Something about the beach always called my name.

March is one of those glorious months in Los Angeles that signifies the coming of lush green vegetation, gorgeous fresh blooms, good surf, outdoor events, and so much room to play. Spring is about to bloom!

This month’s issue is a deep dive into the city’s rich history, including unsolved crimes, fascinating architecture, and a more intricate look inside the stories and fables surrounding Hollywood. Having been raised in the heart of Santa Monica and Venice Beach, my sister and I embarked on adventures powered by the lure of LA. Whether it was grabbing a donut with our grandfather at the local donut shop and hearing him tell us stories about golfing with Bob Hope, or roller skating along the boardwalk where my mom would tell us stories about listening to the Beatles at Hollywood Bowl, story was always at the heart of growing up. Venice Beach and Santa Monica happens to be where I would ditch school and escape.

Something about the beach always called my name. Venice and the canals were the source of sanity when life at home got a little crazy, and as I grew up and became an adult, I found myself utterly enthralled in all of LA. I explore on the regular. From roaming downtown during the day to holing up at Café Stella’s in Silverlake sipping a latte to sipping an afternoon martini while writing at Musso and Frank’s in Hollywood—there is no shortage of places to escape to. That’s the beauty of LA. You can always eat, always drink, always find cold pressed juice or vegan options, cultural immersion, art. Honestly anything you can think up, it’s here.

This month, you can also get your Britney Spears on at the hot new Britney Zone or get swept away in technology and art at the Wisdome downtown. No matter where you go and what you do, don’t let the chaos of a politically jarring primary election or the looming reminder of tax season get to you.

Let go. Breathe. Dance. Play. Eat. Find something new to do that you’ve always wanted to try. This is a new beginning. Take it. Embrace it. Enjoy it.

Live with abandon,

Dawn Garcia
@dawngarcia

On the Calendar: Los Angeles, March 2020

This month in Los Angeles, the city is blooming with fresh events, yummy food fests, and things to do. In the words of Gertrude S. Wister, “The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.” Let’s do this.

Britney Spears: The Zone

Now through April 26
6310 W. 3rd St. Mid-Wilshire
$60–$65

britneythezone.com
@britneythezone

It’s Britney, bitch! Relive your favorite Britney Spears moments with a truly epic experience at the Britney Spears Zone in Los Angeles. A nod to every great Britney song and music video, this multiple dimension immersive experience invites visitors to play in several interactive rooms that span the pop icon’s musical career. “This one-of-a-kind exhibit…promises to immerse fans in the life and legacy of the star,” according to the official website. Don a Burmese python, do a dance-off with Britney, and be prepared to feel anything but toxic.


California CBA Globe Awards

Mar. 5, 6–11 p.m.
Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood

cannabisadvising.com
The CBA Business Awards is a ceremony honoring those in the cannabis industry bringing progress and innovation worthy of recognition and esteemed accolades.


Lantern Festival

Mar. 7, 12–5 p.m.
Chinese American Museum, 425 N Los Angeles St., DTLA

Free
camla.org
The 19th Annual Los Angeles Lantern Festival celebrates the closing of Chinese New Year festivities, Chinese American heritage and cultural legacy, and the continued contributions to the community.


Art Walk Night Market

Mar. 12, 6 p.m.
399 S. Spring St., DTLA
Free

downtownartwalk.org


Drawing & Art Class

Mar. 12, 9 a.m.
Raminfard School of Arts, Rancho Park
$45–$125

Tickets on Eventbrite


3rd Annual Herstory: A Series of Womxn Art Show

Mar. 21, 12–4 p.m.
Tea n Rose, DTLA
$25

Tickets on Eventbrite
In honor of Women’s History Month, the Debbie Allen Dance Academy x Artfonfa present this beautiful art show and performance art series.


Vegan Street Fair

Mar. 21–22, 11 a.m.
Vegan Exchange LA, North Hollywood
Free

nevernotvegan.com
Come enjoy a weekend of local gourmet and authentic plant based food.


Los Angeles Fashion Week 2020

Mar. 26–29, 5 p.m.
The Majestic Downtown, DTLA
$50–$3,000

Tickets on Eventbrite


Curve Fest Los Angeles

Mar. 27–29, 7 p.m.
Pershing Square, DTLA
$30–$300

Tickets on Eventbrite
Curve Fest, a.k.a. Curvychella, is a festival to empower plus-size women and promote body acceptance, in an effort to put an end to fat and body shaming. The carnival-themed event will include a street parade, artists, entertainers, and speakers.

High Society: Lyft Lounge at Sundance Film Festival

Where: Park City, Utah
When: January 24
Photos: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Every year the world watches as independent films and new and notable filmmakers on the rise make their film debuts at the world-renowned Sundance Film Festival. This year, Sundance partnered with the Lyft Lounge for the third year to bring visitors a unique escape amid the snowy weather. Featuring multiple panel discussions with filmmakers, including the cast of Dinner in America, Time, and Promising Young Woman, the event offered the opportunity to experience community and inspiration.

In the throes of the festival, the lounge kicked off with The Atlantic Filmmaker Chat, moderated by the magazine’s executive editor, Adrienne LaFrance. The presentation featured Garrett Bradley, the up-and-coming director of the documentary Time, and Mike Masserman, head of social impact at Lyft. The film looks at the problematic rise of over-incarceration. Later that day, Dinner in America director Pat Healy and cast members Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs, Griffin Gluck, Lea Thompson, Adam Carter Rehmeier, and Mary Lynn Rajskub rode VIP to the festival with Lyft.

Dinner in America tells the story of on-the-lam punk-rocker Simon and obsessed-with-his-band misfit Patty—and their unexpected love story as they journey through decaying Midwestern suburbs. Celebrating the after party in the Lyft Lounge was Promising Young Woman writer and director Emerald Fennell, cast members Carey Mulligan and Bo Burnham, producers Tom Ackerley, Sophia Kerr, and Josey McNamara, and composer Anthony Willis. Cyn performed during the party, and other notables included artists Fletcher and Keto. The film tells the story of a young woman who, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks vengeance against the men who cross her.

Lyft is the official rideshare partner for the Sundance Film Festival. #lyftlounge

March Horoscope

Feb. 19–Mar. 20
Pisces

Listen to the compliment that presents itself to you as a criticism; energies will make you better through jealousy and roadblocks. It could be that you realize it’s time for a change.

Mar. 21–Apr. 19
Aries

There is something to celebrate that presents itself to you. To thank the universe for this opportunity or inspiration, donate to an organization a few times this month.

Apr. 20–May 20
Taurus

Do not try to impress anyone who isn’t treating you well. Please agree with the vibration that you are perfect the way you are—and totally step back from the people who are taking advantage of your good nature.

May 21–June 20
Gemini

It’s time to apologize for the things you have done to hurt people. If your ego won’t let you actually call them to apologize, write them a “spiritual” letter telling them you were unfair to them and that you are sorry.

June 21–July 22
Cancer

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The door to your future couldn’t open any wider. If you want the job, you can have it. If you want that relationship to go to the next level, you can have it.

July 23–Aug. 22
Leo

People are about to prove to you how much they love you. March is when your gratitude toward people who are supporting you will make all the difference.

Aug. 23–Sept. 22
Virgo

There are angels surrounding you. Pennies and feathers in your path are likely. This is a month of being aware of how things are lining up for you. Accept all invitations.

Sept. 23–Oct. 22
Libra

Coincidence will be your best friend this month. It’s time to drop (old) ideas that you can’t have what you want…you totally can. Pay attention!

Oct. 23–Nov. 21
Scorpio

Practice saying nice things about people. Do not take on the bad karma right now of backstabbing those who truly do not deserve it. Ask yourself: “Am I basing my opinion on someone else’s agenda?”

Nov. 22–Dec. 21
Sagittarius

You are the owner of this lifetime and acting as though you do have the power to change things will make all the difference this month. You will get a sign that you are on the right track.

Dec. 22–Jan. 19
Capricorn

When you focus on one thing at a time, you are a genius. Avoid multitasking this month. Better to spend the time to make sure it’s done right the first time.

Jan. 20–Feb. 18
Aquarius

Embrace the high energy of spinning lots of plates right now. You are the chef who has many pots simmering, and it’s time to admit that you like it this way. Thrive by making the magic happen with all the resources available to you.

RideConnect disrupts the ridesharing industry.

In an age where using a rideshare service like Lyft and Uber is commonplace, finding a company that has the potential to disrupt the way we use those services is a welcome solution. While it’s convenient in big bustling cities like Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as Orange County, something about calling a stranger to pick you up can feel like a bit of a gamble in terms of safety, cleanliness, etc. Thankfully, most drivers are great conversationalists, have clean cars, and undergo safety-approved security checks (if you’re using Lyft). And when you find a truly great driver, how amazing and convenient would it be to be able to call them directly for pickups whenever you needed to go somewhere?

RideConnect, founded in 2015 by Santosh Krishnan, addresses some of the challenges we face when using Uber or Lyft, including safety, building trust and good working relationships with drivers, and being able to pre-negotiate rates that serve riders and drivers alike.

Krishnan got the idea for RideConnect while waiting for a cab one night in the pouring rain in New York City. “Heading to the East side for the evening often [meant] waiting forever to get a cab back to the West side, especially around 4 a.m.,” Krishnan says. “Often cabs would only [take you] if you were going where they wanted.” Krishnan and his friends were frustrated by the near impossibility of finding a cab that night, when a perfectly normal looking Toyota pulled up and the driver rolled down the window. “Twenty dollars anywhere in Manhattan,” he said. That was the aha moment.

“Without even thinking, we hopped in and were off,” Krishnan says. “It was only on the way that I started feeling a bit uneasy. I don’t know who this is. I have no idea if he’s going to harm me or not, and frankly, I didn’t give it much thought before accepting his offer so readily. This was not a good situation.” That onset of reasonable fear really got Krishnan thinking.

“What if we could have an app where you push a button and someone from your trusted private network were to come to your aid?” Krishnan joined forces with Allan Pichardo, and together they began development of RideConnect. “That’s when we turned our focus on transportation and how to facilitate it within a trusted private network,” Krishnan says.

Doing field research and utilizing both Uber and Lyft, Krishnan noted patterns where he’d request a ride and no drivers were nearby or available. Over the course of several rides, he would connect with drivers he felt comfortable with and they’d exchange numbers. In the event he couldn’t find a ride? He’d give those drivers a call. “From that experience, it became clear that in many cases, even if a driver is not in your vicinity, the prospect of return business will motivate the driver to be available for you when you need a ride,” Krishnan says. “As long as you can inform the driver with enough time for him to come to your area, the driver will consider your business over the hope of business from someone else.”

Knowing that the world we live in is full of potential dangers, RideConnect is intended to offer users the tools to help them make smarter decisions before getting into a stranger’s car with its private ridesharing platform. “The intent is to enable the rider to selectively allow drivers into their network so that the drivers meet certain minimum criteria.” The private network app gives riders the option to select criteria they need met in order to feel safe, giving them control of who picks them up. “With these features, riders have the power to only get rides with trusted drivers and can even insist that these drivers pass certain background checks or produce certain evidence of their qualifications before they allow them into their private community.”

In the gig economy, making a profit is very rare with the exception of companies like Airbnb. Eliminating a middleman by delivering services to both sides of user and service provider is critical to seeing real tangible profits. “We believe that for us to make money, we need to facilitate transportation between those who want it and those who provide it, while giving both sides options in terms of pricing, privacy, and security,” Krishnan says. “Instead of preventing both sides from transacting with one another, RideConnect encourages it.”

One of the major concerns of RideConnect at present is enforced background checks for drivers. Krishnan hopes in time, that can be rectified. Like all rideshare services, safety is paramount, and there is still a lot that needs to be worked out to make it the safest alternative to taxi cabs, trains, subways, and buses.

You can find RideConnect on the App Store and Google Play rideconnect.com.

Loosing a Legend, Hemp-Based Self Care, Books to read and more.

  • Kobe Bryant’s death devastates Los Angeles. Read
  • Meet one of the original organizers of the Women’s March Foundation. Read
  • A new wellness space is opening its doors to expand the cannabis canvas. Read
  • Our editor-in-chief’s hottest hits of the month. Read
  • A hemp-based self-care line offers a link to the senses. Read
  • Promescent promises longer-lasting sex. Read
  • Add these books to your reading list. Read

Losing a Legend

Kobe Bryant’s death devastates Los Angeles.

On January 26, Los Angeles mourned the loss of one of our local legends when news hit of the deaths of retired LA Lakers Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianni, who were killed in a tragic helicopter crash along with seven other passengers. That evening, the Los Angeles City Hall was lit in purple and gold. “Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed, and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court—and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “Bryant will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes.” Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and their three daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.

The seven other passengers who lost their lives that day include Orange Coast College coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter, Alyssa; mother and daughter, Sarah and Payton Chester; girl’s basketball coach Christina Mauser; and pilot Ara Zobayan.


Honoring Activist Leda Ramos

Meet one of the original organizers of the Women’s March Foundation.

Los Angeles has been home to many activists, but one woman, Leda Ramos, began a movement that sparked something extraordinary when she organized the Women’s March Foundation in Los Angeles. Inspired after the 2016 election, when she says she was “shaken by the deep misogyny” displayed during that time, Ramos reached out to find women who shared her passions and became a leader in a march that’s continually bringing women and supporters of equality together. A defender of women’s rights, Ramos is also an artist and educator at Cal State LA, where she teaches Chicanx Latinx art, film, visual culture, and transmedia organizing. She is an activist and organizer, engaging themes of feminism, resistance, and community power. This year marked the fourth annual Women’s March through downtown Los Angeles, with more than 300,000 marchers marching to advance women’s rights.


Aeon Botanika

A new wellness space is opening its doors to expand the cannabis canvas.

West Hollywood is the city that launched the first legal cannabis café in the nation with OG Cannabis Cafe. The city’s commitment to bringing more like-minded companies into the space and to the community is leading the charge. This spring, Angelenos are invited to Aeon Botanika, a new modern cannabis wellness space. The storefront will include a plant-based café; wellness center with services such as bodywork, acupuncture, and other holistic services; and a Moroccan-inspired tea and hashish lounge. Its mission is to introduce “Cannabis with Conscience, leading the way in curating brands in our stores that share our values for high-quality, social equity, and the ethical, sustainable production of cannabis products.” On-site consumption is allowed.

@aeonbotanika


Sensibilities

By Stephanie Wilson, Editor In Chief

1. READING ROOM
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf, $27). Showcasing her signature literary prowess, Mandel explores the infinite ways we search for meaning in this much-hyped new release, expected March 24. Also out this month: It’s Not All Downhill from Here by How Stella Got Her Groove Back author Terry McMillan.

2. STREAM THIS
Freeform’s The Bold Type. Now in its third season, this sleeper hit could be your new favorite series. It’s mine, in no small part because it centers on three young women working for a New York mag. But also because it’s witty AF, aspirational, and depicts successful women who are defined not by their relationships but by their careers. It’s empowering, and you should watch it for free on Freeform, or on your favorite streaming platform.

3. LISTEN UP
NPR’s Life Kit podcast offers tools to keep it together. And by you, I mean me; I need all the help I can get. Picking out a lightbulb last fall had me staring mouth agape in a store aisle for a half hour trying to make sense of all the options. After listening to “Picking Out a Lightbulb, Made Easy,” I know which bulb’s for me. Life Kit’s episodes are short, to the point, and offer tips on how to do things like start therapy, start a book club, master your budget, remove stains, and juggle paperwork, appointments, and repairs. Basically how to adult.

4. GROWING TREND
Pot in Pots. The Swiss-cheese-leafed Monstera is last year’s “It” plant. Cannabis is the hashtagable houseplant of 2020. Get in on the trend. Depending where you live, you can find clones or seeds at select dispensaries with an easy google—while you’re at it, look up local laws regarding home grows. Cannabis cuttings (a.k.a. clones) are pretty easy to root—check Leafly.com for tips—and you should definitely bring some to your next plant swap. Spread the word, spread the love.


Glamorous Cannabis

A hemp-based self-care line offers a link to the senses.

Cannabis wellness has become a real part of our daily lives, from lit yoga classes to infused bath bombs, topicals, and luxury CBD products. Mineral, founded by Matthew “Mills” Miller is a top-shelf hemp-based bath and body product line. Among the impressive lineup is Maison and Sousa, both available at the Neiman Marcus (neimanmarcus.com) in Los Angeles.

Maison ($70), made with hints of sage, sandalwood, and mint, is intended to reduce inflammation and soothe stressed skin in need of restoration. Sousa ($70) is a body oil and treatment made with 200 milligrams of CBD and the hemp-derived terpenes linalool and limonene.

The line is known for its sleek design, elegant aesthetic, scientific sophistication, and scents that evoke the undeniable allure of French perfumes. Miller is known as a pioneer in the cultivation of hemp plants, with an eye for design, creative campaigns, and high-quality products. You can find several products at Neiman Marcus in LA, San Francisco, Boston, and Las Vegas.


The Next Viagra?

Promescent promises longer-lasting sex.

Although PE, or premature ejaculation, doesn’t have quite the same stigma as ED (erectile dysfunction), it can definitely become a barrier to intimate and meaningful lovemaking. It’s also a common problem for couples. In fact, Psychology Today recently reported on the “orgasm gap.” In case you hadn’t noticed, men tend to reach an orgasm during heterosexual lovemaking about three times faster than women—5.5 minutes vs. 18 minutes. According to the new brand and product Promescent, up to two billion women go without orgasms each year as a result of this issue. Makers of Promescent, a climax-delay spray, claim it prolongs lovemaking. So, will it become the next Viagra? Check it out for yourself and see if it improves your sex life.

promescent.com


Good Reads

Add these books to your reading list.

Meryl Streep on the Couch by doctor Alma H. Bond is a look at the inner workings of actress and activist Meryl Streep. Bond, a clinical psychoanalyst, is known for her couch sessions with famous women in history like Barbra Streisand, Hillary Clinton, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and Michelle Obama. Streep approached her when researching the role of psychoanalyst for her film The Psychotherapist and what follows are stories, insights, and a deeper appreciation for Streep as a woman, mother, activist, and actress. Bond was married to the late Streetcar Named Desire actor Rudy Bond.

Available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and bancroftpress.com

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden may possibly be the most encouraging book anyone in the marketing, publishing, or advertising worlds can read. Pages and pages of honest, inspiring anecdotes, quotes, personal stories, and failures and successes make this book a must-read. Answering everyday questions with logical responses, Arden has written a cohesive handbook for navigating through the terrain of life by altering your conditioned mindset. The message: it doesn’t matter what job you have or where you are in your journey. His positivity and intellect will make it near impossible not to accomplish something epic in your own life.

Available on amazon.com

Paper-engineering obsessives create the first pop-up book to explore the world of cannabis.

Collaboration is a wonderful thing. When my friend Rosston Meyer told me a few years ago that he was planning a pop-up cannabis book, I thought it sounded like a great idea. I knew Meyer ran an independent publishing house designing pop-up books in collaboration with artists. Meyer is a designer with a passion for art and pop culture, so I imagined his books were a modern upgrade of the old-school pop-up books I played with as a child—3-D elements and foldouts, tabs to pull and wheels to spin—but with a modern aesthetic that appeals to adults. “A pop-up on pot would be cool to flip through and play with,” I remember thinking. “I hope he does it.”

A few years later, Meyer came around to show me a physical mock-up of his pot-themed pop-up, which he’d titled Dimensional Cannabis. What he showed me was a modern art form I wasn’t aware existed. Yes, the book featured 3-D elements and foldouts, with tabs to pull and wheels to spin, but what I had pictured was similar only in concept. These were intricate and elaborate kinetic paper sculptures that painted a picture and brought it to life. I was blown away. So, when he asked if I’d be interested in writing the words to go on the pages before me, I signed on immediately.

Altogether, Dimensional Cannabis took more than three years to complete, with a total of nine people contributing to the final product published by Poposition Press, Meyer’s independent publishing house. A small press, Poposition designs, publishes, and distributes limited-edition pop-up books that feature artists or subjects that Meyer finds of deep personal interest. He got started in the genre in 2013, when he started working on a collaboration with Jim Mahfood, a comic book creator known as Food One. The resulting Pop-Up Funk features Mahfood’s diverse designs transformed into interactive three-dimensional pop-ups. The limited-edition run of 100 copies were all constructed by hand.

Since then, Poposition has worked with a number of contemporary artists to publish titles like Triad by cute-culture artist Junko Mizuno and Necronomicon by macabre master Skinner.

Meyer has been fascinated by pop-up books since he was a kid, and in 2013, he began concentrating on paper engineering and book production. “After making a couple books focused on just artists, I thought that creating a pop-up book about cannabis would be a good idea,” he says. “There’s nothing else like it in the market, and there’s an audience for adult-themed pop-up books.”

