Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Reflecting on the Moment..... and an Update

Man, has it been such a wild and draining ride just getting to this point.  As a grown man I have yet to experience many things in life that have moved me as emotionally as the community of the FGC.  Everything leading up to this point has been combination of hard work, sacrifice, and at times what seems to be stupidity and just being hard headed.  I can't even count how many times I have had people in my inner circle tell me to just drop my dreams and let this whole thing go.  I have literally had a burden on my back for almost 2 years now and I am not one to back down from any challenge.  I have gone through so many good times and so many bad times since the arcade shut down back in December of 2014.  But during that time it was never a question of if I was going to reopen, it was more of a question as to when I was going to reopen.  If you have been along with me for this ride you will know that it has not been easy.  It has been extremely draining on every facet of my life not only mentally, physically, but also financially.  It has taken on huge toll on me and also people around me.  I don't think people can quite understand how hard it is to come up with $4,000 a month to pay rent, $800 to pay storage fees, and then stack that on top of your everyday bills which include a mortgage payment, car payment, and other miscellaneous items.  I need to come up with roughly $7000 on a monthly basis just to stay afloat.  Now this is no boast by any means....  I wish I had 0 bills and didn't need to worry about anything in life.  I don't think anyone is happy to have bills or financial obligations on any frequency, but that's life.  You want something, you're gonna have to pay for it, and if you want to enjoy certain things it life, those things all come with a cost.

I have been very fortunate to have my family and so many friends around me that are willing to help me out when I needed it.  I have made it to this point with their help and would like to thank them all for their support.  I know I have been a pest and its never easy reaching out for support, but just know that I do understand and appreciate everything you have all done for me.  I have so much to say and will probably break this post into 2 segments to save you guys from drowning in all the mess.

I want to talk about everything that's gone on since Super Arcade shut down and seriously thank all of you who spent the time to contact me and check on things.  Just receiving direct messages on my Twitter account means a lot.  Seeing people talking about the arcade and how they miss it truly does motivate me.  Hearing people giving me shout outs and wearing Super Arcade shirts on stream makes me realize that the community does care and that's the reason why I keep moving forward.  This whole thing was never about any money, never about any kind of fake internet fame.  I could give 2 shits about any of that honestly.  I have been to the top of the mountain in competition, I have had a good life and done many things that a person on a normal income would only dream of doing.  I have owned expensive things in life and experienced what it's like to not be on a budget.  But after being a part of all that, I realized what I truly want to do and what I want to surround myself with.  I love this community of fighting gamers more than anything else.  I love being that person that is handing down a new generation an experience of being involved in camaraderie and competition.  This is what I grew up on, this is what made me who I am today, and the people I met and battled with throughout my gaming career are now my friends for life.  You can't buy an experience like that, and you can't just sit at home on your computer and be a part of something like this.  You need to put yourself into this environment to really feel what the FGC is all about.  For some people it's once a year attending an event like EVO in Las Vegas, and for others it's about going to your local tourneys, or having gatherings at a friend's house.  But for any of you that have ever been a part of it, only you truly know how special it is.  I just want to pass this down to anyone who is willing to be a part of something this amazing and I know the community as a whole is here with open arms to accept everyone.

Funny as it may sound, there is just about something for anyone in our beloved group.  You don't even have to like participating directly in the competition to enjoy it.  There is just so much that is involved and so many positives that gaming brings to the world.  I can go on and on about all this but I guess you guys really came here to read an update so I will spare you all the chatter and get down it now with a quick rundown before elaborating more.

