tv [untitled] CSPAN June 6, 2009 5:00pm-5:30pm EDT
if there is time at the end for question and answer session we ask you to use the microphone located at the center of the rooms of the home viewing audience can hear the question. if he would like to watch the program again note eckert coverage will be aired saturday evening beginning 10 p.m. central standard time. please welcome the moderators, elizabeth taylor and rick kogan of "the chicago tribune." [applause] ..
i know you agree liz, paul and harvey, how did you do this, who was the genius who came up with this? it is unbelievably good. >> paul. i mean, paul deserves i think you know, paul desserts you know, like i think airlines share of the material, i mean the praise for doing the book. for one thing he has taught oral history for a long time at brown university, and he has for long time been a studs terkel admire
and fan. i think that you know, i think the art work was a real nice too. >> it is not all yours either. it is not all yours. >> i didn't mess around with his words. i did not change anything. so, you know. i just broke the text down into panels. some of the artists apparently didn't want to, i don't know what. but anyway, that's-- paul, i have been working with paul on a few projects now and he suggests-- >> when he suggested this did you all of a sudden go, were you excited immediately about it? >> i am always excited when i get a chance to make more money. [laughter] nothing frills me more.
i, studs terkel, i have a connection with him and we both are real interested in quotidian life. >> mostly because you let it. this behe interviewed people about their jobs and i just used to just like, and i wrote about my job like an autobiographical thing, but i immediately saw like felt an affinity for him when i became aware of him in the '70s. >> did you ever meet him? >> no, i never have. >> you guys would have loved each other. i am serious. don't you think? paul, have you talked about this with studs? >> you know, just a little, a very small amount mainly through friends in studs last year or two so i had done a book or two with the new press, a really wonderful publisher and they are responsible for bringing out studs work in so many volumes.
and, it seemed like a natural step for me to propose a studs comics volume, because the new press embodies his work but also because as harvey suggested, from my point of view i thought oral history for a decade at brown and when you teach oral history to college students or for that matter high school students, studs is the only one and only charismatic personality. some people write extremely intelligently about the philosophy and the problems with it and so on and so forth and their thousands of us, me included who have done a whole lot of field work in oral history but when you think of books to a sign that give students at any level an idea of what oral history can do hugh and invariably come back to studs said the first person and that is true for oral historians and people who teach oral history in europe and presumably
asia, everywhere in the world as well as the united states. there is no figure like studs terkel with an oral history. a small field, a field that has very little respect within the academic life but which represents a popular approach to history that is product salons, that exceeds any other historians grip of the quotidian life. >> liz well knows, and talk about this liz, one of the great things about studs, studs was a trained actor before he started doing oral histories. he fell into different radio shows and was really good at that and he was the most mechanically inept human being in the world. most or all historians would go in and say, please let's talk and just sit there. studs would-- >> he would always say one of his grated vanishes was that he was inept.
and then one of his amazing stories, just i love this story, tells of a woman in public housing. amazing, this story, and public housing and he is interviewing her and her small child is after the interview, or before the interview is messing with the tape recorder and then they have the interview and the boy goes back to the tape recorder and said as studs tells it better than i, watches the kid, and suddenly the tape plays and it is the woman's voice, and she says, i never knew i felt that way. and i feel like, that is what studs is about. >> that was the genius, that was the genius of it, wouldn't you think paul, that he was able to come in breeding it in this
fashion and tell me i'm wrong about this. i am old fashion that way but i know graphic novels and graphic representations of words are becoming increasingly, increasingly popular. this is a way i think to introduce studs to that generation that might ordinarily , might miss him. >> sure, absolutely. it is also true in the book we will be talking about tomorrow because it is a way of getting readers mainly under 25 to look at books, think about reading those books when they simply wouldn't cover the content with them otherwise. >> studs has written so many wonderful books. the good war. he always said, ida should be in parentheses, could wear. hard times, the division's three. how did you decide? >> i am anticipating that question because i went round and round with new press editors
about it and i had different suggestions at different times. hard times as always been a fabulously important book to me and i don't want to put aside jazz musicians and everything else that most of this audience could come up with. the answer probably is pretty simple. that working as the book that is perhaps even better known than studs himself at this point. it just happened that state endowments for the humanities produce little plea let's based on working 20 years ago and it just happened that i was a humanist in the state of rhode island that would engaged the audience in a conversation about him. it was all sort of like in occurrence, but what working managed to do in my experience with audiences and students was to epitomize what is best an oral history, which is to say to legitimation the daily lives of ordinary people who would not consider themselves were the
ortiz likely ever to be interviewed and ever talk about their own lives in that fashion which is exactly what, the point liz brought up. it is not unusual in any field of oral history with ordinary blue-collar or middle class people to say after the interview, i never knew i felt that way. is a perfectly ordinary experience of somebody interviewing somebody in their 60's, 70's and 80's because things come up that they did not anticipate speaking about and as they always say to students you don't want to stop them from crying or anything because this is an experience that is terribly important to them. it validates their life in some fashion or another but even though that is the oral history experience and a way nobody so well articulated it and demonstrated it over the last 30 years as studs did and one could say he created the field of oral history. >> you decide to do this book.
