Hearing Voices from NPR®
022 Mushroom Cloud: Tales of the Atomic Age
Host: Larry Massett of Hearing Voices
Airs week of: 2012-08-01 (Originally: 2008-07-30)
Documents of our changing perceptions of weapons of mass destruction:
Bomber pilots and bombing victims, and and Colonel Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay in “Enola Alone” by Antenna Theater, mixed by Earwax.
Political speeches and popular songs chart our changing attitudes towards weapons of mass destruction in the “Atomic Age.” Residents recall the Nevada and Utah nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s in their “Downwinder Diaries,” produced by Claes Andreasson.
Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti has “Wild Dreams of a New Beginning,” an excerpt from “One of These days (or Nights)” produced for radio by Erik Bauersfeld (Bay Area Radio Drama), with sound design by Jim McKee (Earwax), and original music by Wieslaw Pogorzelski.
Americans across the country answer Scott Carrier‘s question: “What Are You Afraid Of?”
The story of the Big Bang, with a beat, “Page One” by Lemon Jelly.
And selections from “Atomic Platters: Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security” compiled by CONELRAD.com (including Slim Galliard’s “Atomic Cocktail” (1945), versions of “Jesus Hits Like an Atom Bomb” by Lowell Blanchard & The Valley Trio (1949) and by The Pilgrim Travelers, and 1950-60s Civil Defense public service announcements.
Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich‘s commencement speech advises “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen),” with music from filmmaker Baz Luhrman (CD: Something For Everybody), performed by actor Lee Perry, sung by Quindon Tarver).
Host Katie Davis takes her DC summer camp into the wild woods on a “Hike to Rock Creek,” two blocks from where the kids live.
Pro-choice. Pro-life. Most people have already chosen sides in the ongoing debate, so why revisit the issue? Shades of Gray shares a range of stories told by people young and old who have been directly affected by abortion, instead of the polemics of irreconcilable extremes. It’s a carefully crafted audio mosaic and a stark portrayal of the intensely personal nature of our relationship with abortion. This is the fair and frank discussion America rarely has but desperately needs.
Winner of the 2004 Golden Reel for National Documentary. A longer version is at PRX. Produced and original music score by Jonathan Mitchell of The Truth. Co-produced and narrated by Ahri Golden of Thin Air Media.
The video was shot by Sara’s mother, singer and song writer Jackie Messenger: youtube.com/JackieMessenger. Sara is part of a beautiful family who have always been wonderfully supportive of me.
This track came about almost immediately when I found Sara’s channel. I wondered what her song would sound like with a beat, so I spent around 10 minutes knocking together a drum sequence before layering in her song. 45 minutes later, I seem to have spontaneously put together a complete track.
“It’s Gonna Rain” was composed in San Francisco in January 1965. The voice belongs to a young black Pentecostal preacher who called himself Brother Walter. I recorded him along with the pigeons and traffic one Sunday afternoon in Union Square in downtown San Francisco. Later at home I started playing with tape loops of his voice and, by accident, discovered the process of letting two identical loops go gradually out of phase with each other.
In the first part of the piece the two loops are lined up in unison, gradually move completely out of phase with each other, and then slowly move back to unison. In the second part two much longer loops gradually begin to go out of phase with each other. This two-voice relationship is then doubled to four with two voices going out of phase with the other two. Finally the process moves to eight voices and the effect is a kind of controlled chaos, which may be appropriate to the subject matter – the end of the world.
“It’s Gonna Rain” is the first piece ever to use the process of gradually shifting phase relations between two or more identical repeating patterns. The second was “Come Out.” Composed in 1966, it was originally part of a benefit presented at Town Hall in New York City for the retrial, with lawyers of their own choosing, of the six boys arrested for murder during the Harlem riots of 1964. The voice is that of Daniel Hamm, now acquitted and then 19, describing a beating he took in Harlem’s 28th precinct station. The police were about to take the boys out to be “cleaned up” and were only taking those that were visibly bleeding. Since Hamm had no actual open bleeding he proceeded to squeeze open a bruise on his leg so that he would be taken to the hospital.
“I had to like open the bruise up and let some of the bruise blood come out to show them.” More…
Walking, maps, and art — some of my favorite stuff — are all wrapped up in one project, “a transect – Due East:”
A body of work based on a series of cross-country hikes that enabled me to generate visual and written notation, correspondence, interviews and historic research. The location is specific to my homeland in the San Joaquin Valley of California where I traveled due east into the foothills and Sierra Nevada Mountains.
–Matthew Rangel, Project Statement
Due East through Elliot Ranch, 2008,
lithograph, 22″ x 28.5″, by Matthew Rangel