31 August 2007

one year of culture collisions

My first day at Naked New York was 1 September 2006. Technically, it is not my Nakedversary yet, but it is the same Friday.

I don't even know what to say about the past year. I dreamed about being at Naked – and only Naked – for nine months before it became a reality. I didn't care which office in the world it was, which was strange because I thought only about New York for six years before this. I had Naked in my mind when putting my entire portfolio together.

Here is how it happened. I read about them in Fast Company, fall 2005. I got so excited, I was about to jump out of my own skin. A couple of months later, on winter break from Adcenter, I was reading blogs at three in the morning at my parents' house. I read somewhere (Adweek? AdAge?) that Naked was opening a New York office. I nearly fell out of my bed. I frantically looked around for contact information and finally thought "I should do this when I am more awake." The next morning (okay, afternoon), I woke up to the following e-mail.
Hi Johanna,

My name is Ed and I'm in strategist at naked communications in London. I came across to your website through Russell's. I hope you don't mind me writing to you out of the blue.

I just wanted to send you a quick note to encourage you to keep thinking and writing. You have a great style and you'll make a great planner - if that's what you want to do.

That's it. Take care. Keep loving.

I paused. I thought "...what? DID I e-mail someone in my bleary-eyed excitement?" Nope. This was pure serendipity. Ed and I became fast friends, chatting on IM despite the time difference, about everything from culture to comms planning to ideas in general. He put me in contact with Paul, one of the founding partners of the NY office. I e-mailed him directly with I-don't-remember-what, but it was something along the lines of "Congratulations on opening Naked New York, I want to work for you." That began our dialogue.

In February of 2006, Ed writes to me "I have to talk to you. Important. Call as soon as you can." I thought "Oh no, something bad happened, he talked to Paul, they are going to tell me to get lost." It was the opposite - positions open in London. Was I interested. "Um, what? Um, can I think about this and call you back?" Two minutes later, I called Ed back "Yes yes tell me what I have to do."

We had a really enjoyable back-and-forth. I woke up at 8.00am on a Saturday to overnight work samples to London. I spent three weeks working on an assignment (I had no clue what I was doing, but maybe I did because I got passed along to the next stage - the interview). When it came down to it, I would have had to fly there on my own money. It terrified me, because spending upwards of $1500 for a chat that might not even turn into anything - right after I graduate with a Master's and become officially unemployed - scared the shit out of me. I have been known to jump right into the middle of fear, but this really scared me. It wasn't about being scared of running into an ex boyfriend at a show. This was a lot of money, a long distance, a different country, etc. I am not sure why (even to this day), but I didn't go. I REALLY don't know why. But I felt something, and that something compelled me to keep talking to Paul.

I found out that Paul was going to be speaking at a management seminar at my school that summer. I immediately called the assistant managing director and said something like "canIpleasepickPaulupfromtheairport." So I did. He probably thought I was nuts by then.

The following month I went to visit. My interview was nine hours. Afterwards, I was caught in the Queens blackout, I had to walk one subway stop to where I was staying, under train tracks, in the pitch black, in the rain. It was a bad. But it paid off because a few weeks later I got the best e-mail I have probably ever gotten. I read the contract, said yes almost immediately, sold my car really quickly for way too little money, got broken up with because of the prospect of long-distance and moved my entire life up here. Nothing has been the same since then.

I just realized that I wrote a long, long entry, and I still don't know what to say. I don't think I'll ever be able to find the words to describe the experiences I've had with Naked. I had a really successful client call yesterday and was in total shock. Shock that I even was saying some of the things that I was saying. A year ago, I had no clue about anything. I can't believe I'm doing all of these things, meeting the people I'm meeting, getting to go to the places I'm visiting, etc. And I have learned so much, thanks to everybody here. I wouldn't trade this for the world. Thank you to everybody.

One of my favorite things that Naked has been a catalyst for is blending my different worlds. Here is a quick example: my friend Arthur has a tendency of bringing cool shit into the office all the time. magazines, stickers, postcards, party invites, etc. He is kind of an urban culture maven. Anyway, this is how I signed up for and started getting daily e-mails from Worship Worthy. Today's features a Kansas City-based clothing line called Peggy Noland. In the accompanying image is someone I know and consider a friend, Kristen.

I met Kristen last summer; she is in a band called Vedera. They were touring with Murder by Death when my then-boyfriend was their audio engineer. I met up with all of them in Orlando for a couple of days, and we all hung out a bit. Last fall, they were on tour again and played a show in my neighborhood (and the following night at the Knitting Factory). I went to both.

