2 years ago I wandered into a small boutique in San Diego and was drawn to a display of photographs depicting young African children.  Vintage brushed metal whistles hung from the display and sitting on the ledge was a small booklet that unveiled the story behind their purpose.

Engraved in script on each whistle was an “fw”, which stands for Falling Whistles.  The Falling Whistles campaign was started as a response to the growing need for peace and refuge in Congo.  The war in Congo has affected thousands; many of them young children.  These children are either trying to find refuge from the war or are forced into the the center of it against their will.  Those too small to carry a gun are pushed to the frontlines and armed with only a whistle– taught to make as much noise as possible to warn the rebel armies if enemies were close.  These young, small, innocent whistle blowers are the first to fall.

Falling Whistles has worked towards morphing this symbol from death to life.  As a symbol of protest, these whistles have become a weapon to fighting for peace in Congo.  Proceeds from whistle sales go to helping rehabilitate war-affected children.

Tonight, alongside 50 or so other whistle blowers, we posted our protest and voices for peace on a wall in downtown Los Angeles.

Read the story. Become a whistle blower.


Paris, Je t’aime

I love Paris.  Not in the way that young girls and lovers romanticize dreams of sidewalk cafes, impressionist paintings and dimly-lit streets on a rainy evening.  I’ve eaten at that cafe, seen those paintings, and strolled through the streets on a rainy evening.  In fact, I’ve even fallen in love under the Eiffel Tower (another story for another day).  What I have is a true, deep love and appreciation for the City of Light and everything it has once and continues to offer.

I was 13 when I began learning my je m’appelles and enchantés.  I won’t lie; the choice to study French was not a glimpse of an early hunger for cultural enrichment, although I’d like to think subconsciously it may have been. Instead, it was merely my adolescent angst and determination to go against the grain and differ from my throngs of peers who took Spanish.  Probably not the wisest choice, however, considering the latter proves to be insurmountably more useful in Southern California.  Regardless, 5 years of studying and a decade later I can still successfully introduce myself, tell you where I live, how old I am, order an omelette, and purchase a grapefruit with gusto (Je voudrais un PAMPLEMOUSE, s’il vous plaît!).

I may not be able to write a dissertation or perfectly translate what benefits your shampoo can provide, but those 5 years left an overwhelming appreciation for French culture, cuisine, art, and the city that cultivated many of the world’s greatest artistic and literary contributors.

On my plane flight today, I happened to catch the film Midnight in Paris.  I don’t usually care for Owen Wilson films, especially when he is in a leading role, but this film was so beautifully written and exquisitely depicted.  It was as if Woody Allen sat on a bench beside the Seine with a blank canvas and waited as all of the splendor of Paris soaked into its threads.  Then, he unveiled that canvas through the eyes of Owen Wilson on screen.

The story follows Gil (Wilson), a writer, on his visit to Paris with his fiancé (played by Rachel McAdams).  At midnight he goes for a stroll through the streets of Paris and happens upon a vehicle that takes him back into time where he meets Ernest Hemmingway, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, and many other art and literary greats.  There’s a romantic plot in there somewhere, but it is lackluster in comparison to the emotional and artistic journey Gil embarks upon as the allure of Paris exposes him to greater heights of creativity as a writer.

As he meets each character, the dialogue and wisdom they exchange is written with such profound elegance, it’s impossible to not fall in love with Paris and desire all the inspiration it has to offer.  Adriana, a costume designer played by Marion Cotillard says “That Paris exists and anyone could choose to live anywhere else in the world will always be a mystery to me.”

Paris may not be all love, lights, art, and music as it is so often glamorized, but every now and then it is so romantic to imagine how being in that city can inspire someone creatively.

I leave you with one of my favorite scenes between Gil and Ernest Hemmingway as Hemmingway describes the root to conquering fear and death:

“All men fear death. It’s a natural fear that consumes us all. We fear death because we feel that we haven’t loved well enough or loved at all, which ultimately are one and the same. However, when you make love with a truly great woman, one that deserves the utmost respect in this world and one that makes you feel truly powerful, that fear of death completely disappears. Because when you are sharing your body and heart with a great woman the world fades away. You two are the only ones in the entire universe. You conquer what most lesser men have never conquered before, you have conquered a great woman’s heart, the most vulnerable thing she can offer to another. Death no longer lingers in the mind. Fear no longer clouds your heart. Only passion for living, and for loving, become your sole reality. This is no easy task for it takes insurmountable courage. But remember this, for that moment when you are making love with a woman of true greatness, you will feel immortal.

Day 1 – Amber Attempts Art

A few years ago, one of my dearest and bestest friends, Amber (who I commonly refer to as Nakers), packed a bag and left Southern California for Phoenix for a much needed life change.  This move left me deeply saddened as our occasional get-togethers and frequent phone calls swapping stories about men, stupid people, life, and frustrations in fitting into designer jeans scaled to a minimum.

So… in an attempt to maintain a semblance of communication, I came up with a brilliant idea the other day while we chatted.  Daily phone calls were unnecessary and with my newly found commitment to blogging I thought of a way that we could interact on a semi-consistent basis without being overwhelmed.

We brainstormed a bit to come up with a project that would be suitable to blog.  Many ideas came up (some that I may even try out myself), but one just fit perfectly.  Amber would do a 30 day drawing challenge!

Here’s a little background as to why this is perfect for her.  Amber is one of the smartest women I know.  Seriously, she qualifies for Mensa.  She’s ridiculously intelligent, witty, carries a wealth of trivial knowledge and was physically blessed with a bod that women around the world pay thousands of dollars for.  She’s confident and adventurous, but she fears only 1 thing: having to perform artistically in the form of any visual (drawing, painting, etc) and performance (dance, specifically) art.

Conquer your fear AND entertain me is essentially what I told her.  We found a 30 day drawing challenge (yes, the one that’s circling around Facebook) and I somehow coerced her into commitment. We both decided that she doesn’t have to do one each day, but at least draw something once a week and send it to me.  I’ve told her that I will reciprocate her diligence with a comparable challenge of her choosing, should she find it necessary to compensate her for her artistic anxiety.

At last, I am proud to unveil DAY 1 or (Drawing #1) of a new series that will be featured on ROSB…

Challenge: Day 1 – Draw Yourself
If you know Amber… this is totally spot on.  Except usually she’s clothed and wearing a Dodgers shirt.

I can’t wait to see this challenge unfold!

Harry Potter – The War

I was very late to jump onto the Harry Potter bandwagon, but when I bought my first ticket, I never got off the Hogwarts Express. 4 years later, I’m a full-fledged Gryffindor-wannabe and undoubtedly disappointing my devout Christian mother with my Harry Potter fanaticism.

Thanks to my favorite Nakers, I am reliving the victorious and somewhat bittersweet emotions I felt after closing out the series in the theater with 7.2.

Take one of my favorite series of all time and pair it with a band that has developed some of the most victorious/inspiring rock-ballads in the last few years and you get this video.  30 Seconds to Mars meets Harry Potter.

Only one can live…  ah…freaking…mazing!