January 27, 2021

“Pod Save America” and “The Daily” Podcasts

Podcasts continue to proliferate and gain popularity with people world-wide. Friends suggested I check out the progressive political podcast, “Pod Save America.” The twice-weekly podcasts feature former Obama Administration staffers, Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor and Jon Lovett on Mondays, and Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer on Thursdays.

I liken the shows to listening to very smart political insiders discuss the news of the week, with a decidedly left-of-center bent. Be forewarned that four letter words abound.

The show averages 1.5 million listeners per episode and the podcast app has been downloaded 120 million times so that is a lot of ears tuned in to this irreverent and sometimes hilarious audio show.

Their umbrella company, Crooked Media, films their podcasts and releases them on YouTube, but I like listening to the show while cooking, cleaning or driving. It remains to be seen if the show will be as amusing in the post-Trump era.

Let me add a brief note about another podcast show I wrote about in February 2018, the New York Times’ show, “The Daily” with Michael Barbaro. This October 2020, the New York Times newspaper said 4 million people were subscribers of “The Daily,” which surpasses its number of print subscribers. Think about that! “The Daily” is number two on the Spotify most popular podcast list, and number three on Apple’s podcast line-up.

Instead of emphasizing political irregularities, “The Daily” has consistently featured a broad array of topics on its episodes, so they may have the easier transition in the months to come.

If you want to see what the “Pod Save America” hosts look like, here is a video link. Both “The Daily” and “Pod Save America” podcast apps are downloadable in your chosen app store.

Dec. 3, 2020 Pod Save America episode on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSD40GvBPbA&list=PLOOwEPgFWm_NHcQd9aCi5JXWASHO_n5uR&index=1

I also add this “Daily” audio link about Covid from February 2020. You might find this 24-minute podcast thought-provoking as the alarm was sounded at this very early stage.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/27/podcasts/the-daily/coronavirus.html

“Her Honor Jane Byrne” presented by Lookingglass Theatre and WBEZ Radio

“Her Honor Jane Byrne” is an original play by J. Nicole Brooks, presented by Lookingglass Theatre Company and WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR affiliate.

On March 26, 1981, Mayor Jane Byrne moved into Cabrini Green, a notorious housing project on Chicago’s near west side. Did she do this as a publicity stunt or to see firsthand how people lived in this rundown complex that contained 14,000 plus residents?

The dialogue is witty and the story will be of interest even to non-Chicago residents. Listeners hear about the travails of Chicago’s first female mayor. Residents, police personnel, activists, aldermen and a crime capo all make appearances in this fascinating theater piece.

Initially a stage presentation at Lookingglass Theatre in March 2020, the production was shut down by the pandemic. In collaboration with WBEZ, the historical production was presented as a radio play on Thanksgiving Day. A live re-broadcast will occur on Saturday, Nov. 28 from 2 pm to 4 pm (91.5 FM).

You can also access the two-hour drama from the WBEZ web site. Go to wbez.org. Click on the SEARCH button and type in HER HONOR JANE BYRNE. Scroll down to a WBEZ logo with the play title and click the LISTEN button. A player bar will appear at the bottom of your screen page with the play. (I am giving you step by step directions since the site would not give me a direct link to the radio play.)

J. Nicole Brooks

Thank you WBEZ for making this engaging radio play available. I surely hope Lookingglass re-stages this fascinating work by J. Nicole Brooks in the post-pandemic era.

https://www.wbez.org/

“The Wild Blue” by Stephen Ambrose

“The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany 1944-45” is the whole title of historian Stephen Ambrose’s account of this lesser known facet of World War II. The war was waged with men and women of all ages, but American men age 18 to 21 filled many crucial military roles on land, on sea and in the air.

Some of the bravest recruits were the pilots and crew members of the B-24 Liberators which bombed Axis weapons factories and fuel depots throughout Europe. Notable young pilots were statesman Stewart Udall, filmmaker Robert Altman, actor Jimmy Stewart and the focus of the book, former presidential candidate, George S. McGovern.

