“All-Seeing Eye of God” Goes from Blue to Brown

The Eye is also in the eye of the beholder.  When Saint Jerome’s, a church in the South Bronx, was constructed at the turn of the 20th century, it was built by immigrant artisans, mostly from Ireland and Italy, where the human eyes were often blue. So of course, they imagined the All-Seeing Eye of God as blue also, and that’s just how they painted the giant Eye-of-God mural on their church ceiling.  Now the neighborhood has changed, and almost all the services are in Spanish for the brown-eyed Mexicans who now live there. It came to be time to restore the mural, and so now God’s Eye is brown.  This is the story.

Posted in Immigrants and Ethnic Life, Religion, Spirituality, Uncategorized

“Small’s “Old School” Jazz Club in the Village

From the mid- 1930s until the early 1960s, jazz was one of the nation’s most popular styles of music. Rock and roll and other genres ultimately eclipsed jazz’s mainstream appeal. But there is a place in New York City where one can still experience the spirit, the inventiveness and the community that was jazz in its heyday.  “Small’s” showcase talent, verve, community for jazz musicians and appreciators alike.

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A Day in the Life of a Good Humor Man

We all know what it’s like to jump at the sound of an ice cream truck, but what is it like for the mustachioed purveyor of those eclairs, sandwiches etc once he tootles away down tot he corner and a new sale?  This is a profile of one Good Humor Man as he makes his appointed rounds.

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America’s Search for the Spirit

Despite our technically secular society, questions of meaning and the spirit are as meaningful as ever. In his long form documentary narrated by Gary Edquist, Adam Phillips spoke to experts and everyday people alike about that hunger, the roots of its urgency, and what some are trying to do to live lives of quiet “non-desperation.”

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Arlandria Renters Strike (VERY archival)

This is the first piece I had on the air for which I was actually paid (God bless Pacifica).  It dates back to 1986, and chronicles one rent fight in a low income area of Arlandria Virginia, just outside DC.

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Black Mountain Kentucky and Mountaintop Strip Mining

The Kentucky coal region is a tough area with its own culture, its own natural beauty, and its endless seams of coal, many of which lie underneath the ground on mountains, rather than below ground.  Many mining companies have taken to shaving off the top of the mountains, but the slag and the unsightliness and pollution caused by the work.  On the other hand, the mountains of Appalachia are both remote and impoverished, and this strip mining produces a lot of jobs.  In this story (which actually won a prize) examines the conflict in the abstract, but always lets the emotion and the human reality of the ongoing difficulties tell the tale.

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Capital Punishment in America

To Kill or Not to Kill? This question lies at the heart of an American debate, and calls forth fundamental values and opinions about the sanctity of life and the sanctity of justice.  This 1995 doc, which features once condemned men, as well as the late Sister Helen Prejean (who figured prominently in “Dead Man Walking” explores many views and offers no answers. Not for the squeamish.

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Children Ponder the Gettysburg Address

Often praised as the greatest speech of all tine, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (November 19,1863) still resonates and moves Americans who hear it and memorize it.  The famous words were the subject of a teaching unit for sixth graders at the John Eaton School in Washington DC, which culminated in a recital and some interviews at the Lincoln Memorial itself.  I was there!
Here’s a link to the Address : http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/gettysburg.htm

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Chinese and Jewish Ma Jong Cultures

In New York, one can walk through both solidly Jewish neighborhoods and completely Chinese neighborhoods and hear the same strident, even merry, clickety clack of ma jog tiles.  Players in both worlds have developed their own cultures and phrasing. For instance, the Chinese phrase for the sound the tiles make when they are mixed up translates as “twittering of the sparrows.” In Jewish-English, it’s merely “smooshing.” This story explores both worlds.

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Conversation with President Adamkus of Lithuania (1998-2003)

Valdus Adamkus was part of the anti-Nazi resistance in Lithuania during World War Two, and fled his native land for the US following the war, where he had a nice life, and rose high in the EPA bureaucracy in Chicago.  After the fall of the Berlin Wall and Lithuanian independence, there was a question about who would be his nation’s next president.  He said “Why not me?” and returned to win the election.  I spoke with him by phone from the presidential palace.

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