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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Book Reviews
11:50 am
Wed February 26, 2014

These Stories Consider Solitude, With Echoes Of Emily Dickinson

Courtesy of Knopf

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 12:20 pm

Lorrie Moore isn't quite a household name. This was news to me, because I thought that, given that she's the kind of writer who's published in The New Yorker and profiled in The New York Times, most culture vultures would know who she is. But, over the past couple of weeks when I mentioned her new book, Bark, in conversations, both in the halls of academe and over meals with friends, I mostly got blank stares. (One smarty confused her with that other great literary "Lorrie" — the late Laurie Colwin — whose short stories and novels are also essential reading.)

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Author Interviews
12:23 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

During World War I, Germany Unleashed 'Terrorist Cell In America'

A fireboat sits amid ruins and debris on the piers at Black Tom Island in Jersey City, N.J., on July 30, 1916. Evidence pointed to German sabotage. In Dark Invasion, Howard Blum explores Germany's spy network and sabotage efforts in the U.S. at the beginning of World War I.
AP

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 10:06 am

In the early years of World War I, as many as 1,000 American horses per day were shipped off to Europe to assist in the Allied war effort, even though the United States was officially neutral. Those horses became the target of germ warfare, infected with anthrax cultures on American soil; at the same time, mysterious explosions were rocking U.S. munitions factories, and fires were breaking out on ships headed to Europe.

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Remembrances
10:28 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Harold Ramis On Working At 'Playboy' And Writing 'Animal House'

Ramis, shown here in Chicago in 2009, died of complications related to autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis on Monday.
Tasos Katopodis Getty Images for The Second City

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 1:02 pm

Comedy actor, writer and director Harold Ramis is best known for the 1984 film Ghostbusters, which he co-wrote and starred in along with Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. Ramis had co-written and planned to star in the long-awaited Ghostbusters III — but did not get the chance. Ramis died Monday in Chicago from an autoimmune disorder. He was 69 years old.

Ramis co-wrote Animal House, Meatballs and Stripes. He co-wrote and directed Caddyshack and directed Murray in Groundhog Day.

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Music Reviews
10:02 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Still 'Out To Lunch' 50 Years Later

Eric Dolphy in Copenhagen, 1961.
JP Jazz Archive Redferns

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 3:15 pm

1964 was a great year for cutting-edge jazz records like Albert Ayler's Spiritual Unity, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme and Andrew Hill's Point of Departure. But none sounds as far ahead of its time as Eric Dolphy's masterpiece Out to Lunch, recorded for Blue Note on Feb. 25, 1964.

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All Tech Considered
12:15 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

If You Think You're Anonymous Online, Think Again

Sure, you can try doing your Internet browsing this way, but we can't promise that it will help you protect your personal data online.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 9:00 am

Investigative reporter Julia Angwin was curious what Google knew about her, so she asked the company for her search data. "It turns out I had been doing about 26,000 Google searches a month ... and I was amazed at how revealing they were," she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.

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Music Reviews
12:15 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Vertical Scratchers: Slashed Chords, Fractured Poetry

Vertical Scratchers.
Joseph Amario Courtesy of the artist

The members of Vertical Scratchers don't have to pretend: They are free spirits, making music that is at once tightly composed, whimsical and anarchic.

The vocals on a Vertical Scratchers song tend to be high-pitched and yearning. John Schmersal creates harmonies from his vocal tracks that have a keening romanticism. His guitar lines are a series of slashed chords — vertical scratching, and thus the band's name. At the same time, there's a compressed intensity to the tunes, which uncoil with a snap, again and again.

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Fresh Air Weekend
10:32 am
Sat February 22, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: David O. Russell, 'Last Of The Unjust,' And 'Sonic Wonders'

Why does thunder rumble? Acoustic professor Trevor Cox explains that it has to do with the way lightning is a jagged line. "Each little kink is actually generating the sound, and the reason thunder rumbles is because the sound takes different time to come from different kinks because they're all slightly different distances from you," he says.
Mariana Suarez AFP/Getty Images

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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Movie Reviews
11:14 am
Fri February 21, 2014

'Wind Rises' Is Exquisite, And Likely To Be Hayao Miyazaki's Last

In the film, which Miyazaki says is his last, the wind carries off the parasol of a fragile girl, Nahoko, into the hands of Jiro — who will fall in love with her.
Studio Ghibli Nibariki

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 4:57 pm

The 73-year-old Japanese animation titan Hayao Miyazaki says The Wind Rises is his final film, and if that's true — and I hope it's not but fear it is, since he's not the type to make rash declarations — he's going out on a high.

