The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.  Or, use the links at the right.Visit the main SOT page.

How much influence does a first lady have on the president? According to historian William Chafe, in the case of Bill and Hillary Clinton the answer is: an incalculable amount. In his new book, "Bill and Hillary: The Politics of the Personal"

Before Allan Gurganus’s debut novel, "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All," (Vintage/1984) spent eight months on the New York Times bestseller list, he was a kid from Rocky Mount who wanted to be a painter.

Heist

Oct 5, 2012

President Obama and Mitt Romney agree that the recession continues, the middle class is suffering and something should be done about the deficit.

Bill Manbo’s family was just one of many forcibly relocated into Japanese internment camps during World War II. He recorded his time there on a 35 millimeter camera and eventually passed the photos along to Eric Muller, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kate McGarry is the latest in a long line of female jazz musicians, and she doesn’t want to forget her forebears.

Her latest album, “Girl Talk” pays homage to the women who came before her. Host Frank Stasio talks to her about her music and her new album, and Kate McGarry plays live in the studio with guitarist Keith Ganz.

An article in October’s issue of The Atlantic details a struggling Staten Island high school that turned itself around by implementing an intensive focus on analytic writing in subjects across the board. How did they accomplish that, and what are the implications for the rest of our nation’s struggling writing students?

When I Leave

Oct 3, 2012
Linda Powell-Jones, Photography, LLC

Ella Joyce Stewart grew up on a farm in rural North Carolina during the time of segregation.

Success in the war on Afghanistan depends on Afghan soldiers taking over after U.S. troops leave.

The Army’s Green Beret’s are charged with training them. Kevin Maurer, the local news editor for the Wilmington Star-News embedded with the Green Beret and walked away with a book, “Gentlemen Bastards: On the Ground in Afghanistan with America's Elite Special Forces” (Berkley Hardcover/2012). Host Frank Stasio talks to him about his experiences.

For years, Felix Mendelssohn’s “Easter” sonata has been a source of contention in the music world. Some thought it was composed by him, but others attributed it to his sister Fanny. Duke graduate student Angela Mace solved the mystery once and for all this year. Host Frank Stasio talks to her about her discovery.

A two-year Department of Justice investigation has concluded that the Alamance County Sheriff, Terry Johnson, and his department have been carrying on a routine of discrimination against Latinos. Johnson denies the allegations, and the Alamance County Board of Commissioners is asking the DOJ to present its evidence. Host Frank Stasio talks about immigration discrimination in Alamance County with WUNC Greensboro Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii.

Joseph Bathanti was born and raised in Pittsburgh. He even went to college and graduate school there. So it's a testament to his passion for North Carolina that he was just announced as the Tar Heel state's newest poet laureate. Bathanti came to North Carolina in the late 1970s to be a VISTA volunteer.

Nathan Kotecki's first young adult novel is haunted by the moody alternative rock of the 1980s which haunted his own youth. Even though the Durham writer's book is set in the present, it's heavy on nostalgia. Kotecki says that for high school kids trying to find their identity as serious, creative types, looking backwards is the easiest way to reject the status quo. Courting the supernatural also helps. Nathan Kotecki joins host Frank Stasio to talk about his book, "The Suburban Strange" (Houghton Mifflin/2012).

Meet Gary Kueber

Oct 1, 2012

Gary Kueber went to medical school and became a doctor in Durham, but being an M.D. wasn’t enough for him. He also had a passion for architecture and turned it into his blog, Endangered Durham. He has chronicled the destruction and preservation of Durham’s historic landmarks for years.

Classically trained cellist-turned jazz vocalist Shana Tucker has been leading a double life this year. She’s been traveling back and forth between Nevada and North Carolina. In Las Vegas, she’s a part of the musical cast of the Cirque du Soliel show “Ka,” but Durham is still home for Tucker and this weekend, she’s back for a special concert where she’ll film scenes for a new music video. Tucker joins host Frank Stasio to perform live and talk about the bi-coastal life plus her new music projects.

Before the 1970s, opportunities for Black women in film were limited. African-American actresses were often relegated to roles as “mammies” or “tragic mulattos.”

