Art, Fashion, & Culture

Down & Derby, A Pop-Up Roller-Skating Dance Party

A few weeks ago, Vince Masi’s website,, crashed due to a virus. 20120615_rollerdisco-1-2It has since been cleaned, resuscitated and put back online, but Mr. Masi has yet to recover. “It was a nightmare,” he said. “I think that was probably, like, the most despair I’ve had to deal with.”

It wasn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to him—a few years ago he had to shack up with his mom when a business plan fell through and once he irreparably damaged his car by loading it with too much stuff—but it was one of the first things he couldn’t fix on his own. Why? Because he doesn’t speak that language, he said.  “I don’t speak nerd code.”

So, he’s not tech savvy. But he is the king of retro, the sultan of skating, the heart and soul behind an ingenious event: Down and Derby, a roller-skating dance party held once a month at Dekalb Market in Brooklyn. (Click here to read more)

At Dumpling Wars, cooks face off over potsticker prowess


THE FOUR JUDGES — the Nelson sisters and two of their friends, eight-year-olds Mia Nobal and Won-hwi Chun-le—passed from table to table, stabbing dumplings with forks and cradling a can of now-warm soda.  They didn’t take notes and they didn’t ask questions—but they didn’t need to. They had “really good” memories, they said, and besides, they were only playing a game. They weren’t the competition’s official judges—there were already three of those—but they were judging the dumplings nevertheless, each one of them determined to choose their favorite dumpling by the end of the night.

Presented by San Francisco’s Kearny Street Workshop and held at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center on Thursday night, the Dumpling Wars was a light-hearted, humor-infused cook-off between six teams intent on creating the best dumplings imaginable. Since taste is subjective, each team had two chances of winning and thus two different groups of voters to appeal to: the audience and a team of three official judges that were pre-selected by the Kearny Street Workshop. (The Nelson sisters’ team was strictly freelance.)

(Click here to read more)

Jewelry designer Laura Bruland turns old book covers into wearable art


SOME JEWELERS WORK WITH GOLD. Others beads. As for Laura Bruland, she works with books.

But this wasn’t always the case.

Bruland, 25, started her jewelry company Yes and Yes Designs in 2007 as a fun side project in addition to her day job as a barista at Oakland’s Subrosa Coffee. Her initial creations were made solely out of wool fabric, which she crafted into flower-shaped designs for use on headbands and pins.

But fabric flower jewelry, it turned out, was already a lot more popular than Bruland had thought. “I was seeing a lot of fabric flowers out there, so I was thinking maybe I’m not adding that much to inspire people,” she said. “I didn’t see why I should keep making something that other people were making.” (Click here to read more)

Book Buyers’ Guide


For stalwart book lovers who continue to prefer pages of bound parchment to electronic books, the Weeklyhas devised a list of the top bookstores–both used and new–around the Island. Nothing beats the smell of a book, the sound of turning pages or the satisfying feeling of last sentences.

Revolution Books

Just because this bookstore specializes in left-wing literature (i.e. communism, socialism, civil rights, etc.) doesn’t mean that’s all they sell. In fact, Revolution Books has one of the most varied selections on Oahu, featuring both new and used books in subjects ranging from poetry to local Hawaiian fiction to military history. Politics, however, is their specialty, reflected in the subdivision of genres like Chinese politics from 1950-1975; Marxist classics and the Bush years. The used book section has works from notable authors on both non-fiction and fiction subjects, and they cost only $1 or $2, depending on the size. (Click here to read more)

Le Petit Petit mixes French savoir faire with California cool


Love Parisian fashion but don’t feel like parting with your whimsical, bohemian California girl look just yet? Why not mix the two? At least that’s what former Abercrombie and Fitch designers Logan Weinsieder and Marc Rosenbaum did for their newest clothing label, Le Petit Petit, which they started last March.

