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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, Front Page
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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, Front Page, 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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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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George W. Bush, Beforehand

I interviewed George W. Bush during his first New Hampshire Presidential Primary, when he was still a newcomer to the country at large, just the free and easy – and sober – Governor of Texas, the oldest son of the former President, George Herbert Walker Bush.
Here he is, “W”, buoyant, almost boyish, back in January 2000, before he was defeated in the United States’ earliest primary by John McCain on February 1st.


That was back when we too were innocent of what was to come… before this nation changed irrevocably. I asked Bush about our national interests, and when – if ever – the U.S. should intervene in foreign conflicts.
Let us know what you think of his perspective, and whether it evolved…

For an audio version of this interview, click here: to listen.

Posted on June 28, 2014 in Front Page, Politics
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