The Studs Terkel Centenary: Chicago Celebrates Legendary Studs Terkel

The Studs Terkel Centenary: Chicago Celebrates Legendary Studs Terkel

May 16th marks the 100th anniversary of Studs Terkel’s birth and an occasion to memorialize one of the most prolific writers and cultural critics in the history of Chicago letters. As an author, broadcaster and oral historian, legendary Chicagoan Studs Terkel celebrated the lives of ordinary Americans. Some of Terkel’s many friends and fans are hoping to return the favor with a series of events marking the 100th birthday of a man whose work is a chronicle of the 20th century.

The Studs Terkel Centenary, a group headed up by Terkel’s friends, including Chicago Tribune reporter Rick Kogan, on Saturday will rededicate the Division Street Bridge, which was named after Terkel 20 years ago. On Wednesday, The Newberry Library will host a birthday party featuring guest speakers who will share stories about Studs. Terkel’s friends will ensure that his memory lives on with a day of Studs-only programming on WFMT-FM on his birthday, with performances of passages from Terkel’s 2001 book Will the Circle Be Unbroken? at Steppenwolf Theatre next week and by phoning in personal anecdotes about Terkel to a hotline set up by Chicago’s Hull House Museum.

A Tribute: Remembering Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel: The Human Voice (StoryCorps)

Remembering Studs Terkel: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

The New York Times reported that Chicago’s legendary Studs Terkel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose searching interviews with ordinary Americans helped establish oral history as a serious genre, and who for decades was the enthusiastic host of a popular nationally syndicated radio show on WFMT-FM in Chicago, died at his home at the age of 96.

In his oral histories, which he called guerrilla journalism, Mr. Terkel relied on his effusive but gentle interviewing style to bring forth in rich detail the experiences and thoughts of his fellow citizens. For more than the four decades, Studs produced a continuous narrative of great historic moments sounded by an American chorus in the native vernacular.

Division Street: America (1966), his first best seller, explored the urban conflicts of the 1960s. Its success led to Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970) and Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974).

Mr. Terkel’s book The Good War: An Oral History of World War II won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. In Talking to Myself: A Memoir of My Times (1977), Terkel turned the microphone on himself to produce an engaging memoir. In Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession (1992) and Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who’ve Lived It (1995), he reached for his ever-present tape recorder for interviews on race relations in the United States and the experience of growing old.

In 1985, a reviewer for The Financial Times of London characterized his books as “completely free of sociological claptrap, armchair revisionism and academic moralizing.” The amiable Mr. Terkel was a gifted and seemingly tireless interviewer who elicited provocative insights and colorful, detailed personal histories from a broad mix of people. “The thing I’m able to do, I guess, is break down walls,” he once told an interviewer. “If they think you’re listening, they’ll talk. It’s more of a conversation than an interview.”

Readers of his books could only guess at Mr. Terkel’s interview style. Listeners to his daily radio show, which was first broadcast on WFMT-FM in 1958, got the full flavor as Studs, with both breathy eagerness and a tough-guy Chicago accent, went after the straight dope from guests like Sir Georg Solti, Muhammed Ali, Mahalia Jackson, the young Dob Dylan, Toni Morrison and Gloria Steinem.

The entire New York Times article can be read here.

Rick Kogan has written a detailed article in The Chicago Tribune, which can be read here.

Studs Terkel’s website at The Chicago Historical Society can be accessed here.

Studs Terkel’s (1970) WFMT-FM radio interview with me (Patrick Zimmerman) can be heard here. Parts of this radio interview later become a selection (pp. 489-493) in Terkel’s acclaimed book, Working:

Audio: Part I of The Radio Interview

Audio: Part II of The Radio Interview

Studs Terkel: Remembering His Life and Times

Conversations about Studs Terkel (2004)

Studs Terkel: About the Human Spirit (2002)

Studs Terkel: The Pioneering Broadcaster

Music Audio: Mavis Staples/Hard Times

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“Welcome Home: The Story of Scott Ostrom” Awarded 2012 Pulitzer Prize

Welcome Home, Soldier: The Story of Scott Ostrom

On April 16, 2012, Denver Post photographer Craig Walker was awarded his second Pulitzer, The 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography, for his photo-essay Welcome Home: The Story of Scott Ostrom. Previously, Walker had been named Newspaper Photographer of the Year in the Missouri School of Journalism’s Pictures of the Year International Competition for the collection of photographs he took over 27 months about soldiers engaged in the Iraq war, which included the stunning images documenting the struggles of PTSD sufferer Brian Ostrom.

After serving four years as a reconnaissance man and having deployed twice to Iraq, Ostrom, who is now 27, returned home to the U.S. with a severe case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since his discharge, Ostrom has struggled with the demands of daily life, from finding and keeping employment to maintaining healthy relationships. But most of all, he’s struggled to overcome his brutal and haunting memories of Iraq and his guilt for things he did and didn’t do, while fighting a war in which he no longer believes.

