Fresh Air

Weekdays at Noon

Fresh Air opens the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics. Terry Gross hosts this multi-award-winning daily interview and features program. The veteran public radio interviewer is known for her extraordinary ability to engage guests of all dispositions. Every weekday she delights intelligent and curious listeners with revelations on contemporary societal concerns.

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Music Reviews
11:22 am
Wed December 12, 2012

A 'Warrior' Looking For Legitimacy

Ke$ha's new album is titled Warrior.
Yu Tsai Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 2:53 pm

Ke$ha uses a dollar-sign instead of an "s" in the middle of her stage name. It's one of those gestures that's meant to bait her detractors — suggesting before anyone else does that she's only in it for the money. It turns out, though, that like pop stars ranging from Madonna on back to Chuck Berry, Ke$ha wants it both ways: mass-audience success and artistic acknowledgment. For Ke$ha, that's what her album title Warrior means: She's fighting a war on multiple fronts.

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Author Interviews
11:13 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Joseph Kennedy, 'Patriarch' Of An American Dynasty

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 2:03 pm

By the time he turned 40, Joseph Kennedy was a millionaire many times over and the head of what would soon become one of America's greatest political dynasties. In his new biography of the senior Kennedy, The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, David Nasaw charts Kennedy's life and trajectory from Boston society boy to Hollywood bigwig to controversial ambassador to Great Britain as World War II unfolded on the European stage.

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Around the Nation
11:13 am
Tue December 11, 2012

'Operation Delirium:' Psychochemicals And Cold War

These gas masks were reconditioned at the Edgewood Arsenal for civilian defense use during World War II. Later, in the 1950s and '60s, the arsenal near the Chesapeake Bay was used for secret chemical weapons testing run by the U.S. Army.
Jack Delano Library of Congress

In the latest issue of The New Yorker, journalist Raffi Khatchadourian writes about a secret chemical weapons testing program run by the U.S. Army during the Cold War.

Throughout the 1950s and '60s, at the now-crumbling Edgewood Arsenal by the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, military doctors tested the effects of nerve gas, LSD and other drugs on 5,000 U.S. soldiers to gauge the effects on their brain and behavior.

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Music Reviews
10:47 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Bass Note: Mingus And The Jazz Workshop Concerts

Jazz great Charles Mingus performs at the Monterey Jazz Festival in September 1964.
Ray Avery CTS Images

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 5:28 pm

On a new box set from mail-order house Mosaic Records, Charles Mingus, The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65, the jazz legend's bands usually number between five and eight players. The bassist often made those bands sound bigger. He'd been using midsize ensembles since the '50s, but his new ones were more flexible than ever, light on their feet but able to fill in backgrounds like a large group.

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Author Interviews
10:09 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Lemony Snicket Dons A Trenchcoat

Meredith Heuer Courtesy of Little, Brown & Co.

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 11:53 am

It's been more than six years since Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, concluded his enormously popular 13-volume young adult series, A Series of Unfortunate Events. Now Handler has revived the Snicket narrator in his YA novel Who Could That Be at This Hour?

The book is the first of a series — All the Wrong Questions — and a prequel to A Series of Unfortunate Events. It tracks the young Snicket's adventures during his apprenticeship at the V.F.D., a mysterious organization that readers familiar with the Snicket stories will recognize.

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Fresh Air Weekend
11:17 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Judd Apatow, Colm Toibin

Five years after Judd Apatow's Knocked Up, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprise their roles as married couple Pete and Debbie. Now years into their marriage with two kids (played by Iris and Maude Apatow), Pete and Debbie approach 40 less than gracefully.
Suzanne Hanover Universal Studios

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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Book Reviews
11:35 am
Fri December 7, 2012

At Home With Dickens And Louisa May Alcott

Free Press

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 10:49 am

Famous writers and their families: that's the subject of two recent biographical studies that read like novels — one a Gothic nightmare; the other, a romance.

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Music Reviews
11:28 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Forgotten Gems From The Dave Brubeck Quartet

The Dave Brubeck Quartet.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

This review was originally broadcast on March 12, 2012. Brubeck died Wednesday at age 91.

