The woman’s sword gleams in the sun as clouds pass. She wears a loose jade silk jacket embroidered with dragons. Across the grass and pavements of the park people practice chi gung and martial forms, alone or in small groups. I practice my empty hand Yang style form here during the week I am in Taipei. Her father or husband sits on a folding stool and sings loudly as she does a long, graceful sword form. The weighted red tassel tied to the handle swings in calculated arcs above her head and whips at her waist. I do my form several times over just so I can watch her.
At this time I know only the short yang form, thirty seven moves developed by Professor Cheng Man Ching. On the set in South Dakota of Grassland, a film I worked on as a screenwriter, I watched Scott Glenn do tai chi. I had been inquiring elsewhere about this practice. It wasn’t yet well known in the US. He suggested that when I get back to New York I look up Professor Cheng’s school on the Bowery. I would love him, he said, just as he did. One regret, he said, that he had about moving to LA was that he lost contact with Professor Cheng and his school.
–Steve Katz, Starcherone Books
Book description: 137 episodes in Katz’s long life dedicated to the arts. This avant-garde writer saw the great legends of cool and be-bop jazz play in the New York of the 1950s, encountered Nabokov, Pynchon, and others at Cornell, lived in the Chelsea while Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, and Robert Mapplethorpe were there, met Warhol, Ashbery, Plimpton, Vonnegut, and countless scenesters in 1960s New York, and then went West, to hallucinogenic high plains film-sets…