Radical Honesty

Ranier Amiel Wood

WHEN I WALKED INTO CRASHMURDERBUSINESS COFFEE, I was immediately comfortable, as if I were at a party at a good friend’s cool sister’s house.

It wasn’t any one thing – not the strange, pint-size wooden chairs or the totally weird name of the place – but a whole set of little things that made me feel at home. I even would have felt OK about grabbing (without asking) one of the sparkling probiotics from the shiny glass cabinet, except Ranier showed up and offered me just that.

She has a roving, amused curiosity that ends focusing on, among other things, helping women get to their most private truths – while having a lot of fun.

She has created a coffee shop, a super fitness training program, and an art premise that gives her a certain access and insight into those truths.

And she seems to be having a blast.

You started a coffee shop called CrashMurderBusiness in the middle of a pandemic.

When I was telling people about the idea for CrashMurderBusiness, everyone thought I was completely insane. I hadn’t done coffee before.

I’d never been in retail, never been in food service. And they were like, you can’t do it. It’s insane. That name is insane. You’re gonna get a bunch of flack. And now I have people who come in every day who are like, I just had to come in for the name. Can I buy a sweatshirt and a shirt and a mug and a…. And all these kids who have been learning about collective nouns because all of the drinks are named after those types of animal groupings and….

Collective nouns?

So there’s this whole book on it. We have it out at the shop. It’s this funny tradition in the English language of having a specific name for a group of items. So there’s an immersion of Baptists, a bloat of hippos, a fluffle of bunnies, an ingratitude of children, or a murder of crows.

So you had – arguably – ungrounded courage to start this?

That could be said about quite a lot in my life.

Why does this feel like somebody’s living room?

That’s the idea. I’m so tired of the sterile, modern coffee shop – I wanted to do something weirder.

Weird but cool.

Here’s what I came to about cool: In middle school, I was very aware of being cool. And at a certain point I just said, Fuck it, and I started being myself, did the things I wanted to do, and didn’t give a fuck what other people did. And suddenly everyone was like, Oh, you’re so cool. You’re such an inspiration.

So I say that to my little guy now as he’s heading into middle school: Here’s the scam that no one tells you. Everyone says that you have to be like everybody or be a certain way to be cool. The second you tell them all to go to hell and do it your way, they’ll follow you.

Who comes here?

That’s been the surprising part. When I originally was thinking about who would come, I kind of figured it would be, I don’t know, maybe a lot of girls kinda like me or chicks here from LA and I would have all these weird health drinks, but it’s really quite a broad spectrum. We have state workers, random artists, and regulars – it’s kind of a Cheers vibe. And I have a really avid following of eight-year-olds. I’m slaying it in the four- to ten-year-old demographic.



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