FTX Motor City Invite – September 14th, 2014

FTX Motor City Flyer

FTX (French Toast & Hugs) Motor City Invite – FTX #19

September 14th, 2014

Hart Plaza, Detroit (Corner Of Woodward & Jefferson)

Starting At 9am


August 3rd, 2014

It’s been almost two long years since FTX Namibia rolled out on a beautiful sunny September day in Swakopmund. It was our 18th FTX and a turning point in my life.

French Toast & Hugs (FTX) has changed with every event.

And in doing so has changed me.

It has made me bolder, it has made me braver, it has made me kinder with the understanding that we are all the same in wanting to be loved and accepted.

We are truly each other’s brothers and sisters.

FTX has given me faith in life and in people because I have seen firsthand how unconditional love can change the world.

So how was FTX Namibia different? Well, instead of handing out french toast and hugs as unconditional gifts to just people passing by we also invited 300 children from local orphanages to be our special guests.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I only knew I didn’t want to fail these kids.

I wanted to give them a day of unconditional joy.

A day where everything went their way.

A day filled with love.

And it was perfect.

They arrived in their finest clothes. The boys in pressed suits and the girls in their dresses. I seldom looked up from my grill as I wanted each piece of tasty Challah bred to be golden brown but I could hear their laughter and joy as they played that day near the ocean.

It wasn’t until the end of that day that I turned around and saw a very serious looking young man waiting behind me. We introduced ourselves and he gave me his thanks. He then said “You are a great man. Don’t stop doing this.”

I tried to tell him he was a great man as well, that we are all legends. Something I will always believe because I know it to be true. But he wouldn’t allow me to deflect his words and so they sank in over these past two years.

Not “You are a great man.”

But rather “Don’t stop doing this.”

He was absolutely right.

Giving unconditional love is the most powerful and wonderful thing any of us can do. But giving it to these kids had an epic quality that I will never fully understand.

All I know is that it changed me.

And so we are gearing up for our 19th event. FTX Motor City in the “Hart” of downtown Detroit. Our special guests will be local foster kids and their foster parents and we are hoping to raise donations of summer clothes, sneakers, toys & backpacks for them. As always, the french toast and hugs are free. And there are no conditions attached and no donations required. But if you’d like to donate to these kids please send your packages (no money will be accepted) before the end of October to my office care of:

Shyam Yadav (FTX) – Sage & Milo VFX

1999 Centerpoint Parkway

Suite 3000

Pontiac, Michigan 48341-3150

We’ll make sure the local foster agencies get them after our FTX in September to distribute.

And so we are kicking into gear our 19th event for a city that deserves love and respect.

Detroit: Home of Motown, John Lee Hooker’s Boogie, and Muscle Cars.

I’d say wish us luck but like I wrote earlier, I’ve got faith.

love,

toast

http://frenchtoastandhugs.com

http://tinyurl.com/ftx-facebook

 

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FTX Motor City Is A Go!!!!!!!!

070914_ftx_motor_city_sticker_proof

The cool steel key engraved with the letters “FTX” has just slid into the ignition of an American Muscle Car and her fuel line is being primed.

FTX Motor City is a go!!!!

Sunday, 9am, September 14th, 2014
Hart Plaza, Detroit Motor City
FTX #19

Details to follow….

Get your FTX Motor City sticker on the day.
Because you have to be in it, to win it.

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Maybe for Shyam

It has been a dog’s age since anything has been posted here, and there are so many stories to tell, but I wanted to add this tidbit that arrived in my email inbox this morning:

Hello,

I am writing because you are the owner of frenchtoastandhugs.com and glutenfreefrenchtoast.com will become available in the coming weeks. You have been identified as a possible buyer through our domain-matching algorithm.  If you are not interested in this domain or prefer not to receive future notifications, please disable the sending of any other domain notifications at the bottom of this email and I apologize for the inconvenience.

Our company is leading domain broker and marketplace.  If you are interested in purchasing glutenfreefrenchtoast.com, we are committed to a satisfactory and risk-free experience. Payment is due only after the successful transfer of ownership and the new owner’s full control of the domain.

To make an offer, please click here Click here to make offer and you will be sent to our bidding page.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

 I would enjoy the opportunity to work together.

Best wishes,

Michael

Int: (+44) 203-3185219 US: +1(888)-347-5402
Address:
4 Harbour Centre 1002KY George Town,
Cayman Islands

Needless to say, the gluten free pizza link leads nowhere, perhaps Shyam’s recent decision to go gluten free (outside ftx events) is not such a good idea after all.