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The Fresh Air Interview
8:42 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Celebrating The Life Of Jazz Pianist Dave Brubeck

In a 1999 interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross, Dave Brubeck talked about his decades in the music industry and his first love: rodeo roping.
Stephen Lovekin Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 11:28 am

This interview was originally broadcast in 1999. Brubeck died on Wednesday at age 91.

In 1954, polls in the leading jazz magazines Metronome and Downbeat selected Dave Brubeck's band as the year's best instrumental group. That same year, Brubeck was the second jazz musician ever featured on the cover of Time Magazine (the first being Louie Armstrong).

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Movie Interviews
10:27 am
Thu December 6, 2012

In 'This Is 40,' Family Life In All Its Glory

"Were going to blink and be 90," Debbie tells Paul. "We have to make a choice to make things different."
Suzanne Hanover Universal Studios

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 3:22 pm

Since earning a cult following for his acclaimed television show Freaks and Geeks, writer, producer, and director Judd Apatow has become a brand name. He has a new movie out this month — This Is 40 — and also guest-edits the January "Comedy Issue" of Vanity Fair.

He's an executive producer for the HBO show Girls and previously wrote, produced and directed the 2005 comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

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Economy
2:44 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

A Thin Line: Economic Growth Or Corporate Welfare?

In her series for The New York Times, reporter Louise Story says that the manufacturing sector — automakers, in particular — benefit the most from incentive packages.
Ricardo Azoury iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 6:59 am

In her new series for The New York Times called "The United States of Subsidies," investigative reporter Louise Story examines how states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year in tax breaks and other financial incentives to lure companies or persuade them to stay put.

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Movies
1:44 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Revisiting, Reappraising Cimino's 'Heaven's Gate'

Jeff Bridges as John L. Bridges, Isabelle Huppert as Ella Watson and Kris Kristofferson as James Averill in the 1980 Western Heaven's Gate, a director's cut of which was released in November.
Criterion Collection

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 7:38 am

The director Francois Truffaut once remarked that it takes as much time and energy to make a bad movie as to make a good one. He was right, but I would add one thing: It takes extraordinary effort to make a truly memorable flop.

The best example is Heaven's Gate, the hugely expensive 1980 movie by Michael Cimino that is the most famous cinematic disaster of my lifetime. It's part of that film's legend that it not only took down a studio, United Artists, but was the nail in the coffin of Hollywood's auteur filmmaking of the 1970s.

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Television
11:06 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Boxes Of TV Fun, Old And New, For The Holidays

The new five-DVD, one-CD box set The Incredible Mel Brooks is crammed full with comedy gold — and includes Brooks and Carl Reiner (above) doing their iconic skit "The 2,000-Year-Old Man."
William Claxton Demont Photo Management, LLC

I'm biased, of course, because I'm a television critic — but to me, giving someone a gift of a TV show you yourself enjoyed tremendously is somehow very personal. You're giving something that you love, and that in many cases will occupy many hours, if not days, of their time. And during that time, they'll occasionally be reminded of you.

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Author Interviews
11:06 am
Tue December 4, 2012

'Inventing Wine': The History Of A Very Vintage Beverage

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 11:40 am

Wine is our original alcoholic beverage. It dates back 8,000 years and, as Paul Lukacs writes in his new book, Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World's Most Ancient Pleasures, was originally valued more because it was believed to be of divine origin than for its taste. And that's a good thing, Lukacs tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, because early wine was not particularly good.

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Books
11:06 am
Mon December 3, 2012

A New 'Testament' Told From Mary's Point Of View

Colm Toibin's new novel, The Testament of Mary, imagines the life of the mother of Christ in her later years.
Steve Heap iStockphoto

In his new novel, The Testament of Mary, Irish writer Colm Toibin imagines Mary's life 20 years after the crucifixion. She is struggling to understand why some people believe Jesus is the son of God, and weighed down by the guilt she feels wondering what she might have done differently to alter — or ease — her son's fate.

