Archive for December, 2010

I Resolve………….

Dec. 31st 2010

Happy-almost-New Year’s-Eve, Blog-O-Sphere readers!

Brendan Ben Feeney here noting to resolve NOT to make New Years resolutions.



It will be 12:03 AM—and I would have broken 27 New Years resolutions before the traditional New Year’s baby wets his/her diaper.

Yet, in the spirit of reflection, if I WERE to make New Years resolutions, here are points to ponder.

1) Join a gym. Just driving up to the gym, seeing it from a distance, I feel healthy. Entering the gym parking lot, I notice pounds melting away. Touching the gym’s wall—I now fit into size 34 jeans. I  like this “gym thing.”

2) Eat healthy. “Excuse me waiter.  May I SUPER SIZE that tofu burger with porcini  mushrooms and broccoli sprouts….and drown it in a ocean of catsup? I almost forgot. Kindly add a colossal side order of onion rings deep fried in lard.Yes, lard. It gives onion rings flavor.  Onions are a vegetable.”  

What? Why the raised eyebrows? See YOUR tip declining like the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2008 for the dirty look.

3) Buy cotton handkerchiefs and do not use paper tissues for blowing one’s nose . Achoo………….Count how many boxes of tissues YOU go through during a year. Now multiply this by 1-8  billion people–with runny noses. A gross thought, but the thought crossed my mind. When in doubt, use your sleeve. It is 12:04 and I my polo shirt sleeve is one big Kleenex. Achoo…………instant relief.

4) Ride my bike more often. I was just in New York City during the Blizzard of 2010.  The bicycle lane was buried under 20 + inches of snow. Skip the bike and walk, take public transportation, and/or carpool. This is green. So too are aliens. If I do purchase a new bicycle, I want it to be a  retro 1972 low rider with a long ribbed banana seat with high handlebars–like a Pablo Picasso bull sculpture.  At 12 I was Steve McQueen—and did not know it. Easy rider will be my bicycle name………….however, I must be home before dinner or darkness.

  Pee Wee Herman’s Off-Broadway show is about to end its run. I will invite Pee Wee as my first guest bike rider. When the snow melts in Central Park (July, 2013) we will “tool around” Central Park in our uber cool bicycles. See our plastic bike handle thingys flapping in the breeze.  But I am not making any resolutions so a bicycle ride with Pee Wee is  more fantasy than reality. Pee Wee. If you do read this blog post, lets “go for a spin.”

Do you plan to make New Years resolutions? If so, share yours here. My editor and I will try to post some- but not all due to the heavy traffic on my website. I want to make this particular post  interactive.

Even if you follow my path (the long lost way home) and do NOT make resolutions, share your thoughts too.

Everyone, have a safe New Years Eve celebration. Pass the car  keys to a friend if you are not in shape to drive.  Be a good friend and take the car keys from someone who has too much to drink and is about to drive off in a car. Off my moral soap box.  Time to read, write, and take a delicious nap.

Thank you for making my year rewarding and special.

Happy New Year!

Brendan Ben Feeney

PS: Two more post are in the works about my work and down-time in Stamford, CT, USA, and New York City. Stay tuned. Film at 11:00 PM as we say in the United States.

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A Christmas Card Deconstructed

Dec. 25th 2010

With the speed and efficiency of the Internet, the tradition of handwriting and mailing Christmas cards are in decline. 

When thinking of “snail mail,”  thoughts turn to Mr. Porter.

No. Not my literature teacher in prep school  noted in a reply to a reader of Ben’s Blog.  “This” Mr. Porter was a United States Postal  Letter Carrier. He was our postman growing up in 1960s American suburbia.

Mr. Porter was the real deal. He delivered our mail in a formal US Postal Service uniform. And yes, the postman DID ring twice–if there was mail he deemed very important, and needed to be hand delivered.

I am reflecting upon a transitional time;  the nadir of the the Baby Boom era. You knew the 1950s and early 1960s were over in America when one no longer dressed in formal attire to go into the city.  So much for donning your “Sunday-best” when traveling on airplanes.  In our current era, one can attend the theater in shorts and beach flip flops—or a bathrobe. Not many bat an eye.

