What Not To Do at Paint-Fueled Carnival

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Angelica Sydney is a Canadian writer, sports enthusiast and travel junkie.

I was covered from head to toe in paint, mud, powder and chocolate, and so was the camera. The problem? It belonged to my school. 

Just hours before, the sounds of barking dogs and crowing roosters filled the night air. It was a.m., and we were preparing for pre-Carnival celebrations known as J’Ouvert (French Creole for “dawn” or “daybreak”). My mother, in her Trinidadian accent, asked whether I had everything I needed. “Angel … do you have batteries? De camera?” 

You can’t play mas, if yuh ‘fraid powder.

Soon my cousin Martin — a “big boss man,” mom said — came to pick us up. Anyone who works for the government is a “big boss” man or woman in Trinidad. We were heading for the capital, Port of Spain, where he dropped us off near the big Queen’s Park Savannah — known as the Savannah or De Big Yard — leaving us  around 2 a.m. to meet up with the band. 

Music blasted from every corner, with Machel Montano’s “Like Ah Boss” being played by a number of DJs. Various J’Ouvert bands filled the Savannah, and my family and I were looking for a group wearing red firefighter’s hats and white T-shirts with the image of scantily clad women on them, along with the word “Inferno.” And the females were all wearing the customary “pum pum shorts” (short shorts).

It took about an hour before we found everyone and gathered along St. Clair Avenue at the southern side of Queen’s Royal College. It was beautiful to see everyone in their fireman costumes, and I started getting my equipment out to take photos. My back was already aching because of my heavy load — I was the only one in the band with so much equipment. The emcee started yelling, trying to excite the masqueraders and revelers. The truck started to move in front of us, and the group began chipping — a slow two-step with undulating body movements — down the road.

I stayed out in front to take photos and video. It was pitch black outside, and my external light refused to work. This frustrated me because I wanted to get behind the scenes, but I was starting to have a more pressing concern: Why was everyone still so clean? J’Ouvert festivities are notoriously messy — and it was that splash of color I wanted to capture on film.

By 4 a.m., my legs were burning. Then, just as the sky started to brighten, the screams began. People appeared with buckets of paint, and I moved in quickly to capture the moment as the colors flew. I was there to document the parade for a school project, not participate. I saw a photojournalist capturing the action, like me, and managing to stay dry, so I was hopeful I could do the same. 

“Look she’s clean,” I heard someone say. “No, no, no, I’m just here to take pictures, I have a camera, please don’t,” I screamed. But within seconds I was covered in paint. From then on, it was as though I were a moving target. People smacked paint on my shirt, my leggings, even my Nikes. Then came the powder posse — a group of revelers armed with baby powder — and the air filled with choking specks as the crowd was covered in both powder and paint. 

“How am I going to pay for this?” I wondered, fearing the equipment — which I had borrowed from the university to document the festivities — was ruined. The paint was in every crevice of the camera, and the strap was covered — so much so that the word Nikon had disappeared. The lens? Splattered. I started freaking out, thinking that my degree was at stake.

My brother Gaelen came along, also covered in color and mud, and saw that I was upset. He asked what was wrong, and when I showed him the camera, he told me — in true younger brother style — that I was in “deep shit.” But then he said something I’ll never forget: “Sis, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There is nothing you can do now — clean the camera when we get home and just enjoy the moment.” Then he gave me a big hug, smearing all his paint onto me, and carried on. As Trinidadians like to say, “You can’t play mas, if yuh ‘fraid powder.”

I thought about my brother’s advice. Why spoil the moment, and an experience my parents had spoken about all my life? So I wiped away the tears and started taking part. 

I marched, laughed and continued being showered in powder, mud, water and paint. And you know what? I still earned my degree and didn’t have to buy a new camera. Baby oil and hand sanitizer are a paint-covered-camera-carrying girl’s best friends. All the worry is a distant memory, and the joy I shared in celebrating the traditional fete with my family is something I’ll treasure forever. 

Senator Tim Kaine on Virginia’s Future

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The story of Virginia is a nuanced one, and who better to tell it than Hillary Clinton’s former running mate and the current senator, Tim Kaine, the Democrat who worked his way up from Richmond City Hall to governorship — and now, perhaps, to becoming one of the most prominent voices on Capitol Hill. From his Senate office adorned with items such as a baseball cap collection, a tome extolling the beauty of Shenandoah and a Native American dream catcher, Kaine spoke to OZY about his state and its political future.

How do you balance protecting red-state Democrats like yourself with opposing President Trump and a Republican agenda in Congress?

Sen. Kaine: I’m not worried about it. I’m up in ’18 and I’m focused on my own race, not so much on others. But I just think that I know Virginia pretty well. What you’re supposed to do, to be a good elected official, is to listen very carefully to people but then do what you think is right. It’s not ultimately about reading an opinion poll.

