Arts & Culture

Ways to Connect

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

For decades, there have been exactly 40 Broadway theaters all between 41st and 65th Streets in Manhattan. Tonight, a new theater opens that also happens to be the oldest. Are you confused? No one better than Jeff Lunden to clear it up.

This year, "music's biggest night" will be missing more than a few of its biggest stars. Despite multiple nominations, Kanye West, Drake and Justin Bieber are reportedly skipping tomorrow evening's Grammy Awards.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A man named Christopher disappears in Greece. His estranged wife, the narrator, goes to find him. A Separation has several separations: the marital separation, the separation between the narrator and her public self, and between herself and the world around her, which she keeps at a careful distance.

Horror Tropes And Human Sadness In 'Universal Harvester'

Feb 11, 2017

You may have noticed that mothers don't do so well in literature – stories both classic and contemporary tend to bump them off. Critics and scholars tie themselves in knots trying to identify the cultural significance of the missing-mother trope, which is pervasive and shows no signs of letting up.

George Saunders is acclaimed as a genius of the short story — and now he's written his first novel. It reads as part Our Town, part ghost story, and even part Ken Burns. It's a story that gives voice to a child who has died, and resonance to the silence of his father, who is enveloped by — and the instrument of — much grief.

On New Year's Eve, 2006, Christine Hyung-Oak Lee developed a splitting headache. She was 33, and her world turned upside down — as in, she literally saw the world upside down. Suddenly, she could hold things in her mind for only 15 minutes at a time. She was a writer who now couldn't recall words or craft sentences. She remembers looking at the phone and thinking to herself: What is the phone number for 911? Days later, she learned she'd had a stroke.

Keith Ingham On Piano Jazz

Feb 10, 2017

The British-born pianist Keith Ingham began his jazz career in London after studying Mandarin at Oxford University. In the late '70s, he moved to New York, which led him to connect with the likes of Peggy Lee, Benny Goodman and Susannah McCorkle, for whom he was pianist and musical director.

When author Viet Thanh Nguyen was 4 years old, he and his family fled South Vietnam and came to the U.S. as refugees. That's about the same age his own son is now — and Nguyen wonders if his child will ever know the feeling of "otherness" that he knows so well.

"I think it's a very valuable experience," Nguyen tells NPR's Ari Shapiro. "I wish, not only my son, but everybody, had a sense of what it is like to be an outsider, to be an other. Because that's partly what gives rise to compassion and to empathy — the sense that you are not always at the center of the universe."

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The music industry can thank Glenn Miller's record label for the idea of gold records. Seventy-five years ago today, his song about a train trip became the world's first solid-gold hit.

"Chattanooga Choo Choo" is about a man going home, and promising his sweetheart he'll never roam. By February 10, 1942, more than 1.2 million copies of the song had been sold — and that was no small thing, the biggest seller in years. The record label, RCA Victor, celebrated by presenting Glenn Miller with a trophy during a live radio broadcast.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

A place that was once home to some staunch characters is now on the market.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "GREY GARDENS")

EDITH BOUVIER BEALE: I can't stand a country house. This place - it makes me terribly nervous.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

There are many interests World Cafe doesn't have in common with this Sunday's Grammy Awards -- golden gramophones, red-carpet couture and sappy speeches among them. But there's one interest we do share: We're always on the hunt for the "best new artist."

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Mickey Melchiondo, a.k.a. Dean Ween, met Aaron Freeman, a.k.a. Gene Ween, in junior high. Together they created the band Ween, earning a reputation for musical eclecticism — and more than a little silliness — as well as a rabid cult following. Freeman left the group in 2012, and Melchiondo has since created the Dean Ween Group. The band's debut album, The Deaner Album, is out now.

Sam Whitehead / GPB

This week, one of the largest pieces of Georgia’s Civil War history heads to its new home.

The panoramic painting Battle of Atlanta, also known as the Atlanta Cyclorama, arrives at the Atlanta History Center to undergo an extensive restoration.

But moving the massive painting, which is longer than a football field, hasn’t been easy.

President Trump recently described Frederick Douglass as "an example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice." The president's muddled tense – it came out sounding as if the 19th-century abolitionist were alive with a galloping Twitter following – provoked some mirth on social media. But the spotlight on one of America's great moral heroes is a welcome one.

Not surprisingly, artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings felt especially daunted by the chance to adapt renowned speculative-fiction writer Octavia Butler's beloved Kindred for a new graphic novel edition.

"It was like, this is awesome, we got this project, it's, like, our dream project! Yayyy!," Duffy said. But excitement quickly turned to panic. "I have to do what now?" he also said to himself.

There's a vibrance to the current music of Esmé Patterson that I wasn't expecting, having listened to her previous band Paper Bird. Gone are the banjos and remnants of folk music, and in their place are electric guitars — sometimes fierce and, here at the Tiny Desk, somewhat understated. She's a relative newcomer to the guitar, making it part of her songwriting only since leaving Paper Bird. But all of this instrumentation is meant to be supportive, not center-stage. At the heart of these songs, from her album We Were Wild, is a reach for independence:

TEDxKyoto / Flickr

Actor George Takei first warp sped to fame as a young Sulu in the original "Star Trek" series. But he’s since become an active voice in promoting equal rights for LGBT people.

"It can be maddening to deal with a political environment where it seems like the truth has no purchase anymore," says Darcy James Argue, the hyper-literate composer who leads the Secret Society, a postmodern big band. Argue has spent a lot of time recently thinking about that maddening environment — not just as a matter of civic engagement during a chaotic election season, but also because it forms the crux of Real Enemies, his most recent work.

Sincerity, community and beauty is how I think of Lowland Hum; the sounds of Lauren and Daniel Goans. Thin is the husband and wife duo's third album since their 2013 debut, further refining their hushed harmonies and aural paintings. It's a sound that makes them a quiet Sunday-morning favorite. Some of the imagery comes from the beauty they see in the landscapes and locales they traverse and visit all over this country; art centers, cafes, nightclubs, house shows, racking up something like 45,000 miles in a Toyota Sienna between 2014 and 2015.

It's always fun when somebody from the NPR podcast family sits in our fourth chair, and this week, we've got two of them.

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting Better

About Jennifer Brea's TED Talk

Doctors told Jennifer Brea that her symptoms were psychosomatic, so she filmed herself and turned to the Internet for guidance. She describes how her online community helped her find the right diagnosis.

About Jennifer Brea

It's basically three chords banged out on a piano for 4 minutes. No drums, no guitars, no samples. But then: there's her voice. Haunting.

"Here is your princess / here is your horizon" — Aldous Harding repeats the line as a mantra, as a truth, as a reality. It's as if the gift of life is right here, with all its beauty and its limitations. At least that's how I see it.

Wanderlust is at the heart of the music The Wu-Force makes and the lives its members lead -- but so is its opposite: homesickness. The trio's members, two American and one Chinese, are all inveterate world travelers who've forged unexpected musical connections.

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