The master of funk, George Clinton. He began his musical career as a teenager when he formed The Parliaments. But in the early 70s, Clinton put together a second group, "Funkadelic," that became enormously influential on the pop music scene. Their 1970 album, "Osmium," set the tone for Clinton's wickedly ecclectic style; songs ranged from metaphysical gospel to country and acid rock. But their big hit came with the album "Mothership Connection." In songs like "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker," "Get Up on the Downstroke" and "Think!
Poet Li-Young Lee. He was born into a family of political refugees from China. They traveled throughout Asia for years to escape persecution. In the mid-60's his family moved to Pennsylvania. Lee's poems reflect his struggle with his Chinese heritage - a heritage to which he is bound but in which he never lived. His poems also reflect Lee's attempt to come to terms with the powerful and mythic figure of his father, who was alternately imprisoned and revered for his beliefs.
Leonard Koren. He's written, "283 Useful Ideas From Japan," which lists innovative products and services in Japan. It includes such things as the two-headed public telephone, a combination sink/toilet, and capsule hotels. Koren has been an architect, graphic designer, and publisher. He works and lives in San Francisco and Tokyo. (Interview by Sedge Thomson)
Film maker Peter Wang (it's spelled "wang," but it's pronounced "Wong"). Wang wrote, produced, directed, and acts in his new movie, "The Laser Man." It's a suspense-comedy about a Chinese-American physicist who discovers his laser research is being used for evil purposes. Much the same thing happened to Wang himself. He holds a PhD. in laser technology but left the field after deciding he could no longer use his skills to help create new weapons systems. After a stint teaching, Wang migrated into acting and film.
Roy Ahmaogak lives in Barrow, Alaska and during the whaling season hunts bow head whales for food. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were also whalers. Ahmaogak was the person who spotted the three gray whales trapped in the ice in Barrow that drew such media attention. A recent book by Tom Rose about the trapped whales has drawn criticism from residents of Barrow who feel they were misrepresented by Rose. We talk to Ahmaogak about whaling and native life in Barrow.
Television critic David Bianculli reviews an episode of "Rescue 911," the CBS series that sends a film crew out on emergency police calls. Their most famous piece of tape yet is the call from Charles Stuart in Boston to say he and his pregnant wife had been shot by a black assailant (this turned out to be a cover up for Stuart, who apparently murdered his wife and shot himself). Bits of the tape have been shown on newscasts, but this is its first full airing on the show.
Writer Jessica Hagedorn. Her debut novel, "The Dogeaters," is set amid the mixture of cultures that makes up the Philippines. Hagedorn herself was born and raised in the Philippines. Prior to this novel, she's been a poet, performance artist, playwright, and commentator for "Crossroads." ("The Dogeaters" is published by Pantheon).
Filmmaker Wayne Wang. With the films "Chan is Missing," "Dim Sum," "Slamdance" and "Eat a Bowl of Tea," to his credit, Wang is the first Chinese-American film director to make an impact in the American film industry. Wang has focussed his work around the problems of identity and assimilation, and other issues in the lives of Chinese-American immigrants. He made his first film, "Chan is Missing," on a budget of only $22,000, but the mystery set in San Francisco's Chinatown became both a critical and box-office success.
South African journalist Allister Sparks. He's been a correspondent for The Economist, the Washington Post, and The Observer. Sparks' new book, "The Mind of South Africa," is a historical study of that country, and an analysis of the roots of apartheid.