After returning from my trip to North Carolina, New York, London, Sevilla, and Washington DC in June, I started my mission to hug 500 people for an internet video contest. I worked my way down from San Francisco to San Jose to Los Angeles, approaching complete strangers along Fisherman's Wharf, the Castro, Venice Beach, Hollywood Blvd, and Santa Monica Pier and asking them for a hug on camera. It was a bizarre experience that forced me to communicate with people and sell them on a silly/unusal idea. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to boost my spirits for very long.
I spent most of July house-sitting in Studio City where I fell deeper into a state of malaise and sadness. I scoured the internet for short films and videos that would reinvigorate my passion for filmmaking and maybe spark some of my own creativity. Some of the more interesting bits I posted on Filmgen.com, the short film blog I spun off of my production site.
Towards the end of July, Azad and I found ourselves house-sitting a multi-million dollar house right on the Venice Beach strip. We joined friends for an all night art event in Santa Monica called Glow. Our buddy Danny cut together a great video:
Azad and I worked on various videos while taking care of the cats, people watching, and skateboarding around the enormous beach house.
In August I popped up to San Jose to visit friends and family and to figure out my next move. I spent some time with old friends, supporting the downtown art scene and having late night discussions in garages.
After a month of low physical activity and rapidly diminishing spirits, I decided to head off to Yosemite for a hike up to Half Dome on my own. I loaded my ipod with Chinese tunes and audiobooks by the Dalai Lama and Randy Pauch (of "The Last Lecture" fame who had recently passed away). Sa Ding Ding's album lifted me up thousands of feet in elevation on what felt like an epic journey. Later, as I listened to his holiness, the Dalai Lama, discuss pain and suffering, I realized that I was a fool to think I could do a 17 mile hike with no warm up. Staring at the wall for a month had not helped to prepare me for the aching hips and the crippling pain in my knees. The hike took about 13 hours to complete with moments where I wondered whether I could be airlifted from the trail. Upon returning to my brother's house, I found it not only difficult to walk but also to lay in bed. A year of hiking across the planet, across cityscapes, volcanoes, sand dunes, and mountains... To think I was almost beaten by Half Dome. But I made it.
I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, astounded by the spectacle and sheer magnitude. It brought me back to China and seeing Zhang Yimou's amazing show in Yangshuo just last summer. I played with the idea of flying out to China again but restrained myself. I instead ended up back in Los Angeles where I did some more house-sitting in Reseda and watched all three seasons of Veronica Mars. I caught Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl and reminisced about my past in Los Angeles.
And now I'm taking some personal time alone (pardon me if I'm hard to reach for the next few weeks) to get healthy and to sort out some upcoming options. This Fall, I plan to rise.
Music of Summer:
Beirut, Beach House, Sa Ding Ding, Yeasayer, Midlake, The Virgins, Ra Ra Riot
Films of Summer:
Wall-E, Wanted, American Teen, Hellboy II, The Dark Knight, Vicky Christina Barcelona, The Wackness, Elegy, Transsiberian (Ben Kingsley anyone?)