Tag Archives: Virginia

Racing – Great Meadow

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Saturday, October 24, 2015
Great Meadow, 5089 Old Tavern Rd, The Plains, VA

Virginia Downs Racing at Great Meadow

The Fall edition of the International Gold Cup will again feature steeplechase races but like the 2015 spring edition, will also include a minimum of three flat races. Sponsor/corporate tent and tailgating tickets can be purchased at www.vagoldcup.com or by calling 540-347-2612. The Gold Cup, which moved to its current location at Great Meadow in 1985, highlights the annual Fall steeplechase season.

For more information visit vagoldcup.com

SAM PuttLab Evaluation

Reduce your putts per round with a SAM PuttLab Evaluation with Raspberry Golf Academy’s Scott Adland! Get expert tips with the latest technology to improve your putting stroke in one session. Contact Scott for more details and lower your score today!

samputtlab
Ph: 480-861-7490
Email: sadland@raspberrygolfacademy.com
RGA Locations: Augustine Golf Club, Bull Run Golf Club, Landsdowne,
Old Hickory Golf Club, Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club and Virginia Golf Center.

39th Annual Virginia Wine Festival

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SEPTEMBER 12 & 13, 2015
Great Meadow Foundation, 5089 Old Tavern Road, The Plains, VA

The Virginia Wine Festival offers a unique array of both free and ticketed tasting and learning opportunities.

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vawineVisit the free Seminar Tent to broaden your knowledge and understanding of wine and wine culture, or make a grand day of it with a ticket to the gourmet Wine and Food Pairing Tent. Shorten your wait and enhance your experience with a ticket into the You Be the Judge Tasting Tent. Descriptions and purchase links on the ticketing page.

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Volunteer Opportunities in DC

:. Volunteer Opportunities

Have you been wondering where to go to help others and improve the community we live in? Here are some places where you can help:

  • Miriam's Kitchen
    2401 Virginia Avenue NW
    202-452-8927
    Helps homeless people in the Washington area through breakfast programs to case management programs.

     

  • Capital Area Food Bank
    645 Taylor St. NE
    202-526-5344
    The largest public, non-profit food and nutrition education resource in the D.C. Metro Area.

     

  • Greater DC Cares
    1725 I Street, NW, Suite 200
    202-777-4440
    Bridges community resident's skills, time, and goods with community needs to improve lives and strengthen D.C. region.

     

  • American Hospice Foundation
    2120 L Street, NW, Suite 200
    202-223-0204
    Supports programs that serve the needs of the terminally ill and grieving individuals of all ages.

     

  • National Alliance to End Homelessness
    1518 K Street NW, Suite 206
    202-638-1526
    Its mission is to mobilize the nonprofit, public and private sectors of society in an alliance to end homelessness.

     

  • The National Park Foundation
    11 Dupont Circle NW, Suite 600
    202-238-4200
    Chartered by Congress in 1967, NPF's mission is to raise private support for National Parks, and to build a broad community of people who care about their parks.

     

  • American Red Cross
    2025 E Street, NW
    202-303-4498
     

:. Donation and Support

Consider a donation of support through one of these sites:

  • Center for Community Change
    1000 Wisconsin Ave. NW
    202-342-0519
    CCC is committed to reducing poverty and rebuilding low income communities.

     

  • Resources for the Future
    1616 P Street, NW
    202-328-5000
    An independent institute analyzing environmental, energy, and natural resource policies.

     

  • Goodwill of Greater Washington
    It's mission is to educate, train, employ and place people with disadvantages and disabilities, creating a stronger workforce and a more vital community while building dignity for the people we serve through the removal of barriers to personal success.

     

  • Cars4Charities
    An overview of the benefits of donating a car in DC, including links to DC charities represented by cars4charities.

 

:. Other Volunteering and Charity Resources

More information about volunteer activities and charity organizations in Washington D.C.:

  • dosomething.org
    – a volunteer network. Type in your zipcode and find many ways you can help in the DC area.
     
  • KSD Partners
    An international fundraising and management consulting firm committed to helping non-profit organizations achieve their development goals.
    Clients | Approach | Resources
     

Hottest Networking Event in DC

FLOCK Network Night – Theme: Beauty & Wellness
Thursday, June 26, 2008
5.30 – 7.30 PM
River Bend Golf and Country Club
375 Walker Road, Great Falls, VA 22066
Open bar, hors’ douerves, all door prizes valued 0-00.
Receive complimentary consultations, treatments, massages, product samples and more!

Come join us this Thursday, June 26 at the River Bend Golf and Country Club in Great Falls, VA for our Beauty and Wellness-themed networking event!
Event runs from 5.30 – 7.30 PM.

Aside from being a high-quality business and social networking event at one of the most exclusive country clubs in the area, you will:

Meet Metro DC area’s premier dermatologists, the cosmetic dentist Long Beach office and cosmetic surgeons who will give complimentary evaluations, consultations, demonstrations, product samples and share the latest trends, procedures and revolutionary products in the cosmetic beauty industry. Some of our experts include Dr. David Green of David Green, M.D. And Dr. Chong W. Lee and Dr. Joseph Oh of Galleria Dental Aesthetics, voted Best Aesthetic Dentist by the Washingtonian and Northern Virginia Living Magazine.

