Bill Weye

Tag: interview

How Bruce Springsteen learned what’s most important to the economy

While working on a writing project, I had to create a transcript of a 1998 interview that Charlie Rose had with Bruce Springsteen. This is an answer he gives in the 60 minute interview, about the central idea in his writing: work.

My music, because of what I wrote about, always had political implications. I suppose that came up originally out of my home life, my experience growing up, and my relationship with my father. And trying to understand the concept of work, and how work plays a central role in your life. I had two real, very different examples. My mother’s relation to work was very joyous. Very happy. It provided the entire family with stability. What she gained from it was an entire mode of behavior. You get up in the morning, at a certain time. You prepare yourself. You get yourself ready to go to a job. You walk down the street and you’re there at a particular time of the day. And you interact with your co-workers. And that’s a big part of your social life, your work life, and your place in the world. You’re doing something that has a purpose. There’s a reason you’re there besides just feeding your family. You’re a part of the social fabric. You’re what’s holding the world together. You’re what’s holding the town together, that’s holding your family together. I always remember that she walked with tremendous pride and strength, enormous strength, and it gave such great comfort, such great great comfort to a child. That makes sense. I understand that.

My dad had a different experience. Work was involved with pain. He lost his hearing when he worked in a plastics factory. Lost a lot of his hearing. He struggled to find work and go to work. The regulation of behavior that work provides wasn’t a big part of his life, and that was painful for everybody involved.

That’s essential. That’s central to the way that we live and think about ourselves, and who we are, and the place we live in. And so I saw both sides of it. I saw what happens when that’s not present there is pain, and there is anger. And deep, deep … it’s a destructive force. You wither away. You waste away. You don’t know where you’re going or who you are, and you take that out on the people that you care about. And that’s something you don’t want to do. But it happens.

So that’s what I wrote about. That was really really important. It’s the single thing that I’ve written about, my entire life, that fundamental idea. The importance of that idea in society. The cost of not providing that for … whether it’s for people to be able to take care of their families, to have productive jobs. The debasement of ourselves, in not having a society where that’s provided to all our citizens.

It all grew from there. It grew from my experience, and my trying to sort out my experience. I didn’t grow up in a political household. I didn’t have some particular ideology, or be a political person from where I came from, but I needed and wanted to write about those things because they were essential. A lot of my music has grown out of that place over the years.

Photo by Barack Obama and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Tax resistance in Western Massachusetts [VIDEO]

In 1992 I made this 30 minute documentary about federal tax resisters in Western Massachusetts. The event precipitating the video was the arrest for nonpayment of taxes by US Marshals and IRS agents of Randy Kehler on December 3, 1991. Kehler, his wife Betsy Corner and daughter, had been living in their house since 1989 when the IRS seized it.

Path of Greatest Resistance: tax resistance in Western Massachusetts,  tries to understand the motivations of a variety of tax resisters that lived in Western Mass. along with Kehler and Corner. In addition to Kehler, featured in the video are Andrea Ayvazian, Wally Nelson, Brayton Shanley, among others.

Looking back at the video, it holds up pretty well (only the first 4 minutes make me cringe). Of course the quality isn’t up to today’s digital standards, but I think the story is still a compelling one. There are some interviews where the video is dark. Believe it or not, at the time both the Shanley’s and Wally Nelson were homesteaders — that is, they were living without electricity, so our recording was done with battery power and no extra lights.

The video is from a VHS transfer, pre-digital recording or editing. I’ve remastered the audio and created new title and credit sequences. Otherwise, the video is as it was in 1992.

Emily Harding-Morick was my primary collaborator on this project, and deserves much credit for helping me make the documentary a reality.

http://blip.tv/file/3508464

No Fishin’ In The Ditch [video]

I was doing my regular walk in Sunderland, MA, when I came upon what I thought was a nut fishing in a drainage ditch. Turns out she wasn’t a nut at all, but a graduate student from the University of Massachusetts Amherst doing research. This drainage ditch/brook overflows often, so Colleen Samson’s thesis project is to better understand the water flow. She’ll present her findings to the town, who may then fix the ditch.

Getting wine to flow on the Web — working with Amherst Wines

I’ve been working with Steve Freedman, owner of Amherst Wines & Spirits, for more than a year now. Some of the things we’ve accomplished are create a new Web site (using the content management system, TypoLight), set-up an email list using Mailchimp, and offer Web communication consultation.

Helping people learn new Web technologies to communicate with their customers or audience is satisfying, especially when it’s someone like Steve who’s interested in expanding his skills. I asked Steve to answer a few questions about our work  together.

Hi, Steve. First, can you describe a bit about how Amherst Wine & Spirits was (or was not) using the Web for business, a year ago?

There was a static web site, basically just a “home page” which introduced the store. I could not put anything else on it.

We’ve been working together for a year now. What do think have been the most useful technological advances you’ve made?

The web site is a much more useful source of information than in the past. The mid-month email is terrific, resulting in more sales while also being measurable in terms of viewing. You set me up with terrific (and free) software to make this happen.

For me, one of the most satisfying aspects of working with you has been teaching you to do Web communication yourself. I get a kick out of walking into the store and hearing you tell me about the latest task you complete without a problem, whether it be updating the Web site or sending out the email newsletter. Can you describe a little bit about this experience from your perspective?

Computer stuff does not come easily to me. You have been patient in teaching me how to dramatically improve my electronic newsletter as well as uploading content to my web site. It has not been without incident – sometimes I trip up – but now I can usually do all the things I consider important by myself. I’m most comfortable when I do not need to depend on someone else to do my web stuff for me, and you have helped to get me there.

So, Steve, in terms of Web communication with your customers, do you have anything new planned for the new year? Can you share any plans Amherst Wines might have?

My next project will be uploading graphic material – photos and wine labels I can get from the web – to my web site and online newsletter.

Jenny 8. Lee on Chinese take-out food [VIDEO]

Last week I interviewed Jennifer 8. Lee about Chinese take-out food after she was finished with her speaking engagement at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She’s a former metro reporter for the New York Times who took a buy out package in late 2009, and now she’s doing freelance writing.

Lee has a passion for Chinese food. Her talk at UMass to the 5 College Pan Asian Network was a take on her book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food. But her interest isn’t just about Chinese food in the United States; I guess you might call it the political economy, or cultural history of Chinese food in the U.S..

One thing I didn’t know before talking to Lee is that to find an authentic Chinese food restaurant, not an Americanized version, look on the menu for lamb dishes. If a Chinese menu includes lamb dishes, it’s most likely serious about cooking for Chinese people.

http://blip.tv/file/3289490

5 screw-ups you can make recording a skype to skype call

We record the Photo Share Podcast using a Skype to Skype call; I make a Skype call to my podcast co-host Sandra and record the conversation, editing and mixing the audio file (.wav) later. We do this because it’s convenient and cheap (Skype to Skype calls are free), but there’s a bunch of problems that can crop up. Here are my top 5 potential screw-ups when recording these calls: Continue reading

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