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tv   Conversation with Mark Arax  CSPAN  February 5, 2017 11:42am-11:57am EST

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have right now. that might not be the lobbying regulation system we have that identifies lobbying, who they are lobbying for. and maybe this is all fine stuff but it says nothing about what they are lobbying for. so i think those are really some of the biggest challenges moving forward with dealing with the lobbying industry and under more and more pressure, as more people coming lobbying profession, it's going to be more competition from lobbyists who don't build relationships and finite number of lawmakers and that seems to be perhaps more pressure to be more beholden to legislators than to the clients that areemploying those legislators .these big ethical challenges going forward. >> now on book tv a literary tour of fresno california. we hear from journalists mark
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about the economic and geographic landscape of the san joaquin valley. >>. >> you had a choice a long time ago when i looked to the east and started my career in baltimore, i could have gone around the country in each place and had books and decided to come back here. the space that she me and try to understand what was and what people were and i began with my own family story, that linked up to the other stories and when i hear the stories of the african-americans who came west and the japanese, the mexicans crossing the border, they're not very much different than my grandfather today. >> my grandfather came here in 1920. an ox is the name of the river that flows beyond not there and he was a poet and author wasn't pending, the actual last name was giuseppe. the iam, it means the son of
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so we were the sons of joseph. he changed it to mark arax because it was a more literary pending. armenian genocide broke out. at the height of an act in istanbul. from 1915 to 1916, 17 and he went up there with his books , maupassant remained, baudelaire, all these french short rewriters. and he became a love of french symbolism. he came down and had a choice, it was to remain in turkey after the genocide, he had a chance to go to the sorbonne in paris and he had this uncle who had come to fresno california, start again and he was fighting my grandfather these letters saying there's a new armenia here. there's a place in the valley surrounded by mountains just like our old place. and as big as jjs and the
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watermelons that the car , both in the rivers and my grandfather took the bait and he had a chance between paris and fresno. he came to fresno. and he carved out a life here. arming, he was a grocery man and writing poetry. her sons became these jocks, great baseball and football players, my dad had a football scholarship . that literary thing skipped a generation. and it landed on me. right now we are sitting in my office in northwest fresno. surrounded by i don't know how many tons of documents on the history of california and the story of water. so that's where we are at. this for me is like, this is heaven and hell, getting up every day and having to, i'm
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writing about something. where did i first read about that. and according to all this stuff, trying to figure out where it is. you will see thousands of posts with topics, each color representing a different topic. about the scientific as i get. >> in the middle of california, called the central valley central valley goes from the places, bakersfield to sacramento. even beyond, it's 400 miles long. isn't the longest valley in the united states, if not the world. i'm talking more about the san joaquin valley which is the central valley near the two valley, san joaquin and sacramento. san joaquin valley is where all these dramas take place. steinbeck stories, so ryan stories and it is a place that's geographically exiled from the rest of california. it's physically exiled and surrounded by mountains. and it's psychologically
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exiled. it's a place that has its own kind of ethics, it's , it's backward, if you come here, it feels very much like the south. it feels like this out for a reason because when my grandfather arrived here in 1920, these sons of the cotton plantation were coming here too. what happened is the bowl weevil was ravaging the cotton fields of the south and these sons of the plantation had to find a new place to farm cotton so they came west. and they landed in this valley in a place called tulare lake which was actually late. >> about 50 miles from here. there was a that was 800 square miles. and it was the most dominant feature in the californians. the plantation, sons of the
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plantation came west and they drained lake drive. there were four rivers and they ended up getting those rivers, turning the meanders of those rivers into straitjackets and if i show you those rivers today you would see they are as straight as an irrigation canal. they been confined. and then they control the flow of those rivers, they put pumps along those rivers that would let the rivers run backwards and control that flow and all those rivers were in the name of agriculture so i rivers here in the san joaquin valley are rivers of agriculture. 95 percent of their flow and been taken my farms. and that flow got shut off land and and may be shunted through this last irrigation canals throughout the valley. those were the most industrialized farms. and it's created these factories and really to begin
