Wednesday, July 28, 2010

China man in America pt.7

Well technically, I'm not in America anymore. Although, I'm still pretty much jet-lagged and whenever I'm awake at 4am I think about the sunny, awesome fried pickle serving North Carolina. And the people.
To sum up my 8 days in Charlotte, America, I have to say the major difference is the people. Americans simply have honest personalities. I'm not saying they're all honest, more like they don't try to hide who they are. And they do it with such confidence I can understand how we'd take that as arrogance.
A grocery shop assistant in Charlotte is happier than a grocery shop assistant in Melbourne. Even when I asked if I could take her photo, she'd joke about hitting the club that night. (In Melbourne any other assistant would probably call security.)
Maybe it's because I was a tourist. And being a tourist you always find beauty in what locals would take for granted. But I need to learn to inject some American confidence in myself.

Friday, July 23, 2010

China man in America pt.6

Ok, unsurprisingly, the shitty part of America is the money.
Let's start with the notes. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Australia's system of colored notes turned out to be a great idea. I get the amount simply by glancing at the colors; yesterday I was behaving like a caveman trying to sort out the hamsters from the squirrels. Not to mention the metric system of dimes, quarters and cents. But that's probably because I haven't got the time or intelligence to get used to it.
The next problem I had, was the tax behind everything. That's right, tax is not included in the price tag and you have to calculate the total in your own head, not very disimilar with their service tips. Perhaps this is why Americans are sharper in general, because they have to perform simple maths constantly. But I really don't like the feeling that everything is not what they appear to be.
Having said that, their credit card system is awesome. We were in a shop, and this guy basically took care of payment by an iPod touch attached to a barcode scanner and credit card swipe. At Costco, you're subscribed to their own version of American Express card and receive rebates to spend in the shop.
That's not necessarily a good thing, but it sure is convenient.

China man in America pt.5

Saw the trailer of 'The Social Network'(or rather, the Facebook movie) before Inception and after being captivated by the soundtrack I have downloaded and read the script in Gary's living room.

Reserving my impression about the script(did I mention David Fincher is directing this?), I have to say, this is the best designed movie poster of the year. The fact that the movie title is hidden on the upper right hand corner and the viewers simply can't escape the tagline. It's a well thought, intelligent design.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

China man in America pt.4

I have to admit, my first impression of Charlotte is that everything is a knock-off of my world. The detergents look like detergents in Australia, but with different names. Cereal boxes look exactly the same, but with different names. I find comfort when I see ads about products I recognise eg., Nutella, McDonalds, Doritos.
Without my familiar brands, everything seems to be the same and I've lost my sense of bearing.
And then it hit me like that Nicole Kidman movie about the haunted house but in the end she realised she was the ghost instead (sorry for ruining it for you, it was a shit movie anyway).
Australia IS the knock off version of America.
We don't design stuff, we steal everything from America. We probably just copy and pasted the labels via Proctle and Gamble or Unilever.
And a little bit of Australian design pride died inside of me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

China man in America pt.3 - The wedding.

Many things didn't go as planned for Gary's wedding.
From the photographer's point of view, the biggest obstacle was the rain. With a camera on each shoulder, I could only manage to support the umbrella by squeezing the handle between my cheek and collarbone.

But it was perfect. Because Gary and Leslie-Ann didn't want a conventional wedding to start with.

The ceremony was held at Gary's brother's beautiful backyard, which meant a lot to them.
The sister-in-law handled all the invitations and design.
Gary's best-man was his father.
Leslie-Ann did her own make up in the living room.
There wasn't any giant reception, or a whole line of bridesmaids.
And it's amazing even though the ceremony was dark and wet, everyone was crying (father of the bride couldn't lift his head up) and even as the photographer I couldn't help feeling all teary.

It was a small, elegant, intimate and emotional summer wedding. But most important of all, it was the wedding they both wanted.

I was telling Gary how this wedding is probably a special one for me (if I were to shoot any future ones) because I was simply part of it and everyone accepted me. I wasn't the photographer who turned up for the day. I was also the guest and I'm pretty comfortable with the relationship between everyone. Maybe I'm just bias simply because I'm so welcomed here. Being the foreigner, I find North Caroliners pretty sincere and upfront about their feelings. And I'm super stoked that I chose NC to be my introductory visit to America.

And to think I almost didn't want to come.

That's right.

Gary was, and is happily married.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

China man in America pt.2

So tomorrow's the wedding day and I'm staying with Gary's parents tonight. They're such nice people it's freaking me out.
Seriously, I always thought such hospitality exists only in the world of Michael Bay.
But it's so great to be here I can't wait to shoot tomorrow.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The China man in America.

So after being ordered to hold up my right hand to solemnly swear that I had no intention of invading the country, I found myself in terminal 4 of LAX.

And the first thing I noticed, is the consumption of things. Everyone's queuing up to buy food. There's 2 Starbucks within 300m radius, people were holding a bag of their McBreakfast on one hand and a big cup of watery colorful thing on the other, waiting for their flights.

Those who weren't eating were consuming technology. (One sweet thing they have though, is a counter to charge different type of mobile phones. Saw it in Tokyo airport 5 years ago, still amazed Australia is not doing it.) On my flight to Charlotte I sat next to a couple who had an iPad each. I heckled by reciting the Apple ad, 'iPad is thin, iPad is beautiful', to which they replied, 'I know! Isn't it wonderful!'

But the biggest 'fuck me' moment of all, is the size of the cars. If you think Australian Utes are big, shit, they can literally fit in the trunk of the GMCs here. As we drove out on Gary's Jeep, looking out of the window, I actually felt like I was in a normal sedan.

So that's my first day round up. As if you don't know this already. But I'm jet-lagged. So I'm going to eat more cheesy corn puffs and tortilla chips.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

US of A.

Yup, I'm actually off to Charlotte, NC tomorrow.

Not that it will make a difference. But I probably will blog more often now that I'm not in Melbourne. Maybe.

The last time I traveled this far was to London, and I hated it because it was going through a heat wave.

The weather forecast said Charlotte is going through a heat wave now.

So, wish me luck.

I am definitely getting Old Spice by the litter, I mean, gallon.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Ayem Tylerh Durdhen.

I recently found out that Chika is a racist.

If she were to spot an Indian chef in the restaurant kitchen, she'd complain about the food. According to her, if the chef is Indian, then the food will definitely contain cumin spice, even if it's lasagna.

Actually, perhaps she's just sensitive about the food she eats.

Maybe I'm the racist instead.

But seriously, we don't eat out that much during lunch, and for the past 3 new places we tried, we've spotted Indian chefs in the kitchen.

Even the Irish pub we went for her birthday lunch today.

They're driving the cabs, serving us food, doing our laundry, answering our calls.

Can you imagine, an Indian Fight Club?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

World. Word.

Whenever I'm not making ads, I have time to look at ads.

(If you think that's ironic, consider this: most people working in advertising don't really have time to be exposed to ads. We simply look at awesome billboards and magazines ads and TV commercial from the office, through the internet, in front of the computer. But we still don't buy this 'digital advertising' bullshit. But more on that later.)

Since I used to work on ANZ I somewhat have a soft spot for them. I happen to love the guy who created the previous ANZ template thus resulted to my bashing of their new brand relaunch last year, titled 'We live in your world'. (see fig.1)

fig.1 Work of art

So when I walked down Chinatown yesterday and saw the new ads with the same message, I applied my natural cringe of disgust and walked on.

But I stopped.

And walked back.

Because, that wasn't an ad for ANZ. (see fig.2)


It's an ad for ANOTHER bank. With the world as their preposition.

And since Citi is basically right in front of ANZ in Chinatown, is this like a face off of the banks? We live in your world. Oh really? In my world, there're no robbers. Oh really, in my world you're gay. Oh really?...