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September 23rd, 2012 – FTX Nambia Invite

While i was in Africa last year my internet was spotty at best and i was unable to post on our blog my invite to FTX #18 – Namibia.

I’m posting it here now for anyone interested in reading my thoughts one week before that amazing day. :)

_________________________________________________

 

ftx_18_namibia_flyerSeptember 23, 2012

FTX (French Toast & Hugs) Namibia – FTX #18

Swakopmund, Namibia

Children’s Park

It’s an incredibly vibrant sunny Sunday as I sit on the grass surrounding the children’s park located between the lighthouse and the beach here in Swakopmund, Namibia.

Kids are playing – turning strangers into friends instantly as only kids do. I see them eating homemade gelato and riding the swings standing up as they attempt to take flight.

The smell of french fries drifts over the Atlantic breeze to me.

And the Atlantic!! The darker ocean seems lighter now as we head out of winter into spring. The waves cascade and have changed from the stormy intensity from a few weeks back to the lull of a well earned hammock rest.

In one week’s time our 18th FTX (French Toast & Hugs) event will occur at this very spot.

As always free french toast & hugs for all!!!!

:)

But this FTX is different than all the rest.

Unlike the big bustling cities we’ve had them in before, Swakopmund is a sleepy seaside town.

Mere days upon arriving here for work almost four months ago I learned of the vast number of orphans.

Kids walking long distances to go to school Monday thru Friday for the opportunity to learn and have a meal.

The volunteers at the schools don’t know what the kids eat on the weekends and if they are living with friends or family.

I knew immediately those months ago that this FTX was for them.

It’s been a long journey since June filled with uphill battles making this FTX our first officially approved one.

There have also been numerous moments of grace as I quickly made new friends (like the kids in the park) who carried a load I could not do alone.

Because that is the truth of our gang.

No one can do it alone.

And no one has to.

We’ve arranged for 300 kids to be brought to the park next week and we plan to feed them as well as anyone else who stumbles by on our day of unconditional love.

Many of the kids have never seen the ocean.

Most I am sure have never had french toast.

And I don’t plan on running out!

 

FTX Roll Call!!!!

  • 100 loaves of freshly baked challah bred
  • 100 dozen eggs
  • 60 bottles of Canadian maple syrup
  • 40 cans of Italian whipped cream
  • 20 pallets of strawberries
  • 20 kilos of bananas
  • 20 liters of homemade gelato (cinnamon, chocolate, coconut & vanilla)

and on and on and on….

And so I sit here. On a sunny African day far from home. But home is where the heart is and I find it in you.

Next week wish us luck and good fortune as we raise a little in items for these boys and girls.

Wish us a sunny breezy day where strangers become friends – for kids and adults alike.

But most of all give us love if you can as we hope to fill their bellies and hearts

if only for a day.

love,

toast

FTX 1

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December 24th, 2012 – FTX Namibia Wrap Up “The Finish Line”

2 Dreams Become 1December 24th, 2012

FTX (French Toast & Hugs) Namibia – FTX #18 Wrap Up

“The Finish Line”

Well here I sit in my home in Ojai. The rain is falling gently and the grey skies are peaceful to my desert scorched eyes.

It is the eve of Christmas and I finally feel ready (or as close to ready as I ever am) at writing my wrap up for our past FTX (French Toast & Hugs) event that occurred in Swakopmund, Namibia on September 30 th, 2012.

Three months ago! It’s hard for me to believe that almost three months ago I was in a children’s park located in a very small Namibian town and FTX was in full swing!!

Hundreds of children belonging to the local orphanage schools were our special guests and they formed a line in front of our tables that stretched all the way to the legendary Mad Max V8 Interceptor – a car that only existed in a 30 year old dream from my childhood until this past June.

Three months ago!!

But I’m ahead of myself. Let me go back seven months….

 ________________________________________________________________________________________

 It was the start of June that I arrived in Africa.

Over 10,000 miles from my home on a job that I wanted since I was a young boy.

Getting hired on a Mad Max film had been my single work focus for close to ten years.

It is the reason I drive a black muscle car.

It is the reason I love open vista roads and a limitless red desert horizon.

It is proof to me that a man, with a dog, and as much guzzoline as he can muster – has everything.

The message of “The Road Warrior” to me was to be alive, truly alive, you have to make a stand for what you believe in.

And with the help of friends you could make what you believe in into a reality.

The line on the poster read – “Just one man can make a difference”.

I had waited for three decades to be standing where I was that day.

It was the first of June.

And more than anything I didn’t want to be there.

 ________________________________________________________________________________________

The starter’s pistol in my almost ten year run to be hired on a Max film sounded in 2003 when I first learned they were planning to make another, this one called “Fury Road”.

