Hello, my name is Christopher Kenji. I’m a 24-year-old singer-songwriter, graduate of Berklee College of Music and a print/runway model.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO BOTH MUSIC AND MODELING?
Ever since I was a young kid, I’ve always had a deep passion for music. I picked up the guitar when I was about 10 years old and fell in love — I would spend all my free time playing and writing music (sometimes seven hours a day until my fingers hurt and I couldn’t play anymore). Music has always been and will always be my biggest passion in life; there’s nothing that compares to performing on stage, wearing your heart on your sleeve with your lyrics and melodies and having people connect with you so purely and intimately. Before anything else, I am first and foremost a musician.
As for modeling, it’s kind of funny — I never in a million years ever thought I would become a male model. I know a lot of people grow up having dreams of becoming a supermodel and living that glamorous lifestyle or something but that was never me as a kid. Growing up, I never really thought of myself as a physically attractive person; if anything, I was told the opposite at times so it’s still kind of surreal to me when I think about it. Anyway, my modeling journey started last September when I was at my friend’s show in LA and he introduced me to a woman there who happened to have spent years working in the fashion industry (little did I know, she would go on to become my mentor). She told me that I should become a model and I kind of laughed it off at first but then I realized she was actually very serious about it. I was kind of tipsy at the time, but I told her I guess I could give it a shot and she held me to it.
She then signed me up for a runway show casting in San Francisco. I went, got placed in two shows and ended up being awarded best model of 2018. They made me make a speech in front of the whole audience and it was one of the few moments in my life where I was truly and utterly dumbfounded. It almost felt like the world was playing a big joke on me but it wasn’t a joke; it was real. Having that experience really gave me the motivation to seriously pursue modeling and ever since then, it’s become a huge part of my life.
DO YOU DO ANYTHING SPECIFIC TO KEEP UP YOUR APPEARANCE FOR MODELING?
Yes, I actually kind of changed my life for modeling. I treat modeling like a job now because, well… it is my job. So, that means I can’t just make poor lifestyle choices all the time anymore. I remember getting an interview with IMG Models in New York City, which was pretty much the biggest interview of my entire life and asking my mentor what I should do to prepare. The first thing she told me was to completely cut out booze for the two weeks before I met with them. I said to her, “I’ll cut it out after tonight when I’m done performing at the bar” and she said “no, cut it out starting right now”. I remember feeling super weird playing 100% sober to a packed crowd of wasted people that night but it really taught me something. After just four days, I noticed that I looked and felt better than I had in literally years. Nowadays, I don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat sugar, I work out super hard in the gym at least 3-4 days a week, I don’t drink any caffeine and I take ice cold showers to wake myself up every morning. Despite it seeming like I gave up all the things that I love in life, as a byproduct, I feel the most healthy and confident in myself that I have ever been. To me, that’s the most rewarding feeling of all.
DID YOU ALWAYS BOTH SING AND PLAY GUITAR OR DID ONE COME AFTER THE OTHER?
No, I used to never sing. I was terrified of the idea. I remember specifically not applying to a music school I was really interested in because they required all of their students to sing. Singing always really fascinated me but I was always too nervous to try to do it myself. When I first ever tried to sing, I immediately realized my voice was weird. An astounding majority of the famous male vocalists we all know and love such as Freddy Mercury, Michael Jackson, Sting, Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney, etc. are all tenors with very beautiful, clear, high-pitched voices. I am basically the complete opposite (a bass/baritone with a very low, gritty voice) and I found out pretty quickly that I would never sound like any of them no matter how hard I tried.
It took me a long time to really find my voice. When I finally first gathered up the courage to start singing in front of people, I remember getting comments like, “you’re good at guitar, I think you should stick to that” and whatnot. It was a lot of work behind the scenes to get my singing to where it is today but it’s interesting —the qualities of my voice that I used to view as imperfections are now often the things that people tell me they like most about my voice. It’s crazy how things work out like that ––I’ve come to realize that sometimes a lot of the things in life that seem like curses really are just blessings in disguise.
DO YOUR TATTOOS HAVE MEANINGS? IF SO, WHAT DO THEY SYMBOLIZE?
