4/16/08 Andrei Codrescu Podcast!

Andrei Codrescu left Romania as a teenager, made his way to the United States via Italy, and after spending time in many parts of the country including Detroit and New York City, eventually settled in New Orleans.  He teaches English at LSU in Baton Rouge and has been providing commentary for NPR’s All Things Considered since 1983.  In “After the Deluge: A Letter to America” he writes, “…it’s okay to be alive and you don’t have to work like a dog without any joy in this lifetime.”  Still, he must work pretty hard because he’s published a huge stack of poetry, fiction, and essays over the last four decades.

CLICK HERE to listen to a podcast of Marc Steiner’s interview with Andrei Codrescu last Friday. Running time is 49:13. Topics sprawl from Andre’s writing, to New Orleans, chess, mysticism, the Holocaust, and more.  Click here to read the transcript of the interview.

Click here to go to Andrei’s website and click here for an archive of his stories from All Things Considered.

This is a video of part of Andrei and Marc’s conversation, as the topic turned to communism.  It contains footage that is not included in the podcast!

3/20/08 The Wire Podcasts: Nina K. Noble


Nina Noble and friends accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries for HBO’s The Corner in 2000.  She is on far left.

I have major sympathy for Nina Noble.  We share a job title (okay, well her title has the fancy ‘Executive’ in front of it) and people are constantly asking me “What does a producer DO?”  I imagine she gets the same question.  I always like to answer, “I do all the work” and then flash a smile.  If Marc is around, I will usually add jokingly, “…and he gets all the glory.” (Fair enough, really, considering he also has to bear the brunt of all the criticism!)

But seriously, Nina Noble had a gigantic job as Executive Producer of The Wire.  From convincing the Port of Baltimore to let them shoot scenes on location to keeping track of the hundreds of characters David Simon and the other writers created, it’s a wonder she didn’t burn out long ago.  But as she told Marc when she sat down for an interview about the experience of working on The Wire, this is the only job she is suited for.

Click here to stream the interview.  Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer.  Want to get this in iTunes?  Instructions are below, just click “Read More”. Running time is 40:20.

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3/17/08 An Iraqi American view on the Iraq War

Iraqi Americans in Michigan celebrate execution of Saddam Hussein. Not all Iraqi Americans were so happy. Photo Credit: Associated Press

Imagine you are a person who left your native country because you didn’t want to live under its government.  Imagine several decades later, your adopted country chooses to invade your native country and topple the same regime you left under.

What do you do?

Do you celebrate, thrilled that the regime you disliked is now gone?

Or do you mourn as you watch your country, which despite the dictatorship was a vibrant safe place, turn into a place you can barely recognize?

Such is the circumstance of many Iraqi Americans.  Most of the Iraqi’s living in the United States disliked Saddam Hussein.  But that doesn’t mean they were happy to see U.S. tanks roll into Baghdad to topple his government.

The fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq is upon us.  Over the next couple of weeks, we’re bringing you interviews with scholars, veterans, peace activists, and more.  Today, we are bringing you an interview with Dr. Adil Shamoo.  Dr. Shamoo grew up in Iraq, in the Chaldean christian community.  He came to the United States in the 1960’s, and he a professor of bioethics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Click here to stream the interview.  Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this interview onto your computer. Want to get this and other podcasts on iTunes?  Click “Read More” below to find out how. Running time is 25:30.  Click here to read the transcript.

The music heard at the beginning and end of this interview is “Second Baghdad” by the Iraqi musician Rahim Alhaj.

Click Read More to get resources and information on how to get this podcast on iTunes.

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3/18/08 The Wire Podcasts: Bob Wisdom


Photo by Anne Hefley

It’s been over a week since the series finale of The Wire aired.  Sad time for Wire fans these days, but we’re continuing The Wire Podcast series to help you get through the end-of-show withdrawal.  Speaking of which, having had a little time to reflect on it now, what did everyone think of the last episode, and Season 5 as a whole?

Click here for an interview with Bob Wisdom, who played Major Howard “Bunny” Colvin on The Wire.  Running time is 15:48.  Click here to open the interview transcript.

What was the real life inspiration for Hamsterdam?  What does he think of the character he portrayed?  What can the experience of The Wire tell us about race and acting in America today?  (Preview quote: “Every actor of color in this country that I ever met wanted to be part of this show.”)

If Marc and Bob sound like old friends, it’s because they are.  They met at Studio Theatre in Washington DC in 1986 or so, where they acted together in a production of American Buffalo by David Mamet.  Bet you didn’t know that!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the CEM Wire podcast series.

3/17/08 Iraq and the Presidential election

Yes, it has been quiet in here over the past week but that’s only because we’ve been so hard at work!  We’ve got lots of new content that will be coming your way this week, so make sure to check back everyday for something new.


Can you believe that on Thursday, March 20th, it will have been five years since the United States led the invasion into Iraq?  Sometimes it seems like the conflict has been dragging on so much longer.  Other times it seems like just yesterday that we were watching American troops help Iraqis pull down that statue of Saddam.

Does it seem that we are talking about Iraq a lot less than we used to? Has the mainstream media totally abdicated responsibility for covering this story, choosing instead to talk about super-delegates and shocking caucus results?  Have the candidates refused to discuss it?  Are we just so relieved that the violence is below pre-surge levels that we feel we can ignore it ?  Are we just bored with it-and misinformed about it?  Why is there not major mainstream media coverage of the winter soldier hearings?

Whatever it is, we know our audience still cares about Iraq and what is happening there, so over this week and next we are bringing you a series of podcasts talking about Iraq.  We’re going to hear from scholars, journalists, Iraqis and Iraqi Americans, veterans, peace activists and more.  If you have any ideas for points of view you want us to investigate, let us know!

First up, we wanted to take a look at the intersection of the presidential election and Iraq.  Where do  Senators McCain, Clinton, and Obama stand on the war (click on their names to read their campaign platforms on Iraq)?   What is their history in terms of the Iraq war (Go here for Clinton, here for McCain, and here for Obama)?  What can the beliefs of their advisers tell us about their agenda?  McCain has a reputation for being a maverick-does he have a maverick agenda for Iraq?  Does the fact that he is a veteran give his agenda more credibility? Some people say Hillary and Obama agree on most major policies–is that true for their Iraq plans?  To get to the bottom of these questions, we talked with UMBC history professor Brad Simpson.  He is an astute observer and analyst of U.S. foreign policy. Sure, he’s got a point of view and he isn’t afraid to voice it, but he’s got criticism for both sides of the aisle and he dishes it out with a real knowledge of the issues.

Click here to stream Marc’s interview with Brad Simpson.  Right-click here and select “Save Target As” to save the mp3 onto your desktop.  Transcript coming soon. Running time is 27 minutes.

Check back everyday this week for more interviews.  We’ve got more podcasts about The Wire, and we’ll be talking with other folks about Iraq.

Let us know what you think…


3/7/08 The Wire podcasts: Clarke Peters


We stopped by Clarke’s Charles Village rowhome one recent morning to tape this interview.  By interview, I mean a laid back conversation around the dining room table, talking about all sorts of things: Baltimore, theater, race, politics, culture, Europe, America, and of course, The Wire and his character, Detective Lester Freamon.  Oh, have you heard there are discussions of a Wire movie?  Clarke brings it up near the end of the interview.  So, sit back, relax, click here, and listen.  Running time is 43:41.

To read the transcript of the interview, click here.

Check this out – yesterday Time magazine published an article written by The Wire’s five writers: Ed Burns, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Richard Price, and David Simon.  It’s called “The Wire’s War on the Drug War” and they argue for jury nullification on all non-violent drug cases.  Here’s a quote:

“If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun’s manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.”

Read the whole article.  In light of the recent news that 1 in 100 U.S. adults are in prison, giving us the highest rate of incarceration in the world, what do you think?

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the CEM Wire podcast series!

And come back tomorrow, the last day before the series finale airs, for a new interview with Andre Royo aka Bubbles aka Bubs!!

3/8/08 The Wire podcasts: Andre Royo

Bubbles is my favorite character on The Wire. I remember hearing an interview with David Simon before the fifth season premiered in which he promised that at least one character would experience a happy ending and total redemption by the end of the series. I immediately forget all about how much I cared about Dukie, Randy, and all the other kids on the show and found myself hopin’ and prayin’ for Bubbles to be the one with the happy ending.

Seems like he is doing pretty good so far this season…we’ll find out for sure tomorrow night whether or not Bubbles ends the season clean and sober. Before that, take a listen to Marc’s interview with Andre Royo, the actor who has so deftly portrayed Bubbles during the last few years. He’ll speak about how intense it was so carry this character over an extended period of time, and why he thinks the character of Bubbles moved so many people. You’ll hear Andre’s plans for the future and what he hopes The Wire has taught people.

Click here to stream the interview. Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download the interview as an mp3. Running time is 25 minutes. You can read the transcript here.

Links below, after you click “Read More”

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3/6/08 The Wire podcasts: Viva House


I have a lot of friends from out of town who love The Wire.  I always kind of feel sorry for them because I feel like they aren’t getting the whole picture.  Only someone really familiar with Baltimore can get all the inside jokes, references, and cameos that pepper the series.  But sometimes the reference is arcane enough that not even Baltimoreans quite get what they are looking at.  For example, how many people know that the soup kitchen Bubbles worked at in season five is a real place?

My co-producer Justin brought that up, and we decided that it would make a great podcast to go down and talk to the people who run that soup kitchen and learn about their experience being featured on The Wire.  Their names are Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham.  They play themselves on television (well, sort of…listen to the podcast to find out more!) They are wonderful people and they have a lot of great things to say about Baltimore, social justice issues, and of course, The Wire.

Click here to stream the interview.  Right click here and select “Save Target As” to download the entire feature as an MP3. The running time is 17:29.  Read the transcript here.

Click “Read More” for a slideshow of pictures from Viva House as well as other resources.

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3/5/08 The Wire Podcasts: Robert Chew, aka Proposition Joe

We’re back again today with another fantastic interview for you.  Last week Marc sat down with Robert Chew, the Baltimore native who has portrayed the east Baltimore drug lord Proposition Joe for the past several years on the hit HBO series The Wire.  Prop Joe, as he came to be known, was an iconic figure that represented a time in Baltimore where the drug trade was less violent and bloody, when word was bond, and “The Game” was something very different than what it is today.

Click here to steam that interview.  Or, right click here and choose “Save Target As.”  Running time is 34 minutes.  You can read the transcript here.

Click read more for interviews and resources.

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3/4/08 The Wire podcasts: David Simon


 Our Wire podcast series continues with a forty minute interview with David Simon!  Sunday is getting closer.  In the meantime, hear what The Wire’s creator has to say about the show.  Click here for the complete audio interview (you can also right click and choose “Save Target As” to save the MP3 so you can put it on a cd or portable MP3 player.)  Click here to read the transcript.

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