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the UNCOMMON WORKPLACE Stance socks balances hard work and fun

down on the WEST COAST the ultimate california roatrip

EUROTRIP planning your bucket list backpacking trip

STARTED from the BOTTOM how G-Eazy paid his dues and it finally paid off





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n late July, Boston-based Converse made headlines with news that it was set to release an updated version of the beloved Chuck Taylor All Star sneaker. Since the design of the original All Star had changed very little over the course of its 98-year history, some saw this as the sneaker world equivalent of drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa. Others were quick to point out that, while certainly iconic, the original shoes didn’t offer much in the support department and that a redesign was long overdue. The response at the cash register appeared unanimous, with the two styles (low-top for $70 and high-top for $75) selling out in many sizes online and in stores in the first few days after the July 28 release date (the company expects new stock to land by mid-August) — despite a retail price that clocks in at $20 more than the original (which, for the record, is still being sold, too). So what’s different? The exterior of the sneaker — which comes in black, white, red or blue — hasn’t changed much. The canvas in the upper is described in press materials as “premium,” though to the touch it’s indistinguishable from standard-issue canvas. Monochrome matte eyelets give the shoes a slightly less cluttered look. The foxing (the white rubber sidewall where the canvas upper meets the sole) is slightly thicker, and the All Star logo patch on the inside heel of the high-top is embroidered instead of printed. The biggest difference with the Chuck Taylor All Star II is under the hood, with the addition of a cushiony, lime-green sock liner made from a proprietary Nike foam called Lunarlon. (Nike has owned the Converse brand since 2003.) There are a few other interior tweaks too — a perforated micro-suede lining to improve breathability and foam padding on the tongue and collar for comfort. But make no mistake, it’s that foot-shaped slab of foam, which the company says was added

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to improve cushioning and arch support, that’s the biggest change. And one that needed to be checked out. So over the course of three days I tested a white Oxford-style low-top Chuck Taylor All Star II against a same-color original version of the low-top — side by side, with one on each foot. The biggest surprise — apart from the fact that not a soul seemed to notice — was how little difference there seemed to be in fit and feel. At first. Sure, the footbed of the II was slightly less flexible, not unexpected given the thickness of the sock liner insert, and each step in the new shoe felt a little more cushioned than a step in the original. But the initial impression was not one that justified the $20 premium. That changed by the end of Day 1 when the Lunarlon-swaddled left foot felt almost as good as it had when I slipped the shoes on that morning, while the right foot shod in the original was beginning to ache in the arch and toe joints. (In all fairness, this tester acknowledges he’s both overweight and severely flat-footed.) The test was repeated a second day with the new style on the right foot and the original on the left, with similar results. On the third day — just in case wearing two different shoes was a factor — both feet were shod in new All Star IIs. The effect was the same as if I’d worn a pair of arch-supporting, foot-cushioning running shoes all day — a marked improvement over the way my feet feel after spending a day in a pair of original All Stars. And that’s exactly the point. Long ago, the Chuck Taylor All Star sneaker transcended being simply a piece of athletic equipment to become a style statement. Worn in weddings,

“they were the first sneakers that were acceptable to wear beyond purely athletic endeavors.”

on stage during rock concerts, by the famous from all walks (including the Ramones, Kurt Cobain, Michelle Obama, Cate Blanchett), they were the first sneakers that were acceptable to wear beyond purely athletic endeavors. That’s easy to forget given the rise of sneaker culture in the early ‘80s and, more recently, the surfeit of stylish sneakers that have crept in with the athleisure trend. With the Chuck Taylor All Star II, Converse is simply offering a version of its beloved all-purpose shoe that looks just a little bit different on the outside, but feels a whole lot different on the inside (which, by the way, probably also describes the target demographic). Is the redesigned version of the All Star for everyone? Maybe not. But for Chuck lovers who wake up one day to find themselves just a little bit older or a wee bit heavier than they were back when they tried on their first All Stars — or for anyone who plans on spending a ton of time on their feet — the Chuck II is definitely worth checking out.

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By Sarah Murray

Grilled cheese is one of the easiest things in the world to make. All you need is cheese, bread, and butter. It’s the ultimate lazy answer to what’s for dinner. Better still is that the childhood favorite has evolved. It’s gone next-level in ways we never could have imagined as kids. I’m talking brie, apples, caramelized onions...the list goes on.

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. . . WITH A SIDE OF BLOODY MARY’S spring mmxvi


1. Take a glass and run the lime wedge around the rim to dampen. Dip the glass in salt and pepper. 2. Mix the first seven ingredients together in the glass and add ice. 3. Add the green olives on a toothpick to garnish, along with a stick of celery and freshly ground pepper.







orld ew h t f A E N st o olEVI e re ND le, c h A t b M a d t R r n fo HO ma SC com M T the s ’ t DA y u ext A n en B Y: pa abo h t m s o to c ing he k in Zs s. T soc Jay k e c , . g th e so hem way rnin anc ns t t u g t i S s the f s i e o g d y a ier ugh alon ann hos eno bol e Rih t l m e y b to g us s hum on stat eem e e s r k t u ’ lt ta can -cu ade pop l-m l a e ing dw com l an e u f b r o nd ea uar q s spring mmxvi ket poc




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hen longtime tech entre-

its way—and the brand has a cohort of

developing one hero product that

influential ambassadors dubbed “Punks

did really well. But he still didn’t know

and Poets,” some with their own

what his new company would make.

preneur and investor Jeff Kearl sat

Stance sock designs, which includes

down with consumer-brand vet John

athletes and artists like Allen Iverson,

“I literally went down to Target,”

Wilson in 2009 to pitch his idea for

Santigold, skater Andrew Reynolds,

says Kearl. “Just started looking at

a new business, it took him a while

and rock trio Haim. In a startup world

categories. Maybe with a little bit of

to get to the point.

crazy with competition to find a niche,

an MBA mind-set, where I was like,

Stance’s founders realized theirs was

‘I’m going to draw a little two by

hiding in plain sight.

two McKinsey matrix, in my head, of



how these are positioned.’ I started

’m just sitting there while he

“It wasn’t like there was some great

with sunblock: Coppertone, Hawai-

talked for probably an hour, I’ve

idea, ‘Oh geez, this is broken and we

ian Tropic. Where is this stuff made?

eaten all my breakfast, thinking, ‘Is

should fix it,’” says co-founder and

What’s the gross margin? Who

this guy ever going to tell me what

CEO Kearl about the

it is?’” says Wilson, now Stance’s

idea to build a hot

cofounder and president, who had

sock brand. After

previously been the president of Reef

a successful career

and an executive at Oakley. “We’d

backing and working

known each other for a while, and Jeff

with a long list of

was at [earbud company] Skullcandy,

startups including

so I was totally thinking consumer

Logoworks, and An-

electronics. Some cool new device., Kearl had

Then he threw out the most low-tech

taken a few years off,

random thing. I thought he was jok-

and missed working

ing. I was waiting for him to actually

with people in an

start laughing. He kept going and just

office. “I didn’t want to be on, let’s call

the bottom, in plastic bags and

didn’t skip a beat. I thought, well he’s

it, the treadmill of Silicon Valley, where

really inexpensive. It reminded me

serious, he’s talking about socks.”

it’s such a badge of honor to work

of when Skullcandy first started in

p rtu ith a t a s azy w o find n r I “ d c ion t ce’s l r t wo eti Stan zed p m co he, reali ing c i a n ders s hid ” n fou rs wa sight. i the lain p in

has what market share? It’s amazing what you can Google. I did it with school supplies and jewelry and lots of categories. When we looked at socks, it was like black, white, brown, gray, with some argyle on

these long hours and live an unbal-

2003. The headphone aisle was

Six years in, Stance still only makes

anced life,” he says. “I had moved

all homogenized. It was black and

socks; despite a legion of avid fans, it

down to San Clemente, in Southern

silver, and all looked like consumer

isn’t (yet) a household name. But the

California, a sleepy beach town. There

electronics. When Skullcandy came

company has attracted $86 million in

are a few tech companies there, but

out with this clear packaging and

funding, including a $50 million series

they all struggled to recruit. And I just

these loud prints, it was so different

C in March and initial investment from

thought, ‘You know, it doesn’t have to

from everything else. I thought, we

celebrities like Will Smith and Dwyane

be tech. It can be anything.’”

could totally do that for socks, be-

Wade, and signed a deal in April as the

cause everyone’s ignoring it.”

