Friday, July 30, 2010

Def Sound

Def Sound is a young artist based in Los Angeles who approaches the stage with the bravado and confidence of a true spoken word artist. He considers poetry as a medium that is pure and honest, and judging from his passion as a performer, you could say words are something he cherishes.

We knew that Def Sound was an eclectic individual so what better to fit his style than a pair of Alomars. I'd say these shoes are quite proper to fit the man wouldn't you agree?

For more of his music, go to:

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Via Ako: Chris "Daddy" Dave

Drummer extraordinaire Chris "Daddy" Dave on tour with the Robert Glasper Trio. Filmed March 2008 at Charlie Wrights International Bar, London.

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"How We Roll"

OTW advocate Atiba Jefferson will be part of a group art show that will is focused around skateboarding, surfing and rollerskating. Should you be in LA, it's worth checking out!

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OTW Advocate Eric Elms & Sobe Squamata

OTW Advocate Eric Elms has certainly been keeping busy. He recently was tapped by Sobe Lifewater to work with Dr. Romanelli to design the mobile Sobe Squamata ice cream truck that will venture to different cities where unique events will be take place, in addition to giveaways of Sobe branded items. Elms not only designed the truck, he also designed the merchandise.

Follow the Sobe Squamata truck via twitter and see where else the truck will appear next:

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Breathe Owl Breathe

Michigan based music group Breath Owl Breathe harks an era of rustic America with the strange lure of the wilderness. The band consists of Micah Middaugh, Trevor Hobbs and Andréa Moreno-Beals and they all live and work in a Lincoln Log cabin. Enter into their world...

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David Torres of Feeding Birds

At times Echo Park feels like a small town inside Los Angeles. The best part about residing in Echo Park is that you're able to really get to know your neighbors. My neighbors comprise of a mix of low-income families to young entrepreneurial types. One such person that comes to mind that I've come to know is my good friend David Torres of Feeding Birds boutique.

Feeding Birds is a quaint store, a place that reminds you of a small general store. Abiding by its theme, Feeding Birds carries found goods and carries small independent brands from LA.

The store even carries custom painted Vans slip-ons. It's a store that celebrates arts & crafts.

And speaking of Vans, here is David rocking a pair of crispy white Larkins while also endorsing a pair of Alomars. I'd say the fine residents of Echo Park are representing to the full for OTW, and they're looking good while doing it.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

OTW is Copper Approved

Every studio I visit usually has a pet who occupies the space and lets their presence known. Here at the Evil Monito studio in Echo Park we have our very own special mascot named Copper. Copper is a special breed of a dog, a mix between a Chihuahua and a Dachshund, a hybrid they call a chiweenie. We named him Copper for several reasons. One because of the color of his fur, another reason is because we found him roaming in Elysian Park next to the Police Academy, so the name Copper just sounded right.

Most of the day Copper can be found lounging on our gallery sofa. I don't know what's prettier to look at, those purple Larkins or Copper. You decide.

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Via Ako: Tofer Chin

A friend of OTW advocate Ako, L.A. based artist Tofer Chin shows us behind the scene footage via ROJO, a creative consortium with branches in Milan, Barcelona and Sao Paulo.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Jim Fetterly of Hammer Museum

There's a lot of great museums in Los Angeles. Personally my favorite has always been the Hammer ( located in the west side as an extension of the UCLA campus. The Hammer isn't the largest venue when compared to the MOCA and LACMA venues but what The Hammer might lack in gallery space, it makes up for in ambiance. The Hammer has curated shows that, for an institution, has been surprisingly left field and very progressive.

Of course a place like the Hammer isn't cutting edge for just any ordinary reason, it's the people who work for the museum. Meet Jim Fetterly the Technical Director of the Hammer, who's a dear friend of mine and a local Echo Park neighbor.

Judging from the picture above you can assess that the man is a character. The dog next to him is Copper, I'll mention more about him in a later post.

I noticed that Jim was wearing an old pair of sneakers. I felt that a man of Jim's stature deserved to step up his footwear game. I'd say those OTW herringbone Larkins look pretty good on him wouldn't you say?

