Cinnamon Girl: Shannon Cooke

Gabe Diaz

Cinnamon Girl is a column introducing the staff and support who help run the magazine, featuring a series of profiles on the people who are helping bring this project to life — aka your chance to get to know the early members of this blossoming collective. The title is an homage to the Neil Young song, but we’ll update it for boys, non-binary and all other preferred gender presentations.

1. Hi, what’s your name?

Shannon Cooke

2. How are you involved in Cinnamon?

Co-Founder, Bread Maker.

3. Wow, what a cool talent! When did you first get interested in that?

About a year ago Caitlin and I were a few glasses of wine deep when we started to commiserate about how there were few online outlets that felt relevant to our lives. Cait shared her dream of starting her own publication with me that night. We’re super lucky to have complementary experiences and skill sets. I trust her to run the editorial content and creative direction while I keep us organized.

I also make sure we have ample baked goods. I kept having dreams about making bread so I watched the Nancy Silverton episode of Chef’s Table maybe three times then Amazon’d all the required equipment and got started. The whole process is meditative for me and a useful exercise in patience. I can’t make the dough rise any faster than it wants to. I have to let it be so it can do its thing. I’ve learned more about life through making bread than I ever thought possible.

4. Can you tell me about the food and drink you like to put into your body?

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was about 12-years-old and a vegan for the last five years. Lately, my boyfriend and I have been cooking dinner at my house. It’s so much more satisfying to eat food that you’ve made. It’s also a really good test of how well we can work together (so far so good!). Few things make me happier than talking about music at the dinner table over a meal we cooked and some delicious wine or fancy craft beer that I would never actually order at a bar.

5. Can you tell me about the kind of art and literature you like to put into your brain?

I’ve always been drawn to photography. Walker Evans, Winogrand, Vivian Maier. I actually have a snippet of a Walker Evans quote tattooed on my ribs. When I read a book by an author I enjoy I tend to read their whole body of work, one after the other.  I also subscribe to an insane number of print publications. Getting The New York Times home delivery is my favorite indulgence.

6. How do you like to care for yourself?

Over the winter, I spent time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Thailand and then participated in a silent, Buddhist meditation retreat. Some of the best moments I’ve had this year have been spent serving meals at St. Francis Center on Skid Row. When I start to feel really stressed or like what I do doesn’t matter, meditation and volunteering help give me a better understanding of the world around me and how I can help make it better.

7. In your dream world, how would you spend the majority of your time?

Living out of a van, camping, playing outside, and volunteering. Myself, my brother Dan and our friend Jim road-tripped around Oahu in a VW camper van last summer. It was an absolute dream and totally set the bar for Best Life Living.

8. Tell me about a living creature you’ve had a lot of love for that wasn’t a human, or about your favorite plant.

When my ex and I were living in Chicago we adopted a sweet street pup we named Midge (aka Midgerdidge aka Princess Trashmouth due to her affinity for eating trash off the ground). She is the best dog on the earth. Midge was attacked by another dog about a year ago and almost died. I was so worried it was going to change her personality or make her afraid of other dogs or people but she remained her adorable, friendly self even with twenty staples in her little body. Who knew a lesson on resilience and the power of a good attitude would come from a 14-pound ball of fur?

9. Speaking of the L word, what does love mean to you?

Shout out to my therapist, Kelly, who is actively working with me weekly to figure this out.

10. What were you like when you were a little kid?

When I was a kid I was a handful, for sure. I’ve always been very independent and rebellious. In high school I would skip school and stay out all night. Once I got a fake ID my friends and I would head into NYC and party at The Tunnel or Exit. I remember dancing all night long listening to early ‘00s hip- hop and dance music then catching a ride home the next morning with the sun already high in the sky.

