• 12.20-26.8 Couchsurfer Ingo Harzheim – Traveled, Hosted

    Ingo Harzheim, Las Vegas NVIngo Harzheim, Las Vegas NV

     

    A snapshot of a crucial moment : Sweats breaking down my temples, sitting next to a traveling German…. at a Thai restaurant in Los Angeles – my turf within my turf – we were. After a diligent assessment into how hot they should make the food for him, I ended up with a spice burn when he felt NOTHING. I couldn’t believe all the words of explanation mislead me of how insanely much hotter he prefers his food than I do. • I failed twice in one shot.• This was the evening before he departed for Mexico.

    I met up with Ingo Harzheim in Las Vegas. It was unbelievable how fast we befriended. Talking with him was easy and in short time I found so much in common. One main difference – his obsession over Cirque du Soleil which I found adorable…. up to a certain point. I’m still on the fence over his having Cirque du Soleil’s music in his itune collection… The day we met was my birthday, so he treated me to a “Mystere” show, ended up with quite an experience watching the massive live entertainment production, not to mention the unbelievable super human strengths and their acrobatic skills.

    The one activity that was quite uniquely memorable was actually the one I can only enjoy thinking about after the fact. We rode out on the motorcycle towards the Red Rocks, few miles outside of Las Vegas. It sounds awesome now, but then, I believed my hands and face were going to fall off (I’m sure his were, too). I don’t know how cold it was, maybe in the low 40s. It was the week after they got their “biggest snow storm since 1979”. So, yes, it was still – way cold. 

    Overall, hanging around in Las Vegas usually depresses me with all the bells, jingles, whistles, and crap jumbotrons. All that seemed secondary when taking a long walk on the strip with a good company. 

    I invited him back to Los Angeles for a few days to get over the christmas time. He also fast befriended my shy cat … however inadvertently, by having beef jerky or yogurt in his possession. Amongst other things, Ingo prefers a perfect cup of cappuccino (setting off a daily adventure in itself), and all his food to be ‘real’ (high suspicion of the ‘health’ trend). He’s an avid jogger, rock climber, hiker, an all around outdoors person, who happens to have a profession doing something software/computer related. 

    Every person that comes into your life and ended up reflecting the meaning of it is the greatest gift I cherish. It wasn’t the case that I was lost, but in one of our many many long conversations, Ingo said something that struck me deeply. It was quite a simple statement said in passing, but it pointed me to my new appreciation, then a sense of urgency for completing my project – THIS BLOG. (It may seem like just another blog on the web, but I hope it will prove other wise.) Just several days after he departed, having left behind a significant impression, I finished hand processing the 100 rolls of film sitting around for the past year. What I learned from talking to him is that what I’ve seen and what I’ve done is something worthwhile. For nothing else is the passion I put into it, the intrinsic value of having something I own, that I created, and produced. 

    Truly – truly appreciated the chance to meet him. I think it definitely changed a pace of my life in an important part I didn’t know I needed to change.
     

    Red Rock vicinity

    Red Rock vicinity - too cold to continue, I said (notice traces of snow in the background)

    Ingo after cappuccino

    Ingo with cappuccino

    Ingo

    Ingo

    Ingo endorses iphone

    iphone endorsement

    Ingo at Rockreation

    at Rockreation

    Ingo during a conversation

    during a conversation

    Ingo made dinner

    dinner

    drive

    drive


  • 12.19.8 The ‘F Girls’ Holiday Contingency

    Mychelle and AnitaMychelle and Anita

     

    It’s actually not that usual for me to photograph our group – my favorite people of all – the F girls or the Aggro girls, or any number of names we are called. This is because I would be too busy laughing my head off. There’s Ninja, Samurai,  .. the German Farm Girl (still mulling over the most suitable nickname for her giggly deadly jabs), and I’m called Ong Bak (the Thai Warrior from the boonies of Thailand.)

    F is for Fight, mainly, but probably other words too, depend on our activities of choice. We met at Krav Maga. In the course of a short 2008 year, we became a tight pack that infuse each others’ lives with each of our contrasting positive attributes. Over our bond of fight commitment and disciplines, we see to it that each of us grow into our best potential. Phebbie (Ninja), takes the arts of pain tolerance, precise striking, and perfect reflects into her career pursuit in the field of media. Mychelle (Samurai) overlook fears and intimidations and incorporate working hard while having fun in her field of production. (German Farm Girl) Anita’s recognizing her natural strengths and quick grasps (and execution) for techniques in preparation for… hmmmm.. her work with the kindergardeners.

