Archive for October, 2009


Speech Therapy
Speech Debelle

In our contest-obsessed culture, it’s easy to tune out awards hoopla. But England’s Mercury Prize has done what a meaningful award should do: shine a light on an artist who deserves it.  Twenty-six year-old Speech Debelle was virtually unknown before she won the prize last month.  Her debut record, Speech Therapy, is filled with hopeful, street-sassy rapping over organic beats.  Brushes, upright bass, piano and clarinet back up Debelle’s rhymes about growing up in London. She’s had some tough times, but doesn’t let it get her down.  The best track, “Spinning,” opens with her staccato flow: “This is for the tat on my wrist/ this is for the black of my fist/ this is for the S in my lisp…” and leads into an irresistible schoolyard chorus: “The world keeps spinning… nobody knows where it will take us, but I hope it gets better.”  With this delightfully catchy song, you feel like it is.

– Leital Molad

Read Full Post »

"Mirror Image; Nightmare at 20,000 Feet; The Hitch-Hiker"

"Mirror Image"; "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"; "The Hitch-Hiker"

Errant kid-carrying balloons, planes that overshoot the runway by 150 miles — these days, preternatural occurrences are the stuff of cable news. But 50 years ago, viewers tuned in to “The Twilight Zone” to get their weekly eeriness fix. Before the “The Twilight Saga,” and before “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF” became the creepiest show in TV history, Rod Sterling’s groundbreaking sci-fi series premiered on a Friday night in October 1959. Not only did it offer far-fetched premises and unexpected twists; there was also a heavy dose of social commentary shrouded in all of the fantasy and suspense.


This month has been full of “Twilight Zone” 50th anniversary commemorations across the country. Regional theaters in places like Tuscumbia, Alabama and Ben Lomond, California have produced stage versions of some of the show’s classic episodes. Binghamton, New York, Sterling’s hometown, hosted its own celebration. And if you’re reading this from Los Angeles, consider checking out tonight’s panel discussion and screening at the Egyptian Theatre. There’s also a lot to look forward to: Warner Brothers, in conjunction with Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company, is developing a new “Twilight Zone” feature film for 2011.

And on a different sci-fi note, “Studio 360” is planning its first ever live show in WNYC’s Greene Space on November 17, and it’s about time. The time travel-themed show will feature astrophysicist David Goldberg and forward-thinking funk singer Janelle Monae (along with her alter-ego Cindi Mayweather). We’ll broadcast the show later in the year, so you’ll literally be glimpsing into the future by joining us: tickets info here.

– Jordan Sayle

Read Full Post »


The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum
By Heinrich Boll

When I first read this 1974 novel, set in West Germany around the time of the Red Army Faction, it seemed very foreign to me in every sense.  A serious terrorist threat?  Law enforcement overreach to deal with it?  Powerful, sensationalist right-wing media whipping up the panic?  Well, times have changed, and the resonances today are different for American readers.  I discovered as much earlier this year, when Penguin asked me to write an introduction for this new paperback edition.

– Kurt Andersen

Read Full Post »

With Halloween fast approaching, the swag coming into the studio this week has taken a spooky turn. We appreciated these vampire teeth, which accompanied The Vampire Archives: The Most Complete Volume of Vampire Tales Ever Published

swag 002vampire book cover

… and brought out our ghoulish side!

swag in action

We’ll have some ghoulish stories on the show this week – including instructions on how to make your skeleton scary, by Deep Thoughts’ Jack Handey.

– Erin Calabria

Read Full Post »

I know I’m well past the age of someone who should be doing this, but every once in a while I like to watch Saturday morning cartoons. Last weekend while watching “Jane and the Dragon” (great show, by the way), I saw a commercial for a new cereal called Raisin Brahms.

As in the 19th century German composer Johannes Brahms.

Ok, so it’s not a real cereal. It’s actually a public service announcement created by an organization called Americans for the Arts. As part of their “The Arts. Ask for More.” campaign, they partnered up with the NAMM Foundation and the Ad Council to produce commercials that encourage parents to get their kids interested in the arts. Because Brahms really is part of a complete breakfast. Take that Frosted Flakes.

– Alana Harper

Read Full Post »

I got outed on the elevator the other day. A co-worker spotted knitting needles in my bag.

I rarely have a chance to knit these days, and compensate by indulging in the next best thing: looking at weird knitted art online.

Listening to this week’s show, I remembered an odd, thought-provoking site that can add to Jeremy Deller’s “Conversations about Iraq .” Artist Dave Cole has a series entitled “Kevlar Baby Clothes”, which features exactly that: baby clothes created from bullet-proof vests discarded from the war in Iraq.

 courtesy of judi rotenberg gallery

David Cole, Kevlar Baby Line

Cole’s work often juxtaposes the harsh realities of our world against the sentiments of childhood: a hand-knit, porcelain baby blanket (made from an “Extreme Temperature Refractory Ceramic Textile”); a teddy bear knit with fiber glass; an AK-47 that appears to be made from bubble gum. But something about the Kevlar onesie put a lump in my throat. I am knitting for a little man who will be here this January. I can only hope he’ll have to look up what Kevlar and suicide bombs mean when he grows up.

