Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the
If you don’t know about TED check it out.. Great way to spend some time if you’ve got it. JR
As part of the thriving 1970s country-rock scene in Southern California, J.D. Souther collaborated on many of The Eagles’ hits, including “New Kid in Town.” Souther has jazz in his background — his father was a big-band crooner — and his new album, titled Natural History, does have a stripped-down jazz feel. Souther wrote all of these songs, many of which became classics for other artists. Now he’s gone back and reclaimed them.
“It all turned out to be this nice, moody, kind of … if it was a movie, you’d call it ‘film noir,’ probably,” Souther says in an interview with All Things Considered host Melissa Block. “It’s all sort of smoky and rainy.”
For his new album, Souther got some advice from Linda Ronstadt, for whom he used to write songs.
“Very pointedly, she said, ‘Don’t try to rewrite the songs.’ I mean, she encouraged me to do the record because I defer to her advice quite often,” Souther says. “She really has just practically infallible taste in songs. She’s got what jazz players call ‘big ears.’ So I just kind of sat back and approached it as though the songs had been chosen for me by someone else. It’s a real crooner album. I know my dad’s grinnin’ about it somewhere. It’s all so pretty and kinda seductive and sweet.”
Renowned mixed media artist Susan X Billings snuck into a Ridgway, Colorado home over a period of days and “tagged” a newly constructed radius plastered wall that I (that’s bullshit), that Mike “Swannie” Swanson constructed with my adult supervision. Finally decided to close off the bathroom, 20 years after building the house.
Artist Billings was visiting one afternoon, sipping good tequila with Lisa and me, and felt the wall might use some color. That’s not exactly the truth, but I’ve been told not to let the truth get in the way of a good story. So please enjoy the photos of her mural.
On the right, the Virgin de Guadalupe, cultural/spiritual & occasional religious icon of the Mexican people provides something for everyone from spiritual guidance to suerte (luck) winning the lottery. A very mysterious lady. Que Milagro!! To the left of the Virgin is a loteria card. Lotería is a Mexican game of chance, similar to Bingo, but using images on a deck of cards instead of plain numbers on ping pong balls. Every image has a name and an assigned number, but the number is usually ignored (very existential). Susie chose 39 El nopal (the Cactus). Floating into El Nopal which has no meaning from the left is our Shasta camper, The Tangerine Dream. The mural concludes with three beautifully painted nichos that are common to Spanish architecture usually holding an object of significance. Each will have a magnet embedded in the plaster to hold a photo, a haiku or nothing.
We were so stoked with Susie’s creation we had to share it with RobertReport readers. I always fancied myself as a “patron” of artists, but with Ms. Billings it seems–she always “gives, gives, gives” and I always “take, take, take”. Somehow it works out… Enjoy.
Please check out Susie’s website. It is very unique and beautiful. http://www.susanbillings.com/index.html
IN a coffee shop not long ago, I saw a mug with an inscription from Henry David Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”
At least it said the words were Thoreau’s. But the attribution seemed a bit suspect. Thoreau, after all, was not known for his liberal use of exclamation points. When I got home, I looked up the passage (it’s from “Walden”): “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
When you start to become aware of these bogus quotations, you can’t stop finding them. Henry James, George Eliot, Picasso — all of them are being kept alive in popular culture through pithy, cheery sayings they never actually said.
Jon Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr. Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the G.O.P. — namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party.” This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us.
To see what Mr. Huntsman means, consider recent statements by the two men who actually are serious contenders for the G.O.P. nomination: Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.
Mr. Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissing evolution as “just a theory,” one that has “got some gaps in it” — an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got peoples’ attention was what he said about climate change: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”
David Honeyboy Edwards, believed to have been the oldest surviving member of the first generation of Delta blues singers, died on Monday at his home in Chicago. He was 96.
Mr. Edwards’s career spanned nearly the entire recorded history of the blues, from its early years in the Mississippi Delta to its migration to the nightclubs of Chicago and its emergence as an international phenomenon.
Over eight decades Mr. Edwards knew or played with virtually every major figure who worked in the idiom, including Charley Patton, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. He was probably best known, though, as the last living link to Robert Johnson, widely hailed as the King of the Delta Blues. The two traveled together, performing on street corners and at picnics, dances and fish fries during the 1930s.
David “Honeyboy” Edwards, considered to be the last of a generation of musicians who brought music from the rural Mississippi Delta to the rest of America, died at his home in Chicago early Monday morning. He was 96 years old.
Honeyboy Edwards was born in 1915. He grew up in segregated Mississippi during Jim Crow. Though his dad was a share-cropper, the young Edwards did not work in the fields.
He figured out he could make more money by playing music on the weekends. But back then a black man would be thrown in jail if he was caught not working during the day. In 2008, Honeyboy Edwards told NPR’s Andrea Seabrook that he just didn’t go out until evening.
“I didn’t come out until 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening,” he said. “Sleep all day, sleep and cook and eat, stay in the house. That sun is hot, anyway. It ain’t right out there.”
The East Coast was rocked by an earthquake last week and then battered by Hurricane Irene days later. Michele Bachman has a theory on why: It was God’s way of telling the political class to embrace small government.
“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of politicians,” the GOP presidential hopeful said over the weekend at a campaign event in Florida, the St. Petersburg Times reports. “We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”
But should teachers target instruction based on perceptions of students’ strengths? Several psychologists say education could use some “evidence-based” teaching techniques, not unlike the way doctors try to use “evidence-based medicine.”
Psychologist Dan Willingham at the University of Virginia, who studies how our brains learn, says teachers should not tailor instruction to different kinds of learners. He says we’re on more equal footing than we may think when it comes to how our brains learn. And it’s a mistake to assume students will respond and remember information better depending on how it’s presented.
For example, if a teacher believes a student to be a visual learner, he or she might introduce the concept of addition using pictures or groups of objects, assuming that child will learn better with the pictures than by simply “listening” to a lesson about addition.
In fact, an entire industry has sprouted based on learning styles. There are workshops for teachers, products targeted at different learning styles and some schools that even evaluate students based on this theory.
EAGER to throw off my nerdy past and reinvent myself at college, I wrote “party animal” on my roommate application form where it asked incoming freshmen whether they wanted to bunk with a smoker or a non-smoker. When I told my mother about this later, she laughed and bought me a T-shirt that sported the image of Spuds MacKenzie, the 1980s Budweiser beer mascot, under the words “the original party animal.
I ended up with Tony from Sacramento, a very quiet, Republican son of a judge. (I suppose it’s good policy to separate the party animals from those who request them.) I learned to appreciate his taste in music (U2 and The Smiths, as opposed to my predilection for reggae and jazz), and we agreed to disagree about politics during the reelection campaign of Alan Cranston, then one of the most liberal members of the United States Senate. I had never met anyone like Tony. And I’m pretty sure he hadn’t come across many half-Jewish, Democratic children of New York artists. We learned to get along that first year at Berkeley, and every now and then even tried on each other’s values and beliefs, just to see how they fit.
Today I am a college professor, and I am sad that most of my students will not experience what I did back when Mark Zuckerberg was in diapers. While the Internet has made it easy to reconnect with the lost Tonys of our lives, it has made it a lot more difficult to meet them in the first place, by taking a lot of randomness out of life. We tend to value order and control over randomness, but when we lose randomness, we also lose serendipity.
Mike Wolfe sells the picks he finds on “American Pickers” at his store, Antique Archaeology, near his home in LeClaire, Iowa.
MIKE WOLFE, the co-star of “American Pickers,” the popular antiques show, is known for driving the country’s back roads and pulling old signage, bicycles, gasoline pumps and other “rusty gold,” to use his term, out of people’s barns and garages. So it’s not entirely surprising to walk into his house and find a 1913 Harley-Davidson parked in the dining room.
Like everything Mr. Wolfe “picks,” the motorcycle has a story. He bought it in upstate New York from a man whose father ran a classified ad that Mr. Wolfe came across 30 years later. After establishing that the bike was still in the family, he recalled, “I drove all the way to New York, slept in the guy’s driveway and knocked on his door the next morning.”
To Fuel Its Growth, China Leans On Rural West–LISTEN–Interview with High Country News Jonathan Thompson
All over the west new jobs and money are flowing into rural towns as mining and drilling operations flourish. Yet demand in the U.S. for things like oil, coal and copper is flat. So what’s going on? To find out, writer Jonathan Thompson went a western road trip for the magazine High Country News. He found many roads leading to China.
This image shows the above-normal water temperature in the Pacific Ocean during the December 1997 El Nino. Green-blue colors represent normal temperatures; dark red indicates hotter water.
Scientists say there’s a link between climate and violent conflict.
A statistical analysis of civil conflicts between 1950 and 2004 found that in tropical countries, conflicts were twice as likely to occur in El Nino years. The analysis appears in the journal Nature.
El Nino occurs when there is unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean near the equator. But it affects weather patterns in tropical countries around the globe.
“Half the world’s population experiences a completely different climate regime,” says lead author Solomon Hsiang, a researcher at Princeton University.
In most places, El Nino means the weather gets warmer and drier, sometimes for years. The opposite occurs with La Nina conditions, which occur when waters in the Pacific become unusually cool.
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) began his prolific publishing career in the 1940s. He is known for writing from his own experiences, including his heavy drinking and womanizing, two popular subjects in his poetry. Bukowski was the author of over 40 published books of poetry and fiction as well as “Barfly,” a screenplay for a semi-autobiographical movie in which he was played by Mickey Rourke.
In 1993, the year before he died, this counterculture icon recorded and published selections from his classic Run With the Hunted.
According to co-producer John Runnette, Bukowski wasn’t in the mood that night–to record his poems that is. Although his tough exterior helped to sell dozens of volumes of poetry, the “real” Bukowski appeared quiet and shy.
A Bukowski playlist
Four poems and an interview from Charles Bukowski
Charles Bukowski’s career as both a poet and a writer was concerned mainly with one central topic: Charles Bukowski. He appeared in various guises in his own poems and stories, and there have been a number of screen versions, too — he was famously played by Mickey Rourke in 1987′s “Barfly,” and this Friday, Matt Dillon will portray him in the new “Factotum,” a film based on Bukowski’s novel of the same name. Salon’s audio archive has four of Bukowski’s readings available for exclusive free download, all from “Run With the Hunted” and recorded in 1993, the year before he died of leukemia. “The Soldier, His Wife and the Bum” and “Fan Letter” are solid if typical Bukowski fare, but “The Last Days of the Suicide Kid” deals with the perils of old age, and “The Poetry Reading” is a funny, sly take on his own fame.
Also available for download, this interview clip – with less than stellar sound quality, so turn up that volume — is the rare chance to hear Bukowski as himself, rather than one of his fictional personas, and despite the telltale sound of clinking glasses and the sloshing of a bottle, he comes off as less a boozing womanizer than a soft-spoken old hand. He tells the story of the first time he realized he was a writer, making up a story for a school assignment about President Hoover visiting Southern California: “That was the first inkling that there was a seed in there somewhere — I told this bullshit story about the president.”
John Fante was one of America’s great writers, encountering equal measures of victory and defeat during a decades-long career. But did Hollywood strangle his talent, or did he do it himself?
Los Angeles, give me some of you! Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town.
–”Ask the Dust,” 1939
In the company of writers, when the conversation turns to the serendipity of literary fame — great writers unpublished; lousy ones celebrated — sooner or later the name John Fante will come up. Not everyone will know of him — not on the East Coast, anyway — but those who do will respond with feeling. To them, he’ll be one of the precious proofs of literary justice: a moral story illustrating all the ills of Hollywood and the immortality of talent; a rare and precious illustration that talent, no matter what the odds, will out.
As always with these stories of virtue rewarded, it’s a three-act morality play. In Fante’s case, it starts in 1930 when an impoverished young Italian-American man escapes his suffocating home in Colorado, armed only with a Jesuit high school education and the insane desire to write novels, and challenges Depression-era Los Angeles to deny him his glory. Flash forward to 1978, and Act 2: The aged hero sits in a wheelchair in his luxurious Malibu, Calif., house, having lost limb and eyesight to diabetes. Between the two scenes lies a lifetime of forgotten novels, buried by a career of soul-destroying screenwriting and a half-century of dedicated drinking and gambling, a brilliant talent wasted and forgotten. And then comes the last act.
In a throwaway line in his 1978 novel, “Women,” the iconic Charles Bukowski — the best-selling cult poet whose wild readings are the stuff of beat legends and whose epic drinking, fucking and writing were captured by Mickey Rourke in the movie “Barfly” — mentions two utterly forgotten Fante novels, published respectively in 1939 and 1938: “Ask the Dust,” and “Wait Until Spring, Bandini.” These novels, it turns out, had sustained Bukowski 25 years before when, in the depths of his half-mad drinking days, he found them in the Los Angeles public library.
