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From Farm to Bong

By: Brandy Miceli

The inflammation, swollen cartilage, and swollen joint linings that come with 39-year-old Amanda Reiman’s foot arthritis keep her immobile and in pain.

Refusing to put chemicals of any sort into her body, Reiman opts out of doctor recommended steroid shots in her toes and painkillers of any sort  — even Tylenol.

“I decided that if I could get away with using cannabis instead, and not see progression in the arthritis, I would do that,” Reiman said. “And it’s worked.”

Just as with most other things she puts into her body, the organic marijuana is imperative.

As Reiman’s oven timer beeped and her vegan pie crust began to brown, she said, “I want to consume as few chemicals as possible in my life. It’s the same philosophy I have about whether I choose to take pharmaceutical drugs, and organic or nonorganic foods.” Reiman uses  one specific, transparent delivery service over the plethora of medical marijuana dispensaries in her area.

A delivery service called Flow Kana is making it easy for Bay Area cannabis patients to access quality, sun-grown, organic cannabis. The company has humble beginnings, playing a different role in the farm-to-table movement. In the same time that you can have an organic meal on your table, you can have organic cannabis in your bong.


Buying pot used to mean hopping in your dealer’s luxury car, driving around the block to avoid being seen, and paying in cash — without having any idea the type of marijuana you’re smoking.

Only recently did your “dealer” pull up in a Miata, hand you your organic cannabis in a tiny Mason jar with a personalized thank-you note and a piece of chocolate, and ask, “Cash or card?”

“Ultimately, our goal is to make our products available to patients in as many channels and avenues as possible,” Adam Steinberg, Head of Sales Development at Flow Kana, said.

They established its presence through its delivery app, that allows their patients to find the cannabis that best suits them and order it to be delivered in thirty minutes or less. With a steady revenue increase of 15 percent per month, according to CEO Michael Steinmetz, its year has been a success.

Once a patient’s California ID and Proposition 215 recommendation given by a physician for legal use, are verified through Flow Kana’s system, the patient will get a confirmation text or email saying when the patient should expect a delivery. Through the app, the patient can track the driver, just as with other food delivery services.

Occasionally Joe Maddox, a delivery driver for Flow Kana, still gets “old school” clients who try to jump in his car to whisper about “the goods,” looking around cautiously to make sure nobody sees.
“For god’s sake, it’s legal!” He would proclaim reassuringly.

The company consults its legal team weekly to ensure complete state legality.

“It’s also,” he pauses, “Absolutely fire,” referring to the great quality of the cannabis.

It will continue delivering to a variety of patients: those that lack mobility, those with disabilities, and those who use cannabis recreationally. Steinberg says that Flow Kana’s marijuana and concentrated products will begin popping up in brick-and-mortar dispensary locations around the Bay Area soon.

Reiman favors Flow Kana because of the way they let their patients know exactly who grew the pot they’re smoking. “When I order from Flow Kana, I feel like I’m getting that kind of information about my product that you don’t get when you go to a dispensary,” she said.

“Instead of just an on-demand delivery service, we view ourselves as a premium cannabis brand,” Steinberg said. The company’s goals are to bridge the gap between the patients and the mystery of where their cannabis came from, and to normalize this medicine in general.

Steinmetz envisions an industry with more transparency. He saw a huge lack of that in the industry today, which is why Flow Kana shows its patients exactly where and how its marijuana was grown.
“‘Our farm is located on a sun-drenched, 3000 ft. ridgeline in Mendocino County. We run a micro-scale, 100% solar powered, diversified family farm, with roughly two acres of mixed vegetables, flowers, herbs, and connoisseur grade medicinal cannabis’,” it’s website advertises.

Growers use the terms “chemical” and “organic” to distinguish the two different production manners. We put food into our bodies that contains chemicals from pesticides and GMO’s, but inhaling the smoke from those chemicals has completely different bodily and environmental effects.

According to the Honest Marijuana Company, an organization that teaches the public about the importance of organic marijuana and how to grow it, super chemicals and specialized plant foods used to grow chemical marijuana carry chemicals and toxins that are not supposed to be funneled through our bodies.

“Smoking can create pyrolysis compounds with unknown toxicities, and inhaled chemicals enter the bloodstream without first undergoing first-pass metabolism by the digestive and hepatic systems,” according to the Cannabis Safety Institute’s Pesticide Use on Cannabis study in 2015. “As a result, inhaled chemicals are typically present at much higher levels in the body than those that are orally ingested.”

The study also shows that when chemical weed is concentrated into hash, edibles, resin, or any tinctures, the pesticides are also concentrated, leading to extremely high levels of toxins in the final product. Up to 70 percent of the toxins are left in the concentrate being inhaled.

Mother Jones says an estimated one third of America’s pot is produced indoors. Per pound of pot, this estimate would emit 4,600 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and use enough electricity to power 1.7 million homes nationwide.
Beyond the science, the comparison is in the taste.

“Organic is the most natural taste you can get,” Maddox said. “The way I’m thinking about it is, compare sweets—something to indulge in. Would you rather bite into a fresh
It’s no coincidence there are some people who would pick the latter. Some prefer organic, while others don’t care or aren’t informed about the effect of chemicals.
Louis Davis, a medical marijuana patient suffering from systemic lupus, doesn’t know the difference.

“It doesn’t necessarily matter to me,” Davis said. “If I knew the real effects behind organic versus other types, I’d probably care, but I don’t really know the differences so I can’t say whether I really care or not.”
The frail 23-year-old lies in the center of a dimly lit hospital room rating his pain at a nine. Nurses come in and out multiple times an hour to administer the various medicines needed for the side effects of his lupus. Davis describes his kidney failure, itchy lesions, and the cracked right hip awaiting a replacement.


“My reason for using marijuana is for pain,” he said. “The pain I’m in without it is not the business.”

He gets up in the morning, stiff and sore, and takes the array of pharmaceuticals for his list of health ailments. “Then I’ll smoke, and I’m able to eat breakfast,” Davis said.
When Davis doesn’t have the energy to go to a dispensary, he uses delivery services similar to Flow Kana to get his cannabis, such as Eaze, Green Cross, Green Rush, and Waterfall Wellness. He recently had a special delivery from his friend to the UCSF Medical Center, where he snuck out of his room to meet smoke outside.

“I was admitted here seven days ago and one of my friends came through while I’m on a shitload of frickin’ pain medicine and my blood pressure is through the roof so I went out to smoke a joint,” he said. “They [the nurses] didn’t know I went out to smoke, but I came back in and my blood pressure dropped dramatically. They didn’t even know why, they’re thinking it was some medicine but nah, it’s because I was smoking.”
Davis smoked a high cannabidiol (CBD) strain, which is known for lowering blood pressure.

He’s never used Flow Kana, as he favors indoor cannabis.
“Indoor is all I smoke, I don’t really touch outdoor too much,” he said. “I don’t really like the makeup of the bud, it’s sort of stringy; I’m really picky when it comes to bud. It has to look and smell potent—it can’t be some crumbly stuff.”
To each his own.

While people use different strain types to achieve different healing effects, these strain types fall under five species categories: indica, indica-dominant hybrid, sativa-dominant hybrid, and sativa. Indicas are great for sleep and pain, sativas offer a head high and energy, and the hybrids fall somewhere in between. Flow Kana associates these species with states of being: zen, chill, awe, and active. This makes it easy for people to find the species and strain that best suits them.
In addition, they offer CBD strains, which have higher cannabidiol levels than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels. These are excellent for customers decreasing pain and relaxing without getting absolutely “wrecked,” or too high.

This simple, innovative means of care-taking has been helping people with vision impairments, broken limbs, anxiety, and depression for one year now as they celebrate their foundation anniversary.
Flow Kana welcomes full legalization with open arms. In a world carrying so much suffering, getting marijuana to as many patients in pain is the true goal of anyone in the business.

The Age of Tech : While Tech Companies Create Younger Environments, The “Not-So-Young” Struggle

By: Eric Nyulassy

All you can eat food around the clock. Beautifully landscaped grass as far as the eye can see. Basketball and volleyball courts for the active crowd, and video games with big screen TVs for everyone else—there is even a laundromat. This is not your run-of-the-mill, high-priced country club. This is the environment of new-aged employment campuses in Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley provides the luxury of living in an area that has a plethora of jobs that pay an average of 79,108 dollars per capita personal income, compared to the United States average of 46,049 dollars. The job growth rate is the highest, it’s been since 2000 according to the 2016 Silicon Valley Index report. However, middle-aged men and women are finding it increasingly difficult to land a job in the tech field.

In years past, issues of race and gender were prevalent in the hiring process. According to the United States Department of Labor, women are now projected to account for 51 percent of the increase in total labor force from 2008 to 2018. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 36.4 percent of the Silicon Valley community is foreign born, significantly higher than the average in California or the United States due to outsourcing firms and companies bringing in skilled workers from overseas.  The new concern for candidates actively seeking employment in Silicon Valley is age.

According to research done by Economic Synopses,  the long-term unemployment rate after the great recession has more than doubled in most cases for individuals aged 30 to 65. Long-term unemployment is described as an individual being out of work for over six months.

“A very good friend of mine was in the tech industry for many years,” Deborah Borlase, a middle-aged employee for MagnaChip Semiconductor said. “He got laid off and struggled to find work, so he resorted to teaching.”

Individuals with extensive experience in the tech industry are being over-looked for younger and cheaper workers. Resumes riddled with titles like, “Director of Sales” and “Vice President of Global Marketing” do not hold as much value to companies, as observed by Jeff Rose, a 66-year-old unemployed worker in the field.

“Companies are all about the bottom line. Somebody cheaper and younger is out there. When I left Silicon Quest International, they actually replaced my job with two people. My salary was worth the cost of two younger workers with much less experience,” said Rose.

Beyond companies looking for cheaper prospects to fill positions, the issue of cultural adaptivity creates a roadblock for middle-aged techies.

David Flor is a business development representative for Salesforce, a highly sought-after employer in the Bay Area. Going in for his interview, he remembers his interviewer stating it was easier to get accepted to Harvard than to be hired at Salesforce and for every opening there are thousands of applicants. Flor talked about his job with an exuberant amount of energy and expertise.

“Everyone wants to have fun here at work,” Flor stated. “It is a Wall Street type of attitude here. Work hard so you can play hard.”

Flor exudes the type of cultural attitude many tech companies are looking for in their working environments today — a culture that could create a problem for the older crowd of techies who have families and other responsibilities that remove them from work and their coworkers.

Staff recruiting firms that push recruits into these coveted positions are under pressure by many companies to fill these vacancies with a specific candidate. According to recruiters, the criteria for these candidates are similar across the board and detrimental to those who do not meet them. According to a recruiter from Premiere Staffing,  this shift in culture is emulated and modeled after Google by other companies and can be correlated to an emphasis on increased productivity. Both recruiters asked for anonymity in fear of backlash or potential termination by their employers for providing this information.

Companies like Google, now provide food, beverages, sleeping arrangements, dog parks, and fitness rooms that enable workers to stay at work all day. The perks are great, but older employees are more likely to have children and other responsibilities that take them away from the campus, not allowing them to dedicate the same amount of time younger prospects potentially have.

“People do not want to leave and the vibe reminds you of a college campus. Employees like to work outside on the grass, sleep in the pods and play games throughout the day,” said Gilbert Padilla, a contractor in his third year with Google.
One recruiter said that the most common response he gets from companies is that older candidates are “too experienced” and they would prefer to fill their vacancies in a competitive market with young talent who “live and breath tech.”
“Companies do not want a ‘suits and ties’ environment anymore,” he said. “Companies are going against the grain and that is inviting to a younger talent pool, which is what they want. If you are 50 years old, there is a higher probability you will have issues taking orders from a 30-year-old owner or boss and the ability to take direction becomes a concern for the employer.”

Agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) take action against age discrimination, according to The Age of Discrimination Act of 1967. The EEOC resolved 21,273 age discrimination charges in 2015, recovering 99.1 million dollars in monetary damages for charging parties and associated aggrieved individuals.

According to 2016’s Silicon Valley Index (SVI), 64,363 jobs were created between 2014 and 2015. There has also been a 24.4 percent increase in jobs titled “Innovation and Information Products & Services” since 2010 and has steadily increased every year creating a trend in a wanted field. Jobs in this growing category primarily have tech related ties.

Despite the increase in tech related jobs in Silicon Valley, many middle-aged workers cannot capitalize on the opportunities available, according to area recruiters. They are forced to become more flexible with regards to salary, creating a financial burden in an area where the cost of living has reached astronomical heights. According to a recent Trulia report, only 14 percent of homes in San Francisco are affordable to the middle-class.

However, there are still companies in the area who hire solely on merit and expertise. Symantec executives pride themselves in finding a candidate that meets their needs based exclusively on their experience and passion to succeed.

Mitch Underwood, who leads Symantec’s AMS Demand Operations team in Oregon, detailed what he looks for in a potential job candidate.

“First thing we look at is education,” Underwood said. “Does it pertain to the position we are looking for? Their aptitude; how well they articulate ideas tells us how organized they are. We are also interested in what they do outside of work. Philanthropic work and community service is another element we look at,” he said.

Many older workers struggle to find jobs in a booming industry that now places more emphasis on cultural fit and cost effectiveness than on experience. People are more dedicated to the company than the company is to the people. Workers like Jeff Rose still have fight and passion in them and wish companies would see the value in experience once again.

“We still have a desire to make an impact,” Rose said. “We are innovative and we want to show that there is still value in hiring people older with more experience.”

What’s Growing On

By: Stephanie LaRue

At 11:30 a.m., the fenced-in slope a block up the hill from the Bayview’s busy Third Street didn’t turn any heads. After a few hours of dirty work in the beating sun, patches of strawberries, dark green kale, and a booming cilantro plant are visible from the street. This corner of Bridgeview Drive and Newhall Street is home to the Bridgeview Community Teaching and Learning Garden, where its tenants are clearing out the weeds that popped up after the rain.

Joel McClure trims the growth on the chain link fence surrounding the space. The sun catches beads of sweat in his greying mustache. Joel’s wife, Mary McClure, carries a glass dispenser of ice water to a wooden bench on the first level of the terraced garden. Slices of oranges, plucked from the tree ten feet away, knock against ice cubes with sprigs of garden-harvested lavender, frozen inside.

Damiana Bruno pulls weeds with friends Oriol Codina (middle) and Daniel (Back) during Brigdeview Teaching and Learning Garden's volunteer day in the Bayview District in San Francisco, CA on Sunday February 14, 2016. (Aleah Fajardo/Xpress)
Damiana Bruno pulls weeds with friends Oriol Codina (middle) and Daniel (Back) during Brigdeview Teaching and Learning Garden’s volunteer day in the Bayview District in San Francisco, CA on Sunday February 14, 2016. (Aleah Fajardo/Xpress)

The McClures built the Bridgeview Garden in an unmaintained city lot next to their home. With help from the Quesada Gardens Initiative and other local agricultural nonprofits, they developed the space from a dumping ground to a sustainable vegetable and fruit garden in a geographically isolated neighborhood in one of the Bay Area’s food deserts. The garden serves as a teaching ground where elementary school students, medical school residents, and community activists learn the importance of access to fresh, healthy food.

When the McClures moved into their Bayview home in 2001, the city lot next to them was trashed. The slope was overgrown with weeds, and scattered with garbage and old mattresses. A cyclone fence, padlocked shut, surrounded the lot. It was such an eyesore for Joel that he would drive home from the opposite direction so he wouldn’t have to look at it.
“I can’t run away from the problem because I live right there,” Joel said, pointing up to the house that overlooks the lot. “So I decided, as I looked out the window I said, ‘Joel, somebody has to do something about it,’ and I think the window looked back at me and said, ‘Guess who’s going to do it?’”

Damiana Bruno poses for a photo near their designated spot in the Brigdeview Community Teaching and Learning Garden in the Bayview District in San Francisco, CA on on Monday February 23, 2016. (Aleah Fajardo/Xpress)
Damiana Bruno poses for a photo near their designated spot in the Brigdeview Community Teaching and Learning Garden in the Bayview District in San Francisco, CA on on Monday February 23, 2016. (Aleah Fajardo/Xpress)

Their first action was to call the city’s customer service line to send someone to clear out the lot. They were told that there was no funding for the city to provide that kind of service, but the McClures could have the keys to the fence if they wanted to take care of it themselves. For two-years, the McClures chipped away at the littered lot. Mary said every time they would go out and pull weeds, it would rain and new weeds would pop up.
In 2004, Mary said they noticed something interesting down the street. The median dividing Quesada Avenue was transforming from a neighborhood dumping ground to a flourishing garden oasis. Bayview residents Annette Smith and Karl Paige, built the Quesada Gardens, which evolved into an award-winning nonprofit called the Quesada Gardens Initiative (QGI).