    This little gathering was billed ahead as a little hang. It wasn’t made into what it actually was until we all were there. A combination of holidays, new year, and my birthday celebrations – would have been too extravagant sounding to plan ahead. Instead Phebbie just called for a ‘stop by to pick up a present’. A couple bottles of wines later, we were giving headlocks and having cupcakes until the night was concluded.

    Even for my cynic view over the ‘excuse for a season’s greetings’, I can’t help but put this group as ‘worth it’. Worth it for putting the silly christmas light necklaces and exchange gifts (well, I don’t do xmas gifts, so I only selfishly took). This is because these girls are above average exceptional personally and generally.

    We’re looking forward to converge in New Orleans next summer at a music festival, and all other future events.
     

    Mychelle

    Mychelle and I face-off

    Anita

    Anita "The Jury" Martin

    Mychelle

    Mychelle "Samurai" Flynt

    Phebbie "Ninja" Pasquera

    Phebbie "Ninja" Pasquera

    Phebbie doing the Ninja Dance

    Phebbie doing the Ninja dance

    Mychelle and Anita

    Mychelle and Anita laughed at and with Phebbie

    summary of the evening

    digital summary of the evening


  • 11.30.8 The Watt From Pedro Show with Tony Kinman (The Dils)

    Watt on 180th twfpsWatt on 180th twfps   

    Find the show here. 

    Tony Kinman on twfps

    Tony Kinman on twfps

    Tony laughing

    Tony laughing

    Tony Kinman's wife and my friend Morgan Moore in background

    Tony Kinman's wife and my friend Morgan Moore in background

    Watt

    Watt

    Watt

    Watt


  • 11.30.8 My Friend Paula

    My buddy Paula MooreMy buddy Paula Moore at twfps

     

    Yet another girl that can punch me silly sparring, Paula Moore. She’s another one of my favorite friends I happened to meet from Krav Maga. The past 2 years of my knowing her has only amaze me more over time of what she can and has done. Her incredible track record in the music business as an A&R executive is more than impressive. On a personal level, she’s incredibly supportive and giving. Her cooking is also outrageous. Amazing.


  • 11.24-29.8 Couchsurfer Liliane Arizmendi – Hosted

    Liliane ArizmendiLiliane Arizmendi

     

    I picked up Liliane an hour after dropping another Giovanni off at the airport, trading one couchsurfer for another. The vibrant girl from Mexico was visiting for the first time since childhood. I quickly bonded with her after discovering series of similarities and character traits we both posses. As we joked on multiple occasions, it was like having an old friend over for a visit. Our common photography interest is only a small thread. Our thought exchanges include various philosophical, psychological and sociological ponders.

    In only regretted that she came to stay with me at a very strange time. There was a lot going on that kept me from being able to take around the city fully. She was more than understanding, sticking by my side like a trooper in all situations. She’s incredibly insightful and doesn’t take much for her to ‘get it’, any of what I was thinking or trying to say. It is a rare and lucky connection.

    Since she left me, we still keep in constant contact obsessing about pursuing our endeavors, so we can soon meet again, in a number of possible countries, for more crazy good times.

     

    Liliane Arizmendi II

    Liliane Arizmendi II

     

    Liliane Arizmendi III

    Liliane Arizmendi III


  • 11.29.8 My Friend Marcia

    MarciaMarcia checks her mail

     

    Marcia is awesome. And I don’t say that in the genetic… ‘awesome’ to fill a space, awesome – wholeness, terrific, amazing, wonderful.

    I met Marcia at Krav Maga. We both have been going there for some time before we started to partner up for classes. Her smile and kind nature makes it easy for anyone claim her a friend. Massage therapist by trade, you wouldn’t be able to guess that she can be a mean boxing partner.


