Sunday, August 18, 2013

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Journey into Illinois: Remembering Everett Dirksen

At the time of the Illinois primary, we stopped to consider a statesman of the 20th century not too much recalled these days Everett McKinley Dirksen (January 4, 1896 – September 7, 1969) was an American politician of the Republican Party. He represented Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives (1933–1949) and U.S. Senate (1951–1969). As Senate Minority Leader for over a decade, he played a highly visible and key role in the politics of the 1960s, including helping to write and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Open Housing Act of 1968, both landmarks of civil rights legislation. He was also one of the Senate’s strongest supporters of the Vietnam War. He was know as “The Wizard of Ooze” for his oratorical style. In this Journey into Illinois, we speak with Frank MaKaman of the Dirksen Congressional Center in Pekin, Illinois, Dirksen’s hometown. He reminds us that Senator Dirksen was a partisan but a Republican who worked with Democrats to get things done – a bi-partisanship lacking into today’s polarized political environment. He also was one of the first political leaders to embrace the new media of television (You can imagine how different history might be if JFK debated Dirksen, not Nixon in 1960). MaKaman also briefs us on the “historical collections” (Dirksen Collection, Bob Michel Collection and Ray Lahood Collection) and “Congress in the Classroom”, and “Congress Link”, all coming out of the Dirksen. In all, why Dirksen shopld still matter. To hear the podcast, go to

A Journey into Louisiana: Poppy Tooker of Lousiana Eats on the New Orleans Roadfood Festival

This year only 11% of eligible voters participaed in the Louisiana Primary. The weather was beautiful and it was festival time so folks stayed outdoors. One of those festivals was the New Orleans Roadfood Festival. For it four blocks in the French Market were lined with dozens of top Roadfood cooks from New Orleans and all of Louisiana as well as from all across America, each offering a unique specialty. This was NOT typical and expected festival fare: it was a taste of America’s most celebrated dishes, all gathered in one place: a foodie’s dream. Many participants came from Louisiana but others came from as far away as Texas (Louie Mueller Barbecue of Taylor), Arizona (Tucson Tamale Company), and New York (Abbott’s Frozen Custard of Rochester). Portions were right-sized and priced to provide everyone a chance to taste the maximum number of great regional eats as they stroll through the French Market inhaling delicious smells that range from real Texas pit barbecue to Pecan Pie to artisan boudin sausage made by Cajun country’s most beloved butchers. There were book signings, cooking demonstrations and live music. There was even a Beignet Eating Contest. Our guest, acclaimed author and radio personality Poppy Tooker of Lousiana Eats talks about this unique event, about New Orleans and Louisiana as unique places and about the whole idea of Roadfood. To hear the podcast go to:

A Journey into Hawaii:Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings and America’s First Imperial Adventure

Posted by: emodel // Category: Uncategorized // 12:23 pm Travelers to Hawaii love the beaches, the scenery, the pineapples and the culture. To most visitors, America’s 50th state just grew out of a mutually beneficial relationship between the islands and the mainland. As with so much else in life, the explanation is not quite so simple. The flip side of that story — how it all looked to the native Hawaiians — is much darker. It is all found in LOST KINGDOM: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure; By Julia Flynn Siler; Atlantic Monthly Press. At the center of the story is Lili‘uokalani, the last queen of Hawai‘i. Born in 1838, she lived through the nearly complete economic transformation of the islands. Lucrative sugar plantations gradually subsumed the majority of the land, owned almost exclusively by white planters, dubbed the “Sugar Kings.” Hawai‘i became a prize in the contest between America, Britain, and France, each seeking to expand their military and commercial influence in the Pacific. In this Journey, author Julia Flynn Siler traces Hawaii’s fraught history, from Captain Cook to American annexation. At

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Journey into Washington: The Ferries of Puget Sound

Ferries plying the waters near Seattle handle about 24 million passenger trips each year — the ferry system provides both a commuter transit service and an adventurous outing. A voyage across the Puget Sound can offer spectacular views of the Seattle skyline to the east, wooded shorelines to the west, and an ever-changing interplay of light and color created by the skies and water. Around the Sound tower the Olympics Range, the rugged Cascades, and Mount Rainier.

It helps tie together an area of otherwise inaccessible islands, and helps define a sense of region and a sense of place.

Michael Diehl lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington, a ferry ride away from Seattle. He has created a book called “Crossings: On the Ferries of Puget Sound”. It chronicles not just the experience of traveling on the ferries of the Sound, but also just what those ferries mean to the life and culture of the area.

The book weaves together factual information, images, and insights gathered during more than two years, presented in 304 pages with more than 375 original photographs.

Our guest talks about this central role for the ferries – how they matter and why.


Nevada Beyond the Casino Strips

There’s more to Nevada than one-armed bandits, cheap buffets, and Elvis impersonators. From ice ages to expeditions, Paiutes to pioneers, and dams to divorce seekers, our guest has written about the various sides of the Silver State.

Richard Mereno is the former publisher of Nevada Magazine and numerous books, including “A Short History of Carson City, Nevada (University of Nevada Press, 2011). He is also a winner of the 2007 Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Pen Award.

In his writings about Nevada (various books), Mereno has taken the time to discuss the various roadways and the Nevada towns that were and are inhabited. For example, his book about the Roadside History of Nevada divides into six chapters: Interstate 80 (The Emigrant Trail), Reno and the Lake Tahoe Area, US 50 (The Loneliest Road in America), US 95 and US 6 (The Silver Trails), US 93 (The Mormon Trail), and The Las Vegas Area.

In doing so, Moreno expands on all those little Nevada-shaped historical markers that line the desert highways of the state, And as one reviewer described it “recalls the hopes, dreams, faith, wins and losses of the pioneers that turned a desert wilderness into the typically rather dysfunctional Nevada experience of today”.

Says another reviewer about Moreno: “ (He) captures the best of what Nevada is all about”. He shares some of that knowledge and passion with us in this “Journey into Nevada”.


Loved and Loathed in the South: Kudzu

As the political crowd turned to the South (South Carolina and Florida) for Presidential primaries, so did we.

Our topic is kudzu – something, along with BBQ and Football, frequently in the thoughts of folks in the South.

There’s so much of this fast-growing vine in the Southeastern U.S., you might think it was a native plant. Actually, it has taken a lot of hard work to help kudzu spread so widely. Now that it covers over seven million acres of the Deep South, many people consider it a pest, but kudzu is used in ways which might surprise you.

Our guest, Max Shores is a producer/director in the Center for Public Television & Radio at the University of Alabama. He also serves as adjunct faculty in the department of Telecommunication & Film. He has produced a number of documentaries about life and culture in the Southeast, including one about Kudzu, The Amazing Story of Kudzu.