Thursday, January 24, 2013

A $1 Billion Real-ity

We all can agree that buying your own island is secures your status as successful and wealthy. The likes of Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson, Sir Richard Branson and David Copperfield are a few individuals who have spent their millions on private vacation spots all over the world. So what status do you reach when you have enough money to build a man-made island with the world's first soccer stadium that opens up to the sea, vacation villas, an amusement park and 5-star hotel?? Very successful and very wealthy?? Regardless of the official status name, the Executive Officials for the Real Madrid Football Club have cut a $1 Billion check to make the image above a "Real-ity" in January of 2015. No, it is not an individual putting up the $1 Billion for the "island," but to me a Billion is a Billion. The fact that an organization has that much money to invest in such a large project exemplifies the direction in which urban planning is headed. There are not a lot of scholars who have really explored the notion of sports architecture revolutionizing how cities are planned, but from the essays and books I have read, they all point in the same direction. Sport has become a phenomenon that has always been a big part of human civilization, and year after year it seems as though it is growing at a faster rate. Teams are spending absurd amounts of money on players, new structures, signing record-breaking T.V. deals and sports apparel manufactures are increasing their gross income. 

With sports having such a huge impact economically, high end retail stores, bars and restaurants are spending a lot to ensure they are located at every major stadium across the country and world. For these non-sport businesses it really has become shooting fish in a barrel. There will always be big spenders at sports venues, so even though it might be absurd to the average person that some of these restaurants charge $40+ a plate, there will always be individuals who want to certify their status (and boost their self-esteem) by eating at those restaurants. Sports really have become a way we measure someones status/ importance, and I am talking about the spectators, not the players. I always catch myself saying that people who sit court side or in the box important/powerful, know somebody or a groupie. I never catch myself saying "He/she is probably somebody who has been saving for months to buy those tickets." It is not to say that is not true, but with those type of tickets the safe assumption is because they have the money to spend without hurting their wallets. How many times do you catch people posting up pictures on social media sights showing off how great their seats are and the luxuries that come with it? I do a lot, even if they are bad seats but at an unforgettable game, they are getting posted up because in today's society it acts as a measurement stick on how well you are doing in life. But like I said, the spectrum goes in both directions. For me, most of the photos are from people who I know for fact didn't buy those tickets but act as if they did to boost their egos! The concept of being a "fan" diminishes more and more every year, and it is a shame because maybe that person who has been saving money for months to get court side seats is the biggest fan of all time, and for once he/she was able to treat themselves for the first time ever. I may sound like a hypocrite because I did the same thing she I went to go see Chelsea play in Yankee stadium, but for me it was more about the moment than the glory. They are my favorite soccer team, and living in the U.S., I am not sure if I will ever see my club, who is based out of London, ever again.

As far as the Real Madrid Resort, it is astonishing that this is the next step in advertisement for a franchise. Officials at the football club explain that the purpose behind this expansion is exposure and being more accessible to their fans. Located in the UAE, it is right in the center of Europe, Asia and most of Africa for its huge fan base. They claim that most people in the 3 continents are no more than 4 hours away from the resort to come see their team play, which is more convenient than flying from Japan or China to Madrid. But like I have preached in previous Sport Architecture posts before, the playing surface doesn't come alone. There are stores, restaurants, hotels, bars etc that come with the playing arena. The fact is that games are a celebration, and history shows that spectacles such as in Antiquity were celebrated by the whole city. Unfortunately, the stadium cannot hold the whole population, so with today's  technology we are given the opportunity to watch the event on a tv in restaurants, bars and hotels with other fans who weren't able to buy a ticket to watch it live.

With the stadium only holding 10,000 people, 75,000 less seats than their home stadium in Madrid, restaurants, bars and other public viewing places will be vital in keeping everybody happy at the resort during a game. Franchises have really taken full responsibility in the urban development for their cities, bad and good. When Dodger Stadium was being built in LA, there was a huge controversy and protest against the plans because it would remove thousands of people from their homes. For years it created a huge rift in supporting the team, and even today some people still hold grudges against the organization. For Real, they won't deal with such an issue since they are building a man-made island that doesn't involve removing a large amount of people. Compared to other sport architecture projects, this is definitely a very extreme example, but projects such as the $1.2 Billion Cowboy Stadium already exist, so it is evident owners and executives are willing to spend top dollar to increase their fan base, and ultimately certify their status in Sports history. Money talks, and when owners spend a ridiculous amount of money to upgrade their facilities it shows the commitment they have to their team, and appreciation for their fans. And as the years go by, the collegiate level is experiencing the same status effect to win over high school recruits. Even high school programs are raising money to build up to date locker rooms and weight rooms. And if you think this effect hasn't hit the high school circuit fully, than you haven't heard about the $59.6 million stadium at Allen High School in Texas. Sports Architecture is well and alive, and every year it continues to produce bigger, better and more expensive projects.

Check out the video below showing the state of the art facilities and amusement park the Island will feature!!

