Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dec 29 - Jan 2 Programs

Hi, everyone!

This is Lisa Bu, the web producer of Here on Earth, sitting in a very quiet office. We staff had a couple of cheerful gatherings at the station and in Jean's house in the past several days. I hope you're having a good time, too, despite the weather. For the coming week, we have cooked up a few shows accompanied by a couple of best Here on Earth encores. Enjoy!

Monday: Gay Rights: A Universal Principle? In many countries, the taboo against homosexuality seems to be eroding even as the debate rages on: proposition 8, the UN and the Vatican are keeping the issue on the front page. Should gay rights be included under the Universal Declaration on human rights?

Tuesday: Best Books in Translation. While the whole world is busy writing great books, fewer than three percent of them get translated and make American bookshelves. This prompted the New York Times five years ago to declare that "America Yawned" at foreign fiction, but is it still true? Raid your library and join Jean Feraca as we share the world's best books in translation.

Wednesday: The Dead Beat: The Art of Obituaries (encore). How would you like to be remembered? What do obituaries say about our culture? This hour on Here On Earth: Radio Without Borders, join Jean Feraca for a talk with two leading obituarists.

Thursday: Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy (encore). Eric Wilson tried jogging, yoga, tai chi, Frank Capra movies, and finally decided to embrace his gloominess and write a diatribe against the quintessentially American pursuit of happiness -– buoyed up by Prozac and shopping malls, the mass of men lead lives of shallow happiness, the superior man exults in his gloom. Which one are you?

Friday: Lore of Whiskey. Want a remedy for your New Year hangover? Join us for the history and lore of Whiskey.

Happy New Year!

Lisa Bu
Web producer
Here on Earth

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dec 22-26 Programs

Jean’s Pick of the Week: Discovering the New Russia: I liked this program primarily because I learned so much from it. Jonathan Brent, Yale University Press’s editor-in-chief and the author of Inside the Stalin Archives, has been messing around the archives and talking with Russians for the last fifteen years and it shows.

Monday: The history of Jewish culture in America has been told in many ways - through vaudeville, through the movies, and through literature, but not until now has it been told through VINYL. Join us for a wacky, wonderful Hanukkah special with Roger Bennett and Josh Kun, co-authors of And You Shall Know Us By the Trail of Our Vinyl.

Tuesday: Good Touch/Bad Touch: An article in Resurgence magazine inspired this program on cross-cultural differences in attitudes toward touch. The Asians are touch phobic; the Italians are touch-a-philiacs; and Americans don’t like it much either.

Wednesday: Navan, a Celtic music band, perform Celtic songs of the season. Sung in the original languages, the songs are mostly hair-raising, sometimes jazzy and mysterious that give fascinating insights into the pagan underpinnings of Yuletide.

Thursday: A Biography of Santa Claus: He hasn’t always been the jolly old elf we know today. He’s been a wanderer, a friend to prostitutes, a bishop, and a warrior, and his family tree goes back to Turkey.

Friday: Christmas in Auschwitz: Based on a true story by the great Italian humanist, Primo Levi, exquisitely delivered and interpreted by poet Ernesto Livorni, this is probably our best food show ever. Definitely worth another listen.

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dec 15-19 Programs

Jean’s Pick of the Week: Al’ America! In spite of a few misgivings on my part about what looked on the surface like a flimsy premise propped up by pop culture, Jonathan Curiel managed to convince me that there are indeed deep Arabic and Islamic roots in American culture. It was a fun hour as well as an illuminating one. I was particularly fascinated by the connections he drew between Mississippi blues and the Call to Prayer. We forget that many of the slaves brought here from Africa were Muslim, some highly literate and deeply devout. So it’s not so much of a stretch, after all, to imagine that their Islamic influence would persist and survive, just as West African voodoo made its way to Haiti, and New Orleans, where it got mixed up with Jelly Roll Morton and Elvis Presley.

Monday: Cuba on the Threshold of its 5oth Anniversary: The speculation is that the election of Barack Obama opens the way to a thaw in Cuban-American relations. We’ll ask New York Times reporter Roger Cohen who wrote “The End of the End of the Revolution” in a recent issue of the Sunday magazine.

Tuesday: The Evolution of Faith: Parker Palmer traces his own journey with the Christian faith. Parker is unfailingly excellent in the way he delivers his message, and Jossey Bass has just re-issued his very first book, The Promise of Paradox: A Celebration of Contradictions in the Christian Life.

Wednesday: Gay Rights: A Universal Principle? During the last ten years there has been a growing acceptance of homosexuality - at least in the "Western" world. France recently proposed that gay rights be added to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Vatican is opposed. There's a lot of public debate -- both for, against and in the fuzzy in-between. We’ll cover it all and get your views as well.

Thursday: The Winter Solstice Poetry Circle of the Air with Molly Peacock: Molly’s chosen a bright, upbeat poem for this darkest of times. Look for it on our website and join in with your favorite poem of the season.

Friday: Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love: It’s broccoli but it’s not really broccoli. It’s actually a collection of stories by the gorgeous Lara Vapnyar that links food to lonely, loveless dating among recent Russian immigrants – described by Publishers Weekly as a take on the poignant oddities of New York Russian émigré life that is universally palatable.

You can’t say we’re not eclectic.

Coming up in February: we’ve been promised a program with Philippe Petit, the crazy Frenchman who walked a tightrope between the twin towers of The World Trade Center –- one of my personal heroes and the star of Man on Wire, a documentary which has been nominated for an Oscar.

I’m outa here. Go crazy this weekend.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Dec 8-12 Programs

Jean’s Pick of the Week: Today’s Women and Shari’a with UW-Madison Law professor Asifa Quraishi, who can cut through the thickest Islamist patriarchal crap with her unfailing sense of equanimity and ever-ready razor sharp intellect. What a pleasure. I hope we changed some minds about the nature of Islamic law -- which actually favors women in its intention - and the reasons why Muslim women are so often subject to such cruel and barbaric practices. I am reminded of John Donne’s poem: “Ask not for whom the bell tolls…it tolls for thee.” Any woman’s death diminishes me.

Monday: The Goldman Sachs Foundation partnered with the Asia Society to encourage American high school students to study abroad. We’ll meet two of this year’s winners of the prize-winners for excellence in international education: a bouncy blonde from southern California who traveled to Nepal and found something underneath the poverty and privation that touched her deeply; and an African-American student from Atlanta who found deep resonances in South Africa with our own Civil Rights movement.

Tuesday: It’s not just Sarah Palin who thinks Africa is a country rather than a continent. To dispel ignorance and illuminate the hidden riches of the so-called "dark continent," join us with experts who really know the lay of the land and its peoples. It’s all part of Geography Awareness Week.

Wednesday: Al America! Think Muslims are only in the Middle-East? Think again. Jonathan Curiel, longtime staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, has written a fascinating cultural travelogue documenting America’s Arab and Islamic roots that incorporates everything from the Alamo to The Doors (Jim Morrison, that is.) Don’t miss this one.

Thursday: We've got the trailer, the tickets, and soon, we hope, Danny Boyle, the Irish director of Slumdog Millionaire, the movie about an Indian boy from the slums of Mumbai who’s in the hot seat in his country's version of the popular game show Who Wants to Be a Millionnaire? The film opens in Wisconsin next weekend.

Friday: Great cooking goes beyond following a recipe--it's knowing how to season ingredients to coax the greatest possible flavor from them. Join us with Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg for The Flavor Bible, drawing on dozens of leading chefs' combined experience in top restaurants across the country, and a chance for you to add your own flavor tips.

Oh, yes, and by the way, if you happen to pick up the current issue of New York magazine, check out the feature on indie music stores. Dominick Fernow, who operates Hospital Productions in the East Village (I’m headed there this weekend) just happens to be my son!