Back in December of 2014 I closed down Super Arcade due to not being able to negotiate a better lease with the landlord.  Rent was ridiculously high and we were out growing the location already.  Fast forward to April, I find a new location in Azusa, go through all the paperwork and required permits and get denied due to political warfare between the city officials and that landlord.  During that time I went through 2 public hearings and as many of you know, these had corruption written all of it.  Thinking back on all this actually infuriates me.  Getting denied because "people will piss all over the walls of the arcade parking lot" and getting denied because "men will gawk at women walking by" are just a couple of the ridiculous excuses I received.  Oh how fortunate I was that this was all broadcast live over the internet for people to see and thankfully I had so many witnesses there to hear this nonsense.  If there was no proof of this madness I'm sure I would've lost all support and been called a liar lol.  Anyways, after failing to be able to open at the first location, I was given a location by a city board member to check out and this is the location I am currently leasing since back in September of 2015.  I was approved for permits at this spot to open, but not approved for "construction permits."  Boy oh boy did I learn a sick lesson here.  In order to open a business you need to make sure you have a permit that allows that type of business in the area.  Then, you need to obtain a business permit which allows you to open your doors, but in order to obtain a business permit you need have your building inspected and all your modifications approved.  In order to start modifications you need a building permit, and in order to get a building permit you need to turn in plans that are done by licensed architects and engineers and have them accepted by the building officials in the city.  Are you still there?  Am I confusing you enough yet?  And to top if off, step number 1 of obtaining a permit to even have a shot at opening requires you already have a location set, which forces you to start a lease at that particular location just in hopes of getting everything off the ground.  Sound a little ridiculous?  Well, it is, and if you have any doubt of this process please feel free to drop by city hall and ask them anything you like.....

Anyways, this rant isn't quite over yet haha. So during inspections and making plans, there are always "corrections" that are to be made and my team must comply and alter the plans we are turning in.  Here's where the headache comes in.  They wanted more bathrooms, added that, they wanted everything up to code for handicap access, got it, they wanted the maximum capacity issue handled, check.  That's everything right?  Nope......  Then after almost 6 months of back and forth, they said the building wasn't earthquake safe... WTF?  And to top if off, they wanted me to move the front door location cause it wasn't swing the proper direction for wheelchair access or something like that.  Whatever.  So even through all this, I kept pushing and pushing and bugging the hell out of my architect to keep changing and redrawing up plans until we finally got everything the way they wanted.  We had to even add a trash bin area outside and draw up plans for proper ventilation.  All that is done now.  We were then forced to go to the fire department in another city to have them look over and approve our exit plans and fire escape pathing.  Done, done, and done.  Now all plans are turned in and I received word that the last step is accepted.  It's just a slight wait now for everything to get officially stamped and I am aiming to start construction by the end of the month.

Thanks for reading and I will have another blog up in a few days. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Why the lack of updates and current issues.

Hello all and thank you to all those who take the time to follow up with Super Arcade and all the madness that has occurred up to this day.  I cannot explain all the gratitude I have for everyone and their kind words that have inspired and motivated me through all this.  There have been so many roadblocks and hurdles to overcome in this journey and looking back, I just can't believe it has come this far.  From getting denied twice at public hearings, to complying with all the city's crazy conditions of opening an arcade, and just grinding through all the normal issues with keeping a small business project alive.  I can honestly say this has been not only the toughest task I have attempted my life, but also the most rewarding.  Although the task at hand is still not complete, the journey has been amazing.  And in terms of that, I can label both the good and bad with the exact label of amazing.

As things came to a close at the old location, I was truly burned out.  The arcade went through a very tough time financially and emotionally.  The money I suppose was the smaller issue while the emotional side of things wasn't exactly fun.  Having to part ways with someone you have known for almost 20 years due to financial problems might be the worst reason as you find out at some point in your life that friends and money do not mix well together.  I will not go into more detail about that since the point has already been elaborated many times over.  Also there is still a sliver of respect towards this person, so I do not wish to completely destroy persona and reputation for the greater good of the community.  Then we have the issue of a person that pretended to be a friend for almost 20 years being exposed as a compulsive liar and along with being extremely greedy and malicious with intent.  The term "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" definitely comes to play with this person i suppose.  I guess I was viewed as a threat, yet this person always acted to be a friend only building a bubble around people who actually liked him.  This person though will be exposed more and more in the future though with reason being he has the power to potentially ruin an entire community from greed alone.

Anyways, back to the matter at hand.  This blog has been an escape for me in a sense and generally sums up the main details of what's been going on with the arcade.  The reason I have kept quiet about things is because as they get closer and closer, more work needs to be done to comply with all the regulations required by the city.  And speaking publicly might offend someone or sway their judgement in a way that could cause more delays or issues.  Just keep grinding and grinding while keeping my mouth shut was the option of choice for me.  Let the haters talk their smack and ignore them, then come out with a bang of success and let that speak for itself.  So you might ask, why speak now?  Why not continue to work and be silent till everything is done?  Well, that is probably a good question.....

For those not so informed and don't follow up much with the lovely City of Azusa, there was a public hearing this past week regarding a project called "Block 36."  This project is located directly across the street from me and in the heart of Downtown Azusa.  The hearing was to determine what business would anchor this shopping center/housing project and consisted of either a bowling alley/arcade, or a well respected movie theater.  My first reaction was, an arcade?  What the F*CK?  A city that made me be basically bend over, put on knee pads, and grab a dumb truck full of lube to get my permits is not accepting of an arcade?  This can't be serious......  Oh but it is......  At the hearing, literally 5 people were against the new theater.  2 being people that represented the existing theater located a few miles away, and the 3 people on city council that led the vote to being a 3 to vote in favor of a bowling alley.  I can honestly say that I felt the pain of this as I recalled had an auditorium favoring my arcade with over 90% approval and still lost a hearing 2 to 1.  It's truly incredible how things turn out sometimes.  If you are interested in reading more, here's an article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune with a summary. SGVT Article

In the public hearing, the mayor directly stated that by opening another movie theater it would be unfair to the existing theater and possible cause them to shut down........ ok?  What about an arcade that has done everything by the book?  What about Super Arcade that is located within a 30 yard distance to this new location?  What happened to the little guys?  So much hypocrisy and obvious collusion in this decision.  The project representative went as far as mentioning he worked with the City of Azusa for 20 years, and was well acquainted with the staff.  He also mentioned he helped them with previous projects and was friends with much of the city staff.  So is this how decisions regarding an entire city are made?  They just ignore the citizens and play some type of "highschool buddy buddy" game?  Well, that seems to be the case here.

I do have a regret in this matter.  My regret is being selfish and not speaking up at the hearing and not signing a public speaking card to be allowed to voice my opinion.  This is where I want to further explain why I have been quiet and why things are changing now.  I was actually contacted by someone in the city and told that what I say will not cause any negativity and I was told to just be honest with the situation.  So here I am, at a crossroad again.  Do I continue to bite my tongue, or should I lash out and explain my frustrations and concerns over what occurred to me, and now to someone else.  For me, I was just the little guy and easily brushed under the rug.  For the Laemmlle family, we are talking about millions of dollars and an issue that will definitely not go away.  So I have decided, F it.  I have spoken to the newspaper and local news regarding this issue and will be meeting with them today for an article.  Worst case scenario my issue will be made even more public and the people supporting the theater will hopefully support me as well.  I have been told that there will be something done regarding the latest ruling to have the bowling alley/arcade and that the decision not to have a theater is not completely out of question at this point.  So, I will do what's right and help not only myself, but also act in part for the citizens of Azusa and the Laemmlle family.

Thank you for reading and hope to see you all real soon.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Could This Be What's Holding Things Up?

Hello everyone and welcome back to the struggles of opening a small business.  Throughout this ordeal I have learned many things and dealt with many issues that seem almost endless.  There was always a light at the end of the tunnel that motivated me and kept me positive during this entire situation.  About 2 months ago I felt like this long grind was finally coming to an end as my architect was making progress and the City Building Commission was working with us to get things finalized.  I was dealt issue after issue and just did my best to comply with all their requests to avoid any more delays.  I was told I had to move the front entrance, change restroom layouts, and keep everything handicap accessible on top of that.  After complying to all those requests I was even dealt what seemed to be a finishing blow......  After working on plans and fighting for every inch, I was told that the building was an "Earthquake Hazard."  The worst of all this is that if I was told this back in September I would have honestly just given up.  I literally spent over 6 months of going back and forth with the city making corrections and adjusting plans before they dropped this bomb on me.  But, somehow this issue was rectified and we pushed forward.  Now that we have everything almost done again......... dun dun dun dun.......

