Monthly Archives: March 2000

J.S. Bach, with Craig Smith

Listen / Download

Two hundred and fifty years after the death of J.S. Bach, the Bach cult still thrives.

It includes all manner of musicians, including jazz players from Louis Armstrong to Wynton Marsalis and rock bands like Jethro Tull and Emerson, Lake and Palmer who made hits from Bach melodies.

Bach wrote vocal music – hundreds of Cantatas, multi-hour works on Christmas and the the Passion of Christ; his organ music dominates the organ repertoire the way Shakespeare rules the stage, his harpsichord pieces are the foundation of piano music, and dozens of smaller preludes, fugues, and toccatas are the bedrock of keyboard study and concert music to this day.

Two hundred and fifty years of Bach-on this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Craig Smith

The British Isles, with Norman Davies

Listen / Download

They sit off the coast of Europe in what James Joyce called the snot, green sea although slate grey is more accurate.

The two largest Islands, Britain and Ireland, have been joined together for the last few hundred years by conquest and called the British Isles.

But not any more. Don’t call them the British isles in Dublin; nor in Scotland where “British” is no longer an identity most people acknowledge.

Then what is British anyway? The English themselves are accustomed to wondering wondering what it all means.

Now Historian Norman Davies has written a new history that tries to put the present island identity crisis into a long perspective. “Britishness,” he suggests, is just one phase in a long narrative stretching back to the millennium before Christ, when the Celts gave the islands their culture and the Anglo-Saxons were running around in bearskins in Germany.

The Isles: their past, present and future is on this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Historian Norman Davies

John Irving, and the art of Film Adaption

Listen / Download

“The book was better than the Movie.” That’s what literate movie goers say time and time again.

Somehow the world created for us by the author is not the world created for us on the screen. Characters that live on the page are strangled at birth by the screenwriter. Whole sequences disappear. New characters are created. Sometimes there are good reasons for the changes.

The compressing a novel into a feature length screenplay is an intellectual feat. One screenwriter called it akin to turning a cow into a bouillion cube.

Novelist John Irving has seen the process of novels to films from Both Sides Now. Others adapted his novels with varying degrees of success. Before Irving did the job on The Cider House Rules himself … and earned himself an Oscar-nomination for “best screenplay adapted from another source.”

Now Irving has written a memoir (turning his epic of orphans and abortion into a multiplex length drama) that explains the process of adaptation.

The nuts and bolts of turning novels into screenplays – in this hour.
(Hosted by Michael Goldfarb)


Novelist John Irving

Attorney Barry Scheck

Listen / Download

In the past decade, nearly seventy American prisoners, some on death row, have been set free because of solid DNA proof of their innocence. Science has changed everything about how criminal cases are prosecuted.

The celebrity lawyer Barry Scheck and his colleagues have become evangelists for the use of scientific evidence to free the wrongly convicted. They believe DNA testing is to justice what the telescope is to stars.

It’s not a lesson in biochemistry, not a display of the wonders of magnifying optical glass, but a way to see things as they really are. Real evidence like fingerprints, blood types, semen, tissue can prove innocence or guilt, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

The technology to do so is getting faster and cheaper, but somehow it’s not an automatic “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Is rock solid science enough to overturn a conviction?

Barry Scheck and the Innocence Project in this hour.
(Hosted by Michael Goldfarb)


Barry Scheck

Soul-Making and Bread-Baking

Listen / Download

Bread is the staff of life, the basic form of nourishment around the world. Bread is also an expression of spirit, a feature in forms of worship throughout the world.

That’s the view of Brother Peter Reinhart – and he should know. One of America’s most honoured bread-makers, Reinhart is a former monk whose personal odyssey of faith mirrors his journey to mastery over the basic ingredients of bread: flour, yeast, salt and water.

For the former monk, the stages of bread-baking, 12 in total, are a metaphor for his own three decade long journey to a richer spiritual life.

Whether baking a classically simple French baguette or the complex struan bread first made by medieval Celts on the Isle of Skye the metaphor holds.

12 Steps to a perfectly baked bread and a spiritually enlightened soul: we’re baking Bread with Brother Peter on this hour.
(Hosted by MIchael Goldfarb)


Brother Peter Reinhart, author of “Bread upon the Waters: A Pilgrimage Toward Self-Discovery and Spiritual Truth”

The 2000 American Elections: Views from Abroad

Listen / Download

It’s hard to believe, but the race for the White House is not at the center of everyone’s universe.

Maybe because American political behavior is predictable. Martin Woollacott wrote last month in The Guardian: “It would be heartening if in political campaigning there was more often discussion of international affairs…in which the starting point was not always the security of Americans.”

People around the world who are watching the every-four-year-dog-and-pony show in America give mixed reactions. The Irish see the electoral process as so relentlessly democratic it borders on parody, especially when the candidates are starved for serious issues.

In Russia, no one really knew who Bradley and McCain were even before they pulled out of the race. And Mexicans say they’re hard pressed to differentiate a left leaning republican from a right leaning democrat.

The political view from afar – in this hour.
(Hosted by Michael Goldfarb)


From Russia: Vladimir Boxer, political analyst, specialist on Russian Domestic Politics, and an advisor to Boris Yeltsin.

From Latin America: Adolfo Aguilar, Independent Senator at large and a member of the foreign relations commission in the Mexican Senate.

From: Europe: Martin Woolacott, foreign affairs columnist at The Guardian.

From Israel: Lili Gallili.

From Africa: Bechesio Insteka, reporter for Reuters.

Film from 1930-1934, before the Hayes Censorship Act

Listen / Download

In 1932 Warner Brothers Studio executives sent a memo to their production staff saying that two out of every five movies should be “hot.” And most other films “should be pepped up with a little ginger.”

The euphemisms may be old fashioned but what came on the screen wasn’t: carnality, eroticism, sex. Mixed in with a level of violence and just plain weird tales never before seen on the screen.

It was the heart of the pre-code years. The four year period from the changeover to talking pictures to the arrival at of a censor with teeth in at the Production Code Administration.

It’s a time that has never been re-created. Glamor combined with raw sex. Sternberg made Marlene Dietrich the most desirable woman in the world. Joan Crawford seduced everything in her path – and Barbara Stanwyck – smouldered.

The irony is that the arrival of censorship initiated Hollywood’s Golden Age. Censoring Cinema – pre-code Hollywood in this hour.
(Hosted by Michael Goldfarb)


Thomas Doherty and Mark Vieral

Peacekeeping in Mitrovica

Listen / Download

In a the divided city of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo last year’s Balkan war goes on. The Serbs control an enclave in the north, the Albanians hold the south. International peacekeeping forces patrolling the sector are coming under attack by both rival groups.

Interethnic violence and killing continues. There’s a shortage of police and no functioning judicial system. Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic is said to be trying to consolidate this enclave with the rest of Serbia, and militants close to the Kosovo Liberation Army have been training inside Serbia just across the Kosovo border.

A year after the 78 day air war in Kosovo and eight months after peackeepers entered Kosovo, Mitrovica symbolizes the West’s failure in Kosovo. And at a time when American foreign policy is centered on keeping Kosovo out of the headlines during the presidential campaign, some people are suggesting it may be time for constructive engagement with Milosevic.

An update on the peacekeeping in Kosovo in this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Dusko Doder, journalist and biographer of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic,
Steve Erlanger of the New York Times,
and Steve Berg, professor at Brandeis University.

The Original Cold War: The Race for Empire in Central Asia

Listen / Download

The Great Game, Britain’s century-long skirmish with Czarist Russia for Central Asian Supremacy, still lives up to it’s name.

The Game was a form of Cold War without the bombs, a swashbuckling battle for influence. But the Great Game makes a better read than the Cold War – featuring intrepid cast of explorers, secret kingdoms, and merciless Khans – part LeCarre, part Indiana Jones, and part Kipling.

The players carried themselves with a sort of stoic panache and more often than not met miserable ends; beheaded, thrown into insect pits, or merely the cold, dry death of desert exposure.

The Great Game is still playing. In the new oil boom on the Caspian Sea, the now nuclear India-Pakistan dispute, the turmoil in Chechnya and Afghanistan, Great Game wraiths are rattling their sabres again.

The Tournament of Shadows, past, present, and future in this hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Michael Goldfarb)


Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac.

The Papal Apology

Listen / Download

“We forgive and We ask Forgiveness.” With these words Pope John Paul the second made his millenial apology on behalf of the Catholic Church for the “sins its children committed in its name” – particularly in the last 1,000 years.

The sins were not specifically enumerated. But when you boil them down they come to this — they are political acts by an institution of faith: the Crusades, The Inquisition, persecution of Jews, the forced conversions of Indians and Africans acts to preserve the power and enrich the Church, acts committed in Concert with Monarchs bound to the church by oath.

But all these are acts of the past, what about the present? The Church remains a highly political institution. The shape of this apology, an act of faith, was subject to the same institutional pressures as a Congressional spending bill. It was a political process.

The Roman Catholic Church as a vessel of faith and an organ of politics in this hour.
(Hosted by Michael Goldfarb)


Rev. John Shelby Spong, author of “Here I Stand,” James Carroll, contributor to The New Yorker, author of “American Requiem,” Tom Groom, Professor of Theology and Education and Boston University and author of “Educating for A Life.”