Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The Los Angeles Philharmonic's yearlong centennial celebration kicked off at the end of September, with a day-long street festival that spanned eight miles across the city.

Unlabeled stimulants in soft drinks. Formaldehyde in meat and milk. Borax — the stuff used to kill ants! — used as a common food preservative. The American food industry was once a wild and dangerous place for the consumer.

Deborah Blum's new book, The Poison Squad, is a true story about how Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, named chief chemist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1883, conducted a rather grisly experiment on human volunteers to help make food safer for consumers — and his work still echoes on today.

Taylor Swift is done being apolitical. On Sunday, the pop megastar took to Instagram and endorsed two Democratic candidates up for election in Tennessee.

The ancient Maya might be known for their mathematical aptitude, their accurate calendars, and their impressive temples. But did you know they were also salt entrepreneurs?

During the peak of Maya civilization – from 300 to 900 A.D. — coastal Maya produced salt by boiling brine in pots over fires. The end result was shaped into salt cakes, then paddled by canoe to inland cities and traded at extensive markets.

Warner Bros. Pictures

It’s not too often that the fourth time is the charm. But actor and first time film director Bradley Cooper hopes his version of the classic movie, “A Star Is Born,” is indeed a charm in its fourth version.

"It’s the Hollywood tale that the business just won’t let die," says film contributor Ryan Jay. "It seems to reinvent itself and whenever there's a leading lady, or in this case an up-and-coming leading lady with Gaga, it's a showcase for that talent. It has chops for your acting and for your singing ability."

This episode is a rerun. It originally ran in 2014. We're playing it again because Bill Nordhaus shared the 2018 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science today! We based this episode on one of his papers.

Brock-Kaplan / Milwaukee Magazine

The 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival opens on Oct. 18. This year’s festival marks 10 years in its current incarnation, and the first in which will feature a renovated Oriental Theater as home to Milwaukee Film.

"[The Oriental is] something that a lot of filmmakers who come through the city comment on. A lot of cities don’t have theaters like the Oriental. Milwaukee does — it’s one of the festival’s main selling points," says Milwaukee Magazine Cultural Editor Lindsey Anderson.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

"All this is based on what I've heard from other people or worked out for myself. It may not be entirely true, though I for one believe it."

As clerical sex abuse scandals buffet the Catholic Church, a three-week assembly of bishops is under way in Rome on how to make the Church relevant for young people. But the assembly, known as a synod, will likely be dominated by what many analysts call Catholicism's worst crisis since the reformation.

Roughly 250 priests, bishops, cardinals and some younger laypersons are participating in the synod.

In the opening mass, pope Francis urged them "to dream and to hope."

Jorge Luis Borges's iconic Patagonia story "The South" opens in Buenos Aires, in Argentina's north. The protagonist, Juan Dahlmann, is a librarian who's spent his whole life in the city, dreaming of moving to the Patagonian ranch he inherited from his grandfather.

To Dahlmann, Patagonia represents an alternate world, a macho Wild West filled with tough guys and gauchos, men in control of their fates.

"The first time I saw my father do coke, I was about six," author (and occasional NPR critic) Juan Vidal writes in his new memoir, Rap Dad: A Story of Family and the Subculture that Shaped a Generation. "Batman Underoos in full effect. I didn't know what the powder was on his stache, but I remember wishing he'd take me to see the snow."

He never did. Vidal's father faded in and out of his life, eventually disappearing entirely, in a cloud of guns, drugs and other women. But he's still the spirit that haunts this poetic chronicle of beats, rhymes and life.

The new trade deal with Canada and Mexico has been warmly welcomed by farmers, manufacturers and business groups across the country, but not always for the reasons President Trump anticipated.

While the president has touted improvements and changes as compared to North American Free Trade Agreement, many people are focusing on what didn't change and expressing relief that there's a deal at all.

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