Frequently Asked Questions Part IX

On Juice and Juice Fasts

Should I go on a juice fast?

Wait, this is a juice bar, why not?
You need fat, protein, and fiber in your diet.  You need fat to absorb vitamins such as A, D, E, and K; protein so your organs function properly and you don’t lose so much muscle mass that you hurt yourself while carrying the groceries; fiber so you can take a good poop.

Then what’s juice good for?
Convenience.  Fresh juice is energy and nutrient dense. Two oz = one serving.  So our large veggie juice = 6-7 servings. Anyone who says juice will save the world is either a liar or a moron.

Do I still have to eat veggies if I drink juice?
Yes, you need the fiber.

Does owner believe in naturopathic approaches to wellness?
Yes, he adheres most closely with Dr. Andrew Weil’s holistic approach to health and medicine. Note that Dr. Weil is a practicing medical doctor and a naturopathic doctor.  Meaning, his approach is still grounded in scientific rigor.  Which is why he **warns** us about the fantastic promises of elixirs such as wheatgrass and ionized water.

Can you make juice from a recipe I bring in?
Yes, only if you bring in the produce.

What’s that you’re making?
Tepache, an alcoholic Mexican drink made by using yeast in pineapple rind to ferment pineapple juice.  We discovered it by accident.

Is it for sale?  


My kid is a pain in the ass.  What should I do?  
Toss him out, starve that little fucker.

You really think he’d survive even a week on his own? 
Dunno. If he doesn’t, just make or buy another one to replace him.

Did you tell my kid to toilet paper the neighbor’s house?  

Why did you do that? 
She’s nine.  She can still get away with it.

What sort of parent would be crazy enough to let their kid work for you?
The sort who makes their kid place her own order.

What’s it to you if I place my kid’s order for her?  
It’s to the owner’s benefit that you not fuck up the labor pool.


Why doesn’t the owner allow customers to compliment employees?
An honest evaluation is always welcome, positive or negative.  For instance: “This is good, thanks.” Or, “This tastes like shit, fix it.” Compliments are not ok, eg. : “You make the best drinks, better than anyone else.”  A callow employee will interpret that as: “I am the greatest, everyone should suck my dick.”  Only a mature employee will recognize that nearly all employees hear that compliment because taste is subjective; that such a compliment doesn’t mean much.

Flattery is the sound of the devil’s laughter and has ruined many people.  You end up with employees who grow complacent — like the spouse who takes the other for granted — they stop trying and start taking short cuts. When confronted with their mistakes, they cite the customers who have complimented them, rather than fix the problem that they refuse to recognize.

How can I tell an employee I appreciate their work?
Tell the owner about the employee.  Let him control the flow of compliments, he has a better sense of how much affirmation each employee needs without turning into narcissistic douchebags addicted to narcissistic supply. He’ll release the compliment when it’s appropriate, when he knows it won’t ruin them.


Why We Don’t Carry Wheatgrass (and Other Snake Oils)

Discussion about why we don’t name any ingredient a “super” anything and offensive material about Oprah and White people farther down. First, let’s get this wheatgrass debate settled.

We don’t carry wheatgrass, despite demand for it.  Here’s why:

From random uncredentialed guy writing on Skeptico blog: Wheatgrass is for Cows
Summary: Wheatgrass is for cows, not humans, as humans are unable to digest it as cows do.

But why should we trust some random guy on random blogsite?

From Webmd: Wheatgrass Claims
ummary: Review of independent peer reviewed studies of wheatgrass show that there’s little or no evidence of its purported health benefits to those who drink it.

But that’s just another website, the article isn’t peer reviewed,  and we don’t know if author left out studies in his review.  So let’s go with a renown Naturopath who is also an MD.

From Dr. Andrew Weil, MD (from Harvard),  undergrad in Botany (from Harvard); founder of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Currently Clinical Professor of Medicine, a Professor of Public Health, and the Lovell-Jones Professor of Integrative Rheumatology at University of Arizona School of Medicine: Wheatgrass Does Not Deliver
Summary: Wheatgrass is bullshit.  Key quotes:

On benefits of chlorophyll: chlorophyll, the green pigment that gives plants their color, has no nutritional role in the human body, a fact that hasn’t stopped promoters from making extravagant claims for it. Secondly, there’s no evidence to suggest that wheatgrass or chlorophyll are substitutes for 2.2 pounds of vegetables. If you search the medical literature for “wheatgrass,” you find very few entries and none at all suggesting that it has any health benefits for humans.

On cost-effectiveness of wheatgrass versus fruit and veggies: Wheatgrass may provide some vitamins and minerals but not nearly as many as you would get from some common foods that taste much better. For example, according to one calculation, you would get 860 mg of protein from seven 3.5 gm wheatgrass tablets while a half cup of cooked broccoli would give you 2,300 mg. Wheatgrass tablets would give you 1,668 IU of beta carotene, compared to 20,253 IU in a single raw carrot. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Nutritionally speaking, wheatgrass simply doesn’t deliver on the promoters’ promises. I certainly wouldn’t recommend substituting it for any of the fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet. Spend your money on good, organically produced food, not on wheatgrass or other sprouts or grasses marketed as “super-foods.”

From American Cancer Society, which has provided funding to 47 Nobel Lauretes: Review of Wheatgrass
ummary: No evidence AND beware of supplements general, as actual amount of ingredient consumer wants varies. Person who made wheatgrass a health fad was a quack and batshit crazy.

The wheatgrass diet was developed by Boston resident Ann Wigmore, who immigrated to the United States from Lithuania. Wigmore believed strongly in the healing power of nature. Wigmore’s notion that fresh wheatgrass had value came from her interpretation of the Bible and observations that dogs and cats eat grass when they feel ill. Wigmore claimed that the wheatgrass diet could cure disease.

In 1982, the Massachusetts Attorney General sued Wigmore for claiming that her program could reduce or eliminate the need for insulin in diabetics. She later retracted her claims. In 1988, the Massachusetts Attorney General sued Wigmore again, this time for claiming that an “energy enzyme soup” she invented could cure AIDS. Wigmore was ordered to stop representing herself as a physician or person licensed to treat disease. Although Wigmore died in 1993, her Creative Health Institute is still active. Wheatgrass is readily available, and her diet is still in use.

So what is it about human nature that allows so many people — the highly intelligent included, even Steve Jobs gets duped — to buy snake-oils like wheatgrass, to believe in bullshit?

Human Nature
If there’s anything to be learned from Cultural Anthropology (and there’s not much), it’s that as social structure evolves — feudalism to capitalism, for instance — social codes and archetypes from one era reappear in another in a different form. Example: Aunt Jemima, year 1900.  She’s loved by white people because she takes good care of them.  Mammy, the house nigger archetype, as Black historians put it. Oprah Winfrey, year 2000.  Same shit, different form.  Look at her audience — mostly middle-class white women. Oprah is their Mammy, telling them which books to read, which diets to follow, which causes to get worked up about. Only difference is that Oprah makes coin because she lives in a more advanced (or different) stage of capitalism than did those who represented Aunt J in minstrel shows a century ago.

Not saying those who don’t like rap (code) necessarily hate Black people.  Not saying those with Free Tibet stickers (code) dislike Chinese people or Asians in general.  Just saying it’s human nature to classify and differentiate, to codify and regulate identities. Telling people it’s socially unacceptable to call a Chinaman (archetype) a Chinaman (code) doesn’t mean people will stop thinking of or treat the Chinaman as a Chinaman, or a Wetback a Wetback, a Dago Wop a Dago Wop.  They’ll just find a more socially acceptable way to express difference.

The codes and archetypes evolve to reflect the aims and needs of the political economy. Slavery (code) in the US didn’t end because enough people *finally* recognized such bondage as immoral. You really think white abolitionists (archetype) gave a shit about “Negroes” anymore than they cared about the “free” Irish immigrants who lived a mile away from them in conditions, according to a University of Chicago economist, even worse than those of Southern slaves? Slavery ended because enough people figured out that it doesn’t work well with industrial capitalism. Slavery became immoral because it was becoming inefficient — less productive than wage labor — and not because the temptation to exploit other people in such a way had waned. Just because material life has gotten better and society more civil doesn’t mean human nature has changed. People are still scared and vain and will seek short-cuts to the Kingdom of Heaven by trying to create Heaven on Earth.  People will forever do some fucked up shit to each other, with most justifying, rationalizing as good and just what they’ve done, from carpet bombing a village to interrogation by torture to massacre. Instead of burning the witch at the stake, now we post compromising photos of that bitch on Instagram.

History and Human Nature
Why is it we can laugh at or be horrified by instances of human depravity and degeneracy throughout history, yet not recognize our own sins and follies? We can laugh at Ponce DeLeon for being a dumbass for searching for the Fountain of Youth (AND believe in this story which likely isn’t true), yet we fall for wheatgrass, spirulina, weight-loss pills, cock enlargement pumps, reverse-aging creams, those metal bracelets that do whatever it is they’re supposed to do, and ionized water?

Medical doctors and scientists would probably blame low scientific literacy as the source of the problem.  Sure sure, most Americans don’t understand the scientific method or how clinical trials work or the difference between correlation and causation or how problematic observational studies are and what can be concluded from a mice study or what “double blind peer review” means.  But I don’t think a person needs to be familiar with any of the above to detect bullshit. We have built-in bullshit detectors.  We just don’t use them.

So why don’t we use our bullshit detectors? What makes it so tempting to hear only what we want to hear, to see only what we want to see in ourselves and others?  When do we become susceptible to believing fantastic promises that appeal to our vanities?

Part of it is how history is often taught, how we understand it.  “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Thanks for the reminder, George, but forgetting the past isn’t the reason why history repeats itself. History repeats itself especially when it’s NOT forgotten. Guy sentenced to life in jail for vehicular homicide didn’t forget his three DUIs, he was just being human, a dumbass creature of habit.  And I’m not claiming “progress” hasn’t been made, I’ll take my toilet over whatever Jesus used. I’m saying that thinking of the trajectory of history as “moral progress”  — qualified by “if we study history” — makes us blind to ourselves, our Original Sin. Unable to see ourselves in Pol Pot, Hitler, Henry V, Catherine the Great, Stalin, Caligula, Judas Iscariot, we become arrogant, vain, self-righteous and self-satisfied.  “I would never have owned slaves,” the American Apparel clad college girl tells herself as she reads Howard Zinn’s People’s History. “I would’ve released them, then teach them how to read, to start a glorious revolution.” Twenty years later she’s living in a nearly Black-less neighborhood, and the closest she’s ever come to helping anyone Black has been her purchase of tunes from Aaliyah and a Richard Sherman jersey. How’s that for ironic living?

Superfood as Colonial Narrative
Is there an Anthropologist in the house?  We’re going to need one soon.

(Artistic license taken) “Acai berries for super duper healthy living AND to empower the peasants, save them from greedy capitalists!”  In May 2009, Bloomberg reported that the expanding popularity of açaí in the United States was “depriving Brazilian jungle dwellers of a protein-rich nutrient they’ve relied on for generations.” From Reality Check: “False claims include reversal of diabetes and other chronic illnesses, as well as expanding size of the penis and increasing men’s sexual virility.” Oops, we fucked up.

“Quinoa for super duper healthy living AND to empower the peasants, save them from greedy capitalists!”  From UK Guardian: “Ethical consumers should be aware poor Bolivians can no longer afford their staple grain, due to western demand raising prices.” Oops, we fucked up.

