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David Remnick is joined by The New Yorker’s award-winning writers, editors and artists to present a weekly mix of profiles, storytelling, and insightful conversations about the issues that matter — plus an occasional blast of comic genius from the magazine’s legendary Shouts and Murmurs page. The Ne…

WNYC Studios and The New Yorker

    • May 20, 2022 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekdays NEW EPISODES
    • 26m AVG DURATION
    • 355 EPISODES

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    Latest episodes from The New Yorker Radio Hour

    The Attack on Gender-Affirming Medical Care

    Play Episode Listen Later May 20, 2022 29:07

    Across the United States, conservative politicians are leading a backlash against L.G.B.T.Q. identity, framing legal restrictions as protection of children. Several states have introduced laws to ban medical treatments known as gender-affirming care—including hormones and puberty blockers—prescribed to adolescents. Major medical organizations have approved the treatments, but Rachel Monroe, who has been following efforts to ban gender-affirming care in Texas, found that doctors wouldn't speak out about the political furor because the resulting attention could endanger themselves, their clinics, and their patients. One specialist, however, was willing to go on the record: Dr. Gina Sequeira, a co-director of the Gender Clinic at Seattle Children's. “I was growing so frustrated seeing the narrative around gender-affirming care provision for youth so full of misinformation and so full of blatant falsehoods that I couldn't in good conscience continue to stay quiet,” Sequeira told her. Doctors cite a body of data that gender-affirming care reduces the risk of suicide, which is high among trans youth. Sequeira's Seattle clinic has been fielding calls from Texas families looking to relocate if the proposed ban in Texas prevents their children from accessing care. “If we were to stop care, I would be afraid that our child wouldn't survive,” the mother of a trans girl told Monroe. “There's no question that she's not safe to herself.”

    The Comedian Megan Stalter on Finding Inspiration in American Absurdity

    Play Episode Listen Later May 17, 2022 28:18

    Before the pandemic, Megan Stalter was an unknown comedian, trying to catch a lucky break at clubs in New York City. But with the arrival of COVID-19, social media became her only outlet, and she quickly found an audience with her short-form, D.I.Y. character videos,  portraying the “breadth of American idiocy,” as Michael Schulman puts it, with such accuracy and heart that it's hard to turn away. After her rise to Internet fame—she was dubbed the “queen of quarantine”—Stalter was offered the part of Kayla, the overprivileged and clueless assistant, on HBO's hit series “Hacks.”  It was her first acting job.  Plus, Helen Rosner joins the chef Andy Baraghani in his home kitchen for a lesson on cauliflower ragu. Baraghani, best known for his YouTube cooking videos for Bon Appetit, is out with a new cookbook called “The Cook You Want to Be.”

    The Battle After Roe v. Wade

    Play Episode Listen Later May 13, 2022 20:51

    The leaked opinion from the Supreme Court on the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization seems to promise a transformation. Assuming the final opinion by Justice Samuel Alito gets majority support, there will be profound social, political, and health-care implications across the United States—not only in the states that will immediately ban abortion.  David Remnick speaks with three New Yorker writers who have been considering the future of abortion access: Margaret Talbot, Peter Slevin, and Jia Tolentino. Plus, Michael Schulman talks with the comedian Meg Stalter of HBO's hit show “Hacks,” and Helen Rosner pays a visit to the chef Andy Baraghani in Brookhaven, New York.

    Stephanie Hsu on “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

    Play Episode Listen Later May 10, 2022 20:54

    “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is in a genre all its own—you could call it sci-fi-martial-arts-family-drama.  Stephanie Hsu plays both Joy, an angsty teen-ager struggling with her immigrant mother, and Jobu, an omnipotent, interdimensional supervillain.  “The relationship between Evelyn and Joy in its simplest terms is very fraught,” Hsu tells Jia Tolentino.  “It's the story of a relationship of a daughter who's a lesbian who is deeply longing for her mother's acceptance … but they keep chasing each other around in the universe and they can just never find one another. Until of course they launch into the multiverse and become nemeses.”

    The Last Abortion Clinic in Mississippi; and a Look at White Empathy

    Play Episode Listen Later May 6, 2022 28:58

    Last week, a draft opinion was leaked which suggests that a majority of Supreme Court Justices are ready to overturn the precedents of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey—the decisions that have guaranteed a right to abortion at the federal level.  The case in question is Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, in which Mississippi officials seek to close the state's last remaining abortion clinic under a law that bans performing an abortion after the fifteenth week of pregnancy—a point well before the time of fetal viability.  In November, Rachel Monroe visited the Jackson abortion clinic, speaking to its director, Shannon Brewer; a physician who asked to remain anonymous, describing the risks to abortion providers; and a patient, who had driven all night from Texas, where she was not able to obtain an abortion. “Somebody else is telling me what I should do with my body, and it's not right,” she said. “It's my body. It's my decision. It's my choice. It's my life. It's my soul, if it's going to Hell.” Produced with assistance from Ezekiel Bandy and Kim Green. This segment originally aired November 19, 2021.   Plus, the staff writer Alexis Okeowo talks with the producer Ngofeen Mputubwele about why the Ukrainian refugee crisis seems both familiar and startlingly different from conflicts in other parts of the world.

    Rickie Lee Jones's Life on the Road

    Play Episode Listen Later May 3, 2022 21:56

    Rickie Lee Jones emerged into the pop world fully formed; her début album was nominated for five Grammys, in 1980, and she won for Best New Artist. One of the songs on that record was “The Last Chance Texaco,” and Jones has made that the title of her recent memoir. The song evokes a service station on a long stretch of highway, and Jones's book reflects on her almost obsessive need to travel and uproot herself at almost any cost. “All I wanted to do was leave” from a very young age, she says. “When I talk about it from here, it seems like it was so horribly dangerous.” She adds, “Suddenly I'll [say], ‘I think I'll go to Big Sur,' and I'm in a car, going. But the chaos and trouble that brings to a life!” The producer Scott Carrier, who hosts the podcast “Home of the Brave,” interviewed Jones near her home in New Orleans. This story originally aired April 9, 2021.

