Dakota Access Pipeline: The Haunting of Terra Nullius

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Please check out my latest article for The Huffington Post!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dakota-access-pipeline-the-haunting-of-terra-nullius_us_584746bae4b0ca53e4b9c179

Bootcamp Barry’s Not So Scary

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Here is a link to my latest article on The Huffington Post on Barry Jay from Barry’s Bootcamp. Article also below!

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-blair-wilker/bootcamp-barrys-not-so-sc_b_6139940.html

 

How does a skinny kid from the Bronx with a passion for horror flicks and Broadway become the godfather of an international bootcamp chain? Barry Jay Stich didn’t set out to become the namesake of an ever-growing workout empire, it just kind of happened.

Since 1998 Barry’s Bootcamp has revolutionized gym workouts and expanded to sixteen locations both nationally and internationally with multiple studios in development. Barry is known as a bit of a drill sergeant, someone who pushes the boundaries of comfort and encourages commradery and teamwork. His tough love approach can sometimes be intimidating, but really, he’s not that scary.

Barry’s Bootcamp was created out of what was missing from the fitness community in the 90’s. “I loved the class atmosphere, but I wasn’t getting a gym workout,” Barry reflects. “The heaviest weights were ten to twelve pounds and to accomplish everything I still had to go to the gym. Also, classes were not that organized. Pretty much you showed up to body sculpting and did all body parts on one day. Maybe it’s my club days that were following me, but the first thing I saw in my head when I thought of Bootcamp was the red lights. I can close my eyes and see it, the free weights, the treadmills, the lights, the different days, working out arms, chest. And it all came together.”

The most surprising thing that came out of Bootcamp for Barry was getting sober. “Meeting friends at Bootcamp and having them let me know what sobriety was about helped me take the journey with them. I was thirty-six when Bootcamp launched. I was always open to the possibility of more friends, but it seems like right now my nearest and dearest have been because of Bootcamp or because of sobriety, which is because of Bootcamp.”

Barry’s tough cookie persona arose from Bootcamp’s early days before sobriety. He notably sat or laid on clients as they did push ups, turned music off after complaints on song selection, and made several newbies run holding a large wall clock following constant glances at the time. I bore witness to many of these happenings and they were executed with a bit of mischievous glee and humor. Barry is like an older brother, teasing a smidge and zeroing in on BS. Latecomers were required to jog up steep La Cienga Blvd. and get business cards from The Standard Hotel and if your BFF didn’t show, you ran to their abode to retrieve them. All this at six a.m.

Barry’s true passion began with songwriting. He moved to Los Angeles in 1983 after Johnny Carson spoke about beautiful downtown Burbank on “The Tonight Show”. A self-taught piano player, Barry lived the life of a struggling songwriter working odd jobs at The Pantages and Chinese Theaters. He also landed a job at a PR company and managed Chaka Kahn and Bill Cosby. After his stint in PR Barry worked thefront desk at a fitness studio. This desk job ultimately led to the creation of Barry’s Bootcamp.

As a kid Barry was equally obsessed with horror films and used a Super 8 Camera to create stop animation turning his ankle into a werewolf ankle. In Los Angeles he paired up with various writing partners on a couple of scripts, but then put them down for several years before reading “How To Write A Movie In 21 Days: The Inner Movie Method.” “I think I’ll write a Horror film and see how I do, and boom very addict like behavior I ended up writing twenty-one screenplays.”

At fifty-one Barry is on the verge of a new chapter. “I figure fifty-five is a good age to stop standing in front of a room and screaming at people to do push ups at five a.m.” He will always be a part of Bootcamp and will continue to work in other facets of the business assisting in growth and franchising. He is excited to churn out more scary scripts and this month Barry begins shooting his first Horror feature “The Chosen” which will be released in 2015.

I can’t remember the last time Barry was in a bad mood. He has an irresistible smile and exudes bubbly joy and excitement even when it’s the crack of dawn and chilly out. He enjoys singing loudly (out of tune) and dances, wiggling on top of a Reebok step. If you’re lucky enough you’ll get a nickname. I got an “s” added to my surname and most bootcampers think it’s always been there. There is a Ma, a Papa, and a Fungaloid to name a few. He knows how to take you some place unfamiliar. I occupy the end treadmill most mornings. It’s hidden and out of the spotlight, but on occasion Barry moves me to the middle. Just because. He plays favorite songs on birthdays and 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” in celebration. He wears bright blue glasses. Hence a fellow bootcamper named him “Barry Jessy Raphael”. He loves his mom and visits her often in Vegas, and he is the first person to call or text when you are blue. He is a new world explorer, shy, a homebody, and an animal lover. He is also a bonafide international brand that established a community, which in turn has shaped many life long friendships and several marriages.

Barry’s new path is dusty and untraveled but he is skipping down it happily, growing and learning. He won’t be teaching that much longer, so try and catch him before he takes over Broadway and Horror by storm.

He might just melt your heart.

See. Not so scary.

http://www.barrysbootcamp.com

 

Stand Up To Cancer: The Movement

Here is my latest article for The Huffington Post and the direct link to it on their site.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-blair-wilker/stand-up-to-cancer-the-mo_b_5748398.html

 

IMG_3212What would you do with a stage three-cancer diagnosis? Mope? Grieve? Surrender? It’s devastating and paralyzing. It quickly snuffs out hope and threatens your joy. It murders you figuratively and sometimes takes you literally. But greatness is often born in the darkest of times, and hope manages to elbow its way through. Laura Ziskin didn’t run from her stage three-breast cancer diagnosis. She didn’t hide and she didn’t give up. She fought it fiercely for seven years. She looked cancer directly in the eye and she started a movement with eight other women. The Movement of Stand up to Cancer.

On September 5th Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) embarks on its fourth biennial multi- network telecast to raise funds and bring awareness to the fight against cancer. Donations fund SU2C’s “Dream Team” grants, which are awarded to multi- institutional groups of scientists who work collaboratively, rather then competitively, to develop new treatments quickly in order to save lives now. These telecasts help provide a national forum to educate about cancer prevention and engage the public in supporting research that is helping more patients become long- term survivors.

Laura Ziskin wanted to create a patient-centric movement. “She felt the country needed it not just for herself, but for all patients to get better treatment faster,” Pamela Oas Williams, Laura’s producing partner for twelve years and Stand Up To Cancer’s in house Executive Producer reflects. “For me Stand Up To Cancer is about bravery and courage, very specifically Laura. It’s also the bravery of these scientists aligned with us. Yes, we can do it faster and we can do it better. We will come alongside a bunch of women from Hollywood, and some people thought we were crazy, but six years later it’s working.”

The fourth broadcast will have elements of the traditional celebrity driven telethon including inspiring cancer survivors tackling their fights head on as well as amazing musical performances. We will meet the cutting edge scientists and doctors who are on the front lines battling this horrible disease, and this year there will be a twist on the celebrity phone bank. The old school star-studded phone bank has been updated and transformed into a technological and social media driven digital lounge. This time the celebrities will contact you, and not only by phone. You could receive a Facebook post, a Tweet, or an Instagram photo. They will be reaching out to personally thank you for standing up.

Stand Up To Cancer is Executive Produced by Joel Gallen, who helmed the 2012 telecast after Laura’s passing. He also produced “America: A Tribute to Heroes” and “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief.” “Cancer is such a day to day thing we are all affected by,” Gallen says. “For everybody who tunes in and watches the show, it is hard to imagine that they don’t have a friend or relative that has had cancer or they have lost to cancer. The challenge for me as producer is to motivate people to give. To educate and inform people that your contribution will help us get to the finish line. To save more lives, to extend more lives with these breakthrough treatments.”

Cancer. It’s one tough customer. It’s resilient and strong. It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care what color you are, what religion you practice, or if you are young or old. It doesn’t care if you never traveled the world, got married, had a child, or even made it to kindergarten. It doesn’t care if you are a mom, dad, or grandparent. At times it sneaks up and taps you on the shoulder in a slow crawl; other times it surprises and leaps with all its might. It grows quickly or slowly. It’s strategic and smart and it is engulfing many of our loved ones like a thick oil spill seeping over all the beauty and joy that we hold dear.

As a TV Producer I don’t get to participate in a project this meaningful very often, and I am honored to be a part of the SU2C telecast for the second time. I, too, have had family and friends who have been overtaken by cancer and are surviving it day to day. But the image that comes to my mind when I think of Stand Up To Cancer is the beautiful and courageous Hillary Quinn Kind, who was featured on the 2012 show and sadly lost her battle to melanoma days shy of her twenty-sixth birthday.

But there is hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and Stand Up To Cancer is leading the charge to help eradicate this epidemic from our world. So on September 5th, let’s give cancer our best left-hook and knock it off its feet. Do it for Laura, for Hillary, for your husband, your best friend, or yourself.

Watch. Donate. Stand up. Hope.

Stand Up To Cancer airs September 5th live at 8pm EDT/7pm CT on ABC, NBC, CBS, & FOX. Check local listings for a complete list of participating networks, cable stations, and affiliates.

Stand Up To Cancer is a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, and the telecast is produced by Tenth Planet Productions.

http://www.standup2cancer.org