Sedge Thomson's West Coast Live, San Francisco's Radio Show to the World!

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Today, Sedge presents the first of a two part special from the High Sierra Music Festival  in Bear Valley. The air is clear, the music hot, the stars sparkle. 


We get out of the smoke on a road trip for clear mountain air. 


Nov. 17 -- conversation and music with THE DELAVANTES


And from the Bay Area, THE JOHNNY NOCTURNE BIG BAND with rollicking horns. 


Nov. 24 , part 2, with NATHAN and the ZYDECO CHA CHAS and from East LA, THE BLAZERS


The music is hotter at 7,000 feet. 

Today, Sedge marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 with comments from A. S. Byatt as she depicts the onset of The Great War in The Children’s Book.

It’s still fire season in the West. Timothy Egan’s timeless account of a massive Montana fire depicts the work of  progressive Republicans under Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot. They fought corrupt wealthy politicians to set aside American forests as public lands and parks. 

Yet some trees are toxic dendrons to we humans. Botanist Amy Stewart identifies the which and how as she explains how her fears are rational and well-informed when walking in the woods and fields.

A. S. Byatt tells a grown-up’s fairy tale of children’s lives over a hundred years ago. The bucolic artsy life led to Peter Pan and Wind in the Willows, the creation of beautiful arts and crafts pottery and other objets d’art. Then the unexpected onslaught of WW1.  It’s beautiful to perceive a pot well-made when held.  Yet how easily and inadvertently things can shatter.



Calamity, illusions, political corruption, and fair warnings today. 


More with Sedge and A. S. Byatt here on the WCL Notables Podcast page.

This week I present sailors and adventurers who know the importance of good boats, sails, and a captain and crew knowledgeable and wise. One guest has a cautionary tale of the blindness wrought by wealthy arrogance. All have confronted danger and still love the sea and find the natural world seductive and thrilling.



PETER NICHOLS-- His account, Sea Change, of sailing across the Atlantic to sort out his life and his novel Voyage to the North Star grip us with account of the sea and what fate has for us. 


KACI CRONKHITE -- She teaches women to sail out of Port Townsend and prepare for circumnavigation though she grew up on a ranch in Oklahoma. Her new book, Finding Pax, tells of her journey to find a wooden boat she loves. 


CAROL HASSE -- Her Port Townsend sail loft takes Dacron to shape the strong wings for sailors who hope to circumnavigate the globe. She also has a vision how to inspire young people to find the allure of the sea, as she was at 20. 

REDMOND O’HANLON -- The Oxford-based Natural Historian took to sea aboard a trawler. It was more terrifying than any other adventure. And yet he regaled is with astonishing, deftly hilarious accounts of the experience. Read Trawler for more than we had time to hear that day.

Production notes:  Peter was interviewed at the Plush Room in San Francisco, Kaci and Carol at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, and Redmond at the Exploratorium.

16,000 BBC sound effects in a public library are here.  The feature film mentioned is Kepler's Dream.  The nautical watercolor is by Alex.

This week I present three outstanding guitarists and a Halloween story.  These performers bring singular style to the guitar.  Their stories of their lives astound.  


LEO KOTTKE -- Guitarist, and story-teller. What was that creature that lifted his submarine from the water in the Atlantic?  12 string and six-string virtuosity disguised with humour, and Leo talks about the importance of doing nothing, at times. 


CHRIS SMITHER -- His blue guitar brings the blues. Today’s choice, what he calls a spooky and strange song. 


LISA BROWN -- Her Halloween tale of a child vampire may delight you. How do outsiders fit in, and how do create a bedtime story when the young ‘un goes to bed at dawn. 

THE DUO-TONES -- Acoustic surf guitar brings us to the beach with classics made intimate. Their fingers hang ten and you’ll be stoked. 

This week I present two outstanding guitarists.  Their work changed the course of Americana music, folk, and rock 'n' roll.  Playing for decades after careers that began just after high school, both musicians also found causes to devote their skills to -- from the preservation of folk music to healing music therapy.  Their music is the sound track of Vietnam war protests and mega-concerts -- for an era built, built on rock 'n' roll.

ROGER McGUINN -- Guitarist, co-founder of The Byrds, his song hits range from Mr. Tambourine Man to Eight Miles High to Turn, Turn, Turn. He explains how his guitar technique and changes of beat made his hit songs. His design of a seven-string guitar gives him the strength of 12 strings and flexibility of a six-string, yet still he makes that distinctive jingle-jangle magic for us at the 12 Galaxies.

CRAIG CHAQUICO -- His guitar virtuosity with Jefferson Ariplane and Starship and work with Grace Slick and Marty Balin shaped his world-wide music experiences.  His own hospital experience as a boy led to his guitar playing, and now his extensive work in the field of music therapy.  We hear him solo and with his band, from the Bowmer Theater in Ashland, Oregon, to Studio 55 in Marin.  He now lives in the State of Jefferson.