For Dimensional Cannabis, Meyer collaborated with Mike Giant, a renowned American illustrator, graffiti writer, tattooer, and artist. Giant’s medium of choice is a Sharpie, and Giant’s detailed line work is instantly recognizable. An avid proponent of cannabis, Giant illustrated the entire Dimensional Cannabis book.

Giant and Meyer met at a weekly open studio Giant hosted in Boulder. “When the idea of doing a pop-up book about cannabis came up, he asked if I would illustrate it,” Giant says. “I’ve been an advocate for cannabis use for decades, so it didn’t take long for me to agree to work on the project.”

Meyer began by sending Giant reference materials to visualize. “I’d get it drawn out, hand it off, and get some more stuff to illustrate,” Giant says. “He’d send me previews of the finished pages as we went. It was really cool to see my line drawings colored and cut to shape. That process went on for months and months until everything for the book was accounted for.”

The process of making pop-up books is called “paper engineering.” I love obsessives, and the engineers who put this book together, make no mistake, are the ones who spend endless hours figuring out the tiniest details of the folds and materials necessary so that water pipe emerges every time you open the paraphernalia page.

“David Carter and I started talking about the idea a couple years prior to actually starting on the book,” Meyer says. “The initial concepts for each spread were figured out, and a different paper-engineer peer was asked to design each spread so that the book had variation throughout.”

Dimensional Cannabis is divided into six pages, or spreads, covering the cannabis plant’s biology, medical properties, cultivation, history, and influence on popular culture. The paraphernalia page features many items we associate with cannabis consumption over the years in America, from rolling papers and pipes to vaporizers, dabs, and concentrates—and that foot-long bong that miraculously appears as you turn the page.

One spread opens to the full plant, with information on its unique and fascinating properties. Another opens to a colorful, meditating figure with text about the healing properties of cannabis. One page is dedicated to its cultivation possibilities, basic genetics, and the differences between indoor and outdoor growing.

The history spread takes us back to the beginnings of the curious and long-standing connection between humans and cannabis. Engineer Simon Arizpe had worked with Meyer before and jumped at the chance to work on that one. “I wanted it to be Eurasian-centric as the viewer opens the page, showing the early uses of cannabis in ancient Vietnam and China,” Arizpe says. “As the viewer engages with the pop-up, cannabis’s use in the new world spreads across the page,” he adds. “We decided [to focus] on moments in time that were either politically relevant, like weed legalization, or culturally significant, like Reefer Madness.”

Arizpe feels like the entire project is an example of what can be done working with talented people outside the traditional publishing engine. “Rosston came up with an idea that has a big following and made it happen,” he says. “It is pretty exciting when people can do that out of nothing.”

For Meyer, who says he likes a good sativa when he’s working, the project was a labor of love that spans all his areas of interest. “Not only was this a great experience putting together such a unique book, but having different paper engineers work on each spread made this a real collaboration,” he says. “There have only been a couple pop-up books produced with a roster of engineers. Dimensional Cannabis is for cannabis lovers and pop-up book collectors alike.”

A walk through history reveals random facts, interesting tales, and more reasons to love LA.

Cover Photo by Kevin Fremon

Los Angeles officially became an American city on April 4, 1850, named El Pueblo de la Reyna de los Angeles, meaning “The Town of the Queen of Angels.” While this is still contested by historians, it is now universally referred to as the “City of Angels.”

It was established as a settlement in 1781 by a Spanish governor named Felipe de Neve. Originally part of Mexico, LA became a municipality of the US after the Mexican War of Independence. It was purchased as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo prior to California getting its official statehood in the union.

The city dwells in a basin that is surrounded by mountains as high as 10,000 feet and a sprawling sea by way of the Pacific Ocean. Its first riches came when oil was struck in the 1890s, which led to a surge of settlers claiming Los Angeles as their new home.

Fast-forward a few decades and Los Angeles became (and still is) the busiest container port of all the Americas. With growth came progress, including engineering, technology, design, and eventually film and television. Home to more than 88 cities and 4 million residents within the county limits, Los Angeles is the source of some truly fascinating tales. Below is a look at some of the interesting things you may not know about the City of Angels.

Venice Canal Historic District | 1905

Los Angeles has so many extraordinary features, but this historic district tucked away in photogenic Venice Beach feels more like you’ve been transported to Venice, Italy. Cute waterfront cottages and bridges line this European-like district that’s a mecca for creatives. It’s the vision of developer Abbot Kinney (yes, the man the eponymous district is named for). While the area has changed considerably with the inclusion of modern homes amid classic originals, the district was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Where permitted, residents can take kayaks and rowboats onto the canals that lead through the sea gates of Marina del Rey.

Birth of Hollywood | 1907-1915

Hollywood was once an agriculture mecca before banker and real estate mogul H.J. Whitley purchased property and opened the Hollywood Hotel (now the Dolby Theatre). The first film to be completed in Hollywood, The Count of Monte Cristo, was released in 1908, after ties with Chicago-based studios led by Thomas Edison forced filmmakers to move out West. In 1910, Prospect Avenue was born, which inevitably became the famed Hollywood Boulevard. By 1915, more than 15 studios were in production around town. Today there are more than 100 movie and television shows filmed every day in Los Angeles.

Photo by Eric Urquhart

LACMA | 1913

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum are two of the city’s first known museums. Originally called the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science, and Art, the museum opened to the public in 1913 in Exposition Park. It wasn’t until 1961 that the museum split to become what we now know as LACMA and the Natural History Museum.

Black Dahlia | 1947

Downtown Los Angeles is the last place the Black Dahlia, a.k.a. Elizabeth Short, was seen alive. Rumor has it that on January 9, 1947, she was dropped off by Robert “Red” Manley at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. Guests claim to have seen her in the cocktail lounge, but the staff at the hotel claims she slipped out one of the many secret exits in the ballrooms (the exits still exist today). An aspiring actress, Short never made it in the film industry. Her body was discovered on the morning of January 15, 1947, by Betty Bersinger, who was out walking with her three-year-old daughter. Her body had been severed into two pieces, completely drained of blood, and she was left on the west side of South Norton Avenue near Coliseum Street in Leimert Park. There were more than 150 suspects, but no one was ever charged. To date, the murder is arguably one of the most notorious cold cases in America, and certainly the most prominent unsolved case in Los Angeles history. The name Black Dahlia is linked to the 1946 noir film The Blue Dahlia, and Short was known for adorning her hair with dahlia blooms.

A fun tidbit is that underneath the Biltmore hotel, there are rooms, tunnels, walkways, and interesting fixtures, many of which have been featured in films. One of the more recognizable is the black and white tiled bathroom used in a prominent scene in Fight Club.

Beverly Hills | 1910-Present

Beverly Hills may be known as the land of the wealthy, Rodeo Drive, and films and shows like Pretty Woman, Beverly Hills Hillbillies, 90210, and Beverly Hills Cop (I-III), but it also happens to be where oil was struck in 1910. In fact, Beverly Hills High once produced 400 barrels of oil a day on its property, earning the school a whopping $300,000 annually in revenue. However, due to concerns about cancer-causing toxic fumes (lawsuits ensued), oil production ceased in 2017. Clearly there was much more than meets the eye at this famously pristine public high school!

Hollywood Sign | 1923

A number of modern films have made the Hollywood sign infinitely epic, like Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Superman, and Independence Day, but LA’s iconic signage began construction years prior in 1923. Constructed with 3,700 20-watt light bulbs, spaced eight inches apart, the Hollywood sign was initially a nod to a new housing development called Hollywoodland, which real estate developers Eli Clark, General Moses Sherman, Tracy Shoults, Sydney Woodruff and the Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler invested in. The letters weigh a cumulative total of 480,000 pounds and are each 45 feet tall. According to hollywoodsign.org, after years of neglect, the “land” was removed permanently from the sign in 1973 by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

At one time, visitors could hike all the way to the Hollywood sign, but it has since been closed off due to the number of suicides and accidents reported. You can still hike on trails in Griffith Park, with views of the sign and the Griffith Park Observatory, but direct access is prohibited.

Besito celebrates a year of 4/20s.

Photo by Jimmy Marble

Maggie Connors and her Los Angeles–based company Besito are sharing some specialty merch for the high holiday. “To celebrate 12 months of 4/20s, we launched our Besito apparel collection on 1/4/2020, and we’re doing monthly drops all year,” Connors says.

The name Besito means “little kiss” in Spanish, inspired by Connors’s Cuban heritage and the Latinx culture of LA. “I started Besito with the intention of creating a product [that was] good for beginners and experienced consumers looking for a lower dose,” Connors says. “The 2:1 ratio gives you a ‘little kiss’ of THC to make brunch a little more fun or family gatherings more tolerable, while keeping you in control of your high.”

This month’s product release will be a custom brass pin with the signature Besito “B.” “We love the renaissance of enamel pins, and this design, inspired by our vaporizer, is especially cute for budtender collections.”

The brand also stands on the side of social justice and has aligned itself with the fight for equality, criminal justice, and the ongoing scientific research of cannabis. Besito has partnered with Equity First Alliance, a nonprofit that’s working toward repairing these harms. As of September 2019, the company has committed to donating a percentage of all profits to help support EFA’s mission for automated expungement and easily accessible health, employment, and legal resources for those in need of restorative services. “We love to bring people together and honor a community at the heart of the cannabis industry and its history of advocacy,” Connors says.

In hindsight, 2019 was a strange and pivotal year.

This is the month that invites you to explore your passions, the love of others, and the love of self. Los Angeles is a city that comes to life when February rolls around. While it signifies awards season coming to an end as the Oscars commence on the last Sunday of the month, it also represents a month where we celebrate singledom, couplehood, equality, diversity, art, the power of unity, and our desire to have a positive impact on the environment.

C.S. Lewis once said, “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” Sometimes we can forget that. Change may seem scary, but in truth, change is how progress is made. This month, as the swell of consumerism tethers itself around the notion of “love,” I hope we can all pause long enough to look within, and then shine our kindness and love out into the world. And let’s be real: the world needs some positive rays of sunshine.

February marks the extraordinary and the beautiful with art exhibitions that display the most colorful aspects of humanity. That includes the launch of the LA Art Show, happening at the beginning of the month, on through to a cultural showcase of diversity and unity taking place throughout the city at numerous museums and galleries. There is also a creative cannabis and art workshop, yoga and ganja classes, Black Herstory Month improv, and a glimpse into the ever-entertaining world of dating apps.

