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how to travel with a smile

the [perfectly calm] adventures of david-andrew

fashion robot games (日本 3)

May 17th, 2013

I didn’t set out to have a specific experience in Tokyo. I just wanted to run into whatever 日本 had to offer. Somehow, this day filled with all the typical Japanese things you see in popular culture in the US.


We paused outside Harajuku Station to get our bearings and decide which way we were going. Our friend guides were looking for a specific restaurant. I was too busy looking at the chaos we just entered to notice we were circling in on our target. Somehow, it seemed like we were always going uphill in this area. We would turn a sharp corner, headed in the opposite direction, and still be walking up a hill. It was worth the climb when we found とんかつ まい泉. Maisen Tonkatsu seemed small upon entering the lobby, but there are more areas than first seen. The lobby has a colorful flower garden and displays of the dishes offered in the restaurant. All over Tokyo we saw detailed artificial food models made for restaurant windows. Inside there are waiting benches against the window and a counter to get a quick lunch. There is an upstairs as well that has a more traditional table setting. We took off our shoes and sat on zabuton cushions. After sitting there for an hour, we decided we need more practice sitting on the floor before returning to 日本.


Once again, I used the point-at-a-picture method of ordering food. It’s easy at tonkatsu because everything is the same. You only have to decide if you want it round, square, heart-shaped, sliced, or on a stick. It came with a mountain of shredded cabbage, rice, miso soup, and a sauce that had similarities to barbecue sauce. I braced my veggie-loving mouth, and took a deep breath. “When in Rome!” I said as I prepared to take the second bite of pork I’ve ever had in my life.

If you are looking for reasons to believe that Tokyo is real and not just a cartoon dream, you won’t find them in the 原宿 (Harajuku) area. There is a cave of mirrors at the Tokyu Plaza. Above the mirror cave is a forest in the sky. Past the mirrors, water flows out of a glass fountain several blocks up the hill. Next time we visit I will know to turn left at the glass water feature to get to Maisen.
harajuku_mirrors_cu harajuku_fountain


I want to live in the forest.

It’s driving me a little nuts actually. I can’t find any evidence beside my own photographs that i didn’t dream most of this. I’ve become obsessed with revisiting Tokyo through Google Street View. Right now I’m looking for all these sights and they aren’t there. Apparently in 2010, the last time Street View updated Tokyo, there was a Gap where the magic mirror cave is now. They traded up, way up. That corner is interesting now. The other possibility is that I totally blocked the Gap from my mind. Let’s hope I really have that power.

One thing we saw all over Tokyo, but more prevalent in Harajuku, was clothing with random words and expressions in English. On one of the trains, we saw a young woman with a T-shirt that said “Gallery Times.” One of my favorites was the honest cap that says “nonsense.”

harajuku_randomenglish_666beerbride harajuku_randomenglish_carve

Harajuku is a colorful area that is easy for pedestrian wandering. There is a good range of shops, both local and international, high-dollar and more accessible. I would like to explore it further on future trip to Tokyo.


“Snoberry” – no hiding the agenda here



resilience = lone urban tree

harajuku_smilecamp harajuku_cpyrt


possibly the world’s worst salad


It was finally time to return to Mitaka with the tickets we purchased on our first day. There is a special bus that goes straight to The Ghibli Museum from the Mitaka stop. Remembering the pleasant, tree-lined street from our first time, we opted to walk again. Hiccup and Sister split form us at this point to visit a family friend in Mitaka.

Positioned between a park and a zoo, The Ghibli Museum is a magic getaway in the quieter Mitaka area. トトロ (Totoro) welcomes you just past the front gate. Below his window, the ススワタリ(soot sprites) crowd into a small opening to get a look too. The stained-glass windows of the building depict the wonderful films of Hayao Miyazaki. It’s like looking into the imagination of the storytelling master. Inside there are bridges, doors, and hallways obviously made for small creatures. You can explore the workspaces of the animators. Pinned on the wall are sketches with notes and inspirational research materials. On the top floor there is an actual Catbus with Mei’s name in hiragana (as a young child would write it in Japanese) set as its destination. If you get past the Catbus, there is a lovely roof walk up through a spiral staircase on the outside of the museum. On the roof, there is a wooded trail to the giant robot from Castle in the Sky. In the museum’s theater, we got to see a short film continuation of the Totoro story called Mei and the Kitten Bus. Alone, it was worth the price of admission.

Ghibli_totorossign Ghibli_front
Ghibli_gate Ghibli_mosaic
Ghibli_gmbus Ghibli_gmbus_cu
Ghibli_roof_robot Ghibli_roof_tunnel Ghibli_roof_box
 Ghibli_waterfountain Ghibli_bench
 Ghibli_roof_spiralstairs  Ghibli_roof_spiraltotop
Ghibli_vane Ghibli_gazebo Ghibli_courtside

I’m watching もののけ姫 (Princess Mononoke) while I write this. It started my Studio Ghibli/Hayao Miyazaki obsession years ago. If you haven’t seen it, you need to stop everything and watch it now. Then watch My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ponyo

We met back with Hiccup and Sister and a little tea shop below the Mitaka station. It’s really cute inside and the proprietor was warm to welcome us and patient with our ordering.

Here’s a survival lesson for those needing caffeine in Tokyo. The red banner says “コーヒー” (kōhii) in katakana. It means you can get coffee here!

The sun is starting to set, but our day isn’t over yet. There’s still so much to see and it’s already time to return to the US tomorrow. We said earlier Akihabara is a cool place to see lit up at night.



playing SEGA MaiMai

MaiMai is like DanceDanceRevolution for your hands.
The music video during this level is “Candy Candy” by Kyary PamyuPamyu.
You need to see it. It’s quite distracting for game play.


ThePilot found a game made just for him.

We thought we were doing pretty well at the SEGA MaiMai game. Then we saw this guy.

We reluctantly said goodbyes to Hiccup and Sister in front of the Gundam and AKB48 Cafes (Yes, that is a cafe all about AKB48). We all agreed that we need to come here again.

I won’t have any trouble sleeping tonight. This day exhausted me. I still need to make one more stop on the way back to the hotel. I have been drooling over those cakes since we got here and I have to try the coffee jello before leaving.

mmmm sweet dreams!

