Pictures from the Baltics

Here are a few pictures from my recent scouting trip to Kalinigrad (Russia), Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia. I loved Belarus, even if it is considered the last dictatorship in Europe with pure Stalin architecture and 80% of its population works for state run enterprises. There is something beautiful about the city, though I hear the countryside is extremely poor. The Belarus women are like none I have ever seen. Really a fascinating place. Lee Harvey Oswald lived here before killing President Kennedy. Belarus set him up in a nice apartment in brand new area of city then.
Kalinigrad, Russia 
Kant's tomb, Kaliningrad
Amber Mines, Kalinigrad 

Afgan War Memorial, Island of Tears, Belarus

Memorial to Jewish Holocaust, Belarus
St. Michael. Belarus
Stalin Architecture, Belarus


Black Madonna, Vilnius, Lithuania
Photographer David Whalen, overlooking Vilnius
Vilnius on annual town feast day, St Caspian
Riga, Latvia

Riga at night

5th Anniversary of Motorcycle Accident

David Whalen on Mt. Baden-Powell
Today, March 23rd, is the 5th anniversary of the motorcycle accident, recounted in the film Men of La Mancha, that nearly took my life.

I was reflecting today about the years since. It was a difficult few years making the movie,  economically and emotionally. This year I am finally doing well again as I have gone back to the practice of law full time and put filmmaking on the back burner for now.

Indie filmmaking is for dreamers, and I am a dreamer. I am glad I made this film, Men of La Mancha, as well as the others. But in terms of making a living, it is nearly impossible. Take for example the statistic, Sundance Film Festival gets nearly 15,000 submissions every year for just 70 films shown, and only a handful of those make money. Those are extremely hard odds, you will have better odds being a D- student, who did poorly on the LSATs, getting into Harvard Law, then getting your film shown or bought. Morevoer, only a handful of generous people have donated to LMM, despite thousands of people all over the world watching the charity videos we provide.

Thankfully I have another career to fall back on and I count my blessings today, happy to have taken the crazy trail of Don Quixote for a while, but also happy now to be normal and ordinary again. In the movies, the end is often beautiful, when all comes together and things are perfect. Unfortunately life is not like that, and we simply carry on after the beauty is over. We may have terrible trials but also simple and good success. We don't need to reach the stars, we just need to be at peace. Health is part of that; though I could not walk for nearly a year after the accident--a head-on collision that should have killed me instantly--now I am alive and well, having today hiked up the 9400 foot peak of Mt. Baden-Powell, on a glorious day in Southern California. Thanks to God above for all the dreams I have been able to live, and thanks to everyone who has followed this blog from the beginning. Peace.

Newman Center Dedication to Mike Ross

Today I went to the Catholic Newman Center at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, California. They had raised money to expand the center, building a larger chapel and expanding the common area and kitchen. Mike Ross, who is featured in our film Men of La Mancha, was a part of the Newman Center at Cal Poly while he studied Mechanical Engineering. He volunteered working in the kitchen the entire four years making meals for the poor of the area. He was an integral part of the community and the outreach. A group of former alumni, in particular one, Mary-Catherine, started to raise money to expand the center and dedicate the newly remodeled kitchen in Mike's name. Today was the dedication. There was over 50 people there that had known Mike at the Newman Center, as well as his entire family. I arrived and wanted to lie low not knowing anyone except his family, but Mike's mother began to speak about Mike and she surprised me by telling everyone there how great the film Men of La Mancha is and how it can move people. I was brought to tears as I very rarely hear from people what the movie means to them. Many people there already saw the film, people I never met, and they also thanked me for making it. It really made my day, I cannot thank them enough, including most especially Mike's mother, who is such a kind person. Here are a few pictures. The plaque dedicates the kitchen in Mike's name and the crucifix in the new chapel also honors his life of self-giving.

A video made for his memorial 3 years ago.

Mike Ross from La Mancha Media on Vimeo.

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