With each season of AMC's Breaking Bad, Dean Norris' character, DEA agent Hank Schrader, has evolved from a knuckleheaded jock into a complex, sympathetic and even heroic counterpoint to the show's anti-hero, high-school chemistry teacher turned meth cook Walter White. And to further complicate matters, Schrader and White (played by Bryan Cranston) are brothers-in-law.
Dan Auerbach, one of two founders of The Black Keys, also maintains an active side business as a producer for other bands that share his love for blues- and country-influenced rock. Auerbach's production work can be heard on two new records: Hacienda's third album, Shakedown, and the major-label debut of JEFF The Brotherhood, titled Hypnotic Nights.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
Lee Maynard's 1988 semi-autobiographical novel Crum is set in the small, poor West Virginia town where he grew up. The people of Crum who know the book tend to love it or hate it. It was even banned for several years in a state-run store. The sequel, Screaming With the Cannibals, which came out five years later, got his protagonist Jesse Stone out of West Virginia, across the Tug River into Kentucky.
In Gore Vidal's New York Times obituary, Charles McGrath described the writer as "the elegant, acerbic all around man of letters who presided with a certain relish over what he declared to be the end of American civilization." Vidal died Tuesday at the age of 86.
Writer Caitlin Moran believes most women who don't want to be called feminists don't really understand what feminism is. In her book How to Be a Woman, Moran poses these questions to women who are hesitant to identify as feminists:
What part of liberation for women is not for you? Is it the freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man that you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Vogue by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that stuff just get on your nerves?
Mid-20th-century mystery master Ross MacDonald is credited with moving hard-boiled crime off the mean streets of American cities and smack into the suburbs. In MacDonald's mythical California town of Santa Teresa, modeled on Santa Barbara, evil noses its way into gated communities, schools and shopping centers that have been built expressly to escape the dirt and danger of the city.
Gil Evans, born a century ago this year, was a leading jazz arranger and composer starting in the 1940s, when he wrote for big bands. He helped organize Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool sessions, then arranged Davis' celebrated orchestra albums like Sketches of Spain. Evans, who had his own big bands that went electric in the 1970s and '80s, died in 1991, but some of his rare music has been newly recorded.
As the presumptive presidential nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is currently the face of the Republican Party. But, as journalist Ryan Lizza suggests in his article in this week's New Yorker, the party's agenda and ideology are being driven by a very different figure: Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
A dozen years ago, if someone told me that one of the liveliest, most inventive party albums of the year would come from a band originally associated with wedding celebrations and beer festivals, I would have been all, "Yeah, sure, you bet." If it was further explained that the band's roots were much closer to polka than rock, funk or hip-hop, I would have responded, "Don't push it." But nowadays, I'm familiar with the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, whose retrospective Golden Horns will lighten the heart and lift the feet as surely as anything you'll hear in 2012.