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Ascha Lee / KMUW

Frustration Over Shutdown Fuels Third Wichita Women's March

Hundreds of demonstrators braved the cold Saturday afternoon for the third annual Wichita Women’s March and rally downtown. The theme of the gathering was “Claim Your Voice.” A variety of issues were addressed at the event, including domestic violence, immigration rights, police brutality and equal representation in government.

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Wichita Public Library

Wichita has a long and proud history as a baseball town-- from club games in the 1870s, to serving as the home of the NBC Tournament since its beginning in 1935, to the national championship success of Wichita State University. But last month marked the anniversary of a lost piece of Wichita baseball history that almost seems too strange to be true: A game in 1925 between the Wichita Monrovians-- an all African-American professional team-- and the Wichita chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

So my family went out of town for a week and Wichita had a whole lot of rain during that time. There was the usual indicator of too much moisture in Wichita yards: a mushrooming bumper crop of political yard signs.

The recent death of Tom Leahy Jr., better known as Major Astro to Kansas baby boomers, caused my mind to rocket into the past. The good major wore his astronaut jumpsuit while hosting a daily afterschool kiddie show on local TV from 1962 to 1973. Wally Gator, Touche Turtle and Felix the Cat cartoons were beamed earthward to all the little tykes watching their rabbit-eared TV sets. Many were, no doubt, clutching their membership cards to the Major Astro Club.

Had a garage sale the other day. Swore I’d never have another one 2 sales ago. But stuff just kept piling up and something had to be done. So my wife, my daughter and I spent a long 90-degree June day saying over and over, “Yes, we’ll take 50 cents instead of 75 cents for that.”

I was going to do another commentary today about British Petroleum’s oil massacre of the Gulf of Mexico. But when I sat down to write it and began thinking about the leak which is a mile below the surface of the water, my thoughts were interrupted by a BP official who burst into my brain and quickly waved me away from the scene.

“You can’t consider this at all,” he ordered. “This entire area of thought is off-limits to anyone except employees of BP. Cease all mental cogitation on this subject immediately.”

The amazing thing about the tragic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for me, is not that it happened. It’s not the gargantuan size of the spill itself. And it’s not that the three corporations involved are each blaming the other. What’s unbelievable about this disaster is the fact that the drilling industry had no plan for what to do in the event that such a spill took place. They seem to be scrambling and improvising in a way that reminds me of a three-year-old who shattered Mom’s favorite flower vase all over the kitchen floor while trying to get to the cookie jar.

There’s a local businessman who’s running for Representative Todd Tiahrt’s congressional seat.  This guy is apparently just nuts about me. He really really really wants to be my pal. I know this because he’s tried three times to “friend” me on Facebook. Each time I turn him down and it never hurts his feelings. He just comes back again with another request. He’s positively smitten with me, I can only surmise.

Spring is such a generous season. Without our having to lift a finger, nature showers us with spectacular abundance every April. It didn’t require a public vote on which trees would bud first. There was no legislation passed stipulating that by a certain date all tulips would burst open. The enthusiastic birdsong outside our kitchen windows every morning now does not have to be critiqued by a panel of celebrity judges.

My ego can beat up your ego. My team can beat your team. My political party can beat your political party. My country can beat your country. My planet can beat your planet. My galaxy can…well, we’re not quiet that far yet, but the time will come.

Bragging rights. We humans love ‘em. Gotta be the best, the biggest, the baddest. In a conversation with a friend recently I found myself saying this about the recent basketball season: “Thank goodness for the Emporia State women’s team! National Division II champs!”


Commentary & Podcasts

Rule Breakers | YSIW

It's probably obvious that we love rules at You're Saying It Wrong. So it's equally unnerving and thrilling when we get to break them. In this episode we're dealing with split infinitives, ending sentences with prepositions, and trying to "Latinize" English — all rules we are allowed to break!

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KMUW Music

Monday 1.21.19

Night Train steps aside for two specials – from Night Lights and Blues & Beyond – featuring music in celebration of Dr. King Day.

(Global Village also celebrates Dr. King Day this evening.)

Tuesday 1.22.19

Night Train marks birthdays of trombone pioneer J.J. Johnson, singer Lizz Wright, bassist Eberhard Weber, and saxophonist Tony Campise. Plus more for the January Best of 2018 feature, including more show favorites and this year’s jazz Grammy nominees.

