Archive for the 'the people' Category

Changing the World and Taking Names – John Dau

John Dau has an amazing story to tell. Most of you out there have no idea who he is, what he has gone through or the things he has done.

John Dau: Changing the World and Taking Names

Born in Sudan and at the young age of 12, he was separated from his family and forced to flee from the the Muslin-controlled government involved in the Second Sudanese Civil War who were fighting against the non-Muslims of the south. Dau was forced to travel on foot thousands of miles along with 27,000 others (most of them children). Dau himself led thousands of these “Lost Boys” across the arid African desert to relative safety in Ethiopia. More than half of these 27,000 “Lost Boys” would perish on the journey.

There were times where John and these Lost Boys would have to drink mud water for sustenance. They were constantly chased through the dangerous wilderness, often having to navigate through lands entrenched with lions or hyenas. Once, when being chased by gun-welding government forces, the Lost Boys had to swim through alligator-infested waters. John remembers about 3,000 people, many of them children, dying during that one event.

John lived in Ethiopia for four years until violence broke out once again in the region. Faced with disease, starvation, violence and seemingly insurmountable odds, he fled once again to Kenya where he eventually had the opportunity to attend school. In 2001, he would be among the 3,800 refugees that resettled in the United States.

Once in America, he worked 60 hours a week as a security guard to receive a post-secondary education at Onondaga Community College. John is currently pursuing a political science degree from Syracuse University. He has founded three non-profit organizations: the Sudanese Lost Boys Foundation of Central New York, Duk Lost Boys Clinic and the John Dau Sudan Foundation. Through the John Dau Sudan Foundation, he has been working towards bringing medical clinics that do not exist for most of the populations of Duk, Twic East and Bor South Counties in the State of Jonglei in Southern Sudan.

You may not have heard of him before, but people like John change the world. The things he has endured we here in North America may never experience, but that does not give us license to idly sit by.

The civil war in Sudan is a forgotten war, even though two million people lost their lives and many more are still affected by it. Now there is yet another war, in Darfur, and the typical American isn’t even aware of it. The U.S. being a big melting pot, Americans can walk the streets without noticing all the different nationalities. That is a good thing. On the other hand, it means Americans stop asking questions about their neighbors and stop learning about their problems – John Dau

Read this interview with John here. Just take a moment to at least learn about someone who is larger than life and who has led a life that most others do not lead. People like John should be on the front page of the news or on magazines, but instead we have Britney Spears and her inability to take care of her children, Lindsay Lohan’s first foray into lesbian relationships or Matthew Mcconaughey’s new baby. Wake up people, everyone has parental problems, babies are born every second and lesbians aren’t shocking.

People like John doesn’t want to be a celebrity and nor does he request it. His focus is to show the importance of surviving against all odds and fighting for the human rights for all people (especially among the Sudanese people). He is the real hero, the real celebrity deserving of our attention. That will never happen, but in the meantime, we have the ability and the freedom to learn about the world around us and the real things that actually matter.

Changing the world can be done by everyone, the first step is to learn about the world around you. Changing the world doesn’t require a certain age, sex, education, circumstance, environment or race. Changing the world starts with you choosing to change the world.

Robert Doisneau: Motion in Still Life

Simple, funny, real
Robert Doisneau: Simple, funny, real

One of my favorite photographers of all-time is the french legend, Robert Doisneau. At one point in time, you have seen his photographs or at least the one with a french couple kissing on the streets entitled “Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville.” No one knew the identities of the pair until 1993 when Denise and Jean-Louis Lavergne took him to court claiming it was them. The lawsuit made Doisneau admit that he used actor/models Françoise Bornet and her then boyfriend Jacques Carteaud.

Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville

Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville

Mr. Doisneau was born on April 14, 1914 in Gentilly, Val-de-Marne. He attended École Estienne in Paris, but he always claimed that the streets of the working class neighborhood is where he received his real education and his work shows it. Doisneau began photographing when Modernist ideas were just beginning to promote photography as a viable means of artistry and reporting. During WWII and the German occupation, his talents were utlized to forge documents for the underground. He later recommenced his work with a stint with Vogue Magazine from 1948 to 1952 and eventually joined a group called Group XV, which was a collection of photographers dedicated to improving and promoting the art of photography.

Doisneau has been noted for his use of humor in real life, while contrasting the non-conformist with the establishment. His favorite city to photograph in was Paris, France and his favorite subjects were of children roaming and playing in the streets freely, unhindered by parents. He’s one of my favorite photographers because his work was shot in a candid and real way, yet it almost looks like something from another place and time that has never existed.

Here are some of his more well-known works, but I recommend that you get Icons: Robert Doisneau: 1912-1994 because it’s a great little coffee table book with his most famous works.


The Fountain of Fame

We all age. It’s a natural process for most of us. However, I think if you’re famous, you don’t age. Well, at least they age a lot slower than regular humanity. Think about it this way; remember when you haven’t seen a friend in a few years and than most of the time you say “wow, they’ve changed a lot,” but when it comes to being famous, I believe they age slower or get a lot of help doing it.

Here’s a few examples of pictures of some famous movie stars. One picture is at least ten years old or more and the newest picture is less than two years old.

Indiana never agesstill tickin\'

Harrison Ford circa 1984 and again in 2008.

Look at Harrison Ford. Yes, we all know he is older now, but he’s 65 and 6 years younger than one of my grandfathers. Harrison Ford does not look like a grandpa. The reason I point this out is that I think the reason why famous people stay famous is because they have faces that don’t age. The reason Harrison can play Indiana Jones at 65 is that he actually looks 45. If he looked like a real 65 year-old, he’d be carying Bengay and some earl grey tea in his satchel with a walking cane instead of a whip. None of us would go see a senior citizen punching bad guys and swinging from crate-to-car with a bull whip.

Julia Roberts still has banana lips; even 15 years later.

Julia Roberts, a prime example of someone who never ages. I have friends that age more in 3 years than this woman. Do famous people just age more gracefully or do they have a lot of plastic help? There’s no way to tell, but the reason we go see movies for particular actors year in and year out is because we recognize them easily.

Tom Hanks: Still pasty and slightly doughy in 1998 as he is now.

Who remembers Joe Vs. the Volcano? I do. Terrible movie. However, it was made in 1990, almost 18 years ago. Mr. Hanks was 34 at the time. He’s now 51, three years younger than my dad. That’s old. Tom Hanks is by far no Brad Pitt, but he has that ‘everyman’ look about him. I don’t know how they do it, but he still plays characters that are 30ish to 40ish. If he actually played 51 year old characters, he wouldn’t be believable.

Jim Carrey: Rubber faces don’t age

Take Jim Carrey. He’s 46-years-old. Five years younger than Tom Hanks. We can all agree that he doesn’t look 46. So this begs the question: how do they stay young or keep looking young? I don’t know and I’m not going to try and find out, but we don’t go to movies to see old people. I mean how many people went to see the Bucket List? Exactly.

Sharon Stone: In 1998, she believed that earthquakes are the result of bad karma. In 2008, nothing has changed, even the way she looks.

Robert Deniro: 65-years old. I wish he would do more mobster movies. Oh wait, no I don’t.

Sean Connery: This man was born 77-years-old. The first picture was taken in 1989. The next one is almost 20 years later.

The reason I wrote this blog is because I just went to see Indiana Jones and the Lamest Title Ever. I would not have gone if he was actually playing a 65-year-old. It would be Indiana Jones and the Last Retirement. In reality, we all go because Indiana Jones is ageless and timeless. We don’t like to see heroes age; thus, the actors who play them don’t age either.

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