Little League’s Big Adventure

Little League is Americana itself, and I was shocked and privileged to be a part of it all as my son’s coach in Washington DC in the late 1990s. I produced this profile of one game for the Voice of America. In it, I had to explain the game of baseball to our foreign listeners, keep it personal, and report on the game itself – the closest I may ever get to being a sportscaster.* The Marlins won, by the way…

* See also my story about a high school football game between Jenks and Broken Arrow, in rural Oklahoma.

Posted in Americana Tags: , , , , , ,

Mister Spoons: Big Apple Flatware Virtuoso

There are hundreds of musicians, good and bad, tooting and strumming and bowing and belting in the New York subway system, but Mr. Spoons is sui generis. Not only is he fantastic at playing the spoons, he has an outsize character to match. I spent some serious time with him, and filed this report for VOA.

Posted in Americana, Music, New York, Profile Tags: , , , , , ,

Profile of A Moonshiner (VOA 1999)

Folk all over the world have their own versions of homemade liquor that will blow the top of your head right off.,  but “White Lightning” from the stills of Appalachia have their own appeal for Americans who have heard about it through family lore and popular culture, or tasted it in a parking lot or next to a trailer or at a wood burning stove.  During a trip to the back-country road trip through Tennessee and North Carolina, I sought out a real “moonshiner,’ and I sure found one in the person of “Popcorn Sutton.”   With his long beard, beat up old hat, and impossibly thick mountain accent, he fit the stereotype to a “T.”  His booze ain’t bad ‘nuther. I still have some underneath the kitchen sink you are welcome to try.  Banana flavored!

Posted in Americana, Profile Tags: , , , , , , ,

Auld Lang Syne Mega-Melange

There are zillions of ways to sing and play Auld Lang Syne. Here I had fun melding some of them

Posted in Holidays-Season Specific Tags: , , , ,

September 11th and Spirituality

The scope and the shock of the attacks prompted rage, fear and profound puzzlement. Almost immediately, people started to look for some spiritual response to what had happened that paralleled the pain. Here is a story that features rabbis, ministers, Buddhists and others looking for some wisdom amid the rubble.

Posted in September 11th and Its Aftermath Tags: , , , , ,

Native American “Drying the Tears” Ceremony (post 9/11)

New York City was full of ritual, ceremony, art and other forms of creative and numinous expression in the months following September 11th. This tells the story of one old ceremony that Native Americans brought to the Museum of the American Indian, near Ground Zero after several months had elapsed. It was a ceremonial moment to mark the necessity for drying the tears and moving on.

Posted in Immigrants and Ethnic Life, Religion, September 11th and Its Aftermath, Spirituality Tags: , , , , ,

Blue Collar Ground Zero

A Dateline report recorded about two months into 2002 with the work crews tasked with clearing the debris from Ground Zero, sorting through it for human remains, and making it ready to be put on barges to be floated for disposal in Fresh Kill. The stress, sadness and nobility of the men there were quite amazing.

Posted in Americana, New York, Oral History-oid, September 11th and Its Aftermath Tags: , , , , , ,

The late Terence McKenna (Conversation Snippet – 2000)

The late Terence McKenna is one of the smartest and most inspiring guys I’ve ever interviewed. Ethnobotanist, psychedelic philosopher of DMT, shamanism and fundamental erotic connection between the “Deep Animal” and the “Deep Vegetative” Kingdoms. This is just a snippet from one of our many interviews. Over several years, I talked to him about space exploration, the rain forest, ecology, psychology, human evolution, ethno-botany, art, philosophy and the Eschaton. Many see him as the kind of serious man that Timothy Leary could have been if he hadn’t been so absorbed in his personal dramas with his family and the law and so addicted to playing to the media as brand.

I was allowed by VOA to make this tribute to him soon after he died of a brain tumor as a relatively young man. Very sad. Many of us really miss him.

Posted in Profile, Science, Spirituality Tags: , , , , , ,

Grieving New Yorkers Search for Their Loved Ones (VOA 9/14/01)

I was living in Washington at the time of the September 11th 2001 attacks, but was able to get the first train into Manhattan when the island opened on the morning of September 12th. I worked 17 hours a day in the week following, chronicling the human impact of the World Trade Center attacks on the city I love and have always loved. This story was one of several I filed in those first days.

Posted in Americana, History, New York, Oral History-oid, Person on the Street Interviews, September 11th and Its Aftermath Tags: , , , , , , ,

Montana’s Blackfeet Indians: Tradition Meets Today

Native Americans are far more likely than their mainstream counterparts to die young and be poor along the way. This story examines, through interviews and sound, how the Blackfeet Tribe of western Montana are trying to hold on to traditional ways while bettering themselves economically.

Posted in Americana, Health, Immigrants and Ethnic Life, Religion, Spirituality Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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