Smoking Toddler

Like any two-year-old boy, Ardi Rizal drinks from his bottle, needs his diaper regularly changed and drives around in his toy fire-truck smoking a cigarette. Wait a minute. OK so Ardi isn't like most toddlers as he's already developed a serious addiction to nicotine. Ardi who is rarely seen without a cig in his hand, puffs away 40 cigarettes per day.

A two-year-old boy should not know what a cigarette is, let alone be smoking them, but his father of all people does not seem too concerned. After all, he was the one who introduced his son to the taste of a cigarette at the tender age of 14 months.

“He’s totally addicted… If he doesn’t get cigarettes he gets angry and screams and batters his head against the wall. He tells me he feels dizzy and sick,” said Ardi's mother.

When a YouTube video surfaced of the chain-smoking Indonesian cutie, parents from around the world were shocked. There is now growing concern for Ardi as his addiction to cigarettes is causing him serious health problems. Because of his daily habit, the boy is obese and cannot keep up with the other children. The government has offered the family a free car if Ardi quits smoking, but Ardi's father still doesn't see what the big deal is.

The Daily Mail says nearly 3% of Indonesia’s five-to nine-year-olds are active smokers. Many researchers and activists are beginning to get involved in this situation. Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney said “Indonesia is unfortunately regarded as a basket case in international tobacco control. It’s regarded as a smoker’s paradise.”

I highly doubt Children & Family Services exist in Indonesia, but these irresponsible parents should be denied of any and all child supervision. That and the father should be castrated to ensure he never reproduces again. I can't even begin to think of the major problems that await poor Ardi in his future. A wise man named Michael K put it best when he wrote an article stating that Ardi's parents should take that free car and drive the little boy into the jungle where he could be raised by wild monkey's. He'd be better off that way and I completely agree.



If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden.

~Attributed to Claudia Ghandi~



Glamorous Hollywood? Not so much actually. It's more cheesy and bling bling Hollywood these days. I saw Jimi Hendrix's star and Frank Sinatra's star in the first fifty steps and that was good enough for me. I recommend the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman's Chinese Theatre and that's about it for the strip.

Once I fled tourist town, I headed north. I spotted the legendary Hollywood sign from afar and attended a mellow mansion party tucked away in the hills. A DJ spun tunes near the pool and a crowd huddled around the warm bonfire pit. There was an open bar and lots of mini hamburger hors-d'oeuvres circling the party. It was the perfect spot for a couple of cocktails before making my way to Voyeur. This nightclub is now one of the hottest places to party in LA. With extremely selective screening, it's almost impossible to get in without connections. Once inside though, it's a whole other world. The venue is decorated in exposed brick, antique chandeliers, leather couches and brass tables. It features 1920s glass windows from the old New York Times building on West 43rd Street and one separate room is wallpapered in sexy photo filmstrips. All these pieces make it feel like an old boys pad where sophisticated men wearing velvet robes should smoke from a pipe and swirl fine Cognac.

It's not the furniture most will notice though as naked girls in erotic gear dance on the bars, suspend in harnesses and play in glass observatories. One woman was even intertwined in a fishing net that covered the ceiling of the club. As soon as I walked in, I immediately turned to my friends and told them we were being cast in the sequel of Eyes Wide Shut. After doing my research, I found out that the award-winning architect and designer Mark Zeff drew inspiration from that specific Stanley Kubrick film as well as Annabelle's of London. Other projects by Zeff include the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Sense and A Rosewood Spa at the Carlyle Hotel in New York.

Here are some pics I've included from the website and a personal photo of me on the dance floor. If you'd like to check out more on this provocative venue go to http://voyeur7969.com/index.html


The Pacific Coast Highway

The rolling hills with million dollar homes scattered throughout on my right. The drop dead gorgeous view of the ocean and steep cliffs on my left. The sun setting on the road ahead, the wind in my hair and some fresh seafood in my belly.

I just adore road trips...

Give me the Pacific Coast Highway any day and I'll show you one happy gypsy.



They're tiny, they're irresistibly cute and they now star in a documentary film. Babies has been receiving great reviews so I decided to see it yesterday. The documentary follows four infants from birth and captures their first words, first steps and everything else leading up to their first birthdays. The neat thing about this documentary is that the four babies are all located in different parts of the world, thus making it fascinating to witness each one grow and be cared for in completely different cultures.

The stars of the film include baby Ponijao who enjoys a carefree lifestyle with other children and stray animals within her Himba tribe in Namibia. The chubby-cheeked Bayarjargal has no fear crawling among a herd of cattle and munching on a roll of toilet paper in his nomadic home in Mongolia. Opposed to these rural upbringings, two other babies are filmed in urban cities. Mari in Tokyo and Hattie, the All-American baby in San Francisco, were both featured being over protected and pampered. There are similarities in the way people care for their little ones, however there are many more differences that become apparent during the film. While Ponijao is allowed to stick her mini arm right into the mouth of a stray dog, Hattie's hippie parents furiously roll lint off her jammies. And while Mari's mom takes her to Japanese baby classes, a wild animal comes to drink out of the bin Bayarjargal is bathing in.

Director Thomas Balmès does an amazing job capturing the footage of the little tots by using a tripod rather than a shaky hand-held camera. This is no homemade video, although I should warn potential viewers that the film has no dialogue. Also be prepared that if you're looking for a car-chasing type flick or something with a thrilling plot line, this film is rated adorable and deals only with the four babies mentioned.


Toots & the Maytals

When people think of reggae music, it's Mr. Bob Marley that pops into their minds. But, the next best and biggest thing to bless the irie scene is Toots & the Maytals, who are known as one of the best ska and reggae vocal groups of all time. The popular Jamaican group was formed in the 1960s and remains a key figure in reggae music . Frederick Hibbert AKA Toots still leads the band and jams out at the ripe old age of 64. Last night I was lucky enough to see Toots and his gang perform from front row at the historic Key Club on Sunset Boulevard.

The Key Club goes down in the books for being "the spot" of rock 'n' roll ever since the 1960s when it was named Gazzari's by its creator Bill Gazzari, The Godfather of Rock n Roll. Bands that have graced its stage throughout the past three decades include The Doors, Van Halen, Alice Cooper, Tom Petty, Tina Turner, Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses. The legacy still continues today with performances by Bon Jovi, Kanye West, Incubus, Tony Bennett, Prince, The Roots, Def Leppard and last night with Toots & the Maytals. The legendary reggae band kept the crowd dancing and singing along to their catchy songs all night.

I hung out with some lovely people backstage and then I met Adrian Grenier and his real life entourage in VIP. Although his character Vincent Chase portrays the ulimate celebrity bachelor on the hit HBO series Entourage, Grenier lacks those lady slaying skills in real life. There's no doubt he's still a cutie pie up close and he had a blast at the concert singing out loud to all the lyrics. After the show, my friends and I hopped onto the tour bus to congratulate Toots on a great gig. The happy-go-lucky reggae master was all smiles and a pleasure to be around. It was an honour being able to hug the jolly man who was one of the first artists to use the word reggae.


More LA

I've been hearing stories about a magical landmark that sells delicious sandwiches and so I decided to check it out for myself this past Thursday. It's called Bay Cities Italian Deli and there's a serious lineup all times of the day. I ordered the Godmother with extra hot peppers and must admit it was tastier than the average Subway. After lunch I went to Santa Monica to visit my friend Josie who works at a funky boutique called Zvezda. The owner of the boutique, a Bulgarian woman who was once married to the Prince of Bulgaria, sells cool treasures she finds from traveling the world such as clothing, jewelry, paintings, wooden carvings and vintage designer handbags. I received a gift certificate to Zvezda from the sweetest man in the world, and had a hay day trying on lots of pretty pieces including a $3,500 beaded necklace.

I then took the tourist route and walked the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. I heard a solo artist perform, saw a contortionist and lingered in and out of the big name stores. I was pleasantly surprised with the Kitson outlet. Most have probably heard of Kitson in gossip mags as it's the hip spot for LA celebs to shop for clothes. The outlet was filled with sale priced items and a sea of shoes in the back of the store. The sight of all those shoes put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

I had my first taste of Pinkberry frozen yogurt as well. I got the coconut yogurt with mochi, mango, blueberry and blackberry toppings. Word on the street is that people go nuts for this premium frozen yogurt that claims to have reinvented the US frozen yogurt category in West Hollywood. It's often referred to as Crackberry due to the never ending lineup of people trying to get their fix. My frozen yogurt was very delicious and I didn't mind waiting in the line either as they had tons of cool gadgets to look at such as the corkscrews and salt and pepper shakers that I've included photos of.

I found another cute coffee shop and it just so happens to be LA's largest organic coffee roaster. I love coffee and tea, but I've come to the conclusion that my love for coffee shops surpasses both. There's just something about the chill vibe, cool tunes and comfortable furniture that makes me want to sit down and people watch. I came across a gem of a spot just down the road from where I'm staying. It's called Groundwork Coffee Company and it's a place everyone should try when in the area. The locals love it because of the quaint atmosphere where everyone knows your name. I got the Bitches Brew coffee, a fresh pumpkin loaf and then sat outside in the sun where I met Hamilton. He's a masseur by day, but likes to come to the coffee shop to sing and play his guitar in his self-made Thai pants. The coffee, pastries and people are amazing here, and I highly recommend stopping in for a cup of joe.

As spectacular as the coffee was, the highlight of yesterday was still my bike ride along the Venice Beach Boardwalk and pier to catch the sunset. A nice man who lives downstairs and writes screenplays let my friend and I borrow his bicycles. My eyes lit up when he wheeled an old-school vintage green bicycle my way. It was lovely and equipped with wide handlebars and a bell. I've been wanting one of these bikes ever since I saw Wedding Crashers, when Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams take a bike ride to the beach. I couldn't have asked for a sweeter ride. On a Friday night the boardwalk was filled with artisans selling their crafts along the street, musicians playing in and out of pubs, artists carving sculptures in the sand and skateboarders showing off their new tricks at the skateboard park by the waters edge. There were also tons of kush clinics enticing people walking by to purchase their medical marijuana cards.

The modern homes that overlooked the beach were so grand that I almost crashed my bicycle at the sight of one. So, of course I stopped and took a picture for my blog. Despite the chilly weather, I was still able to see some dedicated surfers once I reached the pier.

Later last night I got semi dolled up and went out for a couple of drinks and good conversation with some friends at The Otheroom. The lounge had that relaxed Venice vibe. It was decorated with large portraits on the brick walls, candlelight and an upscale finish. LA is said to change "it" lounges and clubs on a monthly basis, so we found out that this particular lounge had great reviews from locals and celeb magazines.


I'm In Los Angeles!

I have finally arrived to the City of Angels! This is my fifth trip to the city, but the first time I'm able to stay for a two-week period and explore the many areas of LA. I will try and make blog posts as often as possible so I can share my little adventures and some unique finds with all you readers.

I'm staying right in the heart of Venice Beach and loving every minute of it so far. I started off today the best way I know how... sleeping in. Then I did a 15 minute stroll through the neighbourhood to the popular Abbot Kinney Blvd. shopping district. Once I got there it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I peaked into all the little clothing boutiques, vintage and junk shops, checked out some of the exhibits showing at the many art galleries and then stopped into Intelligentsia, a funky coffee shop that promotes fair trade and organic products. I purchased a cappuccino and then passed the time people watching with my friend on the industrial-style patio area overgrown by vines. We saw a couple of C-list celebs walk in and out of the shop and then continued on our way.

Anytime I'm traveling I love walking everywhere I possibly can so that I soak in my surroundings. This is my first time in Venice Beach and I'm very fond of the hippie culture that resides here. It's made up of a collaboration of artists that have a relaxed look and mentality. The sight of Converse sneakers, skinny jeans and hipster plaid shirts mesh among the people. Of course, there are also many gypsies that simply create their own style. Overall, there are definitely no 9-5 suit-and-tie folks around here and I'm really digging that.

