Kojo talks with author Colson Whitehead about his new novel "The Underground Railroad" and its resonance at this particular moment in history.
Talk to Kojo about whatever’s on your mind — whether it’s the Taliban attack in Afghanistan, commuter bike injuries on local roadways, or your plans for the 4th of July.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Later in the broadcast, you're living in the era of the tart Fro-Yo, Food Wednesday, frozen yogurt. But first, it's "Your Turn." Call us now on any issue you'd like to discuss, 800-433-8850. Today, the D.C. city council is having hearings on online gambling in the district.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIt was slipped into a budget measure in the last city council session and it looks like if D.C. is going to be having online gambling soon. There is no regulation yet about how much you'll be able to gamble, exactly where it will take place and the like. But since a whole lot of you didn't even know it was coming, I'd be interesting to hear your opinions on it. Do you think that D.C. should have online gambling?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThere are those, including the sponsor of the legislation, city council member Michael Brown, who feels that it can help bring revenues to the city. 800-433-8850 is the number to call. You can also send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, a tweet at kojoshow or simply make it your turn on our website, kojoshow.org. The Taliban raid on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, it seems, shows just how vulnerable even that capital city is while U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnd the discussion over when and how many should leave continues. But it raises the question, given the Soviet failure in Afghanistan in the 1970s, is the U.S. having any more luck than the Soviets or anyone else who has tried to bring stability to Afghanistan? Do you see any positives in the U.S. remaining in Afghanistan if, today, the Taliban can still be striking in Kabul? What is your view? 800-433-8850.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIt also appears as if the U.S. is definitely involved in regime change in Libya, but with no boots on the ground. And given the fact that there are those who felt that there should have been some declaration of war and the Obama administration has been able to argue successfully in the Congress of the United States that there are no American military presence on the ground so a declaration of war is not necessary, do you think that argument could also be used for -- against hostile governments in the western hemisphere?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThink, oh, Cuba, Venezuela, if there are no boots on the ground and we can use more sophisticated technology, that that would be an appropriate method, in your view, of dealing with those countries. 800-433-8850 is the number to call. Or if you just like to talk about anything else on your mind. The new head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine LaGarde of France. It's your turn, 800-433-8850.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIJoining us now by telephone is David Silverman. He is curator of the National Pinball Museum. David Silverman, thank you for joining us.
MR. DAVID SILVERMANThank you very much for having me, Kojo.
NNAMDIDavid, as you joined us to talk about America's love affair with pinball back in November, at that time you were enthusiastic, about to open the National Pinball Museum in the Georgetown Park Mall. Sadly, it is my understanding that you are now closing it. Why?
SILVERMANWell, unfortunately, the mall had been sold through an auction and the new company that bought it, which is Vornado Trust, has decided to renovate the entire mall, which means that everyone has to go. And unfortunately, we were only open since December 4th and so it's been just under seven months. And we now have to move, which is, as you said, unfortunate and we are in the process of looking for a new space.
NNAMDIWhy do you have to move?
SILVERMANWell, because the entire mall is actually going to be demolished internally and they're going to replace the four floors of the mall with three floors because the new tenants that they expect to come in, want higher ceilings. We have probably eight or nine foot ceilings in all of the stores at the mall, which give kind of the feeling of the boutique quality of the mall as most of Georgetown is.
SILVERMANBut this new company feels that they need better revenue sources. So the large companies that are supposedly coming in, I guess, in certain ways, if they wanted an agreement, they agreed that they would have to clear out the mall and reconstruct the entire interior of it.
NNAMDIRemind us of what you have at that museum?
SILVERMANCurrently. We have just under a 14,000 square foot space and my feelings always about pinball, since I've been a small kid, was that pinball was more than just a game. It is part of the American history of our country. It is a part of American art. And I try to portray pinball as something more than just a game, which, I think, we did quite successfully. Visually, we had a lot of different exhibitions and shows, which would progressively change so more people would be interested in seeing different things of different aspects of pinball, library, theater, a pay-to-play area.
SILVERMANSo it was quite a beautiful space. We spent a considerable amount of money and we had a muralist paint a mural, that took her 10 weeks, to portray the feeling that the participants at the museum would actually feel like they were inside a pinball machine with large pop bumpers, large plastics and a really good sense of feeling that you were inside of a pinball game.
SILVERMANWe did a history walkthrough and we would -- where you'd walk through different rooms of different eras of time. The French bagatelle game, Montague Redgrave's history, invention of the plunger. So we have (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDIAnd David, for years, you stored a lot of this stuff, your hundreds of pinball machines, at your home in Silver Spring. Where will all of this stuff go now, back home?
SILVERMANWell, (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDIDavid, we seem to have lost contact with you. I can't hear you very well. For the rest of you out there, of course, this is your turn. You can call us on any issue on your mind, 800-433-8850. We started off talking about online gambling in the District of Columbia, invited you to call whether you wanted to discuss whether the U.S. will be able to maintain any level of stability in Afghanistan, whether you think that the U.S. involved in regime change in Libya without having boots on the ground, so to speak, could be a model for the future.
NNAMDIAnd we do have a call from Decante (sp?) in Baltimore, Md. who wants to talk about the Dream Act that is now law in that state, but about which, there is now going to be a petition. Here is Decante in Baltimore, Md. Decante, it's your turn. Go ahead, please.
DECANTEYeah, yeah, yeah. You know, thank you, Kojo. You know, can you agree with me that republicans in the state of Maryland, you know, are anti-immigrant and they're just hateful? I mean, why would they bend over backward to take something that is so beneficial to so many students? I mean, you know, these kids are not asking for, you know, free tuition. They just want to pay in-state tuition like their classmates (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDIFor those of our listeners who -- for those of our listeners who are unaware of what you're talking about, Maryland -- the Maryland legislature passed a law which was signed, I think, already by Governor Martin O'Malley allowing children who are the children of illegal immigrants who have gone to Maryland public schools, who are now applying to the University of Maryland, to be able to attend school at in-state tuition rates because they say, A, they have been attending Maryland schools for a while, B, they are not responsible for their own presence in the state, and, C, the state would be interested in keeping its better students to later serve the state.
NNAMDIAnd now, there has been a petition drive that looks as if it is going to be successful to have, and you can help me with this, Decante, to have placed on a ballot, a referendum on whether or not this law should be repealed, correct?
DECANTEThat's correct. And see -- and I just want to know, why are republicans so hateful to immigrants? And we all benefit from the hard work that immigrants, you know, give to this country. That's all I want to know.
NNAMDIWell, Decante, I suspect that people who are sponsoring this petition would say that they are not hateful, that they feel that these young people are taking away positions from Maryland residents who are legally in the country. And they would argue that even though it's not their fault that they are not in the country illegally (sic), they shouldn't have the same benefits as legal residents do.
NNAMDIAnd, I guess, one of the reasons that they are also sponsoring the petitions and the referendum is because, frankly, they believe they can win, that a majority of the voters who participate will agree with them.
DECANTEWell, do you buy that argument, though? Do you buy that argument?
NNAMDIWell, I don't buy the argument. I certainly buy the argument that they can win if they manage to get the referendum going. The question that a lot of people will raise is -- and this question has been raised before, if -- whether or not there should be civil rights laws on the books had been put to a referendum in several southern states in the 1960s, it would probably have been defeated. So the question of whether people have rights that should not be subjected to a vote is the question that people will raise here. But then there are others who will say, well, it was subjected to a vote in the state legislature, that's how it became law.
NNAMDIOkay, Decante, thank you very much for your call. Joining us again is David Silverman, curator of the National Pinball Museum. David, we were talking about whether or not all of the items you have stored at the pinball museum in Georgetown will now have to be taken back home. Where are you going next?
SILVERMANWell, we really don't know. I cannot bring the collection back to my home, the (unintelligible) occupied. And we have been looking into, basically what I call, hibernation locations where we could store all of the machines and the build-outs that we had done and hope for another space. I mean, we've been trying for the last three weeks, contacting different places with the hopes of moving into a new space within the Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia area. And so far, we have not really had the luck, so far, if it is luck of getting people to...
NNAMDIAre you also looking outside of the area?
SILVERMANWell, I really can't look outside of the Maryland-Virginia area because I couldn’t move from this area. We're well established. I have a landscape company that's in this area. And it would just uproot my entire family. So that's really not a...
NNAMDI...when is the last day for the museum?
SILVERMANWell, currently the last day is July 4th. We are in negotiations with the company to extend our stay until September 18th. And that is in the process right now of discussing with them different issues that they have, different issues that we have. So we're hoping to stay until the 18th of September. We won't know that for about a week. But currently, the museum will close July 4th and we really suggest people to come out.
SILVERMANWe have actually...
NNAMDIWell, I've got to tell you, I hope it does not close on July 4th because it would be sending entirely the wrong signal about independence because this is not an independence that you are seeking on July 4th.
SILVERMANYou're exactly correct. But we don't -- we need to have a certain amount of time to try to move out so two weeks is actually cutting it close. Because it's actually about July 18th or 19th, but if we don't close at a reasonable date, they technically could own all of our equipment because if we go beyond their lease date, they could lock us out, which we certainly don't want to have happen. And I'm sure they don't, either. So...
SILVERMAN...we're doing a lot of praying.
NNAMDI...all I can say, David Silverman, is good luck to you and hopefully you'll be able to find a location in this area because you don't want to go anyplace. David Silverman is curator of The National Pinball Museum. He joined us by telephone. But it is "Your Turn," so here is Steve, in Aston, Md. Steve, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
STEVEResponding to the gentleman who called about all those hateful republicans. I'm a republican in Maryland and, of course, we're in a huge minority here. And I know a lot of republicans like myself who support the act and think that people who pay taxes and have lived in Maryland should be able to get in-state tuition.
STEVEThe problem is that what he doesn't see is that there are plenty of democrats who are signing this petition. And the other problem is that it probably will pass and it can only pass with democratic support. So he ought to look to his co-party members and ask them what the problem is because they're the ones who are going to pass this bill in the end.
NNAMDIOkay. Steve, thank you very much for your call and for your comments. I think you're right. I suspect there are democrats who are opposed to that. Also, we'll have to see what happens with that, but thank you very much for participating in "Your Turn."
NNAMDIWe got this e-mail from John in Oakton, Va. "Last Friday, you said you were planning to attend this weekend's Caribbean Festival. I heard there were gang fights and several shootings in the Howard University neighborhood on Saturday. Is this true? Where were the cops? Shouldn't people be able to feel safe attending this events?"
NNAMDIYes, there was a gang-related shooting on Gresham Place Northwest, off of Georgia Avenue. It is my understanding about 5:00 that afternoon, but that was three or four hours after the Caribbean Carnival Parade had passed by and the individuals involved were individuals who apparently were with gangs who are generally in that neighborhood anyway.
NNAMDISomebody spotted somebody else, they started shooting at one another and both the police chief, Cathy Lanier, and -- yesterday or the day before on this broadcast, Ward IV council member, Muriel Bowser, went to great lengths to point out that the shooting had nothing to do with the D.C. Caribbean Carnival, that it was, in fact, a locally generated feud. And we're going to take a short break. When we come back, it is "Food Wednesday" and you know what that means today, that you are now living in the world of the tangy frozen yogurt. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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