Damrosch, Phoebe — The Wisdom of the Waiter

Behind the scenes in Per Se, a four star restaurant in New York City, a sister restaurant to The French Laundry in Napa, California, is one of the topics in this edition of Radio Curious.  Phoebe Damrosch, author of, “Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter,” was the first female captain (head waiter) at a New York four-star restaurant. A graduate of Columbia University’s Barnard College, she shares surprising episodes and charm in a story relayed from the always-pleasant server’s point of view that some people spend several hundred dollars each to witness from the diner’s perspective. However, Phoebe sees things that the diners don’t. Phoebe Damrosch was born in a small rural mountaintop cabin next to a pure water lake several hours north of New York City, and grew up partly in Vermont and rural Haiti.

This conversation, recorded on July 15, 2008, began when I asked her to explain what a restaurant must do to receive the four-star nomination.

The book she recommends is “Drown,” by Junot Diaz.

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Waldie, Jerome — Fair Play For Frogs, Part 2

As a lawyer and a student of political science, I have come to appreciate the anomalies and humor of politics. One story that fits both of those categories well is the relationship between Nestle J. Frobish, the Chair-Creature of World-Wide Fair Play for Frogs Committee and the late Jerome R. Waldie, his former nemesis a Member of Congress from Antioch, just east of San Francisco, California. Their dissension arose in 1961 when Waldie was a freshman member of the California State Assembly and chose to introduce what came to be known as the “Frog Murder Bill,” resulting in Frobish organizing what turned out to be a 45 year campaign to get Waldie to renounce, what Frobish called his “vestigial impurities” visited upon him as the “mad butcher of the swamp.” Waldie finally acceded in 2006 and in this interview originally broadcast on June 11, 2007,  tells us why.

The book that Jerome Waldie recommends is, “It Can’t Happen here,” by Sinclair Lewis.

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Frobish, Nestle J. — Fair Play For Frogs, Part 1

Frogs play an important role in the world’s ecology and are their occasional demise is sometimes noted as an impending ecological disaster. In 1961, a newly elected member of the California State Assembly, Jerome R. Waldie, introduced a bill that read in full:  “Frogs may be taken using slingshot.” Little did he know that this bill would plague him throughout his political career, in the California Legislature, United States Congress, and as a candidate for Governor of California. Our guest is Nestle J. Frobish, the Chair-Creature of the World Wide Fair Play for Frogs Committee, an organization founded in Berkeley, California soon after Waldie introduced what became to be known as the “Frog Murder Bill.” 

“Fair Play for Frogs, The Waldie – Frobish Papers,” the collected correspondence between Nestle J. Frobish and Congressman Jerome R. Waldie was published as political spoof in 1977.  Around that time some misguided people, including Congressman Waldie accused me of being Nestle J. Frobish.  Let me make it clear, here and now:  I Barry Vogel am not now, nor ever have been Nestle J. Frobish. However I did speak the with Chair-Creature Frobish by phone as he lurked near a pond at Frog Central in northern Vermont on May 21, 2007, so this rather preposterous story could be told from at least his perspective. My interview with Jerome R. Waldie, humbly presents his perspective and may be found on this web-site.  The interview with Frobish was originally broadcast May 21, 2007.

The book Nestle J. Frobish recommends is “State of Denial,” by Bob Woodward.

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Ed Reinhart & Earl Dixon – Don’t Shoot The Piano Player

Earl Dixon is a veteran traveler, a veteran piano player, and he’s actually a veteran, too. An interesting story. Earl Dixon, the man on this show, traveled around the world, and has a lot of familiar stories to tell to those of us here in Mendocino County.

Originally Broadcast: June 11, 2002

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Tim Sanders – A Silicon Valley ‘Secret’ of Success

Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends

Tim Sanders, the author of a “Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends,” is the Chief Solutions Officer at yahoo.com. Knowledge, network and compassion are the themes of his book and the basis for what he believes will bring most success in business.

Tim Sanders recommends “The Third Wave,” by Alvin Toffler.

Originally Broadcast: April 9, 2002

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Scott McCloud – The Invisible Art

Understanding Comics, A Rather Colorful Display: The Invisible Art

Comics have come to hold quite an important place in contemporary society. Satire, particularly political commentary, is perhaps closest to its essence when expressed in the visual comic. However, it also can be argued that comics have played a far greater role in the history of humanity, tracing back to all images depicting a sequential number of actions. My guest in this program is Scott McCloud, author of “Understanding Comics, A Rather Colorful Display: The Invisible Art,” a book about the history of comics.

Scott McCloud recommends “Jar of Fools,” by Jason Lutes.

Originally Broadcast: August 27, 1994

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Terry Gross – Fresh Air

If you like interview programs perhaps you have listened to Fresh Air, produced in Philadelphia and broadcast regularly many public radio stations.  The host is Terry Gross, our guest on this edition of Radio Curious. I wanted to know who she is, and what she does to prepare for and create Fresh Air. When we visited by phone from her home near Philadelphia, I asked her how puts together so many interesting programs so frequently.

The books Terry Gross recommends are “Self-Consciousness: Memoirs,” by John Updike, and “U and I,” by Nicholson Baker.

The program was originally broadcast: March 7, 1994

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Click here to download a podcast.

Dr. Bill Fry – Psychology of Humor

Our guest in this program was Dr. William Fry, a psychiatrist who has done extensive research in the field of humor. We discussed the psychology and genetics of humor. Much of Dr. Fry’s research has concentrated on Cocoa, the gorilla, and we discussed that as well. This program was originally broadcast in March of 1992, when Radio Curious was called Government, Politics and Ideas.

Originally Broadcast: March 2, 1992

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