Each bomber had a crew of ten: pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, navigator, radio operator, flight engineer and four gunners. They worked as a tight-knit team but all looked to the main pilot to get them to their target and safely back to base. Air servicemen were asked to fly thirty-five missions, with a fearsome number killed in air combat or captured as POWs after having parachuted from their burning planes.

I have to note that Ambrose was accused of plagiarism in copying some of the text from the footnote sources. (One of the sources is McGovern’s autobiography, “Grassroots.”) In response, Ambrose said he did give credit in the end notes and would issue a corrected version with more quotation marks. This might be a book for history-lovers only, but World War II buffs will find much of interest.

As some of you know, I am mightily interested in presidential history, including the also-rans for our top national office. I had the honor of knowing Senator McGovern as a family friend and South Dakota congressman. His bravery and rock-solid leadership in his early twenties give us a deeper understanding of the man who was trounced by Richard Nixon in 1972.

“The Social Dilemma” – A Must-See Doc on Netflix

Two different people urged me to catch “The Social Dilemma,” an informative and frightening documentary on Netflix. Following their advice, I spent around 90 minutes watching social media insiders warn about the pernicious effects of our electronic devices.

High-level executives from Instagram, Google, Pinterest and other tech companies seemed almost apologetic that they have helped unleash this beast that consumes our time and our brains.

Dramatic scenes are interspersed with talking head confessions. We are told that Silicon Valley moguls discourage their own children from using the apps and hardware from which they derive profit. FaceBook and ilk are highly addictive and encourage people to become myopic in their view of the world. You are only shown material which coincides with what you have already viewed. This selective sharing of information partially explains why we are so divided in our view of truth and governmental policy.

I can’t say this film will be a fun ride, but you will certainly be better informed after catching “The Social Dilemma.” If you feel similarly enlightened after viewing the doc, please spread the word. This might be essential to watch before the election.

“The Vote” on PBS

As a country, we are marking the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that gave women the right to vote in the 1920 elections.

If you want to learn more about this historic anniversary from the comforts of home, “American Experience” on PBS is featuring a fine documentary, “The Vote,” about the suffragettes and their march toward becoming voting members of our democracy. The show’s tag line provides the theme —“Women were not given the vote. They took it.”

“The Vote” painfully describes the initial coalition and ensuing separation of African-Americans and women to both be awarded the vote after the Civil War. Women were told they had to wait and 43 years elapsed before they were nationally accorded voting rights.

I learned that the Illinois delegation in the Washington, D.C. Women’s March shamefully bowed to racial pressure and denied Ida B. Wells and her group the right to march with white women from “the land of Lincoln.”

Archival photos and film footage are punctuated with short interviews with current-day writers and historians. This is timely information as we examine issues of equality in race, gender and economic status.

The almost four-hour series is separated into Part One and Part Two. Viewing is free now, so catch the programs before they revert to the paid membership catalogue. With that said, a paid Passport membership would not be a waste of money.

The Wall Street Journal: print version

You know those come-ons you receive in the mail where you can use airline miles to subscribe to printed newspapers and magazines? I am not going anywhere for quite some time, so I used my unused miles for a magazine and a newspaper.

I now have a daily delivered subscription to the Wall Street Journal. One friend quipped that I did not seem like the WSJ type. It has been years since I read a “paper” newspaper and I must say that this old world habit is rather nice.

Daily editions feature general news, business and finance sections. Let me confess: I skim the business section, but avidly read the hard news. The opinion pages have a conservative slant (Fox TV owner Rupert Murdoch owns the WSJ) so I read editorials with an open mind, yet skeptical eye.

Other featured sections throughout the week include Mansion, a Friday real estate round-up of extremely upscale properties and Marketplace, coverage of technology, health and media business news.

On Saturdays, the WSJ includes sections called OffDuty and Reviews plus a cultural magazine which just might become must-reading for me. “Inside Frank Sinatra’s Personal Address Book” and “In Images of Ancient Frescoes, Hidden Legacies Are Exposed” were just two of last Saturday’s intriguing articles.

https://www.wsj.com/news/magazine

The WSJ discontinued Sunday editions in 2015, so I just may have to re-subscribe to The New York Times, Sunday edition if this resumption of a paper news habit sticks!