Interview on the Tavis Smiley Show

I had the great thrill and honor of talking with journalist extraordinaire, Tavis Smiley, about my book, I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters. Smiley endorsed I Am Somebody, calling it a “wonderfully written book that profoundly makes its case.” Listen to our conversation in the archives of KBLA, Smiley’s new radio station in Los Angeles.

New Interview with James Lee Burke on Literature, Organized Labor, Corporate Evil, and the Dumbing Down of America

It was my pleasure to, once again, interview one of America’s greatest novelists – the prolific and brilliant, James Lee Burke. At 84, he has authored an outstanding new novel, Another Kind of Eden. We discussed the new book, along with many related sociopolitical issues, including organized labor, the corporate destruction of “traditional America,” and the plot to dumb down America. Read our conversation at CrimeReads.

Walking Around Blind Without a Cane: “Democracy” in America

I had a big new essay at CounterPunch+ last weekend, examining how and why “democracy” is a hazy concept to most Americans, which places it in greater danger from the growing right wing threat of fascism.

A CounterPunch+ subscription costs $4 per month. Please consider subscribing, not only so that you can read my essay, but also some of the best political writing from a genuinely independent source.

“Declarations that the United States has fallen into conditions resembling a ‘civil war’ have become hackneyed and cliched. That such an extreme condemnation of American culture and politics can transform into a bromide demonstrates how deeply institutional and social dysfunction trouble the world’s wealthiest country. Even more disturbing are those surveyors of politics and history who persuasively argue that, in many ways legally and culturally significant, the Confederacy has triumphed long after Gettysburg…”

Read the rest of the essay, “Walking Around Blind Without a Cane: ‘Democracy’ in America.”

Interview on “Pause for Justice” Radio Program

I was recently a guest on the “Pause for Justice” radio program, broadcasting out of the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL. Gracious and thoughtful host, Allison Heard, and I had a great conversation about my book, “I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters,” as well as related issues of civil rights and social justice.

Ms. Heard also gave me the opportunity to select the songs that would play during the broadcast. Here were my choices:

  1. “Think” by Aretha Franklin
  2. “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye
  3. “I Remember, I Believe” by Lizz Wright
  4. “Peaceful World” by John Mellencamp with India.Arie
  5. “People Have the Power” by Patti Smith

Could Genocide Happen in the United States? An Interview with Alexander Laban Hinton

I have a new story at Salon. It is an interview with Alexander Laban Hinton, one of the world’s leading authorities on genocide and atrocity crimes. In a deeply disturbing but fascinating conversation, Hinton explains how the US is at risk of mass atrocity crimes from white power groups. His new book, “It Can Happen Here,” deals with the same subject. I was engrossed by our discussion, and am happy to share with you his important analysis.

It Can Happen Here

Interview on the Peace and Justice Report

On June 16th, I was a guest on the WSLR Peace and Justice Report – an outstanding program on progressive politics, broadcasting live from beautiful Sarasota, Florida.

The hosts conducted a gracious and thoughtful interview, asking me questions about my book, I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters, an assortment of political issues, and the future of American democracy. The entire episode is worthy of your attention, but my segment begins at the halfway point.

Peace & Justice Report - WSLR+Fogartyville

Coverage and Promotion for “I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters”

Salon recently ran an excerpt from my book, I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters. An excerpt also appeared on the pages of Literary Hub.

William Irwin, Chair of the Philosophy Department at King’s College, called I Am Somebody, a “timely retrospective and much needed rehabilitation.”

I was pleased to give a lecture on behalf of the Chicago Public Library:

I also did a lengthy interview with WZRD radio in Chicago:

I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters

One of the great gifts of my life is the development of a relationship with one of the world’s leading human rights leaders, and one of the United States’ leading dissidents, Jesse Jackson. The product of our six year conversation is my new book, from publisher I.B. Tauris, I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters. A blend of biography, political analysis, and journalism, I Am Somebody offers a bracing examination of Jackson’s momentous life, and a thorough dissection of American politics – from racial injustice to foreign policy.

In his foreword, Michael Eric Dyson calls I Am Somebody “brilliant.” Political scientist extraordinaire, Christina Greer, writes that it is “for anyone interested in presidential politics, Black American political history, and the link between the civil rights movement and modern political uprisings.”

James Felder, a historian and former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, argues that I Am Somebody belongs in “every home and library.”

The most moving and informative assessment came from Jesse Jackson himself. He said, “It is the best and most thorough thing ever written about my work.”

Media Appearances

Jackson and I had a wonderful conversation for the How To Academy in London:

Jackson and I also appeared together on “N’Digo Studio,” a television program hosted by Chicago journalist and media pioneer, Hermene Hartman, who also interviewed me for N’Digo magazine.

Marc Sims’ “Just a Few Questions” podcast.

Eric on Air, covering progressive politics with Indiana-based guests.

I also appeared on the Al Sharpton radio show, Beyond the Beltway, the Santita Jackson show, and with the Lambeth Library in London, UK.

John Mellencamp and The Search for an American Soul: An Interview with the Musical Icon

I was a 13 year old boy when I discovered the music of John Mellencamp. His songs were my usher into the world of writing, art, and creativity. A continual source of powerful inspiration in my work and life, I wrote my second book, Mellencamp: American Troubadour, about his music, and the ideas that surround it. The impact and influence of Mellencamp’s music on my life is so large that, without it, it is impossible to conceive of myself.

On Memorial Day, I had the incredible thrill and honor of driving to Nashville, Indiana to visit John Mellencamp in his recording studio. We sat for a long, fascinating, and fun conversation in the same room where he and his band have made so many of my favorite songs since 1983. Then, I watched he and the band rehearse for their upcoming tour, playing “Pink Houses” and “Paper in Fire.” To add to the pleasure and amazement of the experience, I also met the beautiful and soulful Carlene Carter, and had the opportunity to have a discussion with her.

Mellencamp’s first words to me were, “It is a good book.” That simple, but profound compliment is one I will always treasure (He was referring to my work of biography and cultural criticism, Mellencamp: American Troubadour).

Read the essay I wrote on the experience at Salon.

David Masciotra John Mellencamp

Here is an amusing exchange from our conversation that did not make my essay: After Mellencamp explained that audiences have jeered and heckled him several times throughout his career, he added that, “not once has anyone said anything derogatory to my face.”

“Really, why do you think that is?” I asked.

“Because they know they type of person that I am. Would you say anything?”

“Maybe.”

Mellencamp laughed. “Well, I’m an old man now. So, you could probably kick my ass. Fifteen years ago, you would have kept your mouth shut.”