The People Vs. Agent Orange

Agent Orange has been called the most destructive instance of chemical warfare in modern history. Sad to say the US government has been instrumental in the awful deaths caused by Agent Orange both in Vietnam and the United States. A powerful new documentary,  The People Vs. Agent Orange, depicts the horrific story but also the courageous action by two extraordinary women, Tran To Nga and Carol Van Strum, who fought and sacrificed so much to bring the guilty parties responsible to account.

I was happy to speak with the directors and producers of the film, Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna, and also with one of those extraordinary women, Carol Van Strum, on Arts Express.

The film, The People vs Agent Orange is broadcast on PBS starting 6/28/21 and can be streamed via the PBS streaming app until July 11.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear our interview, as broadcast this week on Arts Express Pacifica stations across the nation, and later in the week on WBAI FM NY.

The Conductor: Marin Alsop

Photo: “WEF Annual Meeting” by WEF

The Conductor is an excellent documentary film about Marin Alsop, who struggles against enormous odds to become the first female conductor of a major symphony orchestra in the US. It’s a wonderful story told by Director Bernadette Wegenstein, with a compelling theme about the world of high stakes musicianship, along with the high cost of success for a woman in that field.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my review, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Your Top 50

My younger brother, David, who has a large family, was telling me how he loves to give his family various games to play at the dinner table at family occasions. At one point he proposed the following–what are your top 50 song recordings of all time? Here’s the caveat though–only one song allowed per artist (though we agreed you may choose The Beatles and a separate John Lennon solo song, for example). David’s family answers were fun to hear about, because his children range from their early teens to thirty.

After telling me about some of his own picks, David asked me about mine. So I thought about it for quite a while, and then I wrote up this list. It was tough! Because at some point I realized that there were lots of songs that used to mean a lot to me, but I haven’t heard them in a while. And often there were artists who were important to me, but no single song stood out. Also you could get trapped within one genre of music and leave out others that you had forgotten about. So my criteria became this: What songs could I not live without at this point? What songs, if you told me I could never hear them again, would make me feel sad?

There’s only one cheat here–#6, because technically the song was recorded while George was a Beatle. But the song is so identified with George, that I think I should be allowed to get away with it. I notice in shame almost no song is from after the 70s! If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll probably recognize more than a few here. Feel free to contribute your own list.

In no particular order:

1. If You Could Read My Mind–Gordon Lightfoot

2. My Favorite Things–John Coltrane

3. Hey Jude–Beatles

4. Famous Blue Raincoat–Leonard Cohen

5. Suzanne–Judy Collins

6. While My Guitar Gently Weeps–George H.

7. Like A  Rolling Stone–Dylan

8. All The Things You Are–Ella Fitzgerald

9.  If I Loved You–Carousel

10. Pleasures of the Harbor–Phil Ochs

11. God Only Knows–The Beach Boys

12. Tell Her No–The Zombies

13. Billy Jean—Michael J.

14. Satisfaction–Stones

15. Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying–Gerry and the Pacemakers

16. Runaround Sue–Dion

17. Stay–the original

18. The Weight–The Band

19. Dawn–The Four Seasons

20. Maria–West Side Story

21. If I had a Hammer–Pete Seeger or Peter Paul and Mary version

22. The Lion Sleeps Tonight–The Tokens

23. You Can’t Hurry Love–The Supremes

24. Good Morning Heartache–Billie Holiday

25. The Boxer–Simon and Garfunkel

26. Hearts and Bones–Paul Simon

27. 525,600 minutes–Rent

28. All I Want–Joni Mitchell

29. Reason to Believe–TIm Hardin

30. Maggie Mae–Rod Stewart

31. Killing Me Softly–Roberta Flack

32. The Harder They Come–Jimmy Cliff

33. Georgia–Ray Charles

34. You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling–The Righteous Brothers

35. A Change is Gonna Come–Sam Cooke

36. I Only Want To Be With You–Dusty Springfield

37. Summer’s End–John Prine

38. Stayin’ Alive–The Bee Gees

39. American Pie–Don McLean

40. Africa–Toto

41. Take Five–Dave Brubeck

42. Rhapsody in Blue–Gershwin

43. Midnight Train to Georgia–Gladys Knight and the Pips

44. Sweet Dreams are Made of This–Eurythmics

45. I Will Survive–Gloria Gaynor

46. It’s Too Late, Baby–Carole King

47.  Compared to What–Eddie Harris/Les McCann

48. Doctor My Eyes–Jackson Browne

49. Sweet Baby James–James Taylor

50. Do You Know The Way To San Jose?–Dionne Warwick

The Voyage

“Why I came here? Start the machine. I’ll tell you everything…Because the olive trees were bare, because the date trees gave no fruit…”

For the week of Father’s Day, A Fathers Day Fatherly Story. Performed by myself and Linda Shalom, as adapted from my novel, The New World, which begins with a Syrian-Jewish immigrant’s journey to this country at the turn of the 20th century.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear our tale, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.

You Can Come To My House: Mike & Ruthy and the Mammals

Mike and Ruthy closing the 2019 Summer Hoot in Ashokan, New York. They’ll be back at it again August 27-29th.

More at The Mammals

Memoirs of a Misfit Ruler

Wherein we make like Marcel Proust and recall our humorous encounters with the trappings of power and authority in my local elementary school.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear our tale, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.