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Playlist: May -- Documentaries on Demand

Compiled By: PRX Administrator

Curated Playlist

May...Memorial Day and the hint of approaching Summer. Need some documentaries? Here are our recommendations.

The Story of Ing (Doc) Hay-Frontier Herbalist

From Dmae Lo Roberts | Part of the Crossing East - Asian American History series series | 58:00

The Story of Ing (Doc) Hay is about a frontier herbalist and acupuncturist in John Day, Oregon.

Dochaylow_small MediaRites Productions presents "The Story of Ing (Doc) Hay - frontier herbalist tells the unusual and significant story of Doc Hay and his business partner and friend Lung On who ran the Kam Wah Chung store and medical practice in the small Eastern Oregon town of John Day shortly after the Gold Rush and into the 1950's.  Unlike other parts of the country where lynchings and massacres of Chinese immigrants were the norm, these two men were respected members of the community and are still remembered by John Day residents. "Doc Hay" was funded by the Regional Arts and Culture Council and the Oregon Council for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and will be part of an eight-part national series Crossing East in May 2006 for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. For more info visit: CrossingEast.org

Mom's Good Move Special

From Long Haul Productions | 58:59

An hour-long special about starting over late in life.

Pegforsalesm_small Whether they are forced to, or whether they plan to, each year more and more seniors move into retirement homes. In the year 2000, Peg Collison was one of them. Peg left the town of San Mateo, California - where she'd been living for almost 35 years - and moved two hours away into a newly built retirement community in Davis, California. These transitions are often difficult not just for the person who's actually moving but for family members and for friends left behind. Peg's son, Dan, gave his Mom a tape recorder and asked her document her transition. Together, Peg and Dan produced a three-part series in 2000 on Peg's move and what it meant to her and her family. In 2005, Dan updated Peg's situation. This documentary is a hour-long special combining all four stories.

The One-Room School in the Twenty-First Century

From Neenah Ellis | 58:59

Veteran producer Neenah Ellis travels to rural communities in the US to visit some of the last remaining one-room schools.

Img0578_small Neenah Ellis travels to seven states to visit public schools where one teacher manages multiple grades in a single room. It's both a step back in time and a look to the future of American education. One-room schools were once ubiquitous in the US - at the end of WW1 there were 200,000 of them. Today only about 300 remain and they're disappearing fast. Children typically do well in one-room schools - where the class sizes are small, the teacher gets to know the kids well and there is a strong bond with the community. This program features schools in Montana, Nebraska, Maine, New Hampshire and California, where one-room schools still serve rural residents - and Hawaii, where the last one-room school recently closed. You'll hear teachers and students, parents, administrators and local townspeople talk about their schools. The kids are fresh and funny, the teachers strong-willed and forthright. This program was produced in full-stereo and takes you to all these locations in sound: you'll hear the winds in Death Valley, frogs in the taro patches of Maui, a town meeting in New Hampshire, winter storms on the Atlantic island of Monhegan, spring meadowlarks in Nebraska. Howard Levy, one of the world's most respected harmonica players, composed and performed the music. Neenah Ellis has a long and varied career as a public radio producer. She worked for NPR in the 70s and 80s where she won the prestigious Columbia-DuPont and Peabody Awards. She is the author of the New York Times best-seller "If I Live to be 100:Lessons from the Centenarians" which is based on her "Morning Edition" series "One Hundred Years of Stories" and she is currently the curator of a public listening series in Washington DC called "Hear Now."

Walt Whitman: Song of Myself

From WNYC | 58:58

WNYC presents "Walt Whitman: Song of Myself." Hour hosted by Carl Hancock Rux, the program peels back Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" and we discover that this groundbreaking work was the product of a man so far ahead of his time that we are just now able to fully appreciate his work.