    A Ukrainian Diplomat on the Future of Russian Aggression

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 29, 2022 26:16

    As the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters a third month, prospects of ending the conflict are still nowhere in sight, and there seems to be no end to the destruction that Vladimir Putin is willing to inflict. Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, tells David Remnick that he expects Russia to continue escalating its attack leading up to May 9th, a day of military celebration in Russia commemorating the German surrender in the Second World War. “They will escalate attacks by missiles from the sky to terrorize Ukraine in general,” he predicts, “and to make the government more susceptible to surrender.”    In contrast to President Volodymyr Zelensky—who was a political rookie when he took office, in 2019—Kyslytsya has spent his career in Ukraine's foreign service. In the years after the Soviet breakup, he says, Ukraine wanted to both placate its neighbor and ally itself with Western institutions. This created a “cognitive dissonance,” he says, that prevented Ukraine from recognizing the extent of Russian aggression. Having watched as diplomacy failed, Kyslytsya still has to separate his work from the personal toll of Russia's invasion on his family and friends. “I try not to engage emotionally because if I engage emotionally too much, I am not operational,” he says. “And if I am not operational . . . I'm of very little use for my government.”

    Viola Davis on Playing Michelle Obama, and Finding Her Voice as an Actor

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 25, 2022 30:23

    The Oscar-winning actor Viola Davis traces her career in Hollywood back to a single moment of inspiration from her childhood: watching Cicely Tyson star in the 1974 movie “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” “I saw excellence and craft, and I saw transformation,” Davis tells David Remnick. “And more importantly, what it planted in me is that seed of—literally—I am not defined by the boundaries of my life.” In a new memoir, “Finding Me,” Davis writes of a difficult upbringing in Rhode Island, marked by poverty and an abusive father. She pursued her dream of attending the prestigious Juilliard School, but felt alienated by a white-focussed approach that left little room for her background or identity. She talks with Remnick about how she grew past these early challenges, the lingering impostor syndrome that many successful people experience, and how she prepared to play Michelle Obama in the series “The First Lady.” Plus, the cartoonist Liana Finck, a regular presence in The New Yorker, explains how a ride on the Long Island Rail Road gets her creative ideas flowing; she can work among people without anyone talking to her.

    Ronan Farrow on the Threat of Modern Spyware

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 22, 2022 19:24

    Ronan Farrow has published an investigation into a software called Pegasus and its maker, NSO Group. Pegasus is one of the most invasive spywares known; it allows users—including law-enforcement officials or government authorities—to hack into a target's smartphone, gaining access to photos, messages, and the feeds from a camera or microphone. NSO markets Pegasus as a tool to catch terrorists and other violent criminals, but once a surveillance tool is on the market it can be very difficult to control. Farrow finds that Pegasus is being used to suppress political opposition in democratic nations, including Spain. The largest known cluster of Pegasus attacks has targeted people in Catalonia who support the independence movement, which the Spanish government views as a threat. “This is not just an information-gathering tool,” Farrow tells David Remnick; “It's an intimidation tactic, and it works.”

    “We're All Going to the World's Fair” and a Short History of Movies about the Internet

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 19, 2022 17:39

    The Internet can be a scary place in real life, and far more so in Jane Schoenbrun's film “We're All Going to the World's Fair,” which premièred at the Sundance Film Festival last year and is being released in theatres and streaming. It's a horror movie centered on a lonely and bored teen-age girl named Casey, who spends most of her time being online and trying to figure out who she is. She undertakes a ritual that she's read about—the so-called World's Fair Challenge—which is said to cause unknown and possibly dire changes. “Everyone wants to know, ‘Do you think the Internet is good or the Internet is bad?' ” Schoenbrun told the Radio Hour's Alex Barron. “That's like asking, ‘Do you think that people are good or bad?' There's not a simple answer.” They spoke about the forty-year history of movies depicting the online world.

    Jennifer Egan on the Literary Pleasures of the Concept Album

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 12, 2022 32:01

    Jennifer Egan's new novel, “The Candy House,” one of the most anticipated books of the year, has just been published. It is related—not a sequel exactly, but something like a sibling—to her Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” from 2010. That earlier book was largely about the music business, and Egan, a passionate music fan, has described its unusual structure as having been inspired by the concept albums of her youth. “The very nature of a concept album is that it tells one big story in small pieces that sound very different from each other and that sort of collide,” she tells David Remnick. “I thought, How would I do that narratively? I ask myself that all the time.” We asked Egan to speak about three concept albums that influenced her, and she picked The Who's “Quadrophenia,” about a disaffected, working-class mod in the nineteen-sixties; Patti Smith's “Horses”; and Eminem's “Recovery.”  Plus, a story about two young boys, obsessed with basketball cards, who schemed to get a rare triptych card from a third friend. Decades later, their ill-gotten prize might be worth a lot of money—but whose money is it? The staff writer Charles Bethea looks at the grown-up consequences of a childhood prank.

    Anita Hill and Jane Mayer on Ketanji Brown Jackson, and the State of the Supreme Court

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 8, 2022 18:05

    Ketanji Brown Jackson has been voted in as a Supreme Court Justice—the first Black woman to serve in that role. But, to reach this milestone, Jackson has faced enormous hurdles at every turn, including confirmation hearings that featured blatant political grandstanding and barely disguised race-baiting. Nominations have become so partisan that, on both the left and the right, the Court itself is commonly viewed as merely a tool of the party that picked its members, and several polls report a decline in public confidence in the Court. “The real political end” of the attacks on Brown Jackson, Hill believes, “is to denigrate her personally, honestly, but also to really reduce the validity of any opinions that she ultimately writes. Even though . . . many of her opinions will be dissenting opinions, dissenting opinions can carry a lot of weight.” Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas's decision not to recuse himself from cases related to the January 6th insurrection, even after it came to light that his wife Ginni Thomas actively sought to influence Trump Administration officials to try to overturn the Presidential election, also undercuts the court's impartiality. It seems that the reputation and independence of the Court is in serious trouble.  Anita Hill, a professor of social policy, law, and women's studies at Brandeis University, spoke with David Remnick about the Ketanji Brown Jackson hearings, along with the staff writer Jane Mayer, who is reporting on the Ginni Thomas controversy. (Hill, who testified in the 1991 Thomas nomination hearings, has declined to speak about his stance on recusal.)