I come to find out that the city is having plans to build some type of Family Entertainment Center.  You can check the details here :  I have kept quiet for the most part and tried to refrain from speaking publicly about any issues I have already handled just to try and keep the calm.  I didn't want to endanger my business any more and I definitely didn't want to offend anyone in the city that had the power to delay my opening any further.  Then I receive a call from a friend that resides in Azusa and was made aware of this project that is being presented to the city.  Under normal circumstances, I would just brush this off.  But as it stands, the proposed location for this place is literally right across the street from where I'm currently leasing a building for Super Arcade.  I went through hell to get a business permit, I attended 2 public hearings, and I fought tooth and nail to prove to the city that our community would bring positives to Azusa.  I had to endure complaints that "Arcade Culture" is dangerous, and that people who attended the arcade were "hoodlums" and would bring down the neighborhood.  I was told my patrons would "pee on the walls" of the city if they allowed an arcade there.  I was told men would "gawk at women and make them uncomfortable" if they brought in an arcade to this city.  And this is why I am so adamant about this new situation and project.

Could this be the real reason all my efforts have been delayed?  Could this be the reason I have been thrown so many issues that try to deter my efforts of opening shop in Azusa?  Don't want to be some kind of tin foil hat conspiracy theorist here, but if this goes through, and it might just be the case......  There is a Public Hearing for this project at 7:30pm on 5/16/16 in the Azusa Civic Auditorium located at 213 East Foothill Blvd.  This will be streamed and you can view it here at :

I will be in attendance and if you are local to the area, feel free to join me.   Thank you for reading and talk to you all again real soon.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Quick Post and Basic Issues

Just a quick update for those of you who are interested.  In order to open shop there are a few requirements.  You need to acquire a business permit which is granted by the city's "planning division" and allows you to run whatever type of business you applied for.  These permits are attached to a specific address and once approved are stuck to that address.  For this reason I have been paying the lease on our location since September due to the fact that a permit for "arcades" is no longer being issued so we had a cut off time to make this happen.  After receiving a business permit you must then apply for a business license which is granted by the "building division" once they see your plans and layout you have for location.  This step is much more complicated than people think and this is where a lot of time and money has been exhausted.  You must hire an architect to draw up these plans and the costs for this is kind of ridiculous.  After paying the architect you must now hire engineers that will then put their stamp of approval on these plans and guess what?  Each engineer charges for placing their stamp on our drawing.  We needed an electrical engineer, a mechanical engineer, and a plumbing engineer to overlook, approve, and then stamp our drawings.  We also had to pay for "title 24" work to be done along with making sure everything is ADA compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act).

This has been a complete nightmare for me as I have literally done everything I can which includes hiring a second architect to push things along faster.  I understand people are itchy to get back to attending Super Arcade and trust me when I say no one wants this to happen sooner than me.  Each review has taken so much time and the funny part of all this is that by law, the planners can take 30-45 days to review each correction.  Fortunately this is not the case and each review has never taken anything close to that.  So to sum it up, I am still waiting on final approvals from the city for our plans so my construction team can finally finish up everything.  Once construction begins the shop will be open in less than a month.  Everything needed to open has already been purchased long ago including new monitors, set ups, etc etc etc.  Some details have been left out cause I do not want to offend anyone as I do not know who might be reading this, but I can promise you that I have been extremely polite and courteous to all the city officials during this entire process.  So now I am just sitting here as anxious as anyone to get back to doing what I love.  Thanks for reading and hope that sums things up.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Dealing With Bad Days And Working Past It

So I wanted to open the eyes of those who don't understand the way things work when you are trying to establish a business.  I'm not sure where to exactly start, but I can tell you this.  Opening a small business is not an easy task.  There are the obvious things such as finding a proper location, having or obtaining financial backing, and then operating the business itself.  These steps might seem very simple, but when you take into account all the work and effort required, things are not as easy as they seem.  Just finding a city that would allow an establishment like Super Arcade was a task in itself.  Had I told people what I was going through just to obtain the proper permits for this, I'm sure I would've looked like a clown and no one would believe me.  If my public hearing were not streamed live, my entire effort might have already been shut down and all of my loyal friends and customers might have just called it quits too.  But thankfully, the internet does exist and the City of Azusa not only archives and records their hearings, but yes, they too are streamed just like our beloved tournaments.