Whitmanimageversions One hundred and fifty years have passed since Walt Whitman first published Leaves of Grass, a collection of twelve poems that irrevocably altered the development of poetry and literature. His magnum opus shattered existing notions of poetry, breaking all existing conventions in terms of subject matter, language, and style. Leaves of Grass opened the door not only for poets, but writers, artists, musicians, and thinkers to break down barriers in their own work; despite never reaching a mass audience during the artist's lifetime, its tremendous impact is being felt a century and a half later. Today, we are still trying to understand who Whitman was, what he was saying, and what he was styling himself to be. Hosted by Carl Hancock Rux, "Walt Whitman: Song of Myself" explores how a 36-year old freelance journalist and part-time house-builder living in Brooklyn created his outrageous, groundbreaking work. We join Whitman on a walk through the urban streets, imagining the sights, sounds and music, from Stephen Foster to Italian opera, that profoundly affected him and indelibly shaped his poetry. The city transformed Whitman, and Whitman in turn transformed the wild diversity and intensity of the city into a radical, passionate vision for America. In his poetry, he refused to be censored: he celebrated the body and sexuality; he embraced the invisible and the disenfranchised, from women to slaves to prostitutes. His hopes to heal the country of its deep political divisions through his poetry were dashed by the Civil War, but his work lives on as a vital life-affirming force. In this hour-long special, Rux speaks with writers, poets, musicians, and scholars who tell the story of this extraordinary, self-styled celebrity. Guests include writers Michael Cunningham and Phillip Lopate; poets Martin Espada, hailed by some as a contemporary Whitman, and Ishle Yi Park, Queens poet laureate; composers John Adams and Ned Rorem; choreographer Bill T. Jones; Whitman scholars Karen Karbiener and David Reynolds; and many, many others. Actors including Jeffrey Wright and Paul Giammatti share readings of Whitman's poetry, which, one hundred and fifty years on, still astonishes.

The Heart of Song: Renée Fleming with Fred Hersch

From WNYC | 58:56

In conversation and performance, Renee Fleming reveals her great love of jazz.

Flemingpiano_small Renee Fleming has fulfilled a life-long dream and "The Heart of Song: Renée Fleming with Fred Hersch" features the singer in a very personal and insightful conversation – and performing songs you wouldn’t usually associate with the world’s most beloved diva. In "The Heart of Song," you hear Fleming in an intimate performance, accompanied by collaborator Fred Hersch on the piano, and performing an eclectic set of favorites. The hour includes music from Joni Mitchell’s classic 1971 "Blue" release, to the standard "Love for Sale," and features exclusive archival performances from Fleming’s earliest days as a young college student. "The Heart of Song: Renée Fleming with Fred Hersch" is produced by WNYC Radio in collaboration with SchardtMEDIA, and hosted by WNYC’s John Schaefer.

Prisoners of War: A Story of Four American Soldiers

From Vermont Folklife Center Media | 57:08

Four Vermont soldiers talk about life in German prison camps after their capture at the Battle of the Bulge, and the life-changing effects of this experience.

Powlg_small Prisoners of War tells the story of four World War Two veterans -Harrison Burney (84), William Busier (86), Cliff Austin (79), and Robert Norton (80) - all of whom were captured in the first days of the Battle of the Bulge and imprisoned for the remainder of the war. The hour-long program runs without narration, building its story by intercutting excerpts from extended field recordings with each of the men. It begins with the men remembering the chaos and confusion of the battle itself and moves quickly to each man's capture, interrogation, forced march, and transport by rail car to slave labor camps in Germany and Germany-controlled territory. The program focuses in detail on the fabric of daily life in these camps, particularly starvation, disease and the brutality of the German guards. It follows the men through their liberation, debriefing, repartriation, and reintegration into American society. And it chronicles their stuggle with the life-long aftereffects of trauma and the shame they felt for having surrendered.

The Silent Generation: From Saipan to Tokyo

From Helen Borten | 58:57

The final year of World War II in the Pacific, told by men who came back and kept silent about the harrowing ordeal that changed their lives.

Daddatoanthony1_small Eugene "Bud" Clark, a pint-sized scrapper from Macon, GA, mowed down Banzai warriors, watched mass suicide on Saipan, and was severely wounded on Iwo Jima. Howard Terry was traumatized by his accidental killing of an Okinawan boy, returned home angry, belligerent and unable to hold a job. Anthony Daddato lost his best friend to friendly fire,contracted dengue fever,malaria and tuberculosis, and spent three embittered years in hospitals before a feisty nun's advice changed his outlook. Giles McCoy went down with the Indianapolis in one of the worst naval disasters in history. These are just a few of the voices in "The Silent Generation", a one-hour documentary that follows more than a score of men through the definitive year of their lives. Men from all walks of life and all corners of the nation. Men who melted quietly back into civilian life and kept silent for decades. Men who, as time grows short, have been moved to speak with unflinching honesty of events that changed them forever. Their memories are not for the faint-hearted. Here is a view of war from the foxhole. A side of war as relevant today as in 1945. To listen is to understand why they, like tens of thousands of others, could not speak for so long. "The Silent Generation" closes with their unblinking, often wrenching remarks on how combat later affected their attitudes, identity and everyday lives. Producer/Narrator Borten knits their stories into a chronological whole, adding archival newscasts, live reports from the battlefield, and little-known historical details that, together with these unforgettable stories, bring a momentous, searingly brutal chapter in history to life.