(From Runa website, word for word) Runa is a social enterprise supporting indigenous farmers and reforestation in the Amazon. Runa brews beverages from guayusa, a super-leaf from the Amazon …”  We should know how this “social enterprise” (social fucking enterprise! these fuckers aren’t even subtle about it anymore) is going to end.  But we get duped by the same message over and over again: Fountain of Youth! Bigger Penis! Save the Peasants from Greedy Capitalists! We fall for the same pick up line because it makes us feel good, and because deep down, we don’t give a shit about those jungle dwelling brown motherfuckers, which is why we can conveniently forget — no, ignore — what happened to them last time we tried to help them. We just like to believe we care about them, and that their big big smiles are for real when they take photos with us. It’s as if colonialism never ended. Instead of guns, now the imperialists use superfoods to fuck things up in their own fucked up way.  The colonial narrative, that trifecta of: glory and riches, more pussy, and White burden, continues on in American grocery stores and on dining tables.

Here’s where an Anthropologist may be of help. Instead of studying impact of superfood agriculture on environment and culture, instead of studying the Other, let’s study White people.  By White people, I don’t mean genotype or White individuals.  I mean White people as trope, as inheritors of a colonial legacy. As consumers of *all races* unwilling to recognize the colonial past in their post-colonial present. Let’s get to the source of the problem.

History and Human Nature Part II: Self Interest vs. Vanity

Most schools and media teach history as the story about good people as victims of bad people and that we have moral obligation to help the victims of present and past and punish the bad. Put simply, propaganda. The Aliens watching us from Alpha Centauri don’t see good versus evil, they only see people doing fucked up shit to each other, just as we see animals in the wild do fucked up shit to each other but don’t assign moral value to their actions.  That’s precisely the kind of story Thucydides wrote about in History of the Peloponnesian Wars. It’s a seminal historical text because it’s the first to be so cold, detached, impartial; because it isn’t a story about good and evil, it’s about *human nature* and how we can best protect ourselves from other people. It’s a story about how there are NO victims OR volunteers.  There are only competing self-interests that sometimes come in conflict with another.

Santayana’s “remember the past so you don’t make the same mistakes,” is an alluring way to read history because it appeals to our vanity. “Those bad bad people are them, and I’m me, who would never do that, I’m better than that” we’re led to think.  Really?  The only reason why the 19 year old girl who worships Ayn Rand (a Fuck You conservative) can declare herself a Communist (combo = psychobitch, guaranteed) without a hint of irony is because she doesn’t have the power to round people up and work them to death at a labor camp. And she’s too chickenshit to do anything more than tell her Facebook friends that that bitch is not her mom. Send her back in time — give her power, make her Catherine the Great — then we’ll see who she really is. There will be blood everywhere.

If Santayana’s version of history takes down the proverbial mirror we need to recognize ourselves in our readings of the past, reading history as the codification of identity and the study of human nature nails it back up for us to see who we really are.  With history as the study of human nature on repeat, every cheat, murderer, dumbass, fool, coward, and psychopath we read about becomes a story about our present condition, a reflection of who we are. It helps us recognize our own follies, our venality and arrogance, our total depravity. It may help us to smell present-day bullshit like this:

Ignored Since the 1950s – Is Spirulina Now a ‘Miracle’ High-Protein Super Food?

Imagine a plant that can nourish your body by providing most of the protein you need to live, help prevent the annoying sniffling and sneezing of allergies, reinforce your immune system, help you control high blood pressure and cholesterol, and help protect you from cancer. Does such a “super food” exist?

Yes. It’s called spirulina.

Which isn’t much different from bullshit from the past, like this:


The ingredients may change, but human nature remains.

The Vanity of Vanities
According to Socrates, there are two types of people: dumbasses who know they’re dumbasses, and dumbasses who don’t.  The former ask more questions and make fewer assumptions because of their insecure knowledge. The latter ask few questions and rely on belief, bullshit, and bromides to sustain their vain sense of self. The former go with what sounds right.  The latter with what sounds good.

Vanity is self-interest turned on its side, that desire for a sense of progress and self-esteem rather than actual improvement. Pay up and pop the pill to feel like effort and progress has been made, even though it’d cost less and be more effective to consistently eat diverse and balanced meals and to exercise daily.  Vanity and its dampening affect on our bullshit detectors, not poor science literacy, is what feeds the pseudoscience and anti-science industries. Michael Schulson, on the importance of keeping our vanity in check when thinking about the politics of science (from  Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience):

It’s that whenever we talk about science and society, it helps to keep two rather humbling premises in mind: very few of us are anywhere near rational. And pretty much all of us are hypocrites.

And dumbasses.


Frequently Asked Questions About Clothing Store (The Privileged Poor)


What inspired the design of the clothing store?
The (small) budget, customer expectations, and leftovers from construction projects. Circumstances determined the scope and nature of the design.  Analogy: some go grocery shopping with a shopping list and an ideal meal in mind. We went shopping without a list, only a budget and the goal to create something functional within that budget.  From there, we’ll make improvements.


Chairs hanging on walls as clothing racks.

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Bunk bed as a clothing rack.

Why is it designed like a bedroom?  
We want customers to experience the store as *investigating* someone’s bedroom as a spatial metaphor of identity and psychological depth. Customers are encouraged to sift through the desk and dresser and under the mattress, where they’ll find not only clothes and accessories, but also “personal” items such as diaries (fictional), porn magazines (if we can find some), and love letters received or never sent (fictional).

What items do you carry? 
An assortment to start, from traditionally vintage items such as a fur lined cape coat from the 40s and a an A-line coat from the 60s.  A few couture items from designers such as Valentino.  Random stuff from our juice bar and dance studio lost-and-found. Stupid funny T-shirts.  An elegant sari. Otherwise, mostly ordinary items from Tse, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, J. Crew, etc.  Not much for now, but it’ll grow and find its identity.