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Fresh Air Weekend
9:49 am
Sat December 1, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Robert Zemeckis And Ken Tucker

Acclaimed writer-director-producer Robert Zemeckis has worked on more than 30 films, including the Back to the Future series and Forrest Gump, for which he won an Oscar for best director.
Robert Zuckerman Paramount Pictures

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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Author Interviews
12:24 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

'Times' Advice Guru Answers Your Social Q's

When you're out with friends, put your cell phone away, advises New York Times advice columnist Philip Galanes.
iStockphoto.com

This interview was originally broadcast on Dec. 5, 2011. Social Q's is now out in paperback.

Need advice on when it's appropriate to break up with someone over email? Want to know how to react if your dinner companion whips out a cellphone midway through a meal? What about how to deal with your annoying relatives during the holidays?

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Music Reviews
11:17 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Tracey Thorn: 'Secular Carols' For The Holidays

Tracey Thorn, famous for her work in Everything but the Girl, has a new solo album of seasonal tunes called Tinsel and Lights.
Edward Bishop Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 12:24 pm

Tracey Thorn's interpretation of "Maybe This Christmas," by the Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith, is typical of her new holiday album, Tinsel and Lights: It's simply arranged, emphasizing Thorn's lovely, delicate voice and bolstered by a firm intelligence; it avoids the fatty treacle that weighs down lots of Christmas albums. Tinsel and Lights mixes familiar songs with new ones, such as the title song written by Thorn.

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Music Reviews
2:44 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Turning Up The Volume On The Electric Blues

Joe Hill Louis, B.B. King and Rufus Thomas appear on a new multi-disc compilation of electric blues, Plug It In! Turn It Up!
Bear Family Records

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 5:12 am

Blues is so much a part of the fabric of American music and American culture — not only as a defined musical form, but also as a springboard for all kinds of creativity — that it seems crazy to try to encapsulate it in any way. Bear Family Records, though, has just released a 12-disc survey of electric blues called Plug It In! Turn It Up! that does a great job of illuminating one particular aspect of the blues.

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Movie Interviews
10:42 am
Thu November 29, 2012

'Flight' Takes On Questions Of Accountability

Denzel Washington stars in Flight, the latest film from writer-producer-director Robert Zemeckis.
Robert Zuckerman Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 1:21 pm

Director, producer and screenwriter Robert Zemeckis is known for the Back to the Future films — which marked his arrival onto the Hollywood scene in the mid-1980s — as well as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump. His latest film, Flight, stars Denzel Washington as William "Whip" Whitaker, a heroic airline pilot with a dark secret.

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Music Reviews
4:04 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

'Buddy And Jim': Friends In Life And Songwriting

Musicians and friends Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale team up on a new album of country duets called Buddy and Jim.
Michael Wilson photo/Paul Moore design Courtesy of the artist

Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale are singer-songwriters who've each written hits for country and rock acts, and have enjoyed extensive solo careers as performers and producers. Buddy and Jim is their first collaboration, a mixture of original songs and covers from earlier decades of country, rock, folk and soul music.

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Middle East
2:55 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

The Middle East: A Web Of 'Topsy-Turvy' Alliances

After a week of recent fighting between Israel and Hamas, an Israeli soldier stands on top of a mobile artillery unit in a position near the Israel Gaza border.
Ariel Schalit Getty Images

Writing for the New York Review of Books at the beginning of November, Robert Malley, the program director for the Middle East and North Africa with the International Crisis Group, and Hussein Agha described the current situation in the Middle East:

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Author Interviews
1:45 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

'The Last Refuge': Yemen, Al-Qaida And The U.S.

W.W. Norton & Co.

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 1:47 pm

In December 2009, a would-be terrorist boarded a plane for Detroit with a bomb in his underwear. While the explosive failed to properly ignite and the man was arrested upon landing, the ensuing investigation revealed the bomb in question had been made by al-Qaida leaders in Yemen.

This attempted act of terrorism heralded both the small Arabian country's re-emergence into the international consciousness as a refuge for al-Qaida and the ascendance of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), developments that have grown only more pronounced since.