There’s definitely an overarching strategy, and it’s to advance on anything we can with the administration that will be good for Virginians and Americans. We’ll rewrite the Higher Ed Act on the HELP Committee. I hope we’ll save the Affordable Care Act and improve it, rather than foolishly reverse it and kick 30 million people off health insurance. I expect the president will talk about infrastructure at the State of the Union, and we will work together with him on that.

 

However, there are a series of things that he’s done already that I deeply oppose. I’m going to use the tools that the framers put in the Constitution, in Article I. Congress is supposed to be an independent political branch, but maybe they put us in Article I because they thought we were even more important than the Article II branch. I’m going to use my tools to make sure we protect people from getting hurt.

I think anybody who is in a part of the state that is less populated always wonders if officials are only paying attention to the population centers. 

How would you describe Virginians to folks from other states?

Sen. Kaine: Virginians are very proud of our history, but there was a period of time in which we were more interested in our history than maybe our future — and I think that dramatically has changed. This “Virginia for lovers” thing … it’s rare that a tagline lasts for so long [since 1969], but it’s lasted, and we really like it, because we’re loving people but we’re also history lovers, beach lovers, outdoors lovers. You can tailor it to your particular thing.

We’re a progressive state, and in some ways we’ve gone from behind the nation on a progressive scale to ahead. We’re a heavily diverse state — 1 out of 9 Virginians were born in another country. That’s very different from the Virginia of my birth — probably about 1 out of 100; a vastly internationalizing state.

What are the most pressing issues for the state going forward?

Sen. Kaine: It’s still a state of transition and a very diverse state politically. We’re now more of a bellwether, when we used to just be super reliably red, which I think is great because nobody can take us for granted. 

With each census, rural regions lose representatives while population centers, like Northern Virginia, gain seats. Do places like Roanoke wind up feeling underrepresented?

Sen. Kaine: It’s population. Look, my wife’s family is from Roanoke and from Big Stone Gap, which is on the border of Kentucky. Before I got into politics, I was spending a lot of time in southwest Virginia and have continued to for political reasons. Every time there is a decennial census and we do redistricting, the number of legislators in the south side of Virginia gets smaller, because we have to allocate one man, one vote, and the population centers are up north.

This is a challenge of a statewide official in Virginia, but also in any other state — to fully represent everybody, whether or not they are living in a populous region, whether or not they voted for you. As a statewide official, you really are called on to understand everybody’s issues. Again, do what you think is right, but you have to make sure that you’re paying equal attention to all regions.

I think anybody who is in a part of the state that is less populated always wonders if officials are only paying attention to the population centers. But that’s been a good thing for me — I don’t live in Northern Virginia; I live in Richmond. But because I have family ties in Roanoke and Appalachia, that has been a helpful thing to me in politics. I don’t have to remind myself to take seriously their concerns; I have a family telling me what I ought to know.

Is This $38 Cup of Coffee Worth The Price Tag?

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It felt like I was in a cartoon, as if the seductive aroma wafting toward me was pulling me closer to the golden-brown stream that flowed into the cup. The vibrant fragrance of ripe dark fruit, somewhat floral in nature, was accented by an intoxicatingly rich scent of cocoa. I was compelled to sip the steaming-hot liquid.

True luxury is more about experience than expense, some say. Long after the price is forgotten, the experience remains. This realization inspired chef Bryan-David Scott to create the world’s first collection of 100-point five-star coffees. To get there, he assembled a cadre of 34 world-class chefs, sommeliers and coffee connoisseurs to create his Cup of Luxury line, designed for “the elite coffee aficionado,” Scott says. Only an estimated 20 percent of coffee harvested in the world qualifies as specialty grade, he adds, noting that Cup of Luxury coffees “are comprised of the top one-tenth of 1 percent of the specialty grade.”

In other words, this ain’t no cheap cup of joe.

A warm floral brightness immediately washed over my palate, followed by the flavor of delicious milk chocolate …

The heady brew Scott set before me, known as kopi luwak, sells for $1,396 … a pound. This works out to roughly $38.77 per 8-ounce cup. Those of you familiar with the name are probably already aware that kopi luwak is also known as cat-shit coffee. The beans have passed through the digestive tract of an Asian palm civet, a weasel-like creature fond of coffee berries. (Scott assures me that all of his coffees are hand-washed prior to export.) This kopi luwak has been harvested from the droppings of free-roaming wild civets on a coffee plantation in Gayo Sumatra, a necessary distinction — with this kind of cash in play, many try to maximize yields by caging civets and force-feeding them.

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Celebrity coffee chef Bryan-David Scott 

Source Courtesy of Bryan-David Scott

To prove his kopi is indeed cruelty-free, Scott invited me to join him on a hike through lush Sumatran jungle to gather civet droppings with the foragers. Fun times, I’m sure, but comfortably ensconced in Scott’s Sonoma tasting room, a 17-mile hike through the Sumatran jungle held very little appeal for me. Duly reassured I wasn’t about to sip from a piping-hot cup of animal brutality, I drank. 

