09. New York – Shhh… The Secret Podcast

by | Jul 26, 2018 | 0 comments

Season 01 Episode 09

New York

New York is not a city. New York is a dream. Everything you want is in New York… somewhere. You just have to know where to look. In this episode we talk to Andy Abrams about his adventures searching for the elusive New York casque, As well as Ben Asen, life long friend of Byron Preiss, and photographer for The Secret.
Sit back. Listen. Breath.
Welcome to New York.

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JM
Hello, everyone and welcome to yet another edition of The Secret podcast. We are glad you’re joining us for this very special episode and I’m going to tell you, we’ve really outdone ourselves this time. This month, we’re going to discuss one of the most popular cities in the world. It’s known as the capital of the world, the City of Dreams, the place that gave us Woody Allen, Bobby dinero, Anne Hathaway, Liv Tyler, Billy Joel, Madonna, Mary J. Blige, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Sammy Davis, Jr. Rodney Dangerfield, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Willie Randolph, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Julius Erving, Michael Jordan, Vince Lombardi, Lou Gehrig, Alex Rodriguez, the list goes on and on and on. It’s a city that never sleeps the home of Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Tiffany, the home of Rockefeller Center, Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art CBGBs. It’s the home of the giants and the Jets, the Yankees and the Mets. Of course, I’m talking about the Big Apple, New York, New York. So nice, they named it twice. And who better to have on to discuss this with us than native New Yorker experience cast finder. And now part time reality TV star, our teammate and good friend, Mr. Andy Abrams, but that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. I also have my co host, George Ward, who in case you didn’t know is a firefighter by day, and in the evenings he’s a crime fighting superhero. On the Xbox Now, last week, we brought you an exclusive interview with Joelle and trilling and later in this episode, we’re going to be talking with another interesting person, photographer Ben esen, who not only worked on the secret, but also grew up with Byron Preiss, we’re looking forward to talking with Ben about his work on the book, his own experience, and hearing a little more about the man himself Byron price. So there you have it, one guest who met the author and another guest who grew up with the author. If you’re a fair folk junkie and part time key searcher, it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s going to be a great show. So without further ado, please welcome George and Andy to the show. Who is right and this month, we are of course, this, as I said, discussing a puzzle that Andy is going to be very familiar with. And that’s the one closest to where he’s at suspected to be New York City image 12 And verse 10. Before we get into it too much, Andy hasn’t been on the podcast for several months now. And I know the expedition unknown episode has definitely aired a few times since then. Have you been recognized on the street, sir? How are things going? Are you are you an international superstar now?

Andy Abrams
Yeah, I can’t get to my car from it’s on my driveway in the morning without beating last 10 or 15. People are seeking autographs. Just kidding. But I will tell you one funny thing. I was on vacation last week. We were in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, on a boat, and my phone rings. And it’s like three o’clock in the morning. I have no idea what’s going on. But who’s calling them in the Mediterranean. So I pick up the phone. It’s a guy I know from my town, that oh, God, something happened. My house burned down. Why is he calling me? So I pick up I said hello. He said I and he happens to own a memorabilia store. sports memorabilia and pop culture stuff. So he said, Andy and I said he goes, I need 100 photos with the signatures. I said, What are you talking about? He said, I was sitting home tonight and I heard a voice on the TV and I said I know that voice. He turned to the TV and I guess they were rerunning the episode. From the Travel Channel. He goes I had no idea you’re a treasure hunter. Oh my god the story. I went to buy a book. Do you know how expensive they are? Because I want to get I said, I’ll be happy to autograph a picture. I’m on the Mediterranean Sea about to get to Tuscany. He was so embarrassed. But every now and then it does pop up the best is when I’ll be in court and the judge will say he’ll sidebar say approach and he goes any new any new work on the treasure hunt. And I laughed because you never know who in the room is an armchair treasure hunter makes me laugh.

JM
So they read me about it in court.

Andy Abrams
I mean, I’m talking about the cliche, older, you know, old school judges, but I’ll get into it. Can you approach cyborg and I walk? I think it’s about the case and I’ll say yeah, and they’ll say anything new on the New York I laugh my head I don’t know if I go oh, that was unexpected.

George Ward
No, not much now. So I guess the most important question of this podcast is Mr. Abrams, how much is signed headshots? Boy a cup of coffee talking

JM
about? That’s right. All right, well, moving on to the New York verse, that image here, there’s a lot of stuff going on in the image. And there’s a lot of ambiguity going on with trying to spot these things in different places, as some people believe that there’s an icon to park via path theory. Good luck finding an icon amongst the city of iconic things. As far as we have found, it entails a laundry list of loosely related clues, but some stranger things as far as immigration is concerned, here we have a Russian theme, we’re in New York, typically, my first thought would be Italian. But apparently they didn’t cover Italian marks as they left the Italians out of the immigration theme. And we have a Russian theme here. And this is another in a long line of immigration themes, like the Irish in Chicago, and not Boston and the Dutch in Montreal, and not the French being there, which don’t make a whole lot of sense, we may have to consider that some of these themes going on might be pieces of a puzzle, and no more not related any deeper to the city or the treasure hunt itself, with no need, or reason other than to just provide a piece of information for the hunt the same as the month of February. It’s not any special to Milwaukee in any way. It’s just February, it’s just a piece of information. There’s a lot of ambiguous things when you’re talking about a city full of iconic things. Andy, when Byron told you guys, when you met him that the cultural connection was important, we have to consider this Russian theme going on in New York, or you’re a native New Yorker, are you not? Yes. So do you know New York to be specifically Russian in nature?

Andy Abrams
Not Well, here’s, I mean, it is the melting pots of melting pots, right? So, right. It’s everything I think about Byron’s background, I mean, this family came across and landed on Ellis Island. And I believe, if I remember correctly, they were Russian Jews. It would make sense if I’m correct and my memory, that there would be a connection to that Russian piece of history because many Jews emigrated to leave during the pogroms or during that period, and they came to this country as immigrants from Mother Russia, so I’m sure especially moving to the Lower East Side, or then to Brooklyn had a very strong Russian influence. So that’s why you could do Italy, you could do China, little Chinatown, you could do any.

JM
That’s what I’m saying. It’s a melting pot of everything.

Andy Abrams
If you look at it from his particular perspective, the single culture that he was bringing to New York, was from his own experience, and that was the immigration of those Russians that came to this country and became new citizens here. That’s where I think it

JM
would come into play. And I wouldn’t deny that I guess what I’m getting at is I think a lot of people get tripped up on trying to tie what they feel Byron’s personal feelings would be towards a clue or what some other personal feeling or action to a clue based on history locally or otherwise. And I think that sometimes, maybe we should just be looking for clues as clues, just just words and pieces of information that aren’t specifically tied too heavily to anything. So if there’s not a strong Irish connection in the city of Chicago, or with the city of Chicago, maybe it doesn’t matter. That clue was to give us specific piece of information. Just like in New York, there’s a clue to give out a specific piece of information, maybe he needs to give out a specifically Russian clue. We don’t know how the cultural connections are important to the puzzle. So it’s really hard to determine what’s going on. But if you just looked at it from a puzzle standpoint, you know that what I really wanted to get into with this episode, and I’m not going to go ahead and lay out the verse and talk about the image. And all the things that you see. I mean, I think people are pretty well familiar with the image in the verse and they can take a look on their own and look at the things that we’re discussing here. Just to talk a little bit about the Central Park dilemma. This is something that we’ve been discussing in our group a little bit. We have a credible source telling us Byron price says there’s no treasure in Central Park. But wasn’t that also the case with the guys from Chicago at first write from an article in the Chicago Tribune, August 9 1983. The three guys who found the Chicago cast reported that when they called Byron Price’s office, seemingly in July of that same year, and Byron prices secretary told them that there was no treasure in Chicago. They then called back the next day and talked to BP himself, and he said, why you’re in the right spot. I don’t see why you can’t find it. Then, fast forward to 2004, may 23 2004, we have an email from Byron price sent to a searcher who passed it on to Fox, who then posted it on cue for T regarding a possible cast buried in Central Park. And the response to this inquiry was front, and this is from Byron himself, quote, unquote, there is no treasure in Central Park. What are we to believe here? Do we not look in Central Park because of the email? Do we just pass it by? Do you think it’s a fruitless venture to look there? I mean, what are your thoughts on this?

Andy Abrams
I think it is absolutely. Not in Central Park. I think it’s the first place you would think of it makes so much sense. I think the photographer Ben Asin. I know had mentioned they spent a lot of time shooting pictures in Central Park. I remember for a time period, I was obsessed with the idea. There was a lot leading to Columbus Circle and the entrance to Central Park. And then there was an imagery in the water, showing what looked like a dancing bear that was on the air. I mean, there was so much that pointed towards Central Park, whether it was in or on the print maybe the plan words is it’s not in Central Park, it’s on the periphery, I’m not sure. And there’s pictures of the statues at the entrance to Central Park and Columbus Circle at the same time. He’s telling you, it’s not in Central Park, I think you have to take it at face value. It’s not the Secretary saying it. It’s him. Look, he probably wanted these found, right. I mean, the idea was, the more that were found the more publicity for the book, I suppose

JM
that he could do the second book, right. Sure. So

Andy Abrams
why is say in an email that was being circulated? It is not in Central Park, because I didn’t cryptic unless he wanted to say, Look, don’t waste all of your energy and time searching there. He didn’t say it’s not in New York. He just said it’s like in Central Park. So I I mean, I don’t know you guys think but I would when I saw that email, any thought of searching within the confines of the port, not the perimeter? I think that’s still in fair play. I don’t think it’s there’s anything within the park itself?