NBA’s official on-court sock. Famous

Kearl looked to emulate brands like

And despite Wilson’s initial reaction

fans include LeBron James and Rihan-

Lululemon and Under Armour that

to the sock idea, it actually followed

na—in fact, a RiRi-designed line is on

attracted huge early investment by

perfectly on his own experience. “Obvi-

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ously Oakley weren’t the creators of the

their sock business to other companies.

focuses on advancement and testing

eyewear category, but they were really

“As we put this landscape together,

in materials, fit, flexibility, wicking,

the leaders of establishing that category

we just became convinced, everyone is

and other key features of function and

the way they did,” says Wilson. “Then

really sleepy here,” says Kearl. “There’s

performance across a range of sports

it was the same thing with Reef, with

big room for innovation. No one’s really

from running to motocross.

sandals. Total dominant player, catego-

created the lab environment where you

ry leader.” Both of those brands took

could innovate on a platform like socks.”

basic, utilitarian items and made them lifestyle necessities through design, function, and focused distribution. In researching the sock category, Kearl, Wilson, and three other cofounders—



“Socks are such a huge part of mobility and daily comfort,” says chief product officer Taylor Shupe. “If an athlete loses mobility because

he innovation lab at Stance’s San

they have athlete’s foot or they have

Clemente headquarters—known

blisters, it can dramatically affect

as the SHRED Lab (Sock, Hosiery,

their entire performance. So it was

Ryan Kingman, Taylor Shupe, and Aaron

Research, Engineering, and Develop-

really important for us to diagnose

Hennings—discovered that even big

ment)—houses state-of-the-art Lonati

the needs. At the very beginning we

brands like Polo and Hilfiger licensed

knitting machines from Italy, and

bought 2,000 socks. We wore them

all, sometimes multiple ones a day,

and ski companies, feeling threat-

reproduction photographs of NBA

saying this is the material I like, this

ened, entered the market. “K2, and

legends—a style line that, along with

is what I don’t like. And then we

Rossignol, and all these traditional

players’ personal embrace of the

figured out where we were going to

ski companies, were like, ‘Geez, we

brand, helped the company secure its

go.” There’s no question, however,

need to do snowboards,’” says Kearl.

NBA deal. “We developed this new

that the company’s creativity in print

“Their ads in the magazines would

360-degree direct sock-dying process

and pattern, led by chief creative

talk about their stainless steel edges,

that allows us to permeate the fibers

officer Henning, is responsible

and their p-tex base coat, and their

deeper,” says Shupe. “When you

for Stance’s exploding status as a

wood core, and their flex pattern.

stretch the fabric, you don’t see the

lifestyle and fashion brand (prices

Then the last page of the magazine

elastic on the inside, and it allows us

range from $10 to $25, for high-

would just be a guy hucking off a cliff.

to do it completely seamlessly. It’s not

er-end performance socks). Patterns

That was the Burton ad. To me, that’s

only that we want to create a better

in all colors range from stylish takes

what defined a lifestyle brand.”

picture, but we wanted to be able to

on team logos to geometric patterns to abstract art, including mix-and-match designs

execute a product that the consumer But the style, too, connects back to the tech. Stance

would enjoy more, because it doesn’t go through the same manufacturing

that use the same color

developed a proprietary

palette for variant pairs.

process called INprint

point where the fibers become brittle

Wilson says the com-

that sublimates images

and stiff. It was a fit innovation as well

pany’s name comes as

directly on the yarn,

as an aesthetic one.”

much from the defini-

allowing the compa-

This balance is represented in the

tion of “stance” related to self-expression as the

ll n a om i r s ern nge f on t t “Pa rs ra akes o geo col ish t s to to l s o y n g t r o s m l patte .” a e t art ric met ract t abs

definition related to sports, and the company’s marketing focuses on design over performance specs. Kearl, who grew up snowboarding in Tahoe, recalls the era when

snowboarding’s popularity exploded

ny to manufacture, for example, socks with faithful

process of heating the sock to the

careful positioning of Stance as both a fashion and performance

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brand, with selective distribution at retailers like Nordstrom and Foot Locker alike. But the brand was built in the specialty surf, skate, and ski shops of its native SoCal. “We’re in somewhere around 7,500 retail doors, and I would say 2,800 of those are specialty,” says Kearl. “That’s really where we built the business, at Fred Segal, and American Rag in Los Angeles, Opening Ceremony, great fashion retailers.” Kearl gives the example of Hansen’s Surf Shop, a long-standing institution in Encinitas, north of San Diego, to illustrate how Stance has transformed the sock category. “They have this huge wall, with this white translucent background, with these pedestals for all the skateboard shoes,” says Kearl. “Just imagine a whole wall of beautifully positioned merchandise. Next to that, before we started, they had this wicker basket on the floor with some random socks in it. That was their sock merchandise. Today if you go into Hansen’s, there’s a rack probably eight or 10 feet long, opposite the skateboard shoe wall, of Stance socks.”



tance’s positioning has helped it find new areas of growth,

such as in women’s socks, which the company launched two years ago. Stance’s women’s business grew 160% in the first quarter of this year,

and now accounts for 20% of sales,

at some point by women’s. “We prob-

ing crowd, leading to a deal with the

which the company attributes to the

ably wouldn’t have done it so soon,

National Basketball Assn. Stance socks

diversity of its designs and women’s

because I feel there’s a lot of growth left

are now the official socks of the NBA.

increased desire to reflect their style

for socks,” says Kearl. “It’s hard enough

in their socks. Kearl says that Stance

to manage the growth we have there.

Perhaps the only thing more improb-

was already profitable after its first

But one of our retailers actually called

able than what Stance has done in

$8 million round of funding, and that

me and she said, ‘Look, every week

such a short time is where it’s done it

the company’s whopping $50 million

someone comes in and says, We’re the

from — a nondescript industrial park on

series C was more about long-term

Stance of underwear. At some point,

a San Clemente hillside, smack in the

thinking than short-term need.

I’m going to let someone else in if you

middle of a sockless stretch of Southern

don’t.’ Calvin Klein is still the dominant

California coastline better known as the

“The C, quite frankly, we didn’t need

player. Polo, to some degree, but, just

stamping grounds of the surf-and-san-

the money, at all,” says Kearl. “We

like they were in socks, they’re doing it

dal board sport brands. The location

were fine. The conversation, just to

the same way they always have. No one

isn’t the brand’s only connection to the

put it in the most simple terms was

has disrupted underwear.”

surf/skate world. Several of the five

sort of like, ‘Hey, board of directors, lots of really great

are s k S o c ic i a l e ” a nc off N B A. “St t h e t he n o w k of so c

co-founders have roots in the action In just five years

sports industry, including the compa-

since the first Stance

ny’s president John Wilson (who had

socks hit retail,

stints at Reef and Oakley), chief creative

they’ve earned a

officer Aaron Hennings (who spent a

shout-out in Jay Z

decade at Billabong) and chief market-

lyrics (“This ain’t gray

ing officer Ryan Kingman (Element).

sweat suits and white

Rounding out the founding quintet are

this, I’m an entre-

tube socks / This is

chief product officer Taylor Shupe and

preneur that went

black leather pants

chairman and chief executive Jeff Kearl.

firms are calling us. They are pounding. They are visiting us, and the sun is shining and it doesn’t always shine. I know

through 2000 and 2007. I’ve seen the

and a pair of Stance”), attracted a con-

bad times. If we could put another

stellation of celebrity investors (including

It was Kearl, a venture capitalist and

$50 million on our balance sheet in a

Jay Z and Will Smith), brand ambassa-

self-described “serial entrepreneur,”

pretty non-dilutive way, what do you

dors (including the bands Santigold and

who had come to San Clemente to

guys think about that?’ They’re like,

Haim), and now its first celebrity creative

punch out for a few years after one

‘Well, if they’re great firms, great part-

director in Rihanna, tapped to collabo-

of the start-ups he’d worked with was

ners, and a great valuation, you have

rate on a line of socks and help shape

acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2007.

to be opportunistic.’ That’s really the

the fall 2015 advertising campaign.

