Friday, April 30, 2010

Freedom Poem (This blog is Free)

It might be free but don’t mess it up.

Free air, free water, free trees.

Parks, birds, bees, or any life that sees.

Duck nested on Park Avenue island, eggs hatched today, and they made their way to Central Park safely

Free rolling down a hill, on the grass.

Free thoughts, free expression, free speech, free association.

My table at Coffee To The People, Haight-Ashbury

Free admission (my favourite, it’s usually good).

Free diving, free-falling.

Free for all.

Fearless leadership is free

The best things in life are free.

Friends, love, and mentors.

All the fish in the sea.

Respect, consideration and reciprocity.


Let freedom ring.

Singing is free.

Dancing is free.

Happiness is free.

So is the Internet, the Library and Public Art.

New York Street artist Hani Shihada - Picasso painting outside The Carlyle hotel on Madison Ave. Hotel commissioned it to celebrate Picasso exhibits at the Met, MOMA, and Marlborough Gallery.

Reading is free.

Writing is free.

Creating is free.

So is making children. Or Peace.

Words reflected someone in front of me

Let freedom ring.

Playing an instrument is free.

A soul can be free. So is unbridled passion, a mind that ventures or a body that soars.


This train can't be stopped . We.

Let freedom ring.

Encouragement is free. So is criticism when it counts.

So is free flow, freestyle.

Break free.

my cell phone on the floor looking up, Guggenheim hours, free

Let freedom ring.

Some hours at New York museums are free. All hours at London museums are free.

So is a Public Education or public skating rink at 30 Rock.

at 30 Rock in Catcher and the Rye skating freely Holden met Sally

Free spirit, freedom.

The beach.

The wind, the sun.

Or snowflakes melting on your tongue.

Best Album Art: Snowflake cut for Yr of Tiger. Free listen. Key.

Ain’t nothing like it.

When someone gives you food, a ride, and that couch.

Sharing a plate, or tea.

Hospitality is free.

That volunteer of human spirit.

* * *

You can’t buy 2 and get 1.

* * *

Are we free?

Nothing packaged is free.

But we are born free.

So is a compliment (or insult).

Have a good life (or have a good life).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Change? Not Exactly A Movement – Or Stockholm Syndrome

Lately, I’ve been engrossed in conversations about disparate reactions to one action.

not exactly

We live in interesting times. Diverse times. Partisan times. Niche times. There are so many tribes. And tribes within tribes. It splinters even more like tastes for millions of unique songs.

It’s a big challenge for anyone needing an audience. Let alone a captive audience.

A majority arguably no longer exists – to represent any demographic.

For the Marketer. For the Artist. For the President.

* * *

The internet puts each person on a different island.

There are millions of unique personalized profiles. Everyone is an island online.

An audience no longer really has a common profile. I belong to my profile more than any community.

What is someone really willing to do for another island? Or do most people prefer their own island?

* * *
“starting to understand why change isn't happening as much as it should be...the good guys aren't organized”

~ @imagin8r

* * *

I keep on thinking how Derek Sivers started a movement after TED, where he used a video to explain what a movement is.

In this video, a boy (a “weird nut”) started to dance. One person joined causing some to follow, until eventually critical mass formed a mass dance.

But quietly, I wondered to myself, is this really true in real life?

I questioned the analogy mainly because I had first seen the video in 2009. And it was only when Derek Sivers blogged of it and analyzed it for a TED speech in 2010 that a movement was created for that video.

Friends kept emailing links to Derek Sivers.

But why didn’t the original video start a bigger movement?

when i first saw it

* * *

Recently I had my own experiment for a movement.

One can say the experiment was even rigged. Only friends and family were participants.

I included a sample of people who inspired others at some point in life, producing work that changed lives. These people knew Change.

* * *
Not sure if I qualify as a “weird nut” but many say so. That’s what happens with regular experimentation.

To start participation, I used a Swedish story-telling application. You upload a photo and the person in that photo becomes part of a video. This video was about heroism.

