Monthly Archives: February 2000

Arizona and Michigan Primaries

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John McCain, in any other business, would be rewarded for bringing new customers into the store.

George W. Bush’s complaint about Michigan, however, is that the voters who beat him in the Republican primary yesterday were party crashers, Independents and Democrats who didn’t belong there in the first place.

The advantage for Bush in the next key bouts in New York and California is that only Republicans can vote; and even in Michigan Bush was getting a majority of the party core. The challenge for McCain is to stir up more Republican rebels and, at the same time, pacify the party chieftains with promises they could be friends, someday.

That’s why McCain last night was saying: “I am a proud Reagan conservative. I love the Republican party. It is my home.”

What’s to do with a nosy rebel who’s come home with a lot of unfamiliar friends. The Republicans’ stubborn dillemma is on this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Designing the Office

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The office is a neighborhood in itself – it’s got gossips, bullies, leaders and followers. And it’s a culture that’s grown with the times – from punch clocks to in-office basketball courts.

Take a peek over the cubicle wall, or open the door of your corner office: we’re lifting the roof off and looking at the ins and outs of office design. Today’s fast-speed corporate culture talks in the language of collaboration and efficiency, log-in and dress-down – but maybe in the end it all comes down to lay-out, — to furniture, lighting and coffee machines.

The corporate office is a social space, and we’re the guinea pigs under fluorescent lights. What’s makes one employee go “postal,” and helps another climb the ladder? We’re knocking on the boss’s door and finding out how design affects the culture of the workplace.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Karen Stephenson, corporate anthropologist

Donald Albrecht, curator of “Design and the American Office” at the National Building Museum in Washington DC

and Mark Margulies, architect

Scott Adams, Cartoonist (Dilbert)

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Dave Eggers, Novelist and Editor of "McSweeney's".

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Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern is the new new thing in the world of letters. It’s a quirky publication: a 19th century-style literary journal aimed at Gen’xers, Monty Python fans, and readers of marginalia.

It’s also a refreshing resurrection of an old old thing: a rag that relies on good writing, long form prose, experimental fiction, illustration and humor.

McSweeney’s may fair no better than MIGHT, but Eggers’ oddball venue is attracting some of the best young writers today, without paying them a dime. The McSweeney manifesto believes in indulgence, eschews the recent work of Saul Bellow, and relies on the strength of numbers, provided those numbers are very, very small.

He’s also recently published his first book – his life story which he had the brass to call “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.” It’s a postmodern examination of everything: life, death, big brotherhood, parenting, and the state of American literature.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Dave Eggers

Writer Ian Frazier and Reservation Living

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Ian Frazier is a celebrated magazine writer in New York.

In South Dakota, around the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala Sioux, Frazier is known as a wann-a-be Indian – a white guy with a pony tail, a Harvard grad from Ohio who can’t hear enough of the heroic tales of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Nor of contemporary heroes, too, like the basketball star SuAnne Big Crow, who improvised a shawl dance with her warmup jacket in a heart-lifting response to anti-Indian hecklers that’s never been forgotten.

He would tell you he’s an orthodox American who’s decided that many of our best constitutional American qualities in this land of the free and home of the brave were in fact learned from the Indians, starting with the idea that in this land, “every one is his own master.”

“That self-possessed sense of freedom is close to what I want,” Ian Frazier writes. “I want to be an uncaught Indian like them.”
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Ian Frazier, magazine writer.

The Anatomy of a Massacre

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The story of the war in Kosovo can be told massacre by massacre – a numbing parade of Balkan atrocities. But if you get down to the specific places, homes, and families, and all the horror of arson, rape, and murder – numbness returns to outrage.

The journalists Stephen Smith and Michael Montgomery uncovered a massacre in a small Kosovo town called Cuska, where Serbs killed 41 men.

The militias who’d done the killing had been uncharacteristically sloppy. They left behind photographs of themselves and survirors to interview. Eyewitnesses identified perpetrators by face and in some cases by name, and Smith and Montgomery traced the orders for the massacre up the chain of Serbian command all the way to one of Slobodan Milosevic’s generals.

What makes Cuska’s story most remarkable, though, is the testimony of the killers. The anatomy of a massacre – in this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Stephen Smith, managing editor and correspondent for American RadioWorks and Michael Montgomery, correspondent for American RadioWorks.

The Art of Edvard Munch

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The Norweigan painter, Edvard Munch would say that his paintings should suffer like he did. He’s the acknowledged father of visual expressionism, whose works have been forever linked with death, sex, anxiety and desolation.

Munch was one of the first turn of the century painters to use emotions, longings and desires as models for his art. “We should no longer paint interiors with people reading and women knitting,” he’d say. “We should paint real people who breathe, feel, suffer and love”.

The art of Edvard Munch came out of a rebellion against realism, a deeper understanding of science and psychology, as well his own lifelong experiences with death, sickness and emotional trauma. Today, his more famous works like “The Scream,” “The Voice,” and “Anxiety” have reached a pop icon status adorning the neckties, tee-shirts and mouse pads of the caffeine addicted twenty-something generation.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Claude Cernuschi, Professor of Modern Art History at Boston College and co-curator of the college’s Munch exhibit, “Psyche, Symbol and Expression.”

The South Carolina Primary

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South Carolina marks the angry line between just a fight in the Republican Party and a nasty split down to the roots.

So the question is going to be whether George Bush’s big Dixiecrat win over John McCain – driven by Bob Jones fundamentalism and phone-bank whispers – is actually going to weaken the Republican drive back toward the White House.

Tomorrow, Michigan is the last of the open primaries for a while: does John McCain hang himself with his own GOP by asking Democrats and Independents to rebuild his Republican insurgency?

McCain didn’t go to his room and sulk after South Carolina – the way Bush did after New Hampshire. He spat back Bush’s reform mantra, right at him.

“If he’s a reformer, I’m an astronaut,” McCain said. They’re dissing each other now as fakes and frauds, party hacks facing party wreckers.

The Republican contest is looking especially good for Democrats.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, about the GOP race

SAT No Longer Making the Grade

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S…A…T. Three little letters that send chills through the student body. Three little numbers shadow us long past graduation day. What are you? A 720 verbal, a 450 in math? Are these codes as indelible as your Social Security number, your I.Q….your name?

In the horserace of Higher Education, the hurdle of the Scholastic Aptitude Test must be cleared… and the hurdles are higher for blacks and Hispanics. This ragged racecourse seems as inevitable as death and taxes. But is it right? One of the S A T ‘s biggest customers doesn’t think so.

The President of the University of California, the largest state university system in the country, wants to scrap submission of S A T aptitude scores as a requirement for admission. On the east coast, officials at Harvard say the emphasis on S A T scores is just one part of an admissions process gone haywire.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Linda Kramer, Associate Dean of Admissions at Bowdoin College

Rick Shaw Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Yale University

Charles Ducey, Director of the Bureau of Study Council, from Harvard University.

The Music of the Violin

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Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, still in her thirties, is in the third charmed stage of a great career.

In her first she was a child star who was announced to the world at age 13 by Herbert von Karajan as the “greatest musical prodigy since the young Yehudi Menuhin.”

In stage two she was the shapely covergirl in the sleeveless gown, recording the great 19th Century chesnuts of the violin repertoire.

Stage three began with her discovery of 20th century music in general and the work of Witold Lutoslawski in particular. A lot of it can sound like the record of a nightmare: the 20th Century made music that’s notorious for emptying concert halls; yet not when Anne-Sophie Mutter plays it. In her hands it is music that touches big emotions – not always to stroke or even please the ear.

But she’s made it her challenge this winter to persuade listeners to join her on a journey, and they’re flocking to her. Anne-Sophie Mutter – in this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Anne-Sophie Mutter, violinist.

Who is George Bush?

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George W. Bush left his inevitability and his inexorability in New Hamphsire and on the way to South Carolina he’s lost the better part of his campaign warchest too. The question now is can W. survive a second look?

Is he more or less than a cocky trust-funder trading on his family’s name and connections? It’s said George W. was a guy going nowhere until his 40th birthday when he swore off booze and found God.

His resume’s been called a pale copy of his father’s. He was just an average student and a frat boy prankster in school; a non-combat, non-athlete who got bailed out of the oil business in Texas and lost a key political campaign for Congress in 1978.

On the other hand, he’s more Christian and more charismatic than his father; he’s a skilled politician, a popular Texas governor and he may have a vision of the future for the Republican Party.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Nicholas Lemann, author of “The Big Test” and writer for the Atlantic Monthly and the New Yorker
Wayne Slater, senior political correspondent for the Dallas Morning News, “Who is George W?”