By 2009, Kearl says he was itching for

fundraising story. It wasn’t that some VC bet on socks.”

another project. “I was the chairman At the same time that Stance’s fash-

of the board of [headphone maker]

ion-brand approach of employing sea-

Skullcandy,” Kearl said, “and one

And while Stance has succeeded with la-

sonal inspirations and designer collab-

of the lessons I’d learned from the

ser focus on one category, the company

orations has made the label a hit in the

founder of that company was to look

will be literally growing from the ground

lifestyle arena, its line of performance

for categories suffering from what

up—Stance plans to launch a line of

socks for runners, golfers and the like

he called ‘benign neglect’ — where

men’s underwear late this year, followed

has attracted the attention of the sport-

there was a lot of potential.”

He remembers walking the aisles of

priced, how sales associates reacted. He

reached epic proportions. Last year

Target in San Clemente, considering

says he bought hundreds of pairs on his

we sold 460 pair in one day during

products like sunblock, jewelry and

way to the realization that that this was

the Christmas season.”

luggage. “Then we came to the sock

exactly the sleepy, overlooked, under-val-

aisle,” he said. “And it was literally black,

ued category that had serious potential.

white, gray and brown. The crazy argyle

ed lay p n has rt i g a n p i te Tim mall ’s me it s ce t nd n a no i r s a b ise r k e t e n the r c ma me m ori the ti the hit s a m e g i n g ed. han ress the c d e wer they way

Stance socks are now sold in more than 40 countries and at major retail-

Stance was officially founded by the

ers, including Nordstrom, Bloomingda-

end of 2009, with the first pairs of

le’s and Macy’s. Although the privately

socks hitting retail in late 2010. The

held company doesn’t disclose specif-

first three accounts were special-

ic sales figures, Kearl and company say

ty surf shops: Surfside Sports on

they sold 15 million pairs between the

the Costa Mesa/Newport Beach

late 2010 launch and the end of 2014

border, and Jack’s Surfboards and

and estimate they’ll sell more than 12

Huntington Surf and Sport, both in

million pairs in 2015. Prices range from

Huntington Beach. Surfside Sports

$10 for near-invisible socklets to $40

co-owner Duke Edukas called the

for premium pairs, with most socks

decision to stock the new sock brand

falling in the $12 to $15 range.

a “no-brainer.” “We were always low on socks, people always needed

The brand has a reputation for

patterns were on the bottom rack and

socks and as Jeff [Kearl] pointed out,

designs that are quirky, cheeky and

most of the socks were in these big

socks were more of an afterthought

fun. Some of the current bestsellers

value-packed plastic baggies.” Over

in our industry. But I never thought

on the men’s side include patterns

the next few months, Kearl dove deep

in my wildest dreams [Stance] would

inspired by paisley bandannas,

on socks, paying attention to how they

catch on as quickly as it did and we’d

woven Baja hoodies and several ver-

were displayed in stores, how they were

sell as many as we did. Sales have

sions of a bold Art Deco style called

Gatsby (from basketball star Dwyane Wade’s signature series). Women’s bestsellers include trippy kaleidoscope prints, a pastiche of roses and polka dots in black and white and several styles from the Rihanna X Stance collection including dollar bill designs, B-movie motifs and knuckle-tattooed toe socks. Timing has played no small part in the brand’s meteoric rise since it hit the market at the same time men were changing the way they dressed. The rising popularity of socks “goes hand in hand with the kind of pants guys are wearing,” explains Caleb Lin, vice president and buying director at L.A.-based American Rag, which stocks Stance socks. “Guys are showing their ankles a lot more in general. A lot of guys are wearing cropped pants and [sweatpant-style] joggers. Whereas before it didn’t necessarily matter as much, now it becomes a part of your statement. It’s definitely an accessory that’s become more meaningful for our consumer.” Stance is far from the only company to make cool, colorful, conversation-starting socks (Sweden-based Happy Socks, launched in 2008, is another high-profile player). What makes the brand a real standout are the things you don’t immediately see. “The appeal is the quality,” says Lin. “The weave is tighter, it feels more comfortable around your foot, the fabric doesn’t










Gaslamp District in Downtown San Diego.

of the several rooftop bars while watching


The Gaslamp is the home of numerous

the sunset. Avoid going to the main beach-

shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The

es; instead, try to find some of the locals’

hile there are benefits to

nightlife is some of the best in all of Califor-

favorite spots: West Beach, Thousand

doing the drive either up

nia, and should definitely be experienced by

Steps, Victoria or Crescent Bay. The crystal

or down the Pacific Coast

anyone over twenty-one. A few miles away,

clear water is perfect for snorkeling, and

Highway, for me there is something that just

you will also find Old Town San Diego. Be

the smaller, shorebreak waves make the

makes sense in starting with the South. If

sure to taste some authentic Mexican food

water look like a swimming pool. If you

you’re taking five days or so to do the drive it’s

and tequila in Old Town.

are into art, be sure to check out some of


worth starting all the way down in San

the art galleries along the way.

Diego. Visit La Jolla Cove for a chance

After Laguna Beach, you will drive

to witness sea lions gathering up on


past Crystal Cove and Corona Del

the beach. If the ocean is calm, sign


Mar, leading you right into New-

up for a kayaking adventure in the La Jolla caves. Don’t forget your GoPro


or waterproof camera; the sea caves

port Beach. Home of the extremely wealthy, high-end shopping can be done at both Fashion Island and

are beautiful and the snorkeling is excellent.

Just north of San Diego lies Orange

South Coast Plaza. Two other unique ex-

If you’re looking for a unique animal

County, home of gorgeous beaches and

periences here are taking the ferry over to

experience, though, pop right off the Pacific

the Happiest Place on Earth. Check out

Balboa Island and getting out on the water

Coast Highway, and visit the San Diego Zoo.

the shops on Del Mar in San Clemente,

in the Harbor. Hop into the arcade and

The zoo is one of the largest in the world.

and have some seafood at the Dana Point

play a couple games or grab an ice cream

Explore Balboa Park right next door, which

Harbor. Laguna Beach is possibly one of

cone or frozen banana for your walk. If

is the home to several museums and exhib-

the most gorgeous cities in America and

you’re looking to get out on the water,

its. Some require a fee to enter, but even

cannot be missed. It’s incredible beaches

the Newport Harbor is the perfect place

simply walking around the beautiful park’s

are paradise, and the small downtown area

to rent a paddleboard and explore the

grounds is enjoyable. Located nearby is the

is picture-perfect. Enjoy happy hour at one

marina from a different point of view.



os Angeles can take days to explore, so for this particular road trip, stick with the attractions

along the coast. Venice Beach is possibly the best place in California to people watch. From the vendors to street performers to street art, and of course, just others wandering around, Venice Beach is one of the unique areas in the state. You’ll have a chance to see a variety of local artists as well. Check out local skaters at the skate park and the fitness-crazed people at Muscle Beach. Right next door in Santa Monica, take a stroll down the pier. You won’t see

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anything like it, well until you make it to

the beach. You’ll watch locals getting a

Anacapa also has some of the best snor-

Santa Cruz that is. Enjoy the chaos of a

workout hiking up the dune and others

keling and diving in California.

mini-amusement park with a beautiful

having a blast sledding down it.

