Revisiting the infamy of Red Medicine

So some of you may remember the two blog posts I made about the Los Angeles restaurant Red Medicine. The first entry on 2011 January 2 was about the outing of S. Irene Virbila, and the second entry on 2013 April 8 (exactly three years ago today) was about the antics of the owner who decided to publish a list of names of people who decided to no-show on their reservations.

A cursory web search reveals that Red Medicine closed at the end of 2014 October, about a year and a half ago now. A quick look at Google Street View shows that as of 2015 March, some months after the closing, the signage is still intact, and Google Maps shows no other restaurant–or any other business, for that matter–has taken over the space. (More research shows that in the years before the opening of Red Medicine, the building at 8400 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA, was the home of a restaurant called The Continental.)

I have to wonder if those looking to open up a new restaurant in Beverly Hills think the building is now jinxed after some of the crazy crap the previous owner did. The article mentions, in the beginning, the restaurant using an image of Ho Chi Minh as its original logo. This is in addition to the two other noteworthy events I blogged about linked earlier.

The official statement cites the basic “new landlord, higher rent” excuse:

Red Medicine has developed a following of passionate diners over the years and we were delighted to create a unique culinary experience for each and every one of them. With new building ownership and the accompanying overhead cost increases, we have accepted an offer and plan to sell the restaurant.

However, I think there’s more to it than that. A business that is truly doing well should be able to succeed in spite of an increase in rent (assuming the new rent is still reasonable). A business that is barely getting by, will more likely have an owner willing to sell and get out before there is a chance of losing it all.

I think Red Medicine’s owner pissed off many people. From the Ho Chi Minh thing, to outing a food critic, to the clearly inappropriate broadcasting the names of diners who couldn’t make their reservations, a lot of people had at least one reason never to dine there.

To the new tenants of 8400 Wilshire Boulevard, when there are any: Don’t run your business like an idiot, and you’ll almost certainly be fine.

Remain an atheist, go to jail?

I know the proverbial ink has been dry on this one for some time, but I don’t see the issue becoming any less relevant anytime soon. reported a troubling story regarding a parolee and a 12-step program which requires the acknowledgement of a supreme being.

Barry Hazle was released from prison into the 12-step program after pleading no contest to a methamphetamine possession charge. Everyone involved with the case knew Barry was an atheist, they knew these 12-step programs are centered around the acceptance of a supreme being, and thus his later “congenial” refusal to acknowledge a higher power was not a surprise. The surprise only came when Barry sued for false imprisonment after revocation of his parole–suing not only his parole officer, but several state (California) corrections officials, and Westcare Corporation (which I will assume was actually administering the residential treatment program).

Here’s where it gets hairy. The judge found the defendants liable in the first trial, but the first jury awarded him zero damages, which in itself is frightening. It essentially says that the time and freedom of the accused are worthless. (And possibly that Norm Crosby was onto something when he said “When you go into court, you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.” I believe in the power of juries and I take jury duty seriously, but I admit that every once in a while juries do things that make this quote into a piece of profound wisdom.) Not surprisingly, Barry appealed this verdict and got a new trial after the appeals court ruled he was entitled to damages.

It’s troubling to me that the state would attempt to indirectly force someone to adopt religion. There are websites about how to go through 12-step programs from an atheist perspective ( was one of the more prominent ones when I searched, but by no means the only one), though I doubt Barry had access to anything on the Internet in his situation.

This can also be shown as yet another failure of drug prohibition laws, which I have spoken against time and time again on this blog. More troubling than the law itself in this case, however, is its abuse to attempt to force religion onto a known atheist in a very vulnerable circumstance.