24/03/11 8:05 PM

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

44 Comments on “Plastics”

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    I’ll keep my eyes on that tree and plastic we saw flapping as we crossed to the sunny side of the street earlier today.

    Perhaps, I’ll even come up with my own de-plasticizing claw grab it and set the tree free!

    A pleasure to have met and shared your company today. Let me know when you’re ready for a return visit and our walk-and-talk tour.


    BBF’s editor passes along this personal message from BBF to Jessan D. O.:

    “Jessan! I enjoyed today’s coffee and conversation. Your city is one of the best kept secrets in America. So much to see and do. After we parted from the sunny side of the street, I made my way to Rhode Island School of Design. It was delightful chatting with students and touring the Rhode Island School of Design museum. Being at Rhode Island School of Design’s bookstore was like being a bear at a campground in Yellowstone National Park–when bacon is cooking. So much to choose from. I purchased many hard-to-find items. Before leaving Providence, I flagged down a cab to take me to Federal Hill to buy pastries (plural.) Fate. Ali, the best cab drive in Providence, took me to the land of butter, sugar, and frosting. The drive was a mix of laughter and stories. I now have a driving tour, and your walking tour, set for my next visit to RI. My third tour is up for grabs. Who will push me around in a Stop & Shop shopping cart? I look forward to reading your “writing.” Verse inspired by water……and scrambled eggs from the Renaissance. Hehehe. Be well and happy.” Brendan Ben Feeney

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