Arts & Culture

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

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Morris Robinson has the kind of bass voice that reverberates so strongly, you feel it in your concert seat. Listening to it, you assume he's been singing all of his life. And he has — but not opera.

Last month's dramatic arrest of El Chapo, the world's most powerful drug trafficker, brought to mind one of the most gruesome stories in the history of smuggling — one that involved not cocaine, but a substance equally light and easy to transport: tea.

Dark Dwarf / Flickr

Even people who didn’t major in the classics or theater history have some passing knowledge of the Trojan War.  Like any good epic story, it’s full of larger-than-life characters, revenge, lust and sacrifice.

Ever since Homer included it as part of his Odyssey, many of the stories have become fodder for other works of art.  Aeschylus is considered the first of the three great tragic dramatists of ancient Greece and his Orestia trilogy includes the story of the Trojan War. 

Twenty years ago, when the O.J. Simpson verdict was delivered, actor Courtney B. Vance says he celebrated — but he wasn't exactly cheering for the former NFL player.

"I cheered for Emmett Till," — the African-American teenager lynched in Mississippi in 1955 — he says. "I cheered for all the strange fruit that hung on the trees for three centuries."

Writer Yann Martel is best known for his 2001 book Life of Pi, about a teenage boy adrift at sea with a Bengal tiger. Now Martel has a new novel called The High Mountains of Portugal. It's made up of three interlocking stories that cover almost a century. Like Life of Pi, The High Mountains of Portugal is about journeys and it also features an animal (this time a chimpanzee).

Breaking the fourth wall is like putting gold leaf on a dessert: good for a quick jolt of surprise and superficial specialness, but the more common it becomes in the culture, the less impressive its deployment by any particular creator.

Saru Jayaraman may be restaurant obsessed, but don't call her a foodie. She's the founding director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a national organization that advocates for better wages and working conditions for restaurant workers. She's also published several studies in legal and policy journals as director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California-Berkeley.

Essay: Groundhog Day

Feb 2, 2016
Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

By this point today, the famous groundhogs among us should have made their weather predictions for the winter.  But when you’re done reading the accounts of Punxatawney Phil and his colleagues, Lake Effect essayist Joanne Weintraub essayist Joanne Weintraub urges you to revisit a seasonally appropriate movie:

A few weeks ago, I ate three pieces of cake on a single day. All in the name of research, of course.

Pages