Content Warning for mentions of suicide and celebrity death.
The beauty of technology lies in connecting people. Every now and again someone enters your life and changes you from afar—be it a character from a movie, an actor, a writer, a celebrity. You see that person or their work, and you connect with it. They speak to you, tell a bit of your story, give you back something of yourself that you never thought you’d see reflected and in a way that makes you better for seeing that truth, even if it’s a hard one. When you lose that person, it hurts. Sometimes, it hurts as much as when a family member or pet dies. Just because you never met in real life doesn’t diminish the sense of grief and loss. Because we don’t have to intimately know people for their lives to touch us, change us, make us better.
Yesterday, we lost Anthony Bourdain. If you don’t know who he is, you’re missing someone special, and I’m sorry that you are only hearing about him after he’s gone. I’ll come back around to talk about his death, but right now, I want to talk about his life.
Anthony Bourdain might not sound like the kind of person who would end up doing what he did. He was a line cook for over a decade before he wrote his expose of the culinary industry. He did a lot of drugs and wasn’t shy about it, even late in his life. He was frank about his struggles and about how much of a jerk he had been (and still was in some ways). Many would likely look at him and see ‘privileged white male.’ Plus, he comes from the culinary industry, and we’ve likely all seen enough cooking competitions to believe that most cis white dudes in that industry are arrogant dicks who don’t care about anyone else. Or at least, that’s what we assume even if it’s not entirely true.
But over the past several years, Anthony Bourdain has become a staple in my partner’s and my life. He was more than a celebrity chef and travel show host. He was a source of endless inspiration, of wonder, and of pithy one liners. (He had some pretty sick burns, yo, and aimed at the right people.)
See, unlike most travel shows, Bourdain didn’t treat his visits like a tourist destination. He took the time to learn about local culture and find guides who would show him what ‘real’ life was like. Travel, to Bourdain, represented more than a leisure activity. It was a chance to listen and learn.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”— No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach
He never shied away from political or religious discussion with the locals, even if it meant them ragging on America for a while. Nor was he snooty about his food choices. One of my partner’s and my favorite things about Bourdain was how much he loved his ‘street meat.’ He ate anything his hosts put in front of him and relished it. He wasn’t an elitist and took great pains to celebrate the ‘lowliest’ of foods.
He was a connoisseur of the finer things, only the finer things didn’t mean expensive. Handmade food with love from family recipes passed down generations. Handmade shoes or knives or suits crafted with painstaking labor and care. Everything made could be an art form to Bourdain.
If you’re around my age or older, you remember Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and the sense of curiosity and wonder you felt when he would play videos about how things were made. Bourdain captured that for me in a way very few other shows have ever been able to do. I wanted to see the world as he saw it, explore everything, try everything, meet and talk to people, to listen to their stories like he did. Food, life, the world, people—everything was a gift, and we could choose to celebrate that or not. Watching his shows, I know what I wanted.
“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”—Parts Unknown
If you watch Parts Unknown from the earliest seasons to now, the evolution in both Bourdain himself and his work unfolds in a truly breathtaking way. Where his show had begun as a way to highlight the beauty of places most Westerners would consider beneath them, it became over the years to represent a form of rebellion against Western patriarchal, colonial, racist, and capitalist structures. He dove head first into places no one else would go and just let the people talk about their struggles. No judgment, no bias, just food and conversation.
He’d go to Puerto Rico and talk about how badly the US has treated them in one breath, then, a few episodes later go to West Virginia and listen to rural white folks’ complaints about coal and lack of jobs. You get the sense he was trying to dismantle bigotry and prejudice one plate of food at a time.
And part of the beauty was, his open, honest demeanor made space for people to open up to him. He was expanding minds and worldviews through cooking and travel. My partner and I don’t watch a lot of TV shows consistently, but we always looked forward to Bourdain. He was irreverent to what deserved it and treated as sacred those things that deserved it. Every human being on his show had dignity, a voice, and agency. He never disrespected cultures who were different and took time to try and help viewers understand what they were seeing from the inside out.
“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.”—Parts Unknown
I saw so much wonder and joy through Bourdain’s eyes. I also saw tragedy, pain, and suffering. He could cut through bs like butter and never shied away from showing the world how awful human beings could be to each other. And how stupid most of the reasons for being awful were. He fought fear of the Other with knowledge. He sought to increase cultural empathy and humanize everybody.
