Ari Shapiro

When Steven Hoelscher first came across an essay with Langston Hughes' name on it, he says it felt "totally random." Hoelscher, a professor at University of Texas at Austin, was doing research in the archives of an investigative journalist named John L. Spivak.

In 2013, a video of a marriage proposal set to Betty Who's "Somebody Loves You" went viral on YouTube. The video shows a colorfully clad group perform a coordinated, joyful dance to the pop song in the middle of a Home Depot in Salt Lake City. According to Betty Who, the Home Depot performance is one of a number of proposals and wedding dances with the same soundtrack.

Javier Forero and Camilo Medina — bassist, guitarist and alternating lead singers of the rock quartet Divino Niño — were childhood friends in their hometown of Bogotá, Colombia. They lost touch near the end of pre-school when Forero's family moved to Miami. But years later, after Medina's family had also moved up to Miami, the old friends re-connected during middle school. The boys' friendship was bolstering by attending the same mega-church. That's where they had their first opportunity to play and perform music together.

It may come as no surprise that a strong majority of Americans support a wealth tax — a higher tax rate for a small number of millionaires and billionaires.

But what might be a surprise is that some of those millionaires and billionaires are calling for a wealth tax themselves.

Abigail Disney is one of those people.

Her grandfather was Roy Disney, co-founder of the multibillion-dollar entertainment conglomerate that bears her family name — though she currently has no formal role with the company.

Marijuana Pepsi's mother told her that her birth name would take her places.

She wasn't wrong.

After a life spent being mocked for having an unusual name, the 46-year-old seized on her experience to earn a Ph.D. in higher education leadership. Her dissertation focused on unusual names, naturally.

As of last week, Marijuana Pepsi is now Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Raphael Bob-Waksberg is best known as the creator of a talking horse who, following his glory days as a TV sitcom star, struggles with depression, alcohol abuse and the general ego death of being a Hollywood has-been. The horse is the title character of the adult animated comedy series BoJack Horseman.

In 1969, Carlos Santana and his band walked onto the stage at the legendary Woodstock Music Festival, as unknowns. "We had the element of surprise because nobody knew us."

When Hurricane Michael struck the Panhandle of Florida last October, Keith and Susan Koppelman were huddled in the bathroom of their small, two-bedroom rental trailer just north of Panama City.

"When the winds came we both started praying," says Keith, 49. "I thought, 'Oh my God, this is a big storm.' "

After four hours, they finally emerged to survey the damage. The storm's 160-mile-per-hour winds had torn off the porch and peeled away the trailer's tin siding.

When Sinkane wrote the song "Ya Sudan" the Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir was still in power. He had ruled Sudan since a coup in 1989. That coup was a key moment in the life of Sinkane's lead singer and songwriter, Ahmed Gallab.

This month in Tulsa, Okla., opera singer Lucia Lucas made her U.S. debut. She also made history.

At the Tulsa Opera, Lucas sang the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Mozart's character is a ruthless, macho womanizer. Lucas is a transgender woman with a rich baritone voice and is the first known trans woman to sing a principal role on an American opera stage. In a conversation with NPR's Ari Shapiro, Lucas said she doesn't want her performances to be entirely defined by this historical marker.

Mary Miller grudgingly admits that she sees a bit of herself in the main character of her new novel Biloxi. Louis McDonald Jr. is 63, recently retired and, the author says, "really unlikable." He's unhappy with where he's landed in life, has driven away the people he used to be close to, and now his closest confidante is a dog he brought home on a whim.

Two years after winning the Grammy for best rock album, Cage the Elephant is back with its fifth studio album, Social Cues, out now. But since the band's last album, 2015's Tell Me I'm Pretty, there hasn't been much celebration. The band's members have experienced plenty of loss — from friends dying from overdoses to divorce. Those changes made it into the music of this latest album.

Feast Your Eyes is the name of a new book that tells the story of a young woman — Lillian Preston — who ventures to New York City in the 1950s, absolutely determined to be a photographer. The book is set up as if it's a catalogue accompanying her posthumous show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The supposed catalogue describes 118 photos — but we don't see a single one, because Lillian Preston is fictional, and entirely believable. She's the creation of author Myla Goldberg, who says that while Lillian is fictional, a lot of her photos are real.

Titanic Rising, Natalie Mering's latest album from her long-running project Weyes Blood, invites the listener in with a comforting, somewhat nostalgic sound. But beneath that warm, dream-pop bed of music is a flood of anxieties about climate change, finding love and a friend's suicide.

It's the stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster: Five hundred years ago, a son of Christopher Columbus assembled one of the greatest libraries the world has ever known. The volumes inside were mostly lost to history. Now, a precious book summarizing the contents of the library has turned up in a manuscript collection in Denmark.

More than a decade ago, Anaïs Mitchell was running late for one of her shows. The singer-songwriter, in her 20s at the time, was trying to get from one gig to another and found herself lost. Along the drive, a song lyric popped into her head. "The lines that came were, 'Wait for me I'm coming. In my garters and pearls with what melody did you barter me from the wicked underworld,'" she remembers.

Our Planet is the kind of nature show where every image could be a screen saver: sweeping, dramatic landscapes are full of colorful animals.

Daviz Simango, mayor of Beira, Mozambique, thought that his coastal city was prepared for cyclones.

In 2012, the city built a new drainage system and wave barriers with $120 million from the World Bank. The idea was to help Beira withstand the rising seas and increased storms that experts predict will accompany global climate change.

Then Cyclone Idai hit.

In his State of the Union address this year, President Trump announced an initiative "to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years."

The man who pitched the president on this idea is Alex Azar, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

One young woman is walking to find work so she can send money back to Venezuela for a nephew who has leukemia.

Another is traveling with four of her five kids, in search of food for her family.

As another family hikes along, the husband walks ahead to hide his tears from his children.

Author Nathan Englander was raised in an observant Jewish family and now considers himself secular. His stories and novels are full of the kinds of details about Judaism that you can only capture if you've known a community from the inside. His latest book is called kaddish.com, and it's a satire about what separates the doubters from the devout.

In The Undefeated, artist Kadir Nelson illustrates generations of black American heroes "emerging from the shadows."

"It begins with Jesse Owens literally jumping out of the darkness into the light ..." Nelson says. "By the time we get to toward the middle and end of the book those shadows have disappeared and the brilliance and excellence of the subjects have completely emerged into the bright light."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And our co-host Ari Shapiro is reporting this week from Bogota, Colombia, where he joins us now. Hey there, Ari.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Hi, Audie. Hey, Audie, would you do me a favor? I want you to pull out your phone.

CORNISH: OK.

Williams Cancino fled his post as a Venezuelan special forces official to neighboring Colombia last month. Now he is restless to get back to his home country to help overthrow the government of Nicolás Maduro.

"I think it's time to act," says Cancino, 27, at a park in the Colombian border town of Villa del Rosario. "It's time to organize ourselves, the soldiers that know how to fight."

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