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with the nonfiction literature of this place, you need to start with factories in the fields by karen williams which was a book that was written in the present time and it really put on the map the sense of how industrialized this agriculture was and how we had created this feudal society where we had these farmers who didn't even call themselves farmers, they hold themselves growers. and they had captured tens of thousands of acres of land and had industrialized it and then to find workforce, they went south of the border. and imported workforce. and we basically imported you know, a whole lower class came here so that struggle created kind of a vast plantation society, that feudal structure still exists today. it's a placeof tremendous disparity . where the land and the
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machines are controlled by maybe 300 families up and down the south, a vast majority of the land and the water is controlled by a handful. so that's the story i've been trying to tell. where kind of the factories and feels left off and telling the story of this place, i was born here, spent most of my life here. it feels like history to me. >> if we were to take a drive i could take you on a drive for 20 minutes, we would begin in the suburbs north of here where there are some very conservative places that probably voted 60, 70 percent for donald trump and out there already, the big mega churches in these big houses and then we would drive from
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the suburbs to downtown fresno, you would have the highest concentration of poverty in the country in these neighborhoods. then we would drive 15 minutes beyond and we would land in a rural vineyard in the middle of aplace called shower , the raising capital of the world and we would be surrounded by this whole different kind of life, a beautiful kind of life. quiet, agriculture but also rural poverty. but in that half an hour drive you see these three kinds of landscapes and i would say that you wouldn't find that anywhere else in the country. those two places in one drive. but it's quite canvas to write about. the hard place to write about because you have to make certain judgments and it can be a depressing place to write about and i think that's why so much of the literature that come out of here has been great literature has been fiction and poetry.
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it also has a rich history of great books, phil levine who came here for from detroit and we have great fiction begin with steinbeck and saroyan that's been written here. what nonfiction has been more difficult because you have to dig in to these brokenness of this place. and it doesn't make you a real popular person to tell the stories here. i live here and yet you are writing these stories that not everyone embraces because you are telling the history, working all of the place and the wisest person among the wisest people i've ever interviewed was a person named greta tony. i found her in courtroom while i was in california, she was 100 years old. >> and she had, from texas,
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all the contrail left. she didn't, all-in-one migration, they stopped along the way. >> she referred to her children, she had seven or eight stopover kids or a kid in each place. and they landed in corcoran and they picked the cotton. and as i was interviewing her, interviewing her in that little house, on the outskirts of that city, town, she was taking me all the way back to the slave days of her grandmother. but from that one interview, we were spending hundred 50 years of history. we are a remarkable lady and she got on a plane. and above the piano or the words paul photographed her children and grandchildren. >> and wisdom and so you know, her voice is one of the powerful voices. i had the privilege of capturing her story told in
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the king of california. so it's been a joy to be able to do this, to be able to travel with this old beat up sony tape recorder. i don't even use a digital one but i should because, then just capturing these stories and telling the history of the place. i think if you're going to be a nonfiction writer and live in this place, you have to write in a way that is going to, you have to tell stories that will upset people. and so, that's not an easy thing to do where you are basically telling on your place. but it's much easier to come in from the outside, write whatever you need towrite , and then leave. i live here.so i'm a pretty polarizing figure here,
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writing these stories but i tried to write them, the nice thing about being a californian and hopefully this next book is people read them and they see i've taken and made an effort to gather the story from the people but it's hard to hold back on certain judgments. and ultimately some of these books, the pieces become indictments of the place and then when you live in a place , it's difficult. >> i'm waiting for that great long nonfiction writing. the great punjabi fiction writer. if there, if their cultures are the tone and the same procedures that my culture told me which was still to become an attorney for doctor and make money and are going to have a hard time. but that's what you hope for is that this story continues because the story is evolving. it's this kind oflandscape
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this big , thesemany issues , getting involved in someone's got to be there to tell that story. >> for more information on these recent visit to fresno, and many other destinations on our city tour, go to c-span.org/city store. >> when adolf hitler came to power in january 1933, 55 percent of the germans had never voted for him. he was jogging to office by a coalition of powerful people who thought they could use them . he had, and they wanted to use them because he had received more votes than anyone else. and never a majority of votes. >> and this is an important point to make because when we tried to explain why, germany became the place where the holocaust was perpetrated, where the actors came from

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