It was the same year that FTX was started and my very own Interceptor – a 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle named ‘Grace’ entered my life.

I don’t feel I am someone who dreams big or has a wide variety of dreams.

I find I am more someone who focuses singularly on something and pursues it relentlessly. I either run it to the ground and catch it or I run myself into the ground in the trying.

At the start of 2010 I sent an email to the Australian production company who would be making the film with a story about me renting “The Road Warrior” as a young New Jersey boy and how it inspired me. Of course, I also attached a photo of Grace. :)

Eleven days later I was contacted back that I was the man for the job and it was mine if I wanted it!

Many production delays ensued and in that time I married my Brandy in the late spring of 2011.

Only a handful of months after that Brandy and I learned on November 11 th, 2011 that her mom, Donn, had stage 4 stomach cancer. That same week I learned that Max was starting up again and I could be leaving within the next few months. Not for the planned Australia but for the even more remote Africa.

I lived on a ledge wondering when and if I should be leaving.

Donn lived with Brandy and myself and our golden year pups for the last two months of her physical life which ended on January 26 th, 2012.

My father passed away quickly from a heart attack when I was 20 but not until last January had I ever witnessed the cruel and inhuman way that cancer kills.

Shortly after Donn, Brandy’s wonderful cousin Carol passed from cancer as well.

From the start Carol owned a piece of my heart.

She had Downs Syndrome, like my little sister Asha, and because of that I knew that I would always love her. That and her love of music were our instant connections. (She would write on a piece of paper a single song name and for her that would be your song – the one she always associated with you. She picked KC & The Sunshine Band’s “That’s The Way (I Like It)” to be mine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3svW8PM_jc

Not long after Carol and only a few days before my African flight another person deeply close to me lost someone as well.

These were the hurdles I ran towards as I approached June 1st.

And so when I found myself alone in Swakopmund, Namibia more than anything I wanted was to be home and in hiding.

 ________________________________________________________________________________________

I believe it was day two or three in Namibia that I learned from my friend PJ about the vast number of orphans in the area.

Without a moment’s hesitation I knew this FTX was for them.

Children who I was told not only had never had french toast before, but never had the taste of a strawberry.

Children who lived mere minutes driving from the Atlantic but who likely had never seen the ocean before.

And with my singular purpose I went forward.

Working days on my dream job and nights and rare days off on FTX.

FTX Namibia was our 18th FTX and by far the most difficult one to plan.

The hardest part was getting approval from the local government for this event.

It didn’t seem to resonate with them, the idea of an unconditional gift.

I vividly remember one day, working out in the desert, jumping off one of the Max vehicles when I had a moment to call the municipality office only to be told I would NOT be allowed to have FTX at the children’s park. They labeled me “demanding” and wanted to know exactly what I expected the public to do with these orphaned children.

The concept that I didn’t want the public to do anything except what I wanted everyone to do – to have a fun day, nothing asked from us except possibly an appetite – seemed to be lost on them.

At the end of that day I sat in the front passenger seat of our work car waiting to go home. My outside was covered in sand and dust and the sun burned my eyes as it settled pink over the endless desert. My inside was close to giving up. So very close.

I had my head in my hands as I no longer was able to keep it up.

My friend Dan came up to the window and asked what was wrong. I told him and his words of encouragement that the simple fact that FTX would happen, no matter what, lit a small fire inside me once again.

Keeping my purpose for this FTX simple, the kids, helped me keep it on track.

More questions came during the four months of planning:

Just where do you find whipped cream in Namibia?

How do you get 300 orphans to a children’s park and where do you pick them up from anyway?

How do you get the various orphanage leaders to play nice together when they seem concerned that “their” kids won’t get the same treatment as the “other” kids?

Well if you’re me, then you take a lesson learned thirty years ago from “The Road Warrior” and applied in force almost ten years ago when you co-started FTX. You rely on the kindness of others. (Yes, Jess Harrison I’m talking about you).

I have never in the history of FTX had a job and the crew on it want to help so much. I believe that like attracts like and often you will find that the people who are hiring reflect the people they hire to work for them. And this was certainly the case here. From the top to bottom, never before did I have so many people want to help before the event, during the event and after the event.

Donations poured in as people brought wide ranging items from toiletries to toys for the kids that would be attending.

The Special FX department reconfigured both my grills to work with the African propane hookups and donated all the propane.

The Sound department offered up their sound system so I could play my FTX mix in the park. There was even a public electric plug discovered on the day so that we would never run the risk of running out of music!

Boeta, one of the local workers in the Transportation department, on his own dime, even arranged to have all the children picked up and returned. Promising me not to worry, not to worry, not to worry.