Emojis and footprints on the soft floor.

I heard you’re going to sell used women’s panties and soap bubbles?
Yes. We’ll put panties in a zip lock bag with a photo (from random magazine, maybe GQ) of a woman or a man.  Also included is a short blurb about the person: “Sabrina plays the flute in nothing but stockings and high heels”; “Adam has a fetish for armpit hair.” We’re also going to sell soap bubbles in a container.


Do you offer consignment services?  
No.  Not planning to, but that could change.

Do you have an online presence? 
We’re working on setting something up on Ebay. Advice welcome.

Do you purchase clothes?
When we have money to do so we will.  For now, we offer credit. And it’d be much appreciated if someone can hook us up with couture leftovers.

What sort of clothes are you interested in?
Interesting or marginalized items, such as authentic Mao suits; sarees, head scarves and veils, cheongsams.   Also couture items and vintage classics, but we don’t have the money to pay fair value for them. Run of the mill lightly used items from Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, J. Crew, we can offer juice bar credit.  No more women’s panties — trying to get rid of the ones we have.


Mao suit. On Chairman Mao.

So where did you get, I mean, this is, nevermind…

When will the store open?  
Soft-opening January 1st.  Limited hours that day, stay tuned.


Shiatzy Chen piece inspired by Chinese peasant clothing.


Samant Chauhan pieces.

Frequently Asked Questions VIII

Links to FAQ I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII

How do you like the new space?
We like it.

Hey, is that legal? 

What are we listening to?

Does the owner like White people? 
Why do you ask?

Why is he yelling at me?  
He’s not yelling at you.  He’s yelling above the sound of the blender.

Will owner teach a dance class?
Yes. He’ll teach Gangnam Style starting summer of 2016.

Christmas Gift Ideas
Which juicer should I get?

Why not the Green Star, the one you use?
Too hard to clean for most people. You’ll end up selling it to us for half the price you paid for it.

Which blender should I get?  

Why not the Vitamix, which is what you use?
Costs $150 more than the Blendtec.  The tamper that comes with Vitamix is important for commercial use, not so much for residential use. We’ll explain some other time.

Which cookbooks do you recommend?
On Food and Cooking: Science and Lore of the Kitchen.  No recipes or porn in this book, just the fundamentals you need to make your own recipes.

Speaking of porn, how’s the porn novel coming along?  
This question doesn’t belong in this section.

Future Plans
Any new projects planned?  
Yes.  Two bistros: Redneck Bistro and The Peasant and the Douchebag.

What will they serve?
Redneck Bistro will serve old school redneck cuisine: oxtail, pig’s feet, gizzards, moonshine, collard greens. We’re going to remind people that much of high end cuisine today has its roots in redneck culture.

The Peasant and the Douchebag will introduce diners to peasant food from around the world (eg. liver pate, congee) and contrast it with douchebag cuisine (eg. kobe beef burger).  We want Americans to think about their immigrant heritage.

When will they open?
Aiming to open one by January 2018. Need to stabilize the new businesses

Has owner considered a juice truck?
Yes, he expects one to be for sale within 2 years.  Not saying he’ll buy it.

If he were to buy it, where would it be located?
Near Premera Blue Cross campus in Mountlake Terrace Monday-Thursday, downtown Everett Fridays.

Can I complain about a bad experience with an employee?
Yes, but don’t embellish.  If you get caught making up shit, you’ll be placed on the shit list. If your story checks out, owner and employee apologize to you.

Has that ever happened?
Yes, many times.  Again, don’t embellish (and most people do).

Why won’t the owner return my call?
You didn’t identify yourself and the purpose of your call.  

Why did you fire her?  She’s so nice and sweet!
That’s your penis talking, not your head.

Why doesn’t anyone take my order?
You’re supposed to call out your order the moment you decide. Wait for confirmation, then relax.

Why does owner insist on doing it this way?  
It’s more efficient, saves on labor, keeps costs down. You can pay $1 if you want “better” (but slower) service.

When will the clothing store open?
Aiming for January 1st, 2016.  Still under construction.  Sorry sorry sorry…

Nyotaimori Dinner: “serving food on the female body”

Catered a 25 guest birthday party, serving the cold courses on a female body. Client wanted “dinner as transgressive art.” She proposed nyotaimori (serving food on female body).  My job was to decorate the body and feed mostly artsy guests with a memorable meal.



Not a mannequin. Chicken feet cover the nipples. Seaweed salad in savoy cabbage cup. Spicy black bean noodles in savoy cabbage cup. Clams litter the torso. Sprouted radish over genitalia.


Yellowtail sashimi on leg.

Nyomaitori Today
While Japanese in origin, Nyomaitori is most popular in Europe, rare in Japan, illegal in China, and growing in popularity in the US. Client didn’t know that Nyomaitori originated in Japan, she came up with idea on her own.  (So let’s not bring her into a discussion about Orientalism).


Cold courses:
Yellowtail sashimi w/wasabi soy dip
Noodles in spicy black bean sauce w/carrots, cucumber, and red caviar
Seaweed salad
Creminelli hand cured salami
Clams cooled in sesame and ginger broth
Burrata salad w/basil and tomato
Redneck juice drunken chicken liver pate.

Hot courses:
Beef tongue seared in olive oil and sea salt
Duck breast seared in mustard oil and sea salt
Mussels w/garlic, onion, tomato, and nearest bottle of booze marinara.  Olive baguette to dip.

Bacon milkshake w/red and black caviar sprinkles and bourbon.

Forgot to take photo of milkshake. Used flying fish roe.

