Monthly Archives: March 2000

Open and "Clothed"

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Oscar Wilde’s aphorism, it’s only the shallow people who don’t judge by appearances, suits the sentiments of the clothes-obsessed.

But looking good isn’t about following fashion. Looking good’s about fashioning ourselves.

Forget that gray was the ‘new black’ last year, brown is the ‘new black’ this year, and (the rumor is) black will be the ‘new black’ next year. Pick your own palette, find your own fabric, invent your own image.

Andrea Siegel is so passionate about clothes, she stops people on the street to have conversations with them about what their sense of style and their sense of self. She knows their secret of looking comfortable and fabulous.

Look inward, she says, to look outward. Understand your feelings about sex, family, death, and you’ll achieve bliss in your wardrobe, too. Know thyself, then adorn thyself in this hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Andrea Siegel author of “Open and Clothed: For the Passionate Clothes Lover.”

Russian Parliamentary Elections

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The good news/bad news joke in Moscow has the Acting President Vladimir Putin receiving the election returns sometime next week. He asks for the bad news first:

“Well, sir, the Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov got 58% of the vote.”

“What’s the good news?” Putin asks.

“Well, you got 83%.

Mr. Putin, chosen for the job by Boris Yeltsin and his circle, will win the presidency by a huge margin Sunday because he turned the smashing of Chechnya into a popular patriotic war; also because the new brokers of private power in Moscow are backing him; and because their media machines have savaged all his opponents and driven the more plausible alternatives out of the race.

So the question this time around is not who’ll win? It’s who is Putin, beyond the terse, apparently unreconstructed mid-level KGB spy, we know from speeches on the rationalizing state power in a market economy.

Russia’s election of the man they call “The Black Box” in this hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Richard Lourie

Teresa of Avila, 16th Century Spanish Nun

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Teresa of Avila, the 16th century Spanish nun, was known not only for her conversations with God, but for carrying out his instructions. In 20 years, ailing but indomitable, and over the objections of jealous fellow nuns, threatened priests and outraged townspeople, Teresa founded 17 reformed nunneries.

This saint followed God’s orders with the savvy, determination and success of a modern day businesswoman. Not only was she pragmatic about her franchises, she was matter-of-fact about her extraordinary mystical experiences.

One of the best known images of Teresa, Bernini’s, “The Ecstasy of St. Teresa,” depicts her in spiritual ecstasy with her eyes closed, lips parted, hips raised.

Besides trances, Teresa was often seen levitating and her Carmelite sisters had strict orders to yank her down should she begin to float.

Teresa of Avila, saint and businesswoman, on this show.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Cathleen Medwick, author of “Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul,” and Mary Luti.

Defining the New Economy

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The old/new economy dichotomy is on everyone’s lips these days, but can anyone truly tell which is which?

Sure, there’s the extremes of old and slow, brick and mortar makers of the various clunky junk we all need – and, on the other end, the virtually infinite speed of the dot-coms. But even as we get to know that what a B2B is, old economy companies are getting into new economy businesses.

In the last month, Detroit’s Big Three car makers, agri-giant Cargill and Sears and Roebucks have all opened shop online – and there’s more on the way.

The Grocery Manufacturers of America will create an e-bazaar for its members; Eastman Chemical has ventured into half a dozen start-ups in the past seven months.

Meanwhile, cash floods the NASDAQ one day, Wall Street the next, oil prices are shooting through the roof, and Alan Greenspan hikes interest rates every chance he gets. Is this the best bull market of all time, complete chaos, or both?
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Allen Sinai and Robert J. Shiller, professor of economics at Yale University, author of “Irrational Exuberance”.

Livingston Taylor on the Art of Live Performance

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Nobody ever called Jimmy Buffett a great singer, but a great performer? Definitely. Jerry Garcia, too. And Louis Armstrong. Judy Garland, and her daughter Liza Minelli, as well.

It’s not about perfection and it doesn’t matter that the performer felt sick with nerves before walking on, as Frank Sinatra said he always did.

Sometimes it doesn’t even take words to bind an audience: they said that Richard Burton as a young actor could be scrubbing the floor upstage and steal the show.

What it takes, says performance teacher Livingston Taylor, is a gut understanding that the audience is more important to you than you are to the audience. It takes an ear for conversation after someone yells, ‘hey broccoli face, go home.”

It’s about knowing you belong there, and knowing what to do with your arms. For a singer, or a comedian, the best school may just be dance class.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Livingston Taylor

US/India Relations

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The Indian subcontinent is President Clinton’s 62nd foreign trip. Sixty-second on the list of United States priorities, the Indians say. Perhaps not high enough for a nuclear power, an up-and-coming hi-tech economy and even the source of the latest chic style in California.

India has become a millennial priority though. The land somewhere between it and Pakistan is usually voted the world’s most likely spot for a nuclear conflict.

India and Pakistan are both nuclear powers and they’re fighting a proxy war in Kashmir, a Muslim majority state the both countries claim. So there’s a convergence of interests between India and the US for the first time since the Cold War.

But a thriving democracy, a growing consumer and information economy, not to mention nuclear weapons and geopolitical influence – earns nations a spot on the international dance card.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Jagdish Bhagwati, professor of economics at Columbia University, and Davesh Kapur, professor of economics Harvard University.

The Buffalo Peace Bridge

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The purpose of a bridge is to cross a river or a valley, connect two islands, close a gap. Its function is to get you there, and its form can take your breath away.

You can think of a bridge as an engineered body of land suspended in mid air with limbs of steel or concrete. Arch bridges of brick and stone rise high above rushing water. Men of skill and pride have designed these structures, but have not always calculated the effects of a strong wind and other geological forces. The collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940 was one cautionary calamity.

But when bridges aren’t falling down, they are changing landscapes, with the awesome style of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate or Florence’s Bridge of Gold built for merchants more than travelers.

And then there is the disputed Peace Bridge, connecting Buffalo to Fort Erie, Ontario.

What happens when a 70 year old bridge needs a complete remodeling? Tearing down a bridge often feels like tearing apart a common thread of a community to its denizens. So can it transcend a city’s history as well as transport its people?
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


SUNY Buffalo Professor of American Culture Bruce Jackson, bridge designer Eugene Figg, and Duke University Professor of History and Civil Engineering Henry Petroski

Pollsters Peter Hart and Bob Teeter

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What the presidential primaries produced, after all, was two legacy candidates for November, dynastic sons, heirs apparent-as if American politics really were about bloodlines, not blood sport at all.

Contentment is what the primaries registered about the country, turning aside the reflective Bill Bradley and breaking off that heady flirtation with John McCain and his reform agenda. So different, for example, from Taiwan this past weekend: where a young democracy let the people in and they boldly knocked the old party out.

In American politics, party primaries are invitations to upsets, but the voters this season played it safe at the center. Notice not just that the insurgencies stopped surging; the third-party protest possibilities-the Jesse Ventura option-seem to be withering, as well.

Is this the choice we wanted? Is this the campaign we’re stuck with?
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Peter Hart and Bob Teeter

Lynchings in the American South

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May Lynch: 3 to 6 Negroes This Evening” is the headline from the Memphis Press, Jan. 26 1921.

Public lynchings were common in America for much of the 20th Century. At its height at the turn of the century, two to three people, mostly southern blacks, were lynched every week.

Railroads ran special excursion trains to lynching sites, and thousands gathered to watch the beating, hanging, and burning of human beings. Spectators brought cameras and vendors printed photographs on the spot, minting a small fortune by turning the prints into souvenir postcards.

Some of those photographs are now part of a new exhibit at the New York Historical Society, and what they show is the shameless, festive carnival of lynching: Women with parasols, children lifted onto shoulders for the view, and large groups of men, all expectant and exultant.

Lynching in America, on this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Leon Litwack and James Allen.

Taiwan and China

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The headline for Taiwan’s elections could have read: “Little Dragon Chooses Own Way in Year of Dragon while Big Dragon Fumes.”

On Saturday Taiwan, one of the original “little dragon” economies of the Pacific Rim, voted Chen Shway Bien for president, ending half a century of single party rule and moved closer to a declaration of independence.

Although a hundred-thousand Taiwanese stormed the streets to celebrate the decision, Taiwan made its choice under threatening clouds from mainland China, the original imperial dragon which still considers Taiwan a prodigal province.

Before the election Beijing indicated that a vote for Independence rhetoric of Chen was a vote for war. Taiwan has maintained a special relationship with mainland China for over 50 years and Beijing has tolerated the island nation’s quasi-independence so long as Taiwan didn’t seek official recognition as a sovereign state.

China is standing down from its threats for now, but tensions are still high across the Taiwan Straits.

But the Year of the Dragon, which began last month, stands for more that bravery and leadership; it also brings good fortune. Democracy, diatribe and dragons – in this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)