Sunday, May 31, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- OutKast's Big Boi is a junkie, has been for years.
Big Boi: "You can really tell a lot about a person through the shoes, so I always like to keep me a fresh pair."
The multiplatinum rap star got his first shoe fix back when he was better known as Antwan Patton, a busboy at Steak and Ale. He saved up his paychecks and rushed to a dealer to cop the only thing that could cure his jones -- a pair of British Knights tennis shoes.
"I've actually been into sneakers since I was a little kid," Big Boi, 34, said backstage before his concert this month at the Sneaker Pimps exhibition in Atlanta. "You can really tell a lot about a person through the shoes, so I always like to keep me a fresh pair."
Sneaker culture has thrived for decades, but shoe companies have increasingly capitalized on the demand for one-of-a-kind kicks. Collectors, known as sneakerheads, have lined up to pay hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to ensure few people are wearing the same shoes. See some of the rarest shoes »
"Coming up, my mom got five kids so there wasn't a whole lot of stylish tennis shoes around the house, so I used to want a lot of sneakers," Big Boi said, explaining that he started making up for lost time -- and shoes -- long before OutKast's 1994 debut, "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik."
Juan Castaneda, 27, also grew up in a family of modest means and longed to don the fresh kicks he saw his peers wearing.
"When I got money to buy them, I started catching up," said Castaneda, who works at a nursing home in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
He estimates he owns about 200 pairs of sneakers, including a pair of Nike Air Jordan XIs with patent-leather trim called "Space Jams." They cost him $500.
It's supply and demand at its simplest, said Elliott Curtis, a former Carnegie Mellon University basketball player who for two semesters taught Sneakerology 101, billed as the first accredited class on sneaker culture.
Shoe companies create a limited number (say, a few hundred pairs) of shoes -- even if it's just an old model with new colors or materials -- and demand automatically spikes.
"It's like a status symbol. If Nike is selling a shoe for $2,000, they're not expecting to sell that many," the recent graduate said, adding that sneakerheads are drawn to scarcity.
"If they've got money, they can buy coolness," Curtis said.
Curtis goes to garage sales and mom-and-pop stores seeking rare and retro sneakers for his 75-pair collection, but he concedes he's waited in line for limited editions and paid as much as $250 for a pair.
Sporting an ultra-rare set of blue-and-red "Bugs Bunny" Nike Air Jordan VIIIs, Big Boi said he today boasts at least 400 pairs of sneakers, but he rarely pays for them because shoe companies send him pairs.
His most expensive, a pair of crocodile-skin Nike Air Force 1s, sell on various auction sites for up to $1,800. Big Boi has never worn them, but he plans on taking them out of their Nike lockbox this summer so he can wear them in a video for his upcoming solo album.
To Peter Fahey, the mastermind behind Sneaker Pimps shoe shows, Big Boi's enthusiasm is typical.
Sneaker culture got its start in New York in the 1970s, mostly among playground streetballers and practitioners of an emerging genre of music called hip-hop. Over the next three decades, rappers and basketball players -- most notably, Run DMC and Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan -- would play integral roles in boosting the popularity of rare kicks.
"Run DMC were probably at the height of the whole movement. It was the first time music and sneakers crossed like this," Fahey said of the group's 1986 hit, "My Adidas."
Today, Adidas, Nike and Puma compete with luxury brands such as Chanel, Prada and Gucci. The major sports shoe companies also allow customers to design their own shoes. Upstarts such as San Francisco's JB Classics and Japan's Madfoot and KKOK have snatched up market share as well.
Shoe companies realize hip-hop's influence and work hard to get "a fresh pair of steps" on a rapper's feet. Earlier this year, Converse released a line of its iconic All-Stars in tandem with Chicago rhymesmith Lupe Fiasco. Nike has issued two versions of the Air Yeezy, inspired by rapper-producer Kanye West. Louis Vuitton also has teamed up with West.
Some lines, such as the Yeezys, quickly become collectors' items. Die-hard sneakerheads keep them in their original boxes like "Star Wars" action figures and ferret them away in closets, their soles never to be scuffed by a sidewalk.
Bryan Lyle, 22, of Stockbridge, Georgia, said he recently camped out three nights at an Atlanta boutique to get one of the shop's eight pairs of Air Yeezys.