The Venice Beach area is made up of an eclectic sort of housing. On any given street is an array of colorful houses ranging from pink, yellow and even blue. There are little Mexican- inspired villas fully loaded with cacti gardens and ultra modern and architecturally diverse houses and buildings thrown into the mix. Most of these are constructed of sustainable materials to support eco-friendly living. Every property I passed was filled with gorgeous blooming flowers that wafted a different floral scent down each block. These sights and smells definitely made my walk go by too quickly.

Another thing I really love about this area is the abundance of art. It's rare to see a wall that hasn't been decorated by graffiti. When I was walking near the boardwalk yesterday I even discovered that someone had taken a pen and made a large blob of paint on the sidewalk into a smiley face. The graffiti doesn't stop at walls or sidewalks though, tons of people living out of their vans smother their automobiles in pictures, paintings and peace slogans. I'm convinced most of them live this way by choice to escape any conventional means of living. After all, it's all probably part of the free-spirited mentality around these parts.


Sleep Talkin' Man

On April 29, this is what Adam said in his sleep...

"Oh, get up and wash your shadow. It's filthy. Filthy!"

"Ninjas in stilettos. Fashion assassins! Not so stealthy, but oh so stylish!"

And then on April 30, this is what Adam muttered in his sleep...

"You tap-dancing hamsters. You rock my world, with your little blurry feet."

Last night he even said this in a deep slumber...

"I have succumbed to temptation! Mankini or body wax? Decisions, decisions..."

No I don't sleep with Adam.

Once upon a time, there was a man named Adam who frequently blabbered nonsense in his sleep. The things he talked about were so funny and odd, that his wife decided to devote a blog entirely to the quirky phrases that came from his mouth while he was asleep.

So she set up a voice-activated recorder in the bedroom and the next morning she posts the recordings onto her blog at http://sleeptalkinman.blogspot.com/.

The wife said her British husband is normally a really kind and humble man, although his alter ego seems to be drastically different. The sleep talking Adam is egotistical, violent, mean and has a big potty mouth. His midnight jibber-jabber has caught the attention of many people on the Internet as the blog now has 10, 213 followers. So although me and 10, 213 others don't sleep with Adam, we still get to hear and read his hysterical sleep talking antics the next day.


Ashes & Snow

A couple of years ago I came across the most beautiful photo. It intrigued me so much, that I just had to find out everything about it and about the artist. I started researching and the more information I discovered on the topic, the more I fell in love with Ashes and Snow.

Ashes and Snow is a fascinating exhibition created by a Canadian-born artist named Gregory Colbert. It was unvieled in Venice, Italy in 2002 and since then has traveled all over the world. With over 10 million visitors, Ashes and Snow has been marked as the most attended exhibition by a living artist in history.

The exhibition focuses on Colbert's journey through countries such as India, Burma, Egypt and Namibia (to only name a few), where he filmed and photographed the interaction of people and over 130 species. Some of the wild animals included elephants, leopards, cranes and gibbons and the people range from Burmese monks to a variety of indigenous tribes. He aimed to re-create moments when humans and animals once existed in harmony. Without a deadline or a budget, Colbert waited for weeks and even months to shoot frames often saying he was working on the animals' time. The dedicated artist even swam with the sperm whales sans breathing apparatus as the bubbles would create distress for the whale.

“I wanted to use my whole heart, in a whole way, in a whole direction. Some people find that radical thinking, but in other periods of history it was a given,” said Colbert.

These interactions create something so natural and innocent. It's almost as if the beauty brings down all your guards just for a second, and then fills you with sensitivity. I like to refer to it as poetry to the eyes. And a big part of my love and astonishment for these photographs is that none of the them have been digitally collaged or superimposed. I know it's hard to believe, but they record what Colbert saw himself through the lens of his own camera. The photographs are done in umber and sepia tones and finished in a complicated and detailed process on handmade Japanese paper.

The photographs are minimal, yet they say so much. They are peaceful, serene and almost act as small stress relievers. If only people could devote more time to art and true beauty like this, maybe it could create an end-all to the pill-popping society we live in. So enjoy the photos and remember to take the time and discover all the beautiful things around you.