Stevio...LA LA Lovin' It?

I'm British-born Chinese from Bristol, UK. I’m LA-based. I’m a hip hop aficionado. After 15 years in London I moved to LA to pursue a new career and outlook on life.

Back in the 80s I was a DJ. In the 90s I contributed to the world's first street style exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2011, I had my first interviews published. Today, I’m keeping busy with music, art, photos and writing.

Friday, November 30, 2007

First night in Taipei...USC reunion

The first time is always the best?! I arrived in Taipei with no real plans, except for some WrongWroks hints (Summit) and a Google search (Sense Organ, Left Foot...)! Oh, and Din Tai Fung on my mind!

I made my way to the hotel Tina booked for me without a problem...even without Taiwanese phrases! US$4 for a bus or US$45 for a taxi. You know how I do...?! ;) The boutique hotel was outstanding. No pool, but more than made up by the great amenities: fruit and tea set in the room (waaaw!) and a mobile phone to use when in the city (ahhh?!) I never expected that - well useful!

After Daniel (from USC) drove me around my hotel neighborhood of Zhongxiao Xinsheng it all fell into place: Ah, BAPE is at the end of my street, Summit is off of 12th Ave., X-Large etc. are all in that vicinity. Done deal.

Our first stop was to meet Jacky at Din Tai Fung, the famous dumpling joint that also has a branch in Arcadia, California?! Jacky was late so Daniel and I gobbled up the two kinds of steaming, delicious dumplings and soups he ordered. You order outside as you wait for your table so it comes quickly when you get seated. And there was a line. I hear there's always a line. Here's what you missed ;-)

We eventually met Jacky at the Tonghua night market where we are pork buns and shaved ice boba. Odd. Nice. After a short wander to soak up the vibe I took a respite at a massage spot to get a painful reflexology session chatting to the masseur in pigeon English. Better than my pigeon Mandarin?! Oh, God! Hahahah!

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Guangzhou reunion...

The Pangs took the 2-hour train journey from Hong Kong to Guangzhou. "It even smells like China", Tina said as we alighted the train. And then our adventure started.

5-stars Tina checked us into the White Swan Hotel, the city's famous 5-star hotel. She warned me: "It's popular with American families coming to collect their adopted Chinese kids..." Hmmm, she wasn't joking...sooo many families and kids. Some new, some reunions...Did you know there's even a book named after the White Swan I found on Amazon?

'Hood We were in town with Dad to see his old neighborhood. That was a bit ambitious considering the directions were still resting in Tina's apartment 300 miles away. Still, we gave it our best shot and as it happens Tina asked a local man who looked a bit older than Dad. And he knew the way!? See the video's a classic.

If you hadn't heard...Guangzhou aka Canton is (in)famous for eating everything! There's nothing that isn't a delicacy. Anything that moves is liable to be sliced, diced and sauted ;-) Hahahaa. Here are some pics of our eating binge.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hong Kong receives Sp


I went wandering in the chic part of town yesterday
. Think Agnes B, Viv Westwood, but the cool thing was seeing the local boutiques. Of course, I printed out the location of a few stores I want to see, especially as I took an empty suitcase to fill?! ;-) IT is a store within a store - like Fred Segals, but without the kitch. This is industrial store interiors and Comme des Garcon window displays. Inside, I saw Jez Scott's drainpipe colourful pants. "I met him" I said to my sister who wasn't at all impressed. Hah!

I searched for those Nike Dunk x Mita's and found a pair, but in size US9. They were the only pair I saw in HK, but I know eBay has them, so no sweat. My fave store had to be the Giordano Concept store. It's like The Gap x Prada! I walked out with a dope leather jacket, shoes, cardigan...I left a stretch drainpipe pants...I don't care how much they look like Prada ;-)

Donkey Kong The surprise find of the night (the stores stay open till 10-11p on a Sunday. Can u imagine Robertson or Melrose doing that?!) was finding the Donkey Kong T-shirt I saw on a dude at a airport recently. I thought, "I got too many Ts, but if it came in a sweatshirt..."And then I found a sweat - black with Pac-Man on it. OMG. I got both of them anyway!

Love to Hate I didn't reach the Billionaire Boys Club store which recently opened in Hong Kong. I'm a hater, but I did want to check out the architecture and design from Japan's Wonderwall (who is behind stores for "A Bathing Ape" (Japan) and "Colette" (France)). I heard the first two floors are devoted to an ice cream parlor theme while the upper floor builds on the BBC astronaut theme. (Here's BBC/Ice Cream's spot in Harvey Nichols (UK)).

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Friday, November 23, 2007

It's been too long...Hong Kong

It's been a while...I haven't been back to Hong Kong since 2001. Actually, we realised that we have never been to Hong Kong or China together as a family before. Odd, but I guess one of the folks was always too busy working to get away when we were younger.

