couple parents out there joyfully declaring their child's old soul whos love for pink floyd and the beatles transcends the immaturity of the common child. Good for you. When all the other parents are treating their ecstatic kids to a Bieber concert, I'll make sure to remind your kids the next time the Beatles roll into town.

I read an article from SF Gate which reviewed the concert and criticized it for having poor production values. While posing a debatable opinion, he discredited himself immediately by going on a tirade about Bieber wearing a hat all night. A paragraph devoted to how Justin robbed his fans by hiding his trademark haircut. He wrapped up his review, but making a cutesy yet illusory observation that "the arena was dotted with tweens who had curled up in their seats and fallen asleep." I must have missed something because Oracle arena hadn't been that loud since the "We Believe" playoffs. Next time they send someone to review a concert, I recommend they save the ink and send someone who actually wants to go.

Here are 5 observations/opinions I developed the night I watched MyWorld 2.0

1. Bieber is a kid, an exceptionally talented kid. With enough discipline, and a solid support system, he can be great (note that i didn't say the best. as that terms sends to aggravate the haters en masse). To date he is just 16 years old. Don't make childish comments like "he sucks at drums, or he can't sing." He has enough talent to be credible, and enough upside to grow. Shut up and see where he can go.

2. The set was awesome. The guy writing the article saw fit to tear it down, but this was far from some small town production. Granted he may have lofty standards but judging from the exclamation "awesome" from a young girl behind me as the lights and lasers came on, the set impressed someone who really mattered.

3. Justin has an amazing ensemble of band members, dancers, and backup singers. They performed with a youthful exuberance and genuine excitement rewarding the audience for their intensity. They complimented Justin beautifully showcasing a wide array of talents.

4. The sound in the arena was near deafening. Kids love him like crazy. The only thing brighter than their light sticks were their smiles. seriously.

again. what is unjust about that?

5. Stop tasting everything with a silver spoon. If you simply don't like his music, stop comparing him to the merits of the musicians you hold on a pedestal. Young Justin Bieber is not Led Zeppelin or Marvin Gaye, so why speak their names on the same breath. You can either enjoy his music, or you can't. Don't over complicate what isn't complicated. Honestly the music ain't half bad. In fact I find it quite catchy.


My brother-in-law Micah created Legaci along with friends to bring their dreams of becoming Asian American mainstream performers into fruition. They've gone through the ups and downs both common among struggling artists and unique to Asian artists. It wasn't until they started doing covers on Youtube that they got the national and international attention their talent deserved.

Eventually Bieber caught wind of their talent, and Legaci soon found themselves to be one of the music industries' biggest success stories this year.

I read a lot of comments and I know many Legaci fans are proud of what the group has accomplished. Rightfully so, they are insanely talented yet remarkably humble. But there are quite a bit of comments that talk down to Justin Bieber, saying that Legaci can do better. As well meaning as this sentiment is, the fans are misguided in this regard.

Scooter Braun, Justin Bieber, and their staff are due much more respect than they are given. If you knew Legaci from the start, you would know better. If you knew of the the passion they had inherited from their first manager before he died, you would know better. If you truly knew the plight of the all members past and present who sacrificed so much of themselves to keep their dream alive, you would know better. If you knew of their families who urged them to believe in something when it was practically nothing. Who devoted resources upon resources in Legaci, raising them, nurturing them, so that their dreams no matter how wild or unrealistic always seemed "possible." If you knew all this, you would know how blessed to be where they are now. You would understand the gravity and emotional reprieve of that first phone call from the Bieber camp, basically saying: yes. we noticed you.

So the next time you think to discredit Justin Bieber or his crew, remember this: Legaci's strength and character has always been grounded in it's humility, in all members past and present. Their tweets reflect this. The reason this group works is that is never bigger than the dream that drives it. Jaymill, a current, yet inactive Legaci member summed this up succinctly stating, "Ever since we started Legaci I never once asked God to be rich and famous... all I ever wanted was for us to stay together, I knew if we stayed together only good things would come our way." Many fans ask, "how did you get to sing for Bieber?" Thats how. The dream is a summation of its composite parts. And those composite parts are built of determination, loyalty, and above all love. That's what made it possible. The dream is nothing without the people who get you there. believe that.

Legaci has reason to be indebted to Scooter, Justin, and the rest of their camp. They made their dreams come true. That's reason enough to gain your respect.

Below is a shirt design I made to represent the (touring) members of Legaci. I started this on my graphire tablet and finished it on my brand spanking new intuos. Thanks to Claire and Crystal for bouncing ideas.

If/when i start officially making quality shirts I'm getting a screen printer. Iron-Ons ain't the business.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Creating a Better World

Recently I watched the movie "Kick-Ass" which brought up a very interesting question: Why hasn't anyone attempted to become a superhero? The question was posed not in reference to heroes like cops or firefighters, as they are in a category all their own. But the comic born heroes that children dream of being. The heroes who dress up in fantastical costumes, and fight evil. The heroes whom crowds cheer for. Those are the heroes that kids dreamed of. What happened to those dreams? We might think that the answer is simple, merely stating the obvious: superheroes have super powers, so superheroes in real life just don't exist. From Superman to Spiderman, they had extraordinary abilities that gave them distinction. Even Batman, while seemingly a normal human being, wasn't normal at all. He was an billionaire orphan. While he didn't possess extraordinary powers, he had extraordinary resources. They were all "larger than life." Larger than our lives.

This is exactly why our superhero dreams died. During one unfortunate moment in our life, we began to feel helpless. In that moment, we became smaller. We started to shrink against injustice, accepting our limitations. We stopped being brave because we would never have powers to keep us that way. We only wanted to be heroes if it meant we could keep fighting crime, not possibly die stopping it.

That's why superheroes in the comic sense, don't exist in real life. Because superheroes are indestructible. We are not. Even if they did lack durability, comic book death has always been temporal. From Bucky to Jason Todd, history has proven that anything can weasel back from the dead. Even in "Kick Ass," the supposed everyman against all odds kid, indirectly finds himself the beneficiary of extraordinary means to be a superhero (his nerves are shot, so he feels less pain). He could have easily died or become crippled for his heroism, but instead he got "powers."

We could easily say superheroes don't exist because they just aren't real. But that's a half-truth. Like "Kick Ass," any number of us normal people can choose to put on a costume and take an oath to become a protector. We can sketch designs for costumes. Draw up fancy logos. We can be the heroes we dream of. But that kind of hero doesn't exist, because no real hero goes through that much work just to die. Obviously, if you are busy in your room drawing up fancy sketches of what you'd look like fighting crime, you probably aren't out on streets stopping it. Real heroes are created in a moment. In a split second when they decide to risk their life, their safety, their welfare, so that another can prosper. Real heroism calls upon personal sacrifice, making the right judgments, and acting upon it when the situation arises. Superheroes aren't perched on a rooftop, hiding in the shadows, waiting for danger to strike. For that matter they aren't even "super." They are extraordinary. They find themselves in extraordinary situations, are faced with tough decisions, and somehow find the courage and passion for life to do incredible things. Some may witness it, some may not, but true heroes act upon danger not because a crowd is present, but only because they themselves are.

So no. "Super" heroes in the real world do not exist. But people do--and in an instant, can do amazing things.

The drawings below are superheroes of my own design. I hadn't drawn superheroes since I was in elementary school, sketching and creating bios with a buddy for what we believed was modern comic's next big thing. But having finished school, I wanted to draw something for fun. So I went back to drawing what made me happy in my youth. I thought about creating a team that was all energy based. cool huh? Currently they don't have a team name. I drew about six heroes this week, and finished coloring these two.

This hero is named High Rise. When I created her I had a sniper type hero in mind, which gave me the idea of having the power to shoot beams out of one eye. While not being in the forefront of any battle, she would remain content to accurately pick apart foes from afar.

This character was scanned from my sketchbook, then painted in Photoshop. The background was included to give a sense of how and where High Rise prefers to do combat.

The last hero for today is called Flash Bang. She has the power to create light bombs which upon impact, create blinding flashes. Her power is physically harmless, but purely tactical. Although I wouldn't count out her powers evolving to the point where she can burn retinas. After blinding her foes, she would then proceed to bash them with her weapon. I first saw the Kanabo watching an episode of Deadliest Warrior (samurai vs spartan), at which point I instantly fell in love with the greatest club of all time. I consider Flash Bang the muscle and spearhead of the group. Shes leaps first into battle, and usually resolves it before anyone else can jump in. Fire in the hole!

This character was scanned from my sketchbook, and painted in Photoshop. Getting tired of cleaning up the stray marks, paper tone, and eraser dust/stains. When I get a bigger Wacom tablet I think I'll be more comfortable drawing into Photoshop directly.