Next: our last day in Tokyo is relaxed and quiet

honored dog & fish feet (日本 2)

May 13th, 2013

**My intention was to publish updates every night in Tokyo. However, I met some challenges. One was the struggle to find consistent internet with my gaijin iPad. The other challenge was exhaustion after running around Tokyo from 8A to 12A everyday. Sleep won that battle. I offer a thousand apologies for any inconvenience or anxiety this may have caused. Also, I can avoid the mess of a rush job like my last post. Further apologies offered.**

On our second day in Tokyo, we met up with our friend Hiccup and his Sister who lives in Japan. It’s amusing being so far from home and see people you know. Something is familiar, but in the wrong setting. It added to the jumble that is Tokyo, throwing me off a little more. Sister showed us around to some crazy fun sights.

We headed out to Yokohama to go to the ramen museum. First we made a stop at the famous Shibuya Station statue of the faithful dog Hachikō. This Akita Inu met his human, a professor, at the station daily as he came home from work. The professor unexpectedly passed away one day and never returned to meet Hachikō. Still, Hachikō waited everyday at Shibuya Station for nine years feed only by kind commuters. This loyal dog still shows up in popular culture almost 80 years later. ShibuyuStation

We got back on the train and continued to the Yokohama Raumen Museum.

raumenmuseum The museum doesn’t look very unusual from the outside. Inside, however, we transported to 1958 Tokyo. There are several ramen dealers around a courtyard. In the middle area there is a shoot-the-duck style game. The proprietor of the shooting game also doubles as a performer who put on a comedic show. I mean, I assume it was comedic because everyone laughed.

foreshadowing the transition to 1958

foreshadowing the transition to 1958

We found our way into the “Ikemen Hollywood” ramen joint. The dishes were puns based on US movie culture. There was “Jurassic Pork,” “Johnny Dip,” and a crazy spicy one called “The Backdraft.”
We weren’t allowed to take pictures here, so not much to show you guys, but ramen lovers would be in heaven here. They have “mini” sizes so you don’t get too full to try them all.

Yokohama also has a “Chinatown” area with some hidden adventures waiting for us.

ct_gate  ct_pandastore
 ct_jumble ct_pandabread

Near the entrance to Chinatown, we headed up a flight of stairs covered in neon exclamations into an arcade. The arcade was full of physically interactive games. We played a four-player game throwing balls at a video screen to knock bugs off as they try to climb the wall.

ct_arcade_kawaiiprizes ct_arcade_drum
We had fun with the drum game. I want one for my home.

Better yet, if the people who stock the arcade would put a few machines in my house and switch them out periodically, that would be rad.

We were wandering around the game floor when we were suddenly pulled into the wildest photo booth I’ve ever seen. Bright noises, loud colors, and 日本語 instructions lit quickly on the screen. There were cute poses demonstrated on the screen before each picture. We did our best to fall into form before each flash. Background options ranged from cutsie pink to pink graffiti to graffiti cutsie. After all the picture shooting, you could draw, stamp, and theme your photos.


the sophisticated & serious results

I now know firsthand why there are jokes about Tokyo being unsafe for the seizure prone.

ct_kissfish_sign One of the weirdest things we’ve come across in Tokyo so far is Dr Kiss Fish. Before I knew what was happening our friend was getting us tickets to have our feet cleaned by fish. It was almost intolerable at first. After getting used to it, it was just very ticklish and probably what putting your feet in a huge pool of Alka-Seltzer would feel like. It’s bizarre to watch living beings eat off your dead skin. They love to get the most sensitive areas of your arches and between your toes. The Dr Kiss Fish clerk encouraged us to put our hands in the swarm too. Hiccup was first, then I tried it for a bit.
ct_kissfish_feet   ct_kissfish_side ct_kissfish_hand

In the same building we went to an exhibit of “trick art.” Signs with each painting demonstrated how to photograph each illusion.

ct_trick_swing ct_trick_shark


don’t I look angelic?


We ended the night with an embarrassing, but hilarious dinner at a bar called Arabian Rock, but I think I’ll save that story for later.

ct_wires More tales from Tokyo coming soon!

Next: complicated drink instructions & golden eggs in Shinjuku – “Arabian Rock”

dammed vegas

July 7th, 2012

Last year, also in June, I drove to a big 3 day music and dance party called Electric Daisy Carnival. I had a rad experience being with friends, hearing exciting music, and getting an awesome recharge from the universe. This June, I returned to Las Vegas for more EDC. This time The Pilot took the drive to Vegas with me and we got to see some cool history on the way.

As we headed out of Phoenix, we were sent on our drive with a bit more fanfare than expected. Just on the outside of North Phoenix, we saw a group of hot air balloons over the highway.

The moon also came out for our trip.

I love to drive Arizona highways. On a random pit stop on this trip, hidden between some old buildings and a convenience store, we found this forgotten and defaced remembrance.

As we got closer to Nevada, we started to see more signs of party people on their way to the same party.

The first time I drove to Las Vegas, I drove over The Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge without realizing I had. From the top of it, you can’t see anything. Maybe if you’re in a super tall vehicle, you could. I think they may have built the walls of it pretty high so that traffic wouldn’t slow as people say their oh-wows to the dam below.

This time we took the original route down to the river and took a walk across the Hoover Dam. It does take longer to drive the old way, but it’s definitely worth seeing once in your life. The Hoover Dam combines the beauty of natural landscape and human engineering.

I enjoyed seeing the 1930s in the designs of the dam.
When you look out at the banks of the Colorado River, you can see how recent droughts have affected the water levels.

I took this picture after we witnessed a woman put her toddler on the wall. The other side of it is a 726.4 ft (221.4 m) drop to the bottom of the dam.

If you have never seen the dam, I recommend taking the long way down and across. From the older, lower crossing you can see some interesting design and a better view of the new bridge.

Electric Daisy Carnival was wicked fun again. I posted some pictures about it last year. This year, Insomniac managed to double the fun. So I was too busy dancing to take any good pictures this time. You’ll just have to come along with me and see it 1st hand next year!

nose job at the boneyard

April 16th, 2012

The sprawling wasteland of decommissioned million-dollar military planes at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, AZ known as “The Boneyard” became home to the art show The Boneyard Project: Return Trip. This group show originally seen at the Eric Firestone Gallery in Easthamptons, New York featured the nose cones of planes painted by various artists. The original exhibit was called Nose Job. Added in Tucson were several complete planes painted by the artists. This project may not have been realized without the open space and dry heat of the Tucson desert. These massive planes would have been much too claustrophobic in a gallery. Also, very few New York galleries would have been able to contain even one.

apocalyptic looking “Warning Shot” by RETNA


Inside the museum’s hanger, the original nose cones from the New York exhibit were presented.

 Tristan Eaton Tara McPherson CRASH
Shepard Fairey
 Lisa Lebofsky Colin Chilag

Sometimes Arizona can be shockingly conservative in really silly ways. I don’t understand the point of having an art show if you are going to censor works or portions of works. Its not what I would understand to be the function of exhibiting an invited collection. It was amusing and saddening that some of the pieces were defaced. Would it make sense to ask George Carlin for afternoon tea and then put black tape over his mouth? Why bother?

Cover your eyes!
“Cathy Cowgirl Nose Cone” by Ron English dares to show exposed utters. Arizona families need to be protected from the horrors of cow anatomy. Guess what? The milk you had on your cereal this morning came from those! It’s true. If the museum directors ever drive through the Dairylands of America, they are in for a shocker! Also, I was confused how Tara McPherson’s cone escaped censorship. Maybe Ron English’s message was too strong?







One of my favorites from this exhibit was a brilliant wing job by Trusto Corp. At first glance it seems to be the usual marketing you would see on a race car or at any sporting event. However, this one has a message if you’re paying attention. Unfortunately, this was one of the works defaced by the museum. Black tape now covers an “F.” Now, nobody knows what it originally said. The funny (moronic) thing is the two naughty words that remain uncovered in this piece.
“10 good years of W A R” by Trusto Corp.

After that, I needed a breath of air. The Pilot and I have been to The Boneyard before. This time we went before that time of the year that the desert is exactly like standing under a hairdryer on full power. Today it was sunny and warm and perfect. The painted planes outside were great too. Set amongst the other deceased planes, it seemed as if vandals had broken in and had their way with unguarded skeletons.

If you are near Tucson, you should stop to see this unique show. It was great to see some culture in Arizona. I hope that the weird censorship won’t discourage future exhibits from coming to Arizona. This cultural desert needs exposure stat! Amazing weather and perfect culture at once would probably make my head explode though. For now, I’ll continue to stay dry and warm here and travel to the cultures of the world.
Happy trails!


February 20th, 2012
I am excited about this year. Good things are coming. I can feel it.
I was born in the Year of the Dragon and it has come back around again. To celebrate ThePilot and I went to San Francisco last week for the Year of the Dragon New Years Parade. It was magical and more than I expected.

I put on my dragon tee for the occasion.

4 luck =D

We stayed in the Westin’s St. Francis hotel on Union Square. We only had to step out onto the sidewalk in front of the hotel to watch the parade.
I was a little surprised to see the crowd outside when we went out. Union Square was full and the sidewalks were standing room only. There were even people lining the windows of the Union Square Macy’s.

Every body loves a dragon parade!

we called this entry "CA Budget Deficit"

can't hate though on account of the cute passenger

Chinese New Year celebrations often involve the dancing dragon every year.

Because this is the dragon’s year there was plenty dragon dancing to go around.


I love little surprises like this. Spontaneity has never let me down. 2012 is going to rock! Year of the Dragon will be guaranteed wild times. The last Dragon came in 2000. Everyone freaked about the world ending then too. What is the deal with those dragons?
So tell me what’s next. I’m ready for a year of adventure. Life is exciting and mysterious like the dragon. Come with me on the next trip or I can meet you there too.

Good luck and good fortune to all!

room with a view

terminal art

February 7th, 2012

Denver Art Museum overhangs 13th Ave from The Hill

I had an unexpected moment of fan-awe last month when I decided to go see Sam Flores, David Choe, and Highraff paint live in Denver, CO. My friend Astrid sent me mail about this event. I skimmed it not realizing what it entailed. I originally told her I was going to a Huck Gee signing in Phoenix that weekend. I should support anything that comes to Phoenix as there are rarely any art or toy events here.
Then, as I was going through some items in my saved reading list, I came across it again. The Terminal Kings in Denver were putting on a unique opportunity to see some renowned artists put on a live painting show at City Hall nightclub. The resulting artwork would be displayed in the airport terminal. Huck Gee would have to wait.

I’ve been to City Hall once before for a wild Halloween party. This was my 1st time there in broad daylight. It took me awhile to realize it was the same place. Then I started pointing out the familiarity to ThePilot. “Out there is where we sat huddled together by a six foot mound of snow!” “There’s the heat lamp where I asked a sexy Bo-Peep if she was cold and she said ‘Uuum, yeaaaah.” “That’s the stage where Hiccup took that picture of me and BabyAnne!”

Today the semi-outdoor amphitheater was closed up and lit with construction lighting. The three level venue was completely taken over by some seriously grandiose works of spray paint art.

I have been following the work of David Choe for several years. He has innovated methods of street art highlighted in a documentary that took director Harry Kim 10 years to make. The result was Dirty Hands and could be described as mind blowing.

I will admit that before this show I did not know the name Highraff. I was immediately a fan. His work has a psycadelic quality to it and contrasts precise geometry with organic shapes. I had to keep telling myself that this was done with spray paint. It’s easy to forget.

The popularization of urban art toys has introduced me to so many talented artists. Sam Flores is another artist that I became aware of through my toy obsession. While the toy scene may be cooling down for awhile, the artists continue to amaze. Sam Flores is a unique voice in urban art. His work will always stand out and be easily identified. This show elevated my fandom through the roof.

The first day, ThePilot and I saw Flores working on this peacock girl.

Throughout the days we were at this event we saw this mysterious woman evolve.

A reoccurring theme in Flores’ work are figures disguised as animals. There are so many things I love in this mural of masks. The colors are perfect. The details are sharp and intriguing. I love all the stars he puts in his work. Being a star myself, my eyes are drawn to them.

I have seen a few of my favorite artists paint, either live or in video. I always learn something that I can incorporate into my own work. I was fascinated by the techniques that these street artists employ. They seem so resourceful. It’s kinda lo-tech genius.

On our second day return, Astrid met us at City, O’ City in downtown Denver. It’s a vegan restaurant. So a some-timey vegetarian like me can eat without worry. We love the seitan wings! I also had some yummy locally-made hibiscus kombucha.

mural outside City, O’ City

After watching Sam Flores paint again, Astrid was somehow able to pull me away to watch the mini B-Boy battle that was starting inside. I don’t mean that it was a small battle, the boys definitely brang it. I mean that the boys were young shorties. The first battle was for the under 18 set.

