When he was 16, James Burton was inventing the American guitar. He'd been born in Dubberly, La., in 1939, and was apparently self-taught on his instrument. At 15, he cut a single backing local singer Carol Williams, and then one day he came up with a guitar riff that he liked. He took it to a singer from Shreveport he was touring with, and they worked out a song to use in his act. One thing led to another, and it wound up on a record called "Suzie Q," credited to Dale Hawkins, the singer.
Late spring in a New England vegetable garden is usually a time for the last asparagus, the crisp lettuce and arugula, the first pea shoots, and the first sprouting of warm-weather crops like peppers and zucchini. What you don't expect to see planted in your beds are snapping turtles. But that's just what turned up in mine twice this week.
Many people are rapturous over the work of Wes Anderson, and for them, I expect, Moonrise Kingdom will be nirvana. The frames are quasi-symmetrical: a strong center, often human, with misaligned objects on each side suggesting a universe that's slightly out of balance, like a series of discombobulated dollhouses.
Note: We've asked NPR journalists to share their top five (or so) political Twitter accounts, and we're featuring the series on #FollowFriday. Here are recommendations from reporter Andrea Seabrook (@RadioBabe).
I have a thing about political fakes on Twitter. I HATE them. And when I say fakes, I mean a handle that appears to be a senator or representative, but is very obviously written by some 22-year-old staffer.
Jeff Neely, the regional official at the General Services Administration who hosted a 2010 taxpayer-funded conference in Las Vegas that became a scandal as details about excessive spending, gifts and lavish parties were revealed, has left his job at the agency.
This interview was originally broadcast on August 25, 2011. The Leftovers is now available in paperback.
Last year, California-based preacher Harold Camping announced that the beginning of the end of the world would take place on May 21, 2011. The date passed by with no apparent rapture, and Camping became the butt of many late-night talk show jokes.
On Morning Edition, NPR's Frank Langfitt reported about a Chinese company's $2.6 billion purchase of North America's second-largest movie theater chain. Now, he tells us how the movie-going experience has changed in China in recent years:
As Egyptian officials count ballots from this week's first-ever free presidential election in that country, the Muslim Brotherhood is claiming its candidate got the most votes and will likely be in a runoff next month against ousted President Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister.
From Cairo, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson cautions that officials are advising against "believing statements by groups claiming to know who won." Official results aren't due to be released until next Tuesday.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. A Memorial Day weekend combines honoring those who served with backyard barbecues. And some are getting an early start. Police in Boxford, Massachusetts responded to a call about six party crashers - cows. The Tri-Town Transcript reports the cows crashed a backyard gathering, chased away partiers, and drank their beer. Said a police sergeant, the thirsty cows, quote, "just went in and helped themselves." It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. A town in Germany once had a legendary rat problem. Hamelin was the setting for the tale of the Pied Piper, who lured its rats into a river, and then led away its children when he wasn't paid. Some 700 years later, the rats have returned and chewed through the electric cable powering the town's fountain. Could be a job for another Pied Piper, or tourists could just stop scattering bread crumbs for birds near the fountain. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Voters in southern Arizona's 8th Congressional District are deciding who will fill the seat formerly held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The Democrat resigned in January, a year after she was badly injured by a gunman at a district event in Tucson.
Giffords' resignation set in motion a special election to serve out the rest of her two-year term. Giffords' former district director, Ron Barber, won the Democratic nomination uncontested. Jesse Kelly easily beat three opponents in the Republican primary.
Moviegoers watch a 3-D IMAX movie at a Beijing theater run by the Chinese company Wanda, which recently announced it was buying AMC movie theaters for $2.6 billion. The move is seen as part of a larger effort by the Chinese conglomerate to move into the U.S. market.
Many small-business owners have had difficulty securing loans in recent years. One website grades the nation's banks by the ratio of small-business loans to deposits — and finds that community banks are often most friendly to small business.
Zimbabwe now uses the U.S. dollar as its main currency, though the bills are often extremely dirty and falling apart due to constant use. Here a cashier holds U.S. dollars in good condition at a supermarket in the capital Harare in 2009.
Credit Kate Holt / Bloomberg via Getty Images
After hyperinflation in 2008, Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency, which included notes of 50 billion Zimbabwe dollars and even trillion-dollar notes. The main currency is the U.S. dollar, though the South African rand (on right) is also used in some places.
Credit Anders Kelto for NPR
Many of the U.S. dollars used in Zimbabwe have changed hands so often they are falling apart. But there are some new bills in circulation as well.
Four years ago, Zimbabwe experienced one of the worst cases of hyperinflation in history. The country abandoned its own currency and switched to the U.S. dollar — a move experts say prevented a complete economic collapse.
But using American dollars has created a host of bizarre issues. The bills are filthy, crumbling and often in short supply. There are no U.S. coins to make change, so chocolate is handed out instead. There is, oddly, an abundance of $2 bills.
More than 200,000 people crossed the bridge the day it opened in 1937. Many walked. Others ran, tap-danced, roller-skated, unicycled, or strode on stilts.
Credit Courtesy of Edgar Stone
Edgar Stone (left), Marshall Weigel and Stuart Greenberg were exhausted after walking across the Golden Gate Bridge on the day it first opened. A photographer snapped them for this image, which appeared in The San Francisco News-Call Bulletin.
Credit Courtesy of Edgar Stone
This certificate, which belongs to Edgar Stone, was given to everyone who walked on the bridge on opening day.
On May 27, 1937, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge opened, connecting bustling San Francisco to sleepy Marin County to the north. The Oakland-Bay Bridge had opened six months earlier — but the Golden Gate was an engineering triumph. It straddles the Golden Gate Strait, the passage from the Pacific Ocean into the San Francisco Bay, where rough currents prevail and winds can reach 70 mph.
Nurses are the backbone of the hospital — just ask pretty much any doctor or patient. But a new poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health finds 34 percent of patients hospitalized for at least one night in the past year said "nurses weren't available when needed or didn't respond quickly to requests for help."
Since nurses provide most of the patient care in hospitals, we were surprised at the findings. We wanted to find out more. We wanted to know what was going on from nurses themselves. So we put a call-out on Facebook.