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The Case of the Missing Checks

"High is a different thing for different folks. I don’t smoke pot but I’m awful high tonight." Community organizer Elsie Easley said this about the state of welfare to students at University of Illinois in 1972. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, welfare recipients who relied on government aid to feed their families were often subject to extreme delays and disrespect, with no recourse to defend their rights. Hear the story of mothers and activists like Easley who argued for welfare as a civil...


Zero Mostel and the truth of the absurd

When Zero Mostel was under trial by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in 1955, the committee asked what he was doing at an anti-HUAC meeting. Mostel replied: "What if I did an imitation of a butterfly at rest? There is no crime in making anybody laugh." In this Popcast, hear about Mostel's dedication to the absurd. He exposed real life absurd situations of the McCarthy era by talking back, and brought out the human truth to absurd characters like Eugene Ionesco's "Rhinoceros" on...


When the Negro was in vogue

At the Cotton Club, Harlem's premier nightclub of the 1920s and 30s, 16-year-old Lena Horne performed as a chorus girl alongside legends like Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. The only catch? The audience was whites-only. In Popcast, hear Horne talk with mixed emotions about her time at the Cotton Club with clips from a 1966 recording from the Pacifica Radio Archives. Produced by Emma Hammond. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy


Seamus Heaney and the Long Dead

How do you write a love poem to a 2,000 year old stranger? On Popcast, hear about Northern Irish poet Seamus Heaney's obsession with "bog bodies." These centuries-old human remains were found in boglands of Northern Europe, and were often killed in violent, ritualistic ways – something that resonated with Heaney, living in war-torn Belfast. Bioarcheologist Andrew Chamberlain and Heaney scholar Stephen Enniss of the University of Texas at Austin weigh in on the science and symbolism of bog...


Welcome to Womanhouse

The rooms were full of menstrual blood and Kotex, rubber breasts and stumbling brides, fragmented bodies in linen closets and simulacra of babies being born. It was 1972, and this was Womanhouse: a rickety Victorian house turned into a home for radical feminist installations by the students of Judy Chicago’s Feminist Art program at CalArts. A conversation between Chicago and writer Anaïs Nin offers insights into a volatile moment of Second-wave feminism. Produced by Adrian Shirk. The...


The Freedom Singers, and the three simple words that gave strength to a movement

It was the early days of the civil rights movement. Across the South, black students staged sit-ins, marches, demonstrations and protests that were violently repressed. In this podcast, two voices from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) talk about the song “We Shall Overcome” – three simple words that became an anthem of strength and conviction for their movement. Bernie Lafayette remembers hearing the song in February 1961 during 14 nights of demonstrations to enter the...


Freud in the Night Kitchen

When Maurice Sendak’s now classic children’s book In the Night Kitchen was released in 1970, it caused a scandal. Its protagonist, a young boy, is bare naked throughout the book, amidst a landscape phallic milk bottles and free-flowing liquids. Parents cried pornography. Armchair psychologists jumped to analyze its Freudian subtext. But the kids? They just laughed. In this Popcast, we play you excerpts from Sendak's 1970 conversation with legendary interviewer Studs Terkel. Sendak balks at...


The Song Banned by NASA

Astronauts don’t have days and nights like we do on earth, so they need some help regulating their sleep. Turns out, it takes a whole team of engineers down on earth to rouse NASA’s elite from their slumbers. In this Popcast, hear about the NASA tradition of "wake up songs" from Mission Control, including the one song that went too far. Written and produced by Eliza Smith, narrated by Eliza Smith and Jacob Winik, with editorial help from Emily Saltz. Audio from the NASA collection on Pop Up...


Bob Hope and Atomic Bill

It was 1950, just five years after the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Soviet Union had just built their own bomb. And what did Americans, huddled around their radios, most want to hear? Comedian Bob Hope, joking about the world "blowing itself up." In this Popcast, Eliza Smith talks about "The Quick and the Dead," a 1950 NBC special about atomic energy, hosted by Bob Hope. Original audio can be found on Pop Up Archive, courtesy of the Broadcast Archives at WILL and...


Folksong and Potboilers

In the early 1900s, journalist and renaissance man Charles Lummis set out to capture and preserve the Spanish folk songs of California, including the voice of one talent in particular: Manuela García. Listen to the story behind the Charles Fletcher Lummis wax cylinder collection at the Autry National Center. Find "La Cara Negra" and dozens of other songs from The Autry collection on Pop Up Archive: https://www.popuparchive.com/collections/2088 Learn more about the Autry National Center, and...


And of course, she was a Scorpio

Describing Sylvia Plath in 1972, Plath's editor Fran McCullough says: "instances of her bitchiness and snobbery [were] quite astonishing. And of course she was a Scorpio." Jumping off from there, host Eliza Smith uses the lens of astrology to understand Plath's work, asking Bay Area astrologer Jessica Lanyadoo to analyze Plath's star chart. What follows is a tragic and insightful reading. Want to see what Sylvia Plath's star chart looks like? Have a peek here:...


O my Homunculus: The proto-podcast about Sylvia Plath

With all the talk of a "golden age" of audio, it can be easy to forget that producers have been putting together intimate, conversational audio pieces for decades. In this Popcast, hear about the surprising podcast-like feel of a 1972 radio documentary about Sylvia Plath. Listen on Pop Up Archive, along with a full machine transcript: https://www.popuparchive.com/collections/4425/items/34632 Hear the original piece from the Pacifica Radio Archives on Pop Up Archive:...