Triple Take 22: Author and actress Fannie Flagg

fannie-flagg2016 marks 25 years since Fannie Flagg’s breakout novel, “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe,” was adapted for the silver screen. Next year will be the novel’s 30th anniversary.

But even as she marks such momentous anniversaries, Flagg’s work continues. Her latest, “The Whole Town’s Talking,” is scheduled for Nov. 29 publication. Flagg will return to her hometown, Birmingham, Dec. 9 for an on-stage discussion of the novel, in conversation with FOX6’s Janie Rogers. The free event begins 7 p.m. at The Lyric Theatre. Register at lightupthelyric.com.

On the latest episode of Triple Take, Flagg shared insight into how special this event will be. Flagg’s father and grandfather were film projectionists, and her father worked at The Lyric Theatre during her childhood. She also spoke about three of her great influences: the Nancy Drew series, musical theater and the film “Gigi.”

Fannie Flagg on Nancy Drew

“I think there’s a lot to be said for popular culture. It connects us and we identify with it. I am not a person that is a literary snob. I love things that I can relate to. Basically what I still today read are very sort of uplifting things with a happy ending. I’m sorry, I just like that.”

Fannie Flagg on musical theater and the renovation of Birmingham’s theaters

“It’s terrific and it says a lot about our hometown that they care so much about preserving things. A lot of those beautiful movie palaces have been destroyed.”

Fannie Flagg on “Gigi”

“The movies gave us an idealized version of the world and when I was growing up, it was very positive. The messages were positive and there was a lot of comedies. They really didn’t dwell on the dark side of life and the seedy side of life. They showed only the best of human nature. I still kind of do that. … I sort of retained that wanting to write about nice people because I happen to believe that the world is full, still, of really nice people that never get written about.”

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every Monday morning. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

21: Some of our favorite segments about racial identity and civil rights

shuttlesworth-dinnerWe’ve amassed quite a few recommendations since this podcast launched in April. Triple Take is a podcast about the books, albums and films that shape us, and we’ve had little repetition of picks. Save for “To Kill A Mockingbird,” which has shown up three times, each guest has selected art different from his or her predecessors.

Even so, themes have developed. Many guests have talked about race relations, civil rights and identity issues. (We’re based in Birmingham, after all, site to so many historic moments in the civil rights movement.) In honor of this week’s Annual Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award, we’re revisiting three such segments.

The Shuttlesworth award is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s highest individual honor. This year’s recipient is U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. In a press release, the institute said Norton is “an iconic torch-bearer for the legacy of the civil rights movement and as a hero to the powerless and disenfranchised.”

The awards celebration will take place Saturday at The Lyric Theatre. The event will include music by Dr. Henry Panion III and orchestra, Eric Essix, Belinda George Peoples and the Birmingham Sunlights. Ticket prices start at $100 and are available at bcri.org.

In this episode, Elizabeth Hughey talks about Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet,” Edward Bowser discusses “Malcolm X” and Victor Luckerson talks about “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Each offers insight into how these works influenced their understanding of human and civil rights issues and how that affects them moving forward.

 

EPISODE 6: Elizabeth Hughey on Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet”

“We had black history (in school), we had sections on the civil rights movement in Birmingham, we watched ‘Eyes on the Prize’ in our philosophy classroom. But at the time when I watched that, I was like, wow, that’s rough. I’m glad that’s over. I didn’t understand how far we were in Birmingham from being liberated and equal and a peaceful place for everyone. So that voice coming through on this album, this very powerful voice and the words we were saying, I was like whoa. There is a big world out there and I don’t know it yet.”

Hughey’s other picks were “Play” by Moby, “Orlando” by Virginia Woolf and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Hear the full episode here.

 

EPISODE 7: Soul in Stereo blogger Edward Bowser on “Malcolm X”

“We saw that Detroit Red was a horrible person, and even when he ascended to become Malcolm X, he still had to learn and grow in that role. The last half of the movie, the last third of the movie, we saw that he overcame his own prejudices within the Muslim community. It was just so much growth and so much real poignant understanding.

