March Arts Express Magazine

Get your free subscription to the Arts Express Magazine, the companion magazine to Arts Express Radio, by sending an email with the word “subscribe” in the subject line to:

artsexpresslist@gmail.com

This month in the Arts Express Magazine:

** The Unforgivable: Director Nora Fingscheidt on the Sandra Bullock film about eviction and life after incarceration

** Caitlin Johnstone’s Three Poems for Today: “Sources Say,” “To-do List” and “Crazy”

** Red Book Day Art--International celebrations of Left books and the anniversary of the Communist Manifesto.

** War Is A Racket

**The Freebie Zone: The best of the free ‘net

and more!

Click on the logo above to view

Why Is We Americans?

 Amiri Baraka was an internationally known poet, playwright, political activist and theorist. But as prolific and influential as he was, the rest of his family, including his wife Amina and children Ras and Middy, are just as special. A recent documentary called Why is We Americans provides a portrait of the Baraka family and how they helped shape modern Newark, NJ, the nation, politics, arts and subsequent generations. I was happy to talk with the directors of the film, Why is We Americans, Udi Aloni and Ayanna Morris, and also one of the subjects of Why is We Americans, Amiri Baraka Jr, known as Middy.

Click on the grey triangle or MP3 link above to hear the interview as broadcast recently on Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Advice For The Ethically Challenged

Wherein our Dear Ethicist columnist commits himself to audio and answers your knotty moral dilemmas.

We’ll take a moment to note here that we were ahead of the current New Yorker‘s take on the same theme by more than two weeks in our print version of February 5th. (Modesty forbids that we mention who we thought executed the theme better.)

Click on the gray triangle or mp3 link above to hear the Dear Ethicist satire as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

The Automat

When I was a child, my father took me to a Shangri-la. A beautiful high-ceiling building filled with people sitting at tables; the walls were made up of scores of little windowed cabinets filled with slices of lemon meringue pie, or coconut crème pie, or bean soup or dozens of other treats. And if you put your nickels into the magic slot, the window popped open and it all could be yours. Of course, I’m talking about the Automat. I was happy to speak with Lisa Hurwitz who has made a nostalgia-filled film documentary called The Automat.

Click on the gray triangle or mp3 link above to hear the discussion of The Automat with director Lisa Hurwitz, as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

How to Tell A Story In One Sentence

Have you ever had this experience, as I have had many times? I’m at a friend’s house and inevitably someone asks what’s new, and what have you been working on, and though I may have a project that I’ve been working on, I suddenly become all muckle-mouthed and it just becomes a trail of, “Well, it’s kinda hard to explain…”

To the rescue: a book that I thought I would hate, but turned out to be a really interesting and useful book…

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

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.

Border Crossings

A while ago we brought you an excerpt from Manuel Tiago’s The 3rd Floor, stories of the Portuguese Communist resistance under fascism. Now Eric Gordon has translated into English another book of Tiago’s called Border Crossings, a collection of short stories about the everyday lives of those who worked for the party resistance and had to flee from town to town and country to country as they carried out their assignments.

Tiago, whose real name was Álvaro Cunhal, based these stories on his longtime experiences in the Portuguese Communist Party. As Eric Gordon writes in his introduction, “One theme that pops up in story after story here is that of communication, cooperation and collaboration. No one makes these journeys alone. They are aided by a global support system that recognized the critical importance of these crossings.”

I would add that these stories taken as a whole add up to a three dimensional portrait of ordinary people doing heroic things in extraordinary times.

Here’s one story from Border Crossings called “Women over the Soajo.”

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

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.

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.

“They’re Worse Than You Thought And More Evil Than You Thought”

Alessandro Delfanti’s new book about Amazon is an excellent primer. Here’s the short version: the situation is worse than you probably thought, Amazon is more dangerous than you thought and they’re certainly more evil than you thought. But other than that…

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

The Furnished Room

A romantic ghost story of the transients from O Henry, adapted and performed by myself.

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

The Pundemic

On location in Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, your intrepid correspondent brings you this live report from the 94th annual World Pun Competition.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the report as broadcast today on Arts Express 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.

Gold, Oil, And Avocados

Leftists who have followed the recent fortunes of socialist governments in Latin America can’t help but be both heartened and chastened by the ups and downs in those economies and in their social development projects. The dynamics of building socialism in the midst of an imperialist world presents enormous challenges.  I was happy to interview journalist Andy Robinson who succeeds in demystifying much of the politics of the area by getting down to basics in his fascinating and illuminating new book, Gold, Oil, and Avocados: A Recent History of Latin America in Sixteen Commodities.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Andy Robinson, 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

2121: A Tale Of The Near Future

For Halloween, an original update of an old-time radio show, we call 2121: A Tale of the Near Future.

In a world where efficiency must be maximized, are poets and artists non-essential workers to be imprisoned and exterminated?

Featuring Mary Murphy as Caroline, Rick Tuman as the Guard, Julius Hollingsworth as the General Manager, and myself as James T. Randall. With music from Kojiro Miura.

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

I Digress

“This is about digression. This started six years ago as a written piece and somehow I’m circling back to it now. We’re coming up on Halloween, which is a day where we hide ourselves, change our identities, have secret identities; in other words, we refuse to be what others see us as, we try to make things a little bit harder for those who want to capture us in a word, a phrase, a box, a category, an image. Like Harry Houdini, I want to be an escape artist from the expectations of others…”

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

The Third Floor

The longtime head of the Portuguese Communist Party, Álvaro Cunhal, spent many years of his life in Portuguese fascist prisons. Later in exile, from the 1950s onward, he wrote novels, novellas and short stories about Portuguese life under the fascists who ruled from 1927 to the early 1970s. In particular, he wrote of the leading role of the Portuguese Communist Party in the anti-fascist struggle for almost 50 years. To create a literary identity apart from his political renown, he employed the pen name Manuel Tiago.

Author and translator Eric Gordon set himself the task of translating Cunhal’s work into English, and so far, the books Five Days, Five Nights and The Six-Pointed Star have appeared from International Publishers. The 3rd Floor has just been issued, with five more books on their way.

The title story is a prison break tale. In the excerpt I’ll be reading, the Communist prisoners have worked out a messaging system with the Party by writing on little bits of cigarette papers and smuggling them in and out under the buttons of shirts in the dirty prison laundry. A trio of prisoners who are secretly working on a prison break have just received back a message from the Party.

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

The Quiet Zone

Green Bank, West Virginia is a remote community with a claim to being the quietest town in America. Cell phone, WiFi and other electronic noise are tightly monitored. But when journalist Stephen Kurczy took a deep dive into the apparently sleepy town, he found a Twin Peaks-style stew of surveillance, Nazis, forbidding caves, murder and suicide. I was happy to talk with Steve about his new book detailing all this and more, The Quiet Zone.

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.

Acting Up: A Deeper Dive

There have been many enjoyable memoirs about an actor’s life in theater and film– the autobiographies of Laurence Olivier and Marlon Brando come to mind–but one of my favorites is David Hare’s Acting Up. The British-born David Hare is not a professional actor, but rather an acclaimed playwright and director who talked himself into taking the main–and only–role in his play Via Dolorosa. He kept a diary of his rehearsals and performances, and published it. Here’s a radio piece I did recently, expanding on a brief essay I had written previously.

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

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.

A Hunger Artist: Franz Kafka

More and more today’s world is looking Kafkaesque, so I thought this week we’d go back to the original. The Franz Kafka’s short story, “A Hunger Artist,” was published in final form in 1924. In it, Kafka tells a tale that almost any artist today can identify with. Kafka edited the story on his death bed as he lay dying from tuberculosis at the age of 40.

Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to hear the story, which I adapted and performed, broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

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.