Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

The Louvre Museum’s American Branch

Jan. 22nd 2012

Why go to Paris, France to see some of the world greatest artistic masterpieces when you can travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA?

Did you know, Philly is the home to The Louvre II. The American Branch of The Louvre? The West Wing of The Louvre?

Yes. Really!

Well, kind of…………sort of.

My best friend from college wrote me an e-mail. We have been corresponding for over 20 years. Sort of like the longest game of flashlight tag. His latest note began something like this…………..”I know how you dislike parents who complain about  teachers–yet, listen to this.”

The next line was about how his talented, outgoing, intellectual, athletic, worldly, artistic daughter received a “B” from her elementary school art teacher.

All the above are true. I am “Uncle Ben” to his daughter; not to be confused with the gentleman on a rice box.

“Say what? A B? ………Why, that teacher must be a ………………..”

Fill in the blank.

I went on to say, “Didn’t your daughter have a work of art in a prestigious Philadelphia exhibition?” This is while other children are wired for sound or texting madly as if they are working on the Middle East Peace Accords.

My friend’s daughter  paintings, sketches, or works with clay–then goes out for a bike ride with her mom and dad along the Schuylkill River instead of being sucked into the vortex of electronic gizmos.

“What’s up with this “B” thing?,” I inquired. 

“It was the ONLY B to appear on her report card,” noted my friend.

Art is subjective. I am under the impression most everyone gets an A in 3 areas in elementary school:

* Gym (Run like your pants are on fire!)

* Family Consumer Science (Can you NOT pick your nose, and peel the apples for the apple pie at the same time?)

* Art. (A is for effort. Oh, that is E.)

 Do you see my point?

If you visited my friend and wife’s condo in Philly, their refrigerator is the Western Wing of The Parisian Louvre.

His daughter’s sketches are meticulously displayed with refrigerator magnets. Her portraits of her loving mom and dad define realism. No green elongated heads with 3 eyes and chartreuse lips. Her landscapes do not like U.S. Government Toxic Waste Superfund cleanups sites.

Shame on this art teacher for giving my friend’s daughter a B. It was a grade not reflective of her self-expression, effort, talent, and creativity.

In fact, how does one judge art?

In the a very prestigious international publication I read on a airplane ride home from California,  it noted some feel Damien Steven Hirst’s polka dot series are the toast of the art world.   To others,  they are the decline of western civilization.

Why put a grade on creativity? Why discourage  elementary school children from being excited about the creative process? What is wrong with the grade “P” for pass?

I wrote back, again, “A ‘B’ on your daughter’s report card? Why she could be my photo assistant. She could be my video editor. She could run a quater-of-a-million dollar Panaflex movie camera! She could serve as my studio assistant mixing egg tempera paint. She could be an archivist for work I’ve had displayed in museums and private collections.”

 A “B.” What the………………..?

Fill in the blank.

Save your money. I went on-line this morning. The lowest airfare to Paris in April topped, $1,395. 00 (American dollars.) Book a flight to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Visit my friend’s condo. Ask to be buzzed in to see their kitchen. The Louvre’s American Branch is on their stainless steel General Electric refrigerator with all sort of good healthy food on the inside. (Come on friends. Enough with the mini carrots and the dip made from beans. Stick a box of  Hostess Twinkies in the fridge like Idid as kid to chill the artificial filling.) Yet it is what’s on the outside that matters. A child’s artist expression.

Brendan Ben Feeney

Dateline: Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA.

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Bullshit Bingo. “I Spy a Personal Injury Lawyer Sign—Hard on the Right.” DAD!

Jan. 6th 2012

Can you imagine using the word “bullshit” in front of your 80-plus-year-young parents?

Let  it fly in the name of cheap entertainment.

On Christmas Day the Feeney clan flew south into Fort Myers Florida International Airport. Upon deplaning we picked up our bags and made a bee line to the Hertz #1 Club rental car counter. Let our vacation begin.

Strike that.

 Let the game begin.

Blame it on Harvard. When then vice-president Al Gore spoke at a Harvard commencement ceremony, students played Bullshit bingo from the audience.

What’s this?

When our pal Al would say a particular word in his speech, like “global warming,” it was if someone called “B-5!” in a smoke-filled Bingo parlor.