Lyle paid $300, a small fortune for shoes, but Castaneda said the price more than doubled within days. He got a pair of Yeezys from an eBay merchant in Hong Kong. The damage? $700.
Melissa Bailey of Hendersonville, North Carolina, takes photos at the Sneaker Pimps show.
Castaneda's girlfriend, Melissa Bailey, 26, said Castaneda actually bought three pairs. He found two online and paid someone to camp out for the others. Castaneda's modus operandi is to buy three pairs of his favorite shoes -- one to wear, one to store for later and one to sell or trade, she said.
"He will not walk through grass. He will not walk through dirt," Bailey said.
Fahey held his first Sneaker Pimps show in Sydney, Australia, in 2003, but only 200 people showed up. Soon, however, tens of thousands would attend shows in more than 60 cities. A 2006 show in Jakarta, Indonesia, drew about 13,000 sneakerheads.
The shows now feature between 1,000 and 1,500 shoes. Some are rare. Others are signed by celebrities. Hip-hop acts are a staple, as is artwork -- on both kicks and canvas.
At this month's show, hundreds of sneaker enthusiasts filed through Atlanta's Tabernacle with the decorum of museum patrons, stopping to admire the shoes displayed on swaths of chain-link fence.
There were novice sneakerheads, such as Chris Shepherd, 20, and Charnelle Cook, 20, an Atlanta couple who marveled over the DC Comics and Transformers sneakers.
Asked about her multicolored hightops, Cook said, "I couldn't tell you what these are called. All I know is they're Reeboks, and they're fly."
There were seasoned collectors, such as Kyle Self, 35, of Decatur, Georgia, who said he had about 25 pairs, some of them still in their boxes, including three pairs of $400 low-top Pradas, which he called his "everyday sneakers."
There were even female collectors, such as artist Estasha Goodwin, 23, who modeled a pair of shimmering gold, winged -- yes, winged -- hightops made by Adidas and designer Jeremy Scott.
She complained that shoe companies too often focus on the male market and ignored female aficionados.
"When they do cater to us, it's always bubblegum pink. They don't even make them in our sizes," she said. "I know women who know more about sneakers than any dude out here today."
Incidentally, her favorite of the 15 pairs she owns were made for men -- the Nike "Ace of Spades" Dunks, inspired by the Detroit Tigers' high-kicking pitcher, Dontrelle Willis, who is prominently featured on the black-and-aqua shoe's hightop.Asked why she shelled out $250 for them, she gave a familiar response: "It's a feeling you get when you know you're the only one that has something. Even if you're not, it's the way you walk it."
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing' turns 20
Universal Home Entertainment
May 24, 2009
The new film, which Lee titled "Do the Right Thing," wound up detailing how a single block in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant -- one with the white-owned Sal's Famous Pizzeria at its heart -- erupted in racial violence on the hottest day of the year. It featured a striking visual style, an idiosyncratic blend of comedy and tragedy, and an extraordinary ensemble cast including Danny Aiello as Sal, the pizzeria owner; Lee as Mookie, an unambitious deliveryman; and Ossie Davis as Da Mayor, the local drunk. It also instantly established Lee as a major talent who couldn't be ignored or dismissed.
When "Do the Right Thing" was released, audiences and critics were divided. Vincent Canby hailed it in the New York Times as "a remarkable piece of work," and Roger Ebert, in his four-star Chicago Sun-Times review, added that it came "closer to reflecting the current state of race relations in America than any other movie of our time." On the flip side, Lee was criticized for a drug-free presentation of a crack-ravaged neighborhood and for being recklessly incendiary. In his review in the June 26, 1989, issue of New York magazine, David Denby said that "the end of this movie is a shambles, and if some audiences go wild, [Lee's] partly responsible." Jack Kroll in Newsweek called the film "dynamite under every seat." The critics' fears underestimated the audience -- no riots resulted.
On June 30, the film celebrates its 20th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Universal is releasing a two-disc special edition DVD with hours of extras, including a never-before-seen documentary and a new commentary track by Lee. Since making "Do the Right Thing," Lee has averaged nearly a film a year -- his latest is the basketball documentary "Kobe: Doin' Work." But "Do the Right Thing" continues to be his most celebrated movie.
In this oral history, key members of the cast and crew, including Lee, who sat down for two lengthy interviews, were eager to discuss the controversy that accompanied the film, the tensions on the set and how the movie played a role in bringing our president and first lady together.
