The Greening of Our Psyche

Humanity needs to open its eyes, minds, and psyches and realize that our physical problems and challenges are symptoms of ideological, philosophical, and spiritual disease. The human race has become a race against bad shit happening.

‘Psychic Pollution’ is the mother of all pollution. It’s the most insidious, contagious, and pandemic of all contaminations, infecting the immune systems of our souls and the spirit of our planet. We must wake up and smell the ‘Psychic Garbage’. Our negative ideas and beliefs are catalyzing the fear and terror that is endangering our good health and the good health of our world. Terror and wrath boil and bubble in a cauldron of trouble. Our personal health and the health of our planet is a consequence of our thinking and feelings. We need to observe our thoughts objectively and realize that all physical manifestation is a result of our thinking. We can close landfills, but what can we do with malignant mind-fills and toxic emotional-spills?

It’s time to look in the mirror. Walls divide, boundaries detach, censorship destroys, and lies deceive. How many gilded towers, glitzy gambling casinos, graven images, beauty queens, shark tanks, and celebrity idols do we need?  Must we prostrate ourselves before an over-clothed self-appointed emperor on a polished brass pedestal? Being financially wealthy and spiritually bankrupt is a strain of spiritual cancer. Preaching love and faith and practicing hatred and fear is not a good idea. Vengeance is not a solution to violence. Enough minds focusing on toxic thought creates self-fulfilling prophecies.

Fortunately, truth disinfects. Hindsight catalyzes foresight. Our present and future is in our hands. Our mother is immune deficient. She suffers from tumor’s we call towns and cities, varicose veins we call roads and highways, cancerous lungs we call air and sky, and polluted arteries we call streams and rivers that are turning our reservoirs, lakes, and oceans into toxic waste sites. Why must everything be bright white, squeaky clean and lemon fresh? We consume massive amounts of highly toxic chemicals every day in our wars with insects, rodents, weeds, dirt, stains, odors, germs, bacteria, pathogens, viruses and other potential and invisible enemies. We’re marinating in the chemicals that heat and cool us; power transportation; provide us with products; color, flavor, and preserve our foods; and enable us to communicate on a grand scale. We eat, drink, breathe, wash, brush, and apply risky chemicals to our scalps, armpits, toes, and crotches.

What has happened to good sense? Why are we debating climate change? Must we always lose to learn to value? Why is pollution profitable? Fossil fuels are finite. Hundreds of horses gallop under the hoods of gas guzzling vehicles that can go twice as fast as our highest speed limits. Screening ourselves from the sun has become a way of life. We will all need air and water purifiers. Oxygen will be marketed over the counter like bottled water. We’ll be able to purchase “a breath of fresh air” at oxygen bars. Designer oxygen masks and lemon scented oxygen will become fashionable. Pharmaceutical, apparel, and cosmetics industries will create new chemicals and products to protect us from their past, present, and future chemicals and products.

In ancient Egypt, Hermes explained that anyone can connect with anyone at any time. As father of the cell-phone, Hermes taught that everything is made up of cells and our brains are the hardware. Our job is to put our minds where we want them to be and then tune our links. Hermes said, “The All is in all and all is in The All”. We create value out of thin air.

By observing our plant world, we can better understand the life cycles of our human world. In order to cultivate a healthy world it is essential to select healthful concepts for planting.  We must clear away destructive and unproductive thoughts and plant positive ideas in our minds. Healthy attitudes and circumstances will enable new hope to sprout. A healthy society must have healthy nutrients and a natural, supportive environment in which to create strong roots. It’s our responsibility to show the world by example that we truly care. We need to pull the weeds of greed and prune the branches of waste in order to serve mankind wherever and in whatever ways we can. We must nurture relationships and conditions that fortify our world. In time, our gardens will bud and blossom. We can fertilize our crop by promoting diversity and achieving unity with other nations that will enrich our garden and prepare us to bear fruit. Many varieties of fruits and vegetables can thrive together in a garden. Many types of people can thrive together in our world. Thinking of humanity as a flourishing garden ensures a bountiful harvest for the soul, an abundance of good health, happiness, prosperity, and peace of mind.

Publicity Stories #5 ~ Radio & TV

I was first interviewed on radio in 1986, a few years prior to the Village Voice feature. WNYC Radio asked me to explain palmistry to their listeners for thirty minutes. I was nervous, but knowing I wouldn’t be seen alleviated my biggest fears. As an NPR affiliate, WNYC generated interest in Boston, Chicago, Albuquerque, Houston, and other cities.

frankie-boyerI’ve had many radio interviews since WNYC. One challenge is that if you have nothing to sell, there’s no way to make $. Even if you have something of value, a lot of people must see it and recognize you. I was interviewed by Frankie Boyer numerous times. Frankie promoted my book during the show. It didn’t translate into book sales. I believed Frankie was the perfect venue for me: syndicated in thirty major cities, Frankie interviewed Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dwyer, John Gray, Dr. Oz, Suzanne Somers, and other thought leaders. Her listeners seemed perfect for palmistry and me. I was wrong. I mostly got inquiries from other media looking for stories. My publicist friend who introduced me to Frankie told me it can take as many as fifty radio interviews before listeners respond.

patti-canovaI prefer smaller venues. My all-time favorite tarot teacher and friend, Patti Canova, hosts a radio show she calls ‘Got a Lite’. How many people are actually listening is hard to know, but shows are recorded and archived online, so fans and friends can hear them anytime. I’ve been on Patti’s show several times. She’s got a loyal following. When Patti says, “Mark is great” or “You need to go see this man”, listeners listen. I got friend requests, likes, follows, links, shares, and a few readings from being on her show. Link to my first show.

anthony-piccoI was interviewed for ninety minutes on a show called ‘Cosmic Tuesdays’ that airs on Monday nights. Anthony Picco, a knowledgeable astrologer with a personable interviewing style, blends the esoteric with the practical in the electronic ether for an earful. Link

bliem-kernTV intimidates me. Appearing on screens has its drawbacks. Viewers can see your awkwardness and self-consciousness. Mistakes are permanent and not easily forgotten (mostly by you). Watching yourself afterwards is sobering. “If only I had done or not done…” I spent my first hour on TV with Bliem Kern on ‘Satellite Psychic’. Bliem’s quirky humor and casual informative style made it easy for me to be myself. We joyfully shared our metaphysical ideas and experience on the air.

 

patti-davisBack in 1994, I read Patti Davis on Lifetime TV, on the same day she came out on the cover of Playboy magazine. We sat apart in ‘the green room’, waiting to go on the show. A frustrated stylist was unsuccessfully trying to put makeup on me while Patti was ignoring me. When the producer walked in, she introduced us. “Patti, I want you to meet Mark. He’ll be reading your hands on the show.” Instantly, Patti was kneeling beside me with her hands in my face. “My family loves this stuff!” We talked about what it was like living with Ron and Nancy Reagan. The first thing the two chatty hosts asked me, “Well Mark, what’s in Patti’s hands that we haven’t already seen?” They made jokes about everything I said. By the middle of the show, I regretted doing it, though I was glad to have met and read Patti.

guru-of-garbageI’d never merged design with metaphysics before now. Combining them turned out better than expected. I was the “Guru of Garbage” on Fox ‘Good Day New York’ and a successful industrial eco-designer who creates new products from recycled materials on Japanese WOWOW TV. My esoteric and environmental worlds were beginning to morph into a new physical and metaphysical awareness.

mark-martha

Martha Stewart threw an exclusive millennium party at the ‘Four Seasons’ in NYC for celebrities, super stars, and other notables. The theme was metaphysics and Martha’s guests could have quickie counseling sessions with master astrologers, palmists, and tarot readers. I got to read the hands of some of my favorite personal heroes. The other palmist and several other readers had published many more books than me, but I had the longest line of celebrities waiting for their reflections.

