David Normoyle is a golf historian and an altogether exceptional person. He is also an old friend of Jay’s. Recently, David went on an extraordinary journey: a 40-day car trip through COVID America. He chronicled his trip, daily. In conversation with Jay, David talks about what he saw, and a slew of other subjects as well. Enjoy a conversation between two old friends, on golf and life.

In a career of writing extraordinary books, David Pryce-Jones has written a new one: “Signatures: Literary Encounters of a Lifetime.” DP-J has a collection of about a hundred books inscribed to him by their authors: Aldous Huxley, W. H. Auden, Saul Bellow, Somerset Maugham, Rebecca West, Erich Segal, and so on. He talks about these authors in “Signatures.” The book is a series of brief lives, you might say, or brief encounters. (Sounds like the title of a movie.) It is also partly an autobiography, because the encounters provide windows on DP-J’s own life.

“Signatures” is, in effect, a companion to “Fault Lines,” Pryce-Jones’s superb and magisterial autobiography of 2015.

Mathis Bitton is a summer intern at National Review and a sophomore-to-be at Yale. He has a lot to say – about many subjects, but today’s subject is France, a rich, varied, and inexhaustible subject, to be sure. Jay puts the young monsieur through some paces: about the French language, and English, for that matter; about French poets, novelists, painters, scientists, cars, etc.; about Napoleon and de Gaulle (how to view them?); about assimilation and identity; about a lot of things. Jay clearly has a ball listening to this kid, and you will as well. Check him out.

P.S. Jay may well do a Round 2 with Mathis, about things French. If you have a question you’d like put to the young man, tell Jay at jnordlinger@nationalreview.com.

Radek Sikorski is a man of considerable experience: as a journalist, for National Review, The Spectator, and many other publications; and as a politician. Sikorski was foreign minister and defense minister of his country, Poland. Today, he is a member of the European Parliament. He talks with Jay about a slew of issues: the recent Polish election; the EU; NATO; the United States; Boris Johnson (his contemporary at Oxford); Viktor Orbán (ditto); Afghanistan (where Sikorski was a war correspondent); etc. A lot of ground is covered in this Q&A, with a very thoughtful, and experienced, and candid man.

 

John R. Bolton – who has served in every Republican administration from Reagan on – has kicked up a fuss with his memoir of the Trump White House: “The Room Where It Happened.” With Jay, he talks about the president, the world, and himself.

Greg Mankiw – N. Gregory Mankiw – is a famous economist. His name is pronounced “Mankyoo,” rhyming with “Thank you.” He is a professor at Harvard (granted tenure on his 29th birthday). Under George W. Bush, he was chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. He is a great admirer of Milton Friedman. As a blogger, he can be found here. With Jay, he discusses life and economics: capitalism, socialism, Marx, trade, inequality, deficits, pandemics, etc. A splendid little summer session with a top teacher.

Orin Kerr is a law professor and legal writer extraordinaire. He teaches at Berkeley. He writes widely, including on Twitter (@OrinKerr). With Jay, he talks about life and the law: judges, presidents, senators, pardons, and more. Also: How’s life on campus? Free and easy or illiberal and hard? Orin Kerr is a natural teacher and interviewee.

This episode begins with a shout — “a shout of joy on the organ,” Jay says. It also has a poem, written and recited by Langston Hughes. And a song, setting that same poem. The episode includes a little Broadway — and other curiosities, finds, and wonders. Enjoy “music for a while.“

Hughes-Manz, “God of Grace and God of Glory”
Langston Hughes, “I, Too”
Margaret Bonds, “I, Too”
Frederic Rzewski, “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!”
Coleman-Stewart, “Thank God I’m Old”
Herbert Murrill, “Carillon”
Handel, “O Lord, whose mercies numberless,” from “Saul”
Trad., arr. Bonds, “This Little Light o’ Mine”

Jay is joined by an old colleague and one of the best political reporters in America: Tim Alberta, of Politico. He is the author of the bestselling book “American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.” He and Jay talk lockdown politics, the John Bolton book, Campaign 2020, and so on. Whom will Biden pick as his running mate? Will Trump dump Pence? Are “law-and-order Republicans” cooked? Etc. The discussion ends with a little sports.

