Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen

Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen

From PRI

The Peabody Award-winning Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, from PRI and WNYC, is public radio's smart and surprising guide to what's happening in pop culture and the arts. Each week, Kurt Andersen introduces you to the people who are creating and shaping our culture. Life is busy – so let Studio 360 steer you to the must-see movie this weekend, the next book for your nightstand, or the song that will change your life.More from Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen »

Most Recent Episodes

Evolution

It's been over 150 years since "On the Origin of Species" was published, but we're still fighting over Charles Darwin's big theory. One of Darwin's descendants, Ruth Padel, writes poems about her famous relative. Spencer Wells gathers DNA around the world to determine where we came from. An amateur paleontologist finds a way to believe in both God and the fossil record. Plus, a science fiction story by Lydia Millet imagines the downside of messing too much with our genes. (Originally aired November 20, 2009)

Viggo Mortensen, Diane Arbus, & Perfecting a British Accent

Actor Viggo Mortensen brings some of his own outdoorsy skills to his role as a dad raising his kids off the grid in "Captain Fantastic." Also, with a new exhibit of her early photographs, it's time to reconsider Diane Arbus' conflicted legacy. And Kurt gets a lesson on speaking like a proper Brit from an accent coach.

Can Laughing Make Us Healthier?

Is the old cliché true — is laughter the best medicine? Kurt Andersen and Mary Harris, host of the podcast Only Human, go to a laughter yoga class to find out. Also, we hear from a neuroscientist who studies laughter and moonlights as a standup comedian. Comic Chris Gethard explains why he resisted getting help for his depression out of fear of losing his humorous edge — and how getting treatment transformed his career. And we find out when medical humor is — and is not — just what the doctor ordered.

Coming of Age

We all grow up, eventually. Kurt Andersen talks with Lois Lowry, whose novel "The Giver" helped define dystopian young adult fiction. Also, writer Junot Diaz explains why he couldn't finish his Pulitzer-winning coming of age novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" until he turned 40. Plus, the story of how a Kiss album helped an immigrant kid feel a little less lonely.

The World According to "Star Wars" & Margaret Glaspy Plays Live

The legal scholar and former Obama administration advisor Cass Sunstein explains the hidden lessons "Star Wars" teaches about the law, politics, and philosophy. Plus, we find out about a theater company that's perfectly happy playing to an audience of one — in fact, it's designed that way. And the indie rocker Margaret Glaspy plays a live solo set.

Songs in the Key of Reinvention: Haim, Shamir, and Basia Bulat

This week, three live music performances by artists who have transformed themselves. First, the sisters of the pop group Haim got their start in their parents' classic rock cover band — and went on to play with Stevie Nicks. Then, how a bad breakup led Basia Bulat to a musical breakthrough. And Shamir Bailey proves that musical style can be as fluid as gender identity.

American Icons: The Disney Parks

This is America's vision of utopia. Generations of Americans have grown up with Walt Disney shaping our imaginations. In 1955, Disney mixed up some fairy tales, a few historical facts, and a dream of the future to create an alternate universe. Not just a place for fun, but a scale model of a perfect world. "Everything that you could imagine is there," says one young visitor. "It's like living in a fantasy book." And not just for kids: one-third of Walt Disney World's visitors are adults who go without children. Visiting the parks, according to actor Tom Hanks, is like a pilgrimage — the pursuit of happiness turned into a religion. Futurist Cory Doctorow explains the genius of Disney World, while novelist Carl Hiaasen even hates the water there. Kurt tours Disneyland with a second-generation "imagineer" whose dead mother haunts the Haunted Mansion. We'll meet a former Snow White and the man who married Prince Charming — Disney, he says, is "the gayest place on Earth. It's where happy lives." (Originally aired October 18, 2013) Special thanks to Julia Lowrie Henderson, Shannon Geis, Alex Gallafent, Nic Sammond, Steve Watts, Angela Bliss, Todd Heiden, Shannon Swanson, Katie Cooper, Nick White, Marie Fabian, Posey Gruener, Jason Margolis, Chris DeAngelis, Jenelle Pifer, Debi Ghose, Maneesh Agrawala, and Tony DeRose. Bonus Track: Cory Doctorow on the Disney theme parks Hear Kurt's full conversation with Doctorow about his life-long obsession with Disney in general, and the Haunted Mansion specifically. Video: Walt Disney's original plan for Epcot Inside the Magic Kingdom Annabel Fabian, 9, and her mom Genie Cesar-Fabian, and Tigger (Marie Fabian) Above the firehouse on Main Street USA sits Walt's private study where he would work and entertain guests at Disneyland (Andy Castro/Flickr) Izzy Kleiman has been an Annual Passholder to Disneyland since she was 5 (Katie Cooper) Disney incorporates tiny details into the park design, such as Sleeping Beauty's woodland friends perched outside her castle (Loren Javier/Flickr) Michael Clowers and Clay Chaffin (who played Prince Charming) at Walt Disney World in 1989; the couple has been together ever since (Clay Chaffin) Entrance to the Haunted Mansion, an attraction in New Orleans Square, where facades are copied from real buildings in New Orleans (Loren Javier/Flickr) Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion was modeled after the face of Leota Toombs Thomas, who worked in the model shop where Haunted Mansion was developed (Loren Javier/Flickr) Julie, Marita, and Jim, the Siegel family of Celebration, Florida, in front of their home with host Kurt Andersen (Jenny Lawton) Celebration is proud of its Disney lineage: some of its electric transmission towers are shaped like Mickey Mouse (Dough4872/Wikimedia Commons) To celebrate the winter holidays, downtown Celebration is covered in "snoap" — a soapy snow substitute that falls from the streetlamps (Andrew Simpson/Flickr)

