It takes four seconds to hit the water from the Golden Gate Bridge. A year ago the producer’s friend Phil took that fatal jump. They met several years before that when Phil’s brother committed suicide (transcript).
“The Man with the White Cane” (1980 / 9:36) Josh Darsa
Herman Porter, a blind man, slipped unseen beneath a moving subway train: 90 tons of steel and electricity. (Hear Alex Chadwick’s eulogize for NPR’s pioneering producer: “Josh Darsa Obituary“.)
Scott Carrier talks to the family, the ex-husband, the mortuary, the doctors, even the grave digger, in piecing together the memory of a life. Prodcued for New American Radio. (Scott’s most recent book is Prisoner of Zion.)
“Kaddish” (1994 / 3:26)
Messages on my the producer’s mother’s tape machine, found after his father’s death; original music by Skyward. This Kaddish is a mourner’s prayer.
Great novels induce empathy for others’ experiences. So how is it a man now on trial for crimes against humanity is an avid fiction reader of fiction? Might he simply be reading the wrong books? We take a trip to The Hague to hand-deliver the ‘right’ books to Slobodan Milosevic. Produced with Michael Kavanagh of The Next Big Thing and HV’s Larry Massett. Ben Walker hosts WFMU’s Too Much Information, where “the sober hangover after the digital party has run out of memes, apps and schemes” (TMIplaylists / archives). He also produces The Big Ideas podcast for The Guardian.
“Keep going (feat. Tony Joe White)” (2005 / 5:03) Boozoo Bajou
“Where you boys going? The swamp… you’re not from around here, are you?” Off Dust My Broom.
Scott’s first radio piece: he and his microphone hitch from his home in Salt Lake City to the doorstep of NPR, recording the people he meets along the way (mixed by NPR’s Dawn Warneke). Scott’s most recent book is Prisoner of Zion.)
Wobbly, People Like Us and Matmos circled their wagons in the lecture hall of the San Francisco Art Institute. Having mutually agreed upon a country-and-western theme, Vicki Bennett (PLU), Jon Leidecker (Wobbly), and Drew Daniel and M. C. Schmidt (Matmos) pored over their archives of honky-tonk classics, chopping and dicing Nashville’s finest almost beyond recognition, and collectively re-stitched the mangled shreds in crazed digital quilting bee.
“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…
January 25, 2011. One year ago, a revolution began in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. For the next eighteen days, millions of Egyptians across the country would demonstrate in the streets, demanding the end of their 30-year dictatorship. They were inspired by Tunisians, whose protests, that same month, had forced out the authoritarian regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Now it was time for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to go.
A few weeks after the protests, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch interviewed some of the organizers of the January uprising: union leaders, civil rights workers, young social media activists, family members of of murdered protestors, and mothers who brought their kids to Tahrir to clean after the protests.. These Human Rights Watch interviews provide a rare, eyewitness account of a revolution, told by the Egyptian people, the activists, human rights defenders, and bloggers who persevered during those eighteen days.
Immigrants walk around the corner of a restaurant named Pollo Feliz (Happy Chicken) on Sasabe downtown. Charcoal roasted chicken is offered as main dish to people also known as “pollos”, on an area where deaths related to heat exposure are frequent among immigrants.
A boy drives a Ford Expedition on the streets of the border town of Sasabe, Sonora. Polleros in the town make as much as 6500 dollars per day smuggling people into the United States, resulting in a town where the tops of the houses are crowned with satellite TV dishes and kids are seen driving brand new Ford F-150s and SUVs.
Putting bars over the bed of an old pick-up in Las Ladrilleras, on Sasabe outskirts. The fee for the final ride from this place to the gates for crossing costs 20 dollars, and polleros (people smugglers) try to maximize the capacity of their vehicles.
From Las Ladrilleras to East Sasabe.
Three mothers and their children make a stop before crossing the desert. They are part of a group of 27 immigrants departing from East Sasabe on June 5th this year to Arizona.
With their destination at sight, a group of 27 people leave East Sasabe. The Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refugee and Arivaca, AZ are on the American side.
