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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Memoirs of a Misfit Ruler

Wherein we make like Marcel Proust and recall our humorous encounters with the trappings of power and authority in my local elementary school.

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.

Mike Nichols, A Life by Mark Harris: Part One

The Graduate, Angels in America, The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, The Gin Game, Hurley Burley, Silkwood, Postcards From The Edge, Heartburn, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Streamers, The Real Thing, Spamalot, Working Girl and more were all directed by the same man–Mike Nichols. In a career that spanned over fifty years simultaneously in both film and theater, Mike Nichols proved that he was one of America’s best directors. Now Mark Harris has written a comprehensive new biography of Nichols, which provides great insight into Nichols’ life and career. I had the pleasure of having a very enjoyable conversation with Mark about Nichols, who Mark knew well.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear part one of the interview Mark gave on Arts Express, as broadcast yesterday on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Part Two is here:

“I Know That. You Don’t Think I Know That? It’s So Funny That You Would Think That.”

Our favorite Martin Short character, Nathan Thurm, in a manner uncannily anticipating Kellyanne Conway by several decades, defends the tobacco manufacturers.

Everybody by Olivia Laing: Part Two

Last week in Part 1, we spoke with Olivia Laing about her fascinating new book Everybody. It’s a book about the work of psychologist Wilhelm Reich and the expanding influence his ideas had, especially that of “character armor,” that is, the idea that our emotional memories are physically retained within the musculature of our bodies.

We ended by my asking Olivia Laing whether Reich had gone over the deep end in his later years. This week we talk about the wide range of artists and thinkers that Reich influenced, including Andrea Dworkin, Nina Simone, Lorraine Hansberry, and James Baldwin.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my conversation with Olivia Laing as broadcast yesterday on WBAI and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Part One is here.

Every Body is Everybody: Part One

Everybody has a body and Everybody is the name of a new book by art and social critic Olivia Laing, which takes off from the ideas of Wilhelm Reich. It’s a  book about bodies in peril and bodies as a force for change and what are the limits of pleasure and freedom.

I had a fascinating conversation with Olivia about her book. Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to hear Part One of our conversation, as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Part Two is here: https://jackshalom.net/2021/05/16/everybody-by-olivia-laing-part-two/

Title Fight

Granted that the glory days of attention-grabbing newspaper headline writing have long passed, still you have to appreciate it when they come out with an effort like yesterday’s New York Daily News headline concerning the events of May 5th.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo: The Last Interview And Other Conversations is a new collection of several of Kahlo’s magazine and newspaper interviews. As a bonus, art historian, critic and author Hayden Herrera provides within an excellent introduction to the life and work of the extraordinary Mexican artist and activist. I was happy to interview Hayden for Arts Express.

To listen, click on the triangle or mp3 link above and listen to the interview as broadcast today on WBAI FM radio and Pacifica stations across the country.

Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays?

This April is the 457th Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth and I have to admit that everything I thought I knew about William Shakespeare’s life may well be wrong. My faith was recently shaken by both the film Last Will and Testament and the book North by Shakespeare. Both works posit that heresy of heresies that William Shakespeare of Stratford-Upon-Avon was not the fellow who wrote the 37 plays usually attributed to him.

For the skinny, click on the triangle or mp3 link above and listen to the story as broadcast today on the Arts Express program on WBAI FM radio and Pacifica stations across the country.

“Our Revels Now Are Ended…”

David Threlfall’s stunning rendition of Prospero’s last speech from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

I had never heard of Threlfall before, but with this shorter than 90 second clip, I have become an instant fan.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber Guardian Culture

The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are: Part Two

Last week we brought you Part One of our interview with journalist Libby Copeland, author of The Lost Family: How DNA Testing has Upended Who We Are. We spoke about how the DNA tests offered by companies such as Ancestry and 23and me can have unintended consequences when people thought to be close biological relatives turn out to be no such thing. This week in Part Two we turn our attention to the larger societal issues including surveillance and privacy of genetic data.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear Part Two of my interview with Libby Copeland, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Part One can heard here:

The Lost Family: Part One

With TV shows like Henry Louis Gates’ Finding Your Roots, and aggressive advertising of DNA testing by companies like Ancestry.Com, millions have spit into a tube to find the names of their particular ancestors and relatives, and more generally to confirm their ethnic heritage. But these appealing tests have some far-reaching consequences that most of us have not even considered. Award-winning Washington Post reporter Libby Copeland has written about the unforeseen consequences of these genetic tests in a beautifully structured and comprehensive book called The Lost Family: How DNA is Upending Who You Are.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear Part One of my interview with Libby Copeland as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.