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.

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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.

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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.

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Lowe, Felicia — Chinese Immigration:  The Veil of Secrecy and Silence

Secrecy of and revelation about the trip to America to secure a new life during the Chinese Exclusion era is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious. 

Our guest is Felicia Lowe, whose filmChinese Couplets” tells her mother’s story.  Felicia Lowe was met with refusals and silence when as a child she asked her mother about her childhood. This shroud of silence was lifted when Felicia Lowe’s daughter found an old family photograph taken in China and asked her grandmother to tell the story related to the photograph. 

The film “Chinese Couplets” shows and tells the story of a childhood in rural China, the new identity to secure passage to America, the fear of deportation if the truth were known, and a prosperous and successful life of an immigrant Chinese woman in Oakland, California.   The film “Chinese Couplets” will be shown at the Mendocino Film Festival on Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 10 am in the Village of Mendocino, California.

When Felicia Lowe and I visited by phone from her home in San Francisco, California, May 17, 2015, I asked her to tell us about her mother.

The book Felicia Lowe recommends is “The Blues Eye,” by Toni Morrison.

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Marshall, Joseph Ph.D. — Black Lives:  Alive and Free

Keeping young black men alive and free is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious.  Our guest is Dr. Joseph E. Marshall, who in 1987 co-founded the Omega Boys Club of San Francisco, now called “Alive and Free,” of which he is the executive director.

Alive and Free is a community violence prevention effort for at-risk inner city youth and a surrogate family support system for young black men and women, based in San Francisco, California, to encourage their academic pursuits and obtain financial help for college.  

Joseph Marshall is also the host of Street Soldiers Radio, broadcast every Sunday evening on KMEL 106.1 FM at 8 pm.  In 1994 he received a McArthur Foundation Genius Award for his skills and accomplishments.

Dr. Joseph E. Marshall and I visited by phone, from his office in San Francisco, California on May 4, 2015, and began our conversation with his description of Alive and Free.

The books Joseph Marshall recommends are “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” and “Street Soldier:  One Man’s Struggle to Save a Generation – One Life at a Time,” by Joseph Marshall and Lonnie Wheeler.

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Ellsberg, Daniel — The Pentagon Papers

Few moments in American history have held the tension of the Vietnam war, especially in the early 1970′s. The nation was fundamentally divided between young people and their parents, who saw no reason for the United States to be in Vietnam, and President Richard Nixon’s “silent majority,” causing a rupture particularly connected to the still-escalating Vietnam War. The “Pentagon Papers,” which were released by Daniel Ellsberg, our guest in this archive edition Radio Curious, were published on the front page of the New York Times in June 1971.

They focused national attention on United States foreign policy and on our rights as individual citizens to freedom of the press.  Criminal charges were brought against Ellsberg in the United States District Court in Los Angeles, California; they were later dismissed by the Judge.

When Daniel Ellsberg and I visited by phone in March 1997 I asked him to begin by placing the “Pentagon Papers” in the context of the time.

The book Daniel Ellsberg recommends is “Our War,” by David Harris.

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Lawler, Andrew–The Chicken: A Mirror of Humanity

Where chickens thrive humans are nearby.  Portable and good travelers, chickens have been carried by humans around the world.  Currently there are three chickens alive at any one time for each individual person alive on earth.  Descendants of dinosaurs, chickens are primarily cared for by women, they’re a never ending source of slang and continue to be depicted in religious and/or political symbols around the world.  Americans eat, on average, 80 pounds of chicken per year—four times the world average. But, chickens raised for food are not considered animals under U.S. law and are generally not subject to humane treatment regulations. 

Our guest is Andrew Lawler, author of “Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?  The Epic Saga of the Bird That Powers Civilization.”  Andrew Lawler and I visited by phone from his home in the North Carolina hills on March 27, 2015, and began our conversation when I asked him how far back the lineage of the chicken goes in world history.

The book Andrew Lawler recommends is “Guns, Germs and Steel:  The Fates of Human Societies,” by Jared M. Diamond.  

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Wilkerson, Isabel — America’s Great Migration: 1915-1970 Part Two

In the years between 1915 and 1970 almost six million black American citizens from the south migrated to northern and western cities seeking freedom and a better life. Our guest is Pulitzer Prize winner, Isabel Wilkerson author of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.” Her book tells the untold experiences of the African-Americans who fled the south over three generations.

Wilkerson interviewed more than 1,000 people for her book. She is the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and is a recipient of the George Polk Award and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. Her parents were part of the great migration, journeying from Georgia and southern Virginia to Washington D.C.

In part one she discussed what she called the “biggest untold story of the 20th century.”  In part two of our conversation, recorded from her home near Atlanta, Georgia, on September 28, 2012, Isabel Wilkerson describes the inspiration behind her narrative non-fiction story of the six million African-Americans who migrated from the south between 1915 and 1970.

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