New York City

Max Bartlett

When you first walk in to the annual Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show in Tacoma, you’re greeted by a wall of sound. It’s the loud rocket-engine hum of hundreds of people, pinball machines and arcade cabinets.

Get up close and you’ll pick up some familiar sounds – Ken’s cries of “Shoryuken!” in Street Fighter, Shao Khan’s laughter in Mortal Kombat, Mario’s famous jump and even the “wakka wakka wakka” of Pac-Man devouring pellets. And of course the sounds of flippers flipping, spinners spinning, and silver balls hitting bells.

As New York City enters the final stretch of its latest mayoral campaign, Tell Me More host Michel Martin hears from a former Big Apple mayor who made history: David Dinkins.

Winning the office in 1989, Dinkins earned the glare of national attention not only as the mayor of one of the country's most important cities, but also as that city's first black mayor.

It was a difficult time for the city. Race relations were fractured, the economy was struggling, and many neighborhoods were gripped by a crack epidemic.

Improv Everything

A New York City-based group called Improv Everywhere placed a world-class orchestra in the middle of the city and gave the public a chance to conduct them.

The concept was called "Conduct Us" and relied on those brave enough to accept the challenge. A Carnegie Hall orchestra was set up among pedestrians with an empty podium in front of them. The podium read "Conduct Us" in big gold letters.

Watch what happened:

In Choire Sicha's Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City, a voice from our future looks back at events taking place in a "massive" East Coast metropolis, its citizens perpetually gripped with "a quiet panic" while living in a gritty landscape of iron and excess. Throw in a mysterious virus, a rich, blind governor, a sketchy mayor campaigning for a third term, and this novel gets even more curious.

Before I read Adelle Waldman's brilliant debut novel, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., I had about as much interest in reading about the hip, young literary types who've colonized Brooklyn as I do in watching Duck Dynasty, that reality show about a family of bearded Luddites who live in the Louisiana swamps. Both clans are ingrown and smug, each, in their own way, disdainful of the American mainstream.