Welcome to the first edition of our Cannabis Guide Global, which will provide timely information about the rapidly expanding international cannabis scene. This week: Barcelona 2019: The International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) meets Spannabis.
In March, an eclectic crowd of local and global partygoers began arriving in Oaxaca for something called the Mezcal Amores Experience. The ultimate destination was a dusk-till-dawn mezcal, art and music party in an agave field an hour south of the city of Oaxaca. It had a kind of micro-Coachella vibe and was Instagram-ready by design. The David Lynch–remakes–Thorn Birds surrealism was light-hearted and mezcal-marinated, though for some the festivities began with an education.
The day before the party, at a rural mezcal distillery half an hour southwest of the city, true mezcal lovers learned the most important thing: what makes mezcal different from tequila. The differences were explained in evocative detail, echoing what I'd recently read in the new book The Mezcal Rush: Explorations in Agave Country by Granville Greene. The book details the author's personal visionquest in pursuit of the mysterious allure of mezcal, a journey that also began in Oaxaca, which is "home," he writes, "to the largest variety of agaves and the mezcals that are made from them."
Tequila uses only one type of plant, and its pinons are distilled with steam. It's a sweeter plant, grown in rich volcanic soil. The process is clean from start to finish to taste. But, as Greene explains, mezcals are made in regional batches from a variety of agave species, and wood fire–roasted rather than steamed. All that smoke and fire and earthiness is what gives mezcal the flavors that you love or hate or, in some cases, become obsessed with and literally travel to the other side of the world to experience.
"Around 2008," Nick Brandt explains, "the killing and poaching started again suddenly; by 2010 the animals had learned to fear people again. The foundation exists to address the situation. I consider myself a pessimistic idealist. I have a dark, black vision of our current direction but at the same time I believe it's absolutely, completely worthwhile to try to mitigate the damage. Big Life Foundation battles against what you see in these photos."
Esotouric is the best tour company for putting L.A. history into context and highlighting the significance of preservation and the need for transparency when it comes to who makes decisions that might affect the future of L.A.'s urban landscape. But for those looking for a different tour focus — from freaky to frivolous — we recommended the following.
If Desert X were a fairy tale, the moral of its story would be to always get out of the car. That’s because with each of the 20-ish installations scattered across 50 square miles of town and dune from Snow Creek to the Salton Sea, part and parcel of the experience is the approach. The searching, spotting from a distance, figuring out how to get out there, watching it grow nearer, then ditching the car and doing the last quarter-mile on foot — it’s all requisite.
Not only the work of art itself is for consideration but also the temperature of the air, the sudden rain and double rainbow, the sun high overhead or dipping behind a ridge, the weight and noise of rushing wind, the softness of sand underfoot — all of this is as much a part of the work as its resins, petals, pigments, code, steel, stucco, wood or cloth. That’s the nature of land art as a rule and of this project in particular, whose raison d’etre is to unpack, resist and enhance the qualities of its place.
Coachella Valley locations, Feb. 9-April 21; free. desertx.org. There’s also a map-based app and a podcast.
The San Jacinto Mountains towering over Palm Springs are all snow-capped this week and the Coachella Valley is sunny and crisp, the perfect conditions to pose next to one of your favorite Desert X installations dotting the desert or take in a Modernism Week tour (through Feb. 24) and get nostalgic with some retro eats.