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City Arts & Lectures

Since 1980, City Arts & Lectures has presented onstage conversations with outstanding figures in literature, politics, criticism, science, and the performing arts, offering the most diverse perspectives about ideas and values. City Arts & Lectures programs can be heard on more than 130 public radio stations across the country and wherever you get your podcasts. The broadcasts are co-produced with KQED 88.5 FM in San Francisco. Visit CITYARTS.NET for more info.

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Angela Davis and Ibram X. Kendi

Our guests are activist and scholar Angela Davis, and historian Ibram X. Kendi. Throughout her lifetime, Angela Davis has been a passionate voice for human rights, working from the position that the battles for African American rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and prisoners’ rights, are interconnected. Dr. Kendi profiled Dr. Davis in his book “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.” On January 10, 2019, Angela Davis and Ibram X. Kendi came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco, to talk with Jeff Chang about the connections between capitalism, racism and sexism, and ways that activists, and all citizens, can move forward.

1hr 20mins

3 Feb 2019

Rank #1

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"The Whole Brain Child" with Dr. Daniel Siegel

Dr. Daniel Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry, and the author of multiple books on child-rearing, including “The Whole Brain Child” and “No Drama Discipline.” Siegel’s books are popular with parents and and teachers alike, with their strategies for cultivating calmer, happier children. While mindfulness techniques -- and patience -- help foster healthy brain development, Siegel also suggests that improving children’s health and well-being requires addressing our own problems. On March 4, 2019, Dr. Daniel Siegel came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco to talk with Steven Winn.


21 Apr 2019

Rank #2

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Sally Rooney

Not yet thirty years old, the Irish novelist Sally Rooney has quickly amassed an international following. In “Conversations with Friends” and “Normal People”, Rooney’s nuanced depictions of complex characters confront structures of intimacy, friendship, and class. On February 12, 2020, Sally Rooney and fellow writer Heidi Julavits had a conversation - originally scheduled before an audience at the Sydney Goldstein Theater in January, but postponed due to Rooney’s illness, the program was recorded in a New York studio.

1hr 9mins

1 Mar 2020

Rank #3

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Ibram X. Kendi

Our guest is historian Ibram X. Kendi, the author of “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.” Kendi’s newest book, “How to be an Antiracist”, tasks readers with identifying their own racism, and working to challenge racist policies that underlie society. On December 12, 2019, Ibram Kendi came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco to talk to Jelani Cobb, staff writer for the New Yorker.

1hr 9mins

2 Feb 2020

Rank #4

Most Popular Podcasts

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David Brooks

David Brooks is a columnist for the New York Times, and a regular on PBS News Hour and Meet The Press. In his new book, “The Second Mountain,” Brooks writes about his religious and spiritual journey, our country’s current political state of detachment, and how he learned to move from a state of disengagement to one of fulfilling connection in his personal life. On May 1, 2019, David Brooks came to The Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco, to talk with Rabbi Ryan Bauer of Congregation Emanu-El.

1hr 11mins

7 Jul 2019

Rank #5

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Rachel Maddow

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow talks about the oil and gas industry’s impact on democracy around the world, tying in Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, the impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump, and more. On October 6, 2019, Rachel Maddow came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater to read from her new book “Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth”. Maddow spoke to Dan Pfeiffer, a former advisor to President Barack Obama who now co-hosts “Pod Save America”.

1hr 10mins

13 Oct 2019

Rank #6

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Ocean Vuong

Our guest is poet Ocean Vuong. His debut novel "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous" takes the form of a letter written to the narrator's mother. The details closely mirror Vuong's own life. Vuong was raised by his mother and grandmother in Hartford, Connecticut. Born in Viet Nam, he was two years old when they left a refugee camp in the Philippines to immigrate to the United States. Ocean Vuong came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco on February 3, 2020, to talk with fellow writer Tommy Orange about making art, the power of language, and what it means to be an American.

1hr 9mins

22 Mar 2020

Rank #7

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Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith is known for her emotionally rich stories and unique perspective on contemporary culture. Smith wrote her widely acclaimed debut novel “White Teeth” as an undergraduate. She soon cemented her reputation as one of the most important voices of her generation with books like “Swing Time,” “The Autograph Man,” and "On Beauty.” On October 16, 2019, Zadie Smith came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco to talk with Isabel Duffy about her debut short story collection, “Grand Union.”  Their far-ranging conversation ruminated on living abroad, maturing as a writer, and the catharsis of reading fiction and philosophy.

1hr 7mins

8 Dec 2019

Rank #8

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Michael Lewis

Whether writing about the business of baseball, or the strange and surprising subcultures of the financial world, Michael Lewis has a penchant for iconoclasts of industry, and characters so fascinating they seem imagined. Several of his bestselling books, including “Moneyball” and “The Big Short,” have been made into movies. On April 11, 2019, Michael Lewis came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater to talk with Jacob Weisberg about his career in journalism, from reading Tom Wolfe on the floor of his childhood home to the overnight success of his debut publication “Liars Poker.” The conversation was interspersed with clips from Lewis’ new podcast “Against the Rules.”  

1hr 10mins

9 Jun 2019

Rank #9

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Abbi Jacobson

Our guest is Abbi Jacobson, a comedian and author who’s best-known as half of the creative duo behind the series “Broad City” On November 3, 2018, Jacobson came to the Nourse Theater for a conversation with her longtime friend and fellow comedian, D’Arcy Carden. The two talked about friendship, collaboration, and Jacobson’s solo cross-country road trip last year on the heels of a devastating break-up - which forms the basis for her new book “I Might Regret This”.