Because this was a show of live painting, most of these works are in progress in my photos. See the finished works at Denver International Airport for the next five years. You can also find more information at

permanent ink

November 11th, 2011
love this typography art by Deph (ToDieFor Clothing)
Last month I mentioned an art event to my brother, Uncle$am. I’ve been toying with attending this art show ever since I heard about it. Nicole East (The Baroness) and Hope Gallery Tattoo in New Haven, Connecticut, organized a rare event to get artwork by your favorite artists permanently inked on your body by super talented and influential artists. The event is aptly named Quick and Painful. Giclée prints in tattoo flash style showed the choices available. At the Chicago leg of this tour, Joe Capobianco from Hope Gallery Tattoo and Sean Adams, Patrick Cornolo, Jennifer Trok, and Heath Rave from Speakeasy Custom Tattoo were bringing their mad inking skills for a one night only experience.
There are tons of badly drawn tattoos imitating these artist’s work all over the internet. This event provides and opportunity to get the official artwork done by extremely talented tattoo artists the right way.
I poured over the tattoo choices for over a month before we went. All of them were made by artists I love. Some of them had complicated meanings that I appreciate and understand, but wasn’t sure I wanted that story on my body for life. Also, I didn’t want to diminish my respect and love for an artist by getting tired of their work on my body. Still I wanted something meaningful to me. I began to narrow it down as the day approached.
I also called friends that have tattoos and asked them about their experiences, regrets, and opinions. Each time I talked to someone else, I became more convinced that I was definitely getting a tattoo. It didn’t matter what they said. I knew what I wanted to do. It was helpful to talk about it aloud though.

Uncle$am, ThePilot, and I all arrived at O’Hare airport at nearly the same time. It had been way too long since I returned to Chicago. I immediately felt the rush of familiarity in the terminal. I miss the city. We rode the van to the Aloft hotel. I’ve never stayed in one before. It was interesting and definitely not your average hotel. As the name implies, it has the feeling of a loft apartment. They make an effort to seem modern and artful. You can even get a 5oz bag of chips for the artful price of $4.75.

The next day we sleep in to an hour my brother felt was late. In reality, it was 8am on the west coast. That’s where my internal wake up clock was set.

After lunch it was time to head over to Rotofugi. I was surprised by their new shop. I used to go down to their shop and gallery on West Chicago Avenue all the time when we lived here. It was my 1st toy addiction. I had not seen the new place since they moved to Lincoln Park. It is a huge store and they have everything! It also has a really nice gallery space.
roto-a-matic & kaiju wall
4ft KAWS figure

When we arrived, the gallery was roped-off and a line was already forming. 1st in line was a guy that came all the way from Ohio. We had him beat by a few miles. I wide-eyed all the toys in the shop, salivating.

guess which one I chose
Uncle$am and I found the book of tattoo choices on the counter and began looking through them again. That’s when one of the three choices I had looked at from home jumped out at me.

“I’m the one!”

I looked at my brother and said. “I think this is the one.” He said he thought so too and I was convinced. That hoped-for feeling if clarity came over me.

I grinned.

Uncle$am chose artwork by Greg “Craola” Simkins

Now I just had to decide where it was going.

We talked to the owner, Kirby Kerr, for a bit. Then I noticed a nervous look on Uncle$am’s face. I ask if he wants to get out of here for a bit. We found ThePilot and got some air down the block.

“Is your heart not pounding out of your chest?” Uncle$am says.

Not yet.

After an Intelligentsia pit stop and a bite, we returned to see the line had grown a little. We counted the spaces. Damn. Looks like we were going to be 13 & 14 out of 25 available spots. Guess we’re getting tattooed. In my head there was a chance that we may not be able to get ours done as space was very limited.

  We sat down in line for the 2 hour wait until the start of the event.
The Baroness came by and handed us our waiver forms.
That’s when I knew things were about to get real.
It was cool to see Nicole “The Baroness” East in person. Her name was always present when something amazing was happening at Kidrobot. I learned early that The Baroness knows everyone and everything that is going down. We also got to meet one half of The Beast Brothers, Carlos East.
She also has some great tattoos. One of her tattoos by Joe Capobianco was even made into a vinyl figure by Kidrobot.
The Bride

The flash folder was passed down the line and I realized again that I was struggling with the placement on mine. It seems like it might be the hardest tattoo decision. The Baroness announced that none of the tattoos for the show could be in bikini areas because of the lack of privacy at the gallery. So, that narrowed my placement options.

As the show started, we were told who would be doing our tattoos and what number we were in line for each artist. I was 3rd for Sean Adams and Uncle$am was 3rd for Joe Capobianco. Sean was finishing up his 2nd tattoo and I realized that I was next. That’s when the nervous action started. “I have to pee. brb.”

Jennifer Trok on her 1st tattoo Sean Adams starts the tattoo marathon eye-patched Cat by Devilrobots


Uncle$am was called next to sit for Mr. Capobianco.

Uncle$am was finished before mine was started. He looked at me with an apologetic grimace and said “I’m so sorry. SO sorry.”
“I forgot how much it hurts.”
“Awesome.” I thought as Sean turns to me with needle in hand. “Ready?”


Oh. There’s that heart pounding-out-of-chest action.

The following experience was one of the most surreal of my life. The needle causes the strangest sensation. It is a pain sensation for sure, but not as sharp as you would think. My brother has always described it as mostly annoying. I had to agree. The worst part of it was that Sean would stop every 30 seconds or so to get more ink. Those moment were full of relief that I wasn’t being poked with needles anymore. Then another second later it would return. If those things weren’t weird enough, there was also fair amount of folks watching and some pictures being taken. During all this I was trying to casually smile answer all the questions from those around. Ever try smiling for a picture while some one is poking you with needles? I recommend it highly.

Sean started with pressed-on temporary ink to confirm the placement and serve as a guide for the process.

I say this is my 1st tattoo because I’m sure there will be more. I can completely understand the addiction. I don’t think it’s too far reaching to say that the experience left me feeling a bit high.

I chose this tough little diamond by Simone Legno (Tokidoki) as a symbol of beauty and resilience. Diamond is my birthstone and since I don’t wear jewelry often and can’t get married, it may be the last diamond I own. Every time I see it, I will remember to value strength of will while also remembering to enjoy the beauty and adventure of life.

