Fresh Air

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Music Reviews
11:25 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Paying Tribute To San Francisco DJ Cheb I Sabbah

Cheb i Sabbah.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun June 10, 2012 7:53 am

Cheb i Sabbah's life traces an almost fairy-tale perfect path through the evolution of what's now called world music. Born in Algeria in 1947, he absorbed the Judeo-Arabic Andalusian music of his local culture before he joined the '60s rebellion and became a 17-year-old DJ playing soul 45s in Paris. By the end of the decade, he'd moved to New York and become friends with trumpeter Don Cherry, famous for his association with Ornette Coleman and a pioneer in the concept of multicultural music.

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Book Reviews
10:44 am
Wed June 6, 2012

Brit Wit Meets Manor Mystery In 'Uninvited Guests'

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 10:08 am

A dark and stormy night; an isolated manor house; a knock at the door. These are the surefire elements that have kept Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap creaking continuously on the London stage ever since its premiere in 1952. And these are the very same elements that make Sadie Jones' new novel, The Uninvited Guests, such a delicious romp to read.

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Music Reviews
10:43 am
Wed June 6, 2012

Making Music From Messy Relationships With 'Kin'

The new album Kin is a collaboration between author Mary Karr and singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell.
Deborah Feingold

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 10:08 am

It's not unusual for poets to try their hands at pop music-making. Patti Smith was a poet before she was a rock star. In recent years, print-poets such as David Berman and Wyn Cooper have put out more-than-credible song collections. But Mary Karr, known more for prize-winning memoirs such as The Liars Club and Lit than for her excellent poetry, has taken a high-profile risk that's paid off.

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The Fresh Air Interview
9:55 am
Wed June 6, 2012

Neil Young: The Fresh Air Interview

Neil Young.
Danny Clinch

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 10:08 am

Neil Young and Crazy Horse's latest project — their first together in nine years — is an album featuring American folk songs and the tunes many of us learned as children, performed with grit, wit and a whole lot of electric guitar.

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Music Reviews
11:40 am
Tue June 5, 2012

Tracing The Evolution Of Lost Chicago Jazz

Mike Reed's People, Places and Things.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue June 5, 2012 2:29 pm

Drummer Mike Reed put together his quartet People, Places and Things to play music by their 1950s forebears. But it makes sense that, after a few years together, they'd also play later pieces, tracking the evolution of Chicago jazz on a new album titled Clean on the Corner. One dividend of their repertory work is that it inspires Reed to write his own tunes in the same spirit, like "The Lady Has a Bomb."

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Around the Nation
11:37 am
Tue June 5, 2012

How Louisiana Became The World's 'Prison Capital'

In the past two decades, Louisiana's prison population has doubled.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 5, 2012 1:07 pm

A new expose by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans calls Louisiana the "world's prison capital."

The state imprisons more people per capita than any other state or country in the world, with one out of every 86 adults behind bars. Its rate of incarceration is three times higher than Iran's and 10 times higher than Germany's.

How did Louisiana double its prison population in the past 20 years? And what differentiates it from other states?

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Economy
11:37 am
Tue June 5, 2012

Growing Economic Inequality 'Endangers Our Future'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 5, 2012 1:45 pm

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz grew up in Gary, Ind. — a city that has weathered many economic storms over the past half-century.

Stiglitz went on to study at Amherst College and MIT, where he received a Ph.D. in economics. He later served on and chaired President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers and became the chief economist at the World Bank. But even as a child, Stiglitz says, he noticed ways in which the markets weren't working.

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National Security
10:59 am
Mon June 4, 2012

'Obama's Secret Wars' Against America's Threats

Originally published on Tue June 5, 2012 11:51 am

Last week, The New York Times reported that Stuxnet, the computer worm that infected computers around the world in 2010, was developed by the United States in conjunction with Israel to destroy Iran's nuclear centrifuges.