Writer Sam Greenlee’s controversial 1969 novel “The Spook Who Sat by the Door” told the story of Freeman, an African-American man with CIA training, a militant spirit and a seething anger at America’s racial and social injustices. The book became a cult favorite and later a film.

As adults, we are expected to behave maturely, but scientists find that often the reverse is true. People prefer their own gain over that of others and prefer instant gratification instead of delayed reward. However, a new study shows that with the right prompting, people can be led to forgo their selfish desires in favor of leaving an altruistic legacy.

In 1979, a socialist movement in Nicaragua led by a group called the Sandinistas overthrew dictator Anastasio Somoza. They set about creating a socialist government for Nicaragua, but during the Cold War era, the U.S. intervened and the CIA supplied and trained a counter-insurgency called the Contras. What proceeded was a decade-long civil war.

Fifty years ago, the book "Silent Spring" launched the environmental movement and changed the way we think about man-made chemicals. Its impact has been long lasting and the writing of author Rachel Carson still influences people to this day. Host Frank Stasio talks about Carson and the legacy of "Silent Spring" with Linda Lear, biographer, historian and author of "Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature" (Holt/1998).

In the age of digital technology, storytelling is alive and well. In fact, many professional storytellers travel, working the festival circuit. Donald Davis is on the road 42 weekends this year, entertaining audiences with tales about identity, spirituality and everyday life.

Wage Theft

Sep 26, 2012

Wage theft has been called "America's silent crime wave." It’s when businesses steal from their employees through a variety of unconscionable methods. Twenty-six percent of low wage workers don't get paid the minimum wage they are entitled to by law. Seventy-six percent of the country's work force doesn't get paid for the over time they work.

More than 85 people were murdered in the Triangle and Triad regions of North Carolina last year.  You may have heard about the crimes in the news, but you probably don’t know much more than that. The National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children aims to raise awareness about these losses of life.

There’s a lot of nostalgia for the 1990s these days. The economy was on the upswing. The music industry, the publishing industry, and the newspaper industry were all in better shape than they are now. And for a time there, it looked like the Triangle region of North Carolina might be the next big thing in popular music.

The origins of the universe are being uncovered in Chapel Hill, NC thanks to Laura Mersini-Houghton, a cosmologist and theoretical physicist at the University of North Carolina. Her work delves even deeper into how our world came to be than the Big Bang theory.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris has turned his lens on flaws in America’s justice system before. His 1988 documentary “The Thin Blue Line” was pivotal in getting a wrongly convicted Texas man out of prison. Now, Morris is the author of a new book called “A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald”

The Carolina Chocolate Drops famously reclaimed traditional mountain music for African-Americans. Their efforts were celebrated from Nashville to Hollywood and by the folks who give out the Grammy Awards. That legacy took on some poignancy this past year when their mentor, master fiddler Joe Thompson, passed away.

The aluminum company ALCOA wanted to renew their license to run dams along the Yadkin River, but they are faced with resistance from Governor Bev Perdue and some county commissioners. Critics say ALCOA is harnessing power irresponsibly and, in turn, poisoning the river. ALCOA is fighting for their property and profits. Host Frank Stasio is joined by WUNC reporter and Greensboro Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii with the details of this story.

Trouble in Mind

Sep 20, 2012

The play “Trouble in Mind" is currently in performances at the Triad Stage.  It features a rare protagonist – an older African-American woman who boldly picks apart the theatrical roles that are offered to her. Preston Lane is the artistic director of Triad Stage and the director of the production.

O. Henry Turns 150

Sep 20, 2012

The famous writer O. Henry was born William Sidney Porter in 1862 in Greensboro, NC.  He went on to write hundreds of short stories. Last week, he would have turned 150 years old, and the US Postal Service released a commemorative stamp to celebrate this anniversary. Host Frank Stasio is joined by Linda Evans, the community historian for the Greensboro Historical Museum and Stephen Hale, a local performer who has been portraying O. Henry in plays at the museum for the past nine years.

Girls Talk
http://camraleigh.org/exhibitions/2012girltalk/

A new exhibit called “Girl Talk” at CAM, the contemporary art museum in Raleigh, explores the way women use language and communicate through the work of nine female artists. Women, specifically girls, are perhaps the most innovative users of speech and they are heavily influential on overall language trends.

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