Thursday, October 25, 2012

My blog has moved!!!
I have a new business, a new site, a new passion for life and I'd love to see you there.
Please stop by and leave a comment:

Much love,

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Sister Won A Clio!

That's right. My sister Aileen is a Creative Director at Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners in NYC. She and her partner wrote the ad above. It was just awarded Bronze at the Clio awards. That's the Oscars of advertising. She got to hang with Joan Rivers and everything. It's a brilliant ad, check it out.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Heart Blown Open

A Heart Blown Open
The Life and Practice of Zen Master Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi
by Keith Martin-Smith

Anytime I can open a book and the first two words I see are Zen and LSD I am intrigued. When said book happens to be about a Zen master hedonist with an incredibly checkered past who was has spent time in prison, modeling on a runway, made millions manufacturing LSD for people such as the Grateful Dead, is deeply versed in integral theory, friends with Ken Wilber, an abuse survivor, yogi, true iconoclast and by all accounts a fearless seeker who consistently refused to accept setbacks as a limiting factor along his journey; I'm enthralled. This is the true life story of one Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi recently wrestled into book form by Keith Martin-Smith.

I have known about Jun Po (I'll pick that section of his name for the post) for years via the world of Integral. He is a Zen master in the Rinzai tradition who has developed his own accelerated version of Rinzai which he calls Mondo Zen. If we go with the notion that a dedicated student on the Rinzai path often takes 20-30 years to be recognized as an adept or enlightened master, it is speculated that Mondo Zen may be able to cut that by 5 years. Neat, and a wonderfully exciting idea. More importantly Mondo efforts to integrate aspects of shadow work that traditional Zen dangerously overlooks. We all know the stories of the spiritual leader who got into trouble sleeping with a student. Jun Po is one of them. He speaks of it candidly so that we may all benefit from it. Speaking from the heart with the type of audacity that doesn't flinch at the idea of updating 12th centurey Japanese tradition is exactly the kind of iconoclastic attitude that Jun Po brought to most every aspect of his life.

Raised and abused by a misguided alcoholic father. A high school drop out. A heavy drug user and the creator of multiple failed marriages Jun Po also consistently displayed a fierce work ethic and unwavering determination to step outside of the limitations that life seemed to be handing him. It would be hard to call his life charmed. It would be much harder to call it dull or lifeless. He succeeds only through dragging himself through adventures that would send most people back home to the familiarity and security of a more rote life.

This is why this book is an inspiration to me. Jun Po's life is the classic american story with a spiritual finale. Yes, he went from rags to riches, but that's the beginning of the tail. After that is where things really begin to get interesting. While his is perhaps not the kind of life we might seek for ourselves or hope for our children, tucked directly inside each of the fumbles and hurdles that he moves through is a sense of possibility, wonder and openness to exploration that I think we could all learn quite a bit from.

I also really respect the openness with which someone such as Jun Po talks about his drug use and how it led him to find more stable ways of accessing the peak experiences that he glimpsed through altered states. It seems to be a little discussed truth that a very large percentage of the westerners who spend significant amounts of time on a meditation cushion owe a not so small part of their inspiration and insight into what a human being is capable of to psychedelics. I am one of those people. Any wise being recognizes quite quickly that substances alone are a paltry excuse for growth and transformation. But, as Aldous Huxley proclaimed quite loudly, the doors of perception can be cracked open amazingly quickly with a little chemical assist. From there we can spend decades learning to replicate and surpass the initial glimpse that psychedelics offer. Like everything else in his life, Jun Po jumped into the world of altered states head first, smacked his head on the bottom, did a bit of damage, but then managed learning both how to swim and how to teach others. It is this unflagging determination to self correct that I think we can benefit from emulating.

Laughing out loud, check. A gasp of breath, check. Tears streaming down my cheeks, check. A sly knowing smirk and a giggle of recognition, check². Crazy tales of supernormal powers, check. My full heartfelt recommendation, duh.

Oh, and enlightenment, this is a story of enlightenment. A fierce and unrelenting chase, many dark alleyways, many brightly lit fields and more than a few gloriously unexpected exaltations.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Nutritional Science Sucks

(What follows is offered to lay some groundwork for an Integral Salon discussion that I will be leading in Asheville, NC on the topic of Eating Animals; specifically the question below)

As an 'integralist' do you feel the need to limit your consumption of animal products?

