Take a step back in time with author and screenwriter, Dan Wakefield and his friends for Uncle Dan’s Story Hour.
Episode Ten: Profiles
At the end of this interview, Dan Wakefield says ‘’I guess that’s it. That’s everything I know. That’s doubtful of course, but the amount of insider history covered in this podcast is wide ranging. One of the first practitioners of what was called “The New Journalism,” he tells stories from the great age of celebrity profiles. Wakefield covered Senator Adam Clayton Powell’s trial for tax evasion and sat in on lunches with Powell and Murray Kemption. He tells stories about William Buckley, Gay Talese, his dates with Mia Farrow, and his friendship with some of the great editors of the time, including Sam Lawrence—editor of Katherine Anne Porter, Donleavy, Jim Harrison, Frank Conroy, Vonnegut, and Wakefield himself. This great storyteller remembers conversations and places as though they took place yesterday.
Episode Nine: Poetry
In this episode, prose writer Dan Wakefield talks about the importance of poetry in his own life and in his writing. This is a wide-ranging conversation that touches on many poets, writers, and musicians: including the teacher who gave him the Carl Sandburg poem that gave him permission to leave Indiana for New York; memories from his deep friendships with poets May Swenson, Anne Sexton, and Maxine Kumin; brief encounters with Robert Frost, Richard Wilbur, George Starbuck, and Kerouac; to the importance of lyrics in pop music.
Episode Eight: Hollywood and James at 15
In perhaps the most personal of these podcasts, Dan discusses the time he spent in Hollywood working on the television series James at 15, a period of his life that began with an offer he couldn’t refuse and ended with the crisis he describes in Returning. Along the way, he learns the ins and outs of the television and film industry, a world he would go on to write about in his novel Selling Out.
Episode Seven: 'LA Woman' Eve Babitz
When Wakefield first moved to Los Angeles to start a novel in Joan Didion’s basement and later on the beach in Venice, where he lived at the Chateau Marmont and entered a tumultuous relationship with Eve Babitz, former girlfriend of Jim Morrison, designer of album covers for Buffalo Springfield, and writer of essays and stories, including “Black Swans,” a story based on her relationship with Dan. In this podcast, Dan recalls this time as the “best year of his life” but says “I could never live through another one.”
Episode Six: Civil Rights Reporting (Journalist)
Wakefield began his journalism career as a civil rights reporter for The Nation, The Atlantic, Esquire, and The New York Times. After his coverage of the Emmett Till trial, he continued being fascinated by trials. “It was like reading a novel,” he explains in this episode. He talks about the James Jones From Here to Eternity trial and the Adam Clayton Powell tax evasion trial, and he talks about Dorothy Day, Norman Mailer, and William Buckley. In 1968 he wrote a longform piece about the Vietnam War, “Supernation at War and Peace” that came out as an entire issue of the Atlantic and was reprinted as a book. That reporting took him to San Francisco, where he spent time with his old New York friends Joan Didion and John Donne. During this reporting assignment, he interviewed Dean Rusk and Hubert Humphrey.
Episode Five: The Man From Occupied Territory (Israel)
As a young journalist, Wakefield was inspired by Hemingway’s notion that you have to face death to be a writer. “I wanted to put myself at risk,” Wakefield says in this interview, “test my courage and integrity” and so he “jumped at the first opportunity to get himself shot at.” In this episode, Wakefield talks about fishing and being shot at in the Sea of Galilee, about his time living in a kibbutz and working as a shepherd in the Negev Desert, about hitchhiking in Israel, and interviewing Golda Meier. He describes an elaborate meal in the middle of the desert with Bedouins, and eating the notes he’d made when he was in danger of being imprisoned as a spy.