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Interviews
10:58 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Matthew McConaughey, Getting Serious Again

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 1:13 pm

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. In the film "Dallas Buyers Club," Matthew McConaughey plays a homophobic man who's diagnosed as HIV positive and given 30 days to live. He begins non-approved pharmaceuticals into the country from abroad after learning about the ineffectiveness and side-effects of the drugs being prescribed in the U.S. He not only treats himself with the drugs, but also distributes them to other patients through a buyer's club, a way to skirt the FDA rules which prohibited the use of those medications.

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Interviews
10:58 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Director Alexander Payne On Mining Every Film For Comic Potential

Alexander Payne arrives at the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards in 2012.
Chris Pizzello AP

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 3:28 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Dec. 2, 2013.

Alexander Payne directed and co-wrote the films Election, About Schmidt, Sideways and The Descendants. He's directed Jack Nicholson and George Clooney in starring roles and has won two Oscars for best adapted screenplay.

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Movie Interviews
1:17 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

At Last, David O. Russell Is Making The Films He Was Meant To Make

A '70s con artist (Christian Bale, right) is forced to team up with an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper, left) in American Hustle, inspired by a real-life sting targeting corrupt politicians.
Francois Duhamel Columbia Pictures

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 3:25 pm

Filmmaker David O. Russell first talked with Fresh Air's Terry Gross back in 1994, and two decades later, he tells her: "It's taken me 20 years since I first spoke to you to really make the films that I think I was meant to make, and to be at the level of filmmaking and storytelling and writing that I think I had ever aspired to."

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Movie Reviews
12:04 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

For A Rabbi Who Worked With The Nazis, Is Judgment 'Unjust'?

In 1975, Shoah director Claude Lanzmann (left) interviewed Benjmain Murmelstein, the last surviving Elder of the Jews of the Czech Theresienstadt ghetto, at his home in Rome. The resulting film is The Last of the Unjust.
Cohen Media Group

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 12:38 pm

When you're faced with something as heinous as the Holocaust, it's tempting to turn it into a simple morality play. This isn't to say one can't pass moral judgments — Hitler and his cohort were undeniably evil. But judging can become a form of lazy evasion, a way of closing the book on the tricky realities of failure, guilt and complicity.

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Author Interviews
12:03 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

One Man's Quest To Find The 'Sonic Wonders Of The World'

Why does thunder rumble? Acoustic professor Trevor Cox explains that it has to do with the way lightning is a jagged line. "Each little kink is actually generating the sound, and the reason thunder rumbles is because the sound takes different time to come from different kinks because they're all slightly different distances from you," he says.
Mariana Suarez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 12:38 pm

Ever wonder why your voice sounds so much better when you sing in the shower? It has to do with an acoustic "blur" called reverberation. From classical to pop music, reverberation "makes music sound nicer," acoustic engineer Trevor Cox tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. It helps blend the sound, "but you don't want too much," he warns.

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Author Interviews
11:32 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Teens Rehearse For Adulthood In Wolitzer's 'Interestings'

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 1:03 pm

Teen years are sort of a "rehearsal" for adulthood, author Meg Wolitzer tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, and that's particularly true at the performing arts summer camp where her latest novel begins. It's 1974, and the main character, Jules, a newcomer to the camp, is invited into a circle of 15- and 16-year-olds who nickname themselves — with knowing irony — The Interestings.

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Television
11:30 am
Tue February 18, 2014

With Humor And A Nod To History, Fallon Takes Over 'The Tonight Show'

Jimmy Fallon took over as host of The Tonight Show on Monday. "I hope I do well," he told the audience. "I hope that you enjoy this."
Theo Wargo Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 1:03 pm

Opening nights of new incarnations of late-night TV talk shows are good, mostly, for first impressions — or, in the case of Jay Leno, sometimes a second impression. It's not fair to make strong judgments on the content alone, because a first show always is top-heavy with ideas, special guests and nervousness. But it is fair game to judge the set, the environment, the overall mood, and how well the host fits into the history of late-night television.

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Interviews
12:59 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

In 'Passage,' Caro Mines LBJ's Changing Political Roles

Vice President Spiro Agnew (right) and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11 from the stands at the Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969.
NASA Getty Images

This interview was originally broadcast on May 13, 2013.

For the past 37 years, Robert Caro has devoted his life to writing the definitive biography of Lyndon Johnson. So far, The Years of Lyndon Johnson has four acclaimed volumes and has shown readers just how complex the 36th president was, as both a politician and a man.

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Book Reviews
9:03 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Don't Know What To Do With Your Life? Neither Did Thoreau

The works of Henry David Thoreau have influenced generations of readers, but Thoreau himself wasn't always celebrated. His schoolmates and neighbors found him standoffish and regarded his fascination with plants and Indian relics as downright odd.
AP

Originally published on Mon February 17, 2014 12:59 pm

Every year, students come into my office and say, "I don't know what I want to do with my life." Of course, plenty of people in the world don't have the luxury of such cluelessness, but my students don't look like they're enjoying their privilege; they look scared and depressed, as though they've already failed some big test of character. They might find some comfort in Michael Sims' new biography of the young Henry David Thoreau called, simply, The Adventures of Henry Thoreau.

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Fresh Air Weekend
9:15 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Extreme Medicine,' Lake Street Dive, 'When We Get Home'

Most of us have never been submerged under more than a few feet underwater. But just a few meters down, the water compresses the tissues of your body so that you become more dense. At that point, "You're more likely to sink than float," says Dr. Kevin Fong.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 9:57 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:

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Interviews
3:58 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

At 77, Robert Redford Goes Back To His Roots

In All Is Lost, Robert Redford plays an unnamed sailor, stranded at sea on a badly damaged yacht.
Daniel Daza Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate

This interview was originally broadcast on Dec. 12, 2013.

Robert Redford isn't merely the star of the movie All Is Lost — he plays the only character. He plays a man stranded alone on a small yacht in the Indian Ocean, and New York Times film critic A.O. Scott says it's "the performance of a lifetime."

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Television
11:51 am
Thu February 13, 2014

In 'Whole Gritty City,' Marching Bands Vie For Coveted Mardi Gras Spots

Eleven-year-old Jaron "Bear" Williams practices trumpet before marching in his first Mardi Gras season. The Whole Gritty City follows young student marching bands as they prepare for coveted spots in the New Orleans parade.
Courtesy of CBS

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 2:51 pm

There are times when television really does try to put its best foot forward — promoting a new fall season, for example. But it's an almost twisted rule of TV that sometimes, the better a television offering is, the more likely it is to be shown when even the network presenting it doesn't think many people will be watching.

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Politics
11:51 am
Thu February 13, 2014

A Closer Look At How Corporations Influence Congress

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 2:51 pm

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Corporations work hard to influence Congress and public opinion. My guest, Eric Lipton, is an investigative reporter for the New York Times who's been writing about how corporations work in opaque ways to shape debates on issues ranging from whether we should raise the minimum wage to whether high-fructose corn syrup is less healthy than sugar.

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Music Reviews
2:13 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Lake Street Dive: 'Portraits' Of Heartache

Lake Street Dive.
Jarrod McCabe Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 8:21 am

Lake Street Dive is powered by the voice of Rachael Price; it's what hits you first when you listen to this quartet. It's a ringingly clear, strong voice, a sound that's at once beseeching and in control. Price regularly harmonizes with the other members of Lake Street Dive — bassist Bridget Kearney, drummer Mike Calabrese and Mike Olson, who also plays guitar and trumpet. But most of the songs on Bad Self Portraits are showcases for Price's surging vocals.

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Animals
11:50 am
Wed February 12, 2014

In The World's 'Sixth Extinction,' Are Humans The Asteroid?

