Sunday, May 31, 2009

June 1-5 Programs

Jean is still away this week. Veronica Rueckert will bring you the following programs.

Monday: Guerrilla Gardening: What do you get when you cross a desire to go green and the nerve to takeover land owed by someone else? It's called Guerrilla Gardening, and while it was first practiced in 17th century Britain, it's become a movement in places like New York City, where abandoned lots are turned into lush gardens by local "Green Guerrillas." Join us and Richard Reynolds, author of On Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening Without Boundaries, as we explore the history of activist gardening.

Tuesday: The Book of Dead Philosophers: What can you tell about a person from the way they die? In The Book of Dead Philosophers, Simon Critchley, Professor of Philosophy at the New School in New York, explores death, our last taboo, from a most unusual perspective. He recounts the demise of famous philosophers, revealing how their variously tragic, amusing, and bizarre ends can help us lead richer lives.

Wednesday: Iceland's Story: Iceland is the site of an aluminum smelting industry, it's been at the forefront of renewable energy development, and, most recently, it's seen what is perhaps the most spectacular fall of any nation during the global economic crisis. Andri Magnason's book Dreamland and the recent film made from it takes us on a journey through Iceland's struggle to recover a sustainable identity for itself but its story has something to teach us all about what it means to honor what's valuable about a nation.

Thursday: Take Back Your Time: TAKE BACK YOUR TIME is a major U.S./Canadian initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment. Join us to explore work and workers around the world.

Friday: Catching Fire: How Cooking Made us Human: Have you ever seen an otter fry a fish? Maybe you haven't thought too much about how cooking is a strictly human activity, but Richard Wrangham has. In his latest book, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made us Human, Richard Wrangham, renowned primatologist, argues that humanity itself began when we started cooking our food. This food Friday we go deep into our human ancestry to discover how cooking itself may be responsible for our biological and sociological evolution into what we are today.


Here on Earth team

Sunday, May 24, 2009

May 25-29 Programs

Jean’s Pick of the Week: Taqwacores: A New Way to be Muslim in the West. For anyone who has ever grappled with doctrinal religion, Michael Muhammad Knight’s very American, very punk rock take on Islam is really refreshing. His novel, The Taqwacores, about a group of punk rock Muslims who live together in a house in Buffalo, New York, really does read a lot like Catcher in the Rye. We didn’t talk much about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but we did talk quite a bit about idolatry, the problems with organized religion, and how to relate directly with the Divine. Interestingly enough, callers connected not as punk rockers, but as seekers.

Monday, Memorial Day: An Ecology of Music: You’ll enjoy listening again, if you haven’t heard it before, to this program with John Luther Adams, one of our most original composers. It was one of my favorite programs of 2008. John Luther Adams lives in Alaska where he immerses himself in the primal, grandiose soundscapes of the arctic out of which he makes music that will make your hair stand on end.

Tuesday: What can you tell about a person from the way they die? In The Book of Dead Philosophers, Simon Critchley, Professor of Philosophy at the New School in New York, explores death, our last taboo, from a most unusual perspective. He recounts the demise of famous philosophers, revealing how their variously tragic, amusing, and bizarre ends can help us lead richer lives.

Wednesday: “Fugee” Soccer (as in Refugee) When New York Times journalist Warren St. John wrote about a soccer team in Georgia made up of child refugees from all over the world, Universal Studios jumped on the film-rights. Warren St. John’s new book about the team, Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, An American Town, chronicles the hard work and heroic journeys of the players and sheds light on what it takes to build a community when we seem to have little in common.

Thursday: Samuel Charters, one of the very first musicologists to study Afro-American music, has summed up his life's work in A Language of Song, which details his journey to Africa and to find Africa-influenced music in the United States, Brazil, and the Carribean.

Friday: Sex, Death, and Oysters: When food writer Robb Walsh discovered that the local Galveston Bay oysters were being passed off as Blue Points and Chincoteagues in other parts of the country, he decided to look into the matter. His new book, Sex, Death and Oysters: A Half-Shell Lover's World Tour, documents a five-year adventure that docks everywhere from oyster reefs to oyster bars and from corporate boardrooms to hotel bedrooms in a quest for the truth about the world’s most profitable aphrodisiac.

I’m going to be gone for a couple of weeks. Veronica Rueckert will be hosting Here on Earth until my return on June 8.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!


Friday, May 15, 2009

May 18-22 Programs

Jean’s Pick of the Week: (I’ve reverted to referring to myself in the third person): Certainly Reza Aslan, very slick, very smart, very articulate and, I venture to say, one of our most trusted interpreters of Muslims and Islam. But, scholar of religions though he may be, he really goofed right at the end of Wednesday’s show when he misquoted Jesus in that much misunderstood line, “I come not to bring peace but a sword.” Jesus was a reformer, not a militant. Almost everything he said was intended as a spiritual message. The Christian gospel was spread not by the sword but by the blood of the early Christian martyrs, the “the seed of the Church.”

Monday: Going Back to Cuba: For decades, Cuba has been a place we were only allowed to imagine, but now, with small cracks in the formidable barrier between us, we find ourselves with a lot of catching up to do. So did journalist Carlos Frias, the American-born son of Cuban parents who went to Cuba for the first time in 2006 and wrote about his impressions in the memoir, Take Me With You.

Tuesday: Memoir as An American Art Form: I went to hear Natalie Goldberg read from her latest book about memoir writing, Old Friend From Long Ago, when she was at Border’s in Madison a short time ago. Natalie used to be a regular on my old show. When she talked about memoir as an American cultural phenomenon I knew I just had to bring her on Here on Earth. She’s my old friend from long ago, and once you hear her, she’ll be yours too.

Wednesday: Evicted From Eternity: Have you ever lived in a place you loved and thought you knew, and then gone back years later only to find it completely changed? That’s what happened to me when I revisited Trantevere, the oldest neighborhood in Rome where I lived for a year in 1968 when the little boys were still playing marbles and peeing in the street, just as they had been doing for thousands of years. How could it change? Harvard historian Michael Herzfeld wrote about the people of Monti, another Roman neighborhood that has undergone the same gentrification in his book with the soulful title, Evicted From Eternity: The Restructuring of Modern Rome.

Thursday: Taqwacores: Muslim Punk Rock: Michael Muhammad Knight is known as a provocateur, a rebel, and a heretic among many American Muslims for his book, The Taqwacores, which describes a group of Muslim punk-rockers living a religious yet fiercely individualistic lifestyle. The book gained notoriety as it went viral and inspired a movement. We’ll talk with the man himself, a convert to Islam who grew up as an Irish Catholic.

Friday: In Praise of Fat: People who have been listening to me for a long time know my iconoclastic streak. So when I heard that there’s a new James Beard Prize winning cookbook by Jennifer McLagan called Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes, I jumped. It has a picture of one of the fattiest lambchops I’ve ever seen on the cover.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 11-15 Programs

My Pick of the Week: Rag and Bone. I can’t help it, even as a lapsed Catholic, I do love my relics. I’ve seen a good number of some of the best specimens too: Catherine of Siena’s blackened and shriveled head raised above an altar in her favorite church; St. John the Baptist’s baptizing finger on display at Topkapi Museum in Istanbul; frayed pieces of St. Frances of Paola’s robe and portions of his feet in Calabria. But I had an early start. When my dear Aunt Tootsie, my mother’s only sister, was dying, my mother took me on many pilgrimages all over New York City in search of healing relics and holy oils. Most impressive was the body of Mother Cabrini laid out in a glass coffin in her motherhouse, an image which later served me as the prototype for my Women of Spirit series. When Mother Cabrini was officially canonized, her body was dismembered, the head sent to Rome and other parts made into relics. Even I was appalled to learn about that.

Here’s what’s coming next week:

Monday: Bar Culture in Congo: If you were to major in French literature these days, you would undoubtedly come across the work of Alain Mabanckou, a Francophone writer from Congo Brazzaville who has been sweeping all the most prestigious French awards. His latest book to be translated into English is Broken Glass, a witty novel set in a bar called Credit Gone Away owned by the Stubborn Snail.

Tuesday: Harold Varmus, the Nobel Prize-winning cancer biologist who also serves as science advisor to President Obama is the author of the new book, The Art and Politics of Science. He’s coming to the UW-Madison to give a lecture and a reading at Borders. We get a sneak preview.

Wednesday: Reza Aslan, author of the bestseller No God But God, has become one of our most trusted defenders of Islam. His new book, How to Win a Cosmic War, recommends that we strip the religious rhetoric out of our “war on terror” and pay more attention to the war that can be won: the battle for the minds and hearts of young Muslim men.

Thursday: Not Now, Voyager: Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s memoir of her years as a reluctant traveler.

Friday: Forager’s Harvest: Gardens aren’t the only place where you can pick your own food. The trained eye can find all sorts of edibles in woods and backyards, from dandelions to mushrooms.

Happy Mothers’ Day from an old cowhand!


Friday, May 01, 2009

May 4-8 Programs

My Pick of the Week: Martin Espada, Poet of Conscience. He says that he writes poetry “to make the invisible visible,” and told us early in the program that his grandmother was a spirit medium, so he comes by it honestly. But who can calculate the personal cost of putting one’s own psyche at the service of those Chileans who were interrogated, tortured, and executed during Pinochet’s reign of terror? Or to dare to speak for those 453 immigrant restaurant workers who lost their lives in the World Trade Center on 9/11? What a way to ring out National Poetry Month.

Monday: Rags and Bone: Okay, I admit it, you probably have to have a taste for the macabre, or at the very least have been raised Roman Catholic to appreciate the cult of relics; but Peter Manseau (Killing the Buddha) insists that he undertook his “journey among the world’s holy dead” to be reminded of how much he loves life.

Tuesday: Wings of Defeat: A new documentary reveals some startling insights into the make-up of Kamekaze pilots: many of them weren’t really all that keen about killing themselves in the name of their country, and some went out of their way to minimize the damage they caused.

Wednesday: Tune in to find out if our One Day Lalapalooza Pledge Drive will succeed. In between marathon pitches, I’ll be talking with John Nichols about international responses to President Obama’s 100 Days.

Thursday: Do American feminists tend to revert to old world values when they become mothers? We’ll ask Maria Laurino, author of the memoir, Old World Daughter, New World Mother.

Friday: Measuring it out by the teaspoonful, how many of us happen to know that vanilla actually comes from the bean pod of an orchid? Journalist Tim Ecott follows the history of vanilla from its cultivation by the Aztecs to the burgeoning of a multi-million dollar industry. It’s everything but vanilla.

Have a great weekend and here’s hoping it doesn’t rain.