Arts & Culture

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

When Melanie McNeil roused her 8-year-old great-grandson, Byron Ridenour-Wright, out of bed in Ohio last fall, and loaded him onto a bus bound for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, she didn't have high hopes for lunch.

"Later, years later, I would hear a song made of our meeting," says the hero of Madeleine Miller's Circe, of her romance with the mortal Odysseus. Circe is referring to Homer's version of the story, in which Odysseus arrives on her island sea-battered and mourning for his men killed by the cruel Laestrygonians. Circe entraps his remaining men and turns them into pigs. But Odysseus, with the help of the god Hermes, tricks Circe and makes her beg for mercy before becoming her lover.

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Today marks 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act. The law was meant to ban racial discrimination in housing. So how well has it worked? Gene Demby from NPR's Code Switch podcast spoke with Rachel Martin.

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Tyler Childers writes songs about hard lives and hard love with direct heart. You meet these characters — some from his own life, some not — and feel like you know them, but there's always another layer to uncover with each listen, carved by his coarse and soulful Kentucky drawl.

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Take the everyday sounds of a city - traffic, people's voices - give them to composer and MIT professor Tod Machover and out comes a symphony.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOD MACHOVER'S "A TORONTO SYMPHONY")

For the past two decades, photographer Dayanita Singh has been the subject of exhibitions and retrospectives at museums around the world. Her poetic images of Indian family life and architecture, abandoned spaces and private moments, are the kind of classically beautiful works coveted by curators and collectors.

America has had its first black baseball player, its first black astronaut, its first black president — but after the firsts, the world is still full of onlies. Sometimes the only-ness is existential — like the only black student in a private school. Sometimes it's incidental — the only black woman in an hour-long yoga class.

In 2016, Brady Jandreau was thrown from a horse while riding in a rodeo. The horse stepped on the Lakota cowboy's head, crushing his skull.

Doctors told him that he wouldn't ride again — and he considered giving it up — but couldn't. "I knew what I had to do and I knew what I was going to do," Jandreau says. "The rest was up to faith and my connection with the animal."

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Black Magic: Richard Potter Reappears

Apr 10, 2018

Two hundred years ago, Richard Potter was one of the most coveted performers in America. He garnered nationwide fame through magic and ventriloquism and made popular entertainment a fixture of American life.

He was also black, born in 1783. His father had previously been enslaved.

A confession: I was not a fan of New Girl when it premiered. Fox leaned hard on its description of Zooey Deschanel's character, Jess, as "adorkable," which is too twee even for network promotional materials. She was presented as inept and ill-equipped to function in the adult world without the help of her three male roommates: Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Winston (Lamorne Morris). The guys were flatly drawn, and the show was too reliant on an underdeveloped take on Jess' appeal.

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