Arts & Culture

Ways to Connect

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Donald Trump "personally directed" efforts to silence Stormy Daniels, The Wall Street Journal reported for the first time Tuesday morning.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, will be unsurprised.

The thought that Donald Trump may have been totally unprepared to become president in November 2016 is one that's not new to those who have been following the day-to-day crises and dramas of the Trump White House closely.

But a case for this argument is revealingly and startlingly made by Michael Lewis in his fascinating — and at times harrowing — new book The Fifth Risk.

Following a hearing last week that sought to look into sexual assault allegations brought against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the FBI is investigating further and discussions of assault have been kicked off around the country.

A Star Is Born begins with Bradley Cooper, as successful country-rock singer Jackson Maine, doing his uninspired but high-octane brand of guitar work in front of a screaming audience of fans. When he's done, drunk and exhausted, he pours himself into a big black SUV, now alone with his nearly empty bottle, his flushed face, and his lungs that sound like they're filled with ash. He is in rough shape.

There have been a lot of books written about chaos and dysfunction in the Trump White House. The latest book by Michael Lewis looks at parts of the federal government that don't get as much attention, like the Department of Commerce and the Department of Energy.

The stories begin during the transition between administrations — and read nearly the same across each government agency.

These are highly charged times for politics reporters. Just ask Greg Miller, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist who has broken a number of stories related to the Trump administration's ties to Russia.

Miller says that he's been "trolled a lot" because of his work. But after revealing that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions with Russian officials prior to Trump's inauguration, Miller experienced something new: notes from grateful readers.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

We were recently reminded of the enduring and powerful musical legacy of the Muscle Shoals sound by a new collection, Muscle Shoals: Small Town, Big Sound.

Aaron Lee Tasjan has a way with words and on his latest album, Karma For Cheap, he walks a fine line between timelessness and a record very much of this moment. For instance, one of his new songs is called "The Truth Is So Hard To Believe." It's easy to think about post-truths and fake news with a title like that as a chorus, but to Tasjan, the song is about something a little more personal.

The staccato piano hits like concentrated bursts of firework, ambient tones stretching out the drama with dialogue: "There are moments in a rock star's life that define who he is. Where there is darkness, there is no you." Yup, it's a trailer for music biopic, all right, but cut with scenes of surreal fantasy. Enter: Rocketman.

Months ago, I was asked to review Rebecca Traister's Good And Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger.

"What timing," I thought, as I read the book while red-robed handmaidens protested Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination confirmation hearings.

On Sunday's CBS Sunday Morning, Ted Koppel reminisced about the many profiles of media giant Ted Turner that have aired on the network, beginning all the way back in the 1970s, when he hadn't started CNN but had bought Atlanta's baseball and basketball teams. Now, about to turn 80, Turner told Koppel about his diagnosis of Lewy body dementia.

If last week felt a little more... exhausting than usual, you're not alone. And if you're already finding yourself in need of a palliative before lunchtime on a Monday, well, you've come to the right place.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Every Tiny Desk is special, but sometimes the stars align and we're treated to an artist just as he's coming into his own. Six months after releasing Care For Me — a sophomore studio LP on which Saba transforms his survivor's guilt into something equal parts traumatic and transcendent — the Chicago native paid a visit to Tiny Desk. His performance at NPR's Washington, D.C.

Distance begets clarity; that's as true for punks as it is for the general populace.

Humanity loves nothing more than sorting itself into tidy slots. We do it blithely, ceaselessly, unthinkingly, and then we cling, white-knuckled, to whatever it is we manage to convince ourselves those self-selected categories have to say about us.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In the days leading up to the November 2016 election, I taped an episode of Alt.Latino that was intended to be a musical healing session. For just about everyone in the country, the campaign season was rough ride and I had created a healing playlist for myself, which I then decided to share.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

It's been quite the week. Many people have taken to social media to express not only their opinions of recent political news but also a sense of emotional exhaustion. Alt.Latino's Felix Contreras joins me now. Felix, welcome. And are you feeling exhausted?

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