Arts & Culture

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

Carolina Mulvey-Videla

There’s a lot of noise out here telling us that the sky is falling and that there’s no good left in our neighborhoods, cities, and country. That's why “To Be of Service” to each other, to neighbors, and to those in zip codes not our own, can be the most radical act we can commit. This week, we bring you two stories of people who chose to step up when they could have walked away. 

First, Nell Stevens wrote Bleaker House, a memoir about failing to write a novel. Now, in The Victorian and the Romantic, she has written a memoir about struggling to write her doctoral dissertation.

Writing about how writing is hard tends to be solipsistic and dreary, but these procrastination-born books have, instead, a kind of truant charm — like they know they should really be the other, more serious thing, the great work, but we're all here now so we may as well go get a drink.

Courtesy of Gianofer Fields

Most people have a preferred pronoun they stick with, like "he", "she", "they" or "them." Madison resident Shawn Padley says he answers to anything, as long as it's not, "she." 

If you ask anyone who has entered his apartment, Padley says they will gladly tell you he is definitely a "thing" person. In this edition of Radio Chipstone, he chats with contributor Gianofer Fields, confesses his love for stuff, and describes how his perspective of some objects changed as he transitioned from female to male. 

This week we recorded our show in Chicago's Millennium Park, and invited Illinois native Jeff Tweedy to play our quiz. As a kid Tweedy lied about knowing how to play the guitar, but he must have figured it out eventually because he went on to form the bands Uncle Tupelo and Wilco.

Tweedy will play a game called "A Yankee, a hotel, and a foxtrot" — three questions about the namesakes of one of Wilco's most beloved albums.

Click the audio link above to see how he does.

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

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Berlin's Tempelhof Field used to be a massive airport. It's famous as the site of the Berlin airlift — the effort in 1948-49 to keep West Berlin fed and supplied during a Soviet blockade. But the airport closed in 2008.

Now, 10 years later, Tempelhof Field is a huge park, and a home for refugees.

Here are some scenes, and sounds, from a recent visit.

Lennon-McCartney is likely one of the most famous songwriting credits in music. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote lyrics and music for almost 200 songs and The Beatles have sold hundreds of millions of albums. The story goes that the two Beatles agreed as teenagers to the joint credit for all songs they wrote, no matter the divide in work.

Churches are some of the most segregated places in America. But two pastors in Oakland are trying an experiment — to merge a white congregation and a black congregation into one house of worship, called Tapestry Church.

It all began one day when Kyle Brooks was running late.

Brooks was the pastor of Oakland Communion, a small mostly white church of newcomers to the city. He was attending the Bay Area Clergy Cohort, a social justice conference for Christian leaders, and stumbled into a group exercise after it had already started.

When we first meet Yi Jin, the lithe heroine of Kyung-Sook Shin's atmospheric, tragic novel The Court Dancer translated by Anton Hur, she stands at a ship's helm beside "a tall Frenchman, his pale face covered in a mustache," while she holds "a hat embroidered with roses and a coat to wear later when the wind blew," with a "light blue dress that rustled like lapping waves." That last image is appropriate, since Jin is gazing out on the ocean for the first time.

Earlier this week, we reported on the video from India that, according to Trevor Noah, "won" the Kiki Challenge. It was 39 seconds of two farmers dancing in the mud with their oxen.

Ling Ma was in the last months of a tedious office job when she began writing her first novel. The company was downsizing, and as her coworkers got laid off, the office became "silent and desolate," Ma recalls.

Eventually Ma lost her job, too. The first few weeks were liberating — she called her unemployment check her "arts fellowship" — and she turned her attention to her debut novel.

Nothing felt better — at noon, during the third day of Newport Folk Festival — than standing in the shade of the enormous tent covering the "Quad Stage" and grooving to the globally-influenced funk, jazz, surf and psychedelic stew that is Khruangbin.

To tell how the nation's first black beer festival came to be held in Pittsburgh, you might start with a beer.

Maybe it was that introductory Sam Adams Boston Lager that longtime Michelob and Heineken guy Mike Potter drank more than a decade ago. "It had a completely different profile, a completely different taste, you know, completely different aroma," he says. "It just elevated my curiosity."

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

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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