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.

Mike Nichols, A Life: Part Two

Here’s Part Two of our Mark Harris interview about his wonderful new biography called Mike Nichols: A Life. In this part we focused on the director’s eclectic and fabled film career, including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Graduate and Angels in America.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear part one of the interview Mark gave on Arts Express, as broadcast yesterday on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Part One is here:

Charles Grodin

Charles Grodin died last month. His mock feud segments with Johnny Carson were some of my favorite bits of impromptu comedy. Here’s a follow up visit by Grodin to Johnny that I posted a few years ago.

Thanks to YouTuber MyInnerEyeInterview2

Mike Nichols, A Life by Mark Harris: Part One

The Graduate, Angels in America, The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, The Gin Game, Hurley Burley, Silkwood, Postcards From The Edge, Heartburn, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Streamers, The Real Thing, Spamalot, Working Girl and more were all directed by the same man–Mike Nichols. In a career that spanned over fifty years simultaneously in both film and theater, Mike Nichols proved that he was one of America’s best directors. Now Mark Harris has written a comprehensive new biography of Nichols, which provides great insight into Nichols’ life and career. I had the pleasure of having a very enjoyable conversation with Mark about Nichols, who Mark knew well.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear part one of the interview Mark gave on Arts Express, as broadcast yesterday on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Part Two is here:

Everybody by Olivia Laing: Part Two

Last week in Part 1, we spoke with Olivia Laing about her fascinating new book Everybody. It’s a book about the work of psychologist Wilhelm Reich and the expanding influence his ideas had, especially that of “character armor,” that is, the idea that our emotional memories are physically retained within the musculature of our bodies.

We ended by my asking Olivia Laing whether Reich had gone over the deep end in his later years. This week we talk about the wide range of artists and thinkers that Reich influenced, including Andrea Dworkin, Nina Simone, Lorraine Hansberry, and James Baldwin.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my conversation with Olivia Laing as broadcast yesterday on WBAI and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Part One is here.

Every Body is Everybody: Part One

Everybody has a body and Everybody is the name of a new book by art and social critic Olivia Laing, which takes off from the ideas of Wilhelm Reich. It’s a  book about bodies in peril and bodies as a force for change and what are the limits of pleasure and freedom.

I had a fascinating conversation with Olivia about her book. Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to hear Part One of our conversation, as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Part Two is here: https://jackshalom.net/2021/05/16/everybody-by-olivia-laing-part-two/

May Day’s Magnificent Manuscripts

Happy May Day!

Another great issue of the Arts Express newsletter!

Get your free subscription by sending an email with the word “subscribe” in the subject line to:
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Inside:

**Prairie Miller Challenges Ken Burns on his Politics-Free Hemingway
**The Paintings of Iraqi/Palestinean artist Thaer Abdallah
**Dennis Broe on Depictions of Middle Class Drug-Dealing in Modern TV As A Marker of Class Anxiety

and much more!

Click here to view online:  

May 2021 Newsletter

If you enjoy it, you can get your free subscription by sending an email with the word “subscribe” in the subject line to:
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Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo: The Last Interview And Other Conversations is a new collection of several of Kahlo’s magazine and newspaper interviews. As a bonus, art historian, critic and author Hayden Herrera provides within an excellent introduction to the life and work of the extraordinary Mexican artist and activist. I was happy to interview Hayden for Arts Express.

To listen, click on the triangle or mp3 link above and listen to the interview as broadcast today on WBAI FM radio and Pacifica stations across the country.

Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays?

This April is the 457th Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth and I have to admit that everything I thought I knew about William Shakespeare’s life may well be wrong. My faith was recently shaken by both the film Last Will and Testament and the book North by Shakespeare. Both works posit that heresy of heresies that William Shakespeare of Stratford-Upon-Avon was not the fellow who wrote the 37 plays usually attributed to him.

