Arts + Life

Arts + Life

Commentators both amateur and professional have turned over the events of the 1994-95 O.J. Simpson trial in their hands for a couple of decades now, trying to figure out how it got so distressingly ugly as a display, let alone as a legal proceeding. The FX series The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, based on Jeffrey Toobin's book The Run Of His Life, has come to the surprisingly compassionate conclusion, over and over, that a significant part of the problem was not malice but excess made worse by public attention.

Roberto Bolaño's sprawling, posthumous epic 2666 has been called a masterpiece and a landmark. It addresses the nature of good and evil, art and humanity, love and death — to name just a few themes. It's populated by literary critics, detectives, a philosopher and many more, all on their own interconnected journeys.

If you drive down any interstate in the South, you can't miss the giant black-and-yellow signs beckoning: Waffle House.

These ubiquitous, yellow-roofed chain restaurants have been serving up not just waffles but all manner of Southern comfort foods 'round the clock for more than 60 years.

And for the past 30 years or so, Waffle House has also been working on a side project: making music.

Like this peppy number:

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

If you follow Team PCHH on Twitter, you know that a week ago, we all trekked up to Manhattan and saw Hamilton, which we intended to talk about on this week's show. Unfortunately, I was struck down by the weirdest and most potent bout of laryngitis of my lifetime, and we had to postpone that show, which you'll get next week. In the meantime, fortunately, we have three conversations featuring awesome people who have never been on PCHH before. Fresh faces!

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

On a recent episode of The Bachelor, the ABC dating reality show that ends its 20th season Monday night, contestant Caila Quinn brings Ben Higgins home to meet her interracial family.

"Have you ever met Filipinos before?" Quinn's mother asks, leading Higgins into a dining room where the table is filled with traditional Filipino food.

"I don't know," he replies. "No. I don't think so."

Danai Gurira often calls herself a "Zimerican." The actress and playwright — who you may know best as Michonne, the samurai sword-wielding zombie slayer on The Walking Dead -- was born in Iowa, to Zimbabwean parents, and the family moved back to Harare when she was just five. She returned to the U.S. for college and has stayed ever since.

"I was always in a hodgepodge of culture — there's no other identity I know, really," she says.

Sunny Balzano's modest watering-hole in Brooklyn was a throwback to another time. It was known simply as Sunny's, after the beloved bartender and raconteur who transformed a faded longshoremen's bar into a local institution. He died Thursday at the age of 81, just weeks after the publication of Sunny's Nights, a new book about his life and times.

Sunny was not a master of artisanal cocktails, as he was quick to admit. "I still don't know how to mix drinks, do I?," he joked during an interview at the bar last month. No one disagreed.

His is not just a gentle voice; for many people, it's a very familiar one, too. For 25 years, Francois Clemmons played a role on the beloved children's program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Clemmons joined the cast of the show in 1968, becoming the first African-American to have a recurring role on a kids TV series.

And, as it happens, it was Clemmons' voice that Fred Rogers noticed, too, when he heard Clemmons singing in church.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In 1995, the televised trial of O.J. Simpson riveted the nation. Lead prosecutor Marcia Clark made the case against the hall-of-fame football player, who was accused of the brutal double homicide of his ex-wife and her friend.

Throughout the trial, Clark faced tremendous scrutiny. She was criticized for courtroom decisions as well as for her hairstyle, clothing and her personal life. Many ultimately blamed her for Simpson's acquittal.

For Muslim-Americans, there was a world before Sept. 11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and one after. Now, their community faces the dual threats of extremism and growing atheism.

Young Muslim-Americans are angry and frustrated, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. While bound by their religion and their community, they have opinions as diverse as their backgrounds.

Serekalem Alemu is crocheting a basket.

Wearing a gray fleece jacket and a long gray skirt speckled with blue flowers, Alemu sits on a sofa on the second floor of a former warehouse in the industrial section of Tel Aviv. A damp Mediterranean winter breeze blows in through the open window. Traffic whizzes by on the boulevard below. With her thick, black hair held back in a ponytail, the 28-year-old winds long, narrow strips of teal-colored fabric into a ball, which will eventually become a basket.

For more than a century, mug shots have helped police catch criminals. Those photos of a person's face and profile trace their roots to Paris in the late 19th century.

Now, some of the earliest mug shots ever taken are on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The black-and-white photos were once on the cutting edge of how police identified suspects.

They were taken by a French criminologist named Alphonse Bertillon, and his techniques set the template that police use today.

Rise Of The Modern Mug Shot

On Friday night, I finally got to see Hamilton, the critically acclaimed musical I've been surprisingly obsessed with since Frannie Kelley's glowing write-up of the cast album last fall.

Mary Fusillo and her husband, Bob, have been married for 20 years. She met him on a blind date in Houston. Right away, she knew she liked him.

He was very intellectual, and he "read jazz biographies of dead jazz musicians," she says, laughing.

"And I was used to guys that went hunting on the weekends," she adds.

They fell in love and got married. Pretty soon they had a house and kids — twins, actually.

But within a few years, there was trouble.

It seems George Orwell's Big Brother never gets old — and he's still watching us. Right now, he's in Cambridge, Mass., where a theatrical adaptation of Orwell's novel 1984 is on stage at the American Repertory Theatre. The production was a sold-out hit in London.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Pages