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Reader's Comments 
Crooked Cucumber and whatever. 

April 2000

Go to Readers' Comments: 20001999

4-21-2000 - From: Daniel Kaplan

Let's not get carried away with the negative blurbs, please. Your book is beautiful, and although some of the criticisms are right on, most of them, particularly taken together, give the wrong impression of the book.

[I tried to make it clear that the Negative Blurb Page was a mixed bag of serious and ludicrously contrived criticism. I lead with the one incredibly negative review on Amazon, went to the serious reservations culled from reviews just like one culls the positive comments for a positive blurb, then, because at least half of the reviews had nothing negative to say, I started to eek them out by dot dot dotting () them till they became negative. But I noticed that even friends wouldn't get it that quickly. They'd be appalled and then I'd explain again that the more scurrilous comments further down were not what the reviewers were actually saying and they'd go "Oh," and think I was crazy. That's right. Anyway, it was fun for me.-DC]

4/19/2000 - A few April messages about Crooked Cucumber, one of which mentions sources for getting tapes of Shunryu Suzuki lectures which I also put on the Suzuki Lecture Page.

4-19-2000 - From: "Alan McAllister 

I finished your book on Suzuki and thoroughly enjoyed it. When is your next book out?

[Next year, a book of vignettes about Suzuki called To Shine One Corner of the World: Moments with Shunryu Suzuki, Broadway Books. Hardback.-DC]

I was very touched by your picture of Suzuki. I must confess that I did not click with him and much preferred Katagiri. If I recall, I thought at the time that he was a bit too much of the politician. It was probably just my 60's cynicism (as opposed to my 70's, 80's, 90's and 00's cynicism). I regret now that I did not get to know him better. I also regret that I did not stick with practicing Zen and spend more time at the Zen Centre. I never even went to Tassajara, which was in operation when I was still there. Oh well. It was fascinating to read what was going on around me and after I left. Your book has rekindled an interest in me that never really died. I want to thank you especially for that. What really speaks through in both your books is your humanity and humility, which are qualities that I greatly admire.


4-18-2000 - from Ken Spiker

I just wanted to thank you for your book "Thank You And Okay, a Zen Failure in Japan;" we enjoyed it very much! Very funny--I can't get over what the Japanese put on their tee-shirts. Obviously, you aren't a failure from any point of view I can imagine, but I know there's a level or 2 of irony there. In any case, the Way cannot be spoken, so any attempt to speak it must be something of a failure. That's my take on it anyway. I wish I'd seen more of Katagiri; when he was at the Zen Center I mostly remember his mouth set in grim determination as he led the zazen. He wasn't so good at English, so I didn't pay that much attention. I remember someone asked him about the effects of meditation on the meditator and he said that some Japanese like to press in aggressively to the doors of the subway trains and when some of them did meditation they didn't feel the need to press into the trains anymore.

I talked to my friend Richard Sassoon on the phone the other day, (Richard was prominently mentioned in a selection of Sylvia Plath's diary which was printed in the New Yorker a couple of weeks ago) and he told me another Suzuki story he heard from Daniel Moore. Don't print this, because Daniel should tell it, if anybody, and it's 3rd hand from me. [It's already on here from Daniel]

Daniel said he was at an upscale party in Marin or somewhere at the house of some rich people to raise money for the Zen Center. Daniel was irritated by all the phony rich people around, and Suzuki, in his mind, was asking for money, and when Suzuki walked by the swimming pool Daniel thought 'Why not just push him in?' Just then Suzuki whirled around and looked at Daniel and said, "That fellow was going to push me in the swimming pool!" I don't think Daniel would ever have done such a thing, but in the 60's we were all seriously anti-bourgeois, so he may have thought it. I don't have any idea if the story is true: it tends toward the supernatural powers things that Zen eschews. A good story anyway. Have you heard from Daniel? I got another letter from Loring. A nice letter but didn't reveal much. I heard that Andrew's teacher Punjaji seriously wounded his ego and now Andrew won't speak of him.

But mostly I liked your book. Where can I get some Thank You And Okay matches? Every alter should have them.

4/13/2000 - from Al Wood: Thank you. thank you. thank you. thank you. I have just read the interview with Toni McCarty and have cried and am now so full that I can't quite make myself get back to work. I taught at the Shire School with them, and I remember one day in Golden Gate Park [back in the sixties] (I think we were having a fund-raiser). A young black woman was painting a sort of brightly-colored abstract something on cardboard that we had provided, and Toni & I were watching and talking and walking. Then, a bit later, we strolled past her again, and she had covered most of it over with black paint. Toni just said so quietly, "Oh, she went back in." We were quite close (not so hard with a spirit like Toni) and I wrote her a poem that day:

Hello, beautiful one, 
I love you with all my summer. 
In the Fall, 
Remember me.

4/11/2000 - Friends of Nebraska Zen Center, Our newly re-designed website, including pages displaying my calligraphy for viewing and sale is now on-line. It's at Please check it out and let me know what you think. All feedback will be appreciated. Thanks, Nonin Chowaney

[Looks good. I like the way it comes on with the sections sliding in. I'd take out the counter. It's sorta extra and implies some value to numbers that I think won't be up to the actual value of the site. Hard to express what I think there. Anyway, lookin' gud. Also, when you hit the back button on your site it repeats the slide in of the sections so that by doing that repeatedly one gets an added visual experience. Ahh - art!-DC]

4/11/2000 - a message from Alan Mcallister on
Katagiri and Thank You and OK!

4/7/2000 - Three Suzuki stories from Daniel Abdal-Havy Moore, old Suzuki student, poet, and thespian. Also, see Daniel's letter of 2/9 which I'm just posting.-DC

4/4/2000 - A note from the East Coast.

4/3/2000 - See the note from William Benz in Digressions. -DC]

Go to Readers' Comments: 20001999

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