Archive for August, 2011

The Ride

Aug. 19th 2011

I made it through the social event.

Conversation here. Cunning words there. Wit. Stories.  Shrimp with cocktail sauce? It was on the table, next to the window, beside the mini puff pastry spinach cheese wraps. 

What’s this?

Tears were running down my face from my right eye.

This was a result of being at the beach earlier in the day. Take Deep Woods bug spray with 25% DEET, combined with SPF 100 sunblock, and you have a chemistry experiment in the making. These compounds created to ward off evil to one’s skin reeked havoc with my body. The two compounds made their way into my right eye.

Everyone was far too polite tell me, “Your right eye looks like it’s on fire!” Or, “Your right eye is gushing like Niagara Falls and looks red like a fire truck!” Better yet, “What is wrong with your eye?” Mums was the word. People were too polite at this social event to confront my discomfort.

Meanwhile, my eye felt as if it had a dagger piercing it. Strike that. Voodoo pins. I left the gathering and drove (yes, drove) to the fire department/EMT station.

I drove my car with one eye open. The other was shut. Looking back (no pun intended) this was foolish. I should have called someone to take me for medical assistance. Yet, being the fierce, rugged individual I am, I sought my own help. I knocked on the megga large mechanical doors at the fire station; the kind that open with a “clicker.”  I was greeted by a group of firefighters standing in a circle chatting—waiting for a fire.

My eye was the fire.

I interupted the gathering. One look at me and they knew something was wrong.

Within seconds, the firefighters summoned 2 EMTs and they went into “medical mode.”

“This looks REAL bad,” noted one EMT. ” I think we ought to take him for a ride to Hyannis.”

 Decoded, a “ride to Hyannis” means a trip to Cape Cod Hospital’s Emergency Room——–in an ambulance.

Wunderbar. My first ambulance ride. It sounds pathalogical, yet this was “a first” for me. An adventure in a twisted sort of way. I was taught 2 things. One. When an ambulance approaches move guickly, move your car  to the side of the road. Yield the right of way. Second. Wisdom from my maternal grandmother. “Honey, if an ambulance passes, always say a little prayer for the person riding in the back.”

To this day, I do both.

Now I was on the receiving end of the prayers–hopefully.

In literatue, one often discovers the theme–home-adventure–home. It was my time to take a journey. This was my adventure. An adventure to a hospital in an ambulance?  I  wish I could have seen out the back window of the ambulance as it raced down the highway. Due to my stinging eye, I could not witness the sight. I was  positioned in such a way, I was undable to look out the back window. I missed Cape Cod’s brilliant scenery while the ambulance was driving way above the speed limit. And rightfully so.

Second, secretly, I wanted to peek out the window just to watch the mediphorical parting of the sea (Cape Cod traffic) as I’m being wisked to the hospital in a “big box” amulance. Move people. Comin’ through!

Oh, the siren. It would wail every so often. Funny how the sound of the siren is muffled inside an ambulance. I could only visualize where we were. Sight was increasing becoming difficult. Light was turning to darkness.

Another blast of the siren. This must be some pokey-Joe failing to move on the divided highway.  In a off-beat way, I felt important with each wail of the siren. This was not a blow the horn, “get-me-to-the-church-on-time” moment. It is a “save-Brendan-Ben’s-eyesight” moment.

The EMTs did an outstanding job transporting me to the hosptial before the toxic combination of chemicals in the bug spray and sun block formed an acidic compound that kept sinking deeper and deeper into the membrane of my eye. Time was at an essence–and these well-trained EMT’s knew it.

I have nothing but praise for the EMT crew that attended to my medical needs. One EMT sat beside me running an IV solution drip into my damaged eye during the entire trip to Cape Cod hospital. He radioed  ahead to the hospital noting we have an “incoming” with a severe eye injury.

I felt like a SCUD missle moment he used the word “incoming.”

  All is well that ends well.

The EMT’s triaged and stabilized my condition. The attending physicians at Cape Cod Hospital then took over and made things better.

Some essays end with a moral lesson. Some make your laugh. Others make you think. I guess I wanted to say thank you to all firefighters, EMTs, ambulance drivers, and optomoligists for helping saving the sight in my right eye.

And if an ambulance is behind you with lights flashing  or its siren wailing, what do you do?

