Recently in Aha Moments

Aha Moment: Love and Rockets

Friday, August 10, 2012

Comic books have not traditionally been a friendly place for women. But artists like Jessica Abel are changing the way women appear in and write comics. Abel was drawn to the genre by the busty Latina mechanic Maggie Chascarillo, a character in the series Love and Rockets ...


Aha Moment: Perry Mason vs. The Paper Chase

Friday, August 03, 2012

Jonathan Amsbary wanted to be a lawyer to "help America be what it was supposed to be." He idealized TV’s Perry Mason, the righteous defense attorney who stood up for the little guy and always made sure justice was done. Just before leaving for college, Amsbary saw The Paper Chase ...


Aha Moment: John Darnielle and Black Sabbath

Friday, July 20, 2012

Twenty years ago John Darnielle formed one of indie rock's great bands: The Mountain Goats. The New Yorker called Darnielle "America's best non-hip hop lyricist”; his songs are moody, literary, maybe a bit navel-gazey. But Darnielle's biggest influence isn't Leonard Cohen ...

Video: Black Sabbath, "Iron Man"


Aha Moment: Enrico Caruso

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sam Zimmerman was not an emotional man — except when it came to opera. He could discourse on Caruso and Callas at length, analyzing the range, the purity of the voice, and the mysterious quality called presence. He passed along that love to his son, Ed, who as an adult discovered ...

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Aha Moment: Doc Watson & Abigail Washburn

Friday, June 08, 2012

Doc Watson, a giant of American folk music, died last month at 89.  Watson’s guitar and banjo playing was a powerful force in the 1960s folk revival, and his long career inspired generations of musicians, among them Abigail Washburn. She was pursuing a career in international law based in China ...

Bonus Track: Abigail Washburn, “Burn Through” from City of Refuge


Aha Moment: Whoopi Goldberg

Friday, June 01, 2012

WNYC listener Julie Bayley grew up watching daytime talk shows to catch comics like Rodney Dangerfield. But there weren’t any comedians like her: female and black. Then Bayley saw Whoopi Goldberg in her one-woman show on Broadway (it ran for 156 sold-out performances ...

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Aha Moment: Dave Alvin & Curtis Mayfield

Friday, May 25, 2012

A generation ago, the singer-songwriter Dave Alvin founded the rootsy-rock band The Blasters with his brother Phil in Los Angeles — and they made an indelible mark on the early 1980’s punk scene. But the life of a working musician, often playing to very small crowds, was trying ...

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Aha Moment: The Rolling Stones and Of Montreal

Friday, April 27, 2012

The band Of Montreal is known for its theatrical, over-the-top shows. Frontman Kevin Barnes’ antics and flamboyant costumes recall the heyday of glam rock. Barnes wasn’t a born performer — as a teenager, he was a loner, painfully shy. On a family camping trip, his uncle brought along a guitar ...

Bonus Track: Kevin Barnes covers the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb”

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Aha Moment: Karim Rashid

Friday, April 20, 2012

The industrial designer Karim Rashid has 3,000 designs in production — including the Umbra “Oh Chair,” the Bobble Water Bottle, and the “Garbo” trash can — many featuring his signature rounded edges, cast in colorful plastics. Born in Egypt, Rashid found his calling as a designer early. ...

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Aha Moment: Rashid Johnson on Clyfford Still

Friday, April 13, 2012

Growing up in Evanston, Illinois, Rashid Johnson remembers school trips to visit The Art Institute of Chicago. On one visit, while horsing around trying to impress a girl, Johnson bumped into a painting. The painting was a large, black monochrome by Clyfford Still, the most ...

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Aha Moment: Kiss Alive!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Sergio Muñoz was only seven years old when he became a devotee of the band Kiss. He discovered the Alive! album in Tower Records and was mesmerized by the cover. Isolated and lonely, a recent immigrant from Mexico, Muñoz connected to the band’s fantasy life ...


Aha Moment: Beastie Boys

Friday, March 23, 2012

Young Jean Lee is a playwright who’s become an it-girl of experimental theater in New York City. But as a kid in the late 1980s, Lee was mainstream, dressing in Esprit and listening to New Kids on the Block. But a Rolling Stone review convinced her to splurge on Paul’s Boutique ...

Video: "Hey Ladies" by the Beastie Boys


Aha Moment: William Kennedy

Friday, March 09, 2012

In the 1980s, Marion Roach was a party girl and aspiring writer, clerking for The New York Times by day and hitting the clubs by night. She was in love with New York and felt she was living in the center of the universe. One day she was handed a copy of William Kennedy’s novel Legs ...

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Aha Moment: Sullivan's Travels

Friday, March 02, 2012

Daniel Eagan knew from a young age that he wanted to pursue a career in film. The movie he credits with setting him on that path, Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels  (1941), also gave him nightmares. The movie is about a disgruntled director named John Sullivan. Fed up ...

Video: A scene from Sullivan’s Travels

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Aha Moment: Gravity's Rainbow

Friday, February 24, 2012

Gerald Joyce is a professor of biochemistry at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. In the 1970s, he was studying biochemistry at The University of Chicago, when he discovered Gravity's Rainbow, the sprawling World War II novel by Thomas Pynchon ...

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Aha Moment: Jack DeJohnette

Friday, February 03, 2012

The drummer Jack DeJohnette has recorded with all the jazz superheroes of the last half century. But he tells Studio 360 that what he really wanted to do was play piano. He’d begun a promising career as a pianist when he was entranced by the drummer Vernell Fournier, who had ...

Video: Vernell Fournier plays with brushes

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Aha Moment: Talking Heads

Friday, January 20, 2012

When Amy Douglas was a teenager, her parents sent her to a boarding school for troubled kids deep in the Arizona desert. There she fell deep into a depression and struggled with an eating disorder. Then a cassette copy of The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads helped ...

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Aha Moment: From Proto-Punk to Perception

Friday, November 18, 2011

Larry Rosenblum is a professor of psychology with a focus on perception — he’s written a book about the senses called See What I’m Saying. Rosenblum credits a musical revelation with leading him down that path. Growing up with 1970s prog-rock, he thought that virtuosity and spectacular showmanship were the hallmarks ...

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Aha Moment: Sandra Bernhard

Friday, October 28, 2011

“Larger-than-life” doesn’t do justice to performer Sandra Bernhard. She can be cartoonishly tough and irreverent, but also intensely sincere. Her breakout role came in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1983), in which she plays an obsessed fan who helps kidnap the talk show host ...

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Aha Moment: Doc Watson & Abigail Washburn

Friday, October 14, 2011

Abigail Washburn thought she had her goals set. She was on her way to a career in international law based in China when a bluegrass musician stopped her in her tracks. At a party, she heard a recording of Doc Watson singing “Shady Grove” and she fell in love with the banjo. “I was struck by it as something ...

Bonus Track: “Burn Through” from City of Refuge

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