Tom Weidlinger: “The Restless Hungarian”

The true, but stranger than fiction life story of Paul Weidlinger, characterized as The Restless Hungarian, is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious.    At age 25 Weidlinger , who hid his Jewish roots in plain view, fled to Bolivia to escape the Holocaust.   Five years later he resettled in the United States and became one of the most important and creative structural engineers of the 20th Century.

“The Restless Hungarian” is a book and a feature-length documentary about to be the 30th movie written and produced by Tom Weidlinger, Paul Weidlinger’s son.   The story is set against the larger canvas of the Hungarian Jewish Diaspora, and reflects the experiences of so many immigrants who made a name for themselves in America after World War II.

The Beaconreader,  which funds journalism projects around the world is currently hosting a crowd source fund for “The Restless Hungarian”.

When award winning film-maker Tom Weidlinger, a previous Radio Curious guest, and I visited by phone  on January 9, 2016, we began when I asked to explain how the life experience of his father Paul Weidlinger is relevant today.

The book Tom Weidlinger recommends is “Euphoria,” by Lily King.

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Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner: Survival Is Indigenous

The consequences of the control of reproduction and the reproduction of daily life that began about the time of the creation of the moveable type printing press, in approximately the year 1440 is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious.

Our guest is Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner, the Founding Director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Fayetteville, New York and member of the Adjunct Faculty at Syracuse University, in Syracuse, New York.   Sally Roesch Wagner was one of the first two women to receive a doctorate for work in women’s studies, with a Ph.D. awarded to her in 1978 from the history of consciousness program by the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Wagner, a Radio Curious veteran guest is the author of “Survival Is Indigenous,” a book that describes the consequences of the societal control shortly after the development of the printing press, fomented by western religions, which she argues exists to the present time.

Sally Roesch Wagner and I visited in the Radio Curious studios on January 6, 2016, to discuss “Survival Is Indigenous,”  and began our conversation when I asked her what is indigenous about survival.

The books Dr. Wagner recommends are “Braiding Sweetgrass:  Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants,” by Robin Will Kimmerer; and “My Life on The Road,” by Gloria Stienem.

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Ebershoff, David — How Many Wives are Enough?

Polygamy used to be a central aspect in Mormon beliefs.  However, it has not been for over 100 years now, due partly to considerable effort by Ann Eliza Young, one of Brigham Young’s many wives.

In this edition of Radio Curious we visit with David Ebershoff, author of “The 19th Wife,” the story of Ann Eliza Young, and her realization and then quest to let the world know that marriage should only pertain to two people, instead of one man and a plethora of wives who were referred to as “sister wives.”  We discuss what marriage is, how religion plays a large role in many people’s lives, and how the quest that Ann Eliza had effected her world and the world we live in today.

Our conversation, recorded on August 29, 2008, began when I asked David Ebershoff why Ann Eliza wanted to apostate (or leave without approval) from the Mormon Church in relationship to the politics then and now.

The book that David Ebershoff recommends is, “American Wife: A Novel” by Curtis Sittenfeld.

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Ebershoff, David — Southern California: 1903-1945

In this program we visit with David Ebershoff, author of “Pasadena,” a book about storytelling.  “Pasadena” is the story of Linda Stamp, a young girl born and raised on a rural coastal area near San Diego, California, beginning when she was born in 1903.  Linda learned the many different ways of the sea as she grew and married into a wealthy Pasadena family.

This is also a book about choices, some which we think through, and some which determine our fate even when we were unaware of the magnitude of the moment. 

With the novelist’s freedom to he uses his sense of story, where it begins and where it ends.  As the middle part of the story is built, so are the character’s lives, juxtaposing the times and places in their lives times.

In many ways, California itself is the novel’s main character. We get to see what the land must have been like when it was a wild, teeming frontier, just on its way to being transformed by fishermen, farmers, land developers and tourists.

David Ebershoff is currently an executive editor at Random House, and lives in New York City.  When and I visited by phone in July 2002, I asked him to describe the kinds of things in his life that prompted him to write his second novel “Pasadena.”

The book David Ebershoff recommends is “Middlesex,” a novel by Jeffrey Eugenides.

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Weiss, Andrew — Ellis Island: Ellis Island:  Those Who Arrived There, Why, and What Was it Like?

Our story this week is about Ellis Island and the people who arrived there when they first came to America. Between 1892 and 1956 about 12 million immigrants came to the United States and entered the country through Ellis Island, in the harbor of New York City. Who were these people? Where were they from?  What was their experience of getting to Ellis Island and what was it like for them once they arrived there?

In this archive edition of Radio Curious, we visit with Andrew Weiss, who I met in 1992 when he was the guide of a tour I took at Ellis Island.  At that time he also was a doctoral student at Columbia University and a teacher at Barnard College in New York City.  When Andrew Weiss and I visited in November of 1992 by phone from his home in New York City we began our conversation with a bit of the history of Ellis Island.

When this program was recorded in November 1992, the guests were not asked for a recommendation of a book.

