As a select few of you know, I’m a superb chef and artist of the kitchen when I’m not aggressively leafing through materials at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. I recently crafted the following:
Sweet potato, Greek yogurt, feta cheese, corn-based salsa, Valentina hot sauce, baby, YOU GOT A STEW GOIN!
For those of you not familiar with my girl Valentina, she’s a stone-cold Fox from south of the wall. Absolutely delicious in every way and only $1.79/bottle in a relatively expensive area.
And finally, no introduction needed on the following:
This posting is brought to you by Chesterfield sin-sticks, buy the beautiful Christmas-card carton!
Here is the article from Garden Collage magazine.
There is a pervasive image of Los Angeles– one can easily imagine the top down on a stylish convertible as it drives down a perfectly manicured road, loud music, palm trees rising on either side like the icons of a bygone age. It is an image that could be from any number of decades in LA’s history– the music and the car change perhaps, but the palm trees remain, tall and thin, pillars of towering opulence, and utterly ubiquitous.
The first ornamental palms were planted in the Los Angeles area during the 18th century by Spanish missionaries, for whom they had both practical and symbolic dimensions– palm trees are a famously biblical plant and their fronds are used during Palm Sunday and Ash Wednesday observances. The date palms planted by the missionaries provided no shade or fruit (date palms require fertilization by hand in order to produce dates), and while the desert fan palm is native to Southern California, date palms, old Mexican fan palms, and queen palms would soon overtake Los Angeles.
Palm trees grew in popularity during the Victorian era alongside the development of greenhouses, which allowed them to flourish in otherwise inhospitable environments. During that time, palm gardens and palm conservancies were built throughout Europe–there was even a palm court on the ill-fated RMS Titanic. The palm trees encapsulated the Victorian ideals of exploration and conquest, leaving behind the religious associations they had carried since antiquity, and moving towards the exoticism that eventually came to epitomize 20th-century Los Angeles. The Orientalism of the mid-nineteenth century compounded a desire for imported attractions like the palm tree.
As Los Angeles grew (rapidly, and in many directions), city planners set out to beautify the streets. For landscaping, palm trees proved to be a cheaper alternative to grander, classic trees like the magnolia, while still impressing a sense of grandeur and luxury. Moreover, the Los Angeles heat offered the ideal climate for palm trees to thrive.
Through careful marketing efforts designed to entice Easterners into the West, Southern California came to be known as a “semi-tropical” environmental, one that encapsulated the fantasy of faraway lands without the overseas travel and taxing humidity. Publications hailed Los Angeles as a paradise and featured the palm tree alongside articles enumerating the merits of the city. Even the University of Southern California embraced the emblem of the palm, declaring as their motto Palmam Qui Meruit Ferat (“Let whoever earns the palm possess it”).
During the early 20th century, Los Angeles became an easy, accessible fantasy, and the rise of Hollywood ushered in the city’s aura of glamour and luxury. Many Hollywood films featured Middle Eastern locales, further imbuing Los Angeles with an exotic, “dangerous” appeal. Just as the Victorians had allowed themselves to be seduced by their own constructions of Orientalism, so too did more modern Los Angeles residents fall under the embellished foreign allure of the palm tree.
In the 1930s, the craze for palm trees in Los Angeles reached new heights. A massive planting effort was undertaken in part anticipating the Olympics set to occur in Los Angeles in 1932. Perhaps more importantly, the initiative also created employment opportunities during the Great Depression, and resulted in over 40,000 trees being planted. Today, L.A. is alive with earlier decades’ efforts to turn the California desert into a seductive cultural oasis.
In the past few years, however, Los Angeles’s urban palm trees have begun to die, as their 75- to 100-year life span reaches its end. The threat of diseases, as well as the incursion of the red palm weevil, has made palm trees a difficult horticultural tradition to sustain (even without factoring in their heavy reliance on water in an increasingly waterless California). The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announced in 2006 that they would not be replacing the palm trees that die, and would instead be moving towards re-introducing native, drought resistant plants to cityscapes, like native oaks and sycamores.
