American Culture

Our guest is Richard Soudriette, who's the President of the Center for Diplomacy and Democracy, which is based in Colorado Springs. He also served as founding President of IFES, or the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, from 1988 to 2007. Under Mr. Soudriette's leadership, IFES grew into one of the premier organizations offering technical assistance around the globe in matters related to elections, civil society, rule of law, and governance. Thus he's played a key role in launching networks of elections officials in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia.

On today's ST, we speak by phone with the journalist, author, and veteran urbanologist Alan Ehrenhalt, whose books include "The United States of Ambition" and "The Lost City." Ehrenhalt's latest book, "The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City," is just out in paperback. This book argues that the roles and characteristics of America's cities and suburbs are basically changing places with one another --- younger adults and affluent retirees are moving into the city, while immigrants and the less affluent are moving out to the 'burbs.

On this installment of ST, we speak by phone with the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes, whose previous books include "Force of Nature" and "No Matter How Loud I Shout," and whose latest book, just recently out in paperback, is "Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash." This book presents an unsettling yet fascinating and highly detailed profile of America's biggest export, its most prodigious product, and perhaps its greatest legacy: garbage.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), the great American critic, fiction writer, poet, and satirist --- that famously witty (and frequently scathing) scribe whose many brilliant assertions include "I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true" and "if all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised" --- is now back in business. That is, she's cracking wise all over again, in a manner of speaking, in a new book.

On StudioTulsa today, we speak by phone with Dr. Steve Perry, a passionate, down-to-earth, and plainspoken --- make that outspoken --- education-reform advocate who's best known as the founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. This school has sent one-hundred percent of its predominantly low-income, minority, first-generation high-school graduates to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006. Dr.

When Bruce Sorrell was starting his tenure, about a year ago, as Executive Director of Chamber Music Tulsa, someone told him that this outstanding organization --- which will turn 60 next year, and which has been bringing world-class music ensembles to our community for decades --- was "one of Tulsa's best-kept secrets." As he tells us on this edition of ST, Sorrell wants to change this.

When we say that someone is a "tinkerer," we might be offering a word of praise...or a put-down. Today's edition of ST explores the positive definition of the "tinkerer," as a creative inventor or innovator.

(Please note that this interview originally aired in October of last year.) Our guest is Jeanne Marie Laskas, the director of the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh. She's also an acclaimed journalist whose writing has appeared in GQ, The Washington Post Magazine, Smithsonian, and Esquire.

Today on ST, we speak by phone with the author and journalist, Tanya Biank, whose book, "Army Wives," is the basis for the popular series of the same title on Lifetime TV. Biank is also the daughter, sister, and wife of U.S. Army colonels, and during her days as a newspaper reporter, she traveled around the globe with American soldiers. Biank's new book, just out, is called "Undaunted: The Real Story of America's Servicewomen in Today's Military" --- and this is what we're discussing with her on our program.  Given the decision, announced one week ago, by U.S.

On this installment of ST, we speak by phone with Frank Chaves, the artistic director of River North Dance Chicago, a critically acclaimed dance organization, founded in 1989, that continues to perform at leading venues around the world. This company is recognized for its skilled and emotive dancers, stimulating music, and bold choreography. Chaves, who's also the company's main choreographer (and who's been with the company for two decades now), tells us that River North Dance Chicago is especially dedicated to merging jazz, ballet, and contemporary styles of movement.

Marcel Proust has his little madeleine cakes. Calvin Trillin has Arthur Bryant's BBQ in Kansas City. And Tulsa-based writer and editor Mark Brown has, well, his mother's bygone fried chicken. Food, for so many of us, is about much more than taste and sustenance, much more than flavors and rations. It's about culture, society, tradition, and practically everything else --- about the past, the seasons, our memories, our loved ones. Food is as basic to the human species as are celebrations, rituals, fingerprints, or dreams.

Talk about the influential use of language.... Did you know that "bloviate," "lunatic fringe," "iffy," "military-industrial complex," "Anglophobia," "public relations," and "ottoman" are all terms or phrases that have been either coined or popularized by various U.S. Presidents over the years?

On this "best of" edition of our show, we're listening back to a discussion we had by phone last year with Jack Hitt, who's a contributing editor to The New York Times Magazine, Harper's, and public radio's This American Life.

On this "best of" edition of our show, we're listening back to a discussion from earlier this year with Professor David Blight, the acclaimed Civil War historian based at Yale University.

The Best of ST in 2012: "Panther Baby"

Jan 2, 2013

On this "best of" edition of our show, we're listening back to a discussion from earlier this year with the author and activist Jamal Joseph. Joseph's autobiography, "Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention," is the focal point of our chat; it's an engrossing hybrid of coming-of-age candor, street-savvy wisdom, and recent socio-political history.

The Best of ST in 2012: Bob Balaban

Dec 27, 2012

On this "best of" edition of our show, we're listening back to a discussion with the well-known Hollywood actor --- and children's book author --- Bob Balaban. When we spoke with Mr. Balaban by phone, back in early October, he had just put out a book called "The Creature from the Seventh Grade: Boy or Beast" (Penguin Young Readers Group). We spoke with him about this work, and about his efforts as a writer and actor --- and film producer / director / screenwriter --- more generally.

The Best of ST in 2012: Arlie Russell Hochschild

Dec 26, 2012

On this "best of" edition of our show, we're listening back to a discussion with the noted sociologist and bestselling author, Arlie Russell Hochschild. The focal point of our interview is Hochschild's latest book, "The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times." You can read a full description of this discussion --- and hear a free, on-demand "stream" of same --- at this link.

Our guest on this installment of ST is J.B. Kaufman, an author and film historian on the staff of the Walt Disney Family Foundation. He's just put out an extensively detailed and lavishly illustrated coffee-table book, "The Fairest One of All: The Making of Walt Disney's 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.'" This year marks the 75th anniversary of this classic film's initial release, and Kaufman's hefty volume explores every facet of the making of the film, with pages and pages of never-before-published facts and artwork.

On this edition of our show, we speak by phone with Keith Ochwat, the Managing Director of the non-profit Documentary Foundation, which has produced some notable films that have appeared on PBS-TV. This organization's latest film, "Age of Champions," is due to appear on PBS in 2013. It's an inspiring, highly engaging group portrait of several different athletes/participants in the National Senior Olympics, and Ochwat is the film's producer.

Remembering Dave Brubeck, a Jazz Titan

Dec 6, 2012

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we remember the great jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, who died yesterday at 91. (He would have turned 92 today, the 6th.) Rich Fisher spoke with Brubeck back in the fall of 1996, prior to a Tulsa concert appearance. Brubeck's quartet with saxophonist Paul Desmond and drummer Joe Morello was among the most popular bands (of any sort) of the 1950s and '60s, and even today, their 1959 album, "Time Out," remains one of the most popular jazz recordings of all time.

On this edition of ST, we speak by phone with Jacob Tomsky, whose new book, "Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality," has been getting some rather glowing reviews from all over lately. A longtime veteran of the hotel biz, Tomsky here offers a detailed and unflinching yet also down-to-earth and amiable --- and, throughout, quite well-written --- autobiography about what it's really like to work (in every capacity) at an upscale hotel in America. New York Times critic Janet Maslin has thus called this book "Mr.

How many cigarettes are sold each year, worldwide? Believe it or not, six trillion. Our guest, who calls the cigarette "the deadliest artifact in the history of human civilization," was the first-ever historian, several years ago, to testify in court against Big Tobacco. On this installment of ST, which first aired earlier this year, we speak with Robert N. Proctor, Professor of the History of Science at Stanford University.

On today's show, we speak by phone with Davy Rothbart, a writer, editor, filmmaker, and contributor to public radio's "This American Life." He's also the founder/publisher of the popular "Found Magazine," which collects discarded notes, letters, photos, lists, and drawings that are both discovered and sent in by its readers.

"Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore"

Nov 28, 2012

On this edition of our show, we speak with the Bay Area-based writer Robin Sloan, whose smart, tech-savvy, entertaining, and decidedly adventure-driven debut novel, "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore," has been drawing some rave reviews. As critic Janet Maslin has noted in The New York Times, this book is a "slyly arch novel about technology and its discontents.... The culture clash at work here --- Google aces wielding the full, computer-assisted strength of their collective brainpower, one scholar fiddling with a quaint astrolabe --- has a topicality that works to this novel's advantage.

On this installment of our program, we are pleased to speak by phone with Michael Tilson Thomas, the renowned musician, conductor, and music director who has won ten Grammy Awards over the course of his still-thriving career (and who has appeared on scores of albums). Thomas has long served as music director of the San Francisco Symphony, a post in which he has flourished.

On this edition of ST, which first aired earlier this year, we speak with the widely acclaimed author Arlie Russell Hochschild. Her most recent book is "The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times." It's a readable and engaging --- and sometimes rather unsettling --- exploration of how, in so many different ways, the market enters (and profoundly alters) contemporary American life, particularly in this Internet Age.

"It's always five o'clock somewhere," as the old saying goes. And this expression, of course, was as true in the 1770s or 1860s or 1930s as it is today --- and maybe it's all the more fitting right this instant, as we approach the holiday season. On today's show, therefore, we are discussing the histories, traditions, origins, myths, and/or recipes related to various cocktails.

On this edition of ST, we speak with the renowned artist, art director, cartoonist, and illustrator Wayne White --- along with the filmmaker Neil Berkeley, who's directed a documentary about White's influential and still-thriving career, "Beauty Is Embarrassing." This film premiered at SXSW in Austin, Texas, earlier this year, and it will be screened tonight, the 15th, at the Philbrook Museum of Art (at a "Third Thursday" event, beginning at 5:30pm), and tomorrow night, Friday the 16th, at the Circle Cinema (at 6pm).

(Note: This interview originally aired in August of this year.) The automobile thrived, of course --- in fact, it flourished --- in the 20th century. Especially in America, where entire cities were developed around the car. People bought houses, planned vacations, and chose their schools and supermarkets (and so forth) around their autos --- and we still do so today. But it seems highly unlikely that cars will have quite so great an influence on our lives (and our cities) in the 21st century. So, what's next?

On this edition of our show, we speak by phone with the author and writing instructor B. A. Shapiro about her widely praised new novel, "The Art Forger." In 1990, more than a dozen works of art (today worth, in sum, $500+ million) were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, but in this equally fascinating and entertaining novel, our heroine --- Claire Roth, a struggling young artist --- learns more about this theft than she ever bargained for.