The coach doors opened onto a filthy street. It was a sensory overload of sights, sounds and above all else, smells. This was my first visit to Skid Row, a neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles, whose homeless residents have found themselves marginalized by society.
It wasn’t where I had expected to find myself the weekend before Christmas. The week before, I had interviewed BigMike Straumietis, founder and CEO of Advanced Nutrients, at MJBiz in Las Vegas, during which he spoke passionately about his non-profit charity, Humanity Heroes. When it transpired I would fortuitously be in L.A. on 12/21, I jumped at the chance to help.
BigMike launched his initial organization, Holiday Heroes, in 2016. This year, as a sign of BigMike’s commitment to helping those that need it most, Holiday Heroes has grown and expanded into Humanity Heroes, creating a year-long effort to help the vulnerable instead of only once a year at Christmas.
It has the same ethos and mission: to help cultivate sustainable communities by providing them with the tools necessary to strengthen their foundations and propel them toward lasting change.
“Holiday Heroes was very limiting, so we thought we’d change it to Humanity Heroes,” BigMike told me as we handed out backpacks. “It opened up a lot more versatility for us to help. The goal of Humanity Heroes is to grow it as big as we possibly can, to help people who need it and give back to society.”
I have followed the successful businessman’s philanthropic passion project for years and admired the generosity and humanitarian nature of the work BigMike does for the community. For the last four years, BigMike and his team head to Skid Row to hand out backpacks stuffed with things like blankets, gloves and toiletries. To date, the organization has donated more than $450K in nonperishable items — packaged in over 5,000 backpacks — to the Los Angeles homeless community. My husband and some of our friends joined volunteers from Advanced Nutrients and My Friend’s House Foundation to hand out food, coffee, clothing and conversation to the residents of Skid Row.
“It’s helped the homeless down here on Skid Row quite a bit,” BigMike told me. “There’s a lot of folks here, they know about us, they know what’s in the backpacks and they’re lining up to receive them. And I gotta tell ya, it’s how it makes you feel. The volunteers here, I’ve talked to a lot of them, it makes you feel really, really good to get out and participate and to give back. And I encourage everyone to do it. Whether it’s Humanity Heroes, or any other type of charity, go and help. It will make a difference in your life.”
“These folks down here are going through some hard times and we’re here to help them get back on their feet and back into society,” said BigMike.
Part of that is making them feel like society hasn’t forgotten about them. That they matter, that we see them and that they haven’t been forgotten about.
“A lot of people drive past homeless people, they forget about them,” BigMike continued. “Instead, they should be driving by thinking, ‘What can I do to help?'”
I asked him why Advanced Nutrients is partnering with My Friend’s House Foundation, another L.A.-based non-profit that’s dedicated to helping the homeless and economically disadvantaged.
“They are down here every Wednesday from 12-2 pm feeding a lot of folks,” he told me. “And it’s not about us. It’s about the community collaborating and getting together — we’re stronger together than we are apart.”
I asked him why he believes corporate philanthropy is so important.
“I first started in Bulgaria in 2012, where I helped with handouts to those who have nothing,” he said. “It just happened. I started in Bulgaria and I brought it here. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
BigMike would love roll out Humanity Heroes on a global scale. “First, we have to get the situation here in L.A. taken care of, get a system and a pathway that works then roll it out all over the world,” he said.
How can people help, I asked him.
“It’s easy. Visit joinhumanityheroes.org— it’s that simple to help.”
Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Tyson 2.0 Launches New Mike Bites Cannabis Gummies
Nearly 25 years after he was disqualified from the World Boxing Association Heavyweight Championship for biting his opponent’s ears, Mike Tyson’s Tyson 2.0 cannabis brand has just released ear-shaped edibles, Mike Bites.
The new ear-shaped edibles are complete with a missing chunk where Tyson removed a portion of Evander Holyfield’s cartilage in what became known as The Bite Fight. After Tyson bit off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear, the 1997 match resumed. However, after attempting to snack on Holyfield’s second ear, Tyson was disqualified and his boxing licence was withdrawn. The Nevada State Athletic Commission handed Tyson a a $3 million fine for his actions and he didn’t fight again for over a year.
Wiz Khalifa Debuts New Taylor Gang x Stündenglass Collab
Wiz Khalifa and his entertainment company Taylor Gang Ent. have collaborated with Stündenglass, the world’s first gravity-powered infuser, to introduce the iconic gold and black Taylor Gang x Stündenglass.
“I’m honored to have collaborated with long time friend Wiz Khalifa, who is as passionate about this product as I am. Our mutual admiration for Stündenglass made it a natural collaboration,” Stündenglass CEO Chris Folkerts said via a press release.
Taylor Gang x Stündenglass is an authentic collaboration developed after the multi-platinum-selling, Grammy-winning, Golden Globe-nominated Khalifa discovered Stündenglass and began enjoying it regularly as seen on his Instagram.
“I love my Stündenglass, and I’m pumped everyone gets to experience this with me now,” Khalifa.
The infuser features a patented 360-degree gravity system that elicits a powerful and immersive experience. It generates kinetic motion activation via cascading water, opposing airflow technology and the natural force of gravity.
The Taylor Gang gravity bing comes in an exclusive black and gold colorway and features two glass globes on a metal base made of aircraft-grade aluminum, surgical grade stainless steel, and high-quality Teflon seals.
Taylor Gang includes artists Ty Dolla $ign, Juicy J, and Berner among others — the former of which has his own line Stündenglass collab with his Cookies brand.
“We’re very excited to launch the official Taylor Gang x Stündenglass. We use glass in our everyday lives, so it only made sense to team up and create an exclusive Taylor Gang collaboration for the fans,” Taylor Gang said.
No Super Bowl for Brock Ollie
With medicinal marijuana being legal in 37 states and recreational cannabis allowed in 18, we should be seeing commercials for companies, products, and services almost as frequently as commercials for sports betting, which is permitted in 30 states in some form.
However, mainstream cannabis advertising continues to be non-existent, as demonstrated in the recent news that NBC has rejected an ad by cannabis e-commerce and advertising platform Weedmaps from being shown during the Super Bowl LVI event his coming Sunday.
Weedmaps reportedly approached the network late last year about airing a Super Bowl commercial that would be “similar to a PSA,” according to reports. Execs volunteered to present some of their earlier educational-based programming, assuring NBC executives that it would not contain any direct-sell messages, which are still forbidden under federal law.
“The answer was a hard no — they wouldn’t even entertain the conversation,” Weedmaps Chief Operating Officer Juanjo Feijoo told Adweek. “We see ourselves as trying to be trailblazers in the industry and making new inroads where others haven’t gone before in cannabis advertising. So it was disappointing.”
The contentious ad personifies cannabis as Brock Ollie, a head of broccoli, the veggie emoji commonly used as a visual representation of cannabis in marketing. The 30-second ad takes viewers through a day in the life of Brock Ollie, whose superfood identity is in jeopardy as he is repeatedly misidentified as cannabis. The ad offers a lighthearted take on the industry’s issues, such as social media censorship and a lack of clear advertising standards, which limit cannabis-related commercials during nationally televised events like the Super Bowl.
“Despite three quarters of the country having legalized cannabis and the bipartisan enthusiasm we continue to see in support for change at the federal level, the industry continues to face roadblocks that inhibit competition in the legal market and stifle opportunities to educate,” Chris Beals, CEO of Weedmaps said. “There’s an irony in the fact that the biggest night for advertising will feature an array of consumer brands in regulated industries, from beverage alcohol to sports betting, yet legal cannabis retailers, brands and businesses have been boxed out.”
The game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams will be played Sunday in L.A.