  • 11.3-17&22-26.8 Couchsurfer Giovanni Del Brenna – Hosted

    Giovanni Del Brenna - Venice Beach, CAGiovanni Del Brenna – Venice Beach, CA

     

    When I went crying aloud out to some of my closest friends – “Giovanni is a better photographer than me” I meant that in so many fundamental ways.

    Giovanni Del Brenna came to Los Angeles for a few weeks to finalize his “City” photography project. He started it some years ago already having done the other typical cities around the world. Hosting him actually required me to put on the heaviest of all thinking caps. What I had to consider were 1. What IS the essence of Los Angeles, 2. What are the visual representations?,  3. What are the daily strategies in ‘covering’ this massive city, 4. How am I going to cover him while he’s covering the city?, and 5. How can we not kill each other for having to be in such close proximity in so many days?

    As usual, I winged it for my part. The rest I just rode along with his schedule, whichever he decided upon. Watching his process was just incredible for me. It’s hard to explain. He’s like me but opposite? We notice the similar things – shapes, forms, functions, lights, situations – but we may frame them differently. His approach is much more direct and definite. The finalization process was even more prominently different. He decisively allocated shot rolls of film, or image files to specific destinations and purposes. He… was a model of a functional photographer. Also, to note, he has ALL my dream cameras – the professional ones – Leica, Xpan, D3, completely ready for any unexpected assignments of any forms. Needless to say, I learned so much.

    We ended up all over the place around mostly locally known landmarks. He actually did introduce me to The Ring in Santa Monica (apparently it’s world famous – a local spot I was entirely ignorant of.) I took him to some of my pre-planned events of a TFA fight, which we co-shot, and catching my favorite standup comedian Doug Stanhope one night. He got to meet all of my favorite friends, the fight girls at that TFA, Mike Watt when he joined for a radio recording in San Pedro, Nels Cline when he played a duo gig with David Sarno in Downtown LA….

    We got along really well, surprising for the strong headed photo persons that we each are. Gio, I think, ended up looking after my interest a bit. When I had 2 other couchsurfers come stay and share the space, I noticed him being a little protective, mildly questioning if it was my best interest to help out everyone. But there was one occasion he might have went too far – that was when he tried to explained to me the logic of Rubik’s Cube. At that point, I had to call him on it — Mr. former mechanical engineer turned photographer that he was…

    Parting with him after about a month (he went to Las Vegas for a week in between when I went to San Francisco) was a little sad. This is one down side of ‘couchsurfing’ is that inevitable departure of the new friend. Surely what I should focus on that little new marker on a map where Metz is in France, where Gio and his family live. Glancing at the global map with increase warmth of the imagined friendly human person residing in another part of the world, does give one the optimism of how the world can somehow become one through friendship networking.

     

    Gio on election day, LA, CA

    Gio on election day - Downtown LA, CA

    Gio reviews images at the Democrat official party, Century City, CA

    Gio reviews images at the Democrat official party, Century City, CA

    Gio in the mix

    Gio in the mix

    Gio at TWFPS - San Pedro, CA

    Gio at TWFPS - San Pedro, CA

    Gio watches Doug Stanhope after show

    Gio watches Doug Stanhope after show

    Gio at the driver seat

    Gio at the driver seat

    Gio and fellow couchsurfer Chris

    Gio and fellow couchsurfer Chris


  • 11.7-9.8 Couchsurfer Buci Chan – Hosted

    Buci Chan at Venice BeachBuci Chan at Venice Beach

    Not until after Buci left, I was to fully realize I didn’t have enough time with Buci at all. This is also judged by the fact that I can’t seem to have enough pictures of him to round up his character. Our later electronic communication revealed to me how interesting, and definitely fun, Buci is. I always have a deep fascination with Eurasians, but this one – introduced me some new angles only unique to him. (And I really like saying his name.)

    A French-Chinese from Malaysia, he truly exhibited the opposing cultures harmoniously. He had traveled everywhere and appeared very well rounded. He came to stay for a couple of nights when another couchsurfer Giovanni was already on my couch. They both find practicing Capoeira in common. They ended up hanging out with each other more as I kept excusing myself for naps. His departure came too soon when his friend, another couchsurfer, Chris, came to swoop him away eastward to Alhambra 10 miles from here. Giovanni and I followed them out for the last hang. Chris ended up treating all of us to an amazing Taiwanese-Chinese (late) breakfast. From there, I said good bye to Buci, not knowing when I’ll run into him again. Maybe Thailand?

