Monthly Archives: June 2001

Wynton Marsalis

Listen / Download

Just the mention of jazz summons up images of smoky bars and sweaty sidewalks, late night blues, New York City, and the ghosts of Monk, Miles and Coltrane.

Pre-eminent trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the writer Carl Vigeland are looking to takes us beyond the sounds and images, though. In their new book they open up the back stage, take us inside the rented busses, the hotels and impromptu dinners, the stop-offs at high schools, to great cities and the small towns. Vigeland is our guide, Marsalis is the guru, and their riffing with one another takes us deeper: trading observation and revealation, getting inside the thoughts that stream through a performer’s mind as he picks up his horn, before he hits the stage and blows.

It’s an improv jam, jazz in the printed form. “Jazz in the bittersweet blues of life.”
(Hosted by Dick Gordon)


Wynton Marsalis, musician

and Carl Vigeland, author

War Letters

Listen / Download

Letters sent by soldiers in time of war may get wrapped in a ribbon and cherished, or stuck in the back of a drawer and forgotten.

They disappear in the piles of old papers that get tossed in the dumpster when the family moves or grandmother dies. Or they get discovered by a granddaughter who weeps to read how her gruff grandfather wrote so tenderly to his future bride. War letters are different from any other form of correspondence. Written in the face of danger, when nation and writer are both in jeopardy, they provide a first-hand, first-person window to the realities of war and the complexities of human relationships.

The Connection is reading between the lines of American war letters: tattered scraps from the Civil War, an email from Bosnia.
(Hosted by Jacki Lyden)


Andrew Carroll, editor of “War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars.”

Summer Reading 2001

Listen / Download

All year long, you collected books, on weekend nights at bookshops and on recommendations from a friend.

As gifts, on impulse, as commiserations. Quietly the stacks grew on your desk, then your shelf, then on your credenza, your bedside table, across the floors, into the closets. The piles accumulated while you pined and waited for summer. And now it’s almost here. Summer. The three blissful months the gods created exclusively for reading. By the ocean, under trees, late into a summer night, with a book you can’t put down. Three months of summer, only three months, to read your stacks of first-time fiction and thick biographies.

To finish Proust or start on Tolstoy. To learn about that long-ago time or far-away place. To find a new favorite that you can recommend to friends. It’s our annual summer reading show.
(Hosted by Jacki Lyden)


Clint Cavanaugh, Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Massachusetts

Jan Weissmiller, Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City, Iowa

and Christopher Farley, Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon.

Steve Earle

Listen / Download

Songwriter-musician Steve Earle has done his time, in his life and in his art.

The gauntlet of the Nashville music scene, the slavery of drug addiction, the bleak and revelatory jail time, and musical success without compromise. Now the master-songwriter has turned his pen towards prose, with a new book of stories called Doghouse Roses. In it, a coke addict finds anything but peace in the emptiness of the desert. A small African-American boy learns the fatal truths of American racism. An upstanding attorney seeks closure in the execution of his wife’s alleged killer.

The stories echo Earle’s songs, they’re a lush new arrangement of his politics, sensibilities and convictions, with bittersweet melodies and characters who follow their own rhythms, of loneliness, love, and transcendence.
(Hosted by Jacki Lyden)


Steve Earle, musician, songwriter, and author of a new book Doghouse Roses.

President Bush Goes to Europe

Listen / Download

A new president goes abroad, and a newly confident Europe wonders if this President is the Texas “Lone Ranger” who’s swaggering into town, wrecking the fine china of diplomacy, and lassoing, with a decidedly hawkish twist, the liberal thinkers at the European Salon.

With this week’s transatlantic Grand Tour, President Bush is trying to convince the skeptics that he’s for real, and that America still knows best. Good luck Anti-Americanism, which has always been as fashionable as Gitanes and a tangy glass of Pimms, is on the rise. In the past 6 months, Europe’s gripes have grown. Think the death penalty and Kyoto, missle defense and steel imports.

The Connection is looking at the U.S. with European eyes, exploring the myth and reality of the Ugly American, here.
(Hosted by Jacki Lyden)


Graham Allison, Director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Studies

Louise Richardson, Professor of Government at Harvard’s Center for European Studies

Henry Porter, London Editor of Vanity Fair

and Tom Buhrow, Paris bureau chief of ARD, German TV.

Wild About Saffron

Listen / Download

It’s as old as civilization, alluring as a siren, and delicate as silk.

It inspires passions that border on obsession, and tales that border on myth. It is saffron, the elusive golden girl, intractable wild child, of the spice world. And whether you believe that Alexander soaked his great locks in it to gilt their sunshine glow, or that Cleopatra steeped her body in it to enliven her sybarite’s skin, if you’ve ever inhaled its lusty, sweet aroma, you understand its powers of seduction. The color that launched a thousand Martha Stewart decorating schemes yields a flavor that evades description; you know it when you taste it.

But did you know this? If you bought it recently, you probably paid too much. Celebrating the legend and debunking the myth of saffron here.
(Hosted by Jacki Lyden)


Pat Willard, author of “Secrets of Saffron: The Vagabond life of the World’s Most Seductive Spice”

and Ellen Szita, author of “Wild About Saffron: A Contemporary Guide to an Ancient Spice.”

Resuscitating a Peace Process

Listen / Download

Today finds the Middle East once again teetering on the edge of a peace plan.

But the casualty count of previous peace plans has created a taut atmosphere of skepticism. the two sides are once again talking through an American envoy, CIA Chief George Tenant. This one calls for an immediate end to fighting, and the arrests of terrorists, and Israel has agreed to it.

But Palestinians say it doesn’t address the building of settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, and Israel’s failure to do that have sunk so many peace plans before. Still, after almost 9 months of fighting and almost 600 deaths, There is a sense of urgency.


Minister Dani Naveh, former Israeli negotiator and member of the Israeli Knesset

and NPR Correspondent, Linda Gradstein.

The Documentary Explosion

Listen / Download

Reality TV is often written off as fluff, but recently alongside Survivor and Big Brother, we’ve seen trans-gendered men living in the backwoods of Georgia, Mexican immigrants planning their American wedding, and an unvarnished portrait of the militant anti-abortion movement.

This is the stuff of documentary films. Documentaries used to be relegated to public television’s insomnia hour, no more. HBO’s decision in March to move its series “America Undercover” to the coveted post-Soprano Sunday slot signaled that documentaries are moving beyond the black turtleneck cappuccino crowd. While their popularity grows, new technologies are doing for film, what the word processor did for the novel. Suddenly, for better or worse, everybody’s a director.
(Hosted by Dick Gordon)


Sheila Nevins, Vice President of Original Programming, HBO

Ross McElwee, Visiting Filmmaker, Harvard University

and Kate Davis, filmmaker.

Falun Gong

Listen / Download

If the top leaders of China could have two wishes this week, they might be to let China get the 2008 Olympic Games, (The decision comes on Friday) and to make Falun Gong disappear.

Falun Gong is the spiritual practice that sprang to the world’s attention on April 25, 1999. On that day, ten thousand Falun Gong practitioners managed to gather inside the Forbidden City in Beijing, in front of the headquarters of the Communist Party. There they spread their exercise mats, quietly performed their simple routines, rolled up their mats and left.

The Communist Party leaders were stunned at Falun Gong’s ability to mobilize, largely via the internet. Three months later, the group was banned. Today, in China, Falun Gong says its practitoners are being imprisoned, tortured and murdered.
(Hosted by John Donvan)


Erping Zhang, spokesperson for Falun Dafa Information Center in New York City

Craig Smith, Shanghai Bureau Chief for the New York Times

Rob Gifford, Beijing-based correspondent for National Public Radio. Elizabeth Perry, director, John K. Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, Harvard University

The Night Sky

Listen / Download

The night sky. Celestial muse. Heavenly mystery.

For as long as the inky, infinite canopy of light-speckled dark has loomed overhead, it’s driven dreamers and doers alike to distraction. Yeats yearned for heaven’s cloths but settled for dreams instead. Gallileo longed to comprehend, and communicate, the hugeness of the heavens, and nearly died for his conviction that they were never ending. But if poetry and progress are the night sky’s progeny, so, too, is its predictability. Dependable Orion rising in the winter sky. The June moon, pink as a peony and always just in time.

Inevitably, the Earthbound got bored: they’ve seen one night sky, they’ve seen them all. But here’s the thing: The universe is expanding, and with it the reasons for gazing up into that good night. Beyond the sun, the moon, and the stars.
(Hosted by Robert Siegel)


Chet Raymo, author of “An Infinite Look at The Night Sky”

and Kelly Beatty, executive editor of Sky & Telescope magazine.