Colin Marshall sits down in Sawtelle (also known as Los Angeles’ “Little Osaka”) with Eric Nakamura, founder of Asian-American aesthetic culture and lifestyle brand Giant Robot. They discuss the differences between the Sawtelle he grew up in and the Sawtelle he finds himself in today; how and where he got his doses of Japanese pop culture growing up; Los Angeles as a “gateway to Asia” then and now; the days when Giant Robot began as a photocopied zine, and what zinemaking means in 2014; Giant Robot’s various manifestations, from shops to galleries even to a restaurant; the local titles applied to him including “Mayor of Sawtelle” and “Sawtelle Shogun”; what he learned about other cities like San Francisco and New York from operating Giant Robot branches in them; the first trips to Japan he remembers, and the American cultural exchange he saw going on in them; his “just hanging out” style of travel, sometimes with stray cats; how Los Angeles’ lack of connectedness may have made it a more interesting place; (former Sawtelle resident) Shunji Iwai’s Vampire, Wong Kar-Wai’s My Blueberry Nights, and what happens when Asian directors work in the West; how Asia has come together in films like Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s Last Life in the Universe; what it means that more artists want to depict Los Angeles these days; and his preference of a role as new guy over a role as elder statesman.
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