What I most remember about Mr. Porter was his shoes. They were spit polished shined and made from real leather; a guess size 13. Today, I do not know the names (plural) of the letter carriers who deliver my mail. They run, wearing  running shoes, to the door—then disappear. They pull up in a mini Jeep. Mr. Porter walked his entire route, start to finish.

In the 1960s, on stifling hot summer days,  my mother would invite Mr. Porter in for lemonade. In rain, it was tea and cookies; a break to dry off then continue his postal route.  In winter, a hot cup of coffee made using a percolator was the order of the day. I would fixate my eyes at the glass dome of the percolator, watching coffee bubble and hiss. Who need an X-Box or Wi-thingy when you have a coffee percolator to keep one entertained?

I don’t think mail deliverers are allowed to enter houses for  lemonade or coffee in the 21st century. I don’t think people percolate coffee. Once  Joe DiMaggio began pitching Mr. Coffee coffee makers it was “game ” for the golden age of the coffee percolator. 

This year with the encouragement of 2 of my art mentors, I entered a juried museum show, calling on noted artists to submit their handmade holiday card. Singular. Not plural. No cheating. No running to the Christmas Tree Shop, submitting something made in China—then White-Out out— “Made in China.” 

I envision poor underpaid Chinese factory workers, breathing toxic ink fumes and paper dust wondering while making billions of Christmas cards…..”Who is this baby in a stable, surrounded by wise men and animals? A future Party official?”

I painstakingly worked on my holiday card submission. When I am in my “art zone” I work slow, methodically, and focused. When I  have an artistic  vision, I do not stop until my vision comes to fruition.

I used Crane paper for the genesis of my card. Crane paper is made in Massachusetts.  It is one of our nation’s oldest paper mill. I do not want this treasured company to be on life-support during our economic depression. I support local businesses. I hope I am keeping at least one Massachusetts paper mill worker employed by using Crane paper.

I drove to Cape Cod and sourced the finest beach sand for my card. I wanted natural elements for my submission to the jury. “You-know-who” created sand.

I applied gesso to the paper, then made a batch of homemade epoxy. I added gold and silver beads into the sand mix. Then came the fun part.

I went to Stop & Shop supermarket and sourced gold American Express gift cards. The cashier was perplexed. She exclaimed “You are NOT going to activate the gift cards?”

 I replied, “No. I collect them like baseball cards—then stare at them with lust, greed, and envy.”

Behold a blank stare.

 BEEP. The cashier continued scanning my grocery order. BEEP.  Coco Puffs. BEEP. Fat-free cream. BEEP. Marshmallow Fluff. BEEP. Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Chunk Fudge ice cream. BEEP…………..

Once home, into my paper shredder went the Gold Cards. Walla! The artistic effect I had in the back of my mind came to fruition. I arranged the strips from the gold gift cards into a tree pattern. Nature personified! Behold a tree. I made sure the magnetic strips were showing, bar codes exposed, and fragments of the word American Express Gold Card were visible.

I titled my card “And Bring Him Silver and Gold.” It was an intellectual statement about materialism and Christmas. 

 I  DID pass the test. The 2 internationally known  jurors selected my card to be in the museum show.

Strange how creating a work of holiday art conjured up images of days gone by, a time when society was more formal, and when the Postman rang twice.

Sending you wishes of peace and joy on Christmas Day.

The true meaning of Christmas is not wrapped in pretty paper and adorned with ribbon. It does not come from a card made with care hanging in a famous museum. The meaning of Christmas is to reach out to others and  reflect upon who was  wrapped in swaddling clothes thousands of years ago today.  Live life not in regret-land. Be thankful for those in your life who love and care for you. Forgive. Make a new friends. Share. Love. Be kind to others, animals, and nature.  Be a champion for peace and social justice.  Merry Christmas.

Brendan Ben Feeney

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Jacob Sleeps in a Blanket of Snow

Dec. 21st 2010

A very light dusting of snow is a wondrous natural occurrence.

Friday evening, I was in Becket, Massachusetts attending a very rare performance of 2 incredible dancers/choreographers: one from Burkina Faso, Africa.  The other from the United States.

Due to the generosity of the Executive Director of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, these two special guest dancers refined and created work in solitude for a week, then unveiled their work-in-progress to an small invited group of Pillow patrons.   

