Mbaabu, Brenda — A Contemporary Woman’s History

The experience of immigrating, at age 13, to America from Nairobi, Kenya, and bringing the traditional roots of her ancestors’ lives from the remote village of the Meru people of northeast Kenya, are the stories told in this edition of Radio Curious by our guest Brenda Mbaabu. She shares her tribal legends, family background, and her experiences in the United States.  A woman in her mid-twenties, now working as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Ukiah, California, Brenda Mbaabu and I visited in the studios of Radio Curious on February 28, 2015.  We began with her description of the Meru, her family and their importance to her.

The books Brenda Mbaabu recommends are “The Bible” and “Little Bee” by Chris Cleve.    

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

Durham, Bill — Racism in America:  One Man’s Experience

Radio Curious continues its series racism in a conversation with Bill Durham, a 59 year old black man, originally from Ohio who grew up in family of civil rights activists and now lives in Mendocino County, California.  We explore the effects of racism in the United States and how to end it.  Bill Durham, works as a journeyman carpenter, and hosts Club FM, a weekly blues, jazz and rock music program on KMEC radio in Ukiah, California with the moniker of MC Squared.

In this program, recorded on February 12, 2015, at Radio Curious, Bill Durham shares his experiences of being black in America, starting when he was very young, and his ideas on how to relieve racism.

The book Bill Durham recommends is “Supernatural:  Meeting with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind,” by Graham Hancock.

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

Massey, Orell — Racism in a Rural California Sheriff’s Department Part Two

Radio Curious continues our series on racism in Mendocino County, California. Our guest is Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff Orell Massey who, for the past 20 years has been the only black law enforcement officer in the county’s history.  A native of South Carolina, Deputy Massey was a 21 year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps assigned to the Foreign Service Embassy detail before he moved to Mendocino County. When I asked Sheriff Massey to be a guest on this program and share his experience as a black Deputy Sheriff, he asked:  “Are the people of Mendocino County ready to hear what I have to say?”    

In part one of our conversation, Deputy Massey describes some people’s reaction to him while he is in on duty.

In part two, recorded on February 1, 2015, in the Radio Curious studios, Deputy Massey gives his personal response when asked, “what is it like to be the only black Deputy Sheriff ever in the history of Mendocino County?” Later he shares stories about his off duty life, his goals and aspirations.

The book Deputy Massey recommends is “Code Talker:  The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of World War Two,” by Chester Nez and Judith Schiess Avila.

Click here to listen to part two or on the media player below.

Massey, Orell — Racism in a Rural California Sheriff’s Department Part One

Our guest on this edition of Radio Curious is Deputy Sheriff Orell Massey—a black man, native of South Carolina and a 20 year veteran of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department. He is also a 21 year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps where he was assigned to the Embassy detail.  When I asked Sheriff Massey to be a guest on this program and share his experience as a black Deputy Sheriff, he asked:  “Are the people of Mendocino County ready to hear what I have to say?”   

In part one of our conversation, recorded on February 1, 2015, Deputy Orell Massey shares his experiences.  You may decide if you are ready to hear what he has to say.

In part two, Deputy Massey gives his personal response when asked, “what is it like to be the only black Deputy Sheriff ever in the history of Mendocino County?” Later he shares stories about his off duty life, his goals and aspirations.

Click here to listen to part one or on the media player below.

Bracewell, Dr. Bill — Maximize and Maintain Range of Motion

Bill Bracewell, a doctor of physical therapy practicing in Ukiah, California, for over 35 years, is our guest on this edition of Radio Curious.  He and I visited in the Radio Curious studios on December 15, 2014.  We begin with Dr. Bracewell’s description of physical therapy:  maximize, restore and maintain range of movement. 

The book Dr. Bill Bracewell recommends is “The Thinking Body,” by Mable Elsworth Todd. 

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

Vogel, Barry and Gravois, John — A Interview with Radio Curious Host Barry Vogel

For this edition of Radio Curious, broadcast at the beginning of our 25th year on the air, I invited my friend John Gravois to interview me about my experiences, reflections and thoughts over the past 24 years that I’ve been the host and producer of Radio Curious. 

John Gravois is the deputy editor of Pacific Standard magazine and a contributing editor to the Washington Monthly. His work has appeared on This American Life, in The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Slate, among others. He lives in Albany, California.

John Gravois and I visited in the studios of Radio Curious on December 27, 2014.  We began our conversation with his comments about the archives found on the Radio Curious website.

The books that I recommend are “The Warmth of Other Suns:  The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration,” by Isabel Wilkerson and “Jacobson’s Organ and the Remarkable Nature of Smell,” by Lyall Watson.

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

Levene, Bruce — James Dean in Mendocino

John Steinbeck’s novel, “East of Eden” was published September 1952 and the movie-made soon thereafter-is the subject of this edition of Radio Curious. Our guest is Bruce Levene, author of “James Dean in Mendocino: The Filming of East of Eden.” The Mendocino Film Festival will screen “East of Eden” on Friday, November 21 and Sunday, November 23, 2014.

Soon after “East of Eden” was published, plans began immediately for a motion picture. Warner Brothers bought the rights and director Elia Kazan hired playwright screenwriter, Paul Osborn to write the film script. After several attempts to encompass the sprawling 560-page novel, they decided to use only the last 90 pages—the story of Adam Trask, his sons Aron and Cal, their mother Kate, and the girl Abra.

