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April, 2017
The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #69: The Romance and Sex Life of the Date

The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #69: The Romance and Sex Life of the Date

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In 1898, the United States Department of Agriculture created a special department of men, called “Agriculture Explorers,” to travel the globe searching for new food crops to bring back for farmers to grow in the U.S. These men introduced exotic specimens like the mango, the avocado, and the date. In 1900, the USDA sent plant explorer, Walter Swingle, to Algeria to study the date. As Swingle took temperature readings and soil temperature, he realized that the conditions were very much like those in California’s hot, arid Coachella Valley, sometimes referred to as the American Sahara. In order to market this new fruit and promote the region, date growers in the Coachella Valley began capitalizing on the exotic imagery and fantasy many Americans associated with the Middle East. During the 1950s date shops dotted the highway, attracting tourists. There was Pyramid Date shop where you could purchase your dates in a pyramid. Sniff’s Exotic Date Garden set up a tent like those used by nomadic tribes of the Sahara. One of the most well known date shops that still exists today is Shields Date Garden, established in 1924. Floyd Shields lured in customers with his lecture and slide show titled, “The Romance and Sex Life of the Date.”

This story was produced in collaboration with Lisa Morehouse. Check out more stories from Lisa and her California Foodways project.

Prince and the Technician

Prince and the Technician

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In 1983 Prince hired LA sound technician, Susan Rogers, one of the few women in the industry, to move to Minneapolis and help upgrade his home recording studio as he began work on the album and the movie Purple Rain. Susan, a trained recording technician with no sound engineering experience became the engineer of Purple Rain, Parade, Sign o’ the Times, and all that Prince recorded for the next four years. For those four years, and almost every year after, Prince recorded at least a song a day and they worked together for 24 hours, 36 hours, 96 hours at a stretch, layering and perfecting his music and his hot funky sound. Yesterday we interviewed Susan, who is now a Professor at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, for our upcoming NPR series, The Keepers — about activist archivists, rogue librarians, collectors, curators and historians. It was Susan who started Prince’s massive archive during her time with the legendary artist who died a year today. Here is small smattering of the stories she told that will be heard on The Keepers and our podcast. We thank you Susan. We thank you Prince.

Notes from The Kitchen Sisterhood – Spring 2017

Notes from The Kitchen Sisterhood – Spring 2017

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Dear Friends,

The last time we sent you Notes From The Kitchen Sisterhood we were urging you to vote. It’s a whole new ballgame now with arts, culture, climate, healthcare, immigrants all threatened and the mother of all bombs bursting in air. All around us storytellers, artists, organizers, teachers, librarians, athletes, scientists are stepping up, rising to this moment. We wanted to share a few things from our world and the world of those we admire.

On the homefront, The Kitchen Sisters have a bit of a Trifecta at the moment and now we need to ask for your vote.

Our podcast, The Kitchen Sisters Present (until recently known as Fugitive Waves)was just nominated for a Webby Award for best documentary podcast. Please help us claim the title. Vote here, vote now!

We are also thrilled to say that we have been nominated for a 2017 James Beard Award for our latest season of NPR stories, Hidden Kitchens: Kimchi Diplomacy: War and Peace and Food.

And our TED Talk about Wall Streetthe self-schooled San Quentin inmate and stock market savant is now online. Take a look.

Forward ever,

The Kitchen Sisters
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Events we are going to / wish we were going to:

The Unplugged Soul: A Conference on the Podcast. The Kitchen Sisters, Benjamen Walker, Christopher Lydon, Jeff Emtman and a slew of other podcasters. April 14-15, Heyman Center, Columbia University.

Here and Home: A retrospective of the work of California photographer Larry Sultan. April 15-July 23, SFMOMA

Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to summit of Mount Everest and kayak the Grand Canyon, in conversation with Davia about his book, No Barriers, May 2, Lighthouse for the Blind, SF

Fake News Room: A response to Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel’s 1983 exhibition “Newsroom.” Artists include Jason Fulford, Jim Goldberg and Dru Donovan, as well as The Kitchen Sisters. Open now through April 29 at the Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco

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What we’re watching:

Mifune, directed by Stephen Okazaki

I Called Him Morgan, directed by Kasper Collin. The jazz tragedy of Lee Morgan, exquisitely rendered.