Like so many of the towns along the

view. Grab a carnival treat while you

In Ventura, you should wander to the

hop on the Ferris wheel for some more

beautiful Mission San Buenaventura and

grab a bite to eat whether it’s breakfast,

breathtaking views of the Pacific.

take in a piece of California’s history. While

lunch or dinner. In the morning, swing by

there are twenty-one missions stretched

Handlebar Coffee Roaster for delicious

where surfing was made famous. Take in

along California’s coast, Buenaventura is

latte and pastries. In the afternoon, stand

the beautiful views as you drive along the

one of my favorites. From the interior to

in the long line for La Super-Rica Taque-

Pacific Coast Highway and make sure to

the courtyard it is an impressive place. If

ria. For dinner, I loved the burgers over

stop and look for the surfers. Zuma Beach

you’re looking for a day trip, Ventura is

at American Ale, plus they carry a variety

is a favorite of surfers, as well as providing

the perfect launch place to visit some of

of California breweries you might not

some relaxing views all the way down the

the lesser known channel islands. Anacapa

find elsewhere. For activities you can visit

coast. If you’re looking for a different type

Island is just an hour from Ventura. On the

the mission or just explore the downtown

of sand, head up to Mugu’s Sand Dune,

island, you can see a bit of the California

and wandering to the pier is a great treat.

also known as the Great Sand Dune. This

coast untouched by people. Take a hike

You can watch the sunset over the marina

long sandy hill is just across the PCH from

along the island, or kayak around it.

while getting in a good walk.

In Malibu, you’re at the edge of LA and

coast, Santa Barbara is a great place to


fornia’s quintessential coastal landscapes


that’s worth making the stop for. Cambria is the perfect middle point be-


ismo Beach is another town along

tween San Francisco and Los Angeles is Cam-

the Coast where you can take in

bria. Here you can lay back and disconnect

beautiful views, eat some deli-

for a bit in this little town. Enjoy some of the

cious food, and explore a cute downtown.

delicious wines in the region without traveling

You can start off your stay by taking in the

far from the coast. Find some of my favorite

view and maybe even a sunset at the Ventana

spots on my guest post at Visit Cambria. Stay

Grill, one of the classic spots on the coast.

the night at Sand Pebbles Inn, right on Moon-

If you’re looking for something more casual

stone Beach. If they’re available get one of

but packed with flavor you have a wide range

the rooms with a view. It’s an amazing place

of choices. Two favorites are Splash Cafe for

to relax by a fireplace and take in the sunset.

award winning clam chowder and Mo’s Smokehouse


for BBQ. If you plan on


crashing in Pismo, a great


place is Shore Cliff Lodge, a Best Western Plus that


sits right on top of the cliffs. It books up fast

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But even if you don’t stay here make sure to take a walk along Moonstone Beach Drive while the sun sets. It’s a perfect west facing beach; which are harder

to come by than you’d expect.

but you can get breathtaking views at reason-

Just north of Cambria, you’ll find San

able costs. The pool itself sits right on the

Simeon. Plan a visit to Hearst Castle as you

cliffs and is a perfect place to relax.

head out of town. This magnificent property

On your way up to Morro Bay you can

is built far up on the hilltops of San Simeon

stop and take a hike in Los Osos Oaks State

and a unique architectural feat. It is filled with

Natural Reserve, here you can find beautiful

history from Hollywood to California’s early

sand dunes and old oak trees to explore. If

conservation efforts. The other place you

you’d rather get out on the water, you’ll find

can’t miss is the Elephant Seal lookout. These

a great spot to kayak or paddle board in the

majestic creatures spend a good portion of

marina and along Morro Rock. While it’s

the year taking over the coastline whether

not uncommon to be blocked from view by

it is to grow up, be born or find a mate. It’s

a gloomy day, Morro Rock is one of Cali-

enthralling to see them take over the beach.


hike down through the state park, or you can


park just north of it and get a great angle of

If you plan on staying in Big Sur there

the falls. This is also one of the great spots

are a couple once in a lifetime splurge type

he real point of this stretch is to

to get in a good hike along the route. A little

of stays. Post Ranch Inn tops many lists of

just enjoy the drive. Take it all in,

further North, you’ll come across the actually

epic hotels in the United States and even the

stop everywhere you want and

Bixby Bridge and it’s worth getting out and

world. There are few places where you have

taking a quintessential Big Sur photo.

this type of luxury let alone the views. If


take your time. There are a couple places you shouldn’t miss. As for sites, as you head up

If you’re looking for a place to relax while

into the forest and you grab a tasty snack.

you’re looking for a more common budget

you will first run into the “Not Bixby Bridge”.

you take in a view and some good food Ne-

place to stay, you best option is to stay in one

I have to say we stopped just south of this

penthe Restaurant is well known for a rea-

of the border towns or camp at one of the

one and loved the view and got in a good

son. One of the best views along the drive

many campsites in the area, some of which

shot. Once we’d stopped we realized it was

and delicious food to go along with it. For

have just as good views as the pricey hotels.

the wrong one but we didn’t care once we

something a little more casual stop by Big

As you wind out of Big Sur you’ll stumble

saw the view. Stopping at Pfeiffer Beach and

Sur Bakery & Restaurant. It doesn’t have the

upon a quaint city, Carmel-By-The-Sea. The

checking out Mc Way Falls is a must. You can

cliffside views but it makes you feel tucked

perfect place to spend an evening, or much

more, before you take off on your next part of the drive. There are so many charming bed and breakfasts in this town that it’s hard to pick just one, but the Edgemere Cottages are the perfect place to rest your head. Relax right on the white sand beach along Scenic Drive, and even spend the evening with your own campfire right on the sand. If you’re looking to dig into the wineries try the Carmel Wine Walk where you can get 9 tastings for $65. Two of my favorite spots were Caraccioli Cellars for the sparkling and Silvestri Vineyards for their reds. For a bite grab something casual at Carmel Belle. Here you’ll find farm-fresh food with sandwiches, soups and more to enjoy.



onterey is filled with delicious places to grab a bite. If it’s breakfast you’re after First

Awakenings is a great spot to grab a scramble, do be warned their plates are huge and can easily be split by two. For lunch swing by Lou Lou’s Griddle in the Middle, sit on the pier and enjoy a delicious sandwich or burger. Once you’ve gotten a bite, one place you shouldn’t miss is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You’ve spent this entire drive looking out over the ocean. Here you’ll have a chance to see what it’s like underneath the surface. From the otters to the giant bluefin tuna, their exhibits give you a chance to get up close and personal to the sea life in the bay. If you’re looking for some classic fun in Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Broadwalk is entertaining. Play some arcade games or hop on a ride right beside the ocean. If you’re looking to get into a little more of nature swinging by Natural Bridges Beach, a unique site to see and a great beach to sit and relax on. For a change of pace, drive a dozen miles or so up into the hills and you’ll find a beautiful forest of coastal redwoods in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The park offers a variety of trails to hike, including one under two miles where

you can start to get a feel for the forest

San Francisco is full of open spaces to

without getting too strenuous. Right near

relax and play in. Dolores Park is one of

the beautiful state beach you can wander by

these. Right in the heart of the mission this

the old structure while taking in the view.

open space will have a little bit of every-

And if you’re looking for a unique place to

thing, people playing frisbee and sports while

stay it’s actually a hostel.

dogs run and friends sit and have a picnic.

You’ve finally made it to San Francisco! Now

Also right nearby is the Bi-Rite Creamery,

take some time to explore this beautiful city.

probably the most famous ice cream in San

You can wrap up your PCH drive at Baker’s

Francisco. The Palace of Fine Arts was built

Beach where you can view the Golden Gate

as a part of the Panama Pacific International

Bridge and relax. You can hop into Golden

Exposition in 1915 and was build on top of

Gate Park and explore some of the different

marshland which would surprise you now.

museums and gardens it has to offer. Hidden

One of the most historic music ven-

within Golden Gate Park is the Japanese


Tea Garden and it is


a hidden gem. You


walk in and get a chance to enjoy the


ues you can find in San Francisco is the Fillmore. Almost every anyone you can think of has

unique garden architecture, the bridges, towers

played this venue from Johnny Cash to

and koi pond.After walking around stop at the

James Brown. Nowadays, you can find

tea shop and enjoy a great cup of tea and a

a wide range of acts come through so

dessert. Its a great place to relax and people

no matter what your music taste there

watch as well. Head down to Union Square

will be an act playing for you. It’s a sim-

and shop your heart out. Or just eat your

ple but beautiful venue and the music

way through the city. Whatever you haven’t

sounds great. It’s a blast to be upfront

had a chance to get enough of, San Francisco

and enjoy a show.

will provide. You can take a few more coast-

Of course San Diego to San Francis-

al hikes, dine on seafood around Fisherman’s

co is not the entire California coast. Feel

Wharf or even just wander around. If you’ve

free to continue on, and congratulate

already hit most of the tourist spots take a look

yourself on finishing one of the most

at exploring another layer of the city.

beautiful, bucket-list-worthy road trips.

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H O W T O B A C K PA C K O N A B U D G E T B y J a m e s & Su s a n F e e s s

Our mission is simple: We want to help you travel around Europe without spending a fortune. Backpacking through Europe doesn’t have to be daunting - that’s why we created this simple backpacking Europe guide to help make the planning process easy. This guide is broken down into different phases of the planning process - Initial Trip Planning, Packing Guides, Finding Accommodation, Choosing Transportation, and other helpful travel tips. If you follow these steps you’ll be prepared to have an amazing trip to Europe.


proper itinerary is essential if you want to go backpacking cheaply in Europe. There are so many amazing places to visit in Europe—you could travel for over 12 months and still feel like you’ve missed a lot. It can be very difficult to narrow down exactly where you want to visit and a lot of travelers can really struggle with the decision. It takes a lot of creativity and you’ll probably spend many hours trying to nail down your itinerary. There are multiple strategies for traveling and it is up to you to find the one that works the best for your journey. Keep in mind that the length of your trip has a huge impact on how much of an itinerary you’ll need. Basically, the shorter your trip, the more you need to plan. Anything under two weeks should be planned out in-depth, trips 2-4 weeks require a little less planning and anything over a month can mostly be planned as you travel (although you should still do some planning ahead of time). Some people travel to Europe with the “I’ll just wing it and see what happens” attitude. I was one of those people and it doesn’t work. Without planning you waste a lot of time on trivial stuff that you could have easily done at home and you end up missing a lot of great things. It takes 10 minutes to book a hostel online, but it can take you an hour or two trying to find one randomly in an unfamiliar city. You’ll spend all your time wandering and you might not find anything that is really interesting to you. European cities are not like Disneyland — everything isn’t all laid out nice and neat. Sights are spread throughout the city and you’ll never find the little gems if you don’t look ahead of time. You don’t have to plan out every second

of your trip, but a little homework really pays off. Here are nine steps to help ensure that you have a perfect itinerary: Choose the time of year or season you want to travel. Pick your travel dates. Your dates are usually determined by your budget or available free time—probably a combination of the two. How you plan a two week trip is a lot different than a six month trip. Write down any 100% certain things you are going to do. This is stuff like “I have tickets to the Daft Punk concert on June 18th in Paris.” These are dates that can’t not be moved. You’ll have to plan around these events so they’ll greatly effect your other travel plans. Break out the map and start brainstorming where you want to visit. Go the the bookstore to take a look at the travel books. Look online at travel sites. Write down all the places that look interesting (don’t limit yourself at this point - go crazy). Start narrowing down your list. I would make three lists: Places you 100% want to see, places you really want to see, places you could live without. You’ll find yourself returning to this step often as you narrow down your list. Write down how many days you think you’ll want to spend in each city. Don’t rush it! This is where many beginners — myself included - make mistakes. Naturally, you want to see as much as possible, so you end up trying to jam a million things into a short amount of time. You’ll just end up missing a lot and you will get burnt-out. Getting burnt-out is one of the worst things that can happen. It will make your trip extremely stressful and you might get to the point where you hate traveling. I would recommend a minimum of 3 full days for big cities (and that is really rushing it). You can easily spend 5-9 days in cities like London and Paris without getting bored. Remember that only staying for the minimum will feel like a whirlwind. At

this point, I would now start looking at your plane ticket. You have two options when purchasing a ticket. You can either buy a standard ticket or an “open jaw” ticket. An “open jaw” ticket is when you fly in to one airport and leave from a different airport. Decide on the best route to take. Try to avoid backtracking because it wastes time and money. Get a calendar and block out the days you’ll visit each location. Remember not to rush. Now you should figure out your transportation costs. Are you going to take the train (buy tickets or use a Eurail pass), are you going to take planes, rent a car, or maybe use the bus? Are you going to take multiple forms of transportation? You need to price each option and figure this into your budget. Get a rough

idea of how much it is going to cost to get from city to city. You might start to see how much transportation eats into your budget. If the costs are too high, you might want to limit the number of cities you visit. If you’re a new traveler, I would suggest starting your trip in an English speaking country. London is an excellent place to start. It is foreign enough to be interesting, but similar enough to not be overwhelming. This way you’ll ease into traveling before heading off to non-English speaking countries. Don’t forget about jet lag. Your first day might be a little rough so don’t plan on doing a ton of stuff. But don’t go to sleep in the middle of the day either because this will really mess up your schedule.

If you’re a new traveler, start off in an English speaking country.


PACKING FOR YOUR TRIP irst, I suggest limiting yourself to 20-22lbs worth of gear (including your backpack). Cut the clothing; pretty much all of the weight in your backpack comes from your clothes. There isn’t really any difference between packing for 6 weeks or 6 months, because you’ll just do laundry about every week. You’re only going to have a few shirts/pants so make sure they all match each other. Choose dark and neutral colors. Most Europeans tend to wear more subdued clothing anyways. If it is going to be cold, you should dress in layers. A big bulky coat isn’t going to be practical. A thermal base layer, long-sleeve t-shirt, sweater and fleece jacket combo is much more practical than a big coat. You can always add/subtract layers if needed. I like to bring a few pairs of underwear. Find underwear that fits well, reduces some chafing, wicks sweat, and fights odor. Many travelers rave about these because you can get away with wearing them for a few days before needing to wash them. They are also ideal because they dry quickly, so you can easily wash them in the sink. Exofficios are a bit pricey, but a lot of travelers say these are must-have items. Many people also like Under Armour underwear, which also work well. I always stress that you should only pack one pair of shoes because shoes are bulky and heavy. You’re going to be on your feet

a lot while in Europe, so you really want a sturdy pair of comfortable shoes for sightseeing. Guys can get away with a pair of nice leather sneakers that are comfortable during the day and look nice enough for going out at night. Some people opt for hiking shoes. They’re usually waterproof and have an all-terrain sole. They’re not super stylish, but they are usually pretty comfortable. If you plan on traveling during a rainy time of year then I would suggest this option. Throw in a cheap pair of rubber flip-flop sandals if you’re going to stay in a hostel. You’ll want them for the showers. Lightweight sweaters are nice for dressing up or for cool nights. For maximum versatility, make your sweaters and button-up shirts all look good together because you can wear them together. If you’re traveling in the summer it might be wise to save space by not bring a sweater. While I prefer wearing mostly button-up shirts, I still like the option of wearing a t-shirt. They are good for around the hostel, sleeping, wearing under other shirts and sometimes around town. I usually pack a about four solid color shirts. I like to bring a pair of dark slim fit jeans. Dark jeans can be dressed up, completely casual, and they match everything. Plus, jeans are a staple in every European’s wardrobe. Also bring a pair of well-fitting neutral/dark color chinos. These look nice if you want to dress it up a bit. For girls, bring a good black dress that you can wear out at night if you plan on dressing up for a nice dinner or bar hopping.

