This web page presents the writing of Marc Sapir MD, MPH—d.o.b.- 7/3/41, the not quite retired physician, writer, activist, media critic. The site was constructed in collaboration with my grandson, Emilio Sapir-Uribe, so my writing is accessible to anyone who wants to access it, in one location. We will surely post at least a novel (perhaps a second), other fiction, my book of essays on disabled elders, many other stand-alone essays, medical and political articles and letters--published and unpublished--poetry, songs and my plays. Here’s a brief biography:
If you Googled Marc Sapir back when I first did to see what would turn up, you’d find several better known Marc Sapirs in the world (with this identical spelling). There is the abstract artist in Brookyn, the fellow who is a leader of labor/environmental regulation with the European Union, a math professor (in Ohio if I recall). Of course, we each have distinct professional, political and creative histories. This about mine. My professional career as a practicing physician was almost accidental (although parental prodding and support contributed a lot). In college I thought I wanted to do medical research (before that I was enamored of music: playing, singing, composing and conducting). I did not get into medical school upon graduation from college and was likely to have become a high school teacher or been a victim of the Vietnam War were it not for Robin Briehl, MD, PhD-- my then mentor and boss. Robin was a hemoglobin research scientist at Albert Einstein Medical School in New York and after I worked for him for a while he helped get me out of the draft and into medical school.
Later, here and there, my medical career tracked through public and community clinic settings over a 45 year span, 4 years with the National Farm Workers’ Health Group of the United Farm Workers Union (1974-78); as medical director of 4 community clinics (1976-86 and 1992-2001 with the Center for Elders’ Independence), my brief stints as public health officer in Berkeley and San Mateo County, California jurisdictions (1987 and 1988), then as convener and co-leader of the collaboration between local community activists, Public Health Department and Public School administrations, teachers and students that successfully established the Berkeley High School Health Project aimed at social support and drop-out prevention.
Of course, any trail through life has adventures and important personal life dimensions, streams and sub-plots. Mine won’t be visited in this sketch, but one in particular that pertains to much of my creative writing and activism should be mentioned. As early as my senior year in high school I became preoccupied with the civil rights fight and later the resistance to the American war against Vietnam’s independence. Only a year and half after starting medical school I was so distraught about our inability to stop the murder and devastation of a nation simply trying to get free from colonial imperialist domination by the French, the Japanese, the Chinese, and now the U.S. that I took a one year leave of absence to try to do even more work against the war than I had as an anti-war medical student leader on campus. When I returned to medical school in late 1966, then Dean Robert Glazer took me aside to say in no uncertain terms that “we don’t want you here,” even though I was a student in good standing and he could do nothing about that.
The large militant Stanford anti-war movement—students, faculty and staff--had become a very big nuisance to the University for exposing how deeply Stanford and its military-industrial complex Trustees were involved (and profiting from) directly and indirectly in the war effort. When I graduated, Administration wrote in their summary recommendation to residencies that “he might have been one of our top students” had he not become engaged in other outside activities, although I was not a poor student, graduating somewhere in the middle of the class. Glazer’s pretensions and the hostile recommendation in 1970 had the opposite effect from their intentions. They revealed the power of our anti-war activism. Throughout the ensuing decades, realizing that each of us can make a difference, I’ve tried to orient my life using as a touchstone the behaviors that got me in hot water then. And another lesson I learned from the year I took off from medical school, is that when we place ourselves outside of major institutions —educational, artistic, political, and others—of our culture, we abdicate much of the power to expose internal contradictions from the inside, contradictions which all too often include misanthropic behavior disguised as socially positive.
So long as I’m alive and able, I’ll try to respond to any comments you send me about anything you read in these pages. If you want a copy of a book or essays too lengthy to print out from your computer drop me a note also at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I’ll see what I can do.