An ambitious concept for a Middle East-based media headquarters would automatically erect a giant sunshade when necessary. Developed by REX, an award-winning New York-based architecture firm, the concept would house “two sister Middle Eastern media companies” in a pair of towers.
REX’s brief for the towers was simple: propose two elegant structures that make reference to traditional Arabic architecture. At first glance, the dual towers certainly look attractive, but are fairly conventional in their exterior design. Each would house studios in their basements, a large common space over the first few storys, and news, broadcast, and general office facilities above. However, REX’s proposal fits enormous retractable sunshades within the structures which overlap to create a 700-foot tall and wide curtain, shielding workers from direct sunlight.
These shades resemble giant parasols, 12-sided umbrellas with concave edges and a light curve to their spines. The system has been designed to reference traditional Arabic architecture on a grand scale; when interlocked, the shading structure looks like a giant example of Mashrabiya panelling, a type of intricate latticework commonly found adorning windows.
The shades would be installed on both the eastern and western facades of the towers, but only one side of the buildings would be shaded at any given time. At the correct point in the day, determined by the sun’s position, a 60-second transformation would see one side’s shades retract while the others open.

On the towers’ eastern facade, LEDs would be integrated into sunshades, which would be centrally controlled to form a giant “television screen” across both buildings. This screen would broadcast the companies’ content to the entire city.
The client for REX’s bold plans remains confidential, as does the buildings’ potential location and cost. The architecture firm was invited by the unknown corporations to create the new headquarters as part of a competition open to numerous firms. Enlarge The Image

An ambitious concept for a Middle East-based media headquarters would automatically erect a giant sunshade when necessary. Developed by REX, an award-winning New York-based architecture firm, the concept would house “two sister Middle Eastern media companies” in a pair of towers.

REX’s brief for the towers was simple: propose two elegant structures that make reference to traditional Arabic architecture. At first glance, the dual towers certainly look attractive, but are fairly conventional in their exterior design. Each would house studios in their basements, a large common space over the first few storys, and news, broadcast, and general office facilities above. However, REX’s proposal fits enormous retractable sunshades within the structures which overlap to create a 700-foot tall and wide curtain, shielding workers from direct sunlight.

These shades resemble giant parasols, 12-sided umbrellas with concave edges and a light curve to their spines. The system has been designed to reference traditional Arabic architecture on a grand scale; when interlocked, the shading structure looks like a giant example of Mashrabiya panelling, a type of intricate latticework commonly found adorning windows.

The shades would be installed on both the eastern and western facades of the towers, but only one side of the buildings would be shaded at any given time. At the correct point in the day, determined by the sun’s position, a 60-second transformation would see one side’s shades retract while the others open.

Rexmhq_674

On the towers’ eastern facade, LEDs would be integrated into sunshades, which would be centrally controlled to form a giant “television screen” across both buildings. This screen would broadcast the companies’ content to the entire city.

The client for REX’s bold plans remains confidential, as does the buildings’ potential location and cost. The architecture firm was invited by the unknown corporations to create the new headquarters as part of a competition open to numerous firms.


Desire, like the atom, is explosive with creative force.

— Paul Vernon Buser


thekhooll:

Nagaoka City Hall Aore Kengo Kuma and Associates

"With the growth of cities and their scale, public buildings of 20th Century were likely to be driven away to the suburbs, often as isolated concrete boxes in parking lots. We wanted to reverse this flow with Nagaoka Aore. We moved the city hall back to the center of the town and revived a real “heart of town,” which is located in a walking distance from anywhere, working along with people’s everyday life. This is exactly like the city hall historically nurtured in Europe, and embodies the idea of compact city in the environment-oriented age. We adopted the traditional method of “tataki,” and “nakadoma,” which is to function as a meeting point for the community, is no longer the mere concrete box – the space is gently surrounded by placid structure, finished with wood and solar panels."

(Source: archatlas)


Amateur and professional photographers from Romania and from abroad can submit their photos in 3 of Photo Romania Festival’s different competitions.

The total prize sum is over 1.200 Euros
For before the 4th edition of the Photo Romania Festival – “the most important photography festival in Eastern Europe” according to The Telegraph – the organizers have set up three different competitions for photo enthusiasts, with a total prize sum of over 1.200 Euros.
The first of these competitions is Photo Romania Award. It is addressed to amateur and professional photographers from around the world. Using the Photo Romania Award App, photographers can submit a photo on the Photo Romania Festival Facebook page for one of the three sections of the contest: “Photojournalism”, “Black and White”, and “Journey Photography”.
The submitting period is from the 26th of March till the 16th of May 2014. After the submitting has ended, the jury will choose a winner. The prize consists of a 500 Euro voucher for an online photo equipment store.
Based on the number of likes given by the public during the submitting period, there will be another winner photo, called “Viral Photo of the Year”, the prize for this will be a 300 Euro voucher. The announcing of the winners will be done on the 25th of May.
Romanian amateur photographers with a collection of 15 to 20 photos on a specific theme, who want to exhibit said collection during Photo Romania Festival, can register for the Expo-Debut Competition. The registrations will start on the 1st of April and will last till the 30th of April, on the Festival’s Facebook page. On the 1st of May the jury will decide the winner. The exhibition of the winner of the contest will take place on the 23rd of May, and the cost of the printing, transport, and accommodation of the winner will be provided by the organizers.
The third competition – Head to Head – is addressed to a number of 16 Romanian amateur or professional photographers. The photographers can register for the competition beginning from the 14th of April until the 16th of May, and during the festival (16th of May – 25th of May) they will undergo three distinct competition stages.
On the 1st stage, photographers will be split in 8 teams composed of 2 photographers each. Each team will receive 2 themes. For each theme, each contestant will have to shoot a photo in a 12-hour interval from the receiving of the theme. The jury will analyze all the photos and will choose 6 participants to qualify in the second stage of the competition.
The same mechanism will be applied again for the last 2 stages of the contest so that in the 4th stage there are only 2 contestants left. They will receive 5 themes and be given 48 hours to submit their photos. The jury will appoint the winner on the 25th of May. The prize will be a 200 Euro voucher for an online photo equipment shop.
The jury for all 3 competitions will be made out of Sebastian Vaida, Radu Salcudean, Horatiu Curutiu, and Sebastian Magnani.
Also, this is the last week for the 20% early bird discount for the Photo Romania Academy photography workshops.
More info on: photoromaniafestival.ro/en and on facebook.com/PhotoRomaniaFestival
About Photo Romania Festival: The festival’s first edition was held in 2010, and since then it has brought photography in the spotlight of Romanian culture, succeeding in just 4 years to put Cluj-Napoca in a world-wide network of photography festivals. Along complex photography events, the festival has managed to unveil the first photography museum in Romania that starting 2015 will have a permanent headquarters.Last year’s Photo Romania Festival meant 40 exhibitions, 5 national firsts, 1.500 printed photos, 500 photographers from 15 countries, and 70.000 participants.
The festival is organized by Photo Romania Association and produced by Fapte, an agency that also organizes The Career Fair and Jazz in the Park. Communication partner for Photo Romania Festival is Vitrina Advertising.
Contact:
Constantin CovaliuProject ManagerT: 0040 723 181 628E: covaliu@fapte.org
Radu NeagPR ManagerT: 0040 733 082 103E: radu@fapte.org Enlarge The Image
    • Amateur and professional photographers from Romania and from abroad can submit their photos in 3 of Photo Romania Festival’s different competitions.
  • The total prize sum is over 1.200 Euros

