Recent Posts

Gore Vidal: At 10, I Wanted to Be Mickey Rooney: TheNation 4/7

Mickey Rooney, who died April 6, had many fans, including 10-year-old Gore Vidal. “What I really wanted to be,” Vidal wrote in his memoir Point to Point Navigation, “was a movie star: specifically, I wanted to be Mickey Rooney.” The inspiration? Not the “Hey kids, let’s put on a show” musicals Rooney made for MGM with Judy Garland—it was his role as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Max Reinhardt and released in 1935, when Rooney was 14. “I wanted to play Puck, as he had,” Vidal recalled.
. . . continued at HERE

When Peter Matthiessen Was Silenced by his Publisher: The Nation 4/7

Peter Matthiessen, the legendary writer who died April 5, had one of his most important books withdrawn from publication for seven years as a result of attacks by government officials and the cowardice of his publisher, Viking Penguin.

It’s a story overlooked in many of the obits. Published in 1983, In The Spirit of Crazy Horse provided a passionate and solidly documented account of the events that culminated in a 1975 gun battle on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota between FBI agents and members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) that left two agents and one Indian dead. . . . continued at, HERE.

Keith Ellison, 1st Muslim in Congress: KPFK 4/2

LISTEN online HERE— iTunes podcast HERE
Your Minnesota Moment: KEITH ELLISON, the first Muslim elected to Congress—a black Democrat from Minneapolis and chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House.  His new book is My Country ‘Tis of Thee: My Faith, My Family and Our Future.

 Also: JOSH BRAHINSKY on the TA strike at the University of California campuses today and tomorrow, and JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation magazine with today’s political update: Dollarocracy at the Supreme Court.

Plus: Cesar Chavez: What Happened?  MIRIAM PAWEL has written the definitive biography of the rise, and fall, of the charismatic leader of the farm workers. From the strike, to the fast, to the boycott, to the cult of personality . . . Her new book is The Crusades of Cesar Chavez.
READ Miriam Pawel on Cesar Chavez in the LA Times HERE.
SEE Miriam Pawel at the LA Times Festival of Books: HERE.


Q&A with Edmund White: The Nation 3/27

Jon Wiener: A lot of what you’ve written celebrates “the golden age of promiscuity” in 1970s New York. That seems at odds with the gay marriage movement today.
Edmund White:
First, I was opposed to gay marriage because it seemed like one more way that gays were wanting to assimilate. When I realized the Christian right was so opposed to it, as well as tyrannical governments in Africa and Russia, I thought, “It must be a good thing to fight for.” Now I have a confession to make: I got married in November to my friend Michael Carroll, whom I’ve been with for nineteen years. At least we didn’t rush into it.
continued at

Report from Ramallah: KPFK 3/26

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MARK LEVINE  live from Ramallah:
Mark teaches the history of the modern Middle East at UC Irvine and is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Lund University. His most recent book is One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States

Also: How to Raise Americans’ wages: HAROLD MEYERSON says we have to go beyond proposalsto raise the minimum wage—he’s got eight proposals.  Harold writes a column for the Washington Post op-ed page and he’s editor at large of The American Prospect.

Plus: AMY WILENTZ on Haiti—she won the autobiography prize of the National Book Critics Circle for her book Farewell Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti – it’s out now in paperback.  She writes for The New Yorker, The Nation and other magazines, and she’s also professor of English at UC Irvine, where she teaches in the Literary Journalism program.
more on Dr. Megan Coffee and Ti Kay Haiti HERE


Losing in Afghanistan, Past & Present: KPFK 3/19

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The US is only the most recent power to invade Afghanistan —and fail.  Of course the Soviets tried it from 1979 to 1989, and before that, the British tried – from 1839 to 1842.  Is there a lesson here? WILLIAM DALRYMPLE thinks so—he’s written about the British effort, and its striking parallels to our own: RETURN OF A KING: the Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42it’s out now in paperback.

Also: The Irish novelist John Banville writes thrillers under the pen name Benjamin Black. His new one, set in LA in 1950, is The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel.

Plus: Edmund White, a member of the Stonewall generation, is the author of several award-winning memoirs and novels, including A Boy’s Own Story and City Boy.  His new memoir is Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris.  “White is one of the most prominent gay writers in the United States, a position he occupies gleefully”–Jay Parini, New York Times.

I Hate Genre: Q&A with John Banville/Benjamin Black: LA Review of Books 3/15

Q. There have been something like 14 John Banville novels, books that go in the “literary fiction” section of the bookstore and that win the Man Booker Prize; and as Benjamin Black you have now written eight books, and they go into the “mystery” section. So we have high and low, art and craft, poetry and plot; is that an okay way to talk about Banville and Benjamin Black?
A. No. I hate it. I wish they didn’t do that. . . .
. . .continued at LA Review of Books, HERE

Stokely Carmichael & Black Power: KPFK 3/12

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Stokely Carmichael from civil rights to black power: PENIEL JOSEPH
has written the definitive biography of the 1960s black activist known for his radicalism and fearlessness.  The book is STOKELY: A LIFEPENIEL JOSEPH will be reading and signing at Esowon Books Sat 3/15 at 5pm: 4327 Degnan Blvd, Los Angeles in Liemert Park – and Monday at Occidental College.

Plus: Voting rights battles: where we stand now.  ARI BERMAN of The Nation will comment on the Moral Monday movement, a multiracial, multi-issue progressive coalition that is not only remobilizing in North Carolina;  its model of activism is now spreading all over the South.

Also: a story of protest and prison during the Vietnam war: BRUCE DANCIS was the principal organizer of the first mass draft card burning during the Vietnam War.  After he turned down a student deferment and refused induction, he spent 19 months in federal prison.  He’ll provide not only an insider’s account of the antiwar movement but also a rare look at the prison experiences of Vietnam-era draft resisters. His new book is RESISTER: A story of Protest and Prison during the Vietnam War.

Getting rid of Bad Sheriff Baca: KPFK 3/5

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LA Sheriff Lee Baca ran some of the worst prisons in America, right here in LA; a year ago it seemed like there was no way to get rid of him.  Then last month he resignedCELESTE FREMON explains how we did it: she writes the indispensable WitnessLA blog, and reported on the sheriff for LA Magazine.

TOM FRANK: Why Democrats are scared of “class”: “’Inequality’ is what we say when we mean to describe the ruined downtown of your city, or your constant fear that the next round of layoffs will include you.”  Tom, author of the classic What’s the Matter with Kansas, recently moved his column from Harper’s to, where it is free.

The politics of grapes in Chile and the US: after seizing power in 1973, Augusto Pinochet made Chile the world’s leading grape exporter. Fruit workers, mostly women, started to buy appliances, clothing, and cosmetics, and consumerism changed gender relations as well as pro-democracy movements.  Meanwhile, back in the US, the United Farm Workers and Chilean solidarity activists boycotted grapes. HEIDI TINSMAN will explain – she teaches history at UC Irvine; her new book is Buying into the Regime: Grapes and Consumption in Cold War Chile and the United States.