Chikara Motomura produced, wrote, directed, edited, and did the cinematography & sound in his film, JOURNEY TO HOKUSAI, which follows Marin County artist, Tom Killion, from his northern California studio to Kyoto, Japan, to study with 5th generation master print makers to learn how to print in the Japanese wood block tradition of Katsushika Hokusai.
In but four and a half days, he produced beautiful wood block prints using the ancient techniques on paper made by “Living National Treasure,” Ichibei Iwano, ninth generation master papermaker.
This interview with Gillen D’Arcy Wood was originally broadcast on June 10, 2015. His book, TAMBORA: THE ERUPTION THAT CHANGED THE WORLD, had just been published by Princeton University Press.
“Out of sight and out of mind, Tambora was the volcanic, stealth bomber of the early 19th century. Be it the retching cholera victim in Calcutta, the starving peasant children of Yunnan, China or County Tyrone, Ireland, the hopeful explorer of a North West Passage through the Arctic Ocean, or the bankrupt land speculator in Baltimore, the world’s residents were oblivious to the volcanic drivings of their fate.”
In 2015, it was 200 years after Tambora erupted cataclysmically with extremely dire global consequences. What can we learn from this event as we face our own challenges in a rapidly changing climate?
Gillen D’Arcy Wood is a professor of English and an environmental historian at the U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he directs The Sustainability Studies Initiative in the Humanities. Gillen D’Arcy Wood has written extensively on the cultural and environmental history of the 19th century, and is the author of The Shock of the Real: Romanticism and Visual Culture, 1760-1860 (Palgrave, 2001), Romanticism and Music Culture in Britain, 1770-1840: Virtue and Virtuosity (Cambridge UP, 2010), an historical novel, Hosack’s Folly (Other Press, 2005).
We were already in production to rebroadcast this archived edition of Forthright Radio from April 25, 2005, featuring un-embedded journalist, Dahr Jamail, with documentary filmmaker and humanitarian assistance worker, Mark Manning, recounting their experiences relating to the two battles of Fallujah waged by the United States military in Iraq in the Spring and Fall of 2004. – when former President Bush made this statement in a speech at his presidential library on May 18, 2022:
“Russian elections are rigged. Political opponents are imprisoned or otherwise eliminated from participating in the electoral process. The result is an absence in checks and balances in Russia, and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq …… I mean of Ukraine …. “
Mark Twain noted that history doesn’t necessarily repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes.
And we were struck by certain similarities between the selling of the U. S. invasion of Iraq to the American people in April of 2003, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022. In both cases, the leaders asserted that the military actions by their vastly larger, stronger and wealthier nations were purely defensive in nature. In the case of the US, the administration claimed that Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (which was later proven to be entirely false, and were known to be false at the time) required immediate preemptive military force, and that “we must fight them over there to prevent having to fight them here.” Russia justified their military actions by claims of NATO provocations by encroaching on its border and the potential of Ukraine joining NATO.
Saddam Hussein, who had formerly been an ally of the US in the 1980s against Iran, now had to be subjected to regime change, because of the brutal nature of his dictatorship. The Russian excuse was the Ukraine government was rife with Nazi fascists.
Each government maintained tight control over information, and the mainstream media in both countries were slavish in delivering their governments’ messages of the righteousness and necessity of their respective invasions, assuring their populace that their soldiers would be welcomed as liberators and the military actions would be over quickly. The popularity of both these leaders and their military actions initially rose in polls.
Many Americans are amazed that Russians support Putin’s aggression, forgetting how enthusiastically they watched the “Shock and Awe” spectacle delivered by all major American media, at least in the early days of the Iraq War. In Russia protest and demonstrations against the invasion are put down swiftly, and those who even refer to the situation with the word “war” are subject to lengthy prison terms.
Before the invasion of Iraq, in major world capitals, some of the largest peace demonstrations in world history were either ignored or dismissed as mere “focus groups” by the Bush administration.
As we view with horror the senseless destruction of Ukraine villages and cities and the wanton civilian deaths, we find this interview with Dahr Jamail and Mark Manning instructive of our own nation’s responsibility for similar acts.
Indigenous artisans, cooks and farmers tell us this story (in Spanish and in their own languages) about the origins of indigenous corn and how their ancestors have guided the evolution of seeds from the dawn of agriculture to the 21st century; a collective effort that spans more than 350 generations.
To their voices are added those of community leaders, scientists, cooks and many others whose knowledge and activism are committed not only to the defense of food sovereignty and genetic integrity, diversity and the collective property of indigenous seeds, but also for the defense of an enduring cultural legacy and way of life.
Filmmaker and Chair of the FIlm & Digital Media Department at UC Santa Cruz , Gustavo Vazquez, brings us to Oaxaca to experience the wisdom of various indigenous communities, as they explain that “Corn was not domesticated by man – Man was domesticated by corn.”
