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Los Angeles, December 21, 2000

Dear Fans,

While the webmasters have progressed in their constant efforts to make this place a pleasant invitation to the info I want you to have about the things I did and do, I feel I've neglected you a bit.

Christmasshopping took a considerable amount of time, amongst other things. I have been keeping myself up to date with the GB entries. And the short stories are a nice addition.

After returning to L.A. and reorganizing what was waiting for me there, I took the motorhome and headed north on the I 15, with Telluride, Colorado, as my possible target. We took sideroads as soon as we could, and headed east-north of the Grand Canyon.

Lake Powell, Utah, kept us in its grasp for a few days. Then we spent about a week in the NE corner of Arizona, especially where the HOPI Indians have had their residence since 1400 AD. We were in awe of their simple, civil lifestyle and culture. The last aboriginals of this continent trying to survive. As it had gotten colder and I didn't want to get caught in early snow, we decided to go south to Sedona, Arizona, where we spent a couple of days. It is so beautiful there. Then, we headed west again, back to this insane city. It was a very refreshing holiday. And years ago we had promised eachother to get at least some of those wandering miles under our belt. Lovely.

So let me tell you a little about STARFISH. As I was working in the TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS on a film called JUNGLE JUICE I happened to stumble into the fact that AIDS/HIV is progressing more than rapidly there. HAITI - as you may know - is a long troubled island with a deeply suffering population. As far as I know, half the people are infected and I'm sure the situation is quite hopeless. While I was in the region several hundreds of Haitians would arrive each weekend trying to sneak into this country. Very few of them would be stopped and/or sent back. Why? This country is part of the British West Indies. The few cops or customs people don't even carry guns. So how are they going to stop some very desperate people who have left all behind except a few belongings and a very dangerous machete? So most of them land. And this has been going on for some time. And not all boats are "caught". It's easy to figure out that the illegal population is big.

The biggest problem is always the same. Ignorance. Ignorance to such a point that you die. Illegal people don't legally exist. So the government ignores them. The other difficult factor is that in these macho territories, men or boys don't use condoms. Sex is considered to give a sort of respect.

We found many 11-yrs-old girls who were practising. Willing or unwilling. Most probably, only 10% of the population uses condoms. So, there's the problem. Tourism is the main income for all, therefore AIDS is low on PR. People who are infected have little urge to know, because the facilities are minuscule. All there is to gain is abundance by society because it claims not to have this problem. It is appalling.

In a later stage I will give you the info on where to send your words of support or other forms of help. It takes time to set this up. As I was there I succeeded in shooting some great footage for a documentary on this very local subject. Next spring I will go back to complete this and it will be an amazing document.

The odd thing is that it opened my eyes to a very different and less exotic Caribbean dream. AIDS will more than likely eat away the prime population of the whole Caribbean area in the next seven years, unless something is done.

I know this will help a little. I took it upon myself to set up a foundation of which all incoming funds will go directly to the purpose it was established for. The people who are sick, the education and an overall awareness.

On the workfront not an awful lot going on. Meetings for development. I may do a film in spring as an actor and I certainly intend to direct another short. I will keep you posted.

Don't break a leg when skiing. Have fun and a nice Christmas!

Rutger

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