As a teenager, Frank Meeink was one of the most well-known skinhead gang members in the country. He had his own public access talk show, called The Reich, he appeared on Nightline and other media outlets as a spokesman for neo-Nazi topics, and he regularly recruited members of his South Philadelphia neighborhood to join his skinhead gang. At 18, Meeink spent several years in prison for kidnapping one man and beating another man senseless for several hours. While in prison, Meeink says, he was exposed to people from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds and started reevaluating his own racist beliefs. His transformation solidified, he tells Dave Davies, after the Oklahoma City bombing, when he saw the iconic photo of a firefighter cradling a lifeless girl in his arms. “I felt so evil. Throughout my life, even when I was tattooed up and wanting to be a skinhead, I felt like maybe I was bad on the outside. But I felt good on the inside,” he says. “And that day it switched. I felt OK on the outside, but I felt so evil inside. I had no one to talk to. … So I went to the FBI and … I told them my story. I said ‘I don’t have any information on anybody, but I just need to let you know what it’s like.’ And of course they wanted to listen, because the Oklahoma City bombing had happened.” The FBI recommended that Meeink contact the Anti-Defamation League — which he did. He now regularly lectures to students about racial diversity and acceptance on behalf of the ADL, and he has written a memoir about his past, called Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has proposed a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, including soda, energy drinks, ice tea, and chocolate milk. Nutter says the so-called “soda tax” will raise revenue for the budget and combat the obesity epidemic. But while public health experts cheer, the beverage industry, union members, and store and restaurant owners are up in arms, arguing that this tax is bad for business. Philadelphia’s Deputy Mayor of Health Donald Schwarz comes in to discuss the proposed tax. And we’ll talk with Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez about her opposition to the tax.
Last week President Obama announced plans to open areas along the Atlantic coast, the Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. The administration says this step is part of a comprehensive energy plan that will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs, and raise revenue. Others think it is a political calculation aimed at winning Republican votes for Obama’s climate bill. This hour we discuss the politics behind the decision and look at the risks and possibilities of offshore drilling. Our guests are energy reporter for The Hill, Ben Geman and Boston University professor of geography and environment, Robert Kaufmann.
WORLD CAFE LIVE
In this slightly unusual World Cafe, host David Dye sits down with renowned rock critic Anthony DeCurtis to talk about DeCurtis’ latest book, Blues and Chaos: The Music Writing of Robert Palmer, a collection of writings by the late New York Times music critic. DeCurtis got to know Palmer when they were colleagues at Rolling Stone. Although Palmer would often disappear for months at a time when working on pieces that weren’t time sensitive, DeCurtis says he could always be counted on to meet a deadline, no matter how short the time frame. When asked why he felt it necessary to compile a collection of Palmer’s work, DeCurtis says Palmer was a pioneer and a fantastic writer who never received the attention he deserved. Growing up in Little Rock, Ark., Palmer was heavily influenced by his parents — his father was a musician and his mother a poet — and the bustling live music scene. His background as a musician shaped his career as a writer. He was able to communicate with and gain the respect of the musicians he interviewed. But he never delved too far into the kind of overly technical writing that the average reader couldn’t fully understand or appreciate. DeCurtis says Blues and Chaos isn’t just an attempt to give Palmer’s work the recognition it deserves — it’s a statement about what music writing can be, even as print journalism continues its decline. According to DeCurtis, Palmer set the standard for rock journalism. The majority of music writing available online, he says, simply doesn’t compare.
WIKIPEDIA: Elizabeth Nevills was born in Carrboro, North Carolina, at the border of Chapel Hill, to a musical family. Her parents were George Nevills and Louise Price Nevills. Elizabeth was the youngest of five children. At age seven, Cotten began to play her older brother’s banjo. By eight years old, she was playing songs. At 11, after scraping together some money, she bought her own guitar. She became very good at playing the instrument, which she named “Stella.” By her early teens she was writing her own songs, one of which, Freight Train, would go on to be one of her most recognized. Cotten wrote Freight Train when she saw a train pass by her house on Lloyd Street in Carrboro, North Carolina. Around the age of 13, Cotten began working as a maid along with her mother. Soon after at age 15, she was married to Frank Cotten. The couple had a daughter named Lillie, and soon after young Elizabeth gave up guitar playing for family and church. Cotten had retired from the guitar for 25 years, except for occasional church performances. It wasn’t until she reached her 60s that she began recording and performing publicly. She was discovered by the folk-singing Seeger family while she was working for them as a housekeeper. While working for a brief stint in a department store, Cotten helped a child wandering through the aisles find her mother. The child was Penny Seeger, and the mother was Ruth Crawford Seeger of the Charles Seeger Family. Soon after this, Elizabeth again began working as a maid, caring for the Seegers’ children Mike, Peggy, Barbara, and Penny. While working with the Seegers (a voraciously musical family) she remembered her own guitar playing from 40 years prior and picked up the instrument again to start from scratch. MORE