The invitation was an honor – to be interviewed by Randy Cohen on his radio/podcast show, PersonPlaceThing.
Everybody knows Cohen, the original Ethicist in the New York Times magazine, who set such a high bar of being informed, quirky and timely. Now he produces his own show, asking people to discuss their favorite person, place and thing.
His invitation included a podcast of his interview with Judy Collins.
On the same list as Judy Blue Eyes? Count me in.
Cohen’s show took place at the beautiful library in Port Washington, L.I., in front of friends, neighbors and family, facilitated by the ever-personable Jessica Ley.
For my choices, I could have gone stone serious but I decided to omit family, religion and politics. Better to go with the first answers that popped into my head – stuff that sustains me, at this stage in my life, outside my deepest ties.
Cohen did a great job editing nearly an hour of banter into a tight 25 minutes but I do have a footnote to each category:
Person: The tense original first chapter to which I refer is about a confrontation between Confederate soldiers and two teen-age brothers on a road leading to Gettysburg. The famous editor was flat-out wrong to cut it. The author was right. That scene, now restored, sets up the entire novel.
Place: I love my adopted home town but I also love my home borough of Queens. Living half an hour east is about as far as I can stand. That helps explain my choice.
Thing: Cohen’s subtle editing cut out the fact that he is far more accomplished than I am with my chosen implement. I have immense respect for his weekend jaunts.
Nuff said. I’ll be proud if anybody wants to listen and respond in Comments.
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The link to the show:
The show will also be broadcast in New York on Tuesday at 1:30 PM on WNYE, 91.5 FM, and more broadly Friday night at 10:30 PM across WAMC Northeast Public Radio. You can also download it free at iTunes.
"Among the things that have long fascinated people about Jesus and explain his enduring appeal is his method of dialogue and teaching. "He asked a lot of questions and told a lot of stories in the form of parables. In fact, parables form about a third of Jesus’ recorded teachings. The Gospels were written decades after he died, so his questions and parables clearly left a deep impression on those who bore testimony to him....
"Some of Jesus’ questions were rhetorical; others were meant to challenge or even provoke. In some cases, Jesus used questions to parry attacks by religious authorities who set traps for him. In others, he used questions to enter more fully into the lives of others and to help people look at the state of their hearts. He asked people about their fears and their faith. Jesus used questions to free a woman caught in adultery from condemnation and to inquire whether people considered him to be the Messiah. He probed deeply into questions not many had asked before him, like “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
---(Peter Wehner, long-time White House consultant and writer, in the NYT last week about Jesus Christ’s method of teaching by asking questions.)
"Would that I could mention all the illuminating details in this biography, for example, why Wells praised Black Americans so highly, saying, 'I took a mighty liking to these gentle, human, dark-skinned people,' and 'Whatever America has to show in heroic living today, I doubt if she can show anything finer than the quality of the resolve, the steadfast efforts hundreds of black and colored men are making today to live blamelessly, honorably and patiently, getting by themselves what scraps of refinement, beauty and learning they may, keeping their hold on a civilization they are grudged and denied.''
-- "How H.G. Wells Predicted the 20th Century," Charles Johnson, NYT Book Review, Nov. 19, 2021. ***".
...the monsters arrive."
"They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts.
"Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry."
---The great Margaret Renkl, from Nashville, one of my favorite NYT bylines, Oct. 26, 2021.
(She describes our Long Island enclave to every decibel, every stink.)