Monthly Archives: September 2000

Contemporary American Opera

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Contemporary American opera sounds like an oxymoron more than a musical category nowadays. John Harbison’s opera the Great Gatsby was a short-lived event last year. This season, you won’t hear one living composer or an American at the MET, with a program that’s still heavy with Puccini, Mozart and Wagner. And still, there’s a diversity of indomitable composers out there testing themselves in the marriage of words, music and drama.

New work has some familiar titles: The Cabaret performer William Bolcom is trying his hand at an operatic production of Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge”; the conductor and pop pianist Andre Previn is writing music for “A Streetcar Named Desire”; and the composer Lewis Spratlan won a Pulitzer this year for “Life is a Dream,” a fantasy opera he’s never been able to get into full production till now. Is this a new beginning for American opera? Or is the fat lady getting ready to sing.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)

Guests:

Lewis Spratlan

Margaret Salinger on J.D. Salinger

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J.D. Salinger has elevated privacy to a high art in American life. People make pilgrimages to his home in Cornish, New Hampshire hoping to catch a glimpse of the great recluse. Mark Chapman was holding a well-worn copy of “The Catcher in the Rye” when he was arrested after he shot John Lennon. Salinger’s stroke of brilliance wasn’t just to write an angst-ridden coming of age novel that’s been required reading for teenagers for 50 years now.

The genius part was to write very little more, to move to a remote, rural town and never leave it, and under no circumstances to give interviews. The fortress around J.D. Salinger began to crack a few years ago when Joyce Maynard wrote her memoir about living with Salinger when she was 18 and he was in his 50′s. Now his daughter has written a memoir called “Dream Catcher” that just may shatter the Salinger myth once and for all. We’re talking with Margaret Salinger this hour on the Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)

Guests:

Margaret A. Salinger, Author and Daugher of J.D. Salinger

Pat Buchanan and the Reform Party

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Pat Buchanan is back from surgery, with a Federal check for his Reform Party campaign in the mail. But where is the pitchfork peasantry when a right-wing-rage candidate wants at least to simulate an uprising. Buchanan is a one-percent candidate at this point, frozen out of the big-boy debates; he’s the personification of everything the Republican convention was happy to be rid of this summer-all that culture-war rancor about immigrants and gay values and the “abortion racket” as he calls it. It sounds like a desperate pickle he’s in.

But then Buchanan might say, as Andrew Jackson did: “One man with courage makes a majority.” And one man with ideas could make the next 8 weeks interesting: all the more, with unconventional “America First” ideas in dissent against free trade, against Balkan peacekeeping, against the Kyoto treaty on the environment. We’re talking about Pat Buchanan and his running-mate Ezola Foster, this hour on The Connection.
(Hosted By Christopher Lydon)

Guests:

Pat Buchanan and Ezola Foster, Reform Party Presidential Candidate and Running Mate.

Ron Rosenbaum's Edgy Alliance

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Ron Rosenbaum is the Edgy Enthusiast at the New York Observer, the journalist who’s made a beat out of his own obsessive passions and interests now for thirty years. If there’s a common thread that runs through The Simpsons, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Nabokov’s “Pale Fire,” Edith Wharton, Jorge Luis Borges and Mystery Science Theater 3000 it’s that Ron Rosenbaum finds it brilliant, beautiful or redemptive.

He’s a close reader of Shakespeare and the Bible and this summer’s Survivor series; a lover of classic films, epic poetry and borderline bad pop music. He writes and reports only as a rationale to read more and plunge further into his labyrinth of oddball ideas, conspiracy theories and misconceptions about the world.

It’s Ron’s world and welcome to it. The Edgy Enthusiast Ron Rosenbaum, this hour on The Connection.
(Hosted By Christopher Lydon)

Guests:

Ron Rosembaum, Editor and Author of the NY Observer’s Edgy Enthusiast.

Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century

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The evils of the 20th Century are not in doubt. Genocides of Armenians, Gypsies and Jews. A 100 million murders to achieve a workers’ paradise in the Soviet Union, in China, in Cambodia. The area bombing of German civilians, the nuclear incineration of Japanese cities. The mass rapes of Bosnian women and the machete massacres in Rwanda.

A moral history of the 20th century by the philosopher Jonathan Glover finds the root of that evil not in technology or in biology, but in ideas. Nazism, Communism, Tribalism: these were the moral culprits of the century–mechanized warfare merely the means. The sacrifice of human beings in service of a greater cause was a 20th Century theme. Lenin called it breaking eggs to make an omelet. It was Harry Truman’s line on Hiroshima, too.

How, Jonathan Glover asks, do we confront the ideas that enlisted so many people in atrocity? The philosophical seeds of Inhumanity, this hour on The Connection.

(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)

Guests:

Jonathan Glover, Author of “Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century.

T.C. Boyle : A Friend of the Earth.

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It’s the year 2025 in Northern California and the end of nature as we know it. The ozone layer is gone, the oceans are barren, and you can’t see the forests because there are no trees. This is the setting for T.C. Boyle’s new novel and his worst environmental nightmare. Everything’s been poached or encroached out of existence, and the rats have inherited the earth. Everybody has skin cancer and lives in condos; there’s no social security, and only the rock stars have electricity.

Ty Tierwater is a 75 year old former eco-terrorist who tried to save the earth back in the late 80′s and early 1990′s with his band of tree-huggers and eco-warriors. His daughter, Sierra died for the cause, and now he’s questioning his old method and his madness. “If a protest falls in the woods and there’s no one there to hear it,” Ty Tierwater asks, “does it make a sound?” T.C. Boyle and “A Friend of the Earth”.

(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)

Guests:

T.C. Boyle, Author “A Friend of the Earth”

Decoding Hollywood Politics and Interests in Campaign 2000

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Al Gore and Joe Lieberman have put out a shape-up warning to Hollywood: they’re saying: do something about the violence and vulgarity of movies and music, or the government will. They’re running now on a government study, after the Columbine massacre, that finds that the movie companies have been marketing violence to kids much the way the cigarette companies sold nicotine addiction. But who really believes that Hollywood is scared?

Senator Joe Lieberman has been a zealous Hollywood basher who with Republican Bill Bennett conferred “Silver Sewer” awards on big shots at CBS and Fox TV. Tough stuff, by Democratic standards. Yet Hollywood has been sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom all through the Clinton presidency. The show-biz alliance with Washington and especially with presidential Democrats was sealed long ago by power lust and millions of campaign dollars. Is the decency campaign a phony war?

(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)

Guests:

Peter Bart, Editor-in-Chief Variety

Martin Kaplan, Director, Norman Lear Center at USC

Steven Brill, Brill’s Content

Bernard Weinraub, writer for the New York Times

Ken Auletta, New Yorker Media Columnist

A Charter School That Works

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Education night at the Republican convention in Philadelphia this summer featured a group of Texas students in matching t-shirts sitting in neatly arranged desks. They were from a Houston charter school that meets George Bush’s tests of diversity and toughness. But the KIPP Academy – KIPP for the Knowledge is Power Program – meets Al Gore and the democrats’ education ideal as well.

KIPP delivers a longer school day, extended summer sessions, teachers on call with cell phones 24/7; it enforces parent involvement. And the palpable interest in KIPP puts the charter school record front and center in this year’s political campaign. They’re public schools run privately each in its own style. The KIPP emphasis is on discipline and turning underperforming inner city kids into measurably successful high school students. And it seems to be working.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)

Guests:

Michael Feinberg, Co-Founder & CEO of the KIPP Foundation

and Sam Lopez, Principal of KIPP, Houston.

The Collapse of Global Public Health

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Our globalised world extends a bright promise of economic well-being and cultural crossfertilisation. But science journalist Laurie Garrett says it could all be fatally infected by a public health crisis lurking in every corner of the world. The miraculous innovations in western medicine and encouraging advances in some developing countries are proving unexpectedly fragile, who writes, under pressure of war and political corruption, economic downturns, poor government planning, and new epidemics.

Life expectancy in Russia is plummeting; the plague has resurfaced in India; drug-resistant tuberculosis is overwhelming Siberian prisons; HIV is killing off an entire generation of Africans; and even the US public health infrastructure is staggering under the recent rush towards individualised medicine. Laurie Garrett is warning about a global public health collapse this hour on the Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)

Guests:

Author of Betrayal of Trust, Laurie Garrett

Joe College

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Joe College used to be the earnest, ambitious undergrad who was grateful for the GI bill. Nowadays, with loans, scholarships, and rich parents, Joe College is everybody – from the daughter of a mechanic to a movie star.

College used to launch you into adulthood, but now you could almost say it’s set up to prolong adolescence. Just ask George W – according to Maureen Dowd he’s still indulging his inner frat boy. How else do you describe an institution that cultivates fun and free love, provides three square meals a day and 24 hour internet access, and frees you from curfews and parental restrictions? Yours for a hundred thousand bucks, books not included.

All that fun does come with its own anxieties and pressures, though. There’s the freshman 10, midterms, nightmare roommates, and learning what the delicate cycle on the washing machine means.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)

Guests:

Tom Perrotta, Author of “Election” and most recently, “Joe College”