The McClures asked QGI for help with the lot, and they sent it in droves. Volunteers from the University of California, San Francisco Architecture and Community Design class drew up new landscape plans and offered to help build and maintain the lot as a garden. In a neighborhood-wide vote, the plans were approved to become QGI’s next project.

The Bridgeview Garden is sustained through donations, but receives funding from QGI for any materials they need. The city sent over dump trucks full of topsoil, mulch, and broken-up concrete to use for landscaping. A nonprofit in the Presidio, Friends of the Urban Forest, donated fruit trees for the garden, and the primrose trees that now line the sidewalk along Newhall Street.

Oriol Codina helps pull out weeds during the Brigdeview Teaching and Learning Garden's volunteer day in the Bayview District in San Francisco, CA on Sunday February 14, 2016. (Aleah Fajardo/Xpress)
Oriol Codina helps pull out weeds during the Brigdeview Teaching and Learning Garden’s volunteer day in the Bayview District in San Francisco, CA on Sunday February 14, 2016. (Aleah Fajardo/Xpress)

“That’s a big expense right there,” Mary said. “If it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t be affordable for us to have purchased the trees.”

One of Joel and Mary’s former neighbors, Roberto Vargas, remembers back when the Bridgeview Garden was in its original state. “I used to walk by here, and this was a dump,” Vargas said. “This is one of the spaces that for me is very representative of transforming a space that represented neglect, into a space that builds community and provides nutrition.”

Vargas, a resident of the Bayview for 25-years, is Co-chair of the Bayview Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Zone, which recently merged with Southeast Food Access (SEFA). He also works as a navigator of the Community Engagement and Health Policy program at UCSF. He said the neighborhood — specifically Hunters Point — is geographically isolated.

“My mother used to drive the one MUNI bus that goes in and out of that community, and she used to always tell me, ‘You know, I feel bad charging anybody! I let folks slide because it feels like an injustice that this is the only way in and out for many of these folks,’” Vargas said.

He said that the geographic isolation creates barriers to healthy food. The United States Department of Agriculture Food Access Research Atlas characterizes Bayview-Hunters Point as a low-income, low-access census tract. Areas like this one, with limited access to sources of healthy food, either by geography, income, or transportation, are called food deserts.

Compared with the rest of the city, hospitalization rates due to diabetes, hypertension, and heart failure are the higher in the Bayview than any other neighborhood, according to the San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership. These specific conditions are all directly related to poor diet. Additionally, 18 percent of the Bayview’s residents live in poverty according to the San Francisco Planning Department Neighborhood Socio-Economic Profile, which also limits the ability to buy healthy food.
The Bridgeview Garden manages to rise above the statistics, and provide solutions to the issues that plague the Bayview. The garden hosts students from elementary school to medical school to learn about the importance of sustainability and healthy eating habits.

“It’s really good because we’re learning as we’re imparting information,” Joel said. He said he remembered when a 14-year-old boy visiting the garden on a field trip learned what Brussels sprouts looked like. “He saw them in the rows in Safeway, but never knew where they came from,” Joel said.

John Kosich(left) and Sherry Scott (right) pose for a photo near the Brigdeview Teaching and Learning Garden during the garden's volunteer day in the Bayview District in San Francisco, CA on Sunday February 14, 2016. (Aleah Fajardo/Xpress)
John Kosich(left) and Sherry Scott (right) pose for a photo near the Brigdeview Teaching and Learning Garden during the garden’s volunteer day in the Bayview District in San Francisco, CA on Sunday February 14, 2016. (Aleah Fajardo/Xpress)

The garden also provides bags of fresh produce for elderly neighborhood residents on a fixed income. “Whatever we pick we want to make sure that we give them the first harvest,” Mary said. She said she didn’t think much of it at first, but the deliveries had a lasting impact on a neighbor who approached her and said the food helped her eat better and save money.

That interaction inspired Joel and Mary to keep up with the deliveries and double their crops. “We got to the point where we had so much zucchini that I would try to give it away to the neighbors and they would refuse it,” Mary said, laughing.

“This is something that brought pleasure to both my wife and I, because we were on the receiving end ourselves at one time,” Joel said, “And we’ve been blessed to have a fulfilling life, and I think that we as stewards of this garden, and also citizens of where we are, we need to share that with people less fortunate than we are.”


It’s All About Bridal Fashion Week- For Now.

Photo courtesy of Carolina Herrera. 

If you are affluent in fashion, you know very well of Paris, New York, Milan and London Fashion Weeks, whether it be spring or fall; but are you well-versed with Bridal Week?

This writer, was not. I always knew that some designers, like, obviously, Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta, were known for their bridal gowns, but I never knew that there was a dedicated week for showing them off, like there is for the above mentioned fashion weeks. I guess when you are not a soon-to-be bride you are not too concerned with designer bridal gowns. However, after one look, I was hooked.

Bridal Fashion Week is much more than just bridal gowns, it’s a chance for designers to entirely change the scope of what traditional wedding gowns are “supposed” to look like, in each of their own particular ways.

Photo courtesy of Vera Wang.

Vera Wang, who has dressed Heidi Klum and Chelsea Clinton for their weddings, displayed quite an existential modern day collection. The line screamed for millennial attention, while simultaneously exuding millennial characteristics: dignified, yet daring.

Classic silhouettes, structured, and trimmed with lace, but sheer, with black accents; generally a big no-no for the big day, Wang decided to run with it, creating a new scope for the new modern bride, while still staying true to her previous bridal lines.

Photo courtesy of Oscar de la Renta.

Oscar de la Renta himself still can be seen in this season’s Bridal Spring 2016 line, even with his passing last October. Peter Copping, the new creative director for the brand, told Vogue that he wanted this line to be entirely focused on the bride… Ahem… who else?

“You have to remember: Most of these dresses are seen from behind,” Copping told Vogue. “That was something I really wanted to consider: to think how it would look when the bride is in front of everyone, and to make it as gorgeous as the front.”

Now that’s all sorted out, we can focus on the collection. Copping was able to retain the regal elegance that de la Renta set forward when he began his fashion house in 1965, that being, simple and elegant, while giving off the essence of individuality and exclusivity. For example, a cocktail gown, white, with lace trim and a high neckline, right after a feathered corset ballgown, this collection was an example of the smooth transition from de la Renta’s hands to Copping’s.

Photo courtesy of Marchesa.

Marchesa, who dressed fashionista Blake Lively for her wedding to Ryan Reynolds, is relatively new to the bridal world, only beginning in 2004. Known for their delicately embellished and sophisticated gowns, it is my belief that color was on the mind of Keren Craig and Georgina Chapman, the founders and creative directors for the brand.

It seems that an eggshell-ish creme color decorated their Bridal Spring 2016 collection, with no white in sight. The hue of the gowns did not misguide their tone, however. Marchesa kept with their mission: designing one-of-a-kind detail-oriented gowns to the brides who crave worldly couture, but this time, with a loss of white.

Bridal Week may be that second-leg layover from the spring fashion weeks, but it is just as worthy, if you give it a shot.

See more trends from Bridal Week Spring 2016 here.


Gators pledge support for discounted transit passes

A new campaign has surfaced to help support commuting students who attend SF State, the purpose of the campaign is to make transit accessible and affordable. SF State is known widely as a commuter campus, with only about 10 percent of its students living on campus.

With BART announcing a $.10 to $.15 cent increase next year and many SF State students taking Muni to campus, the “GatorPass” has gained support fast, currently having over 500+ pledges and being shared frequently across Twitter, even being re-tweeted by SF State’s President Leslie Wong. The GatorPass would be paid for by student fees and other funding.

Supporters of the campaign include San Francisco District 8 Supervisor Scott Weiner, BART Director Nicholas Josefowitz, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, SFSU President Les Wong, the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

Many took to Twitter to show their support of the GatorPass:

Reactions to GatorPass on Twitter.

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Don’t worry – Fifty Shades will fade away

Xpress Logo 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey was released in theaters last week and people have gone ape shit over it. Over the three day weekend, Fifty Shades broke box offices records making $85.17 million being the fourth all-time best opening. Before the movie was released, people were still losing their minds over the sultry books that lined the shelves of bookstores.

What is funny though is before the author of Fifty Shades, E.L. James, came out with this series, she was writing Twilight fanfic in the privacy of her home, living in the fantasy of vampires and werewolves; just like the readers of Fifty Shades are doing today.

When the Twilight franchise blew up, I was right in the middle of it. Being in my late teens/early twenties, I was engrossed in the books and in love with the movies. The odd “Romeo and Juliet” style book of the forbidden love been a vampire and human was enough to send any fan girl off the edge. I even had the pleasure of meeting Robert Pattinson at Stonestown, yes, the one right by SF State, one evening and sat in the madness of thousands of fan girls awaiting the arrival of the Twilight star.

We all remember that time, too, back when Twilight was the shit. People would be wearing their “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” shirts, battling over who should win Bella’s affection. Hot Topic even went to the extreme by selling fake blood for people to drink – I promise you I am not lying about this – you know so all us vampires could still live.

Now, though, people will not admit to ever being in the Twilight crowd. Being closely associated to Twilight is a social death wish for any cool person. Even the actors of the movies hate themselves for letting the fade of Twilight brainwash them into thinking that the five part movie would be the greatest thing on the planet to make.

Coming full circle back to Fifty Shades, the same thing is happening. We are trapped in this pop-culture bubble where if one thing even remotely peeks the interest of people, it is suddenly a phenomenon. Today, there are people dying to be the next Ana, wishing they could stumble into Christian Grey’s office and be swept away in a dark, romantic fashion, knowing the secrets they keep are deep. Realistically though, by the time the second movie comes out people aren’t going to be as interested; then they will attempt the third movie, maybe even drag it out to a fourth to waste money and the souls of the actors, all to obtain money off of a dying franchise.

By the time the next Fifty Shades comes out, the next big thing will be developing, sweeping people into a crazy fan filled storm of “HOLY SHIT CAN THAT BE MY LIFE.” Personally, I have nothing against Fifty Shades or the franchise. If that is your thing, then you rock it to your fullest content – I am not judging. But also remember that when that next big thing comes out, it’s just a fad and soon will also be swept under the rug making way for the next fandom.


How does the port strike actually affect us?

Port of Oakland. Photo by Mark Hogan/ Creative Commons
Port of Oakland. Photo by Mark Hogan/ Creative Commons

If you’ve been somewhat paying attention to the news, you know that the west coast ports, yes even the one in Oakland, are currently on strike and it doesn’t seem likely that it will end anytime soon. Currently, the ports are congested with backed up vessels waiting to be unloaded and taken to their final destination, but for nine long months, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents 20,000 workers, and the Pacific Maritime Association have been at war over contract disputes. If an agreement is not reached, the ports could completely shut down.