    The Missing Boater

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 5, 2022 20:19

    Dick Conant spent years of his life crisscrossing America by canoe, like a Mark Twain character. On land, he worked a variety of jobs and was often homeless, but paddling on a river, he was king. By chance, on a voyage which began near the Canadian border, on his way to Florida, Conant met Ben McGrath, a New Yorker staff writer, outside McGrath's home on the Hudson River. McGrath's piece about Conant appeared in the December 14, 2015, issue of The New Yorker this week; here, he tells the story of a troubled man who found refuge in adventure. Ben McGrath's book about Conant, “Riverman: An American Odyssey,” will be published in April.  Originally aired December 11, 2015.  

    Investigating January 6th

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 1, 2022 28:44

    With a judge declaring that Donald Trump “more likely than not” committed a felony in his attempt to overturn the Presidential election, the congressional committee investigating January 6th is racing to finish its work before the looming midterm elections. Amy Davidson Sorkin and the legal scholar Jeannie Suk Gersen talk with David Remnick about the law and the politics of holding Trump accountable. And the music writer Sheldon Pearce shares three artists that didn't get their due in the Grammy nominations. 

    Connor Ratliff Talks with Sarah Larson, Plus Chef Bryant Terry

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 29, 2022 29:06

    An aspiring actor named Connor Ratliff thought he had it made when he got a small part on the 2001 miniseries “Band of Brothers,” in an episode directed by Hollywood legend Tom Hanks. The day before shooting his scene, Ratliff was unceremoniously fired by Hanks, who said the rookie had “dead eyes.” It was a life-altering disappointment for Ratliff. He told Sarah Larson how he came to launch the podcast “Dead Eyes,” which explores failure as a universal part of life—in show business and beyond. When Ratliff was able to land Tom Hanks as a guest on the show, fans thought their interview would bring “Dead Eyes” to a close. But Ratliff has other ideas. Plus, Helen Rosner talks with the cookbook author and food-justice activist Bryant Terry about uplifting diverse traditions in Black cooking and reclaiming veganism from white hipsters.

    Jill Lepore on Parents' Rights and the Culture War

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 25, 2022 18:21

    A wave of book bannings sweeping the country, along with conservative fury over titles like “Antiracist Baby,” seems like a backlash against the heightened racial consciousness of the post-George Floyd era. The historian and staff writer Jill Lepore sees these conflicts as the continuation of an old dynamic. She relates today's “anti-anti-racism” movement to the anti-evolution campaign of the nineteen-twenties, which included the prosecution of a Tennessee teacher for teaching Darwin's theory in a high-school class. Lepore tells David Remnick that what links these battles over biology and history is the argument that parents have the right to determine their children's education in public schools.

    Returning to the Office . . . While Black

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 22, 2022 19:49

    “Coming back to work is partially about surveillance and micromanagement,” Keisha, a podcasting executive, says. “Everybody feels it, but people of color feel it in a different way.” For workers who have been remote for the better part of two years, returning to the office is undeniably complicated. For some Black workers who didn't feel at ease in majority-white offices to begin with, the complications are even greater. Racial microaggressions abound, and, for some, the stress of excessive visibility that comes with being a minority never goes away. “I would love to be ‘feet on the couch relaxed,' like some of my colleagues in the past,” Keisha says, but “I don't know if I could allow myself that.” As an entrepreneur named James put it, “Black folks aren't really allowed to have bad days.”    The Radio Hour's KalaLea talks with four Black professionals and compares their experience to that of Robert Churchwell, a Black reporter hired by the Nashville Banner in 1950. Churchwell was excluded from the white newsroom and worked from home for five years.     Audio from an interview with Robert Churchwell comes from the Civil Rights Oral History Project, Special Collections, Nashville Public Library.

    Radio Ukraine

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 18, 2022 30:45

    Kraina FM is a radio station that broadcasts in Kyiv and more than twenty other cities, playing Ukrainian-language rock and pop. When Russia invaded Ukraine, it took on the mantle of “the station of national resistance,” airing news bulletins and logistical information like requests for supplies. The radio hosts began adding jokes about the invading Russians, and advice from a psychologist about talking to children about the war; a writer told fairy tales on air to occupy those kids during the stressful nights of wartime. The station staff has dispersed, with Bogdan Bolkhovetsky, the general manager, and Roman Davydov, the program director, holed up in a town in the Carpathians, keeping production moving over unreliable Internet and communicating with listeners by text. They don't know how many of their broadcasting stations are still functioning, and their tower in Kyiv could be destroyed at any time. But “we are not doing anything heroic,” Bolkhovetsky told Nicolas Niarchos, who visited their makeshift studio. “We are still in a lot of luck, having what we have right now. Thousands of people were not so lucky as we are. . . . We're just doing what we can under these unusual circumstances.” Plus, we present the 2022 Brody Awards—the critic Richard Brody's assessment of the best performances and the best films of the year.

    Jane Campion on “The Power of the Dog”

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 15, 2022 30:32

    Jane Campion's “The Power of the Dog” opens like a classic Western: cattle are herded across the sweeping plains of Montana, with imposing mountains in the distance. But the plot of the film, based on a 1967 novel by Thomas Savage, isn't exactly a Western. It's a family drama about two brothers who share in the ranching business but couldn't be more different, and what happens when one of them brings his new wife and her teen-age son to live on the ranch. “The Power of the Dog” is nominated for twelve Academy Awards, the most of any film this year, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. Campion talks with David Remnick about Benedict Cumberbatch's starring performance; her experience working with Harvey Weinstein, and how #MeToo has changed the film industry; and why she'd really like to direct a comedy. Plus, Caetano Veloso, a living giant of Brazilian music, was recently profiled for The New Yorker by Jonathan Blitzer. The staff writer picks some key tracks from Veloso's vast catalogue that illuminate his long career.