So, while we work our tails off, binge and stream our favorite shows (many of which release this month), take in the world of cinema and music, try to stop just long enough to look back on the road that led you here. In hindsight, 2019 was a strange and pivotal year, but 2020 promises to be one of change, introspection, letting go, taking chances, loving bigger

Whatever this month means to you, may you laugh, dance, sing, shout, hike, walk, create, listen, speak out, breathe, and above all—take some time to ponder what you can contribute to make the world a more unified place.

Dawn Garcia
@dawngarcia

On the Calendar: Los Angeles, February 2020

Los Angeles is known as the centrifuge of cultural diversity, and this month epitomizes precisely that. From exquisite art exhibitions to canna yoga to music fests, February’s lineup is filled with ways to tap into the soul of the city.

Oscar Oiwa: Dreams of a Sleeping World

Through April 26
Pasadena USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena
Free
pacificasiamuseum.usc.edu
Artist Oscar Oiwa, his artisan assistant, and four MFA students have transformed a lesser-known art space into a dreamy escape. Guests are invited to lie down on a provided bed to gaze upward and take it all in.


With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985

Through May 11
MOCA, Los Angeles
Free

moca.org


LA Art Show

Feb. 5–9
Los Angeles Convention Center
$40–$300

laartshow.com
The state of the world as seen through local and global exhibitions, installations, and interactive pieces is on display. The show showcases the beauty and truth of humanity as only art can. Opening night has a fundraising gala in partnership with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.


One Love Cali Reggae Fest 2020

Feb. 7
Queen Mary Park, Long Beach
$85–$125 plus fees

onelovecalifest.com


Ganja Yoga

Feb. 12, 6–9:30 p.m.
Purple Lotus Medical Massage & Wellness, Highland Park
$33, 21+

ganjayoga.la


Frieze Los Angeles

Feb. 14–16
Paramount Pictures Studios, Hollywood
$25–$275

frieze.com/fairs/frieze-los-angeles
The New York fair Frieze made its LA debut in 2019, changing the creative landscape for the better. More than 70 art galleries will transform the space with 16 site-specific installations. Forget the traditional Valentine’s Day dinners and singles parties; opt for a little visual stimulation instead.


Soul Sista Presents: Drop the Beat

Feb. 21
The Pack Theater, Hollywood
Free

packtheater.com


Jazz is Dead Presents: Cosmic Funk Expansions with Lonnie Liston Smith

Feb. 23, 8 p.m.
$30

lodgeroomhlp.com


Crafts & Cannabis: Mixed Media Collage

Sundays, 1:30 p.m.
Puff, Pass, and Paint, NoHo
$39, 21+

puffpassandpaint.com

High Society: #Fight4TheAmazon Gala

“Every minute, 50 acres of rainforest are lost forever. Rainforests are the life-support system of our planet…but climate change, species extinctions, and deforestation threaten all life on Earth,” says the nonprofit Rainforest Trust on its website.

The fires and destruction happening in the rainforests of the world are leaving a horrid taste in every environmentalist’s mouth, and rightfully so. But with the outbreak of recent fires started by an onslaught of logging and cattle farming, the smoke being released into the air we are breathing is harming the planet and our species.

For one night, celebrities, advocates, and gamers came out to raise money to save the Amazon from being destroyed. The evening took place at Avalon Hollywood, and the space was transformed into a rainforest. PUBG Mobile, the official mobile version of the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds video game series,  along with actors and humanitarians Megan Fox and her husband, Brian Austin Green, came out to Hollywood for the #Fight4TheAmazon charity event. The funds raised during this campaign benefitted Global Green, a world-renowned nonprofit with local partners on the ground in Brazil who are working to help put out the fires and plant thousands of new trees in the Amazon Rainforest.

(Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)

Former pro wrestler Nikki Bella, hip-hop dancer Stephen “tWitch” Boss, and PUBG Mobile influencer Pickles played on Fox’s team, while dancers Allison Holker Boss and Artem Chigvintsev as well as PUBG Mobile influencer McCoffee played for Green’s team. TV host and recording artist Kimberly Caldwell and her husband, Major League Soccer star Jordan Harvey, co-hosted a trivia contest where partygoers competed for special #Fight4TheAmazon backpacks made from 100 percent recycled water bottles while Fox and Green competed.

“Nothing is more important to us than protecting the planet from the potential devastation of climate change,” says Green. “The Amazon is a critical component of that, so this was a great opportunity for us to help make a positive impact for our kids and future generations.” 

Fox echoed Green’s sentiment: “We are so proud and honored to have been involved in PUBG Mobile’s #Fight4TheAmazon campaign. And while this is just the beginning and there is so much work left to be done, we know that if we all come together, we can make a huge difference.” Funds raised from the #Fight4TheAmazon campaign will help restore the Amazon. “In 2020, we will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, which is a reminder that the world needs to come together for the future of our planet,” says William Bridge, COO of Global Green.

PUBG donated $100,000 to Global Green to ensure that a minimum of 50,000 healthy saplings will be planted in the Amazon rainforest. 

The strange and raucously entertaining world of online dating.

Meeting that special someone is no longer an organic process. Rarely do you find your person through a party or a chance meeting in a bar or grocery store. Thanks to technology and overzealous web developers, we’ve streamlined dating to pre-process and check off all our wants and needs to ensure we find the mate who really fits the bill—or who can at least foot the bill at the end of dinner. This has led to some bizarre, niche dating websites. 

For example, the website purrsonals.com is where you can “meet others in the world who understand the unique ‘purrsonality’ that cats possess and why we share the love of cats.” So yeah, there’s that. 

Sure, this month may be one where love is thrust upon us with the brute force of consumerism, but that may make you feel more self-assured, especially when you realize how many options you have.

The Food Sets the Mood

Refrigerdating.com is “a service that helps you find love based on the contents of your fridge.” Based on the items you have, Refrigerdating will “hook you up with a variation of fridges of different tastes.” That’s one way to avoid sending embarrassing “sexy” pics—unless organized food containers do it for you. 

Hotsaucepassions.com is “a social network for people who think food is bland if it’s not spicy enough to make their forehead sweat.” The site poses the question: “Why risk hearing ‘I don’t like spicy food’ on a first date, when you know that would be a deal breaker?” 

Glutenfreesingles.com describes itself as “a welcoming place where people can find gluten-free dating partners, friends, and activity groups.” If you don’t meet your true anti-glute on this site, at least you’ll find some great recipes.

Singleswithfoodallergies.com offers folks prone to breaking out in hives on a restaurant date a chance to avoid the ER. As the site’s founder explains, “I wondered how I’d find a guy who would be comfortable in my dairy-free, shellfish-free, and nut-free household… I knew similar men and women were searching, too.”

My420mate.com is a dating site and app for the cannabis advocate who doesn’t want to be shamed for partaking. Meet your cannabis-friendly single here. Or be too stoned to care who you meet. 

Someone for Everyone

Feeld.co is for “Polysexual, Pansexual, Bisexual + 20 more” alternative sexual preferences. A prize will be given to whoever can name the other 20.

Furrymates.com is for those who love pretending to be anthropomorphic animals. If you are particularly hirsute, you might qualify. 

Zombiepassions.com is a website “for zombies, zombie lovers, and people who have been working in a dead-end job for too long.” So what if their cover page shows a face dripping in blood?

If zombies don’t turn you on, maybe vampires will. Vampirepassions.com lets you “find members based on whether they are into sanguine vampirism or psychic vampirism. Meet other vampires, vampire lovers, and even amateur vampire hunters.” 

For the macabre-curious, consider Dead Meet Dating (thechickandthedead.com/dead-meet-dating), intended for those who work in the death industry—grave diggers, morticians, funeral directors, and autopsy experts. 

Diapermates.com is for—you guessed it—adults who wear diapers, not out of need but out of desire. 

People who have a thing for clowns have the privilege of choosing from two dating sites: clowndating.com and clownpassions.com. If you’re into it, now you can just don a red nose and goofy outfit and call it a night.

Seacaptaindate.com claims to be the number one dating site for masters and commanders. Climb aboard? Man the helm? This is for a finite group of Captain Stubing types. 

Stachepassions.com, much like Magnum P.I., is all about the moustache. If you love women who sport the hairy lip—that’s another site. 

In a similar vein, the sitemulletpassions.com exists. You thought mullets went out of style? Not according to this group.

Amishcrush.com is a site for the Amish. But how do they use it? 

Twinsrealm.com is where twins meet other twins. So, if you don’t like your partner, switch. 

Farmersonly.com, not to be confused with farmertakesawife.com, has the tagline, “Single in the country?” and yes that does sound a little serial-killer-esque. 

Marrymealready.com Ready to live your real-life Bachelor or Bachelorette experience? This site is made for “those looking for serious love.”

Womenbehindbars.com is dedicated to love for those ladies who are incarcerated. It’s a real thing.

So, there you have it. From cats to clowns to cannabis, there’s love to be found for everyone under the sun. At this point, it couldn’t be any worse than Tinder.  

Find friends and save money in shared living spaces.

Loneliness is a killer, more dangerous than obesity and smoking. Studies have found it leads to heart disease, stroke, and immune system problems, and it could even impair cancer recovery. A researcher at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark found loneliness a strong predictor of premature death, declining mental health, and lower quality of life in cardiovascular patients, and a Brigham Young University professor’s meta-analysis of studies from around the world found that socially isolated adults have a 50 percent greater risk of dying from any cause than people who have community.

That’s sobering, especially when you consider that 40 percent of American adults suffer from loneliness, according to an AARP study. And it’s one reason coliving—a new form of housing in which residents with similar interests, values, or intentions share living space, costs, and amenities—is exploding.

Coliving situations run a spectrum, from the resident-driven model to small homes with a half-dozen or so people to massive corporate complexes like The Collective tower with 550 beds in London. Residents, who stay anywhere from a few days to several years and usually don’t have to sign a lease or pay a security deposit, sleep in their own small private rooms (sometimes with bathrooms) and share common spaces such as large kitchens and dining areas, gardens, and work areas. They’re encouraged to interact with one another, often through organized happy hours and brunches. Ollie, which operates coliving spaces in New York and other cities, advertises that “friends are included.”

“Coliving is different than just having roommates, who may be people you found on Craigslist and just happen to share [your] living space. It’s done with more intention,” says Christine McDannell, who lived in unincorporated coliving houses for years before she launched Kindred Quarters, a coliving operator with homes in San Diego and Los Angeles, in 2017.