At this point, I have honestly been doing everything I can to speed things up and get up and running as soon as possible.  Here is where the toughest part of everything stands and here is where my biggest problem comes.  I am not in control of what is going on and not able to change that.  We received a stop work order back in mid September due to building permit issues.  I can only press the issue so much in terms of asking for things to get expedited and what not before I just become a nuisance to the city planners and get on their bad side.  The funniest part of all this is, some people think I am not opening on purpose.  Let me just say that by not being open now, I am currently paying rent on a building that is not in use, I am not taking in any revenue from the location, I am completely stressing myself out day and night because the situation, and also being stuck without any progress for almost 2 months will drive anyone insane.  If you calculate expenses during this time, I am at an estimated loss of roughly 4,000 to 5,000 per week.  So if anyone believes that losing this type of money is fun then be my guest and walk in my shoes please.

Regardless, this week we will be allowed back at work and move as fast as we can to get things finished with all the proper steps being taken.  There has been very few times where I wanted to give up, but this particular project has really driven me to the brink on occasion.  The light at the tunnel seems so near but at the same time out of arms reach and ever so frustrating.  The journey is almost over everyone and thank you all for hanging around.  The next post will have a lot more positive things to talk about so keep your eyes open for that.  Until then, thank you again for your support and thank you all for reading.

Just some ranting and daily thoughts......

(This blog was written around 10/20)

As I mentioned in my previous post, things are really really starting to weigh down on my life.  I have so many things to be thankful for and I try to just do keep moving forward without any regrets.  There are so many situations that have led me to the current point in my life and honestly these events have been almost unbelievable.  I will share some of these stories with you guys over the next few posts since I have some time while waiting for the city to either grant or deny our restroom situation.  There's a lot of things that have been on my mind and being as I have been very public about everything, there is no need to stop now.

I don't want to continue to beat on a dead horse or bring up old nonsense, but if a lot of people want to continue to accuse me of things than I guess I should defend myself a bit.  People honestly feel that I have some type of grudge against Alex Valle and I want to clear that up once and for all.  And I would also like to take the time to state my opinions regarding the status of the FGC and competitive gaming.  So, I am not going to get back into any super specific details, but I will say this.  Valle did not ditch me and the separation of Super Arcade and LevelUp was very much beneficial towards me.  I no longer had to split venue fees and we still had the same attendance on Wednesdays and Thursday.  Without stating the obvious, the financial aspect of this huge and things were taking a turn in the right direction.  The only thing that was bad about this is that regardless of the what Super brought to the scene, tourneys on Wednesday nights were the idea of Alex and it was kind of sad that things did come to an end.  I met Alex way before many of you even heard about Street Fighter, and it's always a tough thing mixing friends and business.  But hey, we are both adults and we know what we are doing and the direction we are headed.  He is now accomplishing what he wants to do, and I am doing things the way I want to as well.  There is so much I want to discuss, but I will just go into two specifics regarding all this.

Firstly, this whole separation was actually brought about because of one person, Mr. Wizard.  I have already explained my whole ordeal with this guy and I don't want to rehash on it because it's already completely confirmed that he is nothing but a greedy leech to the community and only yearns to be in a position of power to feed his ego.  We already know he tried to sabotage my 37 Reloaded tournament last year that led me to speak out on stream one night and say some things that might have been best left unsaid.  But anyways, that's over with and not until recently I found out he also tried to tarnish my friendship and reputation with the Cannon brothers.  This sick bastard told them that I tied to "DDOS attack" them in some manner and had I not found out from a third party, this rumor would still be truth in their eyes.  Tom Cannon was actually a major help in guiding me through the Kickstarter campaign and him and his brother are the two people I look up to and respect the most in the entire community.  No matter what anyone does or achieves in terms of helping or moving the FGC forward, the existence of this community is purely cause of their love and support from day 1.  So for Wizard to actually spread this rumor and try to turn them against me, that's just an all time low even from his standards.  Luckily I reached out and straightened things out recently so I didn't have to deal with any more problems that I didn't create with them.