Guys, listen to some of Vedera's music on their MySpace page. They are so talented, and some of the nicest people I have met in my life. I never would have seen this and reconnected with them today though if it hadn't been for Arthur's Worship Worthy cards. And I wouldn't have met him if not for Naked. See where I'm going with this.

Long story short: I am happy. The weekend is going to be great. I'm going to Brazil on Wednesday, and then I turn twenty-five. And that's all.

circuit bending

Hey guys. I apologize for being M.I.A. Wait, if I say that now does it sound like I'm apologizing for being her?

Nevermind, I am being silly. Anyway, I am alive. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of insanity. I flew to Miami for 28 hours to have a client meeting, I had calls with Argentina (hi Tiffany), I worked sixteen hour days, etc. I never forget to balance, though.

Last Saturday, I went to Glasslands for the first time to see a Japanese band that I have been listening to a bit this summer, Lullatone.

(I'll get to them in a later entry; I wrote a letter to my Canadian pen pal about them and want her to read it in the letter before it's on my blog. More about letter-writing culture later as well.)

Anyway, Glasslands – as they put it – is an "experiential community art space" in South Williamsburg. Once I found the correct door (just a random collaged door on Kent, slotted in between industrial structures /warehouses and the like), I felt like I was walking into someone's loft apartment to hang out with a bunch of people. It was a great feeling - open, assorted bits of art everywhere, clusters of people sitting on couches.

One of the most interesting performances of the night was Loud Objects. What they basically do is live circuit bending that gets projected onto the wall via middle-school style overhead projector. The glitchy sounds that come out of what they do right in front of you (soldering irons and all) reminded me a bit of the MS-DOS games I used to play on my father's IBM when I was a wee. They describe it best:

Our music sets are built in front of you on overhead projector from scratch with electonics and soldering irons. Our components are microprocessors (Atmel), a 3V battery and an audio-out jack.

Tristan - whom I am quickly forming a friendship with now - is one of the minds behind Loud Objects; he has other side projects as well. Visit his site, he is quite the engineering and programming genius. 1-Bit Music wrote this about one of them:

[Tristan] programs and packages electronics in a standard CD jewel case that generate minimal glitch/dance music when headphones are plugged in. The music is 1-bit, the simplest representation of digital sound.

Here are a few photos I took that night (I definitely need a better digital camera). First, two of their previous sets, stacked together and for sale. I loved this concept. It's like buying a piece of art that was both created and enjoyed at the same time. The other two are of their live performance (+ wall projection).

two of their previous sets, stacked.

circuit bending

overhead projector.

I have more to say, but I'll break it down into different entries so nobody gets overwhelmed. Sometimes when I see a really, really long entry I panic and don't read any of it. oops. I hope nobody does that to me!

18 August 2007

Holga, take one.

This is what I bought
Originally uploaded by tokyohanna.
Two weeks ago, I bought a Holga after wanting one for years (I seem to be buying a lot of wanted-for-a-long-time things lately). Most of you know what lomography is; and, well, a Holga is a type of lomo. It's a toy camera from China. Since I hadn't shot film in years and never shot medium format film, I got a starter kit. It came with batteries, film, a manual, a lomography book, a poster, a cord and electrical tape for taping the batteries in or covering light leaks. A lot of people don't cover the light leaks because they add to the beauty of these types of photos.

Anyway, I forgot to put a frame mask in, so one good jiggle and the batteries fell out. They were dancing around in the camera and I couldn't do anything about it because they were behind the loaded film. I therefore couldn't use the flash (this one can rotate to four different color flash settings) for my first roll. Since I didn't really know what I was doing, only two of the twelve photos came out. I am happy and optimistic though, and think my next roll will reflect my increasing familiarity with this thing. I named the camera Fred, by the way.

This is my friend Prabir. He writes music and sings songs and was visiting for a couple of days. You probably need to have a Mac in order to see him.

Holga 2

This is right outside of a store called Junk, where I almost bought a coffee table and a bunch of old postcards several months ago.

Holga 1

ta-da! Now go outside and enjoy this weather :)

15 August 2007

crazy yellow shirt guy

Last Sunday at the pool party, I was standing behind Crazy Yellow Shirt Guy. The Thermals were playing, but I couldn't even pay attention to them because of him.

Apologies for the shaky camera, I was laughing. a lot.

14 August 2007

Steps to a better morning.

Utilitarian. Good.
Originally uploaded by tokyohanna.
Maybe the silliest entry I will ever write.

when: nighttime, just before bed.

1. Put filter in coffee maker.
2. Put Dunkin' Donuts cinnamon coffee grounds in filter.
3. Fill coffee maker with water.
4. Go to sleep.

when: morning, after waking up.