Sedge's guests this week notice and create patterns

WILLIAM GIBSON -- author, Neuromancer, Pattern Recognition.  He coined cyberspace and tells us the bedtime stories he made up for his kids

SUSAN KARE -- our icon-driven screen world was started by her.  The acclaimed designer created the symbols for the early Macs for Steve Jobs.  Her patterns are recognized everywhere and help us recognize our own patterns

STEVE WOZNIAK --engineer, originator of Dial-a-Joke, and co-founder of the Apple Computer Company

Today, I bring you BREATHE.

KAY LARSON, biographer, takes us through composer JOHN CAGE'S life and how Zen Buddhism influence him, and thus the art world from the 1950s to today.

SHARON SALZBERG, renowned meditator, talks about the importance of breath, kindness and compassion -- even in times of disteress.

ROB REID -- founder of and other music internet sites, with a satirical intergalactic look at our music rights confusions.




This week the CHARLIE OWEN BAND, featuring the San Francisco soul singer, is joined by DAVE BARRY, the humorist, on classic R&B songs about money.

MIKE GREENSILL has a few for the piano.

All the music frames my two guests:

LIZ PERLE, a founder of Common Sense Media and author of "Money: A Memoir -- Women, Emotion and Cash."

DAVE BARRY -- the satricial humorist offeers his comic wisdom about money, how to make it, how to keep it and how to spend it. "Money Secrets" is too sober a title for his guide, as you'll hear.

Cash in with the currency of ideas.


This week, as we move from summer to autumn, and Mars, the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus line across the equinoctial sky, as apples and persimmons ripen in harvest, I bring you high energy music and conversation.  Time to dance in the fields, find delight in the warm, long-lit afternoons.  



The four bring us their compositions that will have you dancing. 


EVELYN GLENNIE  — the renowned Scottish percussionist who plays with orchestras around the world and feels the music as she is deaf. 


ROY ZIMMERMAN — political satirist with a view on couples therapy and a new world order. 

Nobel Laureate TONI MORRISON discusses the human history of immigration and slavery and how telling stories and making music keeps human creativity alive in dire times. She is the author of Beloved, The Bluest Eye, and Song of Solomon.

LUIS ALBERTO URREA researched a brilliant and moving account of the "walkers" who seek to cross the infernal heat of the Southwest Desert and encounter the Border Patrol.  Luis finds human stories on both sides of the border.


With Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir. 




This week, I talk with:

JEANETTE WINTERSON -- author of Gut SymmetriesOranges Are Not The Only FruitSexing the CherryArt Objects, and many other explorations of memory, time, experience, the significance of water and identity with candor and humor.

Plus, for the warm days at the end of summer a cooking and musical Stockholm ferry boat ride through the brash ice.

Sedge's flâneur files.


This week I bring you from my own radio playa “Burns Brightly” with a co-founder of Burning Man and others in one shimmery hour. And all these incandescdent people lit up the same show as they do today.


The radiant love songs of the brilliant, drill songwriter JONATHAN RICHMAN with Tommy Larkins;


GEORGE WINSTON, composer and record producer lights up the piano, the guitar, and the harmonica with his virtuosity. 


ANNE LAMOTT, author, on the miracles of compassion and kindness in the most unexpected moments and how to illuminate ourselves from within. 


LARRY HARVEY, whose Burning Man was once a Floating Man, started the event in 1986 with a few friends. In April 1997, when he came by to talk about a new Burning Man photo book, it was 10K people and 3 days over Labor Day weekend. Now it’s 70K people, about 10 days, and a world-wide phenomenon. LARRY died in April this year, age 70. He’s being remembered at this week’s Burning Man 2018 -- where again the Man will burn brightly. 


Here's an ABC news report from 1997:




Sedge’s flâneur files. 



This week I bring you -- Earthelujah— from a long-running Zurich arts festival at Landiwiese on a hot night, under a moon, near an inflatable pink cathedral, along the lake, I came upon my long-time friend and colleague, William Talen as Rev Billy and His Stop Shopping Choir.

We sit lakeside and talk with the curators of the festival, with Rev Billy, Savitri D, and members of the choir.


Then please come with me as we go behind the scenes as they prepare for a performance.


Come along to enjoy the backstage planning banter, warm-ups, show excerpts and the sermon, and learn how a bullhorn can bridge or cleave cultures. 


It happened that I'm on the West Coast of Lake Zurich, working on another project, flaneuring, seeking out the art center, Rote Fabrik, a repurposed textile plant in south Zurich. 

On my way for a coffee in the lakeside cafe,


I saw poster of a character I know, Rev Billy!  My colleague and friend was somewhere within a kilometer.

The shipping container (with a window) dressing room for the choir.

Such vibrancy ready for the big show.

An inflatable and illuminated cathedral.

And on the stage, the 10pm show, ex-cathedra,
a sunrise service in the night.
Stirring up the Zurich "congregation."