One of the decisions that we all make many times a day is whether or not to eat animal products. Clearly an integral approach to this topic becomes very complicated very quickly. For each of us this means considering everything from personal well being to tribal connectivity to the planetary ecology to economic feasibility. I am truly interested in hearing a myriad of perspectives on this topic. The many ways that others choose to answer this question is something that I want to learn from and allow to inform my own ongoing decisions regarding what I am and am not going to choose to foster in myself and the world with my food choices.

One perspective from which to view this decision which I have invested a lot of my own time and energy into understanding is personal health. I am a certified holistic health counselor, an integral life practice coach and a self proclaimed growth and transformation enthusiast. Because of this I am at a point where the scientific arguments for why vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous diets are more or less healthy are no longer compelling to me. To be honest, for me, these are some of the least interesting lines of reasoning I think we could discuss. Let me explain why.

In my view, there may be no worse science than nutritional science. If we define science as 'a systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular subject' then it becomes readily apparent to me that, when it comes to nutrition, we are perhaps as far from a consensual scientific understanding of what to eat and why as we have ever been in history. I could get into disasters such as the USDA food pyramid, fad diets or any other numbers of food trends. I won't. What I want to illuminate is the underlying flaw in any and all attempts to create a prescriptive dietary system divorced from ones subjective experience of food.

When attempting to make definitive statements about what should or should not be part of a human beings healthy diet there are not very many things that can be said with any real authority. For nearly every piece of 'science' that is published there seems to exist a clearly contradictory argument of equal scientific rigor. A vegan diet prevents disease. An animal based diet prevents disease. A raw diet cures diabetes. I have heard world renowned experts speak on all three of these views with reams of objective evidence to back their claims.

Depending on the day of the week, the trend at the moment and the scientific studies that are currently getting funded we have gone from knowing that butter is a staple food, to demonizing it, to being split on it's place in a 'good' diet. Margarine anyone? Corn-fed vs. pasture raised cow butter? We have gone from loving fat, to demonizing all fat, to demonizing saturated fat, to now focusing on trans-fat. We have been told that dietary calcium can help prevent osteoporosis, arthritis and hip fractures to evidence that it is a leading cause of all of these things. Cane sugar has gone from being good to evil and back a number of times while artificial sugar substitutes have gone from being neutral on the glycemic index to being equal to the sugar they replace. We have been told that whole foods supply all that we need to being told that supplemental vitamins are part of a healthy diet to being told that vitamins make my pee worth more than fine wine to being told that it depends on hundreds of factors about the vitamin, when you take it, what you have eaten, whether or not you chew before you swallow it to what your blood levels were at the time you took it. Fat free on a label is a good or bad thing? How about sugar-free? These are shifting tides in the popular debate, but the clinical research being done is no less contradictory. Look up the evils and glories of fiber. You can do the same for whole grains, milk, cooked food and yes, animal protein. While I do believe that from a broad enough perspective we are inching ever closer to a science of food, following the leading edge is clearly no way to make decisions.

It is incredibly hard to find a scientific study for which a contradictory study has not been published. If you think you just read one, wait 10 minutes and check again. Why is this?

The bulk of nutritional science, like most western medical science, is based on the assumption that there is something static that exists which can reasonably and functionally be called a human being. As far as relative classifications go this term has all kinds of day to day use in both theoretical and intellectual debate. When it comes to our attempts thus far to create a conclusive body of information that can inform individual dietary decisions we are in a quagmire. While the term 'human being' has a degree of relative truth and therefore function no one thing called a 'human being' exists. Never has. Not only are we all different, we all change constantly. Yes we know that Vitamin C is connected to scurvy and a number of other basic dietary principles. Beyond these little is conclusive, certainly not enough to inform my moment to moment food choices. Mostly a concept such as this simply helps me to understand why, in a world of abundance, sometimes I crave citrus.

Here's a quick list of things often taken into account when giving an individual dietary advice:

Genetic makeup
Weight (current and desired)
Sensitivities (gluten tolerance, lactose tolerance etc.)
Geographic location (tropics? Arctic?)
Time of year (seasonal food needs)
Time of day
Blood type
Activities (at a desk all day or rock climbing)
Previous meals (today, yesterday ad infinitum)
Bacterial levels (good and bad)
Enzymatic presence
Ayurvedic type
Current mood (desired mood?)
Emotional connection to food you are about to eat
PH levels (tendency towards an acid system?)
Sun exposure
Insulin resistance
What those near you are currently eating (surprisingly important)

--The list could go on. The point is that ALL current scientific studies ignore most or all of these. They assume they are simply studying 'human beings'.