Blending Parisian cool with laid-back California chic, Le Petit Petit transforms comfortable, loose-fitting T-shirts into fashionable and flattering focal points for an outfit.  The label is currently only available online, but this hasn’t stopped Le Petit Petit from garnering attention and winning over celebrity fans such as Kelly Osborne and Emmy Rossum. Plans are underway to start selling select pieces from the line at Urban Outfitters stores in the next few months.

(Click here to read more)

Oakland Underground Film Festival Showcases the Unexpected


You never know what to expect from the Oakland Underground Film Festival. In fact, neither does the staff.

“These are organic, living, breathing films,” said Kal Karn, the festival director. “It all depends on what films are currently being made, what’s being shown, and what films are available. We like to try new things and stretch the boundaries, so each year our focus is a little different.”

The 2011 festival series started Thursday night at the historical Grand Lake Theater with the screening of actress Victoria Mahoney’s first film, Yelling to The Sky, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale about a mixed race African American teenage girl growing up in New York. Nearly 300 people attended the event, and some of them werevstudents from a San Francisco State University class, “Issues and Images in Black Visual Media,” that Mahoney was invited to visit on Wednesday to discuss her film. (Click here to read more)

Be Still, Then Move

–Published in The Honolulu Weekly on March 30, 2011–



Living on a tropical island has its perks, but there are certainly a number of daily trials and tribulations–stress, fatigue, anxiety–that even islanders have difficulty escaping. For this, and a number of other reasons, the Still and Moving Center has sprouted up on Queen Street, adding a measure of liveliness and tranquil vibes to the quiet industrial area.

Barely two weeks old, the center was founded by director Renee Tillotson, a black belt in Nia (a martial arts/dance fusion), who decided to build the studio after being invited to become an international Nia trainer.

“To imagine myself traveling around the world teaching shook me up so much,” says Tillotson.

But the invitation got her thinking and before long she had formulated a plan to build the most comprehensive wellness center in Oahu (a two-story, 6,000-square-foot facility with three studios, a healing room, a children’s room and an eco-conscious boutique). The center offers more than 35 different Eastern- and Western-influenced classes per week.

(Click here to read more)

Oakland biking group Fix Without Dix puts on a heated alley cat race

–Published on on August 30, 2011–



Mikey Hodgson and Cecilia Lanyon are early.

“Well, technically we’re on time,” says Hodgson as he surveys the tree-lined square outside of the Lake Merritt BART station in downtown Oakland.

It’s empty. Hodgson and Lanyon are the first to arrive. They wheel their bikes over to a low brick wall and sit down. It’s 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon and the sun beats down mercilessly. Sweat pools beneath Hodgson’s grey beanie and Lanyon presses a can of Diet Coke against her cheek to cool down.

To pass the time, they talk. Hodgson tells her about how he brought his Doberman into a pizza joint last night, but admits that he can’t remember much else because he drank so much that he blacked out. They both confess to having painful hangovers, and say that neither of them got more than four hours of sleep.

“But I had coffee. Lots and lots of coffee,” says Lanyon whose eyes are still caked with last night’s shadow and mascara.

“Me too,” says her friend. “And a super taco from the Mexican market on the corner.”

You wouldn’t know it from looking at them, but Hodgson and Lanyon are about to compete in a 30-mile bike race. They’re not wearing helmets or cycling shoes or moisture-absorbing fabrics. But they do have bikes—which is all that is required.

“I’m ready to race,” Hodgson declares, stubbing out his second cigarette. “I’m ready to go. And I’m gonna win. I seriously think I can get first place this time.”

(Click here to read more)

Freak City wraps together shopping, music, the arts and more shopping

–Published in The Los Angeles Times style section on September 3, 2010–



Starting Friday, the notoriously hush-hush Freak City, an after-hours music venue, artists’ space and clothes gallery on Sunset Boulevard, will open its doors for a short-term vintage and modern clothing pop-up store.