    Stephen Kotkin: Don't Blame the West for Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 11, 2022 19:58

    It's impossible to understand the destruction and death that Vladimir Putin is unleashing in Ukraine without understanding his most basic conviction: that the breakup of the Soviet empire was a catastrophe from which Russia has yet to recover. Some experts, including John Mearsheimer, have blamed NATO expansion for the invasion of Ukraine, arguing that it has provoked Vladimir Putin to defend his sphere of influence. Stephen Kotkin, a professor of history and international affairs at Princeton University, and a research scholar at the Hoover Institution, respectfully disagrees. Putin's aggression is “not some kind of deviation from the historical pattern,” he tells David Remnick. Russia in the nineteenth century looked much as it does today, he says. “It had an autocrat. It had repression. It had militarism. It had suspicion of foreigners and the West.” Kotkin describes how and why the Putin regime has evolved toward despotism, and he speculates that the strategic blunders in invading Ukraine likely resulted from the biases of authoritarian rulers like Putin, and the lack of good information available to them. Kotkin is the author of an authoritative biography of Joseph Stalin, two volumes of which have been published; a third is in the making.

    Stephen Kotkin: Don't Blame the West for Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 11, 2022 18:52

    It's impossible to understand the destruction and death that Vladimir Putin is unleashing in Ukraine without understanding his most basic conviction: that the breakup of the Soviet empire was a catastrophe from which Russia has yet to recover. Some experts, including John Mearsheimer, have blamed NATO expansion for the invasion of Ukraine, arguing that it has provoked Vladimir Putin to defend his sphere of influence. Stephen Kotkin, a professor of history and international affairs at Princeton University, and a research scholar at the Hoover Institution, respectfully disagrees. Putin's aggression is “not some kind of deviation from the historical pattern,” he tells David Remnick. Russia in the nineteenth century looked much as it does today, he says. “It had an autocrat. It had repression. It had militarism. It had suspicion of foreigners and the West.” Kotkin describes how and why the Putin regime has evolved toward despotism, and he speculates that the strategic blunders in invading Ukraine likely resulted from the biases of authoritarian rulers like Putin, and the lack of good information available to them. Kotkin is the author of an authoritative biography of Joseph Stalin, two volumes of which have been published; a third is in the making.

    Pauline Kael on “The Godfather”

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 8, 2022 7:28

    As The New Yorker's film critic from 1968 to around 1991, the influential Pauline Kael gave voice to her visceral reactions: she wrote as a moviegoer, not a cineaste. Fifty years ago, in the March 10, 1972, issue, she wrote about a new film by the hot-shot young director Francis Ford Coppola. “If ever there was a great example of how the best popular movies come out of a merger of commerce and art,” Kael wrote, “ ‘The Godfather' is it.” She noted that Coppola took Mario Puzo's potboiler of a novel, and the familiar outline of the gangster melodrama, and imbued them with “a new tragic realism,” which reflected a darker view of Americanism in the Watergate era.  Edie Falco performs an excerpted version of Kael's review.  Some of Pauline Kael's best work for The New Yorker is collected in “The Age of Movies,” published by the Library of America.

    Masha Gessen and Joshua Yaffa on the Escalation of Violence in Ukraine

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 4, 2022 41:57

    Joshua Yaffa is a Moscow correspondent for The New Yorker, but he has been travelling throughout the war zone in Ukraine for weeks, reporting on the Russian invasion. Masha Gessen, who has lived in and reported from Russia in the past, returned to Moscow to write about the Russian people's response to the invasion. Yaffa and Gessen spoke with David Remnick on March 3rd about the week's escalation of violence, and what Putin's goal might be. Plus, David Remnick speaks with Igor Novikov, an Internet researcher and entrepreneur who served as an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky. Novikov explains how Zelensky's background as an actor and a comedian has given him an advantage in the West's “attention economy.” Ukraine “will only survive if people pay attention,” Novikov notes, and must “make sure people understand who the perpetrator and who the victim is in this situation.”  

    Sheryl Lee Ralph on Confronting Hollywood

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 1, 2022 26:10

    Sheryl Lee Ralph has been a staple of Black entertainment for decades. She played Deena Jones in the original Broadway production of “Dreamgirls,” and was in “Sister Act 2” alongside Lauryn Hill and Whoopi Goldberg. She's currently starring in the new ABC sitcom “Abbott Elementary.” Her decades-long career gives her a unique perspective on how the industry has changed since she started—and how it hasn't. “I think that, sometimes in order for institutions like Broadway to truly make room for others, you've got to break it down,” she tells The New Yorker's Vinson Cunningham. “Because you've got to help people see things differently, outside of their own vision. And, even if it's 20/20, it's not perfect.”

    How Black Creators Are Changing Hollywood

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 25, 2022 28:54

    In the past few years, it seems a floodgate has opened, releasing a deluge of tremendously successful media that centers the Black experience. “Get Out,” “Black Panther,” and HBO's “Watchmen” are just some of the big-budget prestige projects that have drawn huge audiences and dominated the cultural conversation. In a special episode, The New Yorker Radio Hour looks at this moment in Black entertainment and investigates the industry forces behind it. A film scholar explains the complicated history between studios and Black audiences. And Barry Jenkins, the director of “Moonlight,” tells David Remnick about the doors the Obama Presidency opened for Black creators in Hollywood.

    How Should President Biden Respond to Putin's War on Ukraine?

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 24, 2022 26:40

    Since last summer, Russian troops have been amassing on the Ukrainian border, and, in recent weeks, President Vladimir Putin warned that he intended a military takeover of Ukraine. This week, Russia began the war, with widespread attacks, including in the capital, Kyiv, aimed at crippling the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has called on civilians to enlist in the military to fight the invaders. The U.S. and nato are levying heavy sanctions against the Russians, but there are disagreements within the U.S. and among western allies about exactly how to proceed. Susan B. Glasser, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the war, and the choices faced by the Biden administration and nato.