'It's gonna be a scorcher today'
Spike Lee [Mookie], actor, writer, producer and director: New York City at that time was a very racially polarized environment, which I still feel was fueled by Mayor Ed Koch. The Howard Beach incident had happened, and I wanted to explore the love-hate relationship between African Americans and Italian Americans. I also wanted to do something that took place on the hottest day of the summer.
Ernest Dickerson, cinematographer: Spike and I were sitting together on a plane to Los Angeles and he was writing a script on a legal pad. The title at that point was "Heat Wave." He then asked me, "How do you portray heat on film? How do you get the audience to really feel it?" I remember we talked about having car radiators boiling over, hot asphalt and steam.
Jon Kilik, line producer: Spike and [co-producer] Monty Ross came to my place to talk, and either at that meeting or the next, Spike was, like, "Let's do the movie for $10 million, let's get Robert De Niro to star in it, let's get Paramount to finance it, and let's start shooting on July 18." Well, most importantly, we did start shooting on July 18.
Lee: Paramount was on track to make the film. Then at the last moment, out of nowhere, they didn't like the ending. They wanted Mookie and Sal to hug, all happy and upbeat. I wasn't doing that, so I called up Universal executive Sam Kitt, who I had known from my independent days, and he gave it to Tom Pollock.
Tom Pollock, then-chairman, Universal Pictures: I liked "She's Gotta Have It." I thought, "Wow, this guy's really talented." So when Spike submitted the script for "Do the Right Thing," I felt it had the potential of being great. I also had never before seen a movie that dealt explicitly with race and what was then called a race riot, from a black director.
Lee: Tom said, "Make the film the way you want to, but you're not getting a penny more than $6.5 million." He's really the unsung hero of this film. He was attacked after it was shown in Cannes, then he was attacked for releasing it in the summer.
'My people, my people'
Lee: I wanted Robert De Niro to play Sal. I mean, what young filmmaker wouldn't want him to star in their film? So I gave him the script and he liked it, but he said it wasn't for him.
Danny Aiello [Sal]: I was in New York at a party for Madonna and as I was leaving, this little guy runs after me and says, "I have this script." So we started a dialogue which led to our meeting in restaurants, going to a Yankees game, going to a Knicks game. We became close.
Robi Reed, casting: I had just happened across Robin Harris and Martin Lawrence, both of whom were fairly early on in their careers. So I told Spike, "Next time you're in L.A., let's go see these guys perform at the Comedy Act Theater and maybe we can put them in the movie."
Martin Lawrence [Cee]: I remember Robi and Spike coming to the club. I didn't alter my performance or anything, I did what I did.
Lee: I was in a Los Angeles club called Funky Reggae at a party for my birthday. This young lady was dancing on top of a speaker, and since it was my party, if she fell and broke her neck, I was going to get sued. So I told her to please get off, and she jumped down and cursed me out. I had never heard a voice like that before.
Rosie Perez [Tina]: That's fiction. There were a bunch of African American girls on the stage bending over. It was a contest to see who had the biggest butt. I jumped on the speaker and started screaming for the women not to degrade themselves. I wasn't dancing.
Lee: I love Rosie, but she was not on top of the speaker saying, "Women, we must rise against this!" She was dancing. She was the choreographer for "In Living Color," and all the Fly Girls did were shake their asses. So that story is bull.
Ruby Dee [Mother Sister]: I knew this character from my childhood in Harlem. I remember seeing women on Seventh Avenue leaning out the windows, sitting on a pillow, just watching the block activity as if it was a television program. I was surprised that someone as young as Spike knew this character.
Giancarlo Esposito [Buggin Out]: I'm half-Italian and half-black, so I understood both sides on a deep level. And a hard part of growing up for me was that I didn't want to take sides. But for this character, I had to.
Roger Guenveur Smith [Smiley]: All of my work throughout the film was improvised. There's no Smiley in any script.
Stephen Park [Sonny]: In the script I had, my character was known as "Korean Clerk." And when Ginny Yang, who played my wife, and I were called to the set on walkie-talkie, we were referred to as "the Koreans." That really bothered me, especially considering the film dealt with race relations. So I told Spike that I wanted my character to have a name. I mentioned that my Korean name is Sun Kyu, at which point Danny said, "Sonny. I'll call you Sonny." It was a mini-Ellis Island moment. And it meant a lot to me.
