Christopher Lydon is an American media personality and author, best known for being the original host of The Connection, produced by WBUR and syndicated to other NPR stations and for Open Source, a weekly radio program on WBUR.
The most honored movie of the year looks to be Parasite, from Korea, about the soul-crushing advance of mega-wealth and the heartbreak of poor people with a dream of catching up. From the Pacific Rim, that is, it’s a movie that mirrors us! At the same time, from Hollywood, the hot HBO series is Succession: all about cruelty, greed, and family power-games under a vulgar tycoon who won’t let go of his company.  The family name might have been Murdoch, Corleone, Trump. Alongside our Impeachment drama, it’s pop-culture, screen culture, that’s telling an under-story of concentrated wealth; the lost confidence in middle-class life and a regular people’s democracy. Bong Joon-ho. Parasite’s a faraway mirror of what you know instantly is our American condition, too—maybe a universal affliction of yawning gaps in class and wealth and entitlement—in a financial order owned by an almost speechless, maybe clueless one percent. This is, we know, impeachment time in Washington and the news business. We’re picking up instead on the understory told in screen culture: In the case of Parasite, the story’s more interesting for mixing movie genres: this is a social comedy of two families before it turns sour and then sharply into a horror show. The story is told more in sadness than anger, and it leaves viewers with innumerable angles to replay and reflect on for days. The post Billionaire Noir appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.
Jimmy Hoffa will never be found, and won’t be forgotten either. What was it about the Teamster tough guy that’s more compelling 45 years after his perfect-crime murder than in his larger-than-life career? He was a working class hero when a third of American workers belonged to unions, the top of the labor ranks despite his open marriage to the Mob.  Jimmy Hoffa’s place in memory is right out of the movies: out of The Godfather and the golden age of the Mafia; out of Goodfellas when order was breaking down; out of The Sopranos’ modern melancholy for  a lost era—brutal, corrupt, all of it, but connected with a myth of mid-century masculinity. Was it something about a take-charge guy whose orders got followed? Hoffa, left, and Chuckie O’Brien. Jimmy Hoffa is a fixture in American mythology by now. The two-fisted Teamsters’ leader who vanished in 1975 in a murder plot that left not a trace of hard evidence. Still a mystery, still mesmerizing, Hoffa’s a story that Martin Scorsese can tell one way this fall in yet another big movie, The Irishman, and that a Harvard law professor out of Hoffa’s extended family can tell very differently. Jack Goldsmith is our source this radio hour: in effect he’s the step-son of Jimmy Hoffa’s step-son—with his own history inside the federal justice machinery that was part of Jimmy Hoffa’s downfall. Jack Goldsmith’s book about his step-father Chuckie O’Brien is In Hoffa’s Shadow. Call it a fathers-and-sons love story inside the Hoffa epic, with a cool hindsight on Mafia power and FBI performance in the story, and second thoughts on the Kennedy brothers’ rough, righteous war on Hoffa the man.   Bonus: Listen here to Jack Goldsmith speaking further about the Department of Justice and surveillance—from the perspective of a DOJ veteran. The Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice building in Washington D.C. The post In Hoffa’s Shadow appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.
H. P. Lovecraft’s frightful horror fiction—dated between Edgar Allan Poe’s and Stephen King’s—is the weirdest of the weird. Lovecraft found ravenous, man-eating rats in the walls and foundations of our houses, and in our hearts and dreams just as creepily. For Halloween readers, he gave us ocean monsters the size of mountains; also, slippery scaly fish-people, flipping, flopping, and talking their way down the streets of Lovecraft’s favorite coastal towns near witchy Salem and the north of New England. There’s an idea in these stories—about human ignorance in an evil sea of telepathic enemies. There’s an open landscape, too, where horror fiction is growing a new crop. Our Lovecraftians Joyce Carol Oates (Credit: Dustin Cohen). Paul La Farge (Credit: Carol Shadford). Matt Ruff (Credit: Lisa Gold). Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Credit: Martin Dee). If you’re sensing something ancient, cosmically vast, inescapable and frightening this Halloween season, you may be catching a Lovecraftian breeze. Howard Phillips Lovecraft was a lonely, near-reclusive child of Providence, Rhode Island, who felt intimations of mind-melting infinity in New England of the twenties and thirties. The coast north of Boston inspired him with Gothic ideas, which he dished out in stories long and short for pulp magazines, thrilling readers who visited his mythical sites like Arkham, Miskatonic University, and Innsmouth—a fictional universe terrorized by creatures like Cthulhu, the ocean monster so complexly described that he cannot be pictured. Lovecraft specialized in such things: colors of no color, minerals not found on earth, languages that can’t be pronounced, and of course an unreadable and uncaring universe, “formed in fright,” as Melville put it speculatively. In Lovecraftian horror, the bleakness is doctrine.     The post Lovecraft Country appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.
It’s new for most Americans that we’re embarrassed by our democracy. We don’t know where it went wrong, or whether it’ll survive. Matt Stoller explains it this way: we’ve come to do politics the way we do commerce, online and at the mall. Sellers are remote; critical choices are made for us. Our stuff comes from Walmart; our books, groceries, and now everything else from Amazon. Our lines on politics, news, opinion, and gossip come through Facebook. Our lives are designed and run to concentrate power and profit in the hands of a few faraway monopolists. No wonder we’re in a panic! Matt Stoller is here to tell you the fault, dear people, is not in our stars or even our selves but in these overnight monopolies that might just as well own us. A year out from picking a president, derangement is the label on our dumpster-fire politics. We sorta know who lit the fire, but how did civic life get into the dumpster in the first place? Our conversation this hour is with a maverick young public thinker, Matt Stoller, whose big book is called Goliath, a hundred-year history of monopoly power and democratic populism in a see-saw contest. Very short form: we lost our political edge, our compass, our confidence at the monopoly marketplace. Our helplessness in the voting booth is something we learned in our shopping at the mall and now online. Our community habits of of commerce, conversation, and choice have come apart. And no wonder we’re confused—and angry, in a panic—about our lost sovereignty. The post Monopoly vs. Democracy appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.
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Creator Details

Location
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Episode Count
222
Podcast Count
2
Total Airtime
6 days, 48 minutes
PCID
Podchaser Creator ID logo 311800