JM
What do you think, George,

George Ward
I kind of have this feeling that unless you had a relationship, a sort of ongoing correspondence with Byron, that you if that was just a one time email, like if someone sent an email saying, Hey, I think it’s in Central Park or whatever. And you just got a response that is not in Central Park. I wouldn’t put too much into that. Because it could be the secretary, it could have been Byron having a bad day. It could have been a lot of things. If that was just a one time email. And we don’t know the question that was asked before the response. We don’t know if that was an email that that read like it was said by a crazy person. We don’t know the context of that email. And since it was just a single email, I don’t put as much faith into it as most people do. I

Andy Abrams
think. So you still think it might be in Central Park? I don’t think it’s in Central Park. But but I’m just

JM
to be fair to answer the question. He’s saying you I wouldn’t rule it out either. Because it seems like there may have been just a party line that was given to all the employees. And let’s rewind a couple years ago, when were you down at the fountain of youth with Brian for the other documentary or the other one, no matter watching as the story goes, a Hail Mary phone call was made to John Palin car during a dig in George’s backyard at the fountain, the youth the line was that they were calling to get a loan to help. I’m trying to locate the cask and John Powell and Carr says, we’d have to ask Brian, I don’t know what the exact line was. But it was either John said there’s no treasure in St. Augustine. Or he said there’s no treasure in the fountain of youth. I mean, I’m just wondering if that’s just a party line. That’s the debate here is not whether there is a cast there or not. Is is was that a party line? And do we pay that any attention?

Andy Abrams
That’s interesting. That’s very interesting point. I received that information as so helpful. The New York one is so expansive, right? Like you guys have done such exhaustive work on every one of these. I don’t think there’s one that is more expansive. Maybe it’s because it’s the last picture in the book, maybe because it was closest to home. Maybe it’s because it’s the one you know, born and raised in New York and he really wanted to make this the grand finale maybe it’s because it’s the one because it’s got the Statue of Liberty space in the picture and a ties all of the immigration together. So there had to be great importance, but there are so many theories and so many different ways that could go that when I thought he ruled out Central Park, I was like, thank you. I mean, thank you for taking one off the books because it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

JM
No, it’s on a whole different level. You have clues. Not only do you have a hard time trying to recognize what the icon could be. Matt and I were in a discussion today about it. And he says, well, what could be more iconic than the Statue of Liberty. And he had mentioned the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island looking like the doorway. Then I brought up well, there’s the actual immigration building, which is across the street from Battery Park is what our window is modeled after we have the Empire State Building, which could potentially be a match for one of those Eagle heads. There’s Eagle heads on the Ellis Island building, there’s Eagle heads on all kinds of bridges and monuments all throughout Central Park, Battery Park, all kinds of parks in New York, you can find them all over. It’s not like the Lego theater lamp in Montreal, where we’ve only found a handful of them, what is our icon clues are all over the place, you have what looks like the shape of Staten Island on the bottom of the dress. But then you have matches which potentially go to things in Manhattan, you have a place in Manhattan that you may be able to dig, but then you have a clue in the verse that’s sending you to the birthplace potentially of George Gershwin. So he’s got you running all over five boroughs. And the clues don’t seem to link up the only solid clue. And I’ll run this by you guys and see what you think. The only solid clue that I can look at in one of those panels. And say pretty sure that this is what this is, is the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church on 97th Street. Ironically, 97 is the street that crosses through Central Park not unlike the way crossover drive and the San Francisco puzzle work. But if you look at those spires from the street standing right in front of the Cathedral of the church, they match up to that small panel. Now I can’t get that to connect to the window and Battery Park or to Staten Island or to anything else. It’s all over the place. What have you found Andy walking around? I mean, you’ve been other places other than Central Park, have you? Have you noticed clues all over the place?

Andy Abrams
Yeah. And what you say is so right when you said it’s spread out over five boroughs? That’s the most maddening part because it’s not like you can walk one area and try to make everything fit. You’ve got to go all the way up to 97. Like I’ve stood in that church, I’d been there and 97 I’ve looked at it. And I’m convinced that those spires are not Ellis Island, you talk to a newbie, you know, it’s like, oh my god, it’s Ellis Island. I mean, it’s not Ellis Island. I don’t think it is at all. It’s a pretty great match. There was I know a church. You guys remember better than me. There was a church out in Brooklyn. That was a Greek Orthodox, I think, right? That will also appear to be a dead on match, it had

JM
four spires around four corners. I remember that correct.

Andy Abrams
And it was pretty close. But when you looked at the 197, it was and it was Russian. And so it fit. And it made those onion domes made a lot of sense. But how are you getting from all of these other clues up to 97th? Street? How does it make sense, because there’s not a whole lot more there that fits in that part of the neighborhood. So it leads me away from that. And I tried to look for an aggregate of clues to me in this one. I actually just sent you a photograph, not that it works on this podcast. But I was in court in New Jersey. And there was a mural behind the judge. I just think you’ll find fascinating. It’s of Lady Justice. And she’s standing over the water. And she’s wearing almost identical robes to what’s pictured here. I was in court one day, recently, and I almost had a heart attack when I saw it. And I looked through every book I could think up to see is this a famous image. Were we overlooking this to me though, the biggest clues in the in the illustration, not looking within the rope to see what you can see within the waves were that particular bird of prey that Seagull, and as many statues as you find when you’re down at the base in lower Manhattan and you’re looking at the warm monument down there, you’re looking at the divot. To me the head of that bird is the head on the Chrysler building those Gothic arches that are coming out. It is such an identical match that I just can’t get past that. And I know then for

JM
me, it’s very odd about that bird, the beak in the eyes. That’s what it was. It’s crazy because the beak matches up to the bird on the on Ellis Island. But the eyes match up to the bird on the Chrysler Building. Yes. And what what do you do?

Andy Abrams
I remember walking around Lower Manhattan years ago, I think it was with Brian actually we went out one day to the Statue of Liberty to Ellis Island we run Ellis Island said it can’t be here. I don’t care what the LAX security was. You’re not digging on Ellis Island couldn’t happen. So we went back to lower Manhattan. We’re walking around and we’re trying to match things up and I was fascinated with the birds head. And ultimately I was most fascinated with those three color panels of those. Those bubbles. I know. Some people said it’s a colorblind test other people I remember standing next to him and hadn’t seen the mural look monument saying, Are they bobbles? Is that what he traded the Indians for lower Manhattan? To me, why would the artist dedicate three panels out of 123458 or nine to that image?

JM
Do you been stewing over this for quite a while,

Andy Abrams
John forever because I feel like either I would be standing in a spot. And as somebody found a picture of a church, I ran all the way into the church. So off of Columbus Circle, I can remember what it’s called now

JM
falls St. Paul,

Andy Abrams
is that the one? Yeah, I went inside a member of the the poor woman was working there. And I said, Hi. And a friend of mine got married a few years ago, I was just wondering if I could go to the cathedral for a minute. And she let me in and I looked at the winners, and they went, Oh, my God, maybe like maybe that was it. But then I remember being in Prospect Park under a gazebo, and you looked up, it looked like it was an old bumper car area. It’s nothing but the colors matched. The same purples and yellows were all over the walls. And when you look up is a stained glass at the top of this thing you would never see from the outside. And it had these little bottles and and I said oh my god, is this it? Now I’m in the middle of Prospect Park in Brooklyn. But I feel like I felt like for a long time, there would be a point at which you were standing and you would see this stained glass or you would see something that you wouldn’t okay, it’s got to do with this. I will say one thing for your broadcast. How well known this is or not? You guys may know that. I don’t know, when we were filming the episode. And I know they were talking to Powell and Carr. They they asked him questions. And they said I’ll ask him about those little bubbles asked him about this panelists. It’s driving me insane. He was of course, very tight lipped. Josh was talking back and forth with me at the time. And he said that powercard did say that there was something about those panels that had to do with size ratio of those circles within them. And then when he created them, he remembered saying something to Byron, like look at this. And Byron saying, Oh, John, that’s really hard. But he was very proud of the fact that there was something about the puzzle within the puzzle that had to do with the size ratio of those circles. Now you guys are way smarter than me, I still haven’t been able to figure out what that means. But clearly something was going on there. That is either a map of some sort and overhead of some sort, whether it spells out something I haven’t been able to figure it out, there is

JM
something in those panels and the way that I pick it out and I stared at it. So many times, the way that I can pick it out is it seems like all of the same or similar colored dots seem to blend into the background. Whereas the bigger dots stick out and kind of form a it’s almost like a three D image that pops up. But I have stared at that thing until my eyes have gone blind. And I cannot extrapolate any kind of number image letter. Nothing out of it. Not yet. Yeah.

Andy Abrams
When you look at this, and you think, well, the artists took so much time to create that one panel. But three, three, why would he spend three of those precious panels on that imagery? I just can’t figure it. I feel like the person who I’m the locks that will unlock the biggest clue to this illustrate there’s

JM
three pieces of information there. There’s at least one piece you would think but probably three pieces of info there. George, you tried to mess around with 3d glasses. Did you not on this?

George Ward
Yeah, somebody asked me to mess around with 3d glasses with it. But I couldn’t, couldn’t get that to work. Obviously, there was a rumor a while back the jgP said, during the shrinking of the paintings for the book, and the colors that were used in the printing, that whatever was in those panels, it didn’t really work. You couldn’t get the clue that was there anymore. I gave that painting to a friend of mine who does pattern cryptography. That’s his job. He said the closest he could come up to anything with it was he started counting them. And he thinks that you have to separate the dots by size. And then if you count them, you can get the latitude and longitude maybe he said that’s about as close as he could come to any sort of answer on that.

Andy Abrams
I think George it’s so cool that you have a friend who just happens to specialize in pattern cryptography. Yeah,

George Ward
I’ve got a lot of weird friend

Andy Abrams
comes in very helpful when you do what you guys are doing. So the other thing though, when you match the verse, and I remember again, sometimes right like it’s obvious, you have to keep it simple, stupid like it look at what it is. I remember the other thing that has driven me crazy about this forever and ever is that one line and I’m looking for the the actual verse now. The natives still speak of him of hard word and three balls.

JM
I had found an old post of Brian’s that he had put up regarding that specific line and I was just looking at it today. And he had mentioned that he felt that it could be some sort of off literary reference to hard times by Charles Dickens.