Limit yourself to about 20 to 22 pounds of gear.


STAYING IN HOSTELS ostels are possibly the best type of accommodation for backpacking through Europe. They’re inexpensive, they’re located in every European city, and they’re full of other young travelers. Competition between hostels has grown over the past 5-10 years so the quality has risen considerably. Unfortunately, hostels are pretty uncommon in the US, so many Americans are totally clueless about them and have a lot of misconceptions. What is a hostel: Hostels are the bastions of budget travelers. They are like a hotel except the rooms (dorms) are filled with enough bunk beds to house anywhere between 4-40 people. You’re only renting the bed so you’ll be sharing the room with a bunch of fellow travelers. Obviously privacy is limited, but the low cost and thriving social scene more than make up for the negatives. Most hostels will have multiple options when it comes to the type of dorm rooms available. Nearly every hostel will have a couple of private rooms (one bed/one bunk bed), but all will have dorms of various sizes. For example, a hostel could have 4 rooms that hold 8 people, 5 rooms that hold 12 people, and 8 rooms that hold 18 people. From my experience, the biggest dorms usually hold about 10 guests. Many hostels also have female-only rooms, but most dorms house both males and females. Cost: A bed in a hostel will cost anywhere from $10+/night (in Eastern Europe) to $30+/night (big cities in Western Europe). The price depends on the size of room you choose (the cheapest beds are in the rooms with the most people), the location of the hostel, the amenities, the competition

from other hostels in town, and a few other factors. I think I usually paid about $30/night on average in Western Europe ($20/night in Eastern Europe). Keep in mind that I always opted for the cheapest room available. A private room with 2 beds can cost up to $120+/night. Why: Hosteling is the best way to meet tons of interesting people from all over the world. You’re surrounded by like-minded travelers who all share the love of adventure and a love for having fun. Hostels are also usually located in the heart of the city, so you’re close to all the action. Who: There is a wide range of people who stay at hostels. Most are young travelers between 18-30 (some hostels only allow guests between 18-35 years old). But I once meet this really cool 70 year old Australian who was traveling for 6 months. From my experience, there are always lots of Australians and Kiwi that are traveling for 9+ months at a time. A bunch of Irish and Canadians. There are quite a few Americans who come over for 2-3 weeks, or who are studying abroad somewhere in Europe. I’ve met a handful of South Africans and a few French. I’m sure there are plenty of other nationalities, but people who speak the same language tend to stick together. Some people live in hostel for a month or more, but most only stay for a few days. Thanks to the Internet, booking a hostel is incredibly easy. Sites allow you to read past reviews of other travelers so you can judge the quality of the hostel before you book it. Each hostel is rated by fellow travelers, so you’ll get a pretty good idea if the hostel worth booking. You can also see video, pictures, amenities, and directions. You book your reservation by paying 10% of the total payment (by credit/debit card) and then you pay the reminder of the payment directly to the hostel when you arrive.

Hostels are the best type of accomodation for backpacking in Europe.

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TRANSPORTATION raveling by train is the quintessential method for touring Europe and rightfully so. It’s romantic. It’s inspiring. Some might say it’s almost magical. And to those of you who don’t live in a country where train travel is prominent, it’s a little mysterious. The rail network is extremely developed and train service is very reliable (unless there are strikes). Trains in Europe are not perfect, but many people consider it the best way to travel. Here are the advantages of traveling by train: Arrive Right in the Center of Town: Unlike airports, European train stations are located right in the middle of town. You don’t have to spend the time and money traveling into the city because you’re already there. Traveling from the airport into the city will usually take anywhere between 20-60 minutes and cost $10-$40.

No Long Check-In and Security Lines: There are no lengthy check-in procedures for train travel and there is no need to go through any security screening. You can simply show up a few minutes before the train leaves, buy a ticket if you don’t have one (often from a ticket machine with English instructions), and hop on the train. Bring Some Wine (don’t forget the corkscrew): You can pretty much bring whatever you want on a train, including alcohol. Bring a bottle of wine or a case of beer if you want. You’re sure to make a few friends if you give a few away to your fellow travelers. Stop by the local grocery store and pick up some cheap food for the journey. Just don’t drink too much and accidentally miss your stop. A Vast Rail Network and Multiple Trains: Europe’s rail network is extremely vast, and it is possible to travel to even the

smallest of towns by train. Most destinations offer multiple trains a day. The most popular routes usually have a train each hour so this really increases your travel options. Sleep on the Train and Extend Your Travel Time: If you’re traveling a long distance, consider taking an overnight train. These trains have special sleeper cars with bunks (usually 6 bunk rooms or two bunk rooms). A bunk in a sleeper car will cost about $25-$55 extra, (about the same as a night in a hostel) but you won’t lose out on a day of travel. Overnight trains also have normal seats if you don’t want to fork over the extra cash for a bunk. This is one of the best ideas because the train ride will be over before you know it, and you will not have to spend money on a night at a youth hostel. Definitely take advantage of this. Be Spontaneous: Most trains don’t require a reservation, so there isn’t a need to book ahead. Simply show up at the train station before the train leaves and climb aboard. If you do travel during the daytime, Europe has a lot of amazing countryside so traveling by train is a great way to see some fantastic views. Comfort:Train seats are usually a little larger than planes seats (especially when compared to many discount airlines). You’re also free to move about the train whenever you feel like it. Many trains also have seats that face each other and have a table between the seats. These are perfect for groups or if you just like table space. Unless it is a holiday or you’re on a very popular route, the train is often uncrowded so there is a good chance you’ll be able to get two seats to yourself. No crying babies to worry about.

Reliable and on Schedule: European trains run on schedule well over 90% of the time, but flights are only on schedule around 65%. This is partially because the weather (snow, rain, fog, etc…) generally have no impact on train service. Beautiful Train Stations: Historically the train station was the central hub for commerce and transportation. Many European cities showed off their wealth and status by building grandiose train stations. While it isn’t a huge deal, it is one of those nice little perks. The Train is Fun: I always found riding the train to be fun. Maybe it is because there are no trains where I live, or maybe it congers up nostalgic images of riding the train through the wild west. Whatever the reason, I always found train travel special. Europe has it all: sprawling cities and quaint villages; boulevards, promenades and long railways; mountains, beaches and lakes. Some places will look exactly how you imagined: Venice is everything it’s cracked up to be; springtime in Paris has even hardened cynics melting with the romance of it all; and Oxford’s colleges really are like Harry Potter film sets. Others will surprise, whether for their under-the-radar nature or statement-making modern architecture. Europe is full of beauty and history everywhere you go. If you’re backpacking in Europe for the first time, bear in mind that the best trips combine practicality with stick-a-pinin-the-map impulsiveness. Pack your bags, plan your trip, and get ready for the time of your life.

If you’re traveling a long distance, consider taking an overnight train.

