Archive for the ‘Me Myself&I’ Category

9818

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

It’s 1998. A French multi-racial team is in the final. We’re about to face Brazil and we’re just happy to be there. 3-0 later, for the first time ever, we’re world champions. We. Oui?

I still remember jumping in the car with my girlfriend, beating traffic to meet up with my best friend on the outskirt of Paris. It’s hot. It’s dark. Street lights are still orange. We’re all together. In France people don’t hug, ever. During that night it’s the opposite. We’re hugging en masse. I can’t forget that old, small white man hugging me and another brown person right after because that would have never happened in any other occasion, unless plastered to oblivion. I can’t forget the Louvre’s security guards waving their torchlights. My eyes were misty. 9/11 hadn’t happened yet. I still get emotional about that beautiful night. I know the dream.

It’s 2018. A French multi-racial team is in the final. We’re about to face Croatia and we know we can beat them. 4-2 later, for the second time, France is at the top of the football world. We. Oui? Nah.

I am watching the stream from my home in south LA. After the first half I am on my playground, shooting 3s. Knowing what the news are going to spit. How beautiful and diverse France looks like etc. I’m mad at the state of the world. A man died in Chicago the night before, shot by police. He was black. A man died in France a couple weeks ago shot by police. He was black. Both run away. Just in case.

But people will tell you that no, really, things are fine or getting better. Things don’t change, they barely mutate. That part where we’re black and brown and only appreciated and giving opportunities on sports fields. I live this shit. I see it with my own eyes, feel it with my own heart. I still fall short on my job applications. Despite everything. Qualified, over-qualified, recommendations, it don’t matter.

I believed things were improving during that first world cup triumph even though I could already smell the bitterness. The French corporate world has an absurd lack of diversity compared to life in Paris or around stadiums. It’s frightening. It’s as if France was as segregated as the US!

And then I became a migrant. I know I have no other choice but be legally perfect here because otherwise ICE will show up, put me in jail for weeks or months before sending me back to France. That’s real. But I can enjoy some black things with black people and then everything is peaceful as fuck. Clarity is succulent.

“but they’re French so YOU are racist if you say the team is African.”

French citizenship and blackness are not mutually exclusive. But we also know how it works out: you win a world cup, you’re French. You’re unemployed, you’re some African booty virus. I lived that too once I had trouble speaking French after a few years speaking English, the vibe wildly changed towards me in Paris. I wasn’t a French customer anymore, I was a nuisance.

France has the fantastic power of becoming collectively blind at will. France constantly denies, minimizes its colonial past and how it impacts its present. It’s very uncomfortable.

Yes, I talk about all that in my book.

3 Twenties

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

I got attacked by a dog while strolling to get some food in DTLA the other day. I didn’t flinch. I let him come to me, barking and running. I stopped. He jumped. I screamed. It hurt. I thought he had taken a bigger chunk of my stomach but he only printed his mouth next to my belly button. I’m okay. 6 teeth up, 6 teeth down, 12 scars. For years to come.

The building management slapped the dog owners with a $100 fine. The owners gave me $60 for uh, I guess not suing them or calling the cops on them. This dog owes me a lot. Fuck this dog.

In the end, the owners estimated that my wounds and trauma were worth less than trespassing rules. Twenty bucks times 3. Basically nothing.

I’m tired.

It will be concrete

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

I have to find a new place to live and I’ve been reading a lot about architecture so I’ve been thinking a lot about my house project.

It will be made of concrete, 3D printed.

It’s too convenient and efficient to not be the first choice.

Concrete pool house
Prefab concrete pool house with nature and shit, my kind of aesthetic

At first I really wanted to go for hempcrete because it’s the best material in the world but there’s one big problem: you can’t use it for structural work, meaning you need a frame (likely wood) to build around with your bricks of hemp. It’s not an issue per se but if I build somewhere in southern California and some idiot drops a cigarette and my hard work burns down… I will indeed, lose it.

Concrete doesn’t burn. But also, if it’s destroyed by a meteor or an earthquake, I just need to pull out the 3D file and BAM. Harold’s house II is up again. I feel lucky to live our times, sometimes.

Another great thing about printed concrete: you can, like the picture shows, do whatever shape you want. I would still use hemp inside for insulation, walls and room separation but definitely not for the outside.

Now I’m dreaming of a green roof. Because those fuckers reduce cooling loads by fifty to ninety percent. The only problem is that they’re heavy. Not for my strong ass concrete house!

Stay woke.

Horizontals are back

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

I love horizontal lines. At the movies, in front of my 16:9 monitor ratio, outside in cities and nature… More width, more view, the better. Our field of vision is wider than it is taller.

Reading about the horizontal development in the US  and understanding how technology (cars, factory assembly lines, highways, malls) and society through federal financing and fear of crime pushed the landscape to follow a horizontal plane.

Now the car culture is down (though of course, most people have one and if it’s a new one, it’s mostly silent and economic), technology is up (mobile computers, bitch!) so people want more verticality so that they move less and with their feet (or electric scooters, obviously not the best to transport you for a few miles). Also, greed and maximizing profits from a piece of land (every floor is basically a 100% increase of revenue).

BUT

I think it’s reversing again. Driverless cars, 3D printed houses (or prefab), telecommuting are pushing for sprawl for the next couple decades, which is a pretty natural thing to happen contrary to what we think.

The convenience is too staggering to be passed on: the amount of peace of mind generated will be unavoidable. Want to go somewhere? Order a car and pick up some friends on the way. Ready to build a house? Not now? Your file can be printed anytime at any scale. Your future home can be rescaled to your need with a shift+drag or pinch to resize gesture. No need for BS builders or contractors. Want to work outside by the tree? You got it. You need to be dropped off at the office, one hour away? Hop in the Level 5 car and listen to that new album while closing your eyes.

Oh, I’m ready.

On that fatal self-driving car accident

Friday, July 6th, 2018

So, the car saw the pedestrian. The car didn’t stop.

The pedestrian didn’t see anything.

We blame the car and engineers but when looking at the video there’s something insane to me as a cyclist: you don’t cross a road where people go fast (43 mph, about 70 km/h), at night in an extremely dark area outside crosswalks, with your bike on the side, without looking, while walking slowly. That’s really asking for death, which happened. On the human side of this accident, the person made a terrible and wrong decision.

On the car side, people are wondering why the car didn’t stop. Well, what does happen when a vehicle at high velocity abruptly tries to avoid an obstacle? What if instead of happening in the middle of nowhere like in that case, it was happening in a more crowded area, with pedestrians on the sidewalk? Would it be better to hit a front yard to avoid the careless pedestrian, potentially hurting an entire family cooking out?

The car identified the person 1.3 seconds before impact, which means that an emergency breaking maneuver would have probably gone wrong, killing the person anyway. Then the crash might have killed or injured more people.

So, the car made the “I’m right to be here” decision while the human being made the “I don’t give a fuck” decision.

Driverless cars are still totally viable to me.

First time ever for both

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Last weekend:

I got bit by a dog in the stomach.

I got my 60-day notice to move out from my place.

Those are not related but somehow go well together.

Deaf Urban Planning

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

I’m fascinated by the lack of listening happening in this world sometimes. Take trains.

Everywhere on earth where public transit is part of everyday life, in very dense cities, it’s a disaster. MTA in NYC, RER in Paris, Underground in London it doesn’t matter: it’s a mess and we’re lucky no big dramatic things have happened. Yet. People deal with it thanks to our digital devices. Without them? I don’t want to imagine.

Meanwhile in LA, many people still believe that underground trains are the future. In one of the most active seismic zone in the world? With big earthquakes a bit overdue? Son. A kid can detect the problem.

So we have examples around the planet showing that trains work up to a point and then don’t. Those examples don’t have the threat of earthquakes. And the city of Los Angeles is like “let’s pour billions into this!”. As if the rest of the world didn’t exist. As if there was only one, quick way to modernize a town.

It’s so weird.

And then, you have cities completely designed to be car-free and which are not because cars are pretty super useful. Independence, y’all. People love that shit. Being able to move some big stuff without thinking logistics is nice. Thinking that American Korean folks used to the US west coast all their lives will move back to high rises in apartments in Korea is cute, if not disconnected from reality. And if they move when they’ll retire, congratulations your city is now a big retirement home. Not that vibrant now, is it?

The conclusion is that cities are not Ikea furniture that fit everywhere the same on this planet. Cities vary wildly. People are complex. Some constants will happen: people love personal space. The convenience of walking to stores is not necessarily a convenience, if at all with delivery being so pervasive. People love choices. Sometimes people even enjoy to drive! There are some heritage to deal with: you can’t build LA-like boulevards in Paris because there’s no room, and you can’t really walk that much in LA because it’s hot as fuck 365 days a year.

I think it’s one of the bias from technology or at least tech sales pitch: we can solve things in a clean and “perfect”, one-shot way. We can’t. We’re humans, we’re all different, it’s messy. So are our cities.

AnimeOVA

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

anime_ova

I’ve been watching a bunch of old anime. Tons available on YT now that I couldn’t get my hands on for so long. Mostly cyberpunk stuff, mostly late 80s up to mid 90s. After that Golden Age, quality goes down hard.

They’re quite corny. And sexist as hell. But they have a vibe, some good animation. I feel the ambition, trying to be as sleek and movie-like as they could be. I love the use of synthesizers’ “Orchestral Hit”, it’s probably one of the only time ever when they’re appropriate. They just work well with the color palette and the questionable edits. Same with the sound effects. Maybe it’s just early digital audio nostalgia.

But also, business! I’m fascinated by Japan’s way of doing things. How OVAs came up to exist. How animation was tied to toys (so they had to invent machines, robots and spaceships to not only populate the story, but also the stores; yes that’s why there was so many mecha stuff in 70s/80s/early 90s). How they competed to get the contract. How they would struggle to find the best quality possible within a budget. How they wanted to do better than competition. The perfect mix of experimentation, creativity and commerciality of their products. Imagine:

Big company: “hey, we need someone to make us some anime that sells toys too.”