Forgot to take photo of milkshake. Added above flying fish roe to milkshake for a hint of saltiness and snappy texture.

Guests cannot talk to the model/human platter as she needs to remain still so food doesn’t bounce up and down or off.  No poking and only those adept with chopsticks can take food off her body. No forks and knives.

Body temperature and the contours and taste of the body were considered while developing the menu and preparing and presenting the meal.For instance, the yellowtail sashimi was served colder than usual because the body temperature will heat it faster than usual. Sashimi was chosen because it drapes the legs nicely, won’t fall off easily.

A week prior to event, ph level of model’s sweat measured 5.2, which is mildly acidic. We wanted to infuse the sashimi with a certain flavor, so we had the model change her diet to increase ph level to around 7.0 and drink 12 oz. of whiskey each day to infuse the sashimi with a woody flavor.

After enough drinks, model was ready to be transformed into human platter. Didn’t want to overdecorate, kept it simple so food blended with body instead of overwhelming it.  The chicken feet fell off the breasts at first plating but managed to stay on (as garnish) when served because model was able to remain still. Everything else stayed on fine.  Guests were able to pick up sashimi with chopsticks without hurting the model.



Alive Juice Bar version 2.0

New space, new game, a lot more at stake.

Version 1.0 was a hole-in-a-wall and a story about survival. Version 2.0 was professionally built and is about exploring possibilities.  Here’s what customers can expect from 2.0.

*Better parking options
* More spacious, sensible, and comfortable customer environment
* Bar seating!
* Cleaner facilities
* Same big-city style service (in suburban location)
* Continued emphasis on space as “repression-free zone”tempered by Puritan discipline (moderation) and work ethic.  A home away from home.

The more professional look will attract a wider range of customers.  Which means there’ll be even more instances of culture clash that will hopefully result in both sides adapting to, rather than antagonizing (as was often the case when “wrong” person wandered into old location) each other.  It’s time for us to grow up, to transition out of the “enfant terrible” phase to building a more established stature.  I’ll know we’ve succeeded in doing so when I get hate-mail accusing me of selling-out.

Another notable feature of 2.0 is that it shares space with a dance studio and a clothing store.  The advantage of combining three businesses in one space is that it saves money: the larger the space, the less the cost per sf.  For instance, a 700 sf space in same complex costs 27/sf; the 3400 sf space we occupy costs 21/sf. To those concerned that nicer space means higher prices: we moved to this space to keep costs down.

This “mini-mall” approach also allows the 3 businesses the grow symbiotically. Let’s imagine the dance studio bringing in 100 students per day who would otherwise not step into the juice bar.  What if 20 of them purchase from the juice bar?  This is a similar set-up to what Century Ballroom and Tin Table have going: dance and then eat and drink, all in one space.

We’re excited about how 2.0 will turn out (always a work in progress).  The possibilities are inexhaustible!

Ordering Guidelines

To keep costs down. To prevent ridiculous and time-consuming Seattle style “no you go, no you go” arguments.


This sets the tone and gets a lot of Facebook shares. Well worth $200.

Lounge ARea

Better lighting, more spacious and comfortable.

Funny people

Are those smiles for real?

Buffet Station

Self-serve area.

Dance Studio

Dance studio.



Thirty More Rules I’ve Learned About Running a Business

Revised.  First 30 rules here.

31. Apologize quickly.  Apologies disarm. They don’t give people a chance to wonder if they were intentionally wronged. Apologies prevent disappointment from lingering or growing into anger.

32. Arguments don’t accomplish anything, they’re just used for venting. In arguments, it doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, most people don’t listen to each other.  That’s why arguments rarely end with someone changing their mind. Arguments end only when one or both parties are exhausted, not because they’ve reached an agreement. Don’t get into arguments with customers about the efficacy of this or that. It’s a waste of time to do so.

33. You deserve what you get.  When things aren’t going well, you deserve it. Never forget your total depravity, your Original Sin, and the sins of your ancestors.

34.  When things are going well, you got lucky.  Check your ego and narcissism at the door. Never ignore God’s grace.

35. Never mistake adulation for love. Love is earned, rarely given. The adulation will end the moment you’re not of use to anyone. “Those bastards can take everything away at anytime.”

35. Most people don’t read. (People like to pretend they do though).  Be succinct and use images when communicating with customers.

36. The wordier a person is, the less trustworthy and competent they are, and the more likely they’re full of shit and hiding something. The most competent people rarely use softeners when communicating.

37. There’s a lot of self-deception out there.  Don’t try to change it, just work around it.

38. Don’t fire employees, make them quit.  Less paperwork, less chance of lawsuit.  Don’t give the Ex a reason to be vindictive.

39. In matters of life and business, follow the heuristic: pick the answer that you think most people won’t pick. Put your faith in the Classics of social and political thought, not in cliches and banalities that come and go.

40. You wont’ survive if you don’t recognize and work with human nature.    The Classics are what they are because their take on human nature has been time tested.

41. Think of your business as a school and your employees as students. You’re responsible for your employee’s futures. Expel employees who don’t understand that work is time to learn and grow, not simply time to make money.  Focus on placing employees at top businesses, similar to how best schools aim to place their graduates at top colleges or graduate programs.  It’ll ultimately help you attract talent you need to make your business work.

42. Ideas are worthless. That’s why it’s ok to let others steal them. Back in the late 80s, analysts thought Starbucks was a dumb idea.  Analysts were wrong because they didn’t realize that the idea is irrelevant, it’s the force of character — Howard Schultz — behind an idea that matters. Invest in character, not in ideas.

43. The character necessary to make an idea worth something is based on a deep sense of insecurity AND superiority.  That combination makes confidence.

44. Choose a reality that will encourage you to not be lazy, envious, complacent, or arrogant. If a regular customer stops patronizing your business, don’t think it’s because they moved away.  Assume it’s because you did something to ruin the relationship, you didn’t meet their standards. I watched a restaurant I invested in collapse because owners chose the wrong reality.  They heard that some questioned their taste, so they attempted fine dining to prove them wrong.  It was a disaster.  It takes extraordinary effort and skill to pull off fine dining.  After collapse, they blamed Seattle for failure, claiming that “Seattle wasn’t ready for this kind of sophisticated dining, that it would work if it were in New York City.”  Bullshit, Seattle dining scene is very sophisticated.  The problem was that they weren’t sophisticated enough for Seattle.  Everyone saw that but them. They chose a reality that allowed them to blame others for their failure.  Which means they’ll never learn from their mistakes.

45. Don’t take investor money unless you’re certain they’ll make money. Be responsible and patient.

46.  Your competitor is not your enemy.  You need them for brand differentiation.  Without them, your customers will always wonder if there’s something better and take you for granted.  That’s why we encourage our customers to try other juice bars.

47. Your employees should fear you.  Otherwise they’ll take short cuts.

48. Your customers should fear you.  Otherwise they’ll take advantage of you.

49.  Most teachers in the humanities and soft sciences aren’t paid to have business sense or to recognize reality.  They mostly produce unemployable, bitter people who are dumb enough to believe that the owners of Walmart are willing to pay their CEO millions to do nothing.

50. Make friends with business owners.  They share your reality.  You’ll speak the same language.  Not only will hanging out with them be emotionally comforting, they’ll teach you something about human nature.

51. It’s ok to make generalizations about socially constructed groups. It’s important to recognize patterns of behavior among groups of people. It’s not ok to reduce an individual to a social identity. That’s dehumanizing.

52. Read about the lives and motivations of those at the pinnacle of your profession.  (Not saying you need to aim for that pinnacle).  They’re your mentors, follow their advice on how to manage staff and customers.

53. Be sure standards are set at level appropriate to your leadership skills and labor pool.  Don’ t try to be Thomas Keller if you’re not willing to put in effort to develop a staff that meets his standards.

54. Customer’s perception is your reality. Doesn’t matter if the perception is wrong.  That’s the reality you work with.

55. Sometimes the customer is wrong.  Don’t let them hurt themselves.

56. The product is secondary.  It’s more important to control perception of and expectations for the product.  For instance, Laughing Ladies Cafe closed because people were turned off by the owner, who has been described on Yelp as an “angry lesbian.”  Owner didn’t need to change her personality to make it work.  She just needed to change expectations by renaming cafe “Angry Ladies Cafe.”  It would’ve worked, just as Grouchy Chef, run by a grouchy chef, works.

57.  You can get away with being an asshole if you do everything else extremely well.  People are willing to put up with difficult personalities if they think they’re getting a great deal.  Like the Soup Nazi of NYC.  Or the Sushi Nazi of Nashville.  Or Grouchy Chef of Seattle. NONE of them act as they do because they think they can get away with it.  For instance, the Soup Nazi acts as he does out of care and responsibility — he understands that many of his customers have 30 minutes for lunch so he needs the line to move as quickly as possible.

58.  Fear, respect, love. In that order. Avoid spending time with those who don’t see it this way because they’ll fuck you over with their self-deception.

59. Create space and products that are both ahead of and behind its time.  People rarely live in the present, they live in the future and past because the present is often painful to them.  Give customers innocence and hope.  Create products that will remind them of childhood — simpler times — yet allow them to maintain their adulthood. For instance, our avocado milkshake tastes like a milkshake.  But it’s green in color, lactose free, and contains kale and collards.  It allows the customer to feel like a child and an adult.

60. Make people believe you’re crazy and capable of anything, including murder.  Have employees spread rumors about you once being charged with murder. Do something crazy but innocuous that gets the police involved.  Embellished version of story will travel fast.


Five Years Old

We’ve somehow made it to 5 years. Thanks to those who helped the business make it this far. I can’t believe some of you have put up with me for this long.  Thank you.

The Alive Juice Bar brand — its reputation, message, and style — is becoming better understood. But there’s still a lot of work to do.  We’re moving to a more spacious and sensible location. We’re continuing to evangelize the brand by adding two new businesses that will open this summer, a dance studio and a vintage clothing store.

The move and the two new businesses will mean some initial hardship, financially and emotionally.  My leadership skills will be tested and the financial stability of the businesses may be rocky at first. If we can get it done right, we can build a lifestyle company that’ll help us live more fulfilling and meaningful lives.

New projects for 2016 have been considered.  If all goes well, we can pursue them.  In the meantime, I ask for your prayers and patience as we begin new ventures.




Job Application for Manager vs. 1.0

Alive Juice Bar is expanding, moving to a new location and adding a dance studio and a vintage clothing store. Seeking lead manager — for the juice bar business — who understands human nature, can set tone and contexts, and change people’s attitudes and behaviors. Someone who sees the world for what it is, and not as what he or she prefers it to be. Put simply, someone who isn’t delusional. Help make us better as we adapt to a new environment.

This is America, so most people are delusional, it’s the new normal. Every FBI agent knows this to be true.   Some clues that you might be delusional:

* You enjoy sentimental and contrived novels like “Art of Racing in the Rain,” films like “Good Will Hunting.”

* You start sentences with, “I’m NOT angry,” “I’m NOT jealous,” “I’m NOT _____”.

* You frontload on social media, posting to convince yourself that nobody knows the miserable truths about your life that you’d rather not confront and fix.

* You realize that the more you post those fake smiles, the more people see the cracks.  But it’s like being addicted to heroin, you can’t stop.

* You mistake your kid’s need for your affirmation as love.

* You think of yourself as a loving person because you feel so much love for everyone

* You stop reading any material that challenges your beliefs and sense of self.

* You love reading anything that affirms and legitimizes your beliefs and sense of self.

* You attend church because you’re insecure and/or frontloading, not because you recognize your own depravity and seek a community that will help you resist temptations.

* You’ve tried to convince people that you love someone you can’t stand.

It’s ok if you’ve committed any of the above. Life is about learning from our mistakes. To apply, take our psychological assessment and social skills test.


Earthquake during math class! Big enough to topple bookshelves. Nobody is hurt, everyone is okay, just jittery. What do you, as teacher, do?
a) Stop class, act jittery and anxious because that’s how you feel.
b) Have students clean up mess and continue class as if nothing happened. Assign double amount of homework and quizzes for rest of the week.
c) Stop class, bring in school psychologist to discuss how everyone is handling the event and “post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Your kid brings home a B on a math test. What do you do?
a) congratulate him for the B
b) bitch slap him for getting a B because B is for Bitch
c) act quietly disappointed

What makes people change?
a) Fear
b) Love
c) Hate

Why don’t people change?
a) Fear
b) Love
c) Hate

Efficiency or creativity?
a) Efficiency
b) Creativity
c) Can I pick both?

What do you do when a customer’s kid is throwing things at other customers?
a) Nicely ask customer to stop.
b) Tell customer to get the fuck out
c) Ask customer if she has a big dick as you pour coffee on her crotch.

Some dude is pissed off about something. What should you do to calm him down?
a) Gently and sweetly ask him if there’s anything you can do for him to make him feel better.
b) Act just as pissed off when asking him what the fuck happened. Act even more pissed off after he tells you.
c) Show him your tits if you have some fun ones. If you don’t, make a funny face and tell him a joke.

Fight between a couple. He calls her lazy. How should she respond?
a) I’m not lazy. I do all these things you never see or acknowledge.
b) Why do you think I’m lazy?
c) You’re the one who is lazy. Takes one to know one, asshole.

When you’re angry, what sort of music makes you feel better?
a) Loud angry music
b) Soft, soothing music
c) Funny funky music.

a) Love, Goose, Love
b) Love, Respect, Love
c) Fear, Respect, Love

When was the last time someone called you a bitch or asshole?
a) Last 5 days
b) Past month
c) Never

How do you feel when someone calls you stupid/lazy/bitch/asshole?
a) Hurt
b) Happy
c) Indifferent

How do you feel when someone compliments you?
a) Happy
b) Confused, uncomfortable, and bewildered
c) Indifferent

Send resume and cover letter with responses to questions. Boldface response, example:

What’s the best way to get rid of an employee?
a) Fire him
b) Make employee miserable so she quits
c) Trip employee so she breaks her legs.

Perks: Free drinks and food, free dance classes, and a lot of good looking customers.
Shift: 10-6, negotiable
Compensation: Full health benefits after 60 days; 40k-50k per year, when salary plus tips are combined.  Salary review every 6 months.

Thirty Rules I’ve Learned About Building an Unbranded Business

List revised.

1. It’s not fun.  Nobody, nothing cooperates.  Things break, people are whimsical, weird shit happens all the time.

2. It’s a lot of fun. It’s fun when you figure out how to cooperate with an unpredictable world.   You’ll realize the fun is the chase, and the work is in maintaining the relationship.

3. You’re a stupid useless cunt every time you fuck up an order.  Doesn’t matter if this is true or not.  You have to believe it’s true.

4.  Don’t hire when you start.  I learned this one the hard way and it nearly left me destitute and homeless.  It takes time to build a competent army.  Hire because you’ve found the right person, not because you want a break.

5. People don’t change, they just become clearer versions of who they really are.    Don’t expect to change the person you hire into the person you want them to be, even if they want to be that. Our habits are addictions, we relapse when we think we can get away with it.

6. People change only when there’s enough peer pressure to do so.  That’s why she won’t lose weight until the flow of compliments about her appearance ends.  Until then, she’ll see what she can get away with.

7. Never say “no” to a customer.  It creates a communication barrier, such that they tune out everything else you say to them.  Create a place where customers don’t have to hear “no.”  They already hear “no” all day long, from their boss, their kids, spouse, bureaucrats.

8. If you have to say “no” to a customer, say it without saying “no.”  For instance, say “Fuck Off.”  Much more effective than “no.”

9. Never make excuses to a customer.  Assume that the customer doesn’t care if you’re late opening the store because your grandmother slipped and broke her hip and you had to take her to the hospital.  Just apologize for being late and continue work.

10. Never play victim. Once you start blaming the world for your problems is when it’ll soon be over. It’s especially important to blame yourself when it’s not your fault.  Learn to blame yourself when it’s not your fault. Only then will you figure out why IT IS your fault.

11. Don’t allow employees to play victim.  Once they do, it will become a part of the work culture.  Making excuses and playing victim are contagious behaviors.   We have a policy — three excuses per month and you’re fired.  Employees can make up for each excuse by writing an essay on why excuse was made, what will be done to ensure it’s never made again, and how making excuses prevents one from learning.

12. “If you are going to kill, kill 20, not just one,” someone once told Bandit Queen, Phoolan Devi. “If you kill 20 your fame will spread; if you kill only one, they will hang you.” And that’s exactly what she did — massacred 22 upper-caste villagers — and that’s exactly what happened — pardoned of all crimes after 11 years in jail, elected to office, and immortalized in books and film as a lower-caste gang leader.  Don’t just piss off a few people.  That’s going to happen, unintentionally, anyway.  Piss off a lot of people, INTENTIONALLY.  Don’t piss people off for the sake of pissing them off.  That’s just douchebag behavior.  Piss people off because you truly believe that there’s no other option, that they need to be pissed off, that they need a good shake to wake up.

