Hello, welcome to Omakase 🍣.
I realized in my last post (retroactively Omakase #1) that the format was sort of small bites selected by my taste for the month. So I decided to rename my substack “Omakase.” Delicious bites of curated content.
I often saved concepts for blog posts, but I never have time to write full blog posts, so I decided to share half-baked concepts in short form bites. I’d love it if you’d take my ideas and remix it with your own to exploring the concepts.
The themes will be philosophy, music, movies, images, health and productivity. I know you have a choice in content consumption, so thanks for dining with me!
Winding back alleys of Seoul.
It’s a masterpiece. Bong Jun Ho poses a poignant question regarding class. Is being “nice” a privilege afforded to the wealthy. All the while, he takes you through the full spectrum of Korea with breathtaking shots, annoyingly amazing transitions (he’s practically showing off his genius), hilarious parody, dreamlike composition and raw shock. Watch it with someone special, you’ll remember the day vividly.
(These sections are unrelated.)
Texture of a city.
I’ve been working out of the Arts District in LA. Friends are often surprised that I’m far away from “Silicon Beach.” I explain that I like the “texture” of the east side. It has a ruggedness, a raw feel. It definitely has less infrastructure and is less safe. However, it feels more creative and unbound by corporate rules. It has taller buildings with facades that look like Brooklyn. Warehouses and lofts with high ceilings and ample windows. Lunch is served at small hole in the walls; each cafe is like a (really bougie) oasis in the desert. I like it, and when I think why, I tend to put my index finger and thumb together and feel the texture of the east side.
Unbearable lightness of tweeting.
I just started re-reading Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being (one of my favorite books). And I rediscovered the opening chapter that lays out Nietzsche’s exploration of the concept of Eternal Return. It roughly poses that “unless something happens repeatedly, it does not really exist.” It’s a nuanced topic but it explores this dichotomy between weight and lightness, burden and freedom.
An interesting remix of this idea is as it relates to memes and the death of subtlety. We often talk about how social media had a huge impact on the election of Donald Trump. No matter your political views, it is fascinating to see that his campaign relied on resonant PR campaigns (“build a wall”) and it had an impact on reality.
It’s odd to think that in a limited attention economy, we are all virtual machines and people are competing to run programs on our minds (“watch my show,” “read my tweet,” “read my blog”). In this competition, we are beginning to realize (for better or for worse) that the ideas that propagate the fastest have viral, mimetic features.
Whether by design or by evolutionary selection, the least subtle ideas go viral and repeat. Not so dissimilar to Nietzsche’s idea of Eternal Return. If you tweet it and no one retweets, you can delete it, you can live your life with no worry. If you tweet it and it retweets, over and over again, loading into everyone’s minds briefly but surely, then the idea suddenly has “weight”; it becomes real. From there it has a mind of its own and a life of its own. Even the NBA tweets and US/China relations started from one tweet that kept recurring.
Nietzsche explored the idea of a story recurring over a period of time, but the modern version of eternal return is a story recurring in each other’s minds concurrently. This mimetic nature of ideas is by far the most important thing to understand in this 50 year period. It will affect every aspect of our economy, mental health, relationships, work life, happiness, cooperation and peace.
Singing from your head.
I took a singing lesson when I got to LA (I know, I know). Because my mother comes from a heritage of singers and singing was big part of my youth, this was a way for me to commit to this part of my identity. (Unfortunately, I haven’t been back yet…)
For anyone that grew up in a culture of going to karaoke with your friends or family, you know there are only two types of people: the people that can hit the high notes, and the people that can’t.
I was confident in my low-mid range vocals, but not so much when it came to the high notes. I’m a baritone, and I was often jealous of tenors for getting a voice range that overlaps with all popular music (in the last century, baritones would have had a better time singing in public because Sinatra was a baritone).
So here’s the secret. I think anyone can increase the range of their voice by 3-4 full steps (conservatively) by accessing their head voice.
Most people sing with their chest voice, similar to their speaking voice. And often when people reach for a high note, their neck strains and their voice cracks. Or, it becomes a weak falsetto that sounds like a mouse hiding in the corner (rather than like this smooth falsetto).
The key is to have the note resonate in your head rather than from your stomach, chest or neck. When you do it right, it should feel a bit tingly on your nose or on the top of your head / forehead, WHILE continuing the air support from your stomach.
One way to practice this is to imagine the sound vibrating up from the base of your spine, up your spine, up your neck, over the top of your head, down to your forehead and buzzing on your nose. Don’t forget to support it with a strong diaphragm breath (people often practice this with a funny sounding “Lip Trill”).
I still am working on it, but I really wish someone taught me this 10 years ago. So here I am spreading the good word! Sing from your head.
Palette by IU.
When IU was becoming popular, I thought I was “too cool” for Korean pop (transitioning cultures has a complicated effect on one’s identity). But wow was I wrong; I’m totally hooked. (Btw – I hadn’t watched the music video until writing this post. I suggest listening without video for a while. I think I have a 100 times the past few weeks. It’s sort of like reading the book before watching the movie.)
The song is about becoming 25 and starting to get to know yourself better: what you like, what you don’t like. Shaking off insecurities and accepting yourself. Maybe it’s not an accident that I’m hooked on this song. After 10 years of constantly rewriting myself to adapt to new environments, now I spend more time thinking about my childhood to draw a better understanding of myself. Full circle.
Vintage: October 2019.
Time to prepare: 3 hrs.
Settled into LA and looking to meet cool people.
I’m hiring an iOS engineer and a designer that build fast, thrive in ambiguity and love consumer. Referrals welcome!