Monday, June 30, 2008

The Web Widens

I see that my friend, Josh Morgan, has responded (Jacob's CafĂ©: Maintaining Connections) to my post on Saturday, which in turn was inspired by his earlier posts.  We're exploring the nature of communication  - the real development of a virtual town square where people interact and learn from one another.  Our own interaction, in itself, provides an example of how small the world will become.  We're hardly as prolific as some - the blogging community is huge - we're a tiny corner, but I'm fascinated as much with the discussion we've initiated as the fact that we're communicating on an intellectual level that would have been unlikely to have evolved in any other way.  In his recent post, Josh writes about the evolution of social networking technology to make interaction automatic - he'll be alerted to my latest post as soon as it's activated.  He doesn't have to seek it out - it will come to him.  

The evolution of social networking means that friends and associates can stay in touch passively. Even if we get caught up in the sweep of our own personal histories, there will soon be no such thing as "losing touch."  Personal connections could endure with  little or no effort, ready to be reactivated by a simple "Facebook" or "MySpace" comment, or a comment on a blog. 

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Most Important Lunch Ever

A Chinese investment fund manager will be paying 2.1 million dollars for lunch with billionaire Warren Buffet, after winning a charity auction on Ebay this Friday evening. One wonders what the two will talk about, but as Warren Buffet is probably the most successful investment fund manager of all time, they undoubtedly will speak the same language, business-wise.

The more intriguing question is: what would any of the rest of us do with the opportunity to spend a casual lunch with one of the wealthiest individuals in the world? Would we ask for advice? A grant? A loan? An investment in our future? Money? Perhaps some would simply talk about common interests, current affairs, favorite movies, philosophy or questions of faith.  All of the above?

How do we prepare for the opportunity of a lifetime?  Do we study his history - read biography after biography so as to make the most out of the opportunity? Do we create a business proposal? Rehearse the opportunity with friends?  Rehearse in front of a mirror? On the other hand, do we simply reject the idea of undue preparation and present ourselves as we are and simply enjoy lunch with another human being?

Finally, I'm sure some would turn down the opportunity outright, unimpressed and unmoved by accomplishments and power.

What would I do?  I would think that the key to making the most of an opportunity like this is to recognize first that individual like Warren Buffet is first and foremost another human being, albiet an individual with particular abilities and talents that have worked well for him.  Learning about the so-called rich and powerful is fascinating not because of their wealth, but how they learned to improve on their circumstances.  For me, that's the primary fascination I have with power and leadership.  

America's foremost and probably most successful capitalist, Andrew Carnegie, became, in today's dollars, perhaps the wealthiest individual of all time, beginning as a nearly penniless boy and dying as a philanthropist without compare, whose impact is still felt nearly one hundred year after his death.  There were no guidebooks to wealth and fortune as there are today.  He did it by learning from experience.

What would I want to gain from a lunch with a Warren Buffet-type individual?  I wouldn't be interested in how he reached his level of accomplishment - the nuts-and-bolts of extraordinary success vary from individual to individual.  

I think I would ask, without further clarification, "Why are you who you are?" 

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Brief Witness

Every once in a while, I've been witness to brief slices of a larger drama.  I might be driving by a particular situation, or overhear a conversation in a restaurant.  I could pass someone on the street talking passionately into a cell phone.  

When I was in junior high school, I remember having a brief glimpse of a drama unfolding at a side street as my mother drove me home.  Two kids were engaged in a fight in the middle of the street, their bikes laying on the ground.  One boy was in a head-lock, while the other kid pounded on his face while the small crowd around them watched.  I barely had time to register the scene before we were gone - perhaps no more than ten seconds had gone by.  I didn't know the kids, and I certainly didn't know how the fight progressed.  Did the kid pounding the other kid get in trouble? Was he the aggressor.  Or did the other kid start the fight and pick the wrong kid to bully?  Did anyone get in trouble? Do either of them remember the confrontation today?

A few years back, my niece and I were traveling on the freeway and massed through an interchange that was rapidly backing up.  We reached the reason for the back-up - a violent automobile crash.  In the ten seconds the accident was in our view, I remember but one detail - a woman's arm hanging weakly from a car window.  Was she dead?  Or unconscious and not yet attended to? Was she responsible for the accident? Was she a victim of someone else, perhaps a drunk driver?  How did her injury or death effect the world around her?  And what are the consequences of that horrible incident to which I had the briefest connection?

