Arts & Life

[In case you haven't heard, Pop Culture Happy Hour is embarking on a West Coast tour! San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles are sold out — though we recently added an appearance (with Guy Branum!) at the Now Hear This podcast festival in Anaheim on Oct. 29 — but we'll also be in Portland on Oct. 19 with our dear pal Audie Cornish.

In 1948, Atlanta added eight black men to its police force. This was at a time when, as author Thomas Mullen explains, a 1947 Newsweek article "estimated that one-quarter of Atlanta policemen were, in fact, members of the Ku Klux Klan."

Those pioneer police officers were the inspiration for Mullen's new novel, Darktown — a blend of history, mystery and violence that explores racial tensions in post-World War II Atlanta.

The Amazon series Transparent is about a transgender woman named Maura who for decades was known to her kids as Mort, or Dad. Actor Jeffrey Tambor plays Maura and has just won a second Emmy for his performance. "When those roles come along, you don't run away," he tells NPR's Kelly McEvers. "It's a perfect role, you know? I thought I was gonna do Lear, but I'm gonna do Maura."

Back in 1988, Indian-American director Mira Nair burst onto the scene with her debut feature Salaam Bombay!, a ground-level portrait of Bombay street kids that brought the qualities of Italian neorealism — and its key successors, like Satyajit Ray's "Apu Trilogy" — to a nascent American independent scene. With her new film Queen of Katwe, Nair comes full circle, at least in the sense that she's again addressing the perils of extreme poverty and the resilient children who withstand it.

In the 1960s, Choi Eun Hee and Shin Sang Ok were South Korean cinema's first couple. She was a movie star, he was an acclaimed director, and life with their two young children was considered glamorous. Then things got complicated.

Shin had two kids with a younger actress, and his financially struggling production company was shuttered by the government. He and Choi divorced, and in 1978 the actress vanished. Later the same year, Shin also disappeared.

Earlier this year the New York-based filmmaker Oren Rudavsky released (with Joseph Dorman) Colliding Dreams, a fair-minded history of the Zionist ideal. The film documented the tension between Zionism as both a response to the mass persecution of Jews, and a catalyst for endless bloody conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes in the 1948 Israeli-Arab War, when Israel declared independence.

Even 60 years ago, there were westerns that interrogated the genre's veneration of masculinity and might-for-right.

The Magnificent Seven wasn't one of them.

If the idea of a group of women in pristine haute couture dresses milling about the dirt and grime of an Australian backwater burg makes you giggle, you may be the target audience for The Dressmaker, a perplexing Down Under oddity in which a woman uses her talents for crafting top-line designer wear to exact revenge on her childhood home. The woman is played by Kate Winslet, who is a delight—the Oscar winner rarely takes on comedic roles, and she brings an almost frightening enthusiasm to the part.

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This is FRESH AIR.

If there were a hall of fame for criminals, it would have to include notorious Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen's memoir set for release on Tuesday, is a virtuoso performance, the 508-page equivalent to one of Springsteen and the E Street Band's famous four-hour concerts: Nothing is left onstage, and diehard fans and first-timers alike depart for home sated and yet somehow already aching for more.

Say one thing for certain: The lists don't lack for leading lights.

When President Obama doled out the 2015 National Medals of Arts and National Humanities Medals on Thursday, plenty of the artists and arts patrons he draped with awards had familiar names — including Mel Brooks, Morgan Freeman, Terry Gross and nearly two dozen others.

Here is what happens in the first 100 pages of The Wonder: Lib, an English nurse in the mid-19th century, is sent to a small town in Ireland, a country whose people she instantly hates, to keep watch over a young girl who claims she has lived without food for four months. Lib watches the girl and thinks unkind things about the Irish. The girl does not eat. That is it.

Each of the photos in Capt. William A. Prickitt's album could fit in a locket: headshots of 17 black soldiers who served under the Union Army officer during the Civil War, most of their names handwritten on the mat surrounding the images.

At just 2 inches tall, the square, leather-bound album itself could be easily misplaced among the more than 35,000 artifacts it will join at the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens this week in Washington, D.C.

For director Antoine Fuqua, remaking the 1960 film The Magnificent Seven was a return to childhood. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that the original film reminds him of his grandmother, who used to watch Westerns with him on Sunday afternoons when he was growing up.