Naturally, the only way to take it is black. A warm floral brightness immediately washed over my palate, followed by the flavor of delicious milk chocolate, which was then supported by pronounced undertones of fruitiness. Next, a specific velvetiness emerged, along with a lingering finish completely devoid of bitterness. 

 

If you want to sample the Cup of Luxury line, you need to order the coffee online and brew it at home. And membership, like the coffee, is not cheap. Joining Scott’s Luxury Coffee Club requires shelling out $5,995 — annually. Membership is limited to 1,800 people, each of whom receives 24 bags of Scott’s specialty coffees a year. Be aware, though, that due to its limited availability, kopi luwak is sold individually, not included in the membership. 

But really, I think it’s worth it. After sampling the brew, I could only blink and say, “Damn, Chef. Starbucks has been holding out on us big-time!” Erupting with laughter, Scott replied: “Yeah, man, they really have.”

The Day Europe Said ‘Basta’ to Munching on Tiny Birds

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It was a foggy morning in 1986, and Giovanni Bianchi was hiding in the vineyards of Bergamo’s countryside in northern Italy, where he was aiming to shoot a few tasty robins, chaffinches, turtledoves and stone curlews for Sunday brunch. Clad in a military-green jacket for camouflage, Bianchi let his trap-bird begin to sing, and in flew a dozen of birds, lured by the call of their own kind. Boom, boom, boom. One at a time, the prey fell to the ground. With a huge grin, Bianchi placed his kill in a sack and headed home, his mouth watering at the thought of the lavish meal ahead. 

“My wife loved to make polenta e osei, the iconic dish of cornmeal mush with little birds,” he says. They also feasted on so-called mumbulì — skewers of bacon, sage and bits of nightingale covered in melted butter. But the best way to eat sbehech, as locals call the birdies, was “straight” — with the heads, beaks, bones and tails cooked briefly in hot oil, and then popped into the mouth whole. “Oh, they were so crunchy and tasty,” Bianchi recalls, licking his lips.

To the desires of the palate, you just can’t resist.

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At age 79, Bianchi — who started killing robins when he was 5 years old — still enjoys hunting. But since 1992, the premium little-bird delicacies have been banned by Italian law after his state adopted a strict European hunting regulation to safeguard endangered species and protect wildlife and migratory routes. “Today, if you accidentally kill a robin redbreast, it’s worse than if you shot at a man,” grumbles local hotelier Marco De Santis, who has a passion for hunting but rarely finds the time to indulge it. All the species that Bianchi loved to hunt are now off-limits, including sparrows, blackcaps, starlings, larks and woodpeckers. Other European countries, including France, Spain and Malta, whose citizens have been gulping down little birds since the Middle Ages, face the same EU-wide ban. 

Italians have always had a knack for chomping on weird stuff: frogs, snails, pig blood, even cats. Polenta e osei was a sacred northern dish of hunted little-bird meat that fans called divine. The smaller the bird, the more succulent the meat. But today, hunters caught killing one of those little birds can get smacked with a fine of up to 3,000 euros ($3,200), and, if convicted, be sentenced to up to a year in jail — a stiffer penalty than many petty criminals face. 

For the past 25 years, the hunting of these birds has been regulated — with limited kills — and allowed only in specified areas at certain times of the year. Permits are hard to get, and easy to lose. “We must thank crazy environmental and pro-animal lobbies for this folly,” says Bianchi, noting how the number of species that are permissible to hunt continues to narrow. Police follow the hunters relentlessly, he complains: “They dress up in green so we don’t see them, and hide behind shrubs. We always get ambushed.” The only fair fowl game at this point? Bigger birds like pheasants and thrushes — the ones Bianchi laments as being “not so tasty.” Angry hunters have joined forces with lobbies to try to get what they see as their “rights” restored. Thus far, they have had little luck. 

The ban dealt a heavy blow to Bergamo’s local industry and restaurants, where polenta e osei was a top dish, not unlike pasta alla carbonara in Rome. The “bird dish” has since been transformed into a dessert. It’s really little more than a souvenir, but these days folks can buy a bird-shaped muffin, says tourist office chief Elena Finazzi. Called polenta e osei, it’s made of polenta-yellow spongecake mixed with rum and nuts, and topped with bits of chocolate twisted to resemble bird legs. “Instead of the real polenta e osei, we eat polenta e cunì”— i.e., rabbit, which can still be hunted — says Finazzi. “Little birds are off-limits, and you’ll never find them in Bergamo,” she says. “Tourists, on the other hand, are crazy about the cake.” 

But if you must have the real deal, there are some “illegal” taverns in the countryside that serve the banned birds. You do need to know where to go, Bianchi says. Prohibition has driven the bird hunting underground, along with the restaurants that still dare to serve the gourmet treat. A single skewer of different bird meats costs 5 euros, and bookings must be made in advance (and in secret).

