WK 11 – Activity – Your Turn!

In previous posts I’ve mentioned that I’m in a band called Plastic Castle but I’ve been lacking in providing concrete follow-up to that. I’ve honestly never been much of a self promotion type and so I didn’t link our YouTube videos or Facebook page to any of my posts or even give my band any posts of its own. Even if we ever did completely put together a Kickstarter worth donating to (for the purchase of a bunch of lasers), there wouldn’t even be a way for the extremely few amount of my readers to know how to find us. Well that changes with this post.

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Last night we performed at Suzy’s Bar & Grill in Hermosa Beach. Now before I start coming across cocky or full of myself, let me point out that the place is still technically a dive bar that anyone can play by coming in and getting an open slot on the calendar. Furthermore, we’ve played there before and I’ve even played there with my horrible screamo band from high school. That being said this show differs for a number of reasons, the biggest one being that this show was basically our own. We were able to play an entire hour and twenty minute set straight through, no interruptions, no cutting out songs from the set, no pressure to set up and finish in a timely manner. This may not seem so significant to some but for a comparison, we were lucky enough to headline the Whiskey a Go Go in Hollywood on the Sunset Strip but were given 30 minutes to work with. We were even shorted a few minutes because the band before us, as down to earth as they were of people, played a whole fifteen minutes over their own set time. Welcome to Hollywood, I guess.

While this may not be the only time or even the best time that I’ve felt good after a show, it was definitely the most beneficial to our band’s career. For instance, the crowd mostly consisted of our families and close friends who knew about the show beforehand but we got legitimately positive feedback from everyone. The keywords in that sentence are actually “mostly” and “everyone”. What I mean by that is that over a quarter of the people in the bar were either bar regulars or people there to see the band playing after us. The reason I’m happy to get positive feedback from those people the most is because it let’s me know that we’ve actually got something here that can appeal to the casual listener or even an unsuspecting concert festival-goer.

Furthermore, after we finally finished packing away our absolutely nuts amount of equipment, it turns out that people had actually tipped us 120 dollars. While I can mostly attribute that to family members just being nice, that’s a lot of money to come from just tips and I’m super appreciative regardless. And even on top of that, just as we were about to leave, the owner of the place comes up to us and tells us that he really likes our band and that they want to pay us for playing. We walk back in and the woman at the register hands us another 90 dollars. The most obvious reason I would be happy is because my band just walked away with 210 dollars after playing a show that was literally free. But on a more subtle note, the owner took his time to come tell us that he likes our band and that he wanted us to play again soon. This is someone that’s seen more than his fair share of amazing bands, shitty bands and everything in between. This is a perfect example of building good karma with the venues and a microscopic stepping stone to a real music career.

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So this marks the first time I’m going to fully promote my band to its full extent:

Plastic Castle:

Andy (the guitarist for Plastic Castle) also has a blog which you can check out here: http://andrewraragon.wordpress.com/

False Symmetry (my horrible screamo band from high school): https://www.facebook.com/FalseSymmetry

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Wk 7 – Activity – Painting

This is now the second time ART 110 has successfully duped me into going outside, furthermore to the beach for a second time. And once again while I was bamboozled out of sleeping away my entire Sunday morning, I actually had a lot of fun getting to do something I wouldn’t normally think to do. This week, the goal was to paint our name (or better) on a preferably large canvas of sorts (or for extra credit, we could do it on the Venice Legal Art Walls). So even after being up until around 4 in the morning the night before, I woke up early to go buy some spray cans, muscled my way to the beach (pun intended), and met up with my friend Andy. Luckily he and I bought entirely different colors so we had 6 colors total work with.

I started strong by laying down a base purple paint for my letters and touching them up with a green edge shadow. For the letters themselves, I attempted to go for a style I used to use in my graffiti phase in middle school which just entailed some swoopy points at the ends of each letter and a little alien face on the dot of the “i”. The next step was where it started going a bit downhill unfortunately, as the cheaper white spray can I bought had a different spray range and almost required an entirely different technique to control. I rose up to the challenge however and added layers of black and yellow in attempt to make the purple and white really pop. Then as Glenn noticed it was working out, he mentioned that another common obstacle of public art wall painting is to get rid of the noise underneath your own work. I took that into account and continued with black, yellow, green, and white to fill in some of the awkward spaces I had left between my letters and the outlines.

After I was finished pretentiously admiring my own amateur work, I finally walked around to the opposite side of the wall I was painting to see an awesome character by another local artist. I really regret not asking for his name for the purpose of maybe looking up his stuff online, but I really needed to get to work shortly after that. The artist did however talk to Andy and I about a technique called cutting, which is used for achieving really fine lines and getting rid of stray paint splotches. He also said that for things like skulls, you can’t overthink the detail, just let it be cartoony and do it with a few lines. I liked this approach because it allowed his work to contain elements that required a lot of skill and advanced technique in pairing with more comfortable, easy and fun stuff.

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In the end I am satisfied with my painting but I know I could’ve done better for sure. Firstly, I didn’t draw it out beforehand, which in retrospect was extremely dumb because I didn’t even think to use any of the marker drawings of my name that I actually held onto from middle school. I had them all in an accordion folder just sitting on my desk and i didn’t even think to grab it. On top of that, this was the absolute first time I’ve ever used a spray can that wasn’t an air freshener or bug spray. Had I made the time to make the trip to Home Depot earlier in the week, I could’ve at least given the cans a test run on some cardboard in the backyard. But once again, I am actually proud of my work because it was a very therapeutic process. It was a struggle that really felt worth it because one could really get the opportunity to create something physically larger than your person. Maybe not larger than life or anything but the wall itself was definitely taller than I was so that counts. Also it actually ended up being a really nice day and Glenn’s iced tea was sweetened to perfection.