Certain words command certain values.

Ben, being Ben changed the dynamic of the game and morphed it  into a travel game. Sort of “I-Spy”–yet on steroids.

So here we are, the traveling Feeneys, pulling out of the Fort Myers International Airport when Dad makes the first call.

“I see a personal injury lawyer billboard.” He adds, “Lord, what a bad suit.”

“Good work dad,” I exclaim.

Mom is next on the scoreboard as we make our way to Sanibel Island.

“Look on the right, it the Digestive Health Center! B-I-N-G—– I go!”

“Good goin’ mother. Look for the other doc-in-a-box spaces on our cards,” exclaims Dad. “Anyone see The Eyelid Reconstruction Center?

“No, honey.”

Then came the Robb and Stucky Furniture store. Oh, then a Pawn shop. Well, well.  What do I see? A decrepit roadside fruit stand with oranges baking in the winter sun? It was 80 degrees when we arrived in Fort Myers. This commanded a big G-3.

“Look! (no pun intended) an Eye Center located directly to the right of the main gateway to the Minnesota Twins spring  baseball training stadium.”

“Yes, but it it is not The Reconstructive Eyelid Center on the list,” notes mom.

Mothers are so intuitive.”Same difference,” I mutter.

Dad notes, “Is this where they send umpires who make bad calls….or ball players who cannot hit?”

I retort, “Good points dad, yet I forgot to add winter baseball to our Bullshit Bingo cards.

“Look, a tall blue heron, looking for food in a man-made drainage ditch with icky water!” I-3.

“To your left. Grazing cows on undeveloped industrial land. A republican tax loophole.” N-2.

“Why is that a senior citizen peddling a big ass tricycle?” O-4.

To put swaying palms or a monster truck tooling beyond the speed limit, or someone chuckin’ a Budwieser can from a moving car would be mundane. They did not make the Bingo sheet.

My list had to have bumpers with stickers left over from the 2008 Presidential election, road crews with 13 men staring at a lone hole, and a lone beach flip-flop in the middle of the road.

A satire on Floridian life?


A harmless game?

No one was rushed to the hospital.

A harbinger of family laughter and family bonding?

Um, yes.

A welcome back to a state we love.

Right on.

Ah, this is what escaping the cold of the north does to the brain…………………….


Brendan Ben Feeney

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Those Who Live Joyfully……………

Dec. 24th 2011

“Those who live joyfully are envied.”

“So make us strong.”

These are 2 stanzas from a rhetorical prayer I once recited when I attended a church service with less than 10 congregants. The laity ran the service. We rotated leadership. The chosen celebrant led the congregation in song, prayer, meditative reflection, a healing circle, communion, and created a true sense of community.

Like all things good, even good things sometime fray at the seams.

 Before you knew it, words we once prayed in a back-and-forth manner, across facing pews, flew back in my face.

I was living joyfully.

 I was envied. Envy then caused jealousy and a twisted sense of logic became evident like thick Cape Cod fog.

I dropped out of the congregation.

I guess that everything has its time and place.

There was a time when I found great solace worshiping at this congregation. I enjoyed the company of the congregants. I liked the intellectual nature of the service. The person selected weekly to lead the service had leeway to select music and readings for the service. I remember introducing the poetry of Allen Ginsburg, Walt Whitman and the music of Judy Collins into a service where I was the central celebrant. 

There are those who wish to acid rain on my parade.

I have a very good friend. He told me, “Never let anyone spoil your joy.”

So those who live joyfully, they are often envied by others…… make us strong and make us brave to stand up to those who wish to belittle, gossip, make false accusations, and act petty knowing that fragility is the nature of life. Life is a fast-fleeting occurrence where we often do not know what tomorrow will bring.

Peace to all on this Christmas Eve, 2011.

Live joyfully.

Do not let others “spoil your joy” or “acid rain on your parade.”

Brendan Ben Feeney

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Remembering 9/11: Ten Years Have Passed. A Day of Service

Sep. 10th 2011

While an undergraduate student at Boston College, I was an intern at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library located in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is situated along the water, looking out over Dorchester Bay, which connects to Boston Harbor. I. M. Pei’s  stunning structure architecturally blends the library building with the natural environment. The JFK Presidential Library’s outer walls are made of crisp white stucco; a sail-like design. The building reflect’s President Kennedy’s love of the wind, the ebb and flow of the tide, and his passion for sailing. His boat, Victura, is displayed facing Boston Harbor, placed on the lawn—- lost—as if waiting for  its captain to return.