At dawn, teams of hunting friends venture to places where police are unlikely to go. When the steaming polenta e osei and mumbulì are ready, tavern owners lock their doors, and the feasts begin. These restaurants are not marked on any maps, and they change each weekend. The locations are passed along by word of mouth, and only to family and friends — locals’ lips seal up in the presence of outsiders. But for carnivores who go crazy for fried beaks — and don’t mind risking a year behind bars — it’s worth it. “To the desires of the palate, you just can’t resist,” Italians like to say.

Bianchi admits to having shot one or two redbreasts by mistake. Once dead, he protests, it would have been a pity to leave them on the grass.…

The Filmmaker Who Documented Gawker’s Demise

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Most directors had wrapped, edited, polished and finalized their films when they arrived at Sundance this year. But not all. Some, like Brian Knappenberger, waited until the eleventh hour.

While most of Hollywood made their way to Park City, Utah, for the year’s grandest cinematic shebang, director Knappenberger’s team was adding a key piece to his documentary Nobody Speak — clips from President Donald Trump’s inauguration and the ubiquitous protests that followed. The editor carried two file cases with the final cut to the airport, picked them up in Utah and jumped into a two-wheel-drive car, during heavy snow, to deliver the film to Sundance. The film arrived the day before premiering. The new cut worked; Netflix bought Nobody Speak. 

Timing and timeliness are everything for the 46-year-old filmmaker. Knappenberger catches issues early, before they’re fully baked into national discourse. He documented the rise of the hacktivist collective Anonymous in 2011 (released in 2012), years before Vice’s documentary on the group. He sold a documentary on Aaron Swartz, the boy genius programmer who committed suicide, in 2014, just a year after Swartz’s death. That film, which played in limited theaters, was shortlisted for the Oscars. When he’s not at festivals, Knappenberger steps off the silver screen and into the news cycle itself, making op-docs for The New York Times about threats to internet freedom, torture and the NSA. His themes are hot-button and establishment-challenging; Nobody Speak may qualify for the Oscars next year.

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Source Libby Coleman for OZY

Nobody Speak covers freedom of the press, telling the story of 2016’s biggest media court case, the Gawker trial, in which Hulk Hogan (real name: Terry Bollea) sued the media company over publishing his sex tape. Later, it was revealed that PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel had funded Hogan’s suit. Knappenberger combined bought footage from stringers who sat in the courtroom with intimate looks into the posttrial dramas of Nick Denton (Gawker’s creator) and A.J. Daulerio (Gawker’s former editor-in-chief). At times the film feels jam-packed and unedited, amassing various media sources like a scrapbook — but that effect adds to its urgency. Nobody Speak steps away from Bollea and Thiel eventually to showcase other threats to the freedom of the press, like the growing number of billionaire newspaper owners scooping up struggling papers. Trump’s election is the dark cherry atop all that Knappenberger had previously presaged.

Knappenberger is now free to respond to the zeitgeist mere breaths after it begins. 

“I think it’s quite an early film in what will be a trend in filmmaking,” Charlie Phillips, head of documentaries at The Guardian, says — read: timely political docs casting their sharp gaze on the new POTUS. But Knappenberger also represents a trend in filmmaking habits and technologies. As cameras shrink and editing becomes a household skill, documentary budgets are lowering and films can be completed faster than ever. It’s an ideal era for someone like Knappenberger, who, five films into his career, is now free to respond to the zeitgeist mere breaths after it begins. The filmmaker chooses his project when he feels “an undertow,” he says. Something makes him mad and seems like it’s “not going to end well.” When he saw how much the suit awarded Bollea — $140 million — Knappenberger got that itchy feeling about the First Amendment and went to work. 

Raised in the small Colorado town of Broomfield, population 60,000, Knappenberger grew up about 15 miles from a nuclear weapons production facility, the Rocky Flats Plant. That plant brought him to his first major contact with the documentary world. He learned about the potential dangers of living in such close proximity to a nuclear facility from a film called Dark Circle when he was still growing up. “Radiation is an abstract notion for kids. You can’t see it or feel it,” he says. That is, until a doc challenges you. It turned out his community was fine, he says. A state-sponsored study backs him up too: When asked about radiation dangers in the area, an official at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment pointed OZY to a study finding cancer rates in Rocky Flats to be on par with those in the rest of the Denver metro area.

Of course, Knappenberger wasn’t starved for information in his house. He comes from a highly educated family: His father was an IBM engineer, and mom taught second grade. His parents gifted him his first camera, a Pentax, before a road trip he took with his family around the U.S. His parents created a scavenger hunt for him to find the various lenses. His mom drove while his dad explained focal lengths to him. This began a camera-crazy phase that never quite ended. “It was etched into me,” he says. In three weeks, he learned the basics that set him up for the cinematography and camerawork that allowed him to break into the industry. 

Sundance and Hollywood this year are obsessed with Trump. Meryl Streep chastised Trump over mocking a disabled person; POTUS shot back a tweet about “liberal movie people.” Ashton Kutcher decried the executive order banning travel from seven countries. A day after the film premiered, as if on cue, Stephen Bannon, chief strategist to President Trump, said the media should “keep its mouth shut.” Knappenberger had missed the quote in all the tumult of Sundance. His eyes brightened halfway through our interview when I received the news alert. Nobody Speak could still change before it launches on Netflix, he muses.

The Republican Deregulation Bonanza Could Start With Craft Beer

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Ken Broadhead has messed around with hops and yeast in his kitchen ever since leaving college, but after his wife got sick of the smell he graduated to the garage. Then, after meeting fellow home-brewing enthusiast John Martin in 2004 — appropriately, at a bar — the pair joined forces and eventually vowed to commercialize their hobby with a clinking of glasses. Then in 2012, the entrepreneurs opened a microbrewery and taproom in Des Moines, Iowa, with Martin as the full-time head brewer and two part-time staffers. 

They timed it well, riding the wave of an American craft beer boom. In less than five years, their company has grown into a local powerhouse that employs 27 people, pumps out as much as 5,000 barrels of liquid gold per year and flashes the Confluence Brewing Company logo on taps in bars and on cans in stores all across the state of Iowa. 

Their story is far from unique. Almost two-thirds of the 5,200 small and independent breweries in the United States have set up shop since 2010. And now legislators are starting to see the potential of the industry as more than just a hipster trend. The soberly named Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act is gaining traction in Congress, with 37 co-sponsors in the House and 15 more in the Senate at the time of writing (that number is likely to increase). Stoking the legislative fires is the Brewers Association, which hopes the bill will become a pillar of the 115th Congress’ efforts to cut taxes and slash regulation for small businesses, helping to turn the beer boom into an engine of local economic growth and employment. According to Bob Pease of the Brewers Association, the majority of the 120,000 jobs supported by the industry are in urban manufacturing in states as diverse as Iowa, Vermont and Colorado. There’s not a politician on either side of the aisle who wouldn’t drink to that.

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Cans of Heady Topper are filled at the Alchemist brewery in Waterbury, VT on January 21, 2015.

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Specifically, the bill would halve federal excise taxes for small brewers from $7 per barrel to $3.50, reduce paperwork for ingredient and recipe approval and provide more funds for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a small regulatory body that has been stretched thin by the exponential growth in breweries. Despite the expansive headline figures, small brewers could use the break, says Chris Verich, owner of the Ohio Brewing Company, which employs 18 previously unemployed people in “about as blue-collar an area as you’ll ever see.” According to Verich, capital investment for new breweries can be substantial, and competition for cheaper secondhand equipment means progressing from basement to commercial brewery takes longer and is more expensive than it used to be. With more modest relief proposed even for large beer manufacturers, they too are throwing their support behind the bill, despite the fact that local brews could soon become more price-competitive with the Bud Lights and Blue Moons of the world.

If [the reform bill] passes, we’re hiring somebody tomorrow.

Ken Broadhead, co-founder, Confluence Brewing Company

The majority of craft breweries remain micro outfits, says Neil Reid, an industrial geographer at the University of Toledo who’s also known as the Beer Professor. Reid notes that costs really rack up when entrepreneurs take the big step from an on-site taproom to a bottling, packaging and distribution enterprise. That’s where the tax cut will help small business owners expand from local curiosities to regional industrial employers, claim advocates. “If [the bill] passes, we’re hiring somebody tomorrow,” says Broadhead. In addition, the economic impact of craft beer “goes far beyond just what you see at the brewery,” says Pease, noting the importance of beer tourism in certain cities as well as downstream employment for hops and barley growers and can manufacturers.

 

Craft brewers represent “the quintessential American success story,” says Congressman Erik Paulsen, a Minnesota Republican and one of two legislators who introduced the bill into the House in January. Indeed, few industries are typified by such a large number of small, independent firms in local communities across the country enjoying such rapid growth. Americans’ taste in beer is changing, says Reid, and that shift is being driven by millennials. “People enjoy the idea of going to locally owned establishments and buying a product that’s made right there,” he says. 

Despite cross-party support, there is no guarantee that the bill will make it onto the statute books. When introduced in the previous Congress, it received the support of 288 co-sponsors in the House and 51 in the Senate — more than half of all legislators. But the bill was never attached to a broader legislative movement and wasn’t voted on. Nevertheless, hopes are high this time around. “It is always tough to move tax policy,” Congressman Paulsen tells OZY, but “the prospects are pretty good.”

