this american life

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Book Signing: Sarah Vowell’s ‘Lafayette in the Somewhat United States’

 

426d19a3be02e70a9c0449bac1734857Riding shotgun with the swashbuckling French Aristocrat Marquis de Lafayette across the frozen Valley Forge and bloody battlefields of the Palace de Versaillles, Sarah Vowell takes readers through an unconventional account of the American Revolution; in her unique, engaging style, the bestselling author reflects on the ideals of the American Revolution versus the reality of the war. You’ve see her as a guest on The Daily Show and heard her clever takes on history on This American Life – now see Vowell in person as she reads from Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.
See our column Word Up for more of this week’s book signings. 

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Harmon Leon’s Bodyslamming for Jesus and Infiltrating Porn, for You

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What’s it like to be a clothed extra at a porn shoot? How about a member of the most hated church in America? A carney? O.J. Simpson’s hired sidekick on a reality TV show? Harmon Leon’s gone undercover to get answers, and thank God he’s willing to do it because let’s face it, you couldn’t pay most sane people to join any of these grim demographics (welllll, maybe the porn extra, but Leon’s here to tell you you’d regret it.)

Leon has written about his adventures for VICE, published five books about them, and tours with his always-evolving one-man show, coming to The Unicorn Saturday and the Kraine Theater Tuesday. On stage he uses video and other multi-media elements to give audiences a close-up look at what it’s like to infiltrate of some of America’s most fascinating subcultures. Leon took a few minutes to chat with us about, yes, the aforementioned stunts, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg–he’s been doing this a long time.
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Photos + Video: David Byrne, St. Vincent and Others Make Color Guard Pop

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

(Photos: Julieta Cervantes)

“Ladies and gentlemen, America has changed,” David Byrne said Saturday as he introduced “I Was Changed” at the American debut of Contemporary Color at Barclays Center. And yes, what a week it was. Thoughts turned to diversity and understanding as Quebec color-guard troupe Les Eclipses formed a diagonal line and hugged one another for the opening of the song, performed by Byrne, St. Vincent and Lucius.

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Listen to Iggy Pop Talk Burroughs and Then Go To William’s 101st Birthday Party

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During Friday’s episode of This American Life, Ira Glass confessed that — just like he thought “Shakespeare sucks” — he totally didn’t get William S. Burroughs. Until, that is, a BBC Radio documentary narrated by Iggy Pop — and featuring interviews with John Waters, Will Self, and some of Burroughs’s biographers and lovers — totally made him realize what all the hoopla over the man’s 100 birthday was last year.
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Jena Friedman and Elna Baker On Girls: ‘My Daddy Issues Are That I Love My Dad Too Much’

Welcome to Girls Talk, in which two of our favorite New Yorkers share the text messages they sent during this week’s episode of Girls.

(Courtesy of HBO)

(Photo: Jessica Miglio/Courtesy of HBO)

Elna and Jena. (Photo: Jena's Instagram)

Elna and Jena. (Photo: Jena’s Instagram)

The text in green belongs to Elna Baker. Based in Greenpoint, she is the author of The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, and has appeared on This American Life. On the last Wednesday of each month, she hosts The Talent Show at Littlefield.

The text in white belongs to fellow comedian Jena Friedman. She’s a former writer for The Late Show with David Letterman, who lives in the East Village.
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