Meet Mark Terna of NuSpaCeuticals, exclusive distributor of Intraceuticals’ Oxygen Facial and skin care line who counts Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lopez as some of his most loyal clients.

Try Dr. Siegel’s Cookie Diet – a national diet phenomenon recently featured on The Today Show, CNN, The View, Entertainment Tonight, E! TV and The Big Idea: Donnie Deutsche.

Receive product samples, demonstrations and consultation from brands such as Laura Mercier, PRIMA Day Spa, Dr. Kathy Thompson, M.D., Dr. Karen Lawson, M.D., Arbonne International, Salon Keenan, Body Elements, Lifestyle Weight Management and more!

Get a chance to receive lots of fabulous door prizes ranging from diet, cosmetic and skincare products to a 10-session Endermologie cellulite and contouring treatment (00) and a package of 4 Laser genesis treatments (00). All door prizes are valued between 0 – 00.

Indulge in good food and company, an open bar, great music and gorgeous views of the River Bend golf course.

This event is by invitation only and limited to 150 attendees so sign up today (please register additional guests under your name) – call 703.268.5626 or emailinfo@flockevents.com to RSVP or for more information. pre-registered; at door. Reception starts at 5.00 PM.

River Bend Golf and Country Club is located at 375 Walker Road, Great Falls, VA 22066.

Event will be held in the main clubhouse banquet room – ample parking available in adjacent parking lot.

The Troubled Times at The Washington Examiner

It used to be that in order to survive in the corridors of powers in the local journo establishment you had to work all sides of the aisles – politics, lobbying and the press. But these days, going by the goings-on at The Washington Examiner newspaper, the turnstiles are all about going back and forth between the same employers, or jumping ship even before the vessel has sailed.

Take the famed Pentagon ace Rowan Scarborough as an example. He was a star correspondent for years at the Washington Times snagging exclusives-after-exclusives (he had one yesterday splashed across the top of the front page) but then he got sucked into the Examiner by the newly-minted editor, Stephen Smith (whose married to the more prolific and more successful Vanity Fair chronicler Sally Smith who takes him around the party circuit) and he quit the Times to go work for The Examiner. Part of the deal also was to get his columns to run nationally on the Examiner website (more on that later) and promote a book he was putting to bed.

[PIC CAPTION: Rowan Scarborough's stint at the Examiner was marred by sloppy copy editing and constant clashes with the ME on when to post stories to the web. One day Exec Editor Steve Smith clashed with the online desk on posting Scarborough's stories. The next day Scarborough's desk was empty.]

The honeymoon barely lasted a few months. Sloppy editing of his stories across town where the copy desk sits in Virginia editing both the DC and Baltimore papers, constant clashes with the then Managing Editor, and a showdown with Steve Smith over placement of hot stories on the web, and one fine morning, the newsroom found his desk empty. Rowan had had enough, and he bolted.

After a sabbatical, Scarborough has resurfaced to helm the Pentagon coverage for his old employer: The Washington Times.

He's not the only one not to get a goodbye from Smith and his entourage. Ace Capitol Hill reporter Charlie Hurt also had a turbulent time with Smith at the Examiner. He lasted there but a few months even though his Pork coverage ranked high in online traffic for the paper's website and left without a goodbye party.Not to mention that more than a dozen staffers since Smith took over have quit took over his management style and people began to complain about his mercurial ways and short-temper bursts and quirky monday morning quarterbacking in daily editorial meetings where he's known to shoot suspenders and plot strategy to defeat the online powers-that-be in Denver that run the online arm of the paper. Among Smith's new hires was also a New York-based investigative reporter but the ink was barely dry on his pieces that soon he too was gone. No word on why he left.

But more than anything, Smith's relationship with the then-Managing Editor Nicholas Horrock spoke volumes of the fractures within the newsroom. Just a few months after Smith cemented his boots on the table, he trained his guns on Horrock and he was one of the earlier casualties of the Smith weapon about to be unleashed on the newsroom. Horrock was essentially fired for speaking up against his boss (and sometimes taking power cat naps at his desk). Soon thereafter a bevy of editors left the editing operations in Virginia where a editor was dispatched from the newsroom to clean up copy (and the mess). He also soon departed taking a couple of eds with him. On some days there are a couple of eds scurrying to bed both the DC and Baltimore editions and using AP copy to fill the pages seems the most likeliest exit.

[PIC CAPTION: Charlie Hurt didn't last long enough to make an impression but his stories did get a lot of impressions on the website.] Rubbing elbows with the online team – headed by a now-deposed Dave Schafer who ran the online operations from Denver with three editorial types including Gil Asakawa who was popularly nicknamedDave's Garage Door Opener

– was a royal treat for Smith who rallied against the online team on a daily basis inside the newsroom. Often jockeying for more power to control the online version of the local paper, he found himself at loggerheads with senior Denver management on how best to position local content getting to an excruciating low by cutting off content access to the Denver online team from the local eds. Things got so heated between him and the online team that he cut the cord with Denver. For a while there was a logo for the paper and right next to it a globe-trotting new logo for the online edition that appeared in the paper. Today, you only see one logo on the paper. The globe's been replaced by a link to a local online site he's reportedly developing called DCExaminer.com. So, in a nutshell, you've got a publication within a publication. If you belong to the Denver camp, you visit examiner.com. If you belong to the Smith camp, you visit dcexaminer.com. Nowhere is what more visible than on the website where the co-existing Israeli-Palestinian accord has been carved out where both staffers for examiner.com and dcexaminer.com learn to co-habit. Of course, they don't like talking to each other.

