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VICTORIA SEASON 3 ON MASTERPIECE
Part 5 of 8

VICTORIA SEASON 3 ON MASTERPIECE: Part 5 of 8

 

Victoria Season 3 introduces fascinating new historical characters, including Laurence Fox (Inspector Lewis) as the vainglorious Lord Palmerston. Also vexing the queen this season is Kate Fleetwood (Harlots) as Victoria’s devoted but troubled half-sister.

 

Returning are Tom Hughes (Dancing on the Edge) as Victoria’s devoted, obsessive husband, Prince Albert; Nell Hudson (Outlander) as the queen’s chief dresser, Nancy Skerrett; Ferdinand Kingsley (Borgia) as Charles Francatelli, the royal chef and cookbook king; plus a host of others.

 

Part 5 of 8
After an assassination attempt, the Royals visit Ireland. Intrigue, conflict and romance all blossom during a stay at the Palmerston estate.

 

 

 

VICTORIA SEASON 3 ON MASTERPIECE
Part 6 of 8

VICTORIA SEASON 3 ON MASTERPIECE: Part 6 of 8

 

Victoria Season 3 introduces fascinating new historical characters, including Laurence Fox (Inspector Lewis) as the vainglorious Lord Palmerston. Also vexing the queen this season is Kate Fleetwood (Harlots) as Victoria’s devoted but troubled half-sister.

 

Returning are Tom Hughes (Dancing on the Edge) as Victoria’s devoted, obsessive husband, Prince Albert; Nell Hudson (Outlander) as the queen’s chief dresser, Nancy Skerrett; Ferdinand Kingsley (Borgia) as Charles Francatelli, the royal chef and cookbook king; plus a host of others.

 

Part 6 of 8
A Georgian ball at the Palace could not come at a worse time as private pictures of the Royal family are made public.

 

 

 

POV
Minding the Gap

POV: Minding the Gap

 

First-time filmmaker Bing Liu’s documentary Minding the Gap is a coming-of-age saga of three skateboarding friends in their Rust Belt hometown. While navigating a complex relationship between his camera and his friends, Bing explores the gap between fathers and sons, between discipline and domestic abuse and ultimately that precarious chasm between childhood and becoming an adult.

 

Preview

 

 

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
David Kuraoka

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX: David Kuraoka

 

Growing up barefoot and carefree in the wild outdoors of Kaua‘i, no one predicted David Kuraoka would find his calling in the confines of a ceramics studio.

 

 

Even after becoming a widely celebrated ceramics artist, he managed to straddle two very different worlds: his job as an art professor at San Francisco State University and summers spent in the vast wilderness of Kalalau Valley on Kaua‘i’s Nā Pali Coast.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 4:00 pm and 11:30 pm.

 

David Kuraoka Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

What’s the biggest piece?

 

You know, I have large pieces, but they’re made in sections.  I worked in a ceramic factory that made industrial ceramic; bricks, sewer pipes.  One of my student’s family owned the factory, so he gave me the privilege.  He gave me a studio in the back, and I could work on these large two-ton sewer pipes.  You know, machines pick ‘em all up.  But I couldn’t cross the bridges in Hā‘ena and Hanalei, so …

 

Two-ton?

 

I couldn’t pick ‘em up; right?

 

That’s the weight of a car; right?

 

Yes.

 

Two tons.

 

Yeah; these are big pieces.  So, they’re big, like that.

 

He’s known for creating larger-than-like sculptures. But what shaped the life of this Kauai-born artist?  David Kuraoka, next, on Long Story Short.

 

One-on-one engaging conversations with some of Hawai‘i’s most intriguing people: Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox.

 

Aloha mai kākou.  I’m Leslie Wilcox.  David Kuraoka grew up in Hanamā‘ulu and Līhu‘e, Kaua‘i, far from the art scene in San Francisco, where he found his calling. He is a celebrated artist, known for both his large-scale abstract sculptures cast out of bronze that sometimes weigh more than a ton, handmade ceramic clay slabs, and glazed porcelain works created on a potter’s wheel.  For more than forty years, he’s shaped works of art, and artists, as a professor and former head of the San Francisco State University Ceramics Department.  You can find Kuraoka’s sculptures in places like the Hawaii Convention Center, the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, and the White House art collection.  David Kuraoka knows his way around posh city buildings and art galleries, and he has remained comfortable in an environment without walls: the outdoors in his native Kaua‘i.

 

My dad worked for the plantation.  I think my grandparents worked for the plantation.  This was my grandmother’s house, and she had raised six daughters and my father in the camp.  And as they got married, my aunts moved away, but my dad stayed there with my mom.  And so, we were there until we bought our house in Līhu‘e, in the city.  It was primarily a Filipino labor camp.  And it was like a Filipino camp with three or four Japanese families.  They were primarily Filipino bachelors, so I was raised by all these bachelors who took care of me until I was about ten, maybe.

 

Never felt lonely, I bet.

 

No, no. They were really, really nice.  I got used to their food, and they taught me some language.  I was raised around cockfighting and chickens.  It was very plantation.  I was lucky; in Hanamā‘ulu there was a beach, nice beach, Hanamā‘ulu Beach.  And there was a mountain, Kalepa Heights, right behind the camp.  So, I got to run in the mountains a lot, and I got to swim a lot.  So, it was kind of a great place for a young guy to grow up.

 

Your dad seems like he might have been kind of a larger-than-life personality.  What was his column about?

 

Sidelines Kuraoka; it was a social column, three-dot journalism kinda.  And him and my mom would type out.  On Sundays, they would work in the yard, because that was kinda the thing they did.  They had a really nice yard.  But they would come in Sundays and type out the column with this old manual typewriter; whack out the column.  Because it was published only every Wednesday, once a week.

 

When you’re the three-dot columnist, the only three-dot columnist in the area, you’re kind of a celeb yourself.

 

Kinda; yeah.

 

So, that was your dad; right?

 

Yeah; that was my dad.  Yeah.

 

Very connected.

 

Connected; yeah.  He met a lot of celebrities; right?  Because he was like the reporter on Kauai.  So, if Frank Sinatra, Mitzi Gaynor, you know, like they made movies there and stuff, so he was right there with the stars and celebrities.  The princess from Japan, you know.

 

M-hm.

 

So, he had an interesting life.

 

He was active politically.  What did exactly did he do?

 

Yes, he was active politically.  And he would support Republicans and Democrats.  But he was at one point, Kauai’s Republican chairman or representative, I believe.  He was Hiram Fong’s campaign manager and Hiram Fong’s representative.  I know that, because I was kinda high school by then. In fact, he had stacks of Hiram Fong tee-shirts that said: Fong, Man of the Pacific.  And I ended up with ten of ‘em, and that’s all I wore at the community college, and people used to call me Fong.

 

Because I had this Fong on.  And my dad was also campaign manager for Richard Nixon on Kauai.  And he had passed away, my dad passed away right before Watergate, so he never experienced Watergate.  So, lucky for him, because his hero, you know.

 

Now, to be a Republican on Kaua‘i, that was swimming against the tide, wasn’t it?

 

Yes; yes and no.  Like he explained to me later, as I questioned him about, because I was kinda on the opposite side, he said that, you know, he worked in the plantation office, and all his bosses were Republicans.  And he said: I don’t want to work in the fields, you know.

 

I see.

 

It makes more sense for me to be Republican and work in the office.  Which made sense, you know.  And I’m like: Mm, okay.

 

Did you have to switch schools when you went to Lihue?

 

No; no, they were close enough.  My mom taught school, so I would go to school with her.  And fortunately, when I moved to Līhue, we lived on the edge of a valley, a very big valley, Kapaia Valley.  And I had a whole valley to play with there, too.  And there was a big river in the bottom of the valley.  So, I ran around carefree, barefooted.  Until I went to the ninth grade, I never wore shoes.  I rebelled; I didn’t want to wear shoes. And in the ninth grade, they sent me home for not wearing shoes.  So then, I had to get shoes.

 

What kind of shoes did you get?

 

Oh really ugly, big bulldog shoes.

 

Not very fashion conscious.

 

With your mom a teacher, did that compel you to be a good student?

 

Actually, I was never a very good student.

 

Did you have art classes in school, in public school?

 

No; no. Actually, I wanted to take some classes, but it wasn’t really emphasized much.  They really forced me into chemistry, into physics, and you know, I really kinda wasn’t interested.  You know, I’m more interested now, because I understand it now, but while I was a local kid, I wasn’t that interested.  I was more interested in surfing and running around the jungles.  I was more a outdoor kid, and I almost resented having to be forced to take chemistry and stuff.  Because it didn’t make sense to me, or it didn’t make sense to my life or how it was gonna help my life, you know.

 

David Kuraoka says he did not apply himself in high school, nor did he have the grades to go to a four-year university. So, at the urging of his parents, he enrolled in San Jose City College to study architecture.  His first few semesters in a strange new place did not go so well.

 

Okay; so you arrive in San Jose at your new college. What are you wearing?

 

Um, pretty much Hawai‘i cl—uh, Kauai clothes.  I graduated in 1964 from Kauai High School, and uh,

There’s not much TV on Kauai in 1964.  Uh, and what’s there is very blurry.  An—and our—our house didn’t have TV.  So, I go to San Jose, and I don’t have a car, I don’t have many friends. But who I—whoever I speak to in the cafeteria or any friends I make, they’re cracking jokes or they’re talking about things that I don’t understand.  And they’re picking it up from television culture; I Love Lucy, um … uh, you know, I don’t know, Hogan Heroes, or The Fugitive, or—you know, an—and I—I don’t know these things, because I don’t have a TV.  And it’s common to everyone except me.  So, I—I but a twenty-five-dollar TV, and I sit there for almost six weeks, day and night.  And still watch TV, but six—day and night, to try to catch up on culture,

 

Oh, like the worst time in my life.  You know, there was that adjustment.  I used to wear slippers and bright shirts.  I still wear bright shirts.  But I used to wear bright shirts, and tee-shirts.  Just culturally, I was not in tune to the rest of the world, I felt. I mean, I tried to be, because I didn’t want to be lonesome.  I had no car, and so I would look for other Hawaii kids, you know.  So, us Hawai‘i kids would all just hang together, so it would make it more comfortable or make it more, you know, okay.  But every time there was a summer break and kids went home, only half the kids would come back.  And so, the next summer, then the other half.  So pretty soon, I was pretty much alone again.  And then, until I found art, I didn’t really have much friends, or much social contact.

 

So, how did you find art?  How did you find ceramics?  I mean, did you pass by the room, or …

 

Yeah, really by accident.  I had to take a couple basic art classes to fulfill my architect degree, and so, took drawing.  And in my drawing class, my friends were taking ceramics.  So, I would go over during the break and watch them.  And I thought: Gee, I want to make some cups for my friends, my classmates back in Hawai‘i; I could do that, you know.  And once I did it, it felt so …something was very compelling and drew me to it.  And the things were very ugly, the stuff I made in the beginning.

 

You know, it wasn’t accomplished at all.  And by the time I got good enough, or good enough to give away, I was kinda hooked.  Somehow, ceramics made sense to me, and it was something I could do.  You know, I wonder sometimes when I watch television and stuff about people with dyslexia and stuff.  And I think: Oh, I think that looks like me.  You know, like just one part of my brain or something, and another part wasn’t working as well as another part.  You know.  I’m much more visual.

 

Now, when you started taking ceramics classes, and then all your art classes for your major, I mean, you were with a different subculture of students.

 

Yes.

 

Was that different, to be with all the art students?