    Peter Dinklage on “Cyrano”

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 22, 2022 16:43

    Joe Wright's film “Cyrano,” nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, was based on Erica Schmidt's 2018 stage musical of the same name. Peter Dinklage starred in both, as the unattractive but lovestruck swashbuckler of the 1897 play “Cyrano de Bergerac.” Dinklage spoke with Michael Schulman in 2019, and said that Cyrano's predicament is not really about his famously giant schnoz; it is about “everyone's capacity to not feel worthy of love.” Dinklage also spoke about the ending of “Game of Thrones,” which had taken place a few months earlier. Fans were still freaking out about Daenerys's turn to brutality at the series' end, and Dinklage had little sympathy. “Monsters are created. We vote them into office. . . . Maybe [fans] should have waited for the series finale before you get that tattoo, or name your golden retriever Daenerys. I can't help you.”   This segment originally aired December 20, 2019.

    Nicholas Britell on the Art of the Film Score

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 18, 2022 18:07

    Nicholas Britell has emerged as one of the most in-demand film composers working today, creating original music for projects that hew to no style or model. He wrote the infuriatingly catchy theme of HBO's “Succession”; he is nominated for an Academy Award for the score of Adam McKay's manic apocalypse comedy “Don't Look Up”; he was previously nominated for his score for Barry Jenkins's “Moonlight.” In 2017, Britell spoke with the New Yorker editor Henry Finder on the occasion of the release of “Battle of the Sexes,” about the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.    This segment originally aired September 22, 2017.

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the Path Forward for the Left

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 14, 2022 48:24

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the most prominent progressives in Washington. Her political ascent began with her shocking 2018 defeat of a longtime incumbent in a New York district that includes parts of Queens and the Bronx. She is a strong advocate of the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. With her party's razor-thin majorities now in peril, many of her priorities seem out of reach. Can the agenda she was elected to advance survive?  Ocasio-Cortez reflects on her time in Washington with David Remnick, painting a dysfunctional portrait of Congress. “Honestly, it is a shit show,” she says. “It's scandalizing, every single day. What is surprising to me is how it never stops being scandalizing.” This conversation is part of The New Yorker's first digital-only issue, a special collection of New Yorker Interviews.

    On Cancel Culture and the State of Free Speech

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 11, 2022 49:22

    Every few weeks, it seems, another example of so-called cancel culture is dominating the headlines and trending on social-media platforms. The refrain “you can't say anything these days” has become a slogan of cultural politics, particularly on the right. And yet there's a wide gulf of opinion on what the term “cancelling” means—and whether the phenomenon even exists. In this special episode, we examine the issue with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the YouTube video creator Lindsay Ellis, the comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff, and the writers Jay Caspian Kang and William Deresiewicz.

    David Remnick Talks with Lee Child, the Creator of Jack Reacher

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 8, 2022 30:14

    Lee Child didn't start writing novels until he lost a prestigious job producing TV in England during a shakeup that he attributes to Rupert Murdoch. He tried his hand at writing a thriller, and found that the new career suited him: with a hundred million copies of his books in print in forty languages, Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels make up one of the most successful series in print. Every September 1st, he sits down to write a new one. He tells his longtime fan David Remnick that his all-American tough guy is a modern-day knight-errant wandering the land doing good deeds. But, at sixty-seven, Child has thought about giving Reacher up. What would he do instead? Catch up on his own reading, finally getting around to Jane Austen and other classics. “Remember, I'm from Europe,” he points out. “I have no work ethic.” Plus, the contributor Graciela Mochkofsky on three classics of Argentinean music that she hated growing up, but came to embrace while living in America under COVID.

    Black Thought Takes the Stage

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 4, 2022 19:43

    Tariq Trotter, best known in music as Black Thought, the emcee of the Roots, is regarded by many hip-hop fans as one of the best freestyle rappers ever. His work changed shape when the Roots became the house band for Jimmy Fallon's late-night show, and again when he began performing standup comedy. “I've spent most of my career with my sunglasses and my hat pulled down low, very many layers of defense,” he tells Jelani Cobb. “You're up there as a comedian, it's just you and your ideas and a microphone, no light show, no band. . . . After having done this for over thirty years, what else can I do, how can I become a better storyteller?” Trotter's latest endeavor has been writing the music and lyrics for “Black No More,” a musical-theatre production based on the eponymous novel, by George Schuyler;  the script is by John Ridley, with direction by Scott Elliott. Schuyler's book is a dark satire, written during the Harlem Renaissance, that describes the development of a “cure” for Blackness; Trotter stars as Dr. Junius Crookman, who believes that this remedy will solve America's problems with race. “My focus became almost rapping as little as possible” in the show, Trotter says; “I wanted this to be above and beyond folks' expectations.”  “Black No More” is in previews at the Pershing Square Signature Center. It opens February 15th.

    Guillermo del Toro and Bradley Cooper on the Enduring Appeal of Noir

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 1, 2022 19:29

    Guillermo del Toro has been called the leading fantasy filmmaker of this century. His movies include “Pan's Labyrinth,” “Hellboy,” and “The Shape of Water,” which won four Academy Awards in 2018, including Best Picture and Best Director. He joined David Remnick to talk about his new film, “Nightmare Alley,” along with Bradley Cooper, who plays Stanton Carlisle, a grifter who seems to want to do the right thing but is unable to resist the pull of the con. Based on a 1946 novel by William Lindsay Gresham, “Nightmare Alley” is del Toro's first film that isn't somewhere in the fantasy genre; its dark depiction of American life is grounded in film noir. “We went to the root of it, American existentialism,” del Toro says, citing sources like the novel “The Day of the Locust” and the paintings of Edward Hopper. “It's a discovery of America reckoning with its own ideals and its reality,” and a sense of tragic fate. “We knew that we needed to create not an up-and-down structure but a very steady, inexorable ramp.” The film, which was released in theatres in December, during the surge of the Omicron variant, begins streaming February 1st.