While he handles an executive role at the Hammer, Jim is also an established visual artist as part of the art duo, Animal Charm ( His work carries on the grand tradition of Nam June Paik of the Fluxus movement. Animal Charm takes open stabs at pop culture by reappropriating "found media" and creating a new visual narrative. This was an art form long before the video mashups of youtube. Take a peek below to see a sample of his work care courtesy, ironically enough via youtube.

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Friday, July 23, 2010


Beat poet Allen Ginsberg is given the Hollywood treatment with James Franco playing the key role. Entitled "Howl" after Ginsberg famous poem, Ginsberg not only documented the Beat movement, he had a wonderful lyrical way of delivering his words.

According to Evil Monito:

"HOWL interweaves three stories: the unfolding of the landmark 1957 obscenity trial; an imaginative animated ride through the prophetic masterpiece; and a unique portrait of a man who found new ways to express himself, and in doing so, changed his own life and galvanized a generation."

Below is the Allen Ginsberg's actual voice reading "Howl" in three parts.

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The Expo Line

There's been much talk about the Expo Line which is the proposed route for the Metro train that will begin in Downtown Los Angeles leading you eventually to Santa Monica. It's set for completion in 2015. The video below is shot by an aspiring filmmaker who filmed what the route would look like when completed. It's good to know that L.A. is steadily building up their transportation infrastructure.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010


Rainbows always make me smile. It's the idea of optimism represented by nature, that earnest hope of that pot of gold. Here's an interesting take of the rainbow concept brought to you by Netherlands based artist Helmut Smits (

Oh and while we're on the subject of rainbows, here's what your reaction to a double rainbow could be like, brought to you by HungryBear9562 who's video has become an online sensation.

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Eric Elms Teaches

OTW advocate Eric Elms was chosen among 30 designers to lead a creative workshop for MAKE SOMETHING School curated by Aaron Rose. The program is in celebration of the World Basketball Festival. Eric led a workshop to create an interior mural which will encompass general themes of the World Basketball Festival. Elms taught a class of students to paint a mural to create the statement "United We Rise."

Image credit: Make Something School

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dan Schmidt aka Onaquest

I appreciate all forms of music. My good friend Dan Schmidt aka Onaquest has been spinning house and techno for years. Back in the late '90s when dot com start ups seemed to be popping everywhere, a site called Groovetech came about that was the first to combine the idea of streaming audio/video via Realplayer's 24k/56k modem speeds, and providing an online retail experience much akin to today's iTunes (except Groovetech actually shipped tapes, cds and vinyl). Dan used to work for Groovetech handling everything from stocking to filming live studio sessions. As a DJ, Dan's moniker as Onaquest is well received in the realm of techno and he recently launched a website called Echo Sessions - - that provides a conduit for all sorts of audio/visual media revolving around electronic music.

When Dan invited me over to The Broadway Bar last night, I didn't know I was in for a treat. The Beat House, another techno/house collective was holding a live mixing and voting poll session at the venue. I had a chance to hear a wide variety of talents djing their hearts out with their serato boxes and vinyl. The music must be appreciated from an aesthetic and cultural point of view. A brief look into the history of techno reveals the roots of modern day dance and hip hop music, as many early techno DJs were low-income black youths who reverted to producing beats on lo-fi equipment in creating their art.

I remember speaking with OTW advocate Ako about his music tastes and he mentioned he was listening to a lot of house music which totally caught me by surprise. Then again I had a feeling that the '90s would become a focus again as it seems as if fashion and style has recently reverted back to a more grunge/warehouse vibe. It could be the economy, maybe it's the politics of a liberal federal government. There's always several socioeconomic factors to consider, yet it seems as though music continues to play a vital role in providing the soundtrack of the times.

Above: That's Dan Schmidt aka Onaquest
Below: Onaquest rockin' a pair of crispy Gray suede/leather
OTW Larkins.

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Ako Recommends The High Llamas - "Buzzle Bee"

Drag City recently posted a review written from OTW advocate, Ako of The Blackouts in his recommendation of The High Llamas' latest release, "Buzzle Bee."

In Ako's words:

"I just went to Pitchfork Fest and one of my favorite performances of the weekend was Brad Truax and Noah Lennox singing High Llamas to me when I told them about writing this review. The High Llamas have always been one of my favorite bands. I'm a skateboarder and when I first heard them I was jamming a lot of DMX and sleep. Head banger jams, which to me is the same as the Llamas. Layers of sounds and a no rules vibe. Buzzle Bee is up there as one of the best Llamas record. The vocals, keys, bass, drums, vibraphone and alot of instruments I don't even know. What I like about it is the way the vocals blend so tightly with the instruments and it feels like one sound, almost as a instrumental album. "Switch Pavilion" is my favorite song. I think Laetitia Sadier sings on it. Buzzle Bee is a solid classic, warm feel good album all together. Grab a beer and put this on, and you won't be bummed..."

Click here to purchase "Buzzle Bee" -

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A Walk in the Park

With the onslaught of online media, there are music videos a dime a dozen these days. I'm familiar with Beach House and the song, "Walk in the Park," but I was completely taken aback by the novel and weird concept that Beach House came up with. Take a look!

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Philip Glass

Philip Glass is an American music composer who is someone extremely ahead of his time. Credited as introducing art music to the realm of classic symphony. Known for his repetitive structures that can sometimes draw one into a state of hypnosis, Glass' approach in music composition is a study of minimalism. It is no wonder that he is considered as one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century.

According to his biography on his website:

"In the past 25 years, Glass has composed more than twenty operas, large and small; eight symphonies (with others already on the way); two piano concertos and concertos for violin, piano, timpani, and saxophone quartet and orchestra; soundtracks to films ranging from new scores for the stylized classics of Jean Cocteau to Errol Morris's documentary about former defense secretary Robert McNamara; string quartets; a growing body of work for solo piano and organ. He has collaborated with Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Yo-Yo Ma, and Doris Lessing, among many others. He presents lectures, workshops, and solo keyboard performances around the world, and continues to appear regularly with the Philip Glass Ensemble."

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Ako's Hole in One

Vans OTW advocate Ako has a few more talents. Take note of his "Hole in One" shot.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Peter Graham

Meet Peter Graham, a good friend of mine who also happens to be a great photographer. I've known Peter for quite some time and over the years we worked together on a few projects. For me, Peter represents the burgeoning class of young artists in the east side of LA. Peter being a Silverlake local, I enjoy his occasional visits to Echo Park. He was wearing an old pair of shoes that have seen better days so naturally I offered to exchange them for a brand new pair of OTW crispy white Larkins.

Here's a sample of Peter's work below:

For more of Peter's work, go to

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Sunday, July 18, 2010


There are a great deal of ways to define what "Happiness" is. I believe that happiness comes from enjoying life in its full capacity. Take a look at "The Happiest DJ in The World" and you can't help but be happy with him.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Public Transport

Living in downtown forces your curiosity to want to take the train. I think everyone in LA knows that the train exists but I doubt that many have ever taken it. Tonight I decided to take the train to connect with some friends in Hollywood. I walked down the subway terminal and couldn't help but notice how empty the place was.

I looked above and I wondered to myself if Star Wars had any bearing of influence for the architect. Those Dan Flavin-esque neon tubes were also an interesting aesthetic that bewildered me.

The exit to Hollywood took longer than expected. The train was far more packed than I realized. There were the usual low-income families, the stragglers and the tourists. It took me about 20 minutes to arrive to my destination. I briskly walked toward the Roosevelt to say hello to a few friends.

The Roosevelt was particularly alive tonight. It could have been the weather or it could have been that "air" of LA Summer that was permeating throughout the night. The pool was crowded with all the beautiful people and it really felt that Summer heat had hit LA. After greeting a few friends and sharing a drink I walked down Hollywood and took a gander at two Hollywood stars on the pavement. I think it was a stroke of luck on my part that I happened across two people which have been on my mind as of late: Ray Bradbury and Dennis Hopper. I just mentioned Ray Bradbury in my post a few days ago! In regards to the late Dennis Hopper, it just so happens that the debut exhibit of MOCA's new director Mr. Jefferey Deitch, revolved around the works of Hopper. I wondered to myself how many times Bradbury's and Hopper's star would be trampled on by the various drunkards throughout the evening. I suppose that's a Los Angeles story in a nutshell.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Bradbury Building

Ever read the book, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" written by Phillip K. Dick? If the title doesn't ring a bell, most likely you have watched the film adaption known as "Blade Runner." The plot revolves around Rick Deckard played by a young Harrison Ford, his job is to hunt and kill androids. While the film certainly emphasized more action over storyline, the concept of a futuristic nihilistic Los Angeles was spot on. Beatnik writer Jack Kerouac once mentioned that Los Angeles can be one of the most cruel towns in America. I think what Kerouac was referring to was the harsh reality of disconnection in Los Angeles.

While LA has certainly lots to offer, the city acts as a microcosm that is composed of disparate environments that make up the birth and sustaining of varied cultures. It's no wonder that David Lynch and his genre of film noir draws much inspiration from Los Angeles. And Downtown Los Angeles seems to represent that eeriness all too well.

When Blade Runner hit the theaters in 1982, audiences the world over were presented a cold clinical view of the future. The Bradbury building was used prominently as the home of the doctor who invented the androids. Walking inside the building is open to the public but you must arrange an appointment in order to take an official tour. Current residents of the Bradbury comprise of architecture firms and the legal department of the L.A.P.D.

Here are some interesting factoids about The Bradbury.

  • Built by Lewis Bradbury in 1893
  • George Wyman was tapped to design the building. He initially refused but later agreed after experiencing a supposed ghostly conversation with his deceased older brother, Mark Wyman.
  • Wyman's grandson was science fiction publisher Forrest J. Ackerman, who also happened to be close friends with science fiction writer Ray Bradbury
  • Wyman was influenced by Edward Bellamy's book "Looking Backward" (published in 1887) which described a Utopian society in the year 2000. Heavy emphasis of natural lighting in spaces explains the interior atrium.

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Technology & Art

Technology is an amazing thing. It has significantly changed the way we interact, but more so it has created tools to create worlds and to provide a sense of aesthetic previously unimagined.
Turkey based motion designer Onur Senturk brings fresh perspective in his unique approach in the computing arts.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Interview With OTW Designer Quince Ruark

I read somewhere of your Native American heritage - you mentioned that it influences your design. Could you explain?

As a small boy growing up, my grandfather Quince would pick me up every Saturday and tell me stories about him as a young man growing up on an Indian reservation close to Woodruff, Arizona. From his stories I gained a great interest in Indian tribes’ arts & crafts and their unique patterns. I have a rich American family history from miners, loggers, and forest rangers, to immigrant farmers. The whole Americana style influences me but nothing greater than my grandpa's family heritage. Not everything I do has a direct or literal influence in work, but maybe the thought of detail, color or maybe even just feeling...

Did you always know you would be involved in design?

I grew up with a really close-knit group of friends whose lives all revolved around skateboarding. In high school I realized that I had a natural talent for drawing and elements of design, but after graduating I never really followed it. Following graduation, I attended junior college - taking classes here and there. Feeling like serving tables was going to be the end of me, I dropped out of school. My Dad soon after offered me a job, so off I went into construction. My friends and I all kept in touch, but one stayed within in the [skate] industry following in his brother's path. He became a footwear designer [Josh Brubaker] after his brother [Brandon Brubaker]. Josh told me to go back to school and study in design. He told me that after I was done with school, that he or his brother would help to get me in the industry after graduation. A few years later, Brandon got me a job working for Converse. The people I live my life with always influence and play important roles in design or my career path. My Dad being a key role; love you, Pop.

Where do you draw some of your aesthetic references from?

OTW footwear line is a balance of staying true to Vans classic heritage and modern trends and lifestyles. Vans' DNA with a modern day look and feel is what I'm going for. I want to push the idea and image of what people see Vans as. I know the style and work done on OTW only will complement and give growth to Vans image. Every design and style in the footwear line serves a purpose.

Did you attend school for design?

Yes, I went to RCC [Riverside Community College], then following to F.I.D.M [Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising], graduating in Graphic Design.
What are your thoughts on art education? Is it more about experience or trial and error?
I think an art education of some sort is very important for designers’ careers. School helps shape and refine your skills. Education helps a designer be better and puts him or her on a fast track toward their career. Not everyone can learn how to do design - just learn to understand it. School can weed out the weak. Education is experience: trial and error for designers. This business is tough and is getting tougher. Friends and family only get you so far, and then you need to perform.

How do you begin the design process, mentally?

