Episode #1232

Ken Kesey’s Magic Trip and Extreme Tango

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Friday, August 12, 2011

The Merry Pranksters’ Magic Bus The Merry Pranksters’ Magic Bus ((c) Ted Streshinsky, CORBIS)

This week Kurt Andersen talks with Alex Gibney, whose new documentary follows Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters on the road trip that launched the psychedelic 1960s. Then we ride the economic roller coaster with novelist Gary Shteyngart. His novel Super Sad True Love Story imagined a debt crisis that feels all too similar to the one we’ve found ourselves in recently. And a respectable middle-aged couple ditches Houston for Buenos Aires when they fall hard for tango.

Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Financial Story

The sickening ups and downs of the debt ceiling crisis are feeding worries that American politics and the economy are unraveling. For the novelist Gary Shteyngart, it all sounds very familiar: “I’ll turn on the news, I’ll vomit from nervousness and then I’ll wipe my chin and say ‘Oh, you know ...

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Alex Gibney, Ken Kesey, and the Merry Pranksters

Back in 1964, some friends painted a school bus in wild colors and took a cross-country trip, hoping to take in some scenery and freak out the squares. The writer Ken Kesey and his friends the Merry Pranksters crossed the country and back again, filming themselves and their drug-fuelled exploits ...

Video: Inside the Magic Trip

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Aha Moment: Brian Blade and Joni Mitchell

Brian Blade is a drummer's drummer. He's played with Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Norah Jones, and Bob Dylan. He also leads his own ensemble, The Fellowship Band. Growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, Blade was raised on gospel, soul, and funk. But when he when he was 16 ...

Bonus Track: “The Dawntreader”

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My Parents' Extreme Tango Makeover

When Yowei Shaw was in college, her parents' relationship started to change. Maybe it was empty nest syndrome, maybe it was a midlife crisis — she's not quite sure. But after taking dance lessons on board a cruise ship, her parents turned their lives upside down for the tango ...

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Josh Ritter Turns the Page

Josh Ritter is one of our great young singer-songwriters, and he’s just published his first novel. Bright's Passage is about a World War I veteran and his guardian angel. Last year, Josh Ritter joined us for a live show at the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space in New York City ...

Video: Josh Ritter performs "Change of Time"

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Beauty from Tragedy: Artists Reflect on 9/11

The 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks is approaching, and Studio 360 is curating a list of the best cultural works that responded to and helped us understand it. Bruce Springsteen’s song “The Rising” (from the album of the same name) evokes images of the day itself ...

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Comments [7]

jan rose kasmir from Hilton Head Island, SC

Forgot to mention - the Dead song you played in the background - "Truckin", was not introduced until 1970. I NEVER HEARD OF THE DEAD UNTIL MY BEST FRIEND'S SON STARTED TO FOLLOW THEM IN THE 90'S. I honestly thought of them as a pseudo-60's phenomena - their music was great, but their message killed Jerry Garcia - DRUGGING WAS NOT THE MESSAGE OF THE 60'S - LOVING WAS!

Aug. 14 2011 10:49 PM
jan rose kasmir from Hilton Head Island, SC

To hear you two guys pontificating on Ken Kesey, The '60's, et al... you are EXACTLY the kind of people that Ken would have been turned off by - pseudo-itellectualizing an era that had NOTHING to do with analyzing life and EVERYTHING to do with EXPERIENCING it. Sorry to come down on you both so hard, but I was so put off by the nonsense you two were throwing out as observations. The 60's was magic - a magic Joni Mitchell captured in "Woodstock". The essence was an innocent quest for Utopia, and yes, drugs, sex and RockNRoll were a part of the continuum at its peak - mostly as a means tto an end - happiness.
The picture taken of me in 1967, holding the flower up to the soldiers at the DC March Against the War in Vietnam, was the essence of who we were - MAKE LOVE NOT WAR. I was just 17. I was then, and will always be, a dedicated peace pilgrim. I never met Ken, but he would have thought I was right on.

Aug. 14 2011 10:43 PM
Dale from Brooklyn, NY

I am reading E.M. Forster's A Passage to India. It was written in 1924, but is extremely prescient. The impossibility of communication, how we are caught in our own prejudices … it all continues.

Aug. 13 2011 04:26 PM
Faith Dornbrand from Potomac, Maryland

Best art that came out of 9/11? Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Foer. The nine year old protagonist, who lost his father on 9/ll, undertakes a remarkable quest. Foer combines visual elements with prose in a way that's brilliant. And yes, I gush about this work! I have recommended it to all my reader friends. It's so original that I think of it as a new form of novel, or at least an expansion of the novel form.

Aug. 13 2011 03:31 PM
Joanie King from Wilkinsburg PA

I am reading Several Series by Armistead Maupin and Alexander McCall-Smith. That takes my mind off things.
Joanie K

Aug. 13 2011 02:19 PM
Patrice Hieronymus from Dallastown PA

What I am reading to get through these times - Proust. I have 250 pages left to read of the 4300 page wonder "Remembrance of Things Past" or whatever Americans call it now. The beauty of human life is internal.

Aug. 13 2011 02:15 PM
William G. Schomp from Downingtown, PA

In response to your request for music composed in response to 9/11: Memorial by Rene Clausen. Vty, Bill Schomp.

Aug. 13 2011 08:22 AM

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