Happy Thanksgiving!

THANKFUL FOR SO MUCH TODAY!

Even though I am thousands of miles from friends and family today, I am grateful to have the means to stay in contact during my work abroad. Thank you Greenhouse Restaurant for the free wifi.

I am thankful for all the help, encouragement and laughs I’ve had from my friends during the past trying year. I have felt as if I were in limbo for so long and finally am getting a sense of direction in life 🙂

I am thankful for my family, who have been supporting me and my passions, allowing me to find my own way and have a job that I absolutely love doing. And also for not freaking out about my new tattoo 😛

Lastly, I am thankful to be alive, healthy and living a life full of music, food and fun.

Happy Thanksgiving!

John

p.s. to keep up to date on my cruise adventures, check out my other blog, spinnin’ along and check out my instagram

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Summer Travel Recap!

Yo!

So sorry for the lack of updates, but I finally have a chance to update you guys on what I’ve been up to these past months. Aside from taking the GRE and getting my application together for PT school, I’ve been doing a ton of traveling! First stop was back home to Cincinnati in the middle of July to spin a wedding for my close family friend, Carl (congrats to him and his new wife, Arwen!). Despite a little rain shower, the ceremony was beautiful, complete with a full rainbow backdrop. Set in Ault Park, the reception took place in the famous pavilion space overlooking the plaza. This was the first time I have actually ever performed for my hometown friend’s and family so it was pretty awesome sharing my passion with them in such a great setting. Definitely an awesome time!

My family at the Ault Park Pavilion

A brief return to STL and then I was off to yet another wedding in northern California the next weekend. I got a chance to see my grandparents (who were coincidentally celebrating their golden anniversary that weekend as well) as well as my adorable cousins Nicholas and Grace. After venturing up to San Francisco to I catch an IMAX 3D showing of the Dark Knight with a few of my best college buds, I bummed a ride up to Wilbur Hot Springs resort to celebrate the union of my friend Xiaojing and her new husband, Vaughn. Two hours north of Oakland, the resort is entirely solar-powered and “off the grid”. I’ll admit it was strangely refreshing to be without my phone and gadgets during my stay; I can’t remember the last time I was without technology for more than 24 hours. But I guess in retrospect I was not completely cutoff, as the greatest part of the night was that they had brought a generator in order to power the amazing soundsystem that they set up in an outdoor veranda. I got a chance to witness some amazing house/soul DJs rock a dance floor from 10pm to nearly 5am in this awesome secluded resort and even threw down a short set as well. Shout out to DJ Cali for letting me use his tech12s and Rane MP 2016 (first time working with a rotary mixer, very cool!) HOUSE MUSIC ALL NIGHT LONG!

Grandma and Grandpa Huang!

After another short return to STL (and tackling the GRE), I flew out to the big apple for an amazing weekend, visiting old friends, eating way too much food and locking down all the details for upcoming fall cruise tour! The last time I was in NYC was about 5 years ago and I was not quite of age to experience all the goodness that the city could offer. This time, I made sure I got a real taste of the city: Columbia campus crashing, shopping in SOHO, brunching in West Village, late night falafel and hookah in East Village, Times Square rooftop chillin’, barhopping across Manhattan, boating on the Hudson and so much more. Huge thanks to my awesome friends Kate and Tommy for hosting me at their apartments during my stay, love you guys! The main purpose of the trip, however, was to visit Scratch DJ Academy, the umbrella organization that hired me to DJ these cruises I’ve been talking about for this fall. Located in the heart of Manhattan, the academy houses both the offices of SCRATCH as well as an impressive teaching environment laden with no less than 2 dozen DJ set-ups, several private session rooms and a production/teaching studio overlooking the city. I got a chance to meet some awesome DJs, including the budding TJ Mizell a.k.a DopeRoots (the late Jam Master Jay’s youngest son) and observe one of the DJ 101 classes. What an inspiration it was to see proper instruction on mixing/scratching to people who were genuinely interested in the fundamentals of the craft. I decided I will have to return to NYC for an entire week to take some intensive courses later this year!

My friend Julia in one of the teaching studios!

I am so honored and proud to be part of such a group and am excited to see where the future takes them. A humongous thanks to my good friend Julia for encouraging me to apply in the first place, I am forever thankful for your friendship!