Lee: Matt Dillon turned down the role of Pino. His agent told him not to do it. Then I saw the film "Five Corners," in which John Turturro beats a penguin to death and throws his mother out a window. I was like, "That's the guy I want to play Pino."
John Turturro [Pino]: When I read the script, I thought, "This is what's happening." I grew up in Hollis, Queens, which was basically more black than white. So I knew both sides of the coin.
Aiello: I didn't think Sal was a racist, but I don't think he was a nice guy all the time either. Spike has said that I tried to make Sal lovable, which isn't true.
'Fight the Power'
Chuck D [of Public Enemy]: Spike said that he was doing a film that would reflect what was happening in New York City at the time and he wanted a song that would signify that theme, and that Public Enemy had to be the artist that recorded it.
Lee: I needed an anthem. . . . When I heard "Fight the Power," I was, like, "This is it!"
'Bed-Stuy -- do or die'
Wynn Thomas, production designer: I scouted every block in Bed-Stuy. The location that we settled on fit all our requirements: two vacant lots directly across from each other, where we could build Sal's Famous Pizzeria and the Korean Market. The ultimate compliment was when real people would walk off the street and try and buy a slice.
Turturro: The neighborhood had a lot of energy, but it was dangerous to drive through at night. You definitely didn't want to have a flat tire at four o'clock in the morning, because there were a lot of hungry dogs out on some streets.
Lee: There were crack houses in the neighborhood. The NYPD was not thought of that highly in most black communities, especially Bedford-Stuyvesant, so we got [Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam's security force] the Fruit of Islam to watch the set.
Dickerson: It became the safest block in Brooklyn!
Richard Edson [Vito]: I tried to get through to the Fruit of Islam guys. It was kind of a challenge because I knew they had very strong racial feelings. So every morning, I would say hello and try to engage them. I don't think they ever even acknowledged me. I finally gave up after about four weeks.
Esposito: Those guys were hard-core. They just didn't like or hang out with white people.
Turturro: They talked to me all the time. They called me Brother John. I guess Richard is not as black as I am.
'How come you got no brothers up on the wall?'
Aiello: Spike has said that when we were filming the fight in Sal's, I didn't want to use the word "nigger." He might be talking about John Turturro or Richard Edson, but definitely not me. What I said to him was, "Do you want to use it this much?" I felt that you diffused the word if you kept saying it. Spike hired me because he knew I wasn't afraid to say the word. He knew I used that word my whole life. I'm not proud of it but I did. I grew up in a black neighborhood and both blacks and whites said it.
Lee: Danny did not want to say the word. He told me that he had never used it before. I was like, "Come on, you're playing a character and don't tell me that Sal has never used that word before." During the scene, Giancarlo called Danny something like "guinea bastard," and Danny flipped and called Giancarlo a nigger. That's the take we used because he went berserk.
Esposito: I remember Danny not wanting to say the word because he felt it was too obvious. So we talked about how he grew up and how I grew up, so we could get to a place where we could push each other's buttons and say things we really didn't want to. When we started getting into the scene, I held off on calling him a guinea, because I knew how much Italians hated that word, because my father's Italian. In fact, Danny reminded me at that time of my dad. I grew up with Italians so I actually believe that I'm more of a guinea bastard than a nigger. But when I finally said it, Danny flipped. It was an amazing moment. When we finished, the first thing we did was hug each other. We were both in tears because that was a lot of hate to access.
'Burn it down, burn it down!'
Bill Nunn [Radio Raheem]: The whole neighborhood felt hot that night. You got the vibe that something could have really jumped off. There was something in the air that was electric, and a little dangerous.
Dee: In a sense, I wasn't acting because I had lived through it. In Harlem, I had seen the people running down the streets, ransacking stores, and the cops trying to beat them up.
Aiello: It was sad to watch Sal's burn down. I thought it should have been preserved, almost like a landmark or tourist attraction.
Thomas: I wasn't looking forward to its destruction, so Spike burned it down on a day when I wasn't on the set. I thought that was very sensitive.
Smith: Going into the burning pizzeria was like walking into a huge propane-fueled barbecue pit.
Dickerson: I got a little spooked because the flames were crawling up the walls, so we had to cover ourselves with blankets because we were being bombarded with hot exploding glass.