Brendan Ben Feeney

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Lar Lubovitch Dancing to the Music of John Coltrane

Aug. 3rd 2011

Dance=Inspiration=Art=Inspired thought.

“Save the best for last.”  

That addage is something I’ve heard all throughout my life.  It came true Sunday afternoon in Becket, Massachusetts.

I was at Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival watching Lar Lubovitch’s stunning New York City dance company take to the stage. His dance company moves with precision, grace, and the look of ease–yet their dances incorporate difficult steps. The company, when dancing all together, cut a stunning line. The Company’s work is asteticlly pleasing to the eye. They are masterful dancers.

The beauty of Mr. Coltrane’s jazz is that it held tight to a melody and refrain–yet went wandering off, through the streets of New York,  in what I term “Improv Land.”

For their last dance of the program, The Lar Lubovitch Dance Company enthralled the audience as  the curtain swept across to stage right, stage left.  Exposed was a  hip, minimalist stage with interesting props. Ladders here. A mannequin there. Christmas lights stung across the back wall of the set. We are looking at  a “backstage” of a stage.

Dancers mill about. Mr. Coltrane’s music goes into action. The audience is treated to what appears to be the end of a rough dance rehearsal and  someone throws an large LP on stereo  turntable. The dancers breaks into a magnificently crafted dance that has the look and hook of exuberant  improvisational dance, yet is crafted by design.

Which John Coltrane song did Lar’s company dance to?

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things—recorded live.

What I particularly liked about this dance was it closed the program.  Dancers had smiles on their faces. Sincere smiles. Smiles that communicate…………”I am tired, yet relaxed. I am having fun swingin’ with my fellow dancers. This is cool.”

Who has time for fun anymore?

Who walks around smiling?

Who dances……..except (lame) stars on TV?

More important musings. This particular dance triggered a thought.

Oh no. Thinking, we are often told by the establishment, may be a dangerous thing–at least to some.

I negate this thought. I think ALL the time.

The Lar Lubovitch dancers made me think of MY favorite things…… a 50s/60s sort of of jazz way;  the same way Mr. Coltrane projected his interpretation and rendition of These are a Few of My Favorite Things. The same way Lar Lubovitch interpreted Mr. Contrane’s masterful live jazz recording through the artform of dance. 

I throw my thoughts into the air, similar as to Mr. Lubovitch’s dancers threw their hearts, bodies, and souls into their interpretation of Mr. Coltrane song These  Are a Few of My Favorite Things.

I carry a pen where ever I go. I take a quick note  on the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival program, “Note to self. Make list of favorite things.”

What follows are some of MY favorite things…………………………..Phase I.

At the end of the read, take the Brendan Ben Feeney challenge. Communicate back with me regarding YOUR favorite things. Remember, my web site is PG-13. Do not send a list about boinking or the best weed you scored in college.

What are some of MY favorite things?     

 The smell of fresh ground coffee beans.

My mother saying something funny. Really funny—out of the blue.

The tone played  before CBS radio news is delivered. Commanding.

Fireflies. Your eye scans the dark fields of summer. Where will the firefly’s glow appear next? Your guess is as good as mine.

My outdoor shower at the Cape.

Listening to the sound cable car bells clanging outside my window, while lying in bed.

Peeling potatoes for Christmas dinner.

Watering my garden. Giving it a deep, blissful soak.

Night photography.

Eating at the bar at Ross’ Grill. Provincetown, MA.

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.  Sunset. My favorites are at Masachusetts Bay or from Captiva, Florida. A ball of fire sinking into the Gulf of Mexico.

Rowing my single scull at dawn. Mist rising from Lake Hosmer in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Hanging out with Steve and Sue –both accomplished rowers, coaches, and great parents to their children–now young adults.

Peach stew made my Nana.

Mom’s blueberry cake hot from the oven. Butter melts, then drips down my chin.

A song lyric well crafted.

A song sung well, even with slight imperfections from a recording made not from the final take.

The first snowfall in New England.


Being in a museum gallery alone.

A Marriott burger while reading “Bill’s Blog” on my laptop.

An afternoon nap.

A strangers dog coming up to me wanting affection–and getting it.

California white wine.

Finding a 10 dollar bill in a jacket pocket or a pair of jeans.