“This is a big deal,” said co-owner Justin Romero. “Normally our store is open by appointment only or during our nighttime parties. Now it will be open to everyone.”

Freak City, which opened in October 2009, has gained notoriety in the underground music and art scene for its spontaneous, late-night parties, which have featured such artists as MIA, Peaches and the Cool Kids. The no-frills two-story venue consists of a number of empty rooms for dancing, a lounge, a stage, a bar, a break-dancing room, a record studio and a clothing gallery. Crumpled up newspaper, confetti and graffiti cover the floors and walls, and odd props such as traffic signs, a bus bench, a basketball hoop, metal piping and sewage grills give Freak City an urban street-style vibe.

The pop-up clothing store, which will be open every day from 2 to 10 p.m. for the next two weeks, will feature clothing from vintage collectors and local designers, as well as Freak City’s own vintage collection and its hip-hop apparel line, LA Wrap. The selection is unisex with a heavy influence of ’80s and ’90s street-inspired clothing, such as floral dresses, harem pants, retro Adidas sweatshirts, jelly shoes, snap back hats, and patterned leggings.

“Think of it like an indoor flea market on the streets of New York,” Romero said.

(Click here to read more)

Level 10 Lux opens on Melrose, offers affordable prices in a glamorous setting

–Published in The Los Angeles Times style section on November 15, 2010–



Everyone shops on Melrose Avenue for different reasons. Whether you’re searching for fluorescent, high-topped sneakers at Sportie LA or the perfect vintage floral dress to complete your bohemian wardrobe, Melrose has it all.

One of the newest additions to the block is the fashion-savvy, body-flaunting women’s clothing store Level 10 Lux. Nestled between American Vintage and Adam Saaks, the neon-green store opened its doors earlier this month but is hosting its official opening party Monday from 7 to 10 p.m.

“Level 10 Lux is unique,” said owner Vanessa Lee. Located in one of the most popular shopping districts in Los Angeles, it offers fashionable, trendy clothing at affordable prices.  But don’t mistake it for a smaller-scale H&M or Forever 21. Level 10 Lux is precisely for the girl who won’t shop at these stores and wear mass-produced styles, but who also can’t afford to regularly shop at Barney’s Co-Op or Fred Segal.

“We are the bridge between the two,” said Lee. “This is where the young girl who can’t spend much but still loves glamour comes to shop.”

The setting is glamorous too, with brightly colored clothing and accessories that pop against the spotless, white walls and ornate black chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.

Fashionistas can come here for one-stop shopping — stocking up on lacy miniskirts, mesh cut-out dresses, striped crop tops and patterned leggings, as well as leather handbags, studded pumps, velvet ankle boots, hats and jewelry.  Clothing ranges from $30 to $150 and accessories from $10 to $100.

The store is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.
Level 10 Lux, 7565 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 782-0065.


Le Petit Petit adds Malibu Native to the brand…

–Published in The Los Angeles Times on February 4, 2011–



Chloe did it with See By Chloe and Marc Jacobs did it with Marc. Now L.A.-based Le Petit Petit, which we  introduced here awhile back, is doing it as well.

The brand’s Malibu Native — a less expensive, more casual sister line — will hit PacSun stores in February, starting with a promotion party Saturday at The Grove.

“We are very excited to grow with PacSun because of their strong ties to core surf brands,” co-designer Logan Weinsieder said. “We feel like we can bring something new to the table in terms of fashion design and lifestyle branding.”

Drawing from the surf heritage of the West Coast, Malibu Native gets its inspiration from nature-loving fashionistas such as models Erin Wasson and Chase Cohl, and surfer Chandler Parr.  Malibu Native is more laid back than Le Petit Petit’s main line, a bit more retro and a lot less boho. But despite these differences, the label’s characteristic Parisian streak is still evident, such as when tiny black Eiffel Towers pop up on mint-colored bikinis.

(Click here to read more)

« Older Entries Newer Entries »