Professors Ignacio Chapela (UC Berkeley) and Alan Bennett (UC Davis) discuss the merits and dangers of genetically modified organisms, and the characteristics of different landraces of corn that have co-evolved with the people of Oaxaca – continuing co-evolution vs. exploitation for patenting and profit.
Susana Harp, Senator from Oaxaca, works to protect the heritage and health of her region, and to respect the validity of their approach. “Corn & its surrounding rituals are tied to the cosmology of the indigenous people – by extension, the essence of being Mexican, linking our lives to corn.”
Ethnographer John Peabody Harrington spent 50 years recording and documenting over 150 different, dying Native American languages. He left between 1 to 3 million pages of notes and extensive recordings, all of which are now being used by California tribes to revitalize and restore their Native languages.
As the dominant European American culture organized to destroy Indian language and culture, Harrington dedicated his life to recording and transcribing their languages before the elder native speakers died.
Dan Golding’s film, CHASING VOICES, chronicles Harrington’s work, and that of his long time assistant, Jack Marr, as well as those who seek to revive lost languages using his archived notations, such as UC Berkeley’s Breath of Life Worshop/Conferences.
Chasing Voices will be followed by Native Cinema Short Films and Conversation at the Mendocino Film Festival 2022.
You can join this series of shorts for Native perspectives and visionary discussion afterwards with the filmmakers and local Tribal Pomo Leaders.
The short films include AWAKEN, CHISHKALE: BLESSING OF THE ACORN, FOREST GRANDMOTHERS, and POMO LAND BACK: A PRAYER FROM THE FOREST.
The Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people have seen their population dwindle and their culture threatened since coming into contact with non-Native Brazilians in the 1980s. Though promised dominion over their own rain forest territory, they have faced illegal incursions from environmentally destructive logging and mining, and, most recently, land-grabbing invasions spurred on by right-wing politicians like President Jair Bolsonaro. With deforestation escalating as a result, the stakes have become global.
Screen shots from THE TERRITORY of remaining Uru-eu-wau-wau territory surrounded on 3 sides by man made desert.
Filmmaker, Alex Pritz, gained incredible access to the Uru-eu-wau-wau people, and environmentalists dedicated to protecting them and their Amazonian rain forest, as well as Brazilian settlers, filming as the groups come into conflict. From stone age technology to e-technology in only a couple of generations, The Uru-eu-wau-wau understand that the struggle for their survival is also the struggle for humanity’s survival. Protecting the rain forest is crucial to minimizing the catastrophic effects of climate change.
eu-wau-wau people protect their land from invaders & illegal deforestation:
As more and more workers in the United States are organizing to create unions to represent their interests, and corporations are spending millions and millions of dollars to thwart their efforts, it is good to honor this International Workers Day, May Day, by celebrating the restoration and screening of the film, THE WOBBLIES. It was produced during the 1970s and premiered at the NY Film Festival in 1979, and has been recently restored to 4K digital format by the Museum of Modern Art, as well as being inducted into The National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2021, one of only 25 films added each year.
May 1st is celebrated in many countries around the world as a holiday to honor laborers. May 1st was chosen because it marked the day, May 1st, 1886, when a general strike began in the United States to campaign for an 8 hour work day. Four days later in the so-called Haymarket Affair in Chicago police arrived to disperse a packed public assembly in Haymarket Square in support of the general strike, when a person, never identified, threw a bomb. The police fired on the workers. In the ensuing melée seven police officers were killed, as well as at least four citizens. In addition, 60 police were injured as were at least 115 citizens. Hundreds of labor leaders and sympathizers were rounded-up and four were executed by hanging, after a trial that many historians consider a miscarriage of justice. On May 5, 1886 in Milwaukee, WI, the state militia fired on a crowd of strikers, killing seven, including a schoolboy and a man feeding his chickens in his own yard.
We interviewed filmmakers, Deborah Shaffer and Stewart Bird, about their film, THE WOBBLIES, about the period about 20 years after the deadly events during the General Strike of 1886, as a new effort to organize ALL the workers began. They state:
“When we started production on The Wobblies in 1977 our goal was to rescue and record an almost completely neglected chapter of American history as told by its elderly survivors. We never imagined then that the themes of labor exploitation, anti-immigrant legislation, and racial and gender discrimination would resonate as strongly today. We couldn’t be prouder to have the film included last year in the National Film Registry, and to have Kino Lorber present the new 4K MoMA restoration nationwide on International Workers Day.”
About Producer-Director Deborah Shaffer Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Deborah Shaffer began making social issue documentaries as a member of the Newsreel Collective in the ‘70’s. She co-founded Pandora Films, one of the first women’s film companies, which produced several shorts. Her first feature documentary, The Wobblies, premiered at the prestigious New York Film Festival in 1979. During the ’80s Shaffer focused on human rights in Central America and Latin America, directing many films including Witness to War: Dr. Charlie Clements, which won the Academy Award® for Short Documentary in 1985, and Fire from the Mountain and Dance of Hope, which both played at the Sundance Film Festival. Shaffer directed one of the first post-September 11 films, From the Ashes: 10 Artists followed by From the Ashes: Epilogue, which premiered at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals. She is also the Executive Producer of the Academy Award®-nominated short Asylum, and has directed numerous acclaimed public television programs on women and the arts. She directed and produced To Be Heard, which won awards at numerous festivals and aired nationwide on PBS. Her most recent film, Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack premiered at DOC NYC and won the Audience Award at the Hamptons Documentary Film Festival. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Irene Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award by the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.
About Producer-Director – Editor Stewart Bird Stewart Bird is a Bronx-born writer and filmmaker. Murder at the Yeshiva is his first novel and he is presently writing his second NYPD homicide detective novel with Detective Mo Shuman. He wrote Solidarity Forever, an oral history of the I.W.W. (University of Minnesota Press) with Dan Georgakas and Deborah Shaffer. He also co-authored the play “The Wobblies: The U.S. vs. Wm. D. Haywood et. al.,” (with Peter Robilotta), which was performed at the Hudson Guild Theatre in New York and published by Smyrna Press. Bird wrote a one-hour story for PBS entitled “The Mighty Pawns” about a black inner-city chess team, which was shown nationally on Wonderworks and distributed nationally by Disney. As a writer/producer for Fox television’s Current Affair, he produced various segments: “Alan Berg,” “Elvis Presley,” “A Cycle of Justice,” and “The Night Natalie Died.” He worked as a writer/producer for CBS News’ 48 Hours and produced segments like “Another America,” “Underground,” “Stuck on Welfare,” and “Earth Wars.” He has produced numerous feature-length documentaries including “Finally Got the News,” about black auto workers in Detroit; “Retratos,” on the Puerto Rican community in New York; “Coming Home,” on Vietnam Veterans; “Building the American Dream: Levittown, NY” and The Wobblies (with Deborah Shaffer) focusing on the Industrial Workers of the World a turn-of-the-century labor union.
Stephen Marche is a Canadian novelist and journalist. He writes for The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker and Esquire, among other outlets. His latest book, which we’ll be discussing in this interview is THE NEXT CIVIL WAR: DISPATCHES FROM THE AMERICAN FUTURE, published by Avid Reader Press, a division of Simon & Schuster.
He writes, “There will be those who say that the possibility of a new civil war is alarmist. All I can say is that reality has outpaced even the most alarmist predictions.”
“The intelligence services of other countries are preparing dossiers on the possibilities of America’s collapse. Foreign governments need to prepare for a post-democratic America, an authoritarian and hence much less stable superpower. They need to prepare for a broken America, one with many different centers of power. They need to prepare for a lost America, one so consumed by its crises, that it cannot manage to conceive, much less to enact, domestic or foreign policies.
The purpose of this book is to give readers access to the same advance information. These dispatches are projections but not fantasies. The next civil war isn’t science fiction anymore. The plants to the first battle have already been drawn up. And not by novelists. By colonels.”
Before she died on April 16, 2005, Marla Ruzicka succeeded in documenting civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, and persuading the U.S. Military and the U.S. Congress to assist victims and their families, as well as to create a fund to grant reparations for the harms done. It is believed to be the first time in history that this has been done.
This is an updated rebroadcast of a program originally aired on Easter Sunday, 2006. It was the first anniversary of her death at the age of 28. We spoke with her parents, Cliff and Nancy Ruzicka, and her twin brother, Mark, at their home on the shore of Clearlake, CA.
Equally at home with the military, the media, members of Congress of the people of the many countries she visited and came to know in her short life, she lived her belief that every life matters and deserves dignity, respect and justice.
Ray McGovern earned a Masters’ degree with honors in Russian Language, Literature and History from Fordham University. In the early 1960s, he served as a US Army Infantry Intelligence Officer in the analysis division on Soviet foreign policy, especially with respect to China and Indochina, which includes Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, and Thailand.
In the CIA, he served under seven presidents from 1963 to 1990, beginning with John F. Kennedy. In the 1980s he chaired the National Intelligence Estimates and prepared the President’s Daily Brief. In 2003, he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) dedicated to analyzing and criticizing the mis-use of intelligence, specifically the false claims leading to the Iraq War. In 2006, he returned to CIA headquarters to protest the CIA’s involvement in torture, when he returned his Intelligence Commendation Medal.
We spoke with Ray McGovern on April 6, 2022. The next day, The United Nations General Assembly voted to expell Russia from The Human Rights Council.
Articles or videos referenced or pertinent to the interview: