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Culture Collide 2012 Rocks the Streets of LA


“We are young, we are united,” sang Of Verona at Taix Restaurant on October 4th, the first night of the Culture Collide music festival that electrified the streets of Los Angeles for four days. The powerful words of this Canadian rock band encapsulated the atmosphere and mission of this game-changing music festival: to unite the world through music.

Bands from all over the world, from Thailand, Europe, Australia and South America, took over the clubs and restaurants of Echo Park. The intimate venues of the festival created environments where music lovers could feel the bass bumping in their chest and the thumps of the drums vibrating their bodies. All within 322 meters of one another, the seven stages of the festival included 826LA, the writing and tutoring center, the Origami Vinyl store front, The Echo and Echoplex, the Taix Lounge and Champagne Room, and The Church on North Alvarado Street.

The five day music festival kicked-off with a party on October 3rd at Taix with DJ sets by Kevin Barnes, School of Seven Bells, and Penguin Prison. For the rest of the week, attendees club-hopped from venue to venue to discover and rock out to the beats of their new favorite bands. Over 25 countries were represented at the festival and attendees flocked from around the world and from all over the country to take part in this monumental festival to bring the nations under one roof.

And the Sunday Block Party would be no different. This closing party is the first night of the festival that is open to all ages, further unifying us in the quest for good music. The block party will include LA’s best food trucks, art activities, and live performances from bands such as Niki and the DoveBonde do Role, and Colorfeels. The night is free and takes place from 2 pm to midnight on Reservoir Street.

For the third year in a row, Filter Magazine has achieved the impossible. This band of article-writing, artist-interviewing audiophiles has managed to unite worlds that are rarely exposed to one another, to bring together countries and people who would otherwise have never met, and to succeed in their mission of bringing good music to the streets of LA, because “good music will prevail.”

For the original story, visit Examiner.com.

Heavy Metal and Hamburgers

burgerEven before entering Alhambra’s newly opened Grill ‘Em All, a food truck turned brick-and-mortar restaurant, I heard the crowd buzzing and the heavy metal. When I passed through the doors, I saw flashbacks to the edgy and energetic era of 80’s hard rock, complete with bright orange walls, paintings of rock bands, Metallica-inspired gear, and the bad-ass owners.

Grill ‘Em All was a successful food truck that won the “Great Food Truck Race” and the truck’s famed handmade tater tots were on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” Thus, the owners, Matt Chernus and Ryan Harkins, thought it was time for a permanent installment. “For so many years, we have been taking our burgers to the people,” Harkins said. “Now it’s time for the people to come to us.” And the people will come for the signature burgers like the Behemoth, a beef patty nestled between two grilled cheese sandwiches and topped with cheddar, bacon, beer soaked onions, and Grandma’s Mosh Pit BBQ Sauce; the Jump in the Fryer, an intense burger with waffles as buns that hold a beef patty, fried chicken, and a maple-hot sauce drizzle; and the Powerslave with a Brie cheese, a Bourbon apple compote, and field greens. The inspiration for ingredients comes from the owners’ favorite flavors and according to Chernus, “All the burgers have unique toppings. The burger is the canvas. We are willing to push the barrier.”

Chernus and Harkins are lifelong friends who share a love for punk rock and burgers. Before starting their food truck, Chernus said that they “tried every burger and became nerdy about it.” Not only have they perfected their juicy and flavorful burgers (yes, even when well-done), they have developed side dishes that play anything but second fiddle. High on Fries, a bed of hand-cut fried potatoes topped with shredded buffalo chicken, buffalo sauce, and bleu cheese dressing, is a star on the menu. These potato wizards are also the geniuses behind their tater tots, each one made with potatoes that are shredded and formed individually by hand. The future looks bright for this rockin’ restaurant; don’t miss out on Tot Tuesdays during the Heavy Metal Happy Hour, which is a time to jam to classic tunes while you head bang your way through a memorable meal.

Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Grill ‘Em All, 19 E. Main St., Alhambra. 626.284.2874 or facebook.com/GrillEmAllAlhambra

Camellia Festival

If your recipe calls for “flower,” don’t think it’s a typo: This annual flower fest highlights edible flowers, specifically the East Asian Camellia, whose petals are used to make delicious tea. Enjoy a lecture from local beverage masters at Chado Tea, a walk-and-talk through North America’s largest camellia garden with a horticulturalist and a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The Camellia Collection at Descanso Gardens boasts rare and familiar camellias and has been designated an International Camellia Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society.

Feb. 9th and 10th, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission prices vary. Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge. 818.949.4290 ordescansogardens.org

-Christina Kharbertyan

Photo courtesy of jimd2007 via Flickr

Gotta Be Green: Greenspace Shows Us How

With 4,000 square feet of space, Greenspace Company is filled to the brim with every green product imaginable to decorate, improve and maintain a home. There is everything from cleaning products, paints, and office supplies to gifts, bedding, and baby products. Thing to know: the staff at Greenspace prescreens all of its products before they hit the shelves to ensure that the item is eco-friendly. GT connected with owner, manager and creator Lydia Corser to discover the Top Seven green products we need to use right now.

