Recently in Aha Moments

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 ...

Comments [3]

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 ...

Comments [1]

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”

Comments [1]

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. ...

Comments [3]

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 ...

Comments [2]

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 ...

Comments [6]

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

Comments [1]

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 ...

Comments [3]

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

Comments [2]

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 ...

Comments [7]

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 ...

Comments [1]

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 ...

Comments [4]

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

Comments [1]

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 ...

Comments [4]

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”

Comments [10]

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

Comments [6]

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...

Comments [3]

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 ...

Comments [13]