Andy Abrams
Yeah, when we first started I’m looking at this puzzle. I did a ton of research on Dickens for hard times, you know, when you come across another piece and you get goosebumps or the hair on the back of your neck stands up and said, Wait a second, Dickens came to America. And he made his way to Niagara Falls. But before he did, and so you see the water in the bottoms, oh, Niagara Falls, Mavis, Toronto, something, but the first place he stopped. And the first place he became interested in in America, if memory serves was the five corners. That was the basis for the

movie about the gangs in New York. Got it,

you got it. And he was fascinated, which is the lower east side. And then it went further. Right. If I had again, I’m going back in my memory now. But he then visited the insane asylum or the hospital right on the island that runs underneath the Roosevelt Island restaurant that I think he lived. I remember speaking to the daughters, they live right next to a block from the UN, when they were growing up. This was from the girls. The tram car that ran it was the only one of its kind of it. I think it opened in 1980. I mean, timing wise, and it was a way to get on and off to that island. I remember saying to one of the daughters delay, she’s oh my god, he loved that when it opened. It was such a big deal. And the timing of it kind of worked. And it took you to I guess it’s Roosevelt Island, right? And maybe it was that the whirring sound in the summertime, you know, he had a board exam of the cars that are bound, because there’s tramcars. So again, that takes you away from Lower Manhattan. And up to and then is that block in the picture, the UN building, because he was right there. That’s where they grew up. And outside their window, you can see Roosevelt Island, so it got me started thinking about that area. But if I trace it back to lower Manhattan, because I want to stay in the theme of driving yourself crazy, trying to just stay within the borough of Manhattan, right? When we walked around the Lower East Side, Brian, I were focused on that, because of the dickens reference. And then there’s the there’s a tavern down there with a plaque that talks about a a West Indies native. There was a placard that we came across. Remember some people talked about, that talks about this is the birthplace of Herman Melville. It’s such an odd thing. It’s on the side of what’s now a condo or some office type building. It talks about Melville and I remember researching it. And Brian said, Wait, when it published Moby Dick, right, it was first published in three volumes. And is that the three vols because it talks about Melville, and there is a spot and this was my moment where I kept coming back to that lower east side and the tip of Manhattan when you turned up Broadway, and I think I’ve talked to you guys about this before, and everybody’s got their own pet theories, the aisle, the aisle of B, and I looked down the aisle of D. And I thought A I S L E, right, the aisle of Broadway, because as you look down, as you stand in front of where they look at the stock market bowl is where the Hamilton building is, as you look down the aisle of Broadway and goes back to Gershwin Rhapsody, and so on. If you look directly in front of you, there is only one image that you see in the distance. And that is the Chrysler building stands out, it is on the horizon line and it’s in between it kind of both the aisle drifts in your eye takes you to that point. And I bring it back to that bird. And I say those heads in not that they’re visible without binoculars from I mean, but it just all tied together to that spot so nicely that how could he draw you there and not deliver by trying to bury something there? The Staten Island Ferry the whirring Sam in the summertime. Yeah, you know,

JM
I do like that for the warring sound. The other warring sound that we know about are of course the helicopter tours that happened leaving from the lower side of Manhattan. Yes.

Andy Abrams
How do you reconcile so much putting you in that spot where you can see vantage points somebody in places and then saying, Okay, leave and go to 97th Street or leave and go to Brooklyn, or leave there and go to Staten Island by the Arizona, that was unfair.

JM
There are a lot of things to see in Battery Park. That’s really the only place where there are a couple things that kind of tie together. There’s the Verrazano statue, there’s the window on the immigration building, there’s the Hamilton customs house, and you have a few other things that are not so much of a stretch to make work, some statues and some other things down there. It’s really the only place but then you have to contend with these riddles about him of hard word. And you have to contend with the fact that there’s no steps. There’s a lot of inconsistencies in this verse trying to apply it in that location based on the evidence that we feel we have for other verses like in Boston where he tells us to take five steps. Well that actually means five blocks. So does that mean the same here are not some of the problems with this verse and you You know, I don’t want to take up too much time because we have a long interview with Ben asin that we’re going to air coming up here shortly. You can check on this on your own, the V and the B. Classically, since we know Chicago, the initials were all last names in Chicago, every single of one of those four single letters that were last name. So the B, and the V, would be expected to share a similar likeness or be of similar ilk or similar nature something but you have one thing that’s capital letter. One thing that’s a small letter. So there’s that problem there. There’s the rap siddik Man soil, meaning if it does mean Gershwin, then it would mean Brooklyn or not, does it mean? Who knows? If it could be one of those things where you just have to be there? The great giant, we still don’t know what that is? It’s a real mystery. George, do you have any ideas on on any of the stuff?

George Ward
I’ve heard so many, so many random things about New York, New York is weird, because it is the melting pot of so many things. And so much is there so many different architecture types, so many different types of buildings and monuments and statues to so many different things and plaques, parks and everything. So spread out. But you can really go to anywhere in New York and find something from this painting something that looks like the painting, I fall back to everything’s got to be just like it wasn’t Cleveland or like it wasn’t Chicago, you can’t pick and choose. Like Andy was saying one thing from this side of the city. And another thing from you know, this other borough, everything has to make sense right there. And it’s finding that one spot,

JM
it’s got to make sense to write. Some of these things are probably riddles that are giving us pieces of information that we need to use instead of what the riddle is. People take those things, literally, it’s very hard to figure out where we should be when we only have a handful of things that we can even be certain of. And one of those is not how to do the puzzle.

George Ward
The thing that I go back to to that point is in Chicago with fencing fixture had the guys not found Chicago when they did if we didn’t know how Chicago worked. Benson fixture would sound like such an odd clue. There would be all kinds of, oh, this is a bound. This is trying to keep you into a certain area. It’s fixating you on one thing, and absolutely right when you know, oh, there’s a fence and a fixture like it makes sense where it is.

JM
There was very little wordplay going on in Chicago, it was one of the more straightforward puzzles, the puzzle you had was well, a letter solving game and there wasn’t really that much clever clues being presented in that verse. I

George Ward
feel like New York’s gonna be the same. When somebody finds that spot in New York, they’re going to look and go, Oh, him have hard words. And three vols, that means that I feel like they’re gonna have that I’ve talked about it before. I feel like they’re gonna have that moment where they go, this is dumb. I feel like they’re gonna have that moment. Like, why didn’t anybody think of this before?

Andy Abrams
Well, there’s no question. You may as well put this on my tombstone. If it’s never solved, the natives still speak of him of our word, and three vols, just the three balls the use of the number, the capital V involves volunteers. Why did he make it bol s period, you take that capital V and compare it to the small v, when you look at the on the V when you compare it to the capital V at the end. It’s this, that sentence, just like Socrates pinned our appellees. In the right was the crux sentence and he applied those four names together, you knew you’re at the wall and Cleveland, that sentence, the Speaker of Himmelfarb word and three vols is the entire puzzle. The person who figures that out, we’ll know exactly where to be more and more than anything else. And it is fascinating to me that with the internet with guys like you, who have been through this thing up, down, left, right sideways, right? With such brain power. We still can’t crack that line. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe someone hasn’t, you know, yes, like rosebud? Like, I just don’t get how nobody, nobody can crack that line. Because when it does, that was dumb. Where that aha moment of the century, I just can’t believe no one has been able to come up with something. Yep, that’s it. You got it. That’s the thing, because that’s the key that unlocks the lock that lets us look for everything else.

George Ward
I bet at some point, somebody’s going to be standing looking at some obscure plaque on a wall somewhere, you know, that’s not important. And it’s going to have plain as day whatever him of hard words revolves is, I bet that’s what’s going to happen. Somebody’s going to be, you know, depressed and just wandering down the street in New York, and they’re going to look to their right, and they’re going to oh, that’s what

JM
it could be. But the problem with New York that we face that we’re not facing with a lot of others, except for maybe Montreal and not even there is if you look at every one of the other cities that haven’t been found. We’re at least in a area of the city that we feel fairly confident that we’re in the right spot. up in Boston, we seem like we’re kind of in the right spot and Charleston, we feel we’re pretty close. In Manteo. We know we’re on the right Island. In St. Augustine, we know we found the right Park and Houston, Mark’s found all that in San Francisco, we found a couple spots. But in I would say you could probably put that one in this category too. But all the rest of them, we seem to have a fairly good spot to be looking at. And we still can’t find them. We’re gonna try. We’re gonna find New York. Come on. It’s a whole nother Animal Man.

Andy Abrams
Does it make sense that he would have wanted that to be the pasta resistance that he would have wanted to end with the grand finale that you’re gonna solve this one? Because this is my hometown. I was born and raised here. I’m going to make this one extra. Like, do you guys feel that this is a particularly difficult one, not just in terms of puzzle? Yes,

JM
I do, too.

George Ward
I feel like he brought in here. I feel like if you Andy, were going to make this puzzle and you were gonna go around to a bunch of different cities, right? Cities that you’re not super familiar with. You maybe have been there a couple of times, but you don’t. You didn’t grow up there. You’re gonna go to a park, you’re gonna find a place and you’re gonna write your clues. You know, you’re not going to know the ancient history of the city or whatever you’re gonna write based on what you see him having lived in that city for his entire life. He knows history. He remembers things from his childhood, little obscure facts, obscure plaques, you know, parks that he played in whatever he’s going to know details, that some guy in St. Augustine, I’m never gonna know.

JM
Yeah, you’re gonna find a better hiding spot in your own house than you are in someone else’s house. I agree.

Andy Abrams
Fantastic point. Absolutely correct. Yeah, maybe it’s not that he wanted to make it harder. It’s just by definition, as you just said, he has to make it harder, because he just knows the spot. So well. That’s inch. And that’s why it’s not certain things. manmade disasters are buried over gorilla pits and Euston. It’s out there and it’s reachable. It is just going to take either, you know, somebody’s boyfriend, girlfriends gonna look and go, Oh, what about this, you know, that isn’t even committed to this that just comes across. I think we’re standing in the right spot. As you said, George, it may come by luck. I almost feel like there’s got to be a little bit more luck on this one. Because so many eyes have looked this over. And the fact that it still escapes some of the most brilliant minds on this that I can even think of Byron was very bright. But I mean, between the two of you and I should work with people like nobody can crack that line.

