the wolfpack Meet the poker cardsharks turned vape heavyweights.
with pro skateboarder P-Rod aka Paul Rodriguez.
seasoned veteran Helping PTSD affected veterans through culinary cannabis.
renaissance man Big Gus tells us why grafďŹ ti and tattoos are the new renaissance.
$4.20 U.S. $5.20 CAN
contents features grind time
with pro skateboarder P-Rod aka Paul Rodriguez.
changing the game
We talk with cannabis advocate, Jim McAlpine, creator of the 420 Games.
artisinal collective: renaissance man
Big Gus tells us why graffiti and tattoos are the new renaissance.
Meet the poker cardsharks turned vape heavyweights.
columns 5 Editorâ€™s Letter
departments 8 The Word: Cannabis Is Not A Crime 12 The Word: Smoking Organic < Vaping Organic
14 The Word: A Message from CASAA 18 New Products 84 Gastronomics: Seasoned Veteran
on the cover PHOTO BY HERMAN JIMENEZ Paul Rodriguez. Page 34.
issue 11 may/june 2016
issue 11 | may/jun 2016 Published by fr3shLAb creative group, llc President, Founding Partner Richard Coyle RICH@TOKEWELL.COM Creative Director, Founding Partner, Ryan Furuya RYAN@TOKEWELL.COM Editor-in-Chief Richard Coyle Co-Founder, Senior V.P., Operations Cindy Galindo CINDY@TOKEWELL.COM Director of Finance Yvonne Morton YVONNE@TOKEWELL.COM Contributing Writers Leilani Anderson, Alex Clark, Cindy Galindo, Rene Galindo, Ruben Galindo, Jim McAlpine, Sheerlie Ryngler, Maximilian Sterling Contributing Photographers Josh Fogel, Kenji Furutani, Larry Gassan, Herman Jimenez, Leah Moriyama Tokewell Magazine is published bi-monthly by fr3shLAb creative group, llc. Tokewell Magazine does not condone the illegal use or obtainment of cannabis. All content within this magazine is copyright protected and may not be reproduced in part or in whole without explicit written consent from the publisher. Tokewell Magazine is strictly for entertainment purposes only, and is not to be held liable for any misleading or inaccurate material produced herein.
ÂŠ2016 Fr3shlab Creative Group LLC. All Rights Reserved. tokewell po box 444, alhambra, ca 91802 Ad Sales INFO@TOKEWELL.COM tokewell.com tokewell tokewell
4 tokewell magazine
Welcome to Tokewell Magazine. We strive to bring you to the cutting edge of technology, design, lifestyle, and culture for both MMJ and Vapor. Within both of these paradigms, we have come to a point where good ol’ home innovation and inventiveness is meeting real world design and production. The black markets have exploded upon the legitimate business world to the tune of billions of dollars. Regulation and legislation that we have fought long and hard for, are ﬁnally coming to fruition. Yet, this is only the beginning...We as a community must remain vigilant and ensure that these ﬂedgling industries continue on the correct path on our way to freedom, health and wellness. We must monitor ourselves as well as our compatriots because we are living on the bleeding edge. There are no established experts but ourselves and as we carry our torches into the darkness, we must keep in mind that we are paving the way for all those who follow. Information is our most valuable weapon and our most precious ally. With this in mind, I invite you to join us on a journey of discovery and enlightenment leading to victory and liberty. Stack Paper, Catch Vapors.
e are almost midway through 2016 and it has been nothing short of fascinating. Our staff has been blessed to meet some of the most interesting and passionate people in both the vape and MMJ scope. With both positive and negative subject matters as the focal points, now is the time for action. Everyone must stay vigilant and exercise their rights whether it’s vaping or medicating. Vaping, for instance, seems to have hit a roadblock. The US government has misused millions of our tax dollars by funding deceitful anti-vaping campaigns and demonizing an entire industry with false propaganda. The common enemy that the cannabis and vape industry share is big pharma. As it stands, these corporate oligarchs stand to lose the most in this conﬂict for our right to self-heal from their ineffective smoking cessation products which have little to no success rate, to all types of prescription drugs with debilitating side effects. With vaping struggling, cannabis has been at the forefront of the current political landscape and is on the cusp of being rescheduled after a decadeslong battle. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and seven other Democratic senators are urging the federal government to facilitate research into cannabis’ medical beneﬁts. The DEA is expected to make their decision soon. The cannabis industry is making signiﬁcant strides as evidenced by entrepreneurs like Jim McAlpine and Jill Amen by building brands with the sole mission to dispel any negative stereotypes of cannabis users. They want to emphasize the normalization and destigmatization of this plant by promoting positivity and unity around it. That is the commonality that we must share –Positivity, community, and solidarity. #TogetherWeRise Sincerely,
Richard Coyle Editor-in-Chief “No matter how well we think we know ourselves, there are large amounts of our personality that we carry way deep inside of us for safe keeping, and these things are only truly found when they are being looked for.” – David A. Todd, Jr. This issue is dedicated to the loving memories of Mathew Ramirez and David A. Todd, Jr. Rest in Paradise.
cannabis is not a crime the word
WORDS BY JIM MCALPINE, CEO/FOUNDER - SNOWBOMB.COM PRESIDENT/FOUNDER -SNOWBOMB SKI & SNOWBOARD FESTIVALS PRESIDENT/CO-FOUNDER - NEW WEST SUMMIT PRESIDENT/FOUNDER - THE 420 GAMES
I was honored to be asked to write an op-ed for Tokewell. When I thought about what to write, I realized it needed to be about kids and Cannabis. Are you squirming in your seat yet? Thought so. That’s exactly why I’m speaking up. It’s a timely topic in our current climate, and one many want to avoid. Just like “the dreaded sex talk,” speaking to your kids about marijuana (or any adult topic) can be intimidating and awkward. But kids are so much smarter than we think. I believe that children have the same worries as adults—they fear what they don’t understand. Putting a framework around it is vital. Cannabis is a plant, a plant that helps people. Gone are the days of “marijuana is a bad drug.” Starting the dialogue early is the way to avoid the boogeyman. We don’t fear what we already understand. We are lucky. The paradigm has ﬁnally begun to shift—our kids won’t grow up with the same stigma that cannabis held for us. They are in the unique position to inherit a new landscape where herbal remedies are normal in so many households. So, it may feel weird, but the time has come to talk to your kids honestly about marijuana. Not scare them, not give them false facts, not use the old, “Just Say No”. It’s time to be real with our kids and tell them what
8 tokewell magazine
cannabis is and why it’s used in appropriate situations. You know, like that gin and tonic Mom and Dad sometimes have on the weekend. Our culture doesn’t seem to think twice about that- our kids being surrounded by alcohol at parties or booze companies sponsoring and advertising almost everywhere. It’s not only ingrained, it’s celebrated. Alcohol companies are basically plastered around every athletic event from children’s leagues to professional sports. However, society is still pushing the message to parents that we need to hide cannabis from children. It’s up to us to push a modern dialogue—one where cannabis is normalized, understood, and effectively discussed. Haven’t we learned this already? The kid who never gets sugar (sugar is bad) at home is the ﬁrst to rip open the Twinkies and sneak a Coke when they come over. The kid who never watches TV (TV is bad) is going to go straight for the pay-per-view when his parents aren’t looking. Hiding and lying only heightens kids curiosity, not squashes it. What they see and know becomes, well, normal. And much less intriguing.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 13
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smoking < vaping organic organic the word
Health-conscious? Enjoy nicotine? Welcome to the future WORDS SHEERLIE RYNGLER, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS AND CREATIVE, VAPE ORGANICS
While it’s basically a universal truth that smoking cigarettes is bad for one’s health, American Spirit cigarettes have arguably risen to the throne of tolerated vice in the organic kingdom. American Spirit, the poster child of the “natural” and additive-free cigarette niche, is especially popular with young people coming of age during the inﬁltration of, and protest to, increasingly toxic products into our daily lives. Obviously, supporters of organic or “natural” cigarettes are aware of the dangers associated with ingesting harmful chemicals, several hundred of which are found in traditional cigarettes. However, as smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the world, according to the CDC, and with revolutionary vape technology constantly improving, is organic tobacco really the best solution we can imagine for getting our nicotine ﬁx? CHEMICALS < NATURAL
Considering the rampant use of of GMOs and harmful pesticides in the ever-pervasive industrial agriculture, paired with our growing distance from the production process of practically everything we consume, choosing
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certiﬁed organic goods is one of the only ways to ensure that purchased products are truly natural… and tobacco is not exempt. Organic cigarettes do not contain even a fraction of the compounds found in traditional cigarettes, including: benzene, a proven carcinogen; acetone, which causes liver and kidney damage; cadmium, a toxic heavy metal; hydrogen cyanide, which is extremely poisonous, as well as many other harmful chemicals. The vape industry has also come under scrutiny for certain ingredients found in e-liquid. Most notably, there was a major public outcry when the ﬂavorings diacetyl and acetyl propionyl were discovered in e-liquids. While these substances have been traced in analog cigarettes in much higher quantities, highlighted by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos and Dr. Michael Siegel, their insistence that these compounds be excluded from e-liquid is commendable and all manufacturers should oblige without excuse or delay. Fortunately, organic certiﬁcation guarantees the absence not only of harmful synthetic chemicals and artiﬁcial ﬂavorings, but also dangerous pesticides. Importantly, researchers at the Colorado School of Mines discovered traces of dangerous synthetic pesticides in cigarette smoke, two of which are suspected carcinogens. With the release of the ﬁrst USDA-certiﬁed organic liquid nicotine in the world in mid-2015, the vape industry can effectively compete with even the most natural cigarette option.
cannabis is not a crime CARBON MONOXIDE < OXYGEN
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 8
The inhalation of smoke is the result of combustion, or the act of burning, and produces a number of compounds, including carbon monoxide (CO). While the inhalation of high levels of carbon monoxide can be deadly, its presence in one’s blood is harmful at any level; higher CO levels force the heart to work harder in delivering oxygen to our cells. Fortunately, this damage is largely reversible and within one week of quitting cigarettes CO levels drop signiﬁcantly. Meanwhile, vaping entails heating rather than burning and is expertly estimated by Public Health England to be 95% less harmful than smoking.
Personally, I feel the best way to talk to a kid, about ANYTHING, is to keep it real and talk to them like they are people. Which, the last time I checked, they are. Talking down to them doesn’t work, empowering them, does. And that empowerment comes from knowledge. We do them a service as well as one to ourselves. Honesty breeds trust. Trust breeds honesty.
While organic cigarettes are touted as the better alternative to traditional cigarettes, millions upon millions of people around the world have turned to vaping as a better alternative to smoking. It’s high time we embrace some radical hybridization toward the best choice: vaping organics.
So there’s my pitch. The insane and zany option of being honest with your kids about Cannabis. No sweeping statements, no black and white pronouncements. No, “Drugs are bad mmm-K?” as they perfectly parody in South Park. And sorry Nancy Reagan, but frying eggs in a pan with the voice-over, “This is your brain on drugs” creates the Exact climate we are trying to avoid. Fear. Fear, which creates the wrong kind of curiosity with our kids- the dangerous kind. Today, we have the amazing opportunity to reboot the system of discussion in our society. How we view and talk about cannabis with our kids. I have. It may be a scary leap from past paradigms, but I feel I’m raising two aware, astute children that will be much better suited to enter high school and become young adults where they will begin to have to make decisions about sex, drinking, cannabis and many other things. Let’s educate our kids so they have the data and knowledge to make the right decision when the time comes. WEB SI TE:
WE BS I T E :
snowbomb.com newwestsummit.com the420games.org
issue 11 may/june 2016
a message from casaa CLARK, LEGISLATIVE COORDINATOR, CASAA
On March 29th, I had the privilege of joining California SFATA members on the south steps of the state capitol in Sacramento. We were there to urge Governor Jerry Brown to veto SBX2-5 and other bills that, if signed into law, would dramatically affect the vapor industry and consumer access to vapor products. At the time of this writing, SBX2-5 and other anti-tobacco/vapor bills are sitting on the governor’s desk awaiting his action. Some may have noticed that the arrival of SBX2-5 on Governor Brown’s desk seemed to take longer than usual. In fact, while we were in Sacramento, we were told that the amount of time it takes to transmit a bill from the legislature, mark it up, and actually put it in the governor’s hands can vary. But, delays like what SBX2-5 was going through are usually reserved for longer or more complicated bills that do, indeed, require more time to format or mark up. It was later revealed that SBX2-5’s trip to the governor’s desk was intentionally delayed as part of a political move to hinder efforts to oppose a tobacco tax ballot initiative which would raise taxes on cigarettes by $2.00 per pack and enact
14 tokewell magazine
an equivalent tax on vapor products. The tone of the meetings I was able to attend ranged from lawmakers who were unwilling to accept in-person testimonials about the beneﬁts of vaping without investigating the issue further to those who were interested in working to dial back onerous regulations in the next legislative session – should the governor sign SBX2-5 into law. Witnessing the former was a signiﬁcant reveal. It was clear that most lawmakers had deﬁnitely not been afforded the opportunity to review a proper balance of scientiﬁc information regarding the risks and beneﬁts of vaping. This is not a new revelation, but it shines a little brighter when you see it in person. As I write this, I am preparing to join SFATA members in Albany, NY on May 4th. Unlike California, there is no single bill in New York that requires an immediate organized effort to oppose. Rather, there are several. Ironically, there is a piece of legislation in New York that has language which would be very helpful, not only in California, but the rest of the country, in establishing a regulatory distinction between cigarettes and vapor products. This brings up an important piece of advice
of US smokers will quit this year.
for advocates: As important as it is to meet face to face with lawmakers and develop a report, it is equally important to reﬁne our ask by being able to provide examples of language from related pieces of legislation that we believe to be beneﬁcial. Crafting new regulations is difficult and time consuming, which is part of the reason why we see so many legislative bodies settle for folding vapor products into existing tobacco laws. SFATA ﬂy-ins are something that only SFATA members are invited to participate in. CASAA was invited as a guest because we are able to bring the consumer voice to the table in a way that retailers and manufacturers can’t. Lobbying ﬂy-ins are an important feature of being a member of an industry association — or at least they should be. In an age when many businesses and consumers feel powerless to participate in the policy making process, being part of an association is vital to making your voice heard. WE BS IT E :
Do we tell the other
to just keep smoking?
SUPPORT TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION POLICIES www.CASAA.org A public service message from the Consumers Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association
issue 11 may/june 2016
new products 18 tokewell magazine
In an industry where the term “ﬂavor of the month” is literal, the e-liquid craftsman at Vapetasia has vapers buzzing with their latest e-liquid installment of an American classic refreshment–Lemonade. By pushing beyond the monotony of many of today’s redundant ﬂavors, Vapetasia has successfully quenched our palates by infusing the market with their renditions of cloudy, lemonade goodness. Pink Lemonade is tangy, tart and perfectly sweet. On inhale you’re met with a delightful sweetness that foreshadows the invigorating exhale of the juicy lemon. You will instantly love Pink Lemonade’s smooth inhale, and the robust citrus exhale. Blackberry Lemonade is an invigorating blend of lemons and blackberries which equate to a vibrantly tasty, tangy, yet smooth experience. Succulent blackberries create a more complex lemonade with the perfect sweetness that is sure to refresh your senses WEB SITE: vapetasia.com and revitalize the soul.
issue 11 may/june 2016
new products The vape industry’s foundation has always been built on innovation. While not all of us cloud chuck or perform impressive vape tricks, there is a company whose concept is health and wellness–De’Ka CBD E-liquid. Produced by the world-famous VM Distribution, De’Ka is one of the most sterile and well respected CBD brands
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on the market today. Concocted with the highest pharma-grade from CV Sciences, each batch is stringently tested by SC Labs before exporting. De’ka’s Cookies and Cream delivers on all levels: Flavor, Aesthetics & Quality. WEB SI TE:
issue 11 may/june 2016
Changing Game THE
LANI ANDERSON LEAH MORIYAMA /// JOSH FOGEL /// LARRY GASSAN
Just a few short weeks ago, Santa Monica witnessed Los Angeles' ďŹ rst ever 420 Gamesâ€“an event tailor-made for those looking to promote a positive image for one of the fastest growing industries in the country. People gathered around to the sound of great music and ocean waves as they listened to educational speeches from industry leaders and icons and exercised to their hearts' content, learning more about how to better promote the wellness lifestyle that is becoming more and more prominent in the cannabis industry. 24 tokewell magazine
issue 11 may/june 2016
SO YOU'RE THIS SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR WHO'S GOT ALL THESE AMAZING PROJECTS, SUCH AS THE 420 GAMES AND NEW WEST SUMMIT. WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THEM AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED ON THEM?
Well, I came out of the ski and snowboard industry. I still have a ski and snowboard company called SnowBomb. com, but it's actually kinda why I jumped into the cannabis industry - Mother Nature didn't provide us with much snowfall the last four years, up until now even. I would deﬁnitely call myself a serial entrepreneur. My whole life, I've been someone who's worked for myself and starting up my own companies. Honestly, I just feel lucky to be alive right now. Not like I'm the most brilliant guy in the world or
26 tokewell magazine
these to life in the hopes that with some gentle prodding rather than in-your-face political statements, people will come to accept that cannabis is not only for the stupid lazy stoner to get high on but rather a medicine and a life enhancer that people use to better the already good things in their lives. In a nutshell, with all these events and his future endeavors, Jim McAlpine is really doing the cannabis industry justice in dispelling all the negative stereotypes that marijuana users are often labeled with. If they're in your neck of the woods, check out the upcoming lineup of 420 Games across the country, including Seattle in July, San Francisco in August, Denver in September, Boulder in October, and Portland in November. You might even get a chance to meet Jim in person! But in case you don't, get to know the man behind the events a little better here.
anything, but rather I feel more like I'm a decently smart guy who happens to be alive at the right time and space to capitalize on this awesome cannabis movement. So, really I feel credit to timing, and I'm just thankful to be here in this time and place as the 420 Games and the New West Summit and all that happens. WHAT'S THE CONCEPT BEHIND 420 GAMES AND NEW WEST SUMMIT?
So I have an internet company that does ski and snowboard tickets online, and we put on gigs and consumer ski shows. My thought process was to take something that I knew and do something in the cannabis space where others weren't doing it right. So I looked at the event space and both of my events are very
different, really inherently from the core outwardly than almost any other events in the space. Most of the events already there are focused on the stoner lifestyle, and that's the exact opposite of what we do! The 420 Games is the opposite of the stoner lifestyle. It's about saying, "I myself, or other people may use the cannabis plant, moderately or otherwise, but it doesn't mean we're stoners." Through athleticism and through these events, we're trying to change the perception of this plant and the people that use it - it shouldn't immediately be correlated with a person that is stupid or lazy or a "stoner". We really want to change the perception that someone who uses marijuana is that "stoner" stereotype because they truly do not correlate at all. And
e caught up with the man behind the event, Jim McAlpine, a smart and industrious man looking to change the face of the daily cannabis user. Jim is searching for new and better ways to integrate everyone's favorite controversial plant into something that is not only more understood but accepted for its healing and wellness properties. No more is the stoner stereotype of '80s ﬁlms if Jim has anything to say about it. An entrepreneur through and through, this man out of Marin, California took one look at what was missing in the world of cannabis and decided to take things into his own hands. Never far from the world of ﬁtness and sports, Jim has brought cannabis out of the smoky hotboxed room and brought it into the gym and everyday life with his events such as the 420 Games and his tech show, New West Summit. He brings
issue 11 may/june 2016
on the New West Summit side, it's at its core a business conference. So, opposite the consumer side of things with the 420 Games, we created the highest level business-to-business conference that's focused exclusively on technology and how technology will drive the industry forward into the legalization era. It's a very buttoned up, suit-wearing crowd - full of executives, CEOs, company owners that are there to learn and understand how technology will drive the efficiency in our lives as the industry moves forward. Really I look at us and see the opposite of 99% of the other events and companies in the same space. SPEAKING OF TECHNOLOGY, THE TECHNOLOGIES SURROUNDING GROWING, CULTIVATION, STRAINS, AND USAGE HAS CHANGED SO MUCH IN SUCH A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME. WE HAVE PEOPLE USING DAB RIGS, PEOPLE VAPING CANNABIS, AND THEN WE HAVE THE TRADITIONAL FLOWER PEOPLE. DO YOU THINK THAT OLD SCHOOL WAY OF SMOKING BLUNTS AND SUCH
WILL GO AWAY?
No, I don't think any of it will go away. I think it's gonna be more like the alcohol industry: they're people who like straight beer, they're people who want wine, and they're people who like hard liquor. Hard liquor is like dabbing, wine is like ﬂower, and beer is everything else. I think the market is just gonna segment, and I think ﬂower will still have its strong place in the market, even with everything else. What I'm most interested in, actually, just like food and medicine - or anything really - is now we know what we're putting into
our bodies, so we can look at it like we do with food. Back in the old days, you didn't know what went into it, where it was grown, nothing. Now, we can look at the THC level, where it was grown, whether it was tested for mold...I think that the options are gonna continue to grow and segment rather than go away. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MEDICINAL CANNABIS USE AMONG PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES? SHOULD THEY BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE TO USE AND INDULGE IN MARIJUANA?
To me, I think it's bullshit for any regulatory agency (NFL, NHL, NBA, etc) to say "Look, no one can use marijuana. We're gonna take your medication away from you." - I think that's fucked up. I don't think there should be any ban across the board, at least in professional sports, regarding cannabis. However, at the same time, as a businessman, I do understand and respect why professional leagues do it. If I'm spending millions a year paying the salaries of professional athletes, and I personally feel like I don't want them using X, Y, or Z - whether it's cocaine or alcohol or a legal substance - I have no problem handing them a contract telling them, "Hey, I'm gonna be paying you $10 million dollars a year, and here's your contract to not smoke weed." That's your decision to make, and I don't think it's out of line for a professional sports team to have in their contract. Then we can go into whether that's right or wrong, but besides that, I do think it's out of line for a sports league to say no one in the league is allowed to use a particular substance.
issue 11 may/june 2016
WE TALKED TO SOME EX-NFL ATHLETES WHO DIDN'T KNOW WHAT CBDS WERE. THEY RECOUNTED THEIR FEARS OF REPERCUSSIONS FOR TESTING POSITIVE FOR MARIJUANA DURING TRAINING AND SUCH AND WERE VERY RECEPTIVE WHEN LEARNING OF CBDS BECAUSE IT WOULD MEAN THEY WOULDN'T HAVE TO LIVE IN FEAR OF TESTING POSITIVE FOR THC WHILE STILL GETTING THE TREATMENT BENEFITS OF
Yeah, but there's a duality there. Nothing bad about that, necessarily, but the downside of it is that THC is a big part of the plant, so it's like saying, "You can have 1/3 of your medicine, but not all of it." Like my friend Ricky Williams, Heisman trophy winner, who traded the millions of dollars for his medication. The biggest thing I've learned from Ricky and some of the other guys is that if you test positive for cannabis one time, your career is pretty much screwed. The NFL tells you when you're gonna get tested, what day and what not, so if you get caught, you kinda fucked up. But also, if you did get caught, you're put in this drug abuse program, and then you basically get tested once a week for the rest of your career. I think athletes are in a very tough position, and it's one reason I've got so much respect for Ricky. When given the option, he chose his well being over his career, and it's just such an amazing story. THERE'S THE IDEA THAT CANNABIS IS A PERFORMANCE
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ENHANCING DRUG. WHAT DO YOU THINK? ANY TRUTH TO THAT?
It's not like steroids where it makes you stronger; it's for your brain and makes things more fun and happy. I would call it a life-enhancing drug, not a performance enhancing drug. And that brings me to this: in the simplest of terms, intoxication versus wellness. I think educating people that this plant isn't about intoxication is the way to go about clearing up the status of this plant. People from the outside look in and just think,"There's this drug and it's used to get high!" when it's really not. It's about wellness, and it's really about how marijuana, cannabis, whatever, accentuates the things that are already good in your life. Like a piece of pie is gonna taste that much better if you smoke some cannabis prior.
Your workout won't feel so tough when you tackle it after medicating. If you like sex, it's gonna get that much better, if you're an athlete...you get the picture. WHERE DO YOU THINK THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY WILL BE IN 5 YEARS?
I believe the industry will shift massively in the next ﬁve years, and that is exactly why I'm doing what I'm doing. The majority of the business place and the user is truthfully the stoner demographic. In the next ﬁve years, that will be the minority, and the people I'm talking about, the people who use it for wellness, will be the majority. In my opinion, it'll ingrain and normalize itself in our culture, where instead of moms pouring a glass of wine at night, they’ll be taking low dose cannabis medication. And so will everybody in between - my grand-
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO COLLECTIVELY IN THIS INDUSTRY TO GAIN A MORE POSITIVE IMAGE?
If I look at myself and what I'm trying to do, is kinda two fold. I want to normalize the industry–I know this plant is a good thing, you know this plant is a good thing, a lot of people know it's a good thing. But there are still plenty of adults out there still trying to ﬁgure this out. I want to make sure we provide information in a way that allows them to ﬁgure this out on their own instead of just making the mistake of being too forceful with the cannabis positive message. We need to be a little softer and provide the data and information to people without being obnoxious about it. Turning the minds of adults is really important, but quite honestly what's more important to me is normalizing the industry and retooling the education for the youth of America of
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what cannabis is. Why? Because adults have their minds pretty well programmed and what not, but kids need a new perception of what this plant is. I'm even doing it with my daughters–my two daughters are 3 and 6 years old, both know what marijuana is, they both know their dad uses it, they understand it's medicine and that it's not something they're supposed to touch. In America, we've always whispered the words, "I smoke some marijuana last night!" and immediately declare just how much fun it was, like the worst kept secret ever. I think America needs to change its mindset, that cannabis is not a bad thing, and let's just talk about it like anything else. Let's normalize it because once you normalize something, kids don't want to try it nearly as badly and it's not really an evil anymore. Really, in the most basic sense, we need to normalize this thing and start talking about it and changing the dialogue that everybody has about it because that's what's kinda keeping the image where it is now. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT NEXT FROM JIM MCALPINE?
Well, I am gonna parley what I'm doing and I'm gonna parlay the relationships I've been lucky enough to build with these professional athletes, and I've got two new things coming your way in the cannabis space: Number one, I am opening up the world's ﬁrst cannabis gym–a ﬁtness center that both integrates cannabis into the training regimens as well as allow cannabis consumption on the inside of the walls of the gym. And number two, I am bringing to the market the world's ﬁrst cannabis athletic line. We're engineering products that are speciﬁcally made for recovery and recuperation, as well as a boost and energy for athletes. So an actual gym as well as products for athletes is what you'll be seeing some time in the near future. For more on Jim McAlpine, check out MerryJane Media's documentary series, where they follow Jim and his family for a day to give people a better understanding of what real daily cannabis users are like. WEB SI TE:
parents for their joint pain, kids for ADHD and epilepsy, stuff like that. I believe it'll be ingrained in a society where stoner culture will be the minority and the wellness culture will be the majority.
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We sit with pro skateboarder and entrepreneur Paul Rodriguez and talk about his domination of the skateboard industry and how his unwavering faith coupled with having a tight squad lead him to exactly where he was meant to be.
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ou know the old adage, “when one door closes, another one opens.” We have two athletes that have been the face of the Los Angeles sports landscape for over a decade. They have both literally changed the games they love by their passionate and obsessive drive for excellence. While they share similar recognition and work ethic that’s where the parallels end. The reason being is that one is recently retired and arguably considered the G.O.A.T. and other is in his prime. Both share the same pressures to perform as Nike athletes and the hometown heroes of the biggest sports market on the planet; which is no easy feat and a daunting task on its own. Nonetheless, they both excelled in pressure-ﬁlled environments and on the grandest stages. The compet-
young latino skateboarder. His consistency, effortless style, and persistence on his board attracted the attention of shoe giant Nike which recruited him to their Nike SB team. Consequently, he became the ﬁrst pro skateboarder and ﬁrst Mexican-American to garner his own signature SB shoe which immortalized him as athletic royalty. “This is where I want to be. This is greatness. It just felt like, yes! This is so incredible, I felt so blessed. I couldn’t wait to wear Nikes everywhere like, oh shit! This is Jordan, Kobe, LeBron.” says, Paul. With accolades like Rookie of the Year and countless medals, P-Rod has a body of work that would impress NBA legend, Bill Russell. Fast forward to a little over a decade, there is no end in sight to his greatness and the scary thing is; he’s still in his prime.
alcohol is far more dangerous, in my opinion, than cannabis will ever be. itors I’m talking about are Kobe Bryant and Paul Rodriguez; or the Black Mamba and P-Rod if you prefer. With Kobe retiring, the proverbial torch has been passed along with the keys to the city to another one of LA’s sons–Paul Rodriguez. While this might seem a stretch in comparison, it really isn’t. Both entered the game growing up in front of us and achieved the pinnacle of excellence with the an entire city backing their every move. Like Kobe Bryant, P-Rod was recognized as a prodigy at the ripe age of 14, just two years after he began skating. Paul Rodriguez has changed the skateboarding scene forever with his style, gravity-defying tricks, and swagger as a
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Employing the same focus and passion he has for skateboarding, he’s diversiﬁed his portfolio out of the sport in which he’s reigned supreme to building other brands like Primitive Skateboards, Saint Archer Brewery and now Villager Goods to name a few. “It takes something to be able to focus on something, make that vision come to reality and train all the time to be the best. You gotta dedicate yourself and buckle down. It’s where the glory, legacy and accolades come from. The long haul.”, says P-Rod when we asked about his diversiﬁcation out of skating. With his legacy in skateboarding clearly cemented, we can’t wait to see what else LA’s unofficial son has in store.
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BEING A YOUNG AND SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR, HOW DO YOU FIND TIME FOR DIFFERENT VENTURES?
The key is having a good squad with each person doing their job and staying in their lanes. My skills are only in certain areas and that’s why you need to surround yourself with people who share the same goals and passions, and that’s the only reason I’ve been able to diversify and be successful.
and something that requires no skill. It takes strength to be able to focus on something, make that vision come to reality and train all the time to be the best. You gotta dedicate yourself and buckle down. It’s where the glory, legacy and accolades come from. The long haul. That was always exciting for me and I wanted to be one of those types of people. WHAT DID YOUR FATHER SAY WHEN YOU TOLD HIM YOU WANTED TO SKATE FOR
YOU’VE BEEN IN THE GAME FOR OVER A
DECADE. HOW DOES THAT FEEL?
When I told him I wanted to be a pro skateboarder right before I turned 12, he was like, “that’s cool”. That’s what little boys do. Baseball, Basketball etc. I don’t think he took it too seriously until a couple years later, I was still at it and he was like, “That’s cool, Mijo, I don’t think that’s something where there’s a career behind it. It’s not the way to raise a family.” He wasn’t unsupportive, but I just think like any parent, he didn’t think that was realistic. I would ﬂip it on him and said, “Dad, your parents migrated from Mexico just when you were born. Hard working farm workers, struggled to get by, grew up in Compton and you come to them as a teenager and say you wanted to be a stand-up comedian.” In his mind, it was far fetched, but remember, you were the same guy I am. I kinda checkmated him a bit but what could he say? [laughs]
It feels weird because it goes by so fast. I feel so fresh in the game as far as memories go. I live like 5 miles from where I grew up and skated there since I was 12 years old. I drive by there every day and it’s still so fresh in my mind. Now I’ve been in the game so long and I’m a veteran and it’s crazy how fast it goes. It a blessing. I look back and I’m thankful. I remember when people were here for a year or two that are gone now. I’m still here and doing what I love. People come and go and it’s not a real stable environment career-wise. YOU CAME INTO SUCCESS AND MONEY AT A YOUNG AGE, HOW DID YOU AVOID NEGATIVE PITFALLS?
One. I was always so in love with skateboarding and when the opportunity came time to party that stuff; it wasn’t appealing to me especially early on. I loved skateboarding so much that I didn’t want anything to interrupt it. Especially to this day, feel like certain things are a hassle because it takes away from my skateboarding. I didn’t see it as me trying to not be inﬂuenced, it was more about me loving skating and always being ready to do that. Everybody can go party and have fun. That’s easy
DID YOU FEEL ANY ADDITIONAL PRESSURE TO PERFORM WHEN YOU GOT SIGNED BY NIKE?
Again, I’m so lucky and fortunate to have this crazy love for skateboarding. I didn’t really feel any pressure to perform until I got older. When I got signed by Nike at 18-19, I was so happy. Like this whirlwind of crazy amazing things was going on and when they put
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me on the team, I didn’t feel any pressure at all. I felt this is where I wanted to be. I didn’t even know Nike was an opportunity back then, I was just ecstatic. This is where I want to be. This is greatness. It just felt like, yes! It’s so incredible, I felt so blessed. I couldn’t wait to wear Nikes everywhere. 10 years go by and it started hitting me that I’ve been with them so long and have had this streak of good success then I went through a few mental struggles, like this is Nike, this is Jordan, this is Kobe, this is LeBron and then the weird anxieties started coming. Good thing that was after I was established and well into my career and older so I was able to process them more maturely. I guess I was lucky to be super naive and conﬁdent to not allow that to affect me back then. WHO ARE YOU INFLUENCES IN SKATEBOARDING AND IN GENERAL?
Early on in skateboarding it was Eric Koston, Tom Penny, Andrew Reynolds, Daewon Song, Rodney Mullen and so many others. Ever since I could remember I looked up to Bruce Lee as a major inﬂuence. Michael Jordan, Kobe and even to this day, Jay-Z is also my inspiration. He’s a person I’d like to model myself after and emulate. I just look at people that are living a certain life that I’d like to live. It’s not about material things but I would like to take little bits and pieces of that and make it my own. You gotta have somebody to look up to. BEING A VETERAN OF THE SKATEBOARDING INDUSTRY, WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN?
The tricks are just more insane year by year. They are advanced and ever evolving. The internet had a lot to do with that. Before the net, we did skate videos that would last for years and now, you have YouTube and social media and it seems like new content gets dropped daily. The pace that skateboarding is at now is so fast. Kids are learning new tricks all the time and that right there is insane to me. I’m trained in a different pace and era. I don’t know any other way. It’s more commercial and mainstream and skateboarders have bigger names and that’s because of the internet.
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TELL US ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH SAINT ARCHER BREWERY?
It started by myself and two good friends of mine; Mikey Taylor and Josh Landan. We were thinking, “What should we start? Sunglasses? Nah it’s done. Clothing? Nah, we get free clothes by sponsors.” It was like every category in our world was ﬁlled. Mikey and Josh went on a trip together and they were talking about what we could do and Josh sprang up and said, “what about Beer!” Mikey said, “That’s interesting. Let’s talk to Paul.” They got back from the trip and we all met up, they pitched me and I
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thought, “man, this is interesting. Let’s do it.” So we started, did our due diligence and realized what we needed to do. We raised 2 million between family and friends and that money went to work immediately. Josh Landan is the reason why we achieved success early on. He really jumped in headﬁrst and made the brand what it is today. Again, after we sold, I was wondering how the hell did we know to do this? Two and a half years later, we sold to Miller/Coors. Always trust in your team. THOUGHTS ON CANNABIS AMONG ATHLETES?
In the world of skateboarding, there’s no such thing as illegal performance enhancing drugs. I think It should be legal. If alcohol is legal, make cannabis legal. Alcohol is far more dangerous in my opinion than cannabis will ever be. Trust me, I know many gifted people out there that use cannabis. I don’t know any alcoholics that can say the same and perform at that level. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME PAUL, ANY LAST WORDS?
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this interview and be on the lookout for Primitive Skateboards and Villager Goods!
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What makes two former, professional poker players and a decorated Army Veteran launch an e-liquid distribution company? The opportunity of a life: A chance to become innovators and leaders. After giving Corporate America a fair shot, the three went all in building a business within a new and unfamiliar industryâ€”turning a bad beat into a winning hand.
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The story of Eric Turner, Kevin Thurman, and Matt Wiener is like no other. Eric and Kevin, made it big in the world of professional online poker. Matt spent years ﬁghting terrorists abroad, with a desire to take ground in a new landscape—professional poker. Kevin developed a record-shattering strategy that helped him dominate in the online poker community, and with Eric’s help, the two launched a business to teach others how to play the ever-evolving game their way. Matt, one of their students quickly became a friend. When online poker went offline in the US, Eric and Kevin found all of their assets tied up in government red tape. Kevin followed the game by moving abroad, while Eric tried his hand at live poker, playing with Matt at some of the biggest poker rooms in the country. Enjoying success together the two of them decided to go all in on a new business venture, in a completely different, but equally unpredictable industry. After hearing their plan, Kevin agreed to lend his expertise and will to win and Wolfpack Wholesale Inc. was born. The Texas-based distribution company quickly rose to top of the game thanks to owners who know when to fold, when to play loose, and when to play aggressively to ensure they come out on top. Today, Wolfpack Wholesale is one of the largest, fast-growing vape companies in the world. By employing their business savvy and poker methodology, Wolfpack Wholesale’s owners have positioned themselves as one of the vape industries most respected and proactive brands. Headquartered in Plano, Texas and distributing both domestically and internationally, these three owners do their best to ensure that they take quality and business seriously–but never themselves. To prevent Wolfpack Wholesale from falling prey to the same regulatory efforts that derailed their previous careers, the three owners work hard to reach out to the government at the state and congressional levels. Giving tours and educating representatives are a regular part of their efforts. The Pack is adamant about educating politicians about the industry and how much they do to ensure the high quality of their product. We sat down with the poker-royalty-turned-entrepreneurs to ﬁnd out what other cards they have up their sleeves. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE POKER GAME? ERIC: At one point in time, before poker got really popular, Kevin and I really got into it. I started playing with my friends in bars. We would bring poker chips and start playing. And Kevin started playing on PokerRoom.com. He [Kevin] actually placed in those a couple times, didn’t you? KEVIN: Yeah, It was the ﬁrst ones ever online–the ﬁrst time where you could digitally play poker against somebody. For whatever reason, the week it came out, I just happened to search ‘play poker
online’ and it popped up on Alta Vista– Google wasn’t even around yet!–and something popped up and I thought “This looks pretty cool!” It was like, 15 people in the whole world, all at the same table, and it just kinda went from there. Kinda just got lucky, fortuitous. E: I started making several thousand dollars in my spare time. It was the ﬁrst time ever that we could multi-table, play more than one table of poker at a time because digitally you’re just looking at an overlay of a poker table. Then Kevin and I both challenged each other, and Kevin, he just obliterated me - I tried
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to do it through limit poker, he did it through no limit Hold ‘Em tournaments. I was so burnt out on Corporate America–like, this is what you go to school for four years for? Do all that work, and this guy I worked for was a jerk, so I jumped ship and went to some real estate development company in Dallas, but I just hated it! I’d just had my daughter, and I didn’t see her. I left before she woke up and was home after she went to bed, and maybe I woke up with her to do a feeding in the middle of the night. So I turned to my wife and said, “Hey uh, I’m making like thirty grand a year in my spare time playing poker, I think I wanna try it full time.” She ﬁrst asked if I was ‘effing nuts and I told her, “Look, I can always come back to the cubicle lifestyle. I’ve got the college degree and I’ve got a decent amount of success behind me.” She said okay and then talked to my parents– they asked if I talked to my wife yet, and I said yeah (laugh). And they said okay. About that time, for some reason, Kevin was thinking the same thing. We took the leap together, Thelma and Louise style. (Laughs.) K: He went ﬁrst though. I was like, “Yeah, we can do this man! Pep talk!” and then he really did it! And I was like
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“Oh my god he really quit! All right, okay! I guess I’m in, let’s do it!” He did it a few months before me. I made these challenges like, “Make ten thousand dollars in six months,” and then did it in like, three weeks. We just wanted to see if we could make a living from it because we were working corporate jobs at the time. We were just out of college, we just got jobs, we were hating it. E: Kevin was one of the ﬁrst to reach a level called Supernova Elite. It was a special level that very few would make it to. It basically meant that you played millions of hands of poker to earn a million “player points.” The year after he made Supernova Elite, he then smashed that record by earning 3 million points in one year. That same year, I achieved Supernova Elite status myself in 6 months. The package of winning Supernova Elite one time was worth over $150k plus whatever you won from poker. I’m one of the people who earned it in the shortest amount of time, and he’s the one to have earned it the most amount of times in a year. The very next year, that’s when they come out with the ruling. Right before that, we started a company, UltimateGrinders. com, where we were gonna show people how to play this
style. We’d lined up all these people who played similar styles, we had videos of them playing, and people would sign up so they could learn how to play this way. One of the people who signed up was Matt [Wiener]. MATT: I was spending another six months in Afghanistan, still playing live with people there. And then I went back to the states to work for the same company in South Carolina with my wife. It was the most miserable experience ever, being in a cubicle, being told what to do. I would just be solving poker problems all day long, corresponding with Eric, working through math problems instead of working (laughs). And then I was like, “I need to do something else, this is terrible and I can’t do this anymore.” Then it hit me that I still had a free hour of coaching from Eric (laughs)! So I sent him an email about the coaching, and he did it. We started talking about it and he looked at my hands and everything and said that he can’t really teach me anything new. He said he’d be in Vegas and asked if I wanted to come and hang out since we’re both into guitars and stuff. So it’s one o’clock in the morning and I wake my wife up (laughs) and I tell her “This weird guy on the internet with a blue Mohawk
wants me to come to Vegas with him. Is that cool?” She knew how miserable I was at this job, so she said sure. I said if I make $5000 on this trip, I’ll leave Corporate America– I’m done with it and I’m just gonna play poker. HOW DID YOU ALL MEET? E: Well, Kevin and I grew up together, and we were always very close. I started keeping correspondence with Matt after he bought Kevin’s book and had contacted us through Ultimate Grinders. K: I wrote a short book about how to play this style I developed. I marketed it mildly, mostly through word of mouth. And people were buying it! A lot of people! E: So basically in April of 2011, Matt sends me an email. “Hey Eric, I bought
Kevin’s guide, it’s supposed to come with a free hour of coaching. I learned from Kevin, I never got to cash in, blah, blah, blah.” I ignored the email because on April 15th or better known to many as “Poker Black Friday”, I went from having a very successful career and what looked like a very bright future to “Oh my God! I’m unemployed overnight, and I had no warning!” So I get a followup email from Matt a couple weeks later, like, “I don’t know what kind of company you’re trying to run. This is B.S., I paid $2000 for this, the least I could get is a response!” And I’m thinking this guy is either self-indulgent or he’s not paying attention to the news. Now I know it was probably the latter. M: Yeah, I was in Afghanistan
at the time, and I was trying to get out. That was my way. I was in the army, I got out of the army because I wanted to play poker full time, then I got a call to do contract work in Afghanistan. I was making a lot of money there, but then I was also making money with poker, and I was trying to decide what I wanted to do. I found this guy that I was following who was making a lot of money and I thought, ‘Okay if I’m gonna leave this then I have to go back to something, then poker is the thing.’ I needed then, obviously, these guys - the resources. That’s why I sent the customer service email. I was getting shot at the time that I was trying to decide whether this was the right direction to go on (laughs). K: My favorite part is that
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he cusses us out for having the worst customer service of all time, and then he goes into business with us. That’s the beauty of it (laughs). E: So now Matt and I met up in Vegas, and I think he had a great trip out there. So I was like, “Vegas is good, but I know this place in Oklahoma that I think it’s just as good if not better. All the rich people in Dallas just go up there and play.” M: And I’d ﬂy out there like twice a month, I just kept on going up there. E: So Matt and I were playing and keeping in touch with Kevin who was up in Canada. K: Yeah I didn’t want to do the live thing. It’s really not me. I’m more into the database analyst aspect of it. Live poker may be out of Eric’s comfort zone, but it’s just a foreign land to me. When I sit at a poker table and they’re doing thirty hands–I’m used to 2,000 hands and watching a movie while I do it or something. When I sit behind a poker table in a live setting, I can’t even focus, it becomes the opposite of what I know it’s such a different game. Like tennis versus Ping Pong–it’d be like saying they’re the same thing. Absolutely not, you kinda have to learn a new game. HOW DO YOU FEEL POKER HAS MADE YOU APPROACH BUSINESS DIFFERENTLY? E: My brother (the president of the company) and I, we grew up in a military family and we knew
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the only thing that mattered was results. And something that I learned through poker that I’m not sure I would’ve learned elsewhere, was to be self-critical and to not suffer. If you’re doing something wrong, whether it’s in poker or in life, and you have the data to back up that that’s the wrong thing to do, then change it. Otherwise, then you’re just kind of an idiot. You have to be so self-reﬂective to be a winning poker player–you have to analyze every little move, every time you put money into the pot, every time someone else puts money in the pot. We had these databases when we played online with, and to get through all that data? You’re playing for 12 hours, and the 12 hours you’re not playing it? A few of those hours are spent sleeping, but about four of those hours you’re piecing through data and saying things like, “Every time this happens or that happens, how do I make money or stop from losing money in this kind of situation?” You have to be so self-reﬂective, and not a lot of people have that. Matt had that inherently, Kevin had that. And I learned after poker that that’s the most important thing. K: I don’t think there’s anything more introspective in life than poker. You have to analyze yourself, to the fullest degree. Every little thing that you ever do, somebody else is going to notice it and they’re going to exploit it. You have to notice every weakness and strength you’ve ever had, and one step
beyond anything else anyone could recognize about you. That way you can protect yourself, so you can be better and plug these leaks. You have to know how they’re perceiving you. It’s the old joke of, “I know that you know that I know that you know that I’m going to do this, so I’m going to do something different”–that pretty much sums it up. E: I had some moderate success but Kevin, much like growing up with Kevin, he was always slightly better than me at everything, which is really freaking infuriating. Except Basketball. K: It means a lot if he’s going to admit that. (laugh) E: Anything strategy and video game wise, he was always breaking it apart. Like, I was good at the game Doom–to date myself–and when Doom came out, we were all playing and I was slightly better than everyone else, but Kevin had memorized the maps, the turret placements, where the guns were, where the power ups were, where the secret entrances were, and a way to cut you know, half a second off doing this map and getting somewhere else. He started doing the same thing with poker. I don’t remember when exactly he decided to take the plunge, but he started playing no limit Hold ‘Em, and it was insane. There’s this love/ hate relationship I have with my closest friends; there’s always a quiet competition going on, or a drive to be better. They might
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not say the same thing because they’ve got that inner drive, but what I liked about Matt was that if Matt did something better at the poker table than me, it didn’t make me angry or jealous. It made me want to compete with Matt. Like, “Oh, you’re disciplined in that situation, I’m gonna be more disciplined.” Same thing with Kevin—”Oh, you’re winning more money? Let me see what you’re doing and I’m gonna win more money with what you do.” There are not a lot of people who can take that and use that positively, as opposed to being jealous or angry, and still be introspective. I think it’s really a trait that top poker players and successful business people share. SO WHY THE VAPE INDUSTRY? E: Well, Matt hates cigarettes in general, he used to take his
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grandma’s cigarettes and break them. And Kevin has a very personal mission behind it. Matt and I just wanted to see if we could do this. Not to say Matt didn’t have a personal mission, but it touched Kevin’s life, so he brought the energy, like, “Yes, I’ve seen this work. It saved my mom, let’s do this.” M: I had a family friend die of lung cancer, and in the military, in my ﬁrst platoon, smoking didn’t make sense. Vaping is big in the military - you see the converts on Facebook all the time, soldiers both here and overseas, turning to vaping as an alternative. K: I worked really hard trying to get my mom to quit smoking. My whole life, I just hated it so much, and she was one of the ﬁrst people back in 2007, 2008, to have tried a Cigalike
and it actually worked for her, and it was amazing for me. I mean, oh my God–my mom tried everything. She says it was 3 packs a day, I say more. And for something to actually work, when I really didn’t think anything would? I never wanted to give up, and I’m sure you’ve heard the story many times before, but it had such an impact on me, it was really exciting for me to see it work. Like, wow, what an incredible product! So this was many, many years later, and my mom had such success with it that it was exciting to me. HOW DID YOU GUYS GET STARTED ON THE IDEA OF WOLFPACK WHOLESALE? E: I pitched Kevin a deal–“Let’s make websites together and charge people for money,” and that ﬂamed out. We started a
construction company in 2007, and we all know what happened in 2007 [The Recession]. So, then I pitched him ‘Ultimate Grinders’, the poker website, and then that got shut down by the government. K: Then he had the nerve to pitch me another idea! (Laughs.) E: Hold on, hold on! This one’s a little different here! So Matt and I are playing poker, we’re playing with all these rich business guys once again. We’re smart enough to know that these guys are terrible at poker, but if these guys can afford to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars a year playing poker, they’re probably pretty smart at whatever it is they do. So we’re playing with this CEO, and he’s looking at electronic cigarettes. I just pitch him across the table, “Hey, you’re looking into that? That’s interesting, I want to diversify a little bit, let me be your purchasing guy. All I want is 5% sweat equity of whatever you do, okay?” And he said all right. We even met a couple times about it, talked to Matt about it. So we were talking to this rich business man, and it came to the time when we are done planning, and I asked him if we were gonna do this or not ,and he actually took his CEO job somewhere else, and I was mad. And Matt said, “Well at least we’ve got poker, but why don’t we try the e-liquid business anyways?” I asked why, as we make good money playing poker, this and that. M: I said, “I know how much money we’ll make if we have
a really good year of playing poker, but how much money would we make if we did really well with business in general?” Eric said, “I have no idea” so, I said let’s ﬁnd out. E: And I said, “Okay cool, let me put together a business plan.” And Kevin was about to come down and visit his parents in Houston at the time, so I said, “Hey man, me and this guy Matt, we’re putting together a business. Will you check out this business plan?” K: That is exactly how he pitched it. Like, “I’m not asking you, man, I just wanna collect your opinion.” E: To which he replied, “Wait a minute, are you putting your own money in this?” I said yes, and he asked, “Is Matt?” I said yes, and he said, “Okay I’m in.” And I said “No! You didn’t have to be in, I just wanted your opinion!” K: I didn’t say all the way in though–initially I said silent partner. Until the next day. (Laughs.) I never considered that we could get into that, but we started to really look into it and there’s these vape shops, which I didn’t even know were around, and this was 2013! HOW DID YOU GUYS GET IT RUNNING? M: That June, I was living in a really bad part of South Carolina, and my wife and I go to her friend’s shop’s grand opening. A hundred people go to this store for the opening, walk in there, and there’s not a single thing to sell. She didn’t get the
inventory, but she still threw the grand opening. So I’m thinking this is probably not gonna work (laughs). And Eric’s trying to ﬁnd a place to start our ﬁrst vape shop, and I call them both up and say, “Hey guys, what about, while I’m out here waiting for when I’m back in Texas, why don’t I just start one right out here? We can pay half her rent and just test it out.” So I offered her the deal and we started what was called at the time Marz Vapor. So he came out with like a hundred starter kits and a whole bunch of random things and we just put it all out there. The East Coast is very different from California. We were probably the second vape shop possibly the second store in existence at the time in South Carolina. No one had a clue about this stuff. E: So Kevin creates a website, and some people start ﬁnding us and saying they want to buy bulk e-liquids from us and we were like all right, cool. And so we hired this guy, Todd, to help us try to navigate this because he was a vaper, and the night we were supposed to make 3,000 bottles, the guy just up and disappears in the middle of the night. It’s the weirdest thing ever. And Kevin and I are just sitting across the table from each other in Dallas, going, “What are we gonna do? We can’t deliver this at 8 a.m.!” But we did–we made 3,000 bottles, hand labeling everything. We had our gloves on, our masks on, we had the fan and the windows open because the ﬂavorings were all so
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pungent, and we made it all by hand. The best thing that Todd guy ever did was he introduced us to Pip. He said, “Hey do you know of this stuff ? I’ve been vaping some Suicide Bunny, you should talk to her.” Neither of us were all that established yet, so we said let’s see what happens and worked out a deal with her. And sure enough, her stuff was in demand. The ﬁrst month was fantastic, the next month too. M: I didn’t even know about the deal. You guys did the deal before I even knew about it. K: We forgot to tell you about the deal. We told you after the deal. E: About that time we became so successful that we started to
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drown in our success, and this is where I put a lot back into the poker background because you had to be so analytical and selfreﬂective. If I did something for a day or two and it didn’t work, I didn’t have time to sit and think about it–I had to change what I was doing. HOW HAS THE COMPANY GROWN SINCE THEN? E: Business is actually very competitive, so I don’t feel the need to be competitive with other people in the poker arena. We started to create a store, but because we cut out so many middlemen, we were getting the products at such a decent margin
that people started calling us to buy in bulk. We started becoming wholesale when the whole idea was a store. We grew real fast–it didn’t leave time for Pip’s product or any other product that we carried to get made, and our orders went from 2-3 days to tree weeks to process, so people were mad. They were sending us money and we were taking that money and giving it to Pip, she was taking that money, she was creating the product, mailing it back to me, and I was bottling it, securing it, packing it, and then sending it out to somebody. That’s okay if you’re doing ten orders a day, but all of a sudden
we were doing 100, 200, 300 orders. And for I’d say the ﬁrst six months business doubled every month, just constantly doubling. And then we just went crazy and we ﬁnally got a hold of it and brought in a fourth partner to help us stabilize the shipping. He was good at shipping things, he got turnaround times to the same day. He took off, so he’s no longer a partner, but the company has since grown from there. And now we’ve brought on other products, like Glas. We’ve got OFE–Old Fashioned Elixir–which was one of the ﬁrst ones we had. If you don’t know what that is, the guy behind it made these to taste just like cigarettes. So, if e-Liquids with funny names and many ﬂavors might be daunting for a beginner vapor, so we have developed a spot on tobacco ﬂavors that will make the transition easier. It’s great for getting people off of cigarettes. We can go one forever about the life of the company, but that it’s in a nutshell.
This is a long play for us; we want to be here for a long time, [to] continue to ﬁght against tobacco. We want to make sure that we’re kinda geared up to do that no matter what the “movings” are, or if we have to move out the country–just do whatever we have to do. We actually recently opened up a new company in Ireland because the EU has legislated vaping. It’s not 100% on what the rules are, but it’s headed down that path. So we’re replicating Wolfpack– we have a company called Wolfpack Global, just set up the warehouse in Dublin. In fact, we just sent the ﬁrst container of products today. And the reason we wanted to do that is because we want to stay ahead of the FDA regulations, maybe we can make it or not make it over there, things of that nature. We’ll probably be in Canada soon, and we actually have another company that incorporated in Hong Kong, so you know, we’re just making sure to diversify. M: And Africa. I mean those guys, they buy faster in Africa than anywhere else!