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Pico, Pio & Garza, Robert — Meet the Last Mexican Governor of California

Radio Curious goes back into California history about 165 years, and visits with the last Mexican governor of California, Pio Pico. Born at the San Gabriel Mission in 1801, Pico was of Spanish, Italian, Indian and African ancestry. Both as a politician and as an entrepreneur, he espoused the views of many native-born “Californarios” over distant seats of government.

As the last Mexican Governor of California, he presided over the secularization of the missions, and turned over their vast land holdings to private hands. Although he fled California during the American takeover, Pio Pico returned to build the first major hotel in Los Angeles. Later, he served on the Los Angeles City Council.

I met with Pio Pico, portrayed by Roberto Garza, in February of 1998.  When Pio Pico and I met in the person of Roberto Garza we began when I asked him to tell us about his life.

The book Pio Pico recommends is “Pio Pico, A Historical Narrative,” by Pio Pico. Roberto Graza recommends “Pio Pico Miscellany,” by Martin Cole and “The Decline of the Californios: A Social History of the Spanish-Speaking Californians, 1846-1890,” by Leonard Pitt.

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Berman, Ari — Using Wealth to Deny Voting Rights

The financing of political campaigns is the subject of this, July 21, 2015, edition of Radio Curious.  Our guest is Ari Berman, a contributing writer for The Nation Magazine, who writes regularly on election and voting rights issues.  His May 19, 2015 article is titled “How the Money Primary is Undermining Voting Rights.” 

Berman asks:  “When the wealthiest Americans dominate every facet of political life—from who runs, to who wins, to which issues are addressed, to how our leaders govern—what happens to the voting rights of everyone else?”

The consequences of the Supreme Court’s 2010 and 2014 decisions in “Citizens United and “McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission provide some insight.

When Ari Berman and I visited by phone from his office in Washington D.C. on June 8, 2015, we began when I asked him to define the word “wealth,” that is being used to deny the right to vote.

The books Ari Berman recommends are “Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement” by John Lewis, and “Housekeeping,” by Marilynne Robinson.

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Patterson, Dr. Victoria — Native American Life, Before and After Europeans Part Two

Cultures that have no written language pass on their histories through oral traditions. The stories are the way that social values and traditions are taught by one generation to the next. Animals often play a significant character role in these stories.

In the Native American traditions of the northwest part of California, the coyote is a popular character. Dr. Victoria Patterson, an anthropologist based in Ukiah, California, has worked with native peoples for over 30 years. She knows these stories, and she sees them as windows, allowing us to imagine how original native peoples of northern California thought and lived.

I met with Dr. Victoria Patterson and asked her about the significance of the story where the coyote jumped off into the sky. Our discussion lead to a two-part program, originally broadcast in February of 1999.  In part one we discuss the indigenous stories and in part two we discuss how the northern California indigenous communities changed after European colonization.

The books Dr. Victoria Patterson recommends are “Deep Valley,” by Bernard W. Aginsky and “Under the Tuscan Sun,” by Frances Mayes.

Originally Broadcast: February 16, 1999 and February 26, 1999.

Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.

Patterson, Dr. Victoria — Native American Life, Before and After Europeans Part One

Cultures that have no written language pass on their histories through oral traditions. The stories are the way that social values and traditions are taught by one generation to the next. Animals often play a significant character role in these stories.

In the Native American traditions of the northwest part of California, the coyote is a popular character. Dr. Victoria Patterson, an anthropologist based in Ukiah, California, has worked with native peoples for over 30 years. She knows these stories, and she sees them as windows, allowing us to imagine how original native peoples of northern California thought and lived.

I met with Dr. Victoria Patterson and asked her about the significance of the story where the coyote jumped off into the sky. Our discussion lead to a two-part program, originally broadcast in February of 1999.

The books Dr. Victoria Patterson recommends are “Deep Valley,” by Bernard W. Aginsky and “Under the Tuscan Sun,” by Frances Mayes.

Originally Broadcast: February 16, 1999 and February 26, 1999.

Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.

Gilbert, Ronnie — A Memorial Tribute

In this edition of Radio Curious we honor and pay tribute to folk singer Ronnie Gilbert, who died on June 6, 2015 at the age of 88. She is well known for her powerful contralto voice as a member of the Weavers, the extraordinarily popular folk music quartet that in 1950s and 1960s. She also had careers as an actor and a psychologist.

From the Radio Curious archives, recorded in September 1996, Ronnie Gilbert describes her introduction to music and dance, how the Weavers came together; their blacklist experience; her thoughts about turning 70 years old when this program was recorded in 1996; and her friendship and work with Holly Near. We conclude with Holly Near recalling her friendship with Ronnie Gilbert.
The books Ronnie Gilbert recommends are “The Moors Last Sigh” by Salman Rushdie, “Making Movies” by Sidney Lumet and “Eyewitness: A Personal Account of the Unraveling of the Soviet Union” by Vladimir Pozner.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.