Memorial Day 2017

In memory of those we’ve lost, we’ve put together this special collection of voices.  The first two are stories from those who fought alongside soldiers who were killed; the last is the recollection of a man who saw the aftermath of Kristallnacht as a child.  All of us at STRA are grateful for the sacrifices made by those in the armed forces and their families.

David Schoenbrun was a foreign correspondent for CBS, and according to Studs’ introduction, “took part in the liberation of certain French cities after World War II.”  He joined Studs in 1980 to talk about his book Soldiers of the Night: The Story of the French Resistance.  Here he tells Studs about Marie-Madeleine Foucarde, the leader of a resistant intelligence network.

Ron Kovic is best-known for his book Born on the Fourth of July.  He talked with Studs in 1977 about the emotional difficulties he encountered while writing the book and what inspired him to finish it.

Werner Burkhardt was a German jazz critic and the author of The Story of Jazz: From New Orleans Jazz to Rock Jazz.  He and Studs got together in 1967 to talk about jazz but also about Werner’s growing up in Germany as a teenager during World War II.  Here he tells Studs about his experience the morning after Kristallnacht.

 

Photo by Tony Hisgett, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21113089

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It’s almost Memorial Day

Thanks to Megan, one of our interns, for her post in honor of Memorial Day.

It’s late May, which means that Memorial Day is approaching–a time when we honor those who have served in the armed forces and sacrificed their lives for the United States. In order to recognize those who have sacrificed so much for this country, we are sharing the story of Ron Kovic, a Vietnam War veteran who was wounded and paralyzed by an ambush in Vietnam. In this 1977 interview, Studs asks Kovic about his life and Kovic reads from his memoir Born on the Fourth of July, which was later made into an Academy-Award winning film starring Tom Cruise.  We realize that Studs’ politics were rarely pro-war, but he honored and respected veterans, and that is what we would like to do in sharing this interview.

Studs’ interview follows Kovic’s life from his childhood through the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Kovic discusses what made him join the Marines, the sacrifices he made for his country, and his experiences and insights after his service.

Ron Kovic and Alan Light at the 1990 Academy Awards.

Ron Kovic and Alan Light at the 1990 Academy Awards.

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Fear and Loathing

Before we get down to the business of fear and loathing, we’d like to send a big thank you out to all those who have contributed to our Kickstarter campaign so far.  If you’d like to contribute, you can do it here.

In 1973, Studs sat down with author and “master of gonzo journalism,” Hunter S. Thompson, to talk about his latest book, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.  

One of the themes that Studs and Thompson frequently return to is the sense of surrealism in “real” life, and the first half of their conversation is a very good example of that experience.  It starts out with a trip down the Studs rabbit hole (while Studs and Thompson share a beer): Studs plays part of an earlier interview with Thompson, which includes part of another earlier interview with local enforcer. And shortly afterward, Thompson tells the story of how his snake was killed by a security guard at Random House.

This might sound like a rather silly interview, but in fact it is a very serious conversation about the direction in which our country was heading.  After Thompson recounted his experience of talking to Richard Nixon about football, Studs responds, “Isn’t this what we’re faced with now?… That fantasy and fact become one.”  Summing up his observations of the campaign, Thompson says, “Power corrupts… but it’s also a fantastic high.”

About halfway through the interview, Thompson tells of 1200 disabled Vietnam veterans assembling in front of the Republican campaign headquarters in Miami to protest.  A colleague of his recorded* the man speaking on behalf of the veterans, Ron Kovic.  In 1973, neither Studs nor Thompson had heard of him; but a few years later he would go on to write Born on the Fourth of July.

This is a fascinating conversation about surreal politics in the real world.

*Courtesy of Pacifica Radio Archives

 

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