Expressions featuring nature photographer Jerry Acton of Berkshire, NY, poet and Binghamton University Associate Director of Creative Writing Christine Gelineau and victorian guitar music by William Groome of Corning, NY. Guests:
Web Extra: Christine Gelineau reads poem, “Hard Evidence”
A musician from an early age, singer/songwriter Benjamin Costello has always found he best expresses himself through music. His introspective lyrics and complex, emotional melodies reflect his passion as well as his education and musical influences. After receiving a music degree, Benjamin began his career conducting and vocal coaching. Four years later Ben released his first album and began following his true calling as a performer. This program was recorded in 2009 in front of a live studio audience.
For three days in mid-August, 1969, the center of the Universe was a dairy farmer’s field in New York’s Southern Tier that is now a cultural landmark. It was the scene of an event shared by about 400,000 people (nobody knows for sure) and they all would remember it, maybe with joy and maybe pain, confusion, inspiration and in every case music in their hearts. In 1969 America was undergoing tremendous change and youth culture was ascendant. The war in Vietnam, the demand for civil rights and racial equality, the sexual revolution and a nascent environmental movement combined to cause deep schisms in the country. It seemed at times that everything was political. The Woodstock Festival of Music and Art was both an expression of those trends and a respite from them. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-850660.mp3
The history of “Woodstock” is as chaotic as the event itself. Turned aside from the original plan to hold the open-air concert near the Hudson Valley artist colony of Woodstock, NY, organizers looked across the Catskills, into the “borscht belt”, and arranged for land in the Town of Bethel, Sullivan County, belonging to dairy farmer Max Yasgur . There was again local resistance but the event was widely advertised, ticket sales made it seem as if nearly 50,000 people would attend. In the end, of course, the attendance was in six figures, roads were jammed, facilities strained and the weather refused to cooperate. It was three days of music and mud. But those who were there will still tell you that it was worth it. The list of performers is still staggering: Arlo Guthrie , Joan Baez , Santana, Jefferson Airplane (not yet Starship),The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe McDonald and on and on… Michael Wadleigh’s documentary won an Oscar.
Things don’t always follow a straight line. “Night Navigation” by Ginnah Howard is the middle novel in a trilogy. The first part — entitled “Rope and Bone” — appeared as short stories in several literary journals and on her website. The final third, “Common Descent”, is a work-in-progress. There is a unity of setting, for they all take place largely in rural upstate New York, and some of the same characters pass through all the works of the trilogy. But “Night Navigation” is Ginnah Howard’s debut novel, a powerful and singular work. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-839596.mp3
The two principal characters of “Night Navigation” are Del Merrick, a retired art teacher, and her son Mark, a 37-year old man suffering from manic depression and drug addiction. The buildings in their homestead are a comforting environment for Del, a slovenly sanctuary for Mark. As the novel opens it is a winter night and Mark is in need of detoxification but the closest detox facility is hours away, somewhere to the north. Though Del fears driving the icy highways she piles Mark into the car and navigates up Route 11, still unsure of their destination. The opening chapters of “Night Navigation” portend the harrowing action through the rest of the book: a man alternating between angry self-possession and helplessness, and the mother who stands by him even in his worst moments despite the accusation that in her caring she has become his enabler. Del has already lost both a husband and their son Aaron to suicide. All the way to Sidney, her shoulders were in count-down, but when she makes the turn back onto the gravel bank, she realizes they’ve unlocked. She looks up toward the bluff and catches the slant of Aaron’s roof rising up. What happens in her gut when the phone rings and whether she can look up this hill or not are the two barometers of how she’s really feeling. For years, when she drove up this road, she had to look away. The chapters of “Night Navigation” alternate between the experience and outlook of Del and Mark as he seeks and then rejects the help of friends. The characters who populate Ginnah Howard’s novel all carry a sense of verisimilitude, such as Rozmer, a recovering addict whose counsel Mark both seeks and avoids. Then there is Richard. He is Del’s neighbor, friend and lover. He is a steady, hard-working, super-competent guy who can always speak frankly to Del. Richard is solid and sensible. He is also suffering from prostate cancer. And there is also Luke. He, too, is steady and supportive and is truly Mark’s best friend; some of Mark’s clearest moments are while speaking to Luke.