 

Yes and no.  Because I tried really hard.  When they went out drinking beer, I wouldn’t go out drinking beer; I was still working. When they went to lunch, I was still working.  And I wanted it so badly that whenever the professor was gone—because I didn’t take classes in the beginning, I didn’t know about it—I would sneak in at lunchtime. Then I would wait for him to leave, and when he would leave for the evening, I would sneak in at night.  I lived right next to the college, so I could stay there as late as possible.  And any time he wasn’t there, I would sneak in and work.  And then one day, he called my name, so then I knew … oh. I mean, I sweated, because like, oh, no, I’m busted.  You know. But then, he accepted me, so then I was so glad.  And you know, the next semester, I enrolled, so I was okay.  It changed me a lot in the first couple years.  I think eighteen to twenty, I really grew up there.  I had one set of mind, one kind of cultured mind when I was in Hawaii, which I’m really, really happy I grew up here.  And then, suddenly out of loneliness, out lack of focus or focus, I’m not sure, but I went through a metamorphosis kind of the first two years, for two or three years.   And then I started a metamorphosis realizing that the rest of my life, I had to seek and look.  And I was quite comfortable on Kauai; I wasn’t really looking, because I was happy. You know.  And then, it almost takes an unhappy to then try to find the rest of your way.

 

At San Jose City College, and later at San Jose State University, David Kuraoka reveled in his newfound passion for art. Although he was discouraged by family and college counselors from going into fine arts, he pursued ceramics and quickly became a rising star in the art world.  In 1976, he became a professor at San Francisco State University, where he could practice his ceramic arts while helping to shape aspiring artists.

 

Yes; I was fortunate enough to be paid for what I like doing.  And I learned a lot from my students.  I mean, everybody’s so different; right?  They bring so much life into it.  I mean, I was just fortunate to be in that position.

 

So, is it more than forty years as a professor at San Francisco State University?

 

Yes; just a little bit more than forty years.  I started when I was young.  I got my MA about twenty-four, twenty-five, and I won a number of awards, and I got recognized, so they hired me right away, which I was fortunate.  And then, I was there until I retired.  One thing I realized when I was teaching, that many students came from many small towns across America, like Lihue.  You know, once realized that, I thought: Oh, I’m just like everybody else.  You know, it’s not like: Oh, I’m just this small town kid that forever, my whole life, I’m always gonna be small town, and everybody else knows everything, and I’m not going know.  You know. Then I found out that they’re not from San Francisco, they’re from Missouri, and Oklahoma, and you know, Nebraska, and all these small towns.  And you ask them, their towns are smaller than Līhu‘e.  And you’re here, you know, and there’s one or two of ‘em that would leave the town. Most of them would stay in the small town, but these are the brave ones, and then they would come to college, and seeking their fortune, you know.  Lot of the times, my life revolved around my work, and I would teach Tuesday, Thursday, Friday.  But I had the other four days to do my own work.  So, that was rather fortunate.  Also, when I became head of the department, I could buy all the equipment I wanted, I could set up the whole studio, and do my work along with the students.  That was very fortunate.

 

Did people on Kauai get surprised when they saw what happened to you?  Like what you did on the mainland.

 

My mom laughs sometimes, you know.

 

She laughs?

 

Yeah; she didn’t expect it, you know.  Because she taught her whole life, and she goes: Oh, yeah, that person was a good student.  She judges them, knowing them from teaching, you know.  And she was always a good student.  I could always tell she was gonna succeed, or he was gonna succeed. And I turned to her and go: You thought I would ever be a professor?  And she laughed.  She goes: No. So … you know.

 

So, the hallmarks of your work are abstract?

 

Abstract, pretty much.

 

And I’ve heard the word bulbous described.

 

Bulbous; yeah.

 

Like, is that the art term for …

 

No.  But yes, it has life.  I mean, I think it’s round.  I look at my more round full things as like feminine, more feminine.  And the more cylindrical stiffer things as male.  I mean, sometimes, when I look back, I’m not doing it on purpose, but I can see more female in some, and more male in—

 

That’s interesting.  And then very clean lines, too.

 

Yes. I called it California slick.

 

California slick.

 

I kinda made it up, but it’s kinda true.  When I went through my education at that particular time, it was minimalism, and abstract expressionism.  And so, I’m kinda some place in there.  And then, so my work is pretty slick.  It’s not rough.  I don’t do rough textures, I don’t do … it’s organically vital, but it’s clean.

 

You know, it sounds like when you sit down to throw, do you know what you’re gonna make?

 

Many times, yes.  Many times, I conceive it all the way to the end.

 

Oh, you do.

 

I do. When I’m sitting there to throw, I already know how I’m gonna finish it.

 

Okay.  ‘Cause I’m thinking of third grade, I’m making an ashtray.  You know, that kind.  So, you have an idea.  But sometimes, it sounds like the pieces go organic on you.

 

Yes. Yeah; there’s a range.  There’s a range in there that I have freedom to do. But I know I’m gonna finish it in a particular way.  Because the clay body or how I’m beginning dictates the end, so I already figured it out.

 

In 1987, at the young age of thirty-five, David Kuraoka was recognized by the Honpa Hongwanji of Hawaii as a living treasure of Hawai‘i for his art.  Kuraoka remained connected to Kauai, and would return during his summer breaks to embrace his childhood love of nature and a slower pace of life.  He would often spend months roughing it in the wilderness of Kalalau on Kauai’s NāPali Coast.

 

I always lived on Kauai four months out of the year, sometimes more.  You know, so I would do an academic year, then I’d move back to Kauai.  Sometimes I thought I was commuting from Kauai to California, because that was my base on Kauai.  But I would spend my summers on the NāPali Coast.  And sometimes one month and up to three months.  I would sometimes pack my bags in California, and then come in, say hello to my parents or my mom, and then off to Kalalau.  And I’d buy all my food, everything would be packed, and I would just go off to Kalalau.

 

And were you doing art in Kalalau?

 

Lot of it.  And some sketches, but also mostly to slow it all down, to understand humanity.  You know, you want fire, you get wood.  You want water, you go to the waterfall.  I mean, it was like very basic, and it kind of brought reality, a different reality, made me feel like I understood the person living in a grass shack in Africa, or or taking me back in time a hundred years or two hundred, you know, like how humanity lived, you know, most of humankind lived, the way I lived, I felt.

 

How did you get to Kalalau?  Did you paddle or get dropped off?

 

No, no. In the beginning, yes, I would take a helicopter, boat, walk.  I mean, I did everything.  I walked, I hiked a lot.  Sometimes, some summers, I’d hike.  I’d run out and go to the dentist, and he would take a mold, and run back in, run out, then next week put the false tooth in, and come back the next week put the permanent.  You know, like I’d go back and forth; run back and forth.

 

So, I’ve spent time in Kalalau too, and I mean, it’s just stupendously beautiful.  And isn’t it illegal to live in Kalalau?

 

You know, for a while it was in litigation between the State and the Robinsons. You know, so for about seven or eight years, nobody owned it.  So, it was pretty free for all.  So, that was a great time, was no law; right?  It’s kinda scary.  But then I wasn’t scared at all.  Was just open.  And so, at the end of that period, the State parks and the law came.  But I was the only local kid in there.  So, they were anxious to be friends, and they knew my dad, they knew my family.  And I knew all the trails, I knew all the fishing spots.

 

 

So, I can remember there used to be like young people living naked in the back, with a wood-burning pizza maker.  I mean, were you there for all that stuff?

 

Yeah, yeah, kind of; yeah.  They were all my friends; yeah.

 

During David Kuraoka’s return trips to Kaua‘i, he had a business relationship with a contemporary art dealer who made the Garden Isle her home.  As time went on, that relationship grew into a romantic one.

 

Carol had owned the Contemporary Gallery, really one of the better ones in Hawai‘i, and very successful.  And she had been my dealer for fifteen years.  But I never spent much time in Līhu‘e; I would uh, go to Kalalau.  So I knew her, and she helped me, and she had shows for me, but I wasn’t around town.  Then we met, and it was just right.  After so many years, we got together.  And just when we got together, Hurricane Iniki happened and destroyed all the buildings, pretty much destroyed all the buildings, destroyed the galleries.  And it was okay, because we then got married and moved to San Francisco.

 

Because we couldn’t rebuild the galleries, because there was no houses to put art in on Kauai anyway.

 

Oh, that’s right.  Yeah; it was just terrible.

 

Yeah, it was over; that area was over.

 

You sort of knew her and did business with her for many years.  What was the difference when you got together?

 

I think it was just timing.  I mean, on both of our parts.  I mean, I wonder too, sometimes.  But I’m just lucky I got together with her, because we’ve been together and happy ever since.  So …

 

That’s wonderful.  And that turned out to be the end of her art gallery era in Līhue.

 

Yes.

 

But off you went to San Francisco.

 

Yes; yes.  And then, I’m her art interest now, so lucky for me.  I mean, I was doing art, so she’s very interested in art.  So, she knows more artists than me.  She’s much more well-read than I am.  She would do things by reading.  I was trying to teach her ceramics, we were doing little craft projects together, and she would tell me what to do.  And I said: How do you know?  You know, I teach ceramics.  She goes: I read it in a book.  So, she would read all the books and had the answers, you know, and I do it through experience.  But that was kinda funny.

 

After more than forty years at San Francisco State University, David Kuraoka retired and now spends the majority of his time in Hā‘ena, Kauai, just down the road from the trailhead that leads to his beautiful beloved Kalalau. He’s still active in ceramics, and has also turned his attention to designing houses.

 

Every artist should build a house.  It’s so sculptural, so you’re conceiving so much, you know.  And so visual, and it makes sense, you know.  And then, you look at any building, you go: Hm.  You know, it helps you visualize the whole process, and appreciate it from the inside out more

 

Are the houses you design like the art you do? Is it … California Slick?

 

Kind of.  All dark green.  All the houses are the same color, including my mother’s.

 

All dark green.

 

All dark green, and white inside.  No white for the outside, because the mold.  You know, and black roof, because the mold will turn it black anyway.  Just all this practical stuff.

 

And then, what else besides white inside?

 

White inside; yeah.  Hardwood floors, high ceilings, and nice windows and doors.  I mean, I have little set things that I do.  Yeah.

 

Yeah.

 

Well, Carol and I too.  Carol likes building too, so we have those projects we could do together, you know.

 

Right.  You go back and forth between San Francisco and Kauai.  And I know Kauai is your home.  But do you have a preference down deep?

 

I always preferred Kaua‘i.  And now that I’m on Kaua‘i fulltime, I like go back San Francisco and eat and stuff. So, you know, I like both sides. But we’ll spend a month out of the year maybe, if we’re lucky, in San Francisco.  But that’s it, that’s about it.  Yeah.  Our life is pretty much on Kauai now.  It’s getting harder, you know.  I had a two and a quarter acre farm, flower farm, fruit trees, and so I used to like working in the yard.  But now, I’m just pretty much in the studio.  I’m not so physical anymore.  So, it’s just different.  As you get older, I just kinda adapt, you know.

 

You really did kinda make your own way.  You were able to do what you wanted to do for so much of your life.

 

M-hm; kind of.  You kinda gotta find the spot; right?  I mean, I think starting with education.  You gotta be educated.  Stay in school and find something that you want.

 

Acclaimed artist David Kuraoka says he has plans to create a ceramics art center for the Kauai community, so that he can continue to teach and inspire others on his home island.  And he continues to challenge himself by finding new ways to express himself through his art.  Mahalo to David Kuraoka of Hā‘ena, Kauai. And thank you for joining us for this edition of Long Story Short on PBS Hawai‘i.  I’m Leslie Wilcox.  Aloha nui.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org.  To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

The challenges for me is never ending.  If I master a particular part of ceramics, then I look for another part of ceramics. In other words, I keep searching within the field.  There’s so much to do.  My work chases my work.  In other words, whatever I do, then I see and I learn from it, and then I move on.