     

    Buci at Venice Beach

    Buci at Venice Beach


  • 10.27-11.2.8 Couchsurfer Mark Stangroom – Hosted (1st hosting)

    Mark StangroomMark Stangroom

    Mark Mark… Mark…. I got a short notice contact from Mark requesting a one night stay at my place. Already I felt it was unjust for someone to come through Los Angeles to only pass through. From looking at his profile of interests, I immediately suggested that he may like to consider hanging around for another day when my friend Phebbie could show him her Kung Fu school in the early evening, and then to see my friend Scott Amendola from San Francisco play a concert in the evening. I picked him up from the Union station in Downtown LA on the 27th. It took some convincing for him to extend his stay. I mean, why wouldn’t you stay see the Halloween madness here? All in all I didn’t drop him off until 6 days later at the same place I picked him up.

    “He’s funny as shit!” my dearest of all friends Phebbie proclaimed once she met him. “Yes, he is!”, I immediately returned. That’s pretty much the general theme of having him around. My invitation for him to stay for the duration was substantiated… but not without the expense of slightly diminish the fun factor in the town of Truth or Consequences where he was heading next. What’s the hurry to go there?

    Mark is a genuine, sweet, honest, well rounded, and forever young at heart person. He’s also sensitive, polite, and considerate. Dragging him around to different places with me was just too fun. His natural curiosity, open mindedness, and the endless wit – was a sure winner to everyone I introduced him to. I got a chance to take him to Mike Watt’s internet radio recording on the 29th , a Krav Maga class, a run at the park, loooong walk TO the beach with a stop for the local famous Abbot’s Bagel Crust Pizza, and once we reached the beach, we did tandem bike riding (the most death defying joint experience  – where he kept accusing me of not contributing into the peddling.) The last day before I dropped him off at the train station, we went and grab some lunch at the Getty Museum to complete the Los Angeles experience.

    The blog he keeps for his 6 month adventure of the Americas is here. He is well missed.
     

    Mark at the Hammer Museum watching a concert

    Mark at the Hammer Museum watching a concert

    Mark at the Watt from Pedro Show recording

    Mark at the Watt from Pedro Show recording

    Mark on the back of the bus with me in LA

    Mark on the back of the bus with me in LA

    Mark in Chinatown near the "Rush Hour" chinese restaurant

    Mark in Chinatown near the "Rush Hour" chinese restaurant

    Mark catching up with his friend Heather in Culver City

    Mark catching up with his friend Heather in Culver City

    Mark at the Getty Center

    Mark at the Getty Center

    Mark's last day in LA at the Getty Center

    Mark's last day in LA at the Getty Center


  • 10.22-23.8 Couchsurfers Nagat and Bader Hasson- Hang

    Bader and Nagat

    Bader and Nagat

     
    Nagat and Bader are quite a pair. They are loving and excited about people, to learn, to talk, to share. The Arab Israeli couple met and married in Israel before moving to the US. Their 2 children were very coy, engaged, and all in all – adorable.
    I got the chance to meet them at their home when I went to pick up another couchsurfer Meysam who was staying with them. We got on talking about all types of things, mostly about people and social situations. They both seem to think that it’s hard to find people of like minded to hang with in LA., I disagreed. Then again, my own interests and lifestyle are far different than theirs.
    Bader is especially hilarious. His crazy enthusiasm for all kinds of things cracked me up. For instant, he just got the cappuccino machine, and he was SO DETERMINED to get it right. The 2nd time I hung out with them over dinner that Meysam was treating all of us, this first part of the evening was evolved around him making and remaking the perfect cup of cappuccino. Then later he insisted that Nagat go find his new digital cameras to show me, seeing that I’m into photography. Later he wanted to show both me and Meysam these ornate  eggs he got from Russia. All the while Nagat looks on with the combination of putting up with and unconditioned acceptance, the love…

    Bader

    Nagat approves this cup of cappuccino

    Nagat approves this cup of cappuccino

    Bader and Meysam

    Bader and Meysam

    the playful Emma

    the playful Emma

    the adorable Yury

    the adorable Yury