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Black Bear Orphans and the Man who Reads Their Minds

Note: This story was broadcast by the WGBH affiliate WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station and by KPIP in Missouri. It is also featured on NHPR.org.

You’re about to hear a story about the bear whisperer of Lyme New Hampshire, Ben Kilham, and the abandoned black bear cubs he has rescued, rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Some of these cubs have formed such strong bonds with Ben, that even when they’re fully grown, they still treat him as a member of the family, so to speak, and allow him special access to their bear secrets and behavior. And on occasion, if I promise to be quiet, and obey the rules, I get to tag along –

This video of Squirty and Ben in the clearing is a rather noisy appetizer.
Click here: (17 minutes) for the story.

Ben Kilham is one of the foremost black bear researchers and rehabilitators in the country, and here he is, with one of his star bears, Squirty, now 17 years old. He took care of her and her siblings after they were separated from their mother during a logging operation that had disturbed her den. She, along with many other orphaned or abandoned cubs, has taught Ben the characteristics of black bear behavior, which share some surprising similarities to our own species. For one thing, once thought to be solitary, Ben has discovered that they are often quite social!

Photo by Ben Kilham
Ben’s featured in several nature documentaries, and he is also the author of two books — Among the Bears: Raising Orphaned Cubs in the Wild, and Out on a Limb: What Black Bears Have Taught Me About Intelligence and Intuition, with a foreward by Temple Grandin, which was just released this fall. ThoughtCast has also interviewed Ben’s sister and colleague, Phoebe, and the interview, accompanied by a slide show of their bear cubs, was posted on New Hampshire Public Radio’s website this spring, and can be seen here.

Posted on June 25, 2017 in a new podcast, Environment, Science
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The Hunt for Art Fakes with Tom Hoving

The inimitable Tom Hoving discusses art forgeries, and how to spot them, on ThoughtCast!

Tom Hoving, former director of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, speaks with Jenny Attiyeh (reporting for WNYC TV, now off the air) about his book – and his career – spotting, and yes, falling for fakes.
False Impressions: The Hunt for Big-Time Art Fakes tells the story of many famous frauds, some of which made their way inside the daunting doors of the Met, the Getty and elsewhere, before being unmasked. In the process, Hoving sheds light not just on the rarefied world of high priced antiquities, be they fair or foul, but on his own mercurial personality.

Posted on May 23, 2017 in a new podcast, Art, Front Page, WNYC TV
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Spring Fever

This time of year, when the relieved earth shrugs off stale dirt and dead leaves, it pauses, recalling. Then, as it lets out a long, low breath, it slowly releases moisture, a glut of color. Everything is growing.

But only for a spell, for soon enough the earth will turn, and then the relentless heat will shrivel these green thirsty things, and the ground will grow hard, and withdraw again.

Click here: to listen (2:40 minutes).

Posted on April 24, 2017 in a new podcast, WNYC TV
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Revered New York Review editor Robert Silvers, R.I.P.

Note: this interview has been picked up by the public radio station WGBH, in Boston, and its sister stations WCAI and WNAN.

Robert Silvers (credit Melanie Flood)

The venerable New York Review of Books was launched amidst a newspaper strike in the winter of 1963, and has continued unabated ever since. Devoted to intensive and nuanced coverage of politics, the arts, literature, science (and now movies and the Internet!), the paper, as it’s called, is considered to be the premiere journal of the American intellectual elite.
Robert Silvers, its longtime editor, who shared the post with Barbara Epstein until her death in 2006, spoke with ThoughtCast in the WNYC studios in New York.

Click here: to listen (40 minutes).

Note: Scott McLemee, who writes the Intellectual Affairs column each week at Inside Higher Ed, contributed an excellent question to the interview – thanks!

Posted on March 23, 2017 in a new podcast, Front Page, History, Ideas, Literature, Politics
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Paul Pascarella – An Artist of the Mesa and the Mountain

When I interviewed Paul Pascarella, back in the 90s, I confess he was kind of a friend. Which made following him around with a camera in his Arroyo Seco studio a lot smoother than usual. It’s not easy to gain this access, to watch an artist at work, especially if you’re trying to record each idea as it hits the canvas. The act is extremely revealing.

Perhaps this is why Paul doesn’t stick with his “work-in-progress” for very long. The hands-on phase of this WNYC TV story is relatively brief, followed by a show-and-tell of various examples of his work. Paul has always been a flexible artist, never adhering to just one style. He is, I think, a happy painter, not one gripped by terrors in the small hours, or as they used to say, existential dread.
And who can blame him? He lives in apparent freedom in Taos, New Mexico. As you will see, it’s a spectacular spot, one many famous painters have discovered in the past – Agnes Martin, Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keefe, Marsden Hartley, Rebecca James, Andrew Dasburg. The list continues. Perhaps it has something to do with the huge spaces and the limitless light.

For an audio version of this story, click here: to listen. (4:42 mins).

Posted on October 3, 2016 in a new podcast, Art, WNYC TV
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Andres Serrano @ The New Museum of Contemporary Art

Andres Serrano: Works 1983-93 opened at The New Museum of Contemporary Art in Soho in early 1995. It was a mid-career retrospective, and I went there to interview the controversial artist for the PBS station WNYC TV. His infamous “Piss Christ”, among other ecclesiastical subjects, was prominently featured, as well as images of Ku Klux Klan members, and dead bodies photographed in a morgue.

Today Serrano continues to exhibit his work in group shows, but he seems to have calmed down a bit. Some subtler photographs taken in Cuba may seem to be a good deal humbler, but I personally find them to be quietly beautiful. In recent years, Serrano has also taken affecting portraits of New York’s homeless, in order to increase awareness of their circumstances.

For an audio version of this story, click here: to listen. (3:50 mins).

Posted on August 28, 2016 in a new podcast, Art, Front Page, Religion, WNYC TV
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