Sedge’s flâneur files. 


So much is broken.  Leonard Cohen wrote that's where the light gets it.  Or course, it can also leak out or we can see the darkness.  From venal people in office to secret efforts to rip healthcare from Americans along with our treasure. Everybody knows, everybody knows.  Yet we have the music of and poetry of Leonard Cohen that carries on. Today -- We remember Leonard Cohen.  I heard him once in concert in London, with his band, and lovely swaying back-up singers, as he crooned deeply and intimately into his microphone.  He must have been 78 or so then, and kept the show going strong for over four hours.


CONSPIRACY OF BEARDS -- The all-male chorus which sings only the music, the words, of LEONARD COHEN.  They are performing in San Francisco, November 4th, in a multi-group concert of the words of Leonard Cohen.


Everybody knows that the dice are loaded

Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed

Everybody knows the fight was fixed

The poor stay poor, the rich get rich

That's how it goes

Everybody knows


Everybody knows that the boat is leaking

Everybody knows that the captain lied

Everybody got this broken feeling

Like their father or their dog just died


Everybody knows, everybody knows



This week Sedge Thomson presents -- cellist ZOË KEATING, at her 4-day run this weekend, August 9, 10, 11 and 12 at SF JAZZ in San Francisco.  We'll talk with her and hear her new work on SNOWMELT, the newest EP that was number one on the Apple iTunes Classical list.

We'll also present "Discussion Thingy," from 30th July last year, with author ELI BROWN, author of Cinnamon and Gunpowder, a wide-ranging and hilarious disquistion on the artistic life.

Sedge's flaneur files.

Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, who brought the ideas of his uncle to the world of marketing -- of things and ideas to manipulate the masses.  Bacon and eggs?  He suggested the bacon; Adam Curtis, innocento producer of Power of Nightmares; Eli Pariser on silos and bubbles and fear; Adam Phillips, on the menu: Sanity.

This week Sedge presents a trio of astonishing thinkers who show us the world through their particular frames, which in this time of sloganeering and presidential lying, gives some perspective to how we got to this jolly place:

ADAM PHILLIPS --- The psychoanalyst examines not the oft-written about nature of madness, rather what it is to be sane.  His book, from England, is called Sanity. "I'm interested in how the culture of consumer capitalism depends on the idea that we can't bear frustration, so that every time we feel a bit restless or bored or irritable, we eat, say, or we shop. It's only in an initial state of privation that you can begin to have thoughts about what it is you might want, to really imagine or picture it."

ADAM CURTIS -  His documentaries for the BBC, from the four-part The Century of the Self, opening us to Freud's ideas of our animal behavor as channeled by his nephew, Edward Bernays.  Bernays' ideas formed the basis of modern public relations, advertising, and utltimately, the bullying advertising of politicians.   His The Power of Nightmares traces two visitors to the US who later developed polarized views of America, that need each other, the Islamist and the Neo-Con.

ELI PARISER -- His phrase, "filter bubble," now rolls off our lips in discourse about the bizarre politics of the past couple of years.  The information silos, filter bubbles, and corporate influence in the world of news and information is creating harm.  How to protect ourselves when these silos will soon be actual objects in our homes as amazon, facebook, google, att, comcast, verizon et al seek to control our access to information and shape how we think about the world as corporate policy. 

Mike Greensill at the piano. 

Sedge's flaneur files.


The Persuasions — An American Musical Story

Sedge Thomson presents wisdom for these times from a thoughtful and funny musical troupe.  The Persuasions, the renowned a capella group first “discovered” by Frank Zappa, went on to sing around the world, from Carnegie Hall to West Coast Live! 


Playing basketball, then singing after their pick-up games led to street corner teamwork. Blending their voices to popular song from gospel to rock n roll created a distinctive sound. Their musical touring covered the era of Jim Crow and the civil rights movement, the swinging sixties to the new century. The persuasive tenors and basso profundo sang proudly as the group without a backup band.


Sedge’s flâneur files. This show drawn from their appearance on West Coast Live in January 1994 and November 2002.




New World Order, What World Order?  

Sedge Thomson presents wisdom for these times from a thoughtful and funny author and former head of state.  In our continuing series of presenting great American documents, we hear this talk.  Also, a preview of next weeks special on The Persuasions, the renowned a capella group first “discovered” by Frank Zappa. 


BARACK OBAMA —  The author and former head of state remembers Nelson Mandela at a 100th birthday celebration in South Africa.  A moving and funny and illuminating talk, a guided tour  on the paths of history by one of the great author-statesmen. 


We hear how different childhoods can shape the arc of humanity, why truth is important, and, ultimately, love. 


We hear of bit of next week’s show with The Persuasions in a preview. 


Here's the transcript of Mr. Obama's talk, with, apparently, a light edit.  It's in the New Yorker, after all.


Sedge’s flâneur files. 