The simple truth is that there are just far too many factors that science can not possibly take into account for me to take seriously any of the current attempts at being scientific about food choices. Everything from who you are to where you are to what you are trying to cultivate must be included. Our scientific approaches at this point are just too simplistic to be of very much use. They inform my decisions, but they still leave a lot on the table so to speak. So, have I just dragged you into a crippling deconstruction of terms and practices that leaves you mired in fear, confusion and doubt? Not at all. There is actually a very simple solution.

More than doctors, scientists, nutritionists, health counselors, gurus, your mother and certainly me, there is one person on this planet who knows exactly what you should eat. You. You are the only one, whether you currently trust it or not. You always have been and, for the foreseeable future, always will be. The body knows. This is what animals seems to grok. This is what I teach my clients. This is what we can all learn to recapture over time. This is why I want to talk to you about eating animals. There is no greater authority on your dietary needs than you. So I am intensely curious how you go about making this decision.

Yes, I have studied over 100 dietary theories. Yes I continue to read about studies on food 'science'. Yes there are experts and approaches that seem to contain more truth than others. Yes at times I play with diets. But above all else I experiment on my self every single day with every single meal and whether you are conscious of it or not so do you. What worked for me when I was twelve may not work for me today. What I needed this morning I likely don't need this afternoon. Tomorrow is an unknown. My digestive system is in constant flux. My mind, my body, my emotions, my subtle energy systems, no matter what I conceptualize, the only constant is change. Sometimes I want to cultivate 6th chakra insights. Sometimes I want to stoke my 3rd chakras digestive fire. Sometimes I want to ramp up my 2nd chakra and have raw animal sex. Sometimes I want to feel grounded in my 1st chakra. Sometimes I want to open my 4th chakra and feel connected to those around me. Sometimes it is a 7th chakra transpersonal awareness I want to cultivate. Sometimes I want my 5th chakra to open up so I can better express my voice. Sometimes I am sick and need to cleanse. Sometimes I am in a tropical climate and need to cool off. I can have an impact on any one or an infinite combination of these factors with my food choices. Can you tell me which diet I should choose to be healthy? I can. The fun part is that our awareness of how food affects us grows ever subtler by the moment when we place our consciousness there. But first we must stop assuming that someone else is going to figure it out for us. As long as we are paying attention we are learning. What may seem scary at first becomes truly joyous with time.

So, where did all this start? Eating animals. Eating animals of certain qualities and quantities at certain times can make me feel strong, grounded, connected to the earth, in tune with my family, inline with my cultural heritage, in touch with the cycle of life and death, masculine, sated, grateful, engaged, alive as well as tired, destructive, angry, confused, greedy, selfish, wasteful, disconnected from the cycle of life and death and just plain sad.

Whether or not I eat animal flesh is a decision I will be faced with in every meal I eat going forward. While all of the complexity above is part of my rational understanding of what to eat, the truth is that my dietary decisions are generally much more instinctive and intuitive than anything else. I trust my body. It knows what I need. But I also trust my friends. How do you make these decisions?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Namibia Day 6

Namibia Day 6 – Etosha Continues to Amaze

More on my adventures with The Hostel Life

Yesterday we got face to face with a pride of lions

Today we had to get up extra early to meet with a guide who was going to take us out in his open air truck to look for more game. Long before sunrise or breakfast we climbed out of our tents and quietly made our way out into the park.

Having gotten so lucky the day before and seeing a pride of lions we were all half thinking that we were already as lucky as we could get. Arrogantly, the other half of each of us was eager to see much more. Elephants and a leopard were on top of our wish-list today. Elephants we expected to see sooner or later. Leopards on the other hand are much more rare, camouflaged and shy. Most everyone we spoke with said that we should not expect to see one on our trip. Demanding the extraordinary while in this remarkable country we set out amongst the giraffe waiting for the sun to come up.