If you guys are still in shock about the high school stadium in Texas, click the link below to read the article.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Freehand Profit

I know what you are wondering, and YES, that gas mask is made from a pair of J's. I am pretty sure you are asking yourself who in their damn mind would rip up a pair of Jordan's, and the answer is simple: someone who doesn't give a damn. And I say this with the utter most respect and praise for Gary Lockwood, because for him, it is about a vision and exploring unchartered water, even if it comes at a cost of ripping apart expensive shoes. My friend Neyson and I, whom was featured on "Can't Knock the Hustle," were collaborating on one of his hat projects when he introduced me to Gary Lockwood, or  Freehand Profit which he is popularly known as in the street art scene. I love coming across new art that just blows your mind away, and when Neyson showed me the gas mask above I went straight to my computer and researched this dudes story and art. After going over his blog and work, right away I knew I had to reach out to him because his work screams "Can I Live?" I wanted to feature him to present another example of what happens when your work ethic matches your passion, and for Freehand Profit it was expressed through his love of shoes and masks. Born in the Midwest and raised in the D.C./Northern Virginia area, Gary pursued his studies in art, and when he recieved his Bachelor's in Fine Arts he made his way to the City of Angels.

On May 17th, 2010 Gary began a journey that would eventually catapult him to where he is today. Inspired by Noah Scalin's Skull-A-Day series, Gary decided to start a MASK365 Campaign which involved designing and assembling a different gas mask every day for a year straight. A lofty and ambitious project, Gary pushed through and began testing materials and concepts, and 365 gas masks later he completed his campaign and officially the World took notice of the talent Gary brought to the table. On Facebook you can see the various concepts he came up with, using old materials like used ladies bags and animal masks, which is one of my favorite series done by Lockwood, and above you can see one of the samples from the series. They are a lot simpler than the shoes, but you can appreciate the experimentation he does working with different items and materials. Artists go through a rugged process trying to find themselves and molding their art work into what they want. Practice makes perfect, and with a year straight of practicing using the unique mold of a gas mask, Gary's artistic ability took off. You can visit his MASK365 Facebook page to see some of his incredible work he did for his project. Check it out!!

The masks below are some of the famous "sneaker gas masks" he is known for. As you can see Gary does not discriminate, he doesn't just use Jordan's but all kinds of kicks.

Can't thank Gary enough for doing this interview for "Can I Live?" As the first official artist feature on my blog, I hope this is the first of many. Always inspiring to come across new kinds of art, but for me I love seeing the journey the artist has traveled to get to where they are. For me that is the most important part; the experimentation, struggle, inspiration, drive and passion is what makes creating something worth it at the end of the day. Check out the dope interview I did with Gary"Freehand Profit" Lockwood below!!

Below are the links to Gary's Social Media accounts such as his blog, twitter and Instagram. I wish this blog post can talk about all the work he has done and been up to, but I would literately need months to do that. So, go on his website where you can check out the latest work by Freehand Profit, any events he will be at and other cool interviews he has done such as checking out the second part of his interview with SNTV. (Part I is below). Make sure to follow all his accounts and support his creative work. Also, check out his clothing line and make sure to get a copy of his book he just released late last year!

The Hip Hop Nerd by Freehand Profit

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012: The Year in Numbers

I was on the other day, and every year they highlight the year in sports with numbers. Basically, they list a bunch of significant numbers and explain why they chose each number. For example, they listed the decimal difference that separated Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant for the Scoring title in the NBA. I really enjoy reading the list and remembering what happened throughout the year. That being said, I decided to do one for my myself that includes highlights of my blog, my personal life and a couple of World events that happen over the year that I found relevant to me.

Ok, it isn't exactly 6 months ago (10 days left), but "Can I Live?" came to life July 10th, 2012. It has been an awesome experience thus far, and the best is yet to come. Truly thankful for everyone who has clicked on my blog. Even if it was just one time I appreciate the support and love. It definitely made the second half of 2012 for me a lot more fun and exciting. For me, "Can I Live?" is a mindset I truly believe everyone should have. From Wall Street to a kiosk in the mall, every level demands some sort of hustle to perform and excel. For me it is to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and go after what you want in life. At times you just have to swallow your pride and do what is necessary to achieve what you want. Forget what the critics think, just stay the course and be honest with yourself. The saddest thing in life is wasted talent- A Bronx Tale

It was one of the greatest, if not the greatest experience I have had so far in my life. On May 17th I walked off Columbia University's campus with a college degree! It really feels as though my time in NYC was light years ago, but I still remember every second of it. I played football, joined a frat, saw and did a lot, but most importantly I met some incredible people. Truly blessed and thankful for having the opportunity to accomplish my biggest goal yet, and everyday I am reminded and humbled when friends and family say they are proud for what I have done. And just like this blog, I am excited about what the New Year has in store for me. Still surreal to me that I can say "I am an Ivy League graduate" and that I lived in the Big Apple.

 I know I am going to get a lot of hate for this, but I don't care. The King Lebron James finally won his first NBA Title, including the Regular and Finals MVP trophy and a Gold Medal at the Olympics. Aside from LBJ being my favorite player and happy he finally won a championship, this entry has a personal story behind it. Last year on Christmas day, me and my friend Andy made a bet with an NBA jersey at stake. After a few drinks and in the middle of a heated game of jenga, I was confident The King would finally win it this past year. Bet: If the Heat win it all I get any jersey I want. If they lost at any point in the playoffs I would have to buy Andy a jersey. Statistically it was a stupid bet. The odds were not in my favor, but I was confident (or maybe it was the vodka speaking) that I would win the bet, and as you know he did! Thanks Andy!