JM
It’s not just me and George Matt works on this. You have Brian everything.

Andy Abrams
I’m talking about everybody. This is the riddle of the Sphinx. That’s what this line is to me.

JM
Well, that’d be our challenge for you listeners. If you want a puzzle that’s going to take up a lot of your time. Try New York because we don’t even we can’t even be sure of a park that it’s in for this city, let alone a dig spot or even an area the park and many many have been gone over

George Ward
not even a park. We can’t even agree on a burro. You’re right.

JM
It’s it’s very, very difficult. So let’s not take up too much time. I know Ben’s waiting for his Andy, will you stay on with us to chat with Ben? I would love it. So right now we’d like to welcome to the show a man who has been a photographer his whole life. He’s been working professionally for over 25 years in New York. His client list is extremely impressive, including Random House Simon and Schuster St. Martin’s Fox Rothschild Mutual of America, IBM, United Way, University of Pennsylvania. The prestigious list goes on and on. And a long, long time ago in a galaxy not so far away. He was the photographer for the book. We are so enamored by the Secret a treasure hunt. like to welcome to the show, Mr. Ben esen. Thanks for joining us, Ben.

Ben Asen
Thank you. Thanks very much.

JM
You specialize in event corporate, nonprofit, editorial and portrait photography. Now are you sure you wanted to narrow your field of specialty down that

Ben Asen
much? Like going into like an intern?

JM
Okay, we’ll get into talking about the work you did a long time ago and Byron and everything. But let’s just talk a little bit about your work for now. What kind of shoots do you enjoy doing the most? and for what reasons because you’ve done this a long time. I mean, it seems like you have a lot of passion for what you do. And after meeting and studying people through a lens for over 25 years and getting to know all the personality types of people and dealing with every climate and circumstance you can think of on the job. You know, how do you keep it interesting? What do you like to do? What keeps you going?

Ben Asen
Well, one of my big interests really and it’s always been one of my big interest is just walking the streets of New York City and early in the morning late in the afternoon at night. Just see seeing what’s there. And if it interests me, I take the photograph. I’m working on a project now actually, on water towers in New York City, which is pretty unique to New York and a few other cities in America. I love shooting people. I used to love doing portraits. I don’t love doing portraits as much as I have have in the past. Because I think with the iPhone, and with digital photography, nobody wants to give you the time anymore. I used to spend an hour with the subject. If I get five minutes, I’m really lucky.

JM
How has technology changed the whole game? As you said, with the iPhone coming out, everybody’s a photographer now. And there’s apps that make the photos look right. And I noticed you spend a lot of time on light and shadow and making colors really pop out in your photos, do you have to drive at new techniques or new things to keep that separate from what somebody can do with their own phone?

Ben Asen
When people ask me the difference between film photography and digital photography? The pat answer I always give is, with digital photography, they want the photograph before I take it. Everybody wants things quickly, I still like to shoot like I’m shooting film, even though I’m not shooting film, I take my time. To me the light, it’s all about the light, it really is, you could take a picture of a fire escape, and depending on the light, it’s gonna look very different. I like early morning light, I like late afternoon light. I don’t like midday light too much. The thing with digital is a lot of people now they’ll shoot like 500 images of the same thing. And they’ll say, Well, you know, woman and I just got to be good. When we when we shot film, we didn’t have a screen in the back of our camera, we had a really take our time, and make sure that the photo was going to be right.

JM
If there’s something that you learn over time doing what you do in your craft and coming from an analog standpoint, other than light, I mean, I’m sure you can see certain light and kind of know how it’s gonna come out on a piece of developed paper after doing it for a long time. As far as shooting subjects, can you anticipate certain things because if you’re shooting digital, and you’d like you said you take 500? And of course, one of them’s going to be fine. But when you didn’t have the capability? Could you develop any kind of instinct for anticipating things with subjects? Or is that kind of a skill? I know nothing about photography. So

Ben Asen
I don’t know if it’s a skill. It’s just something that you’re born with. I could be with someone and photograph them. And even if I’m photographing them at a podium and they’re making a speech, and I photograph some pretty well known people, I sort of anticipate how they’re going to make a hand gesture or who they’re going to look at. And this has taken time. I didn’t learn this overnight. I’m not embarrassed to say I bring this over 40 years, okay. I’ve been doing this a long time, I used to tell people that I used to work for Mathew Brady, the civil war photographer. But it’s something you learn and you know what? I’m still learning. I’m still learning after all these years. And if you’re not learning anything else about photography, then you’re not really doing your homework and you’re not really learning you, Fred,

George Ward
do you think that digital photography is sort of a detriment to people who are just getting into photography? Do you think it kind of hinders their learning?

Ben Asen
I think it does a lot. In fact, in some of the colleges and universities, my son went to Ithaca College of film, he doesn’t have a photography, they have dark rooms, real dark room, and the students are still shooting with film cameras, because you got to learn about the shutter speed. They like you to learn photography without a screen in the back of the camera. I’m happy to hear that that’s happening. I was afraid that was not gonna happen anymore. But there are still barbers that are using dark rooms. Not a lot. The percentage is probably I’m sure to less than five or 10%. But I think it’s important to learn it from the analog perspective. I really do. That’s just me. Other people say I’m nuts, but I feel that’s the way it should we learned.

JM
I noticed you work with the Clintons. There were some other pretty prominent people in your repertoire. Billy Crystal, you did some headshots for is that right?

Ben Asen
I’ve actually worked with. I don’t call him the president. I shot Donald many years ago, Joe Biden was truly one of my favorite subjects ever got the photograph and meat that was really a thrill. But quite honestly, some of my favorite people I’ve ever photographed. They’re not famous people. They just people. I once photograph that 95 Or a woman that was in a nursing home. We’ve been a piano teacher and she told me that life for an hour, and she just blew me away. So I mean, you don’t have to be famous to be you know, it’s funny. People look at photographs. I took a picture of Jerry Seinfeld with my son once at a book signing and actually it was for Byron. It was a children’s book. It was called Halloween If I took a picture of my son with Jerry Seinfeld, my son was about 1314 years old. And people say, Boy, that’s a really great photograph. No, it’s not. It’s a snapshot. If that was his cousin, Johnny, it wouldn’t be a great photograph Jerry Seinfeld’s in it, it’s a great photograph. It was okay photograph,

JM
you add an icon to it. Okay, photograph, does it become great? I don’t know. It’s a matter of perspective, I guess,

Ben Asen
I guess, I guess. I mean, you know, I always told my sons because my sons are in the film, you know, trying to be in the film business, that remember that Jerry Seinfeld puts his socks on just like you and

JM
and speaking of the film business, I did notice that you’re getting a special mention on the movie dead list. What did how did that come about?

Ben Asen
Okay, so my son, Ivan Asen, who’s 32 years old, has just sold his first movie with his business partners. And they sold it to distribution company who sold it to Amazon Prime. And it’s also been sold to a streaming service in South Korea and the Philippines. It’s also on DVD. It’s a horror movie. It’s about an actor that can’t get work. So what does he do? He gets rid of the competition. I mentioned on IMDb because he thanked his mother and father and everyone thanked their mother and father for putting up with them, so but I really had nothing to do with the movie. But my son did. That’s his first one first film. He’s been in LA for about 10 years he worked on the Jay Leno Show is a page and your work for production companies. And he had this idea with with two other guys and it took them two and a half years. They made it and they sold it and it came out April and May 1. I’ve only watched it about 38 times for 99 a pop.

George Ward
You said it’s on Amazon Prime Now. Amazon Prime Yes, all of our listeners should know that there’s secrets. There’s clues about the secret in this movie, so you should go out and watch it.

JM
Well, speaking of the secret, I’d be remiss one of our team members, Justin who’s also a photographer wanted to ask what gear you were using when you shot the secret if you remember and if he wanted to know if you ever played with tilt shift or pinhole photography, I’ve

Ben Asen
never played with him both photography. I’ve done some Chilton ship. The cameras that used on that project, I shot with Nikon EPS, Nikon F tos, ft ns, which are the old Nikon’s from the movie blow up. And I also used a two and a quarter camera. That was a callus six, which is not even made anymore. And we shot mostly transparency film, we shot two and a quarter in 35 millimeter slide film, unfortunately, because of the budget of the book, all my beautiful color photographs, most of them except in the back cover are in black and white. Oh, so

JM
you shot it all in color.

Ben Asen
Well in color. We should everything, huh? Yeah, it was a budget thing. And you know, Bantam just said, I guess they said the Byron, this is what we’re gonna give you. And you know, in those days color was much more expensive. Now, of course your digital, you could convert it to black and white. Right. So

JM
let’s move on to the section that we’re probably the most interested in speaking with you about which is the man the myth, the legend Byron price. Okay, for the wiki page. For Byron, it doesn’t say a whole lot. It just says Byron price April 11 1953 to July 9, which was only 10 days ago as we tape this 2005 the 13th anniversary of his death, was an American writer, editor and publisher. He founded and served as president of Byron price visual publications and later of iBooks, Inc. It’s not a very auspicious heading for a man who’s accomplished as much as he has, in my opinion. Byron went to an Ivy League school, he went to UPenn he graduated with great honor. Went on to get a master’s at Stanford in 1972. He was an elementary teacher in 71, and made a comic book with a co worker and friend. And then a few years later in 74, he formed Byron Preiss visual publications, and the rest, as they say is history. Ben, how did you Let’s go back a little bit. How did you know Byron and how were you introduced to him?

Ben Asen
Okay, well, Byron and I, we grew up in Brooklyn, in a section of Brooklyn called Flatbush was a great experience. Man, I love growing up there. Byron’s parents and my parents were friends. I went to school with a girl in kindergarten, who was a cousin of Byron’s her parents were also friendly with my parents. We lived in the same neighborhood. I lived in an apartment building. But when I was 15 years old, we moved to an old house in Brooklyn, which was a block away from Byron’s Now Byron was four years younger than me. So in those days when you were 11, and a kid was seven, you weren’t friendly with them, but I had a brother Michael, who was friendly with Byron and they went to school together, they went to elementary school together, they went to middle school together. They weren’t super friendly. I actually became much more friendly with Byron than my brother Michael. So we always know him, you know, we went to barbecues together and different holidays, we would see him and his mother and my mother went shopping together. And you know, the mothers do. Our fathers play golf together, and you know, things like that. So that’s really how I knew him and we really lost touch when fire went off to college, because she went off to college after I went to college, he didn’t go to University of Pennsylvania before, and there are so many incredible people that come out of that college, whether they’re writers, doctors, lawyers. It’s an amazing school. It really is. You know, when Byron was 17 years old, he already was came up with an idea to teach inner city kids how to read with comic books. Byron, if you ever went to Byron’s bedroom in his mother father’s house, his bedroom floor was covered in comic books.

JM
So he was a comic book junkie from the get go, Oh,

Ben Asen
God, was he a comic book junkie? Superman, Batman, Green Lantern. You know, all the action heroes. He loves Superman. And actually, Byron’s father was an attorney. His name was Edmund price, and he actually helped. I don’t know the names of the two guys that created Superman, but, you know, they really got screwed royally out of money. Yeah, they did. They did. Biron got his father to take this case. And he actually got these guys some money before they passed away. Fascinating. Brian was always upset about that, like, how can these guys end up with no money and everyone’s making money off Superman, except for the two guys that wrote it.

JM
So as a kid, he got his dad to do something about it.

Ben Asen
He wasn’t a kid. He was probably in college by that. Okay. Yeah. And his father took on the case. I think he worked with another attorney and they got the guy some money.

George Ward
Wait a minute, wait a minute. Byron Price’s father was the lawyer for Siegel and Schuster.

Ben Asen
Yeah, he was not the lawyer of the Seagull and Schuster. He got his father to speak the Seagull and she was there. He took a case on and he got him some money.

George Ward
Wow, that’s, that’s crazy. It’s such a big, big story in the comic world too. And the thing that Veyron prices while there had played a part of that awesome and

Ben Asen
you know, I really love comics, when my kids were young environments. were young, we would you once drove us to Connecticut is a comic book museum or for I think, interstate 95. And we spent about five hours there and he was all whenever Byron came to visit us. Whenever we hung out together with my kids and his kids. He always brought both my sons are comic book pirates. Kids should read no matter what they read, they need to read. And comics is the way to get into reading. That’s great.

JM
It’s pretty cool. He did kind of an anti drug comic book back in 71. And that’s why

Ben Asen
we’re in until he passed away, was incredibly anti drug. He never did anything. He didn’t even drink that much. He and a guy named rich, the Renko. I think his name was Brixton Franco, who was a comic book writer and illustrator. They ended up doing a comic book together for the inner city kids about not taking heroin, not doing drugs, and became a pretty successful company. No idea if it’s around anymore. I have no idea. Work actually spoke at his funeral.

JM
You said that when Byron went off to college, you kind of lost track and that how did you reconnect after that?

Ben Asen
I gotta tell you, one day, I was living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at the time, and I got a phone call it was Byron. And he said something like, you know, I Dad saw each other at synagogue, it was one of the holidays. And I didn’t go and Byron was there. And he said, oh, you should call Ben you know, Ben’s a photographer now and you’re, you know, trying to be a book publisher, blah, blah, blah. And you know, he called me we got together and it’s like, all of a sudden, we had this really good friends. Because as kids, we weren’t that friendly. I mean, we knew each other a lot. But he was four years younger. And you know, when you’re younger, four years is a lot of years when you’re older. Yeah, for us is nothing. I have friends that are 15 years older than me now. I don’t even think about it. And he told me he was starting a publishing company and, you know, maybe down the line. We could do some work together. I think the first book project I actually did for him was a book on the Beach Boys. Byron was a huge beach boy fan. He was a Beach Boys fan. Yes. And he actually spent a couple of months with the Beach Boys in I think at the University of Iowa. There’s a meditation center. And you know, The Beach Boys really into meditation. Byron was not into meditation, but he got to interview the Beach Boys and then he ended up doing this ridiculous book on the beach was Jo Ellen. Did some of the soft sculptures of The Beach Boys and I found someone to sculpt TruSeq that was the first project I did for Byron.

JM
This story just keeps getting bored and credible as we go. This is fantastic. You did some projects before the secret. Do you ever remember him talking about a treasure hunt or doing anything like this before he actually did it? Did he keep it under wraps until it was time to do it? Did he discuss it with you? Or no,

Ben Asen
as far as I know, I can’t say whether he talked to anyone about it. But he didn’t talk to me about it. And when he brought me into the project and truth explained to me, I said, what? I still don’t know. I mean, honestly, it’s how many years later and I’m still not sure what that books about?

George Ward
Join join the Club.

JM
You’re not alone. When we spoke to Jo Ellen, about some of the photoshoots she had some funny and interesting stories about them, specifically some things about how many young men and Monty Ervin and another time when she thought one of the actors was a vagrant. What do you recall about some of those photo shoots back then Do you can you remember what was going on?

Ben Asen
In the old days? I was a big baseball fan. I’m not a big baseball fan anymore. I think they all make too much money. It’s called playing baseball not working baseball. Anyway, firing wanted to give Willie Mays but you know, that was like impossible. Okay. So we got Monte Irvin and I said great. Matthew urban knows he was a great baseball player. We did this in Byron’s apartment. He had a little duplex, one bedroom apartment. On the east side, Joe Allen came, she brought this baseball fairy with these wings on it then just like unbelievable. And mighty urban walked in with, you know, in a suit. I think he was working

for Major League Baseball, like as an announcer or something.

No, he was working either in diversity or HR. Very nice man or real gentleman. So we tried to explain to those are going to do I think he felt like, What the hell am I doing here? Byron always had a way of convincing people. But the funny thing is, is that there was a delegate test and around the corner, Byron ordered in a couple of pastrami and corned beef sandwiches and we have to do a photoshoot. We sat around eating corned beef and pastrami with Matthew urban. And I was asked a lot of questions about baseball. It was a great experience. For me. I can’t say it was a great experience for Matthew urban, but very nice, but they had a young man story. That’s the one that Byron was a member of the Friars Club, which is, you know, a pretty well known entertainment organization, you know, the Atlanta actors and comedians, and we used to go there with Byron and his wife and my wife and my kids went there Halloween parties. So we’re gonna shoot any young men with a joke fairy for the book. And we’re gonna do it at the Friars Club. And I got there early, I scattered out this room. It had a big wing chair with big arms on and I said, Let’s shoot any young man here. So Henny Aman comes in, and he’s any Sandy young man. He’s just rattled off one job after another. I stabbed him in the chair. I tell him what I wanted to do. I start shooting away. And then he goes, Okay, I’m done. Byron, where’s my check? Never forget that. I think he paid him $100 Oh, my God,

JM
how long did he’s actually sit in the chair.

Ben Asen
He sat there for about 15 minutes or so. Okay, he must have told about. I don’t know how many jokes and I tried to call my father that night. You know, I just couldn’t remember most of the jokes even though it was so funny. My father was like, wait, you get to shoot any young and how great is that? He didn’t say take my wife a couple of times. So anyway, that was really a lot of fun. But you know, with the sculptures, we had so many I was sort of idle. I’ve been married about a year. And Byron started saying to me, you know, we need to shoot these sculptures in other cities. Right.

JM
I was gonna ask you about that. I noticed that some of they’re not all in New York City. We did find a couple of the places Columbus Circle and some other things. But yeah, there’s there’s some there all over the place. There’s some in Chicago right San Fran, San

Ben Asen
Francisco, Chicago. We went to Washington DC we shot the I forgot what that sculpture is called the one with the eagle with the two heads. Oh, yeah. It’s called the left wing simp and the right wing truck. It was an eagle with two heads. I said to Byron, my wife and I are going down to Washington for the weekend. He said you’re taking that with you. You’re gonna shoot this in Washington, DC. So we went to the Capitol. We went to the front lawn of the Capitol, which is now with the steps of the capitol as it’s like the back of the capital, right. I put it down. I used a flash because even though it was sunny, I wanted to make the picture pop. The color was beautiful. And it’s really unfortunate that it’s in black, white. So and a few people stopped this. And so what we’re doing I just said, I’m, I’m shooting this thing for a book project. I didn’t tell them what it was about because I was told them that too. Could you imagine me taking that sculpture to the Capitol now and taking that photograph? You’d never way they would have confiscated the sculpture. Right?

JM
They’ve got a confiscated you wouldn’t even need

Andy Abrams
this, right? That’s hysterical.

Ben Asen
It was really pretty funny. We went to Florida, actually went to Florida to a place called Kendall. My uncle owns some property out there was undeveloped land and we shot some things out there. There’s a picture. It’s the preppy something. It’s the alligator. It’s an alligator. Okay. It’s like a cost alligator.

Oh, right. I remember that one. We shot in front of Brooks Brothers.

There’s a picture of very pretty woman’s legs. She’s wearing shorts and shoes. That’s actually my wife,

JM
Jo Ellen had mentioned that Byron’s arm is in a few shots and

Ben Asen
resolves in a couple. We shot that gin rummy. We shot him in an alleyway. He was an actor, actually, I found them. I was doing a lot of headshots in those days, you know, that actors on the Upper West Side. And I met this guy, I don’t even remember his name. It’s so long ago. And I said, you know, we’re doing a book, money to pay you. He said, I’ll do it. And we took him to an alleyway a dark alleyway at night, down in Chinatown. And I think Biden I think paid him in dumplings in

Andy Abrams
the prep school on page 5262, that’s your wife with an alligator.

Ben Asen
My wife’s legs and let me tell you this hysterical? It looks the same. Now.