11. Where do you live now and why did that place call out to you?

I live in a cute little craftsman house in Echo Park with my roommate and longest friend (and Cinnamon contributing editor) Stephanie Georgopulos. Steph and I were living in neighboring apartments in Los Feliz but very desperately wanted a yard. We took one look at this house and its cute backyard, met our badass landlady Jazmin and signed the lease immediately. The energy in the house is great. I was hoping it was going to be haunted but unfortunately it seems like it isn’t.

12. Tell me about your personal style and how dressing your body is part of your life.

My personal style has hit a stride in the last few years. I feel really great in a high waisted pant or midi-skirt, Doc Martens and a vintage band shirt or concert tee. My style is usually a mix feminine and masculine. I love wearing baggy jeans and a deep V bodysuit with my Doc Martens. I’ve had those boots forever and I feel like my most comfortable self in them.

13. Tell me about a record that changed your life.

MA$E Harlem World was released in October 1997. I was 12 and absolutely obsessed with hip-hop. The following Christmas, my dad got me an edited copy of Harlem World and I got him the Parental Advisory version. Music has always been something he and I shared and I look back at that gift exchange as the first step toward a life long admiration of rap and hip-hop. I actually ended up stealing the explicit version from him; hiding it from my mom in a Hanson jewel case.

14. Tell me about a person you admire with your whole heart.

The older I get the more I feel like I really know my mom. She’s the most resilient woman. She’s effervescent. Always optimistic with a strange, silly sense of humor. She is the queen of making small talk with strangers and the most hospitable person I’ve ever met. All of the good parts of my personality come from her.

15. Tell me about a time you showed resilience and grace, even if it was tough.

The most generous grace I’ve experienced has been in my moments of vulnerability, frustration and anxiety. In turn, I’ve been working very hard on being more compassionate and practicing looking at my interactions with people through a more empathic lens. I hope to be able to pay that forward to others when they need it.

16. Who is your favorite rapper? (Oh yeah? Name five of their albums! JK, continue.)

This might be the hardest question on this whole list. I love rap music. I can sit and watch rap videos on Youtube for hours. I will always say “yes” to a rap show. I love discovering where a track’s samples come from. The through line of blues, funk, soul into hip-hop and R&B is so important. I love the idea that something new wouldn’t exist without what came before it.

Since moving to LA I’ve been listening to a lot more west coast rap but I also will always vibe on anything throwback east coast. When I was a kid listening to Stretch And Bobbito on the radio turned me on to so many rappers I would never have encountered otherwise. Listening to Wu-Tang, Nas, Big L, O.C., Large Professor, and Lord Finesse brings me right back to ‘90s New Jersey.

17. What is the best skincare or makeup item you’ve ever encountered?

My go to splurge is Dr. Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Peel wipes. These wipes have totally changed the texture and resiliency of my skin. I used to use these almost daily but they’re kind of expensive so I’ve relegated them to a few times a week (especially hangover mornings). My best everyday product is basic Almond Oil. I use it for everything: hair oil, face oil, body moisturizer. Almond Oil smells amazing and I can usually scoop it up at a Marshalls or TJ Maxx for $3.

18. What is your favorite place to visit?

For music, its Kingston Mines in Chicago. Joanna Conner is there most nights playing killer blues/rock guitar. She’s unbelievable. For peace and quiet, I am all about Joshua Tree. Give me wide open spaces, purple sunsets and absolute silence at night time.

19. Who in your family are you the most like or closest to? (If it’s no one, pick someone else relationally close and describe why you’re similar or have a close relationship.)

My brothers and I are super similar and have always gotten along (which is amazing considering there were 13 years between me, the oldest, and T, the youngest.) We share the same quick, sarcastic sense of humor. We’ve had a group chat going for years now and it’s the first place we each go with triumphs, failures, career and life advice. They’re my favorite people.  

20. Is there life on Mars?

I hope so. I’d hate to think that the entire living universe is here on Earth. Wouldn’t that be such a let down?

For more obsession with ‘90s hip-hop and bread-making content, follow Shannon on Instagram.

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