Yoshiki: Tribute to a Rock God


While I was working on an overdue restaurant blog, I realized that today was not going to be the day for that post to air. Today is a special day as it marks the 50th year that our one true lord and savior has graced us with His presence. Yes, folks. I am talking about none other than legendary rock legend, Yoshiki.


The photos you see above are the first photos I ever saw of Yoshiki; they’re both 2×3 paper print outs from 1999 when I was sent, among other sundry, four mix tapes containing the music that became the soundtrack for my teenage years and young adulthood. I was going into the hospital, you see, and had to take my final examines one week earlier than every other student because of it. I failed – or nearly failed – World History, despite my best efforts. Goddamn it, Reagan, why didn’t you offer me tutoring? I would have taken you up on it; you were one of the few teachers at SPHS that I respected and liked. I drew a manga based on the Romanov assassination and the end of WWI and you gave me a D. What the fuck.

I digress. Clearly, you can see that my sixteen year old self was riddled with angst and the stigma of being the weird sickly kid. I needed an anthem…a rallying cry to cling to when I felt cornered and alone. That rallying cry was X Japan:

Back to my stay in the hospital. I was alone, secluded in a corner room by myself. The hospital was over two hours away from home, and for the first time in my life, I let my mom stay home most nights because I was staying during the week and she had work. It was tough to make that choice, to tell my only parent that it’s OK to not keep me company every night. I wanted her by my side, of course, but I had to realize that she cannot be with me forever. All I had to keep me company was a pile of books, comic books, the occasional visit from the communal Super NES and my Walkman with my mix tapes. I listened to the compilation of Malice Mizer (the other band my soul sings to) and X Japan over and over again, trying to commit favorite songs to memory as best I could with my limited grasp on Japanese pronunciation.

I didn’t feel as lonely when I listened to my tapes. Toshi was there, in that horrible sterile white room with the soul-sucking fluorescent lights, crooning that he has nothing to loose except my heart (Week End); hide was at my bedside, making those famously silly faces as his guitared wailed, encouraging me to swing my heart! sing a song! (Celebration); the stoic Pata, ever serious, keeping my strength steadfast to see me this this latest health ordeal as his rhythmic guitar blares You don’t have to hesitate; X! get yourself out X! you know you are the best! X! Let’s go crazy! (X); Yoshiki at his glorious piano, giving me the life lesson all humanity ought to take to heart: Let me forget all of the hate, all of the sadness (Endless Rain).

With X Japan, take one element out and the rest doesn’t feel right. Toshi’s passionate screeches and emotive keening paired beautifully with Yoshiki’s cerebral lyrics and complex melodies that it makes even the staunchest non-believer wonder if there truly is Kismet. There isn’t a doubt in my mind these two were meant to befriend one another and form the greatest rock band known to Japan. Or the world, as far as I am concerned.

In a nutshell, X Japan is a Japanese heavy metal band, formed in 1982 by drummer and songwriter Yoshiki and his BFF/lead vocalist Toshi. All of the members of X Japan are big time in their own right, but Yoshiki stands out for his incomparable genius in both business and the creative. Were it not for his workaholic perfectionist zeal, X Japan could have easily slipped into mediocrity novelty. But they didn’t. Their music reached all across Japan into the hearts of many youths seeking for the melody that bumped along with their rebellious hearts. X became that melody, and in good rock ‘n’ roll fashion, the industry of the time loathed them and did their best to ignore them. But 20 million records can’t be wrong, nor ignored for long, and the mainstream was forced to reckon with them.

After the untimely death of the lovable guitarist hide just one year after X Japan disbanded, an X Japan reunion seemed unlikely. Then, in 2007, a decade since they last talked, Toshi reached out to his estranged best friend and by 2009, I was standing behind a crowd of clamoring fans watching the rock gods of my teenage years bring the mother fucking house down at the Wiltern.

I cannot adequately describe that night, try as I might. All but hide was there (in his stead, dear friend and legendary musician in his own right from the band Luna Sea, Sugizo). These men, demigods by my admission, whom I had resigned myself to never conceivably seeing in the flesh, let alone performing, went from these photos – not even real photos but printer paper with their names using the English alphabet for my benefit to being a mere twenty feet away from me, wailing as they can only wail. I remember feeling like I was in a dream, that anything is possible, and friendship transcends everything. Even time. Even death.

Mix Tapes

I still own those mix tapes which first brought the wonderful world of Japanese rock and roll to my ears. I will never get rid of them, or forget the circumstances in which they were given to me. They are among my most prized possessions, and no rare limited edition piece of official merchandise can ever trump them.

What this near 1000 word diatribe from an aging rock fan is desperately (and poorly) trying to say is thank you for all of the music, Yoshiki. May you have the happiest of birthdays.


MOON POWER MONDAY! Recapping Sailor Moon Crystal ep. 24

Are we still keeping up with Sailor Moon Crystal, everyone? I know I am, and I have been recapping each episode on my YouTube Channel. For the supremely lazy, here is the latest edition of Moon Power Monday:

I don’t know about you, but if I were asked point-blank to pick between Sailor Moon R and Sailor Moon Crystal’s Black Moon Arc, I would pick the latter in a heartbeat. Most people would say blasphemy, but after being a fan for 20 years, I get tired of filler and irked greatly with Chibi Usa’s first animated personality. How about you?

Hello Kitty LIVE Supercute Friendship Festival

Hello Kitty LIVE (photo credit: Sanrio)

Did you know that Hello Kitty turned 40 years old last year? Los Angeles has been lucky enough to host so many Hello Kitty celebrations including Hello Kitty Con last October and the Hello! exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum, which just closed this past weekend. Now the rest of America will have the chance to experience Hello Kitty Live!

Hello Kitty is hitting the road this week, with her first-ever live North American tour: Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival. Sanrio and international tour producer VEE Corporation have partnered to create, design and produce this inaugural tour event. Going beyond a traditional live stage show, the event will offer a unique multi-component, walk around family-friendly festival atmosphere for Sanrio fans of all ages.

For the first time in North America, Hello Kitty and her supercute friends Dear Daniel, My Melody, Badtz-Maru, Keroppi, Chococat, and Purin will appear in this unique celebration of fun, friendship and Sanrio surprises! Each event will feature Hello Kitty and her friends in multi-stage live performances and DJ-driven dance sequences, as well as interactive exhibits, animation, art, fashion, photo opportunities, event-exclusive merchandise and much more, all in one immersive festival environment!

Hello Kitty and her friends

Hello Kitty Live features the music of Bruno Mars, Kylie Minogue, Clean Bandit, Charli XCX, Echosmith, Nonono, Flo.rida and more!

“The collaboration between VEE Corporation and Sanrio will invite fans to step inside a Hello Kitty wonderland in their hometown,” said Jim Waters, Senior Vice President of Production for VEE Corporation. “Together we’ve created an experience that Sanrio fans of all ages will enjoy.”

Festival Dates:
Denver, CO (June 5-7)
Los Angeles, CA (June 12-14)
San Diego, CA (June 19-21)
and over 35 cities across the country.

TICKETS & SCHEDULE: For full show schedule & tickets, please visit hellokittyfestival.com

Join the fun, friendship and festivities as Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival makes a supercute stop in your city soon. Download the Hello Kitty Events App to stay updated with event information, connect with fans and earn supercute badges.

all photos are courtesy of Sanrio via Orsi Public Relations

Moon Crisis Sailormoon Exhibit at Rothick Art Haus

I had missed out on the first Sailormoon event in Little Tokyo, and then again on the opening night of Moon Crisis down in Anaheim. I mean, Anaheim? Yikes that is far for me. After I’d heard about the insane crowds at both events, causing some folks unable to even get into the gallery, I didn’t feel too left out. THEN one of my favorite artists, Miss Kika, announced she would be at the Moon Crisis “second opening night” to sign what remained of her limited edition silkscreen print, “Moonlight Legend”, at a reduced price. Now, I’d seen this piece up close and personal at Anime Expo, so I knew how gorgeous it is – and I’d been coveting it ever since she would tease her instagram followers with images of its progress. I decided I’d do everything I could to get out to Anaheim and splurge on this truly spectacular piece. It a twist of serendipity, my friends decided to take their daughter to Disneyland that afternoon, and dropped me off at Rothick Art Haus right before Moon Crisis was getting underway.

Here are some of my favorite piece of artwork from the exhibit:

Chibi Usa and Luna P by Pamela Barbieri

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Steffie’s San Diego Hen Party

It’s never easy when my girlfriends walk down that long, red carpet towards some man I’d shank in a heartbeat should he ever hurt my precious friend. Don’t get me wrong, most of the men my friends have decided to share their lives with I now consider friends, but they should never for a moment forget whose side I stand on out of pure loyalty. Eyes all of them.

