Sunday, May 12, 2013
Old friends, hard choices, and a wardrobe malfunction. David Sedaris hosts, and reads a comic rant by Frank Gannon.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Willa Cather, a giant of 20th century American literature, expressly forbade the publication of her personal correspondence. But next month, an anthology of her letters, around 566 of them, is set to be published, finally submitting her private life to public scrutiny.
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
We talk to the Swedish company that is making specially-designed, commercially available coffins which will play your favorite music for you for all eternity. Comedians Jon Glaser and Eugene Mirman join us to talk about the music that they'd like to take to the grave.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Anything can happen. That's the essential spark that makes life — surprising. We've been asking you for your stories about your near death experiences. Cindy in Portland shared the story about a close call on the way to work. Kyle in Brooklyn encountered a bear while camping. And Aaron fell asleep behind the wheel while working several jobs. Those are just a few of the close calls you shared with us.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Death is painfully human, strangely ordinary, and universal. It causes us pain, it requires planning, and it requires final decisions. But here in America, in most cases, it doesn't require one thing: personally handling the dead. But more and more often, Americans are deciding to do things differently.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
In concert with another segment from today about preparing bodies for burial at home, we're exploring a place everyone knows about but almost no one ever goes. A place of almost, near misses, near endings.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Why do so many end-of-life patients get care that is ineffective? Radiolab Jad Abumrad on the show's recent story.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
What if I told you that there's a mathematical formula buried deep in living things that tells us — all of us, dandelions, gorillas, sea grasses, elm trees, buttercups — when it's time to die. Scientists think there is such rule. It has to do with size.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
We turn to doctors to save our lives -- to heal us, repair us, and keep us healthy. But when it comes to the critical question of what to do when death is at hand, there seems to be a gap between what we want doctors to do for us, and what doctors want done for themselves.
Sunday, January 06, 2013
Writer Sol Yurick died this weekend from complications from lung cancer, according to his only daughter Susanna Yurick.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Ravi Shankar, legendary sitar master who played alongside The Beatles, John Coltrane and Yehudi Menuhin, died Tuesday at the age of 92. Soundcheck host John Schaefer reflects on the life and music of Shankar.
Listen back to two archival interviews conducted by Schaefer on his program New Sounds -- one from 1984, the other from 1996.
The first time I met Ravi Shankar, he told the story of the first time he met Baba Allaudin Khan, the man who would become his guru, and later, his father-in-law. Khan began, Shankar recalled, "by rebuking me. He said I was like a butterfly, doing too many things." Shankar was a 15-year old dancer in his brother Uday Shankar's troupe, which in the 1930s first brought Indian music and dance to the West. He also sang, played flute, and sitar -- all by ear. Khan told him that when he was ready to settle down and commit to one thing, he would accept Shankar as a student. It was, he said, a difficult decision, and it took a couple of years, but he eventually committed to the sitar.
Fortunately for us, Ravi Shankar never stopped doing "too many things." While he did become the most famous sitarist and perhaps the most globally-renowned non-Western artist of our time, he also composed film scores, collaborated with leading classical, rock, jazz and traditional Japanese musicians, and even wrote electronic music and played a bit of synthesizer.
"When I play the sitar," Shankar said during one of his many visits to our studio, "I am a purist, orthodox, very traditional. But as a composer I'm not frightened of experimenting with new sounds. It excites me to hear a whole range of instruments."
This was a hard-won wisdom. In the wake of becoming The Beatles "cult guru," to use his phrase, Shankar found himself in a range of unusual settings. Booked into huge rock festivals, he admitted to being discomfited by the sheer volume of the music and the rampant drug use that accompanied much of it. Though he did say he liked The Mamas & The Papas and some of the other, more melodic groups, I got the strong impression that he would not have willingly sat through another Jimi Hendrix set. After Woodstock, when he saw half a million young people "in the mud, and no one in their right mind," Shankar insisted to his overeager managers that he would not do any more rock festivals.
So for much of the 1970s, Shankar kept a relatively low profile, and when he returned in the '80s, he found that the wave of raga-rock excess has crested, and left behind in its wake a much smaller, but still substantial, number of listeners who were genuinely interested in and moved by his music. When he marked his 50th anniversary of performing, he seemed as energized as ever. Every night, he said, meant a different audience, and that kept it new for him.
Shankar passed on his musical genes. His son Shubho passed away in 1992 at the age of 50, but had toured with Ravi and had proven himself a worthy musical companion. His daughters, Anoushka Shankar and singer Norah Jones have each come into their own in the last decade -- Norah of course with a boatload of Grammy Awards and Anoushka as a globetrotting, risk-taking sitarist very much cut from her father's cloth.
And finally, Ravi Shankar taught. You can take that any way you want: He literally taught music to students in school and in private. But he also taught several generations of Westerners to appreciate the beauty and tradition of Indian music. On an even more basic level, he taught us that just because music doesn't come from your culture doesn't mean it can't be yours.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
At the Miami Book Fair International, five authors of memoirs gathered to discuss their brushes with death. One of them, Benjamin Busch, author of "Dust to Dust," recounted facing death in Iraq — and then returning home from war to his own parents' deaths.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
It was 1569, or maybe early 1570, when it happened: A young French gentleman was out for a ride with his workers, all of them on horseback, when suddenly, "like a thunderbolt," he felt something thick and fleshy slam him from behind. (It was an overzealous, galloping assistant who couldn't stop in time.) Michel de Montaigne's horse crumbled, he went flying up, then down, he crashed to the ground. Then things went black.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Lulu Miller ponders the idea of an afterlife, by way of a puppet show designed by psychologists...and some early childhood lessons about peek-a-boo and how the world works.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
(New York, NY -- WNYC) Eight months after a 12-year-old girl was killed crossing a street, safety upgrades have been completed at 14 locations along a notoriously dangerous street on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan unveiled the revamped street on Thursday. The pedestrian crossings have been overhauled and car travel lanes have been re-engineered. Although the impetus for the redesign was the January 2012 death of Dashane Santana, over 700 people have been injured near that stretch of Delancey Street between 2006 and 2009.
Teresa Pedroza, Santana’s grandmother, said that while she's glad the street work has been completed, more could be done. “There are at least a good five or six schools in the immediate area,” Pedroza said. “You have at least eight lanes of traffic and there should be a crossing guard for these kids, especially when it’s time to come out of school.”
Sadik-Khan agreed that the redesign isn't enough -- but she wants more than a crossing guard. "We’re working hard to get speed camera legislation passed in Albany which will go a long way to help us address the problem of speeding and fatalities," she said, "which are a quarter of the traffic fatalities on New York City streets."
A recent city report revealed traffic fatalities are up 23 percent in New York City over a recent twelve-month period, although overall total traffic fatalities are down about 20 percent since 2003. The recent tick upward in New York mirrors a national trend. The federal government projects that traffic fatalities were up 9 percent in the first six months of this year.
Although no immediate reason was given for the increase, Sadik-Khan reiterated drivers need to obey the law. “The problem that we have on New York City streets is that people are speeding, they are running red lights, they are drinking while driving," she said. "These are all significant problems that we need to address.”