Read more about award-winning war photographers in the New York Times article and slideshow, Pulitzer Prizes: The Effects of War at Home (April 16, 2012) here.

Welcome Home, Soldier: The Story of Scott Ostrom

Slide Show: Welcome Home, Soldier: The Story of Scott Ostrom

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Welcome Home, Soldier: The Story of Scott Ostrom

Welcome Home, Soldier: The Story of Scott Ostrom

Welcome Home is a series of photographs about Iraq war veteran Brian Scott Ostrom, who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, by Pulitzer Prize-winning Denver Post photographer Craig Walker. Walker has been named Newspaper Photographer of the Year in the Missouri School of Journalism’s Pictures of the Year International Competition for the collection of photographs he took over 27 months about soldiers engaged in the Iraq war, which included the stunning images documenting the struggles of PTSD sufferer Brian Ostrom.

After serving four years as a reconnaissance man and having deployed twice to Iraq, Ostrom, who is now 27, returned home to the U.S. with a severe case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since his discharge, Ostrom has struggled with the demands of daily life, from finding and keeping employment to maintaining healthy relationships. But most of all, he’s struggled to overcome his brutal and haunting memories of Iraq and his guilt for things he did and didn’t do, while fighting a war in which he no longer believes.

Update: On April 16, 2012, Craig Walker was awarded his second Pulitzer, The 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography, for Welcome Home: The Story of Scott Ostrom.

For further details about Walker’s 2012 Pulitzer Prize, please read “Welcome Home: The Story of Scott Ostrom” Awarded 2012 Pulitzer Prize.

Read more about award-winning war photographers in the New York Times article and slideshow, Pulitzer Prizes: The Effects of War at Home (April 16, 2012) here.

Welcome Home, Soldier: The Story of Scott Ostrom

Slide Show: Welcome Home, Soldier: The Story of Scott Ostrom

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Remembering Ernest Hemingway: The Old Man and the Sea

Remembering Ernest Hemingway: The Old Man and the Sea

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s death (July 21, 1899-July 2, 1961). Hemingway achieved world-wide fame and influence as a writer by a combination of great emotional power and a highly individual style, which could be parodied but never successfully imitated. His best single work is quite possibly The Old Man and the Sea, which had the essence of the uncluttered force that drove his other stories.

In 1952, the 53 year-old Hemingway shrugged off the decay of his own weary, abused body, an increasingly scarred mind, and the pulsating aches of his five tools of anguished expression to compose his tale of an old Cuban who battles his own decay, a crippled left hand, and a giant marlin. The novel received the Pulitzer Prize in 1952 and was specifically cited when he was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature.

In 1997, 40 year-old Alexander Petrov of Prechistoe, Russia, struggled against a strange environment (Canada), a new and intimidating technology (IMAX), and with the use of his finger tips, transformed Hemingway’s ode to masculinity from splashes of oil paint into a vibrant, coherent, fresco in motion. Petrov’s 22-minute interpretation of The Old Man and the Sea was created at Montreal’s Pascal Blais Productions. The magnificent paint-on-glass-animated short film won many awards, including the 1999 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Ernest Hemingway: The Old Man and the Sea

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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Chicago’s Studs Terkel Dies at 96: A Champion of the Human Spirit

Chicago’s Studs Terkel Dies at 95: A Champion of the Human Spirit

NBC News: Chicago’s Studs Terkel Dies at the Age of 96

Studs Terkel Dies: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

The New York Times has reported that Chicago’s legendary Studs Terkel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose searching interviews with ordinary Americans helped establish oral history as a serious genre, and who for decades was the enthusiastic host of a popular nationally syndicated radio show on WFMT-FM in Chicago, died Friday at his home there at the age of 96.

In his oral histories, which he called guerrilla journalism, Mr. Terkel relied on his effusive but gentle interviewing style to bring forth in rich detail the experiences and thoughts of his fellow citizens. For more than the four decades, Studs produced a continuous narrative of great historic moments sounded by an American chorus in the native vernacular.

Division Street: America (1966), his first best seller, explored the urban conflicts of the 1960s. Its success led to Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970) and Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974).

Mr. Terkel’s book The Good War: An Oral History of World War II won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. In Talking to Myself: A Memoir of My Times (1977), Terkel turned the microphone on himself to produce an engaging memoir. In Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession (1992) and Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who’ve Lived It (1995), he reached for his ever-present tape recorder for interviews on race relations in the United States and the experience of growing old.

In 1985 a reviewer for The Financial Times of London characterized his books as “completely free of sociological claptrap, armchair revisionism and academic moralizing.” The amiable Mr. Terkel was a gifted and seemingly tireless interviewer who elicited provocative insights and colorful, detailed personal histories from a broad mix of people. “The thing I’m able to do, I guess, is break down walls,” he once told an interviewer. “If they think you’re listening, they’ll talk. It’s more of a conversation than an interview.”

