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.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Stevio's 2007 Review

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It's sunny, it's quiet, it's LA at Christmas time

Christmas Day in LA is several things. Everyone goes out of town unless you're working in Starbucks or the Chinese restaurant I'm going to with cousin Agnes and Kelvin tonight.

This year, Christmas kinda sucks (as the Yanks say!) and New Year's Day will be no better. Both fall on Tuesdays which means you have to take vacation days to really get a good run for your money. Remember, there is no Boxing Day off in the US! Pah!

But, with nowhere to go (meaning I've just come back from Asia and seen the fam') I'm saving my holiday for a springtime trip to Shanghai to see Sandra. (Oh, and the boss just gave me Monday, Dec 31st off...:) )

Christmas Eve Last night, I cooked my first lamb roast in my apartment for Sue and Sharon (they sound like chararcters from Viz's "Fat Slags", but they're cute Korean ladies). Yes, I roasted spuds and parsnips, and yes I'm having leftovers sometime soon. Sharon brought utensils and ingredients to make this chocolatey-souffley-type-of-dessert that I smothered in chocolate yogurt/ice-cream to make a version of baked Alaska! For some reason the ladies declined my offer to customize their delicate desserts!

Royal Channel Back in the UK, the Queen's speech was broadcast and posted on her own 'Royal Channel' on YouTube so expats like me could tune in...Nice.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

What is happening to England?!

Knife culture is killing the youth!

I've generally felt safer in LA than anywhere else I've lived. Does that sound weird considering with all the guns, gangs and skidrow? It's petty crime and casual violence in the UK that makes me say this.

In the run up to Christmas the news coming out of the UK continues to shock and sadden me: "A 16-year-old boy stabbed to death in a mass brawl has been named by police"! This happened a few miles from Holloway, north London where I lived?! Here, in my LA neighborhood I don't even worry about someone stealing my eBay packages from my doorstep! Seriously.

What's England going to be like when I return?

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Smithfields...The end of an era?

I miss a lot of UK domestic news living in the US.

This story about Smithfields meat market being demolished for an office building caught my eye as it seems like unnecessary commercial progress at the cost of heritage that makes London special, and Britain, well, "great"!

It seems that, although the plans were approved back in 2006, there was such a stink made that there is an enquiry that is due to conclude in January 2008. After all, Smithfields was designed by Horace Jones, the man behind Tower Bridge! If that isn't enough to stop demolition I have no idea where the smart people in the UK have gone...(America ;) ) ?!

During the UK BSE crisis in the 90s lots of butchers in Smithfields closed shop (some turning to driving the classic black taxis for a living). It's ironic that those that made it through could now be finished off by developers! Madness! Good luck!

News story excerpt "Smithfield offers a sharp contrast with nearby modern landmarks like the Gherkin, home to insurers Swiss Re -- especially in the early hours when ruddy traders in bloodied aprons sell everything from chicken to beef and offal.

In the chilly halls between three o'clock and seven o'clock, hundreds of animal carcasses sway on meat hooks behind the stalls. Behind the counters, the traders haggle with customers over the price of a choice cut.

"Only a pound!" -- pronounced 'Pand,' in a broad cockney accent -- calls one butcher to a wide-eyed customer who asked the price of a head of mutton. Others use rhyming slang such as "Duke of York" for pork, and dog's eye for meat pie.

There has been an animal market on the site -- through which 110,000 tonnes of meat passes each year -- for around a thousand years and the current building dates back to 1867, but centuries of tradition could be under threat."

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Graffiti classics uncovered in New York

I used to wish I could travel back to New York in the 80s so I pick up all those old break beat albums, hang out with the legends and may be even get myself a role in the film, Wild Style! Okay, the last two wishes are only since I've moved to LA trying to make a name for myself! Hah!

SoHo in the 70s So, why mention this now? Well, I got to thinking after reading a recent Newsday report that a Futura (2000) tag was uncovered in a 10-storey limestone building dated ~1973! Damn! I'm out by a decade! :)

Along with the Futura tag was work by SAMO (aka Basquiat) and Fab 5 Freddy. How could this be? What *is* this building. Well, it seems that the 8th floor loft was lived in by art critic, Edit deAk, until 1984. During those years he had cool uptown kids visit his loft and let them loose on his walls and stairwell.

The artwork isn't high-end gallery fare. It's simple, raw and archaic! It really captures the early formative days of graffiti art. Before it hit canvas and US$ '000s dollar price tags. The picture above shows various images and tags in spray paint, grease pencil, magic marker in a limited range of colors - silver, gold, pink and red (unlike the rainbow-colored subway cars they later painted). Newsday added,"There are cartoon-like pictures of a bomber airplane, images of a heart and a cake, and several references to Quaaludes, a popular 1970s party drug".

