Straight Outta Comp­ton

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - The Critic -

Last fall, Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures re­leased two movies within two weeks of each other that take place on the world’s tallest moun­tain. The first was Everest, an overblown, big-bud­get Hol­ly­wood take on the in­fa­mous May 1996 bliz­zard that cost eight lives. The se­cond was Sherpa, a doc­u­men­tary sharply di­rected by Jen­nifer Pee­dom about Nepal’s Sherpa peo­ple, fo­cus­ing on the men who risk their lives to get Westerners to the top of Everest and other Hi­malayan sum­mits such as K2. The lat­ter film—which makes its TV de­but on April 23 on Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel just as climbers start their spring as­cent of Everest—was pro­duced for a frac­tion of the for­mer’s cost, but it feels like the big­ger movie.

Sherpa ze­roes in on the avalanche that struck the moun­tain in April 2014 and killed 16 Sher­pas. Af­ter the tragedy, many of the Nepalese at base camp (un­der­stand­ably) re­fused to keep work­ing. This cre­ated a schism be­tween the Sher­pas and their Western clients, many of whom were pay­ing up­wards of $50,000 to be guided to the top. One Amer­i­can was so an­gry, he in­voked Sept. 11 and com­pared the Sher­pas to ter­ror­ists.

While this nar­ra­tive forms the doc’s back­bone, the film also delves into the per­sonal lives of the men in this dan­ger­ous oc­cu­pa­tion. The cen­tral fig­ure in this story arc is guide Phurba Tashi. Al­though he’s sum­mited Everest 21 times, his fam­ily con­tin­ues to ob­ject to his oc­cu­pa­tion out of con­cern for his health and safety—tashi’s brother-in-law died on the moun­tain in 2013—and ac­cuses him of tempt­ing fate. His mother says, “I don’t like him go­ing up there so many times. It is shame­ful to God.” In the movie, Tashi is pre­par­ing for his world-record 22nd sum­mit, prompt­ing his wife to re­mark, “Phurba loves the moun­tain more than he loves his fam­ily.”

It’s not just love of Everest that’s at work. Nepal is a des­per­ately poor coun­try, and guid­ing of­fers good wages. Many men do it to sup­port their fam­i­lies, know­ing it could leave their chil­dren fa­ther­less. Their re­al­ity is in sharp con­trast to that of the Western climbers, whose cushy base camp is fur­nished with com­fort­able tents, elab­o­rate meals, and flatscreen TVS. As New Zealand mou­noun­taineer Rus­sell Brice, a cen­tral characrac- ter and long­time Everest guide, says:: “If you want to get ev­eryry­one on the sum­mit,, you need much more e crea­ture com­fort. Cer­tainly the type of f per­son that comes on n ex­pe­di­tions has changed con­sid­er­ably.”

Climbers like to say the moun­tain de­cides whether you get to climb it. In 2014 that de­ci­sion came in the form of the avalanche. In 2015 the earth­quake that killed 8,000 peo­ple in Nepal, in­clud­ing 24 on the moun­tain, again ended the climb­ing sea­son. As fes­ti­val di­rec­tor of Tel­luride Moun­tain­film, a doc­u­men­tary film fes­ti­val that climbers founded in 1979 (which Dis­cov­ery spon­sors), I’ve seen dozens of films about the world’s tallest moun­tain and its de­ter­mi­na­tive pow­ers. The con­flict be­tween Sher­pas, who’ve grown con­sid­er­ably less sub­servient, and their clients is one of sev­eral that makes Sherpa among the best to come along in years. But the big ten­sion point, of course, is that be­tween man (and woman) and moun­tain. Let’s cross our fin­gers that this year the moun­tain rules in our fa­vor. <BW>

The CEO of Hardee’s told

he wants to re­place

work­ers with ro­bots, in part be­cause “there’s never … an age,

sex, or race dis­crimin dis­crim­i­na­tion

c case.” Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios cus­tom­ized

Face­book trail­ers for white au­di­ences, re­mov­ing men­tions of rap group N.W. A. and fo­cus­ing on the en­tre­pre­neur­ial am­bi­tions of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. In prison? Want pornog­ra­phy and drugs? You could try to smug­gle them in by drone, which a jury con­victed a Mary­land in­mate of do­ing.

Men and women deal­ing with bald­ing—40 per­cent of us by age 40— con­front the mir­ror with a clin­i­cian’s eye, vow to cut back on vices (more ex­er­cise! less booze!), and ap­praise the hair­lines of the fol­lic­u­larly blessed with envy. Hair loss is a re­minder that the hu­man body can’t stay young for­ever, even though we try. Preven­tion is a $3.5 bil­lion busi­ness in the U. S.

Re­lief-seek­ing suf­fer­ers have a few stan­dard op­tions. The Amer­i­can Hair Loss As­so­ci­a­tion rec­om­mends Prope­cia as the first line of de­fense and Ro­gaine, the in­dus­try’s sales leader, as the se­cond. Then there are easy-to-buy oral sup­ple­ments such as Bi­otin and Viviscal, pricey LED light combs that en­hance blood flow to the scalp, as well as pow­ders and sprays. All th­ese treat­ments have draw­backs: Ro­gaine may cause skin ir­ri­ta­tion, Prope­cia can lead to im­po­tence, sup­ple­ments and LED treat­ments are only marginally ef­fec­tive, and pow­ders and sprays rub off. Fol­li­cle trans­plants work, but they cost thou­sands of dol­lars and re­quire days of re­cov­ery.

