Arts + Life

Arts + Life

Morning Edition asked its listeners to share recordings of daybreak where they live. We received more than 100 submissions, and here is a sampling of what our listeners' world sounds like when it's just waking up.

But we also want to share some of the stories behind the sounds we received.

5:30 a.m. EST, Westford, Mass.

At Forge Pond in Westford, Mass., a group of dedicated rowers meet at sunrise and prepare their boats and oars.

If there was a moment that best summed up the inspired, surprising and sometimes uneven nature of Stephen Colbert's debut as host of CBS' Late Show last night, it came toward the program's end.

That's when Colbert, known for his willingness to croon a tune or two, jumped on stage to belt out a version of Sly and the Family Stone's Everyday People with an all-star band that included bluesman Buddy Guy, gospel legend Mavis Staples and Alabama Shakes singer Brittany Howard.

We asked authors, actors, politicians, philanthropists, scientists, musicians and others to tell us their five all-time favorite books to read to their children. We'll be posting a few entries each week (and we'd love to hear from you, too).

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You see something happen each time you end up on Lamour Rogers' Washington, D.C., Metrorail train.

As Rogers' voice booms over the public address system, people look up from their phones and newspapers left behind by someone else. They make eye contact. They smile at each other.

NPR's Renita Jablonski met with Rogers to find out what is so special about his voice and where his enthusiasm comes from day in and day out.

Actor Martin Milner, whose work as Officer Pete Malloy introduced generations of Americans to a tough and honorable policeman on Adam-12, died on Sunday. Milner, who was 83, died at home in Carlsbad, Calif.

Word of Milner's death came out Monday, via a fan page on Facebook. His former co-star on Adam-12, Kent McCord, then confirmed to The Associated Press that the actor had died.

At a bowling alley bar, The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges, sips a White Russian cocktail. The camera slowly pans over to a cowboy who orders a soft drink and offers up some wisdom:

"A wiser fella than myself once said, 'Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar, well, he eats you.' "

He's The Stranger in The Big Lebowski, played by Sam Elliott.

But before Elliott portrayed cowboys, he worked construction in Los Angeles. That's what launched his big break.

Ten years ago, actor Wendell Pierce went home for a vacation between recording seasons of the hit HBO show The Wire.

As he stepped off the plane in New Orleans, the airport was chaotic. A massive hurricane called Katrina was closing in on the city.

"I was telling my parents 'Nah, let's just ride it out. Let's just stay,' " Pierce tells NPR's Arun Rath. "I went out that Saturday night and I kind of bluffed my parents and said 'Well, if they make it a mandatory evacuation, we'll leave.'

"That Sunday morning they did, and that's when I knew it was serious."

Iftah Ya Simsim, the Arabic-language version of Sesame Street, has re-debuted in the Middle East after a 25-year hiatus.

Cairo Arafat remembers watching the show with her younger siblings back in the 1980s.

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Editor's Note: This report contains a racial slur.

A new play reveals some little-known history about the land that became New York City's Central Park: People used to live there.

Beginning in 1825, about 300 people — mainly free African-Americans — lived in a village that spanned a portion of the park's 843 acres in Manhattan, between 82nd and 89th streets, east of Central Park West. It was called Seneca Village.

To listen to the media tell it, "so" is busting out all over — or at least at the beginning of a sentence. New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas calls "so" the new "um" and "like"; others call it a plague and a fad.

Comedian Erin Foley, appearing in Columbus on September 3-5 with the Arch City Comedy Festival,  has done many things: toured extensively as a stand up comedian, hosted the popular podcast Sports without Balls, and released a CD, Lady with Pockets. But when the topic turns to writing erotic fan fiction, she was "way outside [her] comfort zone."

He was called the Sultan of Shock and the Guru of Gore: Wes Craven, who died Sunday, directed dozens of now-classic horror movies, including A Nightmare on Elm Street and all of the Scream films.

Scream, from 1996, is an expert parody of horror movies, filled with inside jokes — like the girl alone in the house who gets a phone call that's coming from closer than she thinks. Writer Kevin Williamson made it funny. Craven made it scary.

This is one in a series of essays running last week and this week about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters. The entire series is available here.

Fishing lore is full of tales about "the one that got away," and fishermen have been known to exaggerate the size of their catch. The bragging problem is apparently so bad, Texas even has a law on the books that makes lying about the size or provenance of a fish caught in a tournament an offense that could come with a felony charge.

There are a lot of stories to tell about New Orleans.

There are uplifting stories about new houses, new shops and gigantic drainage projects. There are melancholy stories about everything residents lost in Hurricane Katrina, about all that can never be recovered. There are stories about all that remains to be done, 10 years after the hurricane and the levee failures.

And, throughout it all, there are love stories.

Want to hear one?

'It Was Still Mardi Gras'

Stories within stories: It's a structure as old as, well, storytelling itself. In the Western canon alone, everything from The Canterbury Tales to Hamlet to Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities has played with the idea of nesting narratives within each other. Speculative fiction authors such as Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman have been just as apt to stuff stories into stories, often to marvelous effect.

Five-plus years into the history of PCHH, this is the first time we've found ourselves recording a full episode with just three of us — in this case me, Stephen and Glen. We gathered this week to talk about the HBO miniseries Show Me A Hero, which I previously reviewed on the blog over here.

It might be considered nosey to thumb through someone else's little black address book, but that doesn't bother Mary Savig, curator of manuscripts at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. "It is very nosey and that's why I really enjoy doing it," she says.

The "Little Black Books" of some major and minor American artists are currently on view in a show at the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C.