 

 

 

FINDING YOUR ROOTS
No Laughing Matter

FINDING YOUR ROOTS: No Laughing Matter

 

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. shows comedians Seth Meyers, Tig Notaro and Sarah Silverman that their family trees are filled with people whose struggles laid the groundwork for their success. Gates also reveals to each one news of an unexpected DNA cousin.

 

Preview

 

 

 

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Won't You Be My Neighbor? Fred Rogers (left) with Francois Scarborough Clemmons (right) in an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

 

One of the most celebrated theatrical releases of 2018, this feature length documentary takes an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Fred Rogers. The film tells the story of a soft-spoken minister, puppeteer, writer and producer whose show was beamed daily into homes across America for more than 30 years. In his beloved television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Rogers and his cast of puppets and friends spoke directly to young children about some of life’s weightiest issues in a simple, direct fashion. There hadn’t been anything like Mister Rogers on television before, and there hasn’t been since.

 

Preview

 

 

 

VICTORIA SEASON 3 ON MASTERPIECE
Part 4 of 8

VICTORIA SEASON 3 ON MASTERPIECE: Part 4 of 8

 

Victoria Season 3 introduces fascinating new historical characters, including Laurence Fox (Inspector Lewis) as the vainglorious Lord Palmerston. Also vexing the queen this season is Kate Fleetwood (Harlots) as Victoria’s devoted but troubled half-sister.

 

Returning are Tom Hughes (Dancing on the Edge) as Victoria’s devoted, obsessive husband, Prince Albert; Nell Hudson (Outlander) as the queen’s chief dresser, Nancy Skerrett; Ferdinand Kingsley (Borgia) as Charles Francatelli, the royal chef and cookbook king; plus a host of others.

 

Part 4 of 8
When Albert leaves the Palace for Cambridge, Victoria faces the traumatic impact of a cholera epidemic on the streets of London.

 

 

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Daniel James Brown

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX: Daniel James Brown

 

New York Times bestselling author Daniel James Brown has a knack for taking intriguing, but often overlooked, stories in history and crafting them into compelling non-fiction narratives that grip readers around the world. The Boys in the Boat author reflects on his unconventional journey to becoming a writer, and the satisfying rewards of looking to the past for inspiration.

 

Program

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 4:00 pm and 11:30 pm.

 

More from Daniel James Brown:

 

Rowing

 

Writing

 

Olympics

 

Daniel James Brown Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

I didn’t realize that just rowing in a competitive race is extremely painful.

 

It’s extremely painful; it hurts from the moment you start.  But it especially hurts; the end of every crew race comes down to a sprint at the end, where you’re rowing all-out.  Whether it’s a two-thousand-meter race or a four-mile race, at the end, you’re going all-out.  You’re using every muscle in your body, from the muscles in your fingertips to your biggest muscles in your back and legs.  And they are all screaming at you.  With every pull of the oar, they’re telling you not to take another pull of the oar; and yet, you have to.

 

He’s learned about life struggles and overcoming hardships by sharing little-known true stories in his books.  This best-selling author next, on Long Story Short.

 

One-on-one engaging conversations with some of Hawaii’s most intriguing people: Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox.

 

Aloha mai kakou.  I’m Leslie Wilcox.  Daniel James Brown, visiting Hawaii from his home in Redmond, Washington, is a New York Times best-selling author of the book “The Boys In the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics”.  This American rowing crew was made up of mostly working-class students from the University of Washington who had beaten Ivy League teams to reach Germany and triumph over a favored Nazi team in Berlin.  Brown was inspired to retell this nearly forgotten story when he was introduced to an elderly, ailing, and immensely likeable Joe Rantz, once a powerful member of that 1936 Olympic Team.

 

I love the book, because it works on so many levels.  There’s are so many inspiring things about it.  And you know, as I first read it, I thought: Is this for real?

 

Yeah.

 

Because you know, you don’t see this kind of valor often.

 

Yeah.  As I say, the story inspired me when Joe Rantz first told it to me.  And Joe was in the last few weeks of his life at that time.  But when he first told me the story, I was inspired by it.  It was one of those stories that just got better, and more inspiring, as I learned about the other guys who had rowed with Joe.

 

You also brought to that story of The Boys In the Boat, Hitler’s regime.

 

Yeah.

 

And how the Olympics of 1936 were really a propaganda game to show what a great, peaceful, civilized government Germany had.

 

Yeah.  The Nazi party very deliberately, when they decided to host the Olympics in 1936, they saw it from the very beginning as a propaganda opportunity.  And so, they turned Berlin into almost a movie set.  They literally got down on hands and knees and scrubbed the streets.  They rounded up homeless people in Berlin and shipped them off to what turned into Dachau, the concentration camp.

 

Because behind all of that, Hitler wanted to exterminate Jews, and he didn’t believe in Blacks at all.  And when I think about it, he was there watching all of these tournaments and meets.

 

Yeah.

 

He saw Jesse Owens win four Gold Medals.  A Black guy beating his German team.

 

Right; right.

 

And then, what happened to the boys in the boat?

 

So, the boy in the boat were, you know, kind of another slap in the face to Hitler.

 

And these were rural kids, generally.  Right?

 

Yeah.

 

Representing the U.S.

 

These were not elite athletes.  These were kids that had grown up on, you know, mill towns and fishing camps in the Northwest.  They were not elite athletes by any means.  The day of the rowing events in 1936, Hitler and Goebbels, and Goring, all the top Nazis were there watching the events.  They were on the balcony of a boathouse they had built for the occasion.  And Germany promptly won Gold Medals in the first five rowing of the day.  So, by the time these Americans rowed out to the starting line for the start of the—the big prestige event is the eight-oared event at the end.  By the time these Americans from Washington State rowed out to the starting line, the crowd is just roaring: Deutschland, Deutschland, Deutschland.  Hitler and the other Nazis are up on the balcony watching.  And I mean, that’s the context in which the race starts.  And they’re racing against the German and the Italian crews, two Fascist powers, which were assigned Lanes 1 and 2, the most sheltered lanes from the wind.  So, when the race starts, it’s not at all even odds, and it very much looks as if Germany and Italy will again win a Gold Medal.  Of course, that’s not what happens.

 

And what did happen?

 

[CHUCKLE]

 

How did it play out?

 

So, because the Americans were assigned to Lane 6 out in the windiest part of course, they had a terrible first half of the race.  Halfway through the race, a thousand meters down the race course, Bobby Moch, the coxswain, was the small person in the back with a megaphone.  He’s the only person looking forward; everybody else is rowing with their backs to the finish line.  But Bobby Moch, the American coxswain, is looking down the race course.  Germany and Italy on Lanes 1 and 2 are many lengths ahead, and just sailing down towards what appear to be Gold and Silver Medal finishes.  And waves are breaking over his bow, because he’s in the windiest part of the course; so he’s in a terrible state.  Don Hume, the stroke oar, the guy that sets the rhythm for the whole boat, is sick and not responding.  About eight hundred meters left to go, Don Hume suddenly snaps up, gets his focus back.  The boat starts falling into sync, what they call swing in rowing, and the boat just accelerates, almost as if it had been lifted up out of the water.  And they come back, and they catch the German and Italian boats in the last twenty-five meters or so of the course.  And as they go across the line, they’re just jogging back and forth for first place, second place, third place.  And the American boat finishes sixth-tenths of a second ahead of the Italian boat, which is a second ahead of the German boat.  So, it’s an extraordinary comeback.

 

In fact, did they even know who won as they passed the finish line?

 

No; for a long time, nobody knew who had won.  And when the announcement finally came, it was in German, so the guys in the American boat are just looking around.  They didn’t know that they had won; they weren’t at all sure what was happening.

 

I’m glad to know there was officiating that was fair, because otherwise, I could see going another way.

 

There actually was a photo-finish.  But the fact that the Germans and the Italians were assigned Lanes 1 and 2, which were sheltered the whole length was very odd and suspicious in the first place.

 

But Hitler was watching this race.

 

Hitler was watching the race.

 

Any word from him?

 

They just disappeared from that balcony.

 

And what happened to those nine men?

 

Nine young men.  They all went on to happy, prosperous middleclass lives.  Most of them lived into their nineties.

 

Author Daniel James Brown says that not only was he inspired to write “The Boys In the Boat” when he heard the story of crewmember Joe Rantz, he also felt an immediate personal connection to Rantz.

 

I’m a huge admirer of that generation of Americans from all walks of life.  And when you think about what they had to confront as a generation, first the devastation of the Depression, and then immediately on the heels of that, the trauma of World War II, which I think most of us still have a hard time really understanding, there was a period of ten, twelve years there where the world was upside down, and lives were being torn apart.

 

M-hm.

 

And that generation found a way to get through it, and they emerged on the other side, called The Greatest Generation for a reason, I think.  I think that those experiences tempered them and taught them a kind of toughness, but also a kind of humility that served them very well.  When I first met Joe Rantz, the principle character I follow in the book, he was in the last couple months of his life.  Joe was this incredibly humble, gentle-speaking, polite gentleman who had been through the Depression.  And when he started talking about his personal experiences growing up, I immediately thought about my dad’s experiences.  My dad had lost his father in 1929, right at the beginning of the Depression, when my dad was just fourteen at the time.  And so, my dad’s mom had been left to raise him and his brother and sister with real no means of doing that.  I think she took in laundry and things to get through the Depression.  So, when I met Joe, I thought immediately of my dad.  They were the same kind of man at the end of day.  And in some ways, I think they were sort of typical and emblematic of that generation who were tempered by the Depression, and learned these virtues of humility, coupled with toughness and civility.  So, in some ways, I wrote the book for my dad, without ever mentioning him in the book.

 

Daniel James Brown’s father and mother struggled through The Great Depression of the 1930s.  Their experiences during those lean, difficult times helped them shape better lives for themselves and fort their children.

 

I had a really nice family.  I grew up in the Bay Area.  My father worked in the flower business in San Francisco.  And so, actually from a very early age, he would take me around to florists in the Bay Area as he called on his customers, to visit them.  He was a very gentle, very kind man.  He was very much a product of The Depression.  He was humble, he was civil, and he was a great role model.

 

Was he frugal, because he came from The Depression?

 

He was very frugal.

 

[CHUCKLE]

 

He would go around the house, turning off the lights.  You know, we would walk out of a room, leave the lights on, and he’d go and switch the lights off when we walked out of the room.  But you know, he was just an extraordinarily kind man; everybody loved him.  My mom was a stay-at-home mom, homemaker; sweet as can be, just a lovely person.  It’s interesting; she had had to drop out of college because of The Depression, at UCLA.  And later, when I was going to UC Berkeley, my mom was about fifty at that time, she decided she wanted to finish her college degree.  So, she went to Berkeley at the same time I was going to Berkeley.  In fact, I used to see her walking.  Sometimes we’d meet for lunch.  And that was in the middle of all the turmoil at Berkeley, and I remember seeing her once talk her way past a line of National Guardsmen as one of these riots was going on, on the Berkeley campus and tear gas was flying.  So, you know, she finally did get her college degree.

 

“The Boys In the Boat” author, Daniel James Brown, faced his own set of challenges growing up.

 

I’m actually a high school dropout.  I suffered a lot from anxiety as an adolescent, and I was bullied a lot as an adolescent.  So, I would get panic attacks, and I got to the point where I just absolutely dreaded going to school.

 

I was small, not very well-developed.  Didn’t you know, develop as quickly as some of the other guys, so I was small.

