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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a play by Lionelle Hamanaka concerning the wave of anti-Asian hate crimes that have occurred in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The play was performed live on the streets of NYC. The cast also got together to do a radio version which I helped put together. This radio version was heard yesterday on WBAI FM.
You can hear the radio version of “Covid Crime” by clicking on the triangle or mp3 link above.