Neda Ulaby

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR and hosts its award-winning Culturetopia podcast. Her work includes profiling actors, authors, musicians, and those who inform the world through creative expression, and covering the complicated relationships between art, artists, and society.

Ulaby came to NPR in 2000 when she was recruited through NPR's Next Generation Radio, and landed a temporary position on the cultural desk as an editorial assistant. She soon started reporting regularly, augmenting her radio work with arts journalism for the Washington [D.C.] City Paper.

Most recently, Ulaby's stories have included a series on women record producers, an investigation into exhibitions of plastinated human bodies, and a look at the legacy of gay activist Harvey Milk. Her profiles have brought listeners into the worlds of such performers as Ellen Page, Timbaland, Mark Ruffalo, Courtney Love, and the RZA; writers Sarah Waters and Etgar Keret; and directors Hayao Miyazaki, Fatih Akin, and Eli Roth.

NPR’s Culturetopia, Ulaby’s weekly podcast of NPR's best arts stories, won a Gracie award for Outstanding Podcast from the American Women in Radio and Television. Ulaby has received the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellowship and a fellowship from the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism to study youth culture.

A former doctoral student in English literature, Ulaby was managing editor of Chicago's Windy City Times, and co-host of the radio program, “What's Coming Out at the Movies.” Her film reviews appeared in alternative papers nationwide. She also edited fiction for The Chicago Review, and served on the editing staff of the leading academic journal Critical Inquiry. Ulaby’s articles on slapstick comedy have been published internationally. She taught classes in the humanities at the University of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, and at high schools serving at-risk students.

Ulaby was born in Amman, Jordan, and grew up in the Midwest of the United States. After graduating from Bryn Mawr College, she worked as an intern for the features desk of the Topeka Capital-Journal. Ulaby lives in Washington, D.C., with her partner, Robin, and their three-legged dog.

 

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2:36pm

Mon August 27, 2012
Monkey See

'2016: Obama's America' Shows Up Strong When Most Box Office Is Weak

Originally published on Tue August 28, 2012 1:53 pm

A promotional poster is seen at the Rave Fairfax Corner movie theater in Fairfax, Virginia, announcing the new movie "2016: Obama's America" that opened in theaters across the US, August 24, 2012.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

The movie 2016: Obama's America just did something that's hard for any political documentary to accomplish: it took seventh place on the list of this weekend's highest grossing movies. Usually, when any documentary pulls in more than five million dollars, it's about, say, Katy Perry. But 2016 looks at the ideologies and global movements that it says helped intellectually mold the President of the United States from a critical, conservative perspective. And the ending imagines an America economically undone by four more years of an Obama presidency.

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3:00pm

Fri August 10, 2012
Remembrances

David Rakoff Saw The World In All Its Dark Beauty

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 5:04 pm

David Rakoff, the author of Half Empty, Don't Get Too Comfortable and Fraud, was a frequent contributor to This American Life. He died Thursday at the age of 47.
Larry Busacca Getty Images

When writer David Rakoff died Thursday at the age 47, he was barely the age he said he was always "meant" to be. In his 2010 memoir, Half Empty, he wrote, "Everyone has an internal age, a time in life when one is, if not one's best, then at very least one's most authentic self. I always felt that my internal clock was calibrated somewhere between 47 and 53 years old."

Rakoff died in New York City after a long struggle with cancer — an ordeal that he wrote about with sobering honesty and biting wit.

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3:32am

Thu August 2, 2012
Destination Art

Marfa, Texas: An Unlikely Art Oasis In A Desert Town

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 4:36 pm

In the 1970s, minimalist artist Donald Judd moved to Marfa, Texas, where he created giant works of art that bask beneath vast desert skies. In the years since, Marfa has emerged as a hot spot for art tourism.
Art (c) Judd Foundation Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

This tiny town perched on the high plains of the Chihuahua desert is nothing less than an arts world station of the cross, like Art Basel in Miami, or Documenta in Germany. It's a blue-chip arts destination for the sort of glamorous scenesters who visit Amsterdam for the Rijksmuseum and the drugs.

"They speak about Marfa with the same kind of reverent tones generally reserved for the pilgrimage of the Virgin of Lourdes," notes Carolina Miranda, a writer who covers the art world.

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2:56am

Wed August 1, 2012
Dead Stop

The Ghostly Grandeur Of A Desert Graveyard

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

A couple celebrates Dia de los Muertos at the Concordia Cemetery in El Paso, Texas.
Stacy Kendrick Concordia Cemetery

It's a raggedy moonscape; no lush green grass or tranquil arbors here. Concordia Cemetery in El Paso, Texas, just a few blocks from the Mexican border, is stark and dusty. It's overrun with crumbling concrete markers and old wooden crosses gone askew. And it goes on ... and on ... and on.

"It's 52 acres," says Bernie Sargent, chair of the El Paso County Historical Commission. "Sixty thousand people buried here. And they're all dead."

The Grave Of A Wild West Legend

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1:48pm

Thu July 26, 2012
Monkey See

It Was All A Dream (Or: Turns Out Spoilers Are Good For You)

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 4:24 pm

Chances are, if you're a regular reader of this blog you've read (or perhaps even posted) an incredibly vitriolic comment or two accusing the writer of the despicable crime of spoilers.

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