December 18, 2015
Dear FTX Gang,
So much has happened these past two years.
The highest of highs and the lowest of lows to be true.
As always, it takes me a long time to get how I’m feeling on the inside to make its way to the outside.
But now, on the nearing of the end of our 2015, I sit outside in the Ojai sun with a Bundaberg ginger beer and know I am as ready as I’ll ever be.
Over the past two years we’ve lost some stone cold gang members but we have gained some too.
As I wrote on October 11th, we lost our co-founder, the one who put “stone cold” into FTX, our forever lovely brown eyed girl Daisy Mae.
But is lost the right word?
Some days, most days, I feel lost without her and the word seems to fit. But that’s just personal to me and not representative of the good she’s given our world.
What Daisy has given our world, love and friendly meals to thousands upon thousands, is forever.
How can any man say an animal, any animal, is less than us when they learn of her?
How can they not be inspired?
Daisy was and is FTX 1. And wherever FTX 1 went FTX 0 was sure to follow.
FTX 0 is our pale little deaf girl Jasmine June but Daisy let me know long ago her true name is Alien Kinkaid (more on that later!).
Jasmine was said to be a little slow and in her deafness approached life in her own unique way.
Jasmine loved the feel of the bushes on her face.
Jasmine would sit and stare for hours at her friend the dryer.
Jasmine would make sounds never heard before on earth.
And for good reason.
According to Daisy’s legend, Jasmine (Alien Kinkaid), crashed to our blue green brown planet in a spaceship similar in appearance to a regular clothes dryer. Alien was rescued by some good folk but in truth Daisy let me know she was adopted so Daisy could keep an eye on our confused little space wanderer.
Daisy recommended to me, the other FTX 1, that we let Alien into our Gang as FTX 0 so all of us could keep an eye out for her. Zero. A number that doesn’t seemingly add anything but over time both Ms Mae & I realized she added quite a bit.
She added love and companionship to Daisy’s life and Daisy to hers.
When Daisy passed into the mystery on October 11th Jasmine followed her one and only true friend a few weeks later on December 2nd.
I know that I will miss these two girls for the rest of my life.
To me, forever, 1+0 will equal the love of sisters.
Sisters and a dryer shaped spaceship.
Until I can see you again, rest easy dear girls.
I wrote back in my FTX Motor City wrap up about the incredible Gary Sibley.
Gary was a teacher to autistic students in the Detroit area as well as a filmmaker. I met him thru a friend and without hesitation Gary single handedly spearheaded FTX Motor City into becoming the success that it was. Choosing the location, where to get good local bred, sending out flyers to his friends and students and even standing next to our FTX 5 as the police threatened to shut us down.
Gary passed away April 23rd from heart failure. Far too soon and far too young. I never was able to give Gary his shirt but I will give him his number now. Like all our numbers they are yours and yours alone. His is 914, September 14th if you will, the date of FTX Motor City. I dedicate this day now and forever to the man who gave that day meaning to me.
Only once before have I dedicated the date of an FTX to a person, without whom the FTX would never have happened.
And that person is my dear friend Jess (Jessy) Harrison.
I met this Aussie lady in 2012 when I flew out to Namibia to work on Fury Road.
That was easily the most physically demanding job I’ve ever done. We worked 5-6 days a week without a break for food or bathrooms or sometimes it felt like even for air. I was under the gun to put it lightly to plan and organize what was and is the most complicated FTX ever.
And that’s where Jessy came in.
I soon realized I wasn’t going to be able to pull this one off on my down days.
I asked Jess, who worked mostly in our office in the town of Swakopmund, if she’d be open to handling a few FTX tasks. Without hesitating she agreed.
But a few tasks was an understatement as I dropped on her desk pages upon pages of things to do before September 30th, 2012 – FTX Namibia.
Jess did them all with a smile and a happiness that fed directly into my exhausted heart. Having a partner, someone you can count on especially when times are their roughest, means everything. That’s what FTX is all about. And that was what Jessy was and is to me. The 300 orphans we fed that day didn’t really know who the true angel was that day. But I present her to you now, FTX 930, Jess Harrison!!
Besides Gary there were three other new recruits at our FTX Motor City in 2014.
FTX ROLL CALL!!!!
FTX 69 – Kurt Jackson. I met Kurt in Detroit on the job but he’s a Canadian thru and thru. His accent always made me smile but it’s his irreverent sense of humor that made him the perfect pick for 69! (I danced around who to give the number to for years but when I met Kurt I knew my dance was done).
FTX 72 – Eric Luling. I’ve known Eric for over 8 years. Again I met him on a job but I knew right away he was someone to keep close. A perfectionist and a rebel, you can always count on Eric to get the job done right and to not back down from the man.
FTX 73 – Jami Garbett. I met Jami thru my lovely Brandy and was hooked right away to her shot straight from the heart smile and her sarcastically sweet sense of humor. When I found out Jami was going to be able to attend FTX Motor City from her Ohio home I had her shirt made ready and on the day I gave it to her right then and there.
And that brings us to our last two recruits.
I met Rachel in 2011 in Malta. I had just been married and it was hard, to say the least, to leave my home so quickly and to resume work. I remember clearly the hot and humid day I met her as she prepped cameras for our show. Being me, I had about 1 billion work questions to ask her while she was trying to do her real job. I can be frustrating and relentless when I want to get something done but she took all my questions with a smile. That day I wrote her name down on a piece of paper so I wouldn’t forget it. I still have it now. Little did I know I was meeting one of the greatest friends I would ever meet. That job was a tough one full of toxic people but Rachel just kept shining thru. Together we were unstoppable. We still are.
Her boyfriend (now fiancé!) Freddie was kind enough to surprise her with her gang colors in their London home. FTX please welcome our very own tough and soft roller derby gal – FTX 77, Rachel Clark!!
Our final recruit is my sweet girl, the redbone coonhound Greta Garbone. Now if you think I’m playing favorites you’d be wrong. Greta has been in my life since 2009 but she didn’t make it in the gang till this year. What with the passing of our good dane Audrey (FTX 59) last year Greta went from an it’s all about me type of kid to an orange-brown love bug. She’s still a little all about her but a lot less now. She’s stepped into her big sister’s empty shoes and I think she finds they fit her nicely. Welcome little one, FTX 67, with her gold glitter FTX tag – the first of its kind.
Hard to believe just with these new recruits how international we really are. But Canada, USA, England and Australia are just names someone else made up – FTX is the land I come from.
Check us out!
Which brings me to our next event.
I never thought it would actually happen but it is.
2016 will be the year of FTX Paris!!!!
That’s right. French Toast & Hugs in FRANCE!!!!
I will be leaving in a little over a week for Paris and will be there till sometime in June. The only thing that makes leaving home bearable is planning these events. As usual, I’m a bit nervous about whether or not I will be able pull this one off. With the recent attack I’m being told no. But I’ve been told no each and every time. My hope is to do it in April or May and to invite as many orphanages as I can. I’ll keep you posted once I know more but if you have ever had a hankering to go to Paris I would love to see you in your gold and white shirts there on that day.
In case you’re curious this letter was written to Peter Bradley Adam’s song “One Foot Down”.
Here’s to a peaceful end to 2015 and an even better 2016.
My love to you always. Thank you for standing alongside me all these years.