Creative Destruction

stellaThe recently finished “polychrome reliefs” of Frank Stella are on display at the Paul Kasmin Gallery in NYC.

Stella, 73, is one of America’s best known living artists.

An avowed  minimalist, his work says a lot about contemporary American society.

“I Believe In You.”

HeartOn October 1, 1979 John Paul II came to the United States for the first time as Pope. On the way , he stopped in Ireland. In a homily to young people, he told Irish youth: “Tell your parents, I believe in you.”

John Paul II in Ireland, 1979

What a contrast from the message young people get today.

When well intentioned “educators” give young people condoms, what they are really saying is: “I don’t believe in you.” As a result, they wind up getting the very outcomes they are trying to avoid.

People naturally want to be “real.” But for that to happen, we first need to be in control of ourselves.

Education and Jobs

kristofAt the Clinton Global Initiative, one of the sessions included: Nick Kristof of the New York Times, Queen Rania of Jordan, Hilda Solis the U.S. Secretary of Labor, along with Andrew Liversis, the Chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical and Carlos Slim Helu, Chairman of the Board of Grupo Carso S.A. de C.V..

Queen Rania spoke about the need to try to educate all the children in the world. She said that $11 billion is all that it would take to educate the children in developing countries, who are not presently in school. She then commented that $11 billion is what Americans spend every three months to take care of their pets.

Andrew Liversis added, that in some ways —  with respect to education, the United States is also a “developing” country.

Photo: Stephen Wise

Inside Out

CGI1President Obama spoke yesterday at the fifth annual Clinton Global Initiative –going on in NYC, across town from the U.N. As he has it the past, Obama emphasized that real change needs to come from the bottom-up.

One has to wonder how likely that is to happen, especially given the large numbers of people — rich and poor — who still throw their candy and cigarette wrappers on the ground.

Before change can “really” happen from the top-down or bottom-up, it first needs to come from the “inside-out.”

A Place In The Sun

georgia'sGeorgia Stamoulis is a special New Yorker who runs “Georgia’s,”  a delightful French patisserie and neightborhood fixture, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Known for their croissants and macaroons, Georgia’s now serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with live music several nights a week.

For people in New York City looking for a bit of tranquility, along with a dining experience that offers classic French cuisine at a fair price, check out Georgia’s on Broadway @ W. 89th Street.

Teaching Moment

behonestHopefully our own experiences help us to see the consequences of being dishonest.

If our “conscience” is alive and somewhat healthy, we know that with disordered living and repeated lying we become impoverished. Over time, the “self” collapses into non-being, tending toward nothingness — with the result being: diminished wisdom, hard heartedness and a lack of courage.

The anger and hatred directed at Mr. Obama are logical (though unjust) consequences of his numerous instances of dishonesty and cowardice — especially given the dire circumstances of so many Americans today.

In fairness to President Obama, the situation that he was dealt, along with the culture and people around him, make it difficult and almost impossible for him to do the right things in this moment.

Fashion Week Reflection

extremebeautyFrom a Buddist perspective:

The mind is its own place, and of itself

Can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven.

Real Price Of Success

success“Wealth as Mr. Hobbes says, is power.” So said Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations.

With all the talk of the need for “change,” perhaps a re-evaluation of how our society defines “success” and “power” is in order.

A lot has happened since Thomas Hobbes and Adam Smith roamed the earth. Hopefully, some reflection on our own experiences, along with some study of history, can help us make progress in achieving a more holistic understanding of “real success” and “enduring power.”

Sending Out An S.O.S.

lehmanOne year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, this writer passed by their former headquarter’s building, in NYC. Walking nearby was a homeless man, pushing a cart with a boombox, that was playing: “Sending Out An S.O.S.”

It brought to mind the New Jersey state pension fund managers who were buying Lehman Brothers stock as it was collapsing, and the pensioners who will suffer because of it.

Raised Expectations

medicalIn his song “The Good Life,” Tony Bennett sings: “It’s the good life to be free and explore the unknown.”

The contemporary Western model for the good life was on display at a recent conference held in New York City, for European Pediatricians and Pharmaceutical reps.

In the last 40 years, the good life has come to include medicine for everything — especially self-esteem. With the Pediatricians, it is HGH (human growth hormone) being given, to otherwise healthy children, for the purpose of growing taller and being better in sports. One doctor from Spain said that he had prescribed HGH to an early teen whose parents wanted him to be a better soccer player. Coincidentally, a brochure for Pfizer’s HGH — Genotropin, had a picture of a young boy on the cover, with a soccer ball in his hand.

When the side effects from the HGH are manifested over time, the Bennett song concludes with: “well just wake up and kiss the good life goodbye.”

Into The Night

darkOn this 9/11 it’s good to reflect on what has happened in the U.S. since that 9/11. Is the country better off today? Or (as Lou Reed would say) is she being “swallowed by the night?”

The election of a black president can certainly be seen as progress. However, in so many other ways the country is devolving — going backwards and seems intent on self-destruction.

Seeking Being

hungliuOn the eve of the Eighth Anniversary of 9/11, the New York “art world” had numerous openings around town. Among the highlights were works by artists: Hung Liu (top)and Maya Lin (below).

Ms. Lin created the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington D.C.








Light & Life

soldiers“To you from failing hands we throw–the torch; be yours to hold it high.”

Lt Colonel John McCrae

Labor Pains

flagOn this Labor Day in the United States, our hearts are heavy knowing that over six million jobs have been lost in our country since last Labor Day. But even worse than the job loss is the sense of hopelessness and despair that many people are experiencing. The lack of wisdom and abundance of corruption among our leaders only make it worse.

Colony Collapse Disorder

CCD1In recent years, scientists have worked to identify the root cause for the elimination of one third of the bee colonies in the U.S.. It turns out that there are numerous causes including: fungus, virus, and pesticides, which have been culled together under the name: “colony collapse disorder” — CCD.

One doesn’t need a PhD to recognize that “colony collapse disorder” is also happening among the humans living in the U.S., albeit for different reasons than the bees, but not unrelated to knowing how “to be.”

“Transparency Is The New Black”

transparencyYoung techies like to say that “transparency is the new black.”  Does that mean that it’s “hip” to be honest? Or perhaps people are just shameless about showing the world their dishonesty — or maybe both.

Crisis of Reality

rock After a recent fire in California, a man who lost his house, surveyed the damage and was heard to say: “I need a new philosophy, one that requires less stuff.”

Seamless Garment

Imagine a world where liberals recognize the injustice of abortion and conservatives recognize the injustice of torture, and they both worked for a more just health care system — one where people are guided by a more holistic view of life.


Reverence For Truth And Life

bloodpressure (2)Any reform of the health care system, in the U.S., needs to include a more ethical mindset within the FDA, especially regarding the approval of new drugs.

The current system (between the FDA and drug companies) is not unlike that which existed between the ratings agencies (Moody’s and S&P) and investment banks, which caused so much trouble on Wall Street.

Many new drugs are being approved and entering the market before proper testing and evaluation has occurred. This is especially true of AD/HD and Depression medicine.

Recent cases have shown lethal side effects for numerous patients, including veterans and children, who have been the unfortunate recipients of some of these psychiatric drugs.

Hopefully a “reverence for truth and life” will guide the architects of any future health care system in this country.

Beyond Vogue

singapore“The only ones who are truly healthy are those who have sought and found a way to serve.” A. Schweitzer

“You Know What You Are?”

Kenny Kramer — the neighbor of Larry David, who inspired the Kramer character on Seinfeld, with guests from his Reality Tour in front of Tom’s Restaurant in NYC. The ” Tom’s Restaurant” sign was used in the show.


Christmas in August

The Rockettes on Sixth Avenue in NYC, promoting their Christmas Spectacular. The American architect, Louis Kahn, once said that “architecture is the reaching out for truth.” Maybe there is some of that going on here.








Photograph: Stephen Wise

Boys of Summer

Dave Letterman and Mark Teixeira of the Yankees taking some batting practice on W. 53rd Street, next to the historic Ed Sullivan Theater.








Photograph: Stephen Wise

We Need Another Crisis?

Today on the Chris Matthews Show — Chris and his guests, including: Tina Brown and Bob Woodward, discussed the future of newspapers, journalism, and the internet — as an alternative to printed news. After affirming the continued relevence of investigative reporting, Woodward (the same guy who broke the Watergate story) said something incredible. He said “what’s missing right now, this year is a crisis.”

It seems that Bob Woodward and most of his colleagues, don’t seem to get (or want to acknowledge) the fact that we are in a “crisis,” an existential crisis (bigger than just an economic crisis) that threatens the very survival of the United States.

In order to have any real chance at sustainability, the country first needs its institutions, systems and people to be renewed. By not admiting that we are even in a crisis, the press is not doing its part in the renewal process that is so necessary for sustainability.

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No Future In Hatred

I’m glad I didn’t see the dude driving this van. The irony is that those who claim to love the U.S.A. often times are the biggest haters of the U.S., given the way they live their lives, treat others, fail to pay their fair share of taxes etc, etc.

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No More Scratching

Many of the best products at this year’s NY Gift Fair were from other countries. The most interesting American items, were “chocolate” themed — including: Vanishing Creatures, Caffe D’Amore and Sweet Assets.

The CANUS company, with offices in Canada and the U.S., has wonderful Goat’s Milk “care products” for humans and dogs.


From The Gift Fair In NYC

One vendor said that she was charged $800 extra, by the Freeman folks at the Javits Center, to deliver a Fed- Ex box to her booth. She was told that if the package had been sent by U.P.S. (a union shop), there would not have been any additional charge. They also charged her $400 to repair an electric wire.

Such injustices, and countless others from on high, point to a grim future for small businesses in NYC


Green Shoots?

While looking for signs of renewal at the Gift Fair in New York City this week, I came across Norman the Phart Elephant — a doll created by a former Wall Street banker, with inspiration from her husband Norman. As if looting people’s pension funds wasn’t enough, now Wall Street wants to “Phart” on us. Perhaps Norman will help relieve some of the gas created by the recent Treasury bubble.


Who Am I?

Branding seems to be an American obsession — whether we are trying to create our own brand or wearing someone elses. But ultimately, questions of identity depend on our relationship with our “true” Creator — to determine whether our true self unfolds or we become just a shell, or worse — a billboard.


How Do We Relate?

HowDoYouRelatePhotograph: Stephen Wise