For before the 4th edition of the Photo Romania Festival – “the most important photography festival in Eastern Europe” according to The Telegraph – the organizers have set up three different competitions for photo enthusiasts, with a total prize sum of over 1.200 Euros.

The first of these competitions is Photo Romania Award. It is addressed to amateur and professional photographers from around the world. Using the Photo Romania Award App, photographers can submit a photo on the Photo Romania Festival Facebook page for one of the three sections of the contest: “Photojournalism”, “Black and White”, and “Journey Photography”.

The submitting period is from the 26th of March till the 16th of May 2014. After the submitting has ended, the jury will choose a winner. The prize consists of a 500 Euro voucher for an online photo equipment store.

Based on the number of likes given by the public during the submitting period, there will be another winner photo, called “Viral Photo of the Year”, the prize for this will be a 300 Euro voucher. The announcing of the winners will be done on the 25th of May.

Romanian amateur photographers with a collection of 15 to 20 photos on a specific theme, who want to exhibit said collection during Photo Romania Festival, can register for the Expo-Debut Competition. The registrations will start on the 1st of April and will last till the 30th of April, on the Festival’s Facebook page. On the 1st of May the jury will decide the winner. The exhibition of the winner of the contest will take place on the 23rd of May, and the cost of the printing, transport, and accommodation of the winner will be provided by the organizers.

The third competition – Head to Head – is addressed to a number of 16 Romanian amateur or professional photographers. The photographers can register for the competition beginning from the 14th of April until the 16th of May, and during the festival (16th of May – 25th of May) they will undergo three distinct competition stages.

On the 1st stage, photographers will be split in 8 teams composed of 2 photographers each. Each team will receive 2 themes. For each theme, each contestant will have to shoot a photo in a 12-hour interval from the receiving of the theme. The jury will analyze all the photos and will choose 6 participants to qualify in the second stage of the competition.

The same mechanism will be applied again for the last 2 stages of the contest so that in the 4th stage there are only 2 contestants left. They will receive 5 themes and be given 48 hours to submit their photos. The jury will appoint the winner on the 25th of May. The prize will be a 200 Euro voucher for an online photo equipment shop.

The jury for all 3 competitions will be made out of Sebastian Vaida, Radu Salcudean, Horatiu Curutiu, and Sebastian Magnani.

Also, this is the last week for the 20% early bird discount for the Photo Romania Academy photography workshops.

More info on: photoromaniafestival.ro/en and on facebook.com/PhotoRomaniaFestival

About Photo Romania Festival: The festival’s first edition was held in 2010, and since then it has brought photography in the spotlight of Romanian culture, succeeding in just 4 years to put Cluj-Napoca in a world-wide network of photography festivals. Along complex photography events, the festival has managed to unveil the first photography museum in Romania that starting 2015 will have a permanent headquarters.
Last year’s Photo Romania Festival meant 40 exhibitions, 5 national firsts, 1.500 printed photos, 500 photographers from 15 countries, and 70.000 participants.

The festival is organized by Photo Romania Association and produced by Fapte, an agency that also organizes The Career Fair and Jazz in the Park. Communication partner for Photo Romania Festival is Vitrina Advertising.

Contact:

Constantin Covaliu
Project Manager
T: 0040 723 181 628
E: covaliu@fapte.org

Radu Neag
PR Manager
T: 0040 733 082 103
E: radu@fapte.org


10.) Library: A fantasy amongst all Spartans is to get railed against some of the finest works of literature mankind has produced (or magazines about bugs). Be cautious of the basement, which is the silent floor. It’s a no-go down there unless you’re a mute or have super weird silent-sex. Stick to the busier floors where your moans and groans will go unnoticed by nerds babbling about hacking Desrire2Learn. 
9.) Basement of the International Center: The perfect place to dabble your dick in some international flavors. You’re bound to run into hundreds of bilingual beauties here. If you’re skilled in speaking the language of love you just might find someone looking to fit in a quickie downstairs. 
8.) The Visitor Information Center: Driving down Service Road, you may barely notice this hidden gem, which makes it an ideal location to get your funk on. Make sure you turn on the large neon “open” sign to let passing visitors know you’re open for business. If visitors actually stop by for information, throw copies of The Black Sheep at them and say it’s all they need to know.
7.) Planetarium: Get ready to be fingerblasted (or launch your rocket) into another dimension in this spacey wonderland. Dimly lit and quiet, Abrams Planetarium is not only romantic, but an excellent place to fornicate without any outsiders realizing what kind of sick twisted shit you’re actually doing. Warning: they do shows for kids there, so make sure to note the schedule so you don’t end up a sex offender. 
6.) Vet Med Center: Make like a dog and fuck freely as an animal would. Vet Med is a place where it’s acceptable to feed your animalistic desires and feel no shame. Of course doggy-style is the go-to here, but don’t discount froggy-style, monkey-style, or wounded-bird-style. Make sure your moans and groans mimic those of a large mammal so as to remain unnoticed.  
5.) Beaumont Tower: The place for a bang unlike any other. The scenic view from atop the tower gives off a nostalgic feeling as if you were once Quasimodo looking to romance your Esmeralda. If you are able to find a way to make it up to the top of the tower without getting caught by PACE you deserve to bust a nut in this monument. Bonus points for playing a tune while you smash the poon.  
4.) Baker Woodlot: There’s a chance you might get murdered in this vacant, spooky wood…lot but that’s part of what makes it so sexually arousing! Acres upon acres of free fuck space, this open area is a wonderful place to keep in mind as the spring approaches. When the flowers are in bloom and the grass is green, your spring will be sprung in no time. 
3.) Broad Art Museum: Anything goes at the Art Museum. If you’re really feeling ambitious, make your sexcapade into a public exhibit. There’s bound to be some artsy-fartsy onlooker that will tune in and take it seriously. Maybe throw in some paint on your nipples and shout random, sexual phrases like “clitoral freedom” and “desire like wildfire!” It’s all about expressing yourself here. 
2.) Beal Botanical Garden: Once the weather warms, find your lover and make like Adam and Eve in this serene setting. Exotic plants galore, Beal Botanical Garden is the perfect place to spill your seed. Don’t eat anything that might be poisonous, though. You want to live to fuck another day. 
1.) Spartan Stadium: The Holy Grail of all places to shag. Rose Bowl Champions have stepped on these glorious grounds and it is only fitting that, as a fellow Spartan, you christen them while you destroy the sex like it was a B1G foe. You may not have a championship under your belt but you’ll feel like one if you can conquer this challenge. Enlarge The Image

10.) Library: A fantasy amongst all Spartans is to get railed against some of the finest works of literature mankind has produced (or magazines about bugs). Be cautious of the basement, which is the silent floor. It’s a no-go down there unless you’re a mute or have super weird silent-sex. Stick to the busier floors where your moans and groans will go unnoticed by nerds babbling about hacking Desrire2Learn. 

9.) Basement of the International Center: The perfect place to dabble your dick in some international flavors. You’re bound to run into hundreds of bilingual beauties here. If you’re skilled in speaking the language of love you just might find someone looking to fit in a quickie downstairs. 

8.) The Visitor Information Center: Driving down Service Road, you may barely notice this hidden gem, which makes it an ideal location to get your funk on. Make sure you turn on the large neon “open” sign to let passing visitors know you’re open for business. If visitors actually stop by for information, throw copies of The Black Sheep at them and say it’s all they need to know.

7.) Planetarium: Get ready to be fingerblasted (or launch your rocket) into another dimension in this spacey wonderland. Dimly lit and quiet, Abrams Planetarium is not only romantic, but an excellent place to fornicate without any outsiders realizing what kind of sick twisted shit you’re actually doing. Warning: they do shows for kids there, so make sure to note the schedule so you don’t end up a sex offender. 

6.) Vet Med Center: Make like a dog and fuck freely as an animal would. Vet Med is a place where it’s acceptable to feed your animalistic desires and feel no shame. Of course doggy-style is the go-to here, but don’t discount froggy-style, monkey-style, or wounded-bird-style. Make sure your moans and groans mimic those of a large mammal so as to remain unnoticed.  

5.) Beaumont Tower: The place for a bang unlike any other. The scenic view from atop the tower gives off a nostalgic feeling as if you were once Quasimodo looking to romance your Esmeralda. If you are able to find a way to make it up to the top of the tower without getting caught by PACE you deserve to bust a nut in this monument. Bonus points for playing a tune while you smash the poon.  

4.) Baker Woodlot: There’s a chance you might get murdered in this vacant, spooky wood…lot but that’s part of what makes it so sexually arousing! Acres upon acres of free fuck space, this open area is a wonderful place to keep in mind as the spring approaches. When the flowers are in bloom and the grass is green, your spring will be sprung in no time. 

3.) Broad Art Museum: Anything goes at the Art Museum. If you’re really feeling ambitious, make your sexcapade into a public exhibit. There’s bound to be some artsy-fartsy onlooker that will tune in and take it seriously. Maybe throw in some paint on your nipples and shout random, sexual phrases like “clitoral freedom” and “desire like wildfire!” It’s all about expressing yourself here. 

2.) Beal Botanical Garden: Once the weather warms, find your lover and make like Adam and Eve in this serene setting. Exotic plants galore, Beal Botanical Garden is the perfect place to spill your seed. Don’t eat anything that might be poisonous, though. You want to live to fuck another day. 

1.) Spartan Stadium: The Holy Grail of all places to shag. Rose Bowl Champions have stepped on these glorious grounds and it is only fitting that, as a fellow Spartan, you christen them while you destroy the sex like it was a B1G foe. You may not have a championship under your belt but you’ll feel like one if you can conquer this challenge.