Maria Bamford, Fantastic Negrito, and Scoring Tickets to "Hamilton"

Comedian Maria Bamford is primed for a well-deserved breakthrough with her new show, "Lady Dynamite." We get a live performance from Fantastic Negrito, who sings about hot-button issues like race and gentrification. And we find out what it really takes to get tickets to "Hamilton."

Couture de Force

In this week's special fashion episode, Kurt gets some style advice from the industry's most quotable observer, Simon Doonan. We take a look at how World War II shaped New York Fashion Week. Plus, Isabel Toledo became an internationally recognized designer after dressing Michelle Obama for her first Inauguration — we take a peek inside her studio.

American Icons: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

(Studio 360) This is the monument that changed how America remembers war. How do you build a monument to a war that was more tragic than triumphant? Maya Lin was practically a kid when she got the commission to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. "The veterans were asking me, 'What do you think people are going to do when they first come here?'" she remembers. "And I wanted to say, 'They're going to cry.'" Her minimalistic granite wall was derided by one vet as a "black gash of shame." But inscribed with the name of every fallen soldier, it became a sacred place for veterans and their families, and it influenced later designs like the National September 11 Memorial. We'll visit a replica of the wall that travels to veterans' parades around the country, and hear from former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel about how this singular work of architecture has influenced how we think about war. Bonus Track: Kurt Andersen's full interview with Maya Lin Hear Kurt's full interview with Lin about what it was like to stir up a national controversy at such a young age, and how her artistic career has evolved in the three decades since the memorial was created. Bonus Track: Angela Matthews remembers Joseph Sintoni Angela Matthews reads the letter she left at The Wall for her high school sweetheart, Joseph Sintoni. It was featured in Laura Palmer's book Schrapnel From the Heart. Images from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Memorial Resource Center A watercolor from Maya Lin's entry to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial 1981 design competition. She designed the memorial at only 21 years old as part of her architecture classwork at Yale University. (Library of Congress) The 1982 Veterans Day dedication of The Wall (Courtesy of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund) The view from the top of the wall, looking toward the Lincoln Memorial (undated) (Library of Congress ) The Three Servicemen in color in 2011 (Courtesy of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (Dan Arant)) Kurt Andersen and journalist Laura Palmer visit the memorial in 2012 (Eric Molinsky) Aseneth Blackwell remembers her husband, veteran Frederick D. Blackwell, at her visit to The Wall on Memorial Day 2012 (Eric Molinsky) Offerings left on Memorial Day 2006 ( Library of Congress (Carol M. Highsmith)) Kurt (R) interviews Duery Felton (L), the curator of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial collection (Eric Molinsky) The peace poncho Kurt mentions in the radio program, sitting below a bag of bullets and a pack of Lucky Strikes (Eric Molinsky) Sharon Denitto helps visitors to The Moving Wall locate names of loved ones (Courtesy of Sharon Denitto)

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