As corporations are making record profits, workers are being squeezed more than ever. But workers are fighting back in surprising ways. Jon Melrod, has been involved as hell raiser and union organizer for decades, ever since his groundbreaking union organizing on the shop floor for the United Auto Workers in the 70s and 1980s. He’s now written a rip-roaring memoir called Fighting Times: Organizing on the Front Lines of the Class War about his fight to make workers lives better, and I was happy to get the chance to interview him.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Jon Melrod, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
Here’s a story by Mark Twain that was never published until after his death.
“The War Prayer” was written in 1905, in response to both the Spanish-American War and Philippine-American Wars, but even Mark Twain didn’t have the courage to publish it in his lifetime. It was left unpublished at his death in April 1910. Twain said about it, “I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead.”
Click on the triangle to hear the story as broadcast today on the Art Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
In preparation for this labor-day weekend, I thought it might be fun to watch and rewatch a bunch of labour-related films, in particular those that highlight union or workplace struggles. Well, I am somewhat bleary eyed from my home film fest, but I am going to focus on a half dozen of the films that I most enjoyed.
Click on the grey triangle or Mp3 link above to hear my picks as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program, heard on WBAI FM and Pacifica affiliates across the country.
“This week, I imagined a radio station in dire financial straits deciding the only way out of its financial difficulties was to take on underwriting sponsorships, like you hear on NPR or PBS. Now I know that’s a completely hypothetical situation, I know that would never happen at a place like this, Pacifica WBAI…”
In our Arts Express Playhouse, a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Gilman is best known for her novella The Yellow Wallpaper, but she also wrote hundreds of other short stories. The one I’m reading above, “If I Were a Man,” was written in 1914, before women even had the right to vote in the US, but it seems a whole lot more modern.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the story as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio show, heard on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
The American mass obsession with guns is clearly unique and filmmaker Richard Chisolm has made an intriguing short documentary called Gun Show which details one artist’s attempt to come to grips with the national gun worship.
Click on the triangle above or the mp3 link to hear my review as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program heard on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
In 1995, the students of a secondary school in Scotland, found out they were the victims of a hoax. Their popular student companion of the previous year, Brandon Lee, turned out not to be who he seemed to be, but an imposter. Now, one of those school students, Jono McLeod, who grew up to be a filmmaker, has made a film that takes that shaggy dog story further yet, as Jono and his former school companions investigate the effect that the student they knew as Brandon Lee had on all of them. And in a virtuoso turn, Alan Cumming plays the camera-shy Brandon.
I was very happy to interview the director of the film, My Old School, Jono McLeod, and its star, Alan Cumming, for Arts Express radio heard on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview as broadcast today
Kenneth Patchen’s poetry is a bullet right between the eyes.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear Mary Murphy and me read a selection of poems by Kenneth Patchen, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.
The newest book by Marxist economist Michael Hudson has the imposing title of The Destiny of Civilization: Finance capitalism, industrial capitalism or socialism. It’s not exactly summer beach reading but it is one of those books that has added to my framework for understanding world events and I greatly appreciate that.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my review of the book as broadcast today on Arts Express radio program heard on WBAI-FM and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
For decade after decade, musician and composer Paul Winter has been making beautiful music, blending the sounds of the earth and nature with his signature soprano saxophone. In an extraordinary life filled with adventure and achievement, he has won seven Grammy awards, played for the Kennedys at the White House, and he has been artist in residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City for forty years–and that’s just scratching the surface. I was happy to interview Paul Winter for the Arts Express radio program.
Click on the triangle or MP3 link above to hear the interview with Paul Winter as broadcast on Arts Express on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
A memorable day in any big city child’s upbringing is when they first enter a large museum and experience the wonders of a giant dinosaur, skeleton, or an ancient mummy. But in a new book, Decolonize Museums, our guest Shimrit Lee suggests that maybe museums are not as innocent as they seem…
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Shimrit Lee as broadcast today on the Arts Express program on WBAI and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
It’s May, and May brings up thoughts of Mayday and revolution and Karl Marx’s birthday, May 5,1818, so I thought it might be worthwhile to read from the surprisingly readable Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.
Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to hear the reading as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.
In 1954, the Supreme Court issued their ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education, which was supposed to end segregation in US public schools. While that struggle was most visible in the South, it was occurring in different ways up North. In her book, Desegregation of the New York City Schools: A Story of The Silk Stocking Sisters, author Dr. Theresa Canada was part of a desegregation experiment herself as a student in NYC in the early 1960s.Through her own example and the oral histories of others, A Story of The Silk Stocking Sisters provides insight into the slow process of desegregation and eventual re-segregation within the New York City Public Schools during that time and the lessons learned. I was happy to speak with Dr. Theresa Canada about her experiences.
Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to listen to my interview with Dr. Theresa Canada as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.
Some people seek immortality through fame, but others want physical-body-forever immortality. A new book, The Price of Immortality, explores the numerous paths that people have sought to extend their lives—and the hucksters and scam artists who have taken advantage of them. I was happy to have as my guest, the author of ThePrice of Immortality, Peter Ward.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Peter Ward, as broadcast today on Arts Express radio, heard on WBAI FM and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
It’s April 23rd, and for us it marks the anniversary of both the birthday of William Shakespeare and the day he died. In celebration of the date, we have produced a new radio version of one of the most intriguing of Shakespeare’s plays, Measure for Measure. I call it Shakespeare’s #Me Too play, and with its up to the minute Me Too themes of sexual harassment and hypocritical Puritanical seeming lying politicians, it couldn’t be more relevant to today. Of course, we couldn’t broadcast our entire play in our Arts Express time slot, but we are happy to present to you a key scene featuring two of our Arts Express stalwarts, Mary Murphy and KeShaun Luckie.
So let’s set the scene: We’re in 16th century Vienna and the newly appointed interim Mayor, Lord Angelo, has just declared a new Puritanical ban on out-of-marriage fornication, punishable by death. A young woman, Isabella, learns, just as she is about to take vows to become a nun, that her poor brother Claudio has run afoul of these laws and is about to be executed. She runs to Lord Angelo to beg him to spare her brother’s life, but Angelo insists that the law must be done. However, Angelo is secretly enamored by Isabella and he wants to see her again, so he tells her to come back the next day and maybe he will reconsider. And so, Isabella returns to Lord Angelo to plead again for her brother.
And now what happens next, from Measure For Measure.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the segment as broadcast today on Arts Express radio, heard on WBAI FM and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
And If you’d like to listen to our entire production of the play, you can hear it here:
Earl Robinson may not be so well known nowadays as he once was, but in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, a huge number of Americans knew his music. He was the composer of “The House I Live In,” “Joe Hill,” “Ballad for Americans,” and many others. Singers of his works included Paul Robeson, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Joan Baez, and Three Dog Night. His music crossed the boundaries of folk, Broadway musical, classical, and even rock. Throughout his life he was driven by a need to improve working people’s lives, and he was a longtime member of the Communist Party, which resulted in his being called before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. His autobiography, Ballad of an American, written in collaboration with author Eric Gordon, was released in 1998, and has been out of print. Now it is being re-released, and we are happy to bring you, through the permission of Eric Gordon, this extract from the book, where we enact, in Earl’s words, his tangle with the House UnAmerican Activities Committee.
Click on the triangle above to hear the reading as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.
Imagine a world where meat is produced from animal cells rather than a slaughter house. Dr. Uma Valeti, the co-founder and CEO of Upside Foods claims such a world is now within reach. A new film documentary, Meat the Future—that’s meat spelled M-E-A-T–follows Dr. Valeti over a five-year period as he attempts to make his dream a reality. From the world’s first cell-based meatball which cost $18,000 per pound to the establishment of a growing industry, Meat the Future presents a different kind of meat-eating future. I was happy to have as my guest on Arts Express, Meat the Future’s director, Liz Marshall.
Click on the triangle above to hear my interview with director Liz Marshall, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
In 2002 a Mauritanian engineer named Mohamedou Slahi was bundled onto a military transport plane and imprisoned by the US at Guantanamo for 14 years enduring years of physical and psychological torture. He wrote a book about it while he was in there that eventually got made into a film called The Mauritanian. But after the film’s release, journalist John Goetz found himself enlisted by Slahi on an obsessive mission that Goetz could never have predicted. Goetz documents his journey with Slahi in a new film called Guantanamo Diary Revisited. I was very happy to speak with Goetz about his new film.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview with John Goetz as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.
Two of the best films I’ve seen about teachers were foreign documentaries about the teachers of younger children. The first is a French film called To Be and To Have, released about two decades ago, about a rural teacher who taught in a kind of one room school house. But my new favorite teaching film is a recently released German documentary titled Mr. Bachmann and His Class. The Mr. Bachmann of the title is a 6th grade teacher who teaches new immigrants to Germany, and he is decidedly unorthodox.
Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to hear my review as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.