It was the year of MJ for me. Can't believe I am 23, I feel old! Happy I was able to share it with my family and friends back in LA this year. Also, in May, actually 3 days before I graduated my parents celebrated their 23rd Wedding Anniversary. Congrats Mom and Dad! Love you guys a lot and thank you for everything!

On August 27th I released the first installment of my Arch+Details series focusing on staircases. Since that day I have done blog features on windows, doors, sustainability, Tadao Ando, furniture, flooring, swimming pools, landscape and ceilings. I started the series because there is no website that categorizes specific aspects of architecture, so I decided to start a series where I focused on these basic, but important aspects. I mean, you can go on google and search images for each part, but I wanted to give an analysis for each installment. The staircase installment is the most successful blog entry with over a 1000 views, and overall the series has been a great hit. Stay tune for next installment coming soon.

I was fortunate to have the chance to visit the beautiful island of Puerto Rico for Spring Break. For 8 days I experienced P.R. the way most tourists can't. My friend Caro invited me and her boyfriend to stay with her and her family for the week. It was awesome. We went on a catamaran for a day that included unlimited drinks, food and snorkeling in the clearest water I have ever seen. I personally believe traveling with someone that is from that country is the best way, because you get to see parts of the country most people don't, because you can't find them in a tourist guide. I saw live bomba, son and flamenco performances, ate amazing food and of course, got dark as hell under the sun. Thank you Caro, can't wait to go back soon!

It seems like years ago, but the World gathered in London to celebrate the 30th Summer Olympic Games. I love sports, especially big world events because it really shows the power of sports. Even though some countries can't get along politically it is always good to put differences aside and applaud the athletic ability from different walks of life. Like many people, Usain Bolt defending his gold medal was one of my favorite highlights of the Summer Games. Being half Mexican, I was proud seeing the Mexico's men's soccer team take Gold, and also watching Lebron James and the men's basketball team redeeming themselves and taking Gold too. Architecturally, I love seeing the iconic stadiums and venues these events traditionally bring to the world stage. My aspiration is to be part of a team that designs one of the main stadiums at the Olympics or World Cup.

In November America elected Barack Obama as our President for a 2nd time. It was a much closer victory than in 2008, exemplifying the giant riff this country suffers politically. There was a lot protest against Obama being re-lected, but I am glad it has calmed down. I personally think America got it right, and all we can do is work harder than before to turn this country around.

As I really began to go in depth what "Can I Live?" meant for me, I recognized that other young and creative people had their own movement that also embodied mine: The perserveance of following your passion, even if it's going against the grain and neglecting everything society tells us is the "right" way to live. This road at times feels empty and lonely, and many people get discouraged and decide to abandon what they really want to pursue. To encourage people who struggle with staying the course, I wanted to acknowledge those who have pushing their own movement so the road won't seem too lonely. Just as the title of my blog, I found inspiration from another Jay-Z song, "Can't Knock the Hustle." This is by far my favorite series on my blog because I enjoy exploring and reaching out to other individuals that grab my attention, due to their mindset, handwork and the creativity they bring to the table. I call these individuals soldiers of my movement, and each of the 5 embody "Can I Live?" while pushing their own. Issa Mase, Neyson Cruz, Anna Canfield, Denise Hernandez and Tanya Rojas are on the path of greatness, and I am happy they allowed me to share their journey. "Can't Knock the Hustle" is the most successful series and I can't wait to introduce the next soldier.

When I first started my blog I had no idea it would get so much attention, and I only expected a few people to really follow and view it. Well, I was completely wrong, and in the past 6 months, my blog has been viewed 7163 up to today. The overwhelming attention has inspired to come up with bigger and better things for my fans, and I am excited to release the secret projects I have in the works!

The number of new friends I gained this year on Facebook lol. I know it is a random fact, but I  always find it amusing to see the Year in Review from my Facebook every year. 

Aside from football, my favorite sport to watch is soccer, but not American soccer. I respect that it is getting better, but it still far from being what the rest of the world has to offer. My favorite club team is Chelsea FC from England, and every year the ultimate prize is the Champions League trophy. Like a few big clubs in Europe, Chelsea has no problem spending money on big players, and what comes with that is disappointment when we lose because we spend a lot a lot of money on them. But this year was different, and Chelsea went on one of the greatest runs in soccer history coming back from the dead throughout the tournament to win it all. It was obvious it was written in the stars when we overcame a large aggregate difference between Napoli, defeated super club in Barcelona with 10 men and when Bayern Munich missed a couple of penalty kicks to set up Didier Drogba to bring the title home. Number 11 for Chelsea stepped up to the ball, took a second and blasted the ball into the net giving my club their first Champions title in history. On a side note, during their miraculous run, I won a Kettle One bottle from my best friend because we knocked out his team, Barceona. Thanks Sergio for the bottle!