C-Span in Depth live interview with Studs Terkel, part 2

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Callers phone in and send e-mails to ask questions of Studs Terkel, who engages them in discussion interwoven with his powerful storytelling. Part 2 of 2.

00:17 Caller comments on the Harlem Globetrotters; Terkel says that those who make comedy out of their art must master their art first.

01:12 Caller asks him to speak about jazz and freedom. Terkel says that jazz allows for improvisatory freedom, just like the beginning of television and his show Studs’ Place.

02:35 Terkel begins to speak of John Leuellen, to whom he dedicates one of his books.

03:00 Caller asks Terkel about the labor movement today. Terkel says that it has taken a “hell of a beating.” He goes on to highlight 1981 as a key year when Reagan broke the air controllers’ strike.

05:35 Caller asks Terkel about Ayn Rand. Terkel calls her a “clown figure” and that she does not understand the masses.

06:55 Caller asks about Terkel’s interview with Bob Dylan. Terkel reports that it wasn’t too great, but was ok.

08:00 Caller asks about the spread of Christianity among young Americans. Terkel says that belief is good, in general, but that the “Christian Coalition” of the right wing is the real anti-Christ.

09:40 Terkel briefly speaks about Jack Dempsey.

10:45 Caller asks whether Terkel would support a Labor political party in the U.S.  Terkel says that we have too many third parties, including the green party. He says there is a need for a coalition and a progressive caucus to organize itself.

12:45 Caller asks him to speak of President Taft. Terkel admits that he doesn’t know much about Taft, but points out some of the other justices that are memorable. He says the justices of the supreme court are a farce.

14:38 E-mailer writes about his interview with James Baldwin and its relevance today. Terkel discusses the movement against affirmative action, attributing it to a “National Alzheimer’s Disease.”

15:58 Caller asks about Sanibel Island, Florida, and his visit there.  Terkel says he enjoyed it but he cut his feet on the sea shells.

16:50 Caller asks about organized crime and James Whitey Bolger. Terkel speaks about how J Edgar Hoover was not very hard on crime.

18:50 Caller asks about Terkel’s book “The Good War” and notes that she learned much more about the war from his book than in school.

21:08 Caller talks about the distribution of wealth and what it means for democracy. He goes on to criticize George Bush and his policies.

23:40 Terkel speaks about his book, Talking To Myself and goes into his role as a cab driver in the film The Dollmaker.

26:42 Caller asks about the role of oral history and how important it is for each person to write his or her own memories. Terkel calls it great therapy and that everyone should do it, because it connects you to past and present.

28:30 Caller asks about anti-trust laws and how Reagan loosened them, and asks Terkel to recommend any reading on it. Terkel criticizes the use of the word “special interests” and also predicts a repeat of the stock market crash that started the depression.

29:56 Terkel talks about his book The Spectator which highlights many of his heroes in acting and entertainment.

31:51 E-mailer notes that she grew up in the house where Terkel’s wife grew up.

32:30 Caller asks about “The Good War” and the selfishness one feels when another person dies in combat. This is an example of the contradiction of the human condition.

33:56 Caller asks about Henry Wallace. He calls Wallace one of the 3 most important American figures of our time, along with Martin Luther King and FDR. Terkel calls him the “most maligned person in history.” He points out that Wallace was the secretary of agriculture under FDR, and was the heart of the New Deal. His political career was maligned in history because Harry Truman stole Wallace’s policies and won the election.

39:22 Caller asks about the cutting of arts and humanities programming in schools.  He calls the humanities as important as bread and butter.

41:20 E-mailer notes that his father hung out at Riccardo’s near the Wrigley building. Terkel says that everyone was there at the bar on Friday nights. He notes that Rick’s was the only place that blacks were welcomed during the 50s. He also says that he misses the place, but he misses his close friends even more.

44:30 Interviewer asks what makes a good martini. Terkel says it’s different than other drinks.

45:00 Caller asks if Studs has had experience with the milk drivers’ unions in the ’30s. He admits that he can’t recall.

46:08 Caller asks about standardized testing in schools. Terkel says standardized tests give him a chill. He tells a story comparing two children: one who excels at standardized tests but who cannot tell a story, and another the opposite. He says that these tests are “as phony as a three dollar bill.”

48:40 Terkel talks about the role of Chicago in his and American identity. He speaks of Chicago as a city of hands, steel and architecture, and notes several Chicago notable names.

50:45 Caller reminds him of Bughouse Square and old times in Chicago.

52:35 Caller talks with Terkel about The Spectator.

54:45 Caller asks who is following in his footsteps today.  Studs says that there are many young writers out there, but the names escape him.

56:06 Caller and Terkel talk about Bill Bailey.

57:15 Terkel talks about Peggy Terry who was one of the most memorable and eloquent people, and interviewer reads her excerpt about the end of the war from “The Good War.” Terkel goes on to tell her story of meeting Dr. King and her conversion experience.

59:59 Caller asks about art and artists.

01:02:50 Terkel says that his lesson in life is “to live and to be curious about the world.”

01:03:50 C-Span wrap up and ad for future programs.



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