At that point, it was really something that stuck with me because it showed that even people we consider icons or heroes are just as flawed as we are.

“There is this perception in our country that in order to have racial tolerance, we have to say we’re all the same. Everyone’s the same. You’re no different than me, blah, blah, blah. No, I’m very different than you. And that’s great, because those are the experiences that make us different.”

Bowser also selected “Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor and Missy Elliott’s “Supa Dupa Fly.” Hear the full episode here.

 

EPISODE 4: TheRinger.com’s Victor Luckerson on “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

“You realize that it’s (the n-word) for the use of creating a certain world, a fictionalized version of what really existed at that time. I guess for me, that validated the use of it. I wasn’t upset about it. … I thought it was kind of trickier because a lot of times in your writing, especially writing for a publication, you’re sort of hamstrung by what your pub thinks is appropriate. I remember one time in college, as editor of the paper, someone had chalked racial slurs across campus and we had a front-page story about it. I wanted to use the n-word written out without abbreviations, without censorship. I thought it was important for people to see the word, see the impact of it, to get the visual feeling you would have gotten if you saw it on campus that day. … I saw using the word could be powerful, written out in its entirety.”

Luckerson also talked about Outkast’s “ATLiens” and The Chappelle Show. Hear the full episode here.

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every week. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

Triple Take 20: ‘Homegoing’ author Yaa Gyasi

yaa-gyasiYaa Gyasi’s upbringing made her curious about the relationship between a country from which slaves came and the place to which they were brought. She’s a Ghana native, but Gyasi spent most of her life in America. Her family left Ghana when she was a small child, and she lived in Huntsville from age 9 through high school, when she graduated from Grissom High School.

Those influences gelled in her bestselling debut novel, “Homegoing.” The book earned her a spot on the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” list, as well as critical acclaim from all over.

Gyasi is the subject of this week’s episode of Triple Take, the podcast in which we discuss how books, films and music shape us. She said “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” by Lauryn Hill, Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” and the movie “Love & Basketball” played a significant role in her development. Each of those artworks has black women at the center, and that helped Gyasi recognize that she, too, could make a living as a creative person.

Yaa Gyasi on “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” by Lauryn Hill

“There is this different atmosphere that you come into when your first work is wildly acclaimed. Before you write the first thing, you get the luxury of believing that no one will ever read it or see it or listen to it. That’s a kind of freedom; you get to make your book or your album or your piece of art look or feel exactly the way you want it to. You get to challenge yourself in certain ways because there’s no audience yet. After that piece of art is released and you see all these eyes on you, it can of course change your perception of how you work because you’re suddenly aware that the next thing you do, people will see.”

Yaa Gyasi on “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison

“It made say sooner than maybe I would have that I wanted to be a writer. I think that was something I had kept inside for many years. Morrison’s work allowed me to feel confident enough to tell people that that’s what I wanted to do with my life.”

Yaa Gyasi on “Love and Basketball”

“I was immediately struck by the power of the female characters in that movie. It’s different than other romantic comedies–or romantic dramadies, as it were. There’s this sense that she doesn’t have to relinquish anything of herself to fall for this guy.”

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every Monday morning. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

Triple Take 19: Post Office Pies’ John Hall

john-hallImagine moving to a city renowned in your industry. While there, you work at well-known places and refine your craft. Then you have the opportunity to move home and open your own place.

For John Hall, that was the dream.

Hall is owner-operator of Post Office Pies, a pizza place with locations in the Avondale neighborhood of Birmingham, where he was raised, and in Tuscaloosa. Hall has worked under renowned chefs and at equally known restaurants, and he holds a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales.

What shapes this man, who has quickly become one of Birmingham’s beloved chefs? We invited him on the latest episode of Triple Take to find out. On each episode, we ask our subject about the book, film and album that shaped him or her. Hall’s picks were “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo, the Spike Lee film “School Daze” and Prince’s “Purple Rain.”