PJ got approval to have what started me on this path – Mad Max’s V8 car – to be on hand for the event. It arrived on time before the event began, the driver asking me where I wanted to have it parked and if he could rev it from time to time!!

Are you kidding me?!?! You’re asking me where to park something from my dreams? And if you can rev her? YES & YES!!!!

(A week to the day after FTX I looked with approval at an oil stain on the nearby park sidewalk marking the Interceptor’s presence from where she sat at FTX.)

And so with that army of legends September 30th, arrived.

 ________________________________________________________________________________________

A mist hung over the Atlantic as we set up.

The Interceptor arrived and for a brief moment I was 10 again, standing in awe of a dream.

Boeta had the kids arrive on time just as he promised.

My core crew set up and more kept arriving and arriving as the day drew out into a painting of perfection.

I though was spent.

I had never run so hard or for so long in my life.

My bones were hangers holding up my body as I went into auto pilot trying to do my best in cooking each slice of french toast into a golden brown.

I looked down into that smoky grill for upwards of four hours.

My army around me.

And as I looked down I heard the sounds.

The sounds of children laughing and playing.

The sounds of people from all over the world celebrating the simple fact of being alive and being together.

I looked down and instead of seeing the park I saw a blacktop race track.

Paint marked the runner’s lanes and I saw my legs.

They were hovering over the track no longer moving, no longer having the energy to move.

But they were still moving forward!

It was no longer me but you, all of you, that held me in your arms as you carried me across this finish line.

My goal of giving these kids just one day of love would never have been reached without your love.

All of you. The ones there. The ones wanting to be there. All of you.

And I thank you because this dream, this dream of love, is so much bigger than the one I had when I was 10. And yet somehow, in this mysterious world of ours, I was able to finish both dreams – at just the same time.

 ________________________________________________________________________________________

But the race wasn’t over on September 30th, 2012 although at the time I thought it was.

Days after the event I got a message from Ashley, one of the orphanage workers. She wrote to tell me that she had over three carloads of donations that came from FTX. She said she would give them to the kids over the Christmas holidays.

Christmas.

Tomorrow.

Tomorrow your gift of unconditional love has carried on. It has gone beyond the three months since FTX. It has carried forward across a new finish line as only love can.

 ________________________________________________________________________________________

One last story.

When I was a small boy a friend of mine invited me to an event his church was having.

It was a day at an arcade with unlimited tokens for the video games and unlimited pizza.

Now if you know me, or even if you only have heard of me, you can picture my little ears perking up at the idea of what unlimited pizza could possibly be! What it could possibly look like!?

I still remember that day. I still remember the plastic cups filled with gold tokens. I remember the boxes and boxes of pizza.

They never brought up church or religion that day.

It was a day just for the enjoyment of being together.

A day for the taking. A day for the keeping.

A day I have never forgotten.

I don’t know how much the seed of FTX was planted into my mind from that day long ago.

But I do know that I never forgot.

I do know that the way that magical day felt is in some way a part of the man that I am now.

And maybe, just maybe, some of those 300 kids will feel the same way about our day as well.

Maybe they will remember.

And maybe they will run.

 

Happy Holidays everyone.

My love and heart to you always,

toast

FTX 1

 

http://www.frenchtoastandhugs.com

 

http://www.facebook.com/pages/FTX-French-Toast-and-Hugs-Gang/200794489956228

 

FTX Namibia Prep

http://vimeo.com/50933702

 

FTX Namibia Coconut Sprinkles Love

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152025634019625

 

FTX Namibia French Toast Assembly Line

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152025586659625

 

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FTX 65 – FTX 66 – FTX #18

September 16, 2012

FTX 65 – FTX 66 – FTX #18

Dear FTX Gang,

it’s been a long long while since i’ve written to you. our last event was over a year ago on September 11th, 2011 in NYC. it was an extremely powerful FTX and i was gifted with incredible people to help.

two of those people are Ana & Charles and it gives me great pleasure to welcome them into our family of friends.

i met Ana in 2009 in Morocco when i was working on (gasp) Sex & The City 2. we became friends out there but i have to say i had no idea how incredible a person she was until September of last year.

Ana not only coordinated almost all of FTX ♥ NY for me while i was in the UK for work but used her skills working in props to supply us with everything we might need (tables, transportation, where to buy challah bred – Moishe’s!) and even opened her home for my mom to sleep and stay in.

i believe no one really accomplishes anything on their own. FTX could not occur by myself alone. Ana was one of the handful of pivotal people that helped us on that historical sunday day last year to connect with people who felt drawn to a city still healing.

thank you Ana so much. we are honored to have you as our FTX 65.

i met Charles in January of 2010 when we were doing FTX Downtown 2 in Los Angeles. you may remember the size of those events where hundreds of homeless and in need people waited in line for a little FT & X. near the end of the day i noticed Charles and he asked me if he would be able to talk to me when i was done.