Smith is known to hire cronies and seldom does he like to venture beyond favoritism. There is no meritocracy when it comes to hiring. After Horrock was shown the door, Smith hired a former colleague from the Austin newspaper he felt compelled to leave to take on the job. Michael Hedges, a notorious web-basher , was hired as a hatchet man who put the brakes on any support to the Denver online team. Few weeks into his job, Hedges began to roll back any promises the desk made to the online team in Denver to post stories during the day and also began to question the reach and readership of the online edition as a justification to put the web initiative on the back burner.

Lets just put it this way, said a Denver staffer who quit in disgust: They're not FOOLs out there in DC. By FOOLs just what did he mean? "Friends Of On Line," he quipped as he drove of to a restaurant.

[PIC CAPTION: Mike Hedges was known by Denver as a notorius web-basher.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[PIC CAPTION: Then-Publisher Herb Maloney, Patrick Gavin, Executive Editor Vivienne Sosnowski and Jeff Dufour back in the heydays. Maloney quit in no time, Sosnowski was sent upstairs to corporate and the Y&N gossip guys rarely cover the shenanigans within the paper. Pic courtesy of Washington Life. ]

ALSO READ: EXAMINER.COM: NEW REDESIGN, BUT WILL THEY COME?

50 Fun Things Atlanta Got To Offer

1
Atlanta Ballet

2
Atlanta Botanical Garden

3
Atlanta Braves and Turner Field

4
Atlanta Civil War History

5
Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome

6
Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena

7
Atlanta History Center

8
Atlanta Motor Sports

9
Atlanta Opera

10
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chastain Park Amphitheatre

11
Atlanta University Center and the Historic West End

12
Atlanta Walking Tours

13
Atlantic Station

14
Discounts Galore

15
See a Broadway Show

16
Buckhead, A Luxurious Experience

17
Centennial Olympic Park

18
Center for Puppetry Arts

19
Chattahoochee River Fun

20

Chateau Élan Winery & Resort

21
City of Decatur

22
Inside CNN Studio Tour

23
Dine Out

24
Let’s Do Downtown Year Round

25
Fernbank Museum of Natural History

26
Festivals Galore

27
The Georgia Aquarium

28
Georgia’s History Under the Gold Dome

29
Golf in Atlanta

30
The Gone With the Wind Experience

31
A New High Museum of Art for Atlanta

32
Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta

33
Jimmy Carter Library and Museum

34
Marietta Historic District

35
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Sweet Auburn District

36
Midtown, The Heart of the Arts.

37
NEW World of Coca-Cola

38
Piedmont Park

39
Roswell Historic District

40
School's in for Culture

41
City Segway Tours

42
Shop Until You Drop

43
Six Flags Over Georgia & Six Flags White Water

44
Stone Mountain Park

45
Find Theater at its Best

46
Underground Atlanta

47
Virginia-Highland

48
William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum

49
Yellow River Game Ranch and Kangaroo Conservation Center

50

Zoo Atlanta

Beauty May be Skin-Deep But Most Americans In It Knee-Deep

While 77% of Americans say that beauty is primarily about non-physical attributes, almost half would change something about their looks if they could, according to a recent survey by global market research firm Synovate.

Synovate recently tackled a range of beauty issues in a global survey of over 7,000 people in nine countries, included 500 people in the United States. The survey asked people to spill their beauty secrets … how do people define beauty? Where do people from different cultures see themselves on the beauty scale? And would they want to do anything to change their looks?

Virginia Weil, Senior Vice President of Synovate's Consumer & Business Insights group, said beauty is an issue that spawns as many opinions as it does products.

"Humans are complex. Some of us are quite open about wishing we were beautiful, others feel they already are, and many dismiss beauty as an 'on-the-surface' issue. Still more of us think all these things at once!"

While much of the survey was about beauty-on-the-outside, Synovate first asked respondents to define beauty, with two thirds of all people surveyed choosing a definition about something other than physical appearance. Overall, 41% of Americans attribute beauty to 'what's on the inside' and another 36% say it's all about confidence. For 16%, beauty means attracting other people while only 5% said that beauty is 'all about having good looks.'

Not everyone can actually be beautiful but culture, gender and confidence influence whether you think you are. Synovate asked respondents to place themselves on the beauty continuum, anywhere from 'I am beautiful and do not need to change anything about the way I look' through to 'I do not think I am beautiful or attractive and want to change the way I look'.

Interestingly, Americans had the poorest self image when it comes to beauty compared to the other countries surveyed. While almost one third of Americans think they are good looking 'but there's always room for improvement', another 25% think they look ordinary or unattractive and would like to change their looks. Only 6% think they are beautiful and do not need to change anything about their looks.

More than half (57%) of people globally do not want to change the way they look (whether they believe they are beautiful or not), but that means over 40% would change their looks if they could.

