Sunday, August 19, 2012

JDMphasis: A Trip to SoCal

The lack of posts recently is due to the fact that I have spent the better half of the past week on the West Coast.

With no real itinerary other than a single lunch date with the President of Bulletproof Automotive, Ben Schaffer, one could say I took on LA by the seat of my pants. My goals were to simply explore the city, eat some good food, and take in the culture of the West Coast.

However, the night before my flight out I received an e-mail from Jay, JDMEGO, and in my response I made it a point to make him aware that I would be out in his neck of the woods over the course of the next few days. Knowing Jay for a couple years or so via e-mail and text message, he told me to shoot him a text when I got out there. He said he would be showing his EVO for the first time in over three years at the Nisei Showoff event and told me to stop by if I could. Perhaps THE biggest pro-authenticity advocate and promoter of originality in the JDM parts scene and the main personality behind discouragement of corner-cutting, I really wanted to meet Jay. A down-to-Earth guy with nothing but respect for the culture and someone whom I have come to personally respect greatly over the years, Jay is a top-notch, good dude. I was pretty disappointed when I was not able to get situated in my hotel room until later than anticipated and, thus, missed the car show. I texted Jay to let him know and found out he was off to another show in Long Beach that night anyway… Like I said, disappointing. Hopefully next time, Jay!

One unexpected, yet pleasant, surprise during my stay in SoCal was what seemed like a personal tour guide. As I mentioned above, I was supposed to meet up with Ben one day for lunch. However, I ended up spending the better part of three entire days with him. Good stuff. It would have been impossible to cover the entire city of Los Angeles in the limited time I was there, but I was extremely pleased with my personal “tour.” Ben showed me some great spots that he deemed culturally unique to Southern California.

I brought my DSLR with me, but I did not want to be the East Coast tourist walking around, bulky camera in tow, snapping pictures of street signs and random SoCal miscellany. However, I did have my iPhone with me at all times and managed to chronicle my visit by snapping, as non-tourist-discreetly as I could, quite a few pictures, including many of the foods I enjoyed. I don’t think I ate one meal with which I was not fully satisfied and impressed. 

Causa Spicy Tuna from Picca Peru - Amazing!

Grilled Vegetables Salad

A manly cocktail.

Picca. [JDMphasis Recommended.]

Random, but this might have been the best turkey sandwich I have ever had...  Gjelina on Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Mainstay Bugatti on Rodeo...

Random wall art.

Venice Beach.

A few random shots of LA...

A photographic glimpse into my trip to SoCal, hanging around with the founder of Bulletproof Automotive, would not be complete without some shots of the Bulletproof R35 GT-R Demo car. Beautiful. Full Amuse exhaust, Recaro SR-7 Evolution seats, Top Racing dry carbon hood and doors, Rays Gram Lights R57GT Black Edition wheels, one-off trunk and dry carbon Esprit wing combo, etc…

The day I was leaving I met up with Ben for the last time and received a tour of the Bulletproof office and warehouse. Some of the nicest cardboard any admirer of JDM could want to see…

One last THANK YOU, Ben, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to show me around and make me feel welcomed. Great food, drink, conversation, and some sick Japanese cars made for a one-of-a-kind experience. I look forward to my next visit.

I would just like to add that a compulsion to Japanese cars and the Japanese aftermarket served as the anchor for my connection with both Ben and Jay – attested by years of e-mails, text messages, and phone calls. However, titanium exhausts, forged wheels, and functional aero designs, although amazing conversation topics, are likely not the sole foundation of good friendship. Perhaps, more than cars, this hobby is about people; passionate people. I do not think it is coincidence that both Jay and Ben are passionate enthusiasts with whom I have formed, not only great relationships but, solid friendships. I am truly grateful for the many relationships (and few friendships) I have formed at the hands of this hobby. 

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