Saturday, July 17, 2010

Double Rainbows on Saipan! Here's what it means

So, my friend Angelo sent me a link to the youtube film of a fellow getting pretty, um, inspired by a double rainbow. The video on Youtube has received over 5 million views! Five Million!!

Now, for anyone blogging or doing business on the internet, "hits" or "page views" or "visits" is what it's all about! So, what that means is--I couldn't help wondering this, as I do business on the internet--that if I had acted like I was in physical ecstasy when I photographed this double rainbow on Saipan (included in the book, Jamaican on Saipan), I could have gotten millions of hits for my book!

Here are my own actual, real-life double rainbow shots, shot about a year and a half ago on the island of Saipan, before I knew just how famous it COULD have made me....soundtrack not included.

What's the Purpose of News?

What’s The Purpose of News?

What do the World Cup, the Lebron James decision, the BP oil spill, and Roman Polansky have in common? If you said, current news items during the first week of July, 2010, you'd be correct.

Next question: how does knowing about these "news" items help you live a better life? Stumped? Do you see where I'm going with this?

Now, I'm not saying that these pieces of information are useless. These are all good things to know for some people, maybe even many people. If you are involved in the Polansky case, for instance; if you

make a living in the Gulf region, bet money on the World Cup, or, if you're Lebron's accountant, these are all developments you should know about. I suggest, however, that for the vast majority of people, the importance of what currently qualifies as "newsworthy" information in our lives is questionable at best. So, why do people invest so much importance on listening to, reading or watching "news?" Are they getting something out of it that defies observation and explanation? To answer that question for yourself, I’ll share with you my own personal beliefs that inform my decision to NOT follow the news. I know it's a radical idea from the fringe, but hear me out. (That's why you read this column, is it not? I mean if both of us--you and I--thought exactly the same way about everything, then one of us would be unnecessary!)


I have a philosophy. I've always believed (as mentioned before in this column) that the three most important questions to every human being are:

1. Who am I?

2. Why am I here?

3. How shall I survive?

Many of us spend at least an hour every single day tuning in to "the news." In addition, many of us spend as many as 16 years (some even more) of our lives obtaining an education. And billions of us hand over control of our thoughts and behavior to religious traditions.

With all this time and energy, it seems fair to expect that news, education and religion—pursuits that take up so much of our time and attention--should help us answer life's important questions, and concerns, don't you think?


I also believe that anything I spend my time doing should have some reason or purpose. Now, don't get me wrong. Entertainment, pleasure, hobbies, etc, are all valid reasons for doing a thing. Distraction is as valid as reason as any other. And there's nothing wrong--in my opinion---with watching, reading or listening to the news for distraction, for entertainment or if it gives you pleasure.

The danger with entertainment, however, is that every story—from comedy to drama, to horror—creates an effect, by design. So, what is that effect? When you go to see a movie in a darkened theater, even though the emotions can be just as powerful, there's a certain amount of detachment you can achieve once the lights come on. With "news," however, the images and ideas have an added impact of being real, and images and thoughts of war, violence, murder, rape, terrorism, etc., exist and continue during every waking moment.


Even if you tell me that you follow the news because you simply want to be "informed," I say that's a good thing. However, I believe most people delude themselves into believing how informed they really are becoming. They are actually being informed in a biased, selective and manipulative sense.

We all know that in a half-hour newscast, that there is a world of

"news" that's never reported. There are rallies for world peace that never make the news. There are battles against corporate exploitation that go unreported. There are positive stories of triumph that are missing from the headlines. So, the news that is reported is obviously someone's choice of what to call "news." I suggest to you that behind every decision a producer makes of what to include in a news telecast, or that an editor makes of what to include in a newspaper or website, exists an agenda.

I won't get into a discussion of what that agenda might be, I'll simply suggest to you something you already know: that your mental, emotional and even physical state after consuming a bit of "news" is affected by what you read, listen or see. After consuming a bit of "news" you might feel a. uplifted, b. neutral, or c. depressed (as well as angry, fearful, tired, sick, etc., and every emotion in between.)

So, my third belief is that everything I expose myself to—every

person, every idea, every image, every sound—has an effect on my being. So, I’ve already made the decision to limit my exposure to what others deem to be “news.”


By the time you’re exposed to some information that an editor or producer has decided is news, it’s already too late. However, here is a brief test to determine if what you’ve been accepting as “news” really qualifies (based on my belief no. 1)

1. Has this information helped me discover who I am, why am I here,

or how I shall survive?