An Inconvenient Sequel. Al Gore’s climate change sequel. Truth to Power.

Century of Self, Adam Curtis’ 2002 BBC documentary.

Dave Chappelle’s Block Party

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What we’re making:

This year, we are embarking on a new NPR/podcast series called The Keepers–activist archivists, rogue librarians, collectors, curators, historians–keepers of the culture and the cultures and collections that they keep. Guardians of history, large and small. Protectors of the free flow of ideas and information. People afflicted with what French philosopher Jacques Derrida called “Archive Fever.”

We welcome your tips and suggestions for who and what needs chronicling.

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What we’re reading:

Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates

A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman

True South by Jon Else

Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living, edited by Manjula Martin

Sapiens and Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

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What we’re cooking:

Potlikker Papers by John T. Edge. A people’s history of the modern South set on farms, in kitchens and at tables.

King Solomon’s Table by Joan Nathan.

The President’s Kitchen Cabinet by Adrian Miller. African Americans who fed the First Families, from Washington to Obama.

Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes for the Home Cook by Elisabeth Prueitt

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Music we’re spinning:

Save the Country by Laura Nyro.

We recently attended the SF Symphony Pride concert, a staggering night of LGBTQ music from Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, Stephen Sondheim and more. What got us most was was when conductor Michael Tilson Thomas accompanied Audra McDonald singing Laura Nyro’s barnburner Save the Country. It is our new national anthem.

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Podcasts we’re pumping:

RadioPublic podcast app. Free podcasts!

S-Town from Serial and This American Life. You know you wanna hear it.

The many splendored podcasts from the Radiotopia collective

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Citizens we’re admiring:

Russ Kickinvestigative archivist from Arizona and founder of the Memory Hole. Russ finds and preserves documents the government tries to keep hidden. A keeper.

Magnus Toren runs the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur that has been closed since mid-February after Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge into Big Sur was damaged due to relentless winter rains. They’re now raising funds to open The Henry Miller Library in the Barnyard in Carmel, bringing Big Sur to “town.” They could use your support.

Years ago we recorded Brian Eno talking about the weekly Tuesday “Sing” he holds with his friends–not professional musicians, just pals, gathered standing around a table, singing a capella for a few hours. Times like these call for communal singing. As Brian says, “Singing aloud leaves you with a sense of levity and contentedness. And then there are what I would call ‘civilizational benefits.’ When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community.”

Graffiti artists in Ho Chi Minh City Pushing Back Against Official Censorship. “For many in Vietnam, the spray can is a tool of rebellion—illicit spray-painting is a way of defying restrictions in an authoritarian country where artists must have their work approved before exhibitions, shows are routinely shut down, and works deemed controversial are replaced by a black ‘X’ on gallery walls.”

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The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #68 – Tony Schwartz 30,000 Recordings Later

The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #68 – Tony Schwartz 30,000 Recordings Later

Subscribe to the podcast: iTunes | Stitcher | RSS

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Cab drivers, children’s jump rope rhymes, folk songs, dialects, controversial TV ads, interviews with blacklisted artists and writers during the McCarthy Era — Tony Schwartz was one of the great sound recordists and collectors of the 20th Century. An audio portrait of a man who spent his life exploring and influencing the world through recorded sound.

It was 1947 when Tony first stepped out of his apartment in midtown Manhattan with his microphone to capture the sound of his neighborhood. He was a pioneer recordist, experimenting with microphones and jury-rigging tape recorders to make them portable (some of these recordings were first published by Folkways Records). His work creating advertising and political TV and radio commercials is legendary.

The Kitchen Sisters visited Tony in his midtown basement studio in 1999. He had just finished teaching a media class at Harvard by telephone — Tony was agoraphobic and hardly ever ventured beyond his postal zone. He was there in his studio surrounded by reel to reel tape recorders, mixing consoles, framed photographs and awards — and row upon row of audio tapes in carefully labeled boxes.

Tony passed away in 2008. His collection now resides in the Library of congress — 90.5 linear feet, 230 boxes, 76,345 items — some 30,000 folk songs, poems, conversations, stories and dialects from his surrounding neighborhood and 46 countries around the world.