Lee: I wanted to use three Frank Sinatra songs in "Jungle Fever," so I approached Tina Sinatra, who handled that stuff. She said, "Spike, I don't know. My father wasn't happy about his picture being burned in the pizzeria." It's funny -- Pacino never said anything, De Niro never said anything. I had to do some serious smoothing over with Frank.
'Always do the right thing'
Lee: To this day, no person of color has ever asked me why Mookie threw the can through the window. The only people who ask are white.
Edson: I don't think Mookie did the right thing. He did what he felt he had to at that moment. But then did Sal do the right thing by smashing the radio? I think there were a lot of wrong things.
Kilik: He absolutely did the right thing because, whether consciously or not, he directed the anger away from Sal and his sons. He probably saved their lives.
Nunn: I didn't really understand why Mookie did what he did. Sal was doing the neighborhood kids a favor by staying open late. He was trying to do a good thing.
Esposito: Mookie did the right thing for Mookie. But I think he definitely made a mistake.
Perez: No comment.
Lee: That's up to the audience.
'Together, are we gonna live?'
Barry Alexander Brown, editor: I showed a filmmaker friend of mine the movie. And afterward, he said, "You and Spike are irresponsible. There are going to be riots and people are going to get killed."
Lee: People actually thought that young black Americans would riot across the country because of this film. That's how crazy it was. It was the furthest thing from my mind because I had faith in my people. But I still feel that some white moviegoers were scared to see it in theaters because they might be filled with crazy black people.
Edson: It incited discussion, that's what it incited.
Dickerson: It bothered me that people reacted that way but I wasn't surprised because films that try to deal with racism often get a short shrift. Take Sam Fuller's "White Dog," which is a brilliant movie. It's about racism, but it's not racist.
Perez: The Latin community just blew a gasket over my depiction. They were bothered that I was a single mom, that I was -- whether they would admit it or not -- impregnated by a black man, that my accent was heavy. I would say, "If you don't believe that there is truth to my character, walk into a welfare office." And that pissed them off even more.
Lee: It disturbed me how some critics would talk about the loss of property -- which is really saying white-owned property -- but not the loss of life. "Do the Right Thing" was a litmus test. If in a review, a critic discussed how Sal's Famous was burned down but didn't mention anything about Radio Raheem getting killed, it seemed obvious that he or she valued white-owned property more than the life of this young black hoodlum. To me, loss of life outweighs loss of property. You can rebuild a building. I mean, they're rebuilding New Orleans now but the people that died there are never coming back.
Aiello: Spike brought attention to the film and that is, of course, good. But he was quite controversial in his press conferences, talking about Malcolm X and so forth. If it wasn't for that, I feel the film had a chance to win the Academy Award for best picture.
Dickerson: ["Driving Miss Daisy" winning best picture] still hurts. It definitely does.
Lee: I let it go. But let's be honest. If you look at the academy voters 20 years ago, which movie are they going to like? One with characters named Buggin Out and Radio Raheem? Or one with a subservient, obedient, yassah-massa character?
Aiello: I love Denzel [Washington, who beat Aiello in the supporting actor category, for "Glory"], but that film was a joke. I look at it today and laugh.
'We had a great, great day'
Turturro: Would I do it again? Of course, I would. They don't make movies like that anymore, man.
Aiello: We made something special.
Smith: People will come up to me on the street and start stuttering, "Ma-Ma-Malcolm. Moo-Moo-Mookie."
Nunn: One thing I get a lot is, "Where's your radio?" I'm like, "Didn't you see the movie, man? It burned up."
Perez: People always ask me to say the name "Mookie." I tell them, "No, rent the film."
Turturro: Maybe there will be a sequel in which Pino's married to a black woman and he has his own pizzeria: Pino's Famous. Oh, and it's in Bed-Stuy.
Lee: There was a benefit for Barack Obama on Martha's Vineyard when he was running for the Senate. I didn't really know who he was. He came over and said, "You're responsible for me and my wife getting together." Then he told me how they saw "Do the Right Thing" on their first date, and then went to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream and talked about it.
Smith: We're actually responsible for a whole new era in American political achievement.
Lee: I think he is a very smart man, because if he had taken Michelle to see "Driving Miss Daisy," things would have turned out a whole lot different.
Thanks to Auto-Technica.com for the tip!
