People who don't believe in God but have an almost religious belief in causes are at the center of Jonathan Lethem's new novel, Dissident Gardens. The novel opens in 1955 Queens, N.Y., when Rose Zimmer, a secular Jew and Communist, is expelled from the party, ostensibly because the local committee disapproves of her affair with a black police officer.
In 1958, at an arts festival in Yorkshire, Duke Ellington was presented to Queen Elizabeth II. They tied up the reception line for a few minutes, exchanging royal pleasantries; our Duke politely flirted with Her Majesty. Soon afterward, maybe that very night, Ellington outlined the movements of The Queen's Suite. He recorded it with his orchestra the following year, sent it to Her Majesty, and declined to release it to the public in his lifetime. It's not clear whether Queen Elizabeth has listened to it.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
At 60, 'Challenges Are Opportunities' For John Zorn: At 60, New York City composer John Zorn is wiser, sure, but no less prolific, thoughtful and antagonistic than before. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that, at his age, "there are no more doubts."
Sam Phillips is famous for saying that if he could find a white boy with the authentic Negro sound and feel, he'd make a billion dollars. Seeing Phillips in his striped sport coat and tie in 1950, you might well wonder if he'd know that sound and feel if it came up and bit him. But he'd been a fan of blues and country music since childhood, and he bet that his technical knowledge and feeling for this music could make him money.
As Gemma, the fierce matriarch of the biker gang in the FX series Sons of Anarchy, Katey Sagal has shot and killed people, hit somebody with a skateboard, pulled a gun on a baby and done other horrible things. It's all part of the challenge of playing the character, Sagal says.
"She does things in the name of loyalty, which I relate to, but she goes way beyond anything I would do."
"I hate music, what is it worth? / Can't bring anyone back to this earth," the band Superchunk sings. It's the kind of sentiment you'd imagine someone blurting out with bitter spontaneity, but it's not really music the band hates; it's the despair and grief to which their music bears witness. Superchunk's new downbeat-but-upbeat album, I Hate Music, is dedicated to a close friend who died last year.
Cats have come a long way from being animals charged with catching mice to treasured, adorable creatures that snuggle with us in our beds. But this relatively new arrangement is creating issues for cats and the people who live with them.
John Bradshaw has studied the history of domesticated cats and how the relationship between people and cats has changed. He's the author of the new book Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, which is a follow-up to his book Dog Sense.
Endurance, going the distance, sucking up the solitude and the brine: I'm not talking about the glorious Diana Nyad and her instantly historic swim from Cuba to Key West, but of the ordinary heroine whose life is the subject of Alice McDermott's latest novel, Someone. "Ordinary" is a word that's used a lot to describe McDermott's characters, mostly Irish and working class, mostly un-heroic in any splashy way.
In 2004, 16-year-old Lamont Adams was shot more than a dozen times near his home in North Philadelphia. He was taken to Philadelphia's Temple University Hospital, where trauma unit head Dr. Amy Goldberg fought to save his life. Goldberg lost that battle and Lamont died shortly after arriving at the hospital, but after treating so many gun injuries and watching so many victims die, Goldberg decided to make a change.
At some point in the coming weeks, users of Apple iPhones and iPads will wake up to an alert that there is a new version of the company's mobile operating system, known as iOS, for them to install.
If users follow historical patterns, within a few days of the launch of iOS 7, almost all of them will install the updated software and, just like that, more than 500 million phones and tablets will be made new. Never before has a technology industry launch come close to matching the scale and speed of this switch.