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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.