 

They called you names?

 

They called me Cupcake.  To this day, that word sends a chill down my spine.  So typical, you know, adolescent bullying.  But it got to the point between the bullying and I just was predisposed to … you know, those days, people had anxiety disorders.  They didn’t even have names for them or medications, or anything.  So, I was sick to my stomach every morning before I had to go to school.

 

Did it arise from the bullying, or did it preexist?

 

I think I preexisted, to some extent, but the bullying made it much worse.

 

Did the school do anything about it?

 

Not really; no.  You know, this was in the 50s and early 60s, and no, you’re just—

 

You’re supposed to suck it up.

 

You suck it up, you’re on your own, kid.  And it got to the point, finally, I was in my junior year in high school, in the middle of a biology lab one day.  And I don’t know; something just clicked in me, and I said: I’m gonna deal with this in an unconventional way.  I got up, and I walked out of the school.  I walked across the street, got in my car and drove home, and told my mom and dad that I wasn’t going back, that I wasn’t ever going back.  And that, of course, caused them a lot of distress.  My mom cried, my dad was sort of very silent for a while.  But as I say, they were very kind and understanding people.  And my mom, bless her heart, set out to come up with a plan by which I could move forward.  And so, she arranged with the school; I could get my high school degree by completing a series of correspondence courses.  The deal was, I had to go to the university library in Berkeley and spend eight hours a day working on these correspondence courses until I had completed all the work.  So, I did that.  I’d drive in to Berkeley every day and walk across the campus, and go into the Dole Memorial Library, big beautiful graduate library there.

 

Heavy stuff for high school.

 

High school.

 

For a non-high school student.

 

Yes; absolutely.  And you know, I felt like a college student.  And I would do my correspondence courses in a few hours, and then that left me usually several hours every afternoon to just browse the library.  And that’s really, I think, where I became a bookish person.  And so, I would just go pull books out of the stacks and sit and read them, whatever interested me.  And I think it took me about a year of doing that, and then I got the high school degree, and I enrolled in my local community college, Diablo Valley College.  And I had a wonderful English teacher, freshman English teacher there.  And he sort of took me under his arm.  And now, I couldn’t wait to get to school every day.  I mean, I just loved my community college.

 

You’re in school with adults now.

 

I’m in school with adults, I’m there because I want to be, and some of my teachers were great.  So, I really thrived there in the community college.  I’m a huge fan of community colleges.  I think they’re wonderful institutions.  And then, I transferred to Berkeley for two years, and then, I went to graduate school at UCLA for a couple of years.  Got a master’s degree in English, and then wound up teaching college English.

 

And did you think that would be your career?  I’m a college teacher.

 

Yeah; yeah.

 

English.

 

So, as I say, I had so loved my community college experience, I really wanted to be a community college English instructor.  But there was essentially no job market for that; there were way too many of us.  And I finally did find one in Prescott, Arizona.  But at that point, I was about to get married to the woman who’s now my wife, and she did not want to go live in Prescott, Arizona.  [CHUCKLE]  So, I had to turn that down.  And so, I never did get that fulltime community college job that I wanted.

 

Then, what did you do?

 

So, I married Sharon, and she was also teaching English at San Jose State.  And we were going to have a baby, and we wanted to buy some kind of a house.  We’d been living in apartments.  And San Jose at that point was turning into Silicon Valley, and housing was just not affordable for two people teaching, you know, college English.  So, I saw an ad in the San Jose Mercury, a little one-line ad for something called Microsoft, which I had never heard of.

 

Really?  Oh, the beginning days of Microsoft.

 

It was Microsoft.  They wanted editors.  So, I sent them a resume, and they flew me up to Seattle.  And actually, one of the first things they did is, they put me in a car with a Realtor, and they drove me all over the Redmond, Washington area, showing me houses.  Which were about half what they were in California, and just barely manageable for us on what would be my salary.  So, I took the job at Microsoft, and I was there for the next twelve years or so.

 

What did you edit?

 

We edited users’ manuals and help systems.  And in the early days, we edited these, you know, paper users’ manuals, which were pretty deadly stuff.

 

Were you one of the first people to describe how to use Microsoft products?

 

Yeah; actually, Microsoft Windows.  The first product I worked on at Microsoft was Windows, before it was a thing in the world.

 

Was it hard to explain?

 

[CHUCKLE]  It was.  It took a lot of back and forth between us and the engineers.  ‘Cause the engineers wanted very engineer-y sounding instructions.  And we knew that most people, if this was gonna be a mass product, were not in fact engineers.  So, a lot of it was just translating things into understandable—

 

That sounds like a challenging job.

 

It was, and it was fun.  The people I was working with were all very, very smart.  I’ve never worked anyplace that I was surrounded by so many smart people as at Microsoft.  And that was exhilarating.

 

Daniel James Brown wrote and edited manuals and the first interactive tutorials for software giant Microsoft for a dozen years.  And then, he decided it was time for a change, and turned his focus toward a different kind of writing.

 

You know, at the end of the twelve years, as I say, it was fun, and exciting, and exhilarating, but I’d had enough of it.  I was still remembering how excited I was by all those English classes I’d had.  And I don’t think I had ever really sat down and thought I want to be a writer.  But, I got to the point where I wanted to do something new.  So, I quit Microsoft, and I decided I’m gonna take a little time to figure out what I’m gonna do next.  And that first winter, a dark rainy winter in Seattle, I discovered that sitting around not knowing what you want to do gets boring pretty fast.  So, I started writing.  And I wrote what turned into my first book over the course of the next year, not really expecting that it would even get published, let alone turn into a career.  But that is in fact what happened, to my great surprise.

 

That seems like a luxury of time, where you could devote time to something, and not earn a living.