Charles explained to me that he had created an organization called United Steps.

http://unitedsteps.org/

it’s mission is to reverse the cycle of homelessness by speaking to people in a one-on-one conversation and in doing so connecting with them through encouragement, respect and listening. in the almost 2 ½ years since i’ve known him i’ve seen Charles do just that. approaching people as equals creates a bond based on the truth that we are all brothers and sisters.

i have been lucky enough to participate in some of the many events United Steps does in the Los Angeles area and i would recommend getting involved. i learned a lot about myself by doing them.

so please join me in celebrating him as our very own FTX 66!!

both Ana & Charles have inspired me as you all have. more and more i realize how powerful it is to be surrounded by the incredible people that make up FTX.

some of you may not know but since June i’ve been working in Namibia Africa on one of the goals of my life – a Mad Max film!!

on the first day of shooting i learned from director George Miller that he had been speaking to actress Zoe Kravitz about FTX!?! (i still don’t know how he heard about our gang!) Zoe was so inspired by our gang that she had her character renamed to my nickname of “Toast”!

upon arriving in Swakopmund, Namibia (with my grill in my suitcase) i learned of the huge population of orphans in the area. since the town i am living in is so small i realized that doing an FTX on the street would yield very few people indeed.

so within the first few days of arriving i decided to change our rules a bit and invite some *special guests* to FTX Namibia. 300 children from the local schools!!

it’s been three months since then and i’ve never worked harder on an FTX. in that time we got permission to legally do FTX at the nearby children’s park that is right next to the beach. (i’ve been told that many of the kids have never seen the ocean.)

the production company of this film has been the most involved i’ve ever had. not only have i had the fortune to meet great people but the company is offering up tables, coolers, trash bins, transportation of the children and even possibly Mad Max’s very own V-8 Interceptor car for the event!! (we’ll have to wait and see if it arrives on the day!)

i feel so blessed in my life and i truly don’t have the imagination for all the great gifts i’ve been given. i am thankful for all of you and your love, support and friendship.

on Sunday, September 30th, at 9am we will be going to the park and beach for our 18th FTX with an army of helpers, an incredible amount of food and a brand new music mix.

you can download it here and pop it in your “Compilations” folder on your computer. feel free to share the link.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/26813995/ftx%20namibia.zip

being in Africa it’s easy to realize no food goes to waste. if you are eating out and can’t finish your meal it is unheard of not to get it bagged up to go. outside you’ll find well dressed people who are working whether watching your car, selling newspapers or any other job. the gratitude i see in their eyes when i hand them my leftovers really hit home. like Charles with United Steps i see only another human, just like me. one who would like a meal. there is no real begging but more thankfulness. more equality in the action of giving and sharing than i’ve experienced before. it’s two people connecting.

just like FTX.

realizing how precious food is here i went overboard knowing none of my food would go to waste and ordered more than i ever have before!!

100 loaves of freshly baked challah bred (i had to print a recipe online since no bakery had ever heard of the Jewish bred in this German town!)

100 dozen eggs

20 liters of homemade gelato ice cream (cinnamon, coconut, chocolate & vanilla)

320 boxes of strawberries

20 kilos of bananas

40 cans of Italian whipped cream

60 bottles of maple syrup

and on and on and on.

if on September 30th you find yourself up at 9am our time (we are 9 hours ahead of Pacific Coast Time) and want to put on your gold and yellow FTX shirt and maybe give the new mix a spin i’d appreciate it.

i’m a bit nervous because i don’t want to let all these kids down. i know that might sound silly and i know when the event kicks into gear (V-8 INTERCEPTOR!) i’ll find my balance. but i have never had to rely on more people than with this FTX.

we’re two weeks away and my strongest feeling is gratitude. just as i felt in the power of sharing as equals with the people here in this seaside town i feel when i share with you.

my thanks to you all. i would never be here without you.

love toast

FTX 1

 

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the wedding video almost as good as the real thing

I was honored to not only be present at shyam and brandy’s wedding, but also to be a part of the wedding party. Needless to say, it was a unique experience and I thank them for giving me an opportunity to shake my groove thing in public, again.

few wedding, memory video/slideshows can do justice to the actual event, and of course this is no substitute for having been there, but if you were NOT in ojai, california on the May 28th, 2011.

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