Steffie is my fifth bride, and so far the only one who wanted a bachelorette blow-out weekend. The last time I had a hand in any sort of bachelorette shenanigans was in 2005 when I planned Lynleigh, my first brides’, “tacky bridesmaids dresses” themed party, which took place on a singular night in Hollywood. Nine years and three brides later, Steffie wants not a bachelorette party but a Hen Do, the UK, Aussie, Kiwi and Irish equivalent. The groom-to-be is Scottish and therefore, a Hen is fitting.

Here are some of the highlights from the weekend:

Our hostess, Tootie, dressed as Cher (LIPS Drag & Dinner Show)

They made Steffie and the other brides-to-be do a floor shot

Samplers from the Stone Brewery

Bride and Maid of Honor

Party Favors!


So I made a little Tastemade video of our trip to the Ballast Point Brewery, which unfortunately cut Steffie off. Sorry, Steffie! She wanted to add that she also enjoyed the Victory At Sea porter and Sculpin ale.

All in all, it was 48 hours of hot pink, phallic gags and booze-soaked good times. Soon enough, though, it will be time to walk down that aisle, Steffie Love. Your girls will be there right behind you whenever you need us.

The Fab Four join Cal Phil for Opening Concert Weekend


The Fab Four in Pasadena

HEY, YOU! What are you doing this weekend? Trying to beat the heat? I bet you are. Cool off with the California Philharmonic summer concert series with special opening weekend guests THE FAB FOUR. The Ultimate Beatles Tribute band, join The Fab Four & Cal Phil as they perform Beatles hits including “Sgt. Pepper”, “Hey Jude”, “Imagine” and “Penny Lane”. With uncanny, note-for-note live renditions of Beatles’ songs, The Fab Four make you think you are watching the real thing, complete with multiple costume changes that represent various eras of the Beatles ever-changing career.

Speaking as someone who has seen The Fab Four not once, not twice, but three times now ~ I can attest to their heart, skill and integrity of authenticity. I was fortunate to be able to correspond with Ron McNeil, founder of The Fab Four, musician, and John Lennon impersonator extraordinaire.

Q: From Australia, to Japan to the United Kingdom to right here in sunny Southern California, The Fab Four has played all over the world; what is that global appeal that makes The Fab Four stand out among other cover/tribute bands?

Ron McNeil: The first thing that stands out is the great music of The Beatles. Their message of peace and love transcends all barriers. We can physically see how the music bridges gaps, and brings people together. Our show is a reflection of that message. Each night we give a loving and respectful tribute to the greatest music of all time.

Q: When each member of The Fab Four dons their costume, how do they attempt that crucial component of embodying and emanating the essence of that particular member of The Beatles to the audience?

Ron McNeil: We each have our individual rituals that we go through to help us get into character. As a group, each night, just before we go on stage we have a secret handshake that basically means “Let’s go out there and perform as if The Beatles themselves were in the audience.” We feel like they deserve that respect.

Ron McNeil Q: How does performing alongside Maestro Vener and Cal Phil add to your show?

Ron McNeil: Maestro Vener is a blast to work with. He’s not as uptight, if you will, as other conductors that we’ve worked with. Plus, since he grew up with The Beatles, he likes to share his personal insights and memories with the audience. The Cal Phil Orchestra is just perfect for what we do. They have just enough “classical leaning” players, combined with more “jazzy” musicians. And that really helps to give us that authentic edge.

Q: Given the universal appeal of The Beatles and the way their lyrics have affected generations worldwide, how has performing these classic songs impacted your own lives?

Ron McNeil: Well, it’s not digging ditches, is it? The Beatles’ music continues to change lives. Obviously with us, we get to share that experience with people all over the world. I think that makes us especially blessed to experience their music from a fan’s point of view, as well as from an artist’s perspective.

Q: Though there has been much celebration of ’50th Anniversaries’ since 2010, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of world wide Beatlemania – can you share with us some plans The Fab Four might have cooking?

Ron: Next year’s gonna be huge. We cant tell you exactly what we have planned, because it’s a bit of a secret. But, we can say that we’ll be out there to help people remember that incredible moment in history.

Santa Anita Race Track – 5:30p gates/7:30p concert – Tickets & Info Here

Walt Disney Concert Hall Downtown L.A. – 2:00pm – Tickets & Info Here

Can’t make it this weekend? Check out The Fab Four tour schedule!