Two drug dealers are sitting in my living room, drinking a pot of French-pressed coffee I brewed for our interview. With long hair, beards and matching black nail polish, the two could almost be members of a grunge band, except they’re exceedingly well-mannered.
“Even though what we do is illegal, we’re both morally sound people,” Abe says, rearranging his position on my grandmother’s old couch. “We try to do right by people. That’s what I always tell my mom, anyway.”
Abe, who’s in his early 30s, is from an Austin, Texas, military family. His dad, a doctor who served in Vietnam, died a few years ago when a small plane he built crashed into a mountain in New Mexico. Like his father, Abe is a risk taker. He was working on Wall Street before he started an illegal marijuana delivery company with his best friend, Brian, who is sitting cross-legged next to Abe in a pair of beat-up khakis and a dark blue Red Sox winter jersey.
The pair tell me their company, Secret Fleet, hasn’t even been around for a year, but their clientele is growing larger every week. In fact, on a recent night, their couriers made a record 55 deliveries.
Yet there are complications that come with running a black-market business like theirs.
“I tell my family I’m just a regular bike courier trying to make it as an actor,” says Brian, a soft-spoken amateur actor and former pharmaceutical researcher, who’s also from Austin and also in his early 30s. “I don’t like having to hide what I do. But my family is made up of very traditional, conservative people. And I don’t know how they’d react to it.”
Abe’s mom knows exactly what he does. “She worries that I’m breaking the law,” he says, but she supports him nonetheless.
This is why Abe and Brian are letting me write about their business: They want to start removing the negative stigma that surrounds marijuana. To that end, they’ve agreed to let me follow Mason, one of their 12 couriers, for a full day on the job. (The names of the company and those interviewed for this story have been changed to protect their identities.)
It’s a cold, sunny afternoon when Mason arrives at my apartment. At just past 1 p.m., his 10-hour shift has only just begun.
The 36-year-old Texan seems a little nervous to be talking to a reporter. I can’t blame him. I bring him a glass of water and give him a once-over: He’s wearing a windbreaker, slightly frayed blue jeans, wool socks and hiking shoes. His blue eyes, tawny hair and scruffy beard make him look a little like an out-of-work Land’s End model.
While we wait for calls to come in, I ask Mason about himself. His past is varied. Originally from northern Texas, Mason tells me he spent the past decade living in different cities across the country. He started out in Santa Fe, N.M., where he earned a master’s in liberal arts. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a photographer’s assistant, and then Austin, where he had an office job in an organic furniture store.
With just a touch of a Southern accent, Mason tells me he gave away most of his possessions and moved to Brooklyn last year after a painful divorce.
“I never would have moved to Austin if it wasn’t for my wife,” he explains. “Everything in New York is the best — the people, the food, everything. It’s the cream of the crop.”
Before long, Mason’s phone goes “ding, ding,” and he tells me we have our first delivery. It’s in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick, about a mile away. We put our jackets on and hit the streets. I ride behind Mason, passing housing projects and groups of screaming schoolkids bundled in winter jackets. Sometimes, if the breeze is right, I catch a whiff of the marijuana inside the saddlebags hanging off his bike frame.
Ten minutes later, we are buzzed in to a newly renovated ground-floor apartment and greeted by a young blond woman in a black cashmere sweater and a smiling young man with dreadlocks almost to his waist.
Mason introduces himself with a smile and tells his customers that I’m a Secret Fleet trainee who is shadowing him for the day. “I’m the intern,” I joke, and they laugh.
Mason pulls a high-tech thermoplastic case from his bag and pops it open, letting Dreadlocks peruse the inventory. There are three kinds of weed for sale — each 3.5-gram bag is a flat $60 (no tip necessary) — and some marijuana-infused oatmeal cookies, which cost $10 a pop.
As Mason and Dreadlocks discuss the features of each strain of weed available, Cashmere Sweater tells me she’s a freelance reporter who covers drug policy issues.
“I’d love to write an article about you guys!” she says, and I immediately become uncomfortable. Luckily, the deal is soon over, and we say goodbye.
Mason and I share an “Oh my God!” look and try to stifle our laughter as we exit the building.
When we get back to the street, Mason’s phone dings again. There are more stops to make. By now it’s 3 p.m., and even though it’s only a Thursday, there’s no shortage of people who want to score some bud. Mason’s not the only rider Secret Fleet has working today, either; there are three others working different areas in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
I follow Mason 4 miles to our next stop, in Brooklyn’s historic Fort Greene neighborhood. I am straining to keep up. Mason is in great shape from cycling 15-20 miles a day. He often takes his hands off his handlebars to use his phone. This seems dangerous to me, but I don’t say anything.
When we arrive, a woman in her late 20s (a graduate student, Mason later tells me) lets us into her one-bedroom apartment. She’s wearing a loose-fitting white blouse and red lipstick; her auburn hair is wild in a calculated kind of way. “Nice to meet you,” Mason says, shaking her hand. “Oh, we’ve met before,” she tells him. “I think my bong kind of kicked your ass last time.” She laughs and sits down on a white, furry couch that looks like it’s made of dog hair.
The woman buys a bag of Agent Orange from Mason. It turns out she’s from Austin, too, and she and Mason have some friends in common. They talk excitedly about the South By Southwest music festival and where the best Airbnb deals are in the city. “Oh my God, Austin is so expensive now!” she says, groaning, and Mason agrees. She begins tearing up the sticky weed and shoving it into a glass bong. “Do you guys want to smoke with me?” she asks.
Mason politely declines, and we say goodbye. Getting high with customers isn’t against Secret Fleet policy, but Mason says he prefers to keep a clear head this early in his shift.
As the sun goes down, Mason and I make several more stops around Brooklyn. We visit a group of young, excited engineering students in a high-rise condo downtown, a musician in a poor part of Bed-Stuy who gives us copies of his band’s latest album, and then a hip couple smoking spliffs over their Apple laptops in Clinton Hill.
There’s also a rather awkward incident in which we knock on the door of the wrong Park Slope apartment and are greeted by a perplexed young woman in the middle of cooking dinner. Mason is embarrassed by his mistake.
“This never happens!” he assures me.
Most of our interactions are warm, even cordial. Because Secret Fleet accepts new customers only if they are personally referred by existing ones, the client base is essentially a massive network of friends.
Yet not all Secret Fleet customers are recreational smokers.
“We have patients we deliver to who have undergone chemo and who specifically want indica strains for their body pain,” Abe later tells me. “They want strains that have high amounts of CBD, and they get stressed out if they call and we don’t have any.” (CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis that has been shown to provide relief for cancer-related pain.)
Around 6 p.m., Mason tells me he has to return to Secret Fleet’s “office” to re-up his supply. He leads me to an industrial loft in north Brooklyn where we are buzzed inside by Abe.
Secret Fleet’s digs are by no means luxurious. They consist of a single, mid-sized room with a few armchairs and a wooden coffee table. Strewn around us are mini Ziploc baggies, rolls of Saran-wrap, Tupperware containers, a digital scale, a huge freezer bag that’s spilling about a quarter-pound of bright green buds onto the table, and a Macbook Air laptop open to a graphics-editing program. (Secret Fleet designs all of its own labels.)
I take a seat and pull out my notebook. Abe, who’s also an amateur actor, appears to be busy. He flits around the room like an over-caffeinated bartender, sending text messages and taking calls from three or four different BlackBerrys. At one point he seems to remember something important and power-walks out the door, returning a moment later with a baking sheet full of fresh cannabis cookies.
Eventually he gets around to re-stocking Mason’s case with little baggies of weed, and he marks how many he gives him.
A few days later, over bacon and egg sandwiches at a Bushwick cafe, I ask Abe and Brian how much weed Secret Fleet sells a month. At first they equivocate, telling me that it “varies,” and then they confess that the business usually sells more than 3 pounds of the stuff every week.
If they were caught selling that amount, state law says they could each go to prison for up to 15 years.
But so far, the pair say, things have gone smoothly. Once or twice they’ve lost money on a shipment of bad weed. A couple couriers have suffered injuries in bike accidents. But no one’s been robbed, and no one’s been arrested, and Brian and Abe are very happy about that.
“Part of the beauty of our operation is that we’re never holding onto that much weed at any given time,” Brian tells me. “It’s like a restaurant. In and out. In and out,” he says, snapping his fingers for emphasis.
“Working for our former boss, I saw around a dozen people get arrested,” Abe says, referring to the three years he and Brian spent as couriers for another New York City cannabis delivery service. “I don’t think we’re going to have that problem. We screen our riders and our clients really well.”
The pair’s former boss was a recovering crackhead who’d occasionally relapse, Brian explained. He could be unpredictable and manipulative.
“Sometimes he’d make us bike all the way to his apartment just to bring him a bottle of Gatorade,” Abe said. “Or he’d cut us halfway through the day and only give us a half-day’s wages. He wanted to make sure we couldn’t save any money.”
Their boss’ cruel behavior was a major motivator behind the duo’s decision to branch out and start their own business. Abe and Brian aim to keep Secret Fleet comprised of good, smart people. The pair won’t hesitate to drop customers they deem “not respectful.”
“We want our company to represent a certain lifestyle,” Abe urges me to understand. “That you can be a successful, active, social person, that you can affect people positively and that you can still smoke weed.”
Brian seconds this, saying it can be difficult to find couriers who fit the mold. “We look for riders who are also doing something positive with their life, that they’re passionate about, and who just do this on the side to make money. That’s what we did. Selling weed paid for our acting classes for years.”
Another way the pair avoids getting caught is by always staying within state lines while purchasing bulk amounts of ganja. Although their weed comes from other parts of the country — mostly New England and Northern California, they say — Abe and Brian don’t have to leave Brooklyn to get it.
“We don’t get involved with crossing borders. That’s the other guy’s job,” Brian says. “We don’t f**k with that.”
Secret Fleet uses a number of different suppliers, both growers and middlemen, to ensure the company’s business won’t be disrupted if one of their sources were to suddenly disappear. “We have one guy who’s like a Rolodex, and he just knows people all over the country,” Abe explains, adding that having a variety of suppliers also means having a variety of strains to offer clients.
The weed comes to New York on many modes of transportation. “It’s like prohibition,” Brian says. “You ever seen that show ‘Moonshiners’? It’s like that. They’re hiding it in VW vans or putting it in trucks and covering it in manure. Anything they can f**king think of.”
The pair get a little cagey when I press for specifics on the company’s monthly profit, but Abe eventually tells me they split their money “pretty evenly” with their employees. “They don’t work every day like we do, but on a day-to-day basis our riders are making pretty much what we are,” he says.
Secret Fleet’s couriers make $20 for each delivery they complete, and they get a couple grams of complimentary marijuana for every shift. (Mason happens to think this is a great perk.) The day I rode along with him, we made 11 stops, meaning he made $220.
But just as tricky as the logistics of running a black-market business, is figuring out what to tell the government at tax time, Abe and Brian say.
Every year, Abe tells the IRS he’s a freelance web consultant. He even submits 1099 forms from a bogus web design company created by his old boss. He says he doesn’t think he’ll be audited, but he admits it would be scary if that were to happen. Brian doesn’t pay taxes, though he says he is trying to figure out a way to do so.
Complications like these are only part of why the weed-dealing duo is so excited about the prospect of legalization. During our interview at the diner, Abe and Brian spoke enthusiastically of the recent news that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo would be starting a medical marijuana program in the next couple of years.
“That’s just great for society in general,” Brian exclaimed.
“It’s a pretty limited program that Cuomo’s proposing, but the PR aspect of it alone really relaxes the stigma, I think,” Abe said.
“But won’t the trend toward legalization eventually put you out of business?” I asked.
“I don’t even care if it puts us out of business,” Brian said. “I’m more concerned with overcoming the negative stigma. Just knowing that that’s changed.” “Yeah, and it would make my mom really happy,” Abe said. Enlarge The Image

