Archive for March, 2011


Mar. 24th 2011

Whoever thought Dustin Hoffman, playing Benjamin in The Graduate, would lean forward with hesitation, to listen to capitalistic career advice delivered as if it were a Cold War secret.


Whoever thought I would be counting plastic bags trapped in tree branches while riding the Metro North  train into Manhattan from Stamford, Connecticut?

The closer the train approached New York City, the more plastic bags I viewed flapping in tree branches  as if they were announcing a holiday.

It’s  easy to play the blame game. It takes one to play.

What ever happened to the childhood chant, “Littler bug, litter bug, shame on you!”

No wonder I was chased down streets and had rocks thrown at me as a teen. “Who are you to tell me what to do?” That line resonates today as if it were yesterday. 

 The Vietnam War was raging. Music constantly played from our transistor radio in the kitchen. Pre disco music had great lyrics and a pop beat.   The environmental movement was gaining momentum. This was the late 1960s and early 1970s.

I remember celebrating  the first Earth Day. This time stamps and dates me. I was four foot something, exploring my universe on a yellow low-rider bicycle. The  handlebars were like Picasso’s bull sculpture.  My bike was a space investigational device. My lunar lander grounded on earth–yet I though otherwise. I was a child of the space generation.  A glass of Tang, anyone?

I painted a sign. Went down a flight of steep stairs to our cellar. Here I groused around my father’s cluttered workbench and found his father’s hammer and some nails. I whacked thick nails into the telephone pole in front of our house, displaying what may be considered my first piece of public installation art. I painted a sign, “Save the Earth.”

Who told me earth was dying? I was not exposed to Ziggy Stardust back then. Perhaps, this line from David Bowie was not yet  penned. I somehow intuitively knew the environment was being abused. It was something in need of protection and preservation.

Who remembers Woodsy Owl? He would say….. “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute?” What about the PSA of a Native American with a solitary tear running down his cheek because of the state of our environment?  Where are these types of public service announcements in 2011?

I once read a story years ago about a grassroots environmental  activist. She designed and created a handmade tool; a device with pinchers at the end of a large pole. The thing looks  like an insect’s claw.  She designed it to specifically ectracate  plastic bags stuck in trees. A plastic bag liberation device. More power this this woman. I read she would garner a crowd of onlookers as she went about her de-plastification efforts. Upon the successful removal of a stuck plastic bag from a tree, a spontaneous round of applause would erupt. This happened  with each tangled bag,  pinched lovingly, and removed from  urban trees.

We are about to celebrate Earth Day this spring. Tinker a bit. Maybe you and I can create one of these pinching devices “thingies” and free unwanted plastic bags from trees.

Big ideas start small.

I say, begin anywhere when it comes to environmentalism.

Brendan Ben Feeney

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Chapters to be Viewed–Not Read.

Mar. 10th 2011

Doug Varone and Dancers have a New York Times bestseller on their hands. A real page turner. When you reach the end—-there is a standing ovation. This is not a book one opens and closes. It is a work of literature in motion. A New York premiere of a dance.

Doug Varone, acclaimed choreographer and artistic director of Doug Varone and Dancers has scripted a new dance work titled Chapters From a Broken Novel. It is a must READ –I mean VIEW.

Doug Varone and Dancers have been creating innovative dance for  24 years. The Company is based in New York, New York, USA. Several hallmarks of this stellar dance company are its innovative moves, idiosyncratic arm work, drops and lifts, refined slight movements, physicality, synchronized eclectic vignettes, and raw emotion. In short, Doug Varone and Dancers are at the apex of their craft.

Doug is a methodical keeper of quotes and notes. If he reads something that strikes him as interesting, quirky, touching, disturbing, or witty–he jots it down. Over the years, these quote have accumulated therefore creating the structure of Chapters From A Broken Novel. This particular dance is a series of “chapters” pieced together into a holistic work.

The seven dancers who comprise the company are: Julia Burrer, Ryan Corriston, Natalie Desch, Erin Owen, Alex Springer, Eddie Taketa, and Netta Yerushalmy. All dancers are lyrical when they take to the stage.  When they dance solo, or as a unified company, they personify beauty, passion, physicality, and pathos.

 I have one request.

I want to go grocery shopping with Julia.


I would ask her to reach for all sorts of items on the top shelf of the grocery store just to witness the fluidity and grace of her arm as they move. Her arm movements are like no other arm movements in the dance world today. She create heavenly motion. Sweeping. Spinning. Swirling. So unique. So Julia.

 I would ask Julia to reach for things I don’t even like. For example– canned asparagus. Top shelf.  

Freeze-dried coffee.  Top shelf.

Swing your graceful arms, Julia! Canned frosting. No. Not chocolate fudge. I want the artificial cream cheese frosting  in the way, way back.  

Reach. Now swing. And reach. An swing. And reach. And reach. You go, Julia!

I am in awe.

In Chapters From A Broken Novel, Ryan and Netta dance what love looks like when it turns bitter and sour. A car driven off a map. As Doug noted at a recent lecture, one can find bits and pieces from one’s life experiences in the chapters of  his new dance work. When Ryan and Netta come together, in a Chapter titled “Ruby Throated Sparrow,” you feel tension emanating from the stage— all the way back in Row H, seat 7.  I cringe watching their love die before my eyes. 