A group of ten immigrants who succeeded on crossing the border illegally (one out of frame) use pay phones to call their relatives in the United States at the Greyhound bus station in Tucson before boarding their bus to Phoenix and Los Angeles. To avoid detection the pollero advise them: “Don’t make a big group. Spread.”
Reporter Scott Carrier recovers from the effects of hot weather on his body while doing a story on illegal immigration for NPR show Day to Day. Scott reported from Sasabe, Sonora and Arivaca AZ.
A retrospective of the past twelve months featuring Queen Elizabeth, Occupy Wall Street, The Arab Spring, the death of Osama Bin-Laden, the extreme weather conditions that caused nuclear accidents in Japan, flooding in the North East and fires across Texas, politicians like Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman, Ron Paul and Herman Cain making us proud, Michael Moore, Guido Sarducci, Charlie Sheen, Ali G, Newt Gingrich with music from PJ Harvey, Ry Cooder, Fleet Foxes, Bright Eyes, The Coasters, Bruce Springsteen, Gil Scott-Heron, Ashford & Simpson, John Barry, Tosca, Maceo Plex, Mickie & Sylvia, The Drifters, Amy Winehouse, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell and many others.
Tributes to Steve Jobs, Jerry Leiber, Nick Ashford, Andy Rooney, Joe Frasier, Gil Scott Heron, Hubert Sumlin, Wild Man Fischer, Amy Winehouse, Clarence Clemons, Harry Morgan, Sylvia Robinson, Carl Gardner, Wildman Fischer, Phoebe Snow, Jack Lalane, and others
Some of the music in the hour:
“The Glorious Land” PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
“No Banker Left Behind” Ry Cooder – Pull Up Some dust and Sit Down
“Firewall” Bright Eyes – Firewall
“My First” Tosca – No Hassle
“Helplessness Blues” Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
“Poetry Man” Phoebe Snow (Phoebe Ann Laub, July 17, 1950 – April 26, 2011) – Phoebe Snow
“Jungleland (live)” Bruce Springsteen- Born to Run
(Clarence Anicholas Clemons, Jr., January 11, 1942 – June 18, 2011)
“You Know I’m No Good (live)” Amy Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011)
“Love is Strange” Mickey & Sylvia (Sylvia Robinson, March 6, 1936 – September 29, 2011)
“I’m New Here” Gil Scott-Heron (April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011) – I’m New Here
Songs by Jerry Leiber (April 25, 1933 – August 22, 2011) and Mike Stoller:
“Three Cool Cats” The Coasters
“Kansas City” Wilbert Harrison
“Smokey Joe’s Cafe” – The Robins (Coasters)
“Spanish Harlem” Ben E. King (Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector)
Songs by Nickolas Ashford (May 4, 1941 – August 22, 2011) & Valerie Simpson:
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
“Solid” Ashford & Simpson – Solid
Public Historian Joey Plaster spent a year gathering 70+ interviews from people experiencing Polk Street’s transition from a working class queer neighborhood to an upscale entertainment district. Polk Street’s scene predates the modern gay rights movement. It was a world unto itself, ten blocks of low rent hotels, bars and liquor stores, all sandwiched in between the gritty Tenderloin, City Hall, and the ritzy Nob Hill: a home invented by people who had no other home.
For decades, the street had been a national destination for queer youth and transgender women, many of them fleeing abusive or unwelcoming homes. But by the mid-1990s, the last of the working class bars that formed the backbone of the Polk community were being replaced by a new bloc of mid-income businesses and residents.
Long-term Polk residents were incredibly emotional about these changes. Many considered the neighborhood to be their first real home. Now they saw their family’s gathering places evaporating. The conflict was sometimes dramatic: owners of one gay bar claimed that the new business association forced them off the street. A gay activist group made national news when they plastered the street with “wanted” posters featuring a photo of the new association’s president.