10 Dec 2018

Rank #10

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Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer for the New Yorker and has written numerous books at the intersection of sociology, economics, and behavorial science. Gladwell has now brought his passion for storytelling to the world of podcasting with two projects: the music podcast “Broken Record”, and “Revisionist History”, which reexamines the past and asks whether we got it right the first time. He came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco on September 19, 2019 to talk with Al Letson about the surprising lessons in his newest book “Talking to Strangers”.

1hr 7mins

6 Oct 2019

Rank #11

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Jeff Tweedy

It has been twenty-five years since Jeff Tweedy founded the seminal alt-country band Wilco. The band still performs together, while Tweedy contributes his talents to other projects too - musical,  and now literary, with the publication of a 2018 memoir, “Let's Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc.” Tweedy’s newest solo album, “Warm,” is his most personal to date. On January 11, 2019, Jeff Tweedy came to The Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco to talk with the writer George Saunders, author of  “Lincoln in the Bardo.”

1hr 9mins

10 Feb 2019

Rank #12

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Ta-Nehisi Coates with Michael Chabon

Our guest is Ta-Nehisi Coates. His debut novel, “The Water Dancer,” merges the slavery narrative with fantasy, and draws on themes, stories, and research from his past non-fiction, including from his books “Between the World and Me” and “We Were Eight Years in Power.” On October 14, 2019, Ta-Nehisi Coates came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater to talk with fellow writer Michael Chabon about craft, the role of the writer in public discourse, and much more.

1hr 6mins

1 Dec 2019

Rank #13

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Jonathan Franzen

Our guest is Jonathan Franzen, the author of celebrated novels including “The Corrections” and “Freedom.” On November 27, 2018, Franzen came to the Nourse Theater in San Francisco to read from his new essay collection, “The End of The End of The Earth.” Part social criticism, part personal examination, the essays consider Franzen’s love of birding, his writings and ruminations on climate change, and the underpinnings of family and friendship.

1hr 12mins

7 Jan 2019

Rank #14

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Patti Smith

Poet, artist, and musician Patti Smith first gained recognition in the 1970s for her merging of rock and poetry. Later, she would become a punk icon and the author of numerous books including “Just Kids,” and “M Train.”  Her new memoir “Year of the Monkey” is a beautifully written account of loss and friendship -- over the course of a single year. On October 7, 2019, Patti Smith came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco to talk to Dan Stone and perform a few songs.

1hr 5mins

3 Nov 2019

Rank #15

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Tommy Orange

Among this year’s most acclaimed books is Tommy Orange’s debut novel “There, There”. The book begins with a poignant prologue describing the devastating history of genocide and violent removal of Native Americans from their lands, setting the stage for a contemporary story about the urban Native American experience in the city of Oakland. The characters’ lives are informed by their ancestors’ suffering, as well as the continued systematic discrimination against Native people. On February 25, 2019, Tommy Orange came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater to be interviewed by Jeff Chang, author of “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” and the Vice President of Narrative, Arts, and Culture at Race Forward.

1hr 5mins

7 Apr 2019

Rank #16

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Gloria Steinem

Our guest is writer, activist, and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem.  In 1971, when Steinem founded the groundbreaking “Ms.” women’s magazines focused on finding a husband, or the right lipstick. But Ms. carried articles on de-sexing the English language, abortion, and the real challenges women were facing. The feminist icon continues to fight for equality across race and gender. And at eighty-five years of age, her energy is undiminished.  On November 13, 2019, Gloria Steinem came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco to talk with Amy Richards about today’s political climate, the need for organizing across generations, and her lifelong wish to be a stand-up comic.

1hr 7mins

12 Jan 2020

Rank #17

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Demi Moore

Demi Moore is an actress, producer, director and activist known for her roles in St. Elmo’s Fire, Ghost, A Few Good Men, Indecent Proposal, and G.I. Jane, among many others. For decades, Moore has been synonymous with celebrity. From iconic film roles to high-profile relationships, Moore has never been far from the spotlight — or the headlines. In her memoir "Inside Out", Moore opens up about her career and personal life – her tumultuous relationship with her mother, her marriages, addiction, her struggles with balancing stardom with raising a family, a skyrocketing career and at times negative public perception, and her journey toward open-heartedness. Krista Smith is the host of the Netflix podcast “Present Company with Krista Smith”. Previously, Smith served as Executive West Coast Editor for Vanity Fair. On September 27, 2019, Demi Moore came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco for an onstage conversation with Krista Smith.


27 Oct 2019

Rank #18

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Amor Towles

Before Amor Towles became a bestselling writer, he spent two decades working for an investment firm, staying countless nights at luxury hotels. That’s where he had the idea for "A Gentleman in Moscow", the story of a Russian aristocrat who is sentenced by the Bolsheviks to a lifetime of house arrest in Moscow's Metropol Hotel. Amor Towles came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco on June 4, 2019, to talk with Michael Krasny of KQED.

1hr 9mins

11 Aug 2019

Rank #19

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Anand Giridharadas

In 2015, Anand Giridharadas delivered a speech at the Aspen Institute that took direct aim at the philanthropists and thought leaders in attendance. Giridharadas argued that the corporate world’s attempts at doing good, and many of the goals and deeds of philanthropy, actually do great harm by preserving a corrupt and unfair system of capitalism. The speech made waves, and inspired the book “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.” On May 7, 2019, Anand Giridharadas came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco to talk with Courtney Martin.

1hr 8mins

14 Jul 2019

Rank #20