Jack Hitt says if you drill down into the American spirit to find out what makes Americans so American, you'll find it's the fact that we're all amateurs at heart. In his new book, Bunch of Amateurs: A Search for the American Character, he pinpoints the first American to use the amateur label to his advantage: Benjamin Franklin.
Credit Tom Crane / The Barnes Foundation Philadelphia
After years of bitter controversy, the Barnes Foundation opens the doors of its new location in downtown Philadelphia on Saturday. Since 1922, the collection has been housed in the Philadelphia suburbs, where critics say the collection's owner would have wanted it to stay.
Credit George Widman / AP
Albert Barnes built this gallery for his art collection in Merion, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, in 1922. He wanted his institution to be a school for art appreciation, not an ordinary museum.
Credit Matt Rourke / AP
The lighting in the galleries of the new building (shown above) is a dramatic improvement over the lighting in the Merion building. But that's the biggest change; Barnes Foundation officials promised a Pennsylvania judge they would preserve the dimensions of the original galleries in the collection's new home.
Credit The Barnes Foundation
Barnes Foundation officials say the new facility — with classrooms, a lecture hall and modern library — will help them better carry out the foundation's core educational mission. Above, the view of the new building from 21st Street.
The Barnes Foundation opens the doors of its new gallery in downtown Philadelphia on Saturday. Its collection of paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne and many more is now hanging in galleries designed to replicate those at the Barnes' old home in suburban Merion. The move follows a decade of bitter debate over the future of this multibillion-dollar collection.
Most Americans give politicians low marks for sincerity and see every decision they reach as a cold, poll-driven calculation. Often enough, it is. Politicians, after all, have asked pollsters where they should spend their summer vacations.
Yet when pundits and interest groups urge politicians to change their minds and they do, they're assailed for flip-flopping.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
Republicans in Wisconsin are gathered this weekend for their annual political convention. The delegates could make an endorsement in a key Senate race this year. It is the contest to replace retiring Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl.
Now, many believe that George W. Bush's former Health and Human Services Secretary, Tommy Thompson, might essentially breeze through a four-way Republican primary.
The star of John Irving's new novel, In One Person, is Billy Abbott. Billy is a character at the mercy of his own teenage crushes, which are visited upon by a whole repertory company of gender-bending characters.
It's a repertory company in the most literal sense, too. Billy spends many days backstage at the local theater — where gender can also fluctuate and where his family members are regulars.
[Roman Totenberg was a child prodigy who became a violin virtuoso, as well as a master teacher who passed along his command of craft and his love of music — and life — to thousands. He was also the man you wanted to sit next to at the table because he was so funny. Totenberg died this week at the age of 101, surrounded by loving family, friends and students. We asked his daughter, Nina Totenberg, for this remembrance. — Scott Simon]
When Hilary Mantel's new book opens, the spark has gone out of Henry VIII's second marriage. His roving eye leaves Anne Boleyn and begins to settle on Jane Seymour, another woman at court. The monarch doesn't go to a marriage counselor or divorce lawyer, not when Thomas Cromwell is his chief adviser.
Bring Up the Bodies is the sequel to Wolf Hall, which won the Man Booker Prize and worldwide acclaim. Itis also the latest in a planned trilogy about Cromwell.
SIMON: The name that kept popping up in our email box this week was Michael Morton. He was the subject of a report last Saturday by NPR's Wade Goodwyn, who told the story of how Mr. Morton was convicted in 1987 of murdering his wife, Christine, near Austin, Texas. He was innocent, but served almost 25 years in prison.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
When Hilary Mantel's new book opens, the spark has gone out of Henry the VIII's marriage; second marriage, in fact. Anne Boleyn hasn't given him a son. Now, he finds the sharp remarks she makes that used to charm sometimes come at his expense. His roving eye begins to settle on Jane Seymour, another woman at court. But in Henry's time, a monarch doesn't go to a marriage counselor or divorce lawyer, not when Thomas Cromwell is the king's chief advisor.
This week, the British Parliamentary committee that was convened to investigate accusations of phone hacking and executive misconduct at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., delivered its findings. And the headlines it created make uncomfortable reading for a media magnate who has been under the microscope for 18 months now.
MPs accused News Corp. as a whole of what they call willful blindness. And they went on to make some further damning observations on Rupert Murdoch's own competency.
