JOHANNES MARLENA, Editor in Chief
Before I started drinking large amounts of wine on a regular basis, I kicked it around for a while as an award-nominated playwright and director in Chicago—where I had some sold out shows, critical raves, and plenty of bombs. I went to NYU before that and hung out and worked with some very cool and talented people who were either already famous or ended up becoming incredibly famous and/or famously dead. And I do enjoy telling people that I graduated from the same Michigan private high school as Mitt Romney, just to feel the hate or the love. I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia. But that’s the past. You may find me these days in L.A. or Vegas at a poker tournament working on my game. I love the stock market too and am an avid investor-trader. And I also have a 3000+ vinyl and CD collection that’s slowly moving to the cloud. However, nothing compares to my all-consuming love of wine. But enough about me. What’s your passion?
BRIAN SKAGGS, Senior Editor, Craft Beer
Dear Reader: I never thought this would ever happen to me, but I’m here to tell you about amazing malted beverages! At 1.76m and 69kg, I never considered myself large, and, as a working biologist who took exactly zero biology classes in college, I never even considered myself employable. My suburban Chicago high school graduated three participants of Lollapalooza 1993, a Wet Hot American Summer star, and an original Hamilton cast member. But me? Puh-lease. I’m that guy standing in the corner at all the swankiest Los Angeles elementary school parties, hoarding the last Hop Rod Rye while muttering about six-row barley, the superiority of rock ‘n’ roll circa 1993-2001, and whatever current pro cycling event is not on telly. But, dear Reader, the benevolent Fates have intervened! Lo, let us embark upon a beautiful malted beverage journey together, hop bines intertwined. The journey is the destination, enlightenment is the focus.
LISLE FRIEDMAN, Director, Digital Strategy
I got my start in the Digital Space in 2013 working for true[X], a Los Angeles-based ad-tech company—acquired by 21st Century Fox in December 2014—that focuses on Engagement Advertising. I’m an avid world traveler, spending the early years of my life between York, Pennsylvania, and Louisville, Kentucky, before taking off to South Florida to study Business at the University of Miami. While at Miami I took a “Semester at Sea” to circumnavigate the globe aboard the MV Explorer, traveling to 12 countries, including a stop in South Africa where I fell off riding a horse at a vineyard after a wine tasting. After graduation, I earned a Masters in Professional Accounting at College of Charleston in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. And after that, I spent two years working at Grant Thornton before moving to Los Angeles to work for NKSFB. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, skiing, being on the water, and exploring new places. When faced with choosing between two evils, I pick the one I haven’t tried yet!
KINGSTON KUO, Chief, Finance and Accounting
Part minimalist, part objectivist, and a sliver of perfectionist. Born and raised in Southern California, I love all things associated with California—minus the atrocious traffic. Upon graduating from the University of California, Irvine with a degree in Economics, I specialized in Entertainment Compliance Audits at NKSF and obtained my CPA. Much of my time is spent obtaining and focusing on things money can’t buy—experience, friends, and family. Currently, I’m working in Financial Statement Audits and Compliance Audits at BDO USA, LLP. Whenever I have free time, I find myself watching sports, eating at highly recommended spots via Yelp, working out at the gym, or attending the best music events that the world has to offer. All, of course, with my friends and family!
ETHEN YI, Chief, Technology
I’m a Full Stack Web Developer for Oakwood Worldwide, the premier global provider of corporate housing and serviced apartments. People in the trade say I’m a unicorn, but I’m simply a “Jack of all trades, master of some”. Technology has always been a part of my life. I’m the friend people turn to when they have computer problems or when they need advice on the latest and greatest gadgets. When I’m not geeking out, I like to think I do normal things such as obsessively playing fantasy football and basketball, traveling around the world, playing fetch with my toy Yorky, or hanging out at the beach.
RYAN KOCZARA, Editor, California Wine
I grew up in metro Detroit but, unlike our Editor in Chief, did not attend the same high school as a famous (or infamous) politician. Upon graduating from high school, I did the unthinkable— I attended college south of the border—south of the Michigan/Ohio border. After graduating from Miami University – Ohio, I worked in retail sales and then earned a law degree. While practicing law in Detroit, my fiancé at the time (and now my wife) convinced me to move to Los Angeles. It’s a good thing I did that because it allowed me to develop a passion for wine. When I’m not arguing motions in court or writing legal briefs, I’m typically enjoying a California cab or a Super Tuscan, getting lost in a Beatles tune, or simply hanging out with my wife Alexis and/or my two kids, Jack and Milo. I hope to be an Olympic skier or a professional golfer in my second or third life.
JOHN ANTOLOS, Editor, Craft Beer
A beer geek since my college days, the first six-pack I purchased legally was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and, from that point, I was on a mission to seek out quality, flavorful beers in the days when there was a dearth of craft beer breweries. I’m a SoCal native, living within view of the Pacific Ocean for most of my life. I even went to UCSB because it was on the beach. Years later, I went to UCLA for a master’s in Public Policy, but saving the nation one policy memo at a time wasn’t for me, so I took up photography. I also work at USC as a historical researcher as my day job. I used to travel a lot in my single days, often spending summers on the Croatian coast. Nowadays, I spend time with my family, cooking foods that’ll pair great with beer, or trying to learn the finer points of Muay Thai (kickboxing). Like wine, great beer was made for having with good friends, and I always meet the most interesting people at breweries. I’ve even brewed my own beer… nothing great yet. If I sound a tad obsessed, I may be, but I hope I can pass some of my love of beer your way.