WNPR Arts and culture reporting focuses on the world of ideas in fine art, crafts, writing, music, theater, performance, design and creative activities that make us unique and make us human

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Whatever airline horror story you have about lost or mishandled luggage, I’m pretty sure Robert Black can top it.

Robert, as many of you around here know, is a brilliant, nationally recognized double bass player and teacher. He is perhaps best known for being a founding member of the avant-garde music ensemble, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, a group that regularly plays all over the world. Robert has also been a faculty member at The Hartt School for many years, and is currently the chairman of the school’s string department.

It's all too raw: the grieving of survivors, the images of carnage, the way we learn of events and the way we consume them.

Viewers of the morning show for WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Va., actually watched the deadly shootings of reporter Alison Parker and videographer Adam Ward. And they watched it live, unexpectedly, without warning. So did the program's anchors, who were themselves shocked, initially uncomprehending, appalled.

Roderick Eime/flickr creative commons

Our healthy frozen piña colada is a terrific taste treat thanks to contributor Anthony DeSerio… dirty steak from contributor Alex Province is a "how-to" on cooking steak right on top of the lump charcoal… enjoy our pesto chicken potato salad from scratch or the easy way… and fresh bluefish fillets get the citrus treatment…   

Carlos Hernandez Chavez

Renowned region-wide since 2007 for its abundant servings of savory, red-hot Latin sounds and friendly, festive communal vibe, the free, outdoor Ray Gonzalez Latin Jazz and Salsa Festival presents its annual sizzling summer celebration in downtown Hartford on Saturday, August 29, from 5:00 to 10:00 pm at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza.

Protest Music: Then and Now

Aug 25, 2015
Chion Wolf / WNPR

Music can be a powerful, transformative tool in the quest for social change. Protest songs are the songs associated with a particular movement. 

Earlier this month, Janelle Monáe and Wondaland produced the searing protest song "Hell You Talmbout." Nearly seven minutes long, it's a tribute to a long list of black men and women lost, and has been performed alongside protesters at Black Lives Matter rallies.

Tatiana Vdb/flickr creative commons

Sitting around the studio recently, we recalled how much more freedom we had than today's children do. In fact, Chris Prosperi, Alex Province, and I realized our parents might have been arrested if today's standards were in effect back then. What has changed?

Steven L. Shepard / Presidio of Monterey Public Affairs

Officials in France and the United States are celebrating the actions of three brave passengers aboard a train who thwarted an attack. Did these passengers do what you're supposed to do in that situation? This hour, we hear from a retired FBI special agent who will tell us how bystanders should respond to violence.

  B-52s founding member Kate Pierson has been having a very busy 2015. Earlier this year, she released her very first solo album, Guitars and Microphones. Produced by Tim Anderson, the record features writing from “Chandelier” singer, Sia — who also served as its executive producer — and guitar-work from the Strokes’ Nick Valensi.

If that wasn’t enough excitement - earlier this month, Kate married her long-time partner Monica Coleman in Hawaii. They co-own Kate's Lazy Meadow in Mount Tremper, NY. 

She has also been touring with the new album and will be doing a benefit for the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild Ceramics Expansion Project next Friday night.

Yale University Art Gallery

The Yale University Art Gallery is launching a major exhibition of works by American Photographer Donald Blumberg. The exhibit covers the span of his long career, from candid New York street scenes from the '60s to his latest photographs, still shots of TV shows with closed captioning.

Creative Commons

“Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.'' Those, of course, are the immortal opening words of Janet Malcolm’s book-length essay, “The Journalist and the Murderer.” 

Food 2.0

Aug 20, 2015
Brian Ambrozy/flickr creative commons

I'll take it as a given that you like food. But no matter what your style of eating and cooking is, I'm betting the complexity of the American food system can leave you confused, judgmental, guilty, apathetic, or overwhelmed. If that's true, here's some good news: Once in a while an original voice comes along and breaks through to offer clarity and a new way to conceive of something.

Dragons Rule!

Aug 20, 2015
William O'Connor - William O'Connor Studios

She who controls the dragon controls the world.

Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion are the most recent dragons to capture our attention, thanks to "Game of Thrones," the wildly popular HBO hit that's placed dragons front and center in our imagination.

Lunch on Wheels: The Food Truck Revolution

Aug 20, 2015
State Library Victoria College / Creative Commons

Not that long ago, you might not have known what a food truck is, but today it's hard to avoid them. They seem to be everywhere, serving every kind of cuisine, but they still face a gauntlet of legal challenges to operate - and still aren't allowed to operate in some towns in the state.

