Saturday, June 27, 2009

Social Commentator and Lesbian Comedienne Kate Clinton, author of "I Told You So," a hilarious, bittersweet, politically acute survival guide

"Quick-witted, clear-spoken... She has developed a bizarrely logical, seemingly free-associating style of delivery [and] had this critic in tears from laughing so hard."

- The New York Times on our guest Kate Clinton

Click to Listen to the archived show

Please join us for the June 28th Forward Forum, and one of our all-time favorite guests, social commentator and lesbian comedienne Kate Clinton, live on the phone from New York. This weekend is the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Revolution, and we're pleased to mark that occasion with a guest who's done much to continue that legacy, and the ongoing struggles for women's rights and racial & economic justice, through her activism and her irrepressible sense of humor.

As she tells it, Kate Clinton is a faith-based, tax-paying, America-loving political humorist and family entertainer. With a career spanning over 28 years, Kate Clinton has worked through economic booms and busts, Disneyfication and Walmartization, gay movements and gay markets, lesbian chic and queer eyes, and EIGHT presidential inaugurals. She still believes that humor gets us through peacetime, wartime, scoundrel time and economic down times.

Kate has been a frequent visitor to Madison, where she has enchanted, shocked and enthralled audiences from all sexual orientations and walks of life with her cutting edge comedy. Kate is also a columnist for the Madison-based Progressive Magazine, a frequent blogger at the Huffington Post and other progressive web outposts, and on her own incredible multi-media website, . A prolific author, she has just published "I Told You So," a hilarious, bittersweet, politically acute survival guide.

Currently about to embark on her "Yes on K8" tour of the US and Canada, Kate's also recently released a CD based on her 2007 tour, "Climate Change," her 8th such comedy recording. This followed her highly-acclaimed 2006 documentary, "Kate Clinton: the 25th Anniversary Tour," a behind-the-scenes look at her landmark tour--and her story in giving up the life of a high school teacher for a life on the public stage--which features generous excerpts from her stand-up performances. On August 29th, she'll be hosting a gala event in Provincetown, Mass. showcasing her longtime colleague and friend Lily Tomlin.

Please join us for a wide-ranging and highly-entertaining conversation with Kate that will revist highlights of last year's presidential campaign, and look forward to new developments, including an update on gay marriage victories and defeats. Kate is that rare activist/entertainer who sees the Big Picture, and uses her humor to educate and inspire action. From health care to Sarah Palin, from GOP hypocrisy to Obama backtracking, no subject is sacred. We welcome your participation in our conversation at 608-321-1670.

Above: Kate is pictured with her longtime partner, Urvashi Vaid, whose many roles have included being former Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and her current role as Executive Director of the Arcus Foundation. Like Kate, Urvashi is someone also well-known to Madison audiences, ever since she wowed us with her rousing call to action as the keynoter at the 1991 Gay and Lesbian Visibility Alliance march on the steps of the State Capitol.

Father's Day Special: Your Stories, then New York Times Columnist Bob Morris, author of "Assisted Living: True Tales of Double Dating with my Dad"

Above: Bob Morris, second from left, with his brother, Jeff; father, Joe; and nephew, Ian, in 2003. Photo credit: Sharon London, for the New York Times.

On the June 21st, 2009 Forward Forum:

Please join Stephanie for a very special Father's Day show, featuring Bob Morris, former New York Times columnist and the author of the critically-acclaimed father/son book, "Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating." It's a story that many of us who have lost a parent can empathize with, as we do our best to draw closer to the parent who survives, burying old conflicts and treasuring the time we have together.

The year is 2002. [New York Times columnist] Bob Morris is in his 40s, a single gay man, supposedly too busy with work to be bothered by romance. His dad, just turned 80, has just lost his wife of almost 60 years, but is now in much demand as a bachelor among his female peers. Together, they offer each other encouragement and support as they negotiate the dating world together.... with surprisingly effective results. And in the end, they learn to appreciate each other anew, learning lessons about what's really important in the relationships you have with those who love you the most.

John is, appropriately enough, off this week spending Father's Day with his own dad at a Michigan lake, but Stephanie promises an amusing and thought-provoking conversation with Bob Morris, in an hour in which you'll also be invited to join in with your own memories of dad. Please call us to share your own thoughts and memories on Father's Day.

Follow this link to a First Chapter New York Times-featured excerpt from Bob's book.

