Recently in Aha Moments

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

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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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Aha Moment: From Crowded House to ESG

Friday, August 19, 2011

Neil Finn is the lead singer of Crowded House, a band which had its share of big hits in the 80s and 90s. (Admit it, you belted along to “Don't Dream It's Over.”) Growing up in New Zealand, Finn was raised on the Beatles and David Bowie: “I was playing piano and playing guitars and trying to emulate those guys,” he remembers ...

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Aha Moment: Brian Blade and Joni Mitchell

Friday, August 12, 2011

Brian Blade is a drummer's drummer. He's played with Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Norah Jones, and Bob Dylan. He also leads his own ensemble, The Fellowship Band. Growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, Blade was raised on gospel, soul, and funk. But when he when he was 16 ...

Bonus Track: “The Dawntreader”

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Aha Moment: Cy Twombly

Friday, July 22, 2011

In July we lost one of the great American painters — Cy Twombly, who was 83. Twombly defied categories. Unlike the abstract painters of the previous generation, like Jackson Pollock and Willem DeKooning, Twombly’s work was playful...

Bonus Track: Music Inspired by Twombly's Painting

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Aha Moment: Rudresh Mahanthappa Finds His Roots

Friday, June 24, 2011

When jazz saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa was still a student at Berklee College of Music, his older brother gave him an album called Saxophone Indian Style — as a joke. Mahanthappa had been suspicious of American jazz’s sampling of Indian...

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Aha Moment: Gentleman’s Agreement

Friday, June 10, 2011

Listener Susan Evans grew up in rural Louisiana during the 1950s and 60s. Her first year of high school was also the first year of federally enforced integration in her town — and that did not sit well with her white parents. It wasn’t until years later that ...

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Aha Moment: Designer Karim Rashid

Friday, May 20, 2011

Industrial designer Karim Rashid creates ordinary household objects known the world over: he has more than 3000 in production, including the Umbra “Oh Chair” and the Bobble Water Bottle which filters water as you drink.  He found his calling early, when his family crossed ...

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Aha Moment: John Darnielle and Black Sabbath

Friday, May 13, 2011

Twenty years ago, just as indie rock started to be called indie rock, John Darnielle founded one of its great bands — The Mountain Goats. The New Yorker called Darnielle "America's best non-hip hop lyricist"; his songs are moody, literary, some might say a bit navel-gazey. ...

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Aha Moment: Antony Hegarty

Friday, January 14, 2011

The frontman for Antony and the Johnsons says everything changed for him when he discovered the Japanese modern dance, butoh. Hegarty talks about the butoh master, Kazuo Ohno, and describes his growing fascination with the minimalist and sometimes grotesque art form.

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Aha Moment: Cary Grant in “Holiday”

Friday, October 01, 2010

Carolita Johnson, a New Yorker cartoonist, was a teenager when she heard Cary Grant exclaim that the world was full of possibilities. "Holiday" set Carolita on a free-spirited, 13-year journey that changed her life.

Weigh in: Has a work of art changed your life?

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Aha Moment: Star Trek

Friday, September 17, 2010

In college, Ronald D. Moore's Captain Kirk dorm room poster prompted teasing, but his passion for the original "Star Trek" has paid off. A few years ago he transformed the sci-fi TV genre when he reimagined the cheesy 1980s "Battlestar Galactica" into a gripping allegory for ...

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Aha Moment: "The Searchers"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Vito Acconci's work as an artist and architect often confuses the boundaries between public and private space. In 1964 Acconci saw a movie that would shape his career as an architect: John Ford's "The Searchers," starring John Wayne.

Weigh in: Has a work of art changed ...

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