If you answer no to this question, then this bit of information might qualify as simply neutral, distraction, or perhaps even entertainment.

2. Is the quality of my life appreciably affected by knowing this news?

Information can still not be news, but help the quality of your life, after all. However, if you answer no to this question, then the bit of information in question may not be neutral, it might qualify as entertainment.

3.How do I feel now that I know this information?

If you feel discouraged, fearful, bitter, angry, defeated, hopeless, resentful, then this information is more than merely useless, it is potentially destructive, because how can you improve your situation, your relationships, your world and your life—and for that matter, how can you turn your passion into profit—if you are constantly consuming ideas and images that make you feel discouraged, and hopeless?


If you believe there is (or should be) more to life than simply work and distraction; if you believe that the things you spend your time doing should have a purpose or reason; if you believe that the ideas, sounds and images you allow into your mind have an effect on your mental, emotion, and physical states; Further, if you accept that everyone has an agenda which may not coincide with yours (BP’s agenda is different than yours); if you can't depend on people

or corporations with competing or contrary agendas to filter and

interpret "the news" for you, then….it follows that you should be vigilant about, and filter what you spend your time consuming under the guise of "news." But it’s everywhere. One has to make a conscious effort to avoid it. That’s why even those of us without cable, televisions and radios still know about Lebron James.

Furthermore, whether you call it "news," "education" or better "belief system," there is information you SHOULD be seeking out to fill the void that exists in the vital and necessary knowledge you

need in order to find out who you are, why you are here, and

how you shall survive. Don’t rely on news to help you do that!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Mango That Saved Saipan!

The Mango that Saved the Saipan!
The Fable of The Forbidden Island Juice Bar

I had a dream the other day that I started a juice bar. Yep, in this dream, I was a successful entrepreneur selling fresh mango, pineapple, orange, papaya and other exotic fruit juices as well as green vegetable juices on the island of Saipan, on the US commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

But, this was no ordinary juice bar. This was a magical juice bar!
Absolutely! You see, it all started back in June of 2010, when I bought
a juicing machine. A few weeks before, I had started more earnestly living on an almost 100% raw food diet (nothing cooked), and decided to add a few daily servings of natural juices to my diet.

Things started off well. There were just two challenges. First, I had done some research online and discovered that the best fruits and vegetables for juicing--peaches, apples, nectarines, celery and carrots—also contained the most pesticides. [Search "20 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides" at]. So, I contacted Darlene and Gemma at Joeten supermarket and requested that they stock organic produce—to which they agreed.

The second challenge was that I learned, as a general rule,
it's always best to eat produce that's grown in or as close to the environment in which you currently live. It makes sense (doesn't it?) that the best food for people and animals living in a warm, tropical climate, is food that is native to that same climate? (Hyenas on the Tanzanian Serengeti don’t import air-flown seals for their dining needs). So, I made every effort to juice oranges, tangerines, pineapples, and greens purchased from local farmers--avoiding pesticides as much as I could.

Then the idea hit me: Why not share the juicing on a larger scale with the community? Not only would it help the development of healthy eating habits, it just might create enough demand to keep the organic produce in the stores, and encourage local farmers to supply a wider variety of locally-grown, organic produce. And so, the seed idea for “The Forbidden Island Organic Juice Bar” was planted. Now, I would need a location.

To lower my overhead costs, I started out with a tent at the Thursday Street Market, and Sabalu Market. I even experimented with a mobile juice-mobile so I could set a reliable schedule and visit key locations. I wanted to reach the government employees on Capital Hill,
the tourists in Garapan, and the hotels, as well as students at the college. But, why would people pay a premium price for juices from fruits that are growing in their back yard? I would need a unique selling proposition (USP)—something to set me apart.

COMPETITIVE EDGE (the secret ingredients)
As I said, this was no ordinary juice bar. First, I used only verifiably organically-grown fruits and vegetables. Second, as a result of all the research I had done over the years into natural living, herbal remedies and nutritional healing, I added a proprietary suite of "secret ingredients" to my juices. A few drops of Echinacea extract

in my "Flu-buster" citrus juice; a few teaspoons of Potassium in my “Rejuvenator” green juice; Blackstrap molasses in my "Gray-away" smoothie, and 17 others. People could request juices to address various health challenges or beauty goals. Because of the generally nutritionally-devoid content of the Standard American Diet (SAD), many people said they could feel a remarkable difference after just one serving! They kept coming back. I was on to something! This initial group of converts was great, but, I would need a reliable and steady stream of customers to make this thing viable.