01. Get out of bed.
02. Walk out of bedroom.
03. Flip switch on coffee maker.
04. Take shower.
05. Walk out of bathroom to your entire apartment smelling like a cinnamon bun.
06. Get favorite diner mug out of cupboard.
07. Pour coffee until 3/4 full.
08. Add milk.
09. Smile & enjoy.
10. Don't mind jerks shoving you on the L train. and smile again. awake.

13 August 2007

week color food

It's Monday and my week of monochromatic eating is over.

General feelings? IT SUCKED.

Okay, now that I got that out of the way, it didn't really suck. I am suffering from the recency effect, because the final three days were terrible. There are very few things you can eat that are blue, indigo and violet. I got zero protein and way too much sugar. I kept a pretty good journal throughout the whole thing and will probably make a new section on my web site to go into more detail. Here are some photos though, followed by some general thoughts.

sesame chicken
afternoon snack

green tea w/ boba
boysenberry yogurt

Monday (red): harder than I thought it would be. Three quarters of the way through, I was really concerned about getting too much sugar (I was eating mainly fruit). Things were tough because of weirdly scheduled meetings and not enough access to a store that had a lot of variety.

Tuesday (orange): easy. I attribute this to the sesame chicken I had for lunch, and the fact that a lot of cheeses are orange. I love cheese. It's my favorite food. Doritos helped too. I got a tummy ache though because I am not used to having things like chips.

Wednesday (yellow): the easiest! I got protein for breakfast and lunch (omelette and macaroni & cheese, respectively), and didn't go hungry at all this day. I also happen to like bananas.

Thursday (green): pretty easy as well. Spinach tortellini for lunch was delicious, and I got to have green tea with boba in the evening.

Friday (blue): the absolute worst. I had blueberries all day. and Gatorade. Dinner was this gross blue ice cream I saw at Baskin Robbins. This was so, so gross. Most people tell me they started to worry because they were feeling sick just looking at the photos. Blueberries aside, there is nothing blue that isn't synthetic. And don't try to argue with me here. There are 30 people that each said "Let me think, I know I can think of something blue for you to eat" and I would respond with "No. Really. You can't." Don't say blue potatoes or blue corn chips. This was a photography project, and they do not photograph blue. I hated blue day.

Saturday (indigo): eh. I had an entire bag of blue corn chips, and made a dark purple Naked-based smoothie. This is when I started to get really bored, even though I was happy to have salt again.

Sunday (violet): eh again. I was so, so, so bored by this point. So bored. I had another smoothie, some blue corn cereal I managed to find (yes, violet, lightish purple), boysenberry yogurt, etc. I don't want to look at another fruit again. I am sick of sugar.

By end of Sunday I started to feel terrible. I hadn't had protein in the previous three days, my body was starting to freak out, etc. The beating sun in the desert of McCarren Pool didn't help either. So at sundown I did this:

yes, I did it.


Am I glad I did it? I'm not sure. I like the photos that came out of it.

Would I recommend it to other people? Yes if you don't mind eating a lot of the same things all day, or if you want to screw with your glycemic index.

Would I do it again? No, no, no no no.

Would I do another food /photography based project? Perhaps. I would definitely think a lot more beforehand though.

EDIT | 10 March 2009 : My answers are surely different by now, right? Right. I am drinking a latte and just had a pumpkin muffin. Yes, I'm glad I did the project. Cascading serendipity got me a small freelance gig out of it, taking food photos for a weekly Mental_Floss feature called Dietribes (that archive isn't exhaustive, but you get the idea). I still don't give photography projects much thought, and sometimes they are inconvenient, but I always love what comes out of them. A little bit of "punishing" ends up more rewarding in the end, anyway ^_^

10 August 2007

DJs vs. Socialites as the center of attention

I let the fact that the Daft Punk /Rapture show was sold out dissuade me from trying to go anyway. That was dumb. I could have easily gotten a ticket. There is no point in regretting this now because it's over, so I rode my bike to Studio B for the after party. Luckily I had RSVP'd before the list closed, so I didn't have to pay the twelve dollars. At least I did something right.

By midnight or one in the morning, it got crazy. Ed Banger and Throne of Blood were the main attractions of the party, and the "special guests" advertised on the flyer ended up being Sebastian & Kavinsky, who had come over from the show. A lot of Justice crept into the sets, so I was happy.

Something I wasn't used to was how much energy was concentrated and focused towards the DJs, who were elevated high above the crowd. The DJs at the parties I go to obviously play a seminal role in things, but they are always off to the side while people fill the dance floor and socialites stand around and get photographed and or adored. Here, everyone was cheering at the DJs and throwing up their arms towards them. (Yes I do understand that these are semi-celebrity-level DJs instead of just the New-York-dance-nightlife micro scene. But is that all? Maybe these people just know how to let go of their BS more and just have fun.) It was cool to see. There was so much fire coming from the crowd that I thought the venue might explode. Sort of.

I didn't feel so badly about missing the show when I left this party at 3.15am (people still dancing their faces off). Dino, I wish you had been there!

[photos by thecobrasnake and gin&juice]

EDIT | Just found this video posted of a Dafterparty clip... captures the energy really well. [from mas-forever]

07 August 2007

Hallo Berlin

Dino pointed me towards this today, with the caveat that I might immediately move to Berlin.

Now I can see why. For those who don't know, Stil in Berlin is a blog about Berlin street fashion, essentially. This entry follows a troupe of aerobicizers through laundromats, the underground subway system and the street. From what I gather, this is similar to a zombie walk, but with less death and more neon spandex. What a fun idea. It makes me want to throw a highlighters party in an all-white room. Or just do something similar to this. Who wants to?

For more photos, here is the Flickr set and here is what I think is the group of people who do this.

03 August 2007

let me count the ways, Last.fm

Since I (tardily) signed up for Last.fm last summer, I've been hooked. And this morning I got just one more reason (I needed more?) to love them.

For those of you who don't know (?), Last.fm is an SNS that revolves around music. You download the software, and it records everything you listen to (they call it "scrobbling"). You can take that a step further and download iScrobbler, which pulls what you've listened to on your iPod throughout the day and adds it to your library of listened-to music. There are dozens of awesome features - it creates charts of last songs listened to, top artists of the week (ie 10 most listened-to), top tracks of the week, you get the picture. You can put these charts in your other media (MySpace, blog (mine's on the right there if you're reading this NOT through a feed reader), LiveJournal, etc.). The cool thing about Last.fm is that it's a more accurate snapshot of your music behavior than if you just listed off the bands you like, because it records your behavior rather than relying on self-reporting. (I think Noah has written about this before in a more brilliant manner than I just did.)

Many of you are familiar with this web site so I can get to my point.

Last night, I got an alert for Last.fm software updates. I installed them. Last.fm crashed. I started the app again, and it crashed again. This happened five times. I panicked. I couldn't conceive of the idea of some of my music not being scrobbled. I restarted my iBook. crashed. three times. I deleted, redownloaded and installed the program. crashed. crashed crashed.

I wrote a frantic message through their support form.

I am in a total panic. This feels like accidentally leaving my mobile phone home for an entire day. A few minutes ago I downloaded the software update (I run OS X 10.3.9), and now last.fm crashes every single time I open the application. I restarted my computer, deleted the app and redownloaded it, and nothing helps. Less than 30 seconds after I click on it in my dock, it "unexpectedly quits." Not so unexpected anymore. HELP PLEASE! I hope this is a bug and it's fixed REALLY SOON. Sad Johanna :( (please & thanks)

Yes, it was midnight and I was a bit exhausted and delerious. Despite all of that, I woke up to an email in my INBOX from them. Not a robot-generated email. A real one. From a person. They let me know that my version of OS X doesn't support the new version of Last.fm. The wonderful, wonderful news is that I was given a link to an older version of Last.fm I could download for my archaic version of OS X. I was ecstatic. I downloaded and scrobbled away.

see?! It's working again! I am thrilled and ecstatic.

I am less thrilled about my now-working software than I am about the brand itself. I not only got a response, but I got one from a real human being AND in a very (extremely) timely manner. I freaked out, fell asleep, woke up and it was solved. It's been a while since I encountered a brand that actually gave a damn, and I'm thrilled thrilled thrilled. Thank you Last.fm. I love you. times infinity.

01 August 2007

week color food

Yesterday afternoon, I realized that ROYGBIV is made up of the same amount of colors as there are days of the week. So I decided that next week I will only eat /drink things that correspond to that day's color. only red things on Monday, only orange things on Tuesday, etc. I will document this whole thing and will have a little photography project at the end.

I'm sure someone somewhere has done this before. It's too obvious of an idea for it to have not happened.

Since indigo and violet will be tricky, I'm dividing them into dark purple and light purple, respectively. The food and drinks only have to be the colors - they don't have to be that color on the inside or originally come from that color (i.e. apples work for Monday, and I can have some sort of blueberry smoothie on Friday). I am not to use food coloring - that's cheating.

The end. It'll be an interesting week and I can't wait. Any and all suggestions for blue and 'violet' are encouraged (taro boba tea and blueberry bagels for Sunday is all I can come up with so far?). Candy is allowed, but in moderation.
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