MsGeek.Org v2.0

The ongoing saga of a woman in the process of reinvention.
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Monday, February 27, 2006

A pleasant Saturday afternoon and evening in Little Tokyo, a little slice of Kawaii (cute) and Sugoi (cool) in Downtown Los Angeles.

Richie had a gig Saturday night at Club Cocaine (remember kiddies, just say no!) on 2nd St. in Little Tokyo with Universal Congress Of. So I figured it would be a great excuse to drop in on my favorite neighborhood here in the Greater Los Angeles area. (Next to Panorama City, of course...)

I started my journey the way I usually do: I took the Red Line down. The Red Line is simply the easiest way to get to Downtown from the Valley, bar none. This time, however, I got off earlier than usual, because I had one other place to check out before finishing my journey: the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing, better known as FIDM. FIDM is doing their annual Academy Award Costume Show, and I wanted to go by there to check out the Star Wars costumes one more time plus see some other costumes up close for the first and last time. Kewl stuff: costumes from Memoirs of a Geisha, Batman Begins, Kingdom Of Heaven and Serenity. Bleah stuff: costumes from Walk The Line, Brokeback Mountain, and King Kong. Seriously...none of those has any sort of attraction for cosplay geeks. That stuff was either too recent, or not futuristic enough. ^_^

The Batman Begins costuming was quite instructive for my Jedi project, actually. Since the Star Wars costumes were the flashier stuff made for Padme Amidala, Bail Organa and Chancellor Palpatine they weren't helpful. Interesting that a Tibetan Ninja Academy would have its students dressing more than a little like Jedi...never mind that I never knew that there were Ninja in Tibet! Also, never mind a Ninja master, in Tibet, with an Arabic name, portrayed by a Japanese actor. Wow, all these cultures crossing up and tangling. Gives me a headache. Maybe if I actually saw Batman Begins I might understand this all better.

While at FIDM, I went to their Scholarship Store and walked away with 7 1/2 yards of fabric: 2 1/2 yards of a denim-like brown cotton twill, 5 yards of khaki cotton Sateen. Yes, more Jedi fabric. I wish that I had that denser fabric for the's more appropriate for it. But there isn't enough of that to redo it, so I'm going to use it for the tabard. The fabric cost the lordly sum of $1/yard! Amazing! I've got to go back when I have the van at my disposal. I wonder how much longer this deal will continue.

Big minus: 7 1/2 yards of fabric is pretty damn heavy. So lugging it around for the rest of my trip was pretty annoying. Especially when I wanted to videotape stuff. I now have an itty bitty camcorder, (Yes, it's a Sony. No, I didn't buy it new!) and I wanted to spend my time videoblogging my surroundings. Huell Howser always takes a cameraperson with him on his travels, but I didn't have the luxury of that. So basically I had my camcorder with me and I would try to improvise a running commentary, pointing out various points of interest, particularly for Otaku. I covered 1st and 2nd Street pretty well, but I need to come back to get some footage at the Mitsuwa Building on 3rd Street. I don't know whether Mitsuwa Market will allow me to shoot there, because Marukai and Jungle Animation weren't too keen on my running tape, and Kinokuniya Books cited copyright concerns about my taping in there.

The best footage I think I got was this guy, Mr. Koga, who had a sound system with him and was singing enka songs, the melancholy "Country Music of Japan" that speaks of love, loss and homesickness. The enka songs that have crossed over into Western pop charts were part of his repertoire, "Sayonara" and "Ue o muite aruko," better known in English as the 1963 hit "Sukiyaki." I got footage of him singing the latter song, which was remade in English twice and Spanish once.

Richie and I met up at about 9pm at Club Cocaine. If I had only known they were serving Sushi there I wouldn't have eaten such a hearty dinner. Next time Don Burr is in town we're going to have to take him to this one place called Oiwake, which serves a hearty lunch and dinner buffet and specializes in Karaoke, both of which he loves. Oiwake is not gourmet Japanese food, but it's certainly inexpensive and tasty. Club Cocaine has a Sushi bar and full bar for adult beverages, neither of which I indulged in that evening. Universal Congress Of played a pretty kick-ass set, and I shot the whole show. Which reminds's as good a time as any to watch my footage back. Sayonara, baby...

UPDATE 7:17pm: The footage is great. Audio from the camcorder is excellent, actually better than some recordings I've made using the stereo mic and the mini-disc recorder. This is one kickass little chibi-cam. Thanks, Tom.