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Arts + Life

Arts + Life

In the 1990s and early 2000s, TV shows didn't have a lot of love for mass transit — as Homer Simpson pronounced, "Public transportation is for jerks and lesbians." Even on iconic shows set in New York City, characters didn't take advantage of their mass transit options. The stars of Sex and the City rode in taxis and cars. Same with Seinfeld (except for that one time when Jerry's car was in the shop and Elaine was forced to take the subway .) So, too, in fictional Springfield — Alex Marshall,...

In 1967, after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Hartmut Lau deployed to Vietnam. During his deployment, he earned a bronze star, a silver star and a purple heart. He describes his time in Vietnam matter-of-factly: "You perform the mission that you're given. You do your job and then you either perform well or you don't." For decades, Lau kept the details of his time in combat to himself — until he sat down for a StoryCorps interview with his wife, Barbara. recently in...

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I've noticed two distinct ways social media have changed the way we talk to each other about politics. Clearly, they have changed a lot, maybe everything, but two fairly new phenomena stand out. One happens on Facebook all the time. Just about all of your friends are posting about the election, nonstop. And there are a few who brag about deleting friends, or who urge friends to unfriend them over their political leanings: "Just unfriend me now." Or something like "If you can't support...

Up-and-coming comedian Aparna Nancherla is having a great year, riding high on a TV comedy special, tour and a new album, Just Putting It Out There — all this while wrestling with some pretty tough personal issues, like depression, on stage. Nancherla's very dry sense of humor comes alive through her very expressive face, her dancing eyebrows and wide smile. She tells NPR's Audie Cornish that early in her career, someone told her she did standup like someone who'd never seen standup before. ...

For decades, one company has pretty much had the monopoly on TV ratings: Nielsen. But, the way people watch TV is changing. A lot of fans are streaming shows from the Internet — not watching on cable TV. Old-fashioned Nielsen ratings wouldn't show the habits of a family like Kevin Seal's. "We do not follow the appointment viewing, wait-for-the-show-to-come-on-at-a-given-time schedule," says Seal, who lives in San Francisco with his wife and six-year-old son. "We watch a lot of Netflix...

In the stone courtyard of a lovingly — if quirkily — restored 500-year-old house in the Old City of Damascus, a ginger-bearded man in a baseball cap opens his arms to another set of visitors. "Hi," says Syria's most successful sculptor, Mustafa Ali. "This is my place." Tourists may be avoiding Damascus, thanks to more than five years of war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more. But Ali's artists' retreat, a combination gallery, performance space and fun...

Jenn Stanley tries not to bring up politics when she returns home to visit her father. She really, really tries. "But you always watch the 5 o'clock news, and the minute any politician steps on — it doesn't matter who it is — I just cringe." That's because Jenn, a 29-year-old writer and a liberal, doesn't exactly see eye to eye with her father, Peter — who works in construction and is conservative. Whereas Jenn would prefer to pretend simply that it isn't happening, to let the news play on...

When the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in September, Associate Director Beverly Morgan-Welch expected a lot of visitors. But she didn't expect how long people would stay once they got in. Museum experts call that "dwell time." "The normal dwell time for most museums is an hour 45 minutes to two hours," says Morgan-Welch. "Our dwell time can go to six." With visitors staying six hours, it's impossible for the museum to let in more people. And since passes are...

By the time a group of high school students showed up at Richard Moss' home in 1980, he was an old man in his 80s. He was a master of shape-note singing — a remarkable old style of music he learned from his elders, who learned it from their elders in the mountains of northern Georgia. The students wanted to document the tradition for their magazine, Foxfire . Named after a bioluminescent fungus that glows in the hills of North Georgia on certain summer nights, Foxfire started in 1966, when an...

Thousands of teenagers swoon — Arabs and Jews alike — as Tamer Nafar takes the stage. He's a member of Israel's Palestinian Arab minority, a founding member of the Palestinian hip-hop group DAM — and he sings in Arabic. At this concert last month in northern Israel, part of a multicultural gathering on the sidelines of the Haifa Film Festival, where Israeli musicians of Ethiopian and Indian descent are also performing, "I'm not political," he raps. But Nafar is known for other lyrics that are...

It has been more than a year since Stephen Colbert took over as host of CBS' The Late Show , and he's finally feeling comfortable being himself and not a character. Before The Late Show , Colbert spent nine years playing the role of a self-important blowhard on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. He tells Fresh Air 's Terry Gross that he initially shied away from discussing politics or current events on The Late Show in an effort to differentiate himself from his Colbert persona. "It took me...

A big blue rooster has appeared on top of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It's part of the museum's renovated East Building, which recently opened to the public with several new exhibitions — including a handful of pictures by the highly regarded German art photographer Thomas Struth. The pictures belong to Robert Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker, a couple who began collecting photographs nine years ago. Their very first purchase — Struth's Alte Pinakothek, Self-Portrait, Munich...

Amazon's new 10-part series Good Girls Revolt was inspired by a landmark 1970 case involving a group of women working at Newsweek magazine who sued their employers for gender discrimination. At the show's fictitious News of the Week magazine, women begin to rise up, too. As the Vietnam War, the counterculture, civil rights and the Black Panthers make headlines, the hierarchy of the newsroom is clear: the men are reporters, the women are researchers. As one female staffer breaks it down to...

Imagine: the chance to live on an uninhabited tropical island for a month, off the grid, creating art. No phone, no television, no Internet. Instead, spectacular night skies, crystalline turquoise waters and extraordinary marine life on the coral reef just a short swim from your back door. For one month a year, Dry Tortugas National Park is home to a pair of artists in residence . The park is made up of seven islands in the Gulf of Mexico , 70 miles from Key West, Fla., accessible only by...

When choreographer Garth Fagan was growing up in Jamaica, he dreamed of a far off place where he could pursue his art and teach dance to others. And he found that paradise ... in Rochester, N.Y., where he founded the Garth Fagan Dance company. Fagan choreographed The Lion King on Broadway, so we've decided to quiz him on lying kings — three questions about really deceitful people. Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. PETER SAGAL, HOST: And now the game where we like to...

Stars Hollow, the picturesque setting of the TV show The Gilmore Girls is practically a character of its own. Close-knit (sometimes to a fault), the fictional New England town is filled with lovable oddballs who gossip over coffee, bicker at town meetings, and make viewers wonder if there's anything remotely like it in the real world. The answer is ... sort of. Stars Hollow is based on a real New England town — Washington, Conn. — where show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, hatched the idea...

If you feel like Internet ads are more pervasive and invasive than ever before, you're not alone. Author Tim Wu tells Fresh Air 's Terry Gross that the Web has gotten worse over the years, not better — and unrelenting ads are to blame. "I think you spend 50 percent of your mental energy trying to defeat ad systems," Wu says. "It's amazing that we've got this great scientific invention, the Web and the Internet, and then it has come to the point where using it reminds me of swatting mosquitoes...

Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature this week. His selection was surprising. He is the first artist to receive the award for a body of work that is almost entirely songs. But while there were critics, there was also a lot of acclaim, even from outstanding longtime novelists, including Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, and Salman Rushdie, who called Mr. Dylan, "the brilliant inheritor of the Bardic tradition." Sara Danius of the Swedish Academy, who is a professor of literature...

A friend of photographer Phillip Toledano once said "He is the most self-absorbed person I've ever met — but he wears it well." The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano is a new short film in which the photographer, with the assistance of makeup artists, fortune tellers, and psychics, disguises himself as the various fates life might one day hold for him: Ending up a homeless alcoholic, a white-collar criminal cuffed and taken away by police, or a lonely senior, feeding a small dog from his plate —...

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