Author of The Coliving Code: How to Find Your Tribe, Share Resources, and Design Your Life, McDannell also runs Kndrd, a software company for coliving managers and residents, and she hosts the weekly Coliving Code Show every Wednesday on YouTube, iTunes, Soundcloud, and coliving.tv. She has watched—and helped—the industry grow up, and she’s amazed at how few, if any, horror stories she hears. That’s largely because millennials—by far the largest demographic among colivers—are accustomed to sharing and being held accountable through online reviews, she adds.

“You just don’t hear the crazy stories about roommating with strangers in an unfamiliar city,” she says. “When people write bad reviews, it’s usually about the Wi-Fi.”

As companies fat with funding expand into cities across the globe, coliving is newly corporatized—but it’s hardly a novel concept. Boarding houses provided rooms and shared meals for single men and women in the 19th and early 20th centuries; one of the most famous, the Barbizon Hotel in New York, was a “club residence for professional women” from 1927 until the 1980s.

People lived communally throughout most of history until industrialization facilitated privatization of family life and housing throughout the 20th century—with a few disruptions. In Israel, people have been living in communal villages called kibbutzim for more than 100 years. In the US, hippies attempted to create communes in the 1960s, but they were destroyed by free love, drugs, and egos (which did a lot to discourage coliving, even today).

At the same time in Denmark, however, cohousing (an earlier iteration of coliving) was emerging as a way to share childcare. Today, more than 700 communities thrive in Denmark. In Sweden, the government provides cohousing facilities.

A handful of cohousing communities following the Danish model have been established in the US, and hacker houses are common in tech capitals like Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas, but the concept has been slow to catch on until recently.

As it becomes increasingly impossible for mere mortals to afford skyrocketing rents in desirable cities, Americans are coming around to coliving and finding creative solutions to all sorts of social issues. Older women are shacking up together following the Golden Girls model. Coabode.org matches single moms who want to raise kids together. At Hope Meadows in Chicago, retirees live with foster kids.

The opportunity to pay lower rent (in many but not all cases) and share expenses makes all the difference in places like New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles. When New York–based coliving operator Common opened a development with 24 furnished spaces in Los Angeles for between $1,300 and $1,800 a month, more than 9,000 people applied.

McDannell says coliving is exploding because it solves important challenges that plague modern society. “People are signing away their paychecks on rent and feeling increasingly isolated,” she wrote in “Why We’re Building a CoLiving Community Ecosystem” on LinkedIn. “It is due time that HaaS (Housing as a Service) disrupts the antiquated industry of property management and real estate.”

Cooking up cannabis creations with Chef Randal Brooks.

Randal Dario Mendoza Brooks is a private chef based in Venice Beach, California, whose love of food began when he was a young kid living in New Jersey. He grew up in a family of amateur and professional cooks, and helping out in his uncle’s seafood restaurant spurred his passion for being in the kitchen. 

Chef Randal Brooks

“I loved the pace of the kitchen, all the different tastes and textures, and the possibility of making something with your hands right in front of you. Cooking with my family showed me how much food made people happy. That’s a big part of showing love,” Brooks says. 

This love led him to the French Culinary Institute in New York, where he studied and graduated, immediately beginning his career working in various restaurants throughout the city. “I worked under a lot of really incredible chefs who taught me not only cooking skills but about personality and how that can translate to a plate,” Brooks says. “I began to see my own style forming, which I would describe as seasonal avant-garde. I love bright colors and playing with texture, but I was still cooking other peoples’ food.” 

During this time, Brooks was struggling with bipolar disorder and the medication the doctors prescribed. It was interfering with his ability to feel creative in the kitchen, and ultimately it left him hospitalized. “I didn’t feel like myself in the kitchen; all my creativity was gone,” he says. “I gained a lot of weight and just felt like absolute crap.” Brooks started reading about other possible treatment options, including cannabis.

It turns out 2.3 million Americans are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Brooks turned to cannabis when he made the decision to get off bipolar medication. “I was desperate to get off of the medication. I started smoking weed every day. It gave me my mojo back. I felt great for the first time in a long time,” Brooks says. “My head was spinning with ideas about food, and I was genuinely excited to get back in the kitchen. I realized that cannabis was really integral to my health and happiness, and I started thinking about how many other people like me could be helped by the same medicine.”

During that time, he was invited to do a pop-up at a friend’s restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. It was such a success, he started doing more underground pop-ups, developing his own style, each time coming more and more into his own as a chef. He invested in and opened his own midtown Manhattan restaurant, Venisalvi (now closed). “I finally had the freedom to express my creativity and make food that really represented me. And man, it felt good. But if my cooking was really going to represent me, my heritage, and my personality, I felt as though it needed to include cannabis.”

The journey he was on was one of conviction, and the decision to cook with cannabis wouldn’t be possible if he stayed in New York where cannabis is still illegal. “Cannabis had changed my entire outlook, improved my way of life, and greatly affected my personality. It was an integral part of my personal journey, and I truly believed it could improve the lives of so many others like me. I was such a strong advocate for cannabis that I knew no matter how much creative freedom I had in the kitchen, without it, I’d be missing a key ingredient. I also knew that I would never be able to pull off infused cuisine if I stayed there, so in November of 2018, I packed up my life and moved to Los Angeles.”

Here in Southern California, Brooks’s culinary career has taken flight with innovative and experimental cuisine. “The first thing I ever infused were bulgogi beef tacos. I think fatty proteins like lamb and duck also pair really well with cannabis oil,” says Brooks, whose menu has evolved to include infused salad and crudo vinaigrettes. “Anything that cooks in oil or butter can be infused, so the possibilities are pretty much endless,” he says. 

“I moved to California to pursue cannabis cooking in an environment where I didn’t have to hide. I’ve done 13 dinners since then, and each one is different. For private dinners, it all depends on the client, their guests, and any requests or dietary restrictions they may have. We work together to plan a menu within their budget. When it’s a dinner that I’m hosting, every menu is different. I try to stick to what’s seasonal and really just enjoy cooking things that I like to eat. That’s what makes it fun.”

Brooks and his team—many of whom have struggled with mental health issues and were helped by cannabis—work together to provide multicourse events. His company OCD (Obsessive Cooking Disorder) was named as a way to take the stigma away from mental health issues and normalize the use of cannabis. 

“The goal is to have an infused restaurant not too far down the line, but for now I’m just out here doing what I do—cooking my food and spreading the word that cannabis is truly the best medicine.” 


Pumpkin Ale Braised Short Ribs

With Mushrooms and Polenta / Serves 2–4

Courtesy of @ocdla__

Ingredients

4 tablespoons butter, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups flour, divided
Salt and pepper
2½–3 pounds short ribs
16 ounces pumpkin ale
12 ounces sliced mushrooms
15 ounces beef consommé
Polenta prepared to package instructions

Instructions
  • Heat oven to 275°F
  • In a Dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter into 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • Add 1 1/2 cups flour to a bowl and generously add salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Coat ribs in 1/4 cup flour. Brown in Dutch oven in batches, 2–3 minutes each side. 
  • Deglaze pan by pouring beer into pan and scraping up brown bits.
  • Return meat to pan, cover, and transfer to oven for 3–4 hours.
  • Remove meat from pan and shred from bones. Set aside.
  • In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, melt remaining butter and olive oil.
  • Add mushrooms and stir to coat. Let sit a few minutes, then stir periodically until tender.
  • Sprinkle mushrooms with remaining ¼ cup flour. Stir for about one minute.
  • Add consommé. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until thickened.
  • Add meat and any cooking liquid back into pan and cook until heated through.
  • Serve over polenta and garnish with parsley.

Blueberry Kush Ice Cream

Blueberry ice cream with infused whipped cream (also called Bhang) / Recipe by Chef Randal Brooks

Photo by @LynneMitchell Twenty20.com

Ingredients
For the whipped cream

2 cups water
3 cups whole milk or
heavy cream
1/2 ounce cannabis buds (broken up, but not ground)

For the ice cream

2 cups infused whipped cream
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1–2 tablespoons tapioca flour for texture (optional)
4 ounces blueberries
¼ cup sugar
1½ cups dark chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions
For the whipped cream
  • In a saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat.
  • In a heat-resistant bowl, add cannabis and cover with hot water. Let sit for seven minutes.
  • Add milk/cream. Use a blunt object like a wooden spoon or pestle to grind the leaves into the milk.
  • Strain through a cheesecloth to remove the plant matter.
  • Pour strained liquid into a bowl. Whip until you can pull the mixer out and stiff peaks form. Set aside.
For the ice cream
  • In a large bowl, whisk together condensed milk and vanilla. (For a thicker ice cream, add tapioca flour.)
  • Using a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk. Do this slowly in order to keep both mixtures light and aerated. 
  • In a small saucepan on low heat, cook down blueberries with the sugar until your blueberries burst open. Cool them down on a sheet tray for 10 minutes.
  • Fold in chocolate chips and any other added ingredients, then transfer the mixture to an insulated tub or paper container and freeze for four to six hours.

Retro Resurgence, Art on Display, and a New Take on Wellness

  • The Museum of Selfies is a must-snap interactive adventure. Read
  • With the nostalgia of the ’90s, old school parties becomes new again. Read
  • This & That is artist John Millei’s first solo exhibition in 10 years. Read
  • Verse LA gets a Michelin Star. Read
  • Our editor-in-chief’s hottest hits of the month. Read
  • Chuck Lorre to receive the Art Directors Guild award for cinematic imagery. Read

For the Gram

The Museum of Selfies is a must-snap interactive adventure.

Snap to your Insta heart’s content. This is the one place you’re absolutely encouraged (heck, they almost demand it) to pose, take your best selfies, and post stories, Boomerangs, and IGTV on social. Exhibitions are interactive and include anything from Game of Thrones and grabbing your own Oscar to a gold bath and the Upside Down. It’s where to go when you’re tired of the same ol’ same ol’ and just want to let the eff go.

6757 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, $25–$100
museumofselfies.com


Party Like It’s 1999

Old school becomes new again.

With the nostalgia of the ’90s revival including the comeback of scrunchies, old school hip-hop parties, cartoon reboots, grunge fashion, army pants, vinyl records, and the Friends craze ever present, why not celebrate like it’s Y2K? 

The ’90s were the era when grunge was born; punk rock got a resurgence; indie music fests took off; personal style was nonconformist; music was insanely good, angsty, dance-worthy, and impactful (Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Tupac, N.W.A., Pearl Jam, Screaming Trees, Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, and so many more); and the teens and twentysomethings finally felt like their voices were being heard. 


