Lit Libations




He Was Never There

Last Friday, The Weeknd semi-surprise dropped a new album, My Dear Melancholy, with lyrics referencing famous exes like model Bella Hadid and fellow artist Selena Gomez. This week, the buzzed-about album received an accompanying “docupoem” in the form of a video called He Was Never There chronicling the artist’s time in the recording studio and the inspiration behind the album. An intimate look into the inner workings of the enigmatic musician, the highly-stylized video is directed by Joachim Johnson and features actress Sasha Lane, best known for starring opposite Shia LeBeouf in 2016 indie American Honey. Similar to Kylie Jenner’s “To Our Daughter” pregnancy home movie, the growing trend of behind-the-scenes mini-documentaries points to the changing fan-celebrity dynamic in which fans expect even more intimate access to their favorite celebrities’ lives in addition to the work they’re creating.

Justin Timberlake x American Express

Justin Timberlake has partnered with American Express to give fans a unique and immersive digital experience around his latest album, Man of the Woods. Hosted within the American Express Music app, the activation is a “shoppable, mixed reality music experience” that’s part shopping, part AR behind-the-scenes content. By clicking on the “Shop of the Woods” neon sign, users can access and shop Man of the Woods merch from brands like Levi’s, Heron Preston, Pendleton, and more. Those interested in the inspiration behind the music can take an AR tour through scenic Montana led by Timberlake, as the singer literally walks users through the concepts behind his album. Nature has been a big source of inspiration for Timberlake recently and making an app that allows his fans to experience that first-hand without leaving their homes is a great way to foster a deeper connection to the album.


Between SXSW, CES, TED, and others, conferences are central to the creative community as sources of inspiration, learning, and networking. However, they also come with hefty ticket prices and travel expenses. Enter byteconf, a free, online-only conference for web developers created by Product Hunt engineer Kristian Freeman. Promising the best JavaScript and React speakers in the world, the two-day conference will be streamed on Twitch later this summer but attendees can reserve their tickets now. Not only does the conference’s digital hosting allow for more attendees globally, it also opens up the audience to people who are casually interested in the topic. While web development is a natural fit for an online-only conference, the idea is sure to become more prevalent as attendance rates at conferences trend downward while live streaming ascends.





As marijuana becomes legalized and consumers expect more sophisticated substance offerings, new beverage brand MONK has launched a line of weed-infused libations specifically for health-conscious consumers. Moving away from sugary candies and cookies that the edible industry is currently known for, MONK has created a line of cold-pressed, sustainably-sourced, organic bottled drinks that come in a variety of different flavors and include trending health ingredients such as turmeric, cinnamon bark, and cayenne. Each beverage comes in three different dosages and cannabinoid combinations so that consumers can choose if they’d like to experience or forgo the euphoric feelings of THC and medicinal benefits of CBD. Currently available at local dispensaries in California, these beautifully-packaged products are just the beginning for MONK, which is also currently developing a cannabis cocktail line that will soon be served on tap in California bars.


With better and more powerful smartphone cameras available year after year, it seems that these days everyone is a professional photographer. Enter iOS and Android app GuruShots, a platform that aims to gamify photography and quantify skills. Users can join the community as “newbies” and take part in daily challenges based on prompts such as colors, types of photography, or general themes such as seasons or animals. After submitting a photo, user favorite images and receive feedback on their work. Users who end up with the most votes are awarded the title of “guru” and receive varied photography prizes from sponsors such as Kodak and GoPro. Connecting people all around the world, this interactive and addictive photography game is a digital skill building challenge for amateurs and pros alike!

Museum of Banned Objects

Another week, another museum! But unlike its predecessors that are completely geared toward photo-op hungry Gen Zs (i.e., The Museum of Ice Cream and Mermaid Museum), The Museum of Banned Objects centers around a hypothetical dystopian future where reproductive health tools are prohibited. In partnership with Planned Parenthood, artists Ellie Sachs and Matt Starr have curated minimalist collections of condoms, Plan B, and birth control, all of which are displayed in glass boxes to remind everyone that marginalized groups are still battling the current political administration every day in order to receive full body autonomy and access to reproductive health care products. The exhibit is on display at The Ace Hotel in New York City until April 30th, so be sure to check out it out!

Kristin Castillo