Martha’s producer called me later to schedule a palmistry segment for CBS ‘Martha Stewart Living’ for April 2001. Martha’s TV studio had state of the art technology, great food, and a lot of hip well paid young professionals running around making sure all things are perfect at all times. I’d heard Martha was a cold task-master, but in person, she was charming and gracious. She has high expectations and truly wants to offer her viewers the most elegant and sensible solutions to whatever crafts, activities, and challenges she’s choosing to illuminate at the moment. In hindsight, I wished I’d done a better job explaining palmistry to her viewers. You can read more about my reading of Martha’s hands here and watch my favorite minute of my segment on her show here.

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After appearing on Martha’s show, I was nervous that people would recognize me on the street. Fortunately, I don’t think many New Yorkers watch her show. The next call I got was from the producer of ABC ‘The View’. She was planning ‘The View from Beyond’ and was lining up a week’s worth of the best esoteric readers she could find. She wanted me to be the guest palmist and promised that I could present palmistry in whatever way I chose. My problem was that while Martha Stewart’s show was taped and edited, ‘The View’ was live. I could be put on the defensive or get stuck with an awkward question I couldn’t answer and be embarrassed. She assured me the show would go smoothly. It actually went really well until Star Jones inadvertently put me on the defensive. “Well Mark; tell me something the audience doesn’t know about me.” Click here to see the look in her eyes as I respond to her question.

I’d never watched ‘Martha Stewart Living’ or ‘The View’ before they called me. I had no idea how many people watched those shows, but assumed the largest audiences for daytime network TV were suburban housewives and unemployed people. Many more strangers recognized me from my appearance on ‘The View’ than from Martha’s show.

mark-joanna-and-cassie-as-a-newborn2The next call I received was from a producer at AOL in collaboration with Huffington Post. They produced a popular video series called ‘You’ve Got’ which was promoted on AOL. A substantial crew of videographers, lighting experts, and stylists showed up at our little east village apartment with a ton of video equipment. A whole afternoon was spent shooting a 2 ½ minute segment entitled ‘You’ve Got Mark Seltman and Joanna Brotman’. The video was all about how I chose to marry Joanna because of her hands and how reading hands has affected our marriage. This short segment got well over a million views within hours of posting.

Since that time, I’ve been approached by a variety of Cable TV producers with reality TV show ideas. I haven’t said ‘yes’ to anything. I do believe the timing is right for the right metaphysical show. Everyone is searching for answers and many people are turning to metaphysics with questions.  I’d love to participate in something meaningful, but everything I’ve seen so far has been more like a ‘circus’ or ‘dog and pony show’. I have no desire to become the Jerry Springer or Maury Povich of metaphysics.

Publicity Stories #2 ~ The New York Times

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I’d had plenty of press as ‘Guru of Garbage’, but never experienced the ‘power of publicity’ until I was featured on the front page of the ‘City Section’ of the NY Times. The Village Voice article had produced a lot of inquiries, but a small amount of actual business. I realized that today’s news truly is tomorrow’s fish wrap unless you’re waving it in someone else’s face. The significance of the Voice was that other publications and journalists were fishing in my pond for thought-provoking content for their venues.

Manhattan User’s Guide’ interviewed me and created a flow of new clients and parties. Too bad I was selling my time for so much less then. ‘Where NY Magazine’ dubbed me “Weatherman of the psyche”. I liked ‘Whetherman’, but the editor didn’t. Some writers were looking for a free reading. Pitching the article was their excuse. I quickly learned to separate the wheat from the chaff and to avoid questionable press and advertising.

Having fresh publicity facilitated my speaking business. I spoke about the history of palmistry in New York City at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. The National Design Museum asked me to create a workshop / lecture series on the symbolism of the sun to complement a major solar design exhibition (testimonial). I’d given previous talks at the museum about designing products with recycled materials.

I was a faculty member of the NYC chapter of NCGR (National Council for Geocosmic Research) for nearly 20 years. I spoke at astrological conferences about combining hands and horoscopes. I offered hand reading workshops at the New York Open Center, Learning Annex, Theosophical Society, and East West Books.

As the eighties came to a close, I was switching back and forth between environmental and metaphysical work. I’d designed and fabricated an ‘all natural’ architectural loft for an artist and award winning film editor in Tribeca. When I completed the project, she celebrated by transforming the space into a salon and inviting a unique collection of notable individuals. She was my Gertrude Stein. That’s where I met Robert Lipsyte.

Bob was a celebrated journalist and novelist. As a 25 year old sports writer for the NY Times, Bob wrote about a boxing match between little known Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston, ‘The Champ’. Destiny united Ali with Bob and marked the beginning of two illustrious careers. Ali became king of the ring, while Bob became a famous sports journalist, Ali’s biographer, and friend. Bob met the Beatles on their first American tour with Ali. Bob also won prestigious literary awards for his YA novels and was the Emmy- winning host of the nightly public affairs show on WNET~ The Eleventh Hour.

ali-and-the-beatles

When Bob found out what I did (besides designing and building lofts), his curiosity was roused. A natural skeptic and cynic, he couldn’t wait to challenge my esoteric mind and ideas. Bob hungered for answers to unanswerable questions. My ambiguous responses made him even more inquisitive. He enrolled in my ‘Metaphysics 101’ class at the Cooper Union. That’s when he jokingly started calling me ‘his guru’.

I think Bob wanted to help me become the ‘champ’ of metaphysics. He asked if he could feature me in the weekend edition of the Times. He also asked me to be a guest on The Eleventh Hour. I said ‘yes’ to both. Unfortunately, the TV show was discontinued before my time. PBS gave his spot to Charlie Rose. I’ve lost touch with Bob, but know I can call on him anytime for any reason and he’ll be happy to hear from me.

Newspapers are good for short term publicity. My big surprise was receiving thousands of inquiries within a few weeks. Momentum from Bob’s article expanded my speaking and party businesses and generated even more free publicity.

Personal Publicity Stories #1

guru-of-garbage

In 1989, Sarah Ferguson, a freelance journalist for the Village Voice (NYC newspaper) called to interview me for an article she was writing about hand reading. She’d been to several gypsy fortune tellers and her experience impelled her to choose to expose palmistry as a scam. I’d avoided any publicity prior to her contacting me.

