Monthly Archives: April 2005

Behind Ruth Reichl's Wigs

Listen / Download

She began with a frumpy blonde wig, put on an oversized Armani suit and became Molly, a lady who lunches. She tried big glasses and colorful clothes and became Brenda, the eccentric redhead. She even went so far as to morph into Miriam, her own chronically unsatisfied mother.

As the restaurant critic for The New York Times, Ruth Reichl enlisted the help of six different characters to guard her anonymity. As a result she was able to give reviews that reflected an ordinary person’s experience of a meal — not the red carpet treatment given a food critic.

In “Garlic and Sapphires,” Reichl’s new memoir, she brings us into the fiercely competitive world of New York restaurants and tells us why in the end, she decided to give up her wigs so she could celebrate food rather than criticize it.


Ruth Reichl, author of “Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise.”

The Case Against the Judges

Listen / Download

Reading the headlines out of D.C. these days, it’s clear that Congress and the judiciary are headed for a showdown. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced he will participate in a telecast from a Kentucky megachurch that will attack Democrats as being “against people of faith,” for blocking President Bush’s judicial nominees.

While Congress readies for the fight, religious conservatives are jumping into the fray. Last week, political stalwarts from Phyllis Schlafly to Allan Keyes came together with Jewish and Catholic leaders to form something called the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration. They are calling on Congress to reign in, what they call, “activist judges” they believe are keeping God out of the courtroom. The judiciary on trial: letting God be the judge.


Nancy Gertner, Federal Judge in the US District Court in Massachusetts

Kay Daly, President of Coalition for a Fair Judiciary.


Listen / Download

He is one of the most celebrated craftsmen in history. George Eliot said this about him, “Tis God gives skill, but not without men’s hands: He could not make Antonio Stradivari’s violins without Antonio.” 250 years later the world’s greatest musicians still play his instruments: YoYo Ma, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Itzhak Perlman to name a few.

Antonio Stradivari made over one thousand stringed instruments of which about six hundred survive today. He took the craft of violin-making to a level that no predecessor could have imagined. But when he died, his secrets went with him. Mysteries, unanswered questions and copies abound, but one thing is certain: the power, the projection, the beauty and that incredibly sweet sound have yet to be matched.


Toby Faber, author of “Stradivari’s Genius”

James Buswell, violin soloist and chamber musician and
professor at New England Conservatory of Music

Chris Reuning, owner of Reuning & Son violins and partner of Tarisio auctions.

Where the Greens Got It Wrong

Listen / Download

“Think globally, act locally,” used to be on the bumper of every earth loving environmentalist from Maine to California. But over the past three decades that sentiment got lost.

The green movement left the backyard and took office space in Washington D.C. and other centers of power. And that, says Gus Speth, is where some of the passion disappeared. Speth is one of this country’s leading environmentalists. He helped organize the first earth day back in 1970, and went on to found the Natural Resources Defense Council.

While he is as green as they come, he thinks the movement has got to stop thinking it can win battles with treaties and legislation, and instead bring the case for Mother Earth back home — back to the backyard.


James Gustave Speth, dean and professor in the practice of environmental policy and sustainable development at Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, author of “Red Sky at Morning” and “Worlds Apart,” former administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and former chair of the UN Development Group.

Operation Lion Heart

Listen / Download

They call him Lion Heart for his fierce and determined spirit. When the 9-year-old Iraqi boy, picked up a bomb mistaking it for a toy, the explosion killed his older brother and severely injured him. Saleh Khalaf lost his right arm, most of his left hand and one eye.

While Saleh is one of the innocent victims of the war, he was also lucky. His father pleaded with American troops for help, and he and his son were flown to the U.S. where doctors in California treated him.

The photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice and reporter Meredith May met Saleh in a hospital in Oakland. What started as a simple human interest story turned into a 15-month project that recently earned the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. Operation Lion Heart — one family’s story of recovery and reunion.


