Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman – “Brothels of Calcutta, India”

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Originally Broadcast: March 15, 2007

Born Into Brothels

“Born into Brothels” received the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2005. A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, “Born into Brothels” is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta, where their mothers work as prostitutes. The most stigmatized people in Calcutta’s red light district however are not the prostitutes, but their children. In the face of abject poverty, abuse, and despair, these kids have little possibility of escaping their mother’s fate or for creating another type of life. In “Born into Brothels,” directors Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman chronicle the amazing transformation of the children they come to know in the red light district. Briski, a professional photographer, gives them lessons and cameras, igniting latent sparks of artistic genius that reside in these children who live in the most sordid and seemingly hopeless world. The photographs taken by the children are not merely examples of remarkable observation and talent; they reflect something much larger, morally encouraging, and even politically volatile: art as an immensely liberating and empowering force. Devoid of sentimentality, “Born into Brothels” defies the typical tear-stained tourist snapshot of the global underbelly. Briski spends years with these kids and becomes part of their lives. Their photographs are prisms into their souls, rather than anthropological curiosities or primitive imagery, and a true testimony of the power of the indelible creative spirit. You can learn about this film and Kids with Cameras at www.kids-with-cameras.org. I spoke with Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman in February 2005. Beginning the conversation first with Zana Briski, I asked her to explain what drew her to India before the concept of “Kids With Cameras” was even a dream.

www.kids-with-cameras.org

Zana Briski recommends “Secret Life of Bees,” by Sue Monk Kidd.

Maggie Watson & Barry Vogel, Esq. – “Make It Easier For Your Loved Ones When You Die”

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Originally Broadcast: December 6, 2006

A Graceful Farewell: Putting Your Affairs in Order

Putting your affairs in order before you die is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious. Our guest is Maggie Watson, a professional organizer who lives on the Mendocino Coast in Northern California. She is the author of, “A Graceful Farewell: Putting Your Affairs in Order,” a collection of ideas and forms that make it easy to list what you own and where everything is. In the course of our conversation Maggie Watson turned the microphones and began to ask me about estate planning, the documents which are useful for everyone to have and the differences between a will and a trust. In my day job I am an attorney in Ukiah, California and devote a portion of my practice to estate planning. Maggie Watson and I met in the studios of Radio Curious in early December, 2006.
www.agracefulfarewell.com

Maggie Watson recommends, “Millionth Circle: How to Change Ourselves and the World – The Essential Guide to Women’s Circles,” by Jean Shinoda Bolend.

Barry Vogel recommends, “Jacobson’s Organ and The Remarkable Nature of Smell,” by Lyall Watson.

Dr. Arthur Janov, Dr. France Janov –” Emotional Healing by Examining Initial Imprints”

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Originally Broadcast: December 20, 2006

Primal Healing: Access the Incredible Power of Feelings to Improve you Health

The alleviation of human angst and emotional pain or distress is the goal of psychotherapy. Dr. Arthur Janov, together with his wife Dr. France Janov, believe the traditional, century-old method of talk therapy is not the answer. Together they direct the Primal Center in Venice, California, and Dr. Arthur Janov, who wrote, “The Primal Scream,” in the late 1960s, is the author of “Primal Healing: Access the Incredible Power of Feelings to Improve Your Health.” The Janovs assert that the best emotional healing is obtained by reaching back to the point of injury that formed an initial imprint of the pain, which often occurs in the womb or in early childhood. They believe that accessing these subconscious memories is necessary for improved physical and emotional health. We began our conversation with Dr. France Janov and Dr. Arthur Janov, recorded in mid-December 2006, from their home in Santa Monica, California, when I asked them to explain how initial imprints in a person’s life can be the cause of lifelong pain.

http://www.primaltherapy.com

Dr. Arthur Janov recommends, “Hostile Takeover: How big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government and How We Can Take It Back,” by David Sirota.

 

Dr. Daniel J. Levitin – “Music On The Brain” Part 2

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Originally Broadcast: November 8, 2006

This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

The understanding of how we humans experience music and why it plays a unique role in our lives is this topic of two interviews with Dr. Daniel Levitin, author of, “This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession,” recorded from his home in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in late October 2006. Professor Levitin runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He asserts that our brains are hardwired for music and therefore we are all more musically equipped than we think, and that music is an obsession at the heart of human nature, perhaps even more fundamental to our species than language. Professor Levitin believes that the music we end up liking meets our expectations of what we anticipate hearing, just enough of the time that we feel rewarded, and the music that we like also violates those expectations just enough of the time that we’re intrigued. In the first interview Dr. Levitin begins by describing how the human brain learns to distinguish between music and language. The second interview begins with a discussion of what happens when people listen to music they like.

www.yourbrainonmusic.com

Dr. Daniel J. Levitin recommends, “Another Day in the Frontal Lobe,” by Katrina Firlik, and, “The Human Stain,” by Philip Roth.

Dr. Daniel J. Levitin – “Music On The Brain” Part 1

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Originally Broadcast: November 1, 2006

This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

The understanding of how we humans experience music and why it plays a unique role in our lives is this topic of two interviews with Dr. Daniel Levitin, author of, “This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession,” recorded from his home in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in late October 2006. Professor Levitin runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He asserts that our brains are hardwired for music and therefore we are all more musically equipped than we think, and that music is an obsession at the heart of human nature, perhaps even more fundamental to our species than language. Professor Levitin believes that the music we end up liking meets our expectations of what we anticipate hearing, just enough of the time that we feel rewarded, and the music that we like also violates those expectations just enough of the time that we’re intrigued. In the first interview Dr. Levitin begins by describing how the human brain learns to distinguish between music and language. The second interview begins with a discussion of what happens when people listen to music they like.

www.yourbrainonmusic.com

Dr. Daniel J. Levitin recommends, “Another Day in the Frontal Lobe,” by Katrina Firlik, and, “The Human Stain,” by Philip Roth.

Dr. Dan Gottlieb— “Quadriplegia: A Struggle to Live”

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Originally Broadcast: April 12, 2006

Letters to Sam:A Grandfather’s Lessons on Love, Loss and the Gifts of Life

For most people, the desire to be known exceeds the desire to be loved. Who we are as individuals, how we reckon with our personal abilities and disabilities the topic of this edition of Radio Curious, a conversation with my friend Dr. Dan Gottlieb.

Dan Gottlieb, a clinical psychologist who lives and works near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania lives with quadriplegia, paralyzed from the neck down as a result of an automobile accident in 1979. He is the host of “Voices in the Family,” a weekly public radio program originating from WHYY in Philadelphia and the author of two articles a month in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Because of his physical condition, Dan thought he may not live to see his young grandson Sam grow to be man. When Sam was diagnosed with a severe form of autism several years ago, Dan decided to write a series of letters to his grandson.

His book “Letter’s to Sam: A Grandfather’s Lessons on Love, Loss and the Gifts of Life,” is a collection of the thirty-two intimate and compassionate letters sharing Dan’s thoughts, observations and experiences gained from his 27 years with quadriplegia, and his professional life as a clinical psychologist.

Dr. Dan Gottlieb and I visited by phone from his in mid April 2006.

The books Dr. Gottlieb recommends are “Eat, Pray and Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything, Across Italy, India and Indonesia,” by Elizabeth Gilbert, and “Life of Pi,” by Yann Martel.

Dr. Gene D. Cohen– “Do We Get Smarter As We Age”

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Originally Broadcast: April 18, 2006

The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain

Do people over a certain age necessarily loose mental acuity? According to Dr. Gene Cohen, the answer is “no.” Dr. Cohen, a psychiatrist and gerontologist has determined that certain genes are activated by experience as we age, allowing our personalities to grow and change. The brain has reserves of strength and agility that compensate for the effects of aging on its other parts. Dr. Cohen has found that the information processing in the 60 to 80 year old brain achieves it’s greatest density and reach. He explains these and other developing concepts in brain research in his book, “The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain.” I spoke with Dr. Cohen in March 2006 from his office on Aging, Health & Humanities, in Washington D.C., where he is the Director. We began our conversation with his description of the importance of the role of creativity.

Gene Cohen recommends, “Tuesdays with Morrie: A Young Man, An Old Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson,” by Mitch Albom.

Peter C. Whybrow – “The Conflict Between Our Biological Heritage and the Speed of Our Lives”

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American Mania, When More is Not Enough

Not so long ago before the common use of devices operated by electricity our lives were generally much more calm. And as humans we have a biological a heritage of being are curiosity driver, reward seeking and harm avoiding creatures. The conflict that has evolved between our biological heritage and the demand driven economy in the United States is the essence of a book entitled “American Mania, When More is Not Enough.” Dr. Peter C. Whybrow, author of “American Mania” is our guest on this edition of Radio Curious. He is a professor of psychiatry and bio-behavioral science, and director of the Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California at Los Angeles. In this interview, recorded mid-February 2005, Dr. Whybrow discusses this conflict, and its consequences.

Peter C. Whybrow recommends “In Praise of Slowness,” by Carl Honore.

Originally Broadcast: February 12, 2005

Dr. Jerome Groopman – Facing Illness With Success

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The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness

Hope is one of the most fundamental and powerful of human emotions, and also one of the least studied and understood. “The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness,” by Dr. Jerome Groopman, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard University and a writer for the New Yorker magazine, examines the role hope plays in the practice of medicine, and the ways in which hope can release chemicals powerful enough to change the outcome of otherwise fatal diseases.

Dr. Jerome Groopman recommends “The Old School,” by Tobian Wolff.

Originally Broadcast: February 20, 2004

Nelson, Alondra— “Health Care & The Black Panthers”

Originally Broadcast: February 13, 2012

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The exodus of approximately six million black people from the American South between 1915 and 1970 had a significant role in setting the stage of the civil rights movement of the early 1960s. Many of the children of those who left the south participated in desegregation efforts which included the Freedom Rides and lunch counter sit-ins. The Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 which attempted to resolve employment discrimination and define voting rights, only changed the law. Many young blacks however did not see changes in their everyday life.

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was born out of this disillusionment. Although infiltrated and feared by the F.B.I., the Black Panther Party pioneered social and community programs, including free medical clinics, free meals, and educational programs.

Our guest in this edition of Radio Curious is Columbia University Sociology and Gender Studies Professor Alondra Nelson, author of “Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination.”

We visited by phone from her Office in New York City, on February 13, 2012 and began our conversation when I asked her to describe the Black Panther Party.

The book she recommends is “Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems,” by Elizabeth Alexander.

Professor Nelson’s website is http://www.alondranelson.com.