ROBERT J. BARAN

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RJB Bibliography






        Some background on yours truly, a researcher, writer and student who is interested in many things in the many worlds:

        With a second generation American Polish and Hungarian heritage, I grew up the middle of three sons of grocer Joseph and registered nurse Virginia.  This was primarily in Seven Hills, Ohio, a wooded suburb on the south side of Cleveland.  Parochial grade school during the 60s didn't leave much time to learn about the social changes happening across this country, although I was only about 25 miles away from Kent State on that fateful May day.  Since the mid-60s I'd helped my dad develop his vegetable gardens.

        I began doing creative writing in the 6th grade with a few chapters of a science fiction novel.  In mid high school the first of three SF short stories were begun, none of which ever sold.  (I do have a nice collection of rejection slips from all the big name specialty magazines of the time.)

        My freshman high school year had my introduction into bonsai with the discovery of a book by Ann Kimball Pipe in the local branch library on one late October after school visit.   Initial attempts at bonsai with clay flowerpotted maple saplings from the neighborhood woods continued with small junipers when the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1971.  During the rest of high school (Brophy College Prep), college (UofA and ASU), and afterwards, I generally had at least one tree every year.  On and off, with little more than houseplant care, if truth be told, although these were kept [correctly] outdoors.

        Getting serious about bonsai in early 1986, I then wanted to learn more about its history and origins.  Finding very little information in the first books I was reading at the time, I wrote down the, literally, one or two sentence histories per book which I came across in order to put together "a little history."

        My participation in the Phoenix Bonsai Society since that Fall has been as librarian (1990-1995), president (1995-1997), newsletter and yearbook editor (c. 1994-2009), [senior] web master (1999 - present), and general information junkie.

        That "little history" is now an approximately 600 page, 2 volume yet unpublished comprehensive examination of the origins and development of dwarf potted tree culture in Asia and elsewhere, with some of the philosophical, horticultural, and technological influences on this gardening art.  (Parts of this work are being put on this web site -- along with several more years of research, thought and international communications.)  While researching this opus, Magical Miniature Landscapes, it was suggested that I write a few articles to get the ball rolling as far as public dissemination of the story which I had presented to the Phoenix club in two different lectures.  Thus were born the following:


        "Some Bonsai Futures," American Bonsai Society Bonsai Journal, Vol. 25, No. 3, Fall 1991, pp. 20-21.
        Second article written, first published (nine months after it was accepted).  Editor Jack Wikle thought this would give me a better "entrance."  We worked it back and forth a couple of times as he helped me focus my thoughts.  It is written in my characteristic concentrated style: I cannot do a fluffy press release or quickie magazine article.  Up until this time there were only four articles ever written about the future of our hobby/art, all in 1975 and 1976, and none really took an in-depth predictive approach.
        And this article contains two major predictions (so far) that I was right on about: (1) "Computers will also help growers of specific types of trees communicate worldwide and support the development of clubs whose members don't have to be geographically near to each other." witnessed the April 1993 birth of the rec.arts.bonsai newsgroup, which gave rise to the Internet Bonsai Club two years later, and (2) "a Horticulture or Home and Garden cable network" came true when the HGTV cable channel debuted in January 1995.  (Significant additions to the story and its predictions now on these web pages.)

        "Hachi-No-Ki, A Perspective," ABS Bonsai Journal, Vol. 26, No. 2, Summer 1992, pp. 3-4, 23.
        First written article (hence it holds a special place in my heart), second published.  It is about the often superficially mentioned but little studied Noh drama whose name translates as "The Potted Trees."  The historical sources for this play, the development of Noh theatre, and what we can gather from the play about bonsai culture centuries ago in Japan.  With bibliography.  Little editing was done by Jack here.  (Significant additions to the story now on these web pages.)

        "From Colonial Times to World War II: America Peeks at Bonsai," ABS Bonsai Journal, Vol. 26, No. 4, Winter 1992, pp. 5-6, 32.
        To answer a fellow club member's surprise at learning that bonsai were mentioned in this country before 1945...  With bibliography.  The late Texas gentleman, Arch Hawkins, was my editor for this one, although he felt it needed very little help.

        "To Boldly Grow: Some Celluloid Bonsai," ABS Bonsai Journal, Vol. 29, No. 4, Winter 1995, pp. 143-144 and Vol. 30, No. 1, Spring 1996, pp. 14-16.
        The first half deals with sixteen film and TV portrayals from 1941 through 1979.  Twenty-five more sightings from the years 1980 through 1995 are touched upon in the second part.  The nine episodes listed of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" which included bonsai as set decorations are the reference for the article's title.  (My final count is that actually nineteen episodes of the series had some bonsai in them.)  Various program episodes, commercials, special TV events, and a few movies are listed.  (By the way, that first appearance is in a Cary Grant film, "Penny Serenade.")  Jill Hurd was my editor here, again using an extremely light touch.  (Significant additions to this on-going project on these web pages.)

        "Club Tree Experience Survey," Bonsai Clubs International Bonsai Magazine,  Vol. XXXV  No. 1,  January/February 1996, pp. 69-70.
        The last article in the last issue edited by Jean C. Smith, published as written, in "The Club Corner" section.  (One of these days I may get that article reprinted on these pages.  It turned out to presage some general themes in Designing Dwarfs.)

        Designing Dwarfs in the Desert, up through the first thirty-five years of the Phoenix Bonsai Society (1997, Pyramid Dancer Publications).
        This was my first completed and published book.  It originated from a few interviews with the club's teacher, Leroy Fujii.  Some of that material was in the first few issues of our club newsletter, Fujii Notes.  The articles were well-received and our 35th anniversary was approaching.  As we hadn't done anything for our 25th and I was now president, I decided to put together a commemorative history.  More interviews with Leroy and others, background on the Phoenix area's climate, landforms, and development (for my out-of- state and out-of-country friends), and material from Magical Miniature Landscapes to put our club in perspective.
        Even despite the small handful of typos that I've since discovered slipped by me, this is a very interesting and well-researched document.  I am very thankful that I took the opportunity to learn a little about Fujii-san and was able to share it with the world.

        Three recent articles of mine have been published on-line: History of Bonsai (Jan. 24, 2011), The Synergy of Magical Miniature Landscapes (April 26, 2011), and What is Bonsai?.  These are on Oscar Jonker's great multi-lingual bonsaiempire.com website.

        I've also made significant contributions to these Wikipedia articles (among others): bonsai, hòn non bo, Marco Invernizzi, Masahiko Kimura, list of bonsai on stamps, John Naka, National Bonsai Foundation, penjing, William N. Valavanis, Wu Yee-sun, and Yuji Yoshimura.


        Some work was done on my high school student newspaper and yearbook.  I was involved in two different attempts at long-distance co-authorship, compiled four corporate histories and four procedure manuals, have a couple of unpublished monographs (on fruitarianism and on the Chinese pyramids), and write some poetry.  Verse was published in the Sunbow Food Coop Newsletter and Omega New Age Directory.  Six pieces of verse were sold to but never published in Arizona Highways Magazine.  A few articles did get into Tempe's Gentle Strength Coop Newsletter.  I've done a few graphics in varied media for myself, at least two quick but detailed going away memory sketches for friends, and a health care instructional flip chart. 

        My longest running bonsai was an approximately 55-year-old, 17" tall, 10" diameter base, "Hand of Buddha" style Elephant food (Portulacaria afra) which had been shown many times locally during the twenty years it was in my caring and styling.  Its last home was a 13"W x 9"D x 3"H blue glazed oval pot.

        My family moved to the Colorado Springs area at the end of June 2005.  Via telecommuting, I am still the webmaster for the Phoenix club.  I've also been reestablishing my gardening skills, each year trying a few more things to put extremely fresh, homegrown, organic foods on the dinner table from our now over 1500 sq.ft. garden.




       Compensated jobs and occupations I've held include supermarket carryout, pizza maker, security guard, theatrical make up person, stand-up comic, comedy writer, community theater actor, gardener, tree trimmer, tutor, church youth group minister, counselor, genealogical researcher, psychic reader and consciousness researcher, filing clerk, shipping clerk, data entry clerk, inventory control clerk, database manager, purchasing agent, job estimator, proof reader, customer service representative, videographer, group health insurance medical underwriter, premium accountant, hospital education center assistant (including Safe Sitter and Boot Camp for New Dads instructor), medical historian, bonsai historian, web site designer, beverage purchasing manager for a hotel/resort, furniture pricer for a thrift store, and inventory control technician and now buyer for a chain of community health clinics.  A father and a stepfather in my own right.  With many erroneous beliefs yet to be recognized and unlearned.  Some alternative paradigms to consider.

        In my spare time I enjoy -- oh, yeah -- list-making.      : )

        Hey, thanks for your curiosity.  Now go do something practical and of service...

        Blessed be.

        Namasté.


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