Sometimes you have to go through a little pain to experience life fully. The result is unforgettable memories.

post-tattoo w/ the Easts
  *see more pix from the Chicago stop on the Quick&Painful blog


the pits

October 22nd, 2011


Earlier this year, I said I wanted to see the Tim Burton exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art before it closes. Then the year flew by without a rose-smelling pause and it was nearly October. So we forced a schedule opening and went to LA for a day. It was overcast and gray when we got there. Expecting warm and sunny, I brought no jacket and shorts. Cold and dark is not the usual report in LA, but it was just that.

I had never seen the La Brea Tar Pits before this trip. I sort of thought they were a fictional thing, like something from The Flintstones. I certainly didn’t think they still existed as pits of tar. Neighborhoods get named funny things. I don’t go to Wicker Park in Chicago expecting to see basket makers weaving out on the grass. Who would arrive in Queens and announce, “I came to see the queens. Be a doll and point in their direction”?

But guess what? There are actual tar pits in the stroll between the museums.  

The Page Museum has a lush garden that looks as if it is from another time.



The grounds surrounding the LACMA are just as interesting as the insides. There are quite a few sculptures on the walk around the building. Some of them are permanent fixtures. Some will only be there a short time, so hurry over to get a look at Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads.
 ⿓ I was born in the year of the dragon. So I had to be photographed with my totem.

By the front fountain there is a colorful sculpture by Nancy Graves called Trace. I was proud of myself for correctly identifying Alexander Calder’s mobile (Hello, Girls).

 Urban Light – Chris Burden  
We really enjoyed walking the sculpture gardens outside. It’s quiet and fascinating.

At this point we’ve seen so much, but we haven’t even been inside yet. There were very few places we were allowed to take pictures inside. This included the Tim Burton exhibit we came to see. However, I can report that it was crazy amazing cool! I’ve loved many of Burton’s films. It was neat to see his inspiration, development, and drawings that turned into the scenes and characters of his films. Tim Burton will be in the Resnick Pavillion until 31 October 2011. If you’re in LA by then, it is must see.

A couple rooms inside we were allowed to take pictures.
Smoke – Tony Smith
The Mondern Art Department includes Giant Pool Balls by Claes Oldenburg

Yes, that painting on the back wall is of ‘SPAM.’

Attached to the LACMA is a building that is as much a work of art as its inhabitants. It is the Pavilion for Japanese Art. It was designed by Bruce Goff. Inside, you take an elevator to the top floor. Then one gliding walkway takes you past every ancient work of art until you reach the ground again.


The night before we spent our fabulous day on Wilshire Blvd, I got two hours of sleep. So if you think I’m looking a little tired in these photos, it’s definitely true. That look is not entirely skepticism of some of the art. The lack of sleep was worth it for a fun day of art exploration…or maybe I dreamed the whole weird day?

Back from la la land, it’s on to the next adventure!

cotton candy in brooklyn

September 26th, 2011


Brooklyn Bridge stop

 August proved to be a tough month for travel. I abandoned more trips than I have completed. It has also forced us to be a bit more creative in our route choices as standby passengers. If you can’t go directly to CLT, you have to try to go through MCI or PHL or some place you really really don’t want to get stuck. So to get to LGA for this overnight with The Pilot, I went through MCI and Shanghai.
 On the way to New York City, The Pilot was actually the pilot. Mid-flight he left the flight deck to use the restroom and threw me some sugar. Well, it was pseudo-sugar. An Equal packet landed in my lap. I looked up to see where it came from expecting the super-excited-to-see-you flight attendant. I was surprised to look up and see The Pilot standing there with a grin.
I love looking at NYC from the air. I have always loved the energy of cities. I very much enjoy the respite of nature, but there’s an anticipation and a build of energy I feel when flying into Chicago or New York. Seeing Manhattan from the air, then Brooklyn and Queens, makes me want to jump in and join the party.

I have been wanting to see Tara McPherson and Sean Leonard’s Cotton Candy Machine shop and gallery in the Williamsburg neighborhood. It is a neat place. I could’ve spent a great deal of time looking and touching everything. We met Jessi who manages the place. She also makes cool jewelry. Sean came in later and we got to chat with him for a few minutes. Tara was in China touring for her collaboration with Swatch X Kidrobot.

Cotton Candy Machine was currently exhibiting two very interesting artists, Jeremyville and Buff Monster. They still had copies of Jeremyville RAW from the opening, so we got a copy of that rad newspaper. I fell in love with Jeremyville’s Community Service Announcements and took home a pack of the stickers made from that series.

The other rewards of our pilgrimage were a signed copy of  Lost Constellations: The Art of Tara McPherson Vol II, and a lithograph print of her painting Isolated Metronomes. I need a better system for bringing unframed prints home on a flight. I’ve shipped prints home before, but it makes me so nervous until it arrives. This time the Guest Services binder from the hotel made itself useful.

While in Brooklyn we took a walk around Williamsburg. I think that once they get tired of calling this area “hipster-ville,” it will just be a nice place to be chill, see pretty things, and eat yummy food.


We came upon a little Italian place that had all three. It was a cute, rustic ristorante called Fiore. The tables were adorned with live rosemary in weathered tin cans and a tea candle in a pastel dish. Old-school dish towels became napkins. The wall opposite our table had a decorative dish collection that Grandmother would have envied.
 Even our bill was charming. It came paper clipped between a folded paper with the restaurant’s logo.

We seem to be fond of watching nerdy documentaries, and we had just watched one on the building of The Brooklyn Bridge. So we wanted to see it up close.

We weren’t there very long, but as maybe you noticed in the pictures, the skies were getting darker every minute we were walking the bridge.  
  By the time we turned back towards Manhattan, it looked like late evening rather than afternoon.

We began to see lightning flashes around the area and grew concerned about the sanity of being on the bridge. To err on the side of safety, we decided to book it towards cover. We hadn’t gone far down the bridge when a young, blonde women asked us in a European accent if we would take her picture. “No! Get out of the storm!” We didn’t want to add to the idea that Americans are rude, but there’s a time for such things as photography. This wasn’t that time.

The sky opened up. Large drops popped down on us. Some groups began to run, some just strolled as if they had no worries. Close to the end of the walkway I saw an opening with stairs. Thinking it was a subway entrance, I led us down into it.