"It appears to be the first time the United States has repeatedly used cyberweapons to cripple another country's infrastructure, achieving, with computer code, what until then could be accomplished only by bombing a country or sending in agents to plant explosives," wrote David Sanger, the paper's chief Washington correspondent.

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NPR Story
11:27 am
Sat June 2, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend

Fresh Air weekend

Music Reviews
10:40 am
Fri June 1, 2012

Diamond Rugs: Carefully Constructed Drinking Tunes

Diamond Rugs.
Amie Ledford

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 12:11 pm

Diamond Rugs is one those bands that wants you to think it prizes spontaneity and sloppy good fun more than careful song construction and technical polish. And the album, also titled Diamond Rugs, almost succeeds in convincing you of its sloppy aesthetic, dispensing songs about drinking and carousing only to be left morose, in one's cups.

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Author Interviews
10:13 am
Fri June 1, 2012

A Memoir About Mothers, Memory And Loss

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 10:40 am

This interview was originally broadcast on January 11, 2011.

Writer Mira Bartok was 40 years old when a semi-trailer hurled into her car on the New York Thruway. The force of the accident whipped the inside of her brain against her skull, causing what's known as coup contrecoup, a type of traumatic brain injury that for Bartok, affected both her long- and short-term memory.

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Movie Reviews
9:41 am
Fri June 1, 2012

A 'Snow White' As Bleak As It Is Grimm

Charlize Theron plays Queen Ravenna, who literally sucks the life out of female prisoners to keep herself looking young and vibrant.
Universal Pictures

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 5:09 pm

The ads for Snow White and the Huntsman show a glum Kristen Stewart dressed for battle, obviously playing the huntsman. Hold the phone, she's Snow White. Another storybook heroine turned warrior! Just like the princess in this year's first Snow White picture, Mirror Mirror, who not only goes mano a mano with her patronizing, patriarchal prince, but tells him she's sick of stories in which damsels take their distress lying down.

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Author Interviews
10:59 am
Thu May 31, 2012

The Internet: A Series Of 'Tubes' (And Then Some)

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 1:08 pm

Increasingly, Internet users are working "in the cloud" — creating and sending data that isn't stored on local hard drives. It's easy to imagine our emails and photos swirling around in cyberspace without a physical home — but that's not really how it works. Those files are still stored somewhere, but you can only find them if you know where to look.

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Movies
10:58 am
Thu May 31, 2012

2012: Not The Best Year At Cannes

Emmanuelle Riva co-stars in the French film Amour, which won the festival's Palme d'Or.
La Festival de Cannes

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 1:08 pm

John Powers, Fresh Air's critic-at-large and the movie critic for Vogue, returns from the 2012 Cannes Film Festival to share his thoughts on the films he liked and the films he didn't care for.

Though Powers says 2012 was not the best year at Cannes, the experience once again left him feeling rejuvenated about the movies.

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Commentary
10:54 am
Wed May 30, 2012

The Word 'Hopefully' Is Here To Stay, Hopefully

The word "hopefully" has been used in thousands of NPR stories.
Stephanie d'Otreppe/NPR

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 2:52 pm

Geoff Nunberg, the linguist contributor on NPR's Fresh Air, is the author of the book The Years of Talking Dangerously.

There was something anticlimactic to the news that the AP Stylebook will no longer be objecting to the use of "hopefully" as a floating sentence adverb, as in, "Hopefully, the Giants will win the division." It was like seeing an obituary for someone you assumed must have died around the time that Hootenanny went off the air.

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Music
7:45 am
Wed May 30, 2012

Fresh Air Remembers Traditional Music Legend Doc Watson

Doc Watson performs at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 1, 2009.
Rick Diamond/Staff Getty Images Entertainment

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 11:00 am

This interview was originally broadcast on March 24, 1988.

Doc Watson, who was called "a living national treasure" for his virtuoso flat-picking and his repertoire of traditional folk and bluegrass tunes, has died. He was 89.

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Music Reviews
11:52 am
Tue May 29, 2012

Anti-Virtuoso Piano, Delicate And Despoiled

Left to right: Masabumi Kikuchi, Thomas Morgan, Paul Motian.
John Rogers

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 12:11 pm

The death of a great musician ripples through the jazz community. It's a special loss to those improvisers we might call immediate survivors: working partners who'll miss that special interaction with a singular musician.

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Movie Interviews
10:13 am
Tue May 29, 2012

Wes Anderson, Creating A Singular 'Kingdom'

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom opened the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. He received Academy Award nominations for The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Niko Tavernise Focus Features

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 11:58 am

Director Wes Anderson has many credits to his name — The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited, Bottle Rocket and Fantastic Mr. Fox among them — but Moonrise Kingdom is his first film to open the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

Starring Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Bruce Willis and Edward Norton, the quirky independent picture tells the story of a 12-year-old girl and boy who fall in love and then make a pact to run off into the woods together.

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Music Interviews
7:03 am
Mon May 28, 2012

Catherine Russell: An In-Studio Fresh Air Concert

Catherine Russell.
Stefan Falke

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 6:49 am

This interview was originally broadcast on February 21, 2011.

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Fresh Air Weekend
12:58 am
Sat May 26, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: David Alan Grier, Sacha Baron Cohen

In Porgy and Bess, David Alan Grier plays the drug dealer Sporting Life, a role closely associated with Sammy Davis Jr. and Cab Calloway.
Courtesy of the American Repertory Theater

Originally published on Sat May 26, 2012 10:02 am

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:


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Music Reviews
11:19 am
Fri May 25, 2012

James Burton: The Teen Who Invented American Guitar

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 2:11 pm

What were you doing when you were 16?

When he was 16, James Burton was inventing the American guitar. He'd been born in Dubberly, La., in 1939, and was apparently self-taught on his instrument. At 15, he cut a single backing local singer Carol Williams, and then one day he came up with a guitar riff that he liked. He took it to a singer from Shreveport he was touring with, and they worked out a song to use in his act. One thing led to another, and it wound up on a record called "Suzie Q," credited to Dale Hawkins, the singer.

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Movie Reviews
10:30 am
Fri May 25, 2012

A Wes Anderson 'Kingdom' Full Of Beautiful Imagery

Edward Norton plays a scoutmaster in search of his lost charge in Wes Anderson's latest film, Moonrise Kingdom.
Focus Features

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 2:11 pm

Many people are rapturous over the work of Wes Anderson, and for them, I expect, Moonrise Kingdom will be nirvana. The frames are quasi-symmetrical: a strong center, often human, with misaligned objects on each side suggesting a universe that's slightly out of balance, like a series of discombobulated dollhouses.

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Author Interviews
9:11 am
Fri May 25, 2012

Examining 'The Leftovers,' After The Rapture

Tom Perrotta is the author of several novels, including Election and Little Children.
Mark Ostow Courtesy Tom Perrotta

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 2:11 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on August 25, 2011. The Leftovers is now available in paperback.

Last year, California-based preacher Harold Camping announced that the beginning of the end of the world would take place on May 21, 2011. The date passed by with no apparent rapture, and Camping became the butt of many late-night talk show jokes.

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Music Interviews
11:02 am
Thu May 24, 2012

How Wes Anderson Soundtracks His Movies

Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman star in Wes Anderson's latest film, Moonrise Kingdom.
Courtesy of Focus Features

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 3:28 pm

If you see the new Wes Anderson movie Moonrise Kingdom, you'll hear background music from composers Benjamin Britten and Alexandre Desplat, as well as several songs from Hank Williams.

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Digital Life
11:01 am
Thu May 24, 2012

Keeping Your Kids Safe Online: It's 'Common Sense'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 1:44 pm

If you're a parent, you may have wondered what your kids are texting to each other or posting on their Facebook pages. Or maybe you've thought about it and decided you don't want to know.

That's not the best approach, says child advocate James Steyer. Steyer runs Common Sense Media, an organization that helps parents decide which kinds of technology are age-appropriate for their kids.

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