Even with this federal bill, state laws can impede the growth of craft brewing. While the Georgia state legislature is debating whether to allow small breweries to serve beer on-site in taprooms, New Mexico recently introduced a bill to increase state-level excise taxes on beer from $12.71 per barrel to a whopping $95.48. (For context, a half-barrel keg of a typical craft beer from Confluence Brewing Company costs around $240.) Then there’s the issue of craft brewers getting in their own way: It’s highly regulated industry that often attracts first-time entrepreneurs who don’t “know anything about how small business works,” says Broadhead.

Still, the outlook for the beer industry does remain fairly rosy nationwide. So the next time you pay a visit to your Friday-night watering hole, maybe try a pint of the local. Cheers!

A Survey of 5,000 CEOs Reveals What Makes a Great Leader

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OZY and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have partnered to bring you an inside look at how entrepreneurs and their good business are helping the communities around them. Enjoy the rest of our special series here.

Ask Katherine Graham-Leviss for the recipe for creating great innovative leaders and she’ll tell you that it takes a heap of risk-taking, lots of curiosity and a tendency to seize opportunities. But what’s not as well-known is the missing ingredient that many believe is essential for cooking up success:

The best leaders tend to lag behind when it comes to maintaining order and accuracy. 

“They are big-picture thinkers, they’re visionaries, but they’re not very good with the details,” explains Graham-Leviss, the founder of XBInsight, a Portsmouth, Rhode Island–based business consulting firm.

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Source Beverly Nguyen/OZY

Along with her colleagues, Graham-Leviss conducted a study of more than 5,000 leaders across multiple industries. They found the most innovative leaders tend to be risk-takers who are also adept at developing plans early on to minimize the potentially negative consequences that may follow. In other words, these leaders will make a bet and roll the dice, while also looking for strategic ways to hedge that bet. They demonstrate an underlying curiosity and desire to know more, leading with confidence and authority. As business consultant Lisa Lai says, the best leaders are “intentional” — they have clarity on what they stand for and are thoughtful about how they want to engage others at work and at home.

Yet at the same time, cautions Graham-Leviss, great leaders “tend to be less concerned, focused [on] or care about the process.” As a result, she and other experts suggest, it’s important that leaders build and keep the right team alongside them, including individuals in supportive business roles who excel at keeping life organized and accurate. Along these lines, innovative leaders with specific social styles are more likely to be successful. Those with a “driving” social style — which means they’re assertive, independent and driven when it comes to responding to problems — and those with an “impacting” social style (i.e., they excel at interacting with and influencing others) have an easier time reaching greatness than those with “supporting” or “contemplating” social styles, the XBInsight report noted. 

It’s a tricky balance to strike, given the push many leaders are feeling to be more collaborative these days. Greg Satell, author of Mapping Innovation, says that being a great leader comes down to a tendency to seek out new problems and find ways to solve them — and an ability to create a collaborative culture. “The worst thing you can do as a leader to is be constantly shooting down ideas,” Satell says. Collaboration is a critical component, he argues, especially since “leaders often find out that they had just a small part in the process.”

Indeed, that process of identifying problems and then turning to the right team members can make all of the difference between a ho-hum leader and a great one. The trick is not to worry about who has the “gift of leadership,” says Tamara Carleton, CEO and founder of the Silicon Valley–based business consulting group Innovation Leadership Board. “Great leaders help create other leaders around them. They create a shared culture of leadership, where everyone around them feels that they can take responsibility and ownership in the vision.” 

Boycott Those Briefings, Baby

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Mr. Spicer: I’ll keep it short today. It’s been a productive morning. We’ll see what the afternoon brings. 

OK,  but what if we didn’t? The White House press secretary barred some mainstream news outlets from an informal briefing on Friday, signaling that the commander in chief’s battle with the media has a new weapon: blackout. America’s ranting-loving president has just thrown a fit. So let’s respond the way a mother of a tantrum-prone toddler would — by calling a timeout. Already, The New Yorker says it won’t attend White House press briefings until the exclusion is lifted. Should the rest of the media follow? 

The press corps has to stand together — and stand with each other.

While some were shocked that the White House had reached such a new low in media relations, others weren’t even surprised. “Much like everything Trump does, I’m not surprised he’s done it, but I’m amazed he thinks it’s the way a president should behave,” says Hannah Dunleavy, deputy editor of the U.K.’s Standard Issue. “It’s the action of a spoiled child,” she says, and rather than making him look strong, she says it “makes him look weak, certainly to people watching from overseas.” But Dunleavy thinks it’s too late to replace Spicer with white noise. “The time to ignore [Trump] has gone,” she says, noting how she hopes all this will force the media to reflect on its role in the years to come.

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New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush works in the Brady Briefing Room after being excluded from a press gaggle by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, on February 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN and Politico were also excluded from the off camera gaggle.