We then spent the next few hours driving around underwhelmed. Don't get me wrong, the park is amazing and we saw many animals, from hyaena to blue wildebeast to snakes to giraffes and zebras. Oh how quickly the conditioned mind gets jaded. Then, suddenly, our guide stopped the truck and pointed into the brush along the side of the road. At first I saw nothing and wondered what type of pigeon he might have spotted. How wrong I was! Right there, sitting under the cover of a few branches, right on on the road, was a leopard!

We inched the truck forward ever closer until we were within feet of this massively powerful and jaw droppingly beautiful creature. He/she seemed somewhat indifferent to our presence until we tried to get within 10 or so yards. At this point the big cat got up and walked a short ways into the brush. We followed along for some time hoping to see the leopard walk out into open and cross the road. A couple of times she came close, but then turned back into the woods. In all we probably had 10-15 minutes with this magnificent creature.

After that we called it a day and headed back to the camp. Along the way we saw an adorable group of mongoose hanging out around a sign. It's hard to believe that these cute little ferret like animals are some of the best snake hunters in the world. We were just minutes away from our camp when suddenly our truck changed directions. Our guide had spotted something he couldn't let us miss. The Black Rhinoceros is currently classified as critically endagered. Their existence here on earth is in jeopardy. Most will never see one, and our children may not even have the chance should we let them go extinct. None the less, here one was, chomping away on some plants right in front of us.

These animals are huge. With their massive bodies and that huge horn protruding out from its head I really felt like I was looking at a dinosaur. Although completely vegatarian this beast can easily weigh over a ton and is know to be rather aggressive. The thought of all that weight charging horns first is enough to give anyone pause. We kept a safe enough distance, but got plenty close to get a sense of just how enormous this grey, mud covered creature really is. Yet another rare opportunity offered to us here at Etosha National Park.

After that we headed to breakfast letting everyone we saw know just how lucky we had been. That left one burning desire in the group. We wanted to see elephants. We talked to a number of people on the staff of the park and figured out that our best bet was not to look along the southern road that heads straight west through the park below the main lake, but to drive north up another road. We got the name of a promising watering hole and headed out in that direction.

Wouldn't you know it, luck shined upon us once again. Immediately upon our arrival at the watering hole we spotted a large group of elephants hanging out, drinking water, covering themselves with dirt and having a grand old time. There were young children alongside adults all enjoying the fresh water on this warm summer day.

We spent the rest of the day driving around the park marveling at the vast open spaces teaming with life large and small. Here we were having yet another storybook day in Namibia.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Namibia Day 5

Namibia Day 5 - Nature Continues to Amaze

More on my adventures with The Hostel Life

Yesterday we nearly got run over by Cheetahs!!!!!!!

Today we woke up early at the Treesleeper camp, ate breakfast, said goodbye to our new friend Moses and got on the road to head NorthWest to Etosha National Park. We were told that the opportunities to see game in their natural surroundings were many at Etosha, but no one could have prepared us for just how many different animals we would see in such a short time. After roughly an hour and fifteen minutes on mostly dirt roads we pulled up to the gate and headed into the park. Less than two minutes later, just driving up the driveway to Namutoni camp we saw a group of zebras crossing the road and then minutes later our first of many giraffe sightings. Seeing this massive animals cross right in front of our truck stopped us dead in our tracks with smiles on everyones face. After that we pulled into Namutoni to do a little shopping at the gift store, find our campsite and pitch our tents

Once we were all set up at the campground we got back in the truck and headed out to find some watering holes and see what animals were out. Watering holes are where all of the animals must go eventually to get a drink and cool off in the hot Namibian sunshine. Before we even got to the first one we came across a large group of zebras. Adults and children walked around on both sides of the road eating, playing and even getting into the occasional playful tussle.

After that we saw springbok, buffalo, red hartebeest, african storks, mongoose and a large group of giraffe hanging out drinking around the watering hole. It seemed like we couldn't drive more than a few feet without running into some new animal that none of us had ever seen before in our life. The opportunity to see wildlife at Etosha is far beyond my wildest expectations.