Jerry Leiber (right) looks over Elvis Presley’s shoulder at the sheet music for “Jailhouse Rock” in Los Angeles in 1957. His songwriting partner Mike Stoller stands to the left.
Jerry Leiber, half of one of the most prolific and successful pop songwriting teams of all time, died Monday morning in Los Angeles of cardio-pulmonary failure following a lengthy illness, according to a source at Leiber and Stoller Enterprises. He was 78 years old.
In an interview on NPR’s Morning Edition in 1991, Leiber described his partnership with Mike Stoller as “Long, long years of … stepping on each other’s toes … and words and sentences and, also, finishing each other’s lines on songs.” According to the pair, Leiber had barely spit out the words, “Take out the papers and the trash” before Stoller chimed in with, “Boy you don’t get no spending cash,” the first lines of their 1958 hit for The Coasters, “Yakety Yak.”
Journalist and author Tom Piazza’s collection of essays, Devil Sent the Rain, features pieces about several musicians whose songs and personas conjure, as he puts it, “the bottom of the American ladder.” There’s the proto-country of Jimmie Rodgers, the early blues of Ma Rainey, the volatile bluegrass of Jimmy Martin, the forgotten honky-tonk of Carl Perkins — all products of a “desperate America.”
THE place of comic books at the cultural supper table has never been more secure. Summertime films have come to mean superhero movies. Comics-related museum shows and gallery exhibitions are a regular part of the art world palette. And the market for original comic-book art continues to be strong. Just this May a bold, full-page drawing of Batman and Robin by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson — from the groundbreaking 1986 series “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” — sold at auction for an emphatic $448,125.
That broad cultural good news, though, is still tempered in an industry where dozens of titles used to sell hundreds of thousands of copies each month. These days only the top one or two best-selling books creep past the 100,000 mark — and in some months none at all.
But even as sales falter, comics’ rising legitimacy means the genre — whether knowingly or not — can now focus more than ever on defining its four-color canon. In the old days that canon was pretty much set by price guides aimed at collectors. But a recent proliferation of well-made art volumes continues to help anchor and expand the notions of which artists matter most in the 80-year history of comic books.
Not that collections of comic book art are new. Once upon a time, however, such books were ramshackle affairs. They were often printed in black-and-white on stock maybe a cut above copier paper, and stapled together. If they were printed in hardcover color you could hear the spine glue crackle and complain the first time the books were cracked open. And the color was about as nuanced as that on a 1966 Philco floor-model color television.
Pisco, a clear grape brandy from the stills of South America, is the fastest-growing liquor in the booze biz, and I’ll bet you a round of dry Capitáns that cocktail historians will record this as the season of its breakthrough among norteamericanos. Going into the summer drinking term, it demonstrated considerable momentum, with the Peruvian Association of Exporters boasting that in the first four months of 2011, U.S. sales increased by 210 percent year on year. Granted, there are individual persons who spent a comparable amount of money on bottle-service Grey Goose over the same span of time, but listen to the culture—the dispatches filed from Seattle and West Hollywood and Queens—and look at the aggressiveness of these pisco salesmen. This could be the most determined marketing assault on America’s liquor cabinets since the period, just after World War II, when Smirnoff hitched its wagon to the Moscow Mule.
Pisco Makes the Trip North
PISCO, the clear grape spirit of South America, is emerging from the mist of history and bringing rich freshness to cocktails. In New York and other cities, liquor stores and bars that carried no pisco a few years ago have several now and are adding more, making it the fastest-growing spirit in the country.
The new piscos are a far cry from the famously rustic, hangover-inducing stuff that was previously available. Top-shelf piscos are being made for Peruvian connoisseurs, and these newer entries are feeding the growing export market, often with an assist from American expertise, passion and money.
If you think about the challenges facing the men and women running for president, you might think about travel, long hours, endless public scrutiny and complete erosion of privacy. The reward that waits after victory is more pressure: a huge weight of responsibility. It’s hard not to wonder who would actually want that job.
Dr. Nassir Ghaemi, who runs the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, has an answer. In his new book, A First Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness, Ghaemi lays out the argument that leaders with some mental illnesses, particularly mania or depression, are often better in times of crisis.
Ghaemi came to that conclusion after studying the lives and medical records of many great leaders, and found that quite a few — from Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr. — had some form of mental illness.
“Historians have often not paid much attention to these features of their lives; they’ve just written them off as irrelevant to their leadership,” Ghaemi tells NPR’s Laura Sullivan. “So one thing I wanted to do was just to show that these symptoms not only were present in their lives, but were relevant to their leadership.”
Ghaemi says a lot of research shows that there are some benefits to mania and depression.
The arc of American culture can be found in the nation’s music. Author Tom Piazza shares that story in his new collection of essays, called Devil Sent the Rain: Music and Writing in Desperate America.
Piazza starts with a meditation on the blues.
“Within that musical form, you’ll find a series of strategies for dealing with, I guess you could say, hard times,” he tellsWeekend Edition guest host John Ydstie.
Often the lyrics focus on the hard times, Piazza says, but the music underneath the lyrics “is anything but downhearted.”
Early blues artist Charley Patton’s song “Devil Sent the Rain” is the inspiration for the book’s title. Piazza says Patton is regarded as one of the founders of Delta blues. One technique Patton uses, as heard in his song, “When Your Way Gets Dark,” is using different voices to make it sound as if there are multiple people performing at once.
“[That] kind of inner dialogue is actually an astonishingly sophisticated musical — and discursive, even — mind at work,” Piazza says. “Actually, it’s a very literary thing.”
An iceberg is seen melting off the coast of Ammasalik, Greenland, in July 2007. This year, scientists say sea-ice extent in the Arctic has reached its lowest level since monitoring by satellite began in 1979, the result of rising temperatures.
The Arctic may be the world’s next geopolitical battleground. The melting ice will have profound consequences for the roof of the world, opening strategic waterways to shipping, reducing the ice cap on Greenland, and spurring a rush to claim rights to the wealth of natural resources that lie beneath. NPR examines what’s at stake, who stands to win and lose, and how this could alter the global dynamic.
The Arctic is heating up faster than anyplace on Earth. And as it heats, the ice is growing thinner and melting faster. Scientists say that sometime this century, the Arctic Ocean could be free of ice during the summers. And that transition is likely to be chaotic.
Chile officially recognized 9,800 more victims of its dictatorship on Thursday, increasing the total number of people killed, tortured or imprisoned for political reasons to 40,018.
A similar effort in 2004 determined that 27,153 survivors deserve monthly compensation from the government for human rights violations they suffered.
Together with the 3,065 people who were killed by Chile’s military or were simply made to disappear and are presumed dead, the official victim list accepted by President Sebastian Pinera on Thursday totals 40,018.
Survivors of rights violations will get lifetime pensions of about $260 a month. Relatives of those killed receive more than three times that amount. In all, the government will need to increase its compensation to about $123 million a year. Victims also are entitled to health, education and housing benefits.
Freedom Riders Remember, 50 Years Later— A daughter goes to Mississippi to retrace the legendary civil rights ride her father and other young activists took a half-century ago. —Laura Baer
On May 4, 1961, 13 Freedom Riders got on two buses in Washington, DC, and headed south. Their goal was to test a recent Supreme Court decision that had declared racially segregated interstate buses and travel facilities unconstitutional. A few days into their journey, the Riders were met with violence: In Alabama, one of the buses was firebombed, and riders on the second were beaten by members of the Ku Klux Klan and police officers when they reached Birmingham.
But the rides continued throughout the summer of 1961, as an estimated 450 black and white Freedom Riders rode throughout the South, braving the segregationists’ jeers and attacks. Many ended their travels in Jackson, Mississippi, where they were arrested and sent to Parchman State Prison Farm. There, they were subjected to abusive treatment that included strip searches, lights that didn’t turn off at night, and hosing down to keep them from singing protest songs.
Laura Baer’s late father, Byron, was one of the Freedom Riders who was sent to Parchman. (Baer, who would become a Democratic politician and leader of the New Jersey state senate, died in 2007.) In May, she retraced the journey he’d taken a half-century earlier, attending the Freedom Riders’ 50th anniversary reunion in Jackson and photographing many of the surviving Riders.