It was not.

stares from the stairs

our view from below Brooklyn Bridge

The next moments were spent with several wet strangers under the bridge before deciding to run to the nearest taxi. Ever try to get a cab in Manhattan in the rain? It’s like a skill game, and it’s not going to happen by saying “please.”

 In reality, we ducked into Grand Central Station to wait out the mad dash for cabs.

On the long ride back to our hotel near LGA, I thought about life in Chicago. It was completely different than Phoenix. Life in Phoenix is easy. I never have to wait for a ride or stand in the rain. To live in an amazing city like New York or Chicago you sometimes have to sacrifice comfort. You might get wet, but the trade-off is the people you meet and the culture that surrounds you. Under the Brooklyn Bridge we meet people from the world and heard a their languages. I feel like a rich man now when I am surrounded by different and weird. It’s something I never see in Phoenix and never thought about in Chicago. I am so lucky to travel now and will never take those times outside of comfort for granted.

 Here’s hoping you get lost in the rain, find a new point of view, and take the long way home.

red rocks and pretty lights

September 10th, 2011

Disclaimer: I have no pictures of myself to post for this event because I wasn’t ever standing still long enough for them to be clear.

We’ve had these tickets for months. It seemed like so far away and such a long wait. Finally it was here. Tonight we are going to Red Rocks Amphitheater to see Pretty Lights again!

We got about a block away from the house and Astrid says to Hiccup “You have our tickets, right?” “No i thought you grabbed them.” So ThePilot turns the car back around and we go back to the house. Soon we are flying down the freeway on way to Morrison, CO. It was an amazingly beautiful night in the Denver area. We do not get perfect temperature nights like this in Phoenix. The Pilot rolls down the windows so we can enjoy. Suddenly Astrid and Hiccup’s tickets are floating through the air making their way to an open window. There’s a scramble to bring the papers back down to earth, or car at least. “omg. Give me the tickets.” I put them in the glove compartment for safety.

We arrived at the Red Rocks Amphitheater and I jumped out of our rental so excited. I could feel a bolt of energy move my body to action. I could hear the music and cheering people from the bottom of the stairs. There are 46 flights of stairs from the road to the top. That’s 388 stairs to climb. So, thank the gods for this energy surge I was feeling. I got about 5 steps up when Astrid asked, “David-san, you have our tickets right?”

“Um…I’ll be right back.”

Red Rocks is a magical venue. As expected, it is surrounded by red sandstone jutting out of the ground forming a nature-made amphitheater. The result is a natural acoustic like nowhere else on earth.
When here to see a show, you need to climb all the way to the top at some point to see the big picture of stage surrounded by the rocks.
This cool night we had a soft ceiling of thin clouds. Occasionally the moon would peek out to add its light to the show.
  It was the best combination of man and nature to give the perfect feeling of being surrounded by light. That’s a place I always want to be.
Speaking of light, here are a few of the reasons this show is called Pretty Lights:
I sent a request through twitter to hear one of my favorites, Samso. During the show Derek announced that he was going to play a super old-school track he had never played live before.You guessed right. He played Samso. I’m going to pretend it was just for me.
Every year we go to this show at Red Rocks, there is a person that climbs up to the top of the big cliff on the side of the stage. There seems to be a special little seating area for those who don’t mind the 300ft climb straight up. You can make him out a little in this super zoomed-in photo.

We also got to catch Michal Menert‘s opening set. He makes some brilliant cool music also. You can download his album on the PrettyLightsMusic label site.
All of Pretty Light’s music is available for FREE download at .

So much THNX to ThePilot for taking a bunch of amazing pictures while I danced without care! xoxo
Seeing Pretty Lights at Red Rocks is becoming a yearly habit.
Every year Derek steps it up more than the last.
Already looking forward to next year!

carnival of lights

July 23rd, 2011
On a whim I mentioned a traveling electronica music event I had run across online to my friends Astrid & Hiccup. It was a massive carnival of rides, art, performers, and some of the biggest DJs in the world. It couldn’t have been more tailor-made for us. One of the stops on the tour was near them in Colorado. Then Astrid was going away the day of the CO leg, so I let it go. Half jokingly I said, “Let’s do Vegas then?”  
Two days later I received a text from those two crazy kids.
“We’re going to Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas! Get your 3 day pass.”

Hiccup and My Pilot actually ended up bailing on us. So Astrid & I were going to have this adventure all to ourselves.  
The next few weeks I obsessed over the EDC website. I watched a bunch of videos of the rides at previous EDC events. I poured over the list of rumored DJs getting very excited. Social sites were full of anxious and impatient revelers waiting for the official lineup of musicians. Turns out, this was EDC’s 15th year and it’s 1st year in Las Vegas. I watched this trailer made from the earlier years in LA about 42,000 times (not exaggeration): Electric Daisy Carnival 2011 Las Vegas

Even after all of this research and obsessing, I was totally unprepared.

I’ve said before on this blog, flying on seat-available benefits can be difficult. This time I thought I was golden with a 5A Friday morning flight that was showing 75 open seats. no problem. Then around 11P on Thursday night I got a call from My Pilot to tell me it had filled to 3 seats left. There are 37 people listed ahead of me for those 3 seats. I panicked for a bit. Then I realized it could be better.  
I sent a text to Astrid,  
“Looks like I’m driving to Vegas. See you in a few hours.” 
I didn’t see much on my way to Vegas. Save a few passing truck lights, it was one of the darkest drives I have ever driven. I stopped in Kingman, AZ to stretch my legs, bought a caffeinated beverage and a “Route 66″ ashtray for my friend. Everyone asked me about the new bridge that crosses the Hoover Dam. I did not see it on the way. Just as I crossed into Henderson, NV the sun started to peek out over the hills.
We decided to stay up as long as we could then take the ultimate disco nap (enough for 3 days?) into evening. So we got up around 5P, ate a quick stir-fried bite, and headed out for our adventure.  
This massive party was at the Las Vegas Speedway. About a mile and a half from the exit, traffic on Route 15 came to a stop. The crazy people partying came to a start. Beaded and glow-lighted arms waved and fist-pumped out of windows. Kids were hanging out of their windows. The local and trucker traffic didn’t know what was happening. We were crawling out of our skin at this point and wanted to crawl out of the car and get inside the raceway. We turned up Bad Boy Bill in the car and got in line.