John Hall on “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

“For some of us, there’s never this satisfaction. You have to feel like there’s something you’re always chasing, whether it’s subconsciously, tangible or not. It’s there. There are some people that are never satisfied. That’s not necessarily a negative thing, I think, because people have so much they want to do. There’s so much that needs to be done.”

John Hall on the movie “School Daze”

“My parents, they both went to college, but they didn’t both finish. In my mind, it was seeing people that looked like myself and also that I could relate to that were in college.”

John Hall on Prince’s “Purple Rain”

“Those A sides were more or less marketing, or songs like, this is what we’re going to put on the radio for people to know who we are. The B sides are where you get the artist. This is what they’re going through at this particular time when they’re making this album.”

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every Monday morning. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

Triple Take 18: White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin

triple-takeThink back to your favorite children’s book. What does it have to do with who you are today?

If your answer is nothing, well, you’re probably not alone. But Stewart McLaurin traces his career path back to a children’s book about American presidents. McLaurin, a native Alabamian, is now White House Historical Association president. The nonprofit preserves and acquires artifacts of American history.

Although McLaurin has been interested in government and the presidency since childhood, his career also includes stops at the Motion Picture Association, Georgetown University and the American Red Cross. He’s also served George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and the federal government. McLaurin is the keynote speaker at the Alabama Humanities Foundation’s 2016 award luncheon. The event will honor Ben and Luanne Russell with the Alabama Humanities Award; Hill Crest Foundation, Charitable Organization in the Humanities Award; and Nancy Grisham Anderson, Wayne Greenhaw Service Award. The luncheon takes place at 11:30 a.m. Monday at The Club. Tickets are available at alabamahumanities.org and start at $75.

McLaurin is this week’s guest on Triple Take, the podcast about the films, books and music that shape us.

Stewart McLaurin on a children’s book about American presidents

“It’s like these movies of life coming through to me interacting with these people who were integral in events of my youth, and now I’m working with them day in and day out in this job.”

Stewart McLaurin on the film “Chariots of Fire”

“It was a slower, more thoughtful time of life. People took time to really think and consider the reasons they did things. So many times we act flippantly and quickly in the moment, like some of our Olympians may have done recently in Rio. But this takes us back to a time when the sport was purely amateur–that’s part of the theme of the movie as well–and these young people were thought leaders among their peers. They challenged each other in very interesting ways.

Stewart McLaurin on “Nether Lands” by Dan Fogelberg

“It’s the kind of thing I can remember driving around listening to in my Chevrolet Vega at the University of Alabama. It brings me back memories of those days long ago and far away.”

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every Monday morning. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

Triple Take 16: ‘Underground Railroad,’ ‘Atlanta’ and ‘American Band’

triple-take-in-the-newsColson Whitehead, Donald Glover and the Drive-By Truckers have something to say–and America is taking notice.

In this week’s episode of Triple Take, we discuss a book, television show and album that are making headlines. “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead was recently named an Oprah Book Club pick. The novel imagines the network of safe houses and abolitionists who helped 19th-century slaves find freedom as a literal underground railroad. Donald Glover (“Community,” “30 Rock”) portrays his hometown on “Atlanta,” which airs on FX. The Drive-By Truckers, whose roots are in Georgia and Alabama, released their most overtly political album in “American Band.”

Listen to our discussion and chime in: Does juxtaposing present-day problems with the past draw you into historical novels? What do you think is the best television show about the South? Do lyrics or melody draw you to music?

Book: “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

“One of the ways the book deals with the modern problem of race is by juxtaposing (modern conveniences) with the underground railroad, so there are some nods to things we experience in our world today.” —Carla Jean Whitley

TV show: “Atlanta,” Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Central on FX

“I think it says a lot about the show that there really isn’t any plot that keeps me coming back week after week. I just really want to spend more time with these characters because they’re fascinating, they’re multifaceted people and there’s something that rings very true about them.” —Matt Scalici

Album: “American Band” by Drive-By Truckers

“At their heart, Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and Jason Isbell are storytellers and they tell stories about blue-collar, down-on-their-luck, hardworking Southerners. And they do it in a way that loves these people, respects them and embraces them and tells their story in this Springsteen-esque, unparalleled way about the South.” —John Hammontree