Lydia Brown / WNPR

In her graphic memoir Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, cartoonist Roz Chast brings humor to the difficult topic of aging parents. Last year, the book earned her the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kirkus Prize for nonfiction. Now, it's being featured alongside some of her other work as part of the Distinguished Illustrator Exhibition Series at the Norman Rockwell Museum. 

August 19, 2015

Aug 19, 2015
Paul Broussard/flickr creative commons

The sexy, Mexican paloma cocktail pairs tequila and grapefruit juice… we have a shortbread style, gluten-free pie crust… the Bastianiches have an Italian, raw-tomato, pasta sauce—all you do is boil water—oh, boy, is this making use of great fresh tomatoes… and a white Bordeaux under $20 for August cheer…

Corey Lynn Tucker Photography / Courtesy Isabella Mendes

Just as she’s fluent and elegantly at ease in both Portuguese and English, the rising, young Brazilian-born, singer/songwriter and pianist Isabella Mendes is also much at home with her seemingly contradictory dual careers in music and engineering.

The FBI is seeking the public’s help in solving a significant New England art theft.

The head of the Boston FBI office, Special Agent in Charge Vincent Lisi announced a $20,000 reward for the return of two N.C. Wyeth paintings stolen from a private collector in Portland, Maine.

" Anybody who has any information about these paintings, the whereabouts, or who may have stolen them can contact the FBI via our online tip line, or telephone directly," said Lisi.

Andrea López/flickr creative commons

My motto on The Book Show is: Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join me and my book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

Dirk Knight / Creative Commons

Earlier this summer, we spent a full hour listening to candidates for "song of the summer." Now that summer is winding down, we’re still trying to figure out the winner. Was there a song you just couldn’t get enough of recently? We talk to someone who says for the first time in a long time, there was no "Call Me Maybe," "Blurred Lines," or "California Gurls" (for better or worse).

Also, one popular retailer for music (and everything else) is under harsh criticism. The New York Times reported on the working conditions at "The Everything Store."

In the final segment, we address tall person guilt. Should they feel obligated to stand in back?

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra is asking its players to take a big pay cut. Meanwhile, the musicians are looking for a better deal, and wonder, "How do you build the symphony by cutting it?"

From 1901 to 1953, Indian motorcycles were manufactured in Springfield Massachusetts. But the first Indian motorcycle, the first prototypes, were actually built in Middletown, Connecticut.


Last week's Republican debate created chaos on the internets:  Trump insulted Fox's Megyn Kelly, which naturally led to ladies live tweeting their periods at the wanna-be President. And a new slang was born: "Cuckservative."  

Chion Wolf / WNPR

With ongoing tensions between Palestinians and Israelis, life for musicians there can be challenging. Israeli political and military control over most of the West Bank can mean a separation between Palestinian artists and their audience. In Jerusalem, that sense of isolation can be even more acute. 

It's a Left-Handed Show

Aug 13, 2015
Andreas Levers / Creative Commons

Lefties have been scorned as evil, and celebrated as superior. But, like so many things in life, being a southpaw is not so easily defined. 

Susan Meiselas/Three Guineas Fund Project

A collaborative art installation created by ten women incarcerated at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic is now on view at the Brooklyn Museum. 

Chris Prosperi

It's a salad celebration… The BLT... the super fast and easy buffalo chicken… crab Louis… Moroccan chicken with pan-fried, pistachio-crusted goat cheese… salads for all tastes… salads designed to make you happy!

Börkur Sigurbjörnsson / Creative Commons

Today, our show about poo.

First, the 'no-poo' movement. Before the last century, people washed their hair a lot less often than we do today. A little Castille soap, an egg yoke for extra shine, and one hundred strokes with a boar bristle brush would do the trick. It wasn't until John Breck introduced his golden shampoo that everyone wanted to have the long lustrous locks of a Breck Girl. Today, 'no-poo' converts are going back to the basics and they say they're hair has never looked so good.

Courtesy of Chuchito Valdes

If Cuban pianist Chuchito Valdes is intimidated by the burden of being the heir apparent to his family’s dynasty of world-renowned keyboard kingpins, you’d never know it from his regal virtuosity and royal touch and tone crowned by a majestic expressiveness that can hurl sonic thunderbolts and release endless torrents of joy.

Nathan O'Nions/flickr creative commons

I've just had a crash course on how to get rid of stuff because I'm in the middle of moving to, wow, three separate locations in Connecticut, New York City, and Orient Point on The North Fork of Long Island.

That's what led me to a consignment expert, and a de-cluttering expert, who we lined up for today's show in case you face your own "transition situation."

Rob Dozier / WNPR

This past weekend, over 50,000 people gathered in downtown Hartford to celebrate their cultural heritage.