So why should you care about this? Really, why does it matter to you if a bunch of people are on strike? Well this strike is actually pretty significant and can begin to affect us all in a major way. The ports are where we receive our goods, like spices, clothes, and boxes that store your food, basically anything that is not manufactured in the United States is coming by boat to these various west coast ports and then put onto our shelves. You know that the goods we receive from Asia, like video games, have been affected by 70 percent – yep, this strike is making those precious video games hard to obtain.

With the ports on strike, we could be looking at prices of our favorite things skyrocketing. With not being able to receive goods from other countries, that means we are in limited supply here. So places will either just run out of what they are selling, or have to up-charge what they have to make a profit since they have to buy the goods from a United States based company at a much higher cost then an oversees manufacturer.

Here is a list of just some things that aren’t manufactured here in the United States:

  • Converse sneakers
  • Levi jeans
  • Televisions
  • Barbies
  • iPads
  • Spices
  • Video Games
  • American Flags (that’s right – we don’t even make our own flag)

No one knows when the strike will end and if it will end in a good way. All I know is I won’t take my video games and salt for granted anymore. You never know how precious something is until you can’t get it off a truck or boat sitting in the middle of the ocean. #soclosebutsofaraway

***UPDATE: As of 7p.m. Friday night it looks like the ports have reached a five year agreement. Hopefully, the ports will begin to open but who knows how long it will take for the back up trucks and vessels to unload.

An exploration guide for driving down I-5

Graphic created by Lissette Vargas/Xpress. Map showing highways credit to
Graphic created by Lissette Vargas/Xpress. Map showing highways credit to

With windows rolled down and the cool California air breezing through your car, you see endless rows of green crops for miles. Car games are initiated to pass the time, and you point out the window guessing what is being grown in the fields of green. You see big tractors carrying heaps of brown and then you notice workers with sun hats and gloves picking small round objects off the trees. All of a sudden a stench begins to linger in the air, the sent is so foul that you begin to drive a tad over the speed limit to escape.

Interstate 5 highway was completed in 1979 and has since then been the quickest way to travel between Blaine, Washington and San Diego, and California on wheels. Travelers trying to reach cities like Los Angeles, Sacramento, Portland and Seattle popularly use the road, as well as truck drivers delivering goods across counties.

Next time you are driving on the 5, use this illustrated map to put the vast land in front of you into perspective and see exactly what is growing.


Graphic created by Lissette Vargas/Xpress. Cotton image credit to Freepix.
Graphic created by Lissette Vargas/Xpress. Cotton image credit to Freepix.
  1. Nunes Farms has been harvesting almonds and pistachios since 1984. They’re nuts are supplied in raw form during the warm weather, as well as dipped in rich chocolate during the colder months. 4012 Pete Miller Rd., Gustine, CA
  1. Delgado Farming was first established in 1988. The farm produces cotton for Sammy Dress, a clothes wholesaler. 27685 South Hamburg Ave., Firebaugh, CA
  1. Del Bosque Farms, Inc. prides themselves in providing safe and healthy working conditions for their workers. They have been growing organic honeydew melons and cantaloupes since 2004. Their cops also include almonds from twenty-year-old trees and produce some of the best asparagus in the country. 51481 West Shields Ave., Firebaugh, CA
  1. Blue Ridge Pomegranates is a family owned organic farm that allows you the opportunity to pick your own pomegranates for just $15 a box.17000 South Derrick Ave., Cantua Creek, CA 
  1. Harris Ranch is California’s largest beer producer with over 100,000 cattle populating the area. Harris Ranch is In-N-Out Burger’s meat supplier. The ranch is also popularly know for inspiring Michael Pollan’s book on factory faming, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. 23304 West Oakland Avenue, Coalinga, CA ‎
  1. Double D Farms is the most diverse farm on our list. Their production list includes:
  • Asparagus
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage (red, green)
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans
  • Onions (red & yellow)
  • Sweet Corn
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon seeded/seedless
  • Honeydew

29191 Fresno Coalinga Rd., Coalinga, CA

  1. Los Gatos Tomato Products focuses on producing high quality and sustainable tomato paste.19800 Gale Ave., Huron, CA
  1. Paramount Farms are the producers of the “Wonderful” pistachio and almonds. They’re popular slogan, “Get Crackin America” is heard across the country. They are currently on the way to produce a billion pounds of pistachios by 2020.13646 California 33, Lost Hills, CA



Three College Students’ Anti Beer Review

Photo by Hillary Smith


Beer Week is currently happening and San Francisco has gone crazy, yet again.

Close to 2,000 people purchased tickets for the Opening Gala at Fort Funston Feb. 6, which featured ales, pilsners and lagers from 80 different breweries. Local restaurants even joined in on the madness, too. Cathead’s BBQ on Folsom Street infused Headlands Brewing Co.’s Hill 88 into their delicious lamb meatball sandwiches. Peter Rizos from the San Francisco Cheesecake Company infused Abyss brew by Deschutes Brewing into his cheesecake.

So, naturally, we wanted in on the fun. We (tried to) review five beers total from three local breweries that participated in the fiasco.


Anchor Steam

-Breckle’s Brown Ale, 6%

-Saison Spring Ale, 7.2%


-Big Daddy IPA, 6.5%

-Scarlett, 5.5%

 21st Amendment

-Brew Free or Die IPA, 7%


Here’s what we thought.

courtesy of



Anchor Steam’s Breckle’s Brown, 6% came out the winner of the five local brews. The malt single hop brown ale went down smooth, was nice and refreshing. Comments included “smooth”, “delectable” and “fruity”. Not overwhelming. Scored average of 4.5 out of 5 with these professional college beer-drinkers. The red color is very pleasing to the eye…one odd commenter said. The consensus we came to about Anchor Steam was that it’s not your favorite brew right off the bat, but once your palate is used to the brand, something amazing happens. That amazing thing is the breweries Brekle’s Brown. This is not a message condoning drinking, but…try it now!

