On Passion

I want to talk about passion for a moment. I was thinking of this today when missing LA, and my community in LA, but also some little places of passion that people don’t normally consider.

Normally I cringe when I hear the word “passion,” or people talking about how you have to have passion to be a game developer. That’s because in a lot of these cases, the qualifications for having “passion” don’t seem to apply to folks who aren’t entirely healthy. So it makes me cringe because I am made to feel like I can’t ever really have passion because of chronic illness.

But that’s not what passion really is, of course, and when I encounter passionate people in day to day life, I always manage to leave feeling inspired and energized. So, I want to spend this post calling out some folks back in LA who embody “passion” to me (and plug their businesses in the act). None of these are game developers, or even entertainers for the most part, but they fill me with inspiration.

  1. Vicious Dogs

Vicious Dogs is an “artisan hot dog restaurant” in North Hollywood, and is one of my favorite places. They specialize in unusual and creative hot dogs, and the owner is incredibly passionate about hot dogs. He’s always experimenting with new recipes, and filled with enthusiasm, visiting with his guests and checking in that they have an optimal hot dog experience. I remember going in near the 4th of July and casually asking if he had come up with a themed hot dog for the holiday. He hadn’t, and suddenly became a whirlwind of inspiration, as we brainstormed together what an Independence Day hotdog would be (“well of course it has to be red, white, and blue…”) and solving the culinary challenges this presented (“what should the blue be? It can’t just be blue ketchup, that’s cheating. Bleu cheese, perhaps…what about blueberries? Is that crazy??”). Seeing someone so passionate about their craft, even if their craft is hot dogs, was always inspiring. Also the hot dogs are tasty – I recommend the Mediterranean (which was an experiment the first time I visited, but became a regular menu item)

2. Olive Auto Center

I love my mechanics. I’m super, super bummed to have to leave them. People often express that a trustworthy mechanic is worth its weight in gold, but there is something about these guys that embodies passion over their craft. There is something in the way they talk about your car, like they see it as a patient. And there’s something in their voices when they fuss at you for going too long without changing your brake pads akin to a dentist fussing at you for not flossing regularly – it is full of caring and concern. Also they give you a chocolate when they return their car to you and they sent me a THEMED THANK-YOU CARD LOOK AT HOW ADORABLE THESE GUYS ARE OMG. Anyway, if you’re in the valley and you need some car work done, I can’t recommend these guys enough.

3. Dr. Abdel-Maqsoud

Speaking of dentists, I am SUPER super bummed that I will have to leave Dr. Abdel-Maqsoud, who is hands-down the best dentist I have ever had ever. He is good-natured and hilarious, and every time I visited him he tried to trick me into signing a joke contract about flossing four times a day. Dentists who can make you laugh are special creatures. “Dr. Max,” as he is known, has a passion for his craft in regards to pain management. He is hyper-concerned about pain, and hyper-communicative to his patients because of that. Minimizing and avoiding pain is his art, and though he is silly and jokey most of the time, once it comes down to procedure he is laser-focused and incredibly serious. Having him as my dentist yielded the most comfortable cavity-filling I’ve ever experienced, though he is incredibly passionate about dental-maintenance and won’t let anyone off the hook about flossing.

4. Whoever did the ingredient video at Chop Stop

Chop Stop is a restaurant in Burbank focusing on salads and wraps. The food is tasty, but the most outstanding feature of the place to me is a video that plays on the wall showcasing ingredients. It will cycle through a set of ingredients in a given salad, showing the final result in the end. The thing is…this video…it is CRAFTED. The cinematography, the choreography of the slicing of a tomato, the way the camera caresses a pile of strawberries…It is practically obscene. Whoever shot and edited this video were oozing with passion of the craft of film (and probably appropriately working in the Valley IF YOU GET MY MEANING WINK WINK). I respect them inherently for treating this humble ingredient showcase with dignity and respect.

The common theme with all of these places is that whenever I left them, I always felt inspired by the passion these folks had for their craft. They may have nothing to do with game design, but they made me want to be a better designer.