Arts & Culture

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

Denzel Has No Fury Like 'The Equalizer 2'

Jul 19, 2018

"Fridging," the overdue-for-retirement habit among male storytellers of violating and/or murdering thinly-sketched lady characters simply to motivate a male hero's righteous payback, is alive and well in The Equalizer 2. That's a big, ugly pimple on the symmetrical-but-unsmiling face of this otherwise-not-bad follow-up to 2014's Denzel Washington-headlined reboot of the old TV show.

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The Thistle & Shamrock: New Summer Sounds

Jul 19, 2018

New music is always in season on Thistle! This week it's all about the albums that have been gathering in our North Carolina and Scottish mailboxes just waiting for an hour of your time. Included in this week's show are Dylan Foley, 14-year-old Iona Ritchie, The Bevvy Sisters, and Dougie MacLean.

Ever since the election of Donald Trump as president, pundits have written obituaries for just about every virtue there is. The president's victory and the policies he's enacted, some commentators have argued, has marked the death of civility, tolerance, dignity, freedom and the American dream itself.

Jazz has always been a music of continuum, its secrets passed down across generations. Benny Green is a shining embodiment of this process: A pianist originally inspired (and eventually endorsed) by mid-century modernists like Oscar Peterson; An apprentice to two of the music's greatest mentors, Betty Carter and Art Blakey; A conservationist of the bebop idiom, and a joyful guardian of its lexicon.

Made in America, an annual music festival founded by Jay-Z and produced by Live Nation, may be forced to leave its home on the streets of Philadelphia as of 2019.

The office of mayor Jim Kenney told reporters on Tuesday that the festival's signature location in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art was causing problems for the city. Jay-Z and other festival organizers have fired back, saying that the event's site is being moved without discussion, and that the mayor's office made its plans public without first informing the festival.

It's a rusty old bucket of a plot contrivance: throw a bunch of strangers together on a boat and roil the waters with a big storm or a white whale. But, in her latest novel, The Last Cruise, Kate Christensen demonstrates there's life yet to be found in what may appear to be the creakiest of fictional premises.

MS-13: Rhetoric And Reality

Jul 19, 2018

President Trump talks (and tweets) a lot about MS-13.

Tall, dreadlocked Josh Scheper knew he was out of place as he surveyed the scene at a Santa Ana, Calif., parking lot on a Sunday morning this past April. And the 46-year-old loved it.

Hundreds of people waited in line at stalls for vegan food, but few people looked like the Los Angeles resident. Nearly everyone in the crowd was young and Latino, as were the chefs. The food on sale was Mexican — but not hippie-dippy cafe standbys like cauliflower tacos, or tempeh-stuffed burritos. Instead, chefs reimagined meaty classics that were honest-to-goodness bueno.

It's as if the pianos were haunted. Somewhere about midway through this Tiny Desk, as Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds performed on his electronic keyboard, two upright pianos were playing lilting melodies behind him, absent any performer at the keys. And yet these "ghosts," along with Ólafur's band of strings and percussion, put together some of the most beautiful music I've heard at the Tiny Desk, made all the more mysterious through its presentation.

2018 Slingshot band Mt. Joy has had a fruitful year. From festival appearances to nationally televised studio sessions, the band has seen a burgeoning growth in support and notoriety. In the midst of all this success, the band members still recall their humble yesteryears and marvel at their steady rise to indie-rock stardom.

Petra: Ah, the fresh hopefulness (a New Hope, even) of the first day of San Diego Comic-Con! Your feet don't hurt (yet), your nose isn't peeling (yet) and you haven't faced down the dark night of the soul that comes from acknowledging your deep desire to elbow aside that five-year-old dressed as Wonder Woman to get into the line that might let you buy this year's favorite toy — if they don't sell out before you get to the front. Tough luck, little Amazon.

Jeff Rosenstock has always made music for the slow days after the end-times, and "All This Useless Energy" is a kick-the-can punk ballad for crawling out of aimlessness toward a purpose.

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