ftx downtown stories….

FTX Downtownhttp://frenchtoastandhugs.com/docs/pages/event_eleven.html

it was an amazing moment that had torrential rain leading up to the perfect day. this may sound familiar to you all because the same thing happened for ftx santa monica, ftx echo park and now ftx downtown. whether or not the ftx events are rescheduled they always land on just the right day. which is something i am taking with me into my personal life – allowing things the respect and space to work out in their own time.

also please go here to get a look at the current ftx roster:

you’ll see the 4 newest additions in our growing gang. i have so many new stone cold recruits in mind, the only thing holding me back is getting those darn shirts made in time!!!! but until then….

we proudly welcome into our ranks:

who’s character, humor & heart are so big that his name has become a description. yeah that’s right – JUST like Hitchcockian, Lynchian & Beatle-esque, now we’ve got HOWIE-AN. or spelled something like that!! i’ll leave it up to the man himself.

i’ve known ken since i was a metalhead in high school. ken schooled ME in the ways of king diamond, slayer and other mind twisting music. but in life his actions taught me about loyalty, love and the strength of wearing your heart on the outside. he is truly one of my heroes in life and it’s been a long time coming for him to be in this gang. we are only stronger because of it.

now leah is an interesting recruit. for years she was not wanting to join because she still had to decide if ftx was something she could put her name behind. her name and more importantly her heart. i have learned a hard lesson in my life before – to never force somebody to do something just because you thought it’d be “good” for them. to allow people the respect to define their life just as i strive to define mine. so i let her decision sit. but when i asked her recently if she was still wanting to be out of the gang she told me that she had thought about it and decided this was something that she believed in. i respect the stone cold time she took to decide that and gratefully welcome her in.

i am fortunate enough to be able to call brandy nightingale my girlfriend. but in truth i would have settled for friend from this great person. brandy didn’t get in because of me, she got in because of her. i have known her for going on my 6th year and am impressed greater and greater as i see her work to make herself the woman that she wants to become. thru her own actions and accepting the help of the good people in this world she has made herself someone who you can count on, someone who stands for and means something. in a world where there will always be slim pickings for this type of person, she is someone that is an example for me. someone that i believe in. she will always be FTX #110.
please check out her own site here:

and so FTX DOWNTOWN. what can i write or compare – to me each event is unique and none better than the other. but i do know that this one was different. i had the benefit of having scouted the location for months. i was ready for the long lines of people already cued and waiting for us, for anyone, to arrive. my friends most likely were not.

Weather Forecast For Sunday January 25, 2009
a week of threatening rain eventually diminished into nothing more than a soft and sunny day. the faith of my close friends who had no doubt that it wouldn’t rain created faith within myself. and faith and belief, things that no one can take away from you once you have them (in truth i believe they can only be given away) got us to and thru the day. there, i know, were people who were nervous about such close interaction with the people we drive past everyday. i was one of them. but in the end the chance of rain worried me more than the people. for me, for some intangible reason (faith again?), i believed that everything was going to be ok. i believe in the power of love, i believe in the power of serving, i believe in the power of communication, i believe in the power of carbohydrates! ☺

so let me tell you a story.

i don’t have any amazing story of me and someone down there in line. truth be told when i’m cooking french toast i don’t often look up until the whole thing is all done. i do know we fed between 400 – 450 people. i do know that we outlasted downtown los angeles and that a line that went for 5 hours was gone when we left. i do know that a handful of friends did all that.

my story is about two of those people.

FTX #49 - Dalton
on the day of the event i had a few people arrive at my downtown loft to meet up, clean and cut the fruit and head on out to downtown los angeles. we were supposed to be at 6th & towne at 8am that sunny sunday morning. but we were running late. now not too late mind you, no excuses but come on, we were about 10 minutes after 8 when the call came in. it was from ftx #49, brother dalton. now dalton is almost 15 years old and he and his dad bret were coming from over 50 miles away in corona, california. he was wondering where we were. i told him we were minutes away and in his direct way acknowledged my lame excuse and said he was waiting. well when we got there he immediately asked what he could do. i gave him the job of dunking the bred into the batter and putting it on the grill because truth be told, it makes my life so much easier. this ftx we had two grills (thanks to mary, christian & FTX #32 luke) and a second griller – FTX #38 mr. henry cline! i at some point noticed that dalton had one of his plastic food gloves over a CAST. that’s right, he worked for 5 hours straight with a cast on his arm. not only that but as the line moved slowly past him he took all the praise, teasing and sometimes rude behavior from the various people in stride. he was calm, cool, collected. in the words of daisy mae, he was stone cold.

Gloria Of Diamond Bakery
the second person is gloria from diamond bakery on fairfax & beverly. now gloria doesn’t know me from adam but she does have a righteous soul. the week before ftx downtown i went scouting all over – hollywood, glendale, tarzana for the best challah bred i could find. all were good but it was her heart that won me over to choose her bakery. the day that i entered the store i told her i was planning to buy around 40 to 50 loaves of challah bred the next week. she asked why i was buying so many and i told her a group of friends of mine were going to get together to feed the homeless the following weekend rain permitting (this was when i was still lacking weather forecast faith!). she laughed and waved off the rain (and i have no doubt SHE has the power to do this) but it was her face that moved me. her mouth dropped a little and i could see her eyes go all soft. she leaned in close and in an unintentional whisper asked me “you do this? just you go out and do this??” to which i replied “no. we go out and do this. my friends and me.”
she asked me what my name was and i told her. still leaned in, still whispering, she told me that we had re-established her belief in the good of mankind! to which she added that she would give me a healthy discount on the bred as she simultaneously stuffed a chocolate pastry in my palm. embarrassed i moved to get out of the bakery as quickly as i could, but not having been raised by a jewish mother i had no idea how outgunned i was. before i could leave she insisted she give me a kiss on my cheek and as i hustled out the door she yelled behind me “shyam! i love you!”.

in truth that is all still embarrassing for me to write to so many of you but the message i’ve learned from it in life is that if someone, a complete stranger no less, embraces your heart, well then there is probably a good chance you’re doing the right thing.

i want to thank all of you who have tirelessly embraced my heart. i never expected to have as much with my life.
i never would without you.


anyhow that’s enough from me but how about something from you?

if you were at ftx downtown or even if not but have something to say, i would really appreciate it if you would write one story of the event. please post it on the ftx website blog under this story that i’ve written using the “leave a reply” option. also if you have any photos of the event please email or mail them to me. usually the only way i can see what happened is thru your pictures and i really appreciate them.
i have posted a few of the ones i have on the ftx blog.


until the next ftx i wish you all the best.


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