Beetle House LA

BEETLE HOUSE LA

We are in month four of quarantine, and one of the things I miss most is going out for drinks with friends. As of yesterday, California’s bars and restaurants have shut down again. I recently moved from the desolate lands of Calabasas to lively, yet humble, Studio City and was excited to try all of the nearby restaurants and bars — until COVID-19 came along.

One of the places I was most looking forward to visiting is Beetle House LA! Beetle House is a Tim Burton themed restaurant with locations in both NYC and LA. If that wasn’t enough to convince you to go, it is both Black AND Female owned!

One of my favorite movies of all time is Beetlejuice, so I was already excited just after hearing the name. I was even more thrilled when I saw that everything on the menu is within the theme as well! For instance, you can start off with some Frankenfries as your appetizer. Then for your entree you can choose from several options such as the Big Fish, Sweeney Beef, or Edward Burgerhands. Wash that all down with The Beetle’s Juice or The Big Fish Bowl (for 2!), and if you still have room for dessert, order the Chocolate River Cake. Their NYC menu reads that all of their produce is “sourced locally from 100 percent innocent humans captured wild on the streets of NYC.” All jokes aside – all of their meats are chemical free, and they have vegan and vegetarian options as well!

Even if you aren’t a big Tim Burton fan like myself, this is a fun and exciting place to go, especially in these heavy times. I’m hoping the lockdown ends soon so I can finally visit Beetle House LA. If you happen to be in the New York area once the quarantine lifts, check out Beetle House NYC! Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and wear a mask!

Different is Better Than Dull

DIFFERENT IS BETTER THAN DULL

All of my life, I’ve never really been able to fit in. Not that I didn’t have friends, I just was never part of a “group”. For starters, I was always one of very few black students from first to twelfth grade. Even then, some of the black students didn’t exactly like the fact that I did not grow up in the same neighborhood as them. On the other hand, the white students (and their nosey parents) couldn’t exactly grasp the fact that I lived in a nice neighborhood, and in some cases even better than that of their own. No one was ever mean to my face, but they did make sure to remind me that I was in fact “different”.

Besides the color of my skin, I also have had different interests than the rest of the girls. I loved playing with Barbies and Bratz dolls, but I also enjoyed riding 4-wheelers and going fishing. All of the girls I knew loved shopping, make-up, and dresses, to this day I still hate all three. The mall is my personal hell, I probably wear make up twice a year, and the pants to dress ratio in my closet is 1,000 to one. I’ve always loved Star Wars, and playing with action figures, and going to see the latest Marvel flicks with my dad and brother. I’m not a girly girl, yet I’m not a “tomboy”. I’ve always had a lot of guy friends, but I’m not necessarily “one of the boys”.

Even my music taste has always been unique. Thanks to my parents, I grew up listening to Prince, The Doobie Brothers, and Miles Davis. But as a product of the 90’s I have a special place in my heart for The Spice Girls, *NSYNC, and Britney Spears. The older I got the more expansive my collection of music was. I began listening to artists of all genres, such as Kanye West, Tyler the Creator, Black Sabbath, Death Grips, Daft Punk, Bjork, The Gorillaz and so many others. Though I listen to a vast majority of music, you probably won’t catch me dead at a Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande concert. Both which are popular among girls my age. That being said, it’s often hard to find someone who listens to, or even enjoys all of the aforementioned artists and genres. My parents are relieved that they no longer have to sit through *NSYNC concerts, but they also are weary that their daughter listens to a group by the name of Death Grips (understandably so).

I always thought badly of myself, because everyone made it seem as though having other interests than the norm was wrong. The older I got I realized just how special it was to be “different”. So many people force themselves to fit into a box just to fit in with everyone else because it’s easier than defending your personal choices. But truthfully, it takes more courage to be unique. It took a while to get here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m happy to be different, because different is better than being dull.

