17 January 2011


“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” 
                                      — Martin Luther King, Jr.

TO THOSE OF YOU WHO KNOW MY WORK, it’s common knowledge that I admire Martin Luther King, Jr. immensely. He was front-and-center in my documentary on race relations called THE WAR WITHIN and the driving force behind my comparative analysis of the Civil Rights movement and the Health Freedom movement in LET TRUTH BE THE BIAS. In 2005 he appeared in my documentary WE BECOME SILENT, a film about Codex Alimentarius that was narrated by the internationally revered actress, Dame Judi Dench.

As it happens so often with artists, the title for WE BECOME SILENTcame as an inspiration in the middle of the night. It was 3:00 a.m., I believe, and I was in the midst of 17-20 hour days worth of editing — and determined to produce an honest film about the dangers of Codex and the deleterious effects of “free trade.” As I began to doze deeper into my well-earned slumber, I heard Dr. King’s voice say, “Our lives begin to end the moment we become silent about things that matter.” 
Spaced out and disoriented, I sat straight up in bed. The words I heard the strongest were "we become silent," and a few hours later, after at least one cup of coffee, I discerned that these three words would make a great title for the film. They had been whispered to me in the middle of the night because they directly correlated to the scheming of governments, big business, bureaucrats and other dirty dealers who incessantly try to assert their will over the rest of us. Their collective goal is to eliminate medical freedom of choice and to keep the status quo in tact. Then — as now — they wanted us to simply shut up. With the FDA ‘walking point,’ they tried mightily to achieve their monopolistic goals through regulations, by banning health books from health food stores, through ridiculous undercover sting operations and guns-draw raids at holistic clinics, and yes, even through legislative means.

So once again — in the middle of the night — Dr. King played a role in my professional and personal life by helping to align my values and to put the struggle for medical freedom of choice into perspective. People loved the title WE BECOME SILENT, so it is only fitting to give credit where credit is due.

On this day, we should also humbly acknowledge that there is much more work to do. 

I am reminded of something that occurred during a screening of LET TRUTH BE THE BIAS in 1994. There’s a scene in the documentary where hordes of armed policemen—with batons at the ready and with the strength of a football team pushing a blocking ‘sled’ — thrust dozens of African Americans backwards. Elderly men, women and children are forced to the ground—and are trampled in the ensuing melee. While this scene was playing out, I heard someone comment rather loudly, “Hey, this guy must be a liberal” — as if showing the struggle for basic human rights was somehow a liberal issue.

The comment from my countryman made me chortle, albeit sadly. 

As a humanistic writer, I have often been compelled to take the path less traveled — to follow my innate sense of right and wrong. As one who vividly recalls the assassination of Dr. King in 1968, I can say categorically that many of the ideals he put forth during his short time on this planet are indelibly branded into my heart and soul. 

Those same ideals of dignity and personal sovereignty apply to the health freedom movement also, and we should all honor Dr. King for blazing a peaceful trail to positive change. We can learn from not only his courage in challenging injustices, but from his unyielding vision of equality. 

“Life's most persistent and urgent question,” said Dr. King, “is, 'What are you doing for others?'”

Amen, Reverend Dr. King. Amen. Your words are an inspiration — on any day.

12 January 2011


READERS OF THIS BLOG KNOW that over the past few years, I have consistently written about the quandary of the poor and homeless in our society. 'One Paycheck Away From Humanity' reported about the growing numbers of homeless I witnessed while GENERATION RX was being screened at the Cleveland Film Festival; and 'How the Other Half Lives' shared my journey to the other side of the world, only to be reminded of the homeless men I met as a young boy in Cleveland many moons ago.

Yesterday I posted my 1991 film, 'The Promised Land' online after days of restoring the documentary with my friend Charles L. Gilchrist. It is a film about homeless war veterans and hordes of men and women caught in the grip of poverty — and forced to the streets to survive. During the restoration process, the memories from 20 years ago came flooding back...and as I watched the film for the first time in over a decade, so did the tears.

During the frigid Cleveland winter of 1991, at 4 a.m. — in six-degree weather, we found dozens of men sleeping under a bridge in an area known as 'the Flats,' a stones throw from the arctic air blowing off Lake Erie. Many of my interviews with the men are featured in 'The Promised Land,' alongside stories of the “middle class homeless.”

