Renewal, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Podcast #164

Ann-Marie Slaughter is an American international lawyer, foreign policy analyst, writer, political scientist, public commentator, and the head of the think tank New America. Her career has spanned different policy work areas, from three decades in academia to public service to running a prominent think tank. We talked about her newest book, her career, and lessons learned along the way.

I always enjoy talking to Anne-Marie. I have known her for many years and the conversation always flows easily.

You can also listen on iTunes and Soundcloud.


To learn more about New America, please visit their website.


Our next guest on PGG will be Majora Carter, the real estate developer, urban revitalization expert, award-winning broadcaster, and author.

Cauliflower Soup

This recipe couldn’t be more straightforward. Thank you NY Times, Lidy Heuck. At the farmer’s market, there is cauliflower in white, purple, and yellow. I even bought romanesco for this soup. It is delicious, and I tossed in a few more items to take it up a notch before serving.

Cover the bottom with olive oil in a large pot and add a few pinches of chili flakes and salt. Saute one large diced sweet onion until caramelized. Then add a few cups of cauliflower florets. Saute for a few minutes. Add a quart of chicken or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then down to simmer and cover. In about 15 minutes, the cauliflower should be softened. Either put the entire thing in a blender to puree or use an immersion stick, an excellent accessory for any kitchen.

While the soup is cooking, make croutons. I chopped a stale loaf into cubes and sauteed it with a lot of olive oil in a pan.

Served the soup with some chili oil, croutons, and shredded parm over the top. Huge winner!

Cannabis Policies Continues to Destroy our Communities

This campaign ad went viral over the last few days. It is brilliant on so many levels. Take the time to listen to the stats; the ad only takes 37 seconds. It would be game-changing to see more people like Gary Chambers Jr. in the Senate. He speaks the truth and concentrates on a topic that needs a leader.

It is time for all of the Government to give up the ghost around Cannabis. For all the jobs that will be killed because of technology (grocery check-out, for example), Cannabis can fill that spot with higher wages. Most wages in the Cannabis industry begin at $16 an hour. That is more than what Vail Resorts is paying the ski lift people.

Since 2014, states that have legalized Cannabis have raked in over $10.4 BILLION in revenue. And this number is only growing. Like Colorado, some of these states took that tax money and put it directly into education. That’s good for everyone.

People might get a chuckle from Gary, and he might be running on one platform, but it is a strong one and certainly could be more impactful because a Senators job is to influence legislation. The time for a change in Cannabis laws is now.

Climate

The excellent news is the climate is top of mind for everyone. The bad news is we aren’t moving fast enough. Each industry is attempting to be the leader in its particular vertical. The fashion industry is one of the worst offenders. Combined, they are responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions alone. Fashion touches all of us. Nobody walks around naked.

How do we become a circular economy in the fashion industry? The answer might be that every home has a clothing compost for clothing. We figure out how to break those materials down to the original molecules and remake new fabrics.

We are finally starting to see Evrnu and others evolve their business into brands. That is what Evernu does, and in full transparency, I am an investor. I made that investment in 2015.

Some are taking plastic bottles and creating t-shirts. Mushrooms are being used to make materials. Many are only using recycled fabrics or used fabrics. Others are using different plants indigenous to the area that can now be made into materials.

A few small companies around the globe are working on being thoughtful about their products, where every part of the process is environmentally positive—significant achievement.

There are a few shining stars, and there should be more. There is not a lot of venture money in this industry. It is tough to start a brand, and it would be a win to see more capital come into the back ends of these businesses where the impact on the environment would massively shift.

Funds are now focusing only on the environment, but are they touching fashion?

Were We Craving Nostalgia?

Although I might be a Jewish atheist, let’s all cross our fingers and plead to the gods that the global pandemic ends. Then life will become the new normal.

I was having this conversation with a friend about how clothes reflect the times. Everything reflects the times, but clothing is easy to see. Indeed, we are all dressing a helluva lot more casually because why dress up to stay inside? I am fascinated with the “little house on the prairie” dresses. The ones with the high collars and flowing material. They are tough to look good in, but everyone wears them anyhow.

I wonder if those dresses are nostalgic for easier times.  That is always the narrative. It is more complex now or scarier than it was then. But the thing is, those times weren’t easier. They might have seemed simple, but they were boring and highly one-dimensional in reality. Like the Victorian Times. Were they really romantic? It wasn’t easy living.

My friend said that the amount of manual labor, lack of travel, disease, and generally repressive attitudes would probably horrify any millennial or human being who somehow magically time traveled back to the Victorian era, no?  I totally agree.

Even Harriet and Ozzie, that was made out to be the perfect 1950’s American family, was Harriet really happy?

When we can all come out of our homes feeling empowered to walk around without a mask, I think those long dresses will be over. People are going to bust out. I am so looking forward to what it all looks like.

Vail Resorts

Vail Resorts owns 40 mountain resorts in three countries. Three divisions oversee the lifts, hotels, restaurants, lodging, and golf courses and are developing even more. Starting around 2015/16 they began gobbling up resorts. They created the Epic Pass that enables the skier or snowboarder to ski at any of the resorts owned by Vail with one season price. Great for Vail; they at least know a percentage of the cash they will bring in pre-season.

Running a ski resort is an entirely different level of management. I was always impressed by the Taliskers who owned and ran the Colony’s ski resort before getting gobbled up by Vail. All the lifts were open within a week of the first lift opening. Restaurants were all up and running at the same time. It appeared to go off with a hiccup.