do you immediately think of harvey? >> yes, a little bit because i had begun in working with harvey. and, because suddenly it hit me may be in the middle of the night as these things do awakening moment at 2:00 a.m., that harvey in many ways was a studs terkel of a different generation, and by virtue of spending 36 years at the va hospital as a file clerk head agrast one of the key points that comes up in working, at least it is key to me, and that is that blue-collar and white-collar live in, before the 1970's, before the 1980's perhaps was very frequently like my father's life as a civil servant. it was really boring but you never take your work home with you night and people would say that was a good job.
i don't see the world is a better or worse place in that respect now but it is a very different place. >> i was a civil servant and i was happy to get the job. the other thing i wanted to say about studs being mechanically inept, that is one reason that i like him so much. i never learned how to write-- i can't type, let alone use a computer, any of that stuff. i don't see how people can do that. >> do you drive? >> you have got to love this guy. i love you. >> so, when i read that i got a warm feeling. >> there is a lot of editing to select which ones. i am thinking that paul comment you initially called these down or was it a collaboratives thing? >> it is a wonderful question. there's some artists who wanted to strip their own work from the very beginning. we great example is sabrina jones, a fabulous artist to
intuitively when to destroy the prostitute and dealt with it in a way that seems utterly remarkable to me and brings it to light. there are other artists who got this into their minds at one certain thing they wanted and couldn't do anything else. a wonderful example would be peter cooper who was done this five versus five, pages of magazines for 20 years but he is a very radical guy and quite naturally he wanted to do a, labor organizer. and many other cases though, it was harvey who decided that these are particular stories that came to life in a remarkable sort of way and the artists were very excited about working with harvey. many comic artists and the u.s. and elsewhere really wanted to work with harvey, so together,
but harvey more than me, we selected the ones that were "workable" and it was as pragmatic as that and on political or on ideological or whatever, because i am perfectly convinced that another selection could have been made. it was all different people and it also would have been fabulous. >> i think everything in working could have, was, could give been just done, somebody could have done an excellent job on it for good they are all fine pieces. >> it strikes me, reading this, that many jobs here don't exist anymore. brett hauser, supermarket box boyd. that job is gone. >> not in cleveland. [laughter] >> you have much better supermarkets then we do in
chicago. there is a certain touching quality to that. and said. >> did you see the guy who was predicting the end of shoe manufacturing in the united states? >> a chicago unionists. i think it is still true and certainly people who work computers believe it to be true, that people value allot what they do with their work, this deal that they put into their work. i was thinking about this barbour, where i had my haircut by an 8-year-old guy in madison, wisconsin and yeah, has he for almost 60 years thought he was really good at cutting hair and proud of cutting hair? absolutely. has that question been posed to him in that way other than someone saying, g that is nice?
probably never. that is another fabulous thing that studs did was to tell you that kind of-- i wouldn't call it the inkless but value that unacknowledged skill at job set all levels many of which as you point out have now disappeared and in that way for readers of studs books, allowed them to value their own jobs whether it was the same jobs or similar jobs and one of the most problematic ones in a way for an artist, was about the garbage man. the garbage men, in effect, a job that was the value from the very beginning by everybody. children are ashamed of him doing it but on the other hand he knows it has to be sung, it is a social service. so it was fabulous for studs to do it. it was a problem that was sold for an artist to translate.