The sound of prayers read in an alternating style.  One side of the church  reads. The other side of the church responds. Bless St. Mary of the Harbor, Provincetown, MA for its Saturday morning  innovative worship service.

 Our extended family at the Stanford Court. 

The Glide Memorial Church’s gospel choir. I am up and swaying with the opening hymn.

Remembering a  time when dropping a friend at the airport. I look in the rear view mirror. He is still standing at the curb, watching as I pull away.

Johan’s fruit stand at the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market, San Francisco, California.   Johan is passionate about agriculture.  He articulates with precision about his new fruit trees. His love of the land and his profession comes across with sincerity  when we converse.

Buddist meditation above the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean. Wind. The crash of waves below. Sitting in a field of native plants and wildflowers. My mind.

Going for morning coffee in a strange city, at 5:30 AM.

Bringing back a hot pizza from Uncle Vitos in San Francisco–on the cable car.

Brighams ice cream in the Boston area. Lewis Brother’s Ice Cream in Provincetown, MA. The ice cream served in a shop near the U. S. Post Office in  Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ice cream. I’ll say it again. Ice cream.

My first hike in the Alps with EH in Bavaria, Germany. I remember snow in April. My bet. I still owe you 100 Euros for tossing a snowball through a wind direction sock—on the first try.

My days playing with romper stompers, a fast game of 4-squares,  jump rope, being the master of the hop-a-long; a leg thingy with a loop that goes around one’s ankle. The loop is tethered to a plastic string with a ball at the end of the plastic string. You   jump over it. I would play with this cheap toy for hours. Why just yesterday, in the street, I was……………….(not really).

Our 45 lp record player. Sitting on the steps, extension cord out the window, listening to 60s and 70s rock. Summer songs.

Juniors Cheesecake, New York City.

Cutting the grass in Maine with our antique mower. Spinning blades. Hand-held tool made in the 1920s. Do kids today cut lawns?

Falling asleep to the sound of the ocean.

8 pillows and a blanket washed with extra  Downey fabric softener.

Japantown. San Francisco.

Coca Cola in 8 ounce glass bottles. One must pop the top with a bottle opener.

The Tufts University swimming pool. The Tufts University Quad. 

Receiving an e-mail from Ted Kennedy days before he passed away.

Painting at the Fine Arts Work Center.

Boston College. The History, English, and Political Science departments.

Inspiring young minds. I enjoy teaching.

Giving directions to lost tourists gripping maps.

Riding the ferry at Flyers Boat Yard to Long Point–the very tip of Cape Cod. Jared. I’m ready for my sailing lessons. Call the tow service—-in advance.

Sitting on “The Wall” at Emerson College. Sad yet true, this tradition is history.

 Modern dance classes in the Ruth St. Denis studio on Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival campus, Becket, MA.

Tom’s yoga party.

Walking back from a party at Central Park West, in the snow, all the way to Grand Central Station, snapping photographs.

Writing poems and song lyrics in the snow down Commercial Street, in Winter, while staying at Revere House guest house in Provincetown, MA.

Cow grazing in  fields under a blue sky checkered with huge puffy clouds.

Driving the backroad  to Tanglewood, in the Berkshires.

My visits with Bob and Selina. I treasure these moments together at their kitchen table. Bob brews the coffee. An ecclectic CD is slid  into  Bob’s computer and plays. Fresh cut flowers for Selina from my Cape Cod garden. Pure, flowing conversation. True friends.  

Cotton candy.

Watching a storm over the ocean from the cliffs of Truro, MA.

 Classic films projected at the Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA or the Castro Street Theater, San Francisco, CA.

Live jazz.

Wearing bow ties.

Mom’s tenderloin of beef.

Hanging out on Sam’s deck at Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival and Zenning up his deck with beach stones from Cape Cod. Love your red chairs, Sam!

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Soaking in the geothermal pool for hours in winter.  Like Jello. Zen.

Driving Highway 1 along the California coast.

Eating  Icelantic hot dogs from the red trailer by the waterfront.

Collecting beach stones.

The night sky of Montana, Wyoming, or Cape Cod . A shooting star! A wish is made.

The Littlefield/Feeney Office Christmas Party. Table for 3? A bad play? Incredible conversation? Yes. Yes. And yes.



What are 3 of your favorite things???????????????????????????????????

Think. Think. Think.

Brendan Ben Feeney

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