With Vail, not so much. Lifts aren’t open; restaurants aren’t open. I do believe that when Trump decided to stop foreigners from coming here to work, it killed the ski resorts. There are so many amazing people who love the mountain, and their lives commute from Chile, Columbia, and other areas where they work the ski resorts there in the summer because it is winter there and return here in the winter. Not sure how we return to that fluidity between countries, but we should.

It is evident to any consumer of Vail Resorts that it is just big business once again. The model is obviously not working, so how do you change it? Does Vail continue to operate like this and say “fuck it”? Do they do the right thing that might cause fewer profits in the short term, like building housing and paying people better wages?

One of the issues is obvious, wages. I read a saying from Hurbert Joley, the CEO and Chairman of Best Buy. “There’s an old saying that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. For the past 50 years, frontline workers have not been treated well. At Best Buy, the starting wage is $15, but that’s not just the answer. During this period people are calling the Great Resignation, you need great recruitment. The key thing is empathy, listening to people. We say to create a future that doesn’t exist, yet we’ve got to shape that future. And people are critical for that turnaround.”

It seems like common sense, but it obviously isn’t for Vail.

Julia Child and Bicyclette

I watched the Julie Child documentary on Netflix. I have read countless stories about Julia Child, and seeing those early TV episodes is epic. We have come a long way. She was the master of more than the kitchen. She started to show the world her smarts at 50 years old. at is the most impressive thing about all of it.

Julia Child is a rock star. Watching this film drove home everything I knew and more. She revolutionized how America cooks today. Her timing changed the frozen food companies’ trajectory. That alone is worth the watch.

That evening we went to Bicyclette for dinner. The République chefs Walter and Margarita Manzke must have watched Julia too. Julia made me dream for Paris and the Manzke’s made my dream come true. NY French vibe with delicious food. Right up my alley.

The plates are small, just like Paris, as they should be everywhere. The flaky tart tatin is dripping in buttery caramelized onions.

The taste is equal to the beautiful presentation. Brown butter scallops and beef bourguignon short ribs. We were still talking about this place days later. I can hardly wait to return.

Don’t forget dessert!

Will America Ever Change?

A few years ago, at Sundance, we watched the premiere of the Edge of Democracy. The director, Petra Costa, earned an Academy Film nomination for best documentary. The film is a personal political memoir growing up watching the unraveling of two presidencies.

What stuck with me is how the Brazilian constitution is set up. It is a federative and presidential republic. Like ours, it is the foundation of all legal decisions. My takeaway is that not much will ever change in Brazil, so presidents are tossed in jail by the new leaders, which then repeats itself.

Our Government repeats too but in different ways. We get to vote for a new leader every four years and other elected officials, so we could say the people decide who is in power. But that would be way too simple.

I keep wondering how we get past the anger and divide in this country? And how divided is it? If we got rid of the electoral college and vote, including the number of Senators in each state, we would become more united as a nation. Now it is a game of redistricting, so the Republicans always win. The states should have equal representation in the house and senate based on how many people live in those states. But now, a small state carries as much weight as a large state holding us all back. The way the money works in elections is called white supremacy. I heard that again and again from the women who finally broke through to hold an elected role in the City Council of NY.

Will our Government or the people ever make a significant change to eliminate the elevating anger in this country, or will we continue, like Brazil? And that scares me as an American.

The Richie Boys

Sunday night is one of the evenings that, no matter what, is the lull before kicking into Monday morning work mode. Different headspace. Sundays should be easy. We sometimes watch the old fart show 60 Minutes, but they do have interesting stories, and at least it is real journalism, or perhaps not.

Two Sunday evenings ago, the entire show was dedicated to one story. That’s rare. The story was about the Richie Boys. Neither Fred nor I have ever heard this story. I have become obsessed. I just bought a book.

The Richie Boys trained at Camp Richie, it consisted of 15,200 men, 2200 of them were German Jews who got out. 2200 Jewish German men were now American soldiers who gathered 60% of the credible intelligence. Most have led incredibly successful lives. It is an incredible story.

The question is, why was the story held back for so many years…national security? More importantly, why hasn’t this story been told over and over? Perhaps anti-semitism would not be as prevalent in America.

If you get a chance, watch the show. It always amazes me that in 2022, I had never heard this story.

It’s All About Grocery and Bakery

We are starting to settle into the west coast winter. Last year was Covid, need I say more? The data points towards life returning normalcy by March, but what is the new normal? We don’t know because we have not had time for the dust to settle. We just got punched in the face for two years. There will either be crazy roaring 20’s or a toe-dip in the water first. Time will tell.

In Venice, there have been some really solid additions to the neighborhood. Game-changing actually. There are two grocery-type stores right near us. One is a Gjusta grocery. Genius move from the group behind Gjelina and Gjusta, iconic Venice spots. The space is raw, farm-like, and well-sourced. In LA, you can have a grocery store that carries wine, beer, and liquor, making the store part of the community. Not inexpensive and certainly caters to a particular customer that will stop going to other spots.

Then Le Zinque moved from the corner of Venice and Abbott Kinney over to Lincoln. They expanded the restaurant and added a to-go section mixed with consumer products. Very French, I get my Parisian fix over there.

The bread at Gjelina is delicious, but there is a new baker worth going a bit out of the way for. Jyan Isaac This young man has wanted to make bread since he was a kid. He had his own operation going in his mid-teens. After training at Gjelina, he is creating crispy, flavorful artisanal breads.

At this point, I do not have to go any farther than these spots except for an item or two. The rest is at the farmers’ market, fish store, and butcher. Granted, we have shopped like that in NYC for a long time, but the westside of LA is building a lot more options in that direction.