I have to say, trying to put thoughts together to best express myself in this piece has been pretty trying. There’ve been plenty of highs and an even greater deal of lows which I will discuss here, although I don’t wish to focus too much on the negatives. Indeed, I think I’ve been a just a little more lucky this year than originally felt – however, I’m mildly refraining from counting my eggs just yet.
Going into my eighth year as the founder and editor of this site, the work I’ve enjoyed doing on here since February 2013 when I was an outstanding noob and learning the ropes about film reporting and engaging fandom therein, has produced an often fun, creative learning process. Things do take its toll, however, when you start beginning to invest in people, and I’ve had to thicken my skin just a little more over the years as a result.
Oftentimes knowing where to tread and what circles I mingle better in has meant going where I’m not wanted, or even that much respected. It’s meant dealing with a few dishonest and rumormongering types… some who are manipulative, shortchanging and maybe even preferential to a point of blaring inequity. It’s meant dealing with the occasional bully at times, including – and not limited to – notoriously litigious individuals who would rather destroy you to satisfy their own egos and personal gain.
These pretty much sum up the negatives I’ve dealt with in the last seven years as I’ve continued to pursue this special little hobby. Life will knock you down, figuratively or literally, and as always, the natural course of action is to make the choice of getting back up, and staying forward with your progression, whatever it takes and no matter the pace or your current station in life.
In the wake of all my hurdles and other personal goings-on, I’ve had moments where I questioned this would ask myself how it is that some people are where they are despite being “who they are”. Then again, being an Atheist, I’m sooner reminded by then why it is I don’t believe in Karma. Alas, things are what they are, and in my view, regardless of what your denomination is on the faith spectrum, or the things that happen that move you closer to doubt, you still have to invest in people.
To Robert Samuels, Stevie Wong, Ted Geohegan, Kaila Hier, Christian Barclay, Chrissy Walker, Chris Collins, Samuel Jamier, Sunny Pang, Keith Hayward, Eileen Cruz, Eugene Strupinsky and Josh Lurie at the law offices of Lurie Strupinsky LLP, Paul Alan Levy and the people of Public Citizen, Bryan Larkin, Jacques Karavasilis, Toy Lei, Tuyet Vong, Lis LoCasio, Soo Cole, Kimmy Suzuki, Janell Smith, Joey Ansah, Taz Garcia, Wayne Wells, Wych Kaosayananda, Lee Mason, Beau Fowler, Pearry Teo, James Wilson, Esteban Cueto, Larnell Stovall, Rustic B., Ricky Barksdale, Joey Min, Jae Greene, Stephanie Pham, Andrew Kim, Gee Javier, Nicholas and Natassia Ortiz, Angela Jordan, Amy Johnston, Carolina Wong, Travis Wong, Lewis Tan, R.L. Scott, Paul Varacchi, Stephen Koepfer, Martin Wan, Simon Wan, Chris Jones, Ricky Barksdale Jr., Masanori Mimoto, Kensuke Sonomura, Kenshu Sannohe, Yuji Shimomura, Dylan Hintz, Alex Chung, Ross Peacock, Mike Fury, Alexander Nevsky, Leroy Nguyen, Ron Suriyopas, John Balazs, Eoin Friel, Sunny Smith, Cryptik Soul, Can Aydin, Phong Giang, Yoon Cha-lee, Michael S. Moore, Jennifer Linch, Jean Paul-Ly, Philippe Vonlanthen, Pedring Lopez, Sonny Sison, Aaron Toney, Peter Jang, Cheryl “In Action” Lewis, Antony Szeto, Cesar Alejandro Jr., Paul Drechsler-Martell, Christina Ortega Phillips, Khalil Barnett, Ronny Vega, Michael Laughton, Yi Christina Liu, David and Donald Lee, Adam G. Simon, Ben Trebilcook, Therese Chen, Maria Tran, Paul Allica, Preston Downey and Candice Lord, Felix King and Yadi Nieves, John Kreng and Melissa Tracy, Tracy Rosenlund, Todd Brown, Ard Vijn, Josh Hurtado, Shaun Paul Piccinino, Ron Smoorenburg, Lawson Leong, Cameron Farmer, Eric Jacobus, Bridger Fox, Jose Manuel, Mike Selby, Cassandra Ebner, Robb Antequera, PR agents Samantha Kristy, Leif Helland, Sophie Tran, Katie Jo Ash and Tyler Schirado, the burrito guy in Manhattan on 23rd and 6th, and the countless others who all have had a postive impact on my life in some shape or form this year, thank you for keeping this New Yorker delightfully busier in the best way.