He cared about bringing voice to the voiceless. About standing up for those who were marginalized, misunderstood, and rejected. He stood up for food workers, especially immigrants. When Asia Argento, his girlfriend, got treated poorly for being honest about what Harvey Weinstein did to her, he defended her. He’d become one of the most vocal male supporters of the #MeToo movement. And he put his money where his mouth was. He told Batali to retire after his scandal broke rather than try to rehabilitate his image. He spoke openly and frequently about the need to expose predatory men. When Argento dropped her nuclear bomb of a speech at Cannes this year, Bourdain told an interviewer how proud he was of her and how powerful a moment it was.
To my partner and I, he represented how cishet white male privilege ought to be used: to make the world a better place for those who don’t have it.
“Right now, nothing else matters but women’s stories of what it’s like in the industry I have loved and celebrated for nearly 30 years — and our willingness, as human beings, citizens, men and women alike, to hear them out, fully, and in a way that other women can feel secure enough, and have faith enough that they, too, can tell their stories. We are clearly at a long overdue moment in history where everyone, good hearted or not, will HAVE to look at themselves, the part they played in the past, the things they’ve seen, ignored, accepted as normal, or simply missed — and consider what side of history they want to be on in the future.”—“On Reacting to Bad News”
He was a rebel, a renegade. He couldn’t care less what anyone thought of him and used that position to advocate for and highlight people our society would rather ignore. He made space for everyone to speak. He reveled in the wonder of the world. Curiosity dominated his approach to others instead of prejudice. He made me want to be better.
And he struggled with mental illness and depression. He had all his life, had never been shy about that on any of his shows. My heart aches both because he made me want to be better and because his struggles are my struggles. He wanted to make the world a more honest, compassionate, just place, and he fought his own inner demons every day. He was battling on all sides, sometimes himself, sometimes on behalf of others. He was a warrior.
Depression lies. I know this intimately, as did Bourdain, and in the wake of his passing, I feel raw. Both from what he meant to me and from his death. He let me see for a moment, that the world, and my own fight against mental illness, could get better. It still can. His work still speaks to us. So, as my final thought, I want to honor Bourdain by giving us all a challenge worthy of his legacy:
Go into the parts unknown with wonder, curiosity, and love. Don’t shy away from difficult questions or their complicated answers. Listen to everyone, accept their stories and gifts with love. Stand up for the voiceless, fight oppressive systems, and never let those who benefit from the system have the last word.
I took a walk through this beautiful world; felt the cool rain on my shoulders…
RIP Anthony Bourdain.
You left something truly beautiful behind after your journey here with us.
Images Courtesy of New York Magazine, Orchard Films, and FOX
We Need to Talk about Vader
But before we talk about Vader, I want to tell you a short story.
I was fairly young when Phantom Menace hit the screens. It was a big cultural event—twice so here in Russia. For the first time we had an opportunity not only to share in worldwide cultural phenomenon, but to do it…well, as it should be done. No illegal VHS with a bad voiceover; we could go to the cinema and watch it to our heart’s content.
So naturally it was quite a hot topic among kids. On school breaks we gathered to discuss the things we loved in the movie—because kids are not film critics and loved that film very much, I should say.
And as we talked about wow!-Space, and wow!-robots, and wow!-lightsabers and don’t forget about wow!-queen’s dresses, it was all right. But as soon as it came to discussing characters, something strange happened. While girls were torn between Amidala and Qui-Gon, the boys almost universally praised the one character young me thought was barely there.
Of course, I’m talking about Darth Maul.
Why him? That’s the question that bothered me when I was young and never stopped bothering me as I grew up.
Broading the picture
Several years passed since 1999 and I became older and more thoughtful. I learned enough English to venture onto the Internet and talk about things I like with people all over the world. Of course, my childish pink glasses were shattered quickly and mercilessly.
I learned that people detest the Prequel Trilogy.
Well, I was old enough to understand their ire (and I couldn’t make myself watch Revenge of the Sith to the end). But something, then again, was strange to me. It was the reason people didn’t like one character.