Lars Skjoth thinks he has a bet­ter so­lu­tion. Skjoth is the hand­some, charis­matic, and well- coiffed founder and chief sci­en­tist at Harklinikk­en. (That’s “hair clinic” in Dan­ish, though that sounds less im­pres­sive than the hardto-pro­nounce for­eign name.) He’s got clin­ics in Den­mark, Dubai, Ger­many, and Nor­way. Af­ter open­ing a U.S. test fa­cil­ity in Tampa in 2013, he and his team re­cently be­gan tak­ing clients in— where else?—bev­erly Hills, Calif., as well as through vir­tual con­sul­ta­tions.

Harklinikk­en is per­haps best de­scribed as a hair-loss fra­ter­nity, and the ex­clu­siv­ity is part of the draw. There’s a screen­ing process that weeds out po­ten­tial pledges with au­toim­mune ill­nesses such as alope­cia or bald­ness from scar­ring, or any­one un­likely to see a min­i­mum 30 per­cent in­crease in growth; Skjoth es­ti­mates he re­jects up to 30 per­cent of po­ten­tial cus­tomers. “Many of them we spend lots of time on be­fore we re­ject them,” he says. Those with wor­thy domes are quizzed on age, height, weight, heredi tary his­tory, diet, ex­er­cise, stress lev­els, and smok­ing and drink­ing habits. Then things get tech­ni­cal: That in­for­ma­tion is en­tered into an al­go­rithm Skjoth has been tin­ker­ing with for 20 years, which de­ter­mines the for­mula of a pro­pri­etary tonic shipped to the client. The ex­tract is ap­plied top­i­cally—twice at half-hour in­ter­vals, usu­ally be­fore bed—then sham­pooed out two times the next morn­ing, which a con­sul­tant demon­strates via Skype. Af­ter a $50 con­sult, the treat­ment, in­clud­ing spe­cial sham­poos, costs as much as $120 a month. Skjoth will say only that the tonic is “based on cow milk and plant de­riv­a­tives.”

Pe­ri­odic Skype ses­sions are about com­pli­ance as much as cus­tomer ser­vice. Way­ward clients— those who aren’t religious about ap­ply­ing the tonic or aren’t help­ing their cause with life­style choices—are shown graph­ics chart­ing the cor­re­la­tion be­tween stick­ing with the pro­gram and its ef­fi­cacy. The com­pany says that af­ter four months of treat­ment, most peo­ple re­gain at least 30 per­cent of lost den­sity and some as much as 60 per­cent. That’s far be­yond re­sults they’d get from ex­ist­ing treat­ments.

The be­fore-and-af­ter pho­tos are per­sua­sive: Imag­ine some­one who looks like Bruce Wil­lis sud­denly chan­nel­ing Owen Wil­son. Of course, it’s easy to cherry-pick re­sults, es­pe­cially when about a third of po­ten­tial clients whose pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tions might weigh down those per­cent­ages are weeded out at the be­gin­ning. In Fe­bru­ary, Marie Claire pub­lished a first-per­son re­port on Harklinikk­en. “My per­sonal sign the treat­ment’s a suc­cess?” asked au­thor Ning Chao. “I’m no longer self-con­scious that my scalp is show­ing.” The clinic claims rock stars and roy­als as suc­cess sto­ries ( it won’t di­vulge names or any par­tic­u­lars about its fi­nan­cials), in ad­di­tion to mag­a­zine writ­ers. I gave the treat­ment a try for this ar­ti­cle, but my com­pli­ance so far has been some­what ques­tion­able: I kept fall­ing asleep be­fore the se­cond nightly ap­pli­ca­tion. <BW>

What’s Pro­duc­tions Plus? We’re a niche mar­ket­ing com­pany. If you go to the New York In­ter­na­tional Auto Show, the peo­ple stand­ing on the floor as prod­uct spe­cial­ists— those are ours.

“I quit af­ter one week and be­came ve­gan for 12 years.”

“My daugh­ters changed ev­ery­thing. We rein­vented the baby food cat­e­gory. We brought in things that

par­ents were eat­ing— quinoa, Greek yo­gurt—and then made it su­per­portable in pouches.”

“Some­one saw my art and in­vited me to talk to prod­uct de­sign

stu­dents, and I re­al­ized we were all do­ing the same work but they were solv­ing peo­ple’s prob­lems. So I left

the art world.”

“I had this epiphany that it wasn’t enough to cre­ate a healthy prod­uct—it had to come from a healthy com­pany that val­ued com­mu­nity, peo­ple, and the planet. I was also a triath­lete, so I was us­ing

the prod­uct all the time.”

“Scale mat­ters, so we sold to Camp­bell Soup in 2013. Day 1, I pitched the idea of rein­cor­po­rat­ing Plum as a pub­lic ben­e­fit cor­po­ra­tion, which would al­low us to put our so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal mis­sion into our by­laws. A week later, Denise Mor­ri­son, the CEO of Camp­bell’s, called and said, ‘We sup­port this.’ It

was in­cred­i­ble.”

Devil’s Back­bone is brewed in the San An­to­nio area Lo­cal cheese

As­sorted gummy bears, cashews, smoked al­monds, andjelly beans

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