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.
Excellent essay on “The Power of Voice” by Siobhan McHugh. She shares a devastating tape-recording of Jan Graham, an Australian woman who reported the Vietnam War:
She wept as she told of finding the mutilated body of her lover, a Green Beret on surveillance with the US army. I offered to stop the tape, but she wanted to be purged of all the memories, and the worst was yet to come. Have a listen to the three minutes of tape here. It’s barely been edited, apart from where I shortened some of the pauses, as her grief was just unbearable:”
Many think of 1776 as the defining year of American history, when we became a nation devoted to the pursuit of happiness through self- government. In Unfamiliar Fishes, Sarah Vowell argues that 1898 might be a year just as defining, when, in an orgy of imperialism, the United States annexed Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam, and invaded first Cuba, then the Philippines, becoming an international superpower practically overnight.
Among the developments in these outposts of 1898, Vowell considers the Americanization of Hawaii the most intriguing. From the arrival of New England missionaries in 1820, their goal to Christianize the local heathen, to the coup d’état of the missionaries’ sons in 1893, which overthrew the Hawaiian queen, the events leading up to American annexation feature a cast of beguiling, and often appealing or tragic, characters: whalers who fired cannons at the Bible-thumpers denying them their God-given right to whores, an incestuous princess pulled between her new god and her brother-husband, sugar barons, lepers, con men, Theodore Roosevelt, and the last Hawaiian queen, a songwriter whose sentimental ode “Aloha ‘Oe” serenaded the first Hawaiian president of the United States during his 2009 inaugural parade.
From the Library of Congress album Folk Music and Song, “Chorus and Dance,” rung and played by Rais Mahamad ben Mohammed and ensemble, musicians of the Haha tribe in Tamanar; recorded by Paul Bowles in Essaouira, Morocco, August 8, 1959 (1:11 mp3): More…
The history of this manual is described in the book The Men Who Stare at Goats, by Jon Ronson. In brief, the manual is a new age Hagakure: Book of the Samurai, and was required reading among our elite troops in the eighties and nineties, describing the warrior as a seeker of truth whose main weapons are love and compassion — practices that were ultimately twisted and perverted in a very American fashion into interrogation and torture techniques used in our war against terrorism.
In order to understand how this all played out, you’ll have to read the book. Don’t see the film, it’s a joke.
Author Laura Munson posted this ode to “Techies” on her These Here Hills blog, sending out lit love to we fader-jockeys & freq-benders who eng the on-air audio industry:
Those behind-the-scenes souls who fly low under the radar and like it that way. Designing sets, lighting stages, filming show offs, minding their soundboards. I loved them in high school, and in college, and now I’m loving them all over again in radio stations as I travel around doing interviews.
Techies are a special breed. I think it has something to do with so long ago giving up on the thought of being “cool.” And because of that, to me they define “cool.” They possess a particular brand of freedom. Often, they have what they call “radio faces.” And they say it smiling, because they know that traditional good looks can be as much a “curse” as a “blessing.” These are people who wear Coke-bottle glasses rather than bothering with contacts, and have un-fussed-over hair, big noses, skyline teeth. These are people with huge smiles and vast minds. Who have maybe spent less time looking in the mirror trying to change what they see, and more time with books, or listening to current events, or sitting on old couches in Green Rooms discussing the state of Humankind…
—Laura Munson, “Techies,” THESE HERE HILLS
Sure Facebook sux. But it has its moments; and many of them are found on Joe Frank’s page, amongst his semi-regular deliciously dark ramblings:
Flying over the Tanganyika Game Reserve in a hot air balloon. My guide is a drunken Englishman from the old colonial school dressed entirely in white. He has a flask of port strapped to his leg. His nose is red and veined. We travel over a savannah, observing herds of wildebeests and zebras below.
hen the colonel removes his clothes and throws them over the side of the basket. He claims the natives collect them and use them to make flags and scarves, which they sell to the tourists.
Dancing in the streets of Rio in a samba club, making our way up Sugar Loaf Mountain to ascend to the statue of Christ that looks over the city. I feel a sense of exhilaration, my heart bursting with joy. I’m wearing a fantastic feathered woman’s mask, eyeballs on stalks, ears on springs, Pinocchio nose supporting a live tree limb filled with songbirds, and joyously dancing in high heeled platform shoes and net stockings, gyrating my hips, a pair of soccer balls attached to my rear…»
Be his FB-fren and read the rest of this, and many other of his flights of freaky.
Reality Radio celebrates today’s best audio documentary work by bringing together some of the most influential and innovative practitioners.
