Nonfiction

350: Tony Hiss

His most recent book, Rescuing the Planet: Protecting Half the Land to Heal the Earth, is surprisingly upbeat for a book whose title includes the words “rescuing” and “heal.” I discovered him through an earlier work, The Experience of Place, in honor of which we break format and, instead of person place thing, talk place place place. Continue reading »

Architecture & Design

348: Yeohlee Teng

She is a fashion designer whose work is in the permanent collection of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her guiding precept: “I just like the clothes to be useful, you know? That’s really the basic thing.” What I could use is pants that cook my dinner, but I’m not … Continue reading »

Music

346: David Lang

At age nine, he saw a Leonard Bernstein Young People’s Concert featuring Dmitiri Shostakovich and something happened. In a good way. Trauma free. A conversation with the Pulitzer-winning composer, introduced by Ralph Farris, violist in the quartet Ethel and creator of Co-Lab, a virtual conference on collaboration.  And these guys have. Splendidly. Continue reading »

Scholars

345: Ben Zimmer

The Wall Street Journal’s language columnist plays with our format, offering Word Word Word – and more elegantly still, the same word for each segment: orange. Then he makes a painful disclosure: “I myself am color-blind, and so I’m not completely attuned to all the nuances of it.” Hey, Beethoven was deaf, and he got the … Continue reading »

Nonfiction

344: Bill McKibben

A writer and environmentalist, he counts himself lucky to have worked at The New Yorker with (for? near?) William Shawn, “the greatest editor of the twentieth century.” What contributed to his mastery? “Once he had writers in his stable, he was quite interested in what they were interested in.” Professional skill as a manifestation of individual character. Continue reading »

Architecture & Design

343: Moshe Safdie

He’s created buildings from Montreal (Habitat 67) to Singapore (Jewel Changi Airport), but Jerusalem — the center of three Abrahamic religions, where people have lived for 6,000 years – is different: “It takes an act of real arrogance to build in a city like that. It was quite emotionally wrenching.” Presented by the Center for … Continue reading »

Music

342: Herb Alpert

This trumpet player has sold 72 million albums worldwide, including five number ones, and also founded A&M records. Ordinarily we’d talk about his person, place, and thing, but instead we devote our conversation to his person, songwriter Burt Bacharach — 73 top-forty hits. One enormously successful musician talks about another, with respect and affection. Continue reading »

Music

341: Terence Blanchard

This trumpeter and composer is celebrated for his film scores, especially for Spike Lee. His opera Fire Shut Up in My Bones is slated to open the new season at the Met. In this episode, we break format; instead of person, place, and thing, we talk song, song, and song. A conversation about three pieces of music. Continue reading »

Poetry

340: Natasha Trethewey

Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, author of the celebrated memoir Memorial Drive. As a child, she received three books from her father, meant to cultivate her literary sensibility and deepen her understanding of the world, particularly about race and class: Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby, Light in August.  If you were to pick three, what would they be? Continue reading »

Politics and Policy

339: Robert Reich

After serving as Secretary of Labor, he resumed teaching at UC Berkeley, gracefully relinquishing power, like Cincinnatus returning to the plow. Or not. “Actually,“ he says, “I have much more power as a professor than I did as a cabinet secretary.” Training a student cadre in the Oakland hills? Encouraging rigorous thought? One of those. Continue reading »