Australians — Fellow Former Colonists — Thomas Keneally, Tim Winton, Alan Dargin - and a reading of the Declaration of Independence 

Sedge Thomson presents wisdom for these times from three thoughtful and funny artists.  


THOMAS KENEALLY  He wrote Schindler’s List among  other novels. He describes how his talk with an immigrant in his California baggage shop led to his account of Schindler’s dangerous and humane exploit or rescue. His book, Rivertown, tells of the Australian illegals who built Australia. 


TIM WINTON His self-deprecating humor belies his savvy and insight accounts of Australian family relationships. Cloudstreet  set the pace. Breath is a life flashing by as a surfer is held down by a wave. 


ALAN DARGIN  The late, great Aboriginal  didgeridoo virtuoso plays for us and tells us of his upbringing. He recorded with the best bands, including Alison Brown. That his PhD in Astronomy came from his interest in looking up, a family practice from his outback homeland. 


THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE It’s still a document of hope and an indictment of George III, and more universally, of any tyrant. Read by members of the audience with piano accompaniment. An annual broadcast tradition. 


JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR’S Dissent in trump v. Hawaii. June 2018. Pages 65-92

“The First Amendment stands as a bulwark against official religious prejudice and embodies our Nation’s deep commitment to religious plurality and tolerance. That constitutional promise is why, “[f]or centuries now, people have come to this country from every corner of the world to share in the blessing of religious freedom.” Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U. S., at ___ (KAGAN, J., dissent­ ing) (slip op., at 1). Instead of vindicating those principles, today’s decision tosses them aside.”


“Our Constitution demands, and our country deserves, a Judiciary willing to hold the coordinate branches to ac­ count when they defy our most sacred legal commitments. Because the Court’s decision today has failed in that respect, with profound regret, I dissent.“


Sedge’s flâneur files. 


Novelists and the Personal Politics of Tyranny — Robert Harris, Alan Furst, and Philip Kerr

Sedge Thomson presents wisdom for these times from three best-selling novelists.  


ROBERT HARRIS —  He covered politics in the UK. Then he wrote his novel imagining the Nazis ruled Britain inFatherland, his Imperium series about Roman politics and the failures of the Senate illuminate our own times. 


ALAN FURST His novels set from the 1930s to 1944 explore historical themes of Fascist rise and rule and the Resistance of individuals and lovers across a misty-past Europe. 


PHILIP KERR —  His Berlin Noir series sets personal detection of crimes against the background of the larger crimes of the Third Reich. His detective, Bernie Gunther, used expediency and personal integrity to resist party thuggery. His young persons books and other novels explore the shifts from democracy to political and religious tyranny, written with his dark comic voice. Philip died three months ago, age 62, on March 23, 2018.


Sedge’s flâneur files. 


Sedge Thomson presents wisdom for these times.  


PAULO COEHLO - Brazilian polymath, author of The Alchemist and many other books, takes us on an inspirational explore on the journey of our lives. 


COLEMAN BARKS - Poet and translator of The Red Book by Rumi. His translations are about time travel, too. For one reading, he was guarded by security with AK-47s. Poetry is that dangerous. 


ROBERT BLY - The poet and philosopher whose book Iron John changed views of friendships between men, who own translation and poetry fizz with joy and life in expressions of personal bravery and wit. 


EAVAN BOLAND - Her poets take the Irish experience and applies the famine and maltreatment by an empire to our current troubles, through the “indoor nature” of domestic life.  



Sedge’s flâneur files. 


SEDGE THOMSON continues finding voices for illumination for our times -- This week, an hour with:

AUGUST KLEINZAHLER - called by one writer “deceptively insouciant,” August lives in San Francisco and travels the world writing poems and essays that locate dislocation, or dislocate location, conjures images and feelings and finds the music of the basketball court sets the rhythms of his work.  He’s won the Berlin Prize and many other accolades in the world of literature. His world-wide voice is wry and wise, and pries apart the world of feelings with moxie and tenderness.

Sedge's flâneur files.



The McCarthy Era Redux - Paranoia to Pronoia 
Sedge Thomson presents wisdom for these times.  As the NY Times, the BBC, the Guardian, and others are sullied, keep your eyes on how public radio is treated.  Weak leaders create fake enemies of the press and others.   
ADAM CURTIS  -- British filmmaker on the use of fear to rule.  His documentaries include The Power of NightmaresHyper Normalisation.  He studies the use of fear - and lies - that leaders use to mainipulate society;
ROB BREZNY, author of Pronoia, ways to find happiness in fraught times.  The author proffers ways to look at the world for happiness and gratitude, in a clear-eyed way, glossed, but not Panglossian; 
ADAM PHILLIPS - British psychiatrist on staying sane in disruptive times.  He's learned much about human behavior and responses to provocation and the role of fear;
LAURENCE GONZALES - author of Deep Survival describes survival skills and how to anticipate danger.  How does one think about the idea of survival in everyday life and prepare for extraordinary circumstances.
Sedge's flâneur files.


This week features two significant, engaging and funny interviews about freedom, the quest for it, the human practice of enslaving others, and the travails of migration between Mexico and the US.  We do not limit ourselves to 140 characters of calulated insults or lies;  rather we seek illumination through thoughtfulness, imagination, humor, and truth.

Nobel Laureate TONI MORRISON discusses the human history of slavery and how telling stories and making music keeps human creativity alive in dire times. She is the author of Beloved, The Bluest Eye, and Song of Solomon.

LUIS ALBERTO URREA researched a brilliant and moving account of the "walkers" who seek to cross the infernal heat of the Southwest Desert and encounter the Border Patrol.  Luis finds human stories on both sides of the border.


With Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir

Sedge’s flâneur files. 


This week Sedge visits the stage of the long-running theatrical entertainment of dance, percussion and comedy— Stomp


Currently touring the US and the world, as well a fixture in NYC, Sedge talks with the founders about their self-funded modest and risky start.


LUKE CRESSWELL and STEVE McNICHOLAS, the creators, as well as members of the cast talk with Sedge and we hear their magic compositions and improv with household items — matches, buckets, water bottles, brooms, pots and pans — in a vibrant crescendo of exuberant sound. 


And it all started on a barge with 120 drums floating the River Clyde by some entrepreneurial buskers. 


Sedge’s flâneur files. 


Carroll Ballard directing Anna Paquin in Fly Away Home and the geese imprinted by Anna's voice recordings .

Human imagination and creativity generate such a wondrous range of marvels for humanity.  How is it done?  Sometimes it's magic, sometimes it's brain massage, sometimes it's logic, sometimes it remains a mystery.

CARROLL BALLARD -- Director, Cinematographer -- Dumas, Never Cry Wolf, The Black Stallion - How his quiet work as a director led to such beautiful films.  It's not always magic.  Certainly, what he talks about resonated with my own experiences making and getting Kepler's Dream into the world.

LYNNE TRUSS -- The British radio comedy writer became a grammar goddess with Eats Shoots and Leaves.  We hear hour our language was shaped by royal degreee, rogue commas, and the equitable colon.

HENRY PETROSKI -- The engineer who writes on success, failure, the beauty of design.  I first interviewed him when guest-hosted Fresh Air for his book The Pencil.  Today he talks about The Toothpick and the beauty of bridges.  

-- The singer-songwriter created a website as a venue for his songs and committed to one a week for a year.  How did he do that?  The game creator and Joco Cruise founder regales us with story and song. 

Sedge's flâneur files.  With Mike Greensill, piano.

Lastly, a dear radio colleague from my shows Breakfast Jam and West Coast Weekend, Bruce Walker Bellingham, died this past week.  He was a comedian, author, columnist, and a singer-songwriter who loved playing his 12-string guitar. He saw himself and lived as a native San Franciscan, though he claimed he was only visiting New Jersey when he was born and raised there as a boy.


This week, SEDGE talks with two celebrated poets who celebrate language, truth, and the complexity of our lives.  In this era of perverted political speech, as predicted by George Orwell’s essay, Politics and the English Language, learning to hear what is true and what is false and who speaks with veracity or falsity, is vital to our democracy. 

AL YOUNG, California Poet Laureate, describes his musical upbringing in the South and performs some of his vibrant work from Bodies and Soul, Mingus Mingus, and other works, with MIKE GREENSILL on piano.

ROBERT HASS — US Poet Laureate, author of Time and Materials, Praise, Human Wishes talks about the verve of language  

Hearing both of these poets speak creates a music that inspires.

SCOTT FOGELSONG performs a Brahms Intermezzo.

Sedge’s flâneur files.

Listen all week here at WCL.ORG


Today, Sedge talks with three artists about exceptionalism, feminism, laughter, joy, and how to serve up change in a vengeful art world!

JUDY CHICAGO -- Her artwork incorporates many media, yet she is renowned for her installation, The DInner Party.  She is the author of many books on aspects of art history, aesthetics, and technique.  Was it her upbringing in a family of rabbis that inspired her to use art to teach social justice?  Perhaps.  JUDY also talks about what she learned from FRIDA KAHLO.

FRIDA KAHLO, the Guerrilla Girl, artiste provocateur, author of The Guerrilla Girls' Beside Companion to the History of Western Art and an atelier of posters, cards and witty bon mots created to prod the art world to change.

SARK -- the ebullient and colorful artist describes how, as a first-grader, she wanted to do show-and-tell every day and become a beacon of hope.  Her mother told her to eat her peanut butter sandwich.      And yet...for many she has become such a ray of joie.  She regales us with her life as art.

With a piece by SHARON SHANNON and piano from MIKE GREENSILL.



In connection with Earth Day SEDGE THOMSON presents thinkers, scientist's, growers and the story of those who find how we humans can live on the planet with care gleaned from knowledge and plesasure.  It's all connected.  And as the EPA gets thwarted and protections for our lands are removed, we hope temporarily, we must note these short-term and short-sighted policies are not what thinking and reflective people want if the earth is to continue serving us with its bounty.