Dave Cole Kevlar Snowsuit, 2008

Dave Cole Kevlar Snowsuit, 2008

– Susie Karlowski

(You might also want to see Cole knit a HUGE American flag here.)

Read Full Post »

Even if you don’t know it, you’ve probably already heard the music of Orba Squara. The New York City-based singer-songwriter Mitch Davis’ one-man band is responsible for the effervescent tune featured in the iPhone commercials that have been blanketing the airwaves for the last couple of years. The song is called “Perfect Timing (This Morning),” and it’s one of many tracks from Orba’s debut album that have popped up in unexpected places.

Davis usually handles all of the instruments in his songs by himself, including the toy pianos, sitar, and glockenspiel, but when it came to laying down some of the guitar parts and vocals on his new album, The Trouble With Flying, he was lucky enough to enlist his childhood hero, Billy Squier. The 80’s rock god appears on two new Orba Squara tracks, including “Tell Me.”

Here’s Davis performing a solo acoustic version when he visited Studio 360.

And here it is on the album with Billy Squier.


Mitch Davis (L) with Billy Squier (R) working on Orba Squara's album (courtesy of World's Fair)

Billy Squier was Davis’ first concert — a show at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum. Over twenty years later, it all came full circle when Orba Squara opened for Squier at a recent Long Island show. And there’s one more twist to the story — Davis is currently at work in the studio collaborating on some new material for Squier’s next release.

Here’s the story of how these two musicians found each other:

The Trouble With Flying goes on sale October 27.

– Jordan Sayle

Read Full Post »

Seniority rules at Yale, but not entirely.  The Whiffenpoofs are the century-old men’s a cappella ensemble, limited to 14 vocalists from each year’s senior class – you’ll hear them on this week’s show.  But there’s a noteworthy junior who’s hot on their heels.

Tenor Sam Tsui is a featured soloist with the Duke’s Men of Yale.  And he fronts another a cappella group on the side that might be even more exclusive than the Whiffs.  That’s because there’s only one member of his collective.  Sam’s six-part-harmony tribute to the late great Michael Jackson has been seen 1.7 million times and counting on YouTube.  The performance is produced by Kurt Schneider, Sam’s Yale classmate and neighbor from his Pennsylvania hometown.  If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s incredible.  That’s Sam at center stage singing the hook from “Thriller.”  And that’s him in the red shirt singing about the kid not being his son – and in the other red shirt also.

We’ve got another dazzling Jackson interpretation on the show this weekend.  The L.A.-based indie-a-cappella group Sonos visit Studio 360 to perform a classic by the Jackson 5.

– Jordan Sayle

Read Full Post »

New York City’s El Museo del Barrio has reopened after a well-deserved multi-million dollar renovation.

The museum was started 40 years ago by performance artist Rafael Montañez Ortiz in a public school classroom with the mission of highlighting Puerto Rican artists. Since then, it’s grown into an important cultural institution with a collection of more than “6,500 objects spanning more than 800 years of Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino art.”

I have always loved this little museum, and am very excited to see the permanent collection, particularly the installations, in a space that allows the visitor more room to take in the exuberant work.

Osorio_La Cama (The Bed)[5]

El Museo del Barrio will celebrate it’s 40th Anniversary throughout the year with special programs and exhibitions. I’ll be spending my Halloween at the (free!) Dia de Los Muertos festival: calavera mask and retablos making workshops, with hot chocolate and Pan de Muerte!

– Susie Karlowski

Pepón Osorio
(b. 1955, Santurce, Puerto Rico)
La Cama (The Bed)
Mixed Media installation, 75 x 57 1/2 x 81 1/2 inches (190.5 x 146.1 x 207 cm)
Collection El Museo del Barrio, NY
Museum purchase, S93.68

Read Full Post »


from Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

Tomorrow, the much-anticipated film, “Where the Wild Things Are” is coming to theaters. It’s based on the beloved children’s book by Maurice Sendak, whose fantastical illustrations have inspired innumerable artists.

One of those inspired artists is Cory Godbey. Godbey is an illustrator who started the fabulous blog Terrible Yellow Eyes, an homage to Sendak by dozens of illustrators from around the world. Together, they have contributed more than 250 Wild Things tribute pieces. The collection is quite diverse (from cartoons, to paintings, to diorama) and inspirational in its own right.


"Steam Thing," by Bill Carman

chris-houghton tamed

"Tamed," by Chris Houghton

Curator Cory Godbey first discovered Sendak’s classic as a teenager: he told us “it was this watershed moment. Where The Wild Things Are changed the way I looked at picture books, and helped me understand my own style as an artist.” And as a writer – Godbey was inspired by Sendak’s short, active sentences. He loves the way Wild Things opens with the line, “The night Max wore his wolf suit…” because “there’s no exposition, [Sendak] just drops you right into the story.”

cg wild and instrumental

"Wild and Instrumental," by Cory Godbey

And Godbey continues to be inspired by the character Max and the childhood imagination and anger that shape his world. Godbey explains that when he was growing up, “there weren’t books like that that so openly worked through anger issues. I really love that [Max] can go to where all these horrible things are, but he’s not going to get hurt – nothing really bad is going to happen – he’s in control of it. That’s empowering.”

– Erin Calabria and Jenny Lawton

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »