Episode #517

Pedal Steel, Gunslingers, Desert

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Saturday, April 24, 2004

Kurt Andersen and writer Rebecca Solnit look at the American West as our favorite mythic landscape. We hear the sweet strains of pedal steel guitar and revel in the B-movie grandeur of spaghetti westerns. The show visits Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, huge concrete tubes she plunked into the Utah desert. And, the writer Sherman Alexie debuts an unpublished poem.


Rebecca Solnit

Special Guest: Rebecca Solnit

Kurt Andersen and the historian Rebecca Solnit get seduced by the cultural landscape of the American West.

Rebecca Solnit has dedicated her career to the American landscape. She helped re-photograph the sites made famous by Ansel Adams, to see how the Western vistas have changed. As a writer, art critic, ...


Pedal Steel

You've heard the plaintive cry of the steel guitar. The sound comes from lightly gliding a steel bar along a set of guitar strings, and it's the signature note of country music from Jimmie Rogers the Singing Brakeman to Shania Twain. Studio 360's David Krasnow traces the birth of ...


Spaghetti Westerns

There's no art form more western than … a western. A western movie, that is, like The Magnificent Seven, Johnny Guitar, or Red River. Not just Americans love these movies. In the 1960s, Italian filmmakers proved their devotion by churning out B-grade western movies, and amazingly they found an audience ...


Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington State, and he's written novels, movies, poetry and essays exploring modern Native American life. He called his first collection of stories The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. We asked Alexie to read a poem he'd ...


Sun Tunnels

Going west has always meant reinventing yourself, and building something new.  In the 1960s, a group of New York sculptors decided they'd build their work right into and out of the deserts and mountains of the West. It can be hard to go see these Earthwork sculptures — tucked away ...


Commentary: Don't Let Subtitles Scare You

Supposedly Americans don’t like to go see any movie with subtitles. But Studio 360’s Kurt Andersen says that our best window into the rest of the world right now is in the movie theater.


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