Thelonious Monk Will Change Your Life, Even From the Grave

Thelonious Monk and I were in the same room at the same time just once, in the summer of 1968, at the Winston-Salem, North Carolina Coliseum, the first stop on a 21-city tour for a package show of jazz artists that included Cannonball Adderley, Gary Burton, Dionne Warwick, and Monk. Wes Montgomery was supposed to have played, but he died several days before.

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The Most Beautiful Election Photos—Without the Politicians

In October 1976, the photographer William Eggleston traveled from his home in Memphis to Plains, Georgia, the home town of Jimmy Carter, who was days away from winning the presidency. He took pictures along the way, most of them in and around Plains. The results were first published in a very limited edition entitled Election Eve, a slightly edited version of which will be republished later this month by Steidl.

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James Kilpatrick, Reagan’s Favorite Columnist Who Never Really Renounced Segregation

In one of history’s smaller but nonetheless hideous ironies, James J. Kilpatrick’s career was saved on September 15, 1963 when a Ku Klux Klan bomb destroyed the African American Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and killed four little girls in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Casanova, Mozart, and the Secret Backstory of ‘The Night Before Christmas’

In December 1806, two men got into an argument in Riley’s bookstore on lower Broadway in New York City. The younger of the two, then in his late twenties, insisted that Italian literature’s glory days were a thing of the distant past. The older man, middle-aged but tall and handsome (he still had all his own hair, though none of his own teeth), insisted that, on the contrary, if they stood there for a month, he could not enumerate all the stars of Italian writing. And by the way, did the young man know of anyone who needed a teacher of Italian?

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The Madcap Genius Who Befriended Casanova, Mozart, & the Author of ‘The Night Before Christmas’

In December 1806, two men got into an argument in Riley’s bookstore on lower Broadway in New York City. The younger of the two, then in his late twenties, insisted that Italian literature’s glory days were a thing of the distant past. The older man, middle-aged but tall and handsome (he still had all his own hair, though none of his own teeth), insisted that, on the contrary, if they stood there for a month, he could not enumerate all the stars of Italian writing. And by the way, did the young man know of anyone who needed a teacher of Italian?

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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James Kilpatrick, Reagan’s Favorite Columnist Who Never Really Renounced Segregation

In one of history’s smaller but nonetheless hideous ironies, James J. Kilpatrick’s career was saved on September 15, 1963 when a Ku Klux Klan bomb destroyed the African American Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and killed four little girls in Birmingham, Alabama.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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The Most Beautiful Election Photos—Without the Politicians

In October 1976, the photographer William Eggleston traveled from his home in Memphis to Plains, Georgia, the home town of Jimmy Carter, who was days away from winning the presidency. He took pictures along the way, most of them in and around Plains. The results were first published in a very limited edition entitled Election Eve, a slightly edited version of which will be republished later this month by Steidl.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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10 Reasons to Love Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry invented rock and roll. Maybe someone else would have gotten around to it if he had never lived, but then that music would’ve sounded different. It might have been good, it might have been better! But it wouldn’t sound like what we think of as rock and roll, because it wouldn’t sound like Chuck Berry.

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Photography’s Eccentric Genius: Eadweard Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge was one of those grand eccentrics who crop up with surprising frequency in American art and particularly American photography. Like Dr. Harold Edgerton and O. Winston Link, he was a man in the grip of an obsession, but creative enough to transform the fruits of that obsession into indelible, timeless art.

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‘Five Came Back’: When Hollywood Enlisted in WWII

Hollywood loves nothing better than celebrating itself, and the new three-part Netflix documentary Five Came Back is a veritable orgy of self-congratulation. The noteworthy thing is, all the love is well deserved.

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Driving the Most Seductive Road in the World

When I was a child growing up in North Carolina about an hour away from the Blue Ridge Parkway, nothing made my blood run cold like a grown up saying, “Oh, what a fine day to go up to the parkway and see the leaves changing color.”

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Was Thoreau Just a Slacker and a Hypocrite?

About my eleventh grade English class, I remember very little, and none of it very pleasant. Miss Elizabeth Kapp, a stern maiden lady of some years, led us to believe that American literature pretty much stopped at the 19th century (and so, some of us were convinced, did she: who else would have kept portraits of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson hanging on the walls of the classroom, and this in a completely integrated school?). 

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Jeanne Moreau Led Me On. I Loved Every Minute.

Jeanne Moreau and I got off to a rocky start. Who knew it would last a lifetime. It was always one-sided, of course, with her up there on the screen, and me in the dark, watching. Nevertheless, I persisted.

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How Audiobooks Are Becoming an Art Form Unto Themselves

Hillary Clinton’s publisher just released a victory lap press release about her new book this week. According to Simon and Schuster, What Happened sold an impressive 300,000 copies in its first week of publication.

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Thelonious Monk Will Change Your Life, Even From the Grave

Thelonious Monk and I were in the same room at the same time just once, in the summer of 1968, at the Winston-Salem, North Carolina Coliseum, the first stop on a 21-city tour for a package show of jazz artists that included Cannonball Adderley, Gary Burton, Dionne Warwick, and Monk. Wes Montgomery was supposed to have played, but he died several days before.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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LA’s Punk Rock Royalty Turns 40

The punk rock band X turns 40 this year. And that, says John Doe, is something he never saw coming when he helped found the group while Jimmy Carter was still president. Nor did he foresee all the things that come with surviving—and thriving—for four decades. Longevity. Respect. Moms and dads in the audience. With their kids. Because yes, at this point in its life, X is that genuine unicorn: fun for the whole family.

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Will Haruki Murakami Finally Win the Nobel Prize?

I’m no fan of literary prizes, unless they mean the winning authors get some money. Writers can always use money. But the prizes themselves edge too close to competition, which I truly believe has no place in art. It’s hard enough to be a writer without having it turned into a contest.

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