Friday, July 03, 2009

World Next Door is Live!

Ok, so if you haven't already heard, I am now the director of World Next Door, Inc., a fully operational 501(c)3 organization that is officially off and running.

As a result, I have been so busy doing director type things and writing for my organization that I haven't even been able to spare a thought for this blog.

But the other day I realized, "What if there are people who used to follow my blog that don't even know about World Next Door? They're really missing out!"

Right now I am leading a team of three interns (what? Interns already???) in Nairobi, Kenya. We've been here about three weeks with five more to go, and we are posting up a storm.

So what are you waiting for? Check it out!!!

See you over there!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire: So accurate it's creepy...

A lot of people have been asking me lately what I though of the movie Slumdog Millionaire. It might be because of my stellar reputation as a world-renowned movie critic, but it is more likely because I just spent three months in India. Hmmm... Not sure.

Ok. No critical build-up to my final opinion here. Slumdog ROCKED. It was awesome. Fantastic. Whatever you want to call it. I loved it.

Seriously, if you haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire yet, you need to. And not just because it won 8 Oscars. I would recommend it hands down even if it hadn't won a single Academy Award. I've already seen it twice, I'd easily see it again, and the soundtrack has been playing non-stop in my car for 2 days.

Slumdog Millionaire is a must-see movie.
So go see it. You must.

So why did I like it so much? Why all this hype?

Because Slumdog Millionaire captured poverty in India like nothing I've ever seen. The images of people and places in the movie were so spot on that it took my breath away. I felt like someone was reaching into my memory and pulling out the exact things I had seen and experienced.

In fact, it genuinely was a little creepy, because of the sheer volume of sights and sounds in the movie that matched my trip exactly.

At one point in the movie, there is a little girl wearing a filthy yellow dress picking through a massive pile of garbage. Children like her (called "rag-pickers" in India) were a common sight in New Delhi. Once, as we were driving around a corner in my neighborhood, I saw a little girl, clothes filthy, picking through a heap of trash. I think her dress might even have been yellow. The exact same image.

Later in the movie, two young boys make money by walking through a train, selling things to the passengers. I travelled in the exact same type of train, and yes... little boys tried to sell me stuff.

Slumdog's protagonist, a boy who grew up in a Mumbai slum.

One image in the movie is of a little beggar girl tapping on the window of a car and asking for food by making motions with her hands. The image was spot on, even down to her hand motions and the little bobble of her head.

Then there was the stuff that was so accurate it was creepy. At one point they show a little blind boy begging at the bottom of the stairs in a subway (underground passage). I used to regularly go through a subway to avoid crossing the crazy street above, and just about every time I would see a little blind boy begging.

And to top it all off, there is a song playing in the background of one scene which of course happened to be from one of three Bollywood movies I saw while in India. What are the chances?

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Slumdog Millionaire captures poverty in India well.

But from just reading this you would think that it's a really depressing movie. That it's all beggars and garbage and poverty. And there is a fair share of really difficult images. But in the end, the movie leaves you with a feeling of hope... of redemption. On top of all that, the movie revolves around a simple and beautiful love story.

And come on. Who doesn't love... [SPOILER ALERT] ...a happy ending???

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Excuses excuses...

Well, there's no getting around it. I haven't posted anything on this blog for ages. There are actually plenty of completely legitimate reasons too. Seriously!

What, you don't believe me? Well here... let me share a few heartfelt excuses (that are actually just a pathetic attempt to creatively explain what I've been up to...).

Excuse #1: I've just been so busy!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am in the process of getting a not-for-profit photojournalism ministry started. It's called World Next Door, and it has been totally consuming my life since I got back from India.

In the past 4 months the organization has been incorporated with the State of Indiana, we've officially created a board of directors and just last week I sent in the application to officially become a not-for-profit with the IRS.

That, along with creating a website, reading through applications for our summer internship and sending out support letters, has made me a pretty busy guy... Oh, and did I mention I'm putting in 25 hours a week doing temp maintenance work for a factory?

I have also been spending some quality time with Chuck-E-Cheese.

Excuse #2: I don't want to bore people...

You see, a bunch of people are signed up to get emails whenever I update my blog. The problem is, a lot of them signed up for those when I was off doing crazy stuff in India. Now that I'm home, there's not nearly as many cool moments to share (not yet at least).

Also, once launches in April, all of my experiences and crazy stories will be posted as part of that online magazine. This blog will become more of an outlet for my personal musings, spiritual discoveries and reflections on being the director of a groundbreaking not-for-profit.

If you want to stick around for that, feel free. If not, you won't hurt my feelings. :)

Excuse #3: Ninja Dinosaurs

Some mad genius found a way to clone vicious carnivores from the Cretaceous period and train them in the exotic martial arts of the far east. Obviously I wasn't going to just stand around while they destroyed civilization as we know it!

This shot was NOT easy to get.

Excuse #4: My lack of blogging was an intentional artistic statement designed to focus attention on the deep individuality and isolation brought on by an increasingly segmented post-Enlightenment population.

Yep. That's exactly what it was...

As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons that I haven't picked up the keyboard for a while. But now that I am officially a "photojournalist," I guess my days of making excuses are over...

World Next Door, here I come!