These intense reactions suggested a rich history, but I found that it had not been recorded. I feared it would be lost with the scene. I had prior experience as an oral historian. This was my first effort to find overlap with radio, which I’ve long felt is the best medium for broadcasting intimate, personal stories from “marginal” populations. —Joey Plaster
Mixes and mashes and seasonal samples, and song stories:
“Christmas Eve In Afghanistan, Again” (2010 / 3:30) Quil Lawrence
NPR talks to troops in a U.S. military hospital at Bagram Air Base, outside of Kabul. Quil Lawrence interviewed Sergeant Wallace Trahan, Sergeant Aaron Kelly, Sergeant Zachary Scoskie, and Colonel Diane Huey. Mix: Jim Wildman. Music: W.G. Snuffy Walden “The First Noel” Windham Hill Holiday Guitar Collection.
Produced for the Vermont Folklife Center: In December 1944 the Allies were closing in on Germany. Hitler had a desperate plan to save the Third Reich, a massive assault he believed would so demoralize that the Allies, they would seek a separate peace, leaving only the Russian army on the eastern front. On December 16 the Germans unleashed an offensive that would become the most brutal battle of the European war: the Battle of the Bulge. Nineteen thousand Americans were killed, about the same number were taken prisoner. We hear from four Americans soldiers about their time in — before, during and after — a German POW camp: Cliff Austin, Harrison Burney, Bill Busier, and Robert Norton.
VFC Radio published a transcript and a CD of “Prisoners of War.” Harrison Burney wrote “From The Bowels of Hell, a soldier’s memoir of World War II, 1944-1945 (143k PDF). Music: “Reitba” and “Concerto No. 3 for Double-Bass and Piano,” composed and performed by cellist Francois Rabbath; “String Quartet in C Major”, the second movement in the “Emperor” by Franz Joseph Haydn, performed by the Concord String Quartet; and “St James Infirmary” from pianist Allen Toussaint’s The Bright Mississippi.
From Musicians in their own words, an NPR series produced by David Schulman: The French singer Camille Dalmais, better known as Camille, has many voices inside her. She makes her music by overlaying everything from a sniffle to a growl to an operatic F-sharp. She speaks about the intimacy of the French language, spirituality and finding a natural music in the sound of everyday speech.
From Hidden Kitchens, an NPR series by the The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & NIkki Silva): Imagine a Mozart Festival without a note of Mozart. Instead, more than 60 artists from around the world were invited to Vienna by director Peter Sellars and asked to pick up where the musical and social visionary left off, to create new works of art. Called “New Crowned Hope,” for the free-thinking Masonic Lodge in Vienna of which Mozart was a member, it was a month-long, genre-spanning event linking agriculture and culture, with food at its heart. It featured a Maori dance troupe; a Venezuelan street chorus singing a new opera by John Adams; new films from Chad, Iran and Paraguay; Mark Morris’ dance company; Chez Panisse founder and culinary activist Alice Waters; lunch ladies from across Europe; and farmers, chefs and seed-savers from throughout Austria. Aired on NPR Morning Edition. Mixed by Jim McKee of Earwax Productions. Music: John Adams, David Williamson, Frances Nelson, Sarah Folger & harmonia mundi, and Wieslaw Pogorzelski.
From Musicians in their own words: Beyond-Brazilian musician Cyro Baptista is fluent in the musical languages of samba, cabela, and yoyoma. Also, squirrel. He proves it in this piece, and demonstrates how he narrowly averted disaster during a recording session with the fearsome-to-some-people soprano Kathleen Battle. Cyro’s secret weapon? A vacuum cleaner hose. (More at PRX).
Sam is a talented and articulate young jazz musician, brought to the United States at age 5 by his Mexican parents. He stayed out of trouble, was drum major of his high school’s marching band, fell in love with playing jazz on the tenor sax, and got his diploma with honors — only to find that for an “illegal,” graduation marks a dead end. Though Sam dreams of attending college to study jazz performance, he hides his status from even his closest friends. He can’t legally work, drive, get financial aid, or even gain admission to some colleges. “American Dreamer” follows him from his high school graduation, through the following summer, as he struggles to raise money to continue his education and weighs the risks of working and driving illegally against his own desire to achieve his American dream. Aired on NPR Latino USA and All Things Considered.. A one-hour version is at PRX and Long Haul Productions (Dan Collison & Elizabeth Meister). Produced with help from the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media and the National Endowment for the Arts.
W.H.O. World AIDS Day
The 1st of December A Day Without Art
Sister Agnes Ramashiga makes her rounds at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto; 2000 patients check in daily, half are HIV positive. It’s “Just Another Day At the Biggest Hospital In the World,” a Radio Diaries by Joe Richman & Sue Johnson (Picture-Projects).
HIV-Positive teenagers, Tanya, Mark, and Tenisha, record audio diaries about living “The Positive Life”; produced by by Stephen Smith & Stephanie Curtis for American RadioWorks (photos and journals at ARW).)
And Trouble Came: An African AIDS Diary (CD at Arkiv Music) by Laura Kaminsky is a compositon for viola, cello, piano, and for a narrator, reciting poems, biblical verse, and stories of Tamakloe, a warrior, tailor, and AIDS victim.
AIDS once meant death. Now improved treatments keep HIV-positive people alive for decides. So what’s that like, being brought back from the dead; as when Jesus revived his dead friend “Lazarus;” by Krandall Kraus from his book Book: It’s Never About What It’s About.
“Letters to Butchie” are a dying mother’s writings to a son she’ll never see, produced by Dave Isay Sound Portraits (music: Nick Drake).
Voices from all sides of adoption. Stories about living with questions and searching for answers. We hear from birth families (mothers, siblings and a father), adoptees (both kids and adults), and various adoptive families including open adoption and international adoption (China).
This former National Guard Specialist has “surrendered the force that I carry, the weapon to those elected officials chosen by the American people.” She hopes the people inform themselves and choose wisely.
“Arabic Interrogator” (1:30) Sergeant John McCary
A U.S. Army soldier reports: “When you speak Arabic, you become the interface with the local population — which is 99% of the work in a counter-insurgency.” (McCary is a Truman National Security Project fellow; his January 2009 article in the Washington Quarterly was “The Anbar Awakening: An Alliance of Incentives” –pdf.)
US and Iraqi Special Operations Forces conduct a combat operation inside Sadr city, Baghdad in order to capture known insurgents and terrorists. The operation was conducted on an undisclosed date/time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Army video by: SSG Ryan C. Creel.
From an HV/NPR series: Retired Navy Captain Ed Nicholson is an avid fly-fishermen. He realized fishing would be good therapy for disabled veterans. So he hooked up with Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers, and with private donations and volunteer guides, they began teaching wounded vets, including many amputees, how to fly-fish. Project Healing Waters, now regularly takes vets on these therapeutic fishing outings. These interviews were recorded in 2007 on Virginia’s Rose River Farm.
“Operation Homecoming: Among These Ruins” (3:30) Sergeant Helen Gerhardt
From an HV/NPR series: A Specialist in the Missouri Army National Guard reads from her email to family and friends about her first few days in Iraq, part of the NEA book/writing project Operation Homecoming. Guitar by Jess Atkins. (Read Ms. Gerhardt’s NYTimes article “Modern Love; Back From the Front, With Honor, a Warrior’s Truth”.)
We’re occupying the streets of Los Angeles; our demands: bring us stories…
“Pilgrim Land” (2005 / 0:43 excerpt) Tom Russell
“Old America” (3:32 excerpt)
“Bukowski #2 on the Hustle=” (2:08 excerpt)
“Honky Jazz” (4:14)
“Swap Meet Jesus” (4:21)
From the album Hotwalker: Charles Bukowski & A Ballad for Gone. An Americana ode to old L.A., the music, the culture, from beat outsiders to religious revivals to long gone radio sounds; with stuntman, circus midget, and actor Little Jack Horton.
“Hotwalker is the best Sam Peckinpah movie since Peckinpah died. It’s a ghostly jubilee, an audacious slab of Blue America. Narrated aby noir cowboy, Tom Russell, it is a singular recording, bound to be controversial — it’s not only going to ruffle feathers, but leave feathers scattered on the ground.”
—novelist-poet Luis Urrea