Saturday, May 27, 2006

Ruth's Public Radio Report

Ruth: C.I. said, "If you want to post, that's fine, but you don't have to." Yes, I want to. I have missed posting while I was on vacation. I need to do a heads up and a thank you so I will do that and note a few observations as well.


KPFA's Sunday Salon
This week on Sunday Salon...
Hour 1: Conscientious objectors -
Hour 2: Reduce your travel woes

That airs from nine to eleven Pacific, eleven to noon Central and noon to two Eastern. The program is hosted by Larry Bensky. Be sure to listen.

Thank yous include all the members who e-mailed. I was wondering if three Saturdays missed would result in everyone thinking, "Thank God that old woman's finally shut up!" Apparently, that was not the result.

Thank you to Rebecca. Shortly before I was due to leave with Treva, the woman who was going to watch my grandson Elijah while I was on vacation had to cancel due to a family emergency in Florida. These things happen and I was prepared to cancel the trip when Rebecca called moments after I got off the phone with the woman. Rebecca immediately offered to fill in for the duration. That was not just a big help, it was a blessing.

On my end, Rebecca's wondered, there was never any reservations about her watching Elijah. I can also report that my son and daughter-in-law accepted the offer when I presented it to them without knowing anything other than I trusted the person. After they agreed, they asked who it was. My daughter-in-law met Rebecca when she visited during the winter and they have both heard of her from my grandchildren Jayson and Tracey. My son said, "I wished you'd told us it was Rebecca right away." Far from alarming either of them, Rebecca's presence was gladly appreciated.

I will say thank you to my children for making a point to invite Rebecca to dinner each night during the three weeks and I will note that they enjoyed having her. A few strong words were actually exchanged over who would be able to have her on the last night. She was a big hit.

Most of all with Elijah. Monday through Friday, I watch my grandson. I see him on the weekends as well. We have a pretty close bond. When I went to California, I took him with me.
I was not sure whether he would enjoy a two to three week road trip, however. What he did enjoy was Rebecca. She has a post about their early days together that you should read.

When she left Thursday, he did not want to her go. Friday was "Beck-uh" this and "Beck-uh" that. If she had not been out of the country on vacation, I would have phoned her just so Elijah could say hello. He knew her before this but he really took her during their three weeks together.

I will also note that she cleaned the house top to bottom, Tracey says she did that Wednesday night, which I had asked her not to do and not to worry about. I was expecting to come home to well lived in home and instead found it sparkling clean, so thank you, Rebecca.

In the e-mails, a few members expressed concern that WBAI had not gotten enough attention in terms of highlights. KPFA's website usually notes upcoming programs on a regular basis. Dallas usually does the links for me in my reports, and thanks to him for that, and we discussed that issue this morning. You really need to listen to WBAI to know what will be coming up. Jess did note a program on the station in a special entry he did this week. I called Rachel and Micah but was not able to reach Jonah. Both Rachel and Micah stated that they were not highlighting because it was special programming and they often learned of what was coming on shortly before it aired. WBAI is the station I listen to over the airwaves so if there was a dip in noting it, that can also be attributed to the fact that I was on vacation. Remember, however, that any member who notes a program in an e-mail will see it noted it at the site. If there is a program you are looking foward to, e-mail and C.I. will note it because if it interests you, it will probably interest other members as well. A sentiment that I heard Bernard White and Amy Goodman express, on WBAI, was that the station was the people's university and, at a time when NPR seems to exist as the graveyard for mainstream media, that is even more accurate. If you are interested in learning, you are seeking out information from the likes of WBAI.

Whether you listened to KPFA or WBAI or another Pacifica station, there were many strong programs during the fundraising drive. A big hit was Timothy Wise. I also have a number of e-mails on a documentary made by Canada's CBC on environmental pollution in the home. [C.I. note: Up Close and Toxic.] Brandon cannot say enough kind words about KPFA's Bob Dylan Birthday Special and there are also e-mails on Radio Chronicles' airing of John Ono Lennon and of Friday's Music Special: Modern Protest Music. I heard both of the last two.

Radio Chornicles was something Treva and I both wanted to catch so we listened on the road. It was a wonderful look at the music, activism and life of John Lennon. For people our age, we are superimposing several decades we lived through when we listen so I was delighted to read e-mails from younger people who were impressed with the special as well. Friday's noting of some of the music coming out today, music commenting on our times, was also delightful. The biggest question from the e-mails was, "Is Kat going to be reviewing Janis Ian's new album?" That is on her list but I called her last night to pass on the interest among the community in the album Folk Is The New Black. It was great to hear Ms. Ian's "The Great Divide" as well as two songs from Neil Young. The thing that stood out the most was probably Josh Ritter's "Girl In The War." The music to that really is magical and I have grown so used to Tracey and Jayson playing the entire CD of The Animal Years, that it was only hearing it on Friday's program, surrounded by other things, that I remembered the joy I felt upon first listen.

The vacation was a time of rest and fun. This really was the first vacation where I the passing of my husband was not so fresh that I was plauged by moments of sadness. I missed him, as always do, but there were no episodes of depression.

What was there? A chance to really get to know this country. I knew the community's feelings and took comfort in that. But I had no idea how prevalent the mood of the nation was in turning against the Bully Boy. I count only the states we stopped in, not the ones we drove through, and ended up with sixteen. Time and again, the talk was of how the Bully Boy had failed the nation. The outrage over the lack of prepartion for and the lack of response to Hurricane Katrina has not faded. The NSA issue is much more pressing than the mainstream media's polling implies.
People my age, really old, compared the Bully Boy to Richard Nixon with no hesitation.

In Arizona, I met some wonderful women who are doing their part and then some to get the word out. It does not really feel like an attempt to wake up the country because the nation is awake. Waking up Congress, on the other hand . . . .

In every discussion, at some point, the issue of the media would be brought up. If anyone or anything is more unpopular than the Bully Boy, it may be the press. During those discussions, I would note Pacifica and Democracy Now! and was pleasantly surprised time and again to find that people who had no Pacifica station for miles and miles knew of it. Democracy Now!? The program's reach is huge. Amy Goodman usually notes the various outlets it plays on but it is one thing to hear Ms. Goodman note it and another thing to hear, "Oh, I watch it on ___" or "Oh, I listen to it on ___" or "I always go to the website" and listen, read or watch.

I doubt it is yet reaching as many people as one of the big three networks' evening news broadcasts, though I may be wrong, but it surely reaching as many and probably more than anything on cable. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, we stopped to speak to a young man who was wearing a Democracy Now! t-shirt. Treva had told me of the program's reach but I had not really absorbed how great the reach was until our three week road trip. In North Carolina, we met people watch it on a channel called "The People's Channel" and that seemed appropriate because it is the people's news.

We also met a few community members by accident. When this Ruth would speak of Pacifica, I would be asked, "Ruth of The Common Ills?" I was able to meet Kayla and see her very cute newborn son. I also met ??? and asked him, "Why '???'?" He said it was "James Bond like" and also that another member already was noted by the same first name. If I had thought ahead, we would have attempted to meet up with some members while we were on the road. Our only set plans were to see the Grand Canyon, in a happier Thelma & Louise type visit, and to meet Eli whom I knew from the site, e-mails, columns in the gina & krista round-robin and phone calls. Eli is just as wonderful and wise as he comes off in his columns. He also won a permanent spot in my heart for greeting me with, "I thought you said you were old." (I am old.)

He has written of how having his great-granddaughter come to live with him while her parents are going through a divorce has been a blessing and I saw just how true that was. The house was alive with music and people talking. When you lose a spouse or partner after many years of living together, getting out into the world is important but you are often still coming home to your home that you no longer share with anything other than fond memories. We discussed that and how wonderful it was to see our homes come back to life.

His great-granddaughter plays the piano regularly which Eli's had tuned because that is the sort of thing you figure "Why bother?" when it is just you. I told him that I, like many members, had been worried because his children live far away, his wife had passed away and the friends they had around them had passed away, gone to live with their children or entered nursing homes. He asked me to note that he is doing "better than fine." Which is true, that house is alive. He also asked me to note that Wally and Wally's mother both call at least once a week just to chat and that he appreciates that now but he really appreciated it before his great-granddaughter moved in.

His plate is overflowing these days. Besides having his great-granddaughter to talk about the world with, just her presence has meant that some of the neighbors have opened up. (Eli stated that when you are an old man living alone, young neighbors tend to want nothing more than to wave at you and I would agree with that.) A young family next door have become good friends especially after learning that they shared politics and could discuss the day's Democracy Now! with someone. So see, the people's news program not only provides you with information you need, it also provides you with conversation.

The Grand Canyon was a place we always intended to visit, my husband and I. The children usually wanted either Disney Land or Disney World so we would vacation in Florida or California. Then, as we grew older, so many friends and family relocated to Florida that it became the destination. So finally, after all these many years, I saw the Grand Canyon in person. Photos do not do it justice. Forget the majesty of mountains we sing of, the Grand Canyon filled me with awe and wonder.

Camping out near there, a young woman came over to ask if we would be bothered if she played some music on her jam box? We both said no. She then came back over, sent by her mother, to explain that she wanted to play a CD and her mother had asked her to check with us. The CD? Neil Young's Living With War. We told her that not only did we not mind, we had packed that CD for our own road trip which led to an invitation to join her large family gathering. Speaking to her great-uncle, I was confronted with a self-described "always vote Republican" who had broken with his party after decades of voting straight ticket. That includes in 2004 when, he explained, he felt that the first term was "messy" but that, given the chance, he had faith the Bully Boy would make the second term about fixing the mistakes. He no longer has that faith. He told me that Bully Boy makes Nixon "look like a Boy Scout." It was a conversation I had many times as we traveled but it is one that still stands out because, as he said, he was someone who wanted to believe in and to support the Bully Boy but no longer can.

How this will translate into the election turnout in November, I have no idea. But, time and again, talking to people of all ages, I saw a nation that had no faith in the Bully Boy and eager, this especially from Republicans and usually over the NSA spying, to see him impeached. It is a nation that you only see covered as poll numbers by the media, but it is one that is outspoken and paying quite a bit more attention than the mainstream media or the Congress appear to be with what is going on.