After spending an hour or so shooting video and stills and just marveling mouths agape at the many animals we decided that it was time to get back to our camps. The footage that we are getting here is gorgeous. I can't wait for everyone to see it. We could shoot all day and into the night, but the weather was starting to worry us. The sky in Namibia is massive. In Windhoek we were at 1660M (5440 feet) altitude so the clouds seemed very close directly above, but due to the flat landscape we could also see for many miles in every direction. Here at Etosha it was very hot and sunny directly above us, but there were storms brewing off in the distance and they seemed to be moving in our direction. Seeing all of the lightning and distant rain we thought about our tents with the windows open and decided to call it a day hoping that tomorrow we would see some of the big cats or any of the other 'big five'. The big five in Africa refers to the five most dangerous animals, but also the five that most who come hope to get a glimpse of. They are lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceros and buffalo. We got a distant look at a buffalo, but were yet to see any of the others. The leopard is an elusive animal with great camouflage and a reluctance to be near humans. The rest seemed possible to spot, but seeing a lion would be a real treat for me.

We headed back along the dirt roads in our 4x4 pickup truck when we noticed a couple of other vehicles pulled over to the side of the road as if they were looking at something. We pulled alongside and asked a safari guide what they were looking at. He said that there was a lion in the bush. We looked for a few minutes, saw nothing and then headed on down the road. Evan, our Director of Photography, then said that he just barely saw a lion really far back under a tree behind us. We drove for another half a minute contemplating getting stuck in a massive thunder storm and coming home to wet sleeping bags before deciding that we had to turn around and press out luck. I couldn't be happier that we did.

It took a while, but eventually we too spotted a lion off in the trees. At first I shot a picture of her ears and then two eyes came into view. This was it, an actual wild lion less than 50 feet from our truck. I was firing off photos thrilled to get the smallest bit of fur on film. What happened next I never would have imagined possible. First one lion came forward out of the trees walking right towards our vehicle. 'Was this safe?' I wondered as I hung out the window to get a clear shot? Next thing I know I see a little cub, then another, then another. They were bouncing around playfully tackling one another moving closer and closer to our vehicle. It wasn't long before they were out in the street right right in front of us Mom and Dad keeping a watchful eye on both them and us all the while.

We must have hung out with the lion pride of an hour inching along the road following them back towards the watering hole in awe of just how beautiful and peaceful this family seemed. At times it really seemed as if mom and dad were showing off their family for us. They certainly didn't see us as a threat or show any desire to be anything other than friendly towards us. It wasn't until the very last minute before we knew the park was to close that we decided to leave the lions to their wild Namibian home.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Sex, God, Rock 'n Roll

I recently became an Executive Producer. Stuart Davis reached out looking for some help with season two of his show Sex, God, Rock 'n Roll and I jumped at the opportunity to get involved.

He's a freak of the highest caliber. I first heard about Stuarts music through Integral Naked, now Integral Life. He's a long time friend of Ken Wilber and a 'twisted mystic poet' who writes, paints, sings and eventually started making his own TV show. An earlier version starred three versions of Stu bickering with one another. The newest iteration has him co-hosting with the gorgeous Kandyse McClure who all Battlestar Gallactica fans will certainly recognize. Check it out now on HDNet.

Every episode talks about guess what? Sex. God. Rock n Roll. It's ridiculous, irreverent and brilliant. I'm proud to have played my little part in bringing it to the world. Above Stuart discusses Bayou Nature Mysticism with Kermit the Frog and below he and Kandyse

Monday, January 30, 2012

Namibia Day 3 - Run, Cheetah, Run

- Further adventures with -

Yesterday we arrived at the Cheetah Conservation Fund

Today we woke up early at the Cheetah Conservation Fund to get breakfast before heading to the 'Cheetah Run'. We weren't really sure what that term meant, but all of the staff at the CCF had a certain glimmer in their eye when they mentioned it to us. It turns out that this was to be one of those amazing, once in a lifetime experiences that really could not happen anywhere else in the world. Thank you Namibia.

The people at the CCF are world leading experts when it comes to cheetahs. They are quite often developing the standards of practice that those working with cheetahs internationally will reference and/or adopt. When it comes to the small percentage of cheetahs that the CCF houses in captivity it became quickly apparent to the staff that without exercise the cheetah's health would decline. Sound familiar? Seeing as no one has invented a cheetah treadmill or opened up Gold's Gym for cats it fell to them to create a stimulus that would arouse a cheetahs hunting instinct and get them running in a somewhat controlled manner. Considering that cheetahs run faster than any other animal with a top speed of over 70 miles/hr (110 km/hr) this wasn't quite as simple as throwing a tennis ball and asking them to fetch.