The captain will never return.

In the days leading up to the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America, I experienced an empty feeling. I seem to be looking for the return of something lost. It’s a vvoid hard to describe–yet I speculate, we all may have felt this way at one time or another.

This summer, I worked on photographic project in New York City. Night photography and night cinematography is one of my passions. After staying  out all night shooting still film and live footage, I made my way on foot to Battery Park to greet a new dawn.  I looked out where two rivers intersect and Lady Liberty stands tall across New York Harbor. Inspiring.

The sky was blue. The clouds–dream-like. There was a touch of Autumn in the air. I could not take my eyes off the Statue of Liberty. She looks so different  in person compared to high school textbooks.  To me, Lady Liberty is a beacon of hope. She is a source of inspiration and determination. A promise of a new day; a new beginning.

The morning I was in Lower Manhattan was similar, weather wise,  to September 11, 2001. The sky was blue. The water glistened. People were making their way to work. Nothing seemed out-of-the-ordinary. It could have been any Manhattan morning.

The events of 10 years ago shattered our collective sense of national security.

I can pinpoint the precise time and  place where I was 10 years ago on September 11, 2001. Disbelief was my first reaction. Then panic set in. Where is (name withheld)? I made a telephone call home. Morning television programming was preempted. As I  turned on the TV, Tower Number 2 collapsed in real time before my eyes.  I then  switched on WBZ AM 1030, Boston’s oldest and one of the nation’s most respected radio stations. I wanted to  learn what was happening to our nation. It was hard to connect the dots, cross “t’s” and make sense of nonsensicle acts.

It is important  tomorrow to reflect upon lives lost, tears shed, the heroic deeds and the kindness of strangers related to that horrible morning in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania 10 years ago.

It’s time to dig deep into our collective national soul and seek out goodness. Turn a bad memory into a memorial of healing and service to others.

Michelle Obama, First Lady eloquently noted in her address to the American people this week, make tomorrow, the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a day of national and community service. I know Fenway Park, the iconic shrine to baseball and home of the Boston Red Sox will opens its gates for a Red Cross blood drive.  I learned from a reader of my blog, in the Heartland of America, will spend the day at a nursing home with her pet cat, visiting patients with memory impairments. Another friend from New York City sent me an e-mail noting he will play his guitar and share his love and talent of music in a small neighborhood public park. No dark glasses. No fame. Just a fellow  American playing tribute songs on his acoustic guitar to all who pass by and wish to sing along.

As noted, the  captain of the Victura did  not return–yet  his legacy lives on in spirit. I think of The Peace Corps, The Alliance for Progress, an underground nuclear test ban treaty signed with the Soviet Union.

Every action causes a reaction. Or is the other way around?  I am horrible when it comes to science.

America is a nation strong in character, will, and determination.

Honor the dead. Praise those who assisted on that fateful day: police, firefighters, EMTs, chaplins, mental health workers, rescue dogs, meal makers, and trained rescue workers. The list of first responders, and those who came to the 9/11 sites in the following hours, days, weeks, and months are to honored.

On September 11, 2011,  reach out to others.







With a heavy heart, and  the promise of  knowing only working TOGETHER as a nation, we will move forward to create a better America and a better world— free, safe, and secure.

Alone. We suffer.

Together, we unite.

United we stand.

God bless America. My country. My land of opportunity. My land of freedom. A land I love with deepness of heart.

Cast your sails to the wind.

Never forget September 11th.

Brendan Ben Feeney

San Francisco, CA. USA

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“I Am a Lineman for the County….” Glen Campbell’s Farewell Tour

Sep. 7th 2011

Deeply embedded in a recent edition of The Wall Street Journal was an article about Glen Campbell–a musician whom I deeply admire.

Is it hip to admit you like Glen Campbell? Is is not cool to say you once owned all of his albums and tried to emulate his voice–outside of the shower?

