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Episode #94 – Tequila Chamber of Commerce & The Birth of the Frozen Margarita

Episode #94 – Tequila Chamber of Commerce & The Birth of the Frozen Margarita

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The Agave Goddess with 200 breasts; jimadors stripping lethal thorny leaves off agaves; farmers battling cambio climatico (climate change); distillers contemplating mono-culture production and the environmental impact of tequila; generations-old tequila makers versus globalization. Stories of tequila from the Tequila Region in Mexico and beyond.

Tequila does not only mean alcohol—it means Mexico’s culture, history and future. The biggest tequila companies are not Mexican anymore. They are internationally owned. The Tequila Chamber of Commerce is helping producers promote the drink. They are expected to sell millions and millions of liters to China in the future.

Guillermo Erikson Sauza, the fifth generation to make tequila in his family talks about how his grandfather unexpectedly sold the company in 1978 and how he has worked to build up a small a distillery making his Fortaleza brand in the traditional way. And Carmen Villareal, a tequilera, one of the few women in Mexico to run a Tequila company—Tequila San Matais, now 127 years old.

And Mariano Martinez, from a fourth generation family restaurant business in Dallas,Texas. How he developed the first frozen margarita machine in 1971, based on the 7-Eleven Slurpee machine, using a soft serve ice cream maker “suped up like a car.” The machine is now at the Smithsonian.

Mariano pulling from the Original Frozen Margarita Machine in Bandido Outfit

Ep#93: Prince and the Technician

Ep#93: 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 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. 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.

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Ep #92 – The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel

Ep #92 – The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel

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In the early 1970s, radio producer and author Studs Terkel wrote a book called Working. He went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs. The book became a bestseller and even inspired a Broadway musical. Working struck a nerve, because it elevated the stories of ordinary people and their daily lives. Studs celebrated the un-celebrated.

Radio Diaries and their partner Project& were given exclusive access to these recordings, which were boxed up and stored away after the book was published. Stories of a private investigator, a union worker, a telephone operator, a hotel piano player, and more.

As The Kitchen Sisters warm up for our new series “The Keepers,” stories of activist archivists, rogue librarians, historians, collectors, curators—keepers of the culture—we share these stories gathered by the ultimate Keeper: Studs Terkel.

Ep #91 – Mimi Chakarova: Love, Art and Anger

Ep #91 – Mimi Chakarova: Love, Art and Anger

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Mimi Chakarova is a Bulgarian-American filmmaker, photographer, journalism professor, activist, immigrant and single mother. Her documentary “Men a Love Story” premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in 2017 where Davia Nelson of The Kitchen Sisters interviewed her on stage.

How can you not be mesmerized by a woman who makes a film called “The Price of Sex,” about women throughout Eastern Europe who are pushed into prostitution and who goes underground into that world herself to document the story. “I didn’t intend to spend more than a year covering human trafficking,” says Mimi. It ended up taking a decade. “I didn’t intend on reporting in more than two countries,” she says. “So, how did I end up in nine?”

Mimi said, “Before my trips my mom used to ask, ‘It took us so many years to get out of poverty, why do you keep returning there?’ I would sit in her kitchen and the only answer that would come to mind was, it was so damn familiar.”

Now Mimi has a new series of documentaries, “Still I Rise,” premiering online Friday, April 27th at stillirisefilms.org. “Still I Rise” is a short film series whose title pays homage to Maya Angelou’s famous poem. It features individuals who’ve journeyed from the depths of hardship and struggle and have come out the other side. As an immigrant herself Mimi creates a platform where other immigrants can tell their own stories and show how even in the face of adversity they fight to rise.

Ep #90 – Jorge Amado: The Ballad of Bahia

Ep #90 – Jorge Amado: The Ballad of Bahia

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Jorge Amado, the beloved Brazilian author of Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, Tent of Miracles – wrote over 30 books in his lifetime. His works have been translated into 49 languages and adapted for film, television, and theater.

In 1984, The Kitchen Sisters interviewed Jorge Amado, his wife Zelia Gattai, Brazilian composer and singer Dorival Caymmi, and singer and activist Harry Belafonte as part of the NPR series “Faces Mirrors Masks – 20th Century Latin American Fiction.” The Ballad of Bahia explores the life and writings of the author through interviews, music and readings and dramatizations of his work.

Ep #89: Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti — Celebrating 99 Years

Ep #89: Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti — Celebrating 99 Years

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In honor of poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s 99th birthday we celebrate with Rivers of Memory, produced by Jim McKee of Earwax Productions. Over the last 20 years, Jim McKee has been chronicling Lawrence and Lawrence’s good friend radio dramatist Erik Bauersfeld (voice of Star Wars’ Admiral Ackbar). Set to a rich soundscape that travels throughout San Francisco, the piece features poetry, interviews, and overheard conversations about Ferlinghetti’s life, work, the San Francisco beat culture, Ferlinghetti’s fight for First Amendment rights and more.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, opened City Lights bookstore in 1953, one of the first paperback bookstores. He also began publishing the Pocket Poet Series featuring poems by Beat Poets of the 1950s and 60s. In 1956 he published “Howl and Other Poems,” by Allen Ginsberg and was brought to trial on obscenity charges. The landmark first amendment case paved the way for the publication of other “banned books.”