If you've ever seen dogs running at the track you might have noticed that there is a little mechanical bunny that races around the track ahead of them. The people at CCF developed a cable system that has a motor in the center. There is a series of pulleys which the cable runs around as it weaves its way throughout a field creating a 300 meter (1,000ft) course for them to run. They then attached a rag to the cable. Since cheetahs are natural born hunters the movement of the rag is enough to trigger their hunting instincts. The cheetahs see this rag and take off full sprint after it.

We were set up mere feet away from the cable waiting for these high speed balls of claw and fur to come racing towards us. At times we stood just past a pulley so that the cheetahs would come racing directly towards us turning after the rag in a cloud of dirt narrowly missing us as we stood still and trusting knowing full well that should their attention turn from the rag to our shirt the mood of the day would change rather quickly. Clearly we stayed as still as we could.

I got some of the most amazing photos I have ever taken. There is nothing quite like a cheetah being right in front of your face running at full speed. I don't think many get so close and walk around grinning the way we all were afterwards. Luckily these particular cheetahs are the most tame ones at CCF. After they were all tired out from running faster than most non-highway drivers they were tired, well fed and content to be approached. We got to pet the cheetahs and take a few pictures with them. A big thanks to the entire staff at the Cheetah Conservation Fund for their amazing hospitality. Dr. Laurie Marker's love for and vast knowledge of this amazing animal came through in every moment. We are truly blessed to have been able to spend this time with her and these animals.

After a very full morning we got back into our rental and on the road heading to TreeSleeper Camp in Tsintsabis roughly 162 miles (260 km) from the CCF. After letting me get my rally on speeding down the dirt road sliding through mud puddles Evan took back over driving on the left hand side of the road. 3.5 hours later we pulled up to the camp. We were greeted by Moses and shown to our campsite where we were to pitch tents that they provided and sleep up in a platform in the trees. The San are the local bush people in the region. Throughout the years they became experts at sleeping in trees in order to stay safe from lions, cheetahs and other predators. We get to experience this way of life first hand. Luckily these more modern campgrounds have electricity and hot water provided by solar power.

After we got our tents setup it was off to the communal fire pit to see some traditional San shamanic dance cermonies. Mehdy even got to dance with the men for one song dancing in a circle around the campfire till sweat dripped from his face. He just couldn't keep up with the San people who often dance late into the night celebrating an event in someones life.

After the dancing it was back to our tents and quickly to sleep. Another amazing day in this spectacular southern African country. I can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Namibia Day 2 - Cheetah Meet and Greet

Mehdy reached out recently. Since I am taking a 1 year sabbatical and can once again travel he invited me to come shoot another show with The Hostel Life. This time we went to Namibia. I arrived in NYC today to spend some time with my love before heading back to the mountain in North Carolina. My responsibilities on the show are photography and sound, but I also wrote a few blogs detailing what happened a few days. Here's my blog on Day2. You can read the original on The Hostel Life's official site:

By Devin Martin - Photography and Sound

Today we left the Cardboard Box Hostel in Windhoek in our rental truck and headed North towards The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) outside Otjiwarango. It was about 163 miles (262km) door to door. The last 29 miles (47km) are a dirt road that ends right at the CCF's gate. We were heading to the CCF to meet up with Dr. Laurie Marker, arguably the world's leading expert on Cheetahs. There are roughly 10-12 thousand cheetahs left in the entire world. Namibia has 3-4,000, or one third, of the world's population. Dr. Marker, originally from the United States, moved to Namibia to study the cheetah. She is co-founder and director of the CCF. The Conservation Fund is mecca for studying cheetah behavior and helping modern people to live in peace with these amazing animals. The CCF is open to the public and also houses a number of interns and volunteers doing research.
Immediately upon our arrival we were rushed into the facility for feeding time. A few of the younger, rescued cheetahs that are not able to roam wild are fed meat in a bowl. Our first glimpse of these rather large cats was teeth out chomping on big hunks of meat. Their beauty and their power were immediately apparent. I couldn't wait to see them up close and without a fence between us. Luckily we wouldn't have to wait too long.

Dr. Marker greeted us at the feeding and gave us a quick tour of the facility. We got to see the veterinary clinic while surgery was being performed on a dog that got in the way of a warthog's tusk. The injury was worse than originally expected and they had to stay with the pup throughout the night, but she was doing much better come morning. We saw goats being milked (they make their own goat cheese on site), fed baby goats from a bottle, fed their little puppies bowls of puppy chow and marveled at the wild warthogs and other animals running around the property. If we had any doubts that yes, we are in Africa, they were dashed at the CCF.

