French Winemakers on Rampage French winemakers are on a rampage, and more of the most e-mailed, viewed and commented on stories on the Web.

French Winemakers on Rampage

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Welcome back to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. We are a permanent fixture on your online, at I'm Mike Pesca.


And I'm Rachel Martin. There are a lot of Most things here at the Bryant Park Project. There's the most disgusting coffee. There is the most confused air-conditioning system.

PESCA: That's true.

MARTIN: There is the most experienced political team on TV. Just kidding. That was a joke. And there's the most Mostest, Mostastic segment on the radio, and we call it The Most.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: Mark Garrison.

MARK GARRISON: Thank - and Rachel, you're going to miss some of those things...

MARTIN: Yeah...

GARRISON: Like the coffee. It does wake you up, at least. I have a most-emailed from the Los Angeles Times. A new study, like, you know, conventional wisdom, you know, gas is getting more expensive. You would think, buy a hybrid, that's going to save you money. A new study, though, from, which is an automotive data firm, says that even based on six-dollar-a-gallon gas, a hybrid is not necessarily going to save you money, because you have to factor in all the other expenses.

When they did this, they looked at the expenses of like repairs, other things that factor in like that, not just the price of gas. Even at six dollars, the number one car was the Chevy Aveo, then the Hyundai Accent, and the Toyota Yaris. The top hybrid was the Honda Civic hybrid. That didn't come in until number six, because you have to deal with all other factors and they're looking at that, so...

MARTIN: Thank you very much. I guess I'm going next with a really somber, not funny story at all. This is one of the most-emailed at Do you remember this story? It was in the news a lot.

PESCA: Yeah?

MARTIN: This couple who had been arrested and accused of keeping slaves, essentially, two Indonesian housekeepers that they held in their Long Island mansion. Well, the woman, female part of that couple, was sentenced to 11 years in prison this week. Varsha Sabhnani was convicted, along with her husband, in December on 12 counts that included forced labor, conspiracy, involuntary servitude and harboring aliens. Apparently, they made these women do all kinds of horrible, horrible things, taking freezing showers as punishment when they didn't do the job, forced them to eat dozens of chili peppers, which is kind of random.

PESCA: Yeah.

PATRICIA MCKINNEY: Sounds like they work here.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: That's what happens to you when you don't do your job? That's what you do to us.

PESCA: They didn't make them taste the coffee, though. We should point that out.

MARTIN: That's true.

PESCA: That would be a crime against humanity.

MARTIN: When this woman - the verdict was being read and she was being escorted out of the courtroom, she said, quote, "I just want to say I love my children very much and I was brought to this Earth to help people who are in need." We should point, that her defense attorneys argued that these two women practiced witchcraft, these housekeepers, and may have abused themselves as part of a self-mutilation ritual.

PESCA: They...

(Soundbite of laughter)


MARTIN: That's so (unintelligible).

PESCA: It seems like all of the laws and legal arguments are deeply rooted in the 17th century in that case.

MARTIN: Very, very weird.

PESCA: Do they have slavery laws on the book? Is there a witch exception?

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: I don't...

PESCA: Very odd. So my Most, the Minnesota Star Tribune, what I call the Strib, and everyone else there does, too, they suckered me again. They put out these good headlines, I get all excited for the article, and it's not what I thought. You may remember yesterday, where the headline is - was something along the lines...

MCKINNEY: Something about Mayo.

PESCA: Yeah, I think yesterday was Wolves Seem Torn Between Selecting Mayo or Love.


PESCA: And I thought it was, you know...

MCKINNEY: A sandwich of some kind.

PESCA: The food or breeding. No, it's the Minnesota Timberwolves' basketball team were selecting between two players.

MCKINNEY: With strange names.


PESCA: One was O. J. Mayo and one was Kevin Love. Today, the headline, Wolves Swap Mayo for Love.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Like, OK...

LAURA SILVER: Who can blame them, really?

PESCA: I'm not going to get suckered in this time.

MARTIN: That's awesome.

PESCA: This is clearly a story...

MCKINNEY: Fool me once, shame on you.

PESCA: This is clearly a story about, you know, animals in the wild, and what they trade for - no. It was another basketball story.

SILVER: Oh, come on, Mike, you know.

PESCA: Yeah, so, one day, I'm going to be told the story, like, Wolves Love Mayo, and I'll be like oh, yeah, you're not going to get me on that again. And I'll go slather some Miracle Whip on my sandwich while in a national park, and wolves will attack me...

