Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
So, we're doing something a little different here.
Way, way back in Season 1, on Episode 14, we had friend of the show H.P. Mendoza on. Back then, we were all about stories, not necessarily people's stories, like we are today. And so, we asked H.P. to come back on and share his personal history with you.
He starts Part 1 with his birth (St. Luke's in the Mission) and his childhood (on La Grande Avenue in the Excelsior). Then he backs up to go into some depth about his paternal grandmother, who taught English and adored H.P., her first grandchild born in the U.S. She had a piano and that's how H.P. learned to play.
A tangent leads to H.P. talking about his love of movies from an early age. He credits his brother Joe with that, as well as H.P.'s continued interest in storytelling, video games, cartoons, and more.
H.P. shares stories from his school days. Being the first U.S.-born kid in his family, there were higher expectations placed on him. His early curiosity about kids who were different from him and his family led to some pretty funny mischief. His parents pulled him out of public school and sent him to Epiphany Catholic School.
After skipping second grade, H.P. experienced ostracism from kids older than him and kids his age. Because of this, he added one year to his age well into his twenties.
He ends Part 1 rattling off different obscure, adult-ish movies he was into as a kid.
In Part 2, H.P. talks about how he had moved with his mom to Daly City and starts off telling a story about the Colma Target. It involves a kid he met while hanging out at Radio Shack and Walden Soft at Serramonte Mall across the freeway.
From there, we go on to talk about H.P.'s first feature-length movie, Colma: The Musical. He shares how he went about writing the story that became the movie.
Next, we discuss H.P.’s time at College of San Mateo, where he went to study film. Following up on the success of Colma, H.P.'s directorial debut came with the movie Fruit Fly.
He pivots from there to address the hate and violence that Asian folks have experienced in recent years.
Then we talk about H.P.'s music and artists he's often compared to as well as younger musicians who've told him that he influences them.
H.P. wraps things up reflecting on what his hometown, San Francisco, means to him in 2021. He ends with his personal thoughts on our theme this season: "We're still here."
We recorded this episode at Casements Bar in May 2021.