Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

This winter, the Syrian government regained control over the entire city of Aleppo. For years before that, it was the largest urban stronghold of anti-regime rebels. Over those years, there were countless government bombings, and the city was reduced to rubble.

The documentary Last Men In Aleppo, by Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad, takes viewers inside the city. "I grew up in the countryside of Aleppo," he says. "And Aleppo — it's my city, where I know every single street and every single store."

France's most famous museum recently designated two rooms for paintings looted by Nazis in World War II. The rightful owners of these works never have been found, and the Louvre says the exhibit is a continuation of the search. But critics say the museum has not done nearly enough over the years.

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross, who's off this week.


Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


I think I'm coming down with something.

Usually that means I prepare a mug of tea, add a spoonful of honey kept solely for such occasions, and add a dash of lemon juice. This elixir, I've been told, will soothe my sore throat and coax my raspy voice back to normalcy. But does it actually work?

Ever since he released his 2009 solo debut Pink Strat, I've always thought of Afie Jurvanen, better known as Bahamas, as a captain of cool breeze sound — easy, inviting and a little sideways. But this time around, Bahamas recruited the rhythm section featured on the album Black Messiah by D'Angelo and the results on his latest album, Earthtones, rest firmly in a funky pocket of groove.

The origin of the universe, the nature of space, the reality of time: These are ancient questions.

Libraries across the world are filled with heavy books that are, themselves, heavy with equations on these issues. But how many graphic novels are exploring these questions? More importantly, how many graphic novels written and drawn by expert theoretical physicists are there?

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Confronting Stigma.

About Arik Hartmann's TED Talk

As treatments for HIV have advanced, the stigmas surrounding it have not diminished as quickly. Arik Hartmann argues for more transparency to tackle misperceptions surrounding HIV.

About Arik Hartmann

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Confronting Stigma.

About Nikki Webber Allen's TED Talk

After her nephew's suicide, Nikki Webber Allen began to speak out about mental illness — including her own. She explains why the stigma keeps people, particularly people of color, from seeking help.

About Nikki Webber Allen

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Confronting Stigma.

About Johann Hari's TED Talk

To stop illegal drug use, we typically punish, isolate and shame addicts. Journalist Johann Hari explains how these methods perpetuate addiction, and how human connection can be an effective antidote.

About Johann Hari

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Confronting Stigma.

About Juno Mac's TED Talk

Sex worker and activist Juno Mac says the current legislative models for sex work perpetuate a dangerous work environment. She explains the high social costs of letting stigma influence legislation.

About Juno Mac

Over the past few months, the roll-out of several high-profile Netflix releases has revealed a predilection for expensive, hard-edged, futuristic genre fare, starting with the human-alien buddy picture Bright, continuing with the TV series Altered Carbon and the surprise post-Super Bowl unveiling of The Cloverfield Paradox. None of them opened to much critical acclaim and Netflix is notoriously cagey about sharing its numbers, but the company has found a niche market that its algorithm can reinforce.

It was no accident that W.E.B. Du Bois called his book The Souls Of Black Folk, says Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped From The Beginning: The Definitive History Of Racist Ideas In America. Du Bois wasn't looking for a catchy title — he was reacting to the reality of his times.

"Racist Americans were making the case that black people did not have souls," Kendi says. "And the beings that did not have souls were beasts."

The fishing industry has long been hard to monitor. Its global footprint is difficult even to visualize. Much fishing takes place unobserved, far from land, and once the boats move on, they leave behind few visible traces of their activity.

'Game Night' Is Winning

Feb 22, 2018

Restraint seems an odd word to apply to a film this crowded with car chases, gunplay, sneering bad guys, panicky good guys and one gleefully gruesome instance of ad-hoc, back-alley, gunshot-wound surgery.

And yet, here we are.

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The movie "The Shape Of Water" is up for 13 Oscars, the most of any film this year.


RICHARD JENKINS: (As Giles) A tale of love and loss and the monster who tried to destroy it all.

The alien dome they call "The Shimmer" stretches for several miles, radiating from a lighthouse in the middle of a national park. Its border is pulsating and translucent with shades of purple, like a soap bubble; it's so alive it seems to moan, or at the least to breathe. No messages from within can reach the outside world. Those who enter don't come back out, or not the same, anyway. And the first time one expedition sets up camp, they awake to find that they have already been there for days, with no memory of what transpired in-between.

The distinctions between human and animal, alive and dead, and even mobile and inert are fluid in November, an adult fairy tale that's as earthy as it is lyrical. The movie's central story, a tortured-love triangle, is slight. But the context is fascinating and the visual style bewitching.

The first characters to enter the silvery black-and-white landscape of the film are a wolf — later revealed to be a shape-shifting human — and a kratt, a creature constructed of farm implements and an animal skull and brought to life by a blood pact with the devil.

What if your goal was to just write some good songs? What if you and your longtime friend did that and then went back to your day jobs at a law firm and in the music industry? Then what if everything changed? Your song gets 10 millions plays on Spotify, you are spotlighted by NPR Music, you perform live on Conan and you sign a major label deal — and all before your debut album's release!

Fig and pomegranate trees, grapes, carrots, and narcissus flowers are some of the plants that Aveen Ismail likes to grow in the Domiz refugee camp in Northern Iraq where she lives. That's because these plants remind her of Syria and home.

At first, Ismail did not find the dry land welcoming. But she values greenery and gardening, so she cultivated a small patch of land next to the house her family built in the camp.

Mind-altering substances have inspired artists for centuries, but going sober isn't usually associated with flights of wild creativity. Perhaps only the legendary French artist Jean Giraud, a.k.a. Moebius, could be so tickled, dizzied and generally thrown for a loop by the experience of giving up marijuana. Inside Moebius is based on notebooks he kept after "weed[ing] himself out" in the early 2000s, but it reads more like the work of a teenager doing LSD for the first time. This is Moebius' brain off drugs. It's sobriety as you've never seen it before.

W.E.B. Du Bois At 150

Feb 22, 2018

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Journalist Ann Curry's parents met in Japan after World War II. Her American father was stationed there, and her mother was Japanese. But when her father asked the military for permission to marry, the military refused — at the time, servicemen weren't allowed to marry Japanese women.

Her father was quickly reassigned, and two years went by before Curry's parents reunited. Even then things weren't easy — her grandmother disapproved of the match, her mother contracted tuberculosis. But the pair managed to defeat the odds and start a family in the U.S.

When McDonald's recently announced the introduction of a vegan burger in Sweden and Finland, Twitter responded with a mix of earnest enthusiasm (@themodvegan: "So exciting- I hope we're next"), a little disgust (@JenaRoberta: "why would a vegan a company that sells millions of dead cow burgers a day?), and a touch of guilty hand-wringing from aging ideologues (@siniauer: "Feels like I'm cheating the 90's me").

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


Updated at 4:05 p.m. ET

If the answer is, "This longtime Jeopardy! host has been chosen to moderate a Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate this fall," then the question is, "Who is Alex Trebek?"

I gotta say I had a bit of a hard time holding it together during this session. Sitting in a room two feet away from Glen Hansard as he plays an acoustic guitar is transcendent. When we were talking, he was this warm, gregarious storyteller, but as soon as he started to sing, Glen summoned so much force and conviction and blood, that I forgot there was anything else in the entire world. And you'll hear that in my reactions.