Al Young title

Archive for July, 2009


Monday, July 27th, 2009



© 2007 Washington Post


Washington DC Metro Station – on a cold January morning in 2007. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After 3 minutes:
a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:
the violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the till and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:
A 3-year-old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly, as the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced them to move on.

45 minutes:
The musician played. Only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32.

1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.


No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the highest acclaimed musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin valued at $3.5 million dollars. Two days earlier, Joshua Bell had sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ….

How much else are we missing?

Collected by email with an assist from Gary Gach


Read the original Pulitzer Prize-winning story
by Gene Weingarten
(“Pearls Before Breakfast” |  8 April 2007)
in the Washington Post

Read some more of the story at

Watch and listen to Joshua Bell at the DC scene of this story

Visit the official Joshua Bell website


In Memoriam: Dr. Miriam Lee | 1926-2009

Sunday, July 19th, 2009



Courtesy photo

Dr. Miriam Lee, beloved acupuncturist


magnifying_glass_icon Click image to enlarge chart



I was a patient of Miriam Lee’s for close to twenty years. It was chronic bursitis in the area of my shoulder that drew me to Miriam Lee’s Palo Alto clinic in late 1978. Up until our meeting, I had dealt with this recurring and painful malady by subjecting myself to equally painful injections of Cortisone. In my mind I still thank Kenneth Dole, my physician at Palo Alto Medical Clinic, who signed the form that gave me permission to undertake this treatment, then considered radical. And I still thank his receptionist who, with tears in her eyes, told me: “Oh, Mr. Young, I feel so happy for you. You’re going to see Dr. Lee. You’re going to be healed.”

All of this was unfolding in November of 1978, at the same time that the Reverend Jim Jones had ordered his followers in Jonestown (Guyana) to drink the poisoned Kool Aid. In the same week, Dan White assassinated San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and city supervisor Harvey Milk.

— Al Young

[More forthcoming]


In Memoriam: Dr. Miriam Lee (1926-2009)

By Susan Johnson, LAc

Reprinted from Acupuncture Today
Copyright © 2009 Susan Johnson and Acupuncture Today

My relationship with Miriam began in 1982, when I was privileged enough to begin an internship with her. Through my many years with Dr. Lee, I was trained extensively in her unique style of acupuncture. In 1987, we traveled together to Hefei, China, to study bleeding techniques with Dr. Wang Su-Jen. We journeyed together through the “wild ride” of acupuncture politics in the 1980s and 1990s. She was my teacher and my friend, and a pioneer in the field of Chinese medicine in America.

Miriam was perhaps best known for her work with Master Tung’s “Magic Points.” Master Tung Ching Chang, widely viewed as the greatest acupuncture technician who ever lived, practiced a method of acupuncture that was passed down to him through his family from Shandong, China, for more than 300 years. This system is renowned for the spontaneous and miraculous results obtained using just a few needles. This method is unique in that points are located opposite the affected area, and patients tend to notice effects immediately upon needle insertion. Master Tung broke convention after the Chinese Cultural Revolution and began teaching this amazing system of points outside of his immediate family. Dr. Young Wei-Chieh and Dr. Miriam Lee, both students of Master Tung’s, are responsible for bringing this body of work to America.


© Susan Johnson
Miriam Lee and Susan Johnson, her student, in China, 1987

In 1976, Miriam was one of the very first to be licensed as an acupuncturist in the state of California. In 1974, she was arrested for practicing medicine without a license. At her trial, her patients filled the courtroom in protest of her arrest, claiming their right to the only medicine that had truly helped them. Within a few days, acupuncture was legally made an “experimental procedure” by Governor Ronald Reagan. In 1976, Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation that once and for all, legalized acupuncture.

It is through the untiring efforts of people like Miriam Lee, founder of the Acupuncture Association of America (AAA), and lobbyist Art Krause, that we here in California can boast acupuncture licensure, primary care physician status and primary insurance coverage. Although I feel personally and eternally indebted to Miriam, we should all remember the work that Miriam and Art did together, for our profession, for more than 30 years.


Jack Foley: EDDIE LANG

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009


eddie-lang Courtesy Photo

Eddie Lang (1902-1933)


This is Blind Willie Dunn talking to ya (G7)

Nobody else (Am) you can see my

Nimble fingers even if (F major)

I can’t see yours what happened

What happened I’ll (E9) give ya

The straight dope (C major) I got no

Reason to lie Eddie I sd Eddie (Em)

I don wancha (C major) to go into that

God damn hospital you know (C major 7)

People die (G7) in hospitals Jesus Blind

(wch is what he called me, Am) Crosby

Said to do it and (E9) I tell ya Crosby

Knows what he’s talking about and Kitty (Cm)

Sd it was ok so why (G7) should I

Worry Christ (D7) nobody worries about tonsils

Gimme (A major) the racing form I wanna

Pick a winner (G7)

And (I Am) (I Am) (I Am)

He died

Jack Foley

© 2009 Jack Foley


The Official Eddie Lang Website

Sally-Ann Worsfold: The Quintessential Eddie Lang (1925-1932)