[At this point, we decided to call a spade a spade and retire our professional beer reviewer hats. Instead of trying to fake the lingo and come up with something profound, we just sat back and recorded our candid reactions. We thought you’d find this funnier. ]



Second place in the contest was Anchor Steam’s Saison 


courtesy of
courtesy of

Craig: OMG, I really like that. Almost tastes like a hint of bbq. I feel like I just ate bbq flavored chips.

Reuben: I don’t know why, I think it’s just like tasting crap bitter. This is the first time I’ve ever seen Spring ale.

C:… I feel like this would be a good summer beer. It seems lighter to me, and just goes down smooth. I don’t know, it doesn’t have a lot of spices, I think.

Hillary: This is really the time I’m realizing we don’t have the skills to review beer.

C: I definitely don’t have much of a beer palate. Not much of a wine palate either.

R: I think this is thin bodied. It just goes down really smooth. So that’s a way to describe it, it’s thin bodied.

C: Not hoppy… that’s my extent of describing beer.

R: Here’s another one.. “ester-y”. It’s flowery, a combination of flowery and fruity.

H: Where did you come up with that word?

R: I’m looking at a beer dictionary…. just say “fruity”… “ester-y”.

…Would you call it salty? Or tart?

C: Not tart, I wouldn’t say tart.

R: Would you say reminiscent of wine?

C: Um..I don’t…

R …with a slight vine-y flavor..

C: It’s more reminiscent of wine than other beers I’ve had.

H: What does that mean?

C: Ha ha ha, pfft. I don’t know, I’m just talking out of my ass. I still stand by the fact that I feel like it evokes a bbq flavor…it’s smokey, I don’t know what it is.

H: It’s not smokey.

C: That’s my personal opinion. People need to know that I’m not an expert, so..

R: What’s the mouth feel? How does taste in your mouth.. thin? Watery? Could a person drink multiple of these and not get super drunk?

H: Could you do that?

R: Probably.

 Next came Speakeasy’s Big Daddy

by Flickr user Yumi Kimura
by Flickr user Yumi Kimura

C: OMG you can smell the hops.

R: Thin and hoppy.

C: That’s true. It’s almost dry…It cuts through! It cuts through my heart!

R: Definitely flowery. You can taste the flowers.

H: What flower is it?

R: Hop. Hop plant, that’s kind of like a flower. Hops are flowers. That’s why it’s flowery.

C: It kind of looks like the color of pee of someone who is super, super, super dehydrated, like to the point of death, probably.

R: There goes my trying to be healthy…

Third was 21st Amendment’s Brew Free or Die IPA

by Flickr user Brave Heart
by Flickr user Brave Heart

H: Rueben, did you drink it already? We were supposed to review it.

R: Ha ha ha, oh! What were we drinking?

C: I would say it hoppy-ish. Not “super” hoppy, but like mid. Hoppy. Its lighter-ish. What do u think Reuben?

H: Well he already drank it, so I don’t think he remembers ?

R: It had a lingering head.

H: What’s a head?

R: The foam.

C: It’s not my fave, but I can deal.

R: I would skip child support payments to purchase one of these beers.

And…dead last was Speakeasy’s Prohibition Scarlett

courtesy of


C: Uggh, this one’s dark.

R: It’s a red ale! Kind of spicy. It’s spicy, but kind of thick. Definitely thick.

C: Okay, wait. I’m chewing a carrot.

R: Thick, spicy with a good amount of bitterness.

C: It’s definitely darker, there more spices in there than other beers we tried. Hoppy.

R: Hoppy? I don’t think there’s hops in it.

H: It kind of tastes like chocolate.. you know cocoa.

R: I’m in love with the coco, coco. You know that song?

H: Yes

R: Fantastic review, told me how terrible I am at identifying beers. Eye-opening to me. Maybe it’s just because I like all beers.




SF State talks Valentine’s Day

Photo by Hillary Smith


Valentine’s Day makes people weird. Like, extra angry or extra lovey dovey. Some fill the holiday with fancy desserts and meals and end it wrapped in someone’s arms like a fucking ball of yarn. Some spend a long time talking about how lame it is, and how it’s all product placement and a marketing holiday. Like, “Duh, can’t you see that man? It’s the government!” But we wanted to hear what you thought of it. So two of us went around campus to get your opinion on the chocolate-giving lover-kissing people-bitching holiday. Here’s what you said.


The Perfect Fit

Jackelyn Ho, editor-in-chief, of Fiterazzi Magazine performs a sidekick, one of the many moves she uses when teaching her fitness classes. Photo by Martin Bustamante
Jackelyn Ho, editor-in-chief, of Fiterazzi Magazine performs a sidekick, one of the many moves she uses when teaching her fitness classes. Photo by Martin Bustamante

SF State alumni, Jackelyn Ho, has an insane schedule for someone who has already graduated college. When she is not at Crunch Fitness training people to get the body of their dreams, she is sitting at her house or Starbucks, running the magazine Fiterazzi, which she created with her sister, Cassey Ho.

“I do have a crazy schedule,” Ho laughed. “But it’s not hard.”

Fiterazzi currently doesn’t have its own office, which is perfect since not all of its staff is from the Bay Area. The magazine’s contributors come from all over the country, including Canada and Australia.

“We did an open call for Fiterazzi and got a lot of feedback,” Ho said. “From 14-year-old girls, to college students, to 30-year-olds, all giving their advice on fitness. We were looking for diversity.”

