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7th Avenue Project: Poet & Word Warlock Michael Robbins

Visit: 7th Avenue Project website.

Michael Robbins says he wanted to be a rock star even more than a poet. His devotion to music, from rap to rock to pop and country, is audible in almost every line of his verse — not just in the lyrics he samples and remixes, but in the sonics and the syllables themselves. “Poetry for me has always been a kind of magic produced by sound,” he says, “like a spell or incantation.”

Michael’s just released his second poetry collection, The Second Sex, following up on 2012’s critical smash, Alien Vs. Predator. In this interview, he read a few selections from the new book while discussing some of the works – literary and musical – that have ensorcelled him over the years. Also, his thoughts on pop music tropes; ornamental overreach and epiphanic excess in poetry; rappers and their rhymes; faith and rationalism; and the virtuosity of Taylor Swift.

Here’s a mini-syllabus of some of the works discussed and heard in the interview:

Robert Plant – Live Webcast – 9/28/14

From NPR | Front Row -

Join NPR Music for a live video webcast of Robert Plant and his new band The Sensational Space Shifters.

CLICK HERE, Sunday, September 28th at 5:45 p.m. PT. a live video webcast featuring rock ‘n’ roll legend Robert Plant and his band. We’ll webcast the show from the Nonesuch At BAM music festival in Brooklyn. The former Led Zeppelin singer released a new solo album, titled lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar, earlier this month.

Plant’s Sensational Space Shifters include Justin Adams (guitar), John Baggott (keyboards), Juldeh Camara (gologo and a one-string West African violin called the riti), Billy Fuller (bass), Liam “Skin” Tyson (guitar) and Dave Smith (percussion).

Photo: Ed Miles/Courtesy of the artist

Photo: Ed Miles/Courtesy of the artist.

7th Avenue Project: Yael Kohen: The Rise of Women in Comedy

It’s taken decades, but women are finally catching up to men in the comedy business, with A-list stars like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman and Kristen Wiig. Have women comics achieved true equality? And if so, why’d it take so friggin’ long? We talk to Yael Kohen about her oral history, We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy. (Originally aired in 2012)

In the Wake of Die-Off Lots of Baby Sea Stars

starfishJ.D. Hillard | KUSP News

After most species of sea stars suffered massive die-offs in 2013, researchers say there’s some hope for recovery.

Scientists still don’t understand why sea stars from Mexico to Canada started dying off. But the disease, which is called “sea star wasting syndrome” has affected most species and in many locations killed off a majority of sea stars, says Peter Raimondi, who studies marine ecology at Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz.

“It’s unlikely you’ll go to a location and not find any sea stars but the numbers are fractions of what they used to be.”

The ailment begins with tissue death – parts of the sea star may fall off. Then bacterial infections kill the animal.

Now Raimondi says there’s a chance sea stars may recover. He and other scientists have seen the largest number of baby sea stars they’ve ever seen. That goes especially for a site near Raimondi’s lab.

“We’ve seen more babies in the last 6 months than we’ve seen in the last 15 years combined. ”

Raimondi cautions that the large birth year doesn’t necessarily promise a return to normal populations. These new sea stars could still get the disease.

“The comeback would be when these individuals actually make it through to the adult stage.”

He says that would take a few years, once this year’s babies reach maturity.


Watsonville Adds Water Restrictions

A scene like like could lead to a $500 fine. Courtesy of Stephen Laufer

A scene like like could lead to a $500 fine. Courtesy of Stephen Laufer

J.D. Hillard | KUSP News
This week Watsonville’s City Council approved new restrictions on water use following an emergency mandate issued by Governor Jerry Brown last month.

The emergency measure was aimed at reducing outdoor water use in urban areas. A lot of water districts have a variety of restrictions already, the mandate specifies all districts have to adopt measures such as prohibiting watering that causes runoff or washing cars without a nozzle that shuts off.

In order to comply Watsonville adopted the mandated limit for outdoor watering: no more than two days per week for less than 15 minutes.


At Farming Workshop: Drought and Salty Wells


Mark Silberstein-500

By Wes Sims | KUSP News

During droughts cities tell residents to stop watering outside. Farms don’t have that option. This drought highlights the challenge growers face maintaining agriculture while preserving water supplies. It’s become part of the curriculum for a program that educates community leaders about local agricultural issues.

Look Past the Smell: Anchovies Feed an Ecosystem


Last week millions of anchovies swam in the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor and then died due to lack of oxygen. Beaches in Aptos also saw anchovy die-offs.

KUSP’s Adia White reports the die-off is a by-product of a periodic boom in the coastal anchovy population that is a boon for marine life.


Environmental Groups Criticize Proposed Desalination Rule

By KUSP News

As numerous coastal communities face dwindling water supplies, state regulators Wednesday discussed how to keep proposed desalination plants from sucking marine life into intake pipes or damaging habitat with toxic brine.

As many as 15 coastal communities have proposals or plans in various stages of development for desalination to augment water supplies.

The State Water Resources Control Board is considering a proposed regulation that would require plants to draw their water from wells under the floor of the Pacific and dilute brine - the main waste created by desalination – before it goes back into the ocean.  The code does allow a project to use another method if geology or other conditions make these wells impossible.


Santa Cruz County to Vote on Taxing Cannabis


Santa Cruz County may tax pot up to 10 percent according to a measure the Board of Supervisors will place on November’s ballot.

The goal is not to deter marijuana purchases, but to raise money for the county, according to the resolution calling for the vote. Proceeds would go into the county general fund and allocated in the annual budget.

The measure would initially tax purchases up to seven percent, but would allow the board to increase to ten percent in the future. Other cities with similar ordinances on their books include Oakland and San Jose.

Twelve businesses currently dispense cannabis in the unincorporated parts of Santa Cruz County, where the tax would apply. County staff hope it could raise as much as $900,000 annually.


7th Avenue Project: Persi Diaconis, Math, Magic, Deception & Probability

Broadcast on The 7th Avenue Project, July 20, 2014

When he was 14, Persi Diaconis ran away from home to become one of the world’s great magicians. Now he’s a world-class mathematician, and his two professions have more in common than you might think.

Persi and I had a very entertaining conversation about his careers in show biz and academe, covering topics such as:

His friendships with other magicians, including Ricky Jay, Randi and Dai Vernon
Some surprisingly profound mathematical card tricks
Why science needs statisticians
Duping others and being duped himself
Why he’s so secretive
Click the play arrow above to hear the interview, or the download icon on the upper right to get your own mp3.

Persi’s well-known as an inventor of original tricks and sometimes helps other performers come up with new routines. For instance, he had a hand in this classic bit from Steve Martin: