Tom Joad: Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie’s song version of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath as sung by Brooklyn’s favorite cowboy, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Phil Ochs fans might recognize the melody as the same that Phil used for his own song “Joe Hill,” but Phil was just following tradition since Woody had already stolen the tune from an even earlier song called “John Hardy.”

Thanks to YouTuber mrgildons

The Great Postal Heist

If you’re not totally glued to your computer email 24/7 you may have noticed that the US Postal Service mail delivery has been getting more and more chaotic and sporadic over the last few decades. Filmmaker Jay Galione has come out with a documentary film that helps to unravel the labor battleground that is the US Postal Service in a deeply personal film, The Great Postal Heist. I was happy to interview Jay for Arts Express radio.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.

“We Are Plain People”: Sidney Poitier

The great Sidney Poitier died this month.

Here he is in one of his most masterful performances as Walter Lee Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.

The play was originally directed on Broadway by Lloyd Richards, the first Black director on the Broadway stage. In their lean days as struggling actors, Richards and Poitier would pool their money to buy and split a hot dog. They promised each other that if one got an opportunity, they’d bring the other along. When Poitier got Hansberry’s script, he insisted that Lloyd direct the play. Lloyd worked intensely with Hansberry to shape the play and then cast and directed the play perfectly. The stage cast, many of whom were also in the film– and who you can see in this clip from the film–included Ruby Dee, Diana Sands, Claudia McNeil, and John Fiedler.

Thanks to YouTuber The aesthetic of the Image: [world] cinema clips

Marionette Land

There’s a long history of actors and variety performers who have had their first taste of theater with a basement childhood puppet stage. But actor Robert Brock of Lancaster PA was determined to make good on his childhood dream of building a marionette theater for the public and living in an apartment upstairs. Now in a new documentary, director Alexander Monelli brings to life the joys and woes of Robert’s single-minded adult pursuit of his childhood dream in Monelli’s new film Marionette Land.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview with Alexander Monelli, as broadcast yesterday on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.

A Brotherhood of Man

Daniel Radcliffe in a non-Harry Potter-ish role, insists on the unity of us all, as his corporate brethren in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying agree. Robert Morse and Matthew Broderick who both played the same role, introduce the high-spirited number at the Tony Awards.

Who knew that Radcliffe was such a great song-and-dance man?

Thanks to YouTuber The xNYr

Rebel Hearts: Defiant Nuns of the Immaculate Heart

In the early nineteen sixties, a hidebound Catholic Church attempted to modernize with a movement known as Vatican 2. But some Church people, nuns and priests, wanted changes that were a bridge too far for Vatican 2. In Los Angeles, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary went toe to toe with the church hierarchy, involving themselves in anti-war and social justice movements. I was happy to speak with Pedro Kos, the director of a new film documentary called Rebel Hearts about those women of the Immaculate Heart who insisted on staying true to their consciences.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview with Pedro Kos as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Lady Buds: Six Women Underground Cannabis Growers

In 2016, Californians voted “Yes” on proposition 64 which made cannabis legal for recreational purposes. But perhaps counter-intuitively, the consequences of that act were decidedly mixed and complex. A new documentary, Lady Buds, focuses on a group of six cannabis growers, mostly women, who had to wrestle with the many unforeseen circumstances that came along with pot legalization. I was happy to be speaking with the director of Lady Buds, Chris J Russo.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Chris Russo, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time

Kurt Vonnegut’s humorous and fantastical novels are all still in print today. Certainly, if you were a college student of the 60s, 70s or 80s, you probably know lines from Vonnegut novels by heart. Producer, director and writer Robert Weide has come out with a new documentary on Kurt Vonnegut, which includes Mr. Weide’s personal relationship to Vonnegut, called Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time. I was happy to interview Robert Weide for Arts Express.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Robert Weide, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

The Real Chaplin

It’s the 100th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s first full-length feature, The Kid, and that’s as good  an excuse as any to celebrate all of his films. But who was Chaplin off-screen? A new Showtime documentary, The Real Chaplin directed by Peter Middleton and James Spinney purports to get to the bottom of the real Charlie Chaplin…does it?

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

Seventh Inning Stretch

Party On!! The worldwide staff at Shalblog® Industries is taking a moment off from their usual Culture Conveyor Belt activities in order to select twenty of their favorite original interviews, reviews, stories, and poetry from the past year that you may have missed as we approach our seventh blog anniversary:

Letter From Brooklyn

Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story

Thanksgiving

“Tried To Suffocate Us, But We Are Air”: Louise Dessertine

Dancing Through Tap History: Rusty Frank

David And The Recruiter

Denial

“Oh God, And This Is Only A Metaphor!”: Molly Peacock

The Lost Family: Part One

Everyone Was Beautiful: Paul Hostovsky

Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays?

Memoirs of a Misfit Ruler

The Voyage

The People Vs. Agent Orange

The Poems of Denise Levertov

The Joy of Sweat!

Fireboys

“A White Heron” by Sarah Jewett

Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster

I Digress

Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster

If ever there was an immortal movie monster, it was Frankenstein, or more correctly Frankenstein’s monster. And of course the role of the monster was originally played by Boris Karloff who starred in scores of horror films. A new film documentary, Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster explores just who this amazing actor was. I was happy to interview filmmakers Thomas Hamilton and Ron MacCloskey about Karloff and their film.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

No Business Like Shoe Business: Hobson’s Choice

A delightful dance from The Birmingham Royal Ballet in David Bintley’s Hobson’s Choice, about the three daughters of a shoestore owner. With Stephen Wicks as Albert Prosser and Chenca Williams as Alice Hobson.

Thanks to YouTuber Ballet archive

Savior For Sale: Da Vinci’s Lost Masterpiece?

Some fifteen years ago the art world was aghast over what was called the biggest discovery of the 21st century: a newly found painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. Originally bought for about $1000, it eventually sold at auction for an astounding record breaking 450 million Euros. But was all what it seemed? Was the painting really by Da Vinci? And who was the mysterious buyer? And who were the shadowy middle men and agents taking their cuts? Was the whole art world just one large international scam operation?  In a fascinating new documentary film, Savior For Sale: Da Vinci’s Lost Masterpiece?  the full tangled story is explored. I was happy to interview the director and writer of Savior For Sale, filmmaker Antoine Vitkine.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Antoine, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

Fireboys

California is once again on fire and it’s unlikely to end anytime soon. But the firefighters fighting those fires include a large number of incarcerated youth who have been trained to combat the fire on the ground. I was happy to speak with filmmakers Drew Dickler and Jake Hochendoner, director/producers of a wonderful documentary film, Fireboys, about those youth who are risking their lives to fight the fires.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Jake and Drew, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

Magic, Mysteries, and Movies: John Gaspard

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? John Gaspard is the author of not just one mystery series but at least two, and I have been devouring all of them in a bet-you-can’t-eat-just-one style. One series involves the world of stage magicians, and the other, the world of small town amateur theatre companies. And as if that weren’t enough, John is also the author of a well-regarded series of books about Fast Cheap low budget filmmaking.

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