We were treated to a performance where the two dancers moved with delicate synchronicity. Each motion complimented the aura of a stripped down Doris Duke Theater– technically moth-balled for the season.

Audience members of this special performance sat on folding chair. The negative space of the stark theater made the motion of the dancers, and the music they selected, reverberate throughout one’s soul. Magnificent dance has a way of touching one’s soul. I find artistic inspiration after experiencing  world-class dance.

The magic of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival is “The Pillow” is approachable. Not in terms of physical distance, yet from the standpoint of being able to interact with artists. After the performance, the Pillow’s Executive Director led a conversation with the dancers. After giving the dancers time to catch their breath and sip spring water, audience members joined the conversation. When the dialogue was over, we were privileged to mingle with the 2 gifted dancers/choreographers.

Try this at a Madonna concert. Would one be able to approach Barbara? I do not think so. The Jonas Brothers? They are SO yesterday.  Little Wayne? Na na.  Lady What’s-Her-Face who recently appeared in a dress made of raw meat? Keep your distance. I hear a fog horn belching, “Back away from the talent. Back away from the talent. The talent has left the building. Stand 1.8 miles away from the stage door.”

The Jacob’s Pillow facility was tucked into bed for winter. Yet, it opened for one winter’s night of dance. A fresh-fallen snow made me feel for the first time–winter truly arrived in New England. I felt proud to be a native New Englander.

For  those who have never attend a live dance performance, it is a transformational, visual experience. I urge you to check the Arts and Entertainment section of your local newspaper, or search on-line when dance companies are performing in your local or metropolitan areas.

This was not your, “And Kick. And Kick”  type of dance noted in a previous post. This was literature in motion. This dance had a language of its own.

Thank you to the “Pillow Family” for inviting me to an  inspiring winter’s night of dance.  From a distance, as I drove away on George Carter Road, I looked back  into my automobile’s  rear view mirror. I saw lights being turned off outside the theater where moments ago we were visually  taken to an ethereal place, transfixed in a rare moment in time.

Slumber softly Jacob. You are wrapped in a comforting blanket of fresh fallen Berkshire snow. Sleep in peace. Slumber in silence.

Brendan Ben Feeney

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And Kick, and Kick…….

Dec. 15th 2010

And turn…..

And twist….

And KICK……

And KICK…………

No. I am not dancing to a 1960s Chubby Checker record. I am thinking of a protest.

Say what?

As one who spent many childhood years in New York City, Christmas in New York is magical. Ah…the Christmas  tree lit up at Rockefeller Plaza!  The department store windows decorated—each store trying to out-do the other. The the smell of chestnuts  roasting (burning)  from vendor’s carts (cough, cough….my asthma is now in overdrive). And then there are the  Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhh…………..

The lights! The LIVE music…..being able to plunk one’s tired ass into a comfortable seat at Radio City Music Hall after an entire morning of being dragged up and down 5th Avenue shopping.

The Rockettes are a New York tradition. One expects to see the Rockettes in New York the way one expects to find Cable Cars in San Francisco— or Red Double Decker buses in London.

Hold the phone. The Rockettes Christmas show is now syndicated .  They have taken their show on the road. They have shuffled off to Buffalo. 

You can see the Rockettes in Boston. You can the Rockettes in Providence, Rhode Island. You can see the Rockettes at Revere Beach………….Well, not really—Am I clear?  The Rockettes are everywhere.

It is like walking down Polk Street, during the annual “Dress as Santa Saturday,” and there are 7,985 people dressed as Santa, bar hopping, or just roaming the city having fun. However, explain who is the REAL Santa is to your six-year old…………..

“Daddy is THAT the real Santa?”

He is pointing.  

“You see, the one over there, taking a long drag on a cigarette, and holding the light post for stability?”

Cigarette.  Drag.  Stability. Not bad for a verbal first-grader. It must be the books I read to him at night.

  Yes…..(name withheld) this IS Santa! Isn’t he…….ah…….um…….uh…..charming?????? I mean sober? I mean, I do not know what I mean.”

 Oh, my. How do I explain this one?

Back to the Rockettes hitting the road. Isn’t  this watering down a true New York tradition? Diffusing the Rockettes? I am seeing the Rockettes multiply, live, like active cell growth under a microscope. Now how many troupes of Rockettes are there on the road?

