Despers USA practices on a big parking lot off Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, N.Y. Band members start wandering in around 6 or 7 p.m. and slowly take their places behind racks of steel drums. Like a symphony orchestra, they're organized by section — the thin tenors ringed around the outside; the big, deep, oil-drum basses toward the center; the midrange "guitars," as they're called, nearby.
Their section leader counts them in. He stops them, and then stops them again, saying the opening needs to be stronger. Eventually, they get it.
Malaika, 19, sits behind a friend while her makeup is applied at a friend's home in Rawalpindi. The transgender teenager got straight As in school before dropping out because of discrimination from her classmates. Now she dances at weddings and other parties for money.
Credit Bay Ismoyo / AFP/Getty Images
A transgender woman begs for alms from motorists at a traffic stop in Rawalpindi, outside Islamabad, Pakistan, on March 27.
Credit Lauren Frayer / NPR
Almas Bobby, leader of Pakistan's transgender community, led the Supreme Court battle that ultimately won transgender people the legal right to list a third gender option — neither male nor female — on their national identity cards.
Credit Lauren Frayer / NPR
Sameeha, a 22-year-old transgender wedding performer, dances as friends look on during a rehearsal at a friend's home in Rawalpindi.
Urban Pakistan assaults your senses: tangles of traffic; Pakistani pop competing with the mosque's call to prayer; pungent spices in the steamy air. And then there are the transvestites.
At traffic lights, you see people draped in elegant pink and red clothing, with sparkling makeup. They tap their painted fingernails on your car window, asking for money. And that's when you notice the stubble on their chins.
"Begging here in traffic is just a part-time job," says 32-year-old Mina Mehvish. "I really want to be a dancer."
Originally published on Mon September 3, 2012 12:22 pm
Unlike what Republicans did in Tampa last week, Democrats will lay out a clear plan to get the country back on sound footing, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said during news briefing in Charlotte, N.C., moments ago.
Villaraigosa, who is the chair of the Democratic National Convention, said that by the time the convention wraps up Thursday night, the party will have crystalized its platform and explained that this election is about a stark choice.
The new quartet album by alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón and pianist Laurent Coq is called Rayuela, which means "hopscotch." It's named for Julio Cortázar's novel, the fragmented tale of a wandering bohemian and his social circles in Parisian exile, as well as back home in Buenos Aires.
Jordan Hull has always been a creative type. Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Hull explored theater, writing and painting, and eventually got into music as an escape during his rebellious high-school years. Now in Nashville, the 23-year-old singer-songwriter writes lyrics that draw inspiration from great troubadours of yesteryear, including Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie.
Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 4:14 pm
Ladies, if the thought of showing up at a party or a picnic with a box of wine seems a little gauche, there's now a product for you: Vernissage's "bag-in-a-bag" of wine. It's boxed wine, shaped like a handbag.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep with congratulations to Stephen Brede. He climbed into a canoe on the Michigan shore of Lake Erie in June. Two months later he returned to the same spot from the opposite direction, having paddled around the entire lake. He says he camped onshore and sometimes residents took him in. The Petoskey News-Review says he now reports having paddled around three of the Great Lakes. And at age 61, he has two to go. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
Being in the video rental business is tough these days, and Old Bank DVD in Los Angeles goes after every last dollar. Actor Nicholas Cage owed more than $200 in late fees. The store outed him on Facebook, and he settled the debt.
Dating can be difficult at the best of times, but if you're the Man of Steel it's near impossible — until now. The latest edition of Justice League gives Superman a romantic break by pairing him up with Wonder Woman. According to Justice League writer Geoff Johns, the relationship will definitely cause tension around the office.
President Obama holds a Labor Day campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio, on Monday, and then flies to Louisiana to inspect the damage from Hurricane Isaac. The Toledo rally is part of a long weekend of campaigning, leading up to the Democratic National Convention, which starts Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C.
The president held a rally with thousands of students at the University of Colorado over the weekend. Just five days earlier, he'd been at Colorado State. Obama is hoping to harness the cross-state rivalry between the schools in the service of his re-election campaign.
A view of the skyline of Charlotte, N.C., on Sunday. Preparations for the Democratic National Convention are under way around Charlotte, where the party is expected to nominate President Obama to run for a second term.
Originally published on Mon September 3, 2012 8:53 am
It's getting tougher to be a Republican in some parts of the country while also fully accepting the practice of Islam.
In Tennessee, an incumbent in the U.S. House found herself on the defensive after being called soft on Shariah law, the code that guides Muslim beliefs and actions. And the state's governor has been forced to explain why he hired a Muslim.
Omm Ahmed, a refugee from Daraa, Syria, carries her infant near her tent at Zaatari Refugee Camp in Mafraq, Jordan, on Sunday. Syrian civilians have borne the greatest brunt of the conflict in their country.
The conflict in Syria is now nearly a year and a half old, and there appears to be no end in sight.
August was the deadliest month yet, with thousands of people, mostly civilians, killed in fighting around the country. While anti-government rebels are making advances, government troops are digging in their heels.
It started as a protest movement. Now, analysts in the U.S. and the region agree, the conflict in Syria is a civil war.
A Civil War
Even Syrian President Bashar Assad came close to acknowledging as much in a speech last week.
Seventy-five years ago, Key Underwood and his raccoon-hunting dog Troop had a connection. Years of training and a deep relationship make human and canine a seamless hunting unit. The two can share a special bond.
So when old Troop died, Underwood buried him on the crest of a hill hidden away in the lush countryside near Cherokee, Ala. It was Underwood's favorite hunting spot. He marked the grave with an old chimney stone he chiseled with a hammer and screwdriver.