Scott Simon

Editior's note: This story contains a racial epithet.

Damon Young says he's spent much of his life waiting to be called by a name we won't repeat, even though it appears in his new memoir — What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker — a lot. His essays are pointed, ruminative, often barbed and funny reflections on how the fact of his skin color has posed particular lifelong challenges, questions, and anxieties.

And amidst all this urgent news, the 2019 Major League Baseball season also began this week. Organized baseball worries that the game once considered America's pastime has become slooowww, old, and tedious.

In 1948 — when Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson were on the field — an average 9-inning game lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes. Today, it takes more than 3 hours.

Throughout the course of her career, Jenny Lewis has worn many hats. She was a child actor who did cereal commercials and Barbie ads then moved on to films like Troop Beverly Hills and The Wizard. In 1998, Lewis became front woman for Rilo Kiley and when that band officially broke up in 2014, she went solo.

Charlotte Lehman could hear the man reading his credit card number out loud from across the Starbucks.

He was speaking to a companion, but his voice carried over the music to where Lehman sat. Surrounded by a dozen or so people, the speaker also divulged his phone number a­­nd home address.

After that, all it took for Lehman to identify him was a quick Google search. She was able to find the man's full name, what he does for a living and his professional website. She even heard him sharing a password.

When high school senior and wrestler Brendan Johnston realized he had to face Jaslynn Gallegos, a high school senior, and Angel Rios, a high school junior, in last month's Colorado state wrestling championship, he knew his shot at a state title was over.

Johnston refused to compete against Rios and Gallegos because they are both girls.

Gallegos went on to place fifth in that tournament, and Rios was fourth — marking the first time girls have placed at a Colorado state wrestling tournament.

It's hard to forecast the influence a work of art may have. Fifty years ago, Mario Puzo wrote a book in his basement after his first two novels had won splendid reviews but sold poorly.

In 1969, The Godfather was published.

Etaf Rum's new novel, A Woman is No Man, may violate a code of silence in the tight-knit and often closed Palestinian American community of Brooklyn in which she grew up, and which she left.

Named after the beloved Professor Longhair song, Tipitina's is a famous club that the New Orleans band Galactic has frequented for over 25 years. Now, the longstanding funk band out with its 10th album, Already Ready Already, owns the place.

Son of a Dublin blues drummer and a visual artist, Andrew Hozier-Byrne was launched into international stardom in his early 20s with the 2013 hit "Take Me To Church." What followed was a self-titled debut album, sold out world tours, a Grammy nomination and an ever-growing fan base.

This week, just as President Trump and Kim Jong Un prepared to meet in Hanoi — for what turned out to be their abrupt and unproductive summit — Dutch customs officials discovered and seized about 90,000 bottles of Russian vodka from a Chinese ship destined for North Korea, according to Algemeen Dagblad, the Dutch newspaper.

Maybe I didn't need to say that Algemeen Dagblad is a Dutch newspaper.

Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi opens his new memoir, I.M., in the toy aisle at the Avenue U Variety Store. It's the mid-1960s, and he desperately wants a deluxe Barbie set — which comes with a doll and three outfits. Unfortunately for 5-year-old Mizrahi, a Barbie was "the exact thing that would label a kid in those days as someone who was a freak," he says.

In the new horror-thriller film Greta, Frances and the titular Greta find each other in a time-honored old movie way: Frances sees a woman's handbag in a seat on the New York subway. This nice young woman, who has just come to New York, does a nice thing.

She opens the bag, finds a wallet, ignores the money, and returns the bag to its owner, who turns out to be an elegant older woman full of conspicuous kindness and courtesy. They seem happy to find each other.

South African author, actor and musician Nakhane creates art that reveals. He came out with his first album, Brave Confusion, in 2013, and now he's back with a powerful testimony of trial and redemption set to the sounds of electronic dance music from his home country. The 30-year-old singer addresses the intersectionality of queerness, blackness and survival in his latest album, You Will Not Die.

Away from daily deadlines and breaking news, there seems to be a campaign against Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.

Russia's Supreme Court branded the church "an extremist organization" in 2017. Witnesses do not recognize any authority but God, governments especially. That puts them into conflict with Vladimir Putin's Russia, where there are an estimated 175,000 Jehovah's Witnesses.

As birds flitted on and off colorful feeders in a flicker of flapping feathers, and chattered in chirps — punctuated by the occasional trill — a band of birdwatchers offered a cacophony of their own.

"I heard a red-winged blackbird!"

"There's a blue jay!"

"Is that a downy woodpecker?"

Don't have a backyard? No problem. The Great Backyard Bird Count can be done anywhere, whether that's standing on a street outside an apartment, looking out a window at the office, or wandering around a park.

You might be surprised at what you find.

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