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amil Davis, co-manager of rapper G-Eazy,

TV, however, is a new challenge. Eazy couldn’t

bursts through a dressing room door on NBC’s 8th floor

sleep that well last night and didn’t sleep the night

with exciting news. “They just approved,” he says. “You

before. He says he’s experiencing shakiness and has a

can say ‘bitch’ and ‘slut.’”

weakness in his stomach, but he doesn’t seen especial-

The rules of late-night TV are justifiably a little for-

ly nervous, sinking into a chair, legs and arms splayed.

eign to 25-year-old Gerald “G-Eazy” Gillum, a six-foot-

“Oh God, I’m fucking shaking in my boots right now.

four white guy who looks less like an emerging Bay

I’m as cold as ice and I’m going to knock it out of the

Area rapper and more like a chiseled, slick, Fifties ret-

park but I’m nervous as fuck,” he says. “It’s all muscle

ro-rebel from a Lana Del Ray video. Today’s appearance

memory. I’ve played so many shows. I’ve probably

on Late Night With Seth Meyers is his first on national

performed more than most rappers at this stage of

television — currently his highest traditionally demar-

my career,” he adds. “I’ve played over 250 shows for

cated signpost of “fame” in a seven-year career obsessed

sure, four 40-day tours… Whatever, this is all familiar

with attaining it. How high this crescendo will go is still

territory, this is just a different platform.”

anybody’s guess, but success hasn’t eluded G-Eazy. His

Since 2007, G-Eazy built from the ground up,

debut album These Things Happen (released indie but

starting with a splash of MySpace virality around

distro’d via RED) debuted at Number Three, handily

the saccharine Auto-Tune trifle “Candy Girl” and

outselling new releases from established, media-dom-

slowly evolving into his current minimalist aesthetic,

inating acts like Phish, Mastodon, Ab-Soul and Riff

constructing a hyphy-centric sound and building a

Raff. A whopping eight of his music videos can boast

dedicated audience the old-fashioned way — touring

more than 2 million views on YouTube. The outlets that

relentlessly, working hard and dreaming big. You

generally cover hip-hop generallydon’t cover him, and

can witness the discipline of Gillum and the

he has yet to see a print feature from a major magazine,

Eazy machine as he sound-checks. For the sec-

but regularly sells out shows across the country.

ond chorus of the bounce-woozer “Far Alone,”

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Eazy puts his hand to his right ear. Is this an “I can’t hear you” to the hypothetical audience or an “I can’t hear my monitor” to a very real soundman? As he runs through the song a fifth and sixth time, it becomes clear, yes, this is instinctual. Co-manager Matt Bauerschmidt approaches Eazy and HBK Gang’s Jay Ant (he’s helping on the chorus), and suggests how to time their giddy mid-song jumps. Back in the green room, Davis approaches Ant and says — like a


-Eazy’s been on the grind for a while. “I had a job since I was old enough to work, since I was like 14,” says the MC, who spent his teens working at mom and pop chain of

restaurants, Top Dog. “That’s the only way we brought money in. My mom was a single parent. She taught at two different schools part time and so if I wanted

command, not a suggestion — “We got ‘bitch’ cleared

something I had to go and work for it.” His mother,

for a reason, so you gotta say it.” Indeed, when the

artist Suzanne Olmsted, helped him discover the fame

explosive performance airs on Seth Meyers that eve-

monster too. He remembers, early on, her showing him

ning, you can see G-Eazy’s hand to his ear, the timed

Beatles films like A Hard Days Night in which the Fab

pogo and hear Jay Ant’s swears.

Four were chased by screaming fans.

“I was into music instead. I never looked at it as a hobby. I look was foolish for that. But… I wanted to take this to the moon be

“I was like ‘those guys are super cool,’” he says. “I

Upon graduating high school, Eazy moved to New

was never the coolest kid growing up, but I wasn’t a

Orleans, enrolling in Loyola University’s Music

loser either, I was somewhere in between, but I always

Industry Studies program, taking classes on produc-

liked the prettiest girls. And I don’t know, I wanted to

tion, business and marketing. The mixtapes and sin-

be that quarterback-type of person but I was never any

gles started flying — self-produced, self-designed,

good at sports, “I was into music instead. I never looked

self-released. In 2008 “Candy Girl” took hold on

at it as a hobby. I looked at it as my career from day one

MySpace and pretty soon the gears of the industry

and people would say I was foolish for that. But… I

began turning. RCA met with him, but, as Eazy ad-

wanted to take this to the moon because why not?”

mits, “I had goals but I couldn’t fill the shoes yet.”

He saw the Pack — friends and fellow Berkeley

In another turn, a management team flew him across

High students — turn their high-school hustle into

the country in hopes of impressing a producer. “We

radio play, tours and MTV with their sproinging 2006

made a song that’s very forced and very rushed,”

hit “Vans” and promptly began producing and selling

G-Eazy recalls. “One day they tell me they believe

his own mixtapes. “It was very much a fake-it-till-you-

in me and want to sign me, and the next day I’m

ked at it as my career from day one and people would say I ecause why not?” make-it thing. Because I had examples in front of me

being asked if I have any friends in L.A. because the

that were pretty real,” he says. “And I think hip-hop

thing with the producer isn’t working out. So I’m

is very much a fake-it-till-you-make-it kind of genre

being told I’m going to leave and go to L.A., and I

and culture. I can’t act as broke as I actually am, I have

basically got dumped there. There was nobody for

to portray this image of a winner who’s killing it. So

me to work with, nobody for me to stay with and I’m

I’m designing my own album art and making it look

calling friends to crash wondering if I’m supposed

as official as possible. I even put the parental advisory

to be waiting in L.A. I wasn’t so I just went back

logo at the bottom. I would print out covers and burn

home after four days feeling totally dismissed. “I’m

CDs and sell them out of my backpack. Five bucks.

thankful every day that it didn’t happen then,” he

On a successful day I sold like 20 of them. I was pretty

says. “Because I had to kind of get chewed up and

good at hustling people. But a bad day was I sold two.

spit back out to know that it wasn’t that easy and it

I went home with 10 bucks and I could get lunch.”

wasn’t going to come that easy.”

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ater, G-Eazy arrives at Frank’s Chop

Chainz on the 40-date America’s Most Wanted Music

Shop, the vintage-gone-hypebeast

Festival. He did all this without technically having a

boutique whose classic straight-ra-

“home,” crashing on couches, living on a tourbus, and

zor and straight-talk vibes make it a

recording in New Orleans, L.A. and New York.

destination by everyone from Jake Gyllenhaal to Rick Ross. G-Eazy

He sold most of his earthly possessions, including two dozen or so pairs of sneakers on eBay, reducing his life

wagers this is his 20th cut there, the last one as recent as

to about a laptop and two suitcases full of black clothes.

three or four weeks ago. Though Eazy looked perfectly

“But this window of achieving success in music is not

dapper at the studio, OG Kevin — in white fedora, sharp

something you can just go out and get anytime. I was like,

goatee and scissor tats — toils for maybe a half-hour on

if I make it from point A to point B, I can go get another

what he calls “a real classic gentleman’s cut.”

fucking couch. What costs the world to you as a working

“Well it’s minimal, really simple,” G-Eazy says,

kid fresh out of college, costs nothing to you as a success-

explaining his style. “Just wearing all black comes from

ful musician… I felt like the idea, the creative content,

Johnny Cash. I’m on the road so much that if I wear all

was so much more valuable than any physical content.”

“Because I have an addictive personality and fame is the mo a fucking DiCaprio of this shit.” black my clothes never get dirty. You can’t tell if I’ve

G-Eazy and his entourage meander over to the

worn the same shirt twice.” Around 2011, G-Eazy hit the

169 Bar, one of the last few proudly divey bars in

road running with his new style. He would miss family

lower Manhattan, where he orders a PBR and an iced

functions to play concerts. He toured with Drake for a

coffee. “The coffee keeps me awake through the day,

stretch. “I don’t even know if Drake really, himself, knew

enough to have some personality and perform,” he

I was on the bill,” says G-Eazy. “I wasn’t advertised and

says. “And the PBR because you can’t be at 169 Bar

we’d make the most of it. We’d get out there and try to

without ordering a PBR.” For someone who’s made it

steal fans and take that opportunity to benefit.” He had

to national television and sells out shows without the

to bow out of extra dates after one of his professors at

help of press or radio or a label, it all begs the ques-

Loyola threatened to fail him if he missed one more class.

tion: Why are you even here talking to us at all?