“Got a real smorgasbord for you,” says Jay—“even more than usual. An almost wacky variety.” He begins with Rachmaninoff, turns to Satie, then to a classic American song, then to Satie again, then to Penderecki, and on to Fauré and Busoni (no, not Bach-Busoni). Some interesting issues, points, personalities, and, of course, music.

Rachmaninoff, “Spring Waters

The absence of a baseball season has hit many people hard, and it’s hit George Will very hard: The game is a big part of his life, and he is an authority on it. (See “Men at Work.”) Will has two teams, the Cubs and the Nationals. He and Jay talk about baseball this year, or the absence of it. They also talk about the Astros cheating scandal: the meaning of it.

Further subjects are police brutality; racism; the New York Times; Donald Trump; the GOP; and conservatism. (Will’s most recent book is “The Conservative Sensibility,” and he and Jay discussed it here.)

Elaina Plott is a national political reporter for the New York Times. Before that, she worked for National Review, Washingtonian magazine, and The Atlantic. She and Jay are old friends. Elaina grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and is currently working on a story about Jeff Sessions, the ex-senator from Alabama (who wants to be a senator again). Elaina went to Yale. With Jay, she talks about reading, writing, college, race, politics, the pandemic, and more. She is a journalist and writer of particular sensitivity and grace.

In the podcast, Jay singles out two pieces by Elaina Plott, which are favorites of his: this one, “The Bullet in My Arm,” which is autobiographical; and this one, which is about a Facebook group in Louisiana at the beginning of the pandemic.

Jay begins with some festive music: specifically, the “Festive Overture” of Shostakovich. He has a showtune: “Some Other Time.” He has an Aretha Franklin hit, about zoomin’. He has a spiritual: “Ain’t Got Time to Die.” Some French organ music. And more. He ends with Karel Ančerl, the great Czech conductor who endured horror and produced much beauty and brilliance.

Tracks played:

Jim Harbaugh is the coach of the University of Michigan football team. For 14 seasons, he was a quarterback in the NFL. He has coached both at the college level and in the pros. Last month, he and Jay had a leisurely conversation about many things. (They are old friends.) Now they have done Round 2. Today’s subjects include: a recent RV trip; dreaming about playing; the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s; William “The Refrigerator” Perry; Tiger Woods; getting sacked; sneaking it in; rules of eligibility; soccer (a game of interest?); and baseball (too slow?). Some fun stuff.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, for her department’s new Title IX regulations on campus. These have to do with the rights of accusers and accused. Nadine Strossen was president of the ACLU from 1991 to 2008. On this issue, she disagrees with the ACLU and agrees with DeVos. With Jay, she talks about this and much else: including her warm friendship with William F. Buckley Jr. 

Jay plays some music by a Bach son. There is also Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns, and other composers. The episode ends with a tribute to Rosalind Elias, the late American mezzo-soprano: the thirteenth and last child of Lebanese immigrants.

Tracks played:

Jeb Bush knows a thing or two about being a governor – including in bad situations. That’s when you really have to “suit up,” as he says. With Jay, he talks about governors in a time of pandemic. The politics of lockdown. And so on.

Other subjects include China; Bush 43; the coming campaign (will there be conventions?); balloting (is mailing in okay?); and the beauty of George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara.

As regular listeners know, Robert Costa is one of Jay’s favorite journalists and people. Costa is a national political reporter at the Washington Post. He is the moderator of “Washington Week” on PBS. And he is a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. With Jay, he walks about reporting in a time of pandemic. The White House press operation. The nature of Donald Trump. The weirdness of the upcoming campaign. Vice-presidential picks, on either side. The candidacy of Justin Amash. Lockdown politics. And more. A refreshing, informed conversation with a real pro.

As Jay points out at the beginning of the show, Mark Helprin has been thinking about pandemics longer than most of us have. Here is a piece he published in 2006. “We face a danger that approaches steadily from the far distance like a tsunami in slow motion. It will almost certainly strike in one form or another, it could strike tomorrow . . .” Helprin, as you know, is the novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and national-security analyst. In this episode of “Q&A,” he talks exclusively about the plague now upon us, including the politics of it. A blunt, informed, bracing presentation.

Jay’s previous episode was devoted to music of spring. As he points out, it’s still spring—and there’s a lot of spring music out there. So he goes a second round. This round serves up Schubert, Mahler, Copland, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and more. A colorful, happy bouquet.

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