After years of spending my childhood in the arts, my work here now takes the place of those pastimes I used to entertain, and considering how small the space has gotten in my life, it’s pretty much all I have left. And, I love what I do, which is also why, just short of making a formal announcement, I might be slowing down content just a little bit more as we head into 2020.
Ask anyone who does the kind of work I do on Film Combat Syndicate, and they’ll tell you all the same from their experiences – that is, sites that aren’t as big as the various trade news sources. I didn’t come into this with any sort of business plan or model back in late 2012. Instead, I found myself at the end of my rope with no real friends or any meaning or purpose to my life except having to coexist with assholes amid the day-to-day rigmarole and late evening boredom. It also landed me in a state of mind where I just want to lose myself in that feeling, or continue to lose a major piece of who I once was when I was several things: an award-winning artist, a singer and songwriter, and even an improv actor for a time.
In the early two-thousandsies after a terrible break-up and a life-changing freak accident later which landed me in-and-out of the hospital for six months due to recurring internal injuries until I healed, my interests landed in movies and fandom. And, since I had money to spend at the time, stores like Suncoast and Virgin were second homes as well as anywhere online I could snag specialty Asian releases on DVD.
By around 2006 or 2007, I started my first website on a freehosting platform called Source Of The Fist. About six months, a virus-infected computer and an economic crash later, it failed, and by then, I was still at least an artist to a degree, BUT, like I said, only as long as the space didn’t get so small.
At this point, I thought I might even find some reprieve in reuniting with old classmates from grade school, or even the occasional long distance romance, and for a time, it was good. It was fun. Still, not everything changes, and with Facebook being the ultimate melting pot for entropy, it was only a matter of time before many of those renewed acquaintances would fizzle. I fell into a depression. Hard. I ghosted people who I believed could care less about my existence, and in many of those cases, I was right. In some, I was wrong, and regrettably, there’s no undoing that damage.
By 2012, I was also living in an ideological bubble that produced even fewer friendships, and at this point, I was done. Nothing worked out the way I wanted it to, and it would be some several more years before I would be completely rid of the more negative elements I mistook for kind of social circles and romance I wanted.
If any point you told me that in 2019, I would not only be covering film news to an extensive capacity that had me networking with distributors and studios, directors and even stunt performers, and for the first time, film festivals, I would have called you either “crazy” and/or “stupid”. Seven years ago, all I had was a smartphone, and a severe case of writer’s block at a time when I thought myself to be some kind of a “writer”, and the notion or even the thought or hope of attending an independent kung fu film screening with a Hong Kong film legend, reviewing films for distributors and festivals for at-home coverage, or even walking around Times Square late at night with a Japanese action star and director, were just inconceivable to me. And this is on top of the abundant and wonderful experiences I’ve had in the years prior, and all of which culminate just why it is I love what I do.
And, that’s just it. As much as I’ve worked, and as hard as I’ve had to fight – both things AND people – I don’t want to lose the love and enjoyment that Film Combat Syndicate has offered for me, and what with all the prospects there are, as well as could be going forward, which is why, just short of making a formal announcement, I may be slowing down content on here just a little more. I’ll still maintain the usual news and updates, reviews and the pursuit of exclusives, but I will have certain days where posting may be limited.
In 2020, I hope that everyone who has stayed in my life up to this stage will continue to invest in me, as I do them. I hope to have the continued fortune of networking with more people, covering and reporting on genre titles and releases, and reviews, as well as the creative lives and exploits of stunt performers and independent filmmakers. I hope to reconnect with the people I’ve lost touch with in the last several years who are still visible to me. And, I hope my family remains as healthy and well as they continue to be as we strive toward some hopefully more positive results than 2019 has produced.
On that note, I truly want to thank all those who have contributed to the last seven years of hardship that I’ve faced, including and especially this year. As uninvited as you were, you’ve thickened my skin just a little more.