Yes, all of my tattoos have meanings. I’m a very OCD person and all of my tattoos are organized. The right side of my body reflects my internal qualities (my birth name, birth year/place and birth order) and the left side of my body reflects my external qualities (my music and my martial arts). On my right side: being a quarter Japanese, I have my Japanese middle name “Kenji” (which translates to ‘healthy; rule’) on my right upper arm. I was born in New York City in 1994 and when I was in New York last year, I got that tattooed on my right forearm. I’m also the oldest of three boys and under my right collarbone, I have an arrow with three circles in it symbolizing me and my brothers; the biggest circle represents me (the oldest) and the other two smaller circles represent my two younger brothers.
As for my left side: I have a guitar fretboard which symbolizes my passion for guitar/music on the back of my left forearm ––pretty self-explanatory. And lastly, after training three days a week for 14 years, I wanted to have something on my body representing my black belt in mixed martial arts, so on my left shoulder, I have a rising sun blended with an American flag, which is a symbol that was on the wall of my martial arts studio all the years I trained there.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GOAL FOR THE FUTURE?
The short simple answer is that I just want to be a rockstar — not going to lie that would be pretty cool. But really, the bigger answer is I want to create art that brings people together. It’s so easy to feel lonely and lost in this world and I hope to make art that helps people feel less alone and inspires them to use their own voice and be heard. When you feel like no one in the world understands you or knows what you’re going through and you hear that one song that just somehow you gets you when no one else does ––a song from a person you’ve never even met but who’s music and lyrics help you know that they’re there living somewhere in this same, big world as you and they feel it too; that’s power. It could also be a character from a story you connect with or a piece of art — it’s something bigger than you or me or anyone.
That’s the reason I chose to be an artist. If I could just even make one person’s life a little bit better or inspire them to express their own individuality whether that be through my music, fashion/modeling work, art, etc., it would make my purpose feel served. I would rather have one person really connect with my art and be invested in what I am trying to say than a million people who don’t really care that much. I’ll either shoot for the stars or die trying but I refuse to be mediocre — that’s how it’s always been and that’s how it’ll always be for the future!
… RECORDING ARTIST – SONGWRITER
The majority of us might not know a Développé from an Assemblé, but we all know two things about ballet: One, it’s difficult. And two, it’s beautiful. The ballerina’s challenge is to hide how hard she’s working, which is why behind-the-scenes ballet stories are always so appealing — it’s satisfying to see the athleticism inherent to the art.
Olivia Bee’s photos, below, are a new addition to the genre. The photographer spent nine days photographing the dancers at American Ballet Theatre in New York City. Her shots include rehearsals for the ballet Jane Eyre and a performance of Harlequinade on the opening night of the company’s spring season.
To prepare for her plunge into the depths of elite ballet, Bee took some “beginner beginner beginner ballet classes” — her first since she was 5 years old. “The classes I took helped me get more in the dancers’ heads and be more predictive of movements.” In her photos, you can feel the whoosh of the pirouettes and the barely there tapping sound of a dozen dancers landing after a jump.
But Bee’s favorite subject is the way dancers of all levels relate to each other. She said it reminded her of what she had seen while photographing a ranch crew: “I think with any lifestyle that’s that intensive, people become family. You have to lift each other up and support each other.”
There’s a shift when the photographs move beyond the practice studios and go on stage. Suddenly, the edges go blurry. The ballerinas feel less like dancers or athletes, and more like figures in a dream sequence. “In my work I like to explore dreamscapes based in reality and human emotion,” Bee explained. “Ballet sweeps you away — I hoped to convey this in the images.” The impressionistic quality is heightened by the colorful, exaggerated costumes used in Harlequinade. The Degas comparisons are unavoidable, but this is like a Degas that’s only accessible in a dream.
Cardi B‘s legal troubles may have become much more serious.
On Friday, the Grammy-winning rapper appeared in Queens Supreme Court for the first day of her misdemeanor assault trial. Cardi is accused of ordering an attack on two bartenders at a Queens strip club back in August 2018. The alleged victims were sisters Baddie Gi and 6ix9ine‘s current girlfriend Jade. Both women claim they received threats from Cardi after she accused Jade of sleeping with her husband, Offset. Jade said she repeatedly denied the affair. Police say Cardi and her crew got into a physical altercation with the sisters while they were working at the Flushing strip club. Chairs, bottles, and hookah pipes were allegedly thrown at the complainants, resulting in slight injuries. Cardi was ultimately arrested on misdemeanor assault and reckless endangerment charges. She rejected a plea deal in mid-April, after her attorneys insisted she did not harm anyone during the incident.
