A Lunar Meditation with Walk the Moon


READ IT AT BILLBOARD (in print too)

This was a weird one. With almost no background in the arts of woo-woo (other than being the Berkley-born quartz-loving son of two hippie survivors), I was sent to join in a moon meditation circle with psychological astrologer Danielle Beinstein and, yes, Walk the Moon singer Nicholas Petricca — so, moon meditation “triangle” would be more accurate. In any case, despite the awkwardness inherent in three strangers (one with a recording device) meeting up to share our secrets by the waning light of an impending eclipse, it was a surprisingly natural experience. Petricca and I both spilled our guts while getting to know our respective inner children. Also, though it didn’t fit the article, because of my entry-level status, the meditation eventually morphed into a summit on all things occult. Also: Petricca is on a tarot card (see below).

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Best of L.A. 2018: All That Glitters Is Goldblum



Chaos Theory won’t explain the fact that two of my three Best of L.A. entries for Los Angeles Magazine this year take place at Rockwell Table and Stage. Well, maybe it does. Honestly, Ian Malcolm didn’t give the most coherent lecture on the subject. Or he did, but the fact that Jeff Goldblum’s flirt switch is forever stuck in the “on” position obscured the lesson. But goddamn if that isn’t the beauty of The ‘Blum, one of the rare grown American men in this world who can make anyone he meets feel, um, desired without coming across as an, ah, total creep. But that’s an essay for another day. Here, I’ve written about the best Celeb-Fronted Music Residency, which, yes, goes to Goldblum at Rockwell; the best Live Musical Parodies of Movies, which, yes, goes to the UMPO crew at Rockwell; and the best Guided Urban Historical Hike (which goes to the fantastic L.A. native, historian, and journalist Charles Fleming). So, ah, go, um, read about it.


Meet the Willy Wonka of Whiskey and Rum



In my summer search for the best distillery tour in Los Angeles, I stumbled upon the truly mind-boggling experience that is Lost Spirits, where smoke and mirrors are bush league, the mere jump-off point for an entire fantasy land crammed into an Arts District warehouse, complete with animatronic dinosaurs and sphinx-capped riverboats (also, a river). The process behind the booze is just as bizarre, not only in that many of the theme park elements are part of said process, but because master distiller Bryan Davis uses light to “age” his rums and whiskeys 20-some years in just a few days. If that doesn’t make sense you can try reading the article (which also appears in Los Angeles Magazine‘s October print issue), but no promises. You might just have to put on a pith helmet and sip some overproof juice with Davis down at his working wonderland. Also, the print sidebar about three more must-own local bottles got its own URL.

Three Must-Own Bottles That Are Made in L.A.



This is the mere sidebar to a bigger October print story about the Wonka-esque whiskey factory that is Lost Spirits DTLA, but the boozes deserve their due. I was given a lovely personal tour of Pasadena’s Stark Spirits by the even lovelier Karen and Greg Stark themselves. Their booze, loveliest of all, was so damned good I blew most of my pay stocking my home bar. (May I also recommend their Brennivín-esque aquavit, California Silver Rum, and peated single-malt? No? Well, I already did. Sorry.) Paul Ryan, no relation, also walked me through the Loft & Bear loft, where there was a bear-sized dog, and Max at The Spirit Guild gave me tastes of each isolated botanical from their Astral Gin in the form of pulls from jugs of sage-, pistachio-, peppercorn-, etc.-infused vodkas. The only reason I didn’t include Greenbar’s Grand Poppy amaro is this: I wrote about it in the magazine’s Best of L.A. issue. Also, try their City Bright Gin. It’s dope.


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Ready your appetite, your liver, and your sense of adventure — it’s that time of year again: Los Angeles Magazine’s BEST OF LOS ANGELES. I had a huge haul this year, play-testing (for your benefit, not mine, nope, didn’t enjoy this at all, haha riiiiiight) three finalists in each of 13 categories, which for convenience’s sake I’ll split here into two super-categories. In the WHAT TO EAT zone (page one of the long list on the mag site), I crowned winners in the domains of: Fancy Grilled Cheese (No. 4), Coffee Concoction (No. 5), Mezcaleria (No. 6), Barcade (No. 13), Cemita (No. 18), Rare Liquor Retailer (No. 19), and Cheese Appreciation Class (No. 26). In the WHAT TO DO space (page two), you’ll find: True Crime Tours (No. 40), L.A. River Kayak Tour (No. 48), Laser Tag for Adults (No. 50), Picnic on Mars (No. 54), Hip Bowling Alley (No. 55), and Distillery Tour (No. 57). Whew. And the latter should include a quick Q&A in print. Now go plan your entire summer.

Juicy J Is Cooking with Weed (and Chris Sayegh)


READ IT AT BILLBOARD (in print too)

Memphis rap OG Juicy J gets a lesson in cannabis cuisine from fine dining stoner Chris Sayegh, aka The Herbal Chef (“THC,” of course). I sat in on the entire thing, and while I interviewed the two of them afterward, you really just want to read this for the play-by-play: “Juicy J holds a single flower with a pair of extra-long tweezers cautiously, as if the tiny bloom is a hunk of uranium. His hand seems to lilt ever so subtly, pulled to the right by three heavily studded gold rings. But the rapper gets it together and, at the last second, sticks the landing…” Toldja.

The Golden Age of Robot Pottery



Part two in this Slate X Jaguar collabo finds me delving deep into the world of 3D printing to learn about the digital future of an ancient, haptic art—pottery. I spoke to a series of expert practitioners in the U.K. (where computer-assisted ceramix have been embraced in both academic and fine art circles) and here in the U.S. (where the practice of clay fabrication is just, um, taking shape). I loved speaking to these folks, so please be sure to check out their work: Kate Blacklock, Chris Gustin, Michael Eden, Jonathan Keep, and Ronald and Virginia Rael.

The Beak-to-Claw Movement Takes Flight



Call it beak-to-claw, nü-poultry, or alt-bird for all I care, just don’t call me late to dinner. Hardy har har. Bad jokes aside, I interviewed a handful of chefs known for doing very good things with fowl—either reinventing the role of the chicken in fine dining and fast-casual, introducing birds of a different feather (sorry, I can’t stop) to their well-curated cuisine. The goal, specifically, was to trace this trend from its U.K. roots to its (in-progress) U.S. expansion as part of a three-part series very noticeably underwritten by Jaguar. Sadly, I got no cars or meals out of the gig. :|

Best of Los Angeles 2016: Poke Edition



It’s the year of the tuna — ahi, specifically, and in poke form (that’s “poh-kay”) in case you haven’t noticed, which, if you live in Los Angeles, would require never leaving your home or reading about food trends on the internet. So yours truly mustered up the nerve to eat five bowls of delicious fish and various thrilling toppings at five different L.A.-area poke purveyors, all for the sake of journalism and sparing you, dear reader, the terrible inconvenience of doing such a thing yourself. You can read about my best poke pick at Los Angeles Magazine, and then plan the rest of your day around the best falafel in the city, and the best late-night happy hour too.