Sexy cafes are Little Saigon's twist on Hooters
The coffee is served by scantily clad women -- a marketing strategy that's paid off, cafe owners say.
When you talk about hot stuff at certain Vietnamese American cafes in Little Saigon, you're not just talking about the coffee.
This is where Hooters meets Starbucks.
This is where lingerie-clad, spandex-sporting, high heels-wearing baristas make your coffee, whip up your smoothies and refill your green tea.
These waitresses seem to have an unwritten dress code worked into their job description. Bra tops, bustiers, corsets, itsy-bitsy spandex tube tops and bottoms, micro mini skirts and clear stilettos are the norm. At night, the clothes get a little fancier. There's more satin and lace involved.
The most popular of these cafes — Café Lu on Harbor Boulevard and Café Di Vang 2 on Euclid Street — are packed day and night although they exclusively serve coffee, tea and smoothies. None of them offers alcohol, food or even light snacks.
Vietnamese people love their coffee. But the concept of sexy waitresses serving coffee definitely did not originate in Vietnam, says Natalie Nguyen, who started out as a waitress at Café Lu and bought the place six years ago.
"Vietnam is a conservative place," she said. "They do have coffee houses and women in traditional ao dais serving coffee — but nothing like this. You can't dress this sexy in Vietnam."
A thin cloud of cigarette and cigar smoke perpetually hangs over the heads of the mostly male clientele. Loud music — mostly Vietnamese or American pop — plays on the stereo. The heads and eyes turn frequently between the large flat screen TVs on the wall playing the day's sports and the tight, flat midriffs of the girls who walk by with their trays.
This kind of café culture is unique to Orange County's Little Saigon, a number of café owners and visitors say. A quick Google search reveals they are springing up in other Little Saigons in a hurry — in San Jose, Seattle and Houston.
You can't stop people from copying a good idea, says Nguyen.
"This is a big trend," she said. "Several years ago, not many people knew about it. But now, we get people from as far as Los Angeles and all over Southern California."
The girls not only soften the vibe, but more importantly, they bring customers back, says D. Nguyen (no relation to Natalie Nguyen), owner of Café Di Vang 2 on Euclid in Garden Grove.
"We're just like Starbucks," he said. "But if we were just a coffee place and had nothing more to offer, what's the reason for people to come back to us?"
The Vietnamese cafes have created a niche for themselves and are doing well in a time when other coffee houses are struggling, said Orange County restaurant consultant Randall Hiatt, president of Fessel International in Costa Mesa.
"The restaurant business is relatively entrepreneurial, creative and trend-setting," he said. "These cafes have definitely set a trend in Orange County and they're doing vibrant business."
Natalie Nguyen showed some of that creativity when she released a calendar with "the girls of Café Lu." Each month features a waitress. Nguyen herself is on the calendar's back cover.
This is, after all, a business where looks matter.
D. Nguyen says he picks his employees carefully.
"If you're working at a Hooters or a strip club, you have to look a certain way, right?" he asks with a smile. "But that's not all. You have smile and be nice to customers as well."
Natalie Nguyen agrees with her competitor. People get tired of seeing pretty girls if they don't get good service, she says.
Annie Pham, a waitress at Café Lu, says she likes to shop for her work clothes at Fredericks of Hollywood.
"I like their bustiers and corsets," she says, wearing a black bustier with a plunging neck line on a recent afternoon.
But it's a job like any other job, says Pham, 23. Still, many girls who work in these cafes hide it from their parents because Vietnamese culture is typically conservative, Pham says.
Vanna, a waitress at Di Vang 2, says she has never had a problem with this café trend.
"Every culture has their thing," she said. "Koreans have their soju bars, Middle Eastern people have their belly dancers and we Vietnamese Americans have our cafes. We sell coffee, we don't sell ourselves."
She says being hit on is "normal." The waitresses always get a lot of compliments and they handle them well, says Vanna, who did not want her last name mentioned.
Most of the visitors to these cafés are loyal customers. Nguyen Than, 37, is there almost every day at lunch time. He says it's a relaxing place to escape to.
"As far as the girls, I don't really care. I know a lot of them. I don't hit on them," he says. "I just feel comfortable here."
Sonny Tran, 35, says the girls do motivate him to come in. He says he enjoys the back-and-forth chit-chat, the teasing and the casual atmosphere.
Theresa Nguyen was one of the few women in the crowd. She was there with her fiancé.
"It's a nice environment and not a big deal," she said.
Nguyen says she admires the girls. They're just working, she says.
"They're good-looking. They're beautiful. These girls are well-qualified for the job that they do."
Monday, May 25, 2009
On Saturday I met up with some old pals I have not seen in a while. We met up at the Curry House in City of Industry.
Here is my "usual" the Menchi Katsu Curry, Medium with an Ice Coffee! YUMMERS!
After lunch we headed next door to a Yogurtland knock off called Tutti Frutti. Not bad...all those "Asiany" yogurt places are the same. Fruit, some fobby stuff like boba and red bean and some oreos and you good to go. I like these places because UNLIKE PinkBerry these places are not super expensive.
I had the OG tart and french vanilla with oreos and cheesecake bits.
Then it was off to the Santos' for some BBQ and hanging out. We are all the same when it comes to food and chilling. So it was super casual and as usual...we threw down.
Special note to a couple of dishes...
Annie brought marinated pork chops...OMG...if pictures could speak...
And Greg brought some ribeyes that we marinated on the spot with the basics and some CHILI BEER for flavor and kick. SOOOOOOOOO GOOD!
We spent the rest of the night eating more and playing Wii and chit chatting. The best times...
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
“2 MONTHS, $2 MILLION” PREMIERING AUGUST 2009
“2 Months, $2 Million” (“2M2MM”) Follows Four 20-Something Math Whizzes Determined to Make it Big this Summer in the
World of High Stakes Online Poker
Los Angeles, CA, May 18, 2009 – This summer, “geeks are wild” as G4 takes viewers inside the world of competitive high stakes online poker in a new series that follows four young high IQ friends who join forces and set up shop in Las Vegas. Their challenge for themselves? To collectively earn $2 million dollars in only two months using their own money. Viewers will go inside the “war room” of this interactive dream team who play poker nearly 24/7 and experience first hand the excitement of winning big money and the agony of losing it all in a single hand. The four guys, Brian, Emil, Jay and Dani, are whiz kids turned professional poker players whose fast-paced lifestyles go well beyond the typical 20-something’s daily activities. These guys are not pursuing the usual goal of landing a 9-5 job, instead they are seeking the thrill of “the flop” and trading in the daily grind for the online grind. When they do step away from the web, it’s about experiencing all that Vegas has to offer from exclusive parties to beautiful women. The new 10-episode half-hour series “2 Months, $2 Million” (“2M2MM”) debuts August 2009 on G4.
“What makes ‘2 months, $2 million’ intriguing is the duality of the guys” said Neal Tiles, President, G4. “On the surface each comes across as just your average G4 viewer…but in reality they’re ‘sharks’ playing for keeps with big money and living a lifestyle our viewers can only dream of. This is what we intend to capture.”
Brian, Emil, Jay and Dani all met online playing on various sites and they share a passion for poker and an enormous desire to succeed. They have competed against each other many times online and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the game. Despite having raked in loads of prize money individually, they believe that by teaming up they have a better shot of reaching their aggressive earnings goals.
Brian is 26 and is the “elder” friend and mentor to the younger players. He likes his cars fast and his poker action faster. Brian plans to take this summer to add to his already considerable fortune and designer wardrobe. Emil is a recent NYU graduate with a degree in finance and statistics. He consistently cashes in on some of the world’s biggest poker tournaments and attributes his devastating game play to a deep understanding of statistics and game theory. Jay has been a professional poker player for the last four years and is the founder and creative director of his very own successful online training community. Jay was the biggest online winner in no-limit cash games from 2007-2008. Dani, a New York City native, is the youngest member of the team and has always been very competitive. He started like most with a $5 deposit on an online poker site and has never looked back, building his bankroll until he was playing for some of the biggest stakes around.
“2 Months, $2 Million” is produced by Park Slope Productions in collaboration with G4. Paul Reitano and Terrence Sacchi serve as Executive Producers for Park Slope Productions. Laura Civiello is Vice President of Development at G4.
