There are two ways to lose our innocence. The first is the slow and gradual growth to maturity when old ideas begin to be replaced with new ideas. The second is when a single event forever changes the way we see the world.
Today is the 20th anniversary of September 11th. It was an ordinary day. The sky was blue and bright, a perfect early fall day. Offices, schools, and stores opened as normal. Then the first place hit the Twin Towers and everything changed.
I was in college back then, part of the younger generation. It’s amazing how fast two decades can go. Though it seems like it will take forever for the time to pass, it goes in the blink of an eye. Those of us who were young then are now adults with adult responsibilities. Some of the the kids who were too young to know what was going on or not yet born are now on the verge of adulthood themselves.
On Thursday, The Brian Lehrer Show asked listeners what the term “never forget” meant to them. What I remember is that for a brief time, the divisions that normally kept us apart disappeared. We were all Americans and we were all grieving. It was a communal loss that knew no boundaries or labels.
Last month, I visited the 9/11 Museum with a couple of friends. It was my second visit. Walking into the building is akin to a ten pound weight being thrust on your shoulders. There is an energy that is emotional, heavy, and sometimes difficult to bear. The energy of the day and the souls of the innocent people whose lives were taken that day are all around you, a solemn reminder of what was lost on that beautiful September day.
It was if nothing else, a potent reminder of how important it is to not only live while you can, but tell the ones you love how you feel before it is too late.
May the memories of the nearly 3000 people who were taken us from forever be a blessing. Z”L.
Hate is powerful. It turns us away from the humanity of our fellow mortals and only shows us the negative stereotypes we want to see.
This past weekend was the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. It is one of the worst episodes of racial violence in American history. The Greenwood District of Tulsa, in Oklahoma was known locally as Black Wall Street. Outside of the Greenwood District, the residents knew that they would be treated as second class citizens. But inside of the district was another story. It was a vibrant and thriving community that disproved the racist ideas about African-Americans. Unfortunately, some Caucasian members of the community had their minds blown by this success and used the accusation (which has not been verified) that a black man attacked a white teenage girl.
By the time the dust settled, hundreds were dead and the neighborhood looked like a war zone. To make matters worse, it was not spoken of until recently. In light of the fact that this disgusting event has been buried, both WNYC and CNN told the story of the destruction. The new six part podcast, Blindspot: Tulsa Burning, and TV movie, Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street, told the compelling and heartbreaking story of those horrific days. I highly recommend both.
This was a pogrom. The actors and the location have changed, but the reason (if you want to call it that) and the results were the same. I wish that it had not taken a century for this country to remember and honor the memories of those who were killed. But it has. The only thing we can do is talk about it and educate our children so this never happens again.
Hard conversations are hard for a reason. But until we have them, we cannot overcome the reason for the conversation.
The new book, Lets Talk About Hard Things, by Anna Sale (host of the WNYCpodcastDeath, Sex, and Money) was published earlier this month. Based on the podcast, Ms. Sale goes deeper into the difficult topics that we need to go over, but for a variety of reasons, keep inside of us. Talking about death, sex, money, family, and identity (all of which are complicated), she allows both her readers and the people she interviews to release what is holding them back and living a fulfilling life.
I loved this book. The author is as amiable and authentic on the page as she is on the show. Her approach is a gentle one, opening the door and allowing a confessional style interview that feels like two friends meeting for drinks, not a journalist speaking to an interviewee.
I really enjoy this podcast. Remnick and his team of reporters present different perspectives in a way that gives the listener the opportunity to hear the facts and make a decision for themselves. Which is how journalism should be. They also venture into subjects that are not the easiest to discuss and require an open mind. Which in our current cultural and political state, is sometimes hard to find.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
The New Yorker Radio Hour releases new episodes every Friday Night.
Sometimes, when the issues we talk about become too emotionally heavy, the best way to bring down the temperature is to have an honest conversation.
The WNYC podcast, The Takeaway, has been on the air since 2008. Hosted by Tanzina Vega, it airs every weekday from 3-4 PM. Bringing on politically and social justice minded guests, the topics center around local and national political news.
I really enjoy this podcast. Though the subjects discussed are the same as other political podcasts, there is a thoughtfulness and an intelligence to the way they are spoken of. It makes me think without making me angry or upset. Which, given the current status of American politics, is sometimes hard to do.
In the last decade or so, podcasts have exploded in popularity. It goes without saying that every listener has their own preferences. However, that does not give producers and hosts the leeway to produce an incomplete product.
The WNYC podcast Bullseye has existed since 2000. Presently hosted by Jesse Thorn, it was initially entitled The Sound of Young America when it was schedule of the lineup of college radio station in California. Over the years, Thorn has interviewed actors, directors, writers, and others whose work falls under the label of pop culture.
If I were to rate all of the WNYC podcasts that I listen to (1 representing the best and 5 representing the worst), Bullseye would be a 3. It’s not all bad, but it is not one that I listen to regularly. The problem is not Thorn or his guests. The problem is that it is not as interesting as some of the other podcasts on the schedule.
Sometimes, the most difficult conversations are the most important.
The WNYC podcast, United States of Anxiety, has been on the air since 2016. Hosted by Kai Wright, the topics discussed are race, racism, social justice, and how we can make amends for the mistakes from the past.
Though much of the last four years have been focused on politics and the previous Presidential administration, there are also discussions about thorny issues that after many generations, are still unresolved. As a listener, I appreciate the honesty of Wright and his guests, making the subject matter as palatable as possible while not shying away from the hard truth of where we have been as a nation.
The late Elie Wiesel once said the following about the millions murdered in The Holocaust.
“If we forget, the dead will be killed a second time,” Wiesel says, “and then they are today’s victims.”
In New York City alone, approximately 25,000 people have been killed by Covid-19. Today’s episode of The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC paid tribute to some of those who are no longer with us due to the virus. Similar to the names read every September 11th, 400+ listeners read from a list of over 1000 souls who only exist in the memories of those who knew and loved them.
Behind every name was a human being. They had lives, families, and futures that were taken from them. Saying their names aloud cannot bring them back. What it allows us to do is mourn and remember them for who they were, not for the statistic they have become.
In the language of my faith, may the memories of everyone killed by Covid-19 be a blessing. Though they are gone physically, they will live in our hearts forever.
There are some topics that within the bounds of polite conversation, are not usually talked about.
The WNYC podcast, Death, Sex, & Money, hosted by Anna Sale, has aired since 2014.The premise of the podcast is discuss issues around death, sex, and money, three subjects that are difficult to talk about. Even among those that we are closest with.
This is one of my favorite podcasts. Anna has a way of talking to the guests in a way that is both sensitive and genuine. By doing that, it makes these issues a little less taboo and opens the door to being less afraid of being honest with one another.
Discovering a favorite podcast is akin to discovering a new television show.
When the United States was founded more than two centuries ago, real democracy was a pipe dream. Most of what was considered to be the known world (aka Europe) was ruled by Kings and Queens. The Founding Fathers were akin to political scientists, trying different experiments until one worked. The latest podcast from WNYC is called The Experiment. The premise is to explore what has worked within our country and what needs to be improved upon.
Jane Austen once wrote the following about friendship:
“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”- Northanger Abbey
Friendship is so important. When it comes to mental health issues, it can be the one thing that keeps the emotional wolves at bay. Especially when we are locked in our homes due to the pandemic. Anxiously is the latest podcast from Tablet Magazine. Hosted by two friends, Aimee and Lisa, their conversations revolve around what makes them well, anxious.
So far, I have enjoyed both The Experiment and Anxiously. I like the way both explore their respective subjects in a way that the audience can connect to without being talked down to or over.