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March 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Instead of a pen name, Wesley Stace has a microphone name. Stace performs music under the stage name, John Wesley Harding.  He’s currently at work on his 16th album, a collaboration with members of the Decemberists.  Under his real name, Stace has written three novels. For the latest, he’s combined his musical and literary lives: Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer comes with a soundtrack. The book is about a young composer living in post-WWI England who is a victim/suspect in a triple murder. The musical backdrop for the story involves British folk musicians putting up a fight against the atonal music coming out of Germany at the turn-of-the-20th-century.

 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The ancient Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is said to be one of the happiest places on earth and one that has been isolated from industrialization until relatively recently. In fact, Bhutan measures its success in Gross National Happiness rather than in GNP.  Radio journalist Lisa Napoli moved to Bhutan to help start a radio station, Kuzoo FM. She writes about it all in her new book, Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth.  Then, in 1872, several dozen Chinese boys were sent to America by their Emperor. It was part of the Chinese Educational Mission and the hope was that after a few years in New England prep schools and colleges, the boys could return as leaders and usher China into the modern age.  Authors Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller share that story in Fortunate Sons: The 120 Chinese Boys Who Came to America, Went to School, and Revolutionized an Ancient Civilization


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bob talks with Sean Lennon and his girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl about their band The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. Sean is the only child of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Charlotte is better known as a fashion model who is now returning to her musical roots. They’ve released the band’s first CD called Acoustic Sessions and they perform several of the songs for us in studio. Then, Harvard professor and author Peter J. Gomes was an American Baptist minister who served in the Memorial Church since 1970.  Rev. Gomes had independent views on everything from the morality of war to same-sex marriage.  To remember the late professor, we’re replaying a portion of Bob’s conversation with Gomes, which covered the religious and cultural divide in America.  Peter Gomes died on February 28th at the age of 68.

 

Friday, March 4, 2011

First, Connie Schultz of the Cleveland Plain Dealer joins Bob to discuss the news of the week. Then, writer Paula McLain combines fact and fiction in The Paris Wife, a historical novel about Hadley Richardson, the first wife of American writer Ernest Hemingway.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Elise Forier Edie.  She is a professional playwright, a teacher and also an addict. In her essay, Edie writes frankly about the realities of addiction and recovery. She says that through all the changes in her life, her addiction remains. Each day, she fights a careful, methodical battle against her addiction, trimming her life into manageable moments.

 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Millions of people have heard Charles Fox’s music without ever knowing it. He composed some of the most recognizable television theme songs of all time including “Happy Days,” “Wonder Woman,” “The Love Boat,” “Love, American Style,” “Laverne and Shirley,” as well as “Monday Night Football” and “The Wide World of Sports.” Fox recently published his memories titled after another of his most famous compositions, made famous by Roberta Flack. It’s called Killing Me Softly: My Life in Music.  Then, this winter, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond hosts Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris, the largest Picasso exhibition seen in the U.S. in the past 70 years.  Robin Nicholson is Deputy Director for Exhibitions at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. 

 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Journalist Daleen Berry is a victim of sex abuse.  In her memoir, Sister of Silence, she recounts the early acts of violence that led her to the near suicide-murder of her own child.  Berry describes the trauma, repression and, finally, the therapy that helped her recover from teenage rape and domestic violence. 

 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pioneer TV journalist Belva Davis overcame racism and sexism to become the first black female news anchor on the West Coast. She tells her story in her memoir Never in My Wildest Dreams: A Black Woman’s Life in Journalism. Then, the Colorado-based band DeVotchKa, the Russian word for “girl,” burst onto the music scene in 2006 with their soundtrack for the hit film Little Miss Sunshine. Labeled “Gypsy punk,” DeVotchKa’s sound is an eclectic mash-up of Klezmer and American roots music. Front man Nick Urata talks with Bob about their most recent album 100 Lovers.  

 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bob pays tribute to Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and our very own contributor David Broder.  He’s been offering his analysis of the news to our audience ever since our first show in 2004. Last year, to mark our sixth anniversary, Bob talked with Broder about his long and storied journalism career. To remember our  colleague, we’ll share their conversation. David Broder died yesterday at the age of 81. 

 

Friday, March 11, 2011

In early March, high school seniors will be receiving their college acceptance and rejection letters.  In Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kids into College, Andrew Ferguson shares his family’s tales of college admissions woe. Next, long before his Oscar-winning performance in the 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine, actor Alan Arkin was a favorite of both critics and audiences alike.  A skilled comedian, Arkin first came to popular notice in the 1966 farce The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, earning an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.  Since then, Arkin has acted in and directed some 100 films, many of which he details in his new memoir An Improvised Life.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Kimberly Woodbury.  She is a student at the Episcopal Seminary at Yale. She is fascinated by the relationship between science and faith. After her graduation, Woodbury will work as an Episcopal priest and chemistry teacher in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. She sees the Big Bang and the story of Genesis as two sides of the same coin.

 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish watched three of his daughters die, killed recklessly by Israeli tank shells. After his family’s unbelievable tragedy, Dr. Abuelaish broadcast a message live on Israeli television: he spoke emotionally about what such a loss meant but then he asked not for revenge but for reconciliation. I Shall Not Hate is a recounting of Abuelaish’s life, starting with his childhood in the refugee camps of Gaza. He says he hopes to honor the memory of his three daughters with something more productive than violence and destruction.

 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bob talks with Jake Shimabukuro about his music and his chosen instrument. The native Hawaiian has been called “the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele” and Shimabukuro’s latest CD is titled Peace Love Ukelele.

 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Last year, Goldman Sachs paid more than sixteen billion dollars in compensation, and Morgan Stanley about fifteen billion dollars, even though neither firm produced anything of tangible value. Paul Woolley is a British financier and economist who founded the Woolley Center for the Study of Capital Market Dysfunctionality at the London School of Economics. Woolley questions why finance is one of the most highly paid industries when it is “just a utility, like sewage or gas.” The Woolley Center studies the benefits that financial markets and institutions bring to the economy. Then, Thomas McCarthy is an actor who’s appeared in HBO’s The Wire, and the film, Good Night, and Good Luck.  He’s also the writer and director behind The Station Agent and now, Win Win, a film about a struggling attorney who’s taken on too much responsibility, including the care of an estranged teenage boy.  McCarthy introduces actor Alex Shaffer in this latest film, which also features Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan.

 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In 2005, astronomer Mike Brown outraged school children and arm-chair star gazers alike by demoting Pluto from a real planet to a newly categorized “dwarf” planet.  He explains why in his book How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It ComingTime magazine named Brown one of the 100 People Who Shape Our World.  Then, the hundredth anniversary of Gustav Holst’s The Planets is coming up and the band One Ring Zero revisits the solar system with an album celebrating all things celestial; even Pluto is included. Front man Michael Hearst talks with Bob about the new-ish CD, Planets. 

 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Henrietta Lacks was a 31-year-old black mother of five in Baltimore when she died of cervical cancer in 1951. Without her knowledge, doctors treating her at Johns Hopkins took tissue samples from her cervix for research. Her cells became immortal and famous – known as HeLa.  HeLa cells were the first to grow reliably in a laboratory, and they’re still the most widely used today. They’re responsible for everything from the Polio vaccine to gene mapping. In her book, Rebecca Skloot tells the story of Lacks, and what happened to her family after she died. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is part biography and part investigation into racial politics and medical ethics. The book is now available in paperback. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of David Adinaro. As a teenager, Adinaro felt a called to practice emergency medicine. He’s now an emergency physician and chief of adult emergency medicine at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson New Jersey. He tries to establish a personal connection with patients, to carve out time for compassion in a busy schedule.

 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Daniel Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts. A very serious thinker, he has just written  Theories of International Politics and Zombies. Then, actor, comedian, writer, musician and all around Renaissance man Steve Martin returns to the banjo on his second album  Rare Bird Alert, a follow-up to 2009’s Grammy-winning The Crow. Martin is joined on the album by his backing band The Steep Canyon Rangers, with special guests The Dixie Chicks and Paul McCartney singing a couple of Martin’s original tunes.

 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Professor Edward Glaeser argues that cities are not the dirty, poor, sickly, and environmentally unfriendly places that many believe them to be.  Instead, he says that they are the healthiest, greenest and richest places to live.  Glaeser is a professor of economics at Harvard University and has traveled the world studying the economics and demographics of urban areas.  His book is  Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.

 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fifty years ago, Newton Minow made a speech in which he called television “a vast wasteland.” In this month’s issue of The Atlantic, JFK’s former FCC chairman surveys the media landscape today. Then, in the wake of Japan’s massive earthquake, we revisit a conversation with author, historian and geologist Simon Winchester about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Winchester is the author of many books including  A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906.”

 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A lot of baby boomers believe that if they just eat healthy and live right they can make “90 the new 50.” The truth is that it’s very difficult to grow old gracefully, and controlling the way you age and die is generally a pipe dream. In her new book,  Never Say Die, Susan Jacoby explores the myth and marketing of old age.  Then, Wunderkind bluegrass musician Sierra Hull is already making a mark on the music scene.   At just 19 years old, Hull counts Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss among her fans; in fact, she’s performed with Krauss at the Grand Ol’ Opry and the White House. Her new album “Daybreak” is released by Rounder Records.

 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, artist and director Julian Schnabel is known for his eccentric style and creative approach to filmmaking.  Basquiat, Before Night Falls, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly have earned critical acclaim including a Golden Globe, Palme d’Or, and an Academy nomination.  His most recent is Miral, a portrait of Palestinian life through the eyes of a young woman raised in an East Jerusalem orphanage. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Marian Wilson Kimber.  She is a musicologist who teaches at the University of Iowa. Kimber moved there from Mississippi, where her daily visits to a coffee shop kept her connected to a community of people who were very different from her. Kimber says we as a society need places that allow people with different backgrounds and political ideas to mix and share respectful conversations.

Monday, March 28, 2011

When his wife became the Wall Street Journal’s Beijing bureau chief, music journalist Alan Paul saw their relocation from New Jersey as the perfect opportunity to rediscover his passion for writing and brush up on his music skills. During their time aboard, Paul wrote “The Expat life” for the Wall Street Journal Online, and his Beijing-based bluegrass band Woodie Alan found unexpected success, earning the title “Best Band in Beijing” and taking Paul on a nation-wide tour. He wrote about his experiences in Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing.

 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Frontline correspondent Lowell Bergman investigates the multi-billion dollar business of the NCAA.   Money and March Madness airs tonight on PBS. Then, David Kirp is an early childhood education and development expert who served on President Obama’s transition team. He joins Bob to talk about Obama’s proposed funding boost for early education and his new book, Kids First: Five Big Ideas for Transforming Children’s Lives and America’s Future. In the book, Kirp writes about five specific programs that have proven to be successful and do not cost much money to implement.

 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today, PBS presents PLAN B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. Based on the book by environmentalist Lester Brown and hosted by Matt Damon, the documentary presents an ostensibly simple choice; accept the reality of climate change or suffer the consequences of lost civilizations and failed states. Lester Brown joins Bob to talk about the program. Brown has written dozens of books and is the founder of Worldwatch Institute, the first research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental issues.  Then, thirty years ago today, John Hinckley Jr. opened fire outside of a Washington hotel wounding Ronald Reagan and three others. The president lost half of his blood and came closer to dying than most realize. In Rawhide Down, Del Quentin Wilbur lays out the minute-by-minute account of the assassination attempt. “Rawhide” was Reagan’s Secret Service code name.

 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bill Ayres founded the nonprofit organization, WhyHunger, with folk legend Harry Chapin in 1975. Their mission is to partner with grassroots campaigns around the country to make sure they have the resources, education and support they need to succeed. Bill talks about National Hunger Month, childhood hunger and new efforts to help end poverty. Then, musicians Eric Brace and Peter Cooper join Bob in our performance studio to play a few tunes and to talk about their latest album titled Master Sessions.