The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

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The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.


'Dry Bones'? Hardly — There's Still Life In Detroit

Feb 13, 2013

"Girdles and red nail polish and intestinal cleansing and bar fights and sewer pipes and wiretaps and eternal life and decay all around. It was insanity. It was outrageous. It was a reporter's wet dream. Where the hell was I?

"I paid the bill and left.

"The sign outside said DETROIT CITY LIMITS."

The corrupt, crime-addled Detroit of Charlie LeDuff's new memoir, Detroit: An American Autopsy, isn't the same city that I left a month ago.

Some identifiable landmarks and notable politicians dot the pages, but when I read Detroit, I felt like I didn't know my native city anymore. The intense and surprising pictures of the National Building Museum's current pair of exhibits, "Detroit Disassembled" and "Detroit Is No Dry Bones," didn't help my feelings of displacement.

Which is the real Motown, and which is a mirage? Did I imagine the Roaring '20s charm of the up-and-coming groups playing Cliff Bell's Jazz Club in Grand Circus Park? Was the deliciousness of Midtown's Avalon International Bread Company's holiday stollen loaf more fleeting than fixed? Was Corktown's Sugar House bar really just covering up emptiness and destitution behind a false front of bustling occupancy as it celebrated the historical end of prohibition?

It's true that my Detroit experience is different than many others. I'm a lifelong resident of an outer suburb, and I went to a prestigious boarding school that you might remember Eminem making fun of in 8 Mile.

But the Detroit that I know and have come to love is one where lifelong residents and artistic newcomers gather to chat about neighborhood development over a cup of coffee; one where a weeknight open hearing on transit investment and bus schedule rerouting is packed to the edges with urban and suburban commuters alike. It is a city where occupancy in many central neighborhoods is approaching the upper-90th percentile, according to the downtown development booster D:hive. Temporary pop-up shops in underserved neighborhoods become permanent as residents use their wallets to support local initiative and invest in entrepreneurs willing to take a chance on a city that so many national chains have passed over for greener, more suburban pastures.

LeDuff and his unwitting photography cohort of Andrew Moore and Camilo Jose Vergara seem to be operating in a completely different city from the one I grew up in and around, the one where I spent most of the last four months of my budding professional life. Each man's individual lens casts a strange and eerie shadow over the people of Cass Corridor, Corktown and Woodward Avenue.

It's true that the blunt statistics of the city's precipitous demise have become standard bar chatter among the young and hopefully mobile residents of southwestern Michigan. Detroit, birthplace of the automobile, the American middle class and the Motown sound, has tumbled from fourth to 18th-most populous city since 1950. It's shedding jobs, residents and development dollars as long-simmering racial tension and blatant prejudice cut deep scars into the metro landscape. A regular heavy-hitter in annual "most dangerous city" rankings, Detroit is a hopeless pockmark on the lower thumb of the Michigan mitten, and is likely to enter into direct state control as it struggles to balance its books.

LeDuff's Detroit is heavy on this last part. After the Pulitzer Prize-winning native son returns home, he takes it upon himself to help chart the corruption raging through the streets of Wayne County. It's a noble task, and I remember reading some of the stories LeDuff wrote for The Detroit News — shedding light on the city's miraculously decreasing murder rate, detailing the Sisyphean efforts of the tragically underfunded Detroit Fire Department, hounding the inefficient City Council for its lack of action on anything but infighting.

But LeDuff's gruff narration often makes the city sound like a B-grade noir flick, full of juiced-up coppers, bumbling fat cat bureaucrats and busted streetwalkers past their prime who'll tell you a saucy tale at the bar just as soon as they'll take you out back for a quick trick.

He makes it clear how rough the city has been to his family — his unemployed brother, deceased sister and niece, and struggling widow mother present a somber, sad picture of regular life in a dead-end town.

Still, that doesn't excuse his fondness for the flourishes of an old-time serial crime reporter, digging up cold cases and telling the hard truths that nobody else wants to tell. His memoir works best when he leaves out the broadly prescriptive analyses of Detroit's woes and focuses in on the narrow and weird of his own family.

The "ruin porn" parade at the National Building Museum is a stretch, too. The collection of rotting factories, melted high school clock faces and sad before-and-now-empty-after street fronts may be true to life, but the four rooms of images were low on pictures of actual living people and high on the steely urban-adventure extreme. It was surprising that these three creative, intelligent men could leave out so much of the good that is happening in Detroit lately.

Each man's Detroit story is true, in a way — true for them. But the real narrative of a city is more than just one individual memoir or one depressing collection of images. The true story of a city is a living, breathing, changing beast that no one can tame, and no one individual camera can properly capture. Detroit may have more problems than most major American cities, but its future is brighter than LeDuff et al. might have you believe.

Young, creative people are moving in and moving back. Neighborhoods are cleaning up. After years of legislative failure, a regional transit authority is slowly taking shape, offering the car-centric region a feasible alternative to the vehicles that made the city what it is in the first place.

I'm not naive. I know that a light-rail system and a couple of adventurous artists won't fix all of Detroit's problems. But I do know that there is more to Detroit than despair and empty dreams of yesteryear. You just have to come by and look a little closer.

LeDuff himself says it pretty well:

"In Detroit ... things are rarely what they seem — they're an amalgam, a fictionalized version of the truth served up to suit people's needs and help them get on with the difficult business of living."

Detroit still lives. Go and see for yourself.

Nick Andersen is a current NPR Digital Arts intern and a lifelong metro Detroiter.

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