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Bringing It All Back Home: Tiga Jean-Baptiste and the Struggle for Haiti’s Musical Heritage...

Tiga Jean-Baptiste is an up-and-coming recording artist from Haiti. He was raised the son of a well-known Haitian drummer, and grew up in the voodoo tradition. Today, he fronts a band called Tchaka, and also releases his own music. He has opened for fellow Haitian Wyclef Jean, and has a new album coming out in a couple months. Tiga is also a rarity: a young Haitian who knows his musical heritage, and takes pride in it. In the last few decades, Haitian traditional music has been neglected by most of the country’s people. This speaks to a lack of cultural equity in Haiti, a problem with far-reaching consequences for every culture. The Association for Cultural Equity, started by famed archivist Alan Lomax, and now run by his daughter, Anna Lomax Wood, now seeks to help preserve Haiti’s musical heritage, so that more people can enjoy Haitian music the same way Tiga does. Here’s the audio:...
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Bed-Stuy, Bike Share, Meat Loaf: Looking Forward to It...

The New York City Department of Transportation has announced plans to introduce an innovative new program this summer called NYC BikeShare. Among the neighborhoods where the program will be tested in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. I went out to see what the residents of this iconic neighborhood thought about the idea. Check out the audio below! [audio:http://cdn.journalism.cuny.edu/blogs.dir/447/files/2012/05/2012_4_20_Mitchell_Bike_Share.mp3|titles=2012_4_20_Mitchell_Bike_Share]
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Response to “24 Hours At the Golden Apple”...

This piece really struck a chord with me. I’ve always sort of fetishized the romantic notion of a diner at the wee hours having some sort of near-mystical significance, so I enjoyed this a lot. What I liked lot about it was how much the “TAL” team let people tell their stories in their own words. A lot of the piece was just people talking about their lives. But there was also just enough nat sound to give it a little bit of texture. I especially like the harmonica at the beginning–it set kind of a nice rustic tone for the rest of the piece…or the accordion, which is what it says in the summary, but I remember it as a harmonica. Oh well. This was definitely a good example of “less is more.” I think the producers all did a great job of standing back and allowing their subjects to tell their own story. That’s important. Most of the narration just seems to be reacting to people, instead of trying to make any definitive statement on who they are. The warm, intimate voices do a great job of telling you most everything that you need to know. I especially remember the 78-year-old construction who said “That’s all there is” or something like that all the time, and the waitress who told the producer she didn’t feel like talking anymore. They had personalities that really came through, mostly because the production was too overbearing. I mean, this would never work as an episode of “Radiolab.” I honestly didn’t like the nighttime part as much. I don’t know, but the subjects just didn’t do as much for me. I think the morning people just seemed to have more dignity and experience. I really liked the former couple. That was a fascinating story that unfolded in a completely unexpected way. I liked how they were introduced, and how their backstory slowly came to the fore. When I first heard their introduction, I assumed they were a couple. Then I find out they used to be, and aren’t anymore. Then I learn way more about them then is really comfortable. It all comes out slowly, and their personalities–especially the guy’s–are slowly unfurled completely. It was masterful in my opinion. I have honestly not listened to too much “This American Life,” but of the ones I have heard, it is my...
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“Capitalism is Not the Problem”: A Conversation with Mark Axinn...

Mark Axinn is the Chairman of the New York State Libertarian Party, and a lawyer working in Manhattan. He joined me in the studio to discuss the Libertarian party platform, and the candidacy of Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico....
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Listening Assignment for 3/22/12

Here is a feature that has stuck with me over the last few weeks: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/19/143972785/kims-death-met-with-joy-concern-in-koreatown The correspondent goes to Koreatown in L.A. to get people’s reactions to the death of Kim Jong-Il. I like this piece because of the way it uses sounds to put you at the show-shine stand and the key kiosk, to remind you that these people are doing everyday things even though their lives are connected to events that often seem larger than life. It also provides a good primer on how people in South Korea see the North at this critical...