As word spread, my growing customer base began to included tourists who wanted a refreshing break from the Saipan heat. It included local residents who wanted to eat (and drink) a little healthier. It included athletes--trekkers, runners and bikers—who understood the need to replenish (in a natural way) the vitamins and minerals lost during sweating and physical exertion. It included new arrivals to the island who loved being able to add a healthy perk to island living. And, it also included a surprise group of unexpected, but very welcome clientele!
Encouraged by an article I wrote on the Gerson Therapy (, a proven therapy for curing all types of cancer, local doctors started recommending that their patients consume generous amounts of green juice daily to help detoxify, rebalance, and alkalize the body as part of a wholistic diet to restore and improve the depleted, acidic, cancer-prone condition of the body of the average SAD diet consumer. As a result, I developed a contingent of repeat customers whose past dietary choices had resulted in degenerative conditions for which they now sought relief and repair.

That's when the magic happened! To meet the growing demand within the community, local farmers started supplying me with more organic fruits and vegetables. Local residents, blessed with unique fruits growing on their property, started selling me pomegranates, sour sop, noni, and other fruits not readily available at the local market.

Rather than import produce from overseas--produce that could easily be grown here--Saipan farmers began growing more oranges, carrots, pineapples and other in-demand juice-friendly produce using organic farming methods. Export requests for “fruits from paradise” came from all over the region and the rest of the world!

We saw the beginnings of a sustainable business relationship and streams of reliable income for farmers and average citizens alike. A local, consumer and tourist-driven agricultural boom took place to meet the demand.

Organic fruits and vegetables were everywhere! Other juice bars sprang up to compete. What I call “the Saipan Healthy Living Renaissance” created a local pool of experts in sustainable, organic “paradise farming” techniques who marketed their knowledge around the world.

Yes, there was more happening than just the success of a single business venture, or the beginnings of a new (or, more accurately, return of an old) industry. There was the change in attitudes and beliefs within the society, as well as without and about the society.

It was a natural fit. Tourists were intrigued by the "natural living, back to nature, stay healthy" identity that Saipan was developing. Meanwhile, residents were pleased that their life in "paradise" came with the added perk of returning to a more natural, sustainable and healthy way of life that had always been part of the culture.

Boosted by positive word of mouth and mouse, as well as strategically-placed and publicized testimonials of health and wellness, Saipan, already valued by tourists as a naturally beautiful tropical escape from the literal, figurative and bodily congestion of fast-paced, high-stress urban living, developed a reputation as a place for rejuvenation! Tour agents in other countries promoted this new aspect of the island to appeal to the medical tourism, sustainable tourism, paradise tourism crowd. As more and more oil spills and pollution desecrated more of the earth’s air, water and land, there was growing interest in escaping to locations relatively untouched, and which offered a taste of pristine living.

The Forbidden Island Juice Bar was at the center of this renaissance, and it grew exponentially. When the demand for our juices exceeded the capacity of a single booth and a mobile operation, we moved into a physical location. Then came another and another. We started offering juicing books, information pamphlets, demonstrations, classes by alternative healing practitioners, educational school visits and more. We followed up with fruit-juice inspired products: carrot cake made from the pulp of local organic carrots, and sweetened with local honey, as well as other incidental products. We even offered tours of the farms and groves so people could see where and how their fruits and vegetables were grown and harvested.

Rather than compete, savvy entrepreneurs decided it was better to go with our proven strategy, and the requests for franchises poured in. Independently operated Forbidden Island Juice Bars sprang up in neighboring islands and even on the mainland, with fruits supplied in part by farmers here on Saipan, Tinian and Rota!

Yes, it was a beautiful dream! This new Saipan identity shifted the connections of these islands in people’s minds from war zone to cure zone, and from sweatshops to Shangri-la! Saipan became synonymous with perfect health, unspoiled beauty, rejuvenation and natural living. It was great, I tell you! And it all started with the seed of an idea that germinated in a fertile environment, that blossomed naturally, grew organically, and ultimately bore economic fruit that changed Saipan, and then, yes, the world!

p.s. The part about requesting organic fruits from Joeten wasn’t a dream. Contact the store to find out when they arrive!

Saipan activist, columnist and whistleblower, Ruth Tighe, was kind enough to mention me, and the Forbidden Island Juice bar in her weekly column.