EppsNet Archive: Iowa

What Might We Be Missing?

14 Sep 2016 /

Joshua Bell is a violinist, one of the world’s greatest classical musicians. The Washington Post a few years ago did an experiment where they put him in a DC metro station wearing a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. Like a street musician. He’s got an open violin case in front of him so people can put money in.

It’s about 8 a.m. on a Friday, morning rush hour. He plays for 45 minutes, and 1,097 people pass through the area where he’s playing.

Before watching the video, you may want to consider out of that many people — more than 1,000 — how many will recognize the quality for what it is? How many will stop and listen? How much money will he make?

Before you answer, keep in mind that he’s not going to play popular tunes that a lot of people will recognize. He’s not going to play Star Wars, he’s not going to play Disney songs. That’s not the experiment. These are enduring masterpieces.

The piece you’ll hear at the beginning is “Chaconne” by Bach. It’s like the Stairway to Heaven of violin solos. Brahms, also a famous composer — not as famous as Bach but still pretty famous — said: “If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.”

The violin he’s playing is a Stradivarius handcrafted in 1713. Price tag? $3.5 million. So he’s got a good fiddle. That’s not the problem.

Americans . . . we’re busy, busy, busy. It’s amazing, funny and dismaying at the same time.

In 45 minutes, seven people stopped what they were doing to listen for at least a minute, 27 gave money for a total of $32.17. That leaves 1,070 people who completely ignored what was happening right in front of them.

As it happens, exactly one person recognized Bell. She enters the video around the 1:35 mark. For the record her name is Stacy Furukawa, a demographer at the Commerce Department.

“It was the most astonishing thing I’ve ever seen,” Furukawa said. “Joshua Bell was standing there playing at rush hour, and people were not stopping, and not even looking, and some were flipping quarters at him! I was thinking, Omigosh, what kind of a city do I live in that this could happen?

Well, she lives in one of the (allegedly) most cultivated cities in America. This is not Bakersfield . . . it’s not Des Moines, Iowa. No offense to people from Iowa but in Iowa they’d just call the cops and have the guy thrown out of there.

What I was hoping you might contemplate is — what might we be missing in our haste to catch the subway, get to work, meet expectations, prove that we belong and keep up with all the minutiae of life?

What might we be missing that’s right in front of us and we’re failing to see the beauty of it?


Happy Mothers Day!

10 May 2009 /
At the Park

Hi Mom! Happy Mothers Day! How are things in Iowa?

Here’s a recent picture of me at the dog park. You can see I have an underbite just like Dad. Some people tease me about it but I don’t care.

You would be so proud of me. I’m the alpha dog of my whole neighborhood!

People think that dogs don’t remember their families but of course I remember you and I always love you even though you’re far away.

Your son,

Lightning paw


Wives of Spanking Husbands Club

26 Jan 2008 /

From the front page of the Los Angeles Times 70 years ago today, Jan. 26, 1938:

Wives of Spanking Husbands
Form Girls’ Auxiliary to Club

SIOUX FALLS (S. D.) Jan. 25 (AP) — Wives of Spanking Husbands’ Club, organized in Sioux City, Iowa, and parent organization of fifty-nine such clubs throughout the nation according to its own figures–reached out for another slice of territory today.

The Iowa housewives who consider it a mark of esteem for their husbands to wield a disciplinary hairbrush once in a while, announced plans today for a junior auxiliary–Daughters of Spanking Parents.

ELIGIBLE GIRLS

A letter received here from Sioux City and signed “Rita Rae, general delivery,” told of plans for the new organization for which she claimed an initial membership of seventeen. Any girl above the age of 11 years is eligible to join, Mrs. Rae wrote.

“We think all parents should spank their daughters when they don’t behave,” Mrs. Rae wrote. “Some girls won’t admit it, but the really know it is better to get spanked than scolded and nagged. Spanking creates a better understanding between parents and daughters.”

MERELY SPANKED

Mrs. Rae is the president of the Wives of Spanking Husbands, which was organized last June 26 under the broad-minded slogan “Spare the hairbrush and spoil the wife.”

“Our husbands don’t beat us,” the Sioux City woman was careful to explain. “They just turn us over their knees and give us a good sound spanking.”