Deanne Fitzmaurice, photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle and winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography

Meredith May, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and author of “Operation Lion Heart,” which won the feature writing award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Free Trade Goes South

Listen / Download

With the U.S. trade deficit topping $61 billion — it’s highest level ever — a fierce debate over free trade is brewing in the nation’s capital. At the same time, Congress is starting the talk about CAFTA, the proposed Central American free trade agreement that would give countries like Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua the same low tariffs and relaxed regulations that Mexico was granted about ten years ago under NAFTA.

Supporters say CAFTA will help the U.S. by opening markets to the south and giving U.S. manufacturers renewed economic muscle they need to compete against China. Detractors say passing CAFTA will just mean more of the same: lost jobs, environmental ruin and falling wages for American workers. Another test for free trade.


Otton Solis, economist, presidential candidate and leader of Costa Rica’s Citizens Action Party

Calman Cohen, president of the Emergency Committee for American Trade;George Naylor, Iowa farmer

Charles Beckendorf, Texas dairy farmer

Director Danny Boyle

Listen / Download

The rise of Tony Blair’s New Labor party during the 1990s not only marked the end of two decades of conservative politics, it also signaled a new wave of British pop culture. This new generation of filmmakers and musicians drew on the creative energy of the changing political climate to create more realistic, grittier tales about life in working class England.

Director Danny Boyle is one of these artists. His breakthrough movie “Trainspotting,” about a group of heroin addicts, was celebrated for the rawness of its characters and language.

Now, Boyle is delivering a family friendly tale of two boys who find thousands of pounds on the eve of Britain’s conversion to the Euro. Millions is a story about the power of money and imagination, which once again leans on the strength of its working class characters.


Danny Boyle, director of “Millions.”

Cleaning Up the Airwaves

Listen / Download

It all started with “Nipplegate,” Janet Jackson’s alleged wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl, when millions of Americans caught that flash of naked flesh. The FCC found the incident “crude, lewd and sexually explicit” and slapped CBS with a $550,000 fine.

Since then, the battle over airwaves has broadcasters, politicians and viewers debating just what is acceptable, and what crosses the line. Some say this new focus on indecency is causing a creative chill, with many in Hollywood shunning provocative programs that might draw political fire and hefty fines.

But the new head of the FCC is not letting up, instead he is pressing for bigger fines and sending warnings to network and cable stations to either make their shows more PG or get slapped.


Congressman Fred Upton, (R-MI) Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, he sponsored legislation to raise fines for indecency violations

Mark Cronin, President of Mindless Entertainment and producer of VH1’s “The Surreal Life”

Randy Sharp, Director of Special Projects for the American Family Association

Jon Rintels, Executive Director for the Center for Creative Voices in Media.

The Star Sleuth

Listen / Download

It was one of those secrets of the ages, and it was hiding in plain sight; in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. At least that is where the astronomer sleuth Brad Schaefer first encountered the seven foot high statue of Atlas.

Unlike most of us, Schaefer was not so taken by the image of the muscular man, pushed down onto one knee by the weight of the globe on his right shoulder. Schaefer was looking at the marble relief carving on the globe itself. His training in astronomy told him, that was more than mere decoration, and after months of research, he thinks he may have discovered the lost star catalogue of Hipparchus.

It is not the first such piece of celestial snooping for Brad Schaefer, he’s only just started work on a century and a half of sunspot records. We peer over the shoulder of the star detective to find out what’s up, with what’s up.


Brad Schaefer, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Louisiana State University.

A Reality Check on Iraqi Politics

Listen / Download

On the face of it, politics in Iraq looks much as you might expect for a fledgling democracy. Last week, Iraq’s national assembly appointed a president, and two vice presidents; each hailing from one of the three major ethnic groups in the country: the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shi’aa.

Look past the names, says Thanassis Cambanis, and you will see a worrisome new brand of ethnic politics that is threatening to derail Iraq’s democracy. Thanassis is a Baghdad correspondent with the Boston Globe. He says that even Iraqi politicians, who once called themselves moderates, are now allying themselves with religious groups and increasingly extreme positions. Even as the leaders of the new administration take office, other ethnic and religious leaders are exhorting people to beware the enemies within. Ethnic identity and extreme politics.


Thanassis Cambanis, Baghdad reporter for The Boston Globe.