WHAT’S IN THE FUTURE FOR WOLFPACK?
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS
E: You might see a slight different
ABOUT THE REGULATIONS
between us and some other people that were industry speciﬁc, because a lot of money came in really quickly for a lot for young people, whereas are constantly reinvesting in the company and unlike other companies, we are saving our capital so that we can be ﬂexible in the ever changing industry
AND LEGALITIES REGARDING VAPING? WHAT’S NEXT WITH REGULATION? M: I think we’ve had seven state senators, congressmen, coming in here on a political front, you know...it’s important and we want to make sure we can continue to vape. Americans have that right, you know? Being
in the military, and Eric’s brother being in the military, we tried to ﬁght for it on that front, but really it’s here and this is where we get our freedom. E: Yeah, we show them everything we tell them about the differences because we’re all sensitive to regulation due to our previous poker play. We want to make sure that that message is out there, to give people a choice since it’s about harm reduction. We want the politicians to know that we need to be smart about the regulation because we’re gonna have a horrible impact if it’s outlawed. M: One of the senators at the end of the tour that we gave them, their daughter had some kind of cancer that they wouldn’t operate on until she quit smoking, and she couldn’t quit smoking until she started vaping. Because of vaping, she was able to quit and they gave her the treatment - she’s doing ﬁne now. The thing is, we understand that the government can take it away, even though it doesn’t seem possible. It’s a multibillion dollar proposition for the government, and they turned it down! They said no. You talk to people who say they’d never shut down vaping because it’s making so much money, but if you don’t do what we’re doing–getting in front of the politicians and letting them know that we want this, that our votes count–they will turn it off, that is a fact. K: That’s true. They could’ve made billions from poker, they just didn’t. Other governments
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in the world have done it where they can collect taxes and things like that. Ours just ﬂipped the switch and said ‘nope!’ WHAT DO WE AS A COMMUNITY NEED TO DO TO MAKE VAPING MORE ACCEPTABLE? K: It’s really exciting over in Europe because doctors are already starting to write prescriptions for vaping devices. It’s a really exciting environment to get into.
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M: Yeah, it’s really sad that we’re supposed to be the innovators as Americans, and they’re ahead of us by leaps and bounds. What we need is things like this magazine going mainstream and teaching the public that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. This is how we do it! All that bullshit that it’s been proven that you can never get off cigarettes that you’re seeing online is
ridiculous. I mean–it’s hundreds of thousands of lives we’re saving each month. I mean, what is it, ﬁve million people die a year from a preventable thing, and this? What we need to do is make sure the politicians understand that we care about it, because no matter what you think about politicians, they’re still human beings and have a heart and want to help people. This is the way to do it.
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A R T I S A N A L
C O L L E C T I V E
Renaissance Man WORDS SNAPS
RICHARD COYLE TAADOW69K /// BIG GUS
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e sit with world acclaimed tattoo artist and the charismatic star of Spike TV’s hit series Tattoo Nightmares’–Big Gus. We discuss what it was like being raised on the gritty streets of Los Angeles as a young Chicano, and how Todd McFarlane’s animated series helped spawn the man you see today. It’s the same old story and the all too familiar statistic, of young chicanos born and raised in the concrete jungle of Los Angeles who fall victim to negative inﬂuences that besiege them and consequently, become products of their environment. Growing up on the streets in the 90’s was nothing to scoff at. In fact, if you weren't claiming a set and banging, or a graffiti artist blasting up walls or bombing trains, you were slanging dope plain and simple.That was the way of life for many of our urban youth growing up back in the day, and the only options they had to choose from. Fortunately, for a young 14 year old chicano artist from the neighborhood who went by the name of Big Gus, created his own opportunity out of his love of art and the streets of L.A. “My mother was a professor of arts and I was basically raised in that environment. She was always painting and drawing and my dad, he was never around.”, says Big Gus. Despite being raised by a single parent, he never allowed the negativity that was prevalent, consume and lead him down the dark path of gang violence and drugs that many of his friends fell victim to. In fact, he drew inspiration from his surroundings and embraced them much like seeing the beauty in a single red rose that broke through the cracks on the sidewalk showing the world you can’t hold me down. “My environment helped mold me into the man I am today. Did it ever pull me aside from art? Of course it did, but I never left art. I was always a mutated version of both a street kid and an artist. It was my foundation. LA street culture is what you see come out of my work constantly.”, said Big Gus when asked how his neighborhood inﬂuenced him. Fast forward an entire decade through countless trials and tribulations, Big Gus has honed his craft of tattoo and ﬁne art which lead him to be one of the most sought-after and well-respected artists in the game today. While he is better known for his tattoo work and one of the stars of Spike TV’s wildly successful series - Tattoo Nightmares,
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he is also a remarkably gifted graffiti artist as well. Growing up in downtown Los Angeles, Big Gus spent a lot of his time at the L.A. river blasting up walls to showcase his creativity for the entire city to see. When asked if he could still get down with the Krylon, he said, “Of course! The only difference now
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is I get paid a lot of money to do it and I don't have to run from the cops anymore.“ Today, much has changed for Big Gus -- he’s one of the most notable and recognizable tattoo artists in the world, a TV star, a business owner and an entrepreneur. Not bad for a kid from the barrio. ¡Orale!
WHO INFLUENCED YOUR INTEREST IN TATTOOING AND ART?
My mother was a professor of arts. I was basically raised in that environment and she was always painting and drawing. I've always been drawn to drawing. I never wanted to do homework, just draw. It the only thing that keeps my ADD in control.
WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT WAS BECOMING A PASSION OF YOURS?
Getting into my teenage years I got really heavy into drawing. Comics especially like the Hulk etc. Spawn by Todd McFarlane was my introduction into want I wanted to do in terms of a certain style. So, when I ﬁrst
started, it was all about pencils, Microns, Pilots of and lots of black books and sketchbooks. Later on in life I got into oil paintings and the essentials of ﬁne art. So pretty much everything I do, or is known for, I do it with pencils. GROWING UP IN THE HOOD IN
THE 90’S, HOW DID THAT INFLUENCE YOUR ART?
Fuck yeah, dude! My environment helped mold me into the man I am today. The “homie” stuff was prevalent like the Guadalupes, Day of the Dead. Teen Angel type shit [laughs]. Did it ever pull me side from art? If course it did, but I never
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left art. I wasn't the best kid in the world for sure. I was a mutated version of both, I was a street kid and an artist. It was my foundation. LA street culture is what you see come out of my work constantly. All that Day of the Dead stuff, it's like man, we been drawing that from back then. It’s nothing new.
art world. Tattooing and graffiti are the new renaissance of the art world. Look at lowbrow art. It's huge. Look at the tattoo artists today who transitioned into the ﬁne art world. That whole genre has completely changed. Street legend kids are now legends in the art world. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON
HOW DID YOU GET INTO TATTOOING?
SOCIAL MEDIA? GOOD OR BAD FOR
Tattooing came from the same formula of me drawing things I was inﬂuenced by in the neighborhood, The homies were like, “Yo, you gotta come hang out with us!” and of course I did. I didn't want to be a sheep, I wanted to be a lion and in the 90’s the street were bad. No father, mom working 24-7, of course I did. Now, they’re saying, “Ey holmes, you gotta draw on us now. So and so is locked up, we have no one to do the neighborhood tattoos now.” The homies made me a tattoo machine and at ﬁrst I didn't want to do it because I didn't want to fuck up and the guys get mad at me. I was young and with some herbal and liquid courage, I was like fuck it. Let’s do it! It ended up being the best thing I ever did. Ever since that intro to skin, it never changed. I don't have a signiﬁcant story of college professor who took me under his wing or apprenticeship. For, me it was the complete opposite. I was poor, I liked to draw, airbrush, graffiti and tattoo and that's how I hustled.
YOU’RE ALSO AN ACCOMPLISHED GRAFFITI ARTIST, CAN YOU STILL GET DOWN?
Of course! the only difference now is I get paid a lot of money to do it and don’t gotta run from the cops anymore [laughs]. The crazy thing is now, the people that hated us back then, now love us. We are the biggest subject matter in the
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Social media not only evolved tattooing but art in general. Because of that, the industry has grown tremendously but there's also a ﬂipside to that coin. Oversaturation. I do both. Let me get rid of the negative part real fast. People see tattoo artist as rockstars. People want to be tattoo artists for the fame not knowing that the tattoo artist they're emulating has gone through a lot of hurdles to get to where they are now. Instead of a kid thinking, I want to be an artist ﬁrst, they just see what they want to, like dating hot chicks and getting quick money, but forgetting the history and art of tattooing. There so much information out there to reference now because of the web, and kids out there just want to jump straight into it without even having an aptitude for it. The true artistic elements, the roots and history are lost. Art history is lost. But here's the positive side. Because of TV shows, artists like myself, Ivano, Carlos Torres, Nikko Hurtado and Mike Demasi and I could go on and on. The reason why we are able to do the things we do is because of TV and social media. They have educated people on shitty tattoo artists. People realize it's a collectible thing to have now and not just for bikers and gangsters anymore. Now, it's a piece of artwork that I don't need to hang on my walls. Tattoos have evolved to the point
where tattoos don't look like tattoos anymore. They're unfuckingbelievable. It opens doors for people who didn't know about tattoos and that's what I think helped out our industry. DID YOU EVER THINK YOU’D BE WHERE YOU ARE TODAY GROWING UP?