Wednesday 1.23.19

Night Train celebrates two major jazz birthdays tonight – vibes master Gary Burton (including music from a new five-disc career retrospective) and guitar great Django Reinhardt. Along with music from the ‘gypsy jazz’ legend, we’ll hear music from other artists and groups inspired by his sound, including a special in hour two featuring a performance from the Hot Club of Detroit.  Plus more for the January Best of 2018 feature, including music from show favorite, the Hot Club of San Francisco, from a recent 30th anniversary compilation.

(Global Village also celebrates Django Reinhardt’s birthday this evening.)

Thursday 1.24.19

It’s music with a Latin influence tonight on the Night Train, including a number of 2018 releases for the January feature. We’ll hear music from Nestor Torres’ Latin Grammy nominated release, Eddie Daniels’ Grammy nominated album, the intriguing China Caribe Night Train favorite from Dongfeng Liu, and another show pick from inventive Cuban artist Alfredo Rodriguez. We also remember trumpeters Roy Hargrove and Jerry Gonazlez who passed away in 2018 – and get to the latest from Chucho Valdes, Charlie Dennard, Aaron Goldberg, Stefon Harris, and more.

Monday, January 21

Global Village celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with songs dedicated to him, music inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, and pieces that reflect human rights themes as performed by artists from around the globe, including Mavis Staples, the Soweto Gospel Choir, Toots & the Maytals, Stevie Wonder, and more.

(Night Train also celebrates Dr. King’s birthday tonight.)

Tuesday, January 22

Global Village highlights world mandolins– with influences from Brazilian (Hamilton de Holanda), Western and Arabic classical (Avi Avital) and folk (Solas, MandolinMan and Runa). Plus music from Cal Tjader, the Nordic group Sver, and contemporary Brazilian band Forro in the Dark.

Wednesday, January 23

Global Village celebrates the birthday of gypsy jazz guitar great Django Reinhardt with music from the master himself and from his Hot Club of France partner – violinist Stephane Grappelli. We’ll also hear from some of the many contemporary artists and groups inspired by his music to offer both traditional and contemporary forms of his trademark ‘gypsy jazz’ sound, including Tchavolo Schmitt, Bireli Lagrene, Pearl Django, the Hot Club of San Francisco, the Hot Club of Detroit and Hot Club Sandwich.

(Night Train also celebrates Django Reinhardt’s birthday tonight.)

Thursday, January 24

Global Village continues the January Best of 2018 feature and celebrates the birthday of Crescent City great Aaron Neville. We’ll hear Neville solo and with the Neville Brothers, and get to music from the 2018 and nominated album from Ziggy Marley, along with show favorites from Bombino (the featured artist for the January Global Village at the Savannah Music Festival show, which airs next week), Hugh Masekela, and the Dur-Dur Band.

Friday, January 25

Global Village marks the birthday of pianist, composer and bossa nova pioneer Antonio Carlos Jobim with performances from the legendary Brazilian artist and covers of some of his many classics from Stan Getz, Charlie Byrd, Sting, Quarteto Jobim Morelenbaum, the Jobim Orchestra, classical guitarist Berta Rojas, and John Pizzarelli’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of a classic album from Jobim with Frank Sinatra.

January 25/27

Crossroads wraps up the January Best of 2018 feature with more Blues Music Awards and Grammy nominees – this time including Shemekia Copeland, Dom Flemons, Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite, Maria Muldaur, Elvin Bishop and Bettye LaVette. We also remember some artists who passed away in 2018, including Terry Evans, Eddie C. Campbell, Otis Rush and, in hour two, a special tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

Max Crace

Released in 1990, Ah Via Musicom served as Texas guitarist Eric Johnson's breakthrough album, spawning four singles, three of which became inescapable on rock radio in subsequent years. The tune "Cliffs of Dover" earned Johnson a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1992. Johnson toured incessantly behind the recording and landed a coveted spot opening for legendary Canadian band Rush during the touring cycle.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, January 21. Global Village, Strange Currency, Night Train and Soulsations are celebrating the life of the civil rights icon with music features leading up to and on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 


Deborah Shaar / KMUW

Wichita-Based Neighborhood Food Pantry Program Expanding Across Kansas

More small food pantries are going up in neighborhoods across Kansas. The freestanding wooden boxes are called “Paxton’s Blessing Box," and they offer non-perishable food items to anyone who needs them.

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