Today, part three of our three-part series on nature, earth, and how it sustains us.

DAVID MAS MASUMOTO, farmer, author, Heirlooms: Letters from a Peach Farmer; Epitaph for a Peach

JESSICA PRENTICE, author of Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection

WES JACKSON  farmer, philosopher and author of several landmark books on sustainable agriculturel.  Recepient of the MacArthur grant, founder of The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas.

The article we refer to in the NY TImes Magazine by Moises Velasquez-Manoff is Can Dirt Save the Earth?  With further notes, consult his blog

Peach on Apple iOS 11.3


There's a Portugese saying, we learn, that the happiest one can be in life is in the first year of marriage, and the week after you butcher a pig. Today: how we grow, sustain, and invent ways to provide our nourishment.  Agriculture as it can be, inspired to rise above the degradations of our environment by the current administration.  You'll be enlightened, entertained, and elevated by Sedge's three guests.



If the earth is to continue serving us with its bounty, listen in:

NOVELLA CARPENTER, author of Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer.

LISA HAMLITON, whose book Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness, depicts growers as stewards of the land and their pace of life.

JANE S. SMITH, author of The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants.  How did this man using trial and error and intuition develop botanical marvels that improve our lives.

Mike Greensill whose farm-to-piano playing is bio-dynamic.

This week, Sedge presents the first of a series of show about nature as seen through the eyes of artists: today, two writers whose affinity for nature and myth has led to the creation of art expressing the complications of humanity.  Their humor, self-deprecation and insight give us hope.



Icelandic poet, novelist and lyricist published in 25 languages. He collaborates with Bjork and performed with The Sugarcubes as Johnny Triumph. His three books in English, The Whispering Muse, From the Mouth of the Whale, and The Blue Fox link Icelandic myth, Thor and Loki, to current politics and the history of punk music.

JOHN FOWLES - a rare visit from 1996 when the reclusive author left Lyme Regis and came to talk on West Coast Live.  The author of The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Magus, The Collector, Nature on Nature, and many other books talks of his love of nature, detestation of cities, the necessity of learning to hunt yet his revulsion of it, of the fossisls he found and of the love he enjoyed..


This week, SEDGE engages with:


ANDREW HUGILL -- author and composer who’s written books and music on ‘Pataphysics,  the absurdist movement inspired by Alfred Jarry’s 1896 play, Ubu Roi. We travel to curious realms to make sense of nonsense and discover linguistic antimatter. Huh?  Right. Tune in. All will be made, uh, clear? 

PAUL THEROUX -- travel writer and novelist, author of The Great Railway Bazaar, The Mosquito Coast and some 50 books of fiction, travelogue and worldly insight.  He discusses the tao of travel, the sleight-of-hand practiced by travel writers, and why a curmudgeon cannot be a good traveller. 


Sedge's flâneur files.


Mike Greensill travels the keys. 


JEANETTE WINTERSON -- author of Gut Symmetries, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Sexing the Cherry, Art Objects, and many other explorations of memory, time, experience and identity with candor and humor.

Plus, a Stockholm ferry ride through the brash ice.  Such delicious sounds.

Sedge's flâneur files.


This week, SEDGE interviews, and listens, to two great story tellers who excelled in their chosen sports: football and tennis. 

Y.A. TITTLE, acclaimed quarterback, and his daughter, poet DIANNE TITTLE DE LAET, on the Hero or the man of mud, and how her father’s football career shaped her idea of heroism.  

ANDRE AGASSI,  the former tennis champion, on how his father forced him to play a sport he loathed yet ended up finding grace within himself, with the help of his brother. 

Sedge’s flâneur files. 

This week, SEDGE interviews, and listens, for his flâneur files, to three great story tellers, whose adventuresome and curious lives are driven by passions, or obsessions.  Whatever you call that energy, things happen!

GORDON "ZOLA" EDGAR, purveyor of cheese in San Francisco, author of Cheesemonger, Life on the Wedge brings us tales of Comte and Cheddar, as in Cheddar: A Journey to the Heart of America's Most Iconic Cheese.  Who knew Cheddar has a heart? And will Gorgonzola be his next amore?

LEONARD PITT, the international mime based in Berkeley tells how he went from Detroit to Paris as a young man, and how an unexpected influence in your life can change your direction in a moment.  His books and stories, perfomances of movement and images come alive in his memoir My Brain is on Fire.

RAMBLIN' JACK ELLIOTT, legendary troubador and cowboy (learned first in Madison Square Garden) unsppols his stories with song.  Grammy-awards mean less perhaps than his local oysters, the pleasure of flying, driving with Woody Guthrie and inspiring Bruce Springsteen.

With the bon vivant, foodie of the north bay, Mike Greensill.

This week, SEDGE THOMSON interviews guests whose work illuminates through illustration by example.

FERGUS BORDEWICH, the political historian offers some perspective in his account The First Congress: How James Madison, George Washington and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government.  The founders viewed the Constitution as a structure to be modified, ammended, adapted to the time.  The idea of Orginalists who interpret every comma of the Constitution would be an anathema to the Founders, as they viewed the government as an ever-changing experiment.  Current Broadway star, Alexander Hamilton, taught Americans about Finance!


JOHN MUIR LAWS, artist, naturalist, author and educator renowned for his field guides, here with his latest, The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling.  He reveals the little known properties of magenta and cyan -- and how, with yellow and black -- can make all your colors in your home printer.  His website is a treasure of lessons for drawing and painting.  His dyslexia led him to communicate through illustration more than words and correct spelling.

ARLO GUTHRIE -- illuminates with a story about Bob Dylan, and sings one of his songs.  From a live broadcast at the Hog Farm in Laytonville.

Another edition of Sedge's flâneur files.

With the luminous Mike Greensill.



Today, SEDGE THOMSON, presents 

“Better Lives Through Music ”


Today, Sedge's interviews bring us three musicians whose lives and careers criss-crossed American history from the days of Jim Crow through the civil rights movement to current civil rights quandaries.

 (b 1944)  The ebullient singer, author and actress. Her “baby-baby-s” made The Supremes trio sound distinctive with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, yet despite personal successes and griefs, finds the joy of her music her constant. 

ALLEN TOUSSAINT — (1938-2015)   His New Orleans songwriting style created many hits for Paul McCartney, Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello, and many others. He did very well for himself, too, and demonstrates his techniques for writing songs for his more visible musical colleagues.

 (1930-2008)   Her clarion, operatic voice brought to folk music a style that led to her sobriquet “voice of the civil rights movement.”  She inspired Dr King, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and many others as she found her way to make music when many venues were restricted by race. Later she’s joined by Ronnie Gilbert, John Renbourne and Archie Fisher.


It's Sedge's flâneur files. 


Insights abound. 


With the piano genius himself, Mike Greensill


Today, Sedge presents a memory of WESLA WHITFIELD, the acclaimed cabaret singer who died this past week at 70.  She visited West Coast Live regularly, sometimes as the "surprise guest" of her musical partner since 1981 and husband since 1986, MIKE GREENSILL,  our colleague here at West Coast Live and pianist through the years. Here is Wesla's obituary in the New York Times

NIKKI GIOVANNI - the outspoken earthy poet and professor takes us through her analysis of Star Trek, black society and mothers, and her observations about sexuality.  We've not aired this coversation since its first broadcast in February 1994.  The audience roars with laughter throughtout.

CLARENCE MAJOR - Out of UC Davis, the linguist, novelist, painter and poet, discusses from Juba to Jive, the history of black slang, its origins and what language tells us about the fluidity of human thought.  Join us for our Gumbo YaYa.

BROWNIE McGHEE - from 1915 to Feb 16, 1996, Brownie made the blues his travelling companion, along with Sonny Terry.  The two kept the blues alive and introduced them to a wide audience.  He shares the stage to watch Alvin Youngblood Hart and Virgil Thrasher perform two of his classic blues songs.



This week, SEDGE THOMSON welcomes LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO, the renowned a capella group who has inspired and performed with Paul Simon and Michael Jackson.

And two extended conversations with author and tenor sax man JAMES McBRIDE, whose memoir and fiction is hilarious, moving, profound.  He has thoughts on his mixed race upbringing. His new book, Five Carat Soul, continues his insight on race, identity, and human failings and virtues.  

As he says today, politicians are just people, and what matters, in the end, is your decency and whether you did some good today.  He also wrote The Good Lord Bird, The Color of Water, and Song Yet Sung.  And he joins the T SISTERS and MIKE GREENSILL for a jazz piece.

On a personal note, Mike, our friend, pianist and colleague, who often brought in his "special guest," the chanteuse WESLA WHITFIELD, to sing, sent out a letter from her last week, titled,
Time to leave the room:


Dear Friends and Fans
     I want to thank you for all the love and devotion you've given me over the years. I've had a wonderful time making music for you but it's become time to leave the room. I'm very comfortable at home with Michael and I am well looked after by the sterling hospice folks. I decided not to have any major interventions to try and cure what is a very large tumor and a severe infection.
     I've had a great life and the thought of all you lovely people who have listened to my singing brings me great peace....
     Much Love
P.S.  I probably won't be able to answer all your well wishes, but you can write to Mike and he'll read them to me.....
                       This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
P.P.S.  From Mike  - Please no visitors at this time....
    Wesla sings "In My Life" from her HighNote CD of the same name.

They were the first guests on my first West Coast Weekend show in 1985, and dear friends who performed at many occassions for our show, for you and our crew.


Today, SEDGE THOMSON, presents “Invictus.”


