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Have a good weekend.

Bill Moyers with The Wire’s David Simon

Here Bill Moyers sits down with David Simon, executive producer of The Wire, the stunning HBO production. As anyone who has watched the show knows, The Wire is not just a splendid drama. It is, as Simon has once called it, “a political tract masquerading as a cop show.” It takes a penetrating and aesthetically rich look at some of America’s most vexing social issues. And it’s why Moyers says, “What Edward Gibbon was to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, or Charles Dickens to the smokey, mean streets of Victorian London, David Simon is to America today.” To access this 40 minute interview, you can watch it on the web or on iTunes. You can also grab an audio mp3 here.

Finally, as a quick aside, the video below recaps The Wire’s 5 seasons in 5 minutes. It hardly does the show justice, but it gives you a quick feel for things. If you haven’t watched the show, do yourself a big favor and get yourself a Netflix subscription and spend the new few months watching it from beginning to end.

Adult Content. For Mature Thinkers Only

A new season of Entitled Opinions (iTunes Feed Web Site) recently got off the ground, and it doesn’t take long to understand what this program is all about. Robert Harrison, the Stanford literature professor who hosts the show, opens the new season with these very words:

Our studios are located below ground, and every time I go down the stairs to do a new show, I feel like I’m descending into the catacombs where those of us who still read great literature, probe ideas, and explore the recesses of cultural history, practice a persecuted religion. In this neurasthenic world of ours, we are like a dispersed society of secret initiates. We live covertly, as it were. And it’s in special shelters that our reading, thinking and exchange of ideas take place. Maybe someday we’ll once again be able to practice our persuasion publicly. But meanwhile Entitled Opinions comes to you from the catacombs.

You get the drift. This is a show that takes ideas, literature, and life seriously. It’s heady, and it doesn’t dumb things down. If you’re a faithful reader of Open Culture, you’ll find something here for you. If you take a spin through the archives, you’ll find Harrison in conversation with Orhan Pamuk (the Nobel Prize winning novelist) and Richard Rorty (one of America’s most important contemporary philosophers). You’ll also find him talking with scholars about  Vladimir Nabokov and his Lolita, World War II and the German bombing of London, the History of Psychiatry, and The Historical Jesus. Each program starts with a 10 minute (or so) monologue, and then Harrison gets down to talking with his guest for another 50. Give a listen. Let us know your thoughts. And know that Entitled Opinions (iTunes Feed Web Site) is included in our Ideas & Culture Podcast Collection.

PS I shamelessly borrowed this titled from a comment made about Entitled Opinions on iTunes. To be honest, my creative well was running dry.

Jon Stewart on the Relevance of Cultural Magazines


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Here’s Jon Stewart talking Monday night about the revelation that America’s “extreme interrogation” techniques actually amount to torture. Somehow he manages to work The New York Review of Books, The Paris ReviewMcSweeney’s and The Utne Reader into the discussion. You’ll find it about 4 minutes in. Pretty funny stuff, although the commentary is sad when you get right down to it.

On a more serious note, Rahm Emanuel (highlighted in the video above) was almost certainly referencing excellent Mark Danner’s work in the NYRB, which you can find here.

The direct link to the Stewart video can be found here.

World Digital Library

wdl2Another big digital archive went live this week. Backed by the United Nations, the World Digital Library wants to centralize cultural treasures from around the world. Manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings — they will all be absorbed into this growing online collection, and users will be able to navigate through these materials in seven different languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian). The collection (to which Google contributed $3 million in 2005) now hosts about 1,250 artifacts, a fraction of what it will eventually include. The initial collection features some gems. Take for example the Tale of the Genji, a Japanese text from the early 11th century that’s often considered “the first great novel in world literature.” You can also take a close look at some Oracle Bones from China circa 1200 BC. Or how about these iconic photos from The Great Depression or these shots of the great Jackie Robinson. To learn more about this new digital archive, read this piece in The Washington Post.

Web 2.0 to Book Deal in 3 Minutes

After Seth Harwood got his MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he began publishing in traditional magazines and journals, as most young writers do. But those publications were slow to launch his career. Things changed, however, once he started publishing online. And they really changed when he released his crime novel Jack Wakes Up as a free podcast (via iTunesRSS Feed, & MP3) and distributed it through social networks. Web 2.0 broadened the reach of his work, attracted fans worldwide, and ultimately landed Harwood a nice book deal with Random House. (RH will be publishing Jack Wakes Up in print early next month). In the short video above, Harwood gives you a quick look inside the making of his podcast, and how it brings exposure to his work. If you’re an up-and-coming writer, there’s certainly something here to think about. You can find out more about Seth’s work at

Mark Twain’s New Book

Mark Twain died nearly a century ago but that hasn’t slowed him down. Twain has a new book coming out today. It’s called “Who is Mark Twain,” and it brings together 24 previously unpublished stories, one of which you can read over at The Wall Street Journal. The piece is entitled “Frank Fuller and My First New York Lecture.” Here you go. Served up fresh.

Paul McCartney Live @ Coachella

Paul McCartney played a long 35 song set at Coachella this past weekend. And now we’re getting a little peek at his performance. Here, in homage to George Harrison, Paul plays “Something” and a little ukulele.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.