>> i just want to read something. for those of you who have working on a shelf, i go back to working all the time. the salesman one gets me. i really did every five months. and the original introduction, he says this book being about work is by its very nature about violence to the spirit as well as to the body. i am jumping ahead a couple of paragraphs. think about this. it is about a search too for daily meeting as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather then-- in short, for a sort of life rather than a monday through friday sort of dying. perhaps immortality to is part of the quest, to be remembered was the wish spoken and unspoken of the heroes and heroines in this book. that is pretty amazing take on
life and that doesn't matter, i don't care if you work for microsoft or you are still a garbage man. that resonates with me and will ever resonate with me. harvey, that is just an amazing observation about what all of us do. i don't care how good your job is. i don't care how will your job is. >> everybody contributes something and some people get credit in some people don't. mainly because of the income disparities and stuff. i wanted to tell you a story i read. there was a chicago sports writer, i forget his name but is the keys to be printed in the cleveland capers too and he was, he talked about, he said he just got mud this one time and it was a pretty unpleasant experience. he said if it would have been studs terkel, and the guy had tried to mug him, he would probably with out his taperecorder and tried to
interview him. [laughter] >> studs got burglar after i did died. >> he invites the burglar in. [laughter] i have got $8, that is all i have got. why do you want to rob anybody? and then they played this line on the door after the taping that would have scared nobody. it is like, dog insider something. [laughter] >> and there is a dog bowl. >> a dog ball outside. >> there is never any water and grass growing out of it. but, remember he always used to say i have been a victim of a hostile takeover. [laughter] >> i think you sense in this book, and just saying it brought to life in this graphic way just tells me and i know you know this paul, and i think you too
harvey that he was as engaged with life, of meaning life and other people as any human being i have ever met him into his 90s. until hours before he died. i want to know from all three of you, what kind of a human miracle is that? studs has been an inspiration to me because we knew him and i feel guilty if i am watching a tv show and not listening to miles davis or reading a new book or something. it is a fortune of nature. liz? >> i just, he just have this capacity. in fact, and it is completely in forming. we were at this fancy dinner last night, raising money for the schools, that harold washington rewards kicks off the book fair and dave eggers is the winner of the award and we are sitting at this dinner.
dave eggers, he has done so much with his reading and tutoring centers throughout the nation and has done so much for publishing for writers and kids. i said, how did you get that way? and i heard myself. i remembered so vividly that i had been sitting at studs house with ed curve, e.l. doctorow and dr. row was talking about his own life instead said, how did you get that way? doctorow said nobody has really ask me that. and, i realized that studs has given me this gift, kind of internalized his world view. >> dave eggers thanks eeyore
this mardis human being he has ever met now. >> what do you think paul? >> intellectuals, but writers and so forth of which this conference is rightly famous, book festival is rightly famous, have one big fights in my opinion and that is we tend to look past people. thinking about ideas. i think this is more a male flies then a female vice but we tend to look back because we are trying to get some abstraction or 50 abstraction into them and vice versa. whereas, in my view and again going back to my years and years of teaching but also doing oral histories, the real trick is to look straight into people and see them for what they are, take them for what they are and draw them out. it is a perfectly obvious sort of thing and yet to be able to
manage that the level of concentration effortlessly, seemingly effortlessly throughout an extremely long lifetime in studs case, requires a very deep egalitarian or socialistic mentality that never slips into the usual didacticism and laying it on heavily to people and all the things intellectuals are mistakenly doing. but, two that i wanted that since i started reading americans blunder comics in the middle 1970's, which were largely about harvey being on street corners in cleveland or perfectly ordinary people who would never be confused with intellectuals of any kind or successful in any way with the exception of robert crumb, it has the same feeling. and, i think if the book works probably the main reason that works also because the artists themselves have this wonderful