Now onto the second part.  Valle was always one who was willing to push forward and really driven to get sponsors and just be a part of the so called "Big Show."  I was more in favor of keeping a competitive environment and doing what was best for the players and our customers.  Here is where more people tend to overextend their opinions and call me a poor business man and other friendly names.  So to give a different perspective of the situation, I am the type that would rather work hard, do things my way, and not sell out just for the money or the fame.  Others seem to be blinded by the money and feel that having an extravagant setting and mimicking other scenes is the way to go.  Growth is a natural thing, but it just seems that lately people are caring less about the game and just aiming for a quick buck and self gains.  Now I know people will have their opinions, and sometimes mine opinion isn't the most popular, but I am who I am and I will just keep things 100% honest at all times.  Will this ultimately be the reason for my own demise?  Possibly, but at least I can deal with the fact that I hurt myself, and wasn't a victim to anything that I didn't bring upon myself.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dealing with the Constant Setbacks and Current Mindset

Well, it's the day after my "target" open date for Super Arcade and I can't say I'm feeling very upbeat or happy at the moment.  I began this journey to find a new home for the arcade over 10 months ago and it has definitely taken its toll.  As a gamer, I have always had the drive to either do something to its fullest, or not do it all.  This was the attitude I took not only in my work, but also in my hobbies.  There have been so many things that have taken place throughout my efforts to reopen the arcade which include both good and bad memories.  Being as this arcade was so important to so many people, I felt the need and desire to pursue something that would benefit the community and give these people a place they can call their second home.

Back in April I had already secured a location that was feasible for all the needs of the arcade, but unfortunately that particular location was frowned upon by the city and its residents, and after fighting for almost 3 months to obtain the proper permits for that spot, I was denied.  But then, some good news came about and I was given a suggested location within the same city and told it would be ideal not only for me but also accepted by the city itself.  So in August I received the permits I needed to run and arcade at this new location and was ready to get started.  The problem with the new location though is, the building is very old, there are a lot of improvements that need to be made, and a ton of time and money need to be spent to bring things up to par here.  I am now learning that following rules and abiding by all the regulations not only issued by city, but also by the state, can be a very long and tedious process.  This is the current situation I am in.  There are a ton of requirements that need to be reached which include keeping everything handicap accessible, following rules of maximum occupancy, providing enough restrooms for our customers, and so on and so forth.  There is no speedy way to complete this process and we have no choice but to follow the rules here.

At this point, it does not matter how fast my crew or I can finish things.  Now it's just a matter of getting the proper building permits to complete the items that need to be completed.  I see people complaining about the fact that it's taking too long, or others assuming that I am lagging.  To set the record straight, I would wish nothing more than to have the arcade open RIGHT NOW.  I am paying rent on a building that is not operating at this time.  This does nothing for me besides stress me out and cost me more and more money.  The current issue we are dealing with now is that the city is requesting us to build 2 more restrooms on top of the 2 that already exist.  This is not a cheap task and will cost roughly $20,000 to complete.  That price might seem crazy high or unreasonable to some of you, but you have to figure in the cost of paying for permits to build, having an architect make and submit drawings and plans, and then paying a contractor to make those plans a reality.  This isn't a simple case of changing a toilet or a sink here.  At this point we have already spent over $20,000 just in renovations and over a month's time.  If we can get past the idea of adding restrooms, the work that needs to be done will take less than a weeks time.  That is how close we are to completing this project.

Also, now since there is competition to what we are doing, this adds a lot of stress to step things up and make things that much better here.  It doesn't help that I am now competing with an ex-partner and friend that is going to be hosting an event next week, but unselfishly thinking, at least it gives the community somewhere to go while I am not able to provide this service.  All I can do is hope people will return to us once things are finished and continue to frequent the establishment that cares about its players.  Funny as it seems, some people feel I was being the aggressor and acting rudely in my last blow when I was merely replying to jabs that were thrown at me.  But then again, these comments of being unprofessional are coming from people who hide behind various screen names and do not nothing for the community, so it's my fault for letting that bother me.

There is also a ton of assuming going on and many people think it's just so simple to open an arcade.  I suggest those who think that go back and view the archives of both our public hearings and see exactly what we are dealing with.  There is a ton of time, effort, and money that goes into doing something like this.  At times I will admit I have felt like throwing in the towel and just sticking my head under a rock.  The people closest to me ask me all the time why I don't give up and just call it a day.  I sometimes myself wonder the same, and sadly speaking, all this stress and lack of sleep is causing some health issues.  Luckily, I can take this weekend off and spend some time with my family and set my mind at ease.  I have another meeting with my contractor and city hall that will determine the outcome of the restroom situation come Monday morning so I will have some good news hopefully after that.  Until then, thank you all again for all the support and I really look forward to finishing up everything and seeing everyone again real soon.

Thank You,
Mike Watson