So, what has changed? Tina is still here, and has bought an apartment (and gutted it) near her old place in Mid-Levels. Grandma has passed away now; Aunt and Uncle Wong have returned from Toronto; cousin Catherine has married (well) and had two kids...and sneaker street is under threat ;-)

My first night in town was a USC IBEAR MBA night as my classmates, James and Wallace, were celebrating the arrival of Tak from Tokyo. I passed on that night of revelry and headed to Tina's apartment after my 14-hour United flight into Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong International. Even though it's better in many ways, I kinda miss Kai Tak and that amazing Star Wars "Death Star" landing of the plane between the apartment blocks!?

So what are my plans? The family is here so there was a fair amount of meeting and greeting. Importantly, we also met up with Aunt and Uncle Siu and cousin Grace to go see Grandma's grave. It's the first time I've been there since her passing. But, the highlight was a trip to Guangzhou, China to see Dad's childhood neighborhood that Tina organized.

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United sucks...

United Airlines seems to be operating on life-support. I mean, the long-haul flights I get from the US are pretty inconsistent. The last transatlantic trip had crap food, but on the return to LAX it was fine. This trip had no seat-back TV, aka no entertainment choice for 14 hours!?

The only saving grace was that the flight was empty so I moved to the center rows of 4-seats so I could lie down when I wanted (only for 4-hours as it happens). Oh, and the fact the fare was only $750 all-in, direct roundtrip!

So, the TV sucked. The food was mediocre and kinda infrequent. But, a mention has to go to the flight attendant who came to my seat with chocolate. Not just any choc, but Ghiradeli's 60% cocoa. This was his personal stash, 'cause you know UA don't have anything but preztels on offer. I found out after wandering to the kitchen in the middle of the night and asking for coffee and "something sweet..." Thanks, mate!

I was a little surprised to be served a pot of tofu instant noodles as my lunch snack. "Pour in boiling water, re-cover and wait for 4-minutes." So surprised I went to the kitchen and asked for a second-helping! I was starving!

So, why in this age of consumer power do I continue to fly UA? It's because I'm invested in them. Not in the stock-market sense, although i might be indirectly, but in that I collect United Mileage Plus points. And you know about me and collecting! ;) I have 68,000 and counting and have redeemed several free transatlantic flights since the joined the club. So no real complaints, except I know someone's getting the same deal with BA or Virgin. Ahh, the pain of change!


Sunday, November 18, 2007

The real hip hop

?uestlove is in Los Angeles on Tuesday night at Crash Mansion.

I'm back from Denver that night and have to pack for Hong Kong so won't go, but man. It'll be hooOtt!

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So, where's the money at?

Can you imagine a Louis Vuitton special edition handbag, only available in one store in the world, lingering on the exclusive store shelves?! No, me neither, but there's real lethargy around the Murakami handbags being sold in LA.

How do I know, well my attempt to sell mine on eBay was met with little real buyer interest. Wow - 10 watchers, but no bidders was my first experience of a 5-day auction listing. That's very weird.

The 2nd attempt to sell the $900 handbag (for obviously more $) was not a success either - it did sell, but I only broke even! And the buyer was in South Korea. So from my little experiment I can only surmise a few things, and nothing scientifically. But it seems that either eBay is not a safe environment to buy goods from, or the credit crunch is having a profound effect on the eBay aftermarket!

Where's the money? I think it's the latter as I heard last week that highly rare paintings from collectible artists went unsold at Sotheby's! So, even the rich are getting poorer...well, for luxury items like paintings and handbags. Or in my case, a painting on a handbag.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Customer service...the Americans got it licked!

Can't beat this! Southern California has been ravaged by wildfires whilst I've been out of town. Malibu and San Diego were severely affected.

Then I got an email which surprised me..."
Our records show you live in or near the areas affected by the California wildfires. As an xxx Customer, we would like to assist you in any way possible during this time of hardship. Please give us a call at 1-888-xxx-xxxx and an Associate will assist you. For your convenience, we're available from 8 AM - 8 PM, 7 days a week."

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dallas...The grassy knowle!

Dallas, the home of the 'Dallas' TV show, Dallas Cowboys' (& cheerleaders) and the infamous grassy knowle.

I was there for a telecom conference for work and expected heat, big hair and big people eating big steaks. But, I only got some of this. There were p-l-e-n-t-y of big people - so big some had trouble walking?! And steak was hard to avoid in some form or another (for my first meal I mistook 'chicken-fried steak' for chicken?!) But no big hair ;-)

After the conference I managed to take a short trip to the JFK Memorial which is located at the site of JFK's assasination. Fascinating stuff and even more interesting when I bumped in a hawker called Bob. He sold me a conspiracy newspaper and brought the mystery to life. Not bad for a bloke who only got into it 1-2 years ago!

I left him when he started ranting about secret societies and how the Egyptians had the secrets of E.T. visitors but didn't know how to decipher the information.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

World's tiniest B-Boy

I found this video on YouTube. It's an eye-catcher with some authentic B-Boy moves ;-)

Add to My Profile | More Videos

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Downtown LA...Skidrow

This Saturday morning was spent taking a 10 mile drive downtown into the heart of skidrow.