The desert fan palms native to California grow where there is water— for all that palm trees are associated culturally with the desert, they require an immense amount of water. In California, groves cluster alongside oases (an instance when the cinematic trope proves accurate)– hence the naming of “Palm Springs”. In recent years, however, changes in the water table have hindered native palm tree populations, and the drought has made the foreign palm trees of L.A. all the more impractical.
Over 2,500 species of palm tree exist and live in various climates– deserts and rainforests alike. They grow coconuts, betel nuts, dates, and açai berries– one can even make a wine from their sap. But their lasting impact in America has been in the sunny daydreams they inspire. Palm trees suggest perfectly-clear days free from woes. They promise relaxation and easy luxury. They symbolize a paradise full of warm beaches and crashing waves. They are the emblem of the American West– the nostalgic promise of better shores.
Today’s song of the day is Ball and Chain by Social Distortion. I’d love to give a shoutout to the 1990s but this little doozy was released in 1990 – crazy to have come out so early in the decade given it’s squarely a 1990s feel.
Staying on the topic of balls and social distortions: Donald Trump’s PEN15. Maybe you’ve seen it, maybe you haven’t. We agree it’s there and it’s probably been inside at least one B-list pornstar’s fun box. A couple of amusing articles on the topic:
Changing subjects, a currently relevant photo that I loved:
And the world’s best email sign-off:
And a couple of baller license plates. You’ll have to be patient, I meant to do a real post here but ran out of time.
Article link is here. See below for the article:
An experimental treatment completely reversed Alzheimer’s disease in mice by reducing the levels of a single enzyme in the animals’ brains. The results further bolster the theory that amyloid plaques are at the root of this mysterious brain disease, and that addressing these plaques could lead to an eventual cure for Alzheimer’s.
The study, published February 14 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, found that slowly reducing levels of the enzyme BACE1 in mice as they aged either prevented or reversed the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, a hallmark sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Amyloid plaques, formed when bits of protein clump together in the brain, are found in high amounts in Alzheimer’s patients. BACE1 is a protein that naturally forms in the brain and helps produce beta-amyloid peptide, a protein also involved with brain plaque formation.
Scientists at the Cleveland Clinic theorized that reducing BACE1 in the brain would have a trickle-down effect, reducing plaque formation. In their experiment, they examined mice bred to both develop Alzheimer’s and gradually produce less BACE1 enzyme as they age, the latter through the removal of a crucial gene. These mice should have developed Alzheimer’s disease, but without BACE1, they did not. Instead, they developed normally and remained healthy well into old age.
The researchers observed that reducing BACE1 levels not only prevented Alzheimer’s in mice, but also reversed the disease in animals who had already begun to show signs.
Offspring of the original BACE1 knockout mice also showed a similar reduction in their BACE1 levels. But these offspring did not have the initial protection from the disease and eventually began to form brain plaques. As the second generation of mice continued to age, though, they continued to lose BACE1 activity. Eventually, their brain plaques began to disappear. By the end of the study, the mice offspring showed absolutely no plaques at all in their brain.
Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine told Newsweek that the results were promising and added further evidence that BACE1 inhibitor could be an effective Alzheimer’s treatment. But he warned that it’s too early to celebrate just yet. Mice are too different from humans for us to take these results as anything.
“The completely other side of the coin is that 99 percent of all clinical drug trials [for Alzheimer’s disease] have failed, and we don’t know why,” said Isaacson, who was not involved in the new study. “Maybe amyloid [plaque buildups] isn’t the right target.”
And even if amyloids are the right target, Isaacson explained, we’d still have a minimum of five to seven years before we would know if the same approach is helpful in humans.
Still, Dr. Daniel Franc, a neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, said that regardless of whether this exact finding can be successfully translated to humans, the results are still important.
“I would say that this is an incremental finding. It’s not revolutionary, but it does add further support to current ongoing approaches,” said Franc, adding that if anything, the research simply gives him hope that we are on the right path to finding a viable treatment. “I don’t think there has ever been a better time to think that we will have interventions for Alzheimer’s.”
FUCK YEAH, AMERICAN INGENUITY!