In this example, I inserted a photo of one of my heroes, Andrea Ramolo, singing in New York City:

A friend out west involved with a music cause shared this heroic story first. I thought it was so brilliant (and heroic), I decided to share it.

What happened next might be a revelation in how work, art or beliefs may be perceived.

What happened next was not exactly a movement or Stockholm Syndrome.

Andrea was inspired by its impact. So was her producer and a fan. They found it hilarious. A friend of hers didn’t get it.

A friend in Ireland making a film responded quietly. Her friend in Asia loved it so much she chatted with me online about it. She tried to share it with her friends (some were “scared”).

A narrator for Canada's most successful documentary thought it was hilarious.

A Vancouver actress was inspired by it.

I also inserted a photo of actress Tammy Gillis into this heroic movie, to applaud her role in Under the Applebox.

An actress with a play in LA was also inspired by it and so was a fan of hers.

My business partner didn’t have time to click the link on his Facebook page. He was too busy with deadlines.

A corporate social responsibility film-maker uploaded his own photo for the hero story. His brother called it narcissistic.

An Arts Reporter with whom I socialize regularly couldn’t access it (computer too jammed). But she immediately opined she was disappointed the video was fictional. She felt set up. Her friend, a theater publicist, thought it was brilliant.

I emailed it for a cause sponsor opportunity in Los Angeles, as an example of heroic storytelling online, but I wasn’t sure if the email link was understood.

A singer in New York thought it was the weirdest thing she had ever seen. My daughter in Tokyo thought it was weird too.

* * *

As you can see, this is not exactly a movement where everyone reacts the same way (like followers in that weird dance).

The reality today is that there’s no such thing as a homogenous reaction—that same desired effect—or common belief shared by all.

Some dominoes will be left standing

People are stratified and diversified now more than ever – so much so, no movement can sustain, or be unified en masse to an extent we’d like to believe. Our idea of an audience as “one” might not be the reality of what an audience actually is.

If people who inspire me, know me and respect me (and vice versa) react so differently to the same idea…random strangers will be even more varied.

Uniform response no longer exists like it used to.

I wonder if that Applause sign still works to make people believe.

* * *

A playwright recently wondered how some teens in an audience could react with hate to a play about sexual orientation. Granted, sexual orientation can be readily politicized or have ignorant reactions but I argue that opposition could happen for any topic.

A common audience response can’t be expected.

So when an Artist creates art, a Politician creates policy, or a Marketer launches an ad campaign, there’s no such thing winning a specific demographic.

The internet has pluralized, amplified and personalized the uniqueness of identities among millions of people.

Women follow Sarah Palin and Hilary Clinton with opposite views, and views that don’t represent women in Haiti. Winning women no longer means one thing. It may even mean opposite things.

* * *

I spoke with a flight attendant about how random it is to receive an unruly passenger. Did this person have a bad day? Is this person an anxious smoker? Is this person hung over or annoyed? Did this person have bad travels beforehand? Who knows?

On any given day, the same person’s reaction may differ for the same activity.

Mitt Romney who ran for President got into a physical altercation with a sleeping rapper on a flight from Vancouver to Los Angeles - over a reclined seat. His wife insisted the plane be turned around. They were all guests of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

* * *

I spoke with a restaurant server about a book that should be written: The Customer Is Sometimes Wrong.

Some customers, she said, make it a point to bully servers, venting frustrations…from their island.

There are many ridiculous stories never said (but should be in this book). I then asked what the chances are of experiencing this.

Her answer: Random but far from rare.

Similarly, an Artist, Politician or Marketer might easily be called upon to serve someone like this. A person can be simply unhappy – no matter what you do.

I asked the server what she remembered most: 1)Your worst or 2) Your best.

The response was interesting. She remembered bad customers for sure (but also the good). She provides her best customers with better service (no surprise). And she purposely gives bad service to bad customers (invisibly of course).

Sometime customers are not so invisible about their resentment

I think that’s the lesson learned.

There’s no movement today with everyone around. It’s ultimately about giving the best customers your best.

