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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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A Prior Republican Presidential Debate

There was a time when Donald Trump, and the less sensational but still controversial Ted Cruz, did not dominate the discourse and depress the hopes of the Republican Party establishment. Back in 2000, there were 6 candidates to pick from, and none of them prompted calls for a contested convention. Even so, these six seemed like quite an odd bunch at the time, and they took their place on stage in Durham, New Hampshire for an influential Republican Presidential Debate only weeks before the first-in-the-nation primary on February 1st. This was the first time citizens cast their votes in a primary for the future President George W. Bush.
Let’s rewind the tape, and take another look. (NB: click on the link just provided, NOT on the images.)
georgeWbush This January 6th debate was moderated by Tim Russert, the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, and featured Arizona Senator John McCain, conservative political activist Alan Keyes, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, publisher Steve Forbes, Christian pro-life spokesman Gary Bauer and George W. Bush. As things turned out, Bush fared poorly in New Hampshire, and lost the primary to the “straight talk express” candidate John McCain, who pushed for campaign finance reform.
jennyrepdebate1 I participated in the debate as a correspondent for New Hampshire Public TV, and was able to ask McCain, who was campaigning to clean up Washington, a question about his influence as chairman of the FCC.
So — let me ask the same questions I posed in my Democratic Presidential Debate post: In taking a look 16 years after the fact, how does it seem to you now? Quaint and out of date? Does it hold hints of what was to come? What should we have done differently that might have made the future a better place?

Posted on March 18, 2016 in a new podcast, History, Politics
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Arianna Huffington on Picasso and the Clinton White House

Arianna Huffington, the author, journalist and founder of The Huffington Post, spoke with Jenny Attiyeh at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.  This interview was broadcast on WNYE, a public television station in New York City.

Today she is a media mogul, one of Forbes’ 100 most influential people. But back in 1999, when I had the chance to interview her, Huffington was merely a media star. Her book Greetings from the Lincoln Bedroom had recently been released, and not to universal acclaim. It’s a frolic of a book, a fanciful tale of the Clinton (Bill) White House. But I was more interested at the time in her powerful and still shocking biography of Picasso: Creator and Destroyer.  Huffington, of course, could answer all my questions with ease.
This is the final interview that took place at the Fourth Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 1999. The second interview was with KCRW’s Michael Silverblatt, and the first was with the comedian and writer Sandra Tsing Loh.
For an audio version of this interview with Arianna Huffington, click here: to listen.

Posted on August 31, 2015 in a new podcast, Art, Biography, Front Page, Literature, Politics
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Sandra Tsing Loh at the LA Times Book Festival

The  comedian, writer and performer Sandra Tsing Loh speaks with Jenny Attiyeh at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books about If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home By Now, her first novel. It tells the story of a frustrated couple, Bronwyn and Paul, who live in a shabby Los Angeles suburb, far from the Hollywood glamor they secretly long for. Dissatisfied with the fraying Bohemian chic that they used to admire, they seek status and — I’ll let Sandra take up the tale.

This interview is the first of three that took place at the Fourth Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 1999. The other interviews, to follow, are with KCRW’s Michael Silverblatt, the host of Bookworm, and with Arianna Huffington.
For an audio version of this interview with Sandra Tsing Loh, click here: to listen.

Posted on October 29, 2014 in a new podcast, Literature, Public Media
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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 September 17, 2013 in a new podcast, Environment, Front Page, Science
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