Film, Music, Visual Arts

Miles Davis Showed Us How Taking Risks Was Cool

      Herbie Hancock tells a story about how he played a wrong chord once onstage with Miles Davis, King of Cool, in Stuttgart in 1963. It was a horror to Hancock; he put his hands on his ears, froze, and could not play another note for a full minute. Worse, he had already […]

Mozart Would Wince at Our Loud Pianos

    I thought I knew what Mozart’s music sounded like—until I heard how he meant it to sound. A Sunday afternoon. Thirty or so music lovers settle into seats at the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion, amid oil paintings and carved furniture of a bygone era. Precisely the sort of house concert Mozart gave. And today’s pianist, […]

Inarticulate Jann Wenner Dislikes Inarticulate Blacks and Women

    Jann Wenner, co-founder and former editor of Rolling Stone, co-founder of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and one of the pillars of the pop culture criticism business, has succeeded in sabotaging his new book, The Masters, before it has even been widely reviewed. Wrecking the sales of one’s own […]

The Slow Joy of Guarding the Metropolitan Museum of Art

      Patrick Bringley sat with his mother at his brother’s bedside. The sun was rising, and she looked down at her eldest, ridden with cancer, his pale face softened by the early light. Then she glanced over at Patrick. “Look at us,” she said wryly. “We’re a fucking old master painting.” She loved […]

I.E. Millstone’s Leap of Faith

    It was May 16—had there been enough sun to warm the water? Someone saw the old man climb onto the old Daniel Boone Bridge railing—however did he manage it?—and leap into the Missouri River. As his body shot deeper, the chill and darkness would have enclosed him. Was he still conscious? Still glad […]

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey Are Looking Brighter

        A confession: twelve years ago, I passed up a Walter Mosley book because it did not sound like his usual edgy, sharply intelligent adventure. I love his honesty, his refusal to trade humanity for fancy flourishes. But I also love the characters: the lucid wit of Socrates Fortlow, the laidback sexiness […]

The Cello

        For most of Christian Okeke’s childhood, life in Lagos is day-to-day, the future remote and unconsidered. He plays, he studies, he goes to church— He goes to church. And there, at Holy Cross Cathedral, he discovers music, and his first story begins. This story is universal: a tale of a boy […]

The Day of the Dead Stamps—and Their Backstory

  The U.S. Postal Service was canny about how they announced their fabulous new stamps: “Lively Day of the Dead Stamps Available Soon.” Lively, because in this country, death is not. Death scares us. But these stamps are “colorful”—that adjective is at the top of the news release. They do not have the pallor of […]