Here's what LA Times reviewer Dinah Lenney had to say about "Assisted Living":

Would you look at this book jacket? What was HarperCollins thinking? An old guy, with a comb-over and a gut, sitting on a chaise at the beach -- legs spread wide in his too-tight Burberry swim trunks -- skin like leather, gold chains at his neck and wrists, his mouth full of sandwich, this is supposed to be funny? Because, what, the real story isn't funny enough? Does the publisher want to pretend Bob Morris hasn't written a beautiful book? They're going to sell more copies if they insinuate vulgarity between the covers? That must be it. Because nobody in "Assisted Loving" remotely resembles this guy on the cover, certainly neither Joe Morris nor his son Bob, best known for his defunct column in the New York Times, the Age of Dissonance, in which he was arbiter and aficionado of good taste and style; the final piece, dated last November, was a paean to the thank-you card as one of "life's grace notes" and an expression of civility.

In his warm, occasionally silly, deeply honest tribute to his father -- to his whole family, in fact -- Bob Morris alternates chapters about their love lives, his and his father's, to hilarious and touching effect. The story begins shortly after the 2002 death of his mother and just a few months before Joe's 80th birthday, when sons Jeff and Bob decide to throw him a party. The "boys" are uncomfortable, not to say offended, by Joe's obvious crush on Edie, his date for the evening. Isn't it too early for Dad to be thinking about romance? But not too long afterward, Joe -- in earnest about finding a partner -- starts circling ads in the personals. Because he doesn't have a land line and can't get through to the 900 exchange with his cellphone, he enlists Bob to make the follow-up calls.

Joe's a catch: secure, solvent, well-preserved with a full head of hair, ready at a moment's notice with a joke or a song. On the minus side, he lives in Great Neck and he's a slob. Talks too much on his cell. Doesn't get enough exercise and tends to dribble all over the front of his shirts when he eats. Bob, meanwhile, lives in Manhattan and hankers after life in the Hamptons. Early on he explains, "My column in the paper often lampoons the pretty and privileged there, the ones . . . who look right through me and my oh-so-lackluster pedigree. They aren't nice people, they shouldn't be important to me, and yet I gravitate toward these types. . . . I wasn't cool in high school. It's alarming to think I'm still trying to make up for it now."

Bob's gay -- a man who falls in love with the wrong guy every time. He's hyper-critical, a perfectionist about all things aesthetic, but endearingly self-aware. "I have more opinions than anyone I know," he admits, unable not to take aim at his father's taste in women. Joe, on the other hand, is as accepting as Bob is not. When Bob was 19, Joe let him know, unsolicited, that his life choices were OK by him. "You[r] mother and I love you no matter what," he said. It's never mattered one bit to Joe who Bobby brought home, so long as Bobby was happy. But Bob is pickier, more discriminating: If his dad must date, not just anybody will do.

It all comes to a head with "Fifth Avenue Florence," a seventysomething hand-picked for Joe by Bob; a woman of means, beautifully accessorized, who -- no surprise -- makes Joe completely uncomfortable. Less than a week before New Year's Eve, Bob joins Joe and Florence for an awkward dinner in a swank restaurant. By dessert it's clear: Bob wants to "nudge [Joe] under the table, tell him, Let her go, Dad. I was wrong. She's no good for you. You have to want who wants you, who gets you, revels in you. But who am I to give anyone advice about love?" Afterward Bob and Joe go back to Joe's place and get drunk on a sticky bottle of Manischewitz already mixed with vodka ("a little experiment," Joe calls it). They wallow and commiserate, two single guys, each of them without a date for New Year's Eve. Incredibly, at this point Bob's memoir becomes a page-turner: Will either man discover true love? Is there any such thing? "You have to stop looking for perfection, Bobby," advises his father. "That's the only way you'll find it."

But it's the journey, not the destination, so the saying goes, and in pursuit of romance, this father and son get a second chance at finding each other; theirs is the resounding love affair at the center of the book.

Meanwhile, on the last page, the sweetest photo of Joe and Bob, courtesy of the author. Middle-aged and long-married (to a Connecticut WASP), I'd date either of them. Heck, I'd date both at the same time. So Harper, take note, trust your own good taste, scrap this cover for the real thing when the paperback comes along. And by way of good manners, let me thank you, Bob Morris, for your heartfelt contribution to the canon of father-son memoir; an expression of civility, a grace note unto itself.

[Dinah Lenney is the author of "Bigger Than Life: A Murder, a Memoir."
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Friday, June 12, 2009

Award-Winning Writer and Editor Raphael Kadushin on Travel, Food, and the UW Press; Dennis Graham on Launchpad

On the June 14, 2009 show:

Award-winning editor and writer Raphael Kadushin, humanities editor for the UW Press, joins us for a wide ranging discussion, including a sneak peek at recently-released and upcoming titles. We'll also be revisited at the top of the show by Dennis Graham from Launchpad, a statewide, alternative music competition for Wisconsin high school students, previewing an exciting musical showcase for talented young people next Saturday in Madison.