Elizabeth Kolbert says the "taxicab yellow" Panamanian golden frog was nearly wiped out by a fungal disease. It's just one of the species affected by what scientists call the Sixth Extinction.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 8:25 am

The dinosaurs were killed during the Fifth Extinction — which scientists suspect was caused by an asteroid. Now, we are living through an epoch that many scientists describe as the Sixth Extinction, and this time, human activity is the culprit. As one scientist put it: We're the asteroid.

Elizabeth Kolbert is the author of the new book The Sixth Extinction. It begins with a history of the "big five" extinctions of the past, and goes on to explain how human behavior is creating a sixth one — including our use of fossil fuels and the effects of climate change.

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Author Interviews
1:28 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Practicing 'Extreme Medicine,' From Deep Sea To Outer Space

Most of us have never been submerged under more than a few feet underwater. But just a few meters down, the water compresses the tissues of your body so that you become more dense. At that point, "You're more likely to sink than float," says Dr. Kevin Fong.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 10:39 am

Dr. Kevin Fong works on "the edges" of medicine — researching how humans survive extremes of heat, cold, trauma, outer space and deep sea. "We're still exploring the human body and what medicine can do in the same way that the great explorers of the 20th century and every age before them explored the world," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

In his book Extreme Medicine, Fong describes how avant garde medicine is challenging our understanding of how our bodies work and the boundary between life and death.

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Music Reviews
1:28 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

In Session: Frank Wess' 'Magic 201' Offers One Last Lesson

Frank Wess.
Hiroyuki Ito Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 10:35 am

Frank Wess' new album, Magic 201, is a sequel to last year's similar helping of ballads and midtempo strollers, Magic 101. The new album is very nearly every bit as good, and made a little more poignant by Wess' death just before Halloween. On his last session as a leader in 2011, he was still sounding strong at 89.

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Author Interviews
11:41 am
Mon February 10, 2014

For Military Couples, It's A Long Recovery 'When We Get Home'

Brian McGough and Kayla Williams met in Iraq in 2003.
Courtesy of W.W. Norton & Co.

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 6:24 am

Kayla Williams and Brian McGough met in Iraq in 2003, when they were serving in the 101st Airborne Division. She was an Arabic linguist; he was a staff sergeant who had earned a Bronze Star. In October of that year, at a time when they were becoming close but not yet seeing each other, McGough was on a bus in a military convoy when an IED went off, blowing out the front door and window.

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Music Reviews
11:41 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Hangin' Tuff: Eric Church Takes A Chance On 'The Outsiders'

Eric Church.
John Peets Courtesy of the artist

Eric Church is working on a level that few other country artists of his generation can touch. Now, one of the things I mean by that is that Church is willing to take big chances such as "The Outsiders," the title track from his fourth album, and clearly a manifesto he's proud of.

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Fresh Air Weekend
10:38 am
Sat February 8, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Tim Gunn, 'Borgen' And The Parenting Paradox

"The term 'vegan leather' makes me think that you peeled a carrot and took the skin and made a jacket out of it," says Tim Gunn, pictured above at the Under the Gunn finale fashion show.
Alberto E. Rodriguez Getty Images

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:

Read more
Movie Reviews
12:18 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Masterpieces In Peril, 'Monuments Men' Protects, But Also Panders

Critic David Edelstein says that The Monuments Men has "an all-star cast" — including Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett — but that "the stars are all low-wattage."
Claudette Barius Columbia Pictures

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 1:32 pm

George Clooney's The Monuments Men tells the largely true story of a squad of art experts who, near the end of World War II, are assigned to protect the masterworks of European society from Nazi theft and Allied bombardment. You'll notice those are two separate goals.

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The Fresh Air Interview
12:18 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Fresh Air Celebrates The 50th Anniversary Of The Beatles' Arrival

Members of The Beatles play in the snow outside Washington, D.C.'s Coliseum where they were scheduled to perform before a sell-out audience in 1964.
Central Press Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 1:33 pm

Fifty years ago, on Feb. 7, 1964, The Beatles touched down at JFK airport. Two days later they broke TV viewing records and changed music, fashion, history — and basically an entire generation — when they appeared live on The Ed Sullivan Show.

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