Posts Tagged ‘RTE’

What happens after the war ends?

8 June 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Laos_01On 4 June 2007 US Federal prosecutors in California arrested ten people on the charge of conspiring to overthrow the Communist government of Laos. The story behind the arrests reads like a Hollywood thriller. Earlier that year an undercover agent posing as an arms dealer named Steve Hoffmaster had contacted Harrison Jack, an American Vietnam War veteran associated with the group. In the months that followed Hoffmaster and Jack prepared an inventory list of weapons worth $9.8 million that included AK-47s, M-16 machine guns, rockets, mines, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and three shoulder-fired Stinger missiles designed to shoot down aircraft. When Hoffmaster finally turned the men in, among those arrested was 77-year-old General Vang Pao, senior leader-in-exile of the Hmong ethnic group and the man recruited by the CIA in 1960 to lead a ‘Secret Army’ to rid Laos of the influence of the communist Pathet Lao (the latter ably aided by North Vietnamese troops).

Vang Pao and over 100,000 Hmong had fled across the Mekong River into Thailand and on to the US after the Pathet Lao gained full control of Laos in 1975, but for those left behind the years of conflict had an even more devastating legacy. Read More

Pue’s Recommendations for June

8 June 2009

Pue’s Recommendations is a (mostly biased) monthly list of things worth reading, watching, listening to and attending, put together by the editors of Pue’s Occurrences. If there’s anything you think we’ve missed out on, or anything you think isn’t worth the mention, feel free to leave us a comment.

Helvetica Frankfurt

Juliana Adelman

I have belatedly discovered the brilliant documentary, Helvetica, released two years ago to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the font.  I had no idea so many people took font so seriously.  I’m also reading the free online journal Antennae.  Somewhat esoteric, but definitely thought-provoking, the current issue deals with mechanical animals including attempts to build some of Leonardo Da Vinci’s machines.

Lisa-Marie Griffith

The theme of this year’s Dublin Writers Festival is ‘The power of the word’. This opportunity to get up close and personal with some of your favourite writers and to discover the new talent emerging on the literary scene.  Arthur Miller’s ‘All My Sons’ plays until 12 June at the Gate and is well worth going to see and Dublin Shakespeare Festival 8-14 June.

Kevin O’Sullivan

My book to read this month is Wojciech Tochman’s excellent Like Eating a Stone: Surviving the Past in Bosnia (2009) (see my review here). In other media, I’m a late convert (via podcast) to Melvyn Bragg’s ‘In Our Time’ on BBC Radio 4, and had a sneak preview of the first programme (on Laos) in RTÉ1’s ‘What in the World?’ TV series, which starts on 11 June: moving stuff.

A Holy Show

6 June 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Gay ByrneSo the dust has settled on the news that Ryan Tubridy, that doyen of Irish radio and television, darling of grandmammies the country over, will take over as the new presenter of the ‘Late Late Show’ this autumn following the end of Pat Kenny’s ten-year (ten years!) tenure. Kenny’s undisguised desire to return to current affairs broadcasting,  a role in which he sounds so much more comfortable on his radio show than in front of camera, begs further questions of the relevance of the ‘Late Late’. Does anyone remember when the programme was something more than a vehicle for what RTÉ describes as ‘the biggest celebrities the world has to offer’, or, in lay parlance, whatever unknown British celebrity, Irish boy/girlband with a single to push or (when I saw it a few months ago) strange American plastic surgeon pitches highest? Or when its ‘memorable moments’ amounted to something more than those highlighted by Fiona McCann in last week’s Irish Times? The era when the longest running chat show on television (in the world, ever) was, we are told, at the forefront of breaking down taboos and pushing the boundaries of debate in Ireland, famously getting the Bishop of Galway in a twist over women’s nightwear, seem a long way away to TV viewers of my generation. Was it really that radical? Has it, like all things 1960s, been talked up by a nostalgic generation who yearn for the days when things were simpler, everyone walked to school in their bare feet and ate (s)mashed potato from powder in a bag? Or, more likely, have we simply lost sight of its power now that we live in an age of omnipresent news? (There’s a joke about one for everyone in the audience in there somewhere, but best leave it alone.) And, what, if anything, will take its place for historians of contemporary Ireland? Answers on a postcard to Pue’s Occurrences.