Not saying that there’s no room for feedback. Or that things won’t be contagious. But I am saying life is not a "weird nut" starting a dance, and expecting everyone to follow.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Requiem for 9/11's Hospital

Is this what CHANGE means?

Two weeks after politicians celebrated a health care bill passed, a 160 year-old hospital named St. Vincent's in New York City announced it would close, evicting every doctor, nurse and patient.

Dylan Thomas died here. Now so will his hospital. No rage against this dying of the light.

This was a hospital with a mission for the poor of New York.

For whom did the health care bill toll?

One less hospital.

* * *
We bail-out banks who have stolen from the public. Executives then used bail-out funds for bonuses, hoodwinking the invisible taxpayer.

We bail-out car companies whose arrogance and greed knew no boundaries, hoodwinking the invisible taxpayer.

Lately, New York’s been considering a bailout for the OTB (betting facilities for gambling).

But a bail-out for the honest living of saving lives? Unheard of.

We pay for war, but we can’t pay for a hospital saving lives.

Flags will be taken down

* * *

I’m starting to think you have to be an insanely horrible intelligent financial thief to get a bail-out.

* * *

"Poets, writers, artists, winos, the poor and the working-class" came here. Beat poet Gregory Corso was born here. New York Mayor Ed Koch was rescued here.

I’ll personally never forget St. Vincent’s on 9/11. St. Vincent’s was there, outside a cloud of debris. The place to save the many injured and lost.

9/11 Missing Persons Wall at St Vincent's

Bus shelter across St. Vincent's. 9/11 Missing persons posters.

There's no loyalty. Not even for this.

You remember the Miracle on the Hudson? That cold shocked crew and every passenger came here after their plane landed on the river.

There's no gratitude. Not even for this.

You remember Titanic? This was the place for her survivors in 1912.

It's a fading memory.

* * *

There have been great fires and epidemics of cholera and tuberculosis in New York. New Yorkers came here.

When no one knew what AIDS was, St. Vincent’s came to the forefront, among first hospitals to help. A pioneer.

Who will save now?

* * *

Now 1000 doctors will be out of work. 300 medical students will be out of internships. More lives will be lost by the second, by the minute, by the train stop, to get to Bellevue crosstown, or Roosevelt uptown. That would be 17 streets north of Times Square.

758 beds will be lost on the border of Greenwich Village and Chelsea.

New York’s finest emergency care, gone.

* * *

The last baby was just delivered here on April 15, 2010. Hospital diapers were given away. Better for a family than a bankruptcy receiver.

Having a baby? Got HIV? Having an emergency? Got cancer? Experiencing heart failure? Having a nervous breakdown?

Go somewhere else.

I always knew where St. Vincent’s was. I’ve never been by Bellevue crosstown.

* * *

St. Vincent’s drowned in $700 million in debt. Rising health care costs was one culprit. Undercutting insurance companies another. Extra charity didn't help. Administration was questionable.

Gone is the mission of patient-focused health care, and that extra special mission to provide care for the poor and disenfranchised. A mission that lasted 160 years.

The wealthy don’t want to come to this hospital anymore to help pay its bills. Even Susan Sarandon said so.


"Change we can believe in."

Gone is my belief in what CHANGE actually means. It’s whatever politicians say yes/no to. It’s no to St. Vincent’s.

The homeless came from all over New York to get treated here. Now you are hospital-less.

This was also Chinatown’s hospital – gone. So are your medical interpreters. Can’t speak English to save your life…too bad.

Need chemo? Go further crosstown. Make your way back.

Are you elderly? Walk far.

No more acupuncture and Chinese food. Gone.

This place even cared for your pets while you were hospitalized. Gone.

* * *

This might sound callous but that’s exactly what it took to close St. Vincent’s down.

Yet somehow we had a greater heart and bigger wallet for banks, wars, car companies and horse racing.

Yearly, 62,000 emergency visits, 1,800 births, 22,000 hospital admissions and 263,000 outpatient visits will have to make do with other hospitals already full.