Erin’s solo titled “Tile Riot” from Chapters From A Broken Novel  is like peeking into a lit window outside a stranger’s house.



What Erin is doing inside this imaginary indoor space is what we all do when no-one is looking; we dance around the room. We sing into an imaginary hairbrush. We engage in ritualistic behaviors, moving stuff around. You know, stuff. Erin then breaks into a 1960s mod dance. Thank  goodness NO ONE is watching. 

 Erin. Hello. You are dancing to a full house.


People ARE watching you, Erin. Yet, we all can relate.

In the chapter titled “Funeral,” Eddie moves like a Morning Glory unfolding toward the Cape Cod morning sun. So Zen-like. The lighting is impeccable. Eddie’s slow calculated motion is similar to watching a painting evolve from gesso on a blank stretched canvas to a masterpiece in a singular tableau.

Eddie dances fast when fast dance is called for. And he is the master of slow dance, when slow dance is called for. Did I mention, Eddie is a great fast and slow dancer?

Sorry Natalie. Friends off-stage, yet when you dance the “mean-woman,” and  go after Erin in one particular Chapter, you are a  BULLY with a capital B. You are so believable, like the  soap opera star I meet at an upscale 5th Avenue Department Store.  I want to tell the star off, and mouth off to her how dispicable she is for stealing so-and-so—- then reality kicks in.

 Oh. She is an actress playing a part. Acting. In this case Natalie is  a dancer dancing. Yet she dances “mean” with  perfection, audience members want to give Natalie a slice of their tongue.

Off stage, Natalie you are genteel as Southern ice tea. (This is a compliment.)

Alex has the “swing thing” down to perfection. He lifts, and swirls Julia in a Chapter. Alex is great in the air. Leap with wild abandon, Alex! Throw yourself towards the theater’s ceiling. I will climb up into the rafters and get peel you off the ceiling  if need be. I am no longer afraid of heights. Whirl and swirl. You are the master of the duo-spin. Whoosh!

Doug Varone and Dancers have been touring with recent stops in Boston, Massachusetts, Portland, Maine, and  Greenville, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia.  

Now it is time for Doug’s triumphant return to New York, New York, USA.

 Doug Varone and Dancers will premier in New York Chapters From A Broken Novel on Tuesday night, March 15th at the acclaimed and  historic Joyce Theater. A special Cast Party is being held for those purchasing tickets for $250 and above opening night. Tickets for opening night are still available by contacting

Many of my Blog readers express they wish to meet me in person. I will be at the March 15th performance and the Post Premiere Cast Party. Tickets for the Open Night Festivities are still  available yet going fast. Contact DOVA today. I would love to meet my New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey readers and collectors.

If you have never seen live dance, it is mind candy. Ethereal. It take your imagination to a higher level of consciousness.

Sensational dance would not be complete without an original musical score. Doug teamed up with David Van Tiegham, noted sound artist. His musical score compliments the movements Doug has created from his rich imagination and life experiences.

Tickets for the post opening night performances may be purchased at JoyceCharge at 212 242-0800. Tickets start at $10 and up. Chapters From A Broken Novel  is performed at Joyce Theater, 175 Eight Avenue at 19th Street from March 15-20, 2011.  You may also go to for more information.

Erin…………..why do I have 174 cans of yuckie frosting, 93 glass jars of freeze dried coffee, and 296 cans of asparagus in my shopping cart?

See you at the Joyce Theater!

This is a dance performance you do NOT want to miss.

Brendan Ben Feeney at Ben’s Blog

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Mar. 3rd 2011

A friend exclaimed………

“You are going where?  ICELAND?  Isn’t it bloody cold up there–or down there? Where IS Iceland?”

This  friend went on to say,   “Why not Florida?  A holiday at Rodent World would break up the winter; only a 3 hour flight to Orlando.  Or, why not Fort Myers, Florida, USA? You can watch the Red Sox play. It is spring training. Pitchers and catchers. SPRING. The smell of cut lawns. Sprinklers waving to and fro. Flowers. No snow. Are you listening to me?”


To Keflavek, Iceland, it is a 5/6 hour flight from the East Coast of the United States. One flies into a new day. A repetition of hours past.  I suddenly hear the Edwin Hawkins Singers singing in my mind. Oh Happy (new) Day! A fresh start.

Forget nay-sayers. Do not listen to those who mentioned I would freeze my tuffy. Not true. I had one of the most delightful holidays in years in Iceland. It was a combination of work and play. More play than work. I shoot photography pretty fast. The natural light of  Iceland is stunning. No need to change photographic filters and lenses for each frame.

Iceland is home to one of natures most wondrous phenomenon–the northern lights. Picture swirling shades of green dancing on your ceiling. Trippy. Soooo 1960’s San Francisco, California, USA—minus the drugs.

I wish to say thank you  to all I met during my journey to Reykjavik, the world’s most northern capital city. Here are some short vignettes.