For the skinny, click on the triangle or mp3 link above and listen to the story as broadcast today on the Arts Express program on WBAI FM radio and Pacifica stations across the country.

Everyone Was Beautiful: Paul Hostovsky

I first heard poet Paul Hostovsky reading in a poetry series out of Boston called Rozzie Reads. His poems immediately struck me as funny, closely observed crafted stories, the kind you come home and tell your intimate other about.

Paul’s work for the past decades situates him in a unique position with regard to language: Hostovsky is a sign language interpreter and a Braille instructor who has been a recipient of an award from the American Association of the DeafBlind “for being a devoted friend and ambassador by promoting the interests and well-being of DeafBlind Americans.”

Click on the triangle or the mp3 link above to hear the poems as broadcast yesterday on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Paul’s website is www.paulhostovsky.com and you can get his latest book, Mostly, at: https://www.amazon.com/Mostly-Paul-Hostovsky-ebook/dp/B08Z4GYRBM/

The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are: Part Two

Last week we brought you Part One of our interview with journalist Libby Copeland, author of The Lost Family: How DNA Testing has Upended Who We Are. We spoke about how the DNA tests offered by companies such as Ancestry and 23and me can have unintended consequences when people thought to be close biological relatives turn out to be no such thing. This week in Part Two we turn our attention to the larger societal issues including surveillance and privacy of genetic data.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear Part Two of my interview with Libby Copeland, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Part One can heard here:

The Lost Family: Part One

With TV shows like Henry Louis Gates’ Finding Your Roots, and aggressive advertising of DNA testing by companies like Ancestry.Com, millions have spit into a tube to find the names of their particular ancestors and relatives, and more generally to confirm their ethnic heritage. But these appealing tests have some far-reaching consequences that most of us have not even considered. Award-winning Washington Post reporter Libby Copeland has written about the unforeseen consequences of these genetic tests in a beautifully structured and comprehensive book called The Lost Family: How DNA is Upending Who You Are.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear Part One of my interview with Libby Copeland as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

April Showers

 In this issue:

** Comedian/actress Margaret Cho talks with Prairie Miller about Anti-Asian racism and more

** Paul Robeson re-imagined in an excerpt from actor/playwright Tayo Aluko ‘s Paul Robeson’s Love Song

** Poet Paul Hostovsky with his humorous and trenchant poems.

** Photos from the larger-than-life Garden of Sculpture

And much more!

Click here to view online:

April 2021 Newsletter

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“How To Make A Million Dollars”

Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock was sometimes called “The Canadian Mark Twain.” Unlike Twain, he was a staunch conservative, but that didn’t stop him from launching humorous attacks on the parasitical millionaires with whom he came into contact. Here’s a short story of his I performed called “How to Make a Million Dollars.”

To listen to the story as broadcast today on Arts Express radio on WBAI-FM and Pacifica stations across the nation, click on the triangle or mp3 link above.

AMORALMAN: A True Story And Other Lies

Derek DelGaudio, whose theater piece, In & Of Itself was an unlikely hit, has turned that audience-centric play into a film with the help of director Frank Oz. DelGaudio has just published a memoir of his life as a card mechanic, called AMORALMAN: A True Story and Other Lies and it continues with DelGaudio’s obsession with identity and reality.

Click the triangle or MP3 link above to hear my commentary on both the film In & Of Itself and AMORALMAN, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI-FM NY and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

February’s Feast

Celebrating our second year of publication!
Another great free issue of the Arts Express Newsletter

*Why was this Arts Express interview censored from YouTube with no explanation?…… An Arts Express Special featuring an extraordinary interview with Mike Africa Jr., member of the radical MOVE organization. He is also the subject of a new documentary about his parents, 40 Years A Prisoner.

*Art At A Time Like This presents a multi-borough billboard exhibition, “Ministry of Truth 1984/2020,” exploring issues of propaganda, censorship, and racial injustice in our present time.

*Dennis Broe on depictions of working-class families in recent television series.

*and much more!

Get your free copy and free subscription by emailing us at Artsexpresslist@gmail.com and put the word “subscribe” in the subject line

Faro Fundamentals by Greg Chapman

When I hear from Greg Chapman that he’s working on a new book, my ears perk up like a rabbit hearing about a new cabbage patch. His first two books, Details of Deception and The Devil’s Staircase were advanced explorations of gambling style card material with methods that leave the audience in the dust. When I heard what Greg was up to this time, I was filled with joy in a completely different way. What he had in mind was a small book, 52 pages to be exact—a monograph, for the more precise among us—on the faro shuffle. And I’m happy to say that book has now come to fruition, Faro Fundamentals. (Full disclosure: I gladly did some proofreading on this as well as the earlier books.)

It was a brilliant idea. First, because Greg was the man to do it, and second, because it was such an obvious gap in the literature that it was startling that no one had thought about it before. Those starting the journey of learning the faro shuffle have always had to be like mosaic quilters taking patches from here and patches from there, piecing together the knowledge. Some of the sources were easily available and some of the sources were not. You didn’t know where it was going to turn up. The knowledge consisted of three categories: a) the mechanical information necessary to actually accomplish the shuffle, b) the properties of the shuffle that make it useful, and c) how to put those properties to work in magic effects. Although there are some wonderful chapters about the faro in Marlo, Elmsley, and Expert Card Technique, to my knowledge there was no one exclusive resource that covered all three aspects. Greg’s book can help in all three areas.

Let’s start off with just learning how to do the damn thing. I have to admit I am skeptical of those who claim to have learned the shuffle from the few sentences in a certain famous book about close-up card magic. If you did, my hat’s off to you, and you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din. Let’s face it, for most,  there will be cursing and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in the beginning without proper instruction. Fortunately, Greg’s book addresses several issues that beginners to the shuffle come up against. If listened to, Greg’s helpful advice can significantly cut down on the wrong approaches that only serve to frustrate. Greg has the knowledge and the chops to describe and to illustrate excellently what an approach to the faro could be. He isn’t dogmatic about how to approach it—he openly admits that if you’ve already got an approach that works for you, fine, then go with it; he isn’t trying to proselytize for one particular method. What he does do, though, is to lay out a path to achieve the faro. I especially enjoyed the line drawings made from photos to emphasize the key placements of the fingers of each hand. I also learned some very surprising properties of straddle faros.

As Jeremy Griffin says spot on in his foreword to the book, when it comes to the faro shuffle, people tend to overestimate its difficulty or underestimate its usefulness. In ancient Greece, at a certain point, students of Euclidean geometry advanced to a theorem known as the “Bridge of Asses.” The student had learned all the proofs of previous theorems, but now it was time to join the big boys: the crossing of that bridge signaled something special. It meant that if you could now prove that theorem you had enough tools under your belt to tackle the larger problems. So it is with the faro. I can’t say that I use the faro everyday, but the learning of the faro is what convinced me that I could actually progress further with card sleights. Once you have the faro under your belt, nothing seems too difficult to accomplish. I mean it’s absurd on the face of it: to perfectly split the cards in half and then to perfectly interlace them while no one suspects that that is what you are doing? And moreover, even if they do understand what you are doing, they don’t understand the implications of such an action? That’s powerful.

And that’s something that Greg has expressed to me as a prime motivation for writing the book: “If only I could get folks to climb this mountain with me, because from up here you can see what’s on the other side. Sometimes you can’t know what’s possible until you actually experience something.” Jeremy Griffin in the introduction puts it perfectly: there is the balance of learning something along with all its difficulty, but also balancing the knowledge of its potential on the other side.

And so Greg’s teaching of the faro has a not-so-hidden agenda: he wants to teach you the fundamentals because he wants to grab you and take you up the mountain so that you can see what he sees. And what’s up there? Well, of course, some wonderful effects like Paul Gertner’s Unshuffled (which he doesn’t teach here) and the two bonus routines Greg does teach from his two previous books. But also more than tricks; once you know the faro shuffle you have a very effective way of controlling cards to any position while doing a very fair shuffle, and when combined with a memdeck, it’s an especially powerful tool.

There are those who are skeptical of the audience acceptance of the faro shuffle, and feel like that’s why they wouldn’t want to spend time to learn it. But Greg definitely holds another view. He gives persuasive arguments and advice on how to condition the spectator to accept the shuffle’s fairness and naturalness. Yes, another magician will often recognize an in-the-hands faro—but even then, Greg suggests ways that can throw the wise guys off course. Of course, if one can master the table faro, then that objection disappears completely; and while not claiming to be the last word on the table faro, and acknowledging its difficulty, Greg also gives some tips for achieving it. I don’t pretend that I am willing to put in the time, or that reading Greg’s book will make me a master of the table faro, no book can do that, but I know that if ever one day I wanted to start that journey, this would be the first place I would look to begin my instruction.

The two effects that Greg includes from his previous two books are “Searchers Undone” which is an almost self–working (aside from the faro) version of Larry Jennings “Searchers” effect, where two black kings trap two known cards; and a real magician fooler, “One Card Missing”: a card is chosen, the deck shuffled, cut by the spec, and then shuffled, cut again by the spec, spread for an instant and the performer names the card. (Think about those spectator cuts, even if you’re familiar with the faro!) Greg also streamlines a Marlo location: a card is taken by a spec from the center of the deck, replaced, shuffled, one cut, and the card is on top. The strong parts here are that no breaks are held after the card is replaced, and the shuffle happens immediately afterwards. There’s nothing to see.

As I mentioned before, Greg’s hope is to open up a can of worms. He tantalizing gives you a glimpse of what in practice the ability to faro nonchalantly can mean for stack work. The positioning of cards as they are shuffled means that one can work not with just one kind of stack but different stacks throughout a set for different purposes. Imagine various effects depending on the deck being stacked first by color, then by suit, then by four of a kind. The faro becomes a powerful tool to cycle from one stack to another with relatively little effort.

Is there everything here about the faro? No; in this 52-page book there’s not going to be everything, nor is it meant to be encyclopedic, though there is a short bibliography of major works concerning the faro. Greg’s last two books were eagerly snatched up by aficionados, but they were clearly for a limited audience. But I predict that Faro Fundamentals will be one of those relatively rare perennial sellers in the magic literature. Because there can be no question now: if someone asks, “Where should I go to learn about the faro shuffle?” Greg’s book is it.

If you’ve been putting off learning the faro, or you’ve tried but just couldn’t get it, or if you can faro, but want to understand more about what the faro can achieve, I urge you to pick up a copy of Faro Fundamentals. It fills a huge gap in the magical literature and you will be glad to have this as your faro companion.

David And The Recruiter

I thought it would be fun to read an excerpt from my novel, The New World. It’s a tale set in New York City that follows the struggles and triumphs of four generations of strivers, lovers, and grabbers- of-life.

This excerpt focuses on 20 year-old David Walker who has just been discharged from the army in Iraq for trying to shoot up his sergeant. Fortunately for David, he was able to cash in some chips to get out from the brig and escape with only a dishonorable discharge. Now returned home to live with his mother, he wonders how he’ll survive, with his major skill being cheating at cards. And despite many attempts to track down the old love of his life, Jennifer, he cannot find her.

Click on the triangle or link above to hear the excerpt as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

Dancing Through Tap History: Rusty Frank

Our friend of the blog, Dennis Mayne, wrote me and said that since I like tap dancers so much I just had to read Rusty Frank’s book, TAP!: The Greatest Tap Dance Stars & Their Stories, where she interviewed all the tap dancing legends! Well, I got the book, and for the last month every morning with my coffee I have been delightedly reading these wonderful primary source interviews with Bunny Briggs, Jimmy Slyde, Hermes Pan, Shirley Temple, Ann Miller and so many more. Fortunately I was able to contact Rusty and we had a delightful interview about her book and she even gave me a little on-air tap dancing lesson!

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Rusty Frank as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Words, Words, Words

I keep a file on my computer labeled “Quotations,” which consists of various clippings I’ve picked up along the way. Every once in a long while I like to re-read them, so here’s the latest installment.

As you get older the positive association of receiving socks as a gift steadily increases. It goes from cruel insult to thoughtful token to thing you are genuinely excited about—Murtaza M. Hussain

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”—Andy Warhol

“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.”–Martin Luther King

Marine Biologist: “Save the whales!”
No one: “All marine life matters!” —Random Twitter Feed

When you can’t create, you can work.—Henry Miller

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”―Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

“While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”—Eugene Debs

‘It’s not about hope. You don’t do what you do because you hope things will get better. It’s about getting up every morning and asking yourself what’s the right thing to do and doing it.”—Allen Ginsberg

“The problem is not that the world is too full of fools; it’s that lightning is improperly distributed.”—Mark Twain

“It’s difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair

“The definition of a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the bagpipes but doesn’t.”—Anonymous

Hofstadter’s Law: “The time and effort required to complete a project are always more than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”

December Dossier

*Director Lydia Pilcher of the Hard Hitting True Story of The Radium Girlsthe 1920s women who worked in the radium factories.

*Monumental Mistakes: Sherry Milner and Ernest Larsen’s Hilarious Satirical Serial Postcard Novel

*Dennis Broe on Today’s Noir Novel in Europe: Popular Novelists From France and Iceland

*Return of The Laugh Lounge!

Get your free copy and free subscription by emailing us at Artsexpresslist@gmail.com and put the word “subscribe” in the subject line

And Much More!

November Niceties

(Click the image above to go to our Arts Express Newsletter Facebook archive or see FREE subscription information below)

Another great issue of the Arts Express Newsletter!

*Prairie Miller talks with the multi-talented John Leguizamo about his new film Critical Thinking

*Connie Norgren shares some of her new poetry

*Jack Shalom gives his take on the late David Graeber’s book, Bullshit Jobs

*The Laugh Lounge: for all of us who need to have something to laugh about this year

And more!

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Letter From Brooklyn

With all the election week brouhaha, I got to thinking about the mail, and then recalling an essay I wrote here a few years ago about letter writing. Here’s a revised version of that essay that I aired for the Arts Express radio program. Click on the triangle or link to hear it as broadcast today on WBAI.org and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Our Sixth Anniversary! Some Posts To Remember

I like to do a Favorites of the Year post on our blog’s birthday, so here are some of the interviews or written pieces which we enjoyed most over the past year that you may have missed, or may like to view again:

It’s The Thought That Counts: Simon Aronson, An Appreciation

“I Would Want To Drink Their Blood”: Welcome To Hell World, Luke O’Neil

Holiday Greetings, Magic Friends 2019

“How I Became A Socialist”: Jack London

What’s Important

“I Am Spartacus”: Kirk Douglas

The Great Debate

Shakespeare In A Divided America

The Fire This Time

The Deep End: Radical Writers of The 30s

Nora Brown, Old-time Banjo: “You Need To Connect”

“I Owe So Much To Those I Don’t Love”: Wisława Szymborska

“Being Adventurous Means Going To Places You Don’t Know Exist! “

The Bird Way

The Social Media Trap: The Social Dilemma

Halloween Tale: Revolt Of The Worms!

Connie Norgren: Poems In A Time Of Crisis

I was happy to voice these poems of poet Connie Norgren on the Arts Express program. Click on the triangle to hear the poems as broadcast today on WBAI NY and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.