Ghetto, Until Proven Fashionable

GHETTO, UNTIL PROVEN FASHIONABLE

Black women are the blueprint. Periodt. For decades we have been the originators of the most popular trends, however this is only after white women deem it “fashionable”. In recent years, there’s been an influx of non black women wearing box braids, colorful hair/wigs, door-knocker hoop earrings, long acrylic nails, and many other styles that originated in black culture, without giving the credit where it is due.

Celebrities like Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Iggy Azalea, Miley Cyrus, Gwen Stefani and plenty more have profited off of black culture. They like advertise their fashion choices to their fans as if they were something cool and new that they discovered on their own. However, these styles have been sported as far back as the 1980’s by black women from the “hood”, but being “hood” or “ghetto” was something that society equated to being “trashy”. Ironically, the same members of this society watched and figured out how to on how to make it their own.

Kylie Jenner is best known for being a “billionaire” from her lip kits (which is a whole other story… whew), but she also is known for constantly changing her hair with the help of a wig and wearing revealing outfits around town. While wigs and skimpy clothes can be found in any culture, the specific style she is attempting to emulate was popularized by the one and only Lil’ Kim.

In the black culture, Lil’ Kim “The Queen B” is hailed as one of the most notable innovators of style in the late 1990’s and 2000’s. Everywhere she went her outfits always made a statement, and every day she had a brand new hair color. Much to Kylie’s advantage, most of her followers either are unaware of who Lil’ Kim is or weren’t even alive yet, so it’s much easier for her to market her style as something that is unique to her and her “brand”.

Similarly, her sister’s Kim and Khloe have done the same thing when it comes to super long acrylic nails and box braids or cornrows. So much so that “Kardashian Braids” comes up on google as opposed to actual black women with braided hairstyles. Sigh. When I was younger, there were only specific nail stylists in Brooklyn or Queens that were able to do these unique acrylic nail styles. Now that mainstream culture has accepted them as “fashionable”, every nail salon offers this service. Once again, these styles are only acceptable when white people are able to make a profit from it.

Iggy Azalea and Gwen Stefani‘s careers solely exist due to their blatant appropriation of black culture (their success definitely not owed to their musical skills). They were seen as cool, hip white girls, compared to that of someone like Taylor Swift. Unfortunately the same respect is not given to the black women who created the very styles.

For years black women have lost out on job opportunities due to their style of dress or hairstyles. Still today in 2020, forty-three states discriminate people of color due to their hair. The Crown Act has only been passed in seven states, including New York and California. So it’s completely disrespectful to see non black women wearing these styles as if they created them. It’s even more disrespectful to see the fact that they are praised for being unique, rather than being discriminated against. Black women are sent home from work because their employers see their hair as “unkept”, and black students are often denied the educational opportunities they deserve just because they wear their hair in it’s natural state.

This is why the argument that “black women wear straight or blond styles” is embarrassingly weak. Black women are forced to change the state or appearance of their hair in order to increase the amount of opportunities that come their way.

The styles that we prefer to wear are not accepted in society until a white celebrity makes it look “cool”, or brands like Forever 21 and Fashion Nova advertise street clothes using white models. Currently the Oxford Dictionary defines “Ghetto Fabulous” as “denoting or exemplifying an ostentatious or flamboyant lifestyle or style of clothing of a type associated with the hip-hop subculture. While this is technically true, it completely disregards the black culture that it was born from, just like the appropriators or “culture vultures” frequently do. There was a point in time that ghetto was the last thing anyone wanted to be due to the connotation associated with it. But of course, black culture is seen as ghetto until proven fashionable.

QUARANTINE PLAYLIST

Believe me, I know first hand how depressing quarantine can be. I live alone and I’m sure my neighbors are concerned how often I talk to my dog. Nevertheless, all we can do is stay hopeful in these crazy times (and of course wear a DAMN MASK — yes, you too Karen!)

What helps me on certain days, is to put on some music and turn up all by myself in my apartment. Check out the below playlist, and sing into your hairbrush like you’re 13 again!