Graffiti Sesh: Learning How To Write

GS Gis

I’ve been wanting to learn the art of spray painting.  My interest in it was continually amplified throughout 2014 after being exposed to the graffiti cultures of Tokyo, London, Paris, and California.  Especially upon seeing the walls on the railroad heading to Paris absolutely covered in French graffiti.  This caught me by surprise because I never associated France with that particular brand of street art -even if it is the home of Blek le Rat, father of stencil graffiti.

Drawings I found online by Blek le Rat:
blek le rat Blek le Rat 2

After buying a book called “Global Street Art” in California late last December, I decided that as soon as I got back to Manila I would be a writer too.

What it means to write: In Global Street Art, “graffiti refers to ‘writing’ -a youth subculture that had its origins in mid-1960s Philadelphia and grew explosively after reaching New York in the late 1960s […] There was no expectation of any economic reward by writing; writers were simply looking for a form of recognition.  Graffiti provided a way of finding an identity among peers.  Fame was (and still is) the ultimate achievement in writing”.

I don’t have a deep or subversive reason for why I want to become part of this subculture of writers.  I just find it interesting.  And that spark of interest is all I need to get me going.  My friend Harry felt the same way.  One fast “We’re so cool and random!” chat later, he and I were at Home Depot stocking up on supplies.  That was Day 1 of our graffiti sesh.  Day 2 was our actual painting day.

GS Harry's Car

Breakdown of costs
Php 700 x 2 pieces of plywood (Php 350 each)*
Php 1200 x 8 cans of spray paint (roughly Php 150 each)*
Php 350 x masks (comes in a set of 3)
Total cost: Php 2250

This figure isn’t exact.  It varies based on the plywood’s dimensions, the brand of spray paint, and the place you’re buying from.  We tried hitting up True Value first.  They didn’t have wood or masks and their spray paint was 2x the price.  A southerner’s best bet is to go straight to Home Depot (we didn’t canvas Wilcon so I can’t say if prices are better there). People up north (or wherever you can find an Ace Hardware) will find better masks (ours were the flimsy disposable kind).  People who can access Divisoria will find even cheaper spray paint (Php 80 average).  Not sure where to find cheaper ‘canvases’ though.  I plan on hitting up a construction site one of these days to see if they can spare me some scrap metal.

GS 4GS Gis 3GS Gis 4GS Gis 2GS Harry 2GS HarryIt’s important to wear a mask.  The fumes get toxic faster than you know.  Also, paint gets everywhere just as quick.  Which is why I brought a long piece of cloth and newspaper to cover our workspace and plastic gloves and an apron to cover myself.

GS Gis 6GS Gis 5

Harry set up our makeshift studio in his garage.  He brought out his laptops for video editing and beer to aid his creative process.
I brought my GoPro Hero 4 Silver for documentation, the water speakers Giann bought me for xmas because they’re dope and because I wanted to blast trap, and points of reference (Global Street Art book, drawing I made years prior of my friend Nicole in her astronaut helmet).

GS 1GS Harry 3GS Gis 8GS Gis 7

GS 3

Harry and I gave ourselves graffiti names for when we collab: #Hash and #Tag.  We’ll think of less conspicuous, more personal tagging names when we do this for real.

Last thing:
for the past few months, people have been telling me they’re worried I’m getting too thin, but I never really noticed how much weight I lost until I saw my graffiti sesh photos. No need to worry friends, it’s not intentional.  I just lose weight when I travel and I was all over the place last year.  I’ll gain the weight back as life normalizes, but for now I’m going to love the hell out of my sexy abs.

Peace out,


Thoughts on Taking Control of My Twenties

I want to start writing again.  I stopped because I couldn’t get my thoughts to behave themselves.  I get so anal about stuff like that.  But Tommy’s right, “The important thing is to never stop. Regardless of the caliber of what you create, you should never stop“.  

I’ve also come to realize that my thoughts are supposed to misbehave:

The twenty(+) year old mind is a mess.  It’s when your brain goes on a crazy rewiring spree -optimizing synapses that are frequently used and eliminating those that aren’t.  This is the time everything about yourself gets reconfigured.  And when you become who you are.  So active steps must be taken to make sure that who you are is who you want to be.

But figuring out who you want to be is difficult -especially when you’re working with a messed up twenty(+) year old mind.  So it’s important not to lose your head.

Yuko Shimizu - Blow Up 3- The Big Bang

Use your head.

Life can be a super douche.  It’ll hand you a hundred and fifty pounds of luck only to storm in (without warning) demanding it back with interest -leaving you worse off than when you started.  Sometimes life will be kind and won’t resort to such asshattery, but use your head.  Would you really let anyone -even someone as big as life- have that kind of power over you?  No freaking way! You have to take charge and make your own good fortune.

Yuko Shimizu - Superhero Calendar

Admittedly, it’s easier to surrender to circumstance than it is to take control of it.  The greatest factor is fear.  It’s scary to know just how much power you have over life because you’ll have no one to blame but yourself if it screws you over.  Don’t let it screw you over.  Be better than that.  Be in control.

Know that you’ll always be accountable for your actions.  Because even when you feel like you don’t, you will always have a choice.  Will you choose to nourish the most beautiful aspects of your self?  Or will you surrender control and one day wake up wondering “What the hell happened to me??”

Yuko Shimizu - Beauty Belongs to the Flowers Yuko Shimizu - The Unwritten #3

The idea of happiness/success is highly individual, as is the process of attaining it.  Absolutely no one can tell you what you should want out of life or how to get it.  You have to figure these things out for yourself.

Some people take time off to find themselves before making their next move.  But I’m a shark, and sharks die when they stop moving.  I refuse to waste time trying to find myself before I take action.  I choose to find myself through action.