More on Launchpad

Launchpad's culminating statewide competition will be occurring on Saturday, June 20, at 4:00 PM in the UW-Madison's Memorial Union - Wisconsin Union Theater, 800 Langdon Street. As Dennis has communicated to us with great enthusiasm during previous visits to the program, Launchpad provides support to aspiring young musicians in so-called "garage bands" of all shapes and musical styles from throughout the state.

Events have been occurring all year long in every corner of the state that are both highly competitive and highly collaborative. In other words, these are young people striving for the best, also thriving in a spirit of camaraderie and mutual support, building relationships that help launch many young musical careers, and often last a lifetime. For more info (including some great musical selections from young musicians), go to the Launchpad website, For ticket info, please visit the website of the UW's Memorial Union Theater.

More on the UW Press

Since its first book appeared in 1937, the University of Wisconsin Press has published and distributed more than 3000 titles. They have more than 1400 titles currently in print, including books of general interest (biography, fiction, natural history, poetry, photography, fishing, food, travel and more), scholarly books (American studies, anthropology, art, classics, environmental studies, ethnic studies, film, gay and lesbian studies, history, Jewish studies, literary criticism, Slavic studies, etc.) and regional books about Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest. See the UW Press website .

More on Raphael Kadushin

As the WI State Journal's Melanie Conklin wrote last fall, "Raphael Kadushin has a variety of enviable jobs. He is senior acquisitions editor for University of Wisconsin Press and as a freelance writer he travels the globe covering food and travel for such publications as Bon Appetit (he's a contributing editor), National Geographic Traveler and Conde Nast Traveler. Locally, his food reviews appear in Isthmus. Kadushin is a Madison native who lives on the West Side with his partner Thomas McGhee. He's charged with keeping tabs on a half-dozen international cities for This summer he began writing a blog for Kadushin is also editor of a gay travel anthology due out in November called Big Trips and has an article in Best Food Writing 2008."

Follow these links to more background on Raphael, and some samples of his writing:

September 2008 WI State Journal interview by Melanie Conklin

Career Highlights

Food Reviews

Lyrically Beautiful Remembrance of Northern Holland, where his family once lived

Raphael and his colleagues at Isthmus Pick some of the Favorite dishes at Madison area restaurants

Philadelphia Gay News Article on “Big Trips: More Good Gay Travel Writing”

Please join us for a wide-ranging discussion with Raphael. Share with us your favorite UW Press book, your favorite restaurant, or favorite travel destination. Give us a call at 608-321-1670.

And then join us next week as Stephanie hosts a very special Father's Day edition of Forward Forum. (Appropriately enough, John will be at a Michigan lake with his father.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

"Director's Cut" Host Charles Monroe-Kane and Producer Mary Pokorney-Donelan

Forward Forum for June 7, 2009:

Please join us this week for a fun and wide-ranging discussion with WI Public TV's "Director's Cut" host Charles Monroe-Kane and producer Mary Pokorney-Donelan.

Click to Hear Archived Version of Show

We'll also be joined briefly at the top of the hour by NARAL WI director Lisa Subeck, describing a vigil/rally Sunday night at 8pm at Peace Park on State Street, solemnly marking the murder last week of Wichita abortion provider George Tiller, while celebrating the courage of all who have advocated for the rights of women faced with this difficult life decision. Click to Hear Lisa's interview

About "Director's Cut"

High-quality, locally-produced broadcast programming is a scarce and very precious resource. Wisconsin Public TV's "Director's Cut" epitomizes the value of such shows both through its own distinctive and highly-engaging perspectives, and through its role in illuminating the contributions of cutting-edge creative people throughout our community who are producing highly original, compelling and entertaining independent film. Recent studies confirm that communities that embrace and encourage the arts are the same communities likely to have a high quality of life, and this show's presence in Madison is an important means of living out that promise.

Director's Cut is a new studio-based television series from Wisconsin Public Television, hosted by Charles Monroe-Kane, and produced by Mary Pokorney-Donelan. This series features Wisconsin filmmakers and provides a venue to discuss and screen independent film. Each 30-minute episode provides an opportunity for guest artists to discuss the creative process and screen clips from their completed projects or works-in-progress. The show airs Saturdays at 6:30pm. For an archive of recent shows, go to .

Some of their guests who have also recently visited Forward Forum include Robert Lughai and Tashai Livington (Madcity Chickens), Ben Wydeven and Doug Gordon (The Zombeatles: All You Need is Brains), and Meg Hamel from the Wisconsin Film Festival.

