Coming home, and a shout-out to a friend

It’s been about two weeks since my last post. In that time I’ve flown from Beirut to Anchorage, Alaska, then to Wichita, Kansas, and — just tonight — back home to New York, where I have finally and mercifully landed at last. (I will spend a few brief days in Boston starting tomorrow, but will return shortly thereafter to recommence my life as a relatively stationary man. And for that I am, at least for this moment, enormously happy.)

Onward, then. One of my very best friends, Sam Diaz-Littauer, recently produced a video commemorating the recent Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Sam flew from Geneva, where he’s currently based, to Rio de Janeiro to take part in activism on behalf of the “Major Group for Children and Youth.” After leaving the conference with a palpable sense of disappointment in the lack of progress achieved, Sam created the aforementioned 5-minute video, titled “Something To Believe In,” which was released on August 12th (International Youth Day).

He asked me to pass along this statement for more context:

Something to Believe In: MGCY Rio+20 Declaration Video
Celebrating International Youth Day, 12 August 2012

Today we celebrate International Youth Day. Today we celebrate our generation. Today we celebrate you and me.

The Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) is the voice of young people in the UN sustainability negotiations, active participants in the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. Through negotiating, demonstrating, and participating in local initiatives, we shared our vision of the future and the actions needed to achieve this.

Despite our disappointment in the outcome of Rio+20, we remain committed to the process of achieving a sustainable future, for our generation and for those to come. We need you to help make this a reality.

This is our declaration.

We believe that youth can move the world. Our time is now. Today let us inspire our generation. Share this message and celebrate with us as we create the world.

If you would like to read more about the MGCY’s involvement in Rio+20, visit our website at or download our Youth Blast Report. Our MGCY Rio+20 Report is coming soon!

Sam is an extremely gifted filmmaker, and one whose talent behind the camera I only fully understood after an absolutely catastrophic attempt of my own, during my university years, at donning the director’s hat for a year-long project. (The bloody remains of my cinematic career are still spattered all over the proverbial cutting-room floor, where the contents of my finished product should have remained as well. Alas, they escaped to the campus “big screen,” to the bemusement of somewhere between 1,000-2,000 very confused moviegoers and undergraduate peers. I distinctly recall slinking down the back alleyways of campus with my brother after the premiere, avoiding all interaction with familiar faces. But I digress.)

While I cannot, without doing significant further research, personally endorse the platform of the MGCY or any of the other organizations referenced above (and this, equally definitively, should not be taken to mean I reject them either), I can emphatically recommend keeping a close eye on this, and whatever else Sam continues to produce, film, edit, or otherwise tinker with over the course of what I know will be a long and always-fascinating career devoted to bending the lines separating the arts, philosophy, and theology towards some sort of intellectual and emotional synthesis.

Sam’s idealism and unvarnished passion have always been, and continue to be, the yin to my yang of detached cynicism. It is this very juxtaposition — a word that has more meaning for him than for most, if I may be so cryptic — that has caused perhaps more heated arguments between us than anything else. And yet it is these very same qualities that I most admire in him: it is, indeed, quite probable that my impassioned entreaties to “be realistic,” to “stop living in the clouds,” if he were ever to heed them in their entirety, would represent to me a tragedy far surpassing the ruins of my teenage cinematic ambitions.

That Sam may in fact possess certain compromising videotapes of me acting badly in horrendous films he never completed has, I assure you, no relevance to this post.

Anyway, without further ado:


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