"I would sit there with her, and she would make me whatever food I want," Fuqua says. "What I recall about [The Magnificent Seven] was ... listening to her talk about each guy as they were introduced."

When's the last time you ordered turtle when you went out to eat?

Most of us would probably turn it down in an instant if we saw it on a menu. But terrapin was a completely normal entree for diners at the finest restaurants of a century ago. America's changing tastes — and what they have to say about our culture — are explored in a new nonfiction book, Ten Restaurants That Changed America.

Television used to be careful when it told fictional stories about the presidency. It was bound by a sense of decorum. But things changed forever with the famous commercial for the movie Independence Day that wowed those watching the 1996 Super Bowl by blowing the White House sky high. Ever since, presidents have been fair game. You can portray them as thugs, schemers or murderers — or knock them off to boost ratings.

Eily is 18, Irish, just barely removed from the "dun school skirts" of early life. She arrives in London — alive with "traffic all gadding in the midday shine" and "pigeons at infernal coo" — to audition for drama school. She is young, but as she steps into character, the judges can see that "in her I've done my time." She gets in, and starts a new life in grimy Camden of the 1990s: "Here I am and here is for me."

Sometimes the world can feel a bit uniform: the same department stores in every shopping mall, the same fast food chains on every corner. The website Atlas Obscura will make you reconsider that sense of monotony.

"The world is still this huge, bizarre, vast place filled with astounding stuff," says co-founder Dylan Thuras. "And if you sort of tilt your view a little bit and start looking for it, you start finding it everywhere."

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Sometimes the world can feel a bit uniform - the same department stores in every shopping mall, the same fast food chains on every corner. Atlas Obscura yanks the rug out from under that sense of monotony.

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Sometimes the world can feel a bit uniform - the same department stores in every shopping mall, the same fast food chains on every corner. Atlas Obscura yanks the rug out from under that sense of monotony.

Additional reporting by LA Johnson.

I've attended the Small Press Expo, or SPX, for 10 years now. This year, I convinced NPR to let me take a reporting kit and interview attendees about what drew them to the show.

(You can check out more photos, illustrations and interviews with creators from the 2016 Small Press Expo on the NPR Illustrations Tumblr over the coming days and weeks.)

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'Arab Of The Future 2' Continues Risky Truth-Telling

Sep 20, 2016

Riad Sattouf's memoir of his childhood in the Middle East stirred up a complicated swirl of emotions when the first volume was released in the U.S. last year. Many reviewers seemed fascinated by something beyond Sattouf's perspicacity and artistry. There was a kind of awe at his rash trampling of forbidden zones. His darkly ironic recollections of growing up in 1970s-80s Syria and Libya came with no mitigating calls for understanding (of the customs that prevailed in those countries' hinterlands) or forgiveness (for his narcissistic father).

From the lingering sins of a nation's snarled roots to the complexities of mental illness and even to the colorful quest for a name of one's own, the books that round out this year's Kirkus Prize shortlists won't let you easily forget history — on whatever scale it's defined.

Two years ago, PawHser Moo's mother started pushing her and her sisters to join a group called Growing Colorado Kids. As Moo recalls, at first, she was far from thrilled by the idea.

"I was like, 'Oh my gosh, no! I have to wake up early!' " says Moo — a pretty typical reaction for a 14 year old. Wake up early on Saturdays just to catch a van up to rural Adams County, about a half-hour drive from Denver, only to spend hours outside gardening? It was hardly her first choice for her weekends.

When our collective attention turns to the flood of new shows headed to network television each fall, the same question arises:

Does the fall TV season even matter anymore?

It's true that in the age of #PeakTV new shows drop all the time, so focusing on the fall seems a little old fashioned. But I think this time of year still matters, for a few reasons.

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We all know the photo: It captures the rage, division and the racial tension from 40 years ago, that is still so present now in our country.

Titled "The Soiling of Old Glory," the photo won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography. Stanley Forman took the picture on April 5, 1976, by for what was then the Boston Herald American.

"For the time (it) has everything you want in the picture," says Forman. If you've seen the picture, it's hard to forget. A young, white man lunges at a black man with the sharp point of a flagpole, with the American flag attached.

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