Art

313: William Wegman

Like millions of his admirers, I encountered him through his videos of his dogs, Man Ray, then Fay Ray, then her descendants – odd, surprising, sometimes funny, always full of feeling. Curiously, he used to say horrible things about video art. “That’s how a young artist thinks. I’m much more generous now as an old … Continue reading »

Art

312: Garry Trudeau

He was still in college when he created his smart and funny comic strip, “Doonesbury,” and has since sent his characters to a disconcerting number of wars without disheartening the readers. His most recent book is Lewser: More Doonesbury in the Time of Trump, which nearly disheartens me. Laughing through my tears. Of rage. Continue reading »

Nonfiction

311: Sam Roberts

A reporter and editor for The New York Times for more than 30 years, he began at the Daily News, in the seventies, when the city faced financial collapse, terrorist bombs, a blackout, a psychotic serial killer, and Studio 54. “What a time to be city editor of a tabloid newspaper in New York!” He was 28. A … Continue reading »

Movies

310: Sheila Nevins

For decades, she ran HBO Documentary Films, producing over a thousand and winning more prime-time Emmies than any other person, clearly reflecting her love of the form. “No! I hate documentaries. I didn’t like documentaries at all. I wanted to do things that people watched; I wanted to get patted on the back; I wanted … Continue reading »

Music

309: Rosanne Cash

This singer, songwriter, and author didn’t have an easy start. “I had a chaotic childhood, to put it mildly, an abnormal childhood.” Then she discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder. Little Therapist on the Prairie? Nope. A guide to an orderly life. Or so it seemed to a kid. The result: an impressively accomplished adult.  Continue reading »

Scholars

307: Drew Gilpin Faust

An esteemed historian (This Republic of Suffering) and president emeritus of Harvard, she suggests that the widespread misuse of “disinterested” to mean “uninterested” rather than “objective” reflects a broad undervaluing of objectivity, open-mindedness, and intellectual honesty. Seldom has so bleak an insight given me such delight. Continue reading »

Fiction

306: Joyce Carol Oates

Our conversation ranged over modern boxers, Victorian writers, one-room schools, and that nearly mythical creature, that unicorn of politics, the moderate Republican. (I hope to see one someday.) It was a treat to engage with someone interested in, well, everything. Continue reading »

Nonfiction

305: E. Jean Carroll

She asserts, boldly if not entirely persuasively, that the supreme literary form is the advice column. She is rightly celebrated for hers, Ask E. Jean, which ran in Elle magazine from 1993 through 2019, and for winning the Miss Cheerleader USA title in 1964, the invariable precursor of an esteemed career in journalism.  Continue reading »

Nonfiction

304: Randy Cohen

From time to time someone suggests that I be a guest on the show and describe my own person, place, and thing. I reply, maybe in season ten, my euphemism for never.  Then I smile and add, sure, if we’re confined to our homes by a horrible pandemic exacerbated by a criminally incompetent White House and can’t … Continue reading »

Dance

Episode 303: Wendy Whelan

She’s been with the New York City Ballet for 30 years, rising from apprentice to principal to associate artistic director. “When I moved to New York at 15, by myself, I moved into Jacques d’Amboise’s home. He rented the third floor of his brownstone to four young ballet students.” The world’s coolest boarding house. I … Continue reading »

Politics and Policy

Episode 302: Vincent Sapienza

He leads New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection, managing the finest municipal water system in America, despite much of it flowing through century-old cast-iron pipes. He told the Municipal Archives, “The pipe under 42nd Street goes back to the time when John Wilkes Booth’s brother was acting as Hamlet on Broadway.” Yes, he dates infrastructure … Continue reading »