Readers of his books could only guess at Mr. Terkel’s interview style. Listeners to his daily radio show, which was first broadcast on WFMT-FM in 1958, got the full flavor as Studs, with both breathy eagerness and a tough-guy Chicago accent, went after the straight dope from guests like Sir Georg Solti, Muhammed Ali, Mahalia Jackson, the young Dob Dylan, Toni Morrison and Gloria Steinem.

Now that the author-radio host-actor-activist and Chicago symbol has died, what should be his epitaph? “My epitaph will be ‘Curiosity did not kill this cat,'” he once said.

The entire New York Times article can be read here.

Rick Kogan has written a detailed article in The Chicago Tribune, which can be read here.

Studs Terkel’s website at The Chicago Historical Society can be accessed here.

Studs Terkel’s (1970) WFMT-FM radio interview with me (Patrick Zimmerman) can be heard here. Parts of this radio interview later become a selection (pp. 489-493) in Terkel’s acclaimed book, Working:

Audio: Part I of The Radio Interview

Audio: Part II of The Radio Interview

Studs Terkel: Remembering His Life and Times

Conversations about Studs Terkel (2004)

Studs Terkel: About the Human Spirit (2002)

Studs Terkel: The Pioneering Broadcaster

Music Audio: Mavis Staples/Hard Times :

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Dylan Wins Pulitzer Prize: A Solitary and Beautiful Mind

Dylan Wins Pulitzer Prize: A Solitary and Beautiful Mind

I paid the price of solitude
But at least I’m out of debt.

Bob Dylan, Dirge

Bob Dylan Named a Pulitzer Prize Winner

Bob Dylan was named a Pulitzer Prize Winner on Monday, April 7, 2008. A Special Citation was awarded to Dylan for his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.

Bob Dylan: i Is Another

I’m Not There is a visionary rendering of Dylan’s life and music that is as bold as possible, while never pretentious. It takes Dylan’s songs and the biographic details that we know of his life and mashes them up. Fevered interpretations resonate against one another to create an experience that is more like tumbling within the whirlpool of one of Dylan’s kaleidoscopic songs than watching anything remotely like a biographical movie. At its best, which is quite often, I’m Not There summons the sensation of what it must have been like to live in Dylan’s skin at crucial moments in his life. Simultaneously, the film makes it undeniable at every moment that you are watching a cinematic interpretation of “Dylan,” not the man himself.

At a certain point, Dylan as a solitary figure, extraordinarily beautiful and yet so alone, seems to hold the essence of I’m Not There, which takes its name from a song that is also, almost, “not there.” Toward the end of the movie we hear that song, which Dylan recorded with the Band in the summer of 1967. Its half-finished lyric is impenetrable and exquisite. Dylan’s delivery is garbled yet assertive, peppered with made-up words and seeming disconnections that ultimately shape themselves into a whole that’s both elusive and achingly complete. Regardless of how much you may already know about him, I’m Not There deepens and humanizes your understanding of Dylan.

A Bob Dylan Tribute: I’m Not There

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Photo Portfolio of The Day: The “Mentally Ill” in Illinois (1971)

Jack Dykinga’s Pulitzer Prize Portfolio

Experiences of Tragedy

When artists explore the darkest or most unsettling aspects of life, they are in a position to give voice to our universal hopes for recovery from the large and small tragedies that confront each of us.  However, artists can exploit our hopes for redemption as an excuse to create works that indulge in the enjoyment of escapist pleasures, or to justify such works.  In this way, feelings of or about real tragedy and suffering become simply incidental to that which is created from them.

Such works are not intended by their creators to spiritually edify, but merely to document self-referential emotionalism: “I feel, therefore I’m real.” There is little genuine interest in a perspective that includes the experiences of another, perhaps expressed as: “Because He is, I am.”  Jack Dykinga’s photographic portfolio, based upon the particular manner in which he experienced being faced with the overwhelming images of utterly discarded human beings, the mentally-ill who were warehoused in the back wards of state mental hospitals, represented a step toward an understanding of co-constructed meaning, a sense of which is embedded in “Because He is, I am.”

For that reason, from the publication of Dykinga’s photographs emerged an unintended small crusade for dignity and supportive attentiveness.

Jack Dykinga’s 1971 Pulitzer Prize Portfolio in Feature Photography

Jack Dykinga was the first Chicago Sun-Times photographer ever to win the Pulitzer Prize.  He was honored for a series of photographs that was taken in April and July 1970 at state schools for the mentally retarded in the Illinois downstate towns of Dixon and Lincoln.

Dykinga spent three days at the schools.  “It was a real shock to my senses, like nothing I had ever seen before,” he later said.  “For the first hour and a half, I didn’t take any pictures at all.  I just watched and was overcome by horror.”

Dykinga said that he was rushed.  “We went from cottage to cottage, and I think some of the patients there reacted the way small children react.  They were curious, you know, and they would reach out and touch the camera.”

After the photographs were published, there was a large public outcry of outrage and dismay.  In response, Illinois state government officials canceled plans that they had previously put into place to reduce funding supporting the State Department of Mental Health.

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