stories by Manhattan-based radio reporter, newspaper writer and podcast producer Jon Kalish

Dennis & Leonardo

Sculptor Dennis Sparling of New Haven, Vermont made a 9-foot tall sculpture of Leonardo Da Vinci. In early July he began what he had thought would be a long road trip to find a home for Leonardo. But things didn’t pan out that way. Listen to the story on Vermont Public Radio.

Start-Ups at Maker Spaces

Listen to a story produced for NPR about maker spaces as hotbeds of technological innovation and entrepreneurship.

DIY Book Scanner

Earlier this month a car with a license plate frame proclaiming “Proud to be a Sikh” pulled up to the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA. The Jewish driver got out and delivered a custom made book scanner that was built by a guy raised as a Baptist in Indiana. If this sounds like a set-up for a joke, it’s not, though the book scanner was designed by a North Dakota dumpster-diver who dropped out of a PhD. program in neuro-science. Is this a great country or what? The story is in The Forward newspaper this week.

New York Mandolin Orchestra Celebrates Its 90th Anniversary

Listen to a story on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday about the New York Mandolin Orchestra, which is not, it turns out, the oldest mandolin orchestra in the country. A concert celebrating their 90th anniversary takes place on Sunday, June 1st here in Manhattan.

A new eating utensil called T.I.M.

Bob Heller has created a new eating utensil that slips over your ring finger. The concept is not sitting well with authorities on etiquette. Or Bob’s wife Fran. Read about the new utensil, T.I.M. For info on how to order one, send email to

Roz Payne and the Black Panther Party

Why is a film archive dedicated to preserving the history of the Black Panther Party housed in a small town in Vermont? Listen to a story on Vermont Public Radio about Roz Payne, keeper of the archive.

Vermont’s Lost Shul Mural

Listen to a story on All Things Considered tonight about a synagogue mural in Burlington, Vermont that was painted more than a hundred years ago and is being restored, then moved.

More info on the project here.

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

Rubin Carter is terminally ill. He’s being cared for by John Artis, his co-defendant in the infamous triple homicide case that sent them both to prison. The convictions, of course, were overturned and Carter settled in the Toronto area. Read more in the New York Daily News.
An obit for NPR is here.


Listen to a report on All Things Considered tonight about the WikiHouse project. This London-based open source construction group uses CNC machines to cut plywood pieces that slot together to form the frame of a house. We hear from WikiHouse founder Alastair Parvin, an architecture student who built and lived in a WikiHouse in Utah and the author of a book on the Sears kit homes, the 20th Century analog version of WikiHouse.

David Krakauer’s Big Picture

Read about the great clarinetist David Krakauer’s latest project, a re-interpretation of movie scores with Jewish themes. Krakauer commissioned original videos to be projected on a screen while his sextet performs these tunes on stage. The story is in the Jewish Daily Forward.

Burlington, Vermont hackerspaces

Listen to a story on Vermont Public Radio about the Burlington hacker space Laboratory B.

And here’s one about the soon to open Generator makerspace in Burlington.

Kupferberg Archive Acquired by NYU

Read about New York University’s acquisition of the archive of the late Fug, Tuli Kupgerberg.

Danny Schechter on Nelson Mandela

Listen to a story on The WBGO Journal about journalist and activist Danny Schechter, who has covered the liberation struggle in South Africa for more than 40 years.


Listen to a story on NPR’s Morning Edition about the wacky musicians, engineers and video producers collectively known as CDZA. Their experimental web videos are a hoot. CDZA has more than a quarter million subscribers to their YouTube channel. Oh, and about the above photo… well, uh, they don’t look nearly that good in person.

A Lifetime Achievement Award for the Klezmatics

The Klezmatics were given a lifetime achievement award by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research on November 19. The hard rockin’, hard workin’ klezmer ensemble was lauded for offering “a provocative model of how to respond to the destruction of Europe’s Yiddish culture.” The band’s trumpet player Frank London said, “We are blessed to be a link in the chain of Yiddish continuity.” Read all about it on the Arty Semite blog.