"It's a great discovery," says Alberto Mugrabi, a major Basquiat and Andy Warhol collector. "It's the beginning of graffiti (as art)."

"Obviously, it's a critical piece of history, SoHo history," says Lisa Dennison, the former director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

The building was bought by developers in 2004 who wondered about the rumors about some hidden art within the walls. It's reported that Rite-Art magazine editor, deAk, even bragged: "There is a Basquiat, and it's somewhere where you won't think it is."

Art over commerce? The construction development has stopped now the art scrawls have been authenticated by Guggenheim chief conservator Paul Schwartzbaum and other experts. But, I can't help but feel if this discovery didn't have any (social) currency* value it wouldn't be high on anyone's 2008 list. In place of demolition, the developers decided to create an exhibition, investing "six figures" on the mural, hiring art conservator Harriet Irgang and California landscape photographer Bob Weingarten to document the process and produce a catalog for the exhibit.

"Irgang has stabilized the two walls by applying an adhesive to flaking paint and glitter. Next, she will cover the mural with tissue paper, cheesecloth and a stiff fabric to enable the graffiti to be 'peeled' off _ a process that involves using spatulas and chisels to separate the plaster from the coarse brown mortar behind it. Once freed, the graffiti will be mounted on a lightweight panel so it can be moved".

The Wild Style Exhibit The mural will be publicly unveiled on 29th November 2007 and called "The Wild Style Exhibit" after the classic hip hop film directed by Charlie Ahearn. The retrospective exhibit will feature the graffiti art movement between 1980-1985. The show has Keith Haring, Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, Ero and Fab 5 Freddy with many pieces coming from from private collections that have never been seen before.

The show runs until February 15th 2008 in the SoHo building's Gallery 151. Funnily, someone I know in NYC has a friend who works there who said the opening party was "off the hook!" I hope to make a trip to see the show before it ends so watch out for my blog in a few weeks (Farecast says prices are over $300 now, but due to fall) - I don't care what Gawker says. Or may be I do!

* not just money, but socialite value. Here's a thought: does art attract money, or money attract art? Is graffiti art? I've always thought that the joke was on the buyers of graffiti, especially in the case of "Banksy fever".

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Recycling the Internet way...

The world of eBay is my weakness. Especially around holiday season...Lightly used items or unwanted gifts are my speciality. Where else can you get Gucci leather loafers for $140 or Nike Dunk x Mita (long deadstock) for $80?

I think that Nobel Peace Prize winner, Al Gore, should've mentioned eBay as a good middle ground for restraining our consumptionist nature. I see it as a form of recycling! Seriously!

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Graffiti Intellectualized...Norman Mailer RIP

I was online at Complex mag's blog and saw the news that Norman Mailer, Pulitzer-prize author, journalist and founder of the Village Voice passed away today.

I must admit I don't read much, but I do remember that Mailer wrote the foreword to a classic (rare) oversized book called "The Faith of Graffiti". It has full of color photos by Mervyn Kurlansky and Jon Naar that capture the early, crude graffiti tags and pieces that terrorized NYC’s subway trains in the 70-80s. Here are some excerpts and pics from the book.

"The notoriously tough guy author intellectualized the graffiti movement in its early beginnings—’Faith’ was published in 1974—when hand styles were still being developed and most of the letters were very primitive. Mailer was fascinated by the art form, writing, “What a quintessential marriage of cool and style to write your name in giant separate living letters, large as animals, lythe as snakes, mysterious as Arabic and Chinese curls of alphabet.”

“Slum populations chilled on one side by the bleakness of modern design, and brain-cooked on the other by comic strips and TV ads with zooming letters, even brain-cooked by politicians whose ego is a virtue - I am here to help my nation - brained by the big beautiful numbers on the yard markers on football fields, by the whip of the capital letters in the names of products, and gut-picked by the sound of rock and roll screaming up into the voodoo of the firmament with the shriek of the performer’s insides coiling like neon letters in the blue satanic light, yes, all the excrescence of the highways and the fluorescent wonderlands of every Las Vegas sign frying through the Iowa and New Jersey night, all the stomach-tightening nitty-gritty of trying to learn how to spell was in the writing, every assault on the psyche as the trains came slamming in.” -Norman Mailer

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Thursday, December 06, 2007


UK streetstyle king, Maharishi, has continued to expand its footprint. Maharishi, dpmhi, Maharishi Kids and now its "Emmaichai" ("MHI" spelt differently) collection for women (for girls like Claudia below?).

I always check it out, and this time found a couple of pieces that are also part of the MHI Fall/Winter '07 mens collections. I got myself the Mode2 t-shirt 'cause it's hot and Mode2 is a legendary graffiti artist. Whilst I was online I got myself a limited-edition signed print too. Gotta do what a man's gotta do!

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Last day in Asia

So, after a quick tour of Asia (Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Taipei) I will leave the last words for Mui Mui, Tina's beautiful, but quirky cat. Actually, I'll leave it to pics and videos.

She's not the smartest cat, but she's the cutest!

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Farewell Taiwan...Day trip to Beitou hot springs

I wanted to take in some sights outside of the city before I left Taiwan and had a few ideas: the mountainous Wulai area of Hsintien to see waterfalls, or the Beitou hot springs.

With only half-a-day I chose the hot springs (with the help of the concierge). Hmm, that was kinda disappointing. Beitou isn't very well developed, and certainly isn't very non-Chinese speaking friendly, but I made the most of it.

I started to walk up the winding hill - really wanted to get to the top of the mountain where the temples were, but I think that most of the transport options are available in the morning when all the tourists arrive. I gave up through boredom halfway up. Bollocks ;-)

However, I did get to sit, roll up my Levi's and bathe my feet in the warm spring water. Photo moment...where's my camera (never far away! ;) )

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Sunday, December 02, 2007


I checked out the BAPE store in Taipei - a large ~4,000 sq ft, 2 storey retail statement. On the ground floor is the regular "A Bathing Ape" gear, although the sales guy distinguished between the black label collection. Yea, whatever ;-)

Upstairs was more interesting to me. There I saw the "BAPY" and "APEE" lines -for women and femal teens, respectively. It made me think of the Portfolio article I read about the struggles Nigo, BAPE's founder, is facing as he and his team try to create a worldwide brand that still has some significance to his peers and fans.

It reminds me the challenge Stussy had in the early 90s. To compare, BAPE has worldwide sales of $59m ($24m more than Stussy)!

On researching, my revelation was that one of Toyko's Major Force record-label founders (and Wild Bunch collaborator), Hiroshi Fujiwara, ventured into clothing and apparel (Goodenough and Head Porter) which are now some of the most revered Japanese streetstyle labels, oft quoted by cool hunters.

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Cool hunting in Taipei

Drop Stevio in a city, ANY CITY and I'm gonna hit it!

Coolhunting On this Taipei adventure I got to swing by the BAPE store at the end of my street; I checked out Summit that sells "Futura" (US), "Surrender All" (UK) and "WrongWroks" (Ca); I discovered 1001 store with the hype "RMC Martin Ksohoh" (Hong Kong); and Leftfoot (Singapore) was cool with its gallery events.

But, what of these merchandise meccas if the vibe isn't there? All the shop folks were professional and focused on making shopping the pastime of choice ;-) Fine by me! I love that the stores stayed open till ~9.30pm or later. Yep, I shopped till 10.30pm and then had dinner.

Overload There's so much energy in this city...go visit the boutiques, bars and restaurants in my neighborhood, or head over to Ximen and you'll get suffocated by the noise and sensory overload. Those stores and crowds reminded me of Harajuku, Tokyo.

Hip hop worldwide On my travels I found out about the Intermix graffiti art exhibition. It was organized by electronics company, Proton, and the Institut Francais de Taipei?! Why?

I met Kera working at the event (from San Jose?!) and she explained that the graff artists were chosen from Taiwan and France. Kinda cool. Still weird that a corporation is willing to support 'vandals' to reach the cool youth. I got myself an Intermix 2007 t-shirt in white as a souvenior. Yes, I know I don't *need* another t-shirt. Pah!

Hope you like the pics and videos.

(Psst! I hear the hot spot is the 24-hour bookstore. Hmmm. I never checked time. Seriously!)

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial and Longshan Temple

Daniel picked me up at 7.30am for a Taiwanese traditional breakfast. Wow! I thought we'd have rice congee, but apart from the fried doughnut, everything was different to a Cantonese breakfast. The doughnut was offered in a flaky sesame pastry sandwich...the congee was replaced by a eggy soup with shrimps and spring onions. Delish! I'm hungry writing about this!

That set me up for a great day sightseeing around Taipei city, foldout map and change in my pocket for the subway. Check it out. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial and Longshan Temple. Amazing stuff.

The Buddhist parade and ceremonies are very cool! I was truly moved by the worship and sat silently as the crowd followed the prayer script. Check my video.

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