JM
The gin rummy must have been the one where Joellen was the where she thought the actor was the was the actual vagrant. No, he

Ben Asen
was not an actual beggar. No, it was a makeup he. He came down. It was filthy dirty and we shot him. There’s great. There’s the best is the sweat steps, which we shot actually, in LA, along the main street there in Santa Monica, with all the palm trees in the background. It’s like, we shot that. And in San Francisco. We shot stuff on my friends back porch. We really went over. The one that I liked a lot is the one that Jo Ellen. It was sort of a take off on Robert Morley. It’s the unreal estate brokers. Yes. This woman said it’s actually a man in drag. And actually Robin Morley, I think it’s based on Robin Morley because she did a Robin Morley stuffed sculpture for I believe it’s the 25th anniversary, Playboy magazine. And it actually Marlon Brando was the interview that month, and I shot them, I actually shot the Robert Morley for her. But anyway, my uncle had land out in Kendall, which is near Miami, we shot that sculpture there. I put it in a carry bag and went on the plane with it. But you know, in those days, there were no metal. He just walked on, you know, he just walked on with the sculptures. I mean, nobody has just

JM
said, Wait a minute, there’s something a little mysterious going on here. You had seems like you went to a lot of locations. But yet the book was still in black and white. That’s right. So the trips, put it over budget, could we have had color photos, Ben, if you just didn’t go to Miami that one last time.

Ben Asen
I’m gonna tell you something. I am not going to talk about what how much I get paid or anything. But I actually took, I took money upfront, I decided I was gonna go with percentage. And I just said, you know, it’s I love Byron, you know, we were very good friends. I said, Listen, whatever it takes to do it. There’s the one of the small business man, it’s on the steps of 60 Center Street where whenever you see somebody getting indicted, they’re always you know, walking down the steps, right? That picture was based on a very famous attorney, who sued everybody, I can’t remember his name. But there had been a picture in the paper, I’m running down those steps and the Daily News. Based in that photograph, Joellen made the sculpture and I said to Byron, we’re gonna go back to 60 cent history. We went there during the week, and they would not let us shoot there. So we went back on a Saturday or Sunday when no one was around. You know, listen, there were no surveillance cameras in 1981. You know, it was a different world. This has been a lot more difficult to do now. I think. I kind of liked those pictures. I liked the one of the guy where he’s standing, looking at and as the sun’s coming, there’s a long shadow and and it was all shot

JM
in color. You help pick some of these locations, or did Byron pick all these locations? I

Ben Asen
gave Byron a lot of suggestions. In fact, The the Philharmonic arc on page 103. I know a woman but you know Margo Sappington, who was the choreographer of the famous musical? Oh, Calcutta, which was a pornographic? Yes, for my musical many years ago. And Margot’s husband was an actor, and he had access to city center. I shot those pictures on the stage and in the seats of the city center where Alvin Ailey Dance Company performs and wow, it was, that was a lot of fun. And the great thing about that is that when Joelle and made that sculpture, he came up with the idea right away, the conductor, his teeth are piano keys. Yeah,

Andy Abrams
piano keys.

Ben Asen
I still have all the color pictures, I have all the transparencies.

JM
Wow, perhaps you could scan a couple of them and we could show him to the folks at home who are listening and watching.

Ben Asen
Maybe we’ll do that down the line. sure that that would be a really wonderful idea. I’d like to do that.

JM
Speaking of the book, it seems like the creation of the book itself was only loosely directed by Byron Joelle and said the work sort of unfolded as she got the pages from Sean Kelly and Ted Man. Is this how the characters in the story were created sort of by the social experiment of putting a bunch of talented people together and seeing what came out of it or did Byron kind of did he direct this project more than we know?

Ben Asen
Well, he directed a lot. But I have to tell you, I really can’t answer that question. You know, the two writers was Sean Kelly and Ted Man and they were from National Lampoon. And you know, Byron wrote for National Lampoon, he he did a comic strip for them. I don’t know how much they even had to do with it. But I’ll tell you, the illustrators, John Powell and Carl John Porat. Oh, Winton, Loy. These guys were brilliant, fairings a lot of time with them discussing what he wanted in the

JM
illustrations. The game itself was all Byron, right?

Ben Asen
Yes, as far as I know, it was all Byron, after

JM
the Chicago cast was found in in the 80s. Some time went by, then just nothing kind of happened. And Byron seemed to go on with his own life and his publishing career. And up until Andy here, and Brian found the one in 2004. Nothing really happened. Now. You guys were friends during that period? Did he ever lament to you about regretting that the book Never did better? Or was he Was he happy with what happened with? Did he regret it? Did he ever say anything about it?

Ben Asen
I don’t think you regretted it. I do. Remember once we’re having a talk. And we’ve been talking about the May we talked about the book a few times over the years. He said, Boy, he said, I really did a great job hiding those things. Nobody has found any. But you know, Byron, it’s, the funny thing about that is, is that Byron used to lose things all the time. The beach boy book, I had, again, an eight by 10 prints for the book. I gave him the pictures. He was at his desk. And three weeks later, then I can’t find the pictures. All right, Byron, I’m making new pictures. So I go to his office, I give him the pictures. His desk is piled up with stuff. I mean, I don’t want to say junk, but paper, a lot of paper. And he went off to the bathroom. And I’m seeing at his desk, and I’m looking under a pile of papers. And under that pile of papers, I recognize that envelope. And I Oh, my God, Byron, these are the original photographs. I can’t believe I didn’t see him.

JM
It’s funny because Andy, when you and Brian went and met him and got the gem from him in 2004, didn’t Brian or you describe him kind of like having this absent minded Professor kind of air to him. And one of

Andy Abrams
the first things that jumped out at us it was you’re telling that story, then and that was exactly the way he appeared when we met him that day. It’s so funny, even when we went to the safe deposit box, and he took out the jewel. I think we told the story. But we showed up at the bank and he was like an excited kid. And he goes into the safe deposit later. But he goes boy, I haven’t been down here in a long time. And he’s sifting through and the things he’s tossing aside. Oh, here’s this is that it goes Oh, look at this. Bonds. He didn’t know I have bonds in the box. I think he made more money than we did. He just kept finding things that he had no idea that he knew were there. And Brian said he’s like an absent minded professor.

Ben Asen
Is that bank in New York? You’re talking? Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Andy Abrams
We went to the bank in New York.

Ben Asen
I’ve never tried had to find the treasures. I do have a hunch, I would find it hard to believe that there isn’t one of these jewels that is buried in Brooklyn. There has to be one in Brooklyn. I don’t care what the writing is in a book that has one Brooklyn. He loved Brooklyn, there

JM
is a specific verse and image that we attribute to New York. And there’s a kind of a clue, a nod to George Gershwin in there. And we had seen on a few interviews with his daughters, and I think maybe Sandy was in on it too, that mentioned that he was a big George Gershwin fan. Ken, Would you concur with that?

Ben Asen
I’m a big George Gershwin fan. I can’t actually because I don’t I don’t know if we’ve even spoken about George Grossman together.

JM
Right now. If it was a comic book, that’d be an easier answer.

Ben Asen
I don’t think he did a comic on George Gershwin. But what a great comic, classic comic of George Gershwin. Oh, we never spoken about it. But it’s Gershon from Brooklyn. I was to Gershon was from Manhattan.

JM
He was born in Brooklyn, but he lived in Manhattan.

Ben Asen
I just been born in Brooklyn. Okay. Okay. All right. I know we didn’t go to Midwood High School where Byron and I went, because Midwood wasn’t built that maybe it wasn’t built in 1945. So I know it wasn’t there. What I still have a feeling. And I, that something’s bearing in Brooklyn, and I have an idea where it might be, but I’ve never said it to anyone.

JM
We may we may cut that from the podcast, unless you want your email box to contain about 30 or 40 emails a week, you will get lots of

George Ward
messages now. No,

Ben Asen
I know. I said Staten Island.

Andy Abrams
It’s interesting, because I spent the day in Brooklyn with his two daughters, Kara. And blam. Yes, they were so nice. They walked me around Brooklyn. We went to I’m wondering if that was the street you’re talking about we we went back to where I thought they said where he was born wasn’t far from Prospect Park. I remember. We said, Dale neighborhood you were talking about because they showed me the house?

Ben Asen
Was it a wooden house? Yes. That’s where he grew up. I don’t know when they moved in there. I’m not sure. Maybe he was born in a hospital and just went right to that house.

Andy Abrams
They said this was their father. They never girls, but this is this is where their father grew up. It was within a stone’s throw almost of Prospect Park. And I remember walking around Prospect Park with them that day, because they also felt like how could it not be that he would have put something here in Brooklyn because this was where he was. This is where he grew up. They shared your your same type of theory that it just made so much sense that he would have done something in Brooklyn.

George Ward
You guys are gonna make one person online very happy because there’s one person in New York, who is convinced it’s Prospect Park, and she is about to go nuts when she hears this.

Ben Asen
I can’t believe is not one buried in Brooklyn. Yeah.

JM
When the book came out, did you pick it up and look at it and try and figure out what was going on? No.

George Ward
That was a wise choice.

JM
I got my 500 bucks and I’m out of here.

Ben Asen
This is what I did. I went to every bookstore where it was we pull him out halfway. Okay. bookstores now have they put the books in the cover space out? That’s what I did. I never looked for the treasure. I don’t even know why I just never did. So it just that wasn’t what appealed to me about the book. To me. The book to me, was just the experience with Joelle and and Byron going out and photographing these soft sculptures. I always wish because Byron loved videotaping everything. He would videotape my kids, his kids when we got together. He had a house on Long Island. We got there for the weekend. He’d always been videotaped. If there had been VHS when we did this

would have been great. Oh, my God, he would have been everything.

JM
I don’t remember where I heard it online somewhere that there was a promotional video made for the book itself. Do you recall anything like this?

Ben Asen
No, I really don’t. I think if there was I wish I would have remembered that. I don’t think there was but I could be wrong. I mean, but I never saw it. I never saw it.

George Ward
When you talk to artists. When you talk to writers, they always kind of say the same thing that publishers are are horrible. They’re monsters. But everything that you hear about people who work for Byron, they talk about it’s not like a job that you have. It’s just kind of like a group of friends getting together and sort of seeing what comes out of that. He loves

Ben Asen
helping people. If you were a young graphic designer, a young photographer, a young writer, he always gave me a shot. He always gave you a shot. He took in kids as interns were the worst interns. He was you know, kids in high school would come and work in his office. He loved helping people. He did not have a mean bone in his body.

JM
Do you know if he was married to Sandy? Before after the book came out?

Ben Asen
I think it was after the book. I think they got married 82 or 83? If I’m not mistaken, I got married at I think I think they got married. Even maybe eating four definitely was not when the book came that they went.

JM
It was after that. Okay. You remain friends all the way up through?

Ben Asen
Yeah, we were like best friends. We did a lot of stuff together.

George Ward
What do you think you would think about this? This is what 30 some odd years later after this book has been published, it’s still sort of going strong. It’s still got this cult following. People are still following it. People are still trying to work it out. What do you think he would think about that?

Ben Asen
I think he would embrace it. This is what Byron was all about. He loves things like this. I mean, God has 40 years later, and we’ll see what publisher or what author wouldn’t, wouldn’t want this to happen. Right? Talking about it. I mean, you know, it’s, it’s incredible. I mean, it really is incredible. He would have embraced it. And he would have been on maybe he would have done a second book. Who knows?

JM
Well, it seemed like that was the intention. I mean, since all the hoopla has happened, have you been getting any strange emails or calls?

Ben Asen
I’ve gotten a couple of messengers on Facebook and a couple emails that everyone calls me mister ation, which really bothers me. What’s the book is so you probably think I’m in a rocking chair or something. I don’t know. Go to the gym, like four days a week, I’m pretty good shape. But if people ask me questions, I miss something weird about how they contacted me. I have just decided not to contact. There’s one guy that I he I think he either works at Georgetown college, or is a student now or professor. He contacted me and I said, Sure. Give me a call. He’s never called me. So I don’t know. Yeah. I’m very excited that you found that one. It’s fantastic. And that was in 2004. Right. 2004. It’s great that you did it before Brian passed away. And that

Andy Abrams
was probably the most amazing part, right? Because my friend who had been doing it, he went to UPenn. Also, he was obsessed with the book. And 20 years later, we’re working in a law firm together. And he got me involved. We only say that the timing of it was it had to be so perfect. Because to find it, and then to get the chance to meet him and spend an afternoon having lunch and talking. That was the thrill. I mean that the fine was great. But if it had been different, it’s a very small world. The day he passed away. I was talking to my cultural midwife, and she said she’s going to pay a Shiva call that night, miss it. Oh, sorry to hear. And I said what happened? She said, Oh, a friend of mine, I used to work with publishing, her husband died. And I just heard that Byron Preiss, the author of this book, The Secret of that, it turns out her very good friend was Byron’s wife, I mean, in such a small world is that that’s the guy who wrote the book that I ran to Cleveland years, last year to go fine. So had it happened differently. And we found it after his passing, that it wouldn’t have met this much. It was just such a thrill to go in. And even for him when he came out here it comes out in this, you know, in a suit and tie and always a certain type, suit and tie very dapper looking. But he walks out and the little kid and then came out because I mean, he started taking pictures with us because he wanted to send to his wife and he said to tell so Oh, she thought it was crazy when I go run around with my shovel. And he was excited that years later, somebody had found one and had come to him. It was kind of thrilling for him to

Ben Asen
it really was fun. That’s the kitten Byron. Yeah. Always worth.

Andy Abrams
When you look at page 48, that fantastic shot that you guys took. It’s one of the color pictures. I have to know. I don’t know if you remember where it was taken out there Metis with the search, but how did you set that shot up? How long did it take? It must have been unbelievable.

Ben Asen
Not as long as I would have liked the span. I could tell you that. on Riverside Drive the Veterans Memorial, it’s not Grant’s tomb. I think it’s the Veterans Memorial. When I took I was treated. It’s either in the high 80s or 90s. I think Grant’s tomb is up a little bit higher. Yes, that’s where we shot it. And we brought all the scopes out. There was me, Byron and Joe Allen. I don’t think anyone else was with us. That color shot is really really poorly reproduced. That’s all I could say. Thank you bantham.

Andy Abrams
I mean, you guys must have had so much fun. Were there people around watching you said it must have been crazy,

Ben Asen
absolutely crazy. In fact, there’s a little bit of noise because I’m trying to get this shot done, we don’t have a lot of time. I mean, I did a pet.com book, which is another podcast with about the sock puppet. And we photographed this puppet with dogs in Greenwich Village. And we, we always had people stopping us and talking to us about the fact the sock puppet and dogs. So I mean, that one

Andy Abrams
in particular that struck me because I figured she must have taken one or two of these figurines with her each photoshoot. But for this one, I mean, you must have had 25 of them in one spot. It’s just so amazing.

Ben Asen
And it was also very cold out. It was only a few days after we shot the that woman in the black dress in the snow. I can’t remember what it is. I know what agents are on tongra on page one. That’s in Central Park. Wow. Reality snowstorm the day before. And I actually called Byron because I had seen the sculpture of Byron, this would look great in the snow. Oh, that’s awesome, though. We took it out. And we did it in the snow.

Andy Abrams
PAGE 55 shows the key black and white with the fair figure. What do you remember that Michelle? It was just in the in the field? It’s a great picture.

Ben Asen
Probably Central Park. We get a lot of stuff in Central Park.

Andy Abrams
He did. Yeah. The one on page 67. The pilgrim of that of the statute that’s over by the that’s by the entrance to Central Park and Columbus, isn’t it? That’s exactly right. Oh, you guys must have walked through Central Park and had a field day.

Ben Asen
That’s the great thing about shooting in New York City. plenty of places to shoot. Yeah. So we shot that there. Yeah,

Andy Abrams
I got two more for you that I always wondered about the one on where is she the spirit of 76? On page 148 149. That is from the Staten Island Ferry right?

Ben Asen
Oh, yes. Oh, yeah. That one. In fact, I was talking to her well, in this afternoon about that picture. And I said, Well, you know, and here’s the World Trade Center. Trade Center, right? This was 20 years before 911.

Andy Abrams
Right? I mean, I remember sitting down ferry one day, and I was sitting in those wooden seats. And I said, Wait a second, this is that picture, and went back going to check the book. And then I saw the shot of her pose with this twin terrace behind it. I mean, how crazy is it that you got that shot? It’s just fantastic.

Ben Asen
Actually, that wasn’t even supposed to be shot like that. But what happened was, we were going out towards Staten Island. And we were standing there, I said fine. Why don’t we take a picture of the sculpture here? He said, Yeah, but let’s do it afterwards, because I want to make sure it doesn’t fall into the water.

Andy Abrams
I’m gonna put a quick end to the shoot. I

Ben Asen
have one thing I do have to say to you that on eBay right now with one hour 28 minutes left, one of the original paperbacks is 16 bits of $401.

George Ward
That’s a guy from our Facebook page. Him and his wife are going to Laos for some sort of Doctors Without Borders type thing. He’s using that to raise money.

Andy Abrams
I have one more for you, page 1/44. And you guys I’m sorry. You guys probably already know this because these are some of the smartest guys who ever worked on this treasure island but on the bottom of page 144 Then cannon that’s pictured on the bottom of page 144. The Wooly Bully.

Ben Asen
I think that’s a Long Island.

George Ward
It’s not a St. Augustine. It’s not

Ben Asen
secured. You would know that that was shot somewhere on Long Island. I can’t remember where it might have been on the North Shore, maybe like around Oyster Bay or Yes, it was Oyster Bay because you know what? Because Teddy Roosevelt’s house. Oh, yes. Well, that’s

Andy Abrams
so cool.

Ben Asen
I just remember that. And I’ve been to that house a couple of that’s a great house door. That’s better than Hyde Park any day. That was shot in Oyster Bay. Byron and I, we you know, we took drives we you know, pharmacy, alright, we’re gonna go to Long Island shoot this picture. And that’s what we did.

Andy Abrams
Amazing. Amazing. The creativity that went to just amazing.

George Ward
We were looking at one of the photos, it’s a photo of a newsstand and we were able to use the covers of the magazines to date when the photo was taken down to the week. How close to the publication date did you guys were you still taking pictures? Was it kind of down to the wire? Like we have to get this in now?

Ben Asen
I know it took another like at least three, four months before that book came out. At least

George Ward
it was a few months. But I felt that was like a really short time and publishing but I’m not a publisher, so I don’t

Ben Asen
I kinda remember that new Stan was not too far from where Byron lived on the Upper East Side.

Andy Abrams
You’re talking about page 117 The Phantasma glory?

George Ward
That’s right. Yes, yes, that’s it. You

Ben Asen
know, I did a few in black and white towards the end because Byron already told me that they had made a decision. These pictures were going to be done in black and white.

JM
Well, Ben, you know, we spent too much money on the Florida and DC trips. The book is gonna have to be in black and white.

Ben Asen
All right, so it’s my fault. Like they blame it

Andy Abrams
on pain. Do you have one? I mean, that one you talked about from Central Park, the time to torque and how you pronounce it in the snow is such a stunning picture. Do you have one that was a particular favorite either because of the way you shot it or because of the story associated with it? Well,

Ben Asen
that is one of my favorites, actually. I mean, I had a lot of favorites. I like to fill them out of court because never been a city center. And that’s the big stage. And we had this thing like peering out behind the curtain. And they had the curtain guy, they would like pull the curtain for us. And he’d let me pull the curtain once you know. That’s kind of like an incredible experience. Really, that was really just a lot of fun.

Andy Abrams
That was on page 104. I’m looking at it right now behind the curtain. That is an awesome shot.

Ben Asen
Of all the pictures in the book. Oh my gosh, I’m so political. And we’re going through such an awful time in America and the world not just America, that left wing and right wing trug this something that’s so timely that that photograph. I don’t want to go into a person neck, but I kind of wish I could put this picture in this paper right now.

Andy Abrams
I’m looking at it right now. PAGE 141 39. Yes. Oh, right. 139 I don’t have the capital, of course.

