It’s required reading for anyone interested in interpreting foriegn policy, or in the act of writing itself.
“In a series of remarkable essays, Carrier, raised among Mormons, noted similarities in the beliefs and practices of the Taliban and the Utah church, stressing the fundamentalist pledge of obedience to authority, and revelations and visions from God to a “Chosen people.” Carrier is alternately humorous and serious about the reports from Afghanistan, its people, its culture, and the heavy fighting.”
The Prisoner of Zion website is flush with supporting audio and visuals, such as:
The producer’s wife likes to swim at night, far out into the lake. She was taught long ago how to effortlessly, and beautifully, skim across the water. Aired originally on This American Life “Lessons“.
Mashup master GHP, aka, Mark Vidler, mixes Queen’s sports stadium classic, “We Will Rock You,” with AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Crowded House and a bit of Beatles, Outkast, and Snoop Dogg. Download off GHP’s This Was Pop 2002-2007.
The producer spent the winter coaching a boys basketball team in her Washington, DC neighborhood. The boys’ grades aren’t good enough to play for the school, so they join a local church league. And Katie Davis starts more as counselor than coach. Originally aired on NPR. Part of the producers Neighborhood Stories series.
Spin class gets personal, with Chet Siegel as Sam, Emily Tarver as Lisa, Ed Herbstman as Kirk. Written collaboratively by The Truth, from a story by Chet Siegel. Special thanks: Peter Clowney, Kerrie Hillman, and Chris Bannon. Recorded at WNYC and on location in New York City. The Truth podcast is produced by Jonathan Mitchell (also on PRX.
Field recordings in the Annapurna region of Nepal near Tibet, including a ceremony for the Buddha’s birthday, a few donkey trains passing in a cacophony of melodious bells; and a five-foot prayer wheel in a Buddhist gompa in Marpha.
From NPR Radio Expeditions, hidden deep in the woods of the Payette National Forest are the terraced remnants of the “Ah Toy Garden” (near the town of Warren, Idaho), now on the National Register of Historic Places. Produced by Carolyn Jensen Chadwick with sound desgin by Michael Scweppe.
When most people are headed to the beach, our producer heads for the ski slopes near his home in Utah. The goal is to find a combination of freezing and thawing in the late spring that gives the mountain snow pack the singular spring skiing experience(on PRX | on NPR).
Attempting to climb the world’s most deadly and second highest demands extreme gear, training, timing, preparation, and a carefully selected team. Joe Frank eschews every bit of that: why make so easy? Excepted from Joe’s hour, Mountain Rain, available on CD and as an MP3. Music: “Buried At Sea” MC 900 Ft Jesus, One Step Ahead of the Spider.
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.
From the series Neighborhood Stories– Park Life, profiling the daily life of a community’s urban oasis: “Country Bobby” Lowry is the guardian of Walter Pierce Community Park in Washington, D.C. He’s been keeping an eye on the park for almost three decades, and knows more about how it than any city official — he knows the trees, the plants and the kids. In the first of four stories about the park, we meet this transplanted farm boy who never takes shortcuts in his work. See NPR’s has great photo gallery.
Utah’s Zion National Park draws 2.7 million visitors a year, and a major attraction for hearty hikers is a trek along the Grotto trailhead to Angel’s Landing. From the banks of the Virgin River, the yellow-and-red sandstone sides of Zion Canyon rise 2,000 feet. It feels like being inside a huge body. The canyon walls are the rib cage spread open and Angel’s Landing is like the heart.
Shortly after the World Trade Center fell in autumn 2001, it became clear the United States would invade Afghanistan. Producer Scott Carrier decided he ought to go there too. Why? To see for himself: that’s what writers do. Who are these fanatics, these fundamentalists, the Taliban and the like? And what do they want?
For the weekend of 9/11/11, Hearing Voices from NPR presents Prisoner of Zion. Carrier narrates his trip to Afghanistan. With his young guide and translator, Najibulla, they tour the horrors of war.
Years later Naji tells Scott he must leave his homeland — the dangers for a translator have become extreme. Scott gets Najibulla accepted at Utah Valley University. Naji, it turns out, handles the Mormons quite well, while Scott, teaching at the same school, has a hard time with them. At the end Naji is graduating, about to get married, and start a new job; while Scott wonders whether he can stand teaching another year — or if he’ll wind up on the street like Naji.
→ From Afghanistan: A photo-audio-essay by Scott Carrier; with sounds, images, songs and prayers of the Afghan people.
KUER: 8/30/11: Prisoner of Zion
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (kuer) – Wednesday, Doug is joined by independent radio producer Scott Carrier. When the US invaded Afghanistan after the attacks on 9/11, Carrier decided to go there too. He wanted to meet the enemy himself and find out what life is like in their world. But when he returned, he also found an enemy at home. It was the fear and anger that he says Americans have towards others. Scott Carrier has just published a book of stories from the post-9/11 world. It’s called “Prisoner of Zion.”
Soon after the World Trade Center towers fell in autumn 2001, it became clear the United States would invade Afghanistan. Writer and This American Life radio producer Scott Carrier decided to go there too. He wanted to see for himself: Who are these fanatics, the fundamentalists, the Taliban and the like? What do they want?
In his new book, Prisoner of Zion, Carrier writes about his adventures, but also about the bigger problem. Having grown up among Mormons in Salt Lake City, he argues it will never work to attack the true believers head-on. The faithful thrive on persecution. Somehow, he thinks, we need to find a way—inside ourselves — to rise above fear and anger. Prisoner of Zion is Scott Carrier’s second collection of dramatic tales and essays.
From the British prime minister’s speech to the House of Commons, June 4 1940, preceding the Battle of Britain:
We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
From the benefit CD Path To Zero – A Prayer Cycle I(video below). Proceeds go to Global Zero, an international organization dedicated to nuclear disarmament. Some voices on the album: Sting (on “Atomic Mother”), Robert Downey Jr., Sinead O’Connor, Jonathan Davis of Korn, Jon Anderson of Yes, Angelique Kidjo, and Pakistan’s Rahat Fateh Ali Khan; along with archival tape, including a previously unreleased recording of Jim Morrison, performing a poem on the plight of Native Americans in Los Alamos, New Mexico. (Face: Prayer Cycle | Space: Jonathan Elias.), and J. Robert Oppenheimer, “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
The recollections of Hiroshima survivor Kaz Suyeishi, rendered by two young Japanese woman, Kazuka and Kiyo. Alvin Huntsman performed the improvisational music by banging, scraping, and bowing several large sculptures by Gary Bates, including the “Wind Wagon,” a 35-foot multi-stringed banjo-like structure.
Land of 10K Homeless is a Minneapolis music-audio documentary project by Voices of the Streets, “An Artistic Portrayal of Homelessness in Minnesota.” Thier “website of artistic activism provides a space for the disadvantaged to share their stories.” Producer Danny Burke created this mix of the main theme, blended with interviews with individuals staying at a family shelter in Minneapolis.
After leaving the Marines, George Hill became addicted to drugs and alcohol. He soon found himself on the streets of Los Angeles, homeless for 12 years. But the kindness of another homeless man changed everything. Hill is now off the streets, working for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and pursuing a computer information systems degree at Cal State University. Recorded in Santa Monica, CA; part of StoryCorps’Griot Initiative.
A portrait of the self-named, Crazy John, who lives on the streets of Austin, Texas. He tells writer Carmen Delzell about his life. Carmen was homeless for a couple of years in the early 1990s. This piece was made after she got on her feet and was living in Austin. Produced by Jay Allison (PRX).
A quest for amnesia victims — it happens a lot more in movies, books and TV shows than real life. An attempt to find someone who has really had amnesia, to give someone amnesia, and to get it. Aired on This American Life “Get Over It!” and “The Friendly Man.”
A sonic journey documenting one woman’s loss of reality and descent into mental breakdown; a first-person account, with the voices of her friends who witnessed her collapse. Available as an audiobook: “Breakdown and Back.”
Mormons believe Native Americans are descendants of the ancient House of Israel. It’s a Mormon mission to bring them back to the Kingdom of God. So they brought children, mostly Navajo, from their reservation homes, and placed them in Mormon foster families across the West. From 1954 to 1996, more than 20,000 kids went through the Indian Student Placement Program. Producer Kate Davidson spent a year interviewing people about their experiences. Her story, edited by Deb George, ran on the Worlds of Difference series from Homeland Productions.
“Take the road toward the top secret army base. Go past Muskrat Spring until you get near Salt Mountain.” A statue of a Hawaiian chief overlooks the Utah desert, with a plaque reading: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono. Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono,” the motto of the kingdom of Hawaii: “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” A tale of two states, lost tribes, and the Polynesians of Skull Valley who named their town, Iosepa, after Joseph Smith III.
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson publicly debates FOX News host Sean Hannity. The spectacle took place inside a chasm called Us versus Them. Produced in 2007 for This American Life; music: Rickie Lee Jones, “Nobody Knows My Name” from Sermon On Exposition Boulevard.
Leo Grillo locates lost pets in Los Angeles. He cares for animals, thousands of them. Today, his organization, D.E.L.T.A Rescue (Dedication and Everlasting Love to Animals), is the world’s largest animal rescue shelter.
A mid-90s visit to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Everyone knows this one of the places where the government developed the first atom bomb during World War II. But our host was interested in Chaos Theory, an elaborate mathematical description of turbulent systems like the weather, and possibly the stock market, and who knows what all else. Chaos Theory was all the rage in Los Alamos then. Along with the theory, it turned out there was also real chaos in Los Alamos. It was slinking up and down the streets late at night in the form of a feral dog. Produced for the radio series SoundPrint.
Offbeat retreats and obscure tours thru the heart of Americana:
“Losing It at Universal Studios” (4:37) Mark Allen
Temporarily insanity during a tour of Universal Studios in southern California. So many cool things to see, to do, to tour. The writer is overwhelmed by the magnificence of it all, and pretty much loses his mind. Based an Mark Allen’s web essay “I Suffered Stendhal Syndrome At Universal Studios Hollywood!.”
Boonville is a small community in Northwest California, founded in 1862, a few hundred feet in elevation, with few hundred residents. And… the town has it’s own language, Boontling. We go sharkin’ and harpin’ thru Boonville with Charles C. Adams, author of Boontling: An American Lingo.
“David Lynch goes into clean neighborhoods and finds the germs and bugs beneath; I go into dirty neighborhoods and find the life.” That’s how filmmaker Tony Buba describes his twelve documentaries about his hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. Buba is the son of Italian immigrants, part of the wave of Europeans who came to America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to work in the steel mills of Braddock and other towns around Pittsburgh. Now the steel industry is almost dead, and Braddock is the prototypical post-industrial “‘rust belt” town, a town where a person either lives by his or her wits or lives in poverty. Buba tours through the streets of Braddock, past the old Croatian and Slovak social clubs and through streets, now empty, that once bristled with activity.
Hitchhiking was once common, These days it’s aquired an aura of danger and desperation. Who wants to take the risk — especially after all those gruesome stories about rapists and serial killers? But occasionally you can still spot some guy stranded on the side of a road, sign out, thumb up, hoping that your car will be his salvation. Is he dangerous? Insane? Or just plain dirty? Maybe we should stop and find out. (PRX)
Protest may be new to some parts of the world, but in America, complaining about the government is a national pastime. We hear protest music and mashups; we go to protest marches, from Vietnam War era actions on the National Mall, to modern-day Tea Parties and Town Halls:
“Town Halls 2009” (2:05) Barrett Golding
Protest used to be mainly for the young and left-leaning, but recently older right-wingers have joined the party — the Tea Party. When Congressmen went home in 2009, this is what they heard from constituents. Music: Jeff Arntsen, mix: Robin Wise, audio: excerpted from YouTube videos.
The popular Burmese rock band Iron Cross is using music to challenge the nation’s infamously repressive regime. In the great tradition of rock and roll, Iron Cross is taking on Burma’s military government with song.
A classical composition, in three parts, for strings, winds, and an interview with Tom Martinet, who trained to be a priest, but, instead, started working Nevada dice tables. Premiered 1997 in Vegas, performed by Sierra Wind Quintet. Re-released on PKB’s 2006 Larkin Gifford’s Harmonica.
“Poker at the Ox” (9:54) Alex Chadwick
An NPR hosts pits his wits against the regulars at a downtown small-town casino. Guess who wins. Produced by Carolyn Jensen; sound engineer by Michael Schweppe.
“Old Gambler” (7:07) Joe Frank
An excerpt from Joe’s hour “Zen” in his series The Other Side. What happened in Vegas… definitely didn’t stay in Vegas. Getting on the wrong side of Sin City’s collection crew.
“Bass Keno” (8:18)
Jazz bassist Kelly Roberti (David Murray Quintet) lost his bass to the keno machines. He kicked the habit; the scars remain, but the bass is back. Kelly was a 2010 Governor’s Arts Awards winner.
“Lock It Up” (5:56) John Ridley
A radio drama written for Ridley’s 2001 LA Series on NPR Morning Edition. Performers are Bob Wisdom, Yang Chee, and Jim Wallace (script).
Above photo of the Las Vegas sign by Kcferret, June 2005.
Interviews from the Elvis archives, and new ones with Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires (Elvis’ backup singers) and Elvis friends (aka, Memphis Mafia) Jerry Schilling and Patty Parry. Produced by Paul Chuffo and Joshua Jackson of Joyride Media, for the Sony Elvis 75 project, which has more music and interviews. Also check Joyride’s other Elvis hours: The Early Years, In Memphis, and He Touched Me- Elvis Gospel Music.
Chuck Denault is a Police Officer for the small town of Kittery, Maine. He has two passions;: Serving the community he lives in and being the best possible Elvis Impersonator he can be. In April of 2003 the producer went for a squad car ride-along for some behind the scenes aspects of law enforcement and Elvis.