It’s a story about the search for love, the desperate search for his father’s love, by the son Cal, the fanciful search for his mother’s love by Aron, and the futile quest by Adam for the love of all humanity. John Steinbeck wrote of his book, “The subject is the only one that man has used of his theme. The existence, the balance, the battle and the victory and permanent war between wisdom and ignorance, light and darkness, good and evil.”

By 1954, when Kazan began searching for locale to use for the filming of “East of Eden,” neither Monterey nor Salinas, where the stories took place, looked much like California in 1917. Warner Brothers had made “Johnny Belinda” in Mendocino in 1947, which might have influenced the director.

Or perhaps as one wire service reported:  “Like many other voyagers, he just wandered up the Mendocino Coast and found what he was looking for.”

In late April, preparations for filming began and the fist day of shooting took place on May 27. In that amazingly brief time the Mendocino scenes were completed and by June 3, the Warner Brothers production team was gone, leaving local residents with fond remembrances.

Bruce Levene writes, “I first saw “East of Eden” on the fan tail of a US Navy destroyer in the Caribbean in 1956. I’d read the book but never traveled west of Des Moines. California was unseen, Mendocino was unheard of. I thought “East Eden” had been filmed in Monterey and Salinas, wherever they were.”

“East of Eden” became Levene’s favorite motion picture. Not particularly because of James Dean, although he was certainly unforgettable.

“Whatever the man was in real life, saint or sinner,” Bruce Levene writes, “we will never really know.  It’s undeniable however, that in front of an audience or camera he was remarkable. And that, for an actor, is the best thing that can be said. Dean was just something else.”

For Bruce Levene, it was how he felt about the whole movie—the shoreline, the town, it’s people, the actors: Julie Harris, Joe Van Fleet, Raymond Massey and Burl Ives (Massey and Ives didn’t go to Mendocino), and Leonard Rosenman’s wonderful music. A totality in feeling, rare in motion pictures, was only enhanced to Bruce Levene when he moved to Mendocino in 1969.

When Bruce Levene and I visited from his home in Mendocino, California, on November 11, 2014, I asked him what prompted him to write his book “James Dean in Mendocino.”

The book Bruce Levene recommends is “The Immense Journey” by Loren Eiseley.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

California Burning: The Mendocino Lodge Fire

California wildfires present a serious public safety concern, create fear of serious loss for many and cost millions of dollars to fight. In California each fire is given a name, as is done for hurricanes. We devote this edition of Radio Curious, to the Lodge Fire that occurred in Mendocino County, California in August 2014.  We visit with four Mendocino County people who meet the public need at times of crisis.

We begin with Mary Aigner, program director of KZYX and KZYZ, Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, the public radio station where Radio Curious was originally broadcast beginning in 1991.  She describes what local public radio is able to do at a time of crisis. We then hear from Chris Rowney, the Mendocino Unit Chief for Cal-Fire, the California fire protection agency, who explains what Cal-Fire does when confronted with a wildfire. We also hear from Mendocino County Sheriff, Tom Allman, whose responsibility it is to order a mandatory evacuation if a crisis so requires. Finally we hear from Dr. Sharon Paltin, a family physician in Laytonville, California, the community closest to the Lodge Fire.  She describes the public health effects of exposure to the extraordinary amount of smoke created by a wildfire.

We begin our conversation, recorded on August 29, 2014, with Mary Aigner from Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, describing the role of community radio when a wild fire occurs.

The book Mary Aigner recommends is “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus,” by Charles C. Mann. The book that Chris Rowney recommends is “Young Men and Fires,” by Norman McClean. The book Dr. Sharon Paltin recommends is “A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster,” by Rebecca Solnit.

This program was recorded on August 29 and September 1, 2014.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Vogel, Lillian Ph.D. — Secrets of a Long Life

September 11, 2014, marks the 105th birthday of a woman I know well:  A woman who has played the piano for 98 years, and in my opinion is the best mother in the world.  In 2009, her book “What’s My Secret?  One Hundred Years of Memories and Reflections,” a memoir of her first ten decades was published.  This book imparts thoughts and ideas to those of us who seek to lead a long and active life.

Lillian B. Vogel, Ph.D., is the author. She is also my mother.  And as such, I have often been curious about the role she had in fomenting my curiosity.  She has always been able to get to the heart of most any matter with a few simple questions.  

On September 9, 2014, my mother and I met for lunch at her home to review the plans for her upcoming 105th birthday celebration.  When I explained that Radio Curious would feature our 2009 conversation she offered to read the poem from the conclusion of her book.  You’ll hear it at the end of the interview.

And so, from the Radio Curious archives, I wish to honor this extraordinary woman on her 105th birthday by sharing our conversation, recorded on October 31, 2009, which began with the inquiry:  What makes Lillian Vogel curious?

The book Lillian B. Vogel  recommends is “The Blue Tattoo: The Life Of Olive Oatman,” by Margot Mifflin.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Feigin, Keith — Liquid Gold on Lovers Lane

This program is about honey. We visit with Keith Feigin, owner of Lovers Lane Farm, at his bee keeping center in Ukiah, California. We discuss bees on the loose, how they orient themselves to a new location, communicate with each other and how Keith harvests the “liquid gold.”  Keith was just leaving to catch up with some bees on the loose when I arrived, and that’s when our conversation began in mid August, 2011.

The book that Keith Feigin recommends is the “Secret Life of Bees,” by Sue Monk Kidd.

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