Category: New Discoveries

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The Kindness of Strangers

The recently published anthology, “The Kindness of Strangers” (Wising Up Press), contains dozens of interesting perspectives on one of humanity’s best (and seemingly rarest) qualities. We’re quite fond of the prose-poem “Take Care of Each Other,” on page 59. But we find ourselves returning to the book’s introductory essay, by co-editor Heather Tosteson, whenever we...

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The Small Book of Miracles

“I want to share with you what I have learned about miracles.” Amnon Buchbinder is neither a theologian nor a cleric. He’s a filmmaker and professor, with a keen interest in the wonders of story. Miracles, to him, were always a kind of story device. Now, he thinks differently. “The Small Book of Miracles,” a...

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Jim Bell, Ecological Designer

Ecological Life Systems Institute (ELSI) and the ecological designer Jim Bell can both be found at the coolest house in San Diego, at 4862 Voltaire Street, in the magnificent hippie-surfer-consciousness enclave of Ocean Beach. There you’ll find a kind of storefront painted in myriad colors and inscribed with dozens of remarkable and necessary quotes, many of...

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New Music Without Borders

Genres and categories are cool when you’re trying to sell something. But some of our most compelling musical artists don’t pay attention to the imperatives of the marketplace. They make what they make, and the grand bazaar of culture must sort out where to file the “product.” Ian Faquini (guitar) and Paula Santoro (voice), native Brazilians, explore the traditional...

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Kasher in the Rye

Onstage, the celebrated stand-up comic Moshe Kasher is self-assured, commanding, and blazing with intelligence. So accomplished (and justly celebrated) is he as a comedian that it’s sometimes hard to reconcile the juvenile delinquent author-narrator of Kasher in the Rye, his 2012 recovery memoir, with the smooth-talking raconteur in performance. Can this really be Kasher’s childhood? Two...

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Sara Serpa & Andre Matos: All the Dreams

The Portuguese duo of Sara Serpa (vocals) and Andre Matos (guitar), make music that invites a torrent of adjectives: ethereal, shimmering, poetic, hypnotic, and, yes, dreamy. Imagine if J.S. Bach and Joao Gilberto collaborated — while tripping on opium. “All the Dreams” is an album that invites repeated listening. (Our household has enjoyed the record...

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Thomas Frank’s “Swat Team”

If you don’t subscribe to Harper’s magazine, you might have missed Thomas Frank’s must-read essay, “Swat Team: The media’s extermination of Bernie Sanders, and real reform.” After our nation has gone to the polls, “choosing” between two horrible candidates that represent nothing remotely salutary, it’s important to remember that once, not long ago, we had a...

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Ricardo Grilli: 1954

The Brazilian-born, New York-based guitarist Ricardo Grilli’s new album, 1954, is a kind of inter-stellar journey through the cosmos. With our without a high concept to cohere the tracks, 1954 is one the best jazz records we’ve heard this year. Featuring cats like Aaron Parks (piano), Joe Martin (bass) and the magnificent drummer Eric Harland, you know the...

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Bo Burnham: Make Happy

To call “Make Happy,” the genius comedian Bo Burnham’s current one-hour show, “modern stand-up” is like calling the Super Bowl “a football game”: true, but only to a point. There’s singing, dancing, rapping, philosophizing and miming.  There’s crowd work. There’s jokes. With complicated light and sound cues, it feels more like a rock-and-roll concert, and Burnham...

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Oddsong: “Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Socks”

Esteemed jazz composer Darrell Katz has a new ensemble called “Oddsong,” which is how many first-time listeners might describe every track on “Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Socks.” No drums. No bass. No piano. Instead, a chamber music melange of strings, saxophones, marimba and voice (the elegant Rebecca Shrimpton). Most of the arrangements are...