04-Oct-2017

's Kurt Andersen and Vienna Teng: Words and Music 
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
8:00 p.m.; Doors at 7:30 p.m.
$20

In this reading and live music series, songwriters perform "answer songs" written in response to a story. On October 4th, Kurt Andersen (host of Studio 360), will read from his new book "Fantasyland: How American Went Haywire" and songwriters Vienna Teng and Ben Arthur will perform their responses. 


Kurt Andersen

Kurt Andersen is a writer. 

His latest book is Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History(2017). He’s also the author of the critically acclaimed, bestselling novels True Believers (2012), Heyday (2007) and Turn of the Century (1999). ​ 

Fantasyland, according to Walter Isaacson (Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin), “is an important book -- the indispensable book for understanding America in the age of Trump.” And Stephen Dubner (Freakonomics) says "the thinking and the writing are both dazzling; it’s an absolute joy to read and will leave your brain dancing with excitement long after you’re done.”
 

He has also written for film, television and the stage. During the 1990s he was executive producer and head writer of two prime-time specials for NBC, How to Be Famous and Hit List, starring Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and a creator of three pilots for ABC and NBC. More recently he wrote scripts for HBO and Amazon. He was also co-author of Loose Lips, a satirical off-Broadway revue that had long runs in New York and Los Angeles starring Bebe Neuwirth, Harry Shearer and Andy Richter. ​ 

In 2011 he served as a guest Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times. From 2004 through 2008 he wrote a column called “The Imperial City” for New York (one of which is included in The Best American Magazine Writing 2008), and contributes to Vanity Fair. He was previously a columnist for The New Yorker (“The Culture Industry”) and TIME (“Spectator”). He began his career in journalism at TIME, where during the 1980s he was an award-winning writer on politics and criminal justice before becoming, for eight years, the magazine’s architecture and design critic. ​ 

He is also host and co-creator of Studio 360, the cultural magazine show produced by Public Radio International. It is broadcast on 217 stations and distributed by podcast to almost 1 million listeners in all each week. The show won Peabody Awards for broadcast excellence in both 2005 and 2013. ​ 

He serves on the boards of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and Pratt Institute. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, where he was an editor of the Lampoon. He received an honorary doctorate from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005, and in 2009 was Visionary in Residence at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He was named by New York magazine as one of the “100 People Who Changed New York,” and by Forbes as one of the “25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media.” And he was named the 2014 arts Medalist by Harvard College’s Signet Society. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Anne Kreamer.


Vienna Teng

“So come out. You have been waiting long enough.” This clarion call opens Aims, Vienna Teng’s fifth studio album. It’s as much a reminder for Vienna herself as an invitation to her listeners – a call to awaken the full potential within all of us. Indeed, the new album finds Vienna in full adventurous mode. Recorded in Nashville with producer Cason Cooley (Katie Herzig, Matthew Perryman Jones), Aims is exuberant and buoyant in its enthusiasm, yet crafted with the same creative precision that has defined her previous work. 

The acoustic piano, once the centerpiece of her recordings, plays an occasional supportive role here; in its place are intricate layers of electronica, percussion, strings, and electric guitars. “Cason and I built a playlist of reference songs when we started working,” Vienna remembers. “We put Beck and Florence & the Machine and Kanye West on there. James Blake, Foster the People, Vampire Weekend. We started by stealing from the music we were obsessed with.” The result is glorious, intelligent pop music with a signature all its own. Against a backdrop of stomping percussion and a gospel-inspired refrain, “In the 99” rejects the black-and-white, us-versus-them conflict view of the Occupy movement, instead exploring inequality through the eyes of a compassionate investment banker. 

In the gorgeous and disturbing “Hymn of Acxiom,” Vienna sings from the perspective of Big Data, densely layering and manipulating her vocals into an electronically-textured choir to spin an eerily relevant cautionary tale. There are tender moments as well, as in the folk-tinged album closer “Goodnight New York,” a love letter to a previous home, relationship, and perhaps vocation. “I’ll say goodnight but it’s never goodbye,” she promises. If Aims is any indication, there’s even finer music to come from this artist in the years ahead.



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