They were four guys out of Athens, Ga., with a three-letter name — and one hell of an impact on rock. R.E.M. was Michael Stipe singing lead, Mike Mills on bass and harmonies, Peter Buck on guitar and Bill Berry on drums, until Berry left the band in 1997.
"We never expected the thing to last any longer than a couple of years to begin with," Stipe says. "And then when it did, and we were making records and people were interested in it, the band started getting bigger and bigger and bigger."
The world of independent bookstores has a new member: Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn., opened its doors on Wednesday. The store has a marquee name behind it — best-selling novelist Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto and State of Wonder, is the co-owner.
Lawmakers say pizza and french fries deserve to keep their place in school cafeterias. New nutrition standards aimed at putting more fresh and healthy food in front of kids are being revised in a current House agriculture appropriations bill. The latest version says the tomato sauce on a slice of pizza is the equivalent of a vegetable. Critics are likening it to the "ketchup-as-a-vegetable-controversy" during the Reagan administration.
Top Pentagon leaders went to Capitol Hill Tuesday and took tough questions from lawmakers on the future of the U.S. relationship with Iraq. Specifically, they addressed how the decision to withdraw all U.S. combat troops by the end of this year will impact Iraq's stability and U.S. national security interests in the region. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a congressional committee that, while U.S. military commanders wanted to keep a contingency force on the ground, it was Iraq's decision to make.
Earlier this year, on Jan. 8, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head as she met with constituents in Tucson, Ariz. She was one of 13 people injured that day. Six people were killed.
It had been four years since Giffords arrived in Washington as a wide-eyed freshman and told NPR: "Life's good and [I'm] very, very excited — so optimistic about taking our country in a new direction."
GUY RAZ, host: From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.
MELISSA BLOCK: And I'm Melissa Block. Today, the Players' Union for the National Basketball Association decided to disband and take its fight with NBA owners to the courts. The move could jeopardize the entire 2011 to '12 NBA season. The union plans to argue that the NBA lockout of players is illegal and will sue the owners under antitrust laws.
Over the past 30 years, prolific American author Don DeLillo has written more than a dozen novels, including White Noise, Falling Man, Libra and Underworld. But his latest, The Angel Esmeralda, is a departure from his expansive novels. It is a collection of short stories — nine brief flashes, which, like DeLillo's longer works, center on characters who feel out of sync with the worlds around them.
On April 9 of this year, the jazz pianist Keith Jarrett sat alone on the stage of an old opera house in Rio de Janeiro, his only company a piano — an American Steinway he described as "not perfect at all."
For nearly two hours, Jarrett played — as he often does — without any idea of what was coming next. It was sheer improvisation.
He says the result, now available on the album Rio, was some of the best music he's ever produced in a career spanning almost 50 years.