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Music Reviews
11:52 am
Tue November 27, 2012

Cecilia Bartoli's New 'Mission' Unearths Baroque Gems

On her new album, opera star Cecilia Bartoli tackles the work of Baroque composer Agostino Steffani.
Uli Weber Decca

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 1:17 pm

I never heard of the Baroque composer Agostino Steffani until last year, when the Boston Early Music Festival presented the North American premiere of Steffani's Niobe, an opera about the mythical queen who bragged so much about her many children, the gods killed them all in revenge. One of the leading roles, Niobe's husband King Amphion, was played by the early-music superstar countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, who sang the opera's most sublime aria — a hymn to the harmony of the spheres. I couldn't wait to hear Jaroussky again, and was eager to hear more Steffani.

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Author Interviews
1:35 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Mantel Takes Up Betrayal, Beheadings In 'Bodies'

Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall won both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, won this year's Man Booker Prize.
Francesco Guidicini

This year, Hilary Mantel made history when she won a Man Booker Prize for her novel Bring Up the Bodies. She had previously been awarded the prize — England's highest literary honor — for her 2009 novel, Wolf Hall, and is now the first woman to receive the award twice.

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Music Reviews
10:32 am
Mon November 26, 2012

Jason Kao Hwang: From The Blues To China And Back

Burning Bridge personnel, left to right: Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Wang Guowei (erhu), Sun Li (pipa), Ken Filiano (string bass), Andrew Drury (drum set), Joseph Daley (tuba), Steve Swell (trombone), Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet/flugelhorn).
Scott Friedlander Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 12:20 pm

Jazz reflects who we are as a people — democracy in action and all that. But a jazz tune or solo is also a portrait of the musician who makes it; the music reflects the particular background and training that influences how composers compose and improvisers improvise. Jason Kao Hwang makes that autobiographical component explicit throughout his extended composition for eight pieces, Burning Bridge. His parents made the move from China around the end of WWII, and he grew up attending Presbyterian services in suburban Chicago.

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Fresh Air Weekend
7:03 am
Sat November 24, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Colbert, America's Test Kitchen

Stephen Colbert (right) performs with Ben Folds on the set of his TV show, The Colbert Report.
Kris Long

Originally published on Sat November 24, 2012 9:54 am

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Stephen Colbert's Most Meaningful Musical Moments: Colbert loves music and loves to sing, so Fresh Air's Terry Gross asked him to bring a few songs that mean a lot to him and tell her why.

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Movies
11:54 am
Fri November 23, 2012

What Happened To 'Baby Jane'? She's Turning 50

Bette Davis in the role of Jane Hudson in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? The classic horror film, which has just turned 50, is being released on Blu-ray
AP

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 12:33 pm

Baby Jane Hudson is now 50 years old — or at least the strange and brilliant movie in which she's the main character is, just released as a beautifully remastered Blu-ray. Robert Aldrich's grotesque gothic tragedy is a cross between Gypsy, with its antithetical show-biz kid sisters, and Sunset Boulevard, with its decayed Hollywood glamour.

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Music
7:03 am
Fri November 23, 2012

Jazz Vocalist Susie Arioli Goes 'All The Way'

Susie Arioli's new album, All the Way, was released in June.
Marianne Larochelle

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 11:54 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Aug. 8, 2012.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu November 22, 2012

A Boy, A Boat, A Tiger: Reflecting On 'Life Of Pi'

Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) begins a journey of personal growth and spiritual discovery after being lost at sea.
20th Century Fox

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 11:54 am

Director Ang Lee has a surprising affinity for the Indian hero of Life of Pi — that's his name, Pi, and he's seen at several ages but principally as a 17-year-old boy adrift on a lifeboat in the South Pacific. He's the lone survivor of a shipwreck that killed the crew, his family and a variety of zoo animals his father was transporting to North America for sale.

Actually, Pi is the lone human survivor. He shares his boat and its dwindling food supplies with a man-eating Bengal tiger.

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