06/29/2009

Seven Random Things From The Past Five Days

by Matthew Hawkins

I realize that a report on the New York Asian Film Fest (which thus far has been nothing short of amazing) is well overdue, but first… a few odds and ends since last time.

1. Two Crappy Cell Phones, Passing Each Other In The Broad Daylight

Remember that Nokia N97 event I mentioned the tail end of last time? It blew. Hardly a shock; sh*t party for a sh*t phone. Long story short, I was supposed to meet my buddy Josh in front of the club at start time, to help get my ass inside since he was the dude who had taken care of the RSVP, but because I got there late (thanks to the MTA, of course) Josh was no where to be found, so tried calling him (dude actually has a N97 already) under the assumption that he was already inside, but my iPhone wouldn’t let me. The reason? AT&T of course, which chose yet another fine opportunity to epically fail. Turned out, no one with AT&T could send or receive any messages, including Josh, so I didn’t get his voicemails or texts either, who had tried giving me the head’s up that he too was running late. Okay, so the header above is a bit misleading; the iPhone doesn’t really suck, it’s actually a pretty damn good phone, but there’s one thing that will keep it from achieving true greatness, and that’s AT&T. I could seriously go for like 70,000 words on how badly they blow and how much I would rather deal with Verizon, who also suck hardcore but hey at least their customers get coverage everywhere, period. Let’s just say that the only reason why I’m not bothering with the iPhone 3G S is how I refuse to give AT&T the additional business. In other words, I’m not eligible for an early upgrade, but that’s okay since the 3G plain is totally fine, and I’m not one of those brain-dead Apple fanboys who can’t seem to understand how the business of cell phones work, plus by the time I’m actually eligible, the next version will be out and you just know it’ll be that much better.

But even if the network was up and running, there’s no telling if Josh would have gotten my messages in a timely manner anyway; the N97′s hardware is decent enough, though still woefully late to the party, as well as crazy expensive (then again, pretty much every single smart phone is going to cost $700 without the help of a carrier to absorb the bulk of the cost, something that those aforementioned whiny, entitled Apple douchebags have not been able to comprehend). Though it’s the software that’s the biggest problem, and the biggest total joke; I know 98% of you out there could give a rat’s ass about Nokia, but the Symbian OS seriously needs to be put out to pasture. Aside from the occasional experimental/adult game from Norway or whatever (as also mentioned somewhere in here) what the hell is it good for? Especially for a touchscreen interface. Unfortunately, open source is only truly meaningful if everyone is doing something with it. Why do I even care, BTW? I guess the N81′s charm was enough to make me a fan of Nokia for a tiny bit there, and ever since I’ve been amazed how they’ve manage to continually fumble around as the rest of the cell phone world passes them by. I’m honestly shocked that they’re still in business, though I guess someone has to provide mobile handsets to third world nations. And the N97 is the ultimate embodiment of just how seriously Nokia simply doesn’t get it. Though it doesn’t matter since Nokia will release yet another wannabe iPhone killer in two weeks, which will be just close yet different enough from the previous phone to confuse and annoy their increasingly diminishing fan base. Seriously, why bother to release both the N97 and the N86 at the same exact time? Is anyone still reading?

Anyhow, because I had spent the previous hour plus in limbo thanks to the MTA and AT&T, Josh wisely surmised that I hadn’t heard the big news. Which of course was how the King (of Pop) was dead. Once inside, it was insanely crowded; an open bar is cool and all, but sometimes a crowd can be big and annoying enough to make one not mind paying for beer or liquor. Meanwhile, the DJ was pumping the best of Michael Jackson, so those who had knew about the bad news became seriously bummed out, while those who hadn’t began wondering why the in hell was only MJ songs were being played. It wasn’t long before myself, Josh, and his brother decided to head out, but right before doing so, they began calling out raffle ticket numbers, and wouldn’t you know, Josh’s bro won himself a N97!

… I’d be jealous if not for the fact that it seriously blows. Both Josh and myself advised him to just sell it on eBay for a quick hundred of dollars (I’ll admit, that’s the sole reason why I wanted to win one as well). Afterwards we hailed a cab to head to another bar uptown, where we began to question of the news about the big death was for real or not. So while both Josh and I tried to go online via our phones, I got the following message…

2. “MJ totally DEAD”

… from Hilary. Guess it was true. And since then, I’ve been more than a little surprised, even shocked, by the outpouring of emotion. At least, I too find it hilarious how everyone who were all gaga over the stuff going down in Iran on Twitter has been completely replaced by this new thing for silly white people to go on about (sorry, but people whose definition of being politically active goes as far as turning their avatar green is one of the reasons why I weep for this generation). Then again, MJ was like the biggest thing ever during a good part of the 80s, the closest equivalent to Elivs to my generation I suppose, and at the end of the day, the guy did make some killer tunes. Plus you know what they say… the key to the ultimate comeback is not some hawt new album or the like, but simply dying. And I say this in all sincerity, as someone who has enjoyed his work and contributions to the world of music and pop culture, it’s perhaps best he’s passed on cuz that guy has been miserable for the longest time imaginable.

So have I been listening to his collection of greatest hits non-stop since his untimely demise like the rest of the nation? Ummm… nope. Though on my way to meet Hilary that evening at the NYAFF, I was happy that that the soundtrack to Sonic 3 was pre-loaded. And later on in the weekend, while we were at some bar in the West Village, she fired up Black & White on the jukebox. Anyhow, in his honor, I once again present Michael Quest!

3. History Becomes Complicated

The very next day, a special package arrived from Japan! My shipment of Yujin’s Shooting Game Historica volume 3! As also mentioned in my last entry, the person I bought the set from on eBay ended up being a reader of this site, who was pleased as punch that I had become his customer, so he decided to throw in some goodies just for me! Like this gigantic stack of Japanese game flyers!

… Man, do I ever love me some game flyers. Then there’s this Tokyo Game Show DVD from Capcom!

And here we have a Storm Trooper Bearbrick and a MGS4… I think it’s a cell phone screen cleaner?

Finally, here’s all the Shooting Historica figures, nicely packed…

… I was originally planning on passing along a pic of all the ships fully assembled, but unfortunately, there’s a bit of a problem. I’m kinda stumped at the moment; the Raiden MK-II has so many parts that I honestly don’t know what goes into what, and I accidently broke the stand for Star Soldier’s Ceaser. Problem is, the better they make them, the more intricate and therefore delicate they become. But once I figure them out, I’ll take pics of all the ships in collection in one nice big group shot. Once again, thanks Grizzle!

4. Got Called A White Devil By Some Angry Old Black Dude In Washington Square Park

… Again. This past Saturday afternoon, while killing some time between NYAFF screenings and while soaking in the nice weather. I was sitting there on a bench, just minding my own business; to my left was this crusty African American gentleman, who I had previously noticed was drawing with crayola magic markers, and some also old-ish white guy to my right, reading the paper I think. I had been there for five minutes, without incident, when this family came walking by, also black. Among them was this cute little girl who was barely four that waved at each of us as she passed. We all in turn returned salutations warmly, and it seemed like a wonderful scene at the park for everyone concerned, until I heard the following…

“You better remember that lil sister’s face, white devils. Because that’s the face that’s gonna grow up and slice open both your throats and your dicks off. The white man’s reigns of power is coming to its end. It is over. Hear that? It is OVER. Brothers and sisters are finally going to get their f*cking shit together and mobilize and learn from their mistakes and yours and turn the power structure on its knees…”

… And so on. I forget the rest, but you get the idea. The look on the face of the white guy was total classic; he literally had smoke coming out of his nose as he responded with “You talking to ME?!?!” I on the other-hand, perhaps because I’m so used to such nonsense, could only respond with “That’s half white devil, half gook to you, sir!” and “Nice hat, lol!” Did I mention the silly looking baret he was also wearing? As for his drawing skills, just a bunch of squiggly lines, nothing special. But the love for one’s fellow human being didn’t stop there!

5. Then You Had My Travis Bickle-esque Taxi Driver

After spending a greater part of my Saturday afternoon and evening at the IFC Center, I was quite eager to head back home around 2 am, which meant splurging on a cab. Unfortunately, finding an available one was really hard, harder than usual. Finally spotted a possible ride about a half a block away, waiting at a red light, and quickly ran toward it. Once nearby, I asked the driver if he was available, which in retrospect was a stupid question, since there wasn’t anybody in the backseat and his availability light was on. Still, an answer would have been nice. Dude gave me this non-plussed look instead; he was clearly less than thrilled that I had with me a drink and half eaten hot dog from Gray’s Papaya, like I was going to turn the back of his car into a garbage dump.

Most of the ride was on the quiet side; sometimes cabbies like to chit-chat, and generally speaking, I love to talk back, mostly since I enjoy hearing about wherever that particular driver is from (most are very hard working individuals that barely make a living and virtually everything that is earned gets sent back home so their families can hopefully have a better life thanks to the power of the American dollar, which is still worth something in many parts of the world). But this particular evening, maybe because of the extreme tiredness, I just wasn’t into the mood for dialogue. So when after ten minutes of enjoyable silence, I was not looking forward to his follow up of “I’ve got a question for you…” The conversation goes as follows…

“Yes, what is it?”

“Is the subways dangerous tonight?”

“I… don’t know. Don’t think so. Guess everyone just doesn’t feel like dealing with the late night trains, like myself. Though I must say, it was really tough getting a cab tonight. Never had this much trouble, at least for this time of night…”

“Because the trains are becoming dangerous again. Because of the lesbians.”

“Excuse me?”

“The lesbians. They always fight.”

“…”

“Last night, I was on train, and there were three lesbian fights, right in front of me. I almost got hit.”

“That’s… pretty rough.”

“I do not understand, why they are so violent. Always yell, always fight, always the alcohol.”

“Well, if you get any group of folks loaded or high, there’s gonna be trouble, regardless.”

“That is not true. The gay men, they cause no problems. Sure, they get loud too, but that is it. Last year, lesbian almost kicked in my windshield!”

