In celebration of painter Wayne Thiebaud's 100th birthday, we feature a conversation with the artist and with one of his most renowned students, Fritz Scholder. Thiebaud's paintings of pies, cupcakes, donuts, pinball machines and bowties - are some of the most vivid and well-known in American art. His San Francisco cityscapes are also rich in color and enchanting. Scholder is best known for his unconventional portraits of Native Americans, which represented them in their full humanity, and led to the "New American Indian Art Movement."
No one could work a room like Willie Brown. He was the consummate politician and public servant, and a true American original. He started life in a small, segregated Texas town, worked as a shoeshine boy and a janitor, but went on to dominate California politics for more than 40 years -- as Speaker of the State Assembly and as two-term mayor of San Francisco (the city's first black mayor). He was a wheeler and dealer, and incredibly effective at getting things done, often with the support of Republican colleagues across the aisle. He analyzes the current state of affairs as he sees them, in California and in the nation. He describes how he ended up dating Kamala Harris years ago, and how he ended up with a small role in The Godfather: Part III. Finally, he admits to an addiction to the finest Italian suits.
The best-known biographies of Presidents Lincoln, Adams, Eisenhower, Truman, Nixon were written by the three great historians featured here. They talk about their subjects as if they had gone back in time and arrived back, breathless, with stories to share about the people they met. Each one explains the how he discovered that history would be his life's work. For David Herbert Donald and Stephen Ambrose, the spark came from a college professor. For David McCullough, it was the desire to learn about an episode in American history he could find no book about. It's great listening, as we head into the homestretch of what's predicted to be an historic U.S. presidential election!
Louise Glück, winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature, uses simple, unsentimental language in her poems to evoke overwhelming emotions. That rare combination is what has distinguished her as one of America's greatest living poets for over half a century. In addition to the Nobel Prize, she has also been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and is former Poet Laureate of the United States. In this episode, Glück (pronounced glick) digs into the torment and uncertainty that has hounded her throughout her writing life. She talks about how teaching poetry, which she feared would diminish her art, instead allowed it to flourish. And she describes her obsessive desire to hear music in her ears, and language in her head. This episode originally aired in July, 2017.
What do the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, a comedic newspaper columnist and an Academy Award-winning actress have in common? On the face of it, not much. But these three trailblazing women, all from humble backgrounds, reflect here on the grit and determination that led them to create their own destinies, defying any rational probability of success. And each one talks about how her personal journey was shaped by generational experiences and constraints.
In tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has died at the age of 87, we are re-posting this episode. It originally aired in September of 2016. Justice Ginsburg tells the very personal story here of her lifelong pursuit of justice and equality for women. Her tale includes trips to the library with her mother, a sixty year romance with Marty Ginsburg, her struggles to become a lawyer in a field inhospitable to women, her surprising friendship with Justice Scalia, and even her days as an aspiring baton twirler! The interview was conducted by NPR's Nina Totenberg, and explores some of the most important cases Ginsburg handled - as a lawyer and as a Justice - that helped transform the legal landscape for women and for all of America.
Show up. Be there for your team. Play your best. These are the values that Cal Ripken Jr. embodied - every single day of his career. His commitment to baseball was beyond compare. Ripken holds the record for the most consecutive games played in professional baseball: 2,632. He famously surpassed Lou Gehrig's long-standing record of 2130 games, 25 years ago this month, and then he just kept on going. Ripken reminisces here about his proud life as a Baltimore Oriole, and he talks about the important lessons he learned that we can all apply to our own lives, on or off the field.
This is a story about two of the greatest and most prolific writers in post-WWII America, who grew up in dramatically different circumstances. Joyce Carol Oates was a hardworking farm girl from a small rural town. Gore Vidal was born into an elite political family. She is earnest, introspective & soft-spoken. He was supremely confident, sharp-tongued & provocative. Her novels (including Them, We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde) are often about families and their struggles. His novels (including Myra Breckinridge, Burr, Lincoln) were more commonly about historical figures. Both were recognized with a National Book Award. They talk here about their lives and their approaches to literature. The contrasts are stunning!
These two remarkable men, from opposite sides of the 30-year "Troubles" in Northern Ireland, bravely reached across the divide and waged peace. They were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998. John Hume, who died in August, 2020, was a Catholic civil rights and political leader. In a poll several years ago, he was voted the greatest person in Irish history. David Trimble was the leader of the Protestant pro-British Ulster Unionist Party. They talk here about the underpinnings of the brutal fighting that tore Northern Ireland apart, and they explain how and why they were able to negotiate a peace deal and begin the healing. They offer some important lessons to the rest of the world.
Olivia de Havilland, who just passed away at the age of 104, was the last of the Hollywood's leading ladies from the Golden Age. She is best known for portraying Melanie Hamilton in "Gone With The Wind" (and admit it: you liked Melanie better than Scarlett, right?), but she had starring roles in dozens of films during the 1930's, 40's and 50's. This "best of" episode, which originally posted in June of 2016, features an extensive conversation with Ms. de Havilland about the early days of the American film industry. She explains how the studio system confined her to the role of the ingenue, and how she eventually broke out of it to play some of the more complex and fascinating women on the silver screen -- including in two films that won her Academy Awards for Best Actress: "To Each His Own" and "The Heiress".