Archive for the places Category

The Bigger Macque

Posted in places, things you should know on November 23, 2009 by wfon

I learned long ago to not question when the Plant-Based Dietitian makes a suggestion. So, last night after another taxing day in the trenches of Going Veg, Julieanna said we were going to dinner at her favorite place, Madeline Bistro. Conveniently, this cozy little spot is about a mile from me, on Ventura Blvd, just west of Reseda, in Tarzana –  a mere block from the soon-to-be-overly-frequented new Whole Foods (what part of ‘build faster’ are they not getting?). I’ve been around enough vegan food recently to know I can find a thing or two to nosh on even if I still can’t stand tofu – CAN’T STAND IT! So, off we went.

Walking in, Julieanna said we had to have the Bigger Macque. I replied “sure, why not” having no idea what she was talking about. Turns out, Madeline Bistro have invented a veggie burger complete with special sauce, ‘cheese’, lettuce, pickles and two non-beef patties. And yes, it tastes just like a Big Mac down the street at MacDonald’s, without the greasy compliment. I’m not kidding when I tell you, I could head over there right now and get another.

Along with the Bigger Macque, we had a Maki roll (avocado and asparagus in a sushi roll), asparagus risotto, butternut squash soup and mixed veggies. Even some sort of organic English lager. Are you hungry yet?

I’ve keeping telling Julieanna that, when it comes to this project, we have to avoid certain obstacles (i.e. general opinion of vegan culture) and instead introduce people to the healthier alternative that eating Plant-Based provides. A lot less of the ‘doom and gloom, you’re killing yourself with your food’ rhetoric that comes from certain militant vegan cliques and a lot more positive re-inforcement. She’s on the same page and visiting a place like Madeline Bistro (which I think we will be shooting at some point) only helps our cause. This is a great place, with good food, ’nuff said. The closest comparison I can draw to my adventure in the Plant-Based world so far, is when you introduce someone to sushi, someone who’s got it in their head that eating raw fish is gross, bad, etc. Come to think of it, Julie introduced me to sushi – fourteen years ago! I’d dabbled on a trip to Japan but she set me up with a taste for it. Years later, I’ve introduced a lot of people to sushi, including my parents who until they actually came to Makoto Sushi and closed their eyes, held their breath and had their first albacore (with Mako’s garlic ponzu sauce) would never have considered chowing down on raw fish. They’ve been back to Mako’s three times since and have sampled sushi in other parts of the world. See? This is how it works. Get past the activism and try the food. Your tastebuds are going to tell you everything you need to know.

So, I would suggest to anyone who’s interested in trying something new, new flavors, tastes, etc, check out Madeline Bistro. Have a Bigger Macque. And then tune into Going Veg with the Plant-Based Dietitian as we bring more examples of good eats and tons of info to the program. And just take a look at the picture below… doesn’t that look tasty? I’m lovin’ it!

Advertisements

What I’ve learned on my Vegan Vacation: Part 1

Posted in people, places, things you should know on November 16, 2009 by wfon

CIMG1520

meeting T. Colin Campbell, author "The China Study"

Hollywood is almost always all talk. People talk while ‘doing lunch’, people take ‘meetings’ to talk… people in Hollywood really just like to talk. After awhile you get used to the fact that 99.9 percent of the ‘talks’ you’re having will produce absolutely nothing… but more talk. So, when my nearly-life-long friend Julieanna Hever (a.k.a The Plant-Based Dietitian) called with an idea to combine our talents and produce a television program as a guidebook for those interested in going vegan (Plant-Based), at first I thought, “well, that sounds interesting, sure, a year or so from now we’ll still be thinking about it…” Okay – Julieanna is not Hollywood. She is not about ‘talk’… although she loves to talk. I say this because within a month of that first call, we were climbing aboard a Continental flight to Newark to begin conducting interviews with prominent vegans, Dr. Joel Fuhrman in New Jersey and T. Colin Campbell in Ithaca, New York. For Julieanna the experience was akin to me getting to sit and chat with George Lucas or Steven Spielberg, or so she tells me. Our guest subjects were incredibly warm and welcoming and their associates, families and friends certainly made us feel at home right away. Again, this is Julieanna’s territory, I’m either a pilgrim in a foreign land or an infidel. I went so far as to dub myself “Broccolini” so I could blend in with the vegans a little better. Here’s the scoop: I’m not vegan. I’m not even vegetarian. But I also don’t chew on cows regularly. So it begs to be asked: what have I learned on my Vegan Vacation so far?

A few interesting facts: 80% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. Protein is plentiful in vegetables, you don’t have to eat animal products to get it, and in fact the protein you get from vegetables is better for you. The ‘statistics’ you get from the FDA and other groups, especially when it comes to Daily Values is corruptible and influenced by lobbyists like the Dairy and Beef industries (imagine that, something else that is manufactured by big business.) I also learned that if meat wasn’t subsidized by the government, beef would cost $90/pound. Roadkill and euthanized animals are re-processed into feed for cattle. Yum. When it comes to food, there really is no room for a Free Market. I still don’t like Tofu.

