The not-so-subtle art of being a New Yorker.

There’s a not-so-subtle art about being a New Yorker. Much like a Jackson Pollock piece–every movement defines a very strong emotion; deep urge; challenged spirit; unseen possibility; thickness of character; blurred intent; desperate hope; and a thinning line of innocence–hard to understand until you really see it up close.

It may take someone smarter than you, perhaps a fellow New Yorker, to point out that Pollock is to be felt and not explained. Suspicious, as any good NY transplant will become, you walk up close to see the intense imperfections for yourself. Pictures and postcards–the second-hand accounts–do not capture the beautiful chaos of One: Number 31, 1950. Standing in the MoMa PS1, you understand Pollock’s masterpiece, and like the city that brought it to you, the allover approach is now all over you.

A closer look at this work reveals some of the decisions made in the act of painting: the selection of colors; the use of contrasting matte and glossy paints; if the lines would be thick or thin, fast or slow; whether to wait for the paint to dry or to work wet-on-wet, so that different paints bleed and pool; and a host of others. Only when the painting was completed did Pollock determine where the edges should be. In One: Number 31, 1950, Pollock left a breathing space bordering all four sides of the field of paint. However, in other paintings, the lines and spatters continue beyond the edges.–MoMa

After an unspecified amount of time has passed, you walk away with a Pollock-thick inspired aesthetic that you carry with you wherever you go–this is the art of being a New Yorker.

I can’t quite say that I understand Mark Rothko, so maybe I’ll bump into a Los Angeles transplant at the MOCA who will open my eyes to the brilliance of color.

New York, I will miss you.


May you stay forever young, but age gracefully.

Liz Phair wrote her most successful album, Exile in Guyville, in response to The Stones’ Exile on Main Street album.  I remember reading an interview in Rolling Stone about her around 1994-ish where she wrote song-by-song a response to what she claimed.  The wannabe rockstar in me roared, “Hell yeah, that’s awesome!”  I think about that moment every time I hear either of those albums, so I thought why not use this as a writing exercise.  Phair’s antidote was well-played, so I figure I could pick no other than prose royalty, Mr. Bob Dylan.   So here goes…something…to Forever Young.

May karma catch you coming or going and be fleeting

May you not always get what you wish for

May you always give to others but not more than you can stand to lose

May you have a choice of an elevator to the stars

So you don’t have to slip and fall

May you age gracefully

Gracefully, Gracefully

May you age gracefully


May you grow out of your righteousness

May you grow to be humbled

May you realize you don’t know all the truths

And sometimes dark surrounds you

May you learn to be vulnerable

Learn when to sit down and cry

May you age gracefully

Gracefully, Gracefully

May you age gracefully


May your hands finally rest

May your feet be propped up

May you marvel on the strong foundation in high elevation

When the winds of youth hit your face

May your heart always be joyful

And know your song will not always be sung

(You don’t want Bieber to cover it)

May you age gracefully

Gracefully, Gracefully

May you age gracefully














Disappointments That Push Rejection’s Plow.

” I think all great innovations are built on rejections.”  – Louis Ferdinand Celine

There has always existed within me a severe disappointment that fertilizes all which grows with rejection.  It will likely never flourish, but who the hell would choose to plant their seeds in a shadow of doubt?  Exactly, no one.  Within the drought is where the hardened soul gains perspective on expectations and picks up a plow to cultivate the soil, sow some seeds, and replant.   It’s in the awaiting of harvest that you realize it could go either way…fruitful or depression.  So now that you’ve done all that’s within your power, stop wasting time and energy in something that doesn’t want to grow.

I read a blog post the other day that really put rejection into perspective.  The author states that rejection is a sign that something doesn’t fit.  The example used: “Say you’re shopping for shoes. You fall in love with a stunning pair of boots. You try them on, and the toes pinch a bit. But they’re so achingly beautiful, and surely, you think, the glove-leather will stretch.So you buy them. And every time you wear them you find yourself crippled in less than an hour. When your shoes don’t fit, it hurts. But it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It means that they don’t fit.”  (READ BLOG POST)

If you think about it, life is a series of disappointments and rejections that direct you to the center of who you are.  That is if you have a fairly decent navigational system, which I hope you do.  But, when you flourish throw disappointment and rejection back to the wind, change direction, and just know you’ll more than likely meet with expectation along the path.

Law of Attraction in a shoe size that fits

“I am that which I am, and I am pleased with it, joyful in it. And you are that which you are, and while it is different perhaps from that which I am, it is also good. …Because I am able to focus upon that which I want, even if there are those differences between us that are dramatic, I do not suffer negative emotion because I am wise enough to focus upon that which brings me discomfort. I have come to understand, as I am one who is applying the Art of Allowing, that I have not come forth into this physical world to get everyone to follow the “truth” that I think is the truth. I have not come forth to encourage conformity or sameness–for I am wise enough to understand that in sameness, in conformity, there is not diversity that stimulates creativity. In focusing upon bringing about conformity, I am pointed toward an ending rather than a continuing of creation.” —The Law of Attraction

This passage is a powerful one, and for several days I couldn’t get it out of my head so I thought it deserved a posting. I’ve been able to touch upon the first part of this passage but learning how to do it wasn’t easy.