Future guests this summer will include:

6/13 – Guests Frank Anderson and Barry Poltermann
“The Life of Reilly”

6/20 – Guests Melody Gilbert and Mitchell Lundin

6/27 – Guest Eric J. Nelson
“Fishin’ For Tradition: A Lutefisk Saga”

7/11 – Guests Tashai Lovington and Robert Lughai
“Mad City Chickens”

7/18 – Guests Civia Tamarkin and Steve Levin

7/25 – Guest Cathy C. Cook
“Immortal Cupboard: In Search of Lorine Niedecker”

Both Charles and Mary also have long histories of involvement in multiple creative realms, and in addition to a look at Director's Cut, we hope you'll join us for a wider-ranging discussion about the changing landscape nationally and locally for broadcasting and the creative arts. Please join in our conversation by calling us at 321-1670 (locally), *123 for US Cellular users, or 1-877-867-1670 toll-free nationwide.

About Charles Monroe-Kane

Charles Monroe-Kane spent almost a decade in Europe before starting his broadcasting career. While in Europe he worked on a variety of projects ranging from starting an Internet Café in Prague and running a record label in Amsterdam to anti-nuke activism in Belgium and running a circus.

Charles's radio background started in Chicago where he was producer and eventually executive producer of a daily, drive-time political call-in program on WCFJ AM dedicated to the issues of the LGBT community.

Charles is currently the marketing director and producer for To the Best of Our Knowledge, a program at Wisconsin Public Radio and distributed nationally by Public Radio International. He is also executive producer of WPR's Zorba Paster On Your Health and executive producer of Calling All Pets, distributed nationally by WPR.

Charles has appeared as a guest on This American Life and has done reporter pieces and essays for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

About Mary Pokorney-Donelan

Mary Pokorney-Donelan's hometown is Yankton, SD. She received a BA in Broadcast Journalism at South Dakota State University, and Masters in Communication at UW-Superior.

After SDSU, she moved to Portland, OR for two years doing odd jobs, before deciding to return to the Midwest to get her Masters. While enrolled in UW-Superior, she landed a job as a videographer and editor at a local station, moving over the next couple of years into producing.

She and her husband Brett decided that they were tired of the cold of Duluth/Superior and had always enjoyed Madison. Thirteen years ago, she got a job producing the 6 o’clock news at WKOW, which lasted for about a year.

Then, 12 years ago, she obtained a position in the Wisconsin Public Television news and public affairs unit. She's worked at WPT for over 12 years in several different departments. Most of her current work centers around client-based productions, but she was also given the chance to produce Director’s Cut.

Mary and her husband Brett have two daughters – Quinn, age 9, and Shae, age 4.

(Longtime listeners of Forward Forum also know that Mary's sister--Quinn and Shae's loving live-in aunt--is our frequent guest and sometime guest host, community activist Jacque Pokorney.)


Your feedback and suggestions for future shows are always welcome: please email us at or call John at 608-213-8409.

On next week's show: Editor Raphael Kadushin from the University of Wisconsin Press, who will also update us on his ongoing adventures as a world-ranging food and travel correspondent.

Joan Breitung, Author of "Forgetting," "Understanding and Managing Dementia" and "The Eldercare Sourcebook"

On the May 31, 2009 Forward Forum:

Stephanie's guest is author Joan Breitung, author of "Forgetting: When To Worry, What to Do," "Understanding and Managing Dementia," and "The Eldercare Sourcebook." (John is away on family business this week, but will be returning next week.)

Memory problems and the accompanying confusion can have any number of causes. As the elderly population swells with the ageing of 77 million baby-boomers, Americans will increasingly face the challenge of trying to understand and cope with problems associated with cognitive decline.

"Forgetting: When To Worry, What to Do" is an
informative, user-friendly guide defines the kinds of memory problems that have straightforward explanations and remedies, as well as those that are more complex and ominous. Joan Carson Breitung, an expert on the mental health of the elderly, clarifies the difference between normal brain ageing and the onset of dementia.

Among the important topics included are: Mild Cognitive Impairment; Alzheimer's Disease; Late-Life Depression; Caregivers; Dementia; Falls. A goldmine of useful information, this popular reference work will help anyone facing the cognitive problems associated with ageing.


"The author provides detailed explanations on the differences between normal brain aging and dementia, and helps readers to understand options when it comes to assisted care, prevention strategies, risk reduction and environmental modification." -- SciTech Book News, March 2009

"Any health library will find this an excellent, basic consumer’s pick." -- The Bookwatch, The Midwest Book Review, March 2009