According to the survey, nearly half of all people globally think beauty advertisements help make women feel inadequate, including 64% of Americans. However, when it comes to beauty tips in magazines, 41% of everyone surveyed and one third of Americans say they pay attention to them.

So where does all this leave beauty marketers? Operating in a minefield of mixed beliefs, feelings and motivations, says Weil.

"What a challenge marketers face! Creating and positioning a product for people who feel beautiful and confident, versus those who feel ordinary and happy, versus unattractive and not that happy about it, is a modern marketing dilemma."

Added Bob Michaels, Senior Vice President in Synovate's Consumer Insights group, "While not everyone believes that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, perception of beauty certainly varies widely depending upon one's cultural peers. The study findings show some of the strongest differences across countries that we've seen, with causes likely ranging from heavy media influence, such as in the U.S., to strong traditional values in developing countries."

Overall, the majority of all people surveyed agreed that beauty is more about looking after yourself than being naturally attractive. Two thirds think facial or beauty products make a person more attractive – 72% of women and 62% of men believe this is the case. What's more, if money were no object, 46% of women and a quarter of all men would spend more on branded facial and beauty products in the belief these products would work their magic.

When asked about plastic surgery, the number of Americans who would consider it (if money was no object) was quite high at 26%, while 19% of respondents across the globe would consider this more radical beauty intervention. In nearly every market, the number of women who would yield to the knife or needle was more than double the number of men.

The survey also found that, even if money were no object, there are still three in ten people across the globe who are comfortable enough with their beauty (within or without, or both) to do nothing at all… no extra products, no spa treatments, no tanning, no skin whitening or surgery. And that's a beautiful thought.

For more information on this study visit www.synovate.com/insights/infact/issues/200806.

Hollywood Artist Explores the 'Green' side of Famous L.A. Landmarks

Nathan Horner's new installment in the 'L.A. Icons' series celebrating L.A.'s famous landmarks (Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills, Griffith Observatory) focuses on the vegetation: the shrub outside Yamashiro restaurant, the Palm Trees on Hollywood Boulevard, hedges on Hollywood way. Whereas his earlier paintings focused primarily on the architectural aspect of these landmarks (Beverly Hills Hotel, Mann Chinese Theater, Capitol Records), the new paintings explore the play of light and shadow of the vegetation on the buildings and surrounding landscape. The exhibit opens at EM & Co, a West Hollywood boutique hosting the works of Los Angeles artists alongside fashions from global and local designers.

“I am inspired here by the sea, sky, the light, and how it falls on Southern California. I also find inspiration in the visual history that was, and is created here, and the icons of eras passed,” says Horner. Nathan Horner's style, which evolved over the years, has been influenced by John Singer Sargent, Vincent Van Gogh, and Edward Hopper. Recently, he has been chosen to exhibit his works in the Hopper House Center, in New York, the birthplace and childhood home of Edward Hopper, run by the Edward Hopper Landmark Preservation Foundation, in a show slated for 2010.

“His paintings capture the essence of L.A. And vegetation plays such a strong role in creating this L.A. feel — the golden palm trees, what a perfect symbol of L.A.,” says Eveline Morel, owner of EM & Co. The 'L.A. Icons' exhibit will be at EM & Co from July 24 through August 20.

Born and raised in Ohio and Virginia, in California since the early 90's, Nathan Horner is set on becoming an active contributor to LA's artistic and cultural landscape. Horner has shown in galleries and other locations around the US, including the LACMA sales and rental gallery, Arclight Cinemas, and numerous galleries in San Diego. Earlier paintings in the 'L.A. Icons' series are now sold as post card gift sets at EM & Co and other stores around Los Angeles. For more info. On Horner's past and future exhibits: http://www.nathanhorner.com/.

NBC4 Launches NBC Washington Traffic Cam

NBC4 has partnered with 3rd Dimension, Inc. to launch today NBC Washington Traffic Cam, a free service* for mobile phone users providing live, up-to-the-second traffic video and information for Washington, D.C.; Northern Virginia; and suburban Maryland.

NBC Washington Traffic Cam is designed to help millions of daily commuters view traffic tie-ups on their mobile devices before beginning their commutes. With access to a network of 450+ live roadside cameras, the service can help data-enabled cell phone users plan their commutes more carefully and avoid gridlock areas. This advertising-supported service is powered by Mobileyes software from 3rd Dimension.

“Washington area traffic is consistently ranked among the worst in the nation,” said Michael Jack, president and general manager of NBC4. “We're pleased to provide this useful service to help our viewers save time and ease frustration while they're on the road.”

To download the application, commuters should click on the NBC Washington Traffic Cam link at www.NBC4.com or by calling 1-877-NBC-DC03 (877-622-3203). A text message is then sent to the user, who can click on the link to download and install the application.

Once installed, users can view more than 450 roadside traffic camera displays that are operated by the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Virginia Department of Transportation, Montgomery County (MD) Department of Transportation, City of Fairfax (VA) Department of Public Works and the D.C. Department of Transportation in association with TrafficLand, Inc.

Selecting cameras is simple and user-friendly. Freeways, highways and city streets of interest are available with full motion video or up-to-the-second still photos. As an added bonus, favorite routes can be stored and accessed quickly with a push of a single button.

“Mobile phones are everywhere and have become an indispensable tool in our personal and professional lives,” said Eric Joseph, president, 3rd Dimension. “Washington Traffic Cam, built on the Mobileyes software platform, puts a simple to use, on-demand traffic advisory service in the palm of your hand.”

The NBC Washington Traffic Cam application is compatible with data enabled phones on the Sprint, Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile networks, and includes popular smartphones such as the BlackBerry, Palm Treo and the Motorola Q.

Wine That Shines: Alamos Malbec 2007 Catena

The 2007 Alamos Malbec has a dark, blackish purple color. The nose shows ripe black fruits, black pepper spice and floral notes. The mouthfeel is full yet soft and supple, with black raspberry and currant flavors mingled with notes of sweet spice and a touch of leather. The finish is long and persistent with soft, sweet tannins. This Malbec, sent over to us by the generous PR folks at Springfield, Virginia-based Billington Wines, was the instant winner among the reds we poured at the consumer product tasting lab we held last week. Our reviewers loved the vino for it oozes dried raisiny fruit character and has ripe sweet tannins, resulting in an incredibly approachable wine. Ready to drink now and over the next 2-5 years.

READ OTHER CONSUMER PRODUCT REVIEWS FROM THE PARTY DIGEST LAB…

Morgan Spurlock on Revolutionizing the Documentary Film and Searching for Osama Bin Laden

By Allison Kugel
  Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä  

Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä

    Morgan Spurlock has carved out his own genre of filmmaking, by not merely documenting the hot button topics that concern all of us, but in actually placing himself, in both mind and body, on the front lines. Spurlock is the guy who subjected himself to famous month long experiments: a diet consisting solely of McDonald’s fast food in his 2004 feature documentary debut Super Size Me; subsisting on a minimum wage income with then fiancée Alexandra Jamieson; and doing time as an inmate in a Virginia county jail. In recalling these experiences, Spurlock muses at his fulfillment in what he considers to be the privilege of stepping into another man’s shoes for a spell, and living an existence that is a clear departure to his own life’s path.

His research is strictly first person, and he feels it keeps him honest and eliminates the possibilities of any hypocrisy or distance between himself and the subject matter he chooses to explore. Though Morgan Spurlock plays down the emotional and spiritual fortitude it requires to be so far out of one’s comfort zone, he does believe he has found his artistic voice in these first hand experiential documentaries.

Morgan Spurlock’s latest project is his second documentary feature film entitled, Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä. His sophomore feature length effort, once again, places Spurlock in some very compromising circumstances. After visiting his physician for an extensive round of vaccinations and preparing for everything from hand grenades to gunfire to the very real possibility of American kidnappings, Spurlock says goodbye to his pregnant wife and heads for the heart of the Middle East on a quest to find Osama Bin Laden. Spurlock’s rationale as he puts it in his film, “If I’ve learned anything from big budget action movies, it’s that complicated global problems are best solved by one lonely guy.”

PR.com (Allison Kugel): When you were a student at NYU, what were your aspirations or ideas of the kind of films that you thought you’d be makingä And is it in line with what you’re doing right nowä

Morgan Spurlock: I think when I was at film school, like most of the people I was in film school with, I wasn’t really looking to be a doc[umentary] filmmaker. That happened just by happenchance when we made Super Size Me (Spurlock’s 2005 Oscar nominated documentary that takes aim at the fast food industry), that I just fell in love with something that I didn’t know was going to affect me the way it did. When I was in school I wanted to make narrative films. I wrote screenplays and short stories and short plays. Before I ended up making this film, I was writing a lot of plays in New York City. I had a play that went up and won an audience award in Fringe Festival in 1998, and I had a few different one-act [plays] that were put up around the city in little one-act festivals. That was kind of the path I was heading in before I made Super Size Me.

PR.com: How did you come up with the idea for Super Size Me and how did you start in this trend of using yourself as the guinea pig in your filmsä

  Morgan Spurlock, in Super Size Me  

Morgan Spurlock, in Super Size Me

   

Morgan Spurlock: We had a show that was on MTV called I Bet You Will that got cancelled, and we had about fifty grand saved up in the bank and so I basically said, “Let’s take this fifty thousand dollars and make a movie.” I had just finished an adaptation of a play I had written called The Phoenix Two, a screenplay. I started watching a lot of plays that had been made into movies, and they all kind of felt like plays that were made into movies. They didn’t really feel like a stand alone film. I said, “We’ll come up with something else. I’ll think of another idea.” And it was Thanksgiving of that year; it was 2002, when there was a news story about these two girls who were suing McDonald’s. Then the [McDonald’s] spokesperson came on and said, “But our food is healthy, it’s good for you…”

PR.com: Did he really say thatää

Morgan Spurlock: Oh yeah, it was fantastic! Because it basically went from the lawsuit about these two girls where they’re like, “We’re suing McDonald’s for being unhealthy.” And I was like, that’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. So they’re going to sue a company that sells them food that they buy, and that they eat and then blame them for itä! And then the spokesperson for McDonald’s comes on and says, “You can’t link our food to these girls being sick. You can’t link our food to these girls being obese. Our food is healthy. It’s nutritious. It’s good for you.” Then the light went off and I was like, well if it’s that good for me, then shouldn’t I be able to eat it for 30 days straight with no side effectsä When we first got the idea for Super Size Me, the original thought was that I’ll get somebody else to be that person. I’ll shoot the film and we’ll have somebody else be the person who eats the food for the 30 days. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I couldn’t trust that somebody was not gonna, when the cameras weren’t rolling, sneak a piece of broccoli (laughs)…

PR.com: (Laughs) Or a vitamin, yeah…

Morgan Spurlock: Yeah, exactly, like, taking vitamins on the sly (laughs). That was the biggest reason that I did it myself.

PR.com: Well, even in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä, what made you decide to continue doing first person, point of view pieces, rather than just interviewing “so called” experts and other peopleä

  Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä  

Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä

   

Morgan Spurlock: I thought Super Size Me resonated with people in a way that was very different than the way people related to other docs that I’d seen. I felt there was something about this whole experiential journey for me that I found to be really exciting and different. So from there we did 30 Days for FX and our third season just finished [shooting]. So, in between Super Size Me and Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä, we did two seasons of that show. In season one Alex and I (Spurlock’s wife) lived on minimum wage. In season two I went to prison for 30 days. Just out of both of those experiences I said, “There’s something really exciting here.” It affected me on a personal level and on an emotional level. There’s something I really enjoy about taking you on a journey with me. So long as I can be honest with you, and honest with myself about how I’m feeling and how things are affecting me, I can relay all of this to you in real time. Then hopefully this vicarious journey you’re going on, it’s almost like you’re there. I learn something, you learn something. I feel something, you feel something.

PR.com: Do you feel that these experiences have made you a more compassionate person, and that you really didn’t understand what something was until you walked in those shoesä

Morgan Spurlock: I think you would have to have a heart made out of stone if you could go through these things and not become more compassionate and not have them affect you. You meet people and you go into situations or areas that you normally would never be in. It’s so out of your typical comfort zone. It really challenges you to look at the things you believe, and I think it challenges you to have to understand what other people are going through and what they’re facing. It’s not the same as when you read something in a book. It’s not the same as when you see it on the news and you can change the channel afterwards. You’re there and you’re there for however long you’re going to be there. You can’t turn it off.

PR.com: Both in Super Size Me, and then even more so in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä, you put yourself at risk. In Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä, you went into territories where American troops get killed everyday. Were you ever afraidä Did you ever have the thought of, “Is this worth itä”

Morgan Spurlock: Once you’re there and you’re kind of embedded with guys, and you’re in situations where potentially everyday something could go horribly wrong and bad things can happen, you can’t help but think about that. For myself and Daniel [Marracino] (cinematographer for “Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä”) it was one of those things we didn’t talk about. You just kind of did your job, plan for the worst and hope for the best. So that when things do go crazy and hit the fan, you’re at least somewhat slightly mentally prepared for things. We’re with the troops when we’re riding along in the convoy and the governor’s convoy was attacked by the Taliban. There was an ambush. So, you see us ride up and the Afghan national army and their troops take out that Taliban guy, [a guy] who basically slit his own brother’s throat to gain advancement in the Taliban. When you’re in the middle of a situation like that, you can’t help but have your heart in your throat.

  Morgan Spurlock & Wife Alexandra Jamieson  

Morgan Spurlock & Wife Alexandra Jamieson

   

PR.com: What did your wife thinkä While she was pregnant you were not only thousands and thousands of miles away, but you were putting yourself at risk on a daily basis. What were her thoughts on thatä

Morgan Spurlock: Alex is an incredibly patient wife (laughs), and a very understanding person. She’s really supportive of me. We were about two months into pre-production on Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä when we found out she was pregnant. For me that’s when the film really took a big personal shift, because then it wasn’t just about, “Where is heä Why haven’t we caught himä” But, what kind of world am I about to bring a kid intoä The more she and I talked about it, the more she encouraged me to make the film; I think to examine that issue that every parent wonders. You know, what kind of a world is thisä She embraced this. And when I was overseas I didn’t tell her ninety percent of the stuff we were doing, or ninety percent of the things we were into, because I didn’t want to stress her out. She was already stressed enough with just me being gone, and knowing that I’m in Afghanistan; whatever broad stroke that means.

PR.com: What did you hope to get out of this, personallyä

Morgan Spurlock: I think the biggest thing for me is, whenever you go into a new situation and a place that’s kind of the unknown, you hope you gain some sort of insight and understanding. I think I walked out of this with a much larger appreciation and understanding of the people who live in those areas; now seeing how they live and what they have to go through and what their hopes and fears are. It makes it real. These aren’t just faces on the news anymore. These aren’t just the people who I see screaming and yelling and burning flags and burning people in effigy. That’s not the majority of the people who live there. Over the last six, seven, eight years those are the faces that have dominated our vision of the Middle East, and I think it’s completely inaccurate.

PR.com: After speaking with civilians in Afghanistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Palestinian territories and all of these different places, what percentage of what we see through American media would you say is propaganda driven, and what percentage actually holds water in your opinionä

Morgan Spurlock: I think that what you see is accurate. Those people exist. But, I think that we let them dominate the conversation. So, I think that what we end up seeing is just a very small minority of people that don’t represent the vast majority. As you see in the movie, 98% to 99% of the people over there don’t want to blow up America. They think about their families. They think about their own jobs. They want food on the table. They want to provide for their kids. They want their kids to get an education. And they want them to be healthy. This is a conversation that I could be having with my neighbor in Brooklyn. And God forbid we should ever see them that way. We just don’t get that imagery. Whyä That’s an even larger conversation.

  Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä  

Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä

   

PR.com: What I found interesting in the film were some civilians who spoke to you in street interviews, who, when you asked, “Why do you think some of these young men are being lured into Al-Qaeda,” a lot of them said what I have thought for a very long time. They said that it’s a combination of extreme poverty and lack of education that enables these young men to be recruited.

Morgan Spurlock: Yeah, and then you add in there the component of people who are manipulating religious teachings for their own political gains. If you look at a lot of the hijackers from 9-11, these guys didn’t grow up in the ghetto. Some of them came from very wealthy families. At that point it’s about religious teachings and how it’s co-opted to really serve somebody’s twisted vision. I think that what the film does is, it paints a great broad picture of all of those pieces. It’s not just one thing. You can’t say, “This is the reason terrorism is a problem. This is the reason people come after us.” There are multiple reasons, from the ones you said to the supported regimes that oppress and torture their own people that are backed by the United States. Those all add up to a very troublesome stew.

PR.com: When you were in Saudi Arabia (Osama Bin Laden’s homeland) you said you wanted to see how Osama Bin Laden became who he became, by seeing where and how he was brought up. Did you gain any concrete insight into how he became who he isä

Morgan Spurlock: It’s a country where the religion drives everything. It is a country where there is no separation of church and state. It is a nation that is built on that marriage. When Saudi Arabia was formed the religious practitioners said, “Listen, we’re going to leave the government alone, and you leave us alone.” It was the deal that was struck between the Wahhabs and The House of Sauds. That’s continued on for years. There’s no control or crackdown on what is s
id within some of these mosques or schools. The teachings just go on however they see fit, and that’s the hard part.

PR.com: And when you were in Israel you encountered quite a bit of hostility.

Morgan Spurlock: Well, that was just in that one town, in Mea Shearim (an ultra- Orthodox community in Jerusalem). I think you can’t sum up Israel in that one scene.

  Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä  

Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä

   

PR.com: It was strange to me. I’ve never personally been to Israel, but from people I know that have been there, they say that everyone is so warm and welcoming. And when you were met with such hostility in that one area, I couldn’t understand it. In the film, I didn’t get why that was happening. Was there something that provoked themä

Morgan Spurlock: I think that the Orthodox community is incredibly closed off and protective, for one. And our local producer who took us there said, “It’s fine. We’ll go and shoot there. I go there and talk to people all the time. Don’t worry about it.” And the reaction was shocking, yeah. [Our producer] wasn’t even prepared for this. When it got confrontational he called the police to come in and get us out. And also, they don’t like the media. They don’t like people coming in with cameras, which I found out after the fact. And here we are with a big HD high def. camera in the middle of their neighborhood. For me, the beautiful part of that scene isn’t the confrontation. That isn’t what comes out of it. The best part about that scene is the guy who is so concerned about how I’m perceiving the situation. And just as you said, everybody who goes there says the people are beautiful, they’re warm, they’re welcoming. The guy comes up to me and says, “Listen, what you see here, the majority of us don’t think like them.” There was a small group of people, five or six, that was causing this incredible raucous, that came up and was getting in my face and screaming and getting physical with me. And that guy says, “Most of us here, we don’t think like them.” There were hundreds of people around and he was so concerned about the perception of that event by me, that he had to make sure that I was very clear about what was happening. And his line is so fantastic, because it’s a parallel of perception with everything else that you see throughout the rest of the film.

PR.com: At one point you were in a metropolitan area of Israel when there was a bomb scare.

Morgan Spurlock: In Tel Aviv with the bomb squad. Those guys get 12 to 18 calls a day for bomb threats. Imagine that that’s how you live everyday. There are bomb threats and streets get shut down, and there could be a potential bomb everyday. That’s just part of life. That’s a tragic way to have to live.

PR.com: Did you happen to ask anyone on the street how they live with that, and how they just go about their normal routine without an enormous amount of anxietyä

Morgan Spurlock: Well they said, “We love living here. It’s terrible. We don’t like it, but it is what it is.” For me, I love the interview that we did with Yair Lapid (an Israeli journalist). He said so many great things about both sides. You hear people in the Palestinian territories, and you hear people in Israel. They want things to change. They want things to be peaceful. But, all it takes is one person; all it takes is one thing to ruin that.

  Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä  

Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä

   

PR.com: After your experience in all of these countries and seeing the lack of freedom, the oppression, the poverty and the lack of education do you think that there is any merit whatsoever to George Bush’s concept of trying to spread democracy in the Middle East to end terrorismä

Morgan Spurlock: I think there’s something really inspiring about democracy. Letting people have a government is a great thing, and letting people have control and a voice in government is a great thing. But, what people overseas have a problem with is that here we are spreading democracy, and that’s what we’re saying, and then at the same time you have a country like Egypt that has a democracy where the President has been in power for twenty-six years. People there, if you speak out against the government you get arrested. If you try to speak out against the electoral process, there’s a guy we interviewed who was thrown in jail for three years and tortured…

PR.com: But is that democracyä

Morgan Spurlock: That’s the question. That’s what they say. “Is this democracyä Is this itä” So, what’s happened is the image of America overseas, and this is the biggest thing that our next President is going to have to deal with, is not just this “war on terror.” It’s a PR war on terror. Outside of America we’re not seen as a beacon of hope and democracy anymore. America isn’t put up on a pedestal like it once was. Now America is seen as an aggressor, as a country that wants to dominate others, as a country that wants to control the resources of other countries. Like a guy said in the film, [America] is a country that wants to eradicate the religion of Islam. That’s not the vision of America that I want or the vision of America that I have. Whoever gets elected, that should become priority number one, of shifting that.

PR.com: Do you think there can ever be a bridge extended, and the gap closed, between the Judeo-Christian population and the Muslim population in the worldä

Morgan Spurlock: I’ve got Muslim friends. I know Muslim people. It’s not like it’s a gigantic gap. I think that we get fed this idea that, “Oh, we can’t understand them and it’s impossible.” This film shows that people are people. Those three religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – all stem from the same person. They’re the Abrahamic religions. It’s all a familial religion and, a lot of the things that they talk about are the same things. Even Muhammad, when he brought down the whole idea of Islam and started talking about what it was, he said, “It’s the same thing that’s been taught to these other people, only now the message is for this audience. It’s a message for the Arab people.”

PR.com: Do you think one man has a better chance of tracking down Osama Bin Laden then a government hasä

  Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä  

Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä

   

Morgan Spurlock: Well, I think any time you buy a lottery ticket, you don’t buy a lottery ticket thinking you’re gonna lose. You usually buy a lottery ticket saying, “Well it’s eighteen million to one; maybe I’ll be the one.” We knew that the odds were incredibly unlikely, but at the same time I think we had as good a shot as anybody. By the end, based on what people told us and where they were pointing and where they thought he was, we were probably within fifty to seventy miles of where people told us they thought he was.

PR.com: And where were you at the end of the filmä Were you in the mountains of Pakistanä

Morgan Spurlock: We were outside of Peshawar (in Pakistan – a region that generally remains closed to foreign journalists) at the entrance to the border regions where you had to go into the tribal areas.

PR.com: And you said, “It’s not worth it.”

Morgan Spurlock: Yeah. I said a lot of things (laughs), but that’s pretty much the biggest thing for me was at that point it just really wasn’t worth it. Alex was about two weeks away from having our baby. Everybody and their brother over the course of this, before we got to the tribal areas, said “Why are you looking for this guyä He’s only one personä You’ve seen all of the other things that have kind of pushed people to follow him and his ideologies.” You know, it’s not worth it. If you could go right in and be able to knock on 342 Main Street, and he opens up the door and you go “Hey, how are youä Can I talk to you for a secondä” that would be great, but it probably wouldn’t work out like that. Would it be great to find himä Of course it would. Should we find him and bring him to justiceä Of course we should. But there’s multiple things that are still out there that would have to follow suit and would need to be addressed at the same time.

PR.com: After being nominated for an Oscar for Super Size Me have you noticed that there’s a difference in being able to raise funds and to get backing and distribution for your ideasä

Morgan Spurlock: Oh yeah. After that it became incredibly easier to raise money and to get my phone calls returned. Super Size Me did something that nobody even imagined was going to happen. It ended up playing in, like, seventy-five countries around the world. It resonated with audiences that went beyond a typical doc[umentary] demographic. That film made me realize that I want to try and make movies as broad as possible. I don’t want to make a film that preaches to one specific ideal or one specific agenda or one side of the aisle. I don’t want to make movies that are for a red state or a blue state, or conservative or liberal. I want to make films that are for everybody and deal with things that affect all of us.

PR.com: Are you more concerned with documenting a subject accurately and exploring that topic, or making what would be considered an artistically well made filmä Which is your top priorityä

  Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä  

Morgan Spurlock, in Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä

   

Morgan Spurlock: It’s all about the story. It should always come back to that. And it should come back to the people that are in that story and what it’s about. For me, when we begin a topic we have no idea where it’s gonna go. We’re gonna start at “A” and we’re gonna spin the top, and let’s see what happens. It becomes a very organic process. We either let things push us in different directions or pull us in different directions. You have ideas of people you want to talk to and where you want to go, but when you hit the ground running, that gets thrown out the window. Somebody doesn’t show up for an interview, you don’t know where this guy is, this person won’t talk to you, this guy will talk to you but you don’t really want to talk to him; you don’t know what’s gonna come out of it. Then out of that interview he opens up the door to, like, five other things that you never thought of… or five other people. It’s exciting, it’s gratifying. It makes shooting documentaries very difficult. With Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä we shot nine hundred hours of footage that we then ended up editing down to the ninety minute film that we have. There was somebody that told me, before I made Super Size Me – I was just trying to get some advice and some feedback – and a friend of mine said that if the movie you end up with is the same movie that you envisioned when you started then you didn’t listen to anybody along the way. And that’s kind of a personal filmmaking mantra that I always keep in mind.

“Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladenä” is playing in theatres now. Go to www.whereisobl.com.

The third season of the docu-series “30 Days” premieres on FX Networks on June 3rd. Go to www.fxnetworks.com/shows/originals/30days/.