As mentioned in this post about Tippa Irie.
As mentioned in this post about Tippa Irie.
I took on a pair of exciting new projects at the beginning of the summer – one of them was the Banana Boat, the tricycle-based sound system that I’ve been cooperating with the Natooke Bicycle Shop on. They make custom fixed gear bicycles of remarkable quality and I’ve been doing music for over a decade so it’s been a good match.
We started with a traditional Chinese pedal-powered tricycle (called a 三轮车 in Chinese, or simply three-wheeled vehicle), but we’re stepping up to a fully custom made bamboo cargo bicycle frame. It’s been under construction for about a month, since our original Banana Boat was stolen outside of the bike shop (due to plain negligence, not some crafty thievery).
As soon as that’s complete I’ll post photos and information on how the cargo bike was designed and constructed, but until then I’ll just post a collection of outdoor movie night flyers along with some info on the movie night events we’ve been doing this summer. We’ve done other events with the Banana Boat – group bicycle rides and street parties, but the outdoor movie concept is the one that I’ll focus on in this post.
All of these events took place in the same alley in the Yulin neighborhood where I live. Sundays at 8pm we’d show up with our tricycle playing music while we set up our projector and laptop to show the movie of the week. How did we select movies? Each film has nostalgic or cultural value that we felt added meaning to our mostly Chinese audience. On our most successful nights, there were crowds of nearly 100 people, watching English language movies with Chinese subtitles in the Chengdu streets.
You can’t just watch a movie anywhere unless you have the right equipment for it. And I gotta say, we are pretty much kitted up for this. Here are the pieces that we assembled:
Although summertime is coming to a conclusion, we still have a few outdoor movie nights left. I’ll be sure to enjoy them.
Chengdu is a city surrounded concentric circles with Tianfu Square at the center. Currently there are three ring roads encircling Chengdu and major construction has just completed on the second, adding a gigantic second layer to the highway which encircles the city. One side effect of all this development is, as many people have been saying, that traffic threatens the Chengdu way of life. It’s hard to be laid back and stuck in traffic at the same time.
But now that it’s done, it doesn’t feel like such a bad thing. Traffic and pollution have greatly improved and this is now the fastest way to traverse the city. Fingers crossed that Chengdu doesn’t grow to demand seven ring roads like Beijing has.
It still looks and feels strange to me though, like walking down into the Chengdu subway for the first time.
After waiting five weeks for construction of the aluminum frame, I’ve taken possession of my new bike.
Built by master bikesmiths Jacob Klink and Larry Adamson at Natooke Chengdu. Some notes:
I love it to death. Big thanks to Jacob and Larry at Natooke Chengdu.
Over the last year in Chengdu there have been a handful of Tailor Made events in the city, organized by an American expat named Michael. Trying and failing to get a suit made in Chengdu of high quality and reasonable price, he coaxed a group of Beijing-based tailors to visit Chengdu for a weekend, taking orders for custom shirts and suits from dozens of expat customers. Tailor Made was born.
I visited for the first time yesterday and ordered a pair of custom cotton shirts which I should receive in about two weeks. The selection process was a little overwhelming – hundreds of different fabric types, in addition to shirt styles. I took about 10 minutes to finalize everything, choosing a pale blue and patterned white shirt, totalling about $80 US. They offered cheaper synthetic shirts but I’m willing to pay more for cotton.
A few months ago a Dutch friend of mine who’s the co-proprietor of one of Chengdu’s longest running bars (called Machu Picchu) approached me with an offer. He had a large house on the outskirts of Chengdu that he had tried to run a bar at, but couldn’t make it happen for personal reasons.
Having many of my own projects to attend to, my approach was to assemble a cast of collaborators to cultivate a venue to host events throughout the summer. After weeks of trying to pull together all the pieces, it looked like it was going to fall apart. But at the last moment, it came together and we signed a contract on the house.
Now that house is called Dojo, and last weekend we hosted our second event there, which we have been calling Mega House Party. In a nutshell, it emulates the American house party experience in Western China, usually with stunning accuracy.
I’ve been designing and printing event flyers for years, mostly for Disco Death events. When everyone was making A4 size posters, I begun making one meter-tall feature film size posters, which were 300dpi Photoshop files that were multiple gigabytes in size. In 2013, big posters are pretty common in Chengdu. So once again, I’m taking the next step and doing something new, that’s never been done before in Chengdu: digital-only, animated flyers. This will be the first of many.
It will be interesting to see how many people will be doing this by summertime 2014 – I expect it will be a lot. However, since there are few flyer designers in Chengdu, the technical hurdles of creating this kind of flyer are a bit higher. This month’s flyer is around 70 frames, which demands a new workflow that I haven’t yet mastered.
At this event, we cooperated with the Natooke fixed gear bicycle shop in Chengdu to host the after party for their Kill the Hill event on Longquan Mountain. In layman terms, Natooke hosted a fixed gear and single speed bicycle race up a mountain (meaning no mountain bikes allowed) and held the award ceremony at the house.
Around 6pm a mass of 60+ rainbow-colored fixed gear bicyclists swarmed to Dojo like bees to the hive. Everyone had a blast. The next event is in two weeks on Saturday, June 15th.
Fortunately I had my camera with me at this months event and had the opportunity to capture a lot of photos. As it got later into the night and I started playing music and drinking more, I stopped messing with my camera. With any luck, next time I’ll get photos that span the entire night instead of the first few hours. Still, I look at these photos with great satisfaction. The two Dojo events that we’ve hosted so far have been the best parties that I’ve seen in Chengdu in my seven years here. I’m proud to be a part of it and share American house party culture with an international audience.
Here are a handful of photos, with more at the link below:
More photos here: Dojo May Photos
I captured a brief clip of one of the fire poi performers and uploaded it to Youtube:
Cycling back to Chengdu yesterday from Flower Town, with the Banana Boat (the tricycle) in tow. We attached bicycle tire tubes to the side as handles to help it get up hills. Cycling on that thing when it’s filled with cargo is tough.
In this photo, from left to right: Chris, me, Larry of Natooke, Justin, and Mandeep. Photo taken by Adrien (who took this photo on his birthday) of Fun and Bike.
All taken over this previous weekend. The weather has been incredible recently and I’ve been enjoying every minute of it.