After seeing the rest of the animals it was time to get in an open-air truck with our guide, Charles, and go visit the cheetahs out in the bush. We managed to track down five cheetahs. Our guide had a bag of meat that he uses to lure them closer to the truck and we got amazingly close. Some of the photos I got one would assume required a really long lens as the cheetahs face fills the entire frame. I was mostly using a 50mm lens (comparable to the human eye), they were just that close. These animals are considered 'retired'. They have spent a lot of time with people, but don't let that fool you, they are all wild animals. I can't keep track of the number of times my little house cat, Agape, has gotten feisty and drawn blood. Without the proper respect these animals could certainly do a lot of damage. Luckily they all seemed to be well fed and happy.

As late afternoon came we went on a game drive with Dr. Marker, Dr. Bruce Brewer and a few of the interns working at the facility. We drove out into the 20,000 acre bush looking for wild game. We saw Kudu, Warthogs, Springbok, Red HarteBeest, a number of birds and a very unexpected Aardwolf that the whole staff of CCF was excited to get a glimpse of. We were hoping for a leopard but haven't gotten lucky there yet. Hopefully when we head north to Etosha National Park we will see lions, leopards, and elephants. Personally, I can't wait to see another baboon. We saw one perched on a post along the road outside of the airport and haven't seen one since.
Tomorrow we start the day with a cheetah run. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds like they will be exercising the cheetahs by prodding their hunting instincts and we will get to stand a few feet away as they come running by at full speed. Considering that they are the fastest animal on land this should be amazing to witness.

Saturday, August 6, 2011



Meu amor essa é a última oração
Pra salvar seu coração
Coração não é tão simples quanto pensa
Nele cabe o que não cabe na dispensa

Cabe o meu amor!
Cabe em três vidas inteiras
Cabe em uma penteadeira
Cabe nós dois

Cabe até o meu amor
Essa é a última oração pra salvar seu coração
Coração não é tão simples quanto pensa
Nele cabe o que não cabe na dispensa

Cabe o meu amor!
Cabe em três vidas inteiras
Cabe em uma penteadeira
Cabe essa oração


My love, this is the last prayer
To save your heart
The heart is not as simple as you think
It holds what what does not fit in the cupboard

It holds my love
It holds three life times
It holds a dresser
It holds both of us

It even holds my love
This is the last prayer to save your heart
The heart is not as simple as you think
It holds what does not fit in the cupboard

It holds my love
It holds three life times
It holds a dresser
It holds this prayer

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Disclaimer: I have known Josie for most of my life. She is a phenomenal human being in many ways. So I may be biased here. None the less, when any friend hands you something they have created, there is always excitement mixed with the fear that you will hate it. More often than not I am underwhelmed by my friends attempts at greatness. Aren't we all? This is not the case with Starcrossed. I fucking loved it!

Starcrossed is exceptional. Recently published by Harper Teen it is the first book in a trilogy. It takes the Illiad, the epic Greek poem with Helen of Troy, the Trojan War, gods, demigods, love and destruction, and places it in a high school in modern day Nantucket. Josie described it to me as Romeo and Juliet meets the Iliad. There might be a touch of Twilight and Harry Potter in there as well.

It is an epic love story and a battle for the fate of humankind with the gods. It has super powers, timeless beauty; there is mystery and deceit both hidden and revealed around every corner. I started it on a flight and finished it the following day at 1:30am. I was totally hooked. My sister Aileen is mentioned (as a dead character). And I think one of the actual living characters takes a few notes from Aileen's chutzpah.

The story of how the book got written is equally amazing. Check out this video piece that tells the tale. Basically, her amazing husband Leon demanded that Josie stop working for a year and finally write a book. Over the course of that year they went into credit card debt, but stayed true to the goal of Josie finishing her book. With the book complete they were now staring at real financial uncertainty. But! Within weeks of Josie finishing the book and getting it to an agent she had a seven figure publishing deal! Everyone who read Starcrossed loved it. It is already published and becoming a best seller in multiple countries.

Check out this video that tells the story:

I loved reading it. I can't wait for part two of the trilogy to come out. And when do they start making the movies?!

Go buy a copy today.

Lil Buck and Yo-Yo Ma