Two drug dealers are sitting in my living room, drinking a pot of French-pressed coffee I brewed for our interview. With long hair, beards and matching black nail polish, the two could almost be members of a grunge band, except they’re exceedingly well-mannered.

“Even though what we do is illegal, we’re both morally sound people,” Abe says, rearranging his position on my grandmother’s old couch. “We try to do right by people. That’s what I always tell my mom, anyway.”

Abe, who’s in his early 30s, is from an Austin, Texas, military family. His dad, a doctor who served in Vietnam, died a few years ago when a small plane he built crashed into a mountain in New Mexico. Like his father, Abe is a risk taker. He was working on Wall Street before he started an illegal marijuana delivery company with his best friend, Brian, who is sitting cross-legged next to Abe in a pair of beat-up khakis and a dark blue Red Sox winter jersey.

The pair tell me their company, Secret Fleet, hasn’t even been around for a year, but their clientele is growing larger every week. In fact, on a recent night, their couriers made a record 55 deliveries.

Yet there are complications that come with running a black-market business like theirs.

“I tell my family I’m just a regular bike courier trying to make it as an actor,” says Brian, a soft-spoken amateur actor and former pharmaceutical researcher, who’s also from Austin and also in his early 30s. “I don’t like having to hide what I do. But my family is made up of very traditional, conservative people. And I don’t know how they’d react to it.”

Abe’s mom knows exactly what he does. “She worries that I’m breaking the law,” he says, but she supports him nonetheless.

This is why Abe and Brian are letting me write about their business: They want to start removing the negative stigma that surrounds marijuana. To that end, they’ve agreed to let me follow Mason, one of their 12 couriers, for a full day on the job. (The names of the company and those interviewed for this story have been changed to protect their identities.)

It’s a cold, sunny afternoon when Mason arrives at my apartment. At just past 1 p.m., his 10-hour shift has only just begun.

The 36-year-old Texan seems a little nervous to be talking to a reporter. I can’t blame him. I bring him a glass of water and give him a once-over: He’s wearing a windbreaker, slightly frayed blue jeans, wool socks and hiking shoes. His blue eyes, tawny hair and scruffy beard make him look a little like an out-of-work Land’s End model.

While we wait for calls to come in, I ask Mason about himself. His past is varied. Originally from northern Texas, Mason tells me he spent the past decade living in different cities across the country. He started out in Santa Fe, N.M., where he earned a master’s in liberal arts. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a photographer’s assistant, and then Austin, where he had an office job in an organic furniture store.

With just a touch of a Southern accent, Mason tells me he gave away most of his possessions and moved to Brooklyn last year after a painful divorce.

“I never would have moved to Austin if it wasn’t for my wife,” he explains. “Everything in New York is the best — the people, the food, everything. It’s the cream of the crop.”

Before long, Mason’s phone goes “ding, ding,” and he tells me we have our first delivery. It’s in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick, about a mile away. We put our jackets on and hit the streets. I ride behind Mason, passing housing projects and groups of screaming schoolkids bundled in winter jackets. Sometimes, if the breeze is right, I catch a whiff of the marijuana inside the saddlebags hanging off his bike frame.

Ten minutes later, we are buzzed in to a newly renovated ground-floor apartment and greeted by a young blond woman in a black cashmere sweater and a smiling young man with dreadlocks almost to his waist.

Mason introduces himself with a smile and tells his customers that I’m a Secret Fleet trainee who is shadowing him for the day. “I’m the intern,” I joke, and they laugh.

Mason pulls a high-tech thermoplastic case from his bag and pops it open, letting Dreadlocks peruse the inventory. There are three kinds of weed for sale — each 3.5-gram bag is a flat $60 (no tip necessary) — and some marijuana-infused oatmeal cookies, which cost $10 a pop.

As Mason and Dreadlocks discuss the features of each strain of weed available, Cashmere Sweater tells me she’s a freelance reporter who covers drug policy issues.

“I’d love to write an article about you guys!” she says, and I immediately become uncomfortable. Luckily, the deal is soon over, and we say goodbye.

Mason and I share an “Oh my God!” look and try to stifle our laughter as we exit the building.

When we get back to the street, Mason’s phone dings again. There are more stops to make. By now it’s 3 p.m., and even though it’s only a Thursday, there’s no shortage of people who want to score some bud. Mason’s not the only rider Secret Fleet has working today, either; there are three others working different areas in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

I follow Mason 4 miles to our next stop, in Brooklyn’s historic Fort Greene neighborhood. I am straining to keep up. Mason is in great shape from cycling 15-20 miles a day. He often takes his hands off his handlebars to use his phone. This seems dangerous to me, but I don’t say anything.

When we arrive, a woman in her late 20s (a graduate student, Mason later tells me) lets us into her one-bedroom apartment. She’s wearing a loose-fitting white blouse and red lipstick; her auburn hair is wild in a calculated kind of way. “Nice to meet you,” Mason says, shaking her hand. “Oh, we’ve met before,” she tells him. “I think my bong kind of kicked your ass last time.” She laughs and sits down on a white, furry couch that looks like it’s made of dog hair.

The woman buys a bag of Agent Orange from Mason. It turns out she’s from Austin, too, and she and Mason have some friends in common. They talk excitedly about the South By Southwest music festival and where the best Airbnb deals are in the city. “Oh my God, Austin is so expensive now!” she says, groaning, and Mason agrees. She begins tearing up the sticky weed and shoving it into a glass bong. “Do you guys want to smoke with me?” she asks.

Mason politely declines, and we say goodbye. Getting high with customers isn’t against Secret Fleet policy, but Mason says he prefers to keep a clear head this early in his shift.

As the sun goes down, Mason and I make several more stops around Brooklyn. We visit a group of young, excited engineering students in a high-rise condo downtown, a musician in a poor part of Bed-Stuy who gives us copies of his band’s latest album, and then a hip couple smoking spliffs over their Apple laptops in Clinton Hill.

There’s also a rather awkward incident in which we knock on the door of the wrong Park Slope apartment and are greeted by a perplexed young woman in the middle of cooking dinner. Mason is embarrassed by his mistake.

“This never happens!” he assures me.

Most of our interactions are warm, even cordial. Because Secret Fleet accepts new customers only if they are personally referred by existing ones, the client base is essentially a massive network of friends.

Yet not all Secret Fleet customers are recreational smokers.

“We have patients we deliver to who have undergone chemo and who specifically want indica strains for their body pain,” Abe later tells me. “They want strains that have high amounts of CBD, and they get stressed out if they call and we don’t have any.” (CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis that has been shown to provide relief for cancer-related pain.)

Around 6 p.m., Mason tells me he has to return to Secret Fleet’s “office” to re-up his supply. He leads me to an industrial loft in north Brooklyn where we are buzzed inside by Abe.

Secret Fleet’s digs are by no means luxurious. They consist of a single, mid-sized room with a few armchairs and a wooden coffee table. Strewn around us are mini Ziploc baggies, rolls of Saran-wrap, Tupperware containers, a digital scale, a huge freezer bag that’s spilling about a quarter-pound of bright green buds onto the table, and a Macbook Air laptop open to a graphics-editing program. (Secret Fleet designs all of its own labels.)

I take a seat and pull out my notebook. Abe, who’s also an amateur actor, appears to be busy. He flits around the room like an over-caffeinated bartender, sending text messages and taking calls from three or four different BlackBerrys. At one point he seems to remember something important and power-walks out the door, returning a moment later with a baking sheet full of fresh cannabis cookies.

Eventually he gets around to re-stocking Mason’s case with little baggies of weed, and he marks how many he gives him.