Once I turned a particular age, I could care less if I had The Best of the Partridge Family glued to my forehead.

The Wall Street Journal article noted Glen Campbell recorded a new CD. In support of this new CD, Mr. Campbell  is touring to promote “the product.”

Yes. The music industry is a business. 

What struck a cord with me was this tour was titled a “Farewell Tour.”  Why the farewell?

Glen Campbell has Alzheimer’s Disease.

When public people go public with private information diverse reactions occur. Some good. Some bad.

On one side of the fence, one may say, “How nice. One last time to hear and see a living legend perform.” On the other side of the fence (the one that shows the infrastructure and cross-beams- not the round, neat compilation of fence posts) one may say,”How cruel! How exploitative! Why make this man sing with teleprompters and put him in uncompromising situations.”

 On tour you work at night and try to sleep during the day.  Anyone who has lived on a tour bus knows life on the music circuit lacks glamor. Touring is not a Vanity Fair photo spread.

Glen’s voice is pure. When he sings Wichita Lineman, he sounds like he is personally crooning to me. This particular song’s delivery is rich and resonates with sincerity. The guitar tracks and vocals are not bloated with overdubs. It is a magnificent song sung with precision and grace.

His guitar work on Wichita Lineman is stunning. He is known as a recording and touring artist in his own right, yet Mr. Campbell played as a studio musician and has  backed-up many famed musicians on iconic songs.

When Glen Campbell comes to town I am uncertain if I will see him perform. Should I  keep the memory I have of Mr. Campbell from the days of old, in my minds-eye, remembering how Mr. Campbell interprets his classic songs on his recordings? His songs paint word pictures. Do I want to spoil this?

And what about the essence of a “Farewell Tour?” 

Exploitation? I don’t know.

A chance to say say goodby to the stage? Plausible.

One big bang for the buck for his record label? This could be the case.

Or, maybe Mr. Campbell has the call of the road in his system. There is something hypnotic about being on stage, pouring one’s heart out with one’s music–and feeling a wave of love  from the crowd bouncing back at you with each round of applause and two or three encores.

I feel deeply for those who suffer from memory impairment. It is a cruel fate. A bad deck of cards often dealt at an unexpected time during one’s life.

If you read this Glen, I thank you for the years you performed a steady repertoire of hit songs. I thank you for the clarity of your melodic voice and honest, un-cluttered guitar playing. I admire your long career in the music industry. Your style is unique and I thank you for being part of the soundtrack of my life.

As you hit the road for your “Farewell Tour,” I bid you a fond farewell.

Brendan Ben Feeney

Providence, Rhode Island. USA.

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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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Remembering Amy Winehouse: I Wish She Said…………..

Jul. 27th 2011

I wish she sang,  “Yes. Yes. Yes.”

Instead it was. “No. No. No.”

I am referring to a lyric from an Amy Winehouse song about passing on rehabilitation treatment.

A few days ago, I woke to radio news. I heard a blip–a mere soundbite–that “troubled” pop singer Amy Winehouse is dead.

The news delivery was blunt. No feeling. Devoid of emotion.

I find that perplexing because Ms. Winehouse produced 2 CD in her short career. These 2 CDs were noting but blunt. They were exploding with feeling and raw emotion.

Sadness turned to sorrow. I reached over from my bed, shut the radio off, and slept for 20 more minutes–however, sleep was evasive.

I thought…………This is just like Janis Joplin. This is similar to Jim Morrison. Kurt left this world much too soon. Oh,  Jimi Hendrix. You were a  master of the guitar and could deliver a lyric with power. Sam Cooke, your smooth soulful voice was silenced by violence. I hardly hear your songs played on the radio today. Oh, when time passes and memory fades people often forget; yet I do not. Cass Elliott. Karen Carpenter. John. Imagine what these artist would be doing if alive today?  Ah, speculation. It is a game we play.

When discussing Ms. Winehouse with a good friend in the medical field, he said, “Many people refuse help. THEY have to make the decision to get clean and sober and STAY clean and sober.”

My retort was, “But……………but…………”

I found myself sputtering and floundering  like a  sailboat off course.

If only Ms. Winehouse was able to find a medical treatment center, far from the maddening crowd. I wish she could have sought  comprehensive medical attention. Contrary to popular belief, she did enter rehabilitation several times,  yet fell backwards into the vortex of addiction.

Addiction is a medical condition. It is not weakness of character. It affects all rungs of society.

Outside of Ms. Winehouse’s home,  fans created a memorial with teddy bears, poems, hand written letters, smokes, empty vodka bottles, flowers, candles, pictures, wine glasses filled with wine, and other expressions to represent loss. Memorials help those who are left behind.

Right now, I feel sad for Amy’s parents and all those who admired her artistry. It is  strange to write the word “admired in the past tense.

You might find yourself in a club, or shopping in some hip store with an I-tune play list or songs downloaded using Pandora.  On  may come an Amy Winehouse song. I’m sure you will reflect on her unique talent–and note her voice was silenced way before its time.

Like the flash of a comet, Ms. Winehouse’s life was brief, yet her impact on the music world will be remembered for years to come.

Sleep soundly with the angels, Amy. You are at peace.

Brendan Ben Feeney


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The Incredible Sound of Music Played Slow

Jul. 15th 2011

After a long 7 months, I treated myself to the incredible sound of music played slow.

I’m fortunate to have a 6-disc CD player in my automobile. I discovered a quiet parking lot in the Cape Cod National Seashore Park that faces Massachusetts Bay. Water, wind, and small curling waves introduce themselves to a pebbly shoreline. I retreat into solitude.

I turn off the car’s engine then turn the ignition key slightly to the right  stimulating  the flow of electricity.  A faint glow of light emanates from the dashboard similar to a nightlight. What’s this? A button that reclines  my car seat to a quasi-flat position? The car dealer never demonstrated this feature; a welcome discovery.

No one bothered me.  I closed my eyes drifting in and out of a thin veneer of slumber. I find subconscious sleep restful sleep. My body feels it defies and alludes gravity. Quite ethereal. I slipped  in and out of sleep, sporadically waking to the music, the dashboard light, then drifting back to sleep with the sound of music played by the follow artists:

                     * Neil Young.                       CD: Live at Massy Hall, 1971

                     * Pat Metheny.                     CD: What it All About.  June 2011 release. 

                     * The Moder Jazz Quartet.       CD:  A CD found in the depths of my CD library.                              

                     * The Counting Crows.           CD: Live in New York.  The acoustic disc from the double CD set.  

                     * Nina Simone.                        CD: Nina Simone’s Finest Hour

In the world of dance clubs and radio program  directors’s command (or demand) of the airwaves, timing and beats per minute are important compared to a song sung or played slow. The fast pace of most contemporary music mirrors the pace of society; fast.

Ever so often upon waking, I look up at the moon made of cream cheese (desperately searching for that illusive jumping cow), I focus upon the moonlight’s  reflective glow dancing on Massachusetts Bay at night. In this tranquil setting, I  play  my chosen CDs from beginning to end. The last track slid  into oblivion.

I truly felt at peace and entered a  deep state of relaxation.

Music played slow is an incredible sensory experience.

Neil Young’s  need for a maid to come–then go– faded in and out of  my consciousness. I felt pathos listening to Pat Metheny’s brilliantly played That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard it Should Be,  Cherish, andThe Sound of Silence. No lyrics. Baritone acoustic guitar only.  Loneliness and reaching for illusive love  is  personified in Nina Simone’s song Wild is the Wind; a 6 minutes song. When the Counting Crows sing about the visualization of heaven, I feel connected to the lyrics.  Hey, Adam. What up, Charlie. Come to Boston and we’ll hang out. The sound of the MJQ’s vibraphone penetrates my being. Notes played on a vibraphone linger in the air, like cigarette smoke rings–then dissipate.

Not all music must be played  fast. A well crafted, technically paced and executed slow song is a gift. I am the artist’s recipient. Now bows and fancy wrapping paper required.

The setting for this decompression was perfect.  Here I was, in the dark, yet with a faint glow of a dashboard light. This particular setting–a clear moon-lit night on Cape Cod, far from Manhattan, distant from San Francisco’s Nob Hill, miles from LA, Sanibel Island, Florida, or Reykjavik, Iceland  felt natural. Just me, music , and my unpretentious car.

