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Rank #137 in Arts category

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Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Updated 6 days ago

Rank #137 in Arts category

Arts
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Christopher Lydon in conversation on arts, ideas and politics

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Christopher Lydon in conversation on arts, ideas and politics

iTunes Ratings

875 Ratings
Average Ratings
519
326
12
6
12

Great Radio Program. I love this guy Chris his depth always provocative

By SF CA Lin - Sep 07 2019
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Great radio program - ideas, music, literature, drama, politics !! Thank You Chris Lydon !!!

The best radio/podcast

By goodems - Jun 23 2018
Read more
Christopher Lydon is keeping me sane.

iTunes Ratings

875 Ratings
Average Ratings
519
326
12
6
12

Great Radio Program. I love this guy Chris his depth always provocative

By SF CA Lin - Sep 07 2019
Read more
Great radio program - ideas, music, literature, drama, politics !! Thank You Chris Lydon !!!

The best radio/podcast

By goodems - Jun 23 2018
Read more
Christopher Lydon is keeping me sane.
Cover image of Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Latest release on Feb 21, 2020

All 49 episodes from oldest to newest

The Soul of Care

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Arthur Kleinman is a name that comes up again and again when you search around our big college town of Boston / Cambridge for people asking the great human questions, about our lived experience — about our inner and outer lives, secret lives, soul lives, and also about our vulnerabilities, our pain, and endurance. Dr. Kleinman is an M.D. psychiatrist who’s played anthropologist, too, in Chinese medicine, but he saved his best work and big discovery for last. In his sixties and seventies, he says, he learned more than he’d ever known before about doctoring through 11 years of caring night and day for the wife he adored in the grip of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Arthur Kleinman. Credit: Torben Eskerod.

Arthur Kleinman is a doctors’ doctor who learned the hard way about his lifetime in medicine. He’s been learning mainly about the limits of his heroic profession, about the difference between care-giving (which could mean surgery, or writing a prescription) and care itself, which means staring into an anxious patient’s view of the abyss. The Soul of Care is Arthur Kleinman’s 40th book. Most of his books have soulful titles, but this one is different: it’s a memoir of more than a decade after his wife and professional partner Joan showed first hints of Alzheimer’s disease.

Banner image credit: Torben Eskerod.

The post The Soul of Care appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

Feb 21 2020

50mins

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Malcolm X in Boston and Beyond

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The life of Malcolm X is the classic hero’s journey, in a setting we almost know: a story of anointment, dedication, fate, faith, family, incredible risk and reversals.  There was spontaneous poetry in it, enough sin to make salvation real, and redemption before an early, ugly death – all of it brilliantly told in an autobiography that wasn’t entirely Malcolm’s composition.  The question is about the dateline of the life: whether the core of the Malcolm epic isn’t a Boston story: The spur of ideas in a talky town, on both sides of the color line; the force of family, specially Malcolm’s sister Ella; the oddly enlightened prison where young Malcolm found his way.

Malcolm X, the equal-rights champion, rose to historic standing by blaming and shaming both white and black America — whites for oppressive racism and blacks for putting up with it.  Foil for the Christian preacher Martin Luther King, Malcolm was the firebrand who did not turn the other cheek, who mocked the singing of “We Shall Overcome.” At Malcolm’s funeral 52 years ago, the actor Ossie Davis remembered his friend as a “howling, shocking nuisance” before his “brave, black gallantry” took hold.

The post Malcolm X in Boston and Beyond appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

Feb 14 2020

50mins

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The New Hampshire Primary

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Say what you will about the cranky-Yankee New Hampshire primary, in a remote, mostly white state in the shape of a dunce cap on the map of New England. It’s still the place where presidential candidates have to go face-to-face retail, in the donut shop and the house party, where voters expect to make eye contact and shake a hand four or five times before they commit. The bigger point in 2020 is that New Hampshire is the place where the overarching, orderly narrative of our politics broke down four years ago and has yet to be put together. 2016 was wholesale rebellion: Trump 3 to 1 over Jeb and the Bush dynasty; Bernie’s Democratic socialism in a double landslide over Hillary Clinton’s party regulars.

