Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 5:53 am
Harlem's Savoy Ballroom, early 1942. The Jay McShann Orchestra from Kansas City, Mo., has the stage, and Charlie "Bird" Parker picks up his alto saxophone:
"The rhythm section had him by the tail, but there was no holding or cornering Bird. Disappearing acts were his specialty. Just when you thought you had him, he'd move, coming up with another idea, one that was as bold as red paint on a white sheet."
Diane Ravitch, a former assistant secretary of education, spent years advocating for an overhaul of the American education system. She supported the No Child Left Behind Act, the charter school movement and standardized testing.
But Ravitch recently — and very publicly — changed her mind. She looked at the data and decided that the kinds of changes she'd supported weren't working. Now she's a prominent critic of things like charter schools and school choice — and she's particularly opposed to privatizing schools.
Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 8:32 am
Most fans of '60s soul know of Muscle Shoals, the tiny Alabama town that produced huge hits. But only the genre's most studious followers will be able to watch Muscle Shoals without being regularly astonished: Even if it sometimes gets lost in its byways, Greg "Freddy" Camalier's documentary tells an extraordinary story.
Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 6:29 pm
Fast-food giant McDonald's has made a commitment to stop marketing sodas as a beverage option in kids' Happy Meals.
Instead, the chain has committed to market and promote only milk, water and juice with the children's meals.
Now, if parents order a Coke or Sprite with their child's Happy Meal, they won't be turned down. But sodas will no longer be marketed or promoted visually in any of McDonald's advertisements or in-store visuals.
Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 4:41 pm
The best advice for those looking to remake foreign horror movie hits? Don't.
At best, the results tend to be well-made but redundant copies (The Ring, Let Me In). At worst, the misbegotten rehashes that result miss capturing the originals' frights so completely that they nearly take their inspirations down with them (The Grudge, The Vanishing). Everyone's better off if you just leave these things be.
The U.S. financial sector's 2007-2008 swoon hurt a lot of people, but it's been a bonanza for documentary filmmakers with an interest in economics. The last five years have seen dozens of movies about the dismal science, most of them pegged to the Great Recession.
The latest is Inequality for All, a showcase for former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich. (He served under Bill Clinton, who borrowed much of his fellow Rhodes scholar's rhetoric, if fewer of his prescriptions.)
Way back in the 1950s — before people tweeted snapshots of their privates or posted their hookup diaries online — it was considered inappropriate to talk too much about sex. The guardians of culture treated it as something better kept in the dark.
Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 12:22 pm
Lots of people think of fish as brain food. And there's good reason.
Many kinds of fish — think salmon, sardines, tuna — contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a class of polyunsaturated fat, which have been shown to fight inflammation and improve the function of our neurons.
The online journal TheRoot.com, which focuses on African-American politics, culture and society, recently released its list of the 100 most important black influencers between the ages of 25 and 45. The list includes several known leaders and achievers, including NPR's own Audie Cornish, and Gene Demby and Matt Thompson of our Code Switch team. But there are also religious leaders, community activists and others who may not be household names ... yet.
"Every love story is a potential grief story," Julian Barnes writes in Levels of Life, a quirky but ultimately powerful meditation on things that uplift us — literally, as in hot air balloons, and emotionally, as in love — and things that bring us crashing to earth: to wit, that great leveler, the death of a loved one.
Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 1:03 pm
From vacant lots to vertical "pinkhouses," urban farmers are scouring cities for spaces to grow food. But their options vary widely from place to place.
While farmers in post-industrial cities like Detroit and Cleveland are claiming unused land for cultivation, in New York and Chicago, land comes at a high premium. That's why farmers there are increasingly eyeing spaces that they might not have to wrestle from developers: rooftops that are already green.
It's been a while since we just started off by making our morning with some assorted Jimmy Fallon greatness (and I just got my cable hooked up at my new place yesterday, meaning my ability to watch late-night shows over my morning coffee is much enhanced).
So here's some good stuff from Tuesday night's show.
First, Fallon gave the follow-up to his "touchdown dance" bit with Justin Timberlake.
Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 7:42 am
He may be the most controversial atheist on the planet today, but there was once a time when Richard Dawkins was a respectable, churchgoing Christian.
In his new memoir, AnAppetite for Wonder, the Oxford scientist recalls his erstwhile pious life: "I prayed every night ...[and kneeled] at the altar, where, I believed, an angel might appear to me in a vision." When the apparition finally came it was from a man with a long beard who claimed to understand how human beings evolved. Not that guy with the beard. He was an Englishman named Charles Darwin.
Showtime's critically acclaimed series Homeland starts its third season next week; the spies and terrorists who weave its tangled storyline will be back roaming the halls of CIA headquarters and the streets of D.C.
Or so you'll think. But Homeland is actually filmed in Charlotte, N.C. And it's all because of money.
About 40 states offer some sort of incentive to lure Hollywood productions to their precincts. But some have begun to wonder if they're getting their money's worth.
Baseball may be America's pastime, but if you're counting dollar signs and eyeballs on fall TV, football takes home the trophy. Part sport, part national addiction, part cult, writer Gregg Easterbrook says, the "game that bleeds red, white and blue" could use some serious reform.
One of the strongest new sitcoms on TV this season has the worst name, but its title, Trophy Wife, was intended to be ironic. The show's creators, Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern, are self-professed feminists who wanted to take on a type generally scorned in popular culture.
The show's eponymous character, Kate, is a reformed party girl trying to find her place in a family that includes a much older husband, Pete, his two ex-wives and three kids. When Kate inadvertently breaks Pete's nose, the situation is expertly handled by ex No. 1, an intimidating surgeon.
Americans love bananas. Each year, we eat more bananas than any other fruit. But banana growers use a lot of pesticides — and those chemicals could be hurting wildlife. As a new study shows, the pesticides are ending up in the bodies of crocodiles living near banana farms in Costa Rica, where many of the bananas we eat are grown.
We're kicking off a new fall TV season this week. A generation ago, even less, that was cause for major media focus, as new shows from the broadcast networks jockeyed for attention and position while old favorites returned with new episodes. Also back then, the Emmys were a celebration of the best, and clips from the nominated shows reminded you just why they were considered the best of the best.
After winning a National Book Award for her novel Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward has written a memoir that's framed by the deaths of five young men in her life. The cause of each death was different, but she sees them all as connected to being poor and black in the rural South: