Katsucon at the National Harbor

Katsucon was the first convention I attended back 8 years ago and I haven’t missed one since. Going to conventions has become cathartic and habitual. As I sit here with a post-con fever and tests on the horizon, it’s interesting reflecting on how the convention (and conventions in general) have evolved. My first Katsucon (Katsucon 13) was attended at the ripe age of 13, and it has grown with me. Katsucon marks its 20th year in my 20th year.

I still recall my first Katsucon, I with my tan Ayu-esque coat (Kanon) nervously doddering next to my father in the Omni Shoreham Hotel; the convention had a good number of people at the time, but a couple years would see numbers double and a new location to fit the growing number of attendees. I’d like to think I arrived before the hey-day and helped guide the ever growing convention population, but it’s more likely I’m just one in a crowd.

Some Photos:
Contrast I

Michaels

Contrast II

Check out all my photos here:

Katsucon Album 2014

Green Festivities

The latter half of Saturday was spent inside. Ironically, the experience was all about being ‘Green’.

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There are many inconsistencies at the festival and people/vendors with different perspectives on what in means to be ‘green’. On that note, it is a wonderful culmination of perspectives which helps one figure out what side of the fence they land on.

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Vendors were arrayed throughout the convention room, some capitalizing on marketing for their brand, selling goods and healthy lifestyles, or giving samples to fill the belly. I enjoy the festival in all its marketing tactic wonder.

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We are innovating our technologies to become more environmentally friendly after said technologies are put into use. The process of making them is still controversial (and rightly so), but I shall not use this post degrade into a criticism. The kids are learning- I feel that is a good step towards future sustainability/’green’ goals. Though I continually underestimate the amount education has affected me, it’s pretty darn important for teaching the basics. For American society to change we’re going to need bottom up changes in efficiency.

All in all, I quite enjoy these events.

H St Festivities

Tuesday night and ‘Screaming Females’. It was a hasty decision, but sometimes the most unforeseen occurrences (black swan occurrences) are the most enjoyable. This one certainly was.

Screaming Females

Friday spent itself at a housewarming for an apartment on 4th street. She bought black lights and put them behind all the glass in the room for a classy but edgy effect.

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Before the rain dribbled, I managed to bike to H St and enjoy a handful of Saturday afternoon hours. The festival spread a mile long with vendors, stages, and the raw culture of upper DC.

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The characteristic buildings and “on the brink of revitalization” culture really brings H st its modern look with history in the bricks.

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This Thai chili sauce has made a brand for itself with the vendors wearing characteristic T-shirts with bold graphics.   

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The artist in the back played music and danced to his art making while asking the crowd to interact with the paintings by quite literally painting on his canvas. I tried it out, soon realizing that some coordination is required. The man in front free paints his art with raw colors.

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A few youngsters attempt air guitaring to some heavy metal as cardboard clad warriors  cheered them on.

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‘Some Never Really Get’ rapping out H Street melodies.

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Flamboyant flamenco dancers were amazingly coordinated and expressive- they bursted their steps with ease.

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The simpler trade still causes happiness as a boy jumps up and down to a streetside drummer.

Silver Clouds

It’s simple, silver, and floating. I took the metro one stop backwards to Artisphere to enjoy an interactive exhibit from Andy Warhol. Accompanied by a friend, I played the hour until dusk set in.

Silver Clouds

A friend amidst the clouds

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They peeled the clouds off the ceiling- unsuccessfully attempting to keep the ‘floaters’ down.

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It’s a simple scene- perhaps almost disappointing to a first glance observer- but I spent hours there frolicking around. It’s definitely worth a few memories. The exhibit is quite contrary to what one might expect from the colorful works of Andy Warhol, but its soon realized this room of puffed up reflective pillows floating around in a breeze of fans has merit- and provides for a whole lot of fun.

I may have missed the reception a day before, but the white noise music and space to roam gave vivid memories to the dispersed chatter.

Take the metro to Rosslyn and play around before the exhibit closes in October.

A Bike Party

The second Wednesday of the month fell to dusk in anticipation- the monthly bike party met at Dupont for 8pm riding.

DC Bike Party: The Frontal Lobe

With monthly themes, some riders dress up in fitting garb.  
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This time, the ride strolled across the river, around a roundabout  at Arlington Cemetery and back into the city. Seeing the roundabout complete a full circle of bikers with their flashing night lights was quite the spectacle.
DC Bike Party: Intermission

During the ride, there is usually one lengthy break. This one was permeated by an occasional police officer- a common sight that both agitates and adds to the excitement of the ride.

http://dcbikeparty.com Next month will be in the spirit of Halloween

Adams Morgan

Fall arrives and I have been struck with a cough as dry as the weather. The nights are becoming cooler and my schoolwork is accumulating.

Each part of the city is a cut of a different pie- there’s the starched shirt sector, the upper middle class sector, the dusk sector, the heritage sector- different channels of people that meander around the fanny pack (tourist) sector. Many of them have a way of celebrating their type of pie- the starched shirt sector convenes at classy restaurants with legs crossed and the dusk sector is permeated by a mix of clubs and music.