Site of the in-process Pittsfield Historical Society in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire’s presidential primary marks the spot where the old-normal narrative of party politics fell apart four years ago. It was a sharper turn than many people noticed, and decisive for the country: Donald Trump out of reality television beat the patrician Republican Jeb Bush by a 3-to-1 margin. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders added “socialist” to his ID and beat Hillary Clinton’s corporate centrism by 22 points, more than 60-40. Four years later, Donald Trump is a scarred-up president riding a bump-up in popularity for surviving an impeachment. Bernie Sanders, who’ll be 79 years old before the election day in November, has survived a heart attack and repair surgery. In New Hampshire, Sanders and Trump are the hot-button names for upstarts like Pete Buttigieg to contend with, but their stories have changed. The Trump theme of discontent is long gone: American carnage out; American comeback is his ticket. Bernie is in a bind. The stronger he surges, in Iowa and maybe New Hampshire, the more he rattles the old center of his party. So bad news is good, good news is bad, and the new story is still unwritten as we hit the trail this week: up I-93 to 89, Concord to Pittsfield, then Hanover to West Lebanon.

The post The New Hampshire Primary appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

Feb 07 2020

50mins

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The Age of Illusions

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Soldier and citizen, Andrew Bacevich is the overqualified expert who turns the standard take on our distress inside out. It’s not President Trump that divides us, Bacevich says. Rather, Trump got to be president because the country was worse than split: it’s in a 30-year slow-burn rage around a loss of our restraint, our reputation, our identity. Donald Trump is the loathsome cover on our confusion, he says, but the confusion comes out of Clinton, Bush, and Obama time, in the arrogance of military might, unleashed by a Cold War victory, as if we were licensed to rule the world.  The reckoning Bacevich wants, with Trump or without, is about what three reckless decades have cost us abroad and at home.

Andrew Bacevich with Chris Lydon.

Young Andrew Bacevich felt a vocation to be a soldier, left home in Normal, Illinois, for West Point and battle, in Vietnam, then the first Gulf War. He’s rueful now about American wars in his long lifetime, and he is answering a second vocation to write what he’s learned about misplaced faith in force, and where it has taken his country.  His eighth book on military and foreign policy, just out, is titled The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory. When we got a chance to talk about it in the Cambridge Forum, the usual book and author interview sounded at moments like two old Catholic altar boys lapsing in their seventies into musing: what became of the USA that was the toast of the world in their boyhood after World War II? 

The post The Age of Illusions appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

Jan 31 2020

50mins

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Greta Gerwig Meets Louisa May Alcott

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In the Oscar-excitement around the new Little Women, director Greta Gerwig has a note for all of us: her hero at the party is still the woman who wrote the book a hundred and fifty years ago. Louisa May Alcott was the real thing: a bolder, braver character than the version of herself called Jo. She was the strongest abolitionist in the Alcott family; her precocious writing paid the family bills, as father did not. In book and movie papa Bronson goes South to tend the Civil War wounded and dying, but in life it was Louisa who did that. Back in Concord she got love and respect from the creative giants of the neighborhood—Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne—who found the visionary Bronson a tedious sort of angel. We’re listening for Alcott Family footsteps in their “Orchard House” not far from Boston, in Concord—on Lexington Road. 

Left to right: Jan Turnquist (executive director of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House), portrait of Louisa May Alcott by George Healy, and Christopher Lydon.

The writer of Little Women understated her own case. The real Louisa May Alcott had been an abolitionist from the age of three, a boyish girl who didn’t just long to see the horror and heartbreak of the Civil War: she was the one, not her father, who went to the front near Washington and held the hands of dying soldiers.

Painting by May Alcott, sister of Louisa and inspiration for Amy March. Used with permission of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House.

In the creative classroom back home, the Alcott sisters’ playspace today is full of their costumes and props, swords and boots of their theatrical charades, along with the classic novels of George Eliot and the Brontë sisters, where the girls really did define themselves by reading.  Their drawings on the door-frames are intact. Oil paintings on the walls remind you of baby sister May’s ambition to be a great painter (John Ruskin, the ultimate critic, judged that she made it).

Pen on Louisa May Alcott’s desk at Orchard House.
The Concord School of Philosophy, the project of Louisa’s father, Bronson Alcott. The structure still sits next to the Orchard House in Concord.

