USO Rocks Iraq with Kid Rock


When I boarded the C130 in Kuwait headed for Saddam Hussein airport in Baghdad I had no idea I was heading to one of the most memorable concerts I would ever attend.  None of the entertainers on the plane with me who were part of a USO tour had any what was about to happen either.  It was 2003 & I was there to help film the largest USO show in history.  But on this day only part of the tour was on the plane, merely expecting to land, shake hands & pose for pictures.  However thousands of troops were waiting at the airport expecting to see a show.  The soldiers had built a stage and brought instruments so Kid Rock stepped up & led an impromptu classic rock show.  The location, the spontaneity, the energy & appreciativeness of the crowd combined to create an unforgettable concert.

Dancing Fishermen of Myanmar

The Dance of the Inle Lake Fishermen.  When I shot this recently in Myanmar I thought if they were doing this kind of fishing on a lake in the States, people would buy a ticket to watch the performance.  Then when my friend Bill Maxwell sent me a piece of music he produced with Michiko Hill that was doomed to never be heard, I thought these 2 artistic performances of dancing fishermen & piano belong together, & deserve to be seen & heard.  So enjoy & you don’t have to buy a ticket.  The experience is free.

Moon Bears in Laos

Moon bears are being killed in Laos for use in Chinese & Vietnamese medicinal tonics & may soon be wiped out. I visited a Free the Bears rescue center in Laos that’s trying to stop the poaching. Betty & I helped feed the bears & watched them get excited about being spritzed with bear perfume.  We also met Champa, a bear who is the 1st ever recipient of a brain surgery in Laos.

Happy B’Day Erica

Happy B’day to our daughter Erica! The big day is actually tomorrow, but over the years with all my travel, we’ve always had trouble celebrating on the actual day.  On her 16th I was filming a USO Tour in Kuwait, Qatar, & Iraq.  To help compensate for my absence I got Kid Rock, John Stamos, Neal McCoy, Gary Sinise, Nappy Roots, Bubba Sparxxx, Paul Rodriquez, and Brittany Murphy to help me record a special video b’day card.  Now 10 years later on her b’day, Erica’s away filming and working as an associate producer for a T.V. production company, (the circle of life) so I though I would post this old video to once again send long distance Happy Birthday Greetings and my love to the most wonderful daughter a parent could hope for.

Tiger Safari

Here’s a hard to believe statistic, by some esitmates there are more tigers in captivity in the state of Texas than there are tigers roaming free in the wild in all of Asia.  There’s no debating the fact tigers are endangered.  This past year I went to India to see tigers in their natural habitat.  I was in two of the best places to find them, Kaziranga and Ranthambore National Parks, protected areas set aside specifically as tiger reserves.

There are tigers in both parks, perhaps as many as a hundred in Kaziranga and maybe half that in Ranthambore, and yet it took me several safaris into both to find just one tiger.  There was a lot of other wildlife I encountered, so the trip would have been well worth it even if I hadn’t seen the tiger.  In Kaziranga there are some 2,000 Indian one-horned rhinos or about three fourth of the entire world population.

The best way to really get off road and into the tall grass in Kaziranga is on elephant back which I did twice.  This video shows some of that safari and our rhino encounters.  It also has pictures of the one tiger I did see.  I’ve also included part of my radio interview this week with National Geographic photographer Steve Winter who took the tiger pictures in this month’s National Geographic magazine.  The photos are part of the article called, “A Cry for the Tiger”, which documents the crisis facing these charismatic big cats.

Headhunter Lets Me Keep Mine

Face to face with a headhunter and we both keep ours on our own shoulders.  People haven’t been actively cutting off heads in Nagaland for more than forty years, but when one former headhunter starts to show me how he killed his enemies in long ago battles, I have the thought that he might suddenly forget it’s no longer the good old days and decide to take one last head….mine.  I tell the story of my trip to Nagaland and visiting with headhunters on my radio show National Geographic Weekend.  This video has the story as well as pictures from my Nagaland adventure.

Rednecks in Vietnam

Redneck Chicken in Viet Nam

Who knew there are Rednecks in Vietnam? Saw this chicken on the street in Hanoi and wondered was this bird showing his Communist Party loyalty by exposing the red neck, or were its political affilations more in line with the American Rednecks? Then again, maybe this is some kind of genetic experiment where the head of a turkey has been attached to the body of a chicken.

Turns out it’s none of the above. My speculations are answered this week on my radio show, National Geographic Weekend. In our regular segment, “The News You Need to Know, Even if You Didn’t Know You Needed to Know It,” we discuss the “Transylvanian naked neck chicken” and how it came to be. The featherless neck chicken first arose in northern Romania hundreds of years ago. Although the genetic mutation began in vampire country it was not an adapatation to make the neck easier to bite. The bare neck makes them more resistant to hot weather. To find out more tune into this weekend’s show.

Oh, and that redneck chicken in Vietnam is a relative of the Transylvanian bird.

The Gobi March

We called it,”The Race of No Return.” It was seven days, 150 miles of running and walking across a stretch of the Gobi Desert in Northwest China. Adding to the torture factor, we had to carry all the supplies we needed for seven days in our backpacks, food, clothes, bandaids, sleeping bag, everything except water which we got at check points along the route. Fully loaded, including the water for the first section, my pack weighed about forty-five pounds. I think I won the heaviest pack competiton, the one event where it’s best to come in last.

I was thinking about that race this week while recording my radio show,”National Geographic Weekend” and shared a few of those memories in our “Wild Chronicles” segement. This is the video from that part of the program.

Headhunters in Nagaland

headhunter ponders his options

It seemed like a good idea when I ask this headhunter to post for a picture.  Then I got worried when I noticed a gleam in his eyes as if he were suddenly having a flashback and considering the possibility of recapturing the glory of a youthful warrior who once took three heads in battle.

After convincing him my head was too big to fit in his pot, I got Langang to demonstrate the best way to approach your enemy in battle.  However Langang doesn’t trust me with a real machete, so I’m left holding a casava root.  Afterwards I’m in charge of making the tapioca.