At 42, I’d been quietly practicing palmistry, astrology, and tarot for twelve years. I loved my anonymity, but I wasn’t about to let Sarah write that article without meeting a real palmist and that palmist had to be me. At the time, I was known as the ‘Guru of Garbage’, for my innovative uses of waste and recycled materials. I taught ‘Designing with Garbage’ classes at Parsons School of Design and co-moderated a ‘Design for the Environment’ think tank at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in NYC. I was a member of NYC’s Solid Waste Advisory Board, lectured at Universities and museums about designing for our environment, and spoke at community boards about developing better strategies for dealing with community waste. I volunteered for all sorts of eco-projects and preached to the converted for pennies. My design and craft work was exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. I was featured internationally in consumer magazines, newspapers, and on TV. This short video about my recycling and reuse work was featured on Fox, Good Day NY.

After Sarah interviewed me, her story became a feature article and the centerfold of the Voice. My secret and palmistry were out of the closet (so I thought). My good friends were jokingly calling me ‘the word incarnate’. I’d never mixed my design and metaphysics businesses before and was concerned the article would damage my design business. I also imagined people constantly waving their hands in my face. Fortunately, neither of those things happened. The recognition turned out to be positive. Other journalists began calling to interview me for their venues.  That was the start of all sorts of publicity, my obsession with psychic garbage, and the fateful launch of my career as a psychic garbage man. Here’s the article.

How I Created Useful Art from Trash

I’m amazed at the positive response to my Practical Sanctuary post. Here are some more favorite things I recreated from stuff collected from yard sales and our local recycling transfer station. We used to tell our city friends that our country home was furnished in early American white trash. We’ve upgraded the quality of our trash over the years.

Even as a wee tot, Cassie was a hard working apprentice. We designed and fabricated a lot of stuff together. Our first project was a swan mailbox. We transformed a small black plastic mailbox into a beautiful swan by cutting, shaping, forming, and attaching recycled black plastic sheet to the box. Then we spray painted it, pasted our house numbers on the front flap, and placed it on the road. It became a local landmark.

swan mailbox 2Next we built a bunny bench out of recycled plywood, two small branches for ears, three large branches for structure, and reconstituted shrink wrap for seating. The ears didn’t last, so we performed plastic surgery and made matching floppy ears from shrink wrap.

bunny bench

We created a food compost bin out of recycled plywood and reconstituted shrink wrap.

compost bin 2

Cassie raised a baby farm animal each summer. We built a wire pen and an animal hutch out of recycled plywood and plastics. At the end of summer when we had to return to NYC, we gave our creatures to people who would love and not eat them. We got to visit with them over the years. They all remembered Cassie. We got wool from Lilly, our black lamb who became a sheep, and cheese and soap from Zelda, our Alpine goat (my personal favorite) who had an insatiable appetite and babies of her own.

animal hutch

mark & cassie with bunnies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made the roof of the bottom story of our tree house from reconstituted shrink wrap. It’s still in great shape after eighteen years of personal wear and tear, tree sap, and weather.

Cassie in tree house 2

Cassie in tree house 3

Our country home was a disaster waiting to happen when we first arrived. It was dark and moldy with low ceilings, an uninsulated slab, horrible plumbing, cobbled electrics, and a leaky roof supported by rotting beams. Our friends were planning to bulldoze it. We convinced them to let us rent it for a modest fee in exchange for transforming it. The first thing I did was to tear out the ceiling in the middle of the space and reinforce the rafters. Metal joist hangers, corner braces, and connecting hardware make the beams beneath the birch plywood ceiling look like an erector set. Prior to paneling, I cut open the roof and created two round sky lights using large plastic bubbles I scavenged from a ‘going out of business’ plastics sale on Canal Street in NYC. The last thing I built was a loft space for Cassie and her friends to play in and have sleepovers.

Cassie in loft space

The Dark Side of Gemini

joker-sociopath-dark-knight.2Gemini is the trickster. He’s so clever that he can even fool himself.  It’s easy to see the metaphors for self delusion in our business, political, and religious practices. A quick look at the internet presents obvious symptoms that reveal the dark side of Gemini . It’s easy to see why the human race has become a race against bad shit happening.

 

If content is King, consider this paradox. Cyberspace creates value out of thin air.

E-business produces e-contamination, which results from collecting, cultivating, and not properly disposing of e-garbage. We can close landfills, but what do we do with cyber-fills and digital-spills?  How can we recycle, reuse, and recreate cyber-toxins and hazardous dot-coms? Let’s look at the dark side of Gemini’s cyber-behavior.

  • Superficiality: creating and implementing products without a healthy vision, foresight, well thought out marketing plans, or adequate financial framework
  • Deceitfulness: having no purpose – the IPO is the product
  • Dilettante: technology for the sake of technology
  • Commercialism: inability to integrate content and advertising
  • Detachment: banner syndrome: creating consumer numbness to advertising
  • Too Clever: sex, money, and pop-ups – too many sugar coated widgets
  • Sneakiness: invasion of privacy / cookies / spam / viruses
  • Fickleness: user characterized into a statistic for some mailing list
  • Anything is better than nothing: boring graphics – not enough bandwidth
  • Babbling: too much hype

When the planet Uranus transited the sign of Gemini from 1942 to 1949, emphasis in this country shifted to education. The U.S. Supreme Court abolished religion in public schools. The GI Bill enabled thousands of people to go to college. Occupations in communications fields like radio and television became more prevalent. In 1946, the first computer calculation began at the University of Pennsylvania. It was called ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). Columbia Records introduced the 33 1/3 rpm “long playing record”. The Atomic Energy Commission was created. The United Nations held its first session in London. The United States joined NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). People born between 1942 and1949 with Uranus in Gemini have nervous and restless temperaments. Still children of the 60’s, their minds quickly grasp new concepts and ideas.

What will happen when Uranus returns to Gemini in 2025? Many children of the sixties will no longer be around. Will the NSA finally get to plant that chip in our brain at birth? Will humanity find priceless treasure in plain sight at the ends of its arms and take matters into it’s own hands? I hope so. What do your hands say about you?

Gemini and Hands

Gemini

GEMINI and HANDS

MAY 23 – JUNE 21

Gemini is the consummate communicator of the zodiac. She’s the most social of all types. He’s frequently accused of being an impractical dreamer because he loves ideas so much. She can detach herself from mundane reality and be objective about anything. He overvalues his intellect and undervalues his own and everyone else’s emotion. She feels threatened when her opinions are ignored. He can accept your point of view, even when he disagrees with you. She’s gets mad when her ideas are challenged without good reason. He’s easily distracted when he chooses not to be responsible for his decisions. She resists focus, discipline, and structure. Gemini loves to be mentally free.

Gemini rules hands. It also governs our respiratory and nervous systems. Gemini types are the most adaptable of all thinking (air) types. They have more flexibility in their joints, thumbs, and fingers than Aquarian or Libran types. Their life, head, and heart lines tend to split at their ends. In general, I’ve found a lot of line splits in duel signs. Dominant Libra splits at the end of the head line. Cancer and Pisces heart lines split.

Healthy Geminis have straight and strong pinkie fingers. They persuade you with logic and good sense. Long ring fingers make them even more attractive and irresistible. Gemini hands are firm with pink elastic skin. If you see yellow, there’s probably some nastiness going on somewhere. The trickster is good at hiding his dark side.

