Archive for January, 2012

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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