Jacki Lyden

While we may always be concerned with the lives of the rich and famous, the rich and famous don't always deserve that concern. Even in the hands of the legendary biographer Mary Lovell, I wondered if the denizens of The Riviera Set would sustain our interest five decades on, for the book ends in 1960 — and ostentatious wealth is now on a nasty bender.

Beginning Friday, the New York branch of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian will host the exhibit Native Fashion Now, a traveling show from the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. It highlights a dazzling array of contemporary fashion made by dozens of Native American designers.

Recently, on a hot summer morning with cumulus clouds towering overhead, black cattle grazed in South Florida fields, dotting the horizon along with clumps of palm trees. At the Big Cypress Reservation, Moses Jumper is a tribal elder and owner of nearly 300 head — and a fourth-generation cattleman.

Seminole patchwork is not well-known outside the state of Florida. The Seams looks at culture through clothing — and within this hand-sewn and folded patchwork is the story of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Thursday in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art officially reopens its fashion galleries after a $40 million, two-year renovation.

Named for Vogue magazine's editor, the Anna Wintour Costume Center features an inaugural exhibit of the work of Charles James, a flamboyant designer considered America's first couturier. This caps days of glamorous events at the Met, including the Costume Institute's benefit gala, presided over by Wintour — with Hollywood stars.

In the mid-1960s, society was changing; shaking off old ideas and trying on new ones for size. There were changes on the political front, like the civil rights movement and the looming war in Vietnam, as well as on the cultural front, with new celebrities popping up on TV every night.

The Johnson Publishing Company, and its flagship publication, Ebony Magazine, helped to fashion the black middle-class in America for five decades. For 50 years, from 1958 until 2009, the Ebony Fashion Fair traversed the country.

The coast-to-coast show was a pageant of haute couture that created aspirations wherever it went. It was a rite of passage for black women, who flocked to it. The show also raised $55 million for African-American charities, like the United Negro College Fund or sickle-cell anemia research.

Last year, there were more than two-dozen shootings on or near college campuses in the United States. This past Tuesday, that number went up, with the fatal shooting of a student at Purdue University. Then Friday, a fatal shooting at South Carolina State University. It will, of course, tick up again.

Urban explorer Steve Duncan goes underground, examining the hidden infrastructure of major cities all over the world: their tunnels, subways and sewers. Late in 2010, NPR's Jacki Lyden joined Duncan and a group of subterranean adventurers in New York. (This story originally aired on All Things Considered on Jan. 2, 2011.)

A thousand years ago, a Persian poet named Abolqasem Ferdowsi of Tous obtained a royal commission to put the ancient legends and myths of Iran into a book of verse.

He called this epic Shