Past Shows

Documenting Democracy: Fred Wiseman’s ‘City Hall’

What Fred Wiseman found in Boston City Hall is not what he was looking for.  The master of documentary film is famous for his almost innocent camera eye that unlocks visual drama in big institutions ...

Election Disconnection

Call it a four-year try-out we’ve just been through of strong-man, one-man politics.  The election put it to a vote, and the country said: enough for now, but not quite No. The USA didn’t so much ...

The Soul of Care

This show originally broadcast February 20, 2020. Arthur Kleinman is a name that comes up again and again when you search around our big college town of Boston / Cambridge for people asking the great ...

COVID on the Ballot

COVID, COVID, COVID, all you hear is COVID, the man tweeted, but how could it not be tagged as the COVID election in the plague year 2020? COVID has its place in history now: it’s ...

JFK in the American Century

A bold new life of JFK cues Emerson’s line: “there is no history, only biography,” particularly when the life of a man and the American Century roll out together. John F. Kennedy was born – ...

The Upswing

Here’s the good news about the awful condition we’re in, from one of the great American people-watchers, Robert Putnam of Bowling Alone fame: it’s that we’ve been here before. “Unprecedented” is the wrong tag on ...

Green New Generation

The other historic 2020 political contest began in a hallway outside Speaker Pelosi’s office just two years ago. Not along party lines, oddly enough. The language was incendiary, but Donald Trump wasn’t there and didn’t ...

The Confidence Man

From that food-fight of an un-presidential debate, the last month of the 2020 campaign is about democracy itself, in danger: reduced now to slanging between “this clown” and that “fool,” as they said of one ...

Etcetera

April 16, 2020

The Many Faces of Ferrante

This is a rerun, prompted by the HBO series My Brilliant Friend, based on the  “Neapolitan Novels” of Elena Ferrante. Ferrante’s identity remains beguilingly unknown, but she has put so much of her life and ...
August 23, 2017

Akhil Sharma’s Life of Adventure and Delight

Akhil Sharma is a magician with language, on the page and in what feels for me anyway like instantly intimate conversation. He walks into my living room and immediately he’s teaching me something about myself. ...
May 17, 2018

The Split Screen View in Jerusalem and...

One split screen wasn’t really enough for the asymmetries we’re looking at now, but there it was: Ivanka unveiling the Trump embassy plaque in Jerusalem, and 40 miles away, the massacre at Gaza, Israeli soldiers ...
March 29, 2018

Van Morrison’s Cosmic Accident

In the annals of rock music albums, Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is one of a kind. In an earthy medium, it’s a masterpiece of abstraction.  Indecipherable. Irresistible. Influential. Accidental, it seemed, from the first licks ...
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