And to add insult to insult………….for their road shows, they use—get this—TAPED music. Do I hear a collective GASP?

Oh, no………………the Rockettes traveling Christmas Extravaganza is NOT hiring UNION musicians. Another collective GASP…….followed by an, “Oh,no! Say it ain’t so, Joe.”

So here I am. On my soapbox, asking you to join musicians who are protesting outside traveling Rockettes roadshows.


Was that an over-ripe tomato thown at me? It would not be the first time!

 I anger some people some of the time…..but you cannot have musicians whose “bread and butter time” is the holiday season out of work. Now is their time to blow that horn, make that violin sing, and tinkle their piano keys………and get paid a decent wage for years of artistic training. 

So if you are inclined to see the traveling road show —-with taped music—–I am not stopping you—–however you may have to CLIMB OVER ME to enter the theater.

And lift, and kick, and lift and kick…………………oh…..that is just  me getting hauled into a Paddy Wagon.

I am  protesting for musicians. I am protesting for the arts. I am protesting for tradtion. Possibly—- economic justice? It it too much to ask for artists to be paid a  decent wage for their artistry?

And twist. And turn. Now do what?????????????? Work with me people.

Brendan Ben Feeney

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Beware Where You Stand…………

Dec. 11th 2010

Beware where you stand.

No. I am not getting all “political” and writing about Blue States or Red States. I am writing about mistletoe; that sprig of leafy greens that hang above doorways–where one least expects to find it.


Say what? What just happened?

No. That was not a violent act–just a random kiss by a random stranger.

I guess things could be worst, like stepping in a pile of seaming hot, fresh dog doo–in heels, or in your best Armani leather shoes—–on the way to a Christmas party.

So one must look UP and look DOWN on the way to holiday events. Words of wisdom by you-know-who. Brendan Ben Feeney.

I have been invited to 6 holiday parties this year. All of these parties are different. All require different forms of dress. Some are charitable. Other are just for fun.

Party #1. This was for GLIDE Memorial Church in San Francisco. I dressed up in pressed chinos, a navy blue blazer, a crisp white shirt, and wore my trademark bow tie. Thousands of dollars were raised for GLIDE’s many outreach programs, thanks to Robin Williams, Reverend Cecil William and Janice Miritaki, and other notable comedians. Many California food and wine vendors donated food for the event. Thank you to all who attended and contributed to help GLIDE. A big shout-out goes to the security firm who worked with me at the front door. Gentlemen, you  did your job with precision and grace.  You were  gracious to my mother who was my  co-guest greeter.  We now have a new line item to add to our resumes— Guest-greeters.

Party #2. This was for a group home, on the East Coast,  for men combating addiction– and winning the battle. They are transitioning back into society and sobriety. They are getting themselves clean. Who cares what I wear. The fact I support this underfunded group home is all that matters. Their budget has been slashed–looking like leftover bones of a once uber holiday turkey.

Party #3 This was at a rising Cambridge, MA food video and videographic firm call How2heroes. It was a “ulgy Christmas Sweater Party.” The competitive side of me kicked in and exploded like that blueberry gum scene in the Willy Wonka remake film.   I told my friend who invited me……… “You have not seen ugly until Brendan Ben hits the K-Mart circuit.”

Guess what? Our matching striped,  circa 1973, butt ugly, Sears catalog era sweaters with cowl necks, won a prize.  We left the price tags on for 2 reasons? 1) To push tacky to the limit. 2) So I could return the sweaters the next day.

 I kept telling my friend while eating—Lean forward!!!! Lean forward!!!!!I mean it. DO NOT get any hummus dip on these sweaters GD sweaters. They are coming back to where I bought them faster than an Australian boomerang.

Party #4 Was not really a party, but an old fashion New England Church Fair. I live across the street from a church built in 1813. My neighbors at the church—all 300 + are real quiet. I never have to call the police on them.  I live across from the church’s  graveyard. Some acquaintances who visit my house  get all  “freaked out”  and ask me, “How can you live across the street  from  a graveyard? Doesn’t that make you feel all weirded-out?” My reply is, “No. I do not hear a boo out of them.” I donated a set of signed postcards (that you see on my website) to the church fair’s silent auction table. All the money raised from the fair goes to charity. I must say, the wheel of Vermont cheddar cheese and homemade jam sold at this Episcopal church fair made me proud to be a true New Englander.