Prosecutors announced Friday the case would be presented to a grand jury, which means Cardi’s charges could potentially be upgraded. State attorneys told TMZ they made the decision “after further investigation,” but did not reveal details of their findings.
According the Associated Press, the district attorney’s office had originally asked Cardi to return to court on Monday, but they pushed back the date to Aug. 9 after the rapper’s legal team cited scheduling conflicts.
Its smoking lounge cements San Francisco’s place as America’s leading recreational-cannabis destination.
There are more legal cannabis smoking lounges in San Francisco than in the rest of the U.S. combined. We now have nine such lounges at dispensaries citywide, whereas Denver just licensed only its second, Oakland has one, and the rest of America does not have any.
Hell, a single block in SoMa has as many marijuana lounges as the entire country outside San Francisco does. The corner of Ninth and Mission streets is home to smoking lounges at the Vapor Room, SPARC, and ReLeaf.
Some of these lounges consist solely of patio furniture thrown in a corner, while others are elaborate, baroque parlors with chandeliers, flocked velvet wallpaper, and widescreen TVs. The newest cannabis smoking lounge is the city’s most opulent yet, the luxe lounge of the just-opened Market Street dispensary Moe Greens.
“It’s Lounge 2.0,” Moe Greens founder and CEO Nate Haas tells SF Evergreen. “We wanted Moe Greens to be a throwback to the San Francisco our grandparents and great-grandparents lived in, the San Francisco where you’d get dressed up on a Saturday night and go to a place like Joe’s or Alfred’s Steakhouse for a drink.”
Despite the Las Vegas-inspired logo, the name “Moe Greens” is not a reference to the casino mogul from The Godfather.
“One day, I was holding some cannabis and my partner, who sometimes calls me Moe, said, ‘That’s a lot of green, Moe,’ ” Haas remembers. “That was the light bulb moment. Now we provide ‘mo green at Moe Greens.’ ”
It has by far the largest legal consumption lounge in the city, with separate, dedicated rooms for vaping, smoking, and dabbing. Its swanky aesthetic is similar to that of the Barbary Coast dispensary, which is run by the same management team.
“Lounges are very important for us,” Haas says. “When recreational cannabis passed, it increased competition. Building lounges that are unique, and that embody the San Francisco we and our families grew up in helps to differentiate our dispensary from all others.”
Shockingly affordable prices also differentiate Moe Greens from the pack. House grams are available for just $8, a price not seen in the city in years.
Smoking lounges might look like they’re only for big spenders, but they’re not. The steampunk-inspired lounge at Urban Pharm, one of the few that allow vaping and smoking indoors, sells individual dabs for as low as $5 — and Dollar Dabs for just a buck during Friday happy hour.
Whether a lounge allows you to just vape, or to dab, or to smoke raw flower is up to the dispensary itself. Most only allow vaping, but provide Volcano vaporizers and clear plastic huff bags free of charge. Others provide loaner bongs and dab rigs, but none of them allow alcohol or tobacco.
The license to smoke pot legally indoors is not granted by the San Francisco Office of Cannabis, which generally handles marijuana permit approvals. The license to smoke — technically, a “Cannabis Consumption Permit” — is actually awarded by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH).
Yep, the Department of Health gives permission to smoke weed.
“The health department has taken a harm reduction approach to cannabis consumption,” DPH spokesperson Veronica Vien tells SF Evergreen. “Rules and regulations allow consumption to occur, but limit youth exposure and underage access,” and “mitigate overexposure to indoor smoke through enhanced engineering controls.”
The department’s cannabis consumption laws describe these engineering controls as “a ventilation system capable of removing all detectable odors, smoke, and byproducts of combustion.”
Lounge owners say these ventilation requirements are actually among the easier regulations to comply with.
“These hurdles are minimal for existing dispensaries,” according to SPARC CEO and chairman Erich Pearson. “The process with DPH has been smooth.”
SPARC’s lounge is one of those Volcano vape-only facilities, but customers are allowed to light up and smoke flower on Fridays and Saturdays, beginning at 4:20 p.m.
Right around the block from SPARC, the Vapor Room has the most noticeable pot smoking lounge in town. That’s because it’s right smack dab in their giant front window, for every passerby to see.
“Our lounge is integrated into our retail experience and is prominently displayed by our front window,” says Vapor Room owner Martin Olive. “We believe this helps remove the unnecessary stigma of feeling like one ought to hide their cannabis use in dark corners.”
Most San Francisco cannabis lounges are concentrated on a four-block strip in SoMa. But two of them are outliers — literally.
Way out in the Richmond and deep in the Mission, the Harvest dispensaries provide conference room-style lounges with giant TVs. Both act as co-working spaces, cannabis farmers markets and event venues, or host infuse dinner meetups like Dim Sum and Dabs or Fried Chicken and Dabs.
“Our lounges provide a cannabis-friendly workplace, a utopian gathering place, a remarkable educational facility or the most beautiful space to consume,” says Harvest guest services manager Tom Powers.
Sure, it’s all fun and dabs at these stylish and hip cannabis lounges that cater to convention-hoppers and the new SoMa tech set. But for many San Franciscans, the lounges really do provide a crucial public resource.
“Elderly, disabled, and ill folks can and do experience isolation from medicating with cannabis alone in their homes,” the Vapor Room’s Olive points out. “Everyone else may be forced to use cannabis in parks, on the street, or in their car when medicating, all of which can expose them to unnecessary and illegal risks.”
SPARC’s Pearson adds, “The lounges are critical for the many medical cannabis patients that live in government-subsidized housing that does not allow cannabis consumption.”
San Francisco will not remain home to the nation’s largest number of cannabis lounges for much longer. West Hollywood just awarded 16 consumption lounge permits for onsite smoking or edibles. These permits are contingent on the businesses getting fully licensed, but WeHo is well-positioned to surpass our cannabis lounge count.
Las Vegas will be getting them soon too, possibly this year. But San Francisco’s lounges served as the basis for Las Vegas’ framework. Expect other cities to continue following our lead as legal cannabis spreads across the U.S.
Our cannabis lounges really are a wonderful airport bar-type social space where you find yourself mingling with tourists, veterans, SSI recipients, or CEOs. And San Francisco has set the trailblazing standard that dispensaries across the world will look to when they want to fire up.
Moe Greens, 1276 Market St., 415-762-4255 or moegreens.com
People in Colorado still remember John Hickenlooper’s crack after the state legalized marijuana, a move he opposed: “Don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”
But Mr. Hickenlooper, the governor at the time of the 2012 initiative allowing recreational use of cannabis, eventually changed his mind. He acknowledged that fears of increased use by children did not materialize, and he boasted of the tax revenues for social programs that regulated sales delivered.
Entering the Democratic presidential race this month, Mr. Hickenlooper joined a field already jammed with pro-legalization candidates, a reflection of swiftly changing public opinion since Colorado became one of the first of 10 states with legal recreational marijuana.
The issue today is a pillar of progressive politics, but not because of graying hippies who like their Rocky Mountain High. Rather, for many Democrats, legalization has become a litmus test for candidates’ commitment to equal treatment for all races in policing and criminal justice as well as fighting economic inequality.
A Democrat who is not on board with legalization or addressing it in terms of repairing harms brought by prohibition for decades is going to have a tough time convincing any voter they’re serious about racial justice,” said Vincent M. Southerland, executive director of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law at New York University Law School.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey last month introduced the pointedly named Marijuana Justice Act, which would remove the drug from the federal list of controlled substances and expunge past convictions. Supporters note that African-Americans are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, even though rates of use are similar.
“It’s not enough to legalize marijuana at the federal level — we should also help those who have suffered due to its prohibition,” Mr. Booker said in a tweet.
Other 2020 candidates in the Senate quickly signed on as sponsors, including Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/17/us/politics/marijuana-legalize-democrats.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
Coming Spring 2019! Become a Patron NOW and be one of the FIRST to see the all-new season! Patreon.com/andseen Follow us on all social media! IG: @&SEEN Twitter: @andseennetworks Facebook: @andseennetworks In the upcoming season of The Chadwick Journals, Chadwick struggles through his brother’s birthday when the desperate, Oren shows up on his doorstep unannounced. Together, they sift through their pain and gain a deeper understanding of their plights. Starring Damian Toofeek Raven, Matthew Hancock, and Skhy Black.