The post Greta Gerwig Meets Louisa May Alcott appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

Jan 24 2020

49mins

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The Costs of War

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A trillion dollars here, a trillion dollars there — pretty soon, as the man said, you’re talking real money. But you’re not even close to counting the costs of the US “forever wars” in the Middle East. The numbers are sky high, the questions are profound: more than $6 trillion paid out since 9/11 for missions to Afghanistan, Iraq ,and Pakistan, one trillion of the six just for interest on a borrowed-money war. Who owns that debt, and who will pay it, when? If you can’t think in trillions, try equivalences and opportunities lost: money for 21st century wars could have retired all student debt five times over; could have built thousands of miles of high-speed rail; could have financed Medicare for most of us. The government doesn’t audit its empire, but scholars do.

An old-fashioned war-financing effort.

The hidden costs of the long, losing war in the Middle East can break your heart when you learn the disproportionate deaths of innocents. They could break the bank when the credit card debt on six trillion dollars’ worth of war comes due. We are getting highlights this hour from a remarkable network of auditors, in effect, on the dangerous downside of empire.  About two dozen independent scholars of history, economics, and warfare are linked in a Cost-of-War project to tell us what the government would like us to ignore – starting with that point that our wars since 9/ll have been financed by borrowing, the main reason our debt exceeds our GNP, meaning we owe more than we produce in a year. Just the interest paid in on the credit-card war era is more than a trillion dollars. 

The post The Costs of War appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

Jan 17 2020

50mins

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2020 Hindsight on Iraq

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We have a formal stand-down, meaning no war this week, between the US and Iran. On the long horizon of empires, rising and falling, it looks like an interval of restraint between hubris and nemesis—the ancient Greek names for defiant pride and its downfall, or undoing. The broken state of Iraq is what stares at us and the world, 17 hellish years after the US invasion and occupation. It’s the multi-trillion-dollar war that brought chaos and regime change that handed control of Iraq to Iran as if on a silver platter. It’s the war that discredited a generation of American party pols who voted for it. It’s the reason most Iraqis and their parliament want the last Americans out of their country. And still, the people that sold that Iraq war have another bigger one in mind if anybody will buy it.

Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney in 2006.

We look ahead in the war-fogged Middle East this hour with some of the people who could have steered a much better path a generation ago. Our guests are a strong sample of an honor roll in commentary on such things.  All told there were 33 specialists in strategy, diplomacy, and Middle East history who paid for op-ed space in the New York Times as President George W. Bush was ginning up war against Saddam Hussein. September, 2002, six months before the war began, the scholars’ warning ran under a headline: WAR WITH IRAQ IS NOT IN AMERICA’S NATIONAL INTEREST. Each one of their six bullet points proved true in the real world: Saddam was in fact a bad old client of the US, and no part of the 9/11 attack. We could win a war in Iraq, these professionals stated, but we’d never get out of the mess we’d made.

The post 2020 Hindsight on Iraq appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

Jan 10 2020

49mins

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The Inimitable Johnny Hodges

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There’s a big difference between the two greatest jazz stars on the alto horn. Charlie Parker had imitators without number; Johnny Hodges was simply inimitable. Parker, known as Bird, broke frontiers of speed, harmonic invention, and all-round excitement. Hodges, known as Rabbit, or Jeep, is best known for blues feeling, storytelling, and the sheer beauty of his sound and tone, in all the varieties and moods that could come out of an alto saxophone, at different moments lyrical, earthy, elegiac, and sensual. Hodges said he liked the idea of making “alley music,” yet he could sound like a whisper to your heart, as well.  This hour it’s Johnny Hodges’s turn, on the occasion of Con Chapman’s biography of him.

Johnny Hodges, right, plays alongside Al Sears in 1946.

Out of another age in high pop culture, we’re rediscovering songs without words this hour, from an expressionless man—until the moment he picked up his horn. From the 1920s into 1970, four decades, Johnny Hodges was the standby solo star in Duke Ellington’s jazz orchestra. Other bandleaders said Duke could afford not to feature a boy singer or a girl singer, as they were known then, because he had Hodges in his band.

Johnny Hodges’s voice came in three registers: blues, ballads and, a rarity in jazz, the art song. That sound of Johnny Hodges is the thread, the plot of this radio hour: about a forgotten grand master of American music whose biography has finally been written: Rabbit’s Blues from the Oxford University Press, by a Boston lawyer and fellow Hodges cultist, Con Chapman. It’s an overdue account of an artist who barely spoke but stirred hearts his own way, not so unlike Charlie Chaplin or the other silent movie star Buster Keaton, known as “the great stone face”—which described Hodges as well. What Johnny Hodges did was liberate and lift Adolph Sax’s mid-range horn out of the marching-band, into the far upper reaches of solo expression. And he played it with “a tone so beautiful,” Duke Ellington said, “it sometimes brought tears to the eyes.” 