I lied, these pieces don’t go around each other- many a time they collide- one such event combines heritage, music, and local tourism : Adams Morgan Day.

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Art is prevalent at the festival- from prints to clay to upcycled trays

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Pop up street art is one great addition to the festival/DC culture- a piece of art unfolds during the time spent enjoying the festival

Adams Morgan: Down the Street

The street fills with diversity- From Tibet to Ecuador. I’m particularly fond of the balance of architecture in the district: bright colors, diverse cultures, and unique stores punctuate an otherwise mundanely historical area.

Thus the week began.

Otakon above the City

I went north of my regular city to Baltimore where an anime convention was held this past weekend. For me, this convention is the highlight of my summer- feel free to judge me and how I spend my life, but it is a glorious event. If you’ve heard of comic cons, anime conventions are exactly like that- just with more of a Japanese/anime theme.

So there are panels, concerts, famous people, photoshoots, and lots of people.

Here are just a few of the many photos I took: [the rest are available here]

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I had a few frocks of my own to wear. Between photos and friends I slipped in time enough to get to a handful of panels.

I scarred myself in an 18+ panel and buried my face in my hands, but survive I did. I felt the heat of the sun charring through my costume, leaving me mucky and dehydrated. But this is the highlight of my summer.

In terms of items bought- I bought none. It seems the more conventions I go to, the less I am tempted to indulge in the spending of money. This might be the start of a great saving habit.

I feel the magnetized gaze of sleepiness. It’s Sunday night after the convention- sleep must now take its toll.

And no, the horse head is not me. Guess again.

Across the River

Across the river from the city is a historic town. It doesn’t seem much different in terms of building height, but the feeling is more down to earth. There is little of the tight knit business suits and dining only the wealthy can afford. Prices here can still leap around, but there is something for everyone.

After about a year of consideration, a friend from university came down during summer vacation for an event and gave the one day she had off to me.

Alexandria, the town across the river, is centered along a main road with shops from which it expands outward to business buildings and the suburbs. King Street is the main road- an assertive name for an area with a distinct atmosphere.

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A former torpedo factory now stands as a maze of art galleries and a relic of the town’s history. I promised to bring her here a while back, and we finally made it. IMG_8900

Under the main stairwell of the torpedo factory is a small display of people.

For those who visit the city across the river from Alexandria- I beckon them to take a short trip across the river to enjoy a different side of the metropolitan area. History, art, dining, and a pleasant walk await.

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I visited a friend’s house in the suburbs two days ago. Her father and his girlfriend made some mock pizza for us. It was a classy experience, though eating with the parents of anyone is always daunting. They reminded me of the philanthropists for art exhibitions in DC- refined but quirky in a subliminal way.

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Her shifty eyed cat is very amicable, though at times on edge. We put her in a box for our amusement.

Blackened Lights: Art in Suburbia

The suburbs of the city tend not to have an abundance of art shows. One thing about the city is that there’s always something going on for art- though sometimes it’s masked by a stiff facade. The further you get away from the city, the fewer exhibitions there are.

A friend opened an art show in the suburban area I grew up in. During summer, I am back in the large vacuous suburban house- and am able to visit a rare occurrence such as an art exhibition.

The opening hours were showered with people and a pleasant chatter. Pictures and eyes tapped at the art;  people of many ages fluttered around.

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It centered around art made for the black light- or perhaps the black light was made for the art. Brilliant neons and depths gave the black lit room a warm glow.
IMG_8917The signatures of the artists in the show were very stylized.  I was reminded of a Chinese name block stamp with the edges sharp enough to carve but soft enough to please the eye.
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I had forgotten his dedication towards art. His idea to bring the vibrant and modern art scene of the city into the suburbs is refreshing. The thump of the DJ helped fold everything together. The footprints gleaming orange under the blacklight gave it that final touch.
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The Campbells soup I wore popped out during the show with vivid color. I saw the lights and life of a suburban Saturday night in restaurants around the block of the gallery as I pattered in the rain before returning home.

Obon Festival

It’s a slow summer in the suburbs of the city. I contemplated taking the mask everywhere, but I tend to carry bags far too small to fit more than the staples. Friends from the city came to me, and we attended an obon festival.

Japanese folk dancing to Taiko drumming tuned the sunset and turned on lanterns. I found it a simple but very fulfilling festival with booths and a dance area with a yagura, or raised stage, in the middle. The festival, to try and sum it up, is a celebration and remembrance of the good will and sacrifices of ancestors. One can learn more about the story of the festival here.

Dancing around the yagura were people young and old, some learning and others wise to the melodies. I found learning the dances to be a strugglebus, but enjoyable nevertheless. I entered the temple and bowed more meaningful bows. I spoke with strangers and saw diversity in mixed faces.

I enjoyed it.

All I have left are pictures and memories:

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And so you wonder what I’ve been doing the past 8 months, since as far as anyone’s concerned I put a hiatus to my existence. I should reflect, but I’m also moving forward.

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