The line to get in was really bizarre. There were separate boy/girl lines because they were frisking everyone entering. Yet on the last night I was frisk by a woman. Does that make sense? Some lines were moving faster than others because of the varied qualities of pat-down.  
Astrid told me to meet her by the white tent just inside the gate and went into the girl line with 3 bodies ahead of her. I got into the guy line with 200+ bodies in front of me. It immediately stopped moving at all. no lie. 30 mins later some kids behind me started pushing forward and shouting. “Let’s get this line moving!” There was a minor argument when they tried to push past the guys in front of me. Right there they stopped. Now we were all packed like sardines. My brain starts telling me that a panic attack is in order. I resisted.  
All this time we could see the other lines passing us up at twice the speed. So after being in a still line for an hour and a half, I finally decided to jump the barrier and get in the faster moving line. I was finally up to the check point. I removed everything from my pockets, placed my items on the table, and put my hands in the air to have my body frisked. I spent a total of 5mins in this line.

Inside the gate I looked for the little white tent where we agreed to meet. No one was there. Security was keeping a line of girls about 15ft from the security gate. How was I going to find Astrid in this sea of females? I was suddenly grabbed by the hand and pulled through the sea. Astrid was pulling me as fast as she could toward the entrance gate.

“You have to see this!!!”

Did I say “unprepared” yet? so.

Inside the raceway grounds, there was an entire amusement park. From the top of the bleachers you could hear the boom of six competing stages. There were artist performers on stilts (walking trees, schools of rainbow fish, magic bugs) and on bicycles made to look like creatures. A ship of pirate women sailed through the sea of light. Everything was lit in all the colors. Skydivers fell from the sky like shooting stars. The best fireworks show I’ve ever seen completed each night.

I don’t have a lot of really great pictures because we were not allowed entry with the good camera. Pictures can’t do justice for the experience anyway. I guess you’ll just have to come to see it for yourself next time. =D


Video: Carnival Rides – Cliff Hanger – More Cliff HangerBike Snake – HeinekenDOMEClown Band – Donald Glaude – Shooting Stars – LightPOOL – Fireworks


Early Saturday morning we were at the bassPOD stage listening to the very intense Dieselboy. Astrid turned to me and asked if I wanted to go. I could have stayed forever, but we had 3 more nights to go. I agreed, and reached for the my car key. Then panic hit my brain again. I checked every pocket. again.


This time I did little to resist the building panic. I checked again and then turned to Astrid. “I have no keys.” Instantly the past few hours raced through my head. Images played of us on spinning, flinging, upside-down rides. I remembered us laying in the grass in the chill out area. I thought of the 42,000 times someone suspiciously bumped me. We started to retrace our steps. Then I thought of the possibility that I was going to have to call My Pilot. That made it worse.

After scouring every stop we made that night, I started asking for lost+found locations. No one seemed to know anything about it. Every staff and security person sent us on trips to the complete opposite side of this enormous raceway. We did more laps than NASCAR, I’m sure. Every person asked, “What did you lose?” and every time I answered, we got the same “OMG” reaction. After visiting 3 first aid stations, 2 security booths, and a closed lost+found, we finally found an open and staffed lost+found.

They didn’t have my key. I put my number in their notebook and described my Munny key chain.  
We decided the sit down awhile before talking to security about the possibility of being towed. We had some juice from the smoothie stand in preparation for sitting by the car in the soon-rising Nevada sun.  
The whole time we were at the carnival we had full mobile signal, but nothing was able to send or receive. I just imagine one little tower in the desert trying to handle the traffic of 100,000 party people. While we were having a sit, my phone suddenly started to blow up with every text reply from the night.  
One of them said  
“Come to the info booth. We have your car key”
Easily in the top 5 of best messages I’ve ever received. If I wasn’t so dry and exhausted, I could have cried.  
I went through the motions anyway. 
Thinking about it later, I realized that, in my rush to meet Astrid, I must have left them on the little table after being frisked. That’s why they were able to find them at all. If I had dropped them somewhere, I’m sure they’d be gone forever.
After retrieving the keys, we decided to watch the already-peeking sun rise. I’m sure I could have slept right there in the LightPOOL. That was the end of day one.

that's me on the far right with the death-grip on my key. smh.

sleep. eat. party. repeat.

On the last night, we were walking down the stairs in a giant single-file line of anxious-to-party people. As we approached the bottom everyone started to bounce to some infectious sound coming from the cosmicMEADOWS stage at the bottom of the bleachers.  
I wasn’t sure who it was, but I couldn’t wait to get down there and dance!  
Then we rounded the corner.  
“Rabbit in the Moon!!!” 
There was Bunny covered in glow lights. He was throwing them out to the crowd on the big beats.  
Then he was gone from the stage. When he returned he was in a giant bubble and crowd surfing. Everyone was screaming, us included.


We were able to catch The Crystal Method, Wolfgang Gartner, Royksopp, Dirty South, Tiësto, Dieselboy, Above & Beyond, Rabbit in the Moon, Paul Oakenfold, DJ Siren, Simon Patterson and Sean Tyas, Avicil, Ferry Corsten, Donald Glaude, Swedish House Mafia, Bingo Players, ATB, and R3hab. There were so many more. If I could have been 6 places at once, I would have seen them all. It was very hard to choose. 

 Kudos to Insomniac Events for these amazing things:
1. FREE water (!) The water refilling tents were so great, like gas pumps for people.
2. so many porta-potties = We never saw a line once.
3. The crowd control was amazing. There were police and venue security, but joy-kill wasn’t their objective. The vibe was kept safely fun. We saw several police who brought their cameras after the 1st night. I’m sure they had stuff to show the wives at home.
4. a lost & found! I got my car key back!!!


There is no way I’m missing this next year. See you there!




tara mcpherson X hello kitty X kidrobot

November 26th, 2010

When I was still an art student nerd in Chicago, I stumbled on a website that was promoting artists’ works as “art for your phone.” They had a bunch of little bite-sized wallpapers that you could download to your phone. I don’t remember what brought me to this site, but I was hooked to it for several hours. There were tons of names that I am very familiar with now, but was hearing them then for the first time. Looking back, it seems like a bizarre place to be introduced to the worlds of Luke Cheuh, Thomas Han, Gary Baseman, Takashi Murakami, Tim Biskup, Shepard Fairey, and all the names that usually appear near them. This silly place to download mobile art opened up a world of designer toys, urban vinyl, and accessible art that still has it’s hooks deep in me. It will be the addiction that undoes me.

From this same website, I became an instant follower of Tara McPherson. Since that day I have been an admirer of her work. I linked to her site and immersed myself in McPherson 101. Her rock posters are incomparable to any you’ve ever seen anywhere. I promise. Her characters touch on so many that seem to say just the right thing to me.

From Tara’s site, I found out she had done something called a “Dunny.” It was part of an designer toy series, this series focusing on artists from LA. It looked kinda cool and it was currently available at hip stores around Chicago. So I went out to the MCA gift shop and bought my very 1st Kidrobot toy. If you have seen my house, then you know the end of that story. I will soon need a bigger house for my collection. Soon I will just start replacing the furniture with items large enough to accommodate mealtime and lounging.

Through all of my collecting, I’ve had short obsessions, but Tara is one of two or three artist that I have loved from day one. So when I read that she was going to be in LA signing her Magic Love Hello Kitty on the same day we were going to be there for the Sanrio 50th Anniversay events, I knew it was destined.

The Pilot waiting very patiently with me. We had wait time to discuss the lovely furniture store next door.

I’ve got to say, I’ve never been one to ask for autographs. In fact, just hours before Tara’s signing we had run into Stephen Baldwin at a wine cafe a couple blocks away. We didn’t ask for his scribble. I would much rather chat with a person I admire than be all “would you sign this.” I’m also not in it to make a buck on eBay. So I don’t usually ask for signatures, but I felt that since this event was set up for that purpose it would be ok.

We arrived at the KidrobotLA storefront about an hour before the signing event. We were about halfway down the line. While we waited, we chatted with the other toy geeks. The girl behind me had a Tara McPherson Dunny (LA series) tattoo. It was a fun wait.

At just around 6p, a couple came up the sidewalk together. Just as they were about to pass, my Pilot took a step backwards suddenly. I pulled his arm to try to prevent a collision. The couple had to step off the curb to avoid and as they headed down the walk I suddenly recognized the woman. Then I really got excited! She’s here!

I am a total spaz when it comes to meeting people I admire. I once blinded Tori Amos with a camera flash (true story). I had already been rehearsing what to say for a few days so Tara McPherson would know how big of a fan I am. I considered asking about her time with N** Y*** T**** (as they were calling the band after resistance from THE New York Times – a super lame move on their part) and that I was friends with them back when I had a myspace account. I also considered the chill approach – asking if she’d like to hang when she was done here, but thought it could be construed as too stalker-ish? I even thought it might be clever to tell her that she is two days older than me.

my first autograph

In the end I went with, “We came from Phoenix.”
To which she replied graciously, “Oh did you drive?”
“No, we flew.”
Even though about 42 million things rushed in my head, it was over that quickly.
“Well, enjoy your weekend here,” she said as I shyly thanked her and ducked out the door.

See? I’m so awkward.
Still, I smiled all the way back to the hotel.

The Pilot and I and our new kitty.

The Cat planning his attack

Check out all of Tara McPherson’s work at
We made it into the Kidrobot KRonikle! >]Click[< to check out the event pictures.

“small gift, big smile!”

November 22nd, 2010

My Melody Stamp Set 1976

One of my clearest memories of the early 80s is the “My Melody” stamp set my older sister had. I wanted it so badly. I used to sit and stare at the characters on the clear treasure box they were kept in forever. I doubt my sister appreciated it as much as I did. I loved all of My Melody’s friends too. The fox and the little mouse were so cute! I recently found a picture of that stamp set online. It’s was apparently made in 1976 and it’s exactly as it was burnt on my brain.

big smile

I have been in love with Sanrio since those days in the 80s when I first bacame aware. So when I found out that the “Small Gift” Sanrio 50th Anniversary event was going to be in Santa Monica, I knew we had to go! I asked ThePilot tentatively if it was possible to go. “Of course, we HAVE to go,” he said. Well ok! So I started looking at calendars and making plans and getting so excited.

Friday morning we got out of bed very early to catch a flight to LA. By 10a we were on our way down the road to the Santa Monica Airport. The event was held in the Barker Hangar there. We were greeted at the outside door by a giant balloon rainbow with Hello Kitty on it letting us know we were in the right place and that things were about to get a whole lot cuter.

Inside was an explosion of kawaii! Everything was embellished with Hello Kitty, Bad Badtz-Maru, Chococat, Keromi, and all the gang.
To kick things off with a big start was a Smart Car with a Hello Kitty paint job just inside the entrance.

Smart Kitty: no keys = can't drive off with it.

The rest of the hanger was a Sanrio play-heaven! There was a Ferris Wheel, a mini-golf course, face painting, DIY sand art tables, and skill games.

Dokidoki Yummychums and the Sanrio Ferris Wheel

mini-golf has never been more adorable!

I think I would be tempted to keep the bean bags as my prize.

From the ceiling hung giant cute mascot balloons.

Hello Kitty & Hangyodon

On one side there was even a stage with Hello Kitty and friends ready to dj.

Hello Kitty with Deery-Lou + Batdz Maru


DJ Hello Kitty

This was the line to get into the store (not the event – this was just for the Sanrio Pop-Up shop).

no wait is too long to get a "small gift, big smile"

Seems like everyone wanted to be involved in the Sanrio craze. Sanrio has a long history of collaboration with popular retailers and brands. Their 50th birthday is no exception.
The amazing folks at re-ment in Japan have made a series of Sanrio miniatures. They are extremely detailed and so tiny. The mini bakery goods look good enough to eat!

Hello Kitty X Sephora

Sanrio X re-ment

Sanrio X Bape

This line is a punky collaboration with Yoshiki one of the founders of the metal band X Japan.
Hello Kitty + Yoshiki = Yoshikitty. ^.^


All of my pictures of the event can be found in my Sanrio 50th Anniversary “small gift” Event set at flickr.

One of the biggest reason I really wanted to see the 50th Anniversary event was all the involvement of artists that I have been following for years. For me, it was the perfect combination of so many things I really enjoy. It is really interesting to see artists with a recognizable style try their hand at an interpretation of another’s work, especially one as well-know as Hello Kitty. Here are some of my favorites!
[photosmash id=14]
To see all of the pictures I took of the artwork at the event, check out my Sanrio 50th Anniversary Art album on flickr.