So now I am finally back in St. Louis for a solid 5 weeks before my first official cruise DJ gig! Focus is now on completing my PT school applications and prepping for some of the wildest months of my life this fall 😀

For all my favorite pictures of the summer, check out my public facebook albums here: PART 1 || PART 2

Until next time!

John

Family Feature: Tommy Huang (弟弟)

This week I’m gonna shift gears and focus on one of the other purposes of this blog: my family. As I mentioned in my first post, I created bananalife to not only be an outlet for me to share all things ABC, but also to keep a space dedicated to my large and loving family. For this first family feature post, I am proud to introduce you to my one-and-only younger brother, 黄瑞 欣 a.k.a. Tommy.

He used to look like THIS:

scavenging the bed pillow chocolates on our cruise in 2001

Now he looks like THIS  -__-

The wasabi challenge (2011)

Here are the basics on Tommy Huang:

  • Loves video games, especially Dynasty Warriors and Pokémon franchises (as do I)
  • Has a great knack for baking, especially desserts (creme brulee, anyone?)
  • An absolute BOSS at origami. No joke, check out some of his work HERE.
  • A ladies man (I came home to celebrate his 14th birthday last year and found our house filled with a dozen teenage girls o_O)
  • His favorite color has always been pink, no matter what he tells you now.

I honestly don’t remember the exact moment when my parents told me I was going to get a younger sibling. I do know that I had just turned 8 years old and that my initial reaction probably involved some ninja jump-kicks along with hi-pitched squeaks of joy. My mom tells me that not 5 minutes after hearing the news, I asked: “Can we name him… Tommy… after Tommy Pickles???” (90’s cartoons FTW).

Despite looking more and more physically similar as the years go by, Tommy and I are quite distinct in terms of personality. I attribute it partly to the fact that as my parent’s first born, I grew up in a much different environment than my brother.  I like to joke that I was the guinea pig – a human beta test, if you will – for my parents who had just moved to the states a couple years prior to my glorious world entrance and were still learning how to be American themselves. Subsequently, I was definitely given more freedom as a kid, dabbling in everything the typical all-American childhood has to offer: boy scouts, soccer, baseball, summer camp, et cetera. Tommy, on the other hand, got a more streamlined tiger-treatment from the start. Not that he wasn’t allowed to pursue these activities, it’s just this time around I think my parents were able to reflect off of other ABC families they had met and got a better idea on what was more “efficient” – i.e. he started playing violin when he was very young, joined the local swim team and (recently) started to play tennis like a good little Asian. It’s kind of like the first time you play Pokémon where you don’t really care what the best ones are and just explore/experiment; then during your next play-through you go in with an agenda to raise the best team and find all the items. I believe there are merits to both avenues, and my family can definitely show for that… wait, did I just compare my development as child to the training of fantastical monster-slaves?

… Anyways, another difference and something I’ve always been jealous of Tommy is that he’s been able to travel back to China much more than I have. Busy high school and college summers have prevented me from going for the last decade, but Tommy was able to take advantage of his grade school breaks along with the benefit of our mom being able to travel to China for work each year. I think being able to go on these trips (6 times in his 14 years vs. my 4 times over 23 years) has given him a better appreciation for our family’s heritage and Asian culture in general than I was able to have growing up. As a result, Tommy’s mandarin is much stronger than mine when I was his age and I envy him for that!

Bros at Keystone, CO (2008)

To conclude this feature, here is a short letter I’ve just written to Tommy, b/c I know he be reading bananalife:

Dear Tommy,

After moving to St. Louis almost 6 years ago, I realized I have missed much of your transformation from cherubic yet devilish tagalong baby brother to too-cool-for-school wisecracking teenager. That can’t really be helped, though, with our almost 9-year age difference. You’ve grown so much since I last shared a home with you, both physically and emotionally; and it was been so much fun to watch you grow each time I visit. I won’t lie, you used to annoy the crap out of me and I have absolutely no regrets locking you out of my room when I was trying to play Magic cards with my friends. But as we both have matured and continue to do so, I am glad that we are becoming better and better friends even though we aren’t able to spend as much time together. I’m proud of you and look forward to the next time we can destroy some n00bs on xbox together.

Sincerely your 哥哥,
John

p.s. I’m sorry I used to shoot you with my AirSoft gun.

p.p.s. I can’t believe mom let me have an AirSoft gun.