… And thus the conversation ended. It’s also worth noting that his guy was driving like a total maniac. Granted, all cabbies drive well above the speed limit, but we were seriously going over a hundred on the West Side Highway. At least he got me home in no time flat, which was appreciated, since the very next morning was…

6. The NYC Zine Fest!

So, how was it? In a word, awesome! Seriously awesome! Much like the zine show the previous weekend, both Katie and I had zero expectations going in, but this one was not a train-wreck and actually a great time. And not to brag, but it was also the most money I’ve ever made at a show! Granted, I’ve never had such expensive items for sale, but still! Though I only bring it up because I haven’t done so swell in past shows, so I seriously needed the ego boost. And I hate to constantly bring up the MoCCA Art Fest, but it was impossible to not make comparisons (plus we weren’t the only ones, that’s for damn sure). Here are just a few of the reasons why yesterday’s show blew that over-bloated monster out of the water…

Cheaper Tables Meant Less Pressure
It’s funny how it finally took MoCCA for many indie comics to finally admit that no one’s paying the rent with the mini comics they make. And given how next year’s tables are going to be an astronomical $400, you’re going to find even less people claim that they managed to make their money back. Meanwhile, at the Zine Fest, it was actually doable (at least the latter part) thanks to the bargain basement prices. And because there was less of a gun to one’s head to sell X amount of comics and less pressure, you could just sit back and simply enjoy the show.

There Was Less Stuff To See, Which Was A Good Thing
Yeah, it’s nice to know that so many out there are trying to do their comics, but at MoCCA, it was a tad bit overwhelming (though a variety of other factors added to the “eh, I just don’t care anymore” attitude that everyone began to adopt… like the much talked about punishing heat). Meanwhile, there were less tables and less books to soak in, meaning that everything was simply easier to handle. Though the most important thing to note is how…

There’s Also Genuinely New Things To See
Year after year at MoCCA, as well as SPX (can’t really comment on APE, at least not yet), you basically see the same stuff over and over again, mostly due to the fact that it’s the same exact people doing the same shows. But here it’s practically all brand new stuff, which was certainly a breath of fresh air. Mind you, I had zero beef seeing folks like Jamie Tanner and Gia-Bao Tran once again, since they’re such cool dudes, though ultimately, and I to hate to say it, but …

Indie Zine People Are More Pleasant To Deal With Than Indie Comic Book People (Sorry)
Here’s the thing with comics, indie or not; when someone is checking out your stuff, they quickly glance at a few pages, concentrating on the art naturally, and make a judgment call that took maybe five seconds (more or less) to come towards on whether to buy or not. Which is not a bad thing, I do it myself, we all do, that’s just how it works. But when it comes to zines, there’s a lot more involved; people take the time to read a couple of passages, as well as closely examine the whole thing, and actually like engaging in conversations! Which might explain why I didn’t find any hard sellers, which is always a headache. Everyone was just chill and let their work do the talking. As previously mentioned, my zine did poorly at MoCCA because there weren’t any gamer types at the show. There also wasn’t any at the Zine Fest either, yet I did far better because zine folks seem far more interesting in checking out stuff that falls outside of their general range of interest. Again, at any comics show, people are ultimately only gong to pick up what they’re into or stuff that seems related. Whereas zines don’t work like that, and sticking out, not just for the sake of novelty, can actually be beneficial. Though all posturing aside, Katie and I were flat out blown away by how friendly and pleasant everyone was; not once did we encounter an a**hole. No creepy comic people to be found anywhere, at least on Sunday.

Oh, And The Location Wasn’t Bad Either
Granted, 4th Ave in Brooklyn doesn’t hold much, and I should know… I lived not too far from the location of the show. But the Lyceum had plenty of water on-hand (which MoCCA most certainly did not), as well as tasty sandwiches and cookies on premises, as well as air conditioning! There wasn’t a ton of natural lighting, but on man, what a difference even a tiny bit can make.

… Yeah, it’s funny how MoCCA has turned into some watershed moment for a lot of cartoonists. It made many seriously reconsider their even most basic plans for the future. I heard quite a few people talk about a “Brooklyn Comic Con” which honestly seems so silly and pointless. First off, most NYC cartoonists are based in Brooklyn, pretty much. As noted, the reason why Katie and I enjoyed the Zine Fest was because you had plenty of fresh faces, not the same old, same old (no offense to some pals out there). Though a Brooklyn comic show would be gladly welcomed if the tables were cheap enough. Still, the plan for Katie and I are to concentrate on these smaller, zine specific shows, wherever they might pop up. Oh, and thanks everyone who stopped on by and especially if you picked something it! It was much appreciated.

Hey, one last thing, not from this past week, but last weekend actually, though I keep talking about it…

7. Had A Dream The Other Night That Billy Joel Tried To Rape Me

Well, not so much rape, but he tried really, REALLY hard to stick his dick in my butt by sweat talking to me, though rather poorly: “it’ll feel good” and “I’m famous!” is all he could muster. And we’re not talking the 70s or 80s Joel, but the old Long Islander of today. Still, kinda funny, and everyone has certainly gotten a kick out of hearing about it. I hope you have as well! Later…

  • ken

    Yay for a show that didn’t suck. I was wondering if the the crap streak would ever end. =O

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