13. It’s ok to fail.  Most of life is failure.  Failure is good as long as you learn from it, take responsibility for your failure. I fail several times a day.

14. Follow the Pareto principle, the 80-20 rule.  I had never heard of it until someone mentioned it after noticing that I kept describing the world in 80/20 ratios. This ratio seems to be found throughout nature.  Like 20 percent of people own 80 percent of wealth.  Or 80 percent of people use 20 percent of software features, while 20 percent use 80 percent of them; 20 percent of agricultural land produces 80 percent of bounty, 20 percent of employees produce 80 percent of value. Fascinating.

15. Hang out with your customers and employees.  They’re the most important people in your life, they support you even though you’re a stupid, useless, cunt.  Treat them like family, know them better than anyone else in their life.  Don’t waste time on those  who can’t help you reach your goal.  There’s no time to hang out with college drinking buddies and reminisce about the time the two of you had sex with twins in a bathroom stall while…GROW UP!

16. Operate your business as stereotypical East Asian family operates.  If you have no idea what goes on in many East Asian families, read Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  It’s an extreme example, but it captures the essence of Asian identity and worldview AND how visionaries like Steve Jobs ran their businesses. While I disagree with her on some points, she provides general framework on how to run a business and treat employees.  I’ve tried the standard middle-class White American way of parenting and it doesn’t work.  It’s like they’re in competition to see who can be nicer to their kids and assume their kids are narcissistic, manipulative, and have strong sense of entitlement because they weren’t nice enough to them.  It’s fucking madness!

17. Don’t waste time.  Use off hours to identify all the mistakes you made during the day and figure out how to correct them.  The mistake could be a posture, choice of words, failure to spot a detail, possibilities are endless.  Spend leisure time only on activities related to business.  Don’t spend time talking to those who don’t add value to your life and business.  Again, don’t waste time. So obvious, but difficult to follow.

18. Be grateful.  Thank your customers for putting up with you being a stupid, useless, cunt, for actually paying money for your products and services.  Thank your employees for tolerating you. Treat them to lunch and dinner.

19. Don’t let customers control the business.  It’s your business, not theirs.  Don’t be scared of them.  The moment you let them run your business is when you lose passion for whatever it is you want to do.

20. Burn all business textbooks.  Some of the stuff you find in textbooks may work for Fortune 500 companies, but not for a start-up. Rely on street-smarts, not books that’ll be out of date within 10 years of publication.

21. Ignore consultants.  They’re mostly talking business textbooks.  Their advice is either obvious, asinine, or impractical at the moment.  Most of them don’t know your motivations.  You can learn a lot more from industry veterans.

22. Listen to Tupac, let him guide you, because you will be shot by someone five times and you better “take it and smile.”  When you recover, find the motherfucker who shot you and destroy him and everyone associated with him. It’s better to be feared than loved.

23. Always compare yourself to the best.  Not saying you need to aim to be the best.  You don’t need to be ambitious (I’m not).  But you need to grade yourself fairly.  (You need to recognize reality).  If you don’t like being compared — and we’re always being compared, like it or not — find a low stress, low profile, low standards job where comparisons will be implicit, not explicit.

24. Don’t get greedy.  Realize expansion is a slow process.  I’ve been by tempted to accept free rent to open a second store here and there even though I can barely run one store.  A lot of people lose everything when they open a second store or expand.  I remember Asteroid Cafe, a little hole in wall in Wallingford, owner was passionate about politics.  Great reviews, good prices, successful operation for nearly a decade, bursting at seams.  Decided to expand, moved to a fancy location in Fremont, tripling seating.  Lasted less than two years.  Owner crushed, has never recovered.  Sad story.

25. Don’t be lazy.  This is obvious, but it’s so tempting to slip up.  It’s Friday 7pm and you want to go home so you do a sloppy job of interviewing an applicant, cut it short.  Her incompetence ends up costing you thousands.  Or I once lost a bid for a large catering event because I didn’t respond to an e-mail a day earlier. (And even if my late response isn’t the reason for rejection, I have to believe that it is.  Create a reality that will encourage you to not be lazy).

26. Ignore focus groups.  Steve Jobs ignored them.  Focus groups are methodologically problematic and people don’t know what they want when they’re in a contextless environment. They also give you yet another excuse when something doesn’t sell.  Good sellers can sell anything, even bottled fart.  Ann Wigamore convinced people to pay a lot of money for something as useless as wheatgrass.

27. Exercise.  You need to be healthy to maximize productivity.  You can find the time for it.

28.  Don’t try to save the world. If your product sounds too good to be true — spirulina, wheatgrass, ionized water — then you are a liar.  Stay away from anyone who tells you buying their product will save the world (empower the peasants, save them from greedy capitalists!) and instantly bring you eternal life (wheatgrass).  There’s no such thing as an elixir.  Living well requires hard work.  Even then, shit happens.  We’re no longer in the Garden of Eden.

29. Believe in Original Sin.  Especially the Calvinist/Puritan version, where we are born responsible for and tainted by the sins of our ancestors.  If you don’t believe you’re depraved and deserve to burn in Hell, you’ll never be truly grateful for life and whatever else you have.  You’ll feel entitled to a place in the Kingdom of Heaven.  You won’t have the drive to keep going during the tough times.  You won’t be able to survive a day where you lose money despite working 16 hours. You have to see the tough days as penance for your sins, not as unfair.

30. Flattery is the sound of the Devil’s laughter. Flattery distorts reality, makes us blind to our total depravity.   Ignore salespeople who flatter you, they’re like the men who flatter women so they can fuck them.  Addiction to flattery feeds our narcissism and lowers standards.  That’s why those at the top rarely praise themselves and other people.  Flattery has ruined many promising careers and businesses. Low caliber people work for praise. High caliber people work for achievement.


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