As a filmmaker, this project is intriguing. I’m used to working from a script. Here we’re making the script up as we go. We’re off to a good start: Google names like Dr. Joel Fuhrman, T. Colin Campbell, John McDougall, Mike Anderson and you’ll find that we’re sitting down with the biggest names in the vegan world. The time is right for this collaboration. And it’s a project with its heart in the right place, my producing partner is on a mission to save the world… I’m on board to document her efforts. I will continue to let you all know what we learn.

In the meantime you can follow our progress and adventures at www.goingveg.net. You can also keep up with Julieanna HERE. More to come!

New Video from the Naperville Independent Film Festival

Posted in people, places, things you should know on November 2, 2009 by wfon

A little memento of the trip to Naperville in September. Thanks again to Edmond, Glessna, Daniel, Gary, Ed and, of course, Pat Trapp!

U2 360 Rose Bowl

Posted in people, places, things you should know on October 26, 2009 by wfon

1025092213a

As always, an evening with U2 is a bit of a religious experience, a communal give and take between the band and the audience. It’s arguable that any stadium show is too big and the case can be made for that with the current 360 Tour, but with its open architecture and in-the-round feel, it’s hard to imagine anybody being able to bring the show closer to the masses than this outing. Unfortunately, this tour suffers from having to support U2’s weakest effort since Pop and the inclusion of six of No Line On The Horizon’s songs seemed only able to dampen the energy stoked by the show’s best moments: a cathartic Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, furnace-hot Vertigo, funky Elevation and one of the more moving takes on One that I’ve heard live in awhile. Hard to say why the band continues to flog With or Without You since Bono seems so uninterested to the point of barely bothering to sing it. The true star of the 360 show is the stage, the well-documented and discussed Claw that manages to put all the stadium-show superstructure up out of the way, on top of four legs, allowing for a 360 degree view (or pretty close) in the vast setting. It’s every surface lights up, pulses, expands and contracts; concentric rings allow some of the audience up close while also bringing the band members within reach even to the 50 yard line. An incredible 550,000 pixel, 880 light LED array brings sharp live images to a round screen over head that expands downward making a screen twice its size. There’s even a disco ball at the very top, 179 feet above the ground. Band? What band?

1025092213

Our vantage point near one of the rear legs gave us a good look at the behind the scenes and an up-close-and-personal view of the scale of this endeavour. We were also just above the VIP tunnel and got to wave at a number of celebrities as they came out before U2’s set. Among them: Pierce Brosnan, Barbra Streisand, Paris Hilton, Ben Stiller, Pau Gasol and Slash (who did a rocked up Sweet Child O’ Mine with openers The Black Eyed Peas). A start-studded event, no doubt.

It was a long day spent at the Rose Bowl but a spirit of positive energy and the immensity of a pure rock and roll show pervaded the Arroyo and for a little while all was good.

Educational…

Posted in daily musings, places on October 14, 2009 by wfon

100_1148

Nothing trumps experience. All the reading, TV watching, wikipedia-searching and fireside tales cannot teach what can be learned by having your boots on the ground. Can I get a witness? Yes, I can. I’m always amazed by the statistic that some seventy-five percent of Americans never leave the country and quite a few of those folks never leave their immediate geographic locale. Yet, just as many seem to be well-versed in all matters of the world at large and are very vocal about it. This is not to say there aren’t important things to learn from books and teachers and schools, of course there are, but until you’ve actually breathed the air, tasted the food, exchanged the currency, navigated a train system or slept in a bed in a foreign land can you really understand… and one of the most important things you will understand quickly is; we’re all the same, one people under the sun and moon, dealing with the same problems, excited about the same mundane Reality shows, sharing the same fears, shaking our heads at man’s folly and his ability to act in such selfish and cruel ways but also in such compassionate and empathetic ways. The only distance between us is the physical one. Traveling also teaches you to observe and consider your actions and beliefs, to temper your reactionary nature. People who never leave America and have their worldview handed to them by political pundits and TV pitchmen might be fascinated to know that in Italy if you break a bone or catch a disease, you will be treated, fixed up and nursed back to health without incurring a single cost (same goes for most of the western European countries) and why? Because for some people in the world, the general wellbeing of a nation’s people is seen as a moral obligation to the state. It might also be of interest to know that pharmaceutical companies aren’t allowed to advertise on television in Europe. They aren’t given the opportunity to convince an entire population that they now suffer from a disease the ad agency created. Trains run on time. Airlines give food and drink. Bathrooms are clean and plentiful, even if it costs a Euro to use them. New construction projects are focused on their environmental impact, using materials and designs to consume less energy. No, this is not a rant on ‘how everything is better over there’. It doesn’t take long to find out that there are plenty of people suffering financial burdens, that there are immigrant problems in outlying neighborhoods. The unemployment rate in Spain (after the election six or so years ago of a Socialist governenment in retaliation for the previous administration’s support of Bush-era policies and the terrorist attack on Madrid) is higher than ever recorded. The shining example of Irish economics (much ballyhooed by conservatives over here) is currently flatter than a pancake. Even U2 can’t finish their big building in Dublin. (Geez who ever thought that bringing in cheap Eastern European labor to increase profits and marginalize the Irish middle class would have a negative effect?) So, no, not everything is better over there… just the things that count. There is a demand for balance between quality of life and capitalistic endeavours, something we could certainly learn more about over here.

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of travel, airports, lengthy plane rides. We went to Chicago for the film festival in Naperville and came away with a gold statue, new friends and another place to add to the list of favorites (and that one’s here in the US!). Twelve hours after returning from Chi-town, we turned around and flew to Munich to experience the Oktoberfest. And did we! Tens of thousands of people, daily, filling the fourteen beer halls, downing liter upon liter of beer, noshing on endless pretzels, sausages and roasted half-chickens. Quite a few probably don’t remember the experience… I don’t think the adage is true that if you remember Oktoberfest you weren’t there. From Munich we took the ICE train up to Berlin and stayed in what twenty-years ago was the East. The years between the fall of the Berlin Wall and now have obviously been a bounty of growth and prosperity, even in light of the world’s financial difficulties. The building is endless. Our neighborhood at the Spittlemarkt train stop appears poised to be the next upwardly mobile urban haven. If I had cash, I would be investing right now.

Following the path of the Berlin Wall gives more perspective than any lesson I learned about it in high school, even with Mr. Williams’ slide presentations of pictures from his trip through Checkpoint Charlie into the East. It goes without saying that as you walk along you wonder ‘how could it have happened?’ And I think the answer is that it happened because in the haze of propaganda and mis-information, while people were struggling with their daily lives, the rug was pulled out from under them and one morning their entire world changed. This is a lesson that every single American should keep in mind, always. There are some here who have the wisdom to see the forest for the trees before them and there are others who are lost in the darkness of the wood. They might very well wake up one morning to find themselves on the wrong side of the wall and they will only have themselves to blame. To quote my beloved Miley Cyrus: “Wake up America”

Pictures from all these adventures are to your right at the Flickr link. Enjoy.

Naperville Wrap-Up

Posted in places, things you should know on September 27, 2009 by wfon

All I can say is: “I love Naperville!!!” As if it wasn’t enough to have worldfullofnothing accepted to the 2nd annual Naperville Independent Film Festival, flying to Chicago with my parents and Markus, screening the film to some very enthusiastic and interested folks, hanging out in this incredible little town, having Markus (and then the rest of us) recognized by the very cute hostess at the local pizzeria, getting a chance to see Chicago from the top of the Sears Tower, re-connecting with Pat Trapp (whom I last saw in Boise, Idaho about 20 years ago) and finally taking part in the lavish awards ceremony with guests Roger Ebert, Karen Allen and Jim Peterik… as if that wasn’t enough, the folks at the helm of the festival (Edmond, Glessna, Daniel, Gary, Ed and everyone else) bestowed upon me the award for Best Feature Director!

award_upright

Who knew when we started day one of production in the driveway of my grandmother’s house in Tujunga (circa 2006) that it would come to this! I’ve been asked all sorts of questions while we’ve been here in Naperville: what inspired the film, how did it come together, etc? The truth is, Markus and I saw it as a grand experiment at first, a challenge to ourselves to stop talking about making a film and just doing it (a notion that seemed to be inspirational to an aspiring filmmaker during one of our Q&A sessions). From that initial kick-start, we were blessed time and again by the generous support and excited involvement of our cast (Bella, Angela, Greg, Richard, Alicyn, Andrea, Hannah, Oliver, Sandy, Vincent, Katlynn, Jamie, Wendy, Sean, and my folks) and everyone who helped put the finishing touches on the project (Paul, Andy, Jussi, Jackie, Kevin and Cameron). To all of them/you – Thank you! Our little experiment has grown up and is looking for a nice house in Naperville. I told the audience last night, which included Mayor Pradel, that I really like this town and would love to come back and make a movie here… hint, hint. Time to pack this baby up and head back to LA… someone please turn down the heat before we get home. Thanks.

Naperville Fest Night One

Posted in places, things you should know on September 24, 2009 by wfon

As promised, Edmond Coisson and everyone involved with the Naperville Independent Film Festival have gone out of their way to create an exciting event here in this idyllic suburb of Chicago. This is the kind of place that John Hughes set his films; sprawling lawns leading to huge two and three story homes on quiet streets with a riverside downtown area filled with all the modern conveniences, pubs and restaurants. We arrived mid-afternoon after landing at O’Hare and found our way to the Holiday Inn Select and the Manager’s Welcome hour (free beer and wine!) before heading over to the Ogden 6 where worldfullofnothing screened to an enthusiastic group. We were all very happy with the response and had a good Q&A session.

Unbeknownst to us until we looked in the festival’s program guide, worldfullofnothing has been nominated for three awards here: Best Actress, Angela BozierBest Director and Best Feature. A gala closing dinner and awards program is happening Saturday night at the newly opened Hollywood Palms theater and restaurant, so we shall see if fortune shines on our little film.

No pictures just yet, will try to get some this afternoon and post later, but we have been shooting some video with the Flip. For now, we’re going to head out into the balmy overcast morning and see some sights before returning for the second screening at 5:10. If you’re in the area, come on down: Ogden 6 Theater, Naperville, Il.