As I outline in the film's description at my channel at vimeo.com, 'The Promised Land' was the highest-ranked TV program in prime time, but most importantly, it raised nearly $500,000 in donations after its first showing — and just under $1,000,000 total. The donations went directly to transitional housing, veterans groups, Foodbanks and job training for the poor and homeless.

It's a story about people living on the brink of disaster. . .and a few who crawled their way back — inch by inch — to self-sufficiency. One of those was a woman named Kathy Pinkis, whom I had met months earlier when I was producing a video for the Cleveland Foodbank. Kathy was a lovely lady with red hair, educated, and articulate. She was a single Mom who nearly lost everything after her divorce. When I first interviewed her, she cried...movingly so. When I asked to interview her again for 'The Promised Land,' she peered at me and said “yes, but this time I am not going to cry.”

I smiled, but realized that this would be a very difficult promise to keep. Kathy was a passionate survivor, and she wore her heart on her sleeve. Near the end of the still-tearless second interview, I told her I was a new father, and that I couldn't imagine how difficult it must have been for her with her young children in tow. . .with only $100 to last six weeks.

Kathy broke down. “I vowed then that I would do whatever I can to help someone else so that they won't have to go through what I went through...because it was the worst time in my life . . . and I won't ever be there again. . .ever,” she said sobbing.

As I stated above, the film was a big success: Emmy nominations and an International film award were the topping to near seven-figure success in fundraising for the homeless.

And Kathy was right. . .she never was forced to return to the streets.

About two years after 'The Promised Land' aired on television, I received a phone call from one of Kathy's teenaged sons. He began by introducing himself and by thanking me for including his Mom in the film. She had healed her bruised psyche after the trauma she'd endured, but now, he said bravely, “Mom is in the hospital with liver cancer...and only has weeks to live.” I was distraught with the news and as I hung up the phone, I promised Kathy's son that I would write her immediately...and did.

In the letter, I told Kathy what an inspiration she had been to hundreds of thousands of people; that she was a voice for so many — that she was so selfless that she was willing to tell her painful story publicly not once, but twice in order to help others. Almost singlehandedly, I said, she had shattered all of the myths people harbored about the 'face of the homeless;' she, with her shining red hair and her educated air.

You touched them all,” I wrote. “They felt your courage. You gave others hope. You are a hero.”

A few weeks later, Kathy's son called again. His Mother read the letter many times.  She smiled, he said, and cried.

But she was at peace when she died,” he said. “Thank you.”

As you watch 'The Promised Land' — twenty years after it was produced, you may note an eerie connection to the present. As you meet Kathy and all of the others I had the privilege of speaking with, I hope you will be motivated to help the poor and homeless wherever you live. Foodbanks need food, the homeless need beds, and millions need job re-training if they expect to survive.

Do so in honor of Kathy Pinkis, the thousands of homeless veterans, the poor and the unemployed who need your help. . .now more than ever.



Labels: , , , , ,

04 January 2011


As of January 1st 2011, GENERATION RX will be available on various Cable VOD (Video on Demand) outlets throughout North America.
Please support the film by choosing GENERATION RX from the following cable operators:
AT&T U-Verse
Rogers (Canada)
Blue Ridge
Valley Connections
Bristol Virginia Utilities
Burlington Telecom
Access Comm.
Bluewater TV Cable
Cable Cable Inc.
Eastlink Halifax
NorthwesTel Cable
Seaside Communications
Source Cable
Twin Valley Communications
Valley Connections
 Verizon Fios (as of January 11th)
Please know that GENERATION RX is now available On Demand and will run for only 90 days. Most remotes now have a button that says "on demand" which will immediately take you to the correct channel for the operator. The cost is $5 for two days.
Please pass this message on to anyone whom you believe needs access to more information about this vital issue: teachers, parents, police, politicians, or anyone who cares about ADHD, bipolar, or other 'mental illnesses.' Please help put the important information contained in GENERATION RX before the public at large so that they might have total access to all of the important science, marketing and politics surrounding the issue of children using powerful psychiatric medications.
We do not earn much money from the VOD format, but your 'rental' of GENERATION RX from Video on Demand could help get my other independent films onto this format — and available to millions.

Labels: , , , ,