Archive for September, 2009

Road Trip Americana: DAY 6 (Sunday, Sept. 27th, 2009)

Monday, September 28th, 2009

now onto the next half of my roadtrip. i wasn’t too keen on this part of the drive because i hear of the endless cornfields. but i made some interesting stops along the way.
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one thing i noticed is these midwest folks love their fireworks (i thought that was just a Texas thing!). i found dozens of signs like these since i started driving in this region.
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pretty amazing (and blinding) driving straight into the sunset through the flatlands of South Dakota.
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found a burger joint i haven’t tried yet before settling in for the night.
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“Double Butterburger w/ Cheese Value Basket” $4.99

Bed Day 06
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Super 8, 47 bucks.

Summary:
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Cities: Minneapolis, MN > Blue Earth, MN > Mitchell, SD
Odometer Begin: 209210
Odometer End: 209547
Day Miles: 337
Gas Prices: $2.26
TOTAL Miles So Far: 1,901

NEXT: onto Rapid City and Mt. Rushmore

Road Trip Americana: DAY 5 (Saturday, Sept. 26th, 2009)

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Minneapolis, Minnesota.

so i decided to treat myself to a day of NOT driving so i can soak up the splendors of the city!

Indoor amusement park @ Mall of America.
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Hell’s Kitchen for the “best brunch in Minneapolis”.
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i could only finish half! the other half i gave to some homeless guy on the street. i forgot to take a picture of him.

Walked around afterwards and kept snapping away…
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Eventually ended up at Guthrie Theater and shrunk the city from their lookout. Pretty amazing view.
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My favorite part of the day: being treated to some authentic midwest-style home cooking (thanks Jen!), while sitting around the bonfire with a few beers and chatting with locals. Good food, good people, good conversation. =D
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And yes, I can totally hear a hint of that “Fargo” accent when they talk!

Overall, I’m happy to have met genuinely cool locals, eat delicious local cuisines (though I missed out on the “lutefisk”), explore downtown, and learn about the way of life in the “big M”. Minneapolis is a beautiful place and I know I just barely scratched the surface of what there is to see and do here. Wish there was more time!

Thank you Katie for hooking up the couch surf and showing me your hometown!

NEXT: onto South Dakota

Road Trip Americana: DAY 4 (Friday, Sept. 25th, 2009)

Monday, September 28th, 2009

i’m actually writing this three days later… ahhh just too much to keep up with and not enough time… but i have to catch up before i get way too behind! highlights, aplenty.

before i left for Minnesota, i had to treat myself to a local delicacy. nobody’s does dogs like Chicago!
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Hit the road and made a pit stop in Wisconsin.
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yes, it’s strangely delicious.

Found this seemingly in the middle of nowhere! a resort town in the middle of Wisconsin. check out this INDOOR theme park.
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I’ve also noticed many indoor water parks. In the dead of winter, this is their escape!

It was a rainy evening drive into Minneapolis, but I arrived safely.
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i met with my friend Katie and as tired as i was, still had to check out some of the nightlife!
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this bar/lounge “Asia” reminds me of “Skylark” in San Francisco. they also play kung-fu movies and Hip Hop!

Bed Day 04
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welcome the sandman.

Summary:
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Cities: Chicago, IL, somewhere in Wisconsin, Minneapolis, MN
Odometer Begin: 208708
Odometer End: 209210
Day Miles: 502
Gas Prices: $2.54
TOTAL Miles So Far: 1,564

Road Trip Americana: DAY 3 (Thursday, Sept. 24th, 2009)

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Gonna make this one short. 😉

Toured a bit of the University of Michigan. My friend Philip says it feels a lot like Berkeley with it’s “liberalness” and daily protests on campus.
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Though nowhere near as diverse as Berkeley, he feels that folks in the midwest are generally nicer and more open to it.

Was skeptical about eating Thai food cooked by young midwest college kids, but they trained them well.
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Climbed the clock tower and snapped this mini. Michigan League building.
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On the road again and found this to be the most interesting sign:
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I guess somebody CAN put a price on human life.

Driving through Gary, Indiana was an experience. It was depressing seeing this “once great city” in shambles.
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Didn’t realize until later that I just drove through MJ’s hometown.
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Arrived in Chicago. My best shot of the city so far. You know you love it.
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Dinner @ Pita Inn.
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For Joel:
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Bed Day 03
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Summary:
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Cities: Ann Arbor, Gary, Chicago
Odometer Begin: 208504
Odometer End: 208708
Day Miles: 204
Gas Prices: $2.64
TOTAL Miles So Far: 1,062

Next: Chicago if time, then drive to Minneapolis, MN

Road Trip Americana: DAY 2 (Wednesday, Sept. 23rd, 2009)

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

i spent the morning enjoying coffee, scrambled eggs, and a nice chat with my host Mark. he is a “movement artist”/theater director/actor and his wife is a painter/language professor. the amount of character in their house says so much about them:
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i showed him my latest project, a concept film for newlyweds Jawknee & Jeannette (to be posted soon!), and he was thoroughly impressed! coming from a passionate theater director and actor, this was very flattering to hear. he even pointed out very subtle but powerful observations in the edit that i didn’t even notice when i pieced it together. i’ll have to explain when i post it up.

then, he showed me a teaser of his solo performance entitled, “Flight from Himself.” a very moving performance, i wish he had it posted online to share. you can see stills of this piece on his blog here: http://seemarkcthompson.blogspot.com/
it was inspiring to listen to him speak about being able to make a living as an artist. every other sentence he spoke with a huge smile and said, “this is just so much fun!”