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every week. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

Triple Take episode 15: Novelist William Thornton

bill-thorntonWilliam Thornton’s name is familiar to readers in East Alabama, where he works as a reporter for AL.com and The Birmingham News. His name is increasingly recognizable among fiction fans, too. He’s the author most recently of “Set Your Fields on Fire,” the 2015 winner of the Aspiring Authors Award. The comedic novel’s central character is Alex Alterman, a mystery worshipper who reviews churches just as a mystery shopper visits retail shops.

Thornton is this week’s guest on Triple Take, the podcast where we talk to interesting people about the book, album and film that shaped them.

Bill on “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco

“Knowledge is not the same thing as wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to take knowledge and use it in a way that helps not only you but everybody else.”

Bill on “Apocalypse Now” 

“In some ways, that can also be inspiring because you’ve got to find where your ground is. Maybe it’s not on the mountain top. Maybe it’s down here in the valley. It helps you get the nuts and bolts of life correct. Concentrate on what you can control rather than having the grand vision–and by doing that, you maybe move things an inch or two further along down the road. It doesn’t mean you don’t have ambition, but it means you understand the limits of ambition.”

Bill on “Let It Be” by The Beatles

“There’s an opportunity. There’s always the blank page or the blank screen that has to be filled. What are we going to do today? I think a lot of times if you concentrate too much on that, you get stuck. Let it go. And if it didn’t work, maybe it got you to the next thing that does work.”

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes twice a month. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

Triple Take episode 10: Arc Stories’ Taylor Robinson

Taylor RobinsonHave you been to a live storytelling event?

No?

Then you should probably drop everything and, if you’re in Birmingham, Alabama, buy tickets to the Sept. 17 Arc Stories.

If you’re out of town, try the Arc Stories podcast instead. (Or drive to Birmingham. It’s a great place.)

This week, Arc Stories Director Taylor Robinson joined us on Triple Take. Taylor cofounded the Birmingham-based live storytelling event about five years ago, and in the years since it’s grown to a regularly standing-room-only crowd.

Taylor offered insight into how “Jaws,” Billy Joel’s “The Stranger” and the Bible shaped him into the storyteller he is today.

You can follow our hosts on social media: Carla Jean Whitley onFacebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram; John Hammontree onFacebook, Twitter and Instagram; and Matt Scalici on Twitter.

Triple Take episode eight: Secret Stages cofounder Jon Poor

Jon Poor triple takeIs asking a musician to name a single album that shaped him akin to asking a parent to choose a favorite child?

Doesn’t matter. We did it anyway.

Secret Stages co-founder and Birmingham musician Jon Poor is the latest Triple Take guest. In advance of the sixth annual festival, which runs Friday and Saturday, we asked Poor to tell us about the book, film and album that most shape him. His answers: “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Star Wars” and Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.”

Learn more about Secret Stages (and buy tickets!) at secretstages.net. You can also follow our hosts: Carla Jean Whitley on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram; John Hammontree on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; and Matt Scalici on Twitter.

Triple Take Episode 7: Edward Bowser

WelcoEdward Bowserme to the seventh episode of Triple Take, the podcast where we discuss how favorite films, books and albums shape who we are. Today we’ve flipped the script: Soon-to-be former cohost Edward Bowser is our subject. Edward recently left AL.com for a new pursuit, and by extension, he left Triple Take.

We’re not happy about it.

But the good news is, we are happy about our new cohost, Matt Scalici. You’ll meet him on this episode, when we immediately test his mettle as he interviews Edward about “Malcolm X.” You’ll also hear how “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor and Missy Elliott’s “Supa Dupa Fly” affected our dear friend.

(OK, you’ll also hear me lament his departure. But I promise to let it go.)

Follow our hosts: Carla Jean Whitley on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram; John Hammontree on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; Edward Bowser on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; and Matt Scalici on Twitter.