Here and there you’d read about Prequels ruining a fan-favourite character. You’d hear he was no way near himself, and it would even sound convincing…until you remember they were talking about Boba Fett. The guy with two or three lines and zero personality.
How did those movies ruin him, by the way? They showed him as a child, a boy of ten with curly hair and cherubic face.
And the puzzle starts solving itself
I grew up and I started asking around, trying to find the root of the problem. And it came to life suddenly, as if it was a satori.
People love those characters exactly because they lack any character.
What is a character, when we’re talking about an imagined person? It’s how it reflects in actions and thought.
It’s emotions we’re told or shown hero has, first and foremost, because to see motivation, we need to see emotion. Also, it means strengths and weaknesses. Mostly the latter, as it gives much more “meat” to the person we try to describe. So basically to create a character, we need to show him weak and emotional at least once.
The sad thing is, we live in the society where men are forbidden from being emotional or weak. They are taught it means being unmasculine—being less then they should’ve been. They are taught their only language of expression is violence.
But the focus is, no single person, unless they have a certain medical condition can be always ‘strong’ and lacking emotions.
Well, no single living person, of course. The imaginary ones, on the contrary, provided (bad-written or decorative) enough aspirational figures for poor guys. Figures that never emote, have no heart and generally are never weak and succeed in chosen kind of violence until someone stronger comes to kill them.
And now let’s talk about Vader at last
‘But why Vader?’, you may ask. Unlike those two he has a character—a well-conceived, if not always well-executed one, I must say. We know his weaknesses, we know his emotions…what is he even doing here?
Well, because when someone says “Vader” in most cases it means not a ruin of a person serving something he detests because he detests himself even more; it means cool guy in an iconic helmet.
And that cool guy is everywhere. For each spreadsheet or two of his living soul we get several issues of him being delightfully violent, slaughtering left and right and boasting his power and his darkness. He has few emotions—and those we are shown are mostly negative and never affect the course of the story, anyway.
And none the less he has the emotional part, which—however sidelined—allows him to be more than a cardboard hero figurine.
Last but not least
I’m not trying to say anything, really. Nor am I trying to imply Disney-Lucasarts are somehow bad. I’m just thinking why on Earth do we love such bland character and what it has to do with our upbringing. And what the kid-friendly, yet deliciously violent Vader (who is everywhere now, and in VR soon) can influence their view of life and themselves.
Oh, and maybe that it’s kinda strange—to promote both progressive values and that specific idea of manhood.
Images courtesy of Disney
Creator Corner: Interview with Playwright Oliver Mayer
For this edition of Creator Corner—a series of interviews dedicated to independent content creators, especially those from marginalized communities—I got the treat of talking to critically acclaimed playwright Oliver Mayer. Opening October 26th, Mayer’s play “Members Only” is the sequel to his groundbreaking play “Blade to the Heat.” One of the most influential faces of the LA Arts and Theater community, Mayer’s play is about an America of color forging racial and sexual identities in the years leading up to the AIDS crisis. But it’s message is both decidedly hopeful and poignant in light of today’s socio-political context, and that’s what I wanted to learn more about.
Gretchen: How long have you been writing and what got you into writing in the first place?
Oliver Mayer: I started writing plays at 19 years old – nearly 34 years ago. But I think it all started because of my mother, who of all things wanted me to be an actor. Because of her, I was able to see plays from an early age. Because of her, I saw ZOOT SUIT at the Mark Taper Forum in 1978, when I was 13 — and I can draw a straight line from that moment to this one because I saw what plays can do. I think it’s the single coolest job in the world. Everyone gets caught up in the “wright” of playwright (meaning to make or build or create), whereas I take daily joy and solace in the “play” part. How rare and wonderful to be asked to play in your very job title?
G: Absolutely! So, with so many people watching movies and TV shows, how do you see stage plays fitting into telling the stories of marginalized communities? Is there anything they can do uniquely well that other media can’t?
OM: Crazy as it sounds, plays on stage mean more than ever – and particularly when it comes to those of us who feel left out of the picture somehow. Whether we feel outside the box because of identity or behavior (or both), plays – when they are done right – not only reflect us as we really are but also bounce the light in unexpected ways to help us see that we are not alone after all. There is something holy about the experience of sitting in the dark, looking at the light and living the story happening in front of us in real time that just can’t be replicated. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
G: I grew up around theater, so I wholeheartedly agree! “Holy” is a the perfect word for that experience.
“Members Only” is a sequel to “Blade to the Heat,” which some of our readers may not be familiar with. Can you tell us a bit more about your first play and how “Members Only” fits into that story?
OM: I wrote “Blade to the Heat” in the early 1990s, at a time when AIDS had ravaged our country for a decade, when misinformation was rampant, and when people of color were particularly at risk. I set my play in the world of boxing (I was a boxer as a teenager) in the late 1950s, a time and place that were particularly rigid and cruel, and I told the story of Pedro Quinn, a young Latino fighter who wins a world title only to be outed as a gay man. Even though I placed the play in a long-ago period, people quite rightly read it as an AIDS play, because it dealt with the dangers of sexuality – not simply disease, but the potential violence that can occur among those who have secrets of their own.
Now, 22 years after “Blade” played at the Mark Taper Forum, “Members Only” revisits the surviving characters. The story takes us up to the year 1982 in New York City – a time not unlike our own, with wild and fun explorations of diversity and non-binary identity in art and fashion. But 1982 was also the year that AIDS was named. In this play I put Quinn and the rest of the characters on the front lines of this disease, on a knife-edge without knowing the danger all around them. And I try to make Quinn that kind of lonely warrior who ends up being a difference-maker in the most trying of times.
G: Oh wow, your main character, Pedro Quinn, sounds fascinating! What inspired you to tell his story?
OM: Good question! As a playwright, I need to sniff out the drama wherever it may be. The idea of someone in a world that neither respects nor understands who he really is makes for lots of hard choices and consequences. Making him a boxer, and a person of color, makes him close to me. Unlike me, he is not a person who talks or writes a lot! But he is someone who operates from deep feeling and is not afraid to show his passion. I’m a million times luckier than Quinn, but I do understand feeling left out, excluded, judged. Something tells me that audiences understand this feeling too.
G: So, “Blade to the Heat” came out 20 years ago, what drove you to write the sequel now?
OM: Timing is everything, and the funniest part is that it’s beyond any one person’s control. I have been working on this play for several years, with many stops and starts along the way. But since Jose Luis Valenzuela agreed to direct the play — and joined me to try to figure out what we really wanted to say – the play suddenly became electric, highly charged, and incredibly reflective of the very scary times we are living in today. I wrote the play to attempt to deal with redemption, to take someone wracked with guilt and regret and try to give him a moment’s absolution. I guess I was hoping for that feeling of absolution for myself. Now I see how much we all need to just breathe and feel one another’s heart with our hand and say — “I know.”
G: As you said above, “Members Only” takes place in 1982, just prior to the AIDS crisis coming to the forefront of American consciousness. What made you decide to choose that setting and how do you see that as being relevant to our current socio-political context?
OM: In 1982, I was 17 years old, on my way from Los Angeles to Cornell as an undergrad. The world was wild, scary, sexy. Politics were incredibly frustrating and frightening (although Trump makes Reagan seem a lot more moderate than he was). Music was great, although it was transitioning away from disco into what I guess we’d the New Wave. I discovered Willie Colon and salsa (we didn’t play a lot of that kind of music in the San Fernando Valley!), not to mention that Lower Manhattan sound and style epitomized by Laurie Anderson and The Talking Heads. In boxing, it was the Golden Age of Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns and other all-time greats. Despite the challenges, I remember thinking that we could work out our problems and find a way to live free. I didn’t see AIDS coming, and I didn’t know that people of color and people who identify LGBTQ would essentially be fighting the same battles we are fighting today. As a playwright, I’m sure that if I tell the story of MEMBERS ONLY right, then we will see ourselves now, in our immediate present, in a new light.
G: I love that both the play and cast showcase a wide variety of diverse identities: race, ethnicity gender, age, sexual orientation. What do you see as the value and goal of such intentional inclusivity, especially in the world we’re living in now?
