I had the chance to meet up with DJ Chuang yesterday. It is fun to see social networking actually build community and friendships. It was great to get to know him more and pick his brain about a number of topics. We had a nice laugh over the way bloggers might be more likely to recognize one another by their site names than by their actual names. It makes me glad that I didn’t name my site “big nerd” or “xX1004QTaZnKimchigAngstaXx” (those of you in Asian American youth ministry know what I’m talking about).

After meeting with DJ in OC, we ventured out to LA — where we met a friend at the Giant Robot store. GR is probably best known for their magazine, which has covered Asian American pop culture since 1994. Being a fan of the magazine, I was excited to visit their Los Angeles store.

Maybe I had built it up too much in my mind, but when I first entered the store I was a little bit disappointed. To me, it was a little bit too small and a little bit too crowded. We bought our daughter a little Doremon keychain and went to meet our friend at the Giant Robot restaurant, gr/eats. (which, as Jonathan Gold has written, is a great place to eat with little ones).

Being a t-shirt junkie, I went back to the GR store after dinner and — after much deliberation with my daughter — picked up this shirt (and, no, that’s not me in the photograph). It was strange, but returning for a second visit left a very different impression on me. Maybe it was the tasty french fries I had just eaten at gr/eats (shoestring potatoes, yams and bananas) but the second time, in this case, was the charm. Actually, I think it was because the store was pretty empty and I was able to interact with the people working there — we talked about different magazines, music, and they helped my daughter find just the right Uglydoll (which she has since renamed “Sleeping Beauty”).

Community is such a funny thing. We find it in the most unlikely places — even the quickly disappearing indie record store. Whether it is connecting over common interests and life pursuits, sharing a nice meal together or helping someone sift through an entirely too large pile of Uglydolls, we are made to connect with one another.

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