You don’t have to be a Gemini to have Gemini hands. It’s very powerful when a person’s sun sign matches their hand type. I’ve read a lot of famous people with sun signs and hands that match. It’s impossible to foretell from a natal astrology chart what symbolism will dominate a character. A sun, moon, stellium of planets, dominant house, or powerful aspects between certain planets or points in a horoscope may or may not determine what the native chooses to embrace. Hands can oppose a horoscope. As we embrace our strengths or choose darkness, our thinking and circumstances will be revealed in the morphology and topography of our hands over time.

I have Scorpio rising. Pluto closely conjuncts Saturn on my Leo midheaven. My eighth house is packed with Gemini planets. Chiron is conjunct my Scorpio ascendant. Based on my horoscope, my behavior should be Scorpio. I’m very Gemini. That’s my hand above. Scorpio is very powerful on my inside. It’s no wonder I’m obsessed with getting people to look at their hands. So much valuable information can be seen at the ends of our arms. All we have to do is learn to see the help in our helping hands.

Gemini is the most youthful and clever of all types. John F. Kennedy, youngest and first Catholic president was Peter Pan. Jackie was Wendy. Marilyn Monroe was Tinkerbell. John was a rogue and womanizer reputed for being raunchy and funny. The charming “Prince of Camelot” suffered depressing physical fatigue from Addison’s disease. The public never saw the pain in his joints. Kennedy wrote Profiles of Courage, which won a 1957 Pulitzer Prize. According to John’s biographers, his greatest challenge was not to choose winning over high moral standards.

Peter PanOther Peter Pans were Pat Boone, who sold 18 million records by age 24. Tony Curtis was the ‘Great Imposter’. Bob Dylan sang “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”. Judy Garland was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Henry Kissinger was the multi-lingual secretary of state under Richard Nixon. Joan Rivers was a comedian. Gene Wilder was Willy Wonka. Michael Jackson lived in Neverland.

finger lengthA pinkie is the shortest finger. If a tip is longer than the crease between the first and second phalange of the ring finger, it’s considered long. If shorter, it’s short. Hermes (Mercury) was the shortest god. A dominant pinkie fingered person is short in stature (Ed Harris) with a slender body and face. She has expressive hands, dark hair, and penetrating eyes with crow’s feet in the corners. He’s very youthful. Men often have thin beards (Johnny Depp).

Hermes loves children. He’s childlike and androgynous. Hermes and Aphrodite had a fling that created Hermaphrodite. Many dominant Hermes (may not know or admit it) are bi-sexual. David Bowie is a Capricorn with powerful Hermes. Prominent pinkie people prefer small musical instruments that require a lot of dexterity. Music makes sense because hearing is their physical sense. In real life, Peter marries Wendy or a parent. Someone’s got to be practical. Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner is Peter and Wendy.

Hermes health issues relate to their nervous and bronchial systems. Hermes can have problems with headaches, thyroid glands, memory loss, and speech impediments. I’ve been coping with Tinnitus (ringing in ears). Hermes makes great lawyers, politicians, doctors, orators, writers, engineers, teachers, accountants, bankers, and shopkeepers.

A cultivated Gemini is a social and intuitive prodigy and a great judge of character. Pinkie fingers reveal the ability to communicate and be truthful. Early family dynamic is seen in how a pinkie is set on the hand. If it’s very short or low set, trust may be a major issue. Some women with low set pinkies have told me that they have a hard time having real orgasms. They fake them and keep their secret. Their greater challenge is learning to trust themselves and others enough to have real intimacy. Lengths and proportions of fingers, knots, nails, and shapes of tips reveal language, family, and sexual potentials.

curved pinky fingerWould you buy a used car from this guy? Gemini liabilities are trickiness, fickleness, nervousness, restlessness, and superficiality. Many preachers on soapboxes, pickpockets, and con artists have inwardly curving pinkies. There are also many wonderful incredible people with curved pinkies.

 

I work at special events with great magicians. These tricksters have a Mercurial nature. They astound audiences by deceiving the eye and mind of the beholder. I’ve watched amazing tricks over and over again and am constantly blown away. One friend, a close- up magician, sometimes works the lines of guests at special events that are waiting for my five minute hand readings. I overhear people asking him, “Is this real magic?” My friend says, “No, these are tricks. If you want real magic, go see Mark.” The real magic of reading hands is not the science and art of palmistry, but knowing oneself and others.

Pinky ringGold and diamond pinkie rings are frequently found on acquisitive people who sublimate their sexual energies to accomplish something of value. I once examined the hands of fifty men born to wealthy families in the eighties. It seemed paradoxical to me that they all had a tiny bottom phalange on their pinkie. Money for the sake of money will never be a motivation for their major life choices. Family, friends, and good causes will fuel their values and good intentions.

I plan to feature family and friends in future posts. Meet my mother.

“Eighty years of age does not seem old to me. Old is when one is again dependent as we were in infancy – needing help as a constant to feed and care for oneself. Who knows, I may die from an illness before I ever get old, then on to my next adventure.” Mom was eighty-three when Hermes gracefully and graciously escorted her to death.

mom with hands upMom was a consummate Gemini. Born a day before the summer solstice, she pondered her intentions, roles, and script until her last breath. She cared deeply for family and friends. For the last several years of her life, she quietly battled her mortality via metastasized breast cancer and a mass of malignant tumors in her liver that sucked her energy and tested her fundamental truths. Never complaining, mom’s endless encouragement, noble idealism, eternal optimism, and refreshingly ruthless honesty always inspired me to remain true to myself.

Bobie and ZadieMom considered herself lucky. She chose to lead a worthwhile and productive life. Her square palms and widely spread long fingers belonged to the youngest child of hard working Russian Jewish immigrants who cherished each other and their five children. Mom’s long strong index fingers symbolize her ambition to achieve. She was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. Her family struggled financially, but always felt rich. Mom’s father (my Zadie) was the most generous man I’ve ever known. He had abundant warmth and good spirits and loose change for everyone. I remember in early childhood, Zadie showing up at mealtimes with some poor person he’d met on the street. There was always more than enough delicious homemade food for all. I cherish my memories of my Bobie and Zadie.

DCF 1.0

Mom’s two oldest sisters died tragically when she was young. Her surviving older sister, Bea, was a renegade. Mom was the brilliant talented young princess who could do no wrong. Bea (Sagittarius) was brilliant and talented too, but Bea did what Bea wanted to do. At eighty in this picture, she’s still sassy with her healthy earthy intuitive hands.

 

When Bobie was very old, her Alzheimer’s forced us to place her in a home where she could receive constant care. It was sad for everyone. Mom and Bea visited her often. Mom’s greatest fear was losing her mind. Bobie had no idea who mom was. That scared the crap out of her. One day, Bea visited Bobie. Bobie asked, “Who are you?” Bea replied, “I’m your daughter.”  “I have a daughter?” Bobie inquired. “You have two daughters” said Bea. “Which one are you?” asked Bobie. “The bad one!” exclaimed Bea. Bobie remembered, “Oh Bea!”  Bea eventually ended up like Bobie.

Cousin Richie

Richie (Libra) ~ TANGLEMAN ~ Bea’s middle son

Mom was blessed in friendship. She attributed her ability to make friends easily to having to move frequently in childhood. With so many changes involving multiple schools, mom had to adapt and develop social skills. She fulfilled her friend potentials. When you examine the balls of mom’s thumbs, you see long lines parallel to her lifeline. Mom maintained intimate friendships for her whole life. She and her friends faithfully loved each other through their joys, tragedies, children, grandchildren, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Diabetes, Cancer, and many other dis-eases of old age.

mom and dad honeymoonThe best thing our mother did for herself and her children was to marry our father. Dad spotted mom at a bus stop. It was love at first sight. She was a twenty-one year old virgin princess. He was a twenty-five year old former bad boy, turning good, just back from the horrors of World War II.

 

She played Eurydice to his Orpheus. Dad (Pisces) literally sang his ideas and tunes. Mom would craft his lyrics and refine his tunes as she accompanied his singing on the piano. We kids thought they were nuts, but our parents thought enough of themselves to peddle their wares down Tin Pan Alley, hoping for the next bestselling 45 rpm record. They promoted their favorite song “The Crack of the Carbine”, a tragic tale of a young murdered white tail doe, her homeless fawn, and a remorseful hunter. Dad sang it so passionately and mournfully that I had to fight off the tear in the corner of my eye. Our parents’ tragic mistake was hiring a professional demo singer, a hunter without a soul.

Dad was sentimental and sent mom a romantic anniversary card every month of their marriage until he suddenly and unexpectedly died at age fifty-four. We found albums full of them that mom had organized and saved. Dad also left short love notes around the house for mom to find and always had plenty of gifts and hugs for everyone else. He left mom a 3 X 5 notecard on the day he died ~ I LOVE YOU. Mom laminated it in plastic and placed it in a special spot on her dresser where she would always see it.

I was conceived on my parent’s wedding night and born nine months and one day later. Mom wanted natural childbirth; however, after fighting with me for thirty-six hours, the time had come for me to be cut out. I needed my horoscope. A natal chart is a mother’s transits at the exact moment and location of birth. My mother was inches from dying. She spent several weeks convalescing. I don’t remember bonding with her. When I first began to explore astrology, I hired a famous astrologer for my maiden reading. “This is a death chart”, she told me. She reflected many interesting things about my character, patterns, and habits. What I walked away with was this, “You will die and be reborn many times until you learn to fully love and let go of fear”. OK. I accept. What’s next?

When I was forty, I hired Dr. Laurie Nadel, a psychologist to take me back in time. She’d written a book, The Sixth Sense, on past life regression and was well known for her work in the field. Laurie encouraged me to visualize my life as a tunnel with a series of lights going backward through time. As I journeyed back, my job was to turn on the lights wherever they were out. I needed to jog my subconscious memory for that. After an hour or so, I arrived somewhere between age two and three. The tunnel was black. As I began turning those lights on, I found myself sitting on a tiny wooden potty, not needing to have a bowel movement, but still making grunting noises while my mother was concurrently teaching me to read. No one could ever accuse mom of being unambitious or inefficient. I’ll bet I was the first boy on my block to be out of diapers and reading at the same time. Mom set a timer on a variety of occasions (with threat of punishment) to help me achieve tasks that needed to be completed in a timely fashion. In her defense, with my highly flexible thumbs and fingers (my dominant thumb became stiff as I aged), I was talented, but also the most unstructured, undisciplined, and unfocused kid on the block. Peter Pan doesn’t like restrictions. I never did get to past lives in that session.

Dad with his kidsWhen I was four, my brother, Gary (Pisces with Libra hands) was born. At seven, Jennifer (Taurus with Aquarius hands) arrived. Mom said, “Parents make their biggest mistakes on their first”. That was true for me. Mom considered raising her children the greatest accomplishment in her life. At twenty, I confronted her to let her know that I wasn’t perfect and that she had made plenty of mistakes. Here is her response.

“My mistakes were not intentional. I’m sorry for anything I did which caused you any harm. I tried my best to be a good parent. You’ll understand when you’re a parent. You’re an adult now. You must grow up and get past whatever holds you back and be as healthy and happy as you can be.” She was right. What could I say? I forgave and thanked her. Gary and Jennifer were spared my most challenging lessons. Fortunately, we’ve all turned out well in ways that matter most to all of us.

Mom was a cultivated Gemini. The unearned princess became a self-appointed Queen. Mom’s friends and family accepted and supported her highness. Like Athena, mom ruled with strength, courage, dignity, and nobility. I was ten years old when mom read ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Victor Frankl. It powerfully reinforced what she already knew and confirmed her most important value in life, which was her understanding that while she couldn’t always control what happened to her, she had the power to choose what she thought, felt, and did about it. “Whatever happens to you”, she said to me, “Whether you’re going out in the rain with or without an umbrella or going to the electric chair screaming or with dignity, you have the ability to choose your behavior”.

My family was like a 1950’s TV sitcom. ‘Mother Knows Best’. Mom was an ‘at home’ mom during our formative years, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t work. She was a freelance gag writer for The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, and Family Circus (weekly comics in syndicated newspapers). She also wrote articles for women’s magazines. Mom was a wiz at crossword puzzles, jingles, or saying something in fifty words or less. I remember her winning about fifty contests one year. Some were national. The rewards were small.

Aunt RuthMom was a daunting scrabble player and the most formidable opponent for the Queen of Scrabble in our family, dad’s sister, Aunt Ruth. Ruth has a strong independent pinkie on her right hand and long practical head lines. She always gave me birthday presents like plain underwear and sox. I treasure her and Uncle Sam’s memory, and my cousins Shirley, Roz, and Max…

 

Check out the strong family resemblances and hands. The biggest differences are in hand flexibility, consistency, and elasticity of skin which you can’t see in the picture.

Shirley Roz & Max

Shirley ~ Cardinal                 Roz ~ Mutable                      Max ~ Fixed

Mom as poster child at 77Even in the direst of circumstances, mom had a sense of humor. While lying in her hospital bed with tubes going in and out of her, she said to me, “What worries me most is how nice everyone is to me. Do they know something I don’t?” Jennifer warned, “You’re not allowed to die until you finish raising my (teenage) kids”. She joked about buying mom’s casket at Costco. Mom loved the idea. My brother said, “I’ll start worrying when you stop putting on your makeup”. He threatened to taxidermy her and promised to consign her to a corner in his living room if she didn’t stick around. In intensive care, the doctor told us that in all his years, he had never had a patient who was so sick and so determined not to look like it. Wheeling mom around the hospital, people thought I was her husband. I’d say “Thanks for the compliment, but I’m her father”. “Pleased to meet you”, they’d say. It’s never too late to embarrass your dying mother who’s still 39 at 83. Some things never change.

Mom's exercise ball videoTo get a real taste for mom’s Gemini personality, watch her exercise ball video. She was 78. It was made in response to my sister sending her the ball. Though the quality isn’t great, I guarantee the humor!

 

Dad's commercialsIf the definition of a genius is an average student with a Jewish mother, ours was father (Pisces). It’s impossible for me to show mom’s humor without sharing dad’s antics.

 

 

Blood Moons and Biblical Prophecy

Blood Moons and Biblical Prophecy

Blood Moon

 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” Bible’s Book of Joel, Chapter 3:3-4

star of david 2Today is Passover. A total lunar eclipse occurred a moment ago. The transiting moon just squared Pluto. It’s about to oppose Uranus before it goes void of course. We’re still wandering aimlessly and endlessly across a bleak and barren desert, led by our sacred cows and golden calves that must be sacrificed on the altar of true love and faith.

 

Many people are preparing for ‘End Time’. Before I begin my rant, I want you to know that I’ve broken rules of syntax, spelling, spacing, punctuation, rhyming, and alliteration. Most of my artwork has been excavated from the electronic ether. I’ve parodied or radically altered it to avoid copyright infringement. I’ve also included a selfie from my ‘Exhibitionist Meets Voyeur’ collection. Please suspend your preconceived ideas and beliefs. I’ve left nothing to chance but you. Take what works. Leave what doesn’t.

The human race has become a race against bad shit happening. Pious philosophies and pointless politics pollute higher purpose. Partisan paradigms and pestilential practices poison our psyche. Faulty families feast frenzily on filthy banquets of flawed feelings, vague values, and toxic thinking, copiously spiced with needless fear, desperation, and hatred. We analyze, rationalize, and compartmentalize our ideologies and beliefs while we sacrifice our dignity, integrity, and nobility on the altars of nonsense.

George and the dwarves

The sheep are restlessEveryone is frantic about what’s happening in the mid-east. Focusing on insane ideologies like “Armageddon” transforms hazardous theories and toxic beliefs into self-fulfilling prophecies. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Fear, anger, and hatred are potent catalysts for apocalyptic thinking. Vengeance is not a solution to violence. Just watch the nightly news or Jerry Springer for live action.

A spiritually corrupt society worships idols from amateur hours and applauds scripted survivors. Masses of meek minds are mesmerized by meaningless media. Captivated by courtroom melodramas, viewers become critical and judgmental of the pettiest behaviors. Cunning narcissists, warped exhibitionists, and religious perverts expose their sleaziest selves to a desperate and depraved public. A culture of winners and losers has become a world of haves and have-nots.

Dick as DopeyOur planet and collective psyche are immune deficient. We preach love and sympathy and practice hate and fear. Our appallingly apparent apathy produces pandemic pathological paradigms. We fixate on sex, violence, disease, and death, while shortsightedness, greed, and fear rule our personal and collective unconsciousness.

Donald TrumpWe’re fascinated by fake vampires, werewolves, and zombies while real vampires, werewolves, and zombies thrive virtuelessly among us. We vote for political prostitutes, prostrate ourselves before self-appointed emperors, and worship megalomaniacs on gilded pedestals. We reward religious rapists who pay for their offenses with an eternity in hell. We need a megadose of sanity, but how can anyone be sane in an insane world?

who fartedWake up and whiff the weirdness. How sane is consuming massive amounts of highly toxic chemicals every day in our wars with insects, rodents, weeds, dirt, stains, odors, germs, bacteria, viruses and other invisible enemies? We’re marinating in the chemicals that heat and cool us; power our transportation; provide us with products; color, flavor, and preserve our foods; and enable us to communicate on a grand scale. We breathe, drink, wash, and apply risky substances to our scalps, mouths, armpits, fingers, toes, and crotches. Why must everything be bright white, squeaky clean and lemon fresh? Why do fossil guzzling polluting cars go twice as fast as our highest speed limits?

Mission Accomlished

Mission Accomplished?

Evil acts are symptoms, not causes. As we examine our thoughts objectively, we see action comes from thinking. Why do so few herd so many and harvest so much? Why do so many people secretly believe they’re better than others? Why do we harm cultures we’re supposed to be helping? Why do we trade prejudiced politicians for terrible tyrants?

 

Sitting on compacted cansWhen my daughter Cassie was two, I was ‘Guru of Garbage’. I taught ‘Designing with Garbage’ classes at Parsons School of Design, and co-taught Environmental Design classes at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. I was on NYC’s Solid Waste Advisory Board and spoke at design schools, community boards, and National Design Museum about recycling, reusing, and recreating materials from the waste stream. My work was exhibited in eco-tours and museums around the world.

 

 

As Cassie and I walked down the street, she’d pick up trash, “Here daddy”. Graciously, I’d thank her and deposit it in the nearest trashcan. When others noticed, they’d stoop to pick something up and turn to smile at us as they dropped it in the can. We felt proud.

George W BushJoanna and I were concerned that Cassie worried too much about the planet for a kid. Many of her friends were also tormenting themselves about their future. In fifth grade, Cassie took matters into her hands and wrote a letter to the editor of an East Village newspaper. Her ‘Earth School’ fifth grade class wrote to George W Bush.  At the end of their concerns they wrote, “Please don’t send us a signed picture of your head”. I altered the image to reveal the true nature of the beast.

Dear Editor,

I’m a 5th grader at the earth school in the east village of Manhattan. A lot has been happening in the world and this is a paragraph to explain my point of view. I wrote it at home this afternoon and it is unedited and done completely by myself. I was wondering if you would be interested in publishing it in your newspaper.    Sincerely, Cassie Seltman

We are deeply worrying about Saddam’s toxic and chemical weapons but what we are not realizing is that we are using just if not more as dangerous toxicants in our everyday life.  Eventually at the rate we are going and the life style we are living we will kill ourselves off.  The only difference with Saddam’s weapons is it will happen faster.  Really all it takes to turn the world evil is one bad mind.  We can easily find excuses to do certain uncalled for horrible things.  What we need to do is think positive and constructive for our own benefit.  We have to also be cautious about who we elect for president because that one bad mind could be his and make all the difference.  We are being so concerned with Saddam Hussein but you should think about it like Saddam Hussein is one ant in a whole anthill.  The only reason ants survive is because they work as a team to carry food and build that huge hill.  Even without war we are still heading towards a bad future.  If we continue to pollute our earth we are going to have nothing left.  If we get good ideas and stop polluting right now we will still have a chance to save our earth and the people on it.

The EmperorThe emperor weaves a wardrobe of secrecy and deceit. Our good health and the health of our planet depend on our ability to share healthy thoughts and loving feelings. We must shift our broken philosophical and spiritual paradigms so that we can live and thrive in a healthier world. We can no longer substitute money for values, religion for spirituality, or collective delusion for reality. When you’re ready to meet the Messiah, you must look in the mirror.

 

Authors note: Today’s moon is in Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter. At 12:58 pm, Jupiter will become direct in Leo. Since Jupiter rules publishing, I’ll click ‘Publish’ at that moment. Jupiter also rules publicity and promotion. I’ll promote my artwork using social media.

If you enjoyed this rant, you’ll love my next writing project. ‘How I Lost My Sanity’ is a story about hands and a tale of how I tempted fate and lost my way. Sign up for all seven episodes. They won’t automatically appear in your news feed if you don’t.

How I Became the Guru of Garbage – part 2

Necessity truly is the mother of invention.  I hadn’t anticipated how hard it would be to make money while trying to make a difference in the world. I needed to generate more income. While working in my tiny study in the back of our apartment one afternoon, I began thinking about how many people have small living spaces and how much stuff they have. It’s not easy to stay organized and uncluttered. Even though I’d given up designing products for the sake of fashion, I figured I could still design something useful, environmentally correct, and hopefully make money at the same time.