took sometime to finish blogging, then headed to downtown Pittsburgh. didn’t have much time to stop so i just snapped away. i came at a very “crazy” time, with the G20 summit taking place the next day, so they were preparing for heavy city lockdown.
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visited the “almost famous” Primanti Bros. (as seen on “Man vs. Food” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT5eYEBwWH8) to munch on a monster Kolbassi & Cheese sandwich, mingled with the “lokes” and learned the origins of the Steelers “terrible towel”. told them i was a Bears fan (beat them in Week 2!). they were still very friendly!
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i couldn’t finish it all! saved the other half for a pit stop in Ohio.

took a couple shots from Mt. Washington and that wrapped up my time in Pittsburgh.
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maybe i’m overdoing the tilt-shifting but i love the look of it. standard iPhone cam shots can be quite dull.

drove through downtown Cleveland for a few minutes. not much to see and didn’t feel very welcoming.
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continued on to Ann Arbor to visit and stay at my friend’s apartment (thanks Phil!).
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to close the night we grabbed a bite to eat at a local late night college eatery.
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Day 02 Couch
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Summary:
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Cities: Pittsburgh > Cleveland > Ann Arbor
Odometer Begin: 208170
Odometer End: 208504
Day Miles: 334
Gas Prices: $2.38
TOTAL Miles So Far: 858

Next: University of Michigan and Drive to Chicago

Road Trip Americana: DAY 1 (Tuesday, Sept. 22nd, 2009)

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

slept late the night before (2am), but still woke up at 5am to prep. spent a good hour sending out requests to surf a couch in Detroit and Chicago. an older couple had responded to my request in Pittsburg so i was set with that. if you don’t know what couchsurfing is, you must! www.couchsurfing.org

this was my starting point.
marc and rica a center for ants
i stayed at my brother’s friend Marc’s house in Virginia Beach the last few days. they were super accommodating. in the morning, Rica took me out for some scrumptious breakfast at Pocahontas in Virginia Beach. Country Omelette and Pecan Pancakes (as seen on the Food Network) FTW!
breakfast at pocahontas

some highlights:
– saw the Air Force One (or it’s backup plane) fly directly over my head as it was landing while I was driving through Virginia
– visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
marine corps museum
– saw the signs for DC and squeezed in a visit. nabbed a parking spot that had 15 min left before tow and rushed over to the viewing area of the White House and snapped a tilt-shift photo. ran back to the car just in time.
mini white house

iPhone. i made the choice to get my iPhone for my trip. utterly amazed at this piece of technology. always settled with the basic cell phone and old 256mb mp3 player. this is the ultimate “all-in-one” toy. true evil! always connected, super convenient (in fact i think i can check mail faster with this than with my laptop)!. and of course, the endless apps. but the question i ponder on is: do i really want to be connected to the “real world” at all times?
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This is what most of my trek through Virginia looked like (i know it got better in Pennsylvania but it was dark by then):
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Tom Tom? google maps on iPhone took me all the way to Pittsburgh, but it was a nightmare to use downtown Washington. the streets sometimes split multiple ways and i kept missing the correct lane, which allowed time for rush hour to build and added at least a good 2 hours to my trip. the fact that you have to consistently update the route (as well as look at the phone for the next set of directions) makes me think a GPS app is worth it.

TIME. there’s just not enough of it in the day, unless i had an entire month of exploring. i had this idea that i would explore small towns and neighborhoods… veer off track and mingle with country folk, shoot a documentary, etc. trying to do a production solo doesn’t save any time either. and i haven’t found a proper way to mount the camera in the car. for the time being, i’m content with my photos and blog, but we’ll see what develops as the trip continues.

couch surfing. heard about this a long time ago and always wanted to try it. first one! so far, so good. Linda and Marc were very accomodating. i was going to arrive 5 hours after my first ETA and they were willing to stay up in order to let me (a total stranger, i might add) sleep in their house! i was offered tea, cookies, and fresh chicken salad, as we chatted and i learned a bit about their stories and life in Pittsburgh. not to mention, they are both visual and movement artists in their own right and their work is all over the house. ideas can be born here.
mark and linda
Couch Day 01:
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Summary:
day 1
Cities: Virginia Beach > Washington, DC > Pittsburgh
Odometer Begin: 207646
Odometer End: 208170
Day Miles: 524
Gas Prices: $2.28, $2.54
TOTAL Miles So Far: 524

P.S. blogs take too long to write! there goes half of day 2! i’ll continue but will find ways to summarize better. if you made it this far, thanks and hope you keep reading!

Johnny Like Likes Jeannette – Johnny and Jeannette’s Concept Video

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
the concept film was a hit at their reception!

the concept film was a hit at their reception!

Last year, I shot a concept film for Crystal and Louie Ejanda entitled “Everything I Do”. Now it was time for one of Crystal’s little sisters to get married, and she and her fiance Johnny were excited to shoot their own! It was my first shoot using DSLR cameras, and I was just blown away by the quality. I never had this much control over the image before, and it allowed me to get some amazing shots with a great film-look.

They knew they at least wanted to re-enact their high school story, but that was just the beginning. Beyond that, it was a creative mix of ideas that we were able to tie all together to make a romantic comedy / action film that entertained all of their wedding guests.

They were able to get their entire entourage involved in the video, even a special appearance by their parents and their adorable kids. It was great working with them because we were able to bounce ideas back and forth. The result is a film that re-tells their story in high school and dramatizes their future life together… but will there be a “happily ever after”? Please enjoy!

Congrats again to Johnny and Jeannette!