This week on “State of Wonder,” we talk to Todd Haynes about his newest film, “Wonderstruck,” and the fall of Harvey Weinstein. We explore Christian Scott aTunde Adjua’s groundbreaking contemporary jazz and discover the story of a painting that saved a family’s lives during the Holocaust.
Embers, the Iconic Portland LGBT Bar, Closes Its Doors | 1:32
Another landmark of old Portland has closed. The downtown bar and dance club Embers opened almost half a century ago when the world was — to say the least — a very different place for gay men and lesbians. Last week club managers announced on social media that owner Steve Suss had suffered a massive stroke and that Embers must close almost immediately. Kevin Cook, who performs as Poison Waters, took part in the final party as one of the club’s hall of fame drag performers and talked with us about the club’s legacy.
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah Stretches Jazz | 5:15
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s newest three-LP release, “The Centennial Trilogy,” includes post-bop harmonic foundations, boom-bap hip-hop feels, Afro-Cuban percussion and the electric beat manipulations of trap music — all while sounding unmistakably his. “The Centennial Trilogy” bears all the markings of a landmark jazz release, while itself marking a historic milestone: this year is the 100th anniversary of the first-ever jazz recording. Not that Scott is a big fan of that word, “jazz.” He prefers the term “stretch music” to describe his genre and its boundlessness.
Eleri Harris on the Tasmanian Murder of the Century | 14:16
On the other side of the world, in a city roughly the size of Corvallis, a murder mystery has kept news watchers and voyeurs on the edge of their seats for eight years. A wealthy scientist from Hobart, Tasmania disappeared in 2009. The ensuing investigation was, in Tasmanian terms, the trial of the century.
Portland-based artist Eleri Harris wanted to bring out the tragic family story behind the case in her seven-part serialized comic, “Reported Missing.” This gorgeously rendered, and binge-worthy story lays out the case in patient detail, as well as the surprising developments that keep the case alive to this day.
Listen to Harris’s full interview on “Think Out Loud.”
Phoebe Bridgers’ Profoundly Melancholy Debut | 23:48
Phoebe Bridgers’ new album, “Stranger In The Alps,” is a profoundly melancholy offering packed with heavy songs about grief and breakups. It even contains a number called “Funeral” — and yes, she really was once hired to play at a funeral. Like the artist herself, the music has a well-developed and wry sense of dark humor running through its core, making for an impressive and surprisingly mature debut from the 23-year-old LA musician.
Bridgers and her band stopped into the OPB studios earlier this fall before a gig opening for The War On Drugs. You can see the videos here.
Filmmaker Todd Haynes Pivots to Children’s Cinema | 32:55
Portlander filmmaker Todd Haynes might seem an unlikely director to make a children’s movie. He first attracted attention and controversy with a film where Barbie dolls acted out the life of singer Karen Carpenter. That was followed by melodramas, including 2015’s “Carol,” which conjures a forbidden lesbian affair in the 1950s. Now Todd Haynes has taken a turn into entirely new territory with his film “Wonderstruck,” where you’ll find wide-eyed children chasing around the magical dioramas of New York’s Museum of Natural History. Haynes spoke with Rene Montagne about the film, as well as the accusations against Harvey Weinstein, who has distributed some of Haynes’s films.
Searching for the Painting One Jewish Family Traded for Escape from the Holocaust | 41:01
This story is about the power of art — or the power of one painting in particular. In the fall of 1938 in Munich, Germany, the Nazis rounded up thousands of Jews and sent them to concentration camps. A Jewish woman left her apartment carrying a painting and came back with carrying a visa that allowed her to escape the Nazis.
Now the exhibition “Munich to Portland: A Painting Saves a Family” at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education commemorates the family’s story. Stephen Engleberg, a former Portlander, is the editor of the news organization ProPublica, and it was his grandmother who used the painting to escape.