The incredible sound of music played slow…………………………one of life’s secret treasures and pleasures.

Brendan Ben Feeney

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The Fourth of July

Jul. 6th 2011

July 4, 2011. It’s Independence Day in America. I am in New York City–along with millions of other visitors from around the globe to celebrate America’s birthday.

The Fourth of July is a holiday to reflect upon what many take for granted; freedom and democracy. Democracy is not a spectator sport. One must be an involved citizen, speak up, and become an advocate for justice. One must not fall into the habit of being quick to criticize and slow to praise.

I will write about the Fourth of July using my across-stick method.

Freedom shall ring from houses of worship, Buddhist chimes, and the sound of wind from mountain tops. Freedom allows one the ability to speak freely. To me, freedom is responsible journalism and public discourse that is less acerbic and more wisdom-driven.

Our Founding Fathers and Patriotic Mothers had incredible foresight when crafting a new nation rooted in the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What other nation wishes it people to be happy? Our democracy has endured. It has been tested and challenged. America will continue to thrive—-only if we participate in our democracy. Participatory democracy will secure the health of  our political system. Become politically active and involved in one’s community. Democratic action takes place at local, state, and national levels.

Undaunted courage shown by our military. The men and women that comprise the various branches of the United States military serve with pride, intelligence, and a commitment to defending freedom. I salute your dedication and loyalty to our nation. I also salute military families who make sacrifices often living in foreign lands, sending off  love ones for a tour of duty, and/or holding down the fort as we say, here, at home.

Representative democracy. We have a voice when it comes to government. Vote. People forget that there are those in other countries yearning to cast a secret ballot and make their voices heard. I will say it three times……, vote, vote–yet not during the same election!

The Four Freedoms noted by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his famous speech during the World War II era is something we should all read. President Roosevelt articulates the essence of freedom. His words are relevant and ring true today as when they were penned decades ago. Norman Rockwell also visualized Roosevelt’s Four Freedom with precision in his  paintings with the same name. GOOGLE Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms using a GOOGLE image search. What you will see are American values painted on canvas’.

House of Representatives and the Senate. Two bodies that may not always agree, yet they have citizens best interest at hand and heart. Just a reminder. We the people have the power to communicate openly with our representatives to share our thoughts, express our opinions, agree or disagree—agreeably.  Contact your representatives.  Make your voice heard.

Overcome injustice. America is a work in progress. We have made great strides in combating inequality and injustice.  I look at where we have been as a nation and see where we need to travel. We still have room to grow and nurture. Diversity and inclusiveness  makes America an even better nation.

Foster a new America. One less dependent on unclean, inefficient energy.   I am astute enough to note globalization is essential to our economy, yet as a nation we must move boldly forward to where our manufacturing sector comes home after a long absence abroad.  The vacation is over people. Look at where  your goods are made. Write manufacturers and inquire if their American brands can be produced here in America. This is one aspect of jumpstarting American job growth. When fostering a new America, we as a society must be more polite and less rude. Slow down. Create a new culture of deliberate thought based upon civility and intellectualism. 

Jury of one’s peers. The legal process may be slow, yet it is methodical . We have the right to appeal decisions. We have the right to legal representation. Our legal system is based on the tenant that one is innocent until proven guilty—not the other way around.

United we stand. Look at how Americans rally to help fellow Americans–and others around the globe–during  their hour of need. Think of recent tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods. Americans are benevolent and are quick to extend a helping hand.

Liberty and justice—for all. And I mean ALL.   There is a place at the table for you……even if you are purple.

Yes. America has a yes-we-can attitude. One may succeed with hard work tenacity, and help from friends, family, and the kindness of strangers. We are inventive and creative by nature. Math, art, science, music, languages, social studies, literature, physical education, logic, debate, and hands-on learning are essential to our public educational system.

In closing, this is your day. Stand proud. Display an American flag . Thank those who serve our nation and society. While in New York City, I made it a point to personally walk up to police officers, National Guard soldiers patrolling Grand Central Station,  Metro West and Amtrak employees, and New York City traffic control officers thanking them for their service.

Happy birthday, America!

What is a birthday celebration without cake?

Time for a slice of New York cheesecake from Juniors near Times Square!

From New York City………………..Brendan Ben Feeney

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