MAYA ANGELOU, poet and author, is joined by GUY JOHNSON, her son born when she was 17. 

She talks about how motherhood shaped her, how she raised her son in American society with her own knowledge and poetry, and the importance of red beans and rice. 


It’s vital we retain a sense of what integrity and love means in the raising of children and protection of ourselves in our current political climate and twittering egomania. 


DR. ANGELOU at 76, and her son, offer that.          


It's Sedge's flâneur files.  He finds eclipses, the art collection of Charles 1st, and a king’s malevolence, and a 16th century shade of teal oil paint connected. 

Insights abound. 


With the piano genius himself, MIKE GREENSILL, and Rubber Souldiers.  

First, this week on the air - we remember HUGH MASEKELA and URSULA LE GUIN, two giants of music and literature who graced our show.

Second, KEPLER'S DREAM, the indie family movie I produced with a fantastic crew is now AVAILABLE after a successful theatre run in December across the country.


A personal request: it means a great deal to all of us if you'd download and watch the movie, post a jolly good review, and tell your friends!

I'm proud of KEPLER's DREAM, and of the work on in it the US and the UK. The film has garnered some great reviews, people find it moving, entertaining, profound, and inspiring.

Also, many fine women of all ages helped make this, both on screen and off, from writers and director and cinematographer to the range of actors.

From the Village Voice: "A Feel Good Puzzler 

Winner of an Audience Favorite Award at the Mill Valley Film Festival!

Send us a copy of the review you posted and I'll send you a rare photograph of me getting made-up for my role -- Can you spot it? I'll autograph it for you, too!

A reminder: Independent of our broadcast time, you can listen all week to the program on any device or computer via the LISTEN button on the front page of our web site.

Best wishes, and many thanks for your support through the years! Sedge



Great singers, some who might be joined in by a bit of instrumentation, but essentially pure voice.

From England, THE KING'S SINGERS - who bring their gift for nuance to the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and the 16th century greats.

From Tuva - two singing groups of throat singers, one male, CHIRGILCHIN,  one female, "The Daughters of Tuva" - TYVA KYZA.  They each sing of romance and horses and wind-swept steppes. There will be Russian spoken and translated.

From Louisiana - THE MAGNOLIA SISTERS who sing of the women's life

From San Francisco - CHANTICLEER who sing from Peter Schickele's comic mini-masterpiece, "Go for Broke," the story of a loterry winner and his new-found pals.

And we dedicate today's show to the Boeing 747, the elegant piece of flying architecture which carried so many of us to and from radio shows, vacations, business trips, family visits.  The last domestic airline 747 was retired to the desert a couple of weeks ago.  The 747 is still used by some international airlines, cargo lines, and as Air Force 1.
The 787 is a magnificent plane.  Will it be as storied and romantic as the vision of the 747 with its loft-space upper deck?  Who knows.  A tribute to human ingenuity and the laws of physics.

And for more about KEPLER'S DREAM, available for streaming starting 26 January.



This week, SEDGE THOMSON presents Lift Every Voice -- Reflections on the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  What he has to say is as timely today, this week, and this past year, as in 1968.

THE PERSUASIONS -- the sublime acapella group started on street corners in Philly, championed by Frank Zappa who took them to Carnegie Hall with The Mothers of Invention.  The Persuasions will break your heart, and when one singer tells us toward the end of the show about tire irons, and his friendship with Dr King, you might well think of so-called presidential tweets as the tire irons of today's media streets.

TAYLOR BRANCH - his magisterial three-volume biography of Dr King tells of his life and the context of the wider America of the day, of LBJ, the Vietnam war, and non-violence.  We hear of the struggles for Dr King against a mocking press, and of the soaring narratives that inspired a movement.  It's important to hear these voices, because they tell us who we are, and what values we have and are in danger of losing.

We'll hear an excerpt from the speech Dr King gave, his last, the night before his assasination.  It's what we need to hear now, in this country, which unlike, as Dr King says, China or Russia, where we have the right to demand our rights.  His view from the mountaintop in Memphis in 1968 reaches to January 2018.


Sedge presents A New Start -- 

PAULO COEHLO - The author of the Alchemist, and dozens of books and stories than tell of adventures and explorations that lead to our inner selves 

RICHARD N BOLLES - What Color is Your Parachute and its cousins offered sage, droll, and effewctive advice on hopw to reinevent oneself, find work that could satisfy and make our lives worthwhile.  On the NY Times best seller list for years.  Richard Bolles died at 90 in March, 2017.

ERIC SCHLOSSER - Who's got a bigger button? Well, that asinine exchange leads me to wonder what do we know about Command and Control of nuclear weapons.  It's a football, a briefcase, and the president carries a "biscuit," a card with identifying cards.  Was the current president allowed to have a biscuit?

JACOB NEEDLEMAN - And in a time when we need values, American Soul - about the wisdom and influences of the Iroquois Consiitution, George Washington and Frederick Douglass on our better American selves.