On a sidenote, Andy and I will definitely be returning to the art walls with a vengeance soon to slap the Plastic Castle mark on the wall for eternity (aka for a few hours until someone decides to tag over it).

Wk 5 – Activity – Counterfactual Identity

It seems that in today’s age, identity is more important than ever. Society is pushing towards individuals who are do what they love because the want to and are proud of who they are. One of the ways one might join society in that light is by asking oneself, “Who are you?” and the answer is usually a list of interests, personality traits, and a personal history or background. But do you ever ask yourself, “Who aren’t you?”

This week the assignment was basically to turn the tables a bit and broadcast a different image than the one you put on every day on a normal basis. There are many different ways one might take this, some more subtle than others, including performing different activities and changing one’s appearance. While I didn’t do a whole to drastically change myself, I chose to experiment with just a little bit of either of those methods.

Firstly, I parted my hair in the opposite direction, which gave me bangs on one side because of the strange haircut I got recently. You can’t quite tell in the original picture but my barber left the front and top way long. I got a few compliments from people I knew and a friend of mine said it made me look “artsy”. As for changing up m everyday activities, I took the bus to class for once, which was a nice change considering how hot it was. This may not seem like much but normally my morning walk or skate to class with headphones on is how I get myself ready to face the day, a practice I developed because I hate school. I don’t mean that as an offense to teachers or students who like school but I dread having to sit in one spot and be fed information when the mast majority of it is useless in the overall big picture of life. It’s arguable that school is an entirely different experience than I might realize, so I decided to actually pay close attention in my classes for the day. Once again, this may not seem like much but I took it more as a test to see how well I could put myself in a different mindset and go against a tendency that, at this point was ingrained into my habits.

While it was nice to subtly step outside my comfort zone, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to consistently pay attention like I did that day. I’m an alright student and I get pretty decent grades with the decent involvement I have in my classes. I’m keeping the new hairstyle however because in all honesty I’m starting to think that my hair was supposed to be parted that way in the first place. Regardless, the experience has given me some perspective on myself and shed light on who I am and who I am not.

Wk 4 – Activity – Plaster Casting

One the main reasons I enjoy this art class is the fact that it wants us to make the activities an artistic experience and have us experiment with different media. The instructions this week were to go to the beach and make a plaster cast mold of our hand or foot, suspiciously a ploy to get us students off our lazy butts and get outside for the day. I’m glad I did though because it led to a fun activity I wouldn’t otherwise participate in and an overall great day with friends. It started in the morning with the plan to meet my friends Andy, Michelle, and Amir at Redondo Beach.

After some confusion with finding parking and then finding each other, we finally walked onto the beach, picked a spot and got to work. We had plaster, shovels and a bucket but in retrospect we could have picked up another bucket and something better to mix with than the back of the shovel. We made due regardless and got work on making the holes first. Then we each went through the process of putting our hands into the holes and having someone else fill it back up. We all went for different formations with our hands (I went for Spock’s trademark Vulcan Salute), but all pretty much ran into the same problem. When removing our hands from the hole, our hands were all bigger than our wrists which we were skeptical would ruin the molds.

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We decided to keep powering through the activity because we were having fun, and we wanted to mix the plaster. It wasn’t easy to get the correct levels of water and plaster after all but we got close enough after two or three adjustments. We poured the plaster into the holes and then started started to play our 40 minute waiting game. Luckily it was a fairly nice day at the beach and good friends make time fly. On the flipside, considering my friends, we all had trouble making sure not to step on each other’s molds, so we had to draw circles around them and mark them with pieces of seaweed.

Unfortunately the molds themselves didn’t really turn out the way we wanted. Our fear was correct and dragging our hands out of the mold caused them to all turn into logs and look roughly the same. However I still don’t see the activity as a failure. We got out of the house, tried something new, and honestly we may do it again in the future because it was legitimately fun and we have some prior experience and knowledge now. Furthermore, I don’t even mind the ploy to get me out of my house because after the project, Andy and I were inspired to go on a pretty awesome hike in Palos Verdes. And as far as the deeper artistic meaning here, I think this goes to show you that art doesn’t need to be so disciplined like a regular art appreciation class might lead you to think. It can be as informal and intuitive as hanging out at the beach with friends.

Check out Andy, Michelle, and Amir’s blogs here:

http://andrewraragon.wordpress.com/

http://imichellemorte.wordpress.com/

http://heresamirkiani.wordpress.com/

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WK 3 – Activity – Kickstarter

The above is my favorite Kickstarter because I actually knew about the event through means other than Kickstarter. LA Psych Fest has been around for three years now and I have heavily considered going the last two years (because those were the only two where I was old enough to actually go), but I attended neither year for reasons such as money and bad timing. Regardless, the mini festival has gotten well off the ground since and now has their event annually and that makes me happy because a psychedelic music festival funded by the people that are going to attend the music festival just seems so right.

My good friend Andy and I have take to Kickstarter as well to see if we can crowdfund some visuals for our live show. We’ve gone through the process of actually creating the Kickstarter page for it [but Amazon is like a damn maze that wants all my banking info and is taking 5 – 7 business days to confirm god-knows-what]. Frustrations aside, we put together a quick video laying out all the information and set the bar fairly low so we could at least buy one pretty sweet laser…..because lasers are pretty sweet.

Check out our band’s brand spankin’ new facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PlasticCastle