London, UK–I was never big on protesting; even in college when we had a sit-down over some issue that I don’t recall any longer, I was hesitant to join in. My feeling was, the pen was mightier than the sword–or at least the placard. But on Sunday, I decided to join the Tibet rally in central London, organized by several groups including Free Tibet and the Tibet Society. The reason they were holding the protest walk –from Downing Street up to the Chinese Embassy near Regent’s Park–was because this week marks the 54th year of the failed uprising by Tibetans against Chinese rule. Being the lazy protestor (and because it was seriously cold), I decided I would meet the protestors in front of the Chinese Embassy. Read more


CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (APRIL, 2009)***–It all starts with a ball. Tossed onto a pitch—newly demarcated with white lines made of sand—black and white boys scramble to get the plastic and rope construction that is doubling for a soccer ball. It’s blazingly hot on this bit of scorched earth in the Retreat neighbourhood of Cape Town—thirty-four degrees in the shade –but the 15 and 16 year-old boys don’t seem to notice. They cheer and scream while scrambling for the ball—the rain-parched earth and white sand are kicked up, a dusty haze settling on the scene. One of the buildings has a spray painted mural of animals—“Come and Play” it reads—but juxtaposed underneath is a festering junkyard of broken glass beer bottles, wayward plastic bags and rusting corrugated roofing. But kids are kids—any space to play with a ball is good enough for a game of pick-up football or soccer as it is called here—and so loose directions are hollered in English and Afrikaans. Other children and parents watch from the sidelines, enthralled in this “pick up” game between two communities that under normal conditions would never meet together—let along play sport—due to social, economic and geographical realities in modern day South Africa. But they are all here—all concentrated between white lines focused on this make-shift ball. Sure it’s contrived and idealized, a literal example of what International Inspiration hopes to be all about— getting kids, whether in the midst of the pitch or shouting orders from the sidelines, enthused about sport. The parents are intrigued, the coaches are helping out and communities are coming together. Taking dead space and transforming it into a safe, fun place. Read more


I admit I have not been to the Cherry Bowl in years. In fact, I think the last time I was there was in college–sadly about 18 years at this point. But I like the concept of the Cherry Bowl (one of the last drive-in cinemas in Michigan and the only one in the northern part of the state) being there in case I want to sit in a car and watch a movie under the Michigan evening summer sky. I love going to the movies when I am vacation in northern Michigan–it feels indulgent because not only am I on vacation but I can sit back, chomp on popcorn and watch a film with nothing nagging in the back of my mind, save for what time I am going to get up the next day and go for a run. A few years back our beloved Garden Theater in Frankfort looked like it was going to close. The cinema, with both a fantastic Art Deco interior and exterior, had seen better days and it was for sale. The seats were wobbly, the floor sticky and the bathrooms pretty much condemned. But luckily a group of local and summer residents decided to invest in the theater; as a way to raise money for the refurbishment people could buy seats and have their names put on the back with a plaque. It was too good of an offer and so I contributed money, thinking I will now always have a seat in the cinema. Things like this give the Garden a personal touch–not like the huge, impersonal multiplexes that are dotted all across the US that charge exorbitant amounts not only for tickets but for concession as well. The Garden in fact was featured in the backdrop of the film “Youth in Revolt”, a film starring Michael Cera. I have not seen it yet but its the top of my movie rentals this summer when I am on vacation in Frankfort. Read more


Went with a friend from work for a Whisky Master Class last night at London’s Whisky Exchange and while I do not love whisky it was interesting to learn all about how casks played an integral role to the overall flavor of a wee dram. The Hazelburn–eight years old–that is distilled in the southeastern Scottish coastal locale of Campbelltown has a strong peaty smell and a slighty salty nose because of the salt air that wafts into the distillery. The Clyneslish, 14 years old and distilled in the Scottish Highlands, also has a salty hint of its coastal home but the flavour is a completely different with strong earthy taste. Duncan, the whisky anourak who was running the class, told us that adding water to single malt Scotch is often times acceptable (though it did water down the delicate Balvinie Signature so much that it lost its flavour) but that ice is “controversial.” Read more


It looked like some sort of choreographed scrum coming down the red carpet; with camera flashes popping, bobbies bobbing and fans screeching and beseeching Prince William worked his way through the crowd at the BAFTAs on Sunday evening at London’s Royal Opera House (RHO). Even for seasoned journos like myself, there was a bit of cooing going on in the press pen as the Prince, who became the president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, mugged faces with fans and seemed to control the vast array of photographers and security guards who surrounded him as he headed towards the doors. Though the BAFTAs this year lacked the A-listers from previous years–the biggest names were Dustin Hoffman who presented best film, Kate Winslet and Mickey Rourke–its still always a treat to be behind the scenes seeing how some actors blow off the print press (Kristin Scott Thomas huffed her way past us) while others like Quentin Tarantino kindly tried to understand a question, most assuredly lost in translation, from a Venezuelan journalist. (“Do I like blood? Sorry can you repeat the question?” he asked her, perplexed as to what she was implying.) Read more