California

CAB Collective

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Paso Robles is known as a city in the middle of California that most mispronounce (pronounced Pass-oh Ro-bulls) or think is just a stop on the way to Napa. However, Paso Robles is much much more. “Paso” is quickly making it’s mark to being one of the most beautiful wine and culinary landscapes in the region. In fact it has taken the art of wine making, sustainability, and culinary curiosities to a level all its own. And rightfully so! With a rich history of travelers and agriculture, it’s story is one I think everyone should know.

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Chronic Cellars Masquerade Ball

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The room is dimly lit with hues of reds and blacks, tables adorned with black linens, subtle lighting, stacks and stacks of barrels aged with time and fastened with story, a couple of couches strategically placed on the cold concrete floor, a photo booth for secrets and fun, and a V-shaped bar. Bottles of Chronic’s Bubbles – Spritz & Giggles, Reds – 2011 Ricardo Grande, late harvest Tranquilo, 2011 The Unteachables, and what I think is their bottle of 2012 Stone Fox line the bar top. At the pivoted corner? A neon lit Sangria fountain. Behind that, the man in the green mask (and bartenders) but him – well, HE is JOSEPH! I am elated!

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Porktoberfest

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It is Halloween’s Eve, a little before 7 P.M. I pull into the parking lot outside of Five Crowns Restaurant and Steakhouse and immediately start to panic—valet parking. Suddenly I’m extremely nervous, not because I fear strangers driving my car, but because my car is literally beginning to disintegrate—rendering it almost inoperable. After three broken door handles inside and outside, getting in and out of my car has proven to be a difficult and ridiculous affair: I have to roll down my window and open it from the outside door handle (fortunately only halfway broken) to get out.

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Hankin, ’16 Acres’ appeals to the human side of politics

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When it comes to politics there are generally two sides of the fence: you’re either interested, or you aren’t. Then there are the rare moments when an event is so catastrophic, a policy so egregious, that everyone, young and old, find themselves getting involved whether they like it or not, out of moral obligation or personal vendetta. The devastating tragedy of September 11, 2001 is one of these. However, busy as we are supporting our troops, admonishing our government, or going about our lives with an air of indifference, it is perhaps the revelatory spotlight on the question of what to do with the 16 acres of land where the twin towers once stood that has plagued the nation—especially New Yorkers; a question whose answer lies in the celluloid folds of Richard Hankin’s aptly-named biographical documentary, 16 Acres.

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Writing Tip: JUST WRITE

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Writing is a craft much like it is a necessity. The art of story telling, of clarifying your ideas, releasing trapped emotion, healing heartfelt wounds, everything left unsaid – somehow the power of being able to sit down with pen in hand, no boundaries, no limitations, no concern for who may or may not read it – it’s liberating. It’s like a secret club. This wonderful place you can run to when talking seems inadequate. The escape for everything we contain inside comes out in words placed onto a vacant screen or an empty notebook or napkin or back of a receipt. Whatever means necessary to harness the release we so crave.

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Comic Rajiv Satyal

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The first time I met Rajiv Satyal was at the Eat Your Words Event at the Standard Hotel Downtown. When Greg Walloch introduced Rajiv, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Up until this point, I hadn’t had the wonderful fortune of seeing him on stage. But when I did, it was clear I had to interview him. He stood up in that Cactus Lounge and didn’t give some overly comedic performance. Instead he actually gave us a look into a part of his life that was honest, relatable, and oh so real: Dating, falling in love, and things not working out. It begins with a candid and endearing tale of him being interviewed by a journalist in India. She is beautiful and intelligent and, as luck would have it, agrees to go out with him after his friend oversleeps for their dual interview. They hit it off and their relationship begins.

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A Woman Stripped.

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I am a woman stripped. Stripped of everything that tries to rest on my flesh and make me cringe within the skin that is holding my organs together. I am broken. Broken into a million sharp and jagged little pieces of transparent glass reflecting every experience I have ever had. I am afraid. Afraid to let go and let the world see all of the cracks and faults and frightening truths I am shoving back inside. I am naked. Bare. Exposed. Flawed. I am human. I am – BEAUTIFUL.

