Christopher Lydon 公开
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You can’t help noticing the badge of success in American business has changed. Robber barons a century ago built monopolies, then palaces. In our second gilded age today, winners at the Bezos, Branson, and Elon Musk level need their own private space programs to play astronauts, floating in space to certify the excess of our staggeringly uneven con…
 
We know their songs, not so much what they were going through, those Black women artists who wrote and sang so many anthems of American life: Bessie Smith’s “Gimme a Pigfoot” and Mamie Smith’s “Crazy Blues”; stars beyond category like Ethel Waters singing “Shake that Thing” in the ’20s; then Gospel hits like “His Eye Is On the Sparrow,” on tour in …
 
This show first aired on May 28, 2020. John Maynard Keynes was a philosophical giant in twentieth-century England. In his day job, he was a public economist; in America he was a political football for the very idea of “deficit spending” to charge up private investment in a recession. It made the name “Keynes” a cuss word until our politicians fell …
 
This show first aired July 18, 2019. Middlemarch, a novel by the woman who gave herself a man’s by-line, “George Eliot,” may be the most honored masterpiece you’ve been avoiding all your life. Here’s the point: read it this summer. You’re ready to love Middlemarch if you second-guess marriages, like your own; second-marriages, too. You’re ready to …
 
What we call Alzheimer’s—the loss of memory, mind, autonomy—wasn’t always called a disease. It was an aspect of aging, a symptom, a condition: senile dementia. Shakespeare made it the last of his seven ages of man, ending in “second childishness and mere oblivion / Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” Well into the twentieth century…
 
If you’re still struggling to grasp Bibi Netanyahu’s downfall in Israel, listen to this: a Jewish-American novelist, a Palestinian-Arab screenwriter and a Canadian-American-Israeli pundit all walk into a Zoom room together, to pull the puzzle apart. Bibi himself is the central piece: hard-shell Israeli but a made-in-America story, he’s the child of…
 
Stand by for news from outer space: news the government never said it was collecting or considered important, perhaps because people who take UFOs too seriously risk ridicule sooner or later. That taboo is lifting. It will be Pentagon science and intelligence reporting this summer of 2021, on “unidentified aerial phenomena,” not just UFOs. Don’t ex…
 
This show first aired on May 21, 2020. The force of art to rescue a world breaking down; the power of music in particular to heal people one by one, perhaps all together: this was Yo-Yo Ma’s breathtaking mission for himself in his 60s, to nail down the convictions that have sustained his humble self at the very pinnacle of major-league music. His p…
 
There’s a swerve in the road, signs that say “Sharp Curves Ahead,” in the origin story of the COVID pandemic. Where did that virus come from? And how did it leap to the human species, to kill by now more than three million of us? For a year and a half, it’s been a buried issue, a trial without evidence, a detective story without its Sherlock Holmes…
 
The opioid epidemic, still rampant, still deadly, turns out to be a family story at its root. Empire of Pain is Patrick Radden Keefe’s account of the drug company that touched off an American plague and the family that owned it. The Sacklers were famous for collecting art and giving away money—less famous for the source of their fortune. But they h…
 
A year and a half into the COVID story, notice the many unknowns, and one big known. Even now, nobody can tell you absolutely whether the infectious virus might have leaked, or been leaked, from a Chinese lab in Wuhan. No one’s quite explained, broadly, why the people and governments in East Asia coped so much more effectively with COVID than Team …
 
The humbling of India, the torment of India, is full of messages for the rest of us. Beware the second wave of the pandemic: that’s the one that has turned India’s boastful first round into a hellish reprise. India the pharmaceutical giant, and exporter of vaccines, claimed last winter to have “saved humanity” from COVID. Come spring, India is sudd…
 
Where is Armenia, the place, the idea? Where then? Where now? And how come the delight on top of the darkness in saying “I am Armenian”? Armenians were a tiny, ancient Indo-European people, between East and West, the first Christian nation, when Turkey wiped most of them off the map in 1915. It was the twentieth century’s grotesque model of mass sl…
 
Recovery and renewal arrived on a flood tide that lifted all kinds of production—culture above all. This was the era that gave the world a new look: tail fins on new cars, Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings, new sounds like Kind of Blue and John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. New films like Nicholas Ray’s Rebel without a Cause, and Susan Sontag’s “Notes …
 
Bidenomics is different, we are beginning to notice. Just keeping score in the trillions of dollars takes some getting used to. But some key rules have changed, too. Modern Monetary Theory holds that even massive borrowing at very low interest rates is almost free. The debt will be rolled over anyway, not paid back. So why not Go Big in Building Ba…
 
Philip Roth, the late novelist, may hold the record for “most ways to tell his own story,” in fiction and fact; in his psychiatric farce around a boy’s solo sex in Portnoy’s Complaint, then a tender meditation on the making of an artist in The Ghost Writer, plus barely veiled memoirs of two miserable marriages, then epic fiction in American Pastora…
 
You must remember this, the song says. In fact, it’s hard to forget at Oscar time every April, that Casablanca, the Best Picture of 1942, was an all-time pinnacle of black-and-white Hollywood. To this day, it’s the whole world’s favorite American movie, for so many odd reasons — like the love triangle that ends unhappily, with Humphrey Bogart walki…
 
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