Contributors [include]: Jay Allison, damali ayo, Emily Botein, Chris Brookes, Scott Carrier, Katie Davis, Ira Glass, The Kitchen Sisters, Maria Martin, Karen Michel, Rick Moody, Joe Richman, Dmae Roberts, Stephen Smith, Sandy Tolan.
[Fresh from Joe Franks’s Facebook page, reprinted by permission…]
Across the alley is an apartment building. You look into one of the windows and see an old black couple arguing in a loving, formulated fashion that they’ve worked for years to perfection. He gestures violently, his left hand holding a half‑eaten turkey leg.
She, continually wiping her hands on her apron, finally balls her fist up and shakes it in front of his face. He turns away in disgust. Who is she? Bessie, mother of many children, daughter of a sharecropper, opens the Bible to the very same verses. Behind her eyes lurk 1,000 dead Ashanti dreams. She possesses the keys to a house in the suburbs. She gets car fare. She takes the early bus to where she wears the same housedress and walks from room to room carrying a radio. She’s never paid taxes — she’s always paid in cash. She has no Social Security number.
She is an angel on earth, the guardian of the house, forever wiping her hands upon her apron, tucking the children into bed, sitting heavily beside them, her breath sweet, her stories bittersweet, her hair a crinkly, soft white tied with a bandana, always weary, never tired, with a great posterior that moves with grace from room to room. Housemaid, housemother, house spirit, protector of children’s dreams. Verses, Psalms. She sings them in a melody that evokes the sound of a great flowing river, of distant banjos, the scent of magnolias, great porticos upon which gentlemen with drooping mustaches sit, feet up, drinking mint juleps.
She knows the secrets of the master and mistress of the house. She knows where he keeps his pornographic magazines, where she keeps the list of lovers that she visits from time to time. She’s found the wife’s recent love letters, airplane tickets to destinations not mentioned in daily conversations, receipts for jewelry the wife does not possess, and deep within a jar of Vaseline, the key to a motel room.
She’s found the cotton handkerchief into which the teenage son spills his seed in the secret moments of his private ecstasy. She’s found a small, brown bottle with white powder in it, the cap of which is attached by a small, brass chain to a spoon, rolled up into a pair of socks in the drawer of the teenage daughter’s bedroom.
Keitai is Japenese for cell-phone, shōsetsu for novel; so keitai shōsetsu is “cellphone novel” (also “thumb novel”): a new lit genre started by young .jp girls. Their novels are posted to a media-sharing site as a series of text messages, which millions of .jp-teens download and read on their mobile phones.
Readers rapidly respond, and sometimes suggest. Some authors have used the best suggestions to alter their plots. Quite a few of these cell-phone serials have evolved into successful paper novels, selling 100K’s and even 1M’s of copies. Readers often purchase not the paperback but the hardcover as a momento of their literary interactivity. Half of the Japan’s half the top 10 fiction bestsellers of late have started as keitai shōsetsu.
Mone started posting her novel straight from her phone to a media-sharing site called Maho i-Land (Magic Island), never looking over what she wrote or contemplating plot. “I had no idea how to do that, and I did not have the energy to think about it,” she says. She gave her tale a title, “Eternal Dream,” and invented, as a proxy for her adolescent self, a narrator named Saki, who is in her second year of high school and lives in a hazily described provincial town. “Where me and my friends live, in the country, there aren’t any universities,” Mone wrote. “If you ride half an hour or so on the train, there’s a small junior college, that’s all.” Saki has a little brother, Yudai, and a close-knit family, a portrait that Mone painted in short, broad strokes: “Daddy / Mom / Yudai / I love you all so much.” Before long, however, Saki, walking home from school, is abducted by three strange men in a white car: “—Clatter, clatter — / The sound of a door opening. / At that moment . . . / —Thud— / A really dull blunt sound. / The pain that shoots through my head.” The men rape her and leave her by the side of the road, where an older boy from school, Hijiri, discovers her. He offers her his jersey, and love is born. More…
Reading One Art, a huge collection of poet Elizabeth Bishop’s letters. I notice this, written
from Key West in l938:
“I have a little Victor record player that attaches to the radio. It is quite good; and a lot of records I got from Sears, Roebuck… the Negro ones are the best: “That Bonus Done Gone Through,” “Riding to Your Funeral in a Ford V-8″… but it is almost impossible to find anything about who is composing them. (They appear all over the South within three days of any major news event, it seems.)”
Sounds like an early version of twitter. I’ve never heard of this before, have you?
Writer Charles Bowden reports from the US-Mexico border about the drug wars, the poverty, and the environment. His writing is harsh but unflinchingly accurate. Host Scott Carrier portrays Bowden in the words of the people he has written about.