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Garrett Backstrom and Collin Ford

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I had the pleasure of sitting down with two of what I believe will be the actors to keep your eye on in the coming years: Garrett Backstrom and Collin Ford. Invited to attend the Red Carpet DVD Release Event of Michelle Danner’s “Hello Herman”, I was asked if there was anyone attending I’d want to interview. While the list is always interesting, I wanted to interview someone I felt hadn’t really had an opportunity to be seen outside of their realm. For the first time ever, I interviewed two, under 18, rising stars in Hollywood. Both 17 years-old, both with a rather successful career already under their belt, and the endless potential that will no doubt make them household names very soon.

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Wild in Wichita

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“Act your age.” It’s a phrase all of us have heard at one point or another, usually voiced by a parent or other magisterial figure upon discovering some sort of uncovered mischief. Many times, the phrase is as warranted as it is stiff in meaning, especially in regards to children, young adults, and even the middle-aged authoritarians that youth often finds itself in subjugation to. But when does staunch despotic naysaying apply to the elderly: those who for most of our lives would keep us from swallowing gum or “borrowing” items that don’t belong to us? Watching Denise Blasor’s Wild in Wichita, the answer might surprise you.

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Hello Herman the Movie

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In a world where bullying is more prevalent than ever, violence seems to be the first resort rather than the last, our youth is more isolated and apathetic than times passed, and well, the accessibility of “reaction” is catastrophically daunting. Hello Herman is a film starring Garrett Backstrom who gives the performance of his young career pushing the boundaries of his psyche, exposing the faulty backfire of repercussion, and the prevalent truth that something is genuinely faulty with the way the world is raising our future generations.

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The Next Four-Letter Word (+3) – EMPATHY.

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I believe we are all busy. Too busy. I also believe we have lost the art of thinking and genuinely caring about one another. Empathy seems to be a lost art and what’s sad about that statement is that it shouldn’t be an artful idea at all but rather a natural characteristic of who we are. We are no longer careful with one another. Everyone so self consumed and distracted that all they care about is what’s happening to them. The dialogue of two people talking, discussing, learning, thinking about someone outside of themselves is rare. We are all too accepting of selfishness and less willing to let go and think of someone else. It’s the most disheartening side of what humanity has become. I don’t believe we are this careless by nature. I think we are training ourselves to be more careless, less careful.

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QUICK TIPS For A Spontaneous Journey Up The Central Coast

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At the beginning of this summer, I decided to do something rather spontaneous. I figured of all of the many topics I’ve covered, the food I’ve enjoyed, and the cities I’ve been to – everything I’ve written about or gone to has been fairly planned out. I figured it was time to be totally off-the-cuff, get in the car and just drive up the California Coast – during one of the busiest holiday weeks of the year no less: the 4th of July. I wanted to see what was possible if and when any one of my readers decided to take a last minute trip during a nationally busy time. And so, the journey began.

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A Fall Day Trip Full of Fashion and Fright in Long Beach

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October in Southern California could most easily be described as “Indian Summer”—the hot, dry Santa Ana winds rustling the yellowing leaves during the day, and the cool dampness of ocean fog rolling in off the coast at night. Despite the fact that pumpkins are beginning to replace pool floaties and boogie boards on front porches, many people are still looking for one last mini-vacation hoorah before the slew of holiday preparation begins. With that in mind, here is where I introduce one of my favorite cities, and a potential day trip plan to maximize the sunshine and spookiness this month has to offer: Long Beach.

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The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon

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I had the great pleasure of sending my 3 writers and photographer: Cord Montgomery, Greg Barraza, Tyler Dean and Clarence Alford to experience the new launch of a phenomenal menu and a beautiful venue this past week. While I was unable to make it myself, I was proud to send in my exceptional staff to experience what I had hoped was an unforgettable venue. Turns out, it was. Thanks to Nancy Zwart for the invitation and to Chefs Michael and David Rossi for creating something these fellas won’t soon forget. I look forward to coming in myself. For now, enjoy three very different perspectives of one unforgettable evening.

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