That Does it

This & That is artist John Millei’s first solo exhibition in 10 years.

Southern California native John Millei is a self-taught artist and former professor at ArtCenter College of Design whose work has appeared throughout galleries in Los Angeles. His recent work, inspired by his daughter and son, depicts a series of framed edges and comical shapes emphasized by gestalt images and beautifully understated color palettes. 

“A series of four paintings of his daughter show sweeps of hair, blue-green ovals for eyes, and a flopping bow on top of the subject’s head. In a painting of his son, the formal problems of painting are more prominent. A dark background is framed on all sides by brushstrokes at the edges, two simple circles near the middle of the picture become eyes, and a slightly curved mark at the base becomes a smile,” reads the descriptions of pieces in Millei’s exhibition, titled This & That, on the Lowell Ryan Projects website. “Wielding cartoon-like reduction and using sumptuous application of oil and Flashe paint, the paintings play with our mind’s evolutionary imperative to find patterns and meaning, such as perceiving faces and expressions in a collection of shapes and lines.”

Now through February 22
4851 West Adams Blvd. / Los Angeles

lowellryanprojects.com


A (Michelin) Star is Born

Verse LA is the culmination of several long years of passion, culinary swagger, musical innovation, design forward decor, and an ambience unlike any place in Los Angeles, created by Grammy Award–winning audio mixer Manny Marroquin, Michelin-star chef Paul Shoemaker, and entrepreneur and visionary Rob Ciancimino.

The beautiful power of the menu and mindful infrastructure has finally arrived in Toluca Lake, and it’s a true dark horse taking the culinary landscape by storm. Manned by Shoemaker, the menu dances off the pages and onto one’s tongue with a poetic prowess you’ll crave long after you’ve eaten the gorgeous dishes he’s prepared. With an impressive wine selection, swanky cocktails, and the appeal of a restaurant you’d expect to stumble upon in the heart of New York City, Verse is the swanky dining experience LA has been hungry for.

Verse LA
@verse_la
verse.la


Sensibilities

By Stephanie Wilson, Editor in Chief

1. Primary Focus
A New Hampshire law requires the Granite State to be the first presidential primary in the nation. This election cycle, that goes down on February 11, after which my home state becomes irrelevant for another four years.

2. Leap of Faith
While the calendar year is 365 days, it takes the Earth 365.24 days to orbit the sun. Every four years, we add an extra day to the month of February because without it, the calendar would be misaligned with the seasons by 25 days after just 100 years.

3. Born This Way
The odds of being a “leapling”—a person born on a leap day—is 1 in 1,461.

4. Right On
On February 29, some places celebrate Bachelor’s Day or Sadie Hawkins Day—both a nod to the old Irish tradition that gave women the right to propose marriage to a man on leap day. If he declined, he was required by law to pay a penalty, often in the form of gloves so she could hide the shame of her bare ring finger.

5. Modern Love
Since we’re not all Irish, but we are all feminists (because we all believe in the equality of the sexes, of course), any of us can propose to whomever our heart desires whenever we want. Except Valentine’s Day. There’s no law prohibiting it but, sweetie, pay-as-you-go forced romance is anything but romantic.

6. PETA Violation
The origins of the canned-love holiday are as cruel as a red rose delivery in February is clichéd. According to NPR, V-day traces back to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a brutal fete during which naked men sacrificed dogs and goats—and whipped women with the animal hides. Stop, in the name of love.


Local Spotlight

Born to Entertain

Chuck Lorre to receive the Art Directors Guild award for cinematic imagery.

If you’ve watched TV in the last couple of decades, it is likely you have seen the name Chuck Lorre in the opening credits. Creator of highly successful television shows, including The Big Bang Theory (the longest running multi-camera comedy in television history), Two and a Half Men, Mom, and Disjointed, as well as the recently acclaimed The Kominsky Method, Lorre has had an impressive career. The Art Directors Guild agrees wholeheartedly, and on February 1, Lorre will be presented with the 2020 ADG Award for Cinematic Imagery.

“Chuck Lorre is one of television’s most prolific and successful writers/directors/producers,” says ADG President Nelson Coates. “[His] storytelling prowess as a showrunner is amplified by the significance he places on production design in the creation of the worlds his fascinating characters navigate.”

The ADG’s Cinematic Imagery Award is given to those whose body of work in the film and television industry has richly enhanced the visual aspects of the viewer’s experience. In addition to being one of the few showrunners keeping the multi-camera sitcom alive, Lorre also established The Chuck Lorre Family Foundation in 2015, focusing on supporting innovative and compassionate organizations in the areas of education, health, and the arts.

The ADG was established in 1937 and represents 2,700 members who work in film, television, and theater as production designers, art directors, set designers, model makers, illustrators, and matte artists. To learn more, visit adg.org.

Seeing red, feeling blue, tickled pink. What you see is what you feel is what you are.

Humans have used color to express ideas and emotion for thousands of years, according to color specialist and trend forecaster Leatrice Eisman. As executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, Eisman is the world’s leading authority on the topic of color, authoring many books on the subject. In The Complete Color Harmony, Eisman describes how even the most subtle nuances in color can result in shades that excite or calm, pacify or energize, and even suggest strength or vulnerability. “They can nurture you with their warmth, soothe you with their quiet coolness, and heighten your awareness of the world around you. Color enriches our universe and our perception of it,” she writes.

According to her research, we all respond to color at a very visceral level, associating specific hues with another time or place. “Color invariably conveys moods that attach themselves to human feelings or reactions,” she notes. “Part of our psychic development, color is tied to our emotions as well as our intellect. Every color has meaning that we either inherently sense or have learned by association and/or conditioning, which enables us to recognize the messages and meanings delivered.”

It’s with all this in mind that she and a team of experts choose the Pantone Color of the Year, which the institute has named annually for more than two decades, gaining more attention and having more impact with each passing declaration. So this year, expect to see a lot of blue. The 2020 Pantone Color of the Year is known as Classic Blue.

Describing the shade as “evocative of the nighttime sky,” Eisman explains the choice: “We are living in a time that requires trust and faith It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on.”

She contends that Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious, expand our thinking, open the flow of communication. Her comments are rooted in color theory, which says that a good part of the emotions that colors evoke is tied to natural phenomena. Classic Blue is the color of outer space (look beyond), of the celestial sky (look beyond), of the deep ocean (open the flow).

One of the earliest formal explorations of color theory came from German poet and politician Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. His 1820 book Theory of Colours explored the psychological impact of colors on mood and emotion. Yellow, Goethe wrote, is the color nearest the light, yet when applied to dull, coarse surfaces, it is no longer filled with its signature energy. “By a slight and scarcely perceptible change, the beautiful impression of fire and gold is transformed into one not undeserving the epithet foul; and the colour of honour and joy reversed to that of ignominy and aversion.”

Of red: “All that we have said of yellow is applicable here, in a higher degree.” Goethe’s theories continue to intrigue, possibly because of the lyrical prose rather than its scientific facts.

Today, it’s generally accepted that shades of blue are associated with steady dependability, calm, and serenity. Yellow evokes the color of the sun, associated with warmth and joy. Green connects with nature, health, and revival. White stands for simplicity; black for sophistication.

A 1970s study on the body’s physiological responses to colors revealed that warm hues (red, orange, yellow—the colors of the sun) aroused people troubled with depression and increased muscle tone or blood pressure in hypertensive folks. Cool colors (green, blue, violet) elicited the reverse, but the important finding was that all colors produced clinically tangible results.

It’s not woo-woo science; humans have been using color as medicine, a practice known as chromotherapy, since ancient Egypt. In fact, chromotherapy is as tested a practice as any other alternative medicine—Ayurveda, acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy, reflexology. While it is widely accepted that color affects one’s health—physically, mentally, emotionally—more studies are needed to determine the full scope of impact as well as its potential to help heal.

This isn’t a new theory, either. In the late 1800s, rays of color/light were shown to affect the blood stream. Later research found color to be “a complete therapeutic system for 123 major illnesses,” according to a critical analysis of chromotherapy published in 2005 by Oxford University Press.
Today, bright white, full-spectrum light is being used in the treatment of cancers, seasonal affective disorder, anorexia, bulimia, insomnia, jet lag, alcohol and drug addiction, and more. Blue light is used to help treat rheumatoid arthritis. Red light helps with cancer and constipation. And that’s just the beginning.

On the Bright Side

When your physical landscape is devoid of bright, vibrant hues, your emotional one is affected as well. That’s where color therapy comes in. It has a deep effect on physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of our lives, and it comes in many forms: light sessions that include color wheels. Colored crystal lights. Breathing in colors through meditation. Infrared saunas with chromotherapy add-ons.

There are actually many ways of adjusting the color in your life, and not all of them require a trip to see a specialist. Unlike trying to self-administer acupuncture (don’t do that), techniques can be as simple as putting on colorful attire or getting some bright throw pillows or plants. You can never have too many plants. And you should eat more plants, too, filling your plate with healthful fruits, vegetables, and spices from every part of the spectrum.

If a lack of sunlight has you feeling a lack of joy, paint your home or office—warm, vibrant yellows and oranges showcase excitement and warmth; browns and neutrals decidedly do not. Choose wisely. Painting not an option? Consider temporary wallpaper or hanging large artworks. On a budget? Head to the thrift shop and repurpose an old canvas by painting it white and then adding whatever hues you are vibing with this winter. If it doesn’t turn out well, cover it up with more white paint and start again.

Have fun with it, consider it art therapy.

There are also an array of therapeutic options popping up as add-ons, as wellness studios, spas, and alternative medicine practices incorporate chromotherapy treatments into their offerings. Many infrared saunas are starting to offer chromotherapy benefits, and the combination of the full-light spectrum and the heat effectively tricks the brain into thinking it spent a full day basking in the sun, causing it to release those sweet endorphins that flood your body when the warm rays of spring hit your face when you step outside. It feels good and really, that is everything. Color is everything.

The all-female team at Yummi Karma is growing fast and steadily in Southern California.

Upon meeting entrepreneur sisters Krystal and Chelsea Kitahara, and their fellow Yummi Karma founder Alysia Sofios, one is overwhelmed with the passion that this all-female team has for helping people of all ages find the perfect healing remedies for both mind and body. Handcrafting each of their products with a loved one or fellow friend in mind is the key to the success of their cannabis business. 

The young and driven trio began their cannabis business journey at the height of a male-dominated time in the industry. Early in their cannabis careers, they attended conferences or events only to be met with eye rolls and mistaken “promo girl” shout-outs from fellow industry members. 

To the dismay of their rivals, the unwelcomed discouragement only propelled the Yummi Karma team forward to solidify their place in the cannabis industry. “We had something to prove. We have a voice, and we are going to do it the right way,” Sofios says. The Yummi Karma team has come a long way since those early days, making a name for themselves in a burgeoning field. 

Alysia Sofios

Like so many women in the industry, the women of Yummi Karma were underestimated by their industry peers.

After years of waiting for legalization, the Kitahara sisters and Sofios passed numerous tests, making Yummi Karma among the first licensed cannabis companies in Orange County, California. The privately funded, start-up company now boasts hundreds of safe products that have been developed with top quality ingredients. “Everyone in the cannabis game has the same goal,” Sofios says. “To create safe and effective products.”

Yummi Karma is run by a group of women who believe in the products they produce. They are all hands-on—pumping, mixing, and testing the products themselves. While recognizing the accomplishments of companies who have gone corporate, Yummi Karma wants to stay small, more in the spirit of cannabis. “There is something about products that are made in small batches that sets them above the rest,” Chelsea says. 

Devoted to being a positive presence in the space, Yummi Karma has set out to custom develop products that tell a story and target a wide range of cannabis needs. The company currently sells “drops” (tinctures with no alcohol), cremes, and other topicals designed with women in mind. The beautiful packaging may look feminine, but many men have also found the company’s products to be beneficial. 

“When starting out, we would go to collectives and look at the shelves and find nothing for women. Only Ziploc bags or paper bags with twist ties. We did not want that,” Sofios says.

The client base at Yummi Karma falls into five categories motivating their purchase patterns: abnormal sleep, PMS symptoms, anxiety, pain, or lifestyle. Lifestyle refers primarily to recreational use, which many are finding to be a good alternative to alcohol. 

Cannabis products are heavily tested before being authorized to sell, and Yummi Karma passes all the tests with flying colors. The approval process for cannabis products is much more critical than that of food or beauty lines. “In fact, many products in the beauty industry, such as clay masks would not pass the cannabis product test due to the copious amounts of lead and other minerals found in the clay,” Sofios says. “Cannabis products are heavily vetted to ensure they are clean and safe for all to use.”

The company’s most popular product, Drift Away, was originally developed with the Kitahara sisters’ mom in mind. Their mom had been having issues sleeping for many years and was prescribed medication, but she was less than happy with the next-day groggy hangover-like effects. After working with an herbalist, the Yummi Karma team created a drop blend of herbs with varying levels of THC. Now, the Drift Away blend has replaced their mom’s sleep prescription medicine allowing her to enjoy a far better night’s sleep and giving her reason to enjoy the days. 

The team recently worked with a group of veterans who experience PTSD. Their product, High Spirits is high in CBD, low in THC, and taps into the entourage effect (the interactive synergy between cannabis compounds). The company is looking to launch a line of “entourage” products soon. Another popular product for daytime use is Stay Lifted, which is used primarily for anxiety, pain, or inflammation. The product is ideal for people with low THC tolerance levels because it includes additional energizing ingredients such as B12 and green tea. This combination creates an awake, uplifted feeling and has a hybrid cannabis stream that helps create calmness. 

Being mindful that everyone responds to THC differently, the Yummi Karma team has developed products for those who are canna-curious as well as experts. Yummi Karma develops products based on people the founders have met or were introduced to who needed something specific for their symptoms. They continue to update and refresh their product lines based on customer feedback. They read and discuss every email that comes in because they want their customers to feel like this is their personal brand of cannabis. “We listen and that’s effective,” Sofios says.

Yummy Karma is proud to be in 200 licensed stores across the state of California. That said, the team at Yummi Karma urges patrons to always make sure they are heading to fully licensed and legal dispensaries and cannabis retail locations. “What some don’t understand is that by not doing their due diligence, if a customer unknowingly enters an illegally operated dispensary or cannabis retail store, they run the risk of getting arrested in the event of a raid. Always look for their cannabis retail license,” Sofios says. “Illegal shops are a major problem right now. Their products are not tested, they are unsafe, and shops are being shut down every day as a result.”

“Our mission still brings us to work each day. What keeps us going are the emails and calls we get every day from our customers. The rewarding feedback makes everything worth it,” Sofios says. “[It] keeps us going.” 

As founders of a start-up, they’re doing things the way they want and wouldn’t have it any other way. While other companies are looking to grow fast, Yummi Karma is growing slow and steady and in a smart way. They have an entrepreneurial vibe and plan to stay true to their roots because that’s what made them who they are. 

Kaneh Co. edibles pack a gourmet punch.

Female entrepreneurs and consumers are leading the charge in the wellness space with heavy ties to the cannabis industry, and that has extended into the culinary space as well. San Diego–born Rachel King, founder and culinary director of Kaneh Co. has launched a line of gourmet cannabis-infused edibles. Named one of the best new pastry chefs by Food & Wine in 2013, King took her passion for cooking and created Kaneh Co. in 2016. 

Kaneh’s gourmet edibles include offerings such as Triple Berry White Chocolates, The Quintessential Brownie, Chocolate Paleo Bites, and PB&J Blondies. The line also features Mango Chili gummies. “The Quintessential Brownie with the cocoa and cannabis pairing is a rich little bite that can’t be beat.” King says. “Since we started, however, it’s the Best of Both Worlds Brownie that’s our bestseller. It’s a delicious taste of brownie and chocolate chip cookie
in one.” 

With or without the cannabis infusion, these treats all stand on their own and could easily be on shelves in any of LA’s gourmet culinary shops. Items are infused with five or 10 mg of cannabis extract made from California-grown marijuana plants and are available in 200 dispensary locations throughout California, with the majority being in the San Diego area.

“Quality and consistency are the main pillars of our brand,” King says. “Our products taste good with or without cannabis, though ultimately, we want to align ourselves with those who are like-minded in cannabis, and continue multi-state expansion. We also want to continue growing our staff and infrastructure.” Kaneh Co. employs 65 people, predominantly women in the industry, and sells approximately 100,000 units of product per month. 

Rachel King

The stress of this time of year can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

As the pressure of the holidays mounts, depression, anxiety, and stress rear their ugly heads. It’s important to remember there is no need to strive for perfection or even the appearance of perfection. That’s too much pressure for anyone to endure. Instead, let us focus on a sense of calm to ward off the less jovial feelings that can accompany this time of year. 

According to an article by healthstatus.com, changing your approach to the holidays is a great start to lowering the risk of sadness. “There is nothing wrong with you when you feel depressed during the holidays. All that celebration, joy, and good will can actually get to be a little much,” the article says. “You might believe that you are out of step with the rest of the world, but statistics say that over 40 percent of the population just feels exhausted and inadequate.”

Journalist John Riddle looked into holiday stress and depression for psycom.net. “[People often] suffer from what I call HAT days—long periods of feeling Horrible, Awful, Terrible from November 1 through early January,” he says. Riddle talked to Julie Potiker, mindfulness expert and author; Bradley Nelson, holistic physician and author; and Sherry Amatenstein, psycom.net contributing editor, therapist, and social worker, to formulate a list of ways to avoid excessive holiday spending and other stress triggers.

Their topline expert advice: “Shift your perspective; make a list [of gifts to purchase and decorating tasks] to put your mind at ease; bury the past; make time to move [exercise]; discover and release emotional baggage; be flexible; don’t sweat the small stuff; find humor in the madness; and experience the spirituality of the season in whatever way it resonates with you.” Following that advice can make all the difference. 

“Embrace the many positive aspects of the season,” says Riddle. “The simple act of making someone else happy…is just about the best way I know of to make yourself feel better, too.” No matter what you do this time of year, be kind to yourself. 

Editor’s Note

I don’t know about you, but for me it seems like 2019 flew by so fast it was hard to catch a breath. Throughout every issue we’ve shared, the one truly extraordinary aspect is the sheer wonder of everything we’ve learned, experienced, and seen. 

This December issue marks the beginning of a new Sensi era as we launch a brand-new design. Change is one of humanity’s greatest adaptations, and we hope you love the new design as much as we do. 

Our industry has grown and extended into so many different markets, including healthcare, luxury living, environmentalism, beauty, and fashion, and it’s something to celebrate. Cannabis has come a long way, and as stringent laws become more focused on creating safe and reliable product, encouraging medical and recreational discovery one state at a time, cannabis is becoming less “scary” and more commonplace. Considering how short a time span it’s been since its legalization, that is worth high-fiving. 

As we enjoy the final month of a wonderful, bizarre, news-filled year, looking back on those we’ve highlighted—leaders of industry, innovators, visionaries, artists, and more—one thing can be said with total certainty: people can be phenomenal and impactful. This issue is filled with change-makers. 

Meeting the woman behind a highly successful cannabis line, getting schooled on the many layers of the mushroom world, taking a bite out of LA, and exploring life without the beer goggle lens, this issue is a fun way to bid farewell to one year and usher in a new one. 

In the words of Goran Persson, “Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” 

We are always here for you. 

Dawn Garcia

@dawngarcia

They say they’re not alcoholics, and they’re certainly not anonymous. What is sober curious—and can sobriety really be fluid?

I drink badly, and I have a lot of fun doing it (when I remember). That’s a lethal combination, and when you throw in my unfortunate discovery of White Claw—I can drink as many as I want and never feel full!—I flamed out with alcohol last winter. 

On February 1, just as everyone else was celebrating the end of Dry January and just ahead of the Summer of the Claw, I swore off the seltzer. I figured I’d give myself one month (note: the year’s shortest) to reset. It wasn’t an easy 28 days, but when March 1 rolled around, I felt better than I’d felt in years. The chronic inflammation I had attributed to everything from gluten sensitivity to genetics was clearing. I saw the light, and there was no going back. 

I thought sobriety would be lonely, that every Saturday night would be Netflix. I forgot the Brett Kavanaugh generation isn’t in charge of culture anymore (thank God). 

Millennials and Gen Xers aren’t interested in swilling beer until they black out like we did in the ’80s. Sober is sexy—or, as hipsobriety.com sees it, “sobriety is the new black.” 

On Instagram, there are influencers such as @stylishlysober, @thesoberglow, and the darker @fucking_sober and hashtags like
#soberliving, #soberAF, and #sobercurious. Millie Gooch, who posts as @sobergirlsociety, encourages her nearly 60,000 followers with inspirational messages like “Mocks not cocks” and “Sobriety: a surefire way to improve your wellbeing and your Uber rating.” 

Just like that, I’m a cool kid—with a huge range of new options on Saturday night (and beyond). I’m exploring elixirs made with raw cacao, maca, and horny goat weed at Tonic Herban Lounge just a few blocks from my home in downtown Boulder (I can walk home after imbibing, and it amuses me that I don’t need to). I can do yoga and shake it before dawn at a Daybreaker dance party (daybreaker.com) in Denver, one of 27 cities where the alcohol-free early morning rave pops up and invites people to “sweat, dance, and connect with ourselves in community.”    

I’m surely not alone in this realization that life is better without booze. Worldwide, alcohol consumption fell by 1.6 percent last year. Led by young people, heavy-hitting countries like Russia, Canada, Japan, and the UK are seeing drinking rates as well as tolerance toward intoxication decline. An international survey found that about a third of people wanted to reduce their alcohol intake because of everything from sexual regret and embarrassment to physical health. A 2018 survey found that nearly 40 percent of global consumers want to drink less for health reasons.

In the US, CNBC reports, 52 percent of adults are trying to lower their alcohol intake, and underage drinking has steadily declined in the last 10 years. But only 21 percent of US adults in a CivicScience poll said they had any interest in drinking less or not at all, and most of those were 21- to 34-year-old, vegan-leaning flexitarians who practice yoga and consume cannabis daily. Women, especially those in their 30s and 40s, are drinking more than ever.

Booze still rules for most Americans, and “increased stress and demoralization” is actually pushing more women, minorities, and poor people to the bottle, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. The national Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 17 million adults in the US are alcohol dependent, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in six binge drink—defined as drinking four or more drinks over two hours or until blood alcohol reaches 0.08—nearly once a week. For this White Claw guzzler, that definition is, well, sobering. I called that happy hour.

Giving up alcohol isn’t a hashtag for a lot of people. It’s not even a choice. As Sean Paul Mahoney writes on The Fix, a website about addiction and recovery, “I didn’t get sober to be cool. I just got sober to stop dying.”

A Little Bit Addicted?

“Sober curious” became a thing after HarperCollins released Ruby Warrington’s Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol in 2018. Warrington also has a podcast, runs Club SÖda NYC (featuring sober events like Kundalini Disco), and stages events (“Sober Curious: Choosing Sobriety for Focus, Presence, and Deep Connection” is February 14–16, 2020, at Massachusetts’ renowned wellness retreat center Kripalu). Her take is that a lot of Americans might not have a “problem” with alcohol but see it as getting in the way of their healthy lifestyles. “We eat well. We exercise. We meditate,” the press release for Sober Curious states. “So, why do we…still drink?”

Warrington wants to know why the only people who don’t drink are the ones who can’t and asks, “What if I am just…a little bit addicted?” 

Call me old school, but a little bit addicted sounds a lot like a little bit pregnant. I worry that people who shouldn’t will take the advice of John Costa, who writes on twentytwowords.com that being sober curious is like being bi-curious—you don’t always hook up with people of the same sex, and you don’t have to cut out drinking forever. “Be sober half the time,” he writes, “and sauced the other half.” He’s joking, but those are dangerous words for me. That’s the life I was living: sober by day + tanked by night = balance.

Like all disorders (and pretty much everything in our culture), alcohol use runs on a spectrum. I was at the end that spent hours upon hours researching whether drinking while on this antibiotic would really make me projectile vomit and scoffed at friends as they struggled through Dry January, Dry July, Sober September, and Sober October. I wasn’t interested in giving up drinking for any reason or any amount of time, until I had to give it up for life.

Warrington, who sees reducing alcohol intake as another step in the wellness revolution, is at the other end of the spectrum—and she is aware of the difference between recovering from alcohol addiction and feeling better during yoga. I hope all of her followers are, too, because the last thing most drinkers need is a loophole.  

I want to believe the trend Warrington is leading toward spirits-free activities and thoughtfulness about alcohol’s role in our culture—where every ritual, celebration, loss, entertainment, and even sporting event is cause for a drink—is not a trend but a movement. That we’ll look back at “mommyjuice” like we shake our heads at “mother’s little helper” pills from the ’60s and ’70s. The infrastructure to support sobriety is being built, and public opinion is turning. After centuries of going hard, America is getting woke, not wasted.

Cheers to that. 

Luxury has gone to pot.

 At the end of October, the Wall Street Journal ran an article titled “Cannabis Open Houses Are Putting the High in High-End Real Estate.” The trend piece by author Katherine Clarke revealed the emerging discovery being used by developers and real-estate agents to move luxe properties in communities where recreational cannabis is not just legal but widely accepted. 

It’s not unlike Los Angeles, where the rising industry is being hailed as an untapped source for buyers of high-priced homes. Throwing cannabis-related events—everything from elaborate seven-course pairing dinners with vapes in lieu of vino to live trimming classes—at multimillion-dollar properties on the market is garnering attention, building social buzz, and attracting buyers with money earned in, around, or on cannabis.

Not everyone sees the genius behind the trend, however. Clarke spoke to one agent in New York, where recreational cannabis is still a pipe dream and old tropes live on about munchie-motivated stoners. “When I think about cannabis, I don’t think about buying an expensive house,” says Warburg Realty’s Jason Haber. “It’s not a call for action as much as a call for Doritos.”

Someone should tell him friends don’t let friends make tired stoner jokes anymore. Especially ones implying cannabis consumers indulge their munchies with mindless consumption of unhealthy snacks when the reality is cannabis appeals to what The Economist dubs the “health-conscious inebriate,” citing a poll that 72 percent of American consumers thought cannabis was safer than alcohol. A 2018 The New Yorker headline declared cannabis to be a wellness industry in California where, in fact, a cannabinoid cousin of THC and CBD is starting to garner a whole lot of buzz. Instead of stimulating appetites, THCV may suppress those hunger pangs. When 2021 is declared the year of THCV, you can say you heard it here first. 

Consumption and consumerism

Cannabis has moved so far beyond the clichés of yore. Tie-dye tees, bell-bottom cords, dancing bear patches, plastic bongs, Ziploc baggies: these tired trends are so out of style, some have already circled back and left again. (Looking at you, tie-dye.) The stoner kids of yesterday are the cannabis entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, and connoisseurs of today. And as they’ve aged, their tastes in cannabis aged with them, like the fine wine they can now afford. Cannabis consumers have money to burn. 

And since we live in a capitalist society (an unjust one where people remain locked up for nonviolent drug charges in states that earn taxes off now-legal cannabis sales—that’s a whole layered story for a different day), money makes things happen. And what’s happening now is the emergence of a cannabis experience elevated to a higher level.

If you were paying attention to the pop-culture cues over the decades, you would have seen the high-end highs coming. When cannabis prohibition began its slow-and-steady march to its forthcoming end, it emerged from the black market with an established following of consumers—loyal cannabis consumers with no brand loyalty, because cannabis brands didn’t exist. Dealers did, growers did, activists, advocates, and believers, too. But the concept of cannabis brands was all brand-new. 

With strict laws surrounding where the substance can be marketed, sold, advertised, distributed, and more, establishing customer loyalty in this industry is more difficult than it would seem on the surface. What differentiates one edible brand from another, one vape pen from the next is complicated to discern for those who aren’t well versed in the modern verbiage or its meaning. (Full-spectrum distillate, live resin, 2:1 ratios, oh my!)

This is where marketing and branding comes into play. And with marketing and branding comes the emergence of new market segments, including the ultra-luxury category. It is from within that category that future trends are likely to emerge. That’s how trends play out, as Miranda Priestly (played by Meryl Streep) explained to her new assistant in one iconic scene of The Devil Wears Prada. (If you haven’t seen it in a while, a quick refresher: “The color of the shirt you are wearing right now was determined years ago by high-end designers preparing their collections for fashion week runways.”) 

Trickle-down trends are a hierarchical process whereby individuals with high status establish fashion trends, only to be imitated by lower-status individuals wearing cheaper versions of the same styles.

“It’s always been a thing,” says Karyn Wagner, CEO of Paradigm Cannabis Group, a women-owned extraction company specializing in pre-rolls and extracts made from small-batch sun-grown flower. “There’s always been those products that are better than others. But now, with adult use, we have to be more brand-conscious. With that, how do you distinguish yourself from someone else? Why is this better? What makes it better?”

Some like it haute

With any luxury good, consumers want the assurance of quality and efficacy, Wagner says. But you can never underestimate the prestige that comes with a high price tag. “The moneyed class always loves expensive items,” she says. “This normalizes it in their world. It brings in folks who didn’t normally have the desire. It made it OK in their class. Expensive breeds expensive things. You wouldn’t have expensive cannabis if you didn’t have people who wanted to buy expensive cannabis.”

Jenny Le Coq, president of Le Coq & Associates, a marketing and communications firm in San Francisco that represents Kikoko cannabis-infused botanical mints, points out that most people typically don’t seek out a cheap bottle of wine, but look for something fine, trustworthy, and familiar. They want to know the winery, its reputation, who recommends the vintage. “People are looking at wines today with a more discerning eye—how their grapes are grown, for example,” Le Coq says. “People are looking at cannabis in the same way: with a discerning eye.” 

“Discerning” can add up to big money, for sure. Anecdotal stories abound in national media outlets, suggesting couples in Colorado will drop several bills on “cannagars” and other high-end party favors to celebrate weddings and anniversaries. At The High End, Barneys New York’s luxury cannabis lifestyle shop in Beverly Hills, shoppers can splurge on a $1,475 sterling silver bud grinder or a $950 water pipe. New York fashion brand Alice + Olivia partnered with luxury cannabis brand Kush Queen to debut a CBD wellness line earlier this year—bath bomb, body lotion, bubble bath with lavender. Alice + Olivia packaging features CEO Stacey Bendet’s signature “StaceFace” motif, with big sunglasses and a bold red lip. A timeless statement-making style that trendsetters of every era make their own while trendy types try to emulate the overall aesthetic. That’s just the way things work.

To be fair, luxury doesn’t have to mean $$$$. What it must indicate, however, is quality. “Luxury is an assigned label. It is typically assigned by marketers,” Le Coq says. “So, what do you want cannabis to be? As a consumer, how do you perceive luxury? The concept is really defined differently by every person. We want people to experience something that is luxurious. Not only the packaging is beautiful, the taste is beautiful, the place you are put into mentally is a nice, beautiful place.”