    Russia's Intentions in Ukraine—and America

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 28, 2022 30:48

    “They push buttons,” says Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale. “What button of ours are they pushing here? What are they trying to get us to do?” Vladimir Putin is posturing toward a costly invasion of Ukraine, on the false pretext of protecting Russian-language speakers in the country. Why? In a wide-ranging conversation, Snyder talks with David Remnick about how to understand Russia's aggression, the idea advanced by Putin that Ukraine historically and rightfully belongs to Russia, and the dictator's far-reaching goal of destabilizing NATO. Snyder is the author of the Second World War history “Bloodlands,” as well as “The Road to Unfreedom” and “On Tyranny”—which warn of the dangers that imperil American democracy. Running an oligarchy in which corruption is universal, Putin “is basically stuck with spectacle, distractions—the old bread and circuses idea,” Snyder says, “but also is working from a situation where you want to bring other countries down to your level. . . . With that, you can understand their intervention in our elections, or the way they talk about us: they want to bring out the elements of us, both rhetorically and in reality, that are most like the way they run the country.” Putin's governance of Russia and his foreign policy, in other words, are intricately entangled. “I tend to think [the threat of invasion] is about the Biden Administration, in a pretty fundamental way,” Snyder believes. “If your goal is to undermine NATO—let's accept that that is their sincere goal—who do you want to be President? Trump.” The crisis, he says, “puts Biden in a very bad position. It's very hard for Biden to look strong. . . . Insofar as there is a strategy here, it's about dividing NATO members and putting pressure on the Biden Administration.”

    The Trials of a Whistle-blower

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 25, 2022 27:09

    As a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center—a Georgia facility run by LaSalle Corrections, a private company operating an immigration-detention contract with ICE—Dawn Wooten became aware of some frightening violations, including numerous hysterectomies and other medical procedures performed without patient consent. When she asked questions, she was demoted and eventually pushed out. Wooten supplied critical information for two complaints about I.C.D.C., which were submitted to the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security. The complaints were first reported in The Intercept in September, 2020, and then covered widely in the national press. Last May, in a victory for Wooten, the detained women who spoke up about their mistreatment, and the advocacy groups that had fought on their behalf, ICE ended its I.C.D.C. contract with LaSalle. Wooten's own troubles, however, had just begun. Receiving death threats and kidnapping threats, she and her five children stayed under security in a series of hotels. Her whistle-blower-retaliation complaint with the federal government is still awaiting a finding, as the Office of the Inspector General has requested two extensions on its legally required deadlines. Meanwhile, Wooten found that hardly anyone would hire a nurse who had made front-page headlines: despite her twelve years of experience, she was rejected from more than a hundred jobs during a national nursing shortage. She couldn't get hired at McDonald's. Wooten, and the detained women who shared their stories at great risk, are still awaiting justice. For Sarah Stillman, who covers immigration for The New Yorker, Wooten's case draws attention to the fact that low-wage whistle-blowers, in particular, can face almost insurmountable obstacles to coming forward to expose wrongdoing.

    The Olympic Games Return to China, in a Changed World

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 21, 2022 22:11

    Much has changed since China last hosted the Olympics, during the 2008 Summer Games. Those Games were widely seen as greatly improving China's international reputation. But the 2022 Winter Games have put a spotlight instead on its human-rights abuses, most notably the genocide taking place against Uyghurs and Kazakhs. Peter Hessler, for many years The New Yorker's China correspondent, asks David Remnick, “When an athlete says something about the internment camps in Xinjiang, and the oppression of Muslim people in China, what is the Chinese response going to be? The I.O.C. has really left them out there.” The sports reporter Louisa Thomas notes that these Games may garner little American support or attention, with few big-name American athletes for NBC to promote. “I even have a lot of friends who have no idea there's about to be an Olympics,” Thomas says. Plus, at the Beijing pizzeria Pie Squared, the owner, Asher Gillespie, glumly assesses the Olympics boom that isn't coming. With ticket sales halted and the events in a bubble, he says, “We're going to be watching from TV just like everybody else.” 

    Hilton Als and Emma Cline on the Late Joan Didion

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 18, 2022 18:03

    Joan Didion tried and failed, she said, “to think”; that is, to write about abstractions and symbols, and make grand arguments in the manner of the New York intellectuals of her time. Instead, the California native—who died in December, at the age of eighty-seven—built her work around close observation of American life as she saw it, withholding judgment. And while many of her intellectual contemporaries belong now to a bygone era, “for my generation,” Emma Cline notes, “her influence is so massive.” Cline's best-selling novel “The Girls” is set in nineteen-sixties California, on the fringes of a cult—what we might think of as Didion country. “I almost can't think of a writer who is more of a touchstone for every writer that I know.” In fact, younger writers need to “unlearn” her voice, Hilton Als tells David Remnick, in order to find their own. Als notes that Didion eventually rejected the persona of her early works, which was imbued with white female fragility; and she was prophetic, he notes, in placing race and gender at the center of America's battles.    Since Joan Didion's death, The New Yorker has published Postscripts by Als, Cline, Zadie Smith, and Nathan Heller. Some of Didion's own contributions to The New Yorker can be found here. 

    The Biden Presidency, Year One

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 14, 2022 31:51

    President Biden took the oath of office in a moment of deep crisis—the pandemic in full swing and just weeks after an unprecedented attempt to overturn the election by violence. Merely a return to normalcy would have been a tall order. But Biden was promising something more: a transformational agenda that would realign American economics and life on a scale rivalling Franklin Roosevelt's long Presidency. Yet Biden never commanded Roosevelt's indomitable popularity and electoral advantages. A year into the Administration, Evan Osnos takes stock of its successes, failures, and ongoing challenges, along with four New Yorker colleagues: Susan B. Glasser on legislation, Jonathan Blitzer on immigration, Elizabeth Kolbert on climate, and John Cassidy on the economy.

    Nnedi Okorafor on Sci-Fi Through an African Lens

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 11, 2022 23:32

    Nnedi Okorafor, a recipient of the prestigious Hugo Award, is a prolific writer of science-fiction and fantasy novels for adults and young adults. She spoke with Vinson Cunningham about how her Nigerian American heritage influenced her interest in fantastical worlds. “It's part of the culture—this mysticism,” she says. “I wanted to write about those mystical things that people talked about but didn't talk about because they were mysterious and interesting, and sometimes forbidden.” Her novel “Akata Woman,” which comes out this month, is the third in a series that also acknowledges complicated relationships among peoples of the African diaspora. Plus, Julian Lucas is a passionate gamer, with a particular interest in video games as a form of landscape art. He walks David Remnick through the forthcoming game Norco, a highly anticipated thriller set in coastal Louisiana.

    A New Civil War in America?

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 7, 2022 26:45

    When rioters, encouraged by the President, stormed the Capitol, one year ago, to overturn the results of the election, the idea that such a thing could play out in America was stunning. But the attack may have been just the beginning of an ongoing insurrection, not a failed attempt at a coup. David Remnick talks with Barbara F. Walter, the author of the new book “How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them.” Walter is a political scientist and a professor at the University of California, San Diego, and a co-director of the online magazine Political Violence at a Glance. She has studied countries that slide into civil war for the C.I.A., and she says that the United States meets many of the criteria her group identified. In particular, anti-democratic trends such as increased voting restrictions point to a nation on the brink. “Full democracies rarely have civil wars. Full autocracies rarely have civil wars,” she says. “It's the ones that are in between that are particularly at risk.” 

    The Power of Police Unions

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 4, 2022 24:16

    The repeal of Section 50-A of the New York State Civil Rights Law was no technical change. Passed in the wake of the George Floyd protests, it was a big victory for police-reform activists. 50-A shielded the disciplinary records of police officers, meaning that, in an officer-involved killing, for example, neither lawyers, journalists, nor the victim's family could determine if the officer had a history of disciplinary incidents. Laws like 50-A—and there are similar laws in many states—have played a big role in blocking police accountability. Because of the powerful influence of police unions, changing them is not easy, even for left-leaning politicians who champion reform. The New Yorker staff writer William Finnegan examines how the fight against 50-A was won. At the center of the story are the fraught relationships among politicians, protesters, and law enforcement.    This segment originally aired July 31, 2020.

    Amanda Gorman on Life After Inauguration

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 31, 2021 25:38

    One year ago, Amanda Gorman delivered the inaugural poem on the day that Joe Biden became President. Gorman was just twenty-two years old, and it was just two weeks after Trump supporters had assaulted the Capitol in an effort to stop Congress from certifying the election. At the ceremony, Gorman herself seemed to cast light on a dark situation. Her poem “The Hill We Climb” reads, “When day comes, we ask ourselves: / Where can we find light / In this never-ending shade? / The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. / We've braved the belly of the beast.” The New Yorker's poetry editor, Kevin Young, wrote that her poem was “as vibrant and elegant as her yellow coat against the cold.” After that very public début, Gorman found the stakes of writing the poems for her new collection, “Call Us What We Carry,” to be impossibly high. (It was excerpted in The New Yorker with readings by Gorman.) She spoke with Young about being an inaugural poet—following in the footsteps of Maya Angelou and Elizabeth Alexander—in a conversation from The New Yorker's Poetry Podcast.

    For a French Burglar, Stealing Masterpieces Is Easier Than Selling Them

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 28, 2021 21:23

    Vjeran Tomic has been stealing since he was a small child, when he used a ladder to break into a library in his home town, in Bosnia. After moving to Paris, he graduated to lucrative apartment burglaries, living off the jewels he took and often doing time in prison. He became known in the French press as Spider-Man, and he began to steal art. Tomic has a grand sense of his calling as a burglar; he considers it his destiny and has described his robberies as acts of imagination. He eventually carried out a truly epic heist: a break-in at the Musée d'Art Moderne, in Paris, in which he left with seventy million dollars' worth of paintings. But selling these masterpieces proved harder than stealing them, and that's where Spider-Man's troubles began. The contributor Jake Halpern tells Vjeran Tomic's story; excerpts from Tomic's letters from prison are read by the actor Jean Brassard.     This segment was previously aired in 2019.

    Rhiannon Giddens, Americana's Queen, Goes Global

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 24, 2021 29:52

    By the standards of any musician, Rhiannon Giddens has taken a twisting and complex path. Trained as an operatic soprano at the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory, Giddens fell almost by chance into the study of American folk music. Alongside two like-minded musicians, she formed the Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she plays banjo and sings. The group is focussed on reviving the nearly forgotten repertoire of Black Southern string bands, but the audience for acoustic music remains largely white. Giddens tells David Remnick she was heartbroken that her largest Black audience was at a prison concert. “The gatekeepers of Black culture are not interested in what I'm doing,” she says. “This is a complaint I've heard from many, many people of color who do music that's not considered Black—hip-hop, R. & B.” Her view of Black music is more expansive: “There's been black people singing opera and writing classical music forever.” As a solo artist, Giddens is moving increasingly further afield from African American and American music; her new album, “There Is No Other,” recorded in Dublin in collaboration with the musician Francesco Turrisi, explores folk styles from the Middle East, Europe, and Brazil, as well as early America. She and Turrisi perform “Wayfaring Stranger,” the ancient ballad “Little Margaret,” and the tarantella “Pizzica di San Vito.”    This segment was previously aired in 2019.