*small companies battle*

Big company: “Ok small company 001, you won the bid.”

Small company: “Cool. Here’s the universe.”

*Big company abides*

Small company: “by the way, it’s going to be too hard to make it fit for TV. Let’s release this on video in a weird way, like 4 episodes, 2 that are 30mn long and 2 that are 50mn long. We know, it’s weird. But that should work better.”

Big company: “Go on. But don’t forget to make cool designs for our toy line!”

Of course, tons of those studios died. An amazing amount of work was poured into those anime by anonymous artists. Most of those studios didn’t make it through the 2000s. If they did, it was by pushing commerciality up a notch, and production quality down by two.

The legacy is huge though. Universes that inspired many artists. The OVA format is the first video format ever made that kind of encouraged binge-watching. The first format that fits perfectly between a TV show episode and a whole movie. Back in 1983.

Oh, Japan. What would I have become without you?

My man Red

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

LA5400

A small, strong dude with the name of his mom tattooed on the back of his shaved skull. Yesterday, he closed his auto shop. Twenty-five years.

His name is Israel. Always tight with his old school hip hop style. LA cap, cool glasses, white sleeveless shirt, baggy jeans and a pair of old red Js or Timbs. He’s in his mid-fifties looking like a small version of Fat Joe.

His business being across the street from my room, I saw him work six to seven days a week changing tires from 7am to 8pm. During heat waves or torrential rain, it didn’t matter. My man was out there with his assistant. I’ve seen cars pulling up with a flat regularly. Always wondering why they would go to his shop when there’s an auto shop every block in this part of Los Angeles. Great customer service, I suppose.

He hooked me up with two Mexican brothers to help me find a car a few years ago. We did find one far away –they gave me a ride– but I couldn’t afford it. I told him good morning if not everyday, every other day. “How’s life treating you man?” he would ask me, pulling me aside on the sidewalk. I would You Know this shit hard, more amused and more thankful for his thoughtful question than willing to answer properly. One time he wasn’t look well. As I passed his shop every weekend to shoot my basketball, that time I stopped and asked him what was going on. He was just sad because of some family bullshit, some conflict with his kids and his ex-wife. He was sad enough to need a hug. I hugged that man on the corner like he was family.

It was just black and brown people doing business around cars and tires. Maybe there was something else. Maybe not. He owned his shop and was very proud of that. He told me multiple times that he didn’t like that gentrification going on but that he was not concerned. Until they come for you. And it’s really a weird, elusive “they”. Some motherfucking ghostly holding for which $1M is actually like a dollar bill, probably patiently waiting to get rid of all the small shops on that block. That’s how things are now.

On Sunday as he was emptying his space, I went over and gave him a bottle of wine. Neighbors and customers stopping by to help or drop a plate of food. He was visibly exhausted. Sad. He told me that he got his money so, all good? Money matters but don’t matter at the same time. He’s planning on moving out of LA and find a place somewhere south. It’s hard to start over. I know that.

Yesterday, when the sun was going down as I was playing bass, I could see him alone in his empty lot, strolling, remembering, wiping his face from all the liquid coming out of his holes. He was looking around and he really was red. He had this road sign on the wall, BIG DADDY BLVD. He slammed the doors of his blue truck in slow motion and painfully drove away.

I’ll miss his stroll. I’ll miss waving and shouting “have a great day!” at him and hear him answer whatever, he has already waved back as I’m speeding up. I’ll miss hearing him laugh in the aisle of our local market. He knows everyone.

As I was reading this last night, I couldn’t stop crying. People of Los Angeles and cities on earth, it’s time to fight. Talk to your fucking billionaire friend and tell him to fucking chill and retreat to his/her far away gated community, far from us the 7.5 billion peasants out there.

The Sound of Atlanta

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Atlanta

From the piano in the background of the cashier scene detuning and glitching, to the silence when Earn looks through the glass walls at the agency while people look at him, to the creepy ambiences in the creepiest episode to the hard-drives noises in the studio to the sound of scissors, sprays, brushes in the barbershop story, Atlanta has wonderful sound design. Very clean. Perfectly chosen.

The same is true with the music selection, always on point. But there’s another thing that I love about the sound, it’s what I call the “little sentences”.

Episode 3. They’re outside the club and about to get in. The bouncer is like “twenty for dudes, bruh”. And Earn, simply looking in his wallet repeats “twenty…” and the bouncer replies “twenty for dudes, bruh”. It’s almost like a sound effect. There’s this line in episode 7 when the girls are selling selfies to Van and the hustler is like “wassuup watcha gonna dew” at low volume, like some kind of little snark. Every episode, there are some little sentences. “mmh fuck with me, mmh” in Episode 1. “Oh yeah that one don’t work good” in Episode 5. The stupid lama laugh in Episode 4. “Man I’m bruising this boy” in Episode 11. So forth. They stick.

It’s part of the writing but it ends up being the sound. Catchphrases are this audio/thoughts hybrid to me. There’s the serious, cinematographic sound of Atlanta. And then there’s the goofy, quirky, sound of Atlanta.

Another layer added that makes the show more special.