For more G4 programming information, please visit: http://g4tv.com
About Comcast Entertainment Group
Based in Los Angeles, Comcast Entertainment Group operates E! Entertainment Television, the 24-hour network with programming dedicated to the world of entertainment, and E! Online; The Style Network, the destination for women 18-49 with a passion for the best in relatable, inspiring and transformational lifestyle programming; G4, offering the last word on gaming, technology, animation, interactivity and "geek culture" for the male 18-34 demo; and FEARnet, the world's premier horror and thriller destination on demand, online and on mobile devices. E! is currently available to 96 million cable and direct broadcast satellite subscribers in the United States. In 2006, E! launched the E! Everywhere initiative underscoring the company's dedication to making E! content available on all new media platforms any time and anywhere from online to broadband video to wireless to radio to VOD. The Style Network currently counts 62 million cable and satellite subscribers and G4, the #1 podcasted cable network in America, is available in more than 65 million cable and satellite homes nationwide. FEARnet is a joint venture between Comcast, Sony Pictures Television and Lionsgate. FEARnet.com ranks as the number one horror web site and FEARnet On Demand is one of the top five VOD networks.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
but alas...at least there was some gooood grub!!!
HAPPY BDAY TO EMI!!! WOOHOOO!!!
I may bitch and whine but I am very happy for my friends and I love all their kids. I also went to see new baby Reiko this Sunday but I left my camera in the car. She was sooo tiny and cute and had hair and had a tan! I will definitely post some pics the next time I go see that little one. Yup today was baby and kids day for me. Not a bad way to end the weekend.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
May 12 2009 1:34 PM EDT
Rick Ross Called Out For Fake Louis Vuitton Sunglasses On XXL Cover
Luxury brand sends clarification letter to magazine; 'Sunglasses Pimp' says he just 'customized' the LV shades.
By Gil Kaufman, with additional reporting by Shaheem Reid
According to a letter posted by the magazine's editors on the XXL Web site, a spokesperson for the luxury-goods maker recently contacted the mag to inform them that Ross was sporting knock-off shades on the "Rick Ross Up in Smoke" cover.
"Dear editor," the letter began. "We were dismayed to see the cover of the May 2009 issue of XXL magazine, which features a photo of Rick Ross wearing a pair of sunglasses prominently featuring counterfeit Louis Vuitton trademarks. Because the photo has generated considerable confusion among your readers and Louis Vuitton customers, among others, we feel it is important to clarify several points.
"The first is that the sunglasses Mr. Ross is wearing were not made by Louis Vuitton and, in fact, are counterfeit. Louis Vuitton did not grant permission to Mr. Ross or to whoever did make the sunglasses to use our trademarks. The second is that no affiliation, sponsorship or association exists between Rick Ross or XXL and Louis Vuitton. The third is that counterfeiting is illegal."
A spokesperson for Ross could not be reached for comment at press time.
AllHipHop.com posted an interview Tuesday (May 12) with the man who supplied Ross with the sunglasses, Jacob Bernstein, a.k.a. "The Sunglasses Pimp." Bernstein says the glasses were authentic Louis with some of his own designer augmentations.
"It's the same thing as buying a Rolls-Royce and having it tricked out," Bernstein explained to the Web site. "Just because the product has been customized by me doesn't take away from the fact that the frames are authentic Louis Vuitton Millionaires."
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The first lady was photographed rocking her signature J CREW clothes..and her LANVIN sneakers that cost more the rest of her whole outfit. Here are a couple....
You can check out more...yeah if you can afford these, you are doing just fine in this recession. "We Ball 'Til We Fall."
and the company's website...
Saturday, May 2, 2009
We began the night be catching WOLVERINE at the Mann's Chinese and then we headed to dinner...
Shins is located on Wilcox just south of Hollywood Blvd.
What makes this place great is the special "stoves" they use. It vents the cooking downward and away so you actually walk out WITHOUT smelling like the usual beef beast after eating KBBQ. So that was really cool.
these are the ribs..or Kalbi.
this is the kim chee fried rice..OMG...really really really good. I am not a fan of kim chee but this fried rice was DA BOMB!
Some of the smaller dishes that came with..the ban chan...
I read the reviews on this place on Yelp and it is pretty much spot on. It is KBBQ for "white" people. Super clean and fancy but definitely good. They do not use MSG ever in their food so its pretty "healthy" as well. There are a bunch of other places in K town that are probably better, but for the hollywood scene, full bar and the hipster vibe, you cannot beat this place. I would say a great date place since A. you wont come out smelling and B. if you have a date that has never has KBBQ before, this is a nice clean version of one that wont scare them away.