Party #5. This party/event has yet to happen. I look forward to it with great anticipation. It is at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. I support dance, the arts, and fellow  artists. Two celebrated dancers/choreographers will perform at the Doris Duke  Theater at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. This is an elegant event. Note to Sam, the nurse ar Jacob’s Pillow. I will bring you rocks smoothed by Cape Cod waters–not coal. We can Zen-up your deck, Brendan Ben Feeney artistic style—and I will NOT charge you my going rate for an art installation piece. Ca ching.

Party #6 will happen in January. New Years day,I will  spend it with a good friend, and his friend, who throws the best “kick back, come-as-you-are” parties.

He recently moved. When visiting his new condo, he gave me the obligatory new abode tour. He pointed out, “Look Ben. I have yet to fully unpack, and I have cookbooks stored in the oven!” I wait for the day when he goes to light the oven– forgetting about the cookbooks. Visualize 18 uninvited guest, arriving in big red trucks, bearing hammers, axes, and hoses, dressed in flame retardant coats. Wunderbar! How festive. And we even get a  holiday fire to bring us good cheer!

I have pressed my party suit. (Not my birthday day suit—as this friend reminded me when I had a recent birthday.)

I know the true religious meaning of Christmas. I know it can be a time of sadness for those who have lost love ones.  Bittersweet is not a great place to be, yet I have known bittersweet. I know many of my friends are of different faiths or have no formal faith. I respect and love them all. In closing, the holidays can be bittersweet for some— a whoop-dee-doo time for others. This holiday season I am feeling the “get-out-of the-house-and-stand (clothed)-under-the-mistletoe” vibe. Bake cookies. They makes the house smell good. Have a few laughs. Socialize. Be charitable.  Laugh some more. 

Whatever you celebrate. Whereever you celebrate, I  thank my readers and patrons of my artwork for a year that was filled with more blessing than you will ever know.  

Peace in the river. Peace in the valley.

Brendan Ben Feeney

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Be Sure to Wear….

Dec. 11th 2010

If you are a member of the Baby Boom generation, you may remember a song that goes something  like this……………….”If you’re going, to San Francisco. Be sure to wear some  flowers  in your hair.”

Being hair-impaired, this is problematic, yet I understand the message of the song.

I was in San Francisco as a host/greeter at the historic Warfield Theater on Market Street, for GLIDE Memorial Church’s holiday benefit  featuring Robin Williams, a resident of San Francisco— and a very, very  funny man.

Robin Williams is not only  an actor and comedian; he is a humanitarian. He is gracious when it comes to supporting causes he believes in. This particular evening, Robin was rapid-fire funny as ever. Most important, Robin Williams gives back to the community where he lives.

GLIDE Memorial church is a historic church, with a monumental mission. Located at the edge of San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, GLIDE’s doors are open to  all who enter. GLIDE serves 3 meals a day, has an award-winning child-care center, an organic garden on the church’s urban roof, and operates a housing center to combat the issue of homelessness. Also, GLIDE Memorial Church has a health clinic, mental health services, and supports many support groups. I am happy to lend my time and talent to this San Francisco institution. GLIDE is a true safety net. It is a church where one  receives unconditional love, assistance if needed, and spiritual guidance.

When I am in San Francisco on business, I attend GLIDE’s worship service. I truly listen to the words of Reverend Cecil Williams (no relation to the comic and actor Robin). The Church has a gospel choir the size of Manhattan and  a rocking band at its Sunday worship services. The music gets me up on my feet, and makes me all the more want to serve humanity. I find music and worship go hand-in-hand.

I remember one Sunday, at church, Reverend Williams asked the congregation, “Can I get a witness? Can  I have me an AMEM, brothers and sisters?” 

RIGHT HERE.  AMEN!!!! YOU HAVE YOURSELF A WITNESS!!!!!  Oops. I think I was a tad too loud.

So what…………… the spirit was moving me.

So stand up and shout out praises for those who do charitable works. Acknowledge those who try to change society–yet are sometimes met with cynicism, criticism,  and/or adversity–yet they march forward.

