Leslie gave a remarkable speech at the Catskill Center on Saturday entitled “John Burroughs and H.D. Thoreau: The Roots of American Nature Writing” that transported the audience back in time with a teen-aged Washington Irving he sailed up the Hudson; described Thomas Cole as he painted the Catskills; showed us how John Burroughs forthrightly traipsed through dense hemlock forests.
Leslie, a member of PEN America, began her writing career at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and has been an editorial consultant, specializing in literary nonfiction (especially memoir, creative nonfiction, biography and cultural criticism), literary fiction (novels and short stories) and poetry. She has been Adjunct Associate Professor of Writing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where she taught in the undergraduate and graduate (MFA) writing programs for twenty years. Join us as we talk about her life as a naturalist, why she wrote her memoir and what’s so special about the quarry fox.
Here’s a picture of me working hard at the radio station while I take a break from Upstate Dispatch this week. My guest on the radio next week, March 19th at 9am, will be Linda Leaming, author of Married To Bhutan and A Field Guide to Happiness. You can stream the show online here: WIOX Radio. In both books, Linda writes about her life in Bhutan, a tiny buddhist country in the Himalayas between India and Tibet, and what we can learn from Bhutan’s trail blazing accomplishments in areas like the importance of the arts, conservation and the well-being of its citizens. The government has a metric called Gross National Happiness that it measures often, instead of Gross National Product. Bhutan has decreed that a very large portion of their country will remain forested. There is no styrofoam and very few plastic bags in Bhutan. In Married to Bhutan, Linda writes that the Bhutanese “have foregone opportunities to make money off their considerable natural resources – lumber, water, minerals, plants and animals in favour of their quality of life. That alone makes it a world apart”. A Field Guide to Happiness is her second book on Bhutan and gives us tips on how to be happy.
These subjects were on my mind while was in New York City last week and between appointments decided to pick up Linda’s book on happiness instead of just ordering it online. I went to Rizzoli Bookshop, Strand Bookstore, Bookoff and Barnes and Noble. I was told that Linda’s books are not stocked in any Barnes & Noble in NYC, (but they should be – and he will put in a request to order them). Then, because I just decided to be on a mission – I was in NYC after all – I called Greenlight Books, Bluestocking books, Community Books, BookBook and Unnameable Books in Brooklyn but not one stocked A Field Guide to Happiness. It occurred to me that the book did not exist in New York City because if happiness was actually attained there, the earth would violently tip off its axis due to the sudden unloading of the weighty burden of abject disgruntlement in that part of the world. If everybody in NYC became satisfied with their life or just simply decided not to be in a huge hurry, or if everyone smiled at the same time, the city would crumble into dust and wash out into the ocean out of purposelessness. On occasion I smile at people in NYC and they look at me with a confused “do I know you?!” expression. So I caved and ordered the book online. It came from a happy place far away. Continue reading →
After this week’s election victories, Monday’s radio show will feature two prominent guests: Jeff Senterman and Julia Reischel. From 9am to 9.30am, we will hear from Jeff who is Executive Director of the Catskill Center. Many people ask me what the Catskill Center does and now here is your chance to find out if you didn’t know. From 9.30am to 10am, we’ll hear from Julia Reischel, a former local journalist and co-founder of the now-retired Watershed Post, who is now going into politics.
You can stream the show online on WIOX on Monday November 13that 9am. Let’s hope it’s warmer than today’s 22F.
This week, I interviewed Steve Burnett, the Bovina Farmer, on my radio show and tonight at 6pm, I’ll be a guest on his show The Tickler with his co-host Julian Richards, a fellow Brit.
The show is described thusly: “It’s like a culinary bungee. No sooner have we reached the apex of the bounce than we’re back at the chopping board with bloody fingers. Sunday 23rd, The Tickler welcomes writer, thinker and chronicler of all things Catskills – Jenny Urbanski – for a spot of dinner and a litre of wine (Delco Speedball). We’ll point at each other and laugh; and traffic in truth, the only currency.”
Prepare for utter absurdity, devout irreverence, and some senseless hilarity while we explore the meaning of life. Tune in.
Laura Silverman was a guest on my radio show on WIOX almost exactly two years ago and is a fellow writer of Edible Hudson Valley. Laura has a popular local food blog called Glutton For Life and is Editor of Delaware Valley 8 a new bi-annual newspaper based in the Catskills to be published on Memorial Day and Labor Day this year.
There’s been a rash of articles in the media about the Catskills turning hipster. What do you think about that?
I think that cities in general are becoming much more challenging places to live especially for creative people. I think more people are moving out of the cities and more people are dreaming about moving out of cities.
To continue the British punk theme for the remainder of the weekend and into Monday. The DIY ethos of the punk movement merged with my British obsession with tea, (made from Organic Traveler’s Tea) ready for The Economy of Punk on WIOX FM Radio tomorrow morning at 9am. Making my own cold tea while choosing content for the show.
I host a live radio show on WIOX in Roxbury, New York on alternate Monday mornings at 9am and every other week I attempt to quantify a different subject with or without a guest. I’ve interviewed some erudite, intriguing people. One of these characters was Randal Doane, who called into my show on Monday, which was about the state of radio and featured guests Chris Hensley and Joe Piasek. He has written a recent history of FM radio and The Clash called Stealing All Transmissions: A Secret History of the Clash, published by PM Press.
Radio is a tricky subject because most young people tell me they don’t listen to it anymore unless they’re in a car. Most people I meet get their music from Spotify or Pandora and forgo any talk radio. Of course, now “new media” is now the thing: podcasts and video.
WIOX FM Radio is a little enclave of eccentricity in a world awash with polarised talk-radio and MOR rock and to promote our little slice of country eclecticism we are having a benefit and panel discussion in which Randal Doane will be keynote speaker. So, it’s a punk-addled night that’s being hosted at Spillian, our favourite Catskills Victorian mansion with some of the weirdest, most opinionated characters the mountains have to offer. It’ll be like any other night down the pub on any London high street in the seventies. Just leave the crystal chandeliers alone, alright? Join us for an evening of “friendship, provocative conversation, music and no small amount of partying…”.
Stealing All Transmissions:
An Evening of Local Celebrity, Subversive Commentary,
Community Radio and Fancy Cuisine
Saturday March 21, 6:00pm at Spillian
50 Fleischmanns Heights Road, Fleischmanns, NY 12430
A benefit for WIOX Community Radio
$50 donation. Limited seating.