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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