San Francisco luminary and famed poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in the middle, sound designer Jim McKee on left, dramatist Erik Bauersfeld on right

San Francisco luminary and famed poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in the middle, sound designer Jim McKee on left, dramatist Erik Bauersfeld on right

Ep #88 – Frances McDormand Hosts Hidden Kitchens

Ep #88 – Frances McDormand Hosts Hidden Kitchens

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Two-time Academy Award winning actress Frances McDormand hosts Hidden Kitchens—secret, underground, below the radar cooking—how communities come together through food. Stories of NASCAR Kitchens, Hunting and Gathering with Angelo Garro, listeners calls to the Hidden Kitchens hotline and more.

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**NASCAR Kitchens—Feed the Speed: Behind every car race is a kitchen—hidden in the crew pit, or tucked between the hauler and the trailer of the trucks that transport NASCAR and Indy cars from city to city. Public radio listener Jon Wheeler cooks for the drivers, haulers, pit crews, sponsors and owners on the racing circuit. He called the Hidden Kitchens hotline line to tell us about his world.

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**Hunting & Gathering with Angelo Garro: Blacksmith, Angelo Garro forges and forages, recreating in wrought iron and in cooking the life he left behind in Sicily. The Kitchen Sisters join Garro along the coast of Northern California as he follows the seasons, harvesting the wild for his kitchen and his friends.

Ep #87 – Guillermo Cabrera Infante: Memories of an Invented City

Ep #87 – Guillermo Cabrera Infante: Memories of an Invented City

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A sound portrait of Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante, a one-time leader in the Cuban cultural revolution who fell from favor and went into exile in London in 1965.

Intense and compelling, Cabrera Infante was passionate about cinema, satire, puns, tongue twisters, and about his lost love — Cuba. In 1967 he wrote his best-known work — Three Trapped Tigers — a steamy, experimental journey into 1950s nightlife in Havana.

In the 1970s he suffered a massive mental breakdown and was treated with electroshock and lithium.

He was the author of over a dozen books, translated James Joyce’s Dubliners into Spanish, and wrote a screenplay adaptation of Under Volcano and the script for the film Vanishing Point.

Cabrera Infante’s cinematic, jazz-like writing, comes to life in this story rich with music and interviews with cinematographer Nestor Almendros, painter Jesse Fernandez, activist Saul Landau, and the writer himself. Actors Lazaro Perez, and Ilka Tanya Payan are heard in dramatizations from Cabrera Infante’s acclaimed novel, “Tres Triestes Tigres.”

Cabrera Infante lived in London with his wife Miriam Gomez until his death in 2005.

Produced by The Kitchen Sisters as part of NPR’s series Faces, Mirrors, Masks: Twentieth Century Latin American Fiction.

Episode #86: The Mardi Gras Indians—Stories from New Orleans

Episode #86: The Mardi Gras Indians—Stories from New Orleans

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Tootie Montana

Tootie Montana

 

Jelly Roll Morton talks of being a “Spy Boy” in the Mardi Gras Indian parades of his youth. Bo Dollis, of the Wild Magnolias, tells of sewing his suit of feathers and beads all night long. Tootie Montana masks for the first time after Mardi Gras started up again after being cancelled during World War II. Big Queen Ausettua makes connections between the black Mardi Gras Indian traditions of New Orleans and Africa. Sister Alison McCrary, a Catholic nun and social justice attorney, tells of Big Chief Tootie Montana’s death at the podium in City Council Chambers defending the rights of the Mardi Gras Indians to parade without harassment.

A collection of stories and interviews in honor of the Mardi Gras Indian tradition in New Orleans. With thanks to the Library of Congress, Nick Spitzer and American Routes, WWOZ and all of the Keepers of the Mardi Gras Indian Culture.

Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton

 

Big Queen Ausettua, Photo by Marcello Amari

Big Queen Ausettua, Photo by Marcello Amari

Episode #85: House of Night: The Lost Creation Songs of the Mojave People

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The story of an aging pile of forgotten reel-to-reel tapes discovered on the shelf of a tribal elder on the Fort Mojave Reservation. Recorded by an amateur ethnographer in the 1960s, these tapes of the last Creation Song singer of the tribe recount the legends and origin of the Mojave people. They are oral maps of the desert region that were instrumental in helping to save the Ward Valley from becoming a nuclear waste dump site.

In the 1960s, a CBS radio engineer out of Los Angeles, drove out to the Colorado River Indian Reservation in Parker, Arizona with his portable reel-to-reel tape recorder with the idea of recording the Mojave Indians. There he met Emmett Van Fleet, an elder of the tribe and the last of the Creation Song singers. Over the course of several years, Guy Tyler made his weekend pilgrimages, and slowly and meticulously the two men recorded the 525 song cycle that recounts the legend of the creation and origin of the Mojave people, their traditions, and their oral maps that describe historical journeys, sacred sites, and directions about how to safely cross the Mojave Desert. Emmett Van Fleet left the tapes to his nephew Llewllyn Barrackman. As years went by and technology changed, the tapes were unplayed and forgotten until Phillip Klasky and the Storyscape Project worked to get the the tapes transferred and preserved.

In 1995, when action was taken to turn Ward Valley into a nuclear waste dump, traditional Mojave songs and song cycles helped save the endangered Ward Valley and Colorado River by proving the historic connection the Mojave have with this sacred land.

In 1999 The Kitchen Sisters travelled to the Mojave Reservation with writer and environmentalist Phil Klasky, to meet with LLewllyn Barrackman and other Mojave elders, birdsong singers and activists in the Ward Valley struggle.

Produced with Phillip Klasky, Director of the Storyscape Project.