Ben Asen
In front of the Capitol. Yeah. I actually forgot that. I don’t know why, you know, why did they run that picture twice? kind of silly. Anyway, I guess they needed they had a blank piece of paper and they needed to fill it up.

Andy Abrams
Because it was a great one. Come on. That is fantastic. But

Ben Asen
you know, the illustrators the illustration, so I just incredible. It’s not just my photograph. Those illustrators were brilliant.

JM
We would love to talk to Mr. Powell in car or you know, I don’t know if I should call him Mr. People get offended but or Mr. Berard? Either one of those guys, I think people bother John Powell and car quite a bit in

Ben Asen
the in that on that film, the one that was on the on the travel station.

JM
Yeah, Andy was on that too. It was kind of creepy. Seeing some actor playing Byron, I think it was great that you were able to come on and give us some much needed backstory on Byron, because there’s just very little out there. There’s the few things that we have from the press pieces he did on the book for the two found casks. But that’s really about it. We don’t know too much more about the guy and I think you were able to shed some light on who he was as a person, which is great.

Ben Asen
He loved kids. It love getting kids to read. That was like a big thing in his life. They really well, he did so many books for kids. I mean, and you know, he did the first CD ROM books. He didn’t before Kindle was around, that’s for sure. He was doing books on see. I mean, one of the first books he did was with Jerry Seinfeld. He did a Jerry Seinfeld book on a CD.

JM
I know he was doing the the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I did a lot of those when I was a kid. He was definitely ahead of his time there was I saw a picture with him sitting at a computer with Arthur C. Clarke. Back in the 70s. That’s my Oh, you took that?

Ben Asen
Wow, we actually the first time that Arthur C. Clarke was in a room at the Waldorf Astoria.

JM
Well, you’re gonna have to tell us this one. I can’t let you go without here.

Ben Asen
Byron was doing a book and he needed you know, with off the seat clock. I forgot the name of the book. He needed and also shot, very low budget. Call Ben ace and very low budget. I like Roger Corman, you know, it’s like he said, Alright, so we’re gonna go to his hotel room. I go great. This is what goes into the water for stories at the world. Alright, the wall duck, said about 20 minutes with a guy and he was very, very nice. I actually photograph for Byron, Isaac Asimov for a book The day after the space shuttle, not the number of days the space shuttle launch with the astronauts were killed.

JM
The Challenger. Oh, with the teacher. Yeah, we actually

Ben Asen
did that. And Isaac Asimov was very nice, but he’s very down that day. And it turned out he went to the same high school as my uncle and my dad. And when I told him that, he said, Well, what year did your father graduate? And I told him, and he went up, he got his yearbook and when he brought it down, my uncle was in the picture next to Isaac Asimov. Oh my God come ation, and Asimov

JM
know what is going on with these connections here. Byron was running with some of the troubadours. I mean, he’s worked for National Lampoon. These are the people that created entertainment in the 70s. He’s hanging out with Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov. He’s got Monte Irvin in his apartment. I mean, what was really going on here with you?

Ben Asen
I called my uncle to say, you know, I photographed Isaac Asimov. I never been to the high school the monocles came back and said, Well, you never asked me.

Andy Abrams
They’re right next to each other and the yearbook. Think about that as often as and that’s amazing. Kelly knew

Ben Asen
each other. Unbelievable daily news show.

JM
And just real quickly, you would say that Byron had a pretty good understanding of what computers were going to turn into as far as where we are with the internet right now. Did he? Have he ever talked to you about that?

Ben Asen
Oh, yeah, I mean, he helped me pick out my first computer was the gateway, a gateway 2000. Those aren’t even around anymore. And within six months after I got that computer, he was giving me all these CD ROMs for my kids, you know, remember the CD ROMs Carmen Sandiego? Oh, yeah, absolutely. Carmen Sandiego. Well, all those he didn’t do that. But he was trying to tell me that this is the way kids were going to learn through computers. And I said, Nice, crazy anyway, obviously, he was right, I was wrong.

JM
We’re curious. There’s some people who maintain in regards to the treasure hunt that the sense it was made in 1981, that it wasn’t intended that people working on the hunt would discuss or talk to each other, they wouldn’t even know who they were. And I maintained that he had a very good understanding of what computers were going to do and what the internet would become. And so it’s been a debate for a while amongst some of us older searchers as to what his intentions were, as far as people being able to communicate with each other who were working on this as it is. Now,

Ben Asen
it’s hard to believe that 1985 86 When the first computers were when people buying the first computers, that anybody knew that there’d be a Google search engine, but if anybody knew was going to happen, it would be viral. And by the way, the books still have $401 with an hour and 16 minutes left. Oh,

JM
just wait. It’ll get sniped. Yeah, those books have been going for quite a bit of money lately, the original ones and it’s, you think the black and white was bad. Have you seen the repress of the book?

Ben Asen
on Amazon, and they’re pretty horrendous.

George Ward
They’re not good. You would not be proud of your of your work being in

Ben Asen
it. You know, I want to actually bought a copy of the book from a homeless person. What? There was a guy in the street selling books like 20 years ago. Come on. Yeah, he was selling the secret. I said, I’m great. I’m on. I’m now being so I bought it for $2. It was a really good investment. Yes, for $1. Again, today,

JM
you didn’t want to demean your work.

Ben Asen
I didn’t even say I wish to do with the book. I just I said, Oh, what an interesting book, I think I’ll buy it. I have like six copies, I can only find one copy.

JM
If you ever want to take a little vacation. You got some seed money there.

Ben Asen
Maybe I could do a book on finding the

Andy Abrams
copies of the book. And I have one other I have one other question for you just because you brought it up as a personal question. So when you were talking about the that television show The expedition unknown, and you had kind of a sad tone in your voice like you felt it wasn’t done? Well? Did you know it was coming out? Did you not like it? Did you trade badly? What were your thoughts on

Ben Asen
that? Did not know is coming out. And a few days before it came out? Sandy told me. So I said, All right, I’ll take a look. My wife and I, we sat down and we watched it. And I just didn’t like the way it was done. I didn’t like the interview with the girls. They were saying things that I don’t even know how they can know this, because they were so young when the book they weren’t even born when the book came out. Right. And they’re two very bright girls. I mean, Kara is a filmmaker now to and Blair works for a big talent agent, I think I think Biden would be incredibly, incredibly proud of them right now.

Andy Abrams
They’re really doing well. But I didn’t think about it from the perspective of someone who was one of his best friends. And it must have been hard to watch. And I guess when you said, seeing him portrayed by someone, I don’t know if she’d been dead, or it just felt bad to watch the will say that. I thought it had its most enduring quality and that a lot of people paid attention to it. And when you think about I mean, I wound up talking to the daughters again afterwards. And they were excited to see their father, it seemed like anyone would talk to Cara, to see their fathers were put out there again, because it does always come back to this for me that here’s a bunch of grown men. I mean, I’m 51. And we’re spending a night talking about Byron and a treasure hunt and this childlike quality that goes along with it. And it fits in perfectly, whether he wanted to help people learn to read, or he wanted adults to stay in touch with that childlike quality themselves. There is something so magical about it that I think transcends and I appreciated the shelf for that more than anything that it opened up the work to a bunch of other people who got to see it and might not have known about

Ben Asen
I have to agree with that. I just I didn’t like the actor who portrayed buyer and he just was nothing like Byron Woody Allen Navy as someone who’s like, you know, who’s absent minded actor and he

Andy Abrams
just set a great call. That’s the good question. How would you have cast that role?

Ben Asen
Okay, so, I’m trying to think, you know, like, maybe if, I don’t know like, if Jason Alexander was like a little spinner or if Michael Richard would shorter, a little heavier.

Andy Abrams
That’s so funny.

Ben Asen
I think of any actor right now offhand that can play I’m sure if I I’ll probably think of it later. But I was just I just said they didn’t do any research on the kind of person he was because No, they didn’t. They didn’t do like, it’s like getting Brad Pitt to play Woody Allen. Right. That’s the only analogy I can think of right now. But it just didn’t capture his essence. Yeah, exactly. No,

JM
it seemed like a very rushed kind of a puff piece that they did. They didn’t take a lot of time to go over how everything worked. And I think it left people interested, but not really knowing really what was going on still, like they knew about it. But the series didn’t kind of tell them any more than they knew coming into it just that it was it just told them that they were interested in it, I guess.

Andy Abrams
Yeah. When you think about it, though, guys, right? Like, even here, we’re talking to Ben, you could go through every picture in this book, and tell a story attached to every picture that would thrill the three of us just to hear and you would Oh my God ever met, just like when he said I remember being ill Teddy Roosevelt, right. Like, it’s so exciting. And to even try to capture the essence of what took place here in 44 minutes with commercials, right? So it’s impossible. It’s impossible. So it was peripheral. I mean, it was very surfacing. I’m happy that it did. I was walking in court today. And somebody came up to me and said, What’s your question is? Is it? Your that are you that treasure hunter, I almost fell over laughing. I guess they had shown the rerun of the show last week or something two weeks ago? And I said, okay, and I thought, No, I’m your public defender. But yes, I’m also I am also that treasure. He had more faith in me after knowing that than he had when I first took the case. So

Ben Asen
now they know you’re a public defender. I think Byron would even like that more. That’s when they stay here.

JM
Well, Ben, thank you for joining us today. Is there a website that people can check out your work at

Ben Asen
www Benasen.com.

JM
I’d like

to thank Andy Abrams for taking the time to join us tonight. It’s always fun to have him on. And a special thanks again to Ben esen for sharing some history about Byron price and his involvement with the book. That does it for this episode, please search for and like our Facebook page, the secret podcast and feel free to participate in our city groups. You can find this podcast as well as the rest of the series at WWW dot the number 12 And then the word treasures.com www dot 12 treasures.com. You can stay up to date on information on all of these sites. We air podcast news, we even share outtakes from the shows and a lot of inside group info on there from time to time as well. On behalf of George Ward, I’m John Michaels. You take care now.

Intro Guy
Tune in next time for another edition of secret Podcast with your hosts JM and Bernstein available on iTunes.

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George Ward
JM
Andy Abrams
Ben Asen

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