Source Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Steven Roberts, an American journalist and professor of media and public affairs at GW, says that if the White House bars news outlets again, there should be a universal media response. If any are barred, “I think all the other reporters should boycott the briefing,” like the Associated Press and Time did on Friday, in solidarity. “The press corps has to stand together — and stand with each other,” says Roberts, noting that it should work both ways. After all, many news organizations objected, and rightly so, he adds, to efforts by President Obama’s team to label Fox News a Republican mouthpiece in 2009. “Same principle holds here.” U.K.-based Cambridge Business magazine writer Mike Scialom agrees that a disruptive approach like this, with outlets collectively refusing to attend if colleagues are excluded, is the best way to go.

But boycotting the briefing, Roberts adds, is different from refusing to report on the White House. That, he warns, “borders on censorship,” and the public needs to know what the White House is doing. Also, if only targeted outlets turn their backs, it would give right-leaning news outlets an edge. This would be “hugely counterproductive,” says Scialom, and “create a vacuum which the likes of Breitbart and Fox would happily exploit.” It would also fuel more media skepticism by adding “ridicule to the existing mix of suspicion and distrust,” he adds.

British columnist and broadcaster Robert Meakin says this flare-up was just a matter of time, and that it’s bound to get worse. He thinks Trump will “increasingly prove unwilling to subject himself to such professional levels of scrutiny” because genuine public accountability is “something Trump can do without.” Steven Livingston, GW media professor and senior fellow at Harvard Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, goes a step further, labeling Trump’s attack on the press as tactical. The objective? “Inoculating himself against what he suspects is going to be a very big and damaging story that is going to drop at any moment.” This way he can prepare his support base to reject any future media claims of White House wrongdoing. 

So perhaps we can’t afford to turn our backs on this toddler; instead, we must meet Trump’s playground bullying head-on. “The answer is not to stop reporting on the White House; the answer is to report even more — more thoroughly,” says Roberts. Trump, he adds, has changed the media’s rules in three distinct ways: using fabrication; proving immune to correction and criticism; and taking his views directly to the people via the “TBN, the Trump Broadcasting Networking.” 

The best way to respond? By being “more relentless and aggressive,” says Roberts. That’s no excuse for going too far, he warns, noting that journalists cannot lose sight of their core principles. “Even Trump deserves basic fairness. Aggressiveness is good, but if it tips over into bias and unfairness, we lose our credibility and ability to hold [Trump] to account.” 

And that would simply play into his hand.

My Mother Slept With My Husband

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The author is a writer, performer and visual artist based in Melbourne, Australia. 

My marriage is splintering. My baby’s just over a year old and my toddler nearly 3. They wake every single night — my older boy is asthmatic — and I’m the one who gets up to help them. My mother has a loving bond with my boys, and it’s good to have another pair of hands and someone to talk to. The tension between me and my husband escalates daily. He wants sex. I want to sleep for 200 years. He sulks. 

It’s late. We’ve had visitors, we’ve been drinking. I’m demented with exhaustion and stress. The baby needs a bottle and the toddler demands a hug. My husband sits on the couch and my mother’s on the floor in front of him. There’s an undercurrent, something unspoken, between them. He’s massaging her shoulders. While I get my sons fed and ready for bed, I can see the massage is becoming something else. My husband and my mother are making out, in front of me, in my living room. Unable to deal with it, I ignore them. I should throw a pot of cold water over them, throw them out of the house and out of my life, but I’m so tired my face is falling off and my bones are crumbling, and this is too outrageous to even acknowledge.

“Fuck ’em,” I think. “They deserve each other.” I take myself off to bed but can’t sleep. I hear the door to the spare room where my mother sleeps open and close. I hear them go in. Eventually, my husband comes into our bedroom.

“So did you fuck her?”

“No.”

“Did you want to?”

“No,” he says again.

In the morning my husband goes to work, and my mother and I pretend nothing has happened. This is the way of things in our family: hysterics when the cat’s tail gets caught in the door, but if your 16-year-old son takes off into the night in crisis or your 18-year-old daughter slashes her wrists, we don’t talk about it, it didn’t happen. Ours isn’t the only family like this, but with us the habit of denial runs especially deep.

Later, a friend asked, “Why don’t you have it out with her?” (My husband, by then, long gone.) Impossible — she’s pathologically incapable of assuming responsibility and would resort to attacking, crying or inventing excuses. Occasionally I’ve alluded to that night. Last year she wrote telling me she didn’t have sexual intercourse with my husband, and it was painful and unfair to be “falsely accused.”

It took a lot for me to understand my mother, and even more to forgive her.

When I told her I was writing this essay, she responded, “You do what you want to do. I’m not proud of some of the things I’ve done, but I can’t go back to change anything.”

Then I got a second letter, begging me not to cut her out of my life, that she would always love me unconditionally. I answered, pointing out that whether or not penetration took place is entirely beside the point, and if I were going to cut her out of my life I would have done so already. One reason I didn’t is that my sons deserve to have a grandmother who adores them, so I chose to protect their relationship with her.

