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Arts + Life

Arts + Life

Things are going well for Marc Maron. He has a new comedy special; he has interviewed both President Obama and Saturday Night Live's Lorne Michaels on his podcast, WTF; and his IFC show, Maron, is in its fourth season.

"The way kids speak today, I'm here to tell you." Over the course of history, every aging generation has made that complaint, and it has always turned out to be overblown. That's just as well. If the language really had been deteriorating all this time, we'd all be grunting like bears by now.

At London's annual Chelsea Flower Show, the flora is fit for a queen: shaped in her likeness and crafted in honor of her 90th birthday. The new princess has her own chrysanthemum too.

But this year's event, which opens Tuesday, kicks off with a warning from the Royal Horticultural Society: Britain has a "lost generation of gardeners."

Playwright Dominique Morisseau is kind of the unofficial poet laureate of Detroit. She has written three plays about her hometown and her latest, Skeleton Crew, looks at four African-American automobile workers struggling with the economic downturn in 2008. The play is currently running off-Broadway, where it's gotten rave reviews.

In the late 1940s, in the small, coal-mining township of Bethel, Pa., Marie Sayenga was raising two children — one named Bill — on a secretary's salary.

"Mama was widowed when I was 4 years old," retired teacher Bill Sayenga says to his daughter Ellen Riek during a recent visit to StoryCorps. "She had no education beyond high school. Raised my sister and me on almost no money. And bought a house so that her kids would have a proper place to grow up."

A new oil painting has just arrived in what may be the world's most clandestine art gallery — the fine arts collection at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency.

This commissioned work isn't your typical still life; the tableau is a busy clutter of gear — photos, blueprints, weapons and ammunition.

Kenya Barris, creator and showrunner of the ABC comedy series Black-ish, wasn't raised in the same privileged world as his own children. Instead, he grew up in a poor neighborhood in Los Angeles. But after his father was injured on the job, Barris' family received money through a legal settlement and they were able to move to a different part of town.

Looking at art is the core museum experience. I remember, when I was a kid, seeing Van Gogh's Starry Night for the first time. I stood for what seemed like hours, staring at the thick paint and swirling colors in a quiet gallery at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

On a recent March morning at his home in a New Jersey suburb, Anthony Mendez was on his living room couch with his 9-year-old daughter. He was watching the previous night's episode of Jane the Virgin, studying his own performance as the show's unseen narrator.

The legal case over transgender rights hinges on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion and sex. But the word "sex" wasn't always going to be part of the bill. And "sex" — which, at the time was meant to mean gender — was not on that list when the bill came to the House.

It's a perennial story: An older student returns to the classroom education he'd long set aside, finally finishing his studies and graduating years later. Typically, that story includes detours like service in war or a family tragedy.

It was the Antiques Roadshow dream: You show up with your weird-looking jug and explain that you paid $300 for it at an estate sale in Oregon. Then the expert announces ...

"It's bizarre and wonderful. You even see a little bit of, like, Pablo Picasso going on here. It's a little difficult to identify precisely when this was made, but I think it's probably late 19th or early 20th century. ...

"Everybody's gotta have a little place for their stuff. That's all life is about. Trying to find a place for your stuff." — George Carlin

It's one of his most famous routines and, like all great comedy, contains more than a grain of truth.

Since he died eight years ago, the keeper of George Carlin's "stuff" has been his daughter, writer and performer Kelly Carlin. She says he kept everything: Scrapbooks. Arrest records. The pink slip to his first car, a Dodge Dart. VHS tapes.

You've been asking for it. We've been cranking on it. And now, it's happening: the Code Switch podcast!

Check out the trailer and subscribe to our podcast so you don't miss the first episode later this month!

So, what's this podcast all about? Everything you come to Code Switch for: deeply reported, urgent, hard-to-pin-down stories about race and culture. Conversations about the messy ways our identities crash into everything else in our lives, whether we realize it or not.

When Louis XV, King of France, first met the woman who would become his chief mistress, she was dressed as a domino, and he was dressed as a plant. It was 1745, and Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, the pretty young woman who would become Marquise de Pompadour, had been invited to a masked ball at Versailles. If this sounds like a chance meeting, it wasn't — her family had been strategizing to orchestrate this very moment for years.

A new lawsuit is boldly going where no man has gone before.

Paramount Pictures and CBS are suing the producers of a Star Trek fan film for copyright infringement. The studios own the copyright to the Star Trek franchise, including six television shows and 12 movies.

One of the best things I've gotten to do while hosting PCHH is have Glen Weldon introduce comics to me. I often don't have time to keep up with even ones I like, but I regularly get the chance for him to show me things I wouldn't otherwise have seen and remind me of just how much there is out there that I'm missing. And our best opportunity to do that is Free Comic Book Day.

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

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The Broadway hit musical "Hamilton" has been nominated for 16 Tony Awards - that's a record.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSICAL, "HAMILTON")

Hamilton, the Broadway musical about "the scrappy young immigrant who forever changed America" has made history, after being nominated for a record 16 Tony Awards. The nominees were announced today.

If the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner is "nerd prom," Mr. President is the class clown.

April 23 is a big day in England: It's St. George's Day, a national holiday named for the country's patron saint, and it's also the day William Shakespeare is said to have been born and died. This April 23 marks the 400th anniversary of his death.

Following a national nomination process, the Bank of England has announced the new face of the £20 bill: famed painter Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), known for his landscapes, seascapes and innovative depiction of light.

Turner will replace economist Adam Smith, the influential advocate of free market policies who came up with the notion of the "invisible hand."

Tributes continue to flood in for celebrated Malian portrait photographer Malick Sidibe, who died of complications from diabetes in Bamako on April 14, at 80.

Mali's culture minister, N'Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo, says Sidibe was a national treasure and an important part of their cultural heritage, whose loss the entire country is mourning.

If Jeopardy!'s Alex Trebek gives the appearance of someone who has been hosting game shows all his life — that's because he has. Trebek's first hosting gig was in 1966 on a show for Canadian high schoolers called Reach for the Top. "We discovered that I was fairly good at that," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin.

Los Angeles is a city of extremes: There are neighborhoods so luxurious only millionaires can afford them and neighborhoods so poor that residents work several jobs to pay the rent. Now, a young LA painter is bringing these neighborhoods together on his canvases.

The so-called Panama Papers have shined a light on the hundreds of thousands of shell companies used to circulate assets around the world. One of those assets is fine art, and the leaked papers show how collectors and companies have secretly bought and sold famous works by artists like Amedeo Modigliani and Pablo Picasso, among others.

Our guests this week, Jonathan and Drew Scott, aka The Property Brothers, have an HGTV show in which they help people renovate and style their dream homes. (They're joining us by phone because if they saw the way we decorate it would actually kill them.)

Since the Scotts fix up homes for a living, we've invited them to play a game called "Have I got a match for you!" Three questions about matchmakers — people who fix up people.

The Broadway musical that's set during a revolution may have set off a revolution of its own, too. Right now, Hamilton is the hardest ticket to get on Broadway. It's been called a once-in-a-generation experience. But it's safe to say the unconventional smash wasn't always a sure thing.

The Grammy-winning show portrays the life of Alexander Hamilton, a founder of the United States who was once a poor, orphaned boy "dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot of the Caribbean" — and it does so in the rhymes and music of hip-hop and pop.

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