Jackie Bange of WGN News interviews Studs Terkel at his home in Chicago. The video includes both the raw footage and the finished piece that aired on WGN. This tape also includes a recording of a WGN nightly newscast from late 2000 and two full episodes of This Old House.
00:00Copy video clip URL The video begins with color bars. The audio can be heard before the video comes in. Terkel is speaking about the subject of death before the interview actually begins.
00:27Copy video clip URL Bange begins the interview. Terkel jokes with her beforehand and asks if he looks “statesmanlike.” Bange comments on the rubber bands that are wrapped around Terkel’s right hand, a longtime habit of Terkel’s. Terkel says that his wife, Ida, used to call it a fetish.
00:57Copy video clip URL Bange asks Terkel what his wishes are for the new year. Terkel responds very eloquently, “My new year’s wish is that living in a new century, a new millennium it’s called too, can live up to it. That is, use our imagination as human beings that we haven’t done. Thus far, we’re living as though we were living in the thirteenth century.” Terkel then broaches upon the subject of death and discusses the death penalty in the U.S. Terkel states, “We are the only industrialized country in the world, of the advanced countries so-called, that still maintains the death penalty though we know it does not diminish homicides. It’s official murder is what it is. It diminishes us all.” Terkel then commends former Illinois Governor George Ryan for placing a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois. Terkel then goes on to talk about the need for national health insurance in this country. “We’re also the only industrialized country in the world that does not have national health insurance. Every congressman has it, every senator has it, every President had it; even those who condemned it as socialism, they have it for themselves. So what’s good enough for a congressman is good enough for an American citizen.” Terkel emphasizes the need for imaginative thinking among Americans. He then talks about some of the health problems he has had to deal with over the years and discusses the many medical advances we’ve made in the past century. He also talks about the American work span and how it is being diminished. “We have young horses coming in who are temps, they’re called too, who have no benefits and all because whoever they are up there, the multinational boys, the faceless ones, think of the most obscene phrase of our century. That obscene phrase is called bottom line. Bottom line means you make it no matter how or what, you make that profit. At the expense of what? At the expense of human beings.” Terkel then changes gears and talks about death, which is the main subject of his next book entitled, Will The Circle Be Unbroken? Terkel explains his motivation for writing a book about this subject and states that death is the one experience that everyone hasn’t had, but all of us will have. Terkel wants to promote the discussion about death when we are alive because he believes that it makes life more precious. He states that it is ironically the most alive book that he has ever written. He goes on to talk about the problem of poverty and the negative effects of the free market. The tape breaks up a little bit during this part of the video. Terkel then talks about his notion that the U.S. suffers from a “national Alzheimer’s disease.”
08:04Copy video clip URL Bange asks Terkel about the title of the book. Terkel discusses the title and states that the meaning behind the title refers to life going on. He also briefly discusses his agnostic beliefs and how they influence him.
09:12Copy video clip URL Bange asks Terkel where he believes his recently departed wife, Ida is, referring to an afterlife of some sort. In a very glib manner. Terkel turns, points to Ida’s urn, and says, “Well, my wife is in an urn over there.” Terkel then talks about what he plans to do with both his and her ashes. He says that he wants their ashes to be spread over Bughouse Square. Terkel also states that Ida lives on in his memory. He goes on to state that he began writing the book before Ida had died and talks about his influences for writing the book.
13:15Copy video clip URL Bange asks Terkel about some of the chapters in the book, specifically a chapter on Governor George Ryan that she believes Terkel had written. Terkel actually hadn’t written or included anything about the governor in the book. Terkel talks about some of the different stories from the book and explains how he had come to find many of the characters included in his writing.
15:20Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of Bange talking about what other b-roll she and the cameraman has to gather for the piece. The cameraman begins to pick up some footage of a books at Terkel’s house, a shot of Ida’s urn and the daisies that sit next to it, and a few different pictures of Ida. Bange and Terkel are heard conversing in the background.
19:10Copy video clip URL The camera gets a shot of Terkel and Bange walking upstairs to his workroom. Once there, Terkel takes a seat at his desk in front of a typewriter and shows Bange the potential table of contents for his newest book. Bange again asks Terkel about the chapter with George Ryan, Terkel states that Ryan is not included in the book.
21:34Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of Terkel working at his typewriter. He states that he is simply typing nonsense while the cameraman gathers this footage.
23:32Copy video clip URL Terkel and Bange go through a stack of Terkel’s own published books in his home. The two are looking for a copy of “The Good War”, Terkel’s book on World War II.
24:53Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of a few of Terkel’s books stacked upon one another. Terkel and Bange continue to go through a number of Terkel’s books in his home.
26:18Copy video clip URL Terkel takes Bange and the cameraman over to a shelf filled with stacks of interview tapes from his various books. Terkel talks about some of the interview subjects on the tapes.
27:52Copy video clip URL Cut to the finished and edited piece that aired on a WGN Newscast. The piece lasts only a few minutes.
29:53Copy video clip URL The screen goes to black. This lasts for close to ten minutes.
39:24Copy video clip URL Footage that was recorded off of a WGN affiliate in Florida is included on much of this tape. There is a recorded WGN Nightly Newscast that lasts for about hour. There are also about two and a half episodes of This Old House that are included on the tape. This takes up the majority of the video.
2:43:20Copy video clip URL Tape ends.