It took a lot for me to understand my mother, and even more to forgive her, but I’ve learned to see her behavior in a wider context. My mother’s been competing with other women all her life — starting with her own mother over her father’s affections, with me over my father, my boyfriends, my husband, and with her friends over any man around. She’s such a flawed bundle of insecurities that she even needed her children to find her sexually attractive, imposing herself on us in ways so murkily inappropriate we were left demolished, muted, unable to form any kind of response.

Such dysfunction, such emotional disconnection, such narcissism speaks of damage that goes very deep. “I can’t remember anything from before the age of 7,” she said once. “What does that tell you?” I asked, but she remained silent.

Yet. My mother is a warm, charming woman with a playful, accommodating nature; as long as you’re not one of her offspring in emotional distress, she’s generous, kind and helpful. And she’s proud of me — even if she’s never known where she stops and where I begin: “I bathe in reflected glory” is a favorite saying of hers.

Despite the things she’s done, she loves me, tainted though that love is. As long as I play happy and keep my pain to myself, we get on famously. I can stay connected to her because I see her clearly. I know what to expect, and, more importantly, what not to. I treasure the good things we retain. But I can never trust her, and love only goes so far without trust. 

Buddhism teaches that our parents give us a body, and the rest is up to us. The spiritual teacher Miguel Ruiz established four agreements for a good life, and the second is: “Take nothing personally. People do what they do because of themselves.” The night she slept with my husband, my mother was driven by her ruined child-self, by the unformed, needy part of her that can’t know right from wrong. In healing my life, I’ve drawn on the wisdom and support offered by friends, daily meditation and practicing self-awareness without judgment — quiet noticing, if you will. My mother may never address the traumas she suffered — or those she caused in my life — but I choose compassion over anger, reflection over recrimination.

Will China and India Always Be Poorer? Probably Not.

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Economists can be a pessimistic bunch, which may be why they have worried about the idea of the “poverty trap” for much of the last 50 years. This gap refers to a vicious circle in which low income leads to poor health and poor education, undermining productivity and, in turn, blocking growth and perpetuating poverty. But poor countries have been growing rapidly, demonstrating that they are far from trapped, which puts the idea of a poverty trap on thin ice.

Truly determined pessimists, then, have been forced to raise the bar. Cue the “middle-income trap,” which suggests that countries like China or Brazil might grow for a bit but are destined to remain relatively poor in the long run. Thankfully for those countries and the global economy, the evidence of a middle-income-growth collapse holds up about as well as the original poverty trap notion.

Since 1950, middle-income countries have nearly always grown faster than expected.

The World Bank’s definition of a low-income country is one where national income per head is less than $1,025 per person. In 2000, there were 63 low-income countries; 16 years later, there were less than half that — just 31 countries were classified as low income in 2016. And even those 31 are doing far better than they were before — average income is up from $232 per person per year in 2002 to $619 in 2015, and life expectancy has climbed from 53 years to 61. So much for the poverty trap.

Recently, we have seen growing interest in a new barrier to development: the middle-income trap. The 108 middle-income countries worldwide have a national income per head above the low-income threshold, but below the $12,615 cutoff to be considered “high income.” For comparison’s sake, the U.S. national income per head is $55,980. But World Bank experts worry that “many countries have developed rapidly into middle-income status, but far fewer have gone on to high-income status.”  

If there is a barrier to further growth at somewhere around $10,000 per person, that’s bad news for a considerable proportion of the world’s population. China, for example, has an average income of $7,930. Many economists fear that the techniques the country used to go from poor to middle income (combining machines and equipment invented in the West with cheap local labor) won’t work to go from middle to high income. Beijing, in other words, needs to find new sources of economic growth, and the theory of a middle-income trap suggests that it will be hard to do so.

But that would only be a problem if the trap actually existed. Arvind Subramanian, India’s chief economic adviser, went looking for evidence of a middle-income trap, doubtless because India is now a middle-income country itself. The good news for India, as well as China, Brazil and the rest? Subramanian couldn’t find any proof of the trap. Since 1950, middle-income countries have nearly always grown faster than expected. Looking just at the past decade and a half, current middle-income countries that had an average gross national income of $2,381 in 2000 have seen that more than double, to $4,951 in 2015. U.S. income, in contrast, climbed just 15 percent over the same period.

Look at the development trajectory of particular countries that had “middle incomes” a few decades ago.  According to data from the Penn World Tables, China in 2014 was about as rich as Germany in 1965 or Singapore in 1980. Brazil in 2014 was as rich as Canada in 1963 or Italy in 1974. A “middle-income trap” prevented none of these countries from becoming among the world’s richest today, and there is no reason why China and Brazil can’t follow suit.

China’s growth over the past 30 years has been historically unprecedented. There are a lot of good reasons to think it might slow down, and the same applies to India’s last two decades. Brazil might go the other way after 40 years of comparatively lackluster economic performance. Whatever happens, though, the malign influence of an arbitrary income cutoff isn’t going to be the cause.