OM: Plays ought to look like the world we live in. I live in a place and time where diverse ethnicities, cultures, religions and life choices are welcome (thank goodness) and here to stay. I also embrace hybridity, the mixing of cultures and identities; it’s actually why I have stayed here in Los Angeles, because this highly hybridized population is mine. But I know that Nebraska is starting to look a little like LA. I was in Indiana this summer, and I realized that the folks I met looked a lot more like me than Mike Pence! I’m just doing my job – finding the drama in the lives we really live, who we really are.
G: That’s really beautiful. There’s a lot of overlap between boxing in a ring and fighting social stigma. Which came first for you, a story about boxing or one about fighting bigotry, or did they both come at the same time?
OM: I learned so much in the ring. It happened during my coming of age, so I felt all the things you feel while learning how to hit and not get hit. The lessons I learned (especially the hard ones) I continue to use in my life outside the ring. Fighters learn respect for their opponents, and not to fight too angry. The best fighters are calm; they breathe, they don’t think too much, and they operate with a basic trust in their preparation and natural ability. I quit the ring at 17, but the ring didn’t quit me. I took this fighting knowledge into playwriting, and into political and social activism. Now I take what I learned and try to teach it to my playwriting students at USC. Bigotry is a tough opponent: you can knock it down but it keeps getting up. But so should we. In the end, the biggest lesson learned in the ring was that I could take a punch, that it’s not the worst thing in the world – not by a long shot.
G: A lot of media these days is pretty raw or violent, but that kind of ‘grittiness’ seems to be the end of it. What led you to include not just the violence but a more hopeful message?
OM: I’m deeply hopeful in our better angels. Even if the country is being run into the ground, we aren’t dead yet. There were lonely warriors like Quinn who gave us hope in the darkest of times. There were people who came together, even during times of plague, and loved one another even when love seemed impossible. As bad as many of us feel about our present moment, I think that MEMBERS ONLY will remind us that we have endured as bad and worse, and that the only way to get through it is together, with honesty and a ferocious passion for life.
G: I heard there might be another sequel in the works, making this a trilogy. Anything you can tell us about where the story would go after “Members Only”? If not, are there other projects you’re working on you can tell us about?
OM: I am going to write the third play in this Trilogy, but I can’t tell you what is going to happen, because I don’t know yet! Next for me is a musical called THREE PADEREWSKIS, with music by the very talented Jenni Brandon. We won an international prize to write this. It’s about the great Polish pianist, statesman and winemaker Ignace Jan Paderewski. We’ll perform a version of it in November in Paso Robles (where Paderewski made wine), and in Los Angeles in December. Should be a blast.
G: That sounds really exciting! Anything else you want to share with us before we go?
OM: Thank you for the super questions, Gretchen. I feel blessed. I’m grateful to be able to do what I love. People should come out and see the play: it’s a lot of fun, with great music, gorgeous and talented people. Murder, romance, and a twist. Anyway, let’s hope!
So there you have it, folks! A stunning, compelling, beautiful new play from a long-established and award-winning playwright. If you live in LA, definitely check it out!
Images Courtesy of IDKL Media
A Cup Of Fantasy: Dryad Tea Pairs Perfectly With The Tabletop
It’s officially September, and it will soon be fall. The air grows cold, the skies turn slate grey, and the mind wanders in search of the comfort it can only find inside a mug of fresh brewed tea. Now, of course, you can go to Starbucks for whatever they’re passing off as tea right now, and you could also get some Tetley or Celestial Seasonings down at the supermarket. But what if you want to move beyond the mundane, to try something new and different? Maybe you want a tea that doesn’t just taste good, but pairs with your favorite book? Maybe you want a mug of something named “Raspberry Imp,” “Loki’s Kiss, or even “Wibblycog?”
Nestled in the back of the hall between the Artist’s Alley and a steampunk hat shop, Dryad Tea’s booth was almost always busy, mostly because they offered something different from the t-shirts, props, and expensive costuming at other booths. I got to have a chat with the owner, operator, master blender, and self described “Tea Maven” of Dryad, Rubiee Tallyn Hayes, who gave me a rundown of their products and a little backstory on Dryad.
The brand originally started while Rubiee was in the “dark faerie Celtic vocal band” Pandora Celtica, singing about the dark sides of the fae world. In order to support the band, each member picked up a side gig. For Rubiee, that was her tea blending and pottery. The initial blends Dryad carried, still in their catalogue today, were directly inspired by the characters and world Pandora Celtica constructed in their music. When the band went into semi-retirement, Dryad Tea lived on thanks to an overwhelming amount of support and a successful Kickstarter. Since then, she’s expanded her blends to reflect her love for mythology, literature, and general geekiness.
Dryad Teas is a full service tea company, in that they do not carry only one specific kind of tea. They’ve got your usual assortments of blacks and greens, herbals and rooibos, and even single-note teas for purists or home blenders. Dryad works to make sure their tea is ethically sourced, and tries to make their blends as organic as possible (some ingredients can’t be bought organically). Evil tea displeases the spirits, after all.
While the general grouping of Rubiee’s teas are recognizable, her blends are wholly unique. When making her blends, she tries to construct a tea that plays off of more than one sense. While the obviously taste delicious, they also smell just as good, with some blends like “Seelie” (a floral rooibos) being as much potpourii as tea blend. They played on this beautifully at GenCon, with samples of seventy-five teas out for free smells. You don’t even need to go full wino with it either. One sniff and you can immediately get an idea of what the tea will taste like. I bought a pack of Early Grey blends that, in theory, would not end up being a diverse profile but in actuality smell and taste totally different from each other while retaining that core Earl Grey flavor (even the green tea blend!).
The themes for the tea also play into things, with a great deal of her recent blends coming out of discussions with creators in the fantasy community. Some of the people she’s spoken with and inspired blends include authors like Seanen McGuire, Jim Butcher, Paul Lell, and Catherynne Valente, as well as the music of SJ Tucker and Bekah Kelso. She also draws less direct inspiration from things like Warhammer 40k, Alice In Wonderland (every tea shop has to have at least one Alice blend), Shakespeare, and even Pokemon Go! (the Mystic, Instinct, and Valor teas were a recent passion project for Rubiee). They also debuted brand new premium teas at GenCon, a special white and a Jasmine Dragon Pearl green, that are more expensive thanks to production costs but also offer unique and truly exquisite tastes.
Teas are available in sizes ranging from the three cup sample size all the way up to the 100+ cup eight ounce size. You can also get tea in travel tins and as part of gift packs, or even in the monstrous “Battle Box,” a “one of everything button” for Dryad’s teas that contains a sample of every single one of their teas. You can also get a randomized mix of teas, custom blends, a “grab bag,” and even the “Mad Tea Party,” a tea blend composed of all the other teas mixed together.
Like any good tea shop, Rubiee doesn’t just stock the tea itself. She also carries a full range of accessories for your tea drinking life, and even makes the vast majority of them! At GenCon, everything they had was made by Rubiee, except for the honey sticks she carries. That is reflected in their stock, which features handmade special dice infusers, ceramic tea pets and trivets (things that hold your used tea bag or infuser), and special crystal infusers. They also carry sweeteners like the honey sticks, silicon tea infusers, and timers. She’s even got a special herbal blend called “Vampire’s Bane,” a mix of herbs and garlic that is less of a tea and more of a marinade.
Rubiee also is a hard working potter, working with her apprentice to produce mugs and bowls for purchase along with her tea. The two of them have different styles of pottery, meaning that there’s a fair amount of diversity even within a two-woman operation. While her stock of mugs is currently still replenishing after GenCon, you can still see what else she has in stock and even put in special requests.
For details on Dryad’s full range of teas, and to get some for your very own (at pretty damn reasonable prices for hand blended tea), you can visit their website, as well as the Etsy shops for both tea and pottery. If you’d like to support Dryad on a longer term basis, you can sign up for their Tea of the Month Club to have samples sent to you each month, or become a Patron and get access to samples, tokens, and even Dryad’s discord channel. You can also follow Rubiee on Twitch, where she streams her pottery throwing and tea blending. You can even see her in person at Wisconsin’s Teslacon or on their home turf at Denver’s MileHiCon, where they’ll be slinging tea and tea accessories.
(Editorial Note: We’ve corrected some things after talking with Rubiee. We mistakenly called the Jasmine Dragon Pearl’ tea a Darjeeling, referred to all of their tea as organic (which is impossible due to sourcing limitations), and referred to Rubiee as the sole potter when she in fact has an apprentice)