My twenty(+) year old mind is a mess.  My thoughts are constantly tackling each other, causing chaos in my head.

Yuko Shimizu - The War Room

I know it’s because my brain is going on a crazy rewiring spree -optimizing synapses that are frequently used and eliminating those that aren’t.  It’s preparing me to become the person I’m supposed to be.  I may not know who that person is exactly (I don’t know what empire I want to build or what kind of legacy I want to leave behind.  I can’t even decide how I want to do my blog!) but I do know that I want to be someone who is always leveling up in every aspect of being.

So I suppose I’ll do what I always do and keep moving.  No matter how many things life throws at me, I must stay disciplined and focus on maximizing my potential.

Gis do it, right?

Yuko Shimizu - Shaolin Monk




Speaking the Language of Muffins

I like messing with new recipes and working on old ones.  I feel like I’m learning a new language whenever I do.
I’m fluent in muffin, but I still have to work on the orange chocolate dialect.  I’ve also been teaching myself cinnamon roll and revel bar.

Each of these languages/recipes have their own distinct vocabulary, even though every single one of them is derived from the same mother tongue.  I explained this two years ago in my old blog, back when the television projection of Ina Garten was teaching me how to speak the language of herbed-baked eggs.

The Study of Culinary Linguistics
Circa 2011 

I felt like emulating the Barefoot Contessa this morning so I decided to make herbed-baked eggs for breakfast.  They ended up  slightly overcooked but still more than edible.

Making mistakes in the kitchen is a big deal for me, but not in the typical way.  I don’t do them on purpose -of course- and I love when a recipe turns out perfectly, but when I do mess up I get excited.  Why?  Because mistakes help me understand the context of a recipe.  When I’m cooking or baking I feel as though I’m learning another language.  The literary and the culinary arts are expressive and precise -whether the author or cook is conscious of this or not.  Ingredients are like words.  Both can stand alone or be emulsified with other words/ingredients to form mouthfuls that can be happily swallowed or spat out in disgust.  They must also be selected with care to create the best effect.  Using “fuck” to pepper your paragraphs, for example, might leave a bad taste in people’s mouths while an overindulgence in big words could make your writing difficult to digest.  Keep in mind that fresh phrases/ingredients are usually preferred.  In the case of the former, just remember: nobody wants to chew on a stale cliche.

Recipes abide by a certain structure, something almost grammatical in nature.   Diverging from this original pattern alters the entire outcome of what you’re feeding yourself or others.  Punctuations could represent the process of manipulation individual ingredients are exposed to.  The introduction of these aspects can alter the meaning you wanted to convey with your work.

An example taken from “The Big Time Rush” -a show I hate, but will quote from anyway because I thought the wordplay was clever:

“Adult Swim. No Kids Allowed” became: “Adult swim? No! Kids Allowed”

Cooking has similar “punctuations”.  Behold:

(Roast…) the beef and carrots with garlic

(Saute) the (chopped) beef and carrots with (sliced) garlic

(Stir fry!!) the (shredded!) beef and carrots with (diced!) garlic

Same ingredients.  Different manipulation processes.  Various outcomes.

The cook and the author must also be aware of their measurements and portion sizes.  They should prepare something that satisfies without being too overwhelming.  There must be balance in flavor, intensity…everything.

Next time, I won’t overcook my eggs.  They’ll be creamy and buttery and delicious!  I just hope my writing will be just as improved as my cooking.


gis getting started

I hate introductory entries.  They tend to come off as awkward, generic and somewhat contrived.

That’s not to say there are no great first entries in existence.  They are out there.  But I’m about 187% sure these rare happenings involve some kind of soul-selling tradeoff.
Hold on!  Before thou deemeth me a witcheth, contemplate me olde logicks:
First of all, I’m not speaking of devil deals.
But coming up with a decent -much less amazing- first entry does require supernatural literary skillz.  These skillz come at a price.  And that price just so happens to be your soul.

Why?  Because writing exposes your soul.   Every thought you convey and publish is a piece of you that you’ve just made available for public consumption.  And the public will consume you.  Which is fine, because you want to be devoured. You offer your words as food for thought.  The goal is for people to internalize your offering -so make your words fulfilling.  It’s soul-food.  It’s supposed to satisfy.

The irony is that writers must starve for their art.
To be a writer you must always be hungry.  Hungry for experience.  Hungry for understanding.  Hungry for answers that make you even hungrier.  You become an appetite -always having to feed your mind (and the soul it imagines is yours).

When you’re a writer, you treat a reading list like a grocery list.  Every so often, you have to cruise through aisles of mental munchies in search of:
[ ] Something nourishing
organic brain food, freshly harvested
[ ] Something easy to digest
small intellectual tidbits that can be stored at room temperature
[ ] Or something that’s pure guilty pleasure
trashy magazines with no nutritional value and whose content will go straight to your hips.

Then you take all the insights inside you and try to determine which ones are essential to you and the message you’re trying to convey.  Because isn’t that the point of writing?  To communicate a thought?  A dream?  A sexy fantasy?

I guess that’s my problem.  I don’t really know what I’m trying to say.  And when I do, I don’t really know how to say it.  I find writing difficult most of the time, even if it’s such a straightforward process.  There’s always something to add, omit or change completely.

But I can’t sit around waiting for the perfect words.  If I keep doing that this blog will never get started.  And there’s so much I want to say about stocks, chia seeds and sexy fantasies the pursuit of happiness.

I suppose I always do this to myself.  I’m always holding myself back, always waiting for that perfect moment.  Which is so silly because the most amazing things happen to me when I just go for it.

I mustn’t be afraid of the seemingly inopportune.  I must keep telling myself: “gis…do it”.