Ruth Etting and Eddie Lang:
“Without That Man” (1932)


jack-foley-by-katherine-hastings Katherine Hastings

Jack Foley




ekleksographia: wave two
issue four
| november 2009
edited by Judith Skillman

features exciting new poetry, prose and drama

by Jack Foley


© Timothy Cross


DAVID BROMIGE | 22 October 1933 – 3 June 2009

Thursday, July 9th, 2009
180px-david_bromige Photo © Christopher Bromige

David Bromige in 1986


Back when everything was still everything, back in the 1960’s, I met David Bromige. Like me, he had by then become a fresh and floating fixture on the Northern California poetry scene. The air crackled with creativity. If you happened to be in the circle that had at its center El Corno Emplumado (a bilingual magazine from Mexico, edited by the expatriate American Margaret Randall and her Mexican husband Sergio Mondragón), then you were plugged into one of the cutting-edge literary scenes. I was publishing in those pages. And did it ever feel good to see my name alongside names like Carlos Fuentes and Denise Levertov. David Bromige’s poetry came to me by way of El Corno Emplumado, but in a funny way. When the journal ran a special section on Canadian poets gathered, as I recall, by the Calgary-based poet George Bowering, there was Bromige. We read together at Cody’s in Berkeley, and I remember the brooding energy that swirled around him when I paid visits to Sonoma State, where he taught. At this time his companion was the writer-illustrator Sherill Jaffe, who, he confided, “writes all my poems for me.”  In my view, his poetry embodied the spirit of what Chile’s Nicanor Parra championed as “the anti-poem,” which was all in zeitgeist. Bromige’s prose-bent declaratory approach to poetry drew an enduring audience. Younger self-labeled “language poets” eventually adopted him as a kindred spirit. I always admired David Bromige for the brave anti-war positions he took. At a time when young Americans were embracing Canada to sidestep military service in Vietnam, Bromige had slipped into the U.S., where he remained for the rest of his life, making a name for himself in the perennially restive worlds of the avant garde. I miss his trickster smile and uncool laugh.

— Al Young



© Richard Denner

Jack Foley: Tribute to David Bromige

My friendship with David Bromige goes back over 20 years, but it was never a deep, personal friendship. He was a literary acquaintance I liked and whose work I followed with considerable interest. I was introduced to both him and his work by Ron Silliman, who brought me to a reading. I was surprised to see that Robert Duncan—whose work I knew—attended the reading. Duncan swooped into the room with his great cape, overwhelming everyone—a star’s entrance—but he listened attentively and obviously enjoyed David’s work. David was open and friendly, but I wasn’t certain enough of my own work to claim him as an acquaintance: we didn’t exchange addresses.

David became associated with language poetry, but he was older than the originators of language poetry. He became friends with many of them. They were definitely what was happening at that time. I think his relationship to language poetry was partly personal—he liked the people who were writing it—but also partly professional. Language poetry was getting a lot of attention. By associating with language poets, David could share in that attention. But the language poets who became best known were theorists as well as poets, and David was in no way a theorist. His impulse was satirical, parodic, even smart ass, but not theoretical. When David published “One Spring” in This magazine, I believe that the editors felt that they were printing something that was both liberating and beyond their own current capacities—which was true. In The New Sentence, Ron Silliman clearly asserts that “One Spring” exemplifies the kind of thing language poetry is all about. The new sentence, writes Silliman, is “a sentence with an interior poetic structure in addition to exterior ordinary grammatical structure. That is …why and how lines quoted from a Sonoma newspaper in David Bromige’s ‘One Spring’ can become new sentences.” But language poetry became a style, a kind of writing which doesn’t sound or read at all like the sophisticated, Joycean, highly literary medium of Bromige’s work. The young people who were and are turned on by language poetry were not turned on by what David was doing. David the man and teacher is sometimes sentimentalized by his friends and students. But the work is edgy, problematical, anything but sentimental. Poems like “One Spring” and “My Poetry,” which—like certain passages in James Joyce—are made up entirely of quotations, place in question the person who is writing the poem. The original version of “One Spring” was published in This magazine. When David published the poem in his book My Poetry, he changed some of the names. When I asked him about that, he said it was for fear of being sued! These were real people he was dealing with. Language poets were attacking and defining themselves against the poets published in Donald Allen’s 1960 volume, The New American Poetry. Many of the poets in that volume were attacking and defining themselves against “The New Criticism,” a body of writing from the 1940s which took irony and paradox as the center of the poetic work. Irony and paradox are at the center of David Bromige’s work. If he is a language poet, we might regard language poetry as the revenge of The New Criticism. Here is how “One Spring”—simultaneously naïve and knowing—begins:

One Spring

It hailed. 0.06 inches were precipitated where the instruments are kept. At least one driver found his windshield wipers clogging. High winds drove the hail into the orchards of apple, pear & prune. It hailed on the new Vacu-Dry plant, an independent, publicly-owned corporation, making instant apple-sauce for the government. During the following night, thieves walked off with the bus-bench.

Next day samples were brought to the inspector. The leaves were shattered & the fruit already indented. Though the sun shone bright, some wisps of high cirrus appeared shortly after midday.

Next day dawned clear & bright, & by the middle of the afternoon the thermometer registered 73 degrees Fahrenheit. That night the valley-bottoms were free from frost. Next day began well also, the sky a clear deepening blue, the light flickering off the eucalyptus leaves.