Everything is good at Ramen House Tuesday, Dec 31 2019 

Thoughts upon eating edamame at Ramen House: If you’re supposed to get at these delicious little underripe-soybean snacks by popping the beans out of the inedible pod, what’s the point in seasoning the outside of the pod? A taste of Ramen House’s amazing spicy garlic edamame ($5.50) explains it all for us. Grab a pod … Continue reading Everything is good at Ramen House

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Strange Fruit: Who Gets A Redemption Story In America? Wednesday, Dec 18 2019 

From Paula Deen, to Brock Turner, to Virginia governor Ralph Northam, we live in a society that allows many white people who commit racist, violent or illegal actions to be punished lightly and quickly forgiven.

This quickness to forgive is present in both the court of public opinion and also within the country’s political and judicial systems.

This week we challenge notions of instant white redemption and second chances with Marley K, an author and advocate whose essay asks, “Why Does A White Man’s Legacy Trump A Black Man’s Trauma?

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Chef changes keep Mesh on tasty track Wednesday, Dec 18 2019 

As smoothly as a runner receiving the baton in a fast relay, new hands have taken charge of the kitchen at Mesh restaurant without missing a step. If you’re looking for casual modern elegance for holiday-season dining, Mesh should definitely be on your list. We dropped in for dinner recently with our friends Linda and … Continue reading Chef changes keep Mesh on tasty track

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Strange Fruit: Practical Magic For Patriarchal Times Thursday, Dec 12 2019 

Have you ever just wished that you could just wave a wand and all of the oppression, injustice and trauma in the world would disappear, like magic? Author Ariel Gore, a self-described social justice witch, says that not only is it possible, but she’s written a magical guide to show us just how to do it.

Hexing the Patriarchy: 26 Potions, Spells, and Magical Elixirs to Embolden the Resistance” contains more than two dozen incantations, recipes, and rituals collected from witches from various traditions. Gore joins us this week to discuss her own journey to social justice witchcraft and shares how feminist magic can help uplift and empower the disenfranchised.

Later in the show we have a provocative conversation regarding race, interracial unions and social justice as we speak with writer Madena Maxine about why white folks in interracial marriages should care about anti-racism work. She examines the topic in her deeply-personal essay Racial Trauma & My Interracial Marriage.

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Jasmine Bistro impresses with Chinese regional flavors Wednesday, Dec 11 2019 

I still vividly remember the excitement of my first tastes of Sichuan cuisine. We had to travel to New York City, San Francisco or Chicago to get such goodies back in the late ‘70s, but Sichuan, aka Szechwan, fare did get to Louisville finally, and for a decade or two, these spicy regional cuisines were … Continue reading Jasmine Bistro impresses with Chinese regional flavors

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However you pronounce SOU, we sure like it. Wednesday, Dec 4 2019 

SOU might mean “South.” It could represent “soul.” Yet the proper way to pronounce the name of this new Plainview-area eatery is not “sow” or “soo” but “So-you.” Intentional ambiguity seems to lie at the heart of this upscale dining room in a thoroughly renovated former Skyline Chili parlor, and that’s all right. SOU is … Continue reading However you pronounce SOU, we sure like it.

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Strange Fruit: The Importance Of Telling LGBTQ+ Stories Tuesday, Dec 3 2019 

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Telling the histories and lived experiences of Black LGBTQ+ people is beneficial not only for the future generations who hear or read these stories, but is vital to our own survival as well.

This week, professor and author Dr. E. Patrick Johnson returns to the show to discuss his new book, “Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women,” which introduces readers to a variety of Black Southern queer women who shared with Johnson the stories of the joy, pain, terror and triumphs that have colored their lives.

Later, Jordan Williams stops by the studio to talk about his compelling short feature on the online platform Queer Kentucky. Williams discusses his journey to self-love and self-acceptance as a queer Black man and talks about how he coped with the lack of racial diversity while growing up in Hardin County, Kentucky.

Reflections On An Interfaith Thanksgiving Thursday, Nov 28 2019 

Sitting in the cavernous Crescent Hill Baptist Church, listening to faith leaders pray, it occurred to me that I could have used something like this when I was 10. 

The Interfaith Thanksgiving service and dinner on Monday night started with a short sermon from Reverend Jason Crosby, giving readings and recitations that were familiar to me. 

I didn’t grow up in Louisville, but outside Charlotte, North Carolina in the 1990s. North Carolina was and is very much part of the Bible Belt, and back then — maybe even now — the question wasn’t, ‘where’d you go to high school?’ but, ‘where do you go to church?’

Because I’d moved down south with my parents at age 8, without them having taught me much about Jesus or the Bible, Christianity was totally foreign. I was teased for not going to church; I felt like an outsider.

But there’s a specific effort in Louisville, called the Interfaith Paths to Peace, that aims to make us all feel like insiders, no matter our religion, and to bring faiths together. On Monday, a half-full church heard from Temple Shalom Rabbi Beth Jacowitz Chottiner, Johnny Alse from the Hindu Temple of Kentucky, and many other faith leaders. They stood at the front of Crescent Hill Baptist Church, where a pastor usually stands, and recited their own prayers. 

Thanksgiving isn’t necessarily about religion. Today, it’s a quintessential American holiday, despite the history. It’s about friends and family, or whatever else you’ve got, and for being grateful for all that.

But religion provides a landing spot for so many Americans to rest their beliefs. In my reporting on health care, the thing that doesn’t often make it into the story of people’s health and financial struggles are their comments about their faith as the source of strength during it all. It might be a faith in God, or a faith in suffering as a human condition, or faith that their relationships with loved ones will counteract the suffering. 

Imam Mohammad Wasif Iqbal from the Louisville Islamic Center of Compassion reiterated that gratitude is part of almost every religion or belief.

“Gratitude is a perspective we can choose to adopt or reject on a daily basis,” he said. “Even in the midst of difficult times, when we continue to give thanks, that can shape our outer lives.” 

Lisa Gillespie | wfpl.org

Imam Mohammad Wasif Iqbal leads an Islamic prayer.

Anne Walter from the Buddhist Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion talked to me before the service started about what this event can do.

“I think it gives you something meaningful to put your heart into; we all have challenges, and we all often have challenges between faith traditions,” Walter said. “But whenever you can build something like this, it gives you hope. And I think that’s what we need more than anything right now.”

In addition to faith, hope also keeps a lot of people I interview going: hope that they’ll get better, that the cost of a drug will be lowered and they’ll be able to afford it, that there’s a scientist working on a cure for their ailment. There’s also hope from health researchers, advocates and policy makers, a belief that whatever they’re doing might improve lives.

And perhaps every faith has some belief in gratitude and giving thanks. Most faiths recognize suffering and the turmoil humans have faced throughout whatever century we’re living. There’s scientific research on what this mindfulness and gratitude does to our brains; it rewires it and changes our perspective to become more resilient. Resilience has been shown to be an indicator in life expectancy and in surviving sickness. 

During the service Iman Iqbal remarked that this was the first time in years that there hadn’t been a mass shooting or vandalism of a religious facility that could be tied to this event. This Thanksgiving service started back in 2015, after the River Road Mosque was defaced with graffiti. Last year, Thanksgiving fell shortly after a shooting at a Jewish temple in Pittsburgh.

“Usually that is the case. So this is a reminder of regardless of what is to come, we have each others back,” Iqbal said. “Louisville is unique in what we have with the grassroots efforts and the relationship that’s been built.”

Reverend Crosby later told me that the service and dinner is one of his favorite Thanksgiving events: it reminds him that both people and religions have more similarities than differences. 

“I don’t see how an event like this cannot then inform other Thanksgiving events that folks participate in,” Crosby said. “One reason I enjoy this event is that it happens on a Monday night, and as I move through other Thanksgiving events through the course of the week, most of which won’t be as racially, ethnically or religiously diverse as this one, it does shape conversations I’ll have later in the week.”

Lisa Gillespie | wfpl.org

Reverend Jason Crosby at the Interfaith Paths to Peace Thanksgiving Dinner

Sitting in front of me during the service were three pre-teen boys, and I wondered, “what are they thinking?” Perhaps they’d learned in school about the many wars throughout history that were sparked by the belief that people of certain religions were intrinsically better than others. Or maybe they’ve watched the news of late about religious extremists who cause havoc on other lives. 

The messages local faith leaders were sharing Monday night could have been considered radical and dangerous at various times in the past, and remain that way in parts of the U.S. and around the world. 

I hope those boys got what I could have gotten from the service — had I been in their exact spot when I needed to hear it.  Without my own faith, and surrounded by others who clung to it, I felt lost, never understood why people believed, never understood why it was so important that I believed. 

In my adult years, I have learned that religion played and still plays a big role in society. It’s imbued people’s lives with meaning, given hope to people in distress and offered a reason for all of the struggles. Now, I’ve finally figured out why it was important to some that I believe in something. 

Religion is, in the worst of circumstances, a weapon. But in the best of circumstances, it brings people together. The Louisville Thanksgiving service would have been good for my ten-year-old self. It was at the very least, a surface look at the faith community in Louisville: together in a house of worship, sharing green bean casserole and falafel. 

Two Tales of Heroism in Restaurant Service Wednesday, Nov 27 2019 

I recently stopped in on a Monday for breakfast at a diner near where I work. The place was busy, but not full. I wasn’t greeted, as I had been on each previous visit. This restaurant features an open hot line, where I could see a solitary cook hard at it. A single server was … Continue reading Two Tales of Heroism in Restaurant Service

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Strange Fruit: You Might Not Be Racist, But Are You Anti-Racist? Tuesday, Nov 26 2019 

Lots of folks may consider themselves to be “not racist” — a sort of personal, private declaration — but is that enough in these volatile political times? Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, a leading scholar on race and discriminatory policy in America, says the true goal is to be actively “antiracist.”

Kendi is a New York Times bestselling author and the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. He joins us this week to discuss his new book “How To Be An Antiracist,” in which he analyzes law, history, ethics and science to contextualize his own journey toward awakening as an antiracist.

Later in the show we talk to culture writer Jonita Davis about the growing phenomenon of Black women in motorcycle clubs, which she highlights in her feature “Yes, Black Girls Ride Too.”

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