Episode 120: Chavez and Bolivar, Stompin' Tom's First Gig, Cure for HIV and more


** Bolivarism and Hugo Chavez ** Bartender Discovered Stompin' Tom ** HIV - Hope of a Cure ** Roadrunner vs. Dream On ** Mr. Gorbachev, Don't Touch That Wall **

chavez2222222_publish.jpgHugo Chavez invoked Simon Bolivar when he took control of Venezuela, changing the name of the country and even exhuming the bones of the 19th century military leader.

Bolivar is still a powerful figure in Latin America and Chavez knew it. As Chavez tried to create his own cult of personality, he used the image and icons of Bolivar, binding himself to the idea of Bolivar the liberator in the minds of Venezuelans.

But did Bolivarism work for Chavez? We have two guests with different takes. New Yorker magazine writer Jon Lee Anderson, who has written extensively on Hugo Chavez and Thor Halvorsson - the great-great-great-grandson of Bolivar's sister - and founder of the Human Rights Foundation.

stompin tom_publish.jpgBirth of a Legend

Canada lost a music icon and a great Canadian this week. Stompin' Tom Connors rose to fame from humble beginnings to become an emblem for the nation.

Born in Saint John, N.B. in 1935, and raised by foster families, his early years were a rough ride.

By the time he was 15 Tom was on the road, hitch-hiking across the country, learning about the land.

His first big break came nearly 50 years ago in Timmins. Tom was broke, ramblin' westward when a bartender at the Maple Leaf Hotel asked to hear him play guitar. It turned into the first long-running paying gig for the man who would become Canada's Woody Guthrie.

Gaet Lapine is that bartender from Timmins and he lost a lifelong friend this week. Gaet joins us to remember Stompin' Tom Connors and the night they met in October 1964.

HIV-virus_publish.jpgHIV and the Cure

A baby born with HIV was declared cured this week. The study was presented Sunday, and the child, now two and a half years old, has been off all meds for about a year.

Here's what happened: the infant was receiving an unprecedented cocktail of antiretroviral therapy within hours of birth. For 18 months the treatment continued. Later, when the child was tested, the virus was gone. It hasn't returned.

There are skeptics, and experts say this option wouldn't work in older children or adults. But in the decades long fight against AIDS, it's a milestone to have a second human being who has eradicated HIV.

The first person cured of HIV is Timothy Brown. Known as the Berlin Patient, Brown received a stem cell bone marrow transplant from a donor with a mutation that makes cells immune to the virus.

We talk to Timothy Brown about the Mississippi baby and to AIDS activist Peter Staley to see if he thinks we are any closer to the end of AIDS.

mass songs 222_publish.jpgRock and Roll Legislative Face-off

They couldn't be more unalike.

Jonathan Richman is the indie man-child of rock and roll, eccentric, obscure, eternally innocent.

And then there's Aerosmith. Legendary bad boys, the American aspirants to Led Zepplin's fabled excess are bleached to the bone by the bright lights of fame.

They're both in the running to be the father of the Official Rock Song of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. State rock fans have petioned legislators to choose Dream On by Aerosmith or Roadrunner by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers and now those legislators are taking up the cause under the venerable dome of the state Capitol.

We talk to the politicians in whose hands the legacy of Massachusetts rock and roll now rests.

berlin wal333l_publish.jpg"Tear Down That Wall... No! Wait!"

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, reuniting Germany and ending decades of oppression for the people of the GDR.

There were massive parties along the concrete perimeter as it was chopped up. City streets that had ended in blankness were reconnected.

A hated barrier was gone.

berlin_publish.jpgToday, very little of the Berlin Wall remains, but there's a 1.3km segment called the East Side Gallery which is the longest remnant in existence. It stands in an industrial area, covered in paintings, and is considered a monument to peace.

Developers wanted to take it down and briefly they had a green light from city hall. Protestors were quick to move to protect the wall and now the mayor has halted the plan.

It's odd that the Berlin Wall- until recently, a monstrous blight- is now a monument in a city with a stark history of violence and war. In Berlin, Germans have worked hard to balance the way they enshrine that history with particular attention to Nazi era installations.

Brian Ladd is the author of The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape. He remembers the wall and explains why preservation is important.

And that's it for this week's show. See you next week when we'll probably have a brand new pope. Have a great weekend.  

Brent Bambury, @cbcday6

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