Or are these connections as brief as they look?  As social networking sites sometimes show us, we're more interconnected then we think.  My friend Andrew Tarr has a birthday gala a few months back.  I've known Andrew for several years.  He spent his childhood in New Jersey and Vermont.  I spent mine in New York and California.  We're a few years apart in age.  Yet, at his party, a friend of his approached me.  He'd been researching some memories from his childhood - places he and I had in common, and which led him to my blog.  That's where he discovered that Andrew Tarr was a mutual friend.  As it turns out, this individual not only grew up in my neighborhood, but on my street.  He'd been probably a dozen or more houses down the road and around a curve, but we'd been there at the same time.  He was a couple of years younger, however, so naturally, in kid law, I wouldn't have been friends with him. Yet, we shared the same place memories, we knew some of the local vendors who served the neighborhood (the guy who our parents hired to wax the floors, or the guy who drove the Good Humor ice cream truck).  We probably crossed paths numerous times.  If it had been him engaged in that street fight I witnessed, I would never know that we were connected.  

In smaller towns and simpler times, everyone knew one another, and were interconnected.  Perhaps we don't know our neighbors as much anymore - but the connections, now intricately woven and mostly hidden, still exist - just below the surface.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mysterious Places to Go When You're a Kid

When I was a kid  - nine or ten years old - the world was still small.  While the world at large is full of mystery, as a kid, the very street on which you live holds mysterious as thrilling as the pyramids:

Exploring some else's basement was exciting.   My friend across the street a basement lined with cabinets along one wall and no dividers. I could climb in the cabinet door at one end and crawl all the way through to the opposite wall and emerge eight cabinet doors later.  I never questioned why the entire length of the cabinets was empty.  His dad's World War 2 uniform was down there as well.

Exploring your OWN basement was the best!  Our basement never ceased to be fascinating to me.  It held the remnants of past decades of family history - objects that were ancient to me even then!  Half of our basement was of normal height - but the rest was half-height, under which much of the older artifacts were shoved.  It was a dark, mysterious place into which I rarely ventured - even as I spent endless hours with my train layout in the other side of the basement.

When we moved to California, we had no basement - but we did have a garage crammed  to the rafters with boxes of mystery.  Just ask my niece and nephew. As they grew up, they eargerly accompanied me on expeditions into the increasingly shuttered garage to see what we could find from the dark recesses of family history.

Today, much of what was in that basement in New York, and then the garage and house in Tarzana is now crammed into a rarely-visited space at a storage facility in Valencia - just about the side of a small garage.  In a way, that storage facility is an entire complex of mystery garages...

Thursday, June 26, 2008


If you've been reading my Freshi Blog, you know what lately we've been running a filmmaking camp this week in Puerto Rico. One of our exciting innovations has been a live video connect between kids at the camp and kids and instructors at our offices in Burbank.  On Tuesday, the kids viewed and took part in a stunt demonstration held in our office, and on Wednesday two students in our Burbank office took part in a half-hour video discussion with a young filmmaker in Puerto Rico about a collaborative film they'll work on together (see a clip here).  It's an exciting development in our effort to create a worldwide, vibrant community of young filmmakers interacting directly in ways never before possible.  It's going to be very exciting to watch this happen.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Salad Kid

There was this one kid at Wickshire Elementary School that was just about the only kid who liked to eat salads.  Unfortunately, most lunches served at Wickshire included side salads,  Rather than waste all that food, the salad kid started accepting salads from the kids at his lunch table...that expanded to  the surrounding tables...and beyond!  It got to the point where the kid that liked salad had a tower of little plastic salad bowls reaching into the air above his table....leaning precariously as he nibbled his way down.  

As for me, I never bought lunch at school.  My mom packed my lunch.  She knew better then to pack a salad.  I was anti-veggies all the way though school.  

Monday, June 23, 2008


Throughout the "information revolution" (a term which we don't hear much anymore - but an era which we're still experiencing), we've seen a world which is becoming more and more interconnected.  It's not just email and visiting websites anymore.  Social networking sites are coming up with ever-more creative ways of keeping us interacting with one another (the "applications" in Facebook, for example). We communicate in ways we wouldn't have anticipated just a few short years ago.  Having easily accessible email on cell phones is heading toward a standard feature. Communicating through video is widespred (live or through services like "YouTube"

When I was a kid, I communicated with my friends either face to face or on the phone. No email. No Myspace. No multiplayer games (well, not computer-based, anyway).  And when my family moved across the country, my childhood friends and I drifted apart.  Eleven year-olds don't generally write a lot of letters.  You found out about your friends and their interests by spending time with them, and visiting with them. Kids still do that, but they find out much more much faster through their online connection.   If a kid today moves away from his hometown, he'll tend to stay in touch much longer.

Our communications technology continues to develop at an amazing pace, and the kids that are growing up with computers today will have an entirely different experience than kids growing up with computers only ten years ago.  There's a tendency by some to see the world becoming more impersonal as a result of these new forms of communication.  I don't agree.  As these technologies develop, along with the necessary safeguards and customs that will better protect the vulnerable, more people will tend to see the net as offering viable and acceptable extensions of one's social life.  Anyone who spends a good deal of time online understands that already.

We're still in the early stages of the "revolution."  Who we are and how we interact is evolving and changing constantly, changing the very nature of community - locally, nationally and internationally.  As the telegraph and telephone was responsible for dramatic changes in the way we live, information technology is doing the same.  And we've got a long way to go...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Kid Cool

There was an ongoing competition in 2nd grade relating to who would walk down to the lunch room next to the cool kid when the teacher led us there in pairs. Why was he cool?  Because he was a little older then us, and so qualified for the cub scouts before the rest of us.  That same kid also earned his 2nd grade cool qualifications because he owned a pet duck.

There were other ways to be considered cool.  There was the kid who could reverse his eyelids (gross is cool).  I learned in first grade how cool pop culture was when I brought to school a stack of 8x10 photos from the "Batman" movie that my dad had brought home.  I took out the photos - and instantly had a crowd around me!  Cool.  If I had been asked about what was cool about some of my friends, I would have mentioned one kid's St. Bernard, another kid's gas-powered RC Car (okay, that's still cool), another kid who had shown me his dads World War 2 uniform deep in the basement, and another kid who had been in the audience on the most popular kid's TV show in the New York area ("Wonderama" - yes, that was very cool).

Cool, though, wasn't a set concept.  If you weren't within a year or so in age, you wouldn't be considered cool.  A kid about four years younger then the rest of us whose father was a movie producer - uncool.  If he were our age - cool.  Of course, how easily one defined coolness changed and became more difficult with age.  In junior high school, another kid whose father was producer of a popular TV show was sometimes seen as uncool just because of that fact.  At that age, eyelid reversing would have been extremely uncool.  RC Cars would still be cool, though.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I had my mini-reunion with Jay Elliot, whom I referred to in the last blog entry.  We have agreed that a DVD release would be a good idea.  I have an idea that I might include him in the "behind the scenes" video my nephew and I shot a few years back. 

Of course, now I have to get around to doing it -   in addition to Freshi, the two television series I'm producing for the City of LA, my "Indian/American" documentary, and various other "lesser" projects and activities.  There's 24 hours in a day - no problem!  I think I still have an open hour somewhere around 2am.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

First Film

I'm the guy on the left, directing my first film.   That kid in the middle with the hat was my friend, Jay - though the magic of Facebook, we recently got back in touch after many years. We're going to get together one of these days.

My dad shot some film of my shoot that day; this is a frame from that reel.

Monday, June 09, 2008


As if I  had free time to spare, I've somehow found the time to take up golf.  Over the last couple of weekends, my friends Andrew Tarr and Patrick Rhody have taken a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon to wander about and hit little balls with metal sticks.  I've tried it a couple of times before, but since this time I'm evenly matched with two equally skilled opponents, I've had time to ponder this odd little sport.

I'm likely to take some intruction soon.  Stay tuned.

Hitting balls with metal sticks.  What have I gotten myself into?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

One Last Pic

I had to include just one more pic from my March shoot - two of the boys from my documentary.  A great photo.  All these pictures, by the way, are courtesy of my friend, David Guerrero, who has been helping me from the beginning in shooting this documentary.

Friday, June 06, 2008


For Freshi Films, I've just created a video summarizing our "Freshi Planet" worldwide filmmaking program.  You can see it on my "other" blog,

Between Freshi's international program, and my own Indian project, I expect to be returning sometime in the near future.   Visiting India isn't for everyone - some Americans might find the overall environment overwhelming.  Poverty and desperation exist side-by-side with incredible beauty.  By comparison, we tend to live an antiseptic life here in America.  But for those who can adjust to the difficulties of living and traveling in India (at least between Delhi and Agra, the two cities I visited), the rewards are unforgettable.  

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I did jump in!

In response to yesterday's comment, here are two pictures: The first is from the same event yesteray, and the second features Lynette Privatsky, Dave Guerrero, and myself following a shoot at a "Holi" event the same weekend as the other photo.

Monday, June 02, 2008

New Photo from "Indian / American" Project

My good friend Dave Guerrero just supplied me with his latest collection of photos from my current documentary.  Here's one taken during "Holi," an Hindu holiday that some have described to me as a rite of spring  (there are quite a number of descriptions I've been given, but we'll leave it at that for now).

Sunday, June 01, 2008

A Shameless, Shameless Plug

(Photo courtesy Lidskin Creative)

If you like album rock, you will love Twirl, a Sacramento-based radio program hosted by an old college friend of mine, Mike Lidskin.  Put simply in the show's slogan:  "The finest music from the rock era."  You can listen live every Saturday, 4-6 pm (western time).  Go to the website:, for more information.   While you're there, check out the "Twirlcasts" for highlights from past episodes.  I highly recommend a Twirlcast "comedy nugget" entitled "2006 write-in gubernatorial candidate Greg Baldwin's plan for a better California.'  It's a classic moment in comedy history, if you ask me.  And not just because my best buddy from college and my nephew are involved.  Really. I swear.