One of four versions Edvard Munch made of his masterpiece, The Scream, one of the most recognizable works of art in the world, was auctioned at Sotheby's this week for a record-setting price: $119 million.
Another football tragedy this week renews questions about the safety of the game that made many stars rich, but at some cost. Also, it may be closing time for one of the all-time greats. Over in hockey playoffs, are they going Hollywood? Host Scott Simon talks with Howard Bryant of ESPN.
Originally published on Sat April 28, 2012 10:22 am
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Time now for Your Letters.
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SIMON: Many of you were moved by our story about the Soldier Ride, a four-day cycling event organized by the Wounded Warriors Project. Iraq War veteran Sergeant Michael Owens spoke about why he rides.
SERGEANT MICHAEL SULLIVAN: I think it's really important for warriors and veterans like myself to be able to know that we can still do the same things we did before, or new things that we never tried before.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon, and time for sports.
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SIMON: The NBA playoffs are about to begin. Will LeBron James and the Miami Trio live up to their promise? Will Metta World Peace ever live up to his name? And will Albert Pujols ever live up to his salary?
NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Morning, Tom.
TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Happy opening day of the playoffs day to you, Scott.
Beth (Diane Keaton) and her daughter (Elisabeth Moss) rescue an injured dog from the side of the highway. Beth's husband (Kevin Kline) later loses the beloved pet, an event co-writer Meg Kasdan says is inspired by a real-life incident.
Credit Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images
Meg Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan attend the Los Angeles premiere of Darling Companion at the Egyptian Theatre on April 17.
Lawrence Kasdan became famous for writing the blockbusters The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, but he went on to a successful directing career with high-profile films like Body Heat, The Big Chill and Grand Canyon.
His latest film, and his first in nine years, is Darling Companion, which Kasdan wrote with his wife, Meg. The film was her idea.
Michelle Yeoh plays pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi in The Lady. Yeoh says it was important that the film portrayed Suu Kyi's struggles realistically, including how her 15-year house arrest kept her from her husband and sons.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters at a recent film premiere that she'd told Aung San Suu Kyi that she was moving from being an icon to being a politician.
The film Clinton saw is The Lady, starring Michelle Yeoh as the pro-democracy activist who spent 15 years under house arrest in Myanmar (also known as Burma), and who won the Nobel Peace Prize before being freed in 2010.
Salesmen are rarely heroic figures in American culture. They're often shown as slick, unscrupulous charlatans like Ricky Roma in David Mamet's play Glengarry Glen Ross. And then there are sad, defeated characters like Willy Loman in Death Of A Salesman, who shortly before taking his life says, "After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive."
Yet sales drive the economy. The cleverest invention or product will disappear — creating no income, no employment — unless someone can sell it.
Director Garry Marshall has worked on so much popular comedy in his career — television like Happy Days and The Odd Couple, movies like Pretty Woman and Beaches — that something he's done has probably made you laugh. And now he's written a memoir called, fittingly, My Happy Days In Hollywood: A Memoir.
Six U.S. Secret Service agents have lost their jobs so far after a prostitution scandal that took place at the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia, just before President Obama's arrival at the Summit of the Americas conference earlier this month.
I've been curious about a question I haven't heard in the stories about U.S. Secret Service agents misbehaving before President Obama's arrival at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.
Why were world leaders meeting in a place with legalized prostitution?
There might have been a time — after I saw Toulouse-Lautrec's poignant paintings of life in Paris brothels, or Billy Wilder's clever Irma la Douce — when I thought of prostitution as a harmless enterprise between consenting adults.
A small clarification now: A few weeks ago on this program, Tom Goldman told us that he was about to catch a flight to Denver to cover the NCAA Women's Basketball championships. I joked: By the way, United Airlines, if you're listening, please upgrade Mr. Goldman - our compliments.
The last piece of published writing from one of America's greatest writers was a series of letters he sent back from the front lines of war at the age of 64.
John Steinbeck's reports shocked readers and family so much that they've never been reprinted — until now.
Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 for a life's work writing about those who had been roughed up by history — most notably his Depression-era novels, Of Mice And Men and The Grapes of Wrath. Four years later, Steinbeck left for Vietnam to cover the war firsthand.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
President Obama is in Colombia today, along with 33 leaders, gathered for the Summit of the Americas. During his visit, the president hopes to highlight growing economic ties within the region. On his way to Colombia, Mr. Obama made a swing-state pit-stop in Tampa, Florida.