Never in my wildest dreams. Homie, if you told me back then when I was 16 sitting on my homeboy's couch tattooing in a room full of weed smoke that you're going to motivate people to change their lives, inﬂuence thousands of people to draw, be world famous and on TV -- I say you're on crack dog! Go get me a 40! So, no [laughs]. I'm super grateful for it and there were countless times that I didn't think I should even be alive. I'm thankful that god showed me the right way to go through my art. God and art drove me to be where I am now. PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THIS, BUT YOU’RE AN AVID FISHERMAN
I am an avid ﬁsherman. I ﬁsh everywhere I travel. It's my way of releasing myself from my world. My world is chaotic. It's fun and enjoyable. Fishing allows me to unplug and let go. Social Media, magazines, people wanting photos. It's my way to disconnect. Fishing allows me to reboot and come back even more creative. There's something about the ritual of hooking bait or a lure and ﬁshing. It's my shit. I started a ﬁshing clothing brand called Fish Elite and
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now, I have a ﬁshing team of 25 anglers worldwide. Now I'm sponsored by other ﬁshing companies like Savage Gear, Phenix and others. I want ﬁshing to be the second half of my career. I can't tattoo forever. I want to grow old in my tackle shop and telling ﬁshing stories and enjoy life. I work so hard and I want to enjoy life, my marriage, my family and friends and not just work work work. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE LOOMING CANNABIS
point where I don't have to take some stupid man made pharmaceutical drug that fucks with my brain. I think it should be legalized because, for one, a lot of soccer moms would be happier [laughs] and they can get off the Xanax. Also, it's helping kids with epilepsy naturally and could save lives. It's fucked up that we have to suffer because some politician had a hard on for weed. People kill themselves by prescriptions drugs and alcohol all the time. So my take on that. Yeah. It should be fucking legal.
Legalization I think it should be legal across this whole fucking planet. There would be much happier people in the world. I smoke weed, I don't give a fuck. Not for creativity. I smoke because it relaxes me to the
THANK YOU FOR TAKING TIME OUT OF YOUR BUSY SCHEDULE. ANY LAST WORDS?
Be positive and kind to people in this world and enjoy life! You're only here once.
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WORDS RUBEN GALINDO LEAH MORIYAMA /// CHEF NUGS
he American ﬂag, the Statue of Liberty and Memorial Day. These are all symbols that signify true American patriotism and hold meaning to the great sacriﬁces that our past soldiers gave to ensure our freedom and liberty in this great nation. We salute the ﬂag at school, we sing the national anthem at ballgames and take sabbaticals on Memorial Day. We remember and honor the fallen who gave the greatest sacriﬁce of life to defend our freedoms. But do we truly understand the effects that war and combat have on an American Veteran? issue 11 may/june 2016
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is one of the leading disorders affecting troops returning home from combat. Statistics show that 1-in-3 of our returning troops are diagnosed with some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder. Every day, twenty-two American veterans commit suicide from some sort of depression attributed to PTSD. A frightening fact is that of all those diagnosed with PTSD, approximately 50 percent of those affected do not seek treatment. Couple those analytics with the recent scandals at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and milelong backlogs on veteran claims. However, there are programs like The Weed for Warriors project and many others that help us veterans cope with the side effects of war and help deal with symptoms of depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and other disorders which are plaguing the American veteran community. Just like so many prominent advocates of improving veteran wellness and health like Trace Adkins and Mark Wahlberg, Army veteran Chris Kavanaugh or better known as Chef Nugs is leaving his culinary footprint in the movement to help and treat veterans with this growing epidemic. Chef Nugs serves a nonproﬁt organization aptly called, Weed For Warriors that specializes in treating post-wartime trauma with cannabis. “We found that cannabis is a great alternative medicine to get veterans off of medicinal pills”, says Nugs. Being a veteran who also suffers from PTSD, he can relate to the difficulty of adjusting to civilian life and living with this disorder. Chef Nugs is a US Army veteran who served over 5 years. He fought for our nation and after honorably serving his country, Chef Nugs decided to use his GI Bill and attend culinary school. That is where he received the foundation to pursue his passion for the culinary arts. After Chef Nugs graduated Cordon Bleu, he started off working two hot line jobs in Hollywood, one full-time breakfast line and one full time dinner line working 16, 17 hour days, six days a week in the kitchen hustlin’. “Working those long hours in the kitchen takes a toll on the body. I was only able to go outside on my breaks.”, says Chef Nugs. Nugs decided to use his craft of cooking and intimate knowledge of cannabis to his advantage. “I started cooking with cannabis while in the kitchen, to help with my own personal ailments,” claims the chef. After making videos on YouTube and Instagram with the persuasion of some friends, his alter-ego ”Chef Nugs” was born. He is a celebrity in the canna-cooking world, starring in his own cooking show - Highly Seasoned hosted on B-Real TV and hosting many Dr. Greenthumb shows. He is highly sought after in Hollywood for his creative spin on foods and clever ways to infuse cannabis in his cuisine as evidenced by his signature line of Stoney Sauces. Chef Nugs hopes that he can bring awareness to the beneﬁts of medicinal marijuana and offer healing and comfort to all veterans and anyone who needs it through his craft. We made a reservation and broke bread with the man himself - Chef Nugs.
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TELL US ABOUT THE WEED FOR WARRIORS PROJECT?
Weed for Warriors is a non-proﬁt organization that specializes in treating veterans dealing with wartime trauma with cannabis. That covers so many areas including PTSD, residual PTSD on families, anxiety depression, and suicide. The list just keeps going on of the side effects that war has on individuals. We found that cannabis is a great alternative medicine to get a lot of our veterans off of prescription drugs. HOW HAS THE WFW PROJECT BENEFITED YOU AS A VETERAN?
I met Weed for Warriors. They instantly put me in a position of power, because we just meshed on a level I’ve never meshed with anyone before. I’ve found that in the click that we formed in Weed for Warriors, that through communication and bonding, it’s been the most healing thing that I’ve ever experienced. Everything we’ve dealt with veterans, from suicides to helping them get out of prison to helping families of veterans… the list goes on. But helping these people and their families has helped me in my life deal with issues that I have. It helps me to be happy…it helps me to be stronger. WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO PURSUE THE CULINARY ARTS?
Growing up, I was the oldest of three. Both my parents worked, so my job at a very young age was to cook dinner for the family. My brother, my sister and my mom always bragged about how good of a cook I was. I used to love it. It was about the only positive attention I had growing up because I was a really bad kid. When I got out of the military I was really unsure what to do with my life. I was homeless for a while, I was really messed up in the head. I had to go to rehab for a while, and it was just all bad. So when
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I was trying to ﬁgure out what to do with my life, my brother just happened to come home one day and he’s like, “man why don’t you go to culinary school, you’ve always liked cooking and you’ve always been good at it.” I was thinking, that’s such a good idea bro. I checked Cordon Bleu out and the next day I was enrolled. Once I went there, I knew that was what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I’ve been cooking professionally for about eight years now. DO YOU SPECIALIZE IN A CERTAIN TYPE OR STYLE OF FOOD?
Every type of food. That’s the great thing about coming up as a chef in Hollywood, you have such a hodgepodge of ethnicity in Los Angeles, that you can’t stick to one item on the menu. Our menus went from kale salads to a crazy ass recreation of Korean food, to Foie gras, Bistro, Thai food, cheese and charcuterie, Italian and French, it just keeps going. Mexican, Spanish. Tapas are my favorite thing to do. I love having a table of foodies and just taking them on a trip around the world with some medicated tacos. I love it! WHO ARE YOUR CULINARY INFLUENCES?
Anthony Bourdain deﬁnitely is one of my biggest inﬂuences. He helped mold me into the chef I am today. I’ve been a fan of his even before I was considering becoming a chef. Ever since I read his book Kitchen Conﬁdential, that kind of sealed the deal for me that I knew I was supposed to be a chef. I lived the rockstar life before with tattooing, music and skating. I realized that all that kind of left me empty, and I never felt full in those industries, but now as a chef, I embrace all that crazy lifestyle living. I also have worked with some of the best chefs in Hollywood. I got to work with Iron Chef Eric Greenspan at the Foundry on Melrose for a year and a half where I became his lead Gamache cook, that was an amazing experience. I learned to cook some of the most amazing food you could even think of. On top of that, I’ve worked for the Hollywood sweetheart right now, Kris Morningstar who worked at The District, The Foundry and at LACMA. He is so epic! He has this mentality of
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food that no other chef has. I feel like I took a lot of his plating styles into my own style. He would never plate…He would make art, and it was so beautiful to see him work. Also, my best friend to this day Rob who is the executive chef at the W Hotel in Hollywood. That dude pushed me like I have never been pushed in my life. I learned how to do banquets, catering. I learned what fast highquality production was. These guys have deﬁnitely inﬂuenced me, and all of them created Chef Nugs. To ﬁnd out more Info about the organization and what they do to help veterans you can go to WFWPROJECT.ORG or check them out on Facebook or Instagram WFWproject or _ChefNugs wf-wproject.org WFWproject I N STAGR A M: _ChefNugs
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Published on May 18, 2017