Organic Cotton Linens
Using organic cotton sheets, pillowcases and comforters will allow you to sleep well at night knowing that your bedding is produced in a way that replenishes and maintains soil fertility, reduces the use of pesticides, and builds biologically diverse agriculture. Purchasing organic linens helps increase demand, keeps field workers safer, and significantly lessens the amount of toxic chemicals poisoning water, air, land, and wildlife. Although they cost more, they are made of higher quality materials and last longer than conventionally-made sheets.

Thermal Cup
In addition to carrying reusable water bottles, thermal cups should be used to reduce waste build-up in landfills. Thermal cups keep coffee and tea hot for up to 4 to 6 hours.  As Corser states, “It doesn’t make sense to use a cup for the few minutes it takes to consume these beverages and then throw it away.” By using thermal cups, we can enjoy our delicious beverages for a longer period of time without cluttering the earth we live on.

Bamboo Spork
For the same cost as a morning cup of coffee, a bamboo spork (a utensil of spoon and fork) is an inexpensive and easy way to reduce the amount of plastic spoons and forks that pile up in the world. Corser says that bamboo sporks are a necessary investment so “you never have to use another plastic, disposable or supposedly biodegradable spoon or fork again.” Other eco-friendly household products include special occasion dishware made of 100 percent recycled glass and napkins, and aprons made of hemp.

Natural Linoleum
The vinyl flooring industry has skewed the term for linoleum to mean plastic vinyl flooring—that can be found in many bathrooms and kitchens. Natural linoleum is the real product and is made from linseed oil, where linoleum gets its name, in addition to cork and wood flour, mineral pigments, and jute backing. Natural linoleum can be used in homes and businesses, lasts longer than vinyl, is inexpensive, and is available in an array of colors and patterns. Compared to other types of flooring, the performance of natural linoleum improves over time because exposure to air makes it harder and more durable.

VOC-free Paints
Paints which make a room smell like chemicals for the first few days are full of VOC, or volatile organic compounds. VOCs are known carcinogens that are emitted as gas from certain solids and liquids such as paint, permanent markers, and glue. The products at Green Space Company are colored with only non-toxic and VOC-free paints. Paints that are free of VOC cost the same as conventional paint from mainstream brands and look just as great, or even better.

Cork and Bamboo Flooring
To keep floors eco-friendly, a redecorator should use cork or bamboo flooring because these materials are sustainably harvested, renewable and recyclable. Cork floors are comfortable to walk on and are ideal for homes with children because they are soft and resilient, resistant to fire, insects and moisture and are able to dampen sound. Bamboo is also a great material for floors and the environment because it is grown without pesticides and herbicides.

Indoor Composter
Anyone who has ever tried to compost kitchen waste for their home garden knows that the process is odorous and complicated. Indoor composters make composting easy and fun. By removing composting restrictions and allowing meats, cheeses and other previously non-compostable products to be included, indoor composters take out the guesswork for beginners and simply make the job easier. Christina Kharbertyan

Embrace the Santa Cruz Challenge

challenge“Start with Yourself,” is the motto created by local LeTa Jussila and it encourages concentration on one’s own health before helping others. In a country filled with citizens who are overweight and stressed out, Jussila is hoping to help the country become healthy physically, mentally and spiritually with the Santa Cruz Challenge. According to Jussila, change needs to “start local if you want to create a ripple effect.” Keeping that in mind, beginning on March 7, participants will have the opportunity to visit various fitness studios around town and attend seminars to learn how to improve their diets, relationships, and their lives as a whole.

Every week, locals can engage in different challenges: one to enhance their physical health and another to better other parts of their life such as their finances, their actions to help the environment, and their relationships. Weekly fitness themes include yoga, martial arts, dance and spinning. By offering many different types of exercise, Jussila hopes to “match people up with things that excite them.” Unlike other fitness competitions, the Challenge urges participants to focus on improving every part of their lives rather than just their bodies.

The seminars each week are one-hour long and help contestants achieve overall health—because … when a person’s finances or relationships are disordered, for instance, it affects their mental and physical health, as well. One of the seminars dealing with improving relationships is led by Rev. Deborah Johnson, the founder of the omni faith institution, Inner Light Ministries. John Amaral, a prominent energy healer whose work in the field of Network Spinal Analysis, will also host a seminar on how to reduce stress through increased consciousness and breath work.

The challenge can unravel in one of two ways. Participants can choose the measurable option in which they take a fitness and endurance test and have their body composition evaluated using BioImpedance Analysis. After 12 weeks of exercise, participants are re-evaluated and the one with the greatest percentage of improvement wins the grand prize of $2,000. Runners up receive a surfboard, a bicycle, and a Santa Cruz weekend staycation at the Dream Inn.

In the second option, contestants gain points by exercising, eating healthy and participating in weekly events. Although this option is still challenging, participants will not qualify for the major prizes. Instead, they can win massages and acupuncture treatments, Feng Shui services in their homes, and spa visits.

The holistic methods used in the course of the Challenge stem from Jussila’s background in Chinese Medicine. Jussila, who was born during the Vietnam War, found comfort and inspiration amidst the beauty of Santa Cruz when she moved to the city a decade ago to work toward her master’s degree in Chinese medicine from Five Branches University. While residing in the picturesque town, she became struck with the idea that, “We all want to live in a place where people make good choices.” From this seed that was planted grew a movement to encourage complete health and create long-lasting lifestyle changes. |  Christina Kharbertyan