In Boston, Hodges played at venues like the Black and White Club and Hotel Avery.

We’re close-listening to Hodges’s wide range of music—and taking a tour of the neighborhood where he hatched his sound. Long-time community activist and former state representative Byron Rushing is our guide. He’s walking us back into the intellectual and cultural cauldron of Hodges’ youth, a scene that included fellow saxophonist Harry Carney as well as journalist William Monroe Trotter and the painter Allan Crite. We’re joined also by Robin D.G. Kelley, the preeminent historian and biographer of Thelonious Monk.

On Sussex Street in the South End of Boston, Chris meets up with Byron Rushing, who says the small brick houses and apartments in the area here were originally “built for the working class.”

Thank you for listening. The YouTube playlist here and below contains (most of) the Hodges tracks contained in the the program. You can find an excerpt of Chapman’s new book here.

The post The Inimitable Johnny Hodges appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

Jan 03 2020

50mins

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Ben Lerner’s Literary Charge

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This week we have an Open Source literary treat. It’s our producer Adam Colman in conversation with Ben Lerner, the MacArthur Genius who speaks as a poet, theorist, and storyteller in everything he writes. Ben Lerner’s latest novel, The Topeka School, has been leading lots of 2019 book-of-the-year-lists. It’s the third in a trilogy that includes Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04. Our man Adam Colman is also the author of New Uses for Failure, the only book about Ben Lerner’s fiction not written by Ben Lerner himself. The two of them sat down in Brooklyn to talk about the emotional charge of literature, about auto-fiction (which is not about cars) and about the power of language most particularly in the scenes with of high school debate in The Topeka School, where success goes to the contestants who deploy what’s called “the spread,” a kind of weaponized rapid fire of information.

Adam and Ben.

A note from Adam: At the end of 2019, we’re looking back on a decade of disasters, but over the course of that same decade, Ben Lerner sensed glimmers of a better world. It’s this imaginative attention to our actual world that made me want to write a book about his fiction, which focuses on those glimmers of possibility found through language, through art. As he says in this conversation, he took to writing novels because they “seemed like a place where I could think through the question of the value of a lot of the arts I was engaged in, like poetry or visual art or whatever. And I’d like to dramatize . . . my anxiety about the value of artwork, but also my insistence on the value of artwork. And they could do it in a charged and funny and felt and hopefully entertaining way.” In this conversation, you’ll hear a case for why literary imagination matters—emotionally, politically, intellectually, and immediately.

(Banner photo credit: Catherine Barnett.)

The post Ben Lerner’s Literary Charge appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

Dec 26 2019

46mins

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Labour’s Love Lost

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Britain’s long, lurching political campaign of self-discovery, on the eve of ours in 2020, was a shocker. Thunder on the right, collapse on the left, bye-bye to Europe and banging the door on the way out, the British election gave a floundering Tory clown Boris Johnson the fattest right-wing majority since Margaret Thatcher remade the landscape and found her American match on it with Ronald Reagan. That was 40 years ago, and more than ever the American puzzle is these ties that bind the English-speaking world, to the right, then left, in war and peace, and now to the odd pair in blue jackets and yellow hair who talk in Mad Joker slogans and keep winning.

British election returns can land in the US like weather forecasts. Margaret Thatcher in 1979 cued Ronald Reagan in 1980. Bush the first and John Major were a matched pair for the 90s. Then Bill Clinton here and Tony Blair over there steered back toward a new middle or muddle. The Brexit rebellion in 2016 was a foretaste of Donald Trump and America First. And now on the eve of our 2020 campaign comes a Conservative landslide in the UK, and a rich, rebel, right-wing so-called “populist” leading from London with a short list of slogans. It looks and sounds familiar: Boris Johnson as their Trump; the feckless Labor Socialist Jeremy Corbyn as their Bernie Sanders. Clamorous conservatism up, neo-socialism cooked. But does the quick impression survive inspection?

The post Labour’s Love Lost appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

Dec 20 2019

50mins

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