Arts & Culture

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

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The cable sports giant, ESPN, announced in October that it will soon launch a "reimagined version" of the network's signature show, the 5:00PM (Central time) broadcast of SportsCenter.  In the hosts' chairs will be Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, currently co-hosts of "His & Hers" on sister network, ESPN2.

Pavel Losevsky / Fotolia

If you’ve ever taken a child to the library or the bookstore, you know that sometimes there’s a little friction between what they want to read, and what you’d like them to read.  “Captain Underpants” versus “Stuart Little.”  “Calvin and Hobbes” versus “A Wrinkle In Time.”  Lake Effect essayist Christianna Fritz urges you not to fall into that false dichotomy:

You think you've read every permutation of a World War II novel possible — then along comes a Venetian fisherman and his unlikely first mate, a beautiful Jewish teenaged girl on the run from the last few Nazis occupying Italy. Venerable author Martin Cruz Smith has chosen, in The Girl from Venice, to put aside his usual spy stories (e.g. Gorky Park and Three Stations) for a straightforward wartime chase-cum-romance, a slice of La Serenissima life so perfectly researched that details melt into action like the local goby fish into risotto.

The unemployment rate for transgender people is double that of the general population. Now, California has set up the nation's first ever large-scale program to help transgender people find jobs.

And it's all because of Michaela Mendelsohn, a trans woman who's employed trans people at her restaurants for years.

'I'm A Trans Owner Supporting Trans People'

Nobody loves pesticides, exactly. But one kind of pesticide, called neonicotinoids, is provoking a particularly bitter debate right now between environmentalists and farmers. The chemicals are highly toxic to bees. Some scientists think they are partly to blame for the decline in pollinators.

For the past year, the province of Ontario, in Canada, has responded to the controversy with a novel experiment. Ontario's government is asking farmers to prove that they actually need neonicotinoids, often called neonics. It turns out that "need" is a word that's hard to define.

In coal country, thousands of miners have lost jobs. While there aren't any easy solutions, in West Virginia, two farmers are doing what they can to keep wealth in their community and provide healthy food to more people.

In the parking lot of the Five Loaves and Two Fishes Food Bank in McDowell County, squash and basil are growing in 18 tall white towers without any dirt. It's a farming method called hydroponics. The vegetables sprout from tiny holes as water and nutrients flood the roots.

Like most farmers, Mark Nelson, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat near Louisburg, Kan., is getting squeezed. He's paying three times more for seed than he used to, while his corn sells for less than half what it brought four years ago.

"It's a – that's a challenge," Nelson says. "You're not going to be in the black, let's put it that way."

Low commodity prices are rippling up and down the farm-economy food chain — from the farm to the boardroom — and it has many of the huge companies that control farm inputs looking to a new future.

I need a moment away from unceasing word drip of debates about the election, about whether Elena Ferrante has the right to privacy, about whether Bob Dylan writes "Literature." I need a moment, more than a moment, in the steady and profound company of Mary Oliver and I think you might need one too.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


Beth Lipman

Glass artist Beth Lipman is known far and wide for her detailed, overlapping glass installations that appear to drop over the edges of tables and look as though they could fall over with a puff of wind. Her work is in permanent collections at the Smithsonian and the Milwaukee Art Museum, among other places.

Essay: Lessons From the Paper Route

Oct 18, 2016 / Fotolia

Essayist Jim Spangler spent much of his working life at and around newspapers, during which he met people from many walks of life. But it was as a small town Iowa teenager, working a paper route, that he says he learned some of his first lessons about profit, people, and prejudice:

When I hung up my newspaper bag for the last time 58-years-ago, the Clinton (IA) Herald, my home town daily, was delivered and paid for by every single one of the 68 families on my route. Everyone except Old Ed (black '49 Chrysler). 

Is Francine Prose just monkeying around? Is she taking a comic break after the much weightier exploration of creeping xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and right-wing proto-fascism in her last novel, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932?

Mister Monkey, her 22nd book of fiction, is a dark comedy about the mainly sad, disappointing lives of everyone involved in a woeful way-off-Broadway revival of a painfully bad musical based on a made-up classic children's book called Mister Monkey — itself an unlikely success — written by a Vietnam veteran.

When the Nazi leadership was put on trial in Nuremberg, Germany, in the wake of World War II, the notion of an international war crimes tribunal was new and controversial.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill proposed a summary execution of Nazi leaders. But it was decided that trials would be more effective, and would set a precedent for prosecuting future war crimes.

Claims by one side — so far without evidence — that the coming presidential election will somehow be "rigged" are being echoed at campaign rallies and in one new poll of voters.

Donald Trump has questioned the integrity of the election, and there's been talk of the race for the Democratic nomination having been rigged at the expense of candidate Bernie Sanders.

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