“The Century in Sound: An American’s Perspective”

This is a 38-minute narration-free documentary of the 20th century using (other than my one minute spoken introduction) only archival sound, speeches and other audio artifacts of that talkative 100 years. The montage is of my own making and perspective as the American I happen to be, and hopefully, will take the listener of whatever provenance or vintage, on a real voyage.

It was prepared for worldwide broadcast on the Voice of America on New Year’s Eve 1999; it subsequently won the Grand Prize and the Gold Medal at the New York Festivals, and a Special VOA award. I was later flattered to learn it is often used in journalism classes.

A note on how to listen to it: all on one 38 minutes go, with the lights off. It’s fun to try identify the source of the sound you are hearing the first time around. Then check your impressions against the complete list of sound elements which I hope to post as a sidebar on this blog (when I learn how to do it.) You can also write me and request an email copy, no prob.

Posted in Americana, Arts, History, Holidays-Season Specific, Long form docs (15" and up)

Saint Thomas Church (Boys) Choir School

New York’s Saint Thomas Church is one of the only boarding  schools in America where talented young boys can go to learn to perform top notch liturgical chorale music and get a good secular education at the same time. Once puberty and the change of voice hit, their sweet sopranos are gone. In the meanwhile however, their boyishness and their music take center stage.  This is their story.

Posted in Uncategorized

Provincetown’s Vanishing Portuguese Community

Provincetown, Massachusetts, at the tip of Cape Cod was once home to one of the thriving Portugese communities anywhere in the world outside Portugal (and the Azore Islands, where most of those “Portagees” come from). Fishing was their livilhood (once mixed with whaling) was their livelihood.  But with the near decimation of the North Atlantic fishing stock, the price of real estate, the out-migration of youth, and the town’s growth as a gay resort town, these Provincetown Portuguese and their culture are disappearing. This story focuses on those who remain, what they remember, and what they see as their prospects.

Posted in History, Immigrants and Ethnic Life Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Young Broadway Hopefuls

Every year, hundreds, or even thousands of talented young people come to New York to study, audition and do their damnedest to make it big on the stage whose ultimate Holy Grail is Broadway.  In this story, I speak to some of these starry-eyed youth as they prepare for the Big Time in Musical Theater school, rehearsal and beyond.  Go for it!

Posted in Americana, Arts, New York Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Radical Acceptance: The Buddhism of Tara Brach

In our culture, self-denigration and unease with ourselves and others is a common theme.  Our internal dialogs can mesmerize us, making us unhappy, and our lives unproductive and robotic.  Being at peace in the moment, whatever arises, in a compassionate mode is a Buddhist way.  In this piece, I discussed Radical Acceptance with  Dharma teacher Tara Brach, who has written a brilliant book on this very subject.

Posted in Buddhism, Health, Religion Tags: , , , , , ,

American Profile: Poet Naomi Shihab Nye

(photo: Chehalis Hegner)

Perhaps no one has done more to spread  the spirit and craft of poetry more than Naomi Shihab Nye, a Palestinian American whose award winning books for both adults and children explore themes of  loss and exile, the pace of modern life, family ties and  spirituality – often with humor.  I spoke with her while she visited New York in her capacity as chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.   (Photo: Chehalis Hegner)

Posted in Poetry, Profile Tags: , , , ,

Summer Solstice

Posted in Holidays-Season Specific

Spiral In/Spiral Out: Walking the Sacred Labyrinth

Across cultures, the labyrinth is an ancient symbol of the journey through life, as well as archetypal patters seen in everything from the structure of galaxies, the whorls of seashells and the DNA molecule itself.  Walking the labyrinth was a popular spiritual custom in medieval Europe; examples can be seen in many of Europe’s great Gothic cathedral, perhaps most famously at Chartres. This practice has been revived for modern “pilgrims” of many faiths, or no faith at all. Come walk with us at the labyrinth inside San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral and see what you find….

Posted in Religion, Spirituality Tags: , , , , , , ,

“Wildman” Steve Brill – NYC’s wild edible plant forager extraordinaire

For years, a pith helmet, nearly comic determination, and astounding know-how have combined to fashion Steve Brill’s persona, as he leads expeditions through Central Park and New York’s other semi-wild places in search of edible plants and flowers.  Adventurers get a dose of accomplishment and renewed respect for the bounty of nature, right here in one of the most man-made environments in the world.  Come with us!

Posted in Health, Oral History-oid, Science Tags: , , , , , ,

Zabar’s Appetizing: America’s Premier Deli

What New Yorker does not get misty-eyed at the sound of Zabar’s tastings, especially the nova counter, and all that goes with it?  Instead of just idly asking, I went there, and talked to people about it. I got a lot wiser, and more than a mite fatter from the experience.

Posted in Uncategorized

Yiddish in Mainstream American Speech

Oy! There are so many Yiddish words Americans (and Noo Yawkuz especially) use in everyday talking that it is really gevalt.  This is a VOA Wordmaster segment where I explore what some of those words are and what they mean. Originally tailored for broadcast to places where Yiddish has never never been heard.

Posted in History, Immigrants and Ethnic Life Tags: , , , , , ,
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