Many people work out of their homes and don’t have a private work space. It’s a good idea to conceal your work when you’re not working, even if it’s already separate from the rest of your living space. I estimated that a 6’ X 6’ X 2’ deep box can hold a small home office and also open out to become a room divider. I sketched a few possibilities and then tested various materials and manufacturing processes. When I felt confident that my idea would work, I presented it to Lisa Smith, a successful furniture designer. Lisa liked the idea and offered to let me use her model making shop, photo studio, and furniture industry contacts in exchange for a partnership on the project.

Lisa and I fabricated scale models out of natural long lasting materials like jute, hemp, and homosote. We approached major office furniture manufacturers like Knoll and Steelcase, who nibbled on our bait, but didn’t bite. We were told that it would take a minimum $50,000 investment to fabricate full scale prototypes and test market them. Nobody was willing to advance the money. We had hoped to walk away with a deposit and a royalty contract. Unfortunately, our back burners were already overflowing with unrequited projects like our ‘Office in a Box’.

OFFICE in a BOX

Office in a Box

Office in a Box 2

I mentioned earlier that I have very strong Scorpio symbolism in my horoscope. Saturn and Pluto straddle my Midheaven, conjunct in the sign of Leo. Pluto rules Garbage. Saturn is the Guru. NY Newsday, Metropolis Magazine, and Fox TV – ‘Good Day NY’ serially dubbed me “The Guru of Garbage”. Garbage was a weird distinction, but I figured if the shoe fits, “Recycle, Reuse, or Recreate” it. I became internationally known for my innovative uses of recycled materials. I was the focus of numerous magazine and newspaper articles and television appearances. I participated in panel discussions, spoke at universities, gave workshops, and presented my creations in museums, galleries, and traveling exhibitions around the world. I was featured as a successful ecological designer in German and Japanese newspapers, magazines, and television.

During my seven year tenure as Guru of Garbage, everyone wanted to contribute to my cause by giving me his or her unwanted trash. Manufacturers began sending samples of their manufacturing waste. I received everything from truckloads of trimmings of cork and various plastics and composite materials, to barrels of greasy sludge. They thought I could perform alchemy and make treasure from their trash. I appreciated the sentiment and valued the challenge, but the process of turning trash into treasure is lot more work than reward, except for the high esoteric value. Trash to treasure is a metaphor for transforming liabilities into assets. Saturn (Lead) can be turned into (Gold) the Sun.

I forgot to mention that my Guru of Garbage days coincided with the birth of my daughter, Cassie, and her early childhood. I hoped to make a better world for her. Even at two years old, Cassie was well aware of my preoccupation with trash. As we walked along the streets of NYC together, she’d constantly be bending over to pick up some gross and disgusting thing that some person had thrown on the sidewalk. “Here daddy!” she’d exclaim. I’d thank her, then walk to the nearest trash can and throw it away. The best part was when others noticed. They were either inspired or shamed into picking something up off the sidewalk. They’d always look and smile at us as we acknowledged their good deed with a nod of approval. Sometimes, I wondered whether I was blessed or cursed by my obsession to make a difference.

The following several pages contain pictures of trash that I transformed into treasure.

Pallet landfill to conference room

Reincarnated lamp and mirror

Thrown

Odds and Ends

One day I was driving down a country road in upstate NY and noticed a couple of weathered farmers sitting in front of a broken down barn. I was searching for old wooden planks that they’d be willing to sell. They took me up to an old hay loft and showed me a stack of dusty rough cut lumber that had probably been laying there for at least thirty years. I had no idea what kind of wood it was, but it was heavy. I felt sure it was some kind of hardwood. I bought the whole stack for $10. They helped load it into my station wagon. When I got back to my workshop, I ran the rough lumber through the wood planer. It turned out to be beautifully aged solid cherry with a lot of rough edges and ends and lots of knots. Most woodworkers cut these defects away in the process of furniture making. I decided to design defective furniture from the get go. I found the imperfections very beautiful and used them as design elements. My client was in the recycling business and loved my creation!

Cherry Desk

It’s rewarding to transform something useless into something useful. It’s also great to be loved and appreciated by family, friends, colleagues, students, and clients. Without real financial support, however, it can be extremely challenging. I found myself delving more deeply each day into the mother of all garbage – Psychic Garbage.

My first paid speaking engagement was for the IDSA (Industrial Design Society of America). They said I could speak about anything, so I decided to talk about design and metaphysics. As an industrial design student, I had studied how hands relate to products. Now I would share with my peers how the same hands relate to character and behavior.

How I Became the Guru of Garbage – part 1

Remember how confused I was about what to do next as I terminated my product manufacturing phase? Suddenly and unexpectedly, I had an epiphany while strolling through Bloomingdale’s. I was scrutinizing how my products were being merchandised and sold and a question popped into my mind. If everything I designed never existed, would it make a bit of difference to anyone besides me?

“You get more money for fashion” had always been my mantra. Now, no matter how I rationalized the usefulness of my creations, their existence festered in my mind. While I prospered, millions of gallons of fossil fuels were depleted; air was polluted, water was  wasted, and landfills that were already inundated with award winning design, became further adorned with no longer fashionable products of my creation. I was beginning my metamorphosis from egomaniac to ecomaniac.

Recycling CredenzaOther designers who I knew were still trying to invent the ultimate gimmick that would make them rich and famous. Not me. I’d design environmentally useful and long lasting products. I began designing inexpensive eye-catching insulating window treatments to help save energy. I created stylish recycling furniture out of recycled materials to help home recyclers Recycling organic wastefashionably and efficiently sort their trash. It seemed like everyone’s enthusiasm was infectious, however, who would speculate on the hefty initial investment of tooling, materials, packaging, and inventory? One manufacturer who I presented the concept to declared my idea as a ‘passing fad’ and dubbed it “yuppie garbage cans”.

 

I became painfully conscious of humanity’s environmental problems while I agonized over my own personal wastefulness and ever-accumulating trash. A few months earlier I’d imagined buying my own private jet, now I was torturing myself over what to do with a bottle cap. My rapidly decreasing income forced a change in lifestyle. I moved from a luxurious mid-town loft-sublet to a very claustrophobic rent stabilized tenement apartment in Little Italy. I rarely stayed there because I spent nights at my girlfriend Joanna’s tiny tenement apartment in the East Village. I had lived alone in a vast sky lit penthouse loft. Now, I was sharing a large windowed closet with Joanna, cockroaches, mice, and noisy neighbors.

Unfortunately, ‘at-a-boys’ and ‘pats on the back’ don’t pay the rent. I began teaching part time continuing education classes at the New School for Social Research in NYC – furniture making, woodcarving, creative woodworking, model making, and plastics workshops. I also taught an ‘Invention’ course at Parsons School of Design and an ‘Industrial Design’ class at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

My primary income came from designing and fabricating exclusive furniture for designers and architects who served wealthy people. Over time, it became harder for me to cope with the pollution. Splinters, sawdust, and schlepping were already more than enough character building experience for me. I refused to work with toxic materials, which eliminated most composite materials, plastic laminates, adhesives, finishes, and clients. Then the straw that broke the camel’s back revealed its nasty face. My close friend and business partner in our custom furniture making shop surprised everyone by suddenly and unexpectedly becoming addicted to ‘Crack’. David took one toke and was hooked. Our work was being featured in major architecture and design magazines. At the same time, financial pressures and production deadlines were stressing us out. I had to hide the petty cash. I’d come to work in the morning and find cigarette butts standing on their filters all over the shop machinery. I cringed when the phone rang late at night. Come to think of it, I cringed when the phone rang during the day too. Our clients, who were mainly architects and designers, began telling me that they were disappointed in me and our suppliers were asking for money that I didn’t have. After calling the cocaine hotline a couple of times, David’s family and I intervened. We shipped him off to rehab in Puerto Rico. While he was away, I hastily liquidated our beloved workshop for a fraction of its value.

