Los Angeles Public Library Podcasts: ALOUD @ Centr

Los Angeles Public Library Podcasts: ALOUD @ Centr

United States

The following podcasts were recorded live in the Los Angeles Central Library's Mark Taper Auditorium as part of the award-winning ALOUD at Central Library speaker series presented by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. ALOUD podcasts are updated on a monthly basis. Initial funding for ALOUD podcasts was made possible by Arent Fox LLP.

Episodes

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Accidental Activism  

From growing up as a devout woman from a modest family in Saudia Arabia to becoming an unexpected leader of a courageous movement to support women’s right to drive, Manal al-Sharif recounts her life’s journey in her ferociously intimate new memoir Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening. When working in the male-dominated field of computer security engineering in her twenties, al-Sharif was labeled a slut for chatting with male colleagues. Her teenage brother chaperoned her on business trips, and while she kept a car in her garage, she was forbidden from driving down city streets behind the wheel. No longer able to tolerate the Saudi kingdom’s contradictions, al-Sharif stood up to a kingdom of men—and won. Discussing her powerful story of resilience with Kelly McEvers, co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered, al-Sharif explores the difficulties, absurdities, and joys of making your voice heard.

An Evening with Alan Alda  

Alan Alda, the award-winning actor and bestselling author, discusses his decades-long quest to understand the intricacies of communication. With his trademark humor and candor, Alda’s new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating, chronicles communication breakdowns in his own life from a life-changing misunderstanding with a dentist to learning how to make science relatable to the masses as host of PBS’s Scientific American Frontiers. Drawing on improvisation training, theater, and storytelling techniques from a life of acting, and with insights from recent scientific studies, Alda equips himself with a range of tools to relate to others more effectively. Sharing with audiences his strategies to build empathy and improve the way we communicate, Alda will demonstrate the art of conversation as he talks with Lisa Wolpe—a master communicator in her own right as an actress, director, teacher, and the Artistic Director and Founder of the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company.

When the FBI Investigates the White House  

Ever since J. Edgar Hoover died, six weeks before the Watergate break-in, the FBI has had to confront presidents. FBI investigations led to President Nixon’s resignation, indictments of President Reagan’s national-security team, and the impeachment of President Clinton. Now the current administration faces a major counterintelligence case. When the FBI confronts the power of the presidency, America must navigate uncharted waters. Tim Weiner, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for his work on American intelligence and national security, addresses these looming confrontations and the challenges they pose for American democracy.

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst  

Why do we do the things we do? Author and MacArthur recipient Robert Sapolsky’s game-changing new book Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst attempts to answer this very question, one of the deepest questions of the human species. Moving between neurobiological factors, to the sensory world of our environment and endocrinology, to tracing individual’s childhoods and their genetic makeup, to encompassing larger categories of culture, ecology, and evolution, Sapolsky considers millions of years of science to wrestle with why we ultimately do the things we do…for good and for ill. Discussing his staggering work with evolutionary biologist Amy Parish, Sapolsky takes us on an engrossing tour of the science of human behavior.For photos from the program, click here. 

An Evening with Dennis Lehane  

 From searing stories of suspense to literary novels, historical fiction, and film and television scripts, no other writer today has such a wide-ranging body of work like Dennis Lehane. The international bestselling author and screenwriter is best known for his edgy, morally complex, and effortlessly masterful stories that often take place in his hometown of Boston. Now a resident of Los Angeles, many of Lehane’s novels have been adapted into award-winning films, including Mystic River, Shutter Island, Gone, Baby, Gone, and the recently released prohibition-era drama Live by Night. His new book, Since We Fell, follows the psychological drama of Rachel Childs, a former journalist who after an on-air mental breakdown, must reckon with the truths of her new reality. Join us for a special evening with Lehane as he discusses his latest work, his dynamic storytelling, and genre-breaking career with fellow book and screen writer Attica Locke.For photos from the program, click here. 

Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space  

 Since 1916 when Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves—the powerful aftermath occurring when black holes collide—scientists have been trying to provide evidence of this profusion of energy. However, a telescope cannot record this event—the only evidence is the sound of spacetime ringing. Janna Levin, one of today’s most eminent theoretical astrophysicists and an award-winning writer, recounts the fascinating story of the surprises, disappointments, achievements, and risks of the scientists who embarked on an epic endeavor to capture the first sounds from space in her latest book, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space. Join us as Levin explores this radical scientific campaign to record the soundtrack of our universe with cosmologist Sean Carroll.For photos from the program, click here.

