Podcasts of the Two Weeks Ending August 15


I subscribe to too many podcasts while simultaneously having less time to listen to them. Forgive the interlude as I catch you up on two weeks of podcasts.

Brattle Film Podcast :: Behind the Scenes on Boston Movies

The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge had a great series on Boston Movies and all four podcasts are worth listening to, but I particularly liked this final podcast where they interview on-set dresser Adam Roffman about the behind-the-scenes production of movies in Boston and how they’ve changed over time.

Fresh Air :: Jeffrey Toobin On The ‘Tragedy’ Of The Mueller Report

How the Democrats were out-maneuvered by the Trump administration allowing him to get away with obstruction of justice.

Radiolab :: Uncounted

An episode on voting rights focuses on the District of Columbia’s non-voting delegate to Congress and the movement to lower the voting age to 16.

This American Life :: Nice White Parents

A public middle school in Brooklyn with a predominately non-white student body deals with an unexpected influx of white students and the effects that of white parents involvement in the school operations.  This is the first episode of Chana Joffe-Walt’s series called Nice White Parents that is both fascinating in its exploration of the changes at one school over time and cringe-inducing by the careless and clueless behavior of white parents (and the school districts who cater to their interests).  I particularly like that Joffe-Walt asks tough questions and doesn’t let people get away without answering them.

Have You Heard :: Pandemics Pods: Parents, Privilege, Power, and Politics

Speaking of Nice White Parents, you may have heard of the latest trend of “pandemic pods” where parents pool together funds to hire a teacher or tutor to educate a small group of students at home instead of returning to school during the Covid-19 pandemic. This podcast explains the devastating effects this latest form of “white flight” will have and how it opens the doors to the worst offerings of disaster capitalists.

99% Invisible :: Policing the Open Road

A century ago, the rise of the automobile as a predominant form of transportation led to an increase of policing to enforce road rules. The changes lead to a vast increase in ordinary peoples’ interaction with the police, increased police power and professionalization, and even the loss of Constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizures.

Throughline :: Reframing History: The Litter Myth

In the 1950s, industry leaders organized to create Keep America Beautiful that produced public service announcements against littering. The seemingly benign ads had the effect of transferring responsibility for the environment from industries that made disposable single-use packaging to the personal responsibility of consumers. This conflict in how to deal with environmental issues persists to this day, and corporations still rely on “greenwashing” to make them look environmentally responsible.

Code Switch :: Kamala, Joe, And The Fissures In The Base

If you listen to pundits, and the Democrats 2020 presidential candidate, you might come to believe that Black Americans are a monolithic voting bloc.  This myth is dispelled in Code Switch where the diversity of opinions and conflicts even within Black families over politics are strong.

Decoder Ring :: Mystery of the Mullet

The mullet hairstyle, short in front and long in back, is worn by a diversity of people ranging from macho men in rural communities to lesbian women, from hockey players to heavy metal heads. But the Oxford English Dictionary traces the use of the term “mullet” only to 1994, surprisingly late for a hairstyle identified with the 1980s.  Willa Paskin investigates this linguistic mystery.  Personally, I never heard the term mullet until the late 1990s and had heard them called short-longs prior to mullet gaining popularity.


RUNNING TALLY OF PODCAST OF THE WEEK APPEARANCES

Documentary Movie Review: Bill Cunningham New York (2011) #atozchallenge


This is my entry for “B” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “B” documentaries I’ve reviewed are BabiesBallerinaBarbosa: The Man Who Made Brazil Cry,  Being Elmo, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, and Boredom.

Title: Bill Cunningham New York
Release Date: March 16, 2011
Director: Richard Press
Production Company: First Thought Films
Summary/Review:

The movie starts with a man photographing passing pedestrians on a street corner in Midtown Manhattan.  It’s a bit creepy, and not too far into the movie a pair of women yell at him to stop. We learn the man is a fashion photographer for the New York Times who publishes collages of street fashion as well from fundraising soirees and models strutting down the catwalk.  But as we get to know the humble man behind the camera, all the preconceived notions of fashion photographer.

Cunningham is not at all fashionable himself, consistently wearing the same blue jacket as he bikes around Manhattan with his camera. He lives modestly in a studio apartment within Carnegie Hall filled with filing cabinets of his photographs (part of the movie documents Carnegie Hall management evicting Cunningham and other aging artists to make more room for revenue-producing office space).  He never accepts payment or even food and drink at the events he covers.  He does try to photograph celebrities, but focuses on photographing fashionable clothing that captures his eye.  And he never mocks the everyday people he photographs, instead celebrating their fashion sense. Indeed he’s something of an anthropologist documenting fashion trends that emerge from the populist.

Every Blogging A to Z Challenge I’ve done on documentary movies has included one on a street photographer – previously Finding Vivian Maier and Zimbelism – and they’re all complex and a bit odd people. I’m not terribly interested in fashion photography but do feel I learned to appreciate something about it through Bill Cunningham’s unique life story.

Rating: ***

Podcasts of the Week Ending October 13th


99% Invisible :: Hawaiian Shirts: Articles of Interest #4

The ongoing series Articles of Interest goes to Hawaii to discuss the history of the Aloha Shirt, from colonialism to the tourist trade.

Hub History :: Riots Classics

This well-timed podcast collects three stories from Boston’s riotous past: the Boston Police Strike of 1919, the Broad Street Riots of 1837, and the Impressment Riots of 1747. If you think riots in Boston history are interesting, join me on the Bostonians Behaving Badly tour on Thursday night.

Radiolab :: In the No, Part 1

This is a RadioLab podcast but it collects material from another podcast called The Heart.  Kaitlin Prest takes a deep dive into the issues of sexual consent.

Panorama of the Mountains Fashion Report


I don’t usually report on fashion, and any of you who have ever seen me know that I lack anything fashionable in my wardrobe and usually look like a rumpled mess (and thanks to Peter, usually covered in spitup as well!). Today however I want to pay tribute to a style that has persevered while many other fads and fashions have come and gone: teenage boys in baggy pants. This is inspired by the large group of teenagers on the Orange Line this morning, mostly boys, wearing jeans the ubiquitous overly large garments. It’s almost as if it’s a contest to see how much extra fabric one can have miraculously hanging down below one’s knees.

It occurs to me that teenage boys started dressing like this when I was in high school, and I graduated in 1991! Granted I went to Catholic school so I would never be able to dress like this for school as a teen, nor was I hip enough (or had enough hip?) to wear jeans this baggy on my own time. Still it’s quite fascinating to think that the teens of today playing with their cellphone cameras and sidekicks are connected with the teens of nearly 20 years ago who only had Gameboys and Walkmans. The connection crosses cultural divides as well from the black and Hispanic urban young men I saw today to the privileged suburbanite frat boys at our nation’s colleges.

So, I have to give credit to the baggy pants which although they often look ridiculous and even uncomfortable, have stood the test of time. At least they’re better than the acid wash and pre-torn jean styles that preceded them in the late 80’s.