Voices from the Depression: Studs Terkel Interviews

Not long after Studs Terkel, the his­to­ri­an of the every­man, died in Octo­ber, This Amer­i­can Life fea­tured a series of inter­views that Terkel once con­duct­ed with Amer­i­cans who lived through the Depres­sion. (Lis­ten to the mp3 here.) The tapes would even­tu­al­ly pro­vide the mate­r­i­al for his book, Hard Times: An Oral His­to­ry of the Great Depres­sion. And, as you’ll see, these record­ings make this trans­for­ma­tion­al moment real in a way that few oth­er his­tor­i­cal sources can. You’ll hear the voic­es of real peo­ple, recount­ing their dai­ly expe­ri­ences and remem­ber­ing the race and class divi­sions that ran deep in Amer­i­ca. You’ll also hear about the humil­i­a­tions and acts of kind­ness that were part of every­day life. (NOTE: The inter­views start about 6 min­utes into the record­ing.)

You can access more of Terkel’s audio record­ings over at the web site, www.studsterkel.org. The site notably fea­tures more inter­views from the Hard Times record­ing ses­sions.

Thanks Robin for send­ing these clips our way.

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100 Movie Spoilers in 5 Minutes

In case you haven’t seen this yet …

Philip Roth on Indignation

Indig­na­tion is Philip Roth’s 29th book and his third nov­el in the past three years. Pret­ty good for a writer work­ing at 75. In this extend­ed inter­view with Michael Kras­ny (iTunes — Feed — MP3), Roth talks about Indig­na­tion, which takes read­ers back to the Kore­an War and col­lege life in con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­ca.

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YouTube Gets a Little More Intelligent

YouTube has had the mass mar­ket locked up for some time. But, dur­ing the past year, it has been giv­ing a lit­tle nod to more “high­brow” view­ers. We’ve seen chan­nels sprout­ing up on YouTube that fea­ture con­tent pro­duced by uni­ver­si­ties and oth­er high-val­ue con­tent providers. (See our col­lec­tion Intel­li­gent Life at YouTube: 80 Video Col­lec­tions.) We’ve also watched the launch of The YouTube Screen­ing Room, which brings short inde­pen­dent films to the view­ing pub­lic. Now we have The YouTube Sym­pho­ny Orches­tra. 

This project brings clas­si­cal music into the world of Web 2.0. As The New York Times explains it, the ini­tia­tive will pro­duce a mashup of orches­tral pieces con­tributed by users. And, it will also fea­ture a con­test in which musi­cians can upload sam­ples of their work, and, à la Amer­i­can Idol, win­ners will be cho­sen by a pan­el of judges and brought to per­form at Carnegie Hall under the direc­tion of Michael Tilson Thomas, music direc­tor of the San Fran­cis­co Sym­pho­ny. (Get more from the video below.)  Some purists will find this high­ly gim­micky, no doubt. Oth­ers may see it as a good way to keep clas­si­cal music rel­e­vant. Have an opin­ion? Let us know in the com­ments.


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Capitalism with Humility

It’s pret­ty hard to pull this off, but the titans of Amer­i­can indus­try have made Her­bert Hoover look like a very wise man, at least when he said: “You know, the only trou­ble with cap­i­tal­ism is cap­i­tal­ists; they’re too damn greedy.”

But we should­n’t con­sid­er Hoover reha­bil­i­tat­ed. Not quite yet. The video clip below sug­gests that in Japan the CEOs have fig­ured out how to run their cap­i­tal­ist sys­tem with a degree of humil­i­ty. And they’re doing it vol­un­tar­i­ly. That’s a news flash that you can send to our polit­i­cal lead­ers before they fun­nel more tax­es to mis­man­aged insti­tu­tions with no real strings attached.

(A quick PS: Europe’s lead­ing philoso­pher and soci­ol­o­gist recent­ly spoke in the Ger­man press about the finan­cial cri­sis and what it means for the future of our glob­al­ized soci­ety. You can find an Eng­lish trans­la­tion here.)

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.