The Evolution of Beauty  

Deep in tropical jungles around the world are birds with a dizzying array of appearances and mating displays—from pheasants with 3D feathers to moonwalking manakins—traits that seem disconnected from selection for individual survival. Culminating 30 years of fieldwork, Richard Prum, the Head Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and a world-renowned ornithologist, revives Darwin’s long-neglected theory of sexual selection in which the act of choosing a mate for purely aesthetic reasons—for the mere pleasure of it—is an independent engine of evolutionary change. Sharing from his latest work, The Evolution of Beauty, Prum presents a unique scientific vision for how nature’s splendor contributes to a more complete understanding of evolution and of ourselves in a conversation with evolutionary biologist Amy Parish.For photos from the program, click here. 

In a Western Light: Poetry at the Edge of America  

California poetry has looked to the future, as well as to its complex past and the present, as a way of understanding our place at the edge of the continent. California is about the magic of the land and the promise of possibility— yet the question remains, for whom? Seven contemporary California poets celebrate the diverse poetry of seven distinguished California writers, hoping to provide a lens through which to experience these visions of a life lived in the harsh clarity of a Western light. Featuring Douglas Kearney reading Charles Bukowski; Victoria Chang reading Diane Di Prima; Brendan Constantine reading Wanda Coleman; Brynn Saito reading  Adrienne Rich; Kim Dower reading Gertrude Stein; Amy Gerstler reading Czeslaw Milosz; and Blas Falconer reading Juan Felipe Herrera. For photos from this program, click here. 

From L.A. to the Outback: Two Novelists  

David Francis’ latest novel Wedding Bush Road follows the visceral journey of a young L.A. lawyer called back to his family’s horse farm in rural Australia when his mother falls ill. Offering a uniquely intimate take on the timeless struggle between the past and present, town and country, Francis’ writing is fueled by a deep understanding of characters and landscapes that are worlds apart—he also works as a lawyer based in Los Angeles and spends part of each year on his family farm in Australia. Discussing this psychological portrait of a divided family and their complicated roots, Francis is joined by master storyteller and fellow horse aficionado Jane Smiley, who has known Francis for years and calls Wedding Bush Road, “his best work yet.”For photos from the program, click here. 

Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Awards  

 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of one of contemporary poetry’s most prestigious awards—Claremont Graduate University’s Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, given for poetry volumes published in the preceding year and created to both honor the poet and provide the resources that allow artists to continue working towards the pinnacle of their craft. In a celebration moderated by the Poetry Society of America’s Executive Director Alice Quinn, join us for an evening looking back at 25 years of this special prize along with readings by this year’s winners Vievee Francis and Phillip B. Williams. For photos from the program, click here.  

Where the Water Goes:  Life and Death Along the Colorado River  

The Colorado River is a crucial resource for a large part of the United States, and every gallon that flows down it is owned or claimed by someone. New Yorker staff writer David Owen, and author of more than a dozen books, delivers his latest work, Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River, and takes readers on an eye-opening adventure downriver, along a labyrinth of waterways, power plants, farms, fracking sites, ghost towns, and RV parks, to the spot near the U.S.–Mexico border where the river runs dry. Exploring the complexities of this vast man-made ecosystem with environmental reporter Judith Lewis Mernit, Owen illuminates the high-stakes of the water wars of the West.For photos from the program, click here. 

How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything  

War used to be a temporary state of affairs, but in today’s post 9/11-world America’s wars are everywhere and forever. Law professor and Foreign Policy columnist Rosa Brooks’ book, How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon, traces what happens when the ancient boundary between war and peace is erased. Part reportage and part memoir, this thought-provoking book is directly informed by Brooks’ unconventional perspective—she is a former top Pentagon official who is the daughter of two anti-war protesters. Examining the political, military, and cultural shifts in times of persistent wars, Brooks joins Los Angeles Times Editor Nick Goldberg to consider the risks facing America’s founding values, laws, and institutions.For photos from the program, click here. 

Infidels: A Novel  

Born in a public library in Morocco where his father was a janitor, Abdellah Taïa is an acclaimed novelist and filmmaker who lives in Paris, but sets his latest novel in his home country. With deep lyricism and erotic energy, Infidels follows the life of Jallal, a young gay Muslim who is the son of a prostitute witch doctor. The mother and son struggle as outsiders inside their Islamic world until Jallal moves to Belgium and becomes a jihadist. Taia discusses this powerful story about love and belonging with Steven Reigns, the first City Poet of West Hollywood.For photos from this program, click here. 

An Evening with Cheech Marin  

You know Cheech as half of the comedy duo Cheech & Chong, and you know him for his memorable roles in Up in Smoke, Born in East L.A., Desperado, The Lion King, and Jane the Virgin, to name a few. But did you know that Cheech—which is not his real name—is also the owner of the most renowned collection of Chicano art in the world? Did you know that before he became a face of the recreational drug movement, he grew up the son of a cop? Did you know that he crushed Anderson Cooper on Celebrity Jeopardy!? In his long-awaited memoir, this counterculture legend writes candidly about coming-of-age as the wisecracking kid in 1960s Los Angeles, resisting the draft as a young man, and many other surprising journeys along the way of creating one of the most successful comedy acts of all time. Join us for a spirited evening as Cheech reflects on his incredible career spanning over 45 years, in conversation with L.A.’s own Marisol Hernandez, lead singer of the GRAMMY award-winning La Santa Cecilia.For photos from the program, click here. 

The Idiot: A Novel  

Elif Batuman, a New Yorker staff writer and author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, offers up a delightfully refreshing coming-of-age story about not just discovering but inventing oneself. Batuman’s debut novel The Idiot begins in 1995 when email is new and Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard where she navigates the strange new worlds of academics, friendships, and falling in love via email. Batuman discusses this off-kilter journey into adulthood and her recent reporting for The New Yorker from Turkey, with comedic author, television writer, and co-host of The Great Debates podcast Steve Hely.For photos from this program, click here. 

Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean  

Writer, sailor, and surfer Jonathan White journeys deep into the world’s oceans in his new book Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean. From investigating the growth of tidal power generation in Chile and Scotland to delving into the threat of rising sea levels in Panama and Venice, join us for this exploration of the current state of our oceans’ infinitely complex and ever-changing ecosystems and the forces that keep our planet’s waters in constant motion.

Night Sky with Exit Wounds  

Award-winning poet Ocean Vuong’s debut full-length collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, has been hailed by critics for its powerful emotional undertow, sincerity and candor, and “sense of the evanescence of all earthly things” as Michiko Kakutani writes in The New York Times. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, and now a resident of New York City, Vuong’s poems navigate the overarching worlds of history, sexuality, and humanity with startling precision. Reflecting on how geographical and linguistic energies intersect and what it means to write as a Vietnamese refugee in the contemporary space, Vuong reads from and discusses his poetry with Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose writing also often explores the Vietnamese American experience.For photos from this program, click here. 

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City  

Harvard sociologist and MacArthur Prize awardee Matthew Desmond tells the story of eight families living on the edge in the New York Times bestselling Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Evictions used to be rare, but today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond’s landmark work of scholarship and reportage bears witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality and transforms our understanding of extreme poverty. Desmond explores these devastating issues of economic exploitation with L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez, and offers ideas for solving these uniquely American problems.For photos from this program, click here. 

Erwin Chemerinsky | The Constitution and the Presidency  

The first weeks of the Trump presidency have raised numerous constitutional issues and a Supreme Court appointment.  What are these issues, and what others are likely to arise with Donald Trump as president? How are the courts likely to resolve them? Chemerinsky, the founding Dean and Professor of First Amendment Law at UC Irvine– and one of our leading constitutional scholars— addresses these questions with veteran journalist Jim Newton. For photos from the program, click here. 

An Evening with George Saunders  

In his long-awaited first novel, American master George Saunders delivers his most original, transcendent, and moving work yet. Lincoln in the Bardo places the reader in a Georgetown cemetery on a rainy February night in 1862. From that seed of historical truth, the story spins into a metaphysical realm as a grief-stricken President Lincoln—one year into the Civil War—mourns the loss of his son Willie. Through a thrilling experimental form narrated by a chorus of voices, a blend of history and philosophy, a cast of characters living and dead, Saunders grapples with the timeless question: How can we continue to love when everything we love must eventually be lost? Following a dramatic reading from the book by Phil LaMarr, Saunders takes the stage to discuss this astonishing feat of imagination with award-winning author Anthony Marra, known for his transcending stories of love and war. For photos of the program, click here. 

0:00/0:00
Video player is in betaClose