The New York Times reported: “Officials blamed a high rate of poor and uninsured patients as well as cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and the hospital’s inability to negotiate favorable contracts with health insurance companies, claiming their fees were 30 percent below the market rate.”

Is this CHANGE?

When Abigail Yael Jancu was born in St. Vincent’s on April 15, 2010, hospital elevator buttons were taped down, entire floors already closed. The birthing ward was completely empty.

When a hospital dies, there's one last birth.

Every minute, one more person was leaving. Nurses, saving lives, making lives, together for decades, were saying goodbye to each other, unemployed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No Fool For April

I want to forget everything I've done.

Too much knowledge can hold a new creation back.

If I were 20, I wouldn’t know any better.

I'd blindly pursue a relentless passion. Passion would be my only fuel.

Nothing bad ever done to me—or a friend—would be on the radar, clouding.

No rules or philosophies would be in the way. It’s not like they made history or created greatness.

A rule is a has been. A philosophy is often a never been.


* * *

Magic has no rules.

The best visions create a New World.

Things that can't be seen unless you believe...that's how the Harlem Renaissance came to be

Some say the Crossroads are like that...that intersecting transformation from good to great.

* * *

The people who create conflict or regularly make excuses—they are truly, exceptionally, unbelievably great at what they do. It just takes one of them to rule your world. To affect something you once loved (everyday).

I see old pictures--I remember the feeling i once had, no longer there.

Choose your enemies cause they will define you.

You could spend the rest of your life on what's bad (with or without knowing it)...what someone did to you. What someone did to someone else. What someone didn't do.

You could spend every life next to you. I got spent.

I read a tweet today: "Your life is who you are with."

* * *
I don’t want to be a cliché of what I’ve done. It’s too easy to follow what worked. Or stay comfortable in what is. That’s how a formula is born.

Over time, soon enough, it goes stale. No formula works twice the same.

“relevant or passing? fresh or stale?” I tweeted today, after reading the same old.

Basquiat was here

Basquiat was here

* * *

Habits – good and bad – they keep things the way they are, stuck. A self-inflicted status quo. Limbo.

Attached to habits, convenient philosophies justify why. Why I haven’t done anything more (or less).

On most days you feel productive making perishables somehow. I photograph a lot of things that disappear.

* * *

With technology, everything's faster. What I saw the last second is no longer needed the next second. We live in a Disposable Age.

THIS is a throwaway.

There's always something new, right away.

* * *
I once wrote a book about life before 20. How everything you do is for the first time. And how more and more after 20, it’s been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.

How life is ruled more by money, love, or kids…how less and less is done for the first time. How more is done just to survive.

* * *

If I were 20, I wouldn’t think. I would just do.

Be free.

Let the wind take me.

* * *
The book was called Table 20. A conversation around a table of people who’ve lived older years talking to people doing things for the first time.

A woman, 20, became my muse. I had stopped writing for 10 years, letting everything be. She told me everything that happened to her for the first time. Unadulterated honesty, uncensored. Raw, uncut.

* * *

“I am leaving the center, going to the edge, finding that new frontier, that new art, that soul of inspiration,” I tweeted yesterday, after seeing a fictional place called Lipton Village become real.

Got Spine?

* * *

I have no doubt that leaving all that I know behind will go somewhere better. A journey not pre-determined.

It's why i know New York. Nothing expected happens.

No mockery of a self-fulfilling prophecy. No traps laid for oneself. No story where “you just fill in the blanks.” No fast track to mediocrity.

A jaded reporter, a national hero, a one-trick book author, once told me that quote while pissing into a urinal staring at blank wall.

* * *
It's key to see clearly, feel that clarity, only you can see

I want to forget everything I have done.

Sometimes too much knowledge holds a new star back.

I see it in everyone held back.


* * *

Singer Kate Sland, headed to Ireland, once sang: "We will all be erased."

"All these nameless places, nameless faces, all forgotten after a day."

Today I pay tribute to that T-shirt store on College Street. Pictures of the disappeared. The store disappeared. Every word written outside on a whiteboard, erased.