The first time, I hurt an innocent person, it had nothing to do with him and said nothing about who he was because he was a decent man. Some people assume that hurting someone else is the easier part of hurt, but it’s not always. Sometimes hurting someone is necessary to become who we are. We make choices, this much is true but when life is fresh and self, unformed, can you be held accountable for immature choices of gratification? Probably not until you’re the one that gets hurt. It’s easy to see the goodness in someone and be comforted by that in the unsettled self, but selfishness exists in the truth that you’re living in motions that belong to someone else. It’s not easy to let go of goodness for the spiritually corrupt and when you do there exists an extraordinary demoralization, so it’s no wonder you jump into the shoes of the one you hurt in your next lesson. After all, life is both the yin and the yang.

When I was in the military, the main tactic was to break you down emotionally so that you could be rebuilt a solider. Life, in general, is about the same. It is in the rebuild that you regain a courage that you remember from your innocence. A child, taking strides to walk, toward independence. A soldier, marching into the world, armed to take it over. The child falls, cries, gets back up determined to walk. The solider falls, locked and loaded, armed to assess the surroundings with emotions in check and gets up again. It is the rising that we determine our worth.

It’s not easy, either, to be hurt by someone else. You meet someone, throw caution to the wind, give more than you have to give. There is a subtle danger and a strong beauty in loving because you’ve never been hurt. Musicals make sense when you’re on the love drug. You associate elation with childhood happiness. The world opens up and surprise there’s only two of you out of the bazillions of people in the world, and you met in this lifetime. The new car smell, I love that smell. The only problem is that after a while you get comfortable enough to start eating McDonald’s in it. Instead of a monthly tune-up, you opt instead to overlook it altogether because the oil light hasn’t lit up. You ignore the signs of maintenance. You even ignore the signs that maybe the car you bought isn’t safe, at all. The used car dealer, which in this case would be the heart, fooled that gut feeling that something just wasn’t right. The price was too high all along, but you got lured in by the speed in which the car could achieve. Not to mention, it looked sharp and the leather seats heated your ass. Have you ever left those seat heaters on, dangerously, longer than you should? It burns like a good seat heater should.

I guess what I’m alluding to is life is an easier path when you realize that there are people who just don’t walk the same as you. Some walk slower, some take the shortcut, some push others out-of-the-way, and some never begin. It doesn’t matter, at the finish line, who walked, ran, or stumbled, quicker or better. In the end, we all cross it one way or another–together or separate. We may as well cross it understanding that it’s okay to walk in your own shoes. I don’t know about you but I wear a size 8 and while on certain occasions I can get away with a 7 1/2, I have never been able to wear a 9 and if I tried I felt like a clown and forget about a size 7…all that does is hurt.

Cross Post #6: Hipsters, defined.



“But what about their legacy?” I was recently asked by New York magazine. “What will they have left behind after it’s all said and done?” This question gets on my nerves. “Music and fashion,” I answered incredulously. Since when are young people responsible for leaving us with anything more? Have you heard their politics? I don’t want these people voting. I want them doing what they do best: Fun. The greasers were about rock ’n’ roll and making out in rumble seats. The beatniks gave us some good books, but they were mostly about shocking their parents by dancing with Negroes. The only thing the mods cared about outside of dancing and getting laid was fighting Elvis fans. Boomers, who are masters at glorifying their past, insist they stopped a war, but we all know it was Kissinger’s relentless bombing that ended it. Hippies were horny stoners. Though I was one of them, I’m happy to admit punks were more preening peacocks with guitars than anarchists smashing the state. Rap evolved from parties in the South Bronx. The list goes on, and it’s always just teenagers partying.




Cross Post #5

Practicing Life: A Contemplation on Anxiety and Appreciation

Life is practice. Even with all the travel we take on and complete, there is no true destination. Everything we want to get better, to heal, we need to constantly work at. And sometimes, we’ll feel as if we’ve slipped backwards for no particular reason, just because that’s life. But there’s always some purpose, hidden as it may be, and we’re always moving forward. (Read More)

Equality is non-negotiable!!!

Lady Gaga’s incredible speech:

Part 1

Part 2

We will never forget…

“America is not like a blanket — one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size. America is more like a quilt — many patches, many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven and held together by a common thread.” -Henry M. Jackson

To have succeeded in life…

Dear Jeffrey, tomorrow you will be 28…

As I sit here typing this – from Westchester, NY, for my week-long NYU MBA Residency, it occurs to me that a substantial part of this is due to your presence in my life.  Prior to your death, I was a lost soul swimming upstream in a murky fish bowl.  There was little interest in discipline, compassion, or spiritual growth.  While you were still here, in fact, I was more into collecting that which was instantly gratifying, easily disposable, and egocentric.  Maybe I haven’t completely rid myself of the latter, but I do work hard to achieve a heightened level of communication with my sacred self.

Without Alexander Graham Bell there wouldn’t be a telephone (sorry Lady Gaga you didn’t have first dibs), and without you – Jeffrey Lee Ben – I wouldn’t have had any ‘telephone’ to pick up and get in touch with what is at the very core of existence; love and compassion.  Without these two very crucial life tools, I would not be as successful in all my endeavors in life.  Let’s face it the one component that ties the two (love and compassion) together is understanding, and you may climb the ladder of success without it but you will more than likely be alone.

This one is for you my brother.


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