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Archive for August, 2013

ONE AUGUST SUMMARY: A Wildfire Perennial

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013



Button-Play-32x32California Report: RIM FIRE: Wind Carries Sparks That Start New Flames


treesfirecrop  © Newsfix

38px-Speaker_Icon.svg ONE AUGUST SUMMARY

The scents of summer, once so moist and vast,
now scorch your nose. O how your pricked eyes water!
This fire’s going to last and last and last
until your in-laws, wife, two sons and daughter
collapse among the Pepsis, Cokes and chips.
The makeshift rescue center, where you’ve learned
some distant neighbors’ names from their own lips,
fills still with losers just like you. Hurt. Burnt.

A dry La Niña winter, snow-melt, drought
(July: Colfax, June: Colorado Springs,
New Mexico) let heated winds strike out
across your parchment landscape with a zing
that flared up like a sulphurous safety match.
But here’s the catch: Can this mean climate change
is real? Do savvy Californians watch
what happened back in 2009, the range
of wildfires: Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz
(their so-called Lockheed Fire), the Station Fire
near L.A.? Half a million square miles. News.
You sweat. Your wife and family, they perspire.

Août, août, août, août! – August, moaned in French,
needs no translation. You can smell and feel
the fall and peel of summer. Inch by inch
you sink into this smoky state. You reel.
You suddenly realize what really counts:
You’re still alive. Don’t underestimate
again how unseen danger creeps and mounts.

Ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo – August stops you at its gate!

— Al Young
© 2012


AY by Joseph Robinson Photo: Joseph Robinson

Al Young: ‘The California Report Poems’

from KQED San Francisco


MAKING MISTAKES (from the TED Talks Radio Hour)

Sunday, August 25th, 2013


play button 2.png  Listen

Stefon Harris TED Gig © NPR

“There are no mistakes on the bandstand.”
— Stefon Harris

Making Mistakes

We try so hard to be perfect, to never make mistakes and to avoid failure at all costs. But mistakes happen — and when they do — how do we deal with being wrong? In this episode, TED speakers look at those difficult moments in our lives, and consider why sometimes we need to make mistakes and face them head-on.

Listen to the Full Episode


TRANSITIONS (June-August 2013): Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, George Duke, Elmore Leonard, Marian McPartland, H.D. Moe, Albert Murray, Cedar Walton, Seamus Heaney, Susan Sibbet

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013



(January 27, 1930 – June 23, 2013), né Brooks, also known professionally as Bobby “Blue” Bland, was an American singer of blues and soul. Bland developed a sound that mixed gospel with the blues and R&B. He was described as “among the great storytellers of blues and soul music… [who] created tempestuous arias of love, betrayal and resignation, set against roiling, dramatic orchestrations, and left the listener drained but awed.”He was sometimes referred to as the “Lion of the Blues” and as the “Sinatra of the Blues”;his music was also influenced by Nat King Cole.


George Duke

(January 12, 1946 – August 5, 2013) was an American musician, known as a keyboard pioneer, composer, singer and producer in both jazz and popular mainstream musical genres. He worked with numerous acclaimed artists as arranger, music director, writer and co-writer, record producer and as a professor of music. He first made a name for himself with the album The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio. He was known primarily for thirty-odd solo albums as well as for his collaborations with other musicians, particularly Frank Zappa.



(October 11, 1925 – August 20, 2013) was an American novelist and screenwriter. His earliest published novels in the 1950s were Westerns, but Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into motion pictures. Among his best-known works are Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk, and Rum Punch (adapted for the movie Jackie Brown). Leonard’s writings include short stories that became the films 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T, as well as the current FX television series Justified.



OBE (née Turner; 20 March 1918 – 20 August 2013), was an English-born jazz pianist, composer, and writer. She was the host of Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz” on NPR from 1978 until 2013.


HD Moe

(16 November 1937 – 20 August 2013) is considered one of the most important of the “baby beat” poets. Raised in Oregon and California, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, and later attended school on the G.I. Bill. Moe studied at various times with a number of famous writers, including Theodore Roethke, Philip Whalen, and Bernard Malamud. Suffering from dyslexia, he developed his own style of “jazz poetry”, with vivid imagery and unusual juxtapositions.



(May 12, 1916 – August 18, 2013) was an African American literary and jazz critic, novelist, essayist and biographer.



(January 17, 1934 – August 19, 2013) was an American hard bop jazz pianist. He came to prominence as a member of drummer Art Blakey’s band before establishing a long career as a bandleader and composer.


seamus heaney 2

(April 13, 1939 – August 20, 2013) Seamus Justin Heaney was an Irish poet, playwright, translator and lecturer, and the recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.


Susan Sibbet

(December 6, 1941 – August 31, 2013) Poet-novelist-editor-publisher Susan Herron Sibbet worked in San Francisco as a Poet in Residence with California Poets in the Schools for more than twenty years. She was also a founding member of Sixteen Rivers Press, the Bay Area poetry collective. 


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WAYS TO STAY AMAZED ~ A Birthday Poem for Susan Duhan Felix

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013


Al & Susan Duhan Felix at Heyday Books

Ceramic artist Susan Duhan Felix (Berkeley’s Art Ambassador) at Heyday Books on Al Young Day, February 5, 2013



 for Susan Duhan Felix

Must birthday toasts state always, “Here’s to you”?
Consider how the woman and the man
whose love and sperm and egg conjoined to issue
a shining daughter; light on water. Stand
back. Picture yourself pulled along two trails
that weave and duck, then twist-turn artfully.

 Imagine how our biosphere emails
us messages. Now only partially
eclipses Then. Does Happy Birthday mean
you’ve risked another round, so now you rest?

 Consider origins, consider clean,
fresh starts, blank slates. remakes, the breathing past.
This you, this I – crocuses flowered from mud.
Let light amaze, let beauty feed your blood.

 © Al Young