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September 29, 2011

The Matrix All Over Again


Arc'teryx has recently and without fanfare introduced a new line of urbanwear based on its stable of proven technical fabrics. Is this move going to prove a hit with the moneyed hipser set? Certainly a Gore-Tex raincoat would be the way to go if I were to own a raincoat, but the downside could be a loss of face among the climbers and skiers who made the brand popular.

Carefully kept separate from the regular Arc'teryx website (presumably not to alienate the core climber/skier customer base), the Veilance collection is a thoughfully wrought line of functional clothing that seems to be done with Arc'teryx' typical attention to detail, in a combination of hardshell, softshell, and windstopper fabrics once reserved for "true" outdoorwear. Come to think of it, though, the Belltown softwear engineer waiting for the bus in the pouring rain because he's trying to go carless needs this kind of protection just as badly as those of us sitting on Chair 2 at Alpental in driving wet snow . . .

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Some pictures from the Arc'teryx Veilance jacket collection: from left, Sinter Coat, Blazer, Field Jacket SV

The styling is pretty cool, the blazer is a dead ringer for an Emporio Armani suit jacket I have with hidden buttons (yeah, it sounds incongruous, but I'm a sucker for high-end Italian suits I find in thrift stores, and have a closet full of them), plus it has a hidden "money pocket" under the lapel. Take that, you Marseille pickpockets! You can almost see Keanu Reeves dodging bullets in these clothes. And if you're a tad too slow, the shirt's made of Kevlar weave, it might just stop that slug.

So who's gonna be first to start skiing in this stuff?

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From left: Spec Pant, Stealth LS Shirt, Stealth Pant

September 3, 2011


We all come from somewhere.

In the case of my mother's family, they came originally from southern China. No one still living can verify that my maternal grandfather came to America to work on the railroad, or sent for my grandmother as a mail-order bride from the Toisan region (though we heard those stories over the years), but my brother Gary recently made a trip to Nevada to research the family history in the small town of Lovelock where my grandfather put down roots.

Today Lovelock (once known as "Lovelock Gulch" according to my mom) is another sleepy western town, fading in the desert heat and ignored by the drivers that pass overhead on I-80 enroute to Reno. Its most famous resident is arguably O.J. Simpson, currently serving time in the Lovelock Correctional Center for his 2008 convictions on robbery and kidnapping charges, and Mr. Simpson, to my knowledge, has no plans to relocate any time soon. In the distant past, however, Lovelock was home to thousands of Chinese immigrants who worked the railroads and mines; my grandfather "James" catered to them by offering boarding, meals and laundry services and probably a few other amenities as well. When we visited Lovelock as small children, the girls at the local whorehouse (my mother called it the "cathouse") all knew who we were and treated us like royalty.

My uncle Frank Chang, who passed away shortly before O.J. moved to town, was the last Chinese resident of Lovelock, and there's a tiny "Chinese Museum" dedicated to him adjacent to the Cadillac Inn. Frank's US Army dogtags and other memorabilia are on display, along with an odd assortment of Asian trinkets and bric-a-brac. The owner of the motel (Larry deLeeuw) has simply taken a personal interest in this obscure facet of Chinese-American history - he also drove out to the local cemetery to show my brother and cousin what he thinks was once the Chinese portion of the burial ground, with multiple unmarked mounds and various severely weathered markers displaying barely legible Chinese characters. Getting the county to fence and mark the area as the "Chinese Cemetery" was also Larry's doing.

Larry: "You guys want some incense?"

Gary: "Huh?"

Larry: "You know, to pay respects to your ancestors, or whatever you do . . . "

Gary: "Uhhh . . No thanks, I think we'll just shoot some video and look around . . . "

Clockwise, from bottom left: My cousins Bob Louie and John Louie, uncle Bill Chang, uncle Lewis On, Jade and Ken Louie, Wingo the dog,
my paternal grandmother Lily Louie, aunt Dorothy Louie with cousin Elaine Louie on her lap

Lovelock, Nevada. My grandmother with the chickens

My uncle Frank Chang's WWII dogtags, in the window of the Chinese Museum, Lovelock, Nevada   Gary Louie photo

More recent but still pretty ancient history: I'm resurrecting my old ski club, the Sunnyside Sliders, mostly in response to requests from offspring of the original members. I had the original patch I'd embroidered back in 1971 scanned and reproduced with a slightly bolder and more regular font, and the quality of the reproductions is superior. If you see these on the hill at your local ski area, don't be alarmed . . .

For a little more background on the Sliders and how the early freestyle scene developed, check out this 2009 interview with the legendary Wayne Wong by Gordy Skoog. I guess we were more influential than I thought, and it's funny to hear Wayne expound on how he's thankful he didn't have my name or he'd never have made a career out of skiing . . . guess it goes both ways, I'm thankful I don't have to tour with those Anton Gliders stuck on my skis!

A scanned and very nicely executed version of the patch I hand-embroidered in 1971

Previous Incoming Pages:

August, 2011

July, 2011

June, 2011

May, 2011

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February, 2011

January, 2011

December, 2010

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September, 2010

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April, 2010

China: Wandering in the Middle Kingdom

March, 2010

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December, 2009

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"Incoming" covers developments that have personal interest to me (ie. gear I might consider acquiring, or events I feel may impact the sport of skiing) - it is by no means meant to be a comprehensive enumeration of gear or events in the ski world at large. Feel free to contact me via the link below with news or images that may be of interest . . .

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