    When Snow Came to San Juan

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 21, 2021 27:45

    For several years in the early nineteen-fifties, Puerto Rico received snow, right around Christmas. Children in San Juan rode a sled and had a giant snowball fight in the tropical weather. It wasn't a miracle, or a meteorological outlier. The snow was a gift from San Juan's longtime mayor, Felisa Rincón de Gautier, who had fallen in love with snow during her years in New York. It was delivered by Eastern Airlines, which milked the publicity for all it was worth. A young New Hampshire girl escorted one delivery, wearing a hat and a cable-knit sweater. The snow didn't cost Puerto Rico anything, but it certainly came with strings attached. At a time when the independence movement was being harshly suppressed, in favor of a continued colonial relationship with the United States, the fetishization of the northern “white Christmas” reads to some as a gesture of cultural imperialism that has never quite ended. And even recently—as the island still faces routine blackouts of its electrical grid, years after Hurricane Maria—the mayor of a small town proposed building an ice-skating rink. WNYC's Alana Casanova-Burgess reports on why the snow came, and what it meant to Puerto Ricans.  Our story was produced in collaboration with “La Brega,” from WNYC Studios and Futuro Studios.

    Is the Gift of Tuition Enough?

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 17, 2021 22:46

    Élite schools are trying hard to recruit students of color and students who are less well-off financially; Yale University, as one example, now covers full tuition for families making less than seventy-five thousand dollars. Yet, many of these students find that the experience and the culture of a selective private university may remain challenging. Even a full-ride scholarship may not meet the needs of a student from a poor or working-class family. The New Yorker Radio Hour's KalaLea spent time at Trinity College with Manny Rodriguez, who was then a senior, working three jobs to cover his expenses and help his family. They met before the Thanksgiving break, where Rodriguez remained on campus picking up extra shifts. He could not afford the airfare to visit his mother. Often late for classes, unable to meet professors during office hours, and deeply anxious about expenses that many of his classmates wouldn't notice, Rodriguez explains the ways that college is not structured for people like himself. “I feel like I've struggled to finish,” he says, “and I'm going to be crawling on my graduation day.”

    Millennial Writers Reflect on a Generation's Despair

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 14, 2021 31:58

    The eldest millennials turned forty this year, and the producer Ngofeen Mputubwele comments on a sense of despair he finds in his generation, having to do with the state of the planet, the nation, the Internet, intolerance, and more. He set out to explore why millennials feel hopeless and how they can live with that feeling, in conversations with five writers: Kaveh Akbar, the author of “Pilgrim Bell”; Carlos Maza, the creator of the video essay “How to Be Hopeless”; Shauna McGarry, a writer on “BoJack Horseman”; Patrick Nathan, the author of “Image Control: Art, Facism, and the Right to Resist”; and the climate activist Daniel Sherrell, whose recent memoir is “Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World.”

    Paul Thomas Anderson, Poet Laureate of the San Fernando Valley

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 10, 2021 18:03

    Paul Thomas Anderson first made a splash in Hollywood with his film “Boogie Nights,” a portrait of the porn industry that burgeoned in the San Fernando Valley, the much-mocked suburbs of Los Angeles. Anderson is a Valley native, and proud to live there still. “There was a terrific story right in my own back yard,” he told David Remnick. “I guess at some point, I probably read ‘Write what you know.' I was, like, Well, that's a good place to start.” Many of Anderson's films—such as “Magnolia,” “There Will Be Blood,” and “Inherent Vice”—tell stories from Southern California's past and present. Anderson's new film, “Licorice Pizza,” returns to that terrain. It portrays the thorny relationship between a teen-aged boy and a twenty-five-year-old woman, and the pair's misadventures in the Valley of the mid-seventies. Anderson, who could recruit any stars in Hollywood, instead cast two newcomers as his leads: Alana Haim (a musician in the indie band HAIM) and Cooper Hoffman. Anderson spoke to David Remnick from his home in—where else?—the Valley.

    Life After Prison

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 7, 2021 19:23

    As a kid, Jonathan was good at soccer and making friends. But by the age of eighteen, he was a drug dealer facing his first serious conviction. For his third conviction, although the charges were for nonviolent offenses, he received a twenty-one-year prison sentence. In 2019, after serving seventeen years, he was released under the First Step Act, a bipartisan prison-reform bill that has helped to reduce the sentencing disparity between crack and powdered cocaine for some federal prisoners. In total, Jonathan has spent twenty-five years behind bars. Now, as a middle-aged former felon, he faces a world full of hazards and struggles with the unintended consequences of a long sentence. (Jonathan's real name has been withheld, in order to protect his family's privacy.)    Also, David Remnick speaks with Kai Wright, the host of WNYC's “The United States of Anxiety,” about long prison sentences and how the goal of incarceration has shifted from “correction” to warehousing people for as long as possible.     This podcast was originally released on January 17, 2020. 

    Mass Incarceration, Then and Now

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 3, 2021 31:15

    The United States has the largest prison population in the world. But, until the publication of Michelle Alexander's book “The New Jim Crow,” in 2010, most people didn't use the term “mass incarceration,” or consider the practice a social-justice issue. Alexander argued that the increasing imprisonment of Black and brown men—through rising arrest rates and longer sentences—was not merely a response to crime but a system of racial control. “The drug war was in part a politically motivated strategy, a backlash to the civil-rights movement, but it was also a reflection of conscious and unconscious biases fuelled by media portrayals of drug users,” Alexander tells David Remnick. “Those racial stereotypes were resonant of the same stereotypes of slaves and folks during the Jim Crow era.” Plus, a conversation with Reginald Dwayne Betts, who discovered poetry while in solitary confinement, during a prison sentence for a carjacking that he committed when he was sixteen. Betts reads a poem, which appears in his collection “Felon,” about trying to explain to his young son that he has served time in prison.

    Aimee Mann Live, with Atul Gawande

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2021 23:36

    Aimee Mann, the celebrated Los Angeles singer and songwriter, recently released an album called “Queens of the Summer Hotel.” The album was inspired in part by Susanna Kaysen's best-selling memoir “Girl, Interrupted,” about Kaysen's time in a psychiatric hospital. Mann sat down with Atul Gawande at The New Yorker Festival to talk about the new album, the lessons of living through a pandemic, and how liberated she felt when she broke her ties with major record labels. “When you're at a record label and you're trying to ascertain whether something can be a hit or a single, you listen in a different way—and then everything sounds like garbage,” she said. Mann decided that she didn't “want to keep baring my soul to people who hate everything I'm doing.” 

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