First, I think of aesthetic references that the [shoe] line is missing and what or where we can fit it in the line. The concept, shape, fit, out-sole, function, use of color, and materials all play a part in the mental process. Then I’ll start sketching on the pattern and out-sole. Vans has a few categories I work on. Some are more challenging and demanding than others. OTW comes more naturally to me. I like designing in many different medias. For OTW shoes, it’s all about,“Would the team or would I wear this product?”

What are some of your favorite artists, musicians, and designers?

Artists, musicians and designers change for me through my life. One minute I’m into rock - the next hip-hop. It depends on where and what I’m doing at the moment. I’ll always be changing and moving forward. I hold onto what I like. I embrace new things as well, "Forever Young" - Jay-Z. I would rather not go to my personal taste with art, music, and lifestyle. I feel that gives people a preconceived thought on the product or work that I do. I want a person look at the work I do and have unbiased opinion. To just have them think,“Do I like it or not?”

Tell me about Vans. What is the creative environment like?

Keeping an open mind is all I want. [Laughs] I think it’s a nice office, but not a very creative environment. I feel having a fun, creative lifestyle is important in a designer’s career so that you can bring that creative energy into your work environment. Vans gives us a travel budget throughout the year so we can get inspired where we feel is necessary.

What was your philosophy when it came to designing the OTW brand? What types of ideals did you have in creating some of the new models?

Since I started at Vans four years ago, I was always pushing designs that were different. I didn’t look or feel right for a category. OTW was an organic creation. It just happens that I was in the right place at the right time. People felt my work and lifestyle was a fit. I feel lucky to be part of the team that helped develop, design, and market OTW. OTW is a category where modern design meets our classics. Vans embraces 'new' and what is right for the growth of the brand.

The timeline I work on for OTW is two years out so we already have new styles ready. We're going to be dropping off some older looks to make room for fresh styles. We are also going to be updating some existing shoe styles. The new styles are really going to change the way people look at Vans footwear product. I only wish I could put more styles in the line and hit all the looks I’m feeling, but we’re trying to keeping the line small and clean. I’m super stoked.

When it comes to design, a longstanding debate beckons as another sports company begins to design for casual lifestyle. Where do you see Vans and OTW in this regard?

The forever-changing retail environment for OTW makes the category special. It allows OTW to be the voice of the people. The product is going to walk the line between both lifestyles and blend them together making the category a truly unique story. OTW is the first footwear line by Vans to ever take-on, hire, promote, and tell the story of an individual’s creative lifestyle. Thanks to the people at Vans and our advocates OTW is going to be a force to be felt.

Interview by Rickey Kim. For more on Quince Ruark visit

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Gentrification in Echo Park

A couple of months ago I was interviewed by a few students for a film project on gentrification in Echo Park. Sinzi sent me this link today of her finished project. You get to learn what's going on in Echo Park from both the latino community and the fast growing white middle class that has recently occupied the city. Learn something new and click play.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010


Last Thursday I walked to the Theme /Paul Frank party in downtown during Artwalk. Finally had a chance to meet Matsu by way of John (Theme).

I've been meaning to meet Matsu in person since we have so many mutual friends via the Barnstormers. Matsu's work has developed tremendously since the time I've heard of his name.

Here's a few samples of his work from his site -

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Eastern Columbia Building

It might be July but it still feels like June gloom. Mornings seem to arch its darkness until noon hits. But what better way to take in the skyline in downtown LA right? The Eastern Columbia building is a structure that I'm sure many have walked by and taken in a look. According to Wikimapia, the building is a "264 ft 13 story building in the Broadway Theater District of Downtown Los Angeles and is considered by many to be the most beautiful of Los Angeles's historic buildings, as well as the finest surviving type of Art Deco following the 1969 demolition of the Richfield Tower."

Designed by Claud Beelman and opened in September 12, 1930; it was originally conceived as the new headquarters of the Eastern Outfitting Company and the Columbia Outfitting Company furniture and clothing stores. Since Fall of 2006, the Eastern building became a 147 condo complex with the poolside rooftop showcasing the clock tower.

For those willing to go on a stroll in Downtown, be sure to walk into this building and take a gander at this unique building.

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By way of Ako...

"this dude rips"

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Skateboard Animation

Filmmaker Tilles Singer takes stop motion photography to the next level by applying manual cut outs from digital stills. The results are rather stunning.

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