In the spring of 1970, a British illustrator named Ralph Steadman had just moved to America, hoping to find some work. His first call came from a small literary journal called Scanlan's. It was looking for a cartoonist to send to the Kentucky Derby. Steadman had heard of neither the race nor the writer he was to accompany, a fellow named Hunter S. Thompson.
Steadman hadn't read any of Thompson's work, and he certainly didn't know that the writer had a bit of a drinking tendency, but he agreed to go.
It's been 70 years since the letters of John Pryor were understood in their full meaning. That's because as a British prisoner of war in Nazi Germany, Pryor's letters home to his family also included intricate codes that were recently deciphered for the first time since the 1940s.
Pryor's letters served their purpose in World War II, as Britain's MI9 agents decoded the messages hidden within them — requests for supplies, notes about German activities — before sending them along to Pryor's family in Cornwall.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
Firefighters in Southern California are welcoming the latest weather forecast, as lower temperatures and higher humidity could help them control the Camarillo Springs Fire. But the wildfire along the coast remains formidable: It has reportedly burned at least 43 square miles of land and property, nearly doubling in size Friday.
Bakdash is a landmark in the Syrian capital, serving the Arab world's most famous ice cream since 1895. Manually churned with wooden paddles, loaded with milk, sugar and a generous coating of pistachios, Bakdash ice cream is memorable treat for any visitor to Damascus.
But, when a branch opened this week in Amman, Jordan, it was seen as another casualty of the Syrian war.
"It means there is no sense of security and safety in Damascus," says journalist Fahd al Kheytaan, "which forced the company to move some of its operation to Jordan."
A recent news item out of Minnesota caught our eye: "Bulletproof Whiteboards Unveiled at Rocori Schools."
Bulletproof what? Where?
That would be whiteboards, at the small central Minnesota Rocori School District, which will spend upward of $25,000 for the protective devices produced by a company better known for its military armor products.
The National Rifle Association is holding its annual convention in Houston this weekend. More than 70,000 people are expected to attend for speeches and demos and acres of guns, ammo and camo.
The NRA is coming off of a major victory: the defeat of gun control legislation in the Senate. While the talk in the convention hall is about keeping up the fight and staying true to the Constitution, a small protest against gun violence is being held outside.