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City of Angles

Young Aussie's 2nd Orb Sail Is His Canvas for Life

June 06, 2002|GINA PICCALO AND LOUISE ROUG

On Saturday morning, Jesse Martin's 54-foot sailboat Kijana eased its way along Australia's desolate Queensland Coast on the first leg of a two-year journey around the world. "There's absolutely nothing there," he said via satellite phone, surveying the island. Martin was still groggy from sleeping on the couch. Navigational charts and candy bars littered the kitchen table, he said, and the boat smelled funky from a mackerel dinner the night before. The next town was still a day's sail, and food supplies were waning. Breakfast was a dry biscuit with peanut butter. Dinner was to be some combination of rice, potatoes, lentils and, with luck, mud crabs. "Everything you're used to is changed," Martin said. "It's really beautiful, but you have to get used to that way of life. It's a lot slower.... It's an adjustment. Even for myself."

This is Martin's second trip circling the globe, but the first with a crew. The Australian entered the record books in 1999, becoming, at age 18, the youngest person to sail solo, nonstop and unassisted around the world. The trip earned him considerable fame and inspired his book "Lionheart: A Journey of the Human Spirit" (Allen & Unwin, 2000), released last month in the United States.

Things are different this time around. The adventurer, now 20, is traveling with his brother Beau and three friends. Their "Journey of Kijana"--the boat is named for the Swahili word for "young people"--set sail from Melbourne on March 10. And three months into the journey, two of the crew members are still taking medication for seasickness. The group plans many stops as they wind through the Spice Islands of Indonesia to Sri Lanka, India, Kenya and the Congo and then on to the Amazon River and South America. "In two weeks' time, we're on walkabout with a group of Aboriginals," Martin said. Eventually the crew will head through the Caribbean, the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Chile, Easter Island, Tahiti and Samoa, with a return to Melbourne set for April 2004.

Everyone helps document the trip with cameras, a journal and a video camera, posting dispatches on www.jesse martin.net, an educational Web site that is being used by Australian teachers. During a recent down period in the trip, Martin flew from New Guinea to New York for interviews with David Letterman, Carson Daly and Paula Zahn, among others.

The group's itinerary may be complex, but its underlying goal is simple. Said Martin, "For us to go out and experience things firsthand--that's one of the biggest aims."

A Trip to the 'Altar'

The photographers' shouts echoed in the concrete canyon formed by a towering parking structure and the Arclight Hollywood theater tucked behind Sunset Boulevard as Jodie Foster entered the scene in a long, black velvet coat. A crowd of autograph seekers, held back by a metal gate, appeared to move as one being, with hundreds of arms extending pens, posters and photographs as Foster breezed past.

The actress was arriving for the Tuesday night premiere of her latest project, "The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys." She produced the film and stars as a nun alongside Vincent D'Onofrio, who plays a priest. "Dangerous Lives," Foster said, "was a very raw and true depiction" of adolescence. "I know in my life it was a very dark place at 14," she added, bringing to mind her portrayal of a prostitute in "Taxi Driver" at age 13.

While the film's title is especially provocative in light of the sex scandal rocking the Catholic Church, director Peter Care quickly dismissed any comparisons. "It's so irrelevant to this movie," he said. But, he noted, the scandal has added "a strange tension" to scenes that feature the teenage boys alone with their priest. "Everyone's thinking, 'Is this it? Is he going to touch the boy?' " Care said.

The film, based on a novel by Chris Fuhrman, is a coming-of-age tale set in 1970s North Carolina. It tracks the mischief-making of two 14-year-olds played by Emile Hirsch and Kieran Culkin. The picture's primary sexual tension is between the characters played by Hirsch and Jena Malone.

Hirsch has been featured in numerous TV roles, but this film marked his movie debut, and at the premiere he appeared a bit scrambled. To one reporter's question, the fast-forwarding 17-year-old replied: "I really felt like a teenager after I did this film." Malone, meanwhile, spoke adroitly of her character's precocious ability to embrace her sexuality. "That's hard at 14," said the 17-year-old actress, "and it's hard at 30."

Sightings

Gwen Stefani and fiance Gavin Rossdale snuggling outside Tangier in Los Feliz on Tuesday night ... On Monday morning, Tricky enjoying breakfast at Kings Road Cafe on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles.

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City of Angles runs Tuesday through Friday. E-mail: angles @latimes.com

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