A few days later, over bacon and egg sandwiches at a Bushwick cafe, I ask Abe and Brian how much weed Secret Fleet sells a month. At first they equivocate, telling me that it “varies,” and then they confess that the business usually sells more than 3 pounds of the stuff every week.

If they were caught selling that amount, state law says they could each go to prison for up to 15 years.

But so far, the pair say, things have gone smoothly. Once or twice they’ve lost money on a shipment of bad weed. A couple couriers have suffered injuries in bike accidents. But no one’s been robbed, and no one’s been arrested, and Brian and Abe are very happy about that.

“Part of the beauty of our operation is that we’re never holding onto that much weed at any given time,” Brian tells me. “It’s like a restaurant. In and out. In and out,” he says, snapping his fingers for emphasis.

“Working for our former boss, I saw around a dozen people get arrested,” Abe says, referring to the three years he and Brian spent as couriers for another New York City cannabis delivery service. “I don’t think we’re going to have that problem. We screen our riders and our clients really well.”

The pair’s former boss was a recovering crackhead who’d occasionally relapse, Brian explained. He could be unpredictable and manipulative.

“Sometimes he’d make us bike all the way to his apartment just to bring him a bottle of Gatorade,” Abe said. “Or he’d cut us halfway through the day and only give us a half-day’s wages. He wanted to make sure we couldn’t save any money.”

Their boss’ cruel behavior was a major motivator behind the duo’s decision to branch out and start their own business. Abe and Brian aim to keep Secret Fleet comprised of good, smart people. The pair won’t hesitate to drop customers they deem “not respectful.”

“We want our company to represent a certain lifestyle,” Abe urges me to understand. “That you can be a successful, active, social person, that you can affect people positively and that you can still smoke weed.”

Brian seconds this, saying it can be difficult to find couriers who fit the mold. “We look for riders who are also doing something positive with their life, that they’re passionate about, and who just do this on the side to make money. That’s what we did. Selling weed paid for our acting classes for years.”

Another way the pair avoids getting caught is by always staying within state lines while purchasing bulk amounts of ganja. Although their weed comes from other parts of the country — mostly New England and Northern California, they say — Abe and Brian don’t have to leave Brooklyn to get it.

“We don’t get involved with crossing borders. That’s the other guy’s job,” Brian says. “We don’t f**k with that.”

Secret Fleet uses a number of different suppliers, both growers and middlemen, to ensure the company’s business won’t be disrupted if one of their sources were to suddenly disappear. “We have one guy who’s like a Rolodex, and he just knows people all over the country,” Abe explains, adding that having a variety of suppliers also means having a variety of strains to offer clients.

The weed comes to New York on many modes of transportation. “It’s like prohibition,” Brian says. “You ever seen that show ‘Moonshiners’? It’s like that. They’re hiding it in VW vans or putting it in trucks and covering it in manure. Anything they can f**king think of.”

The pair get a little cagey when I press for specifics on the company’s monthly profit, but Abe eventually tells me they split their money “pretty evenly” with their employees. “They don’t work every day like we do, but on a day-to-day basis our riders are making pretty much what we are,” he says.

Secret Fleet’s couriers make $20 for each delivery they complete, and they get a couple grams of complimentary marijuana for every shift. (Mason happens to think this is a great perk.) The day I rode along with him, we made 11 stops, meaning he made $220.

But just as tricky as the logistics of running a black-market business, is figuring out what to tell the government at tax time, Abe and Brian say.

Every year, Abe tells the IRS he’s a freelance web consultant. He even submits 1099 forms from a bogus web design company created by his old boss. He says he doesn’t think he’ll be audited, but he admits it would be scary if that were to happen. Brian doesn’t pay taxes, though he says he is trying to figure out a way to do so.

Complications like these are only part of why the weed-dealing duo is so excited about the prospect of legalization. During our interview at the diner, Abe and Brian spoke enthusiastically of the recent news that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo would be starting a medical marijuana program in the next couple of years.

“That’s just great for society in general,” Brian exclaimed.

“It’s a pretty limited program that Cuomo’s proposing, but the PR aspect of it alone really relaxes the stigma, I think,” Abe said.

“But won’t the trend toward legalization eventually put you out of business?” I asked.

“I don’t even care if it puts us out of business,” Brian said. “I’m more concerned with overcoming the negative stigma. Just knowing that that’s changed.” “Yeah, and it would make my mom really happy,” Abe said.