It dawned on me that by teaching industrial design, I was inadvertently polluting the world by helping others to manifest their ideas for personal profit and glory. I began         teaching ‘Designing with Garbage’ at Parsons School of Design. I’d say to my students, “Wake up and smell the garbage”. Most design ends up as trash. Industrial, commercial, and post-consumer waste is the Urban Ore of the future. At first, people laughed at us picking materials out of the trash, but the more my students and I worked with these materials, the more we realized how easy it is to keep consuming and how a recycling closed loop needs to develop its own infrastructure.  A community’s plastic milk and detergent bottles whose original use has been fulfilled can have a durable long lasting reincarnation as a deck, fence, park bench, or marine piling. Below, two of my favorite students from my ‘Designing with Garbage’ class at Parsons School of Design are working on their projects. If you click on Bobby Hansson’s photo, you can see a live presentation of his project on YouTube.  I promise you’ll be entertained.

Bobby Hansson - Designing with GarbagePaul Miller - Designing with Garbage

Concentrating on environmental issues was both enlightening and frustrating. I swung between incredible optimism and idealism and extreme cynicism and sarcasm. I know ‘every little bit helps’, but big issues like public education and environmental policy are what need to change. Dealing with these problems requires a fundamental shift in our society. Designers can play a vital role. When designers select materials to be used in a product they predetermine whether sustainable resources are used, how much energy will be consumed during production, what pollutants will be generated, and finally, how it will be disposed of, recycled, or reused.

Sitting on compacted cansUnless responsible products are designed and promoted and substantial markets developed, recycling will fail. Billions of tons of accumulated plastics, mixed glass,  construction debris, wooden shipping pallets, rubber tires, batteries, organic waste, and  many other materials will be land-filled or incinerated and eventually end up in our  lungs, blood, and genes. We’re being genetically modified by our lifestyle choices. These materials can be reincarnated into useful and long lasting products.

 

 

New York NewsdayI identified with Don Quixote in my Designing with Garbage days. At least windmills don’t pollute. They should collect solar as well as wind energy to make them more efficient. Solar energy coatings can also be applied to roof tops and surfaces that are exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately, there are more ways to collect than store energy.

 

Gallery of Trash

My all-time favorite industrial design student, Wendy Brawer, became my co-teacher for a ‘Design for the Environment’ class at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Wendy and I were on NYC’s Solid Waste and Citywide Recycling Advisory Boards and often spoke to local community boards about managing they’re ever accumulating trash.  We also promoted the use of recycled plastics in NYC’s waterfront. Governmental bureaucracy, lack of adequate funding, and rigid building codes rendered most projects impracticable. We participated in as many events as possible, even though they were financially unrewarding. It’s easy to find pro-bono work and difficult to find true patrons and real financial support for social causes. Our clients would inquire, “Why’s it so expensive? It’s only Garbage!”

Wendy is the only student I’ve ever had that actually practiced what I preached. Even though she had no degree in Industrial Design, she became head of the environmental committee for the IDSA (Industrial Design Society of America). She also became Designer in Residence at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. Wendy created an amazing ecological “Green Map” system WWW.GREENMAP.ORG.

I’m very proud of her.

Wendy Brawer - Greenmap logo

Wendy is a Cancer (feeling type) sun sign. She’s actually an intuitive type. She has ambitious index fingers on rectangular palms with short fingers. Her personality is much more like an Aries. She’s passionate, inspired most of the time, spontaneous, and extremely proactive. Her separated head and life line symbolize an innate dislike for bureaucracy and a natural rebelliousness. With fingers held closely together, Wendy is a great team player and a fabulous partner. Just ask her remarkable husband Ray. Check out the budding mapmakers below. Wendy has inspired many thousands of green minded people of all ages all over the planet.

Budding Greenmappers

 

Wendy's recycling container

Budding mapmakers

 

 

 

 

 

Wendy’s “Stamp Out Junk Mail Kit” helped raise consumer awareness of paper waste.

Wendy's stamp out junk mail flier

One of Wendy and my pet projects was “Energy Savings Stamps”. We approached Con Edison and Long Island Lighting on the east coast and Pacific Gas & Electric on the west coast with our concept to include a page of stamps in their monthly or quarterly billing statements. Consumers could paste stamps into their calendars to remind them to perform simple very important energy savings tasks. The utilities claimed they liked our concept, but for one reason or another they ultimately rejected it. We thought about going to the US Postal Service, but didn’t. Talk about bureaucracies.

Energy Saving Stamps

While Wendy and I taught Design for the Environment at Cooper Union, we initiated a class project to raise consumer awareness about transportation issues. There were so many possibilities. Imagine the peace, quiet, fresh air, and friendliness that could occur in a culture of alternative transportation. Envision designated highways free of heavy dangerous oil consuming and polluting vehicles. Visualize frequent stops for healthy foods and local services, maintenance, recreation, maps, and directories. Picture practical comfortable human and electric powered bikes, scooters, and work vehicles. What about vehicles with light weight frames and inflatable bodies?

The potential for inflatable technology has barely been tapped. Physical damage and personal injuries could be greatly reduced by building powerful durable airbags into car bumpers so that they can inflate outward on designated impact. Why wait for the vehicle to reach the passengers before the air bag inflates? Cars could actually bounce instead of trounce. Why not design inflatable outerwear for motorcycling and extreme sporting events? Why can’t gigantic baffled plasticized fiberglass airbags be built into the structure of buildings and bridges? Specific vibrations inflate airbags and temporarily hold structures together while many people escape certain death or injury. Why not retrofit existing structures?  With so many definite possibilities, we wished we had the resources to speculate.

Inflatable Window InsulationAirbags can also be used as inflatable insulation for maintaining a hot or cold environment. We can keep a six-pack or a walk in freezer cold or maintain warmth in a large industrial building. Drafty windows, doors, and attics can be permanently or temporarily retrofitted with clear air filled vinyl mattresses that easily inflate, deflate, and interlock and come in stock and adjustable sizes.

 

Our class decided to try to raise consumer awareness about automotive waste. A huge auto show was coming up soon. We talked the powers that be into letting us have a small space (for free) in the basement of the Jacob Javits Convention Center in NYC, along with several other alternative transportation advocates and inventors of electric and human powered vehicles. For anyone who has never been to one, auto shows are a lot of glitzy over-priced vehicles that go much faster than any speed limits. Scantily clad models with an overabundance of pheromones are objectified to help glamorize and sell cars. Our class produced T-shirts and bumper stickers. We barely sold anything and were regarded as heretics and renegades, but thousands of people got to see our messages. None of us had any regrets.

Bumper Stickers 1

 

Bumper Stickers 2