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Because I paid it no heed, because the Minnesota Star Tribune is the newspaper...

SILVER: Minneapolis.

PESCA: Oh, yeah, is the newspaper that cried Mayo.

MARTIN: Oh, that was a really good Most, Mike.

PESCA: You know, I had a real Most, but forget it. I'm just doing my fake Most. That's it. I'm done.

MARTIN: That was good. That was a good fake Most.

PESCA: Laura.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Laura Silver.

SILVER: This is a real Most from France via the International Herald Tribune, and there are raging protests in the south of France.

MARTIN: Aren't they all raging?

SILVER: No kidding.


SILVER: And aren't the French always having protests?

PESCA: They are (unintelligible).

SILVER: This one had 7,000 people in the southern town of Montpelier. They burned two police cars.

MARTIN: Oh, gosh.

SILVER: They vandalized supermarket aisles.

MCKINNEY: Pourquoi?

SILVER: Pourquoi?

MARTIN: Pourquoi!

SILVER: Bonne questionne! Apres pour devente (ph).

PESCA: Oh, no, no, ne parle pas francais.


SILVER: Ooh, la, la. The winemakers took to the streets because they're protesting the plummeting prices of wine and the rising costs of fuels. Surprise, surprise. But the French certainly have their own way to go about it. The - they were attacking a building, a courthouse in Montpelier, and it looks like they might be accused of homicide.


SILVER: That's a case that's pending, and...

PESCA: Oh, my Lord!

MARTIN: Not funny anymore!

PESCA: Yeah.

MCKINNEY: What did they want?

MARTIN: To bring it down, Laura!

PESCA: And what did they want? I'm going to guess, now...

SILVER: Sorry!

(Soundbite of laughter)

SILVER: But they did trash the wine aisles of three supermarkets, which, I thought, doesn't happen that much in U.S. by winemakers.

MARTIN: They must be really...

IAN CHILLAG: What are they whining about?

(Soundbite of groaning)

SILVER: They're uncorking their rage.


MARTIN: Oh, stop!

PESCA: That was a Merlot blow.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of groaning)

MARTIN: Oh, my gosh! Tricia, save me! Save me, Tricia!

GARRISON: Make it stop.

MCKINNEY: I don't know. I don't think anything can save this segment. All right.

MARTIN: You can, you can.

MCKINNEY: I'm your Google girl. I was checking the Googler this morning, and it was all NBA Draft, but nestled way down there at number 19 was "bleach 316," which scared me a little. But it turns out "Bleach" is this Manga, very popular Manga, that's been around since 2001. And episode 316 has been scanlated, ladies and gentlemen!


MCKINNEY: Does that make any sense to anyone?

MARTIN: Has been scanlated?

PESCA: Scanlated?


MARTIN: What does "scanlated" mean?

MCKINNEY: Yeah, apparently, that's what the cool kids call - you know, they translate it from the Japanese and they scan it...

MARTIN: I can't believe I didn't know that.

MCKINNEY: Make it free for everybody to read on the Internet. So it's out. The new "Bleach" is out. If you, like me, have never heard of "Bleach" before, it's the adventures Ichigo, who's a high-school student who can see ghosts.

PESCA: With large eyes.

MCKINNEY: And Rukiya, who's a soul reaper and...

PESCA: With large eyes.

MCKINNEY: It's various adventures in the world of gods and death and...

PESCA: And large eyes.

MCKINNEY: It's huge. It's been around since 2001. It sold 50 million copies in Japan. There's an anime series on TV, a couple of feature films, including one that premiered here in the U.S. last - earlier this month.


MCKINNEY: I had no idea. There's a rock musical, so...

PESCA: Of course there is.

MCKINNEY: I'm going to start reading.

CHILLAG: The translating those things, scanlating them, I guess - is actually pretty interesting, you know, because they read right to left and we read left to right, so they actually have to kind of rework some drawings and they have people who can figure out if they mean the same things.

PESCA: That is cool!


PESCA: Yeah, I like it.

CHILLAG: I'm fascinated, you guys...

MARTIN: Totally fascinated!

MCKINNEY: I downloaded and I printed out page one. There's a little girl running from something that looks like giant centipedes.

PESCA: Right. But from right to left, it looks like a giant millipede, just so you know.


PESCA: All right.

CHILLAG: Very confusing.

MARTIN: Moving on, Ian.

PESCA: Where are you going to take us, Ian?

CHILLAG: I'm going to take you all the way to New York City!

MARTIN: (Singing) Don't go chasing waterfalls.

PESCA: New York City!

MARTIN: (Singing) Listen to the rivers - sorry.

CHILLAG: Ugh. Somebody put you up to this.

MARTIN: (Yelling) It's my last show, I've got to sing!

PESCA: Thank you, (unintelligible) guy.

MARTIN: (Yelling) I want to sing!

CHILLAG: Yeah, so...

MARTIN: (Yelling) You cannot stop me!

CHILLAG: So, we've been very excited these waterfalls, this huge public art project. They're finally on, you know, all over New York City. There's these huge waterfalls. There's one by the Brooklyn Bridge, one in New York Harbor. Actually, they - I've seen them on in the last couple weeks before they officially turned on. I think they were testing them when no normal, reasonable human would be out, but I, of course, am on my way to work.

PESCA: I saw them, too, you know, at some - afternoon hours on the weekends, yeah.

CHILLAG: So anyways, Rick Karr looked into it. Let's hear his report.

(Soundbite of NPR's All Things Considered, June 26, 2008)

RICK KARR: This morning, as dawn broke, it looked as though the Brooklyn Bridge had sprung a gigantic leak. There's a hundred-foot tall tower of scaffolding, just under the roadway on the Brooklyn shore, with water cascading from the top, around 9,000 gallons of water a minute.

(Soundbite of waterfall)

KARR: There are three others like it, one on the Manhattan shore on the Lower East Side, another on the Brooklyn shore, and one on Governor's Island, in the middle of the bay. The falls are between 80- and 120-feet high. At the base of each one, pumps suck water out of the bay and pipe it to the top, where it's dumped into an intentionally-leaky, oversized gutter. From there, the water cascades back down into the bay.

(Soundbite of waterfall)

KARR: The falls are the creation of the Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson. He's a big deal in the art world right now, as a retrospective of his work closes next week at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. Two days ago, he sat on an observation deck overlooking the bay, a little bleary-eyed because he'd been up all night making sure everything worked. He gestured towards the water and said the point of the project is to get New Yorkers to think about parts of this city that they usually ignore, although he said it in art-speak.

Mr. OLAFUR ELIASSON (Designer, New York Waterfall Project): There's a kind of a space which we normally would consider a negative space. Because we're here in Manhattan, this is the positive block. Over there you have another city structure. That's another positive block. But in between here, there is nothing. It's taken for granted as something which is not really even there. KARR: In other words, the East River and the bay are things to be endured, not enjoyed. New Yorkers are used to passing through tunnels below them or over bridges above.

Mr. ELIASSON: This is not about the waterfalls only. This is obviously about from where you engage in the waterfalls, the journey through the city on a boat, on a bicycle, walking, running, however you want to look at them.

KARR: The waterfalls cost about 15 million dollars. The money was raised mostly from private donors by a group called the Public Art Fund, which also organized the logistics. Its president, Susan Freedman, says New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg loves the idea and pushed his staff to make it happen.

Ms. SUSAN FREEDMAN (President, Public Art Fund): No one's built a waterfall before, so city agencies think, how do we permit this? And there had to be the willingness and creativity to say yes and to want to pursue it and make it happen. And when there's a mandate from city hall to pursue it and make it happen, then it happens.

KARR: The only comparable public art project in New York history was "The Gates," erected in Central Park in 2005 by the artists, Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Katy Siegel teaches art history at Hunter College. She says the mayor's support for the waterfalls was informed by the success of "The Gates."

Dr. KATY SIEGEL (Art History, Hunter College): Michael Bloomberg understands that art is good business, and so, "The Gates" was an enormous success, probably the biggest, most successful public art project ever, in terms of sheer economics and tourism. And so, the question is, will this drum up that kind of business?

KARR: Siegel wasn't so sure that it will. She says that the New York waterfront isn't very pretty, certainly not as inviting as Central Park. She also worries that the focus on tourism will dilute the impact of the waterfalls, that they'll be seen as this spectacle, rather than this sublime a vacation of nature that Eliasson seems to want.

Dr. SIEGEL: He didn't want lights, originally, and that they are putting electric lights on them, and I think that's something he's probably afraid of, that it will just be turned into the equivalent of a laser light show at a Pink Floyd concert.

KARR: The waterfalls will be in operation through mid-October. A limited number of free tickets will be available every day for a boat tour of all four. Anyone who misses out on the free ride can pay 10 dollars.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: That was Rick Karr reporting. If you want to check out any of our Most stories and all manner of cool stuff, check out our website. You know where it is,

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