Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Philly Recap

Traveling with the OTW advocates two weeks ago was akin to traveling with a motley crew of beatniks meets skaters meet artists. Sitting back and letting it all flow in. Eric Elms, Dimitri Coste, and Atiba & Ako Jefferson are all distinct individuals who stand in a category all their own. Aside from what OTW represents in expanding Van's impressive range in footwear, OTW extends what Vans for me, has always stood for which is the celebration of the individual and the collective understanding of brotherhood. Philadelphia has a certain different air about the city, it could be because it was one of the founding colonies that make up this great country, it could be that it is the city where Benjamin Franklin currently rests, and it could it be that it is a city that is vibrant and open in sharing dialogue. That night when Vans OTW held their event at Ubiq, it was an eye opener in seeing how that particular community engages itself. I began to understand why they call Philadelphia the City of Brotherly Love. Here's a visual recap from the evening's proceedings.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ako vs Atiba

If there was one interesting thing about the last few days while I was traveling was getting to know Ako and later meeting Atiba. Atiba was in LA shooting the Laker's win so I didn't get a chance to meet him until the very last day of the east coast tour. Funny enough I guess I wasn't the only one who's had trouble differentiating the two. Here's an oldie video brought to you none other than Animal Chan. Enjoy!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

The Downtown Library

The central library of any great city. In Los Angeles, the Central Library aka the Richard Riordan Library is a great resource for information. Lately I've been finding myself spending a lot of time inside this building. In fact the picture above was taken in the corridor before you enter into the children wing. Aside from what the library is for the intelligentsia in all of us, there's also an overarching role that the library plays as a haven for the homeless. If anyone is familiar with downtown, it's no surprise that the homeless play a significant role in the streets. Estimates say that roughly 10% of the homeless in the United States alone reside in downtown LA. These figures were something that I would read in a consensus before and it wouldn't really faze me. But perhaps its due to either myself growing up and taking a direct moral standing in the affairs of the city I inhabit, or perhaps it hits me because I'm finding myself having to walk over a sleeping man while reaching for a book in my aisle. We strive to play our role as able citizens of any city and isn't it ironic that of all places where that hits home is at the venue where the quest and thirst for knowledge thrives.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

New York Moments with Dimitri

Here's a few New York moments that OTW advocate Dimitri took during his trip last week. These are his words:


"while walking in the streets, we saw this painting of Joe Strummer made by Niagara. to be honest it looks more like Arnie in T2 than the real Joe Strummer, but it's still a very nice mural. and Ako Jefferson loves so much Mr Strummer, i hadda take his photograph."


"Tom Cooke were the last to make it to the Big Apple. quick check-in at 1am and we all walked 2 streets further to enjoy some party time and fresh beers at MaxFish. Atiba couldn't be with us as he had to stay in LA for the NBA finals, but it was great to meet up with the crew and share some good stories. we pushed the good time to the dawn. after the rain, the sun was wakin-up in a clearer and colorful yet sky."

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Philadelphia Love

Arrived to Philadelphia via Amtrak from New York. The trip took no more than over an hour and it was interesting taking in the scene. The OTW crew were up to their knees high in their usual antics. I think we definitely commanded the scene in our train car.

The Philadelphia train station was an impressive sight. High vaulted ceiling, old world classic architecture, the place seem to ooze old post-colonial America.

I was particularly taken by this rather dominating statue on our way out, it was in commemoration to the workers who built the railroad and who later would became casualties of the World War. It's humbling to understand what the term 'sacrifice' means and that we shouldn't take our unique values of American life for granted. Cities like Philadelphia do that to you, you enjoy the ambiance but you walk away with awe and a renewed respect for your fellow citizens.

After we checked into the hotel we headed off to UBIQ and began setting up the installation for the upcoming night's event.

Below are OTW advocate Eric Elms and OTW Director Tom Cooke going over the gallery space.

We decided to head to the rooftop and take in the scenery. The building next door had graffiti scrawled all about on their roof. It's interesting to see how street art always finds a home no matter where you go.

One person who I was delighted to bump into was Mike Rios, UBIQ's Creative Director. I haven't seen Mike in nearly four years! I traveled to Philly a while back to consider a job at UBIQ but kindly had to decline. Although the trip might have proven unfruitful, meeting Mike was a positive thing. In life, you meet lots of people but very few times than not is it that you come across a kindred soul, someone who you can talk to even if years go by, but the conversation just flows. I was psyched to see Mike was holding it down and the store looked great with all the new renovations and the gallery space on the second floor where the OTW gallery event took place.

OTW advocate Dimitri Coste is always stylin' and profilin.' One thing I came across from this trip was the ever innate level of urgent curiosity that sprung from Dimitri. He was absorbing everything, willing to try new food, willing to put himself in the forefront to experience it all. A breath of fresh air in re-injecting you with new perspective on life. In other words it makes sense why Vans chose him to be an OTW advocate.

Eric was busy installing his wall. I got a kick out of those big push pins and paperclips.

Downstairs I couldn't help but look at this fundraiser jar on the counter, it was to raise awareness for Sabina Rose O'Donnell who I later heard was a friend of UBIQ's store employees. Apparently crime is no stranger to the City of Brotherly Love. Sabina was unfortunately a victim of physical violence and murder. It just brings things home for you, the sanctity and sacredness of life.

Believe it or not, I finally got my first pairs of OTW kicks today. Tom hooked me up with a lovely pair of Larkins. These shoes are clean and mean. I really dig the suede toe cap and the white leather piping as well.

Later I popped inside the hotel room to connect with the Jefferson brothers, Attiba and Ako aka The Blackouts. Attiba just flew in today, he wasn't able to be with us in New York because he was shooting photos during the NBA Finals...yes he witnessed the entire LA Lakers win firsthand...lucky him. Anyhow it was good seeing him join us on the second half of this mini east coast tour.

Hanging in a hotel room with all the OTW advocates was like sitting in a laboratory of energetic personalities. There is constant conversation ebbing from these four. I just sat, asked a few questions, laughed a lot and observed.

Before we knew it, it was show time. The entire Vans OTW crew walked from the hotel to UBIQ. The store literally had the red carpet laid down for the event.

And what's a party without your very own ice sculpture.

The OTW collection was on display for all to take a look in detail.

On the second floor I was drawn to a series of photos shot by Dimitri. It was based on a miniature odyssey of sorts that Dimitri experienced a few years back with his best friend. They decided to discover the birthplace and life of Elvis Presley bringing them to Mississippi and later to Graceland. Of course there's much to the surface of this story and hopefully one day Dimitri will expound on what and how this journey affected him in the long run.

Lots of people began to pour through.

There were tons of people chatting it up.
Below: That's Rodney and Jared (Antenna magazine). I haven't seen Jared since the last OTW event in LA. It was good catching up with dude. Take a look here for their coverage of the event -

All in all, it was interesting to see people from all walks of life mingle. Philadelphia really has great people and they share a genuine sincerity and appreciation for the culture. As this journey continues, I anticipate how OTW will re-up people's choice in aesthetics and further expand the community. Thank you again Philly for embracing the OTW family!

Here's also a few other recaps from the event:

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Brooklyn Field Trip

The day started off meeting with the Vans crew and the OTW advocates as we took a stroll around the LES.

Ako did his best Joe Strummer impression.

We ended up arriving to McSorley's, one of New York's oldest bars, it had all the trimmings of Old New York. The bar was a place where old and new spirits would frequent. A true New York institution.

Dimitri and I split off to Brooklyn to meet up with "Mister Tinker," a friend of Dimitri and a fellow motorcycle enthusiast. It was really interesting taking a tour of his garage, seeing all the various tools and equipment that went into making a custom bike.

Now that's one clean bike!

It's evident that Dimitri is passionate about motorcycles and the unique culture that surrounds it. I felt like I was learning a whole new world just listening in to these guys talk about various ignitions, welding, etc.

Since we were in Brooklyn, D and I headed to Eric's studio. I barely missed Omar (Commonwealth). I knew he was sharing a studio space with Eric so I was hoping I would surprise him but he already left by the time we arrived.

Eric's studio is an ideal work place. Wide space, high ceilings, plenty of work stations. The studio contains an air of creativity, you get inspired simply by being there.

Eric runs his own independent publishing company, "And Press." It's exciting to see that there are still people out there who believe in the exercise of the manual arts.

We later boarded the train and headed back to the city to meet up with the rest of the OTW crew and the new Vans office in Union Square.

The Lakers vs Celtics game was on, so naturally we ordered pizza and kicked back at the space. The new Vans showroom is really nice, plus I had a chance to see all the models and developments, quite exciting.

The Lakers won, hey what can we say? We later checked out the rooftop and took in the view. New York is really something else. And yes Good Night. We are off to Philly tomorrow, more updates soon!

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Lower East Side Story

The OTW team all took off from different airports and we ended up, each and everyone of us having our flights delayed. My view from the window was square on the right wing.

New York was muggy and humid. After meeting with the rest of the Vans OTW camp at the LES Thompson, we took a walk down the block to get a drink.

We ended up on Ludlow and headed inside Max Fish, I haven't been inside this place for ages. It wasn't as loud as it usually is but rest assure once all the OTW advocates were assembled: Eric, Dimitri and Ako all held it down. Max Fish always has this vibe of 'Cheers,' a place where everyone knows your name and you'll bump into old faces. The bar's ambiance is unlike any other bar I've been to and it's evident that the Fish will remain as an institution for a long while.

Lucky for us the rain cleared and the night seemed endless. We ended up staying up till the early morning dawn and witnessed the morning sunrise. The night was definitely one of those epic moments where you understood the fraternal connection that makes the brand of Vans truly authentic. Sharing laughs, having a drink, and generally experiencing good vibes is hard to come by these days. If anything I came across thus far, are that the OTW Advocates are good people, colorful in their interactions. Let's see how the rest of this journey will turn out...

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