deep and intuitive feeling and sharon verdell stopped trying for 15 years i think because the market for certain kind of feminist radical comics, looking back at history pretty much disappeared by the middle 19 the 80s. the face that had come out of the underground comics world, the underground newspapers of the '60s and '70s was gone and that sparked disappeared for a whole lot of artists is simply stopped growing, but sharon found the subject. she did a book by edited on the life of emma goldman which is utterly fabulous and the work here draws deeply on the lives of a jockey or a house worker or a baby nurse or farmers, stonecutters and so forth, that she really touches something that even graphic novelist's
work basically fiction novelist in pictures, rarely manage to do and she does it from the makings of people's lives. but also very much like being psychologically in tune with exactly what studs had in mind. i sure do hope that the book is successful enough for us to do some more studs terkel's comics because i think i would aspire to do that almost more than anything i can think of as a comics editor. >> i just want to make this point. there is a guy who is one of my favorite writers and to influence me and to anticipated studs terkel. he is a guy from chicago. his name is george. you know, he was from indiana, from an agricultural area. he went to perdue and then he came to chicago in the 1890's
and got a job i think with the chicago record and at that time the colombian national exhibition or exposition-- was taking place and they sent him out. they just sent him out in the street to interview. he could do anything he wanted, so he would just interview all these different kinds of people and it was just great. i mean, he interviewed the same kind of people that studs did. >> he did, he collaborated with the tribune before he was that the tribune when they were both at the daily news with the famous illustrator mckechin famous mostly for engines summer. there was a show at the chicago cultural center as we speak that is running through august of mckechin's work, a great deal of it, he and george ade wrote and illustrated a column called
stories of the streets and sidewalks. and there are panels of their of this. there are two of their that will, i don't care how old you are, i don't care how old these look, they are two of the finest doors. one is amazing, about seeing a kid on sort of outside of a window on the ledge of a window behind and held eight runs up to try to say the kid and he is in a panic and he goes to the mother and he does your child-- i know, is she out there again? she has done it 15 times so she was attached to a broke. and she pulls the broke and in comes the kid, but it is a brilliant drawing too and a great story. you have got to get over and see the show. they only did this-- it was so popular, it was a weekly, and in those days it could have been a daily, for three or four years
they collected them in books at the end of the year, and gave them to their subscribers but i am so glad you brought that up because that is absolutely true. >> and now it continues in another generation because rick has a column. >> that is flattering but-- >> it is and it is called sidewalks but it is a collaboration with a photographer. >> what all of us are saying, that there is no such thing and studs would tell you this. there is no such thing as an ordinary person. every single person in this room is extraordinary somehow. i don't know how come i don't know all of you but in conversation if you are willing to listen as paul says, not look around, through our behind people you will get it. it is there every day. harvey i know you know this. has been your life's work. >> igor ground looking for this
stuff. [laughter] and yet, if you read the pages of the most prestigious review columns by and large and let's get the novels or even the histories, they tend to be about great white men number one and number two bayfield very little with the lives of ordinary people of any kind whatsoever, so although in my own lifetime, this 60's gave a big push towards a different way of history. the thing about oral history is oral historians themselves were in the streets. oral history, and even the profession and mainly with the practice of places like the harry truman live braver they interview people who erased all the tapes so nobody would find out anything that was not supposed to be known. that was the division of oral history but oral historians performing the professions in the '60s and '70s were mainly community activists of one kind or another or oddballs who
wanted to document a community that was a disappearing under some kind of pressure. so, they made a dent. we made a dent but not such a big dent and we always come up against the formidable problem that the people who are in charge of society aren't all that interested in the lives of ordinary people who are not influential enough. >> you said a couple of times, he mentioned how the book doing well or if the book does well enough, what is well enough and what the needs of this book, what kind of zeitgeist this is tough to catch? >> it is a really good question. as we speak i think probably linda barry's panel has finished up. and if i were there, i would have vast a question i often nuk, that why it is that the
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