11 or so pics from Dubai

So I was a keynote speaker and guest at the Access Film & Media Conference at this years MEFCC. I was terrible at getting my camera out of my bag, it was just too frantic of a trip to stop and click the shutter. I’ll do better next time. Here were a few snaps, I’ll try and make up for it with stories though. Click one for slideshow & biggerer:

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So I did get to go do a deal in Al Karama district. As a Canal street veteran, Grade A New York haggler, and boisterous braggart when it comes to street negotiations… my new friend Arafaat decided to challenge me in Karama. Like you would handicap a pro golfer, Arafaat wheeled us in a shinny new Cadillac CTS-V (which mind you is a slick choice in the world of Dubai supercars). Having just walked out of meetings, we were dressed to the nines and far away from our typical wardrobe of comic book shirts and flip-flops. Arafaat, with his bespoke carbon-fiber cuff links and my super shinny near Mexicali Barrio Apache Hyphy crew shoes, wasn’t doing me any favors. We began strolling by the vendors hearing the standard call outs of well known brand names. We decided that a high-line watch would be the most difficult item to negotiate for based on our current look.

There were several shady characters in this grey market here. I caught some younger vendors, that while having the energy to negotiate for hours, seemed to be the most enturpanuring of the lot. I gave the nod that we might be interested in seeing some watches. They whisked us into a tidy, brightly lit store front, pushed on a section of uncovered wall, and slid it back to reveal a secret passageway to a set of dimly lit stairs. In any other country (looking at you Mexico), I would have faked a phone call, and jettisoned outta there in a flash.

This however was Dubai, and I had something to prove, so we lead the way into the unknown (Pro Tip: never be the first guy on the stairs in a dangerous situation, you have little tactical advantage). We got to the negotiating room. Lined floor to low ceiling with suitcases I assume were filled with contraband.  They set up a folding table and chairs, removed a section of wall in front of us, pulled out merchandise, and began calling unknown parties on their cells.

They promptly left the room. Arafaat looked at me in wild-eyed confusion. “Take a picture”, I said.

photo credit: Arafaat Ali Khan

photo credit: Arafaat Ali Khan

The men came back in the room, and as a Canal street knockoff watch connoisseur, I wasn’t overly impressed initially with the selection or quality. They were quick to catch on, and after a call and barely a minute of wait time a new suitcase arrived. Now we were talking. Before me was s selection of the best quality grey market timepieces that would make the most hardcore nerds on do a spit take.

Now the dance could begin.

The initial prices they were quoting were on the ridiculous high side. It was clear our current dress and arrival in the fuck-off Caddy had put targets on the wallet. Settling on a timepiece of the utmost build quality (only way I do knockoffs anymore, besides I’m a vintage guy at heart as you probably know) I told them the price I would pay. No. That price. No deviation. That was the price. Mind you, we’re talking below 60% of their ask.


They argued for a hot minute, and after at least two more calls to a big boss I assume, they capitulated. Arafaat stared at me in wonder. Was I a wizard? It was clear they were not trilled with the deal, but a sale was better than no sale. How could I have known their bottom line from the start? How could ol’ Nortega get so close to their margin? It’s not like I deal with shady knockoff watches everyday. No… simply put-

I cheated.

Allow me to teach you how it was done. Early on I noticed the merchandise had price tags on the bottom but with only letters in place of numbers. In this case, there was a very simple substitution cipher in play. Based on their repeat opening offers of 2x listed value it was pretty clear how the code worked. In this case it was the most basic: A=1 B=2 C=3 D=4 etc.

Most pawn shops and some antique stores will use a similar code to remind themselves and let employees know what their cost was. MARYLOUISE used to be a common pawn shop code. With M=1, A=2 and so forth. Other common cipher blocks are MONEYTALKS, BLACKHORSE, and VOLKSWAGEN. 10 letter words if you hadn’t caught on.

By the way, it is best not to let on that you’ve cracked their code. I later had to get Arafaat a little thank you gift. What better than a 12V automotive Shisha!?!

automotive shisha


Anyway great time in that city. Very unique spot on this earth. Some other things that happened that deserve stories… but we’ll just have to go with pics for now.

Got to chill with Shatner:


Got to hang with the greats of the anime industry (some of whom I hadn’t seen in years!):


Got to drag race this turkey (info on vanity plates in Dubai) :


Ate some fish split in half an roasted via open sand pit:


Got to see where the Electronic Dance Music Saxophonists have gone to die:


Miami Connection

This revival film is playing at Fantastic Film Fest the same week we are. I must say I’m only a few minutes into watching it as I’m working on some new JiJ pages... and wow… this is just amazing. A era of Florida history captured perfectly on a bootleged VHS. There’s even a little guy that I swear is John Oates… and I should know I’ve worked with him and his mustache before.


21 minutes through FetishCon 2011

…and to the Hub.  On a long stroll through downtown Tampa, I happened upon Fetish Con again (like I had managed a year before). I didn’t really feel up to a prolonged stay this time around, as I was meeting a friend at the Hub.  Next year maybe I’ll be in the mood to shoot more. There’s little escape from the energy that this event creates in that town.  The last few moments of our evening were of the delightful fellow pictured propositioning me and Andy to “Go dancing, if we knew what he mean’d.”  We would then motion to the several 50 dollar bills he spread on the table. Andy repeated and repeated: “The friendly’s wearing off.”

He never really understood that meant “no.”

Click for slideshow:

12 Hours at MetroCon 2011

Pictures from an Anime convention from either a Epson RD-1 w/ Rokkor 40/2 and Leica M9 w/ Summicron 35/2 v4. Click for bigger n’ slideshow:

Your electric calculator is crap

Get mechanical and add shit even after an EMP blast:

Your Boots are Garbage

Unless you’re rolling pointy con los Barrio Apache Hyphy Crew:

Looks like this video is down for a bit. Watch here:

Stuffed with Crap

Not since cakewrecks baby: Crappy Taxidermy

How Much Are You Packin?

I wanna have a pint with agency guys that championed this one. “Just sayin'”

Your Cop Show idea is crap.

Yeah, yeah you’ve got the perfect network pitch for a cop show ever concocted. You used the they fight crime generator endlessly to generate the perfect ethnically and world-view-opposed team up ever seen. You’re thinking your idea makes The Wire seem like Elmo’s World. Whatever dude. It’s all shit compared to this:

Guerilla Group 8 : ???????????

This Japanese cop show was built around Mitsubishi’s current car line up, so you know it’s good.  Basically it looks like the guys at Mitsu paid the film crew to blow up a bunch of Toyotas, and drive their showroom floor around looking  1980’s good (in the early 90’s mind you).

It had all the right goods to promote it. You could never hope to reach the level of brand-synergy that this show had… show why bother trying? Just give it up and go back to your Bromantic Comedy because that genre still doesn’t have it’s perfect creation just yet.

Why does Nortega care? No reason beyond the fact that I own a set of the super cool and rare Volk Group C rims pictured below on the gullwing-doored Mistubishi Starion… and would like to have the toy gun and badge set even further down.


I’ll buy your steadicam for 25 bucks

steadicam‘Cause you won’t need it after you

watch this shit!

John Hack @ Adobe writes: Adobe researchers Hailin Jin and Aseem Agarwala*, collaborating with U.Wisconsin prof. Michael Gleicher & Feng Liu, have unveiled their work on “Content-Preserving Warps for 3D Video Stabilization.” In other words, their tech can give your (and my) crappy hand-held footage the look of a Steadicam shot.

Check out the demonstration video, shot at & around Adobe’s Seattle office. It compares the new technique to what’s available in iMovie ’09 and other commercial tools.


Uh, seriously… WTF?

Best review I can find: It’s the Citizen? Kane of the armpit katana-anal bleeding- tengu milk squirting-bleeding building-action-gore-geisha-an al bleeding-anal katana-shamisen-romance genre!

A Fucking Reality Show!?!


I’ve joked for years that the daily operations of our animation studio would make a halfway decent reality series… but I don’t know if we’d ever really want to be in front of the public eye at all. If you got to know the real cast of characters that are behind making an animated production… um, well we ARE talking about guys and gals that draw the same thing over and over hundreds of times, just to make a few seconds of motion on screen. They are not the most social, well-adjusted bunch. They are not as pretty as the cast of The Hills. They have very, very dark moments… I digress.

Anyway, some group out there is going forward with that very idea. At 24 frames per second it takes 7200 frames to make a five minute short, hence the clever title. Here is a link to a Cartoon Brew’s coverage of the yet to enter production reality series. And a link to the actual show’s site. And a link to the fact that it might be somehow connected to Titmouse? If anyone enters, let me know. I’m interested to see how this progresses. Me… I think I’m out of the running on this one kids.