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Bob Elsewhere

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September 2010


Monday, September 6, 2010

The manufacturing industry in the United States has long been in decline, but the loss of factory jobs has been especially brutal during the recession, with nearly two million disappearing since December 2007. Scott Paul is the Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing and he’ll explain how U.S. policies have undermined the manufacturing industry. Then, FDR’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) funded four arts program.  One of those, the Federal Writer’s Project, employed thousands of writers and started the careers of some of America’s most famous authors like Studs Terkel, Ralph Ellison, Richard Writer, Saul Bellow, and Zora Neale Hurston.  Bob talks with writer David Bradley about the documentary titled Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story


Tuesday, September 7, 2010   

Lawrence Wright earned the Pulitzer Prize for his historical account of Al-Qaeda, The Looming Tower, which, in part, traces the roots of the anti-American jihad to the 1940s.  Afterwards, the author wrote a one-man show about his experience with Islamic fundamentalists and award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney has produced a documentary based on that show.  Wright discusses My Trip to Al-Qaeda and U.S. relations with Muslims nine years after the attack on the World Trade Center.  Wright also is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  Then, In 1981, newly graduated American civ major Mary Chapin Carpenter applied for a number of jobs that didn’t pan out.  After a series of closed doors, Carpenter finally turned to music, her favorite hobby, to try to pay the bills.  Five Grammys and three Platinum albums later, Carpenter is one of America’s most successful female singer/songwriters.  Her latest album is titled The Age of Miracles.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010  

This week in our series No Place Like Home, we examine the struggles of two different families as they return to their homes in hard-hit St. Bernard Parish. First we visit Errol Perez. He evacuated to northern Louisiana before Katrina, and it’s taken him almost five years to move back to St. Bernard Parish. Next, Bob talks with cultural anthropologist and documentary filmmaker Kate Browne about what she learned by following the journey of an extended Creole family for the past five years. The documentary is titled, Still Waiting. Finally, a conversation with Dr. Ben Springgate about the psychological toll of successive disasters in the past five years and the limited healthcare options in post-Katrina New Orleans.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

 In this week’s issue of The New Yorker magazine, Terry McDermott investigates the life of the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Michael Hayden, the former head of the CIA, told a Senate committee that Mohammed  “did not even appear in our chart of key Al Qaeda members and associates” until a detainee identified him as the planner of the 9/11 attacks, in the spring of 2002. McDermott writes that whenever Mohammed goes on trial, “the answers he provides to the enduring questions about 9/11 will be deeply unsatisfying…The mastermind of 9/11 seems to have had no grand strategy, or, really, any strategy at all.” Then, sports writer Frank Deford turned to fiction in his latest book “Bliss, Remembered,” about an American swimmer who falls in love with a young German man during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. When politics intervene, the young swimmer returns home to sort out the difficulties of mixing personal affairs with world events.


Friday, September 10, 2010  

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics. Next, The Colorado River is a crucial source of water and electricity for the American West, but it’s under severe stress from factors like population growth, pollution and climate change. In his book “Running Dry,” Jonathan Waterman recounts his journey along the Colorado River and profiles some of the people who depend on this once-mighty waterway. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with curator Dan Gediman about the essay of Karin Round. She is the office manager for her family’s hardware store in Stoneham, Massachusetts and she has studied non-fiction writing in a post-graduate program at Goucher College. Round continues to help travelers stranded on her doorstep.


Monday, September 13, 2010 

Literary critic Jonathan Arac has written books on novelists like Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, and Mark Twain. But in his most recent work, Professor Arac has written that the “age of the novel” in the U.S. has passed. The special relationship that the novel once had with the national imagination, he argues, has passed to television and film. So what’s a literary critic to do? We’ll talk about this question with him, as well as his new book, Impure Worlds: the Institution of Literature in the Age of the Novel. 


Tuesday, September 14, 2010  

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas French spent six years at the zoo, getting to know its cast of characters inside — and outside — of the cages. In his book Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives, French questions the morality of zoos through the stories that he tells of the animals and their keepers.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010   

We conclude our series No Place Like Home with a look at the future of the New Orleans region.  Bob talks with Tim Williamson, co-founder and CEO of The Idea Village about their mission to help local entrepreneurs like Kenneth Purcell and Jennifer Schnidman. Then we visit with Paul Baricos of the Hollygrove Market and Farm and meet two of the farmers working there to help rebuild the roots of their neighborhood. Ronald Terry is a mentor farmer specializing in miniature fruit trees and Michael Beauchamp is a community gardener who grows his own vegetables and flowers in plots at the urban farm.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Grand and Bold Thing author Ann Finkbeiner talks about the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a massive map of the sky that brought us into today’s era of supercharged astronomical discovery and might reveal the history of the universe.  Then, Michael Stuhlbarg plays the gangster Arnold Rothstein in the new HBO series, Boardwalk Empire. The show is set in Atlantic City during the Prohibition Era. The pilot episode, directed by Martin Scorsese, premiers this weekend.


Friday, September 17, 2010  

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics. Next, Garret Keizer opens his book with the admission that “noise is not the most important problem in the world.” But by examining noise in history, in culture, in our own backyards, Keizer argues that we can find answers to some of the big questions. His book is titled The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book About Noise. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear an essay from Andrew Brodsky.  He is a policy analyst for an educational consulting firm in Denver. Brodsky and his wife also run two websites selling handmade wedding invitations. They now have a daughter, Nina, who they plan to raise in both the Christian and Jewish faith traditions.


Monday, September 20, 2010  

Thomas Geoghegan snuck out of his workaholic American life to see what life is like in Europe. The bookWere You Born on the Wrong Continent? is his report to his fellow captives here in the U.S.  Then, Mark Boyle lives without cash and he manages just fine with his off-the-grid caravan, solar laptop and toothpaste made from washed-up cuttlefish bones. Boyle was a successful businessman but he became disillusioned with society’s obsession with money. So in 2008, he decided to try living for a year with no money at all. His story is told in a new book titled, Moneyless Man.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010  

The number of working-age adults in poverty is now at the highest level since the 1960s. The percentage of children in poverty is even higher, up to 20.7 percent. Curtis Skinner is the Director of Family Economic Security at the National Center on Children in Poverty. He describes the nutritional, educational, and mental health challenges of these young Americans. Then, Esperanza Spalding’s philosophy of jazz is diametrically opposed to that of Wynton Marsalis. The 25 year-old bassist and singer belongs to a growing group of jazz artists who approach the music less traditionally, less formally. And her albums are out-selling typical jazz releases by the tens of thousands. President Obama has declared that he “loves listening to Esperanza,” so much so that she has performed for him three times, once after the President’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. Esperanza Spalding’s new release is called Chamber Music Society.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010   

Patrick Hennessey graduated from Oxford with a degree in English, and then joined the British Army in 2004.  The Junior Officer’s Reading Club was formed by Hennessey and his friends to discuss books, music, and culture from behind mess tents.  He shares his stories as a member of the coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and reflects on the progress of those wars since he left the military.  Then, Josh Russell’s second novel My Bright Midnight is about a German immigrant living in New Orleans in the 1940’s.  It’s a story of survival, friendship and love.


Thursday, September 23, 2010 

Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s new film Howl follows the obscenity trial brought by the State of California against poet, publisher, and bookstore owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti, portrayed by Andrew Rogers.  Actor James Franco plays the young Allen Ginsberg who, along with Ferlinghetti, fights to defend his work that became the anthem of the Beat generation.  Then, in the film Me and Orson Welles, Zac Efron plays a young actor who stumbles into the role of Lucius in the 1937 Broadway production of Julius Caesar. The young man actually cast in that stage role was Arthur Anderson. Now eighty-eight years old, Anderson went on to have a long career in radio and television. Anderson is the author of Let’s Pretend and the Golden Age of Radio, and most recently, An Actor’s Odyssey: Orson Welles to Lucky the Leprechaun.


Friday, September 24, 2010  

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics. Next, The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by journalist John Vaillant charts the 1997 battle between people in a small Eastern Russian town and the Siberian tiger out to annihilate them.   Combining the breathless adventure of their stand-off with the history of this region, Vaillant uses this little-known story to shed light on this super-predator.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the contemporary essay of freelance writer Carla Saulter, then she talks with Bob about her beliefs.  Also known as the Bus Chick, Saulter blogs about transit riding for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer website. Saulter serves on King County’s Transit Advisory Committee and Regional Transit Task Force.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Have a Coke, but no smile. In his new book, “The Coke Machine,” Michael Blanding goes inside Coca-Cola Company to expose the dirty truth behind the world’s favorite soft drink. Then, in a special airing on PBS, Ruben Martinez chronicles how the Old World changed the New World, from agriculture to racial hierarchies. When Spanish conquistadors met the natives, the indigenous already had a sophisticated society, even if it didn’t appear so to the armor-clad Europeans. “When Worlds Collide” presents how the two cultures merged into the Latino heritage we have come to know today.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Over the past year, the Tea Party has increased in both size and visibility, making it the wildcard player in the mid-term elections. Tea Party candidates have beaten out establishment-backed Republicans in a number of recent primaries, but how will those candidates do in November? Kate Zernike is a New York Times reporter who has been covering the Tea Party more than any other journalist. She has recently written the first definitive account of what she says is a vastly misunderstood movement. It’s titled Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America.  Then, Lynn Novick co-wrote and co-directed The Tenth Inning with Ken Burns.  The Tenth Inning picks up where Burns’ 1994 series Baseball left off.  It’s a two-part, four-hour look at the national pastime from the early 1990s to the present day, including the players’ strike, doping scandals, and MLB’s skyrocketing profits.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Deborah Fallows set out on a mission to understand the nuance of “ai,” the Mandarin word for love, after a Chinese friend asked her (in Mandarin) which of her sons she loved more. Fallows was learning the language while living in China for three years with her husband, Atlantic writer James Fallows.  In her new book, Dreaming In Chinese, Fallows explains how learning Mandarin helped her better understand modern China.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Economic disobedience is a manager of a chain pizza place padding his minimum-wage workers paychecks to give them a livable wage; It’s a supervisor of a Wal-Mart secretly giving groceries to an employee in need; it’s a pediatrician fudging an insurance form so that the child’s uninsured mother can get medicine for herself. Lisa Dodson writes about the secret world of economic disobedience in her book The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy.  Then, Paul Reyes wrote Exiles in Eden while working for his father’s small company that “trashes out”—enters and empties—foreclosed homes in Florida. The book examines the foreclosure crisis through the individual economic “ecosystems” of the people and communities affected by it.