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.

Covid Crime

John Bernos and Dominique Xi during the Sunday performance of “Covid Crime” at Richard Tucker Park on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Photo Credit…An Rong Xu for The New York Times  

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.

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.

“A White Heron” by Sarah Jewett

This September we celebrate the birthday of author Sarah Jewett, who was born September 3rd, 1849. Her short stories and poetry were infused with local color and country life, but there are deeper themes running through her work as well: feminist critics have championed her writing for its rich account of women’s lives and voices, and ecologically minded critics have praised her works for her deep love of the natural world.

I adapted and performed on the radio one of her most famous stories, “A White Heron,” in which a young girl has to decide what’s most important to her in life.

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

“Sneaking Out”

We were happy to bring on a new contributor to Arts Express radio, storyteller David Lepelstat. David is a storyteller who has appeared twice on The Moth Radio Hour podcast telling original stories from his childhood. Here in an Arts Express exclusive, he tells a story of youth and the lure of New York City, written and performed by himself.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear David’s story 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.

The Joy of Sweat!

It’s the dog days of summer and wherever there are men and women, there’s sweat. Canadian science journalist and teacher, author Sarah Everts, has taken a deep dive–ahem–into that pool of sweat, telling us everything we wanted to know about it in her new book, The Joy of Sweat.

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

The Poems of Denise Levertov

Today we’ll be celebrating the work of much-loved poet Denise Levertov, who published her poems over a span of 40 years and influenced generations of British and American poets.

Levertov has said that “I knew before I was ten that I was an artist-person and I had a destiny.”

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the segment I produced, with the poems read by Mary Murphy, broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Diaspora Boy

American artist Eli Valley created his Diaspora Boy comics because of his anger with the corruption of American Jewish institutions and so-called Jewish “leaders” that he was constantly exposed to. His response was a savage comic strip with a visual style that mixed the 50s Mad’s Harvey Kurtzman and the 60s R. Crumb.

I broadcast a radio commentary about the collected strips that Valley published in book form, and I also read one of his 9-panel cartoons on the air.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the commentary, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

July’s Arts Express Magazine!

Every month we produce a magazine based on the best of the Arts Express radio program. Here’s July!

 Summer Fun with Arts Express!

Inside:
**Actor Tzi Ma Talks US Race Hatred Towards Asians, Then And Now. 

**Chris Matthews on the Arts Express Hot Seat!

**Cosmic Nature: Photo feature on sculptor Yayoi Kusama’s work at the NY Botanical Gardens

**Bro on Raymond Chandler, The Man Behind The Mask

*And more!!

Click here to view online:  July 2021 Magazine Online


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

artsexpresslist@gmail.com

The People Vs. Agent Orange

Agent Orange has been called the most destructive instance of chemical warfare in modern history. Sad to say the US government has been instrumental in the awful deaths caused by Agent Orange both in Vietnam and the United States. A powerful new documentary,  The People Vs. Agent Orange, depicts the horrific story but also the courageous action by two extraordinary women, Tran To Nga and Carol Van Strum, who fought and sacrificed so much to bring the guilty parties responsible to account.

I was happy to speak with the directors and producers of the film, Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna, and also with one of those extraordinary women, Carol Van Strum, on Arts Express.

The film, The People vs Agent Orange is broadcast on PBS starting 6/28/21 and can be streamed via the PBS streaming app until July 11.

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

The Conductor: Marin Alsop

Photo: “WEF Annual Meeting” by WEF

The Conductor is an excellent documentary film about Marin Alsop, who struggles against enormous odds to become the first female conductor of a major symphony orchestra in the US. It’s a wonderful story told by Director Bernadette Wegenstein, with a compelling theme about the world of high stakes musicianship, along with the high cost of success for a woman in that field.

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

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.