To all who attended this benefit, I thank you. I’m positive Reverend Williams thanks you.  And I am certain Robin William’s thanks you.


Over here!!!!!  Pew/Row E, seat 5. Brendan Ben Feeney is in the house.  

Brendan Ben Feeney

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HELLO Peoria!!!…I mean Providence!

Dec. 1st 2010

What city am I in?

Sometimes I feel like George Clooney in “Up In The Air”—- minus the firing part.

Thank goodness I have Joyce, my “Road Manager” to whisper in my ear….”Ben, we are in Providence, Rhode Island. This is Brown University. This is Rhode Island School of Design. This is the way to the Men’s Room. You have marshmallow Fluff on your face”

I just returned from an incredible tour of Providence, Rhode Island. Special thanks to the staff and students at Rhode Island School of Design who I encountered. You made me feel welcome on your campus. I truly enjoyed RISD’s world-class art  museum.

Second. Thank you Mr. Bill Marriott and Providence Renaissance Hotel staff for an outstanding stay. My room-with-a-view (A great movie. See it. ) was quiet. The art in the hotel was superior. Hats-off to the front desk staff who knows I wake early and delivered real cream for my coffee at  4:45 AM. Dedicated service.

Here are some of my impressions of Providence, Rhode Island.

* Friendly people. Thanks to the family near Brown University who gave me detailed driving directions—and noticed sitting on the passenger seat of  my car a  rare John Lennon CD with John chatting between takes. I hope you enjoy the autographed post cards. Thank  you for not sending me on a “joy ride.”

* The ownersof Scialo Brothers Bakeryon Atwells Street, Federal Hill. The bakery  owner saw me shooting images of his historic, turn-of-the-century family pastry shop—then invited me past the EMPLOYEES ONLY sign to shoot images of drying pastry bags, antique cake stands, frosting tips, uber Hobart stainless steel beaters, and  very interesting historic baking ovens.

I bought a dozen pastries—and raided the pastry box on my ride back to Boston. So what if I was covered in confectioners sugar? I looked like a winter holiday pageant after eating their incredible cannolis (plural.) I was the snow flake. Not you know who. The King of Kings. PS: The word is out. I am legally changing my middle name to “Dessert.” Kind of 60’ish wouldn’t you say? Heck, it is better than “Moon Beam.”

* To my friends J and N who now have the largest collect of  Brendan Ben Feeney art works this side of the Mississippi, I enjoyed seeing you. What a great time we had at the Renaissance sharing stories and laughing about our adventures. 

* Historic preservation. I admire the fact the city of Providence did NOT take the wrecking ball to many buildings. I commend Mr. Marriott for rescuing a 1920s era structure and turning it into a 5 star hotel. I admire the houses throughout the city. I had a change to see many neighborhoods. People take pride in their property. This is evident.

* Thanks to the construction worker who did not mind posing for an impromptu photo shoot wearing his hard hat. Others would tell me where to go. Not in Providence!

I will return to Providence this winter  with cinematography equipment. I can only imagine how your city looks with a backdrop of snow.

Once again, to all the good people I met and  encountered in the smallest state in the Union; I felt a large welcome.

Thank you Peoria!  I mean Providence………… Joyce………help me out!

Brendan Ben Feeney

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World AIDS Day

Dec. 1st 2010

We all know the 4th of July. And who cannot miss Thanksgiving or Passover. Yet, I just want to remind readers of Blog-O-Sphere that today is World AIDS Day.

The world had lost many talented artists and individuals to this disease. Ponder this point. It is up to us to advocate for more medical research–in all forms–for all conditions. Lobby our government and the United Nations to free up research funds. Contribute to charities that support all forms of medical research. I do.

Today, think of those suffering with HIV and AIDS  in Africa, Asia, the USA, and ALL corners of the globe. Think of the care givers. Family members. Give praise to the medical and social workers who work with patients. Give thanks to those who work at hospices.

I could not let the day go by without thinking of Keith and his brilliant  swirling cartoon-like figures, and Robert’s masterful photographs of flowers and the human form. Keith and Robert, your lives were cut short by AIDS, yet you live on through the stunning images you left behind.

Brendan Ben Feeney

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