You'd think that at 8.30am the homeless would be sleeping. But no, the streets were filled with activity. What kind of activity, I have no idea! But, I had to drive slowly to avoid hitting these shabby looking folks.

LA Mission
The purpose for my early morning excursion was to visit the LA Mission, a Christian-based organization that helps the homeless of LA rehabilitate themselves through 12-24 month-long programs to get God into their lives and and education, housing and a job. It's truly a safety net for those who are trying to get out of the downward spiral or drinks, drugs, prostitution.

The Mission located on E.5th St. which is far enough east of the business district and Disney Concert Hall so their patrons don't notice. Being adjacent to the wholesale Toy District this area brings in lots of merchants and personal shoppers which creates a weird vibe, a bit like east London, I guess.

I've been donating money to the LA Mission for over a year now which gives me the confidence to tell beggars to go there for help, rather than feel guilty that I'm not helping anyone. Of course, there are the occasional offers of change if I think the person is genuinely in need, but how do you tell? Impossible.

On a lighter note Why is it some homeless people ask for the weirdest amount of money? "Do you have 75c for food?" Why not 25c or $1? By the time I try to work out if I have the money or need change it's too late - I just say "No, sorry.." So homeless beggars - make it easy by asking for a nominal amount!

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Jay Z goes back to his roots

American Gangster officially opened this weekend. Set in the 70s, it stars Denzel (Washington) as Harlem drug dealer, Frank Lucas, and Russell Crowe as a NYPD Detective, Richie Roberts.

I first heard about these Harlem 'drugglers' during UrbanWorld when Dame Dash talked about the his Harlem drug lord 'heroes'. His words were closing comments for his documentary, Mr. Untouchable. Unlike American Gangster, his film Mr. Untouchable centers on the story of Nicky Barnes another mass-merchant of heroin in Harlem. Barnes isn't overlooked in the Frank Lucas story and is played by Cuba Gooding Jnr.

Jay-Z These drug stories have inspired Jay-Z to has come out from behind his (Island) Def Jam CEO desk to go back into the recording studio. It's called American Gangster, but confusingly, is *not* the soundtrack tothe film. But it is inspired by it. He told Rolling Stone: "The album plays like a cautionary tale, but it's not really true [for me]," Jay confided with a smile at one point. "I really made it [out of the streets]. Al Capone didn't make it. Michael Corleone, Scarface — I'm iller than all them n----s."

Why does Jay-Z make these comparisons? You see, Brooklyn's Marcy Projects is where Jay-Z cut his teeth in the deal-making world before he became CEO. In the early days, if claims are to be believed, Jay-Z was doing deals on the corner selling drugs in Bed-Sty, Brooklyn. He kept writing rhymes and selling mixtapes out the back of his car and then he 'blew up!'....Jay-Z's is a true American Dream - a drugs to riches - and to fame - story.

New York magazine I haven't seen the film yet, but I've read the stories...For an explosive read about Frank Lucas check out this New York magazine article. New York magazine grabs another crazy article exclusive by reuniting Frank Lucas and Nicky Barnes. Read it!

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"Put your hands on the steering wheel"

For some reason I'm a cop magnet these past weeks. First, the speeding incident, and then the front license plate ticket in my neighborhood. Those filth!

Luckily, you can volunteer for a refresher driving course called 'traffic school'. It's the easy, if arduous, way to erase the offense from your record and stop your insurance rising ~ I've done it once before a couple of summers ago. As, that was more than 18 months ago I can take it again. Phew!

However, the license plate issue won't go away. I'm gonna have to bite the bullet and get the front plate put on. Crap. My poor TT. But, I'll at least get a chrome license plate frame.

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Puma x MTV 5-day hip hop flavor

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My first AdSense check!

With all this blogging lark, I decided to incorporate Google's AdSense advertising on one of my blogs.

I got my first payment deposit. I'm not retiring or buying a new car yet, not with $0.84! But save the cents and the dollars will look after themselves!

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Fake kicks: Shenzhen, Hong Kong and beyond...

October's Complex magazine has an article on the fake sneaker epidemic which seems to be the road to easy riches.

"Still rocking fake kicks? We won’t tell, but after you’ve read our in-depth look at the sneaker bootlegging frenzy that goes on in Hong Kong you’ll switch your steez real quick."

Tap into 'Sneaker Freaker's' guide to spotting fakes...

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Paper magazine is coming to LA!

PAPER Magazine is throwing parties next week. For the 3rd-year running, PAPER Magazine is coming to LA from NYC and organizing a series of art events, concerts, dance parties and dinners to celebrate Los Angeles life. Its also opening its temporary, 24-hour LA Project store filled with various brands.

That's cool, but the amazing news is that Colette, the uber-chic Parisian store, and Jeremy Scott, the mullet-coiffured fashion-designer, will host the 'Colette Dance Party' in Hollywood. And it's open to the 'public'. The LA Project store will be open for 24-hours only (from 6pm 11/10 to 6pm 11/11) and will have stuff from Colette, Levi's, Supreme, Cobra Snake, etc.

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