He receives regular death threats, websites are devoted to his demise, the Vatican has sent letters of complaint and the Queen of Spain has sued him.
The man in question is not a criminal, a terrorist or a dictator. Instead, he is the businessman behind the world’s biggest website for extramarital affairs.
Noel Biderman is the Canadian founder of Ashley Madison, a controversial but globally popular adultery website that connects married men and women and discretely enables them to have affairs.
Famed for its catchy motto – “Life is short. Have an affair” – the dating service is free for women but paying for men. Its array of features include virtual “winks”, instant messaging and “travelling” services for members seeking an affair during business trips.
Its mobile app uses GPS technology to track down the nearest available potential lover.
The website is currently in the throes of a rapid global expansion: since launching in Canada on Valentine’s Day in 2002, it has attracted more than 24 million members in 37 countries, with South Korea launched last week.
Mr Biderman, 42, is a man clearly used to defending his business. In an interview with The Telegraph last week during a visit to Japan – the fastest growing country in terms of membership – he reeled out a string of polished reasons as to why infidelity is the way of the modern world.
“Infidelity exists in every culture in the world,” said Mr Biderman, who refers to himself as the “Emperor of Infidelity”. “There’s no place you can point to on the planet where there is no unfaithfulness.
“In the lifetime of a relationship, on the male side, close to 70 or 80 per cent of men are going to be unfaithful at some point or another in their marriages. And the female side is incredibly on the rise – it’s well past 40 per cent.”
This appears to be the case in Britain in particular. Since the UK launch four years ago, more than 825,000 members have joined – in particular, married women aged between 38 and 42.
“Our brand really resonates well with a married woman, 15 plus years into her marriage who doesn’t feel that celibacy should slip into the marriage at this time,” he said.
Japan is another success story, with one million members joining within nine months of its launch last summer.
“It seems to me that culturally, this region does the best at separating sex and marriage,” added Mr Biderman. “You can do sex outside marriage much more liberally here. That’s not to say that they don’t present a traditional face, as most societies do. But I think that if we had to measure the infidelity economy in Japan, it’s incredibly sizeable.”
The reasons for soaring infidelity around the world are multiple, according to Mr Biderman.
The site is particularly popular in recession-hit nations such as Spain, while affluent communities with large disposable incomes are also major players in the “infidelity economy”.
But Mr Biderman ultimately believes that the human race is simply not biologically programmed to remain faithful – and that this can be good for a marriage.
“People have affairs because we’re not engineered for monogamy,” he said. “Monogamy didn’t come about from some great scientific research. If anything, the current social science tells us the opposite.
“That the longer the couple is together, invariably, after six months, their sexual encounters decrease, two years, they decrease even further. Twenty years into a relationship, we’re no longer sexually attracted.”
Needless to say, the company is rarely far from controversy. Mr Biderman has incurred the wrath of the Pope, with the Vatican sending a disapproving letter to Ashley Madison in opposition to its sponsorship of Rome’s basketball club Virtue Roma.
More recently, Singapore’s government banned the site, following a public outcry against its “flagrant disregard” for public morality. Mr Biderman plans to challenge the ban in court.
In response to claims of amorality, he believes that precise act of having an affair – without getting caught – can actually help save a marriage, the only other option normally being divorce.
“There was tons of infidelity before I got here,” he said. “The only encouragement I give is to say to people, there is a way to have the perfect affair.
“So the perfect affair is not only meeting someone like-minded, it’s also not being discovered. That’s what I’ve built: a platform where everybody here has put up their hand and said I’m interested in an affair, and the technology to keep it discrete.”
Perhaps most surprising are Mr Biderman’s revelations about his own private life: monogamously married for 10 years with two children, he describes his wife as unwaveringly supportive.
However, he candidly admits she does not share his views on infidelity: “If in the next decade, my sex life evaporates, I have no interest in being celibate.
“Because I have these wonderful children, an extended family I cherish, great economic success and homes – I have not worked for all of that just for sex. I wouldn’t get a divorce, therefore, if that happened, I’d try to have an affair.” Enlarge The Image

He receives regular death threats, websites are devoted to his demise, the Vatican has sent letters of complaint and the Queen of Spain has sued him.

The man in question is not a criminal, a terrorist or a dictator. Instead, he is the businessman behind the world’s biggest website for extramarital affairs.

Noel Biderman is the Canadian founder of Ashley Madison, a controversial but globally popular adultery website that connects married men and women and discretely enables them to have affairs.

Famed for its catchy motto – “Life is short. Have an affair” – the dating service is free for women but paying for men. Its array of features include virtual “winks”, instant messaging and “travelling” services for members seeking an affair during business trips.

Its mobile app uses GPS technology to track down the nearest available potential lover.

The website is currently in the throes of a rapid global expansion: since launching in Canada on Valentine’s Day in 2002, it has attracted more than 24 million members in 37 countries, with South Korea launched last week.

Mr Biderman, 42, is a man clearly used to defending his business. In an interview with The Telegraph last week during a visit to Japan – the fastest growing country in terms of membership – he reeled out a string of polished reasons as to why infidelity is the way of the modern world.

“Infidelity exists in every culture in the world,” said Mr Biderman, who refers to himself as the “Emperor of Infidelity”. “There’s no place you can point to on the planet where there is no unfaithfulness.

“In the lifetime of a relationship, on the male side, close to 70 or 80 per cent of men are going to be unfaithful at some point or another in their marriages. And the female side is incredibly on the rise – it’s well past 40 per cent.”

This appears to be the case in Britain in particular. Since the UK launch four years ago, more than 825,000 members have joined – in particular, married women aged between 38 and 42.

“Our brand really resonates well with a married woman, 15 plus years into her marriage who doesn’t feel that celibacy should slip into the marriage at this time,” he said.

Japan is another success story, with one million members joining within nine months of its launch last summer.

“It seems to me that culturally, this region does the best at separating sex and marriage,” added Mr Biderman. “You can do sex outside marriage much more liberally here. That’s not to say that they don’t present a traditional face, as most societies do. But I think that if we had to measure the infidelity economy in Japan, it’s incredibly sizeable.”

The reasons for soaring infidelity around the world are multiple, according to Mr Biderman.

The site is particularly popular in recession-hit nations such as Spain, while affluent communities with large disposable incomes are also major players in the “infidelity economy”.

But Mr Biderman ultimately believes that the human race is simply not biologically programmed to remain faithful – and that this can be good for a marriage.

“People have affairs because we’re not engineered for monogamy,” he said. “Monogamy didn’t come about from some great scientific research. If anything, the current social science tells us the opposite.

“That the longer the couple is together, invariably, after six months, their sexual encounters decrease, two years, they decrease even further. Twenty years into a relationship, we’re no longer sexually attracted.”

Needless to say, the company is rarely far from controversy. Mr Biderman has incurred the wrath of the Pope, with the Vatican sending a disapproving letter to Ashley Madison in opposition to its sponsorship of Rome’s basketball club Virtue Roma.

More recently, Singapore’s government banned the site, following a public outcry against its “flagrant disregard” for public morality. Mr Biderman plans to challenge the ban in court.

In response to claims of amorality, he believes that precise act of having an affair – without getting caught – can actually help save a marriage, the only other option normally being divorce.

“There was tons of infidelity before I got here,” he said. “The only encouragement I give is to say to people, there is a way to have the perfect affair.

“So the perfect affair is not only meeting someone like-minded, it’s also not being discovered. That’s what I’ve built: a platform where everybody here has put up their hand and said I’m interested in an affair, and the technology to keep it discrete.”

Perhaps most surprising are Mr Biderman’s revelations about his own private life: monogamously married for 10 years with two children, he describes his wife as unwaveringly supportive.

However, he candidly admits she does not share his views on infidelity: “If in the next decade, my sex life evaporates, I have no interest in being celibate.

“Because I have these wonderful children, an extended family I cherish, great economic success and homes – I have not worked for all of that just for sex. I wouldn’t get a divorce, therefore, if that happened, I’d try to have an affair.”