 

Yeah; yeah.  I mean, it was the result of having worked at Microsoft.  You know, the company did very well.  But I couldn’t have done nothing forever.  [CHUCKLE]  But I had a window there, where I could sit back, as a lot of people were doing at that point.  Most of the people who started at Microsoft when I did were starting to leave the company to go figure out what they wanted to do.

 

Was it a burnout situation?  You’d been working really long hours.

 

I’m not sure burnout is exactly the term.  Well, yeah, that actually probably is the correct term.  [CHUCKLE]  Long hours in a industry that was growing and exciting, but not something I had ever intended to devote my life to.

 

Well, what did you decide to write about?  I mean, think about that; if you could write about anything you wanted, that’s a tall bill.

 

Yeah; it is.

 

What do you choose?

 

So, what happened was, that Christmas, my brother and his family were staying with us at our house in uh, Washington.  And we started talking about this forest fire in the 1890s.  We had grown up; my mom had talked about this forest fire in Minnesota in which her grandfather had died, and her father had escaped on a burning train.  And that was about all I knew about it.  But when we moved my mom from California up to Washington, I found a box of stuff that she had kept.  And my brother and I dove into that over Christmas, and I started pulling out letters and diaries, and news clippings, and old photographs about this forest fire in Hinckley, Minnesota in 1894.  And it turned out to be this spectacular event.  It was actually two fires that converged on this little town, trapped most of the people in the town.  They tried to evacuate the town with a couple of trains that were there.  One of the trains caught fire as it was backing out of town.  That’s the one my great-grandmother and my grandfather were on.  And there all these heroic things that people did, trying to save people that day.  And I thought, well, nobody knows this, and that’s a pretty interesting story.  So, I just sat down and started.  I went to Minnesota, spent several days in the archives at the Minnesota Historical Society there, and started researching it, and came back to Washington and just started writing.  And that turned into a book.  I didn’t have a publisher, I didn’t have an agent, I didn’t have any idea how you got a book published, but I just started sending it out to agents.  And it took months, and I got a big stack of rejection letters, but eventually, an agent agreed to take it on.  And she sold it for a very small amount of money to a quite small publisher.  But it was published.

 

And it was your entry.

 

It was my entry.  And it did well.  What happened was, actually, Barnes and Noble, the bookstore chain, they have a thing called Discover Great New Writers, where every three months they pick a dozen writers that are unknown, and they put their books out in the front of the store on a special rack called Discover Great New Writers.  They chose my book for one of those.  And that got some sales going.  And then, HarperCollins, big New York publishers, saw that, and they bought the paperback rights to it.  And then, it really took off and started doing well.  And so, then I had a contract to write another book.

 

Would this be narrative nonfiction, or historical?  What would you call it?

 

I call it narrative nonfiction.  I mean, narrative is a story, and nonfiction is a true story.  So, people call it all kinds of things.  Some people call it dramatic nonfiction, some people call it creative nonfiction.  But I don’t like that one.  I don’t like the term creative nonfiction because it implies you’re making stuff up.

 

So many people want to write books, and want to write.  And this is a time when, you know, people want to read books less because of the length.

 

Yes.

 

What’s that like as a writer?  How do you navigate that?  I mean, if that’s your passion, I mean, do you have enough of an audience?

 

Oh, yeah.  I mean, you know, I think the way you navigate that is by telling the story as well as you can, crafting the story as well as you can so that it engages the reader from the first page.  And people will read a book if when they open it, they get to the end of the first page, they want to read the second page.  As long as you keep doing that through four hundred pages, you’re good.  [CHUCKLE]

 

How old were you when you started writing a book?

 

I was probably fifty.  I mean, that’s another thing I tell young writers all the time is: Don’t wait ‘til you’re fifty.  ‘Cause I really wish I had time for, you know, five more books.  That’s not gonna happen.  [CHUCKLE]  So, on the one hand, I tell young writers, you know: Get going.  On the other hand, I’m not sure that when I was twenty-five I would have been able to write any of these books.

 

Daniel James Brown’s debut book of narrative nonfiction in 2006 was titled “Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894”.  It was followed by “The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party”.  “The Boys In the Boat” was published in 2013.  It remained on the New York Times Best Seller List for two and a half years, and inspired a PBS American Experience documentary, “The Boys of ‘36”.  The TV program is available for viewing in PBS Hawaii’s Passport web portal.  Brown continues to look to the past to find stories that will enlighten readers in the present.  At the time of this conversation in the fall of 2018, he was in Hawaii, research the forced relocation and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

 

Mahalo to author Daniel James Brown of Redmond, Washington, for sharing his personal story.  And thank you for joining us for this edition of Long Story Short, on PBS Hawaii.  I’m Leslie Wilcox.  Aloha nui.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org.  To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

What do you think the future is for online-only books?

 

You know, as an author, I don’t really care, in one sense, how people read the story.  I think we probably sell more e book copies of “Boys In the Boat” than paperback copies.  I’m not sure, but we sell a lot of e book copies of that book.  And I’m absolutely fine with that.  I actually read mostly on an iPad or a Kindle myself.

 

[END]

 

 

 

VICTORIA SEASON 3 ON MASTERPIECE
Part 3 of 8

VICTORIA SEASON 3 ON MASTERPIECE: Part 3 of 8

 

Victoria Season 3 introduces fascinating new historical characters, including Laurence Fox (Inspector Lewis) as the vainglorious Lord Palmerston. Also vexing the queen this season is Kate Fleetwood (Harlots) as Victoria’s devoted but troubled half-sister.

 

Returning are Tom Hughes (Dancing on the Edge) as Victoria’s devoted, obsessive husband, Prince Albert; Nell Hudson (Outlander) as the queen’s chief dresser, Nancy Skerrett; Ferdinand Kingsley (Borgia) as Charles Francatelli, the royal chef and cookbook king; plus a host of others.

 

Part 3 of 8
At Osborne House, Albert relishes the opportunity to spend time with the family away from London, but Victoria is desperate to get back to the Palace and the business of politics.

 

 

 

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