skill

FAKE OR FORTUNE?
Toulouse-Lautrec

FAKE OR FORTUNE? Toulouse-Lautrec

 

The team investigates four sketchbooks which may be the work of the young French master. Alain Brun is a French psychoanalyst who lives in Bordeaux. He was given the sketchbooks by his grandmother in the 1960s and she always maintained they were the work of Toulouse Lautrec. Alain sent them to the Lautrec committee to see if they could be authenticated. They came back saying that it was actually the work of Lautrec’s tutor, Princeteau. However, Princeteau experts have disputed this – saying they are far too good. The team searches for evidence to see if they can irrefutably link these sketches to the young Lautrec and change the committee’s mind.

 

 

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Princess Johnson

 

Princess Johnson, whom our team welcomed at PBS Hawaiʻi for this conversation, is Creative Producer of the PBS KIDS series Molly of Denali, which follows the adventures of 10-year-old Alaska Native Molly Mabray and her friends. Johnson, of Fairbanks, Alaska, had no idea that she was preparing for a perfect opportunity when she earned a master’s degree in education while pursuing a passion for the performing arts and staying rooted to culture, with her maternal ancestry from the Neets’aii Gwich’in tribe. This combination of training, skills and culture equipped her to produce a curriculum-based Alaska series. “This is something really awesome, a life lesson: to trust where you’re at,” she says. “You do have to be ready when the opportunity comes.”

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Sunday, Mar. 15, at 4:00 pm and 11:30 pm.

 

Princess Johnson Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

My mother and my grandmother are very strong women with very strong, you know, very strong spiritual foundation. And that is a lesson, you know, passed down to me, is just to – we have to be comfortable and confident in our own skin and grounded in our relationship with the Creator and with the elements around us, and humor!

 

Her mother wanted her to grow up knowing her Alaska native culture. Today she is a creative force behind PBS Kids’ Molly of Denali, the Nation’s first nationally-distributed animated children’s television series featuring an Alaska native lead character. Meet this filmmaker and community activist next on Long Story Short.

 

One-on-one engaging conversations with some of Hawaiʻis most intriguing people, Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox.

 

Aloha mai kākou I’m Leslie Wilcox. Princess is her first name, not her title. Princess Daazhraii Johnson of Farebanks, Alaska is the creative producer of Molly of Denali, a PBS Kids’ animated series that debuted in 2019. The concept for this show originated with producers from Boston PBS Station WGBH. The producers wanted to create a children’s show about Alaska that would involve native people on every level of production. Princess Johnson led the Alaska native advisory group that developed the characters and stories that would showcase the native cultures of Alaska.

 

Hey, there you are! Ready to sing?

Ready! And maybe you will be too because…

Oh, Molly!

Tooey and I found your friend in the picture and brought back your drum. Do you have your songs again?

I left them so far behind. They’ll need to find their way back to me.

That’s okay Schada’a. I’m just glad we could find it for you.

Molly, we’re next!

 

Princess Johnson was born to an eastern European Jewish father and a mother from Alaska’s  Neets’alii Gwich’in tribe. They met in Los Angeles. When Princess was seven years old her mother decided to raise the children in her family’s culture and language and moved them to Alaska. She left behind her husband, who didn’t care for the cold climate.

 

My mom was a single mom and we just – I just really had a transient childhood. We went a lot of times from urban to rural areas. My grandmother was living in Gwich’yaa Zhee or Fort Yukon. She had a cabin there so sometimes I’d spend a couple of my summers up there and then we were in Farebanks, Anchorage, we lived a little bit on a homestead in a place called Sterling, Alaska. We are Neets’aii Gwich’in and my mother was born in Fort Yukon. But my grandmother is originally from Stevens Village and my grandfather, Teho, was from Arctic Village. A lot of our – my generation wasn’t taught the native language and a lot of that is because the history of the Beureau of Indian Affairs boarding schools. So I heard the language, I heard my grandmother and my aunties and everyone speaking the language fluently, but of course they would only really yell at us in the language or repremand us in the language, but they didn’t teach it to us. So we weren’t really immersed in it, they didn’t speak it to us consistently. I never went to a school for more than two years, so it was very weird. I always joke, like my mom didn’t get the memo that we stopped being nomadic. [LAUGHTER] At the turn of the century.

 

Even though you moved schools a lot, you did well in higher education – a masters in education. How did you manage that, to just kind of be able to move – you know, you moved around and you had continuity too?

 

I think my mother really – and my father while he was around – instilled in us a sense of curiosity about the world and also to, to be creative and to honor that creativity. And my mother and father both were writers, and my mother’s still a writer. And my grandmother wrote the first dictionary in the Gwich’in language. And so I just, I come from a long line of storytellers and people that I – that value knowledge so – and it has helped me in my life, understand the world around me and I try to keep that curiosity going all the time and I really believe we’re all life-long learners.

 

What were some of the native, the Alaskan native beliefs in your group that you hold to this day, things that perhaps Americans don’t think about.

 

Well one of the things is that from the time I was really little, my mom always asked me what I dreamt about and so therefore, I understood inherently that dreams are really important. And also, that ability, all of our traditional stories,  talk about how we as human beings – the animals actually felt sorry for us and would teach us how to do things better. And so we spoke the same language as the animals and in the Neets’aii Gwich’in tradition, you know, we have an origin story that talks about a man who became a vs’ai, a caribou and in that manner was able to teach, when he transitioned back into a human being, tell us how the caribou wanted to be respected and treated. So I pull on that a lot and I think that those indigenous values of keeping humility in tact as human beings, we are absolutely dependent upon clean water and clean air, and soil and these rich ecosystems that have evolved over millenia and we – we have to keep that humility and that balance going and that is especially relevant for us today.

 

I know there’s a real treasuring of the caribou, and I know the – I know the Alaska natives say that it’s a – you protect them. And you also eat them.

 

Not only with the vs’ai, with the caribou, but also with the salmon, or the whale, or any animal that we’re harvesting, there’s a spiritual belief that that animal is giving itself to you so that you can survive. And again, there’s that tie between – in the, like I’ve mentioned in the Gwich’in tradition of – we actually were able to shape shift into those animals. So there really is, um, a part of us – they say we retain a part of the caribou heart and the caribou retain a part of our heart, and we really do have this spiritual um, relationship that goes back thousands and thousands of years.

 

You don’t take more than you need.

 

Exactly. I think that if we listen, that the animals are messangers, that they are – they bring messages and signs. There’s a lot of stories about them also teaching us, like I mentioned, how to make things better. Um, I think that the animals, you know right now, are sending a very strong message that we need to change our behavior as human beings because we are literally destroying their habitat and ecosystems, especially when you look at the oceans, which of course we in Alaska and Hawaiʻi, and all around the world are so connected by that water body. I mean we’re all connected. We’re all connected by what happens here or by what happens in Alaska. We have very little sea ice left. That sea ice is what the rich plankton – and grows underneath and what the whales eat, and this whaling season for my Iñupiaq brothers and sisters in Utqiagvik, they usually have landed about twenty whales and they haven’t – they did’t land one. Where are those whales? Those are our brothers and sisters, those are our relatives and that’s very troubling, and it should be troubling to all of us becaus of course, those are the same whales that come here.

 

Princess Johnson of Alaska grew up steeped in the stories and traditions of her native Gwich’in culture. She bristled at restrictive government and policies that she said, failed to value indigenous culture and protect Alaskan lands. And she developed a passion to safeguard her heritage.

 

My mother and my grandmother are very strong women with very strong, you know, very strong spiritual foundation. And that is a lesson, you know, passed down to me, is just to – we have to be comfortable and confident in our own skin and grounded in our relationship with the Creator and with the elements around us, and that resilency um, is something that you know, and humor can’t forget the humor!

 

Cause sometimes, that’s all you can do, right, is laugh?

 

Exactly, Exactly! Is keeping, you know, not taking ourselves too seriously.

 

Did you ever feel as you grew up, that you were less than because of your native, indigenous background?

Honestly I did and that is because of the history of colonization and the U.S. assymilation as policies that engrained in us as native people, that we were less than, that we should be ashamed of our language and our culture and who we were. And when I was very little, I didn’t know the true history, it wasn’t taught in public schools. I didn’t know about the Bereau of Indian Affairs schools, that my mother was sent away and hit with a ruller by the matrens for speaking Gwich’in until I asked her when I was in middle school: “Mom, why didn’t you teach us the language?” And then she told me that story and it was such an eye-opener.

 

She was told you must be a Westerner, you must be –

 

Yeah!

 

You must get out of this routine of the tribe.

 

Yes, exactly. And that what we now know in turn, historical trauma is a real thing. And I feel like a lot of my childhood in Alaska, I was carrying around a sadness that I had no explanation for why am I so sad? And that depression – that only made sense when I learned the true history of what had happened to our people and how we had um, you know, a Western education and the Missionaries, etc. had literally came in and said “This is of the Devil, this is – you’re savages. You need to start acting like civilized, um, people,” which of course, you know, was the worst thing that could’ve happened to us as indigenous people. So that’s really, um, to be able to um, learn those true histories and to think critically about  um, about those histories and how relevant that is today, is really, really imporant.

 

Well how do you claim, or reclaim your heritiage?

 

By learning the language, keeping it alive, and we have so many people that are doing that right now, really working at revitalizing and maintaining our languages, ther’s – there’s been some exchanges actually, between my tribe – people, tribal members um, coming here to Hawaiʻi to learn from the immersion schools and the success of immersion schools here and now they have, my son is actually in a Koyukon immersion program that just started a couple years ago. And how do we really know who we are and where we’re going if we don’t know where we came from? And keeping that tie – regardless so, you know, we have a tie to our ancestors, and I think keeping that alive and acknowledging it is a good thing. We honor those that came before us and we really need their wisdom  and that experience to figure out what is the way forward. So it’s not unique to indigenous people, that pressure to homoganize and become American, I mean I think everyone that came to this country felt that.

 

But not everyone was colonized.

 

Most people around the world – indigenous people.

 

I mean, most of the people came in through Elis Island, I think

 

Right

 

were not – I mean…

 

But I would say the common colonizer mentality and the worldview of looking at nature as something that is outside of ourselves and “othering” nature. This sense of removal of “Oh, who cares if they’re going to drill for oil in the north slope of Alaska, what does it have to – how is it going to affect me? Thereʻs hardly any people up there.” That mentality is so damaging and it – I believe it’s the reason why we’re at this precipice right now. You know, I’ve worked a lot with my community, um, over the years, um, on protection of the coastal plane, the birthing ground of the porcupine caribou herd. And if you look at the language that has been used in the past, a lot of it has to do with “there’s nothing up there, it’s barren land,” which of course is the opposite of what’s actually happening up there – is that there’s all this life happening there and literally calving grounds where up to 40,000 calves are born in a two-week period of time, and my community, that’s how we’ve sustained ourselves, is having this sacred relationship with that caribou herd.

 

And yet it’s a hard sell when a large percentage of America defines wealth as money and also sees the land and animals for dominion.

 

Exactly, and we can go back to the doctrine of discovery in the 1400’s, which really dictated and is still um, valid today, it’s related to manifest destiny and this sentiment that you know, we have to go develop these resources. The timber’s there for us – the woods are there for us –

 

Control…

 

To control. And so that, that mentality has been very damaging for us.

 

You did very well in Western school and while maintaining your culture. But that must be really hard to do.

 

It is, I mean I think it’s a constant challenge and I don’t think you magically get to this place where you’re like, “I am decolonized and I’m totally…”

 

I’m making my own choices

 

Yeah

 

whatever I want to do.

 

Well I mean, it is a constant learning and balancing act and so, there’s things that you know, you take and you go, “okay, that’s relevant for me and I can utilize that in my life and it is in line with my values.” So I think that, as long as you’re like, you know – and that’s the wonderful thing I think about our indigenous values, is that it’s not just about the individual, it’s about the entire community and we have an obligation to our communities, wherever we live, um to keep in mind um, the good of everyone and not just ourselves. And I think in American society and culture, there’s been so much emphasis on just the individual and um, and again, that’s part of the predicament we’re in right now.

 

And that’s binary, right, those two things don’t go together. Yeah, it’s so hard to balance when one excludes the other.

 

It is, it is. And um, which is why I really am excited about any opportunity that we have to share our values about the world and to live those values, um, is really necessary right now, to tell these stories that include a sense of hope for the future.

 

Princess Johnson’s values, stories and concerns about the future have all come together in her role as Creative Producer for Molly of Denali. She says this national PBS kids’ show is an opportunity to change stereotypes rooted in the past.

 

It’s been such a blessing to be involved with the production of Molly of Denali, you know because of being able to incorporate our Alaska native values. Because we get to inform, for really the – for me, on a big scale – the first time that we’re saying: “Well, this is what we’d like to do,” you know, “This is who we are and this is how we appear to the world.” Not this stereotypical, um, maybe negative stereotype that everyone is used to, but this beautiful, joyous, curious, um, little girl who is part of a community that loves and embraces her, and gently steers her in the right direction when she goes off course. So it’s been amazing and – to be a part of that.

 

And Molly is clearly navigating both worlds. She’s checking out online, she’s doing maps and she’s talking with her indigenous elders, and I mean, she’s just making use of resources available to her in the modern world.

 

Exactly. So I think showing ourselves in that modern context when people want to relegate us to the past, or they have their notions of who we are, is really important because we are breaking down then, those old stereotypes of who we are as a people. And we are resilient and dynamic, and we’re absolutely you know, navigating all of those worlds.

 

[SINGING]

A lee ya o’hee a hey heeya
Eh hoo e hey e hey hey

A lee ya o’hee a hey heeya
Eh hoo e hey e hey hey

Lelghele hodee

Eh hoo e hey e hey hey

Seyeegg-ah sodelts’eeyh 

Seyeegg-ah sodelts’eeyh

Lelghele (La hey la)  hodee

Lelghele (La hey la)  est’aanh 

Eh hoo e hee e hee hey

A lee ya o’hee a hey heeya
Eh hoo e hey e hey hey

 

When Molly of Denali was created, it could’ve gone in a lot of different ways. How did you decide what her character would be like and also, did you decide at all to touch on, I know it’s a children’s show but, touch on painful and sensitive issues?

 

So really that is – was a collective um, decision, what Molly was going to look like – what, with the Alaska native advisors on our entire production team and really that is the beautiful thing about the project, is when you have all of those different voices, even though sometimes it seems like a lot of different you know, voices at the table, you get a end result that just resonates so much more. So really, um, the more people involved, the better. I come from a community organizing background and when we collectively come to the table and we value everybody’s input and not one person’s voice is better than the other, then I think we get that, that like, better end result that feels authentic to everybody.

 

Were you liery when you were dealing with the PBS people, the WGBH producers?

 

I was a little trepidatious at the very beginning but what I learned was that the people at WGBH and PBS were very – they were good at listening and hearing what we had to bring to the table as Alaska native people and what we wanted to see –

 

And they valued it.

 

They valued it and they acted on it. So as soon as we came and said: “We want native people involved, we really want – you know, we really want people involved at every level of production,” then you know, WGBH and PBS said: “Okay, let’s – how are we going to make this happen?” And it was really a matter of them – the producing part of it and how do we do this, how does it look like on the ground? And so in that way, my trepidation kind of went away and we were able to build trust, but you know, you have to be able to build that trust when you’re working in a fast paced, dynamic production.

 

I’m just wondering how you were prepared to jump into Molly of Denali, what was your training, did you know this is what you’d be doing one day?

 

I didn’t know that I would be in animation but I’ve been very fortunate in the sense that I always knew some – inherently, that I was a storyteller and that I was drawn to the performing arts. So you know, I have a background in acting and theatre, and had done some independent films, I wrote, directed and produced a short film and had been exposed to – you know, Iʻve lived in Los Angeles and had been fortunate enough to be a fellow through the Sundance Film Institute, so I went through their writer/director/producers’ labs, so it’s something that I had been working towards, although somewhat circutously, because of course I left LA and came back home to work more in my own community –

 

And when you went to college, you majored in International Relations.

 

I did, yeah. At that point, it wasn’t until I got done with my undergrad that I really decided to go in the direction more of, of film and theatre, and storytelling. Um, so – and this is something you know, a really awesome, I think, life lesson is just to trust where you’re at and you do have to be ready when the opportunity comes. And I had given a lot of thought and steeped myself in that, in that education, I mean, I didn’t even know I was going to get my masters in education, but absolutely relevant to the work that I’m doing right now.

 

Absolutely! Curriculum-based. 

 

Yeah! I mean, I really wish I had a show like this growing up, it wouldʻve meant so much to me to see our children um, celebrating and feeling proud of who we are. My own sons who are four and nine, they’re kind of – one of them is more on the shy side and I bring them to, you know, traditional gatherings where there’s drumming and singing, they’ve always been kind of shy about it, but when we had our premiere for the show, they got up on stage with me and they were dancing so hard and they were so proud, and to see that, to know that I was not proud at their age, because at that time there wasn’t a cele – there wasn’t that big celebration – it just is um, it’s amazing, I just don’t even have words for how good that makes my spirit feel. We should all feel good about who we are and celebrate our rich heritage where, wherever that comes from.

 

The new national childrens’ series Molly of Denali airs every weekday on PBS Hawaiʻi at 10:00 a.m. and is also featured on our second on-air and online channel PBS Kids 24/7. Mahalo to Princess DaazhraiiJohnson of Farebanks, Alaska for visiting our studion in Honolulu and sharing her stories with us. And thank you for joining us. For PBS Hawaiʻi and Long Story Short, Im Leslie Wilcox, aloha nui.

 

Were there certain dreams that were considered revealing, insightful, a tipoff about something?

 

Yeah all the time. I think that um, I’ve had some really amazing um, teachers in the dream world and things revealed to me, and I used to be really diligent about writing my dreams down (and) as I’ve gotten more busy and have children of my own, that doesn’t happen so much anymore. But I think there’s something to be said, I mean, even daydreaming, finding that time, that quiet time to um, to meditate and to ask a question, and then be open for you know, what those signs are and messages, you know, we talked about the animals bringing those messages and I feel like if you are – keep that humility in your heart cause we don’t have the answers to everything, but we need to ask the questions.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes, a 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.

 

 

 

JOSEPH ROSENDO’S TRAVELSCOPE
Cruising Canada: Ottawa and the Rideau Canal

 

The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a popular tourist and recreational attraction and the oldest continuously operating canal system in North America. At every bend along the scenic engineering miracle the traveler is gifted with a world of surprises in its adjacent cities, towns and villages. Joseph begins his Rideau Canal journey in Ottawa where he explores the capital’s diverse neighborhoods, historic landmarks, farmer’s markets and hip restaurants. From the Ottawa Locks he climbs aboard his personal craft and pilots the luxury vessel along the canal’s watery trail on placid waters through thick forests to picturesque communities. He grinds flour in an ancient mill, samples “butter tarts” with the Gingerbread Man, blows glass “witch balls” and helps First Nations craftspeople build a birch bark canoe. From visiting a cannabis factory to dining on maple syrup soaked flapjacks and cranking open the 19th century locks by hand, Joseph’s Rideau Canal adventure pleases the senses and touches the heart.

 

 

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Patricia de Stacy Harrison

 

Asked who her mentors are, Patricia de Stacy Harrison starts by naming her beloved childhood home, Brooklyn. Growing up in the noisy, opinionated, caring New York City borough taught Harrison about the demands and challenges of the real world – and about developing the right skills, positive attitude and thick skin to deal with life’s complexities. The President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting shares her views on public media’s role in bringing us all together, even in a divisive social and political climate, and reveals how a hip-hop mogul introduced her to a wellness practice she uses every evening.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 4:00 pm and 11:30 pm.

 

Patricia De Stacy Harrison Podcast

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

From that moment on, that my little childhood world was not that safe, that it depended on a lot of different things, um, and to put it on a – I didn’t think this then, but for democracy to really survive and thrive, requires work.

 

Meet national public media executive Patricia de Stacy Harrison, next on Long Story Short.

 

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

 

Aloha māi kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. Patricia de Stacy Harrison is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, CPB, an organization you might recognize from the credits for many programs on PBS Hawaiʻi. The corporation is a private nonprofit that distributes about 450 million dollars in federal funding every year, as enabled by Congress to public television and radio stations across the US, including PBS Hawaiʻi. Harrison grew up in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Now known for hipsters and skyrocketing real estate, the Brooklyn of Harrison’s youth was a different story – a small, densely populated neighborhood where she says everyone knew everything about you. Harrison calls Brooklyn her mentor, and its lessons informed her outlook on life at a young age.

 

It was a great neighborhood, and um, just how people expressed themselves. So, you would – when I was older, I had a job in the city – that’s what we called New York, the city. You were going to the city. And we would be on the subway, and people just had opinions about everything. It, it was sort of like surround sound. I thought that was normal, and then in our family, the same thing extended, uh, where everyone had an opinion about your life and what you should do, and so I grew up around very strong, opinionated people who didn’t listen to the answer, you know. That’s why someone said, ‘Conversation in New York – it’s talking and waiting to talk.’ So –

 

Listening is really important.

 

No – I figured that out later, but uh, uh…

 

Are you entirely Italian?

 

I’m half Italian and half Scottish. So, I’d like to say one half says have a great time, and the other half says you can’t afford it, so…um, but mostly the Italian side took over very early. My mother, um, encouraged dreaming, My mother was great storyteller, and um, where my father always thought I had delusions of grandeur, my mother always encouraged that kind of thing. And I remember, um, when I graduated from Midwood High School, um, and it was a very protective time then. This was before internet and that kind of thing, and we were going into the city to see a movie, and we were going to this one restaurant, and I said to my parents, “I want to sit alone.” And my father said, “What’s the matter with you?” You know, “You’re not sitting alone. We’re together.” I said, “No, I want to know how it feels to sit alone in a restaurant and order what I want, and, uh, pretend that I’m on my way now.” My mother said, “Great idea.” And so, they sat at one table, and my father goes, “You, you indulge her too much. You know, she’s got you, you would say, buffaloed.” And uh, it was the best time I ever had, and you know what, years later when I traveled all over the world and I was by myself, I remembered that 16-year-old girl sitting by herself. And the thing is, always have a book or a Kindle with you when you’re alone. And um, my mother always said, “Yeah, it’s a great idea. Let’s try it. Yeah.” I was a very, um, curious kid, to the point where my parents just got tir– “Because we said so.” They just got tired of answering the questions that one question led to another, and um, so I was informed. I like to say that Brooklyn was my mentor, the most important impact on my life because everyone was so diverse. Um, I, I went to school with Jackie Robinson’s niece, um, Asians, um, African Americans, and then we’d go to my grandmother’s neighborhood, all Italians, and a high Jewish, um, population. My friends didn’t have any relatives, so at a very young age, I didn’t understand why they didn’t have grandparents, uh, or aunts or uncles or cousins, and I remember asking my parents, and they were explaining, “Well there was this terrible man, uh, Hitler, and um, he killed everybody.” I mean, that was the shorthand approach, and I thought, “Well, why didn’t anybody do anything?”

 

What did they tell you about why they didn’t have any family?

 

They didn’t want to talk about it because some of them, uh, had been living in Brooklyn for a long time, but they lost – well, that’s a euphemism. Their relatives had been murdered, and they were my friends, we were all young kids, so they didn’t know what happened, and I couldn’t figure out why nobody would talk to me about this. My parents didn’t really know what to say, and they just didn’t want this to come up, but it had such a profound impact on me that, uh, that quote that ‘evil happens when good people do nothing.’ So, I was kind of wary from that moment on that my little childhood world was not that safe, that it depended on a lot of different things, um, and to put it on a – I didn’t think this then – but for democracy to really survive and thrive, requires work. We can’t just go lie down on the Barcalounger and think it’s gonna be here in the morning. And uh, so constant vigilance I think is required sometimes.

 

So uh, Brooklyn, there was a time, as much as you loved it, as much as it raised you, you, you wanted to go?

 

I wanted to go away to college, and you have to understand at that time, Brooklyn was a very small place, even though there were millions of people there, and the neighborhood was very small. So, the person who was on the corner with the candy store could tell your parents, you know, when you came home. Everybody knew everything about you, and I couldn’t wait to get out. And so, we always had these big family Sunday Italian dinners, and my mother announced that, uh, Patricia wants to go away to college, and that’s when it started. “Why? Why do you want to go away? This place isn’t good enough for you? Where do you want to go?” “Well, um, school in Washington, D.C.” “Washington, D.C.? Where is that?”  You know, I mean, “Why would you want to go there? What do they do there? They take our money away, they spend it. Why would you – you have good schools here. Why, you’re too good to go to NYU or Brooklyn Coll-”

 

These are tough questions for a young woman to be dealing with, or a young man.

 

Yeah, yeah. And I just stared into space, and waited ‘til it was gonna be over, the beating would be over.

 

Because you knew it would pass?

 

I knew I was going, you know.

 

Why did you decide Washington, D.C.? You lived near New York City…

 

Um, because it was close enough to fly, but at the time it was like, 25 bucks to fly. Uh, the train…and that’s as far as they would kind of, you know, willing for me to go.

 

But you wanted to be some place…

 

I had to leave.

 

…with – but it wasn’t just any place. You could’ve gone to, uh, you know, like, Rolling Hills College…

 

Oh no, uh, no, I didn’t want to do that. I had to – at the time, uh D.C., my parents drove me down, and I remember we went to the Safeway, and the person loaded up some groceries, and my father always had these bills with a rubber band, and he was peeling them off, and I said, “Daddy, they don’t tip. You don’t tip here.” He said, “What the hell kind of place is this? They don’t tip? This is where my daughter wants to go to college?” And, he was just talking to the air, you know, “Washington.” And so, um, it was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I love New York and I love Brooklyn, but there’s a time when you just have to, you know, see other places.

 

While studying at American University in Washington, D.C., Patricia de Stacy Harrison met her future husband, E. Bruce Harrison. Together they would establish a public relations agency that became one of the top 10 owner-managed PR firms in the U.S.

 

I was gonna be a writer, and um, my kids were little, so I was home with them and I was writing the – the Evening Star, which is no longer around, and um, the Washington Post, and I was a freelance, which meant I wasn’t really working for anybody. And uh, the only way I could write is I would lock myself in the bathroom because it was the only room that had a lock, and my kids would pound on the door and you know, want something. I wasn’t in there for like, days, just so I could get three thoughts together, and um, all of the writing – no matter what I’ve done, my – if I had to quickly describe myself, I would say I’m basically a writer. And so, when we founded our company, it was an opportunity to really write and prepare things and think things through in terms of, uh, issues and challenges, and um, we had that firm for 20 years, and then we sold it, but I learned a lot. You got to know people and issues, and then you, you – one of the things I think, which may be lost today, is I really think people should read publications that have opinions different from the ones you already have, just so you understand, or you can build your own intellectual capacity about saying, ‘Well, I agree with some of it. Uh, some of it I don’t agree with.’ But why? Because if you’re always taking in something that validates what you think from the beginning, how are you going to develop? How are you going to get that brain working, you know? You’re just gonna be stuck in some sort of status quo thinking?

 

And that’s actually the premise of public media, the, bringing together diverse perspectives in one place.

 

It’s wonderful; it’s just wonderful. And David Isay has, with StoryCorps, which is on NPR – he has this new initiative called, uh, One Small Step, and he brings people together in a safe place, you’re not allowed to hit each other – we have to say that now. Um, and they have different perspectives on different issues, and they talk about, ‘Well, this is why I believe in this.’ And the other person talks about that, and it’s not one big kumbaya moment where they leave and they’re holding hands like a Hallmark card, but there’s an exchange. ‘This is why I feel this way.’ ‘Oh, well this is why I feel this way.’

 

It’s, it’s, it’s – you don’t demonize people as easily as when, when you sit down and you maybe break bread and trade, trade viewpoints.

 

Yeah, Lidia Bastianich – who’s very famous on PBS – Lidia’s Kitchen and cooking, and she talks about food diplomacy, where you bring people in and you have this, you know, lovely food and you talk. And I said, “Well Lidia, in my family, Italian family, you bring people in and they yell at each other, but it’s not really yelling. No one ever changes their mind about their opinion. But somehow it all works, you know.”

 

You had to be strong to deal with other people’s strong opinion of you. I mean, your family was always telling you what to do, right?

 

Yeah, but I, I think that it prepared me for the world. The world was a lot easier in uh – when I talked to the New York Times, they picked their own headline for the article, ‘After Brooklyn, it’s all a piece of cake,’ because um, no one cuts you any slack in Brooklyn. It didn’t matter if you were five years old. You know, if you were playing a game with your grandfather, he didn’t let you win. Um, that was the mentality they – the parents at that time wanted their kids to be strong, to be able to survive. Um, a lot of them were working class, and they had no faith in um, you know, things are going to work out. They wanted everyone to be a teacher so you’d have something to fall back on, and I thought, “Well that’s great to be a teacher, but I don’t want to do it to have something to fall back on. I want to be passionate about doing the thing I want to do, and not as sort of a security blanket for the future.” So, they were very security-focused, um…

 

And, and I, I hear iron sharpening iron, the idea that you give, you know, you call people on what you think they should improve on.

 

Yeah, I think so. Um, I think that you help your children – I have three children, and I really want them very much, uh, and they have, um, be able to negotiate the world but be a good person at the same time. And um, I mean that’s, that’s really what a parent’s supposed to do.

 

After 20 years in public relations and getting to know people in the corridors of power, Patricia de Stacy Harrison served as an Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell during the George W. Bush presidency. In a post-September 11th world, she traveled to Iraq for cross-cultural exchanges. Before that, she served as Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee. Harrison didn’t think she had a chance at becoming Co-Chair, but her growing concerns for the Republican Party fueled her.

 

I just felt at the time that I didn’t really have any chance of winning, but I felt that the Republican Party, in my opinion, needed to listen to women and minorities, and I felt I wanted to talk to this group, and one thing led to another, and then I’m running for Co-Chair, and I remember at the time Hotline came out, and they had the other two people who were running against me, and they said, “There’s somebody else, but she has no votes.” I thought, “That’s me! I made the paper!” I thought, “Wait, I made the paper, but it’s bad news.” And then I did win and created um, the new majority council to um, really indicate that it was going to be a minority majority populations, and if the Party was going to thrive, they had to listen to new people coming in with um, their issues, and um, it was a wonderful, wonderful four years.

 

Then you became a diplomat. Was that part of the plan?

 

Well that’s – that is so bizarre. No, I don’t think anybody, um, would, uh, anticipate that would happen, but um, I was so, so very fortunate, again, really, really lucky, and uh, to become Assistant Secretary of State and work with this –

 

Oh I mean, but you – it had to be more than luck. What, what did it?

 

I really don’t know, um. I did not, um – my parents lived uh, I live in Arlington, and um, my parents were getting older and I did not want, uh, to leave the country for any kind of, uh, post, assuming I could have that as a choice. This was an opportunity, um, educational-cultural affairs, and uh, you would have an opportunity to actually see how your worked played out, what kind of impact, and then to work with Colin Powell, and um, so I don’t know. That happened. And I traveled, I went to Iraq – I went everywhere. I learned so much.

 

So, you were putting together partnerships?

 

Well, exchanges are the core where we, uh, bring people to this country, all ages and all levels. And then you have the database that shows so many people who came on these, uh, high-level professional exchanges go back. They wind up government or senior-level jobs. The whole idea, really, is to create mutual understanding between people in the United States and other countries. And then I created something called Culture Connect, where I identified and worked with a lot of people who were in the entertainment industry or they had written books, and we had Frank McCourt, who had written Angela’s Ashes. And we sent him to Israel. He, he worked with Israel – Israeli and Palestinian kids, and he started out talking to them. He said, “You think you have a lousy childhood.” And then we gave cards out with um, um, an internet address, so these kids could get in touch. So, you had virtual mentors, and they could talk to them about what do I do, how do I get into what you’re doing. We wrote – brought Yo-Yo Ma over with the Iraqi National Orchestra to perform here. And um, so many incredible things, the people that I met and listened to around the world, and I came away with the feeling that everybody is just connected. It’s like Henry Gates, “Skip” Gates, uh, “Finding Your Roots”, and you find out your roots are connected to somebody else’s roots. So be careful who you hate. They may be you know, your, your long lost great-great-great grandfather.

 

As the head of the private nonprofit corporation for public broadcasting, Patricia de Stacy Harrison holds the purse strings to federal dollars earmarked for public media. The money goes to more than thirteen hundred public TV and radio stations across the country. Here at PBS Hawaiʻi, the funding amounts to fifteen, one five, percent of our revenues. Like many other stations, we raise far more private dollars than we receive in government funds.

 

It’s a public-private partnership, and I think from the beginning, public media had to prove itself. We have to prove how we are fulfilling that mission every year, and report to Congress how these, these monies are spent, and report to the American people, and I think that’s fair.

 

And you do get hit in Congress with some, uh, broadsides of, you know, “Why’d you do this? Why’d you do that?”

 

We do. Um, I’d like to say sometimes uh, what offends, uh, someone on one side of the political aisle is the same thing that offends somebody else, and they both come at it from their own perspective. And we will get, um, responses and emails sometimes about a particular show, and someone will say, “Well that – that’s very left-wing.” And somebody else will say, “That was very right-wing.” So overall, we are the most trusted um, in terms of media and journalism and our content because, I believe, the American people own public media, and we’re responsible to them, and we relate to them and we connect to them. So, the idea that we’re just going to serve part of the public, um, we wouldn’t be around. We wouldn’t be relevant in the way we are today in their lives.

 

And this idea that, um, public media is slanted, I mean – the, the, the appropriations are voted on by the entire Capitol Hill crowd, right?

 

Absolutely.

 

And then how does – what, what is the support, uh, on, on, when you look at it on, on a partisan basis?

 

Well we have – we’re very fortunate. We have the, uh, Public Broadcasting, um, Caucus, and it’s headed by a Republican and Democrat. And you don’t have to like everything we do, but if you go around that table to this very nonpartisan group, or very bipartisan group, who serve their communities in appropriate ways, they will let you know why they specifically value public media. And it can be very, very different. Um, one person, one member of Congress said to me, “Frontline – to me, that’s the gold standard. I can turn to Frontline and I know they are dealing with the facts. They haven’t inserted their opinion. How do I know this? Well, they put their source, uh, availability on, um, online. You can check everything that they have referenced.” And he talked about after September 11th how he turned to Frontline because they had done this series on Bin Laden, and he said there was no emotionalism. There was no pushing for one idea or another. It was pure journalism, it was informative, and it gave me a sense of what was happening at a time when, really, everyone was terrified and confused.

 

And at a time when the – when Congress, sometimes Democrats dominate, sometimes Republicans – does public media spending pass regardless of who’s in charge or who’s in the majority?

 

Well I don’t take anything for granted. So – they cannot lobby. We have an association, American Public Television apps – they do lobbying. But I take the opportunity to meet with members and let them know what we’re doing specifically in their district. They’re Republicans, they’re Democrats, and um, I would like to say, because I believe it’s true, there’s consensus that we bring value to American life, and that’s – that’s the theme that runs through these conversations. They may differ on what kind of value, maybe it’s early childhood education or it’s journalism, but um, they have their favorite shows. And I remember someone said, “Don’t ever get rid of Antiques Road Show.”

 

Everybody has their favorites.

 

Everyone has their –

 

And actually, that has been, you know –

 

Everyone has their favorite, and um, so I think we’re at a point today where we have wonderful bipartisan support, and we’re really grateful for people on both sides of the aisle for that support.

 

Common ground and collaboration are important to Patricia de Stacy Harrison. Recalling a meeting she had with hip hop mogul for a public media project, she says being open and listening have changed her life.

 

And I said, “But um, you know, I’m too busy to do that.” And he jumped up from the seat. He said, “I’m a billionaire, and you’re too busy? You’re too busy? You’re not too busy. Get on the phone, call this person, Bob Roth, who has since become a great friend.” He said, “I got somebody here, Pat Harrison. She’s too busy to meditate.” And uh, he said, “Look, I’m sending you over there.” Suddenly my whole life is going over here. And um, I thought, “Well I can’t not follow through. What a gracious offer.” So, I went to meet Bob, and Bob has been working with the David Lynch foundation, and Lynch talks about meditation as you are in the water and you go down different levels to this area of calm. Up here are all the waves and the turmoil, and, ok. And he said, “Okay, Pat, Russell has called me so, uh, this is a gift that he’s giving to you, and um, you have to stay in New York – I think it was four days. And every day, we’ll take you through the training.” I said, “I can’t stay for four days. Here’s what I can do: let’s do the four days in like, the first day.” And he said, “Well you’re missing the whole point. It’s transcendental meditation.” I said, “Well, okay, maybe a day and a half.” He said, “Alright, well, boy, this is a hard case. Alright, we’ll try to fit in the four into a day and a half.” And um, I found that it was so helpful. At the time my mother was so ill, and eventually she died, and that’s what I turned to, um, so that I could continue to work, and um, at the same time have the necessary emotion. But to just find that place of, um, peace. And so, I don’t meditate twice every day, which you’re supposed to do, but I do it every night, uh, no matter what time.

 

For how long?

 

20 minutes.

 

And it works?

 

I don’t know what it means, ‘it works.’ It just makes me feel better. It’s not a religious experience. It slows your breathing in a way; it’s, it does something to your brain. And, um, it enables you to, well, for me, I just sleep eight straight. And uh, if I don’t get my eight, uh, it helps me do that.

 

So that’s another example of you, your being open to a discussion and then you follow some dots, and then –

 

Suddenly I’m with this person. I mean it’s…my life is just, uh, like the Wizard of Oz, except the wizard’s real. It’s available to everyone if you seek him out.

 

Patricia de Stacy Harrison says the three biggest influences in her life are Brooklyn, her former boss, Colin Powell, and her mother, Marguerite, whose curiosity, zest for life, and care for others continue to inspire her. About her time as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Harrison says she loved meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Mahalo to Patricia de Stacy Harrison, visiting Hawaiʻi from Arlington, Virginia, for sharing her story with us. And mahalo to you for joining us. For PBS Hawaiʻi and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha nui.

 

People look at their life sometimes as a resume. ‘I, I did this, or I failed at that.’ But everything goes into that sort of vessel that is you, and sometimes the things that you think, um, that didn’t work out so well – you learn something from it. Nothing is ever wasted. I remember, um, when I was at the State Department, and um, working, the honor of working for Secretary Powell, and I don’t remember the exact issue, but evidently, I had not, um, provided, let’s say, all the information about an event, and what I learned is you prepare, you prepare, you overprepare. And uh, I learned so much working for him and his team, and uh, how you could achieve things and still retain who you are, your values.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Kimono Revolution

Kimono Revolution

 

In KIMONO REVOLUTION, Yoshimasa Takakura, a kimono shop owner from Fukuoka Prefecture, launches an unprecedented project: to produce elaborate kimonos representing each of the 206 nations recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Takakura’s goal is to see all the country placard bearers at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics dressed in their special kimono at the opening ceremony. Across Japan, kimono sales are down, interest in the cultural tradition has waned, and the weavers, artists and textile experts who guard this traditional craft have dwindled. Takakura is fighting to save the declining kimono industry by calling on artisans across Japan – both established and emerging talents – to come together to create innovative designs. KIMONO REVOLUTION illuminates the painstaking work, technical skill and artistic vision that goes into each kimono, and follows Takakura’s quest to bring new life to an old tradition.

 

 

 

NOVA
Inside Animal Minds: Who’s the Smartest?

 

What would it be like to go inside the mind of an animal? We have all gazed into a creature’s eyes and wondered: what is it thinking about? What does it really know? Now, the revolutionary science of animal cognition is revealing hard evidence about how animals understand the world around them, uncovering their remarkable problem-solving abilities and exploring the complexity of their powers of communication and even their emotions. In this mini-series, NOVA explores these breakthroughs through three iconic creatures: dogs, birds and dolphins. We’ll travel into the spectacularly nuanced noses of dogs and wolves, and ask whether their reliance on different senses has shaped their evolution. We’ll see through the eyes of a starling in flight and test the tool-using skills of the smartest of birds, the crow. We’ll listen in as scientists track dolphins in the Caribbean and elephants on the African savannah, trying to unlock the secrets of animal communication. As we discover how researchers are pushing the animal mind to its limits, we’ll uncover surprising similarities to — and differences from — the human mind. What makes an animal smart? Many scientists believe the secret lies in relationships. Throughout the animal kingdom, some of the cleverest creatures – including humans – seem to be those who live in complex social groups, like dolphins, elephants and apes. Could the skills required to keep track of friend and foe make animals smarter? To find out, NOVA goes inside the social lives of some of the smartest animals on the planet.

 

 

 

HIKI NŌ
HIKI NŌ Class of 2019, Part Three

 

This is the third of four specials in which outstanding HIKI NŌ graduates from the Class of 2019 (and one student from the Class of 2020) gathered at PBS Hawaiʻi to discuss their HIKI NŌ experiences and how they feel the skills they learned from HIKI NŌ will help them in college, the workplace and life.

 

This episode features Carl Antiado, who graduated from H.P. Baldwin High School on Maui and is now a Computer Science and Engineering major at the University of Nevada Reno; Kobie Uyeda, who graduated from Waiākea High School in Hilo and is now a Kinesiology Pre-Med major at Oregon State University; and Brandon Marcos, who graduated from Kauaʻi High School on Kauaʻi and is now majoring in Computer Science at UH Mānoa

 

Each graduate also shows a HIKI NŌ story that they worked on and discusses what they learned from the experience of working on that particular story. Carl shows his story about a band teacher he had who inspired Carl and turned him onto a new perspective on life. Kobie shares her story “Stay Humble, Pray,” about an ex-convict/drug addict who speaks to students about how to avoid bad life choices. Brandon presents his story “Kapaʻa Gridlock,” an investigation into why traffic is so heavy on Kauaʻi.

 

 

 

ART IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
Los Angeles

 

This four-part series provides unparalleled access to some of the most innovative artists of our time, revealing how they engage with the culture around them and how art allows viewers to see the world in new ways. The featured artists are grouped by their unique and revealing relationships to the places where they live.

 

Los Angeles
Featured are: Diana Thater’s immersive video installations; Liz Larner’s experimental abstract sculptures; Tala Madani, who skewers stereotypes in satirical paintings; and Edgar Arceneaux, who examines history through drawing and performance.

 

 

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Pam Arciero

 

Hidden beneath the antics of Sesame Street characters, you’ll find a principal puppeteer who hails from ʻĀina Haina in East Honolulu. Pam Arciero has been with the children’s series for nearly 40 years, primarily as Oscar the Grouch’s girlfriend, Grundgetta. Arciero got her start in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. There, she joined a summer program in puppetry – one that would change the course of her life.

 

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

 

Pam Arciero Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

How would you describe how you were in class?

 

I was kinda the loudmouth.  I mean, I spent a lot of time being told to be quiet.

 

Surprise!

 

And you built on that for your career.

 

I built on that. Yeah; that really made it … you know, it’s—it’s who you are. And really, every puppet is a part of you. You have to find that part of yourself that connects directly to the character in order to make it believable and real.

 

Meet this Honolulu native from ‘Āina Haina who is now a principal puppeteer on Sesame Street… 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 kākou, I’m Leslie Wilcox. The characters of Sesame Street have become iconic staples of children’s programming – but have you ever thought about the people beneath the puppets? One of them, a principal puppeteer of the longtime children’s series, was born and raised in East Honolulu, and she’s my fellow Kalani High School grad – Pam Arciero. For more than three decades, she’s played Oscar the Grouch’s better half — or shall we say, grouchier half? – Grundgetta.

 

What are some of the great moments between Oscar the Grouch and girlfriend—your character—

 

Grundgettta.

 

–Grundgetta?

 

Um, well, we were gonna get married.  That was very exciting.  And then, we thought that uh, getting married would make us happy.  And being grouches, we don’t want to be happy. And so, we decided to call off the wedding at the last minute.  And then—but little did we know that actually, most people are not happily married, and so, we would have been perfectly happy. Who’s not a grouch; right?  There are times when you just a really grouchy.  And she—uh, she—also, she says exactly what she’s thinking at any given time.  You know, so that’s kind of a … in a world where you really do need to be circumspect a lot, you know, not … to offend anybody.  She just says what she’s feeling.  You know.  [GRUNDGETTA VOICE] That’s a hideous outfit.  You know, she’ll just go there.  So …

 

I know you took over that role from someone else.

 

Yeah; Brian Muehl had done it for one year, and I’ve done her now for thirty-four years.  So …

 

Did he give you any advice?  I mean, on how to play this woman grouch?

 

No.

 

He said: You’re—you’re the perfect person for this; you—I’ve seen you be a grouch.  And he handed it to me.

 

Oh, that’s it.

 

Basically.

 

Thank you for mentoring.

 

And I worked with him, yeah, on—on different shows, so he knew, he knew me a little bit.  So, he says: Yeah, it’s totally—y—you do it your way, ‘cause you know her better.

 

And you do other puppets as well.

 

Yeah.

 

Background, and who else?

 

Right.  That’s part of the—there are two skillsets you have to have.  Besides just doing a main puppet and a character, you do have to be able to um, do backgrounds.  And backgrounds are just like every dog, frog, cat, fish, bat; you name it, you get to so that stuff.  And then, there is assisting.  And assisting is actually a pretty major thing, and I actually love assisting.  Because you watch the other performer figure out how to do all these things.  And that is because some of the characters have um, two hands, like Ernie and um, Telly Monster has two hands.  And I consistently have been Telly Monster’s right hand for about 30 years.

 

Is that the important hand?

 

No, not really.  But it’s a balance.  Because your hand is in the head of the puppet, and then, your other hand is here—the left hand, usually.  And then, the right hand comes in, and you have to match and do everything in synchron- synchron- synchronicity with the other character, the other hand.  And it has to look natural.  It can’t look like this hand is doing this.

 

Right.

 

You know, you can’t be talking with this hand so… And movement is so important in puppetry.  In order to get a believable character, you have to break down the movement and take everything you do with the whole body, and do it between your elbow and your fingertips to make it … you believe that this is alive.  And you know, Bert—Bert moves differently than Ernie; right?  Bert’s very stiff when he walks, and Ernie’s kinda lumbering, and cute, and funny.  Um, and so, having a movement background is very great for puppetry, because you are breaking down the movement all the time in your head, and putting it, again, between your wrist and your elbow, and making people believe that Ernie is walking this way, and Bert is walking this way, very stiffly.  So, that analysis, the ability to analyze movement, and then put it into the character, is huge for me.

 

To be a puppeteer at your level, you also have to have lots of physical agility and strength.

 

Yeah; yeah.  We—we keep up.  I mean, when you work—when I first started working, and I first started working with Jim Henson, we did a hundred and ten shows in six months.  So, you were working every single day.  And I remember the first week I started, I was working in New York, and it was cold, and I was gonna get a cab home, and I’d been working all day.  And now, we work eight, ten hours a day with our arm like this, right?  We were walking, try and get a cab, and going… Somebody else, could you hail the cab?  I can’t lift this arm.

 

Oh …

 

I couldn’t do it, ‘cause it literally was that- that challenging.

 

And then, the focus to have everything between your hand and your elbow …

 

Yeah; that’s—it’s directing all your—all your energy—

 

Effort there.

 

Yes, right.  And it has to be alive, and all your acting goes into that little piece.  You know, so it’s—you learn it, and it takes a long time.  Really.  Uh, I—nobody walks in off the street and becomes um, um, a television puppeteer.  You just can’t.  Between the fact that we have three cameras, and—

 

Taking close-ups. 

 

Close-ups, and wide shots, and far shots, and you have to ride those three cameras looking at the monitor.  And the focus of the pup—the reason we do that is, the eyes don’t really see.  So, I’m looking at you right now, but a puppet might not be in the shot, because the eyes are stationary.  So, you have to learn to do that with each camera.  And every camera cut, you have to adjust the focus just enough to be alive, and looking down the barrel of the camera.

 

Right; all those intricacies.

 

So, that just takes time.  It just takes exposure um, to—to the process to being … all the details of what we do, it’s very, very—

 

Well, it also doesn’t look physically comfortable when we see you— I mean, and you’re right up against other puppeteers.

 

Right.  If you’re comfortable, you’re doing it wrong, is the rule of thumb [CHUCKLE] that we have among the puppeteers.

 

And yet, you love the work.

 

Oh, I love the work.  Uh, there’s nothing I’d rather do.

 

When you work with your gang on Sesame Street, everybody knows you’re from Hawai‘i, even though you haven’t lived here for many years.

 

Yeah; yeah.

 

But you certainly visit.

 

Yeah; uh-huh.

 

But how do they know?

 

Well, I often have a flower in my hair, and I—I often dress in Hawaiian clothes.  In the middle of winter, you’ll see me in a Hawaiian print shirt with, you know, sweater underneath, and tights, and … And I kinda talk about it a lot.  And sometimes, I’ll slip into a Hawaiian accent—you know, I’ll do a Pidgin accent when they’re giving me a hard time. Eh, what; I owe you money?

 

And you also created a character who speaks Pidgin.

 

Yes, I did.  Um, we had an outreach kind of Baby Muppets series.  And um, so it was Baby Big Bird, and Baby Cookie Monster, and Baby Abby Cadabby—different ones.  So, I played Auntie Nani, Big Bird’s auntie who took care of him as a baby bird.

That was very exciting, and I was able to push that Hawaiian influence in.  ‘Cause then they said: Well, maybe we’ll go Jamaican.  And I go: Well, you gotta get a Jamaican person, because I can’t do that one, for sure.  But they liked the idea that he was from Hawai‘i.

 

Nobody around you could really relate to the dialect, right?

 

Not too much.  But they could understand it.  That’s the advantage to Pidgin; it’s quite understandable.

 

M-hm.

 

Jamaican Patois—‘cause I worked in Jamaica a fair amount, is almost—if they speak quickly, you will just not—you can’t believe it’s even English, ‘cause it is so fast.  And so, they also do much more in-words; you know, words that only they understand.  But Pidgin is pretty understandable, by most—

 

And that was the whole point, right, in the plantation days, so that everybody could understand each other.

 

Each other; right.  So, that was the basis for it.

 

 

It was here in Hawai‘i where Pam Arciero, a creative since childhood, got her first taste of puppetry, at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa… and caught the attention of a visiting lecturer, a renowned puppet and costume designer.

 

 

I was getting a drama and dance degree at University of Hawai‘i. The gals I was hanging out with at the University had a puppet troupe called Mo‘olelo Ki‘i ‘Ilima.  And it was kinda- more or less sponsored by the University of Hawai‘i drama department.  That was Tammy Hunt was there at time, and she was wonderful uh, Theater for Youth teacher, and taught puppetry as well.  And so, she encouraged us to do shows…

…and we would do—go out into the community and do these little Hawaiian story puppet shows for umm, pretty much every elementary. I mean, I played every elementary school in the State of Hawai‘i.  I’d been in every auditorium at that time. That just sort of led me to saying: Hm, this is interesting, this is good; I can make a little money.  ‘Cause we made a little money doing it.  And then, they said: Well, this man’s coming to teach this summer; maybe you want to be in it.  And I said: What?  And they said: His name’s Kermit Love, he works with the Muppets, and he’s coming to teach this summer course, so you should take it with us. So, I said: Okay, sounds great.  And um, so I did, and he was wonderful. Kermit umm, was the man who built Big Bird, and designed Snuffleupagus, and he was a famous costume designer.  At the time, he was already long white hair, long white beard; it looked like you were taking a class with Santa Claus. But he’d already worked with Agnes de Mille, and Mr. Balanchine at the ballet, he’s built costumes and puppets for them.  So, he was just world renowned, and you were just like: Oh!

 

So, he was named Kermit before any other Kermit.

 

Yes. The story is—Jim Henson and Kermit Love lived in the same apartment building, and the doorman said: You know, Jim, there’s someone who’s named Kermit in this building; I think you should meet him.  And so, they met, and they realized that they had so many similar interests, and then Jim hired Kermit into the—

 

But there was already Kermit the Frog at that point.

 

Kermit the Frog existed, and Kermit Love was way older than that. So, that’s how they connected.

 

Oh …

 

And- and just- he was a wonderful influence; wonderful mentor.

 

And didn’t he want you to get into puppetry right away?

 

Who?

 

Kermit Love.

 

Yes, he did. Probably ‘cause I was really, like, gaga about puppets. Well ‘cause once I found it, when you find what you love, you just can’t stop, you know, obsessing about it.  Just like being in love with someone, you’re in love with what you’re doing, so you just keep every- every detail.  And then, I think because I was so willing to just learn, and learn, and learn, and practice, and practice, and practice, hours, and hours, and hours standing in front of a monitor and camera to get that right.  And I still do.  I will still rehearse when I’m not working.  If I haven’t been on camera for a month, I’ll pull out my video camera or—you know, now it’s so easy ‘cause you can flip up your computer and just work in, and make sure that everything’s working properly in your body.  Because the other thing, it’s reversed; right?  The monitor is backwards.

 

Oh, that’s right.

 

So, when you have your hand up and you move this way, it goes that way on the picture.  And so, if you don’t have your—there’s a point where you brain just clicks it over, and it makes perfect sense.

 

 

Physical agility, creative interpretation, and hours of practice – these qualities were instilled in Pam Arciero long before her time at the University of Hawai‘i. Since she was a little girl, Arciero loved everything about the arts.

 

 

I always loved um … dance and ballet, and play-acting was kind of what I did a lot of.  And I loved playing with dolls and small figures, actually, as a kid.

 

And did you talk—did they talk to each other?

 

Oh, yeah.  I—

 

Did you make the voices?

 

Yeah, not so much.  But actually, I did; when I watched TV, I always imitated voices as well.  That was really fun to me, to try and copy voices.  So, of course, my parents thought that was an extremely odd thing, but they—you know: Go ahead.  Um, and so … as a kid, I never thought I would be anything—I thought I would be maybe a ballet dancer, uh, maybe an actress. I like to sing, I like to make stuff, art stuff, so I kinda just liked doing all of the arts.  That was very interesting to me.  Not so good on the math side, but—

 

What about singing?

 

Singing; I always sang.  Yeah; I always sang a little bit.  And you know, once I was in high school, I was in chorus, and all the different things.  Um, and we did uh, acting, a little bit of the plays at Kalani. But everyone said: That’s not a real job; what are you gonna do, what are you gonna do?  And I just went: Well, I don’t know, I don’t know; maybe I’ll be a ballet teacher, maybe I’ll be a schoolteacher,  maybe I’ll be …

 

I know your father was in the Army as an officer, and then he was a Matson executive.

 

Right.

 

Did he have any thoughts about what you should do?

 

His encouragement really would have just been—he was very much about being who you are.  Which was kind of unusual in those days; right? He was a very romantic and—uh, soul.  And I think—I think the war was very hard on him, which is why he would—you know, he’d often … he’d recite poetry and go off on these kind of tangents with me. But like many World War II people, they never spoke about what really happened.

 

Right, there are not a lot of details.

 

There’s no details about what it was, but you could just tell.  He’d just go: You know, life is really short, you just can’t.

 

That was that generation. They didn’t talk about it.

 

It was that generation; they did not tell you what happened to them.  They did not.  So, they would react.  And you know, like many men of his generation, they always—they would … tie one on pretty frequently.  You know, they’d get drunk, and they’d start rambling these different stories.  But not much detail of what those stories were.  But he would also do funny voices.  And part of—I think my ability to get funny voices was to make him laugh, while I made funny voices too.

 

Oh …

 

You know, and he loved humor and poetry, and dancing, and music.  So, it was a- umm, a very—he was a very interesting man.

 

And what about your mom?

 

My mom is also—was also in arts and crafts.  She loved Hawaiiana, she was always in a Hawaiian civic club or in a—um, what were they called, the U.E., United—they had ladies clubs in those days, and she was always starting one in the neighborhood so that they could learn how to make Hawaiian quilts, or they could make recipes and stuff.  So, she was very uh, involved mom, and active um—

 

And so, both artsy parents.

 

Somewhat; yeah.

 

Arts-oriented parents.

 

Yeah, yeah. I guess that’s true, in comparison to some others.  Yeah.

 

You know, our parents did lots of backyard hula, luau kinda things, you know.  Um … and … she was a very fun person.  I just loved being with her.  And she didn’t really sing, but she would try.  And like I said, she would sing with the Hawaiian Civic Club and do different things, and so, the inspiration was always, with her, the community that was happening.  And her neighborhood community, all her—all my aunties in the neighborhood, they would have coffee every day together, and it was that kind of, you know, old school style.

 

Was she a stay-at-home mom?

 

She was a stay-at-home mom until I was about thirteen.  And then, um … during the war, she um … her college education was interrupted by the war.  So—and we all know what the war in Hawai‘i ‘The War’.  Um—

 

World War II. 

 

World War II; the only war.  Um, and she always tells the famous story, I know many people have talked about this, being in boats and picking up on Pearl Harbor Day coming, picking up stuff.  Um, and in fact, my grandfather, who was half Japanese, um, was driving by Pearl Harbor.  He was a single guy, and uh, he had been at a girlfriend’s house and was coming home.

 

It was about seven in the morning when—

 

Yeah.

 

–the bombs came.

 

Right.  Um, and apparently, they spotted him and picked him up, and they arrested him.

 

Oh, for being AWOL?

 

No; for being a Japanese spy, they thought.  And so, my father had to go and bail him out two days later once everything settled.  They—they pulled him out of jail, took him home, and say: No, he’s just—he’s a dentist.  You know.  He’s a local Japanese dentist.  And he wasn’t even all, he was half Japanese.  So, um … but she’d always tell story about that—stories about that, and that, and you know, after Pearl Harbor, hel—helping to uh, recover bodies and parts, and stuff, you know, and boats.

 

And she did that?

 

She did that.  She worked for U.S.E.D.  We always sang that song when I was a kid.

 

U.S.E.D.?

 

Yes, you know.  Fifty cents an hour, four bucks a day.  Um …

 

Mm.

 

So, she had those stories.  And then, you know, my father was … I guess everybody at that time was pretty much involved with the war in some form or another.

 

And what about culturally; what would you say your culture was, growing up?

 

My father, being Italian from the East Coast, brought certain sets of ideas.  Some of it was sort of the macho Italian stuff.  And then, my mom; she’s, you know, Hawaiian, Japanese, English, kinda local stuff.  So, our culture really was a mix of that.  And uh, I would lean towards Japanese culture, was sort of where our comfortable wheelhouse was, and then a lot of Italian spaghetti stuff.  So, I always like to say: I don’t know whether to have sushi, or spaghetti. You know, is kind of where I came from.

 

And you had a big family, too.

 

Yeah; there was five of us.  Is still five kids.  Um, and that was … you know, they were spaced out rather well; we’re about five years apart, for the most part.  So—

 

So, you get along.

 

Yeah.  You have an—always an older—older sibling doing something.  And it was bad.  When I went to Niu Valley, every single class I went to, my three older siblings had had that teacher.  So, they had expectations of what you were gonna be like, and it was like, I was never that—you know, whatever they—

 

You were different from the other kids?

 

Absolutely.  Every one of us were different from each other, you know.  So …

 

How would you describe how you were in class?

 

Umm, I was kinda the loudmouth.  I mean, I spent a lot of time being told to be quiet. Surprise!

 

And you built on that for your career.

 

I built on that. Yeah; that really made it … you know, it’s—it’s who you are.  Um … and I think that’s really one of the things always in my life, I’ve tried to strive for; just to be who you are.  ‘Cause you can’t be anybody else, really.

 

But how ironic too, because you’re always becoming other people, or other puppets—

 

That’s where I become other people.  That’s where you get to look at other people, and make fun of other people. By choosing their character traits, and rolling them into a puppet.  You know.  Um … an—and getting to explore—and really, every puppet is a part of you.  I mean, there’s that—you have to connect to it on some level, just like any acting role.

 

M-hm.

 

You have to find that part of yourself that connects directly to the character in order to make it believable and real.

 

These days, when she isn’t bringing characters to life on Sesame Street and other programs, Pam Arciero travels around the world to perform live or train aspiring puppeteers. She’s proud to serve as Artistic Director of the annual National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center.

 

 

I had no idea that being in your field, you would be asked to go all over the world to teach, and to—

 

Yeah.

 

–perform, and—

 

Yeah.

 

It’s been—you’ve been everywhere.

 

Pretty much.  Um, I… I’m lucky that way.  I—I always wanted to travel.  Um, and so, pretty much, I go and I work.  I think … the most unusual place I went, I put in a—a large acting show in Saudi Arabia.  Um, and of course, there—this was about four years ago, three years ago.  Um … and they’re very repressive of women, um, as you probably know. Uh, I had to wear an abaya to work with my guys when we were outdoors.  But it’s a very schizophrenic thing, ‘cause once you’re indoors, you can take off the abaya, which is the black—the scarf and the black, and you can wear anything you want.  And we would work and rehearse, and do all our things, and then once I stepped—once I had to go outside, I’d have to get all dressed up to even just get in a car to go back to my hotel.  Um, and you had to eat separately; women eat separately from men there, if you’re alone.  Um—

 

Were the puppeteers squished up against each other, male and female?

 

No; they were the dancing ones.  They were the big—

 

Oh, I see.

 

–dancing, and they were all male.  There would be no females.  Yeah.  Females aren’t allowed to work.

 

How did they like a female directing them?

 

The guys liked it, ‘cause they were young men, and they keep—they all said to me: Pam, five years, it’s gonna change; I’m telling you, it’s gonna change. And I’m like: Yeah.  But umm, I would do semi-submersive things—subversive things.  Like, uh, if we did a song about driving, which we had a song called “Let’s Go Driving In An Automobile,” I made sure the one female character Khokha, which is umm, an Arabian character, she’s in all the Middle Eastern productions—she drove the car.  Because they couldn’t drive; women can’t drive.  So, I made sure the girl was always the one driving.  And then, we had this little thing where uh, Ernie and Bert teach you car safety.  And if you go through—and all the things—seatbelt, and you know—

 

Mm.

 

–all the things about being safe in a car—don’t hang out the window, then you would get a driver’s license.  And we made sure that every girl got a driver’s license and would go home and say: Mom, look, I have a driver’s license. Now, that just changed; right?  They just recently changed to have driver’s licenses.  So, that actually is a li—more of a change than I expected.  But the guys really said to me, when I—the guys I worked with really thought it would be completely different in five years, that it would be a much more open society.  And I just think it’s gonna take a lot longer than that.

 

What about women in puppetry?

 

So now, it is better.  It’s still not great.  If you look at the Muppets, the main Muppet guys are still six guys.  There’s no woman there.  But Sesame Street, we have five really strong women puppeteers, and we have nine really strong men.  That’s our core of puppeteers.  So, that balance has gotten much better.  And it’s a difficult thing, ‘cause not—initially, not that many women wanted to be puppeteers. It sounded—You know, if you’re an attractive woman who does a lot of voices, you can be a comedienne or an actress.  Why would you hide under a puppet; right?  And in fact, I was doing a show called The Great Space Coaster, and our guest was Steve Allen.  And he was playing the piano, and I was hiding under the piano doing the puppet on the side of him.  And the g—the human who was in our cast came out, and she—he’s talking to her, and I’m talking with him as a puppet.  And he looks at her and he says: Well, you’re not a puppeteer; right?  You’re much too attractive to be a puppeteer.  And so I stood up like this and looked at him, and said: What?  And he goes: Well, I didn’t mean—I said: Yeah, yeah, yeah.  And got back under the piano and went back to being a puppeteer.  But I didn’t get insulted by Steve Allen. Not many people can say that.

 

And you stood up and said you wouldn’t take that. 

 

Yeah.

 

So, better, but there’s still not a big infusion of women.

 

There’s still not a lot. Yeah, yeah. I mean, we’re working on it; we’re tr—constantly looking for women who are skilled, and training new women in.  And again, it takes a long time; you have to have the patience.  And it’s one of those things, either you have it or you don’t.

 

Mm.

 

And there are some people who can train, and train, and work, and work, and they still don’t have that natural feel for what—making the puppet alive.  And you have to have that core.  So, it is a kind of uh, unique-

 

Mhmm. Skill-

 

-skillset. But uh, I have traveled a lot, all over, um, directing those large dance shows, as well as teaching.  Um, I teach at … uh, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, I’ve taught.  I’ve taught at the uh, Taipei National University of the Arts.  In Yukon, all over.  Universe—University of Hawai‘i.  Um, and actually, I have a lovely University of Hawai‘i thing that I love, which is Kermit Love came to teach the University of Hawaii puppetry, and I took that course, and that set me sail on a course.  And then, I came back 30 years later to teach that same course to—at the University of Hawai‘i.

 

And was there a young Pam Arciero there?

 

Kind of; yeah. No, not that I know, but yeah.  But it was just really that … it was completing that circle.  I’ve been very lucky to have circles that complete in my life.

 

Pam Arciero has lived in Connecticut for more than three decades, but says Hawaiʻi will always be her home. Her two sons, both of creative minds, are pursuing an array of projects, including stand-up comedy, live music, film production, and video-game voiceover work. Of her husband, Steve Lanza, Arciero says: “He has been my biggest supporter and fan, and a guiding light when I need it.” Mahalo to Pam Arciero for sharing her story with us – and mahalo to you for joining us. For PBS Hawai‘i and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha nui.

 

 

Did you ever doubt yourself, that: Oh, maybe I shouldn’t do this?

 

Oh, yeah.

 

Or maybe I’m not—

 

The first few years.

 

–good enough?

 

Oh, yeah; I still do.  I still have my doubts. I’m like: What am I doing? How—how did I do … you know, that’s just part of the nature, I think, of being a performer, of constantly putting yourself out there, trying to put yourself out the best you can.  And then, there are times when there is no jobs.  Or you go to auditions—‘cause I still audition; we all audition to get whatever roles it is.  You go to auditions, and you leave and you just go: That was terrible; what—what was I thinking, that was an awful choice.  And then, you don’t get the job, and you go: Yup; definitely an awful choice.

 

Yeah.

 

You know.  So, that’s just kind of the way the business is.  It’s not easy.  It’s—it’s a hard … hard part of the business.

 

So, you have to have a thick skin and being able to take rejection, even now, after all this time in the industry, and all your accomplishments.  And you have to have a thin skin, because you’re dealing with children, and you have to be sensitive to that.

 

And you’re acting; you have to ac—be able to access your emotions in order to really get it across.

 

So, you have to really feel.

 

I—yeah.

If you really want to do something, you just have to do it.  And people are always gonna say: Well, that’s not a good idea.  And—but you have to say: Yeah, but …  I think if you do what brings you joy, and you continue to follow that, you will make it happen in some form or shape. In some ways, I guess people are just: Well, you’re a girl, you can be a ballet dancer, who cares what you become.  You’re gonna be a mom, was sort of how—

 

Mm.

 

Ultimately, you’re gonna be a mom, was sort of how the feeling I got from some people.  And it was like: No, no, you don’t understand; this is not about that, this is about expressing who you are through movement, through dance, through arts.  And I knew that in—intrinsically, and I don’t know why.  But I did know that that—that was the key for me, was just to follow, to stay the course, to do what I wanted to do, and it would pay off eventually.

 

You didn’t know what the end would be, but you—

 

No idea.

 

–knew this was the right thing to do.

 

Yeah, yeah; no idea.

 

[END]

 

 

 

ART IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
Mexico City

 

ART IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
This four-part series provides unparalleled access to some of the most innovative artists of our time, revealing how they engage with the culture around them and how art allows viewers to see the world in new ways. The featured artists are grouped by their unique and revealing relationships to the places where they live.

 

Mexico City
Featured are Damian Ortega, who makes sculptures from ordinary objects; Pedro Reyes, who designs solutions to social problems; Minerva Cuevas, who creates interventions in public space; and feature filmmaker Natalia Almada.

 

 

 

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