* Meeting elementary school students in Reykjavik. I totally enjoyed signing my post cards. One boy was so excited, he left his book bag behind when autographs were over. He ran back to fetch his European-style book bag. Upon returning, he extended his hand offering me coins from his pocket. I told him, his presence was a gift. Keep the kronas. “Buy yourself an ice cream. ” His gesture was sweet,  innocent, and memorable.

*At this same signing, I could not spell a student’s name. It was a traditional Icelandic name with many vowels and consonants. In a flash, he pointed to his arm and said, “Copy this from my football jersey.” It is nice kids are still kids in Iceland–not miniature versions of adults constantly playing with electronic devices in public and texting on cell phones. We often force children to grow up too fast in the United States. It was nice to witness a slower pace of life in Iceland. More respect for the outdoors. Childhood revisited.

* The silica mud at the Blue Lagoon was pure bliss. As John Lennon’s critics once noted, Mr. Lennon was dreaming his life away when he took time off to appreciate life in Manhattan. Well, if there was ever a place dream one’s life away, it is at the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is home to buoyant, milky, aquamarine water. Steam  rises from geothermal water. While soaking in the geothermal water, it snowed, rained, wind howled-and I could care less. I was floating in the Blue Lagoon. True relaxation. The name of the facility sounds like an bad Elvis Presley movie. No. That was Blue Hawaii. I think. Work with me on this people.

* Baejarins Beztu Pylsurs! In short, Icelandic hot dogs. Better than Coney Island hot dogs! Superior to Fenway Franks! Ben!!!!!!!!!!!! How can this be? I went to this famous take-out stand, housed in a red aluminum camper-like structure 4 times. I ordered 2 Pylsurs at a time. I am a two fisted Pylsur eater. For those unfamiliar with a Pylser I will explain. There is a photograph of former president Bill Clinton holding a Pylsur. Food. Bill Clinton. Need I  say more? If Bill likes Pylsers then Ben likes Pylsers. Ah. Crispy, crunchy onions. A special mustard. A streak of carefully applied mayo. A soft bun.  You eat Pylsurs  standing up, Note the “s?” Plural. One Plyser  is not enough. The picnic tables next to the stand have unique carved wooden ridges to cradle your hot dogs–that’s if you put them down. I couldn’t.

*How green!

No. Not Kermit the Frog.


The hotel where I stayed was heated with geothermal energy. Room heat and water. The lights in the room turned on only when I inserted my flat plastic room key. Lights then went  off when I removed the key, therefore not leaving lights on when out of the room. The hotel hall lights would turn on and off using  motion sensors. How many times have I been in hotels around the world where hall lights burn 24/7? 

The people in Iceland are welcoming to guests. I enjoyed many conversations with fishermen, cab drivers, bartenders, shop keepers, business executives from the worlds of  energy production and global financial. I had delightful conversations with people whom I floated with in the Blue Lagoon. I enjoyed meeting teachers from England, a Canadian couple, a nurse and a pilot from Scotland, and an investment banker from France.

I am working with Scott and Will. They are my ace technology team members; part of I hope to have new photo galleries of New York City and Iceland posted by mid-spring.

So if the thought of Iceland makes one think of standing in a walk-in beer freezer think again. The climate is temperate. The food, fabulous. The people eager to please and engaging.

Next trip…………………Iceland.  All aboard!  


There are no trains in Iceland……….

Brendan Ben Feeney


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To Those I Met In Iceland……A Special Message.

Mar. 1st 2011

A message to all I met in Iceland—————I would truly enjoy hearing from you.

This special post goes out to all the folks I met at: The Blue Lagoon, on photo shoots, at the Reykjavik swim/sports center, at the Pilsyr stand, and to the elementary students I met with and signed postcards.

Hello to the people I had conversations with  in coffee shops, at the hotel, art galleries,  and museums. 

Best regards to the Polish national making his way, on his own, in a new country. Thanks for sharing a cab. Contact me.

To all who toured with me or had  conversations—feel free to drop me a line. I would like to remain in contact.

 To my investment banker friend from France, drop me a line. It was very nice spending time with you in the snow, head above water. Lunch by the pool was relaxing. I have art photographs I wish to send you.  I  need your mailing address in Paris. You have an invitation to visit me in the USA.

Mick and Adian, how does it feel to be back in London? Repeat after me…”Take out your notebooks and write about what I did on winter break.”  This will chew up time…hehehehe. Mates! Please drop me an e-mail. Send me your mailing addresses. I too have photographs for you. I called around to all the hostels to return your visit, yet you were gone. I felt  bad I was not at the hotel the time whenyou came by to visit. Darn. I wanted to show you the suite and drink the mini bar in the room dry…heheheh. I was at the Blue Lagoon–again. Rain check.  Let meet in London or Sydney this summer or come to Cape Cod.  The same is true for my Parisian friend. A Cape Cod holiday……..The Atlantic Ocean and Massachusetts Bay IS my swimming pool.

I am working on a detailed  post that will be published later in the week  about my time in Iceland. Stay tuned. 

 To those who want to meet me and say hello, I will be in New York in March and California in April. Details will  follow.

Thank you to all who read by blog and collect my artwork.


Brendan Ben Feeney

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