Jackelyn Ho, editor-in-chief, of Fiterazzi Magazine performs a sidekick, one of the many moves she uses when teaching her fitness classes. Photo by Martin Bustamante
Jackelyn Ho, editor-in-chief, of Fiterazzi Magazine performs a sidekick, one of the many moves she uses when teaching her fitness classes. Photo by Martin Bustamante

Reaching out to the community has always interested Ho. When she first came to SF State, she thought she was going to be a news anchor and graduate with a degree in journalism. Although the journalism major didn’t pan out for Ho, she was still interested in the classes offered by the department.

“I like my [broadcasting] major, it’s cool,” said Ho. “I really wanted to take the 300 [journalism] course though! That’s the boot camp for journalists, isn’t it?”

She laughed when she saw the horrified look on the faces of my photographer and myself. For journalism majors, the JOUR 300 Reporting class is where you make it or break it. It’s known to have ended many journalistic dreams before they had barely begun.

Ho admired how different the gym is now compared to where she used to teach her classes, noting the trailers that used to be outside are now gone. Although SF State was not her first choice, she was happy with her decision to stay here and graduate.

“I originally wanted to go to a school on the East Coast, because why not?” Ho said. “I dreamed of being ‘big’ in New York City. Unfortunately, we were in the recession when I started college and a $40,000 per year tuition wasn’t doing it for my parents. So I opted for SF State, which was the only school I applied to in California. I paid off my tuition with a scholarship and never looked back. It was a great experience and I am happy that things worked out that way.”

While attending SF State, she taught a kickboxing classes under the campus recreation department. You can even find her SF State profile here.

“I’ve been playing tennis since I was four years old, and after high school I wanted something different,” Ho recalled. “I took my very first group fitness class when I was 17 and fell in love with it. As soon as the clock struck midnight on my 18th birthday, I applied to teach at a gym. It’s been one of the best decisions of my life. Teaching gives me that excitement and motivation to do what I do. My students are my best friends and I can’t think of a better job in the world.”

Ho noted that she can relate to people who are self-conscience of their bodies and it helps bring her closer to the students she teaches in her class. She even noted that her students are her best friends.

Jackelyn Ho, editor-in-chief of Fiterazzi Magazine performs yoga pose, one of the many moves she uses when instructing her fitness classes. Photo by Martin Bustamante
Jackelyn Ho, editor-in-chief of Fiterazzi Magazine performs yoga pose, one of the many moves she uses when instructing her fitness classes. Photo by Martin Bustamante

She decided to turn the negative light from fitness magazines, into a positive outlook for her fans and readers. Creating the magazine Fiterazzi was her passion and dream. She wanted to build a publication that helped people with their health and fitness in an encouraging way.

Ho says there is more to being healthy than just a number on a scale, adding that she hasn’t stepped on a scale for years because she feels great and healthy, so what’s the point?

“When you see fitness magazines, they read like, ‘lose 10 pounds in 10 days’ or, ‘melt that muffin top,'” Ho said. “We wanted to be with people who were doing fitness but doing so in a positive light, as it is.”

Ho says that it makes her sad when people ask about negative parts of their bodies.

“I had a client come up to me after a class and ask how to get rid of thigh jiggle and back fat,” Ho recalls. “And I was like ‘You just finished an hour kickboxing class that was hard!’ It makes me sad that they are worried about that.”

For her magazine, Ho says that some of her successes come from when she receives emails from readers.

“When I receive email from people, it makes me feel better about the magazine,” Ho said. “I wish I knew more about the business portion of it though — more of a business plan and funding.”

Ho’s special outlook on fitness sparked Fiterazzi magazine, and it has affected people in many good ways. It has helped teach people that their bodies are perfect the way they are, and that losing ten pounds in ten days should be the least of anyone’s worries.

SF State graduation will be Giant

SFSU will hold their graduation ceremony at AT&T Park for 2015.
Photo by Tami Benedict/Xpress Magazine

This morning, SF State announced that they will be holding the 114th graduation commencement ceremony at AT&T Park for the first time since the ballpark was built fifteen years ago. The ceremony is scheduled for Friday May 22, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.

In an email sent out by the university president, Les Wong, he stated that he wanted a place where graduates and undergraduates would be able to celebrate this milestone with their friends and family in one place.

“Commencement Day is one of the most important milestones for our students, but in recent years it has become clear that the event has outgrown our current facility,” said Wong. “It’s important that we ensure family members and friends can be there to witness this special moment, and I’m thrilled that they will have the opportunity to do so in what has become one of San Francisco’s most iconic landmarks.”

Having the ceremony at AT&T Park will help SF Stare save money in the long run, because AT&T Park already has the amenities needed for the ceremony. This means SF State won’t be putting out any extra money to be getting Cox Stadium ready like they have in the past.

“Nothing can describe the excitement you feel watching our graduates and their families gathering for Commencement. So many emotions are in the air: pride, joy, relief, and anticipation. Our students have worked so hard and many have sacrificed much and overcome great odds, in order to get to this day,” said Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Luoluo Hong. “Hosting one large ceremony emphasizes the significance of our students achievements and honors the fact that it took an entire ‘family’ to get there: parents, friends, siblings, children, mentors, faculty and staff among them.”

AT&T Park is the home to the San Francisco Giants, three-time World Series Champions. The stadium can hold over 40,000 people, offers numerous ways to enter and exit the ball park, and there are several different ways to get to the stadium, with ample parking nearby, and Bart and Muni easily accessible. AT&T Park is located in the South Beach district, right on the waterfront by the Bay Bridge.