After graduation he toured with Schwayze, traveled with the 2012 Warped Tour and joined Lil Wayne, T.I. and 2

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“The thing is, I’ve always wanted to be a star, I’ve always wanted to be an Elvis Presley or a Tupac, like

ost addictive drug there is. I want to be a star. I want to be a huge icon,” he explains. “I’ve seen what you can do

challenge to that equation is finding a way to play the game

in this grassroots, do-it-yourself world and I’ve seen

but by my rules. To bring my music without dumbing

how far that can get you. To be iconic you still need the

myself down and making bubblegum pop. I want to bring

gatekeepers to open the doors.”G-Eazy won’t be content

my world to the major leagues.” G-Eazy recently signed a

in life as Tech N9ne or a Slug or an Insane Clown: inde-

major label deal with RCA, the label that originally reject-

pendent dudes who make more money than a lot of more

ed him years ago — which he claims gives him complete

traditionally “famous” rappers, thanks to their ability to

creative control. He calls it, “the deal of the decade.”

build and maintain a fanbase on their own. Why not? “Because I have an addictive personality and fame is the

“This is destiny fulfilling itself,” he says moments later. “This wasn’t a pipe dream. It was like, if we’re going to do

most addictive drug there is,” he says. “I want to be a star.

this, let’s go all the fucking way. Yeah, why not? Because

I want to be a fucking DiCaprio of this shit. I don’t want to

when you swing for the fucking fences, then you just keep

be a small time independent successful rapper. The ultimate

swinging, then eventually you’ll hit a ball over the fence.”

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Like a barometer always reading a temperature of awesome, the traditional kickoff to the summer festival season is dominated by Coachella. The glitz and glamour of Los Angeles migrates east to the desert for back to back weekends of the biggest names in music. What started as a small indie festival in the desert has transformed into a cultural touchstone for the festival season.

A bike valet, wine tasting tent, and local organic food vendors are just a couple of signs that you are in San Francisco at Outside Lands. The quirky and wonderful Golden Gate Park hosts a wide range of acts and has quickly grown into a highlight of the San Fran summer. Bring a hoodie with you. Just because it’s August does not mean that the fog will not join the party.

Like a fine wine, Bottlerock keeps getting better with age. The three day music festival in California’s stunning Napa Valley features huge bands, indie acts, amazing acts, and of course, lots of the region’s fine wine. This year’s lineup includes the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Florence and the Machine, Stevie Wonder, Walk the Moon, Lenny Kravitz, and Death Cab for Cutie.

Forget what you know about music festivals. This is a music experience. A completely curated three-day sound voyage that combines rock-n-roll music and taste-making socials into a modern wonderland on the warm shores of the Pacific. It’s where every detail is crafted for your enjoyment and you bask in world-class music, incredible cuisine, art, comedy, and craft beer.

The highest grossing country music festival in the world, Stagecoach is known as Coachella’s cousin. Located in the same field in Indio, it showcases some of the same art and cuisine. Past performers include Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Alan Jackson, Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and Luke Bryan.

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raditional art museums are some of the most conservative and controlling institutions on earth. They are built as vaults to preserve the past, and as monuments to edited histories. In the Gilded Age America of a century or so ago, many new museums were also monuments to private collectors who strove to shape and fix an image that history would have of them, as enlightened power brokers of their day and benefactors to the future. In our present Gilded Age, private collection museums are again proliferating, but with a difference. Most are devoted to new art, art without a past. The stories they tell are not yet history, but exist in a state of flux. The very definition of collecting, in a time of speculative buying, is now up for grabs. Shouldn’t these changes radically alter the old museum model, loosen it up, make it more experimental, shift its identity from locked treasure house to clearinghouse for fresh ideas?

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s one of the most eagerly anticipated museums of contemporary art in the country approaches its opening, these questions are arising. Called The Broad and housed in a $140 million, three-story building, it enshrines the collection of some 2,000 works owned by Eli and Edythe Broad, two of this city’s leading philanthropists.

Mr. Broad, a billionaire who made his fortune in home building, has arguably had more impact shaping this city’s cultural identity than anyone else in recent times. For nearly 50 years, he and his wife have been among the country’s most assiduous contemporary collectors. They began picking up work by hot young artists in Manhattan in the early 1980s, later filling in

historical blanks and doing some buying in their own California backyard. The inaugural display is clearly intended to show the collection in representative form, and does. The museum’s founding director and chief curator, Joanne Heyler, has installed some 200 works more or less chronologically on the building’s skylighted third floor, beginning with a

clutch of classic pieces by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly. Mr. Johns’s 1964 “Watchman” is a star; a blood-red Rauschenberg abstraction from a decade earlier is less familiar, but the Broads cashed in a Van Gogh drawing to acquire it. Andy Warhol, whose famous Campbell’s Soup Can pictures Ms. Broad first saw as early as the 1960s, has a small gallery

of his own; Roy Lichtenstein has a larger one. He is a Broad favorite; they own 34 pieces, as is his successor in formally polished Pop, Jeff Koons, of whose works the Broads have the greatest number in private hands. Is this something to brag about? An argument can be made that Mr. Koons’s work usefully casts a cold eye on an American, and now global, addiction to bright, empty, throwaway things. Speaking of critical commentary, in an inspired move, Ms. Heyler has inserted a 1995 panoramic city painting by the Los Angeles artist Lari Pittman into the Koons gallery. Mr. Pittman’s work, too, comes out of a Pop corner and is formally airtight. It’s also conceptually razor-sharp. It deals with all the American subjects Mr. Koons does, but with a focus and bite that he lacks.

The concentration of Los Angeles art is the most interesting aspect of the inaugural show, at least for this East Coast viewer. Ed Ruscha’s laconically meticulous word paintings and John Baldessari’s recycled film images may fit the collection’s clean-lined Pop proclivities, while the acidic zaniness of Mike Kelley’s work does not, but the Broads bought plenty of it over the years. I wish there were more things like it here, under-known, offbeat, less than neat. And there could be. With a reported $200million-plus endowment and additional funds for acquisitions — nearly that of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art combined — the Broad will be doing a lot more buying. And it would be good if this museum

started to stray from the blue-chip-masterpiece path that winds its way from Mr. Koons on the third floor to a gallery on the first floor of big, bland, abstract pictures by Mark Grotjahn and Christopher Wool, artists who, because they cover walls with work that is indisputably “art,” have become universal collection staples. The street is Grand Avenue, which Mr. Broad, in consultation with the city government, has long planned to develop into a downtown cultural district. The Broad is part of that plan. So is the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall next door to it, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, which Mr. Broad helped found and has generously supported, directly across the street. In a stretched-out, traffic-clogged city it takes a long time to travel anywhere. You need a good reason to go where you’re going. By offering free admission, Mr. Broad intends his museum to be a popular destination. It surely will be while it’s new, and in the news, and could continue to be. The Broads have always viewed their holdings as a public asset that they make accessible through an active institutional loan program. They refer to their holdings as a lending library, with items regularly leaving for other museums and returning. This traffic flow, enhanced by the arrival of new acquisitions, should encourage people to make repeat visits, knowing they are likely to see new things each time. But even with this mechanism for flexibility, the Broad is a museum of an old-fashioned kind. It’s been built to preserve a private collection conceived on a masterpiece ideal and consisting almost entirely of distinctive objects: paintings and sculptures; precious things. Apart from most of the objects being new, or at least not old, the Broad could have existed, pretty much as is, a century ago. But, of course, art itself has changed. It is no longer only about things, hasn’t been for decades. Since the great surge of dematerialization introduced by conceptualism in the 1960s, art has been about, among other things, ideas, actions, sounds, performance, networks, communication. The Broad will have to catch up with this alternative history, a history that the audience it wants to attract and hold already knows. What better way to do so than through collaboration with an institution that has a stake in exploring the same history, meaning, of course, the Museum of Contemporary Art across the street. The two could share, to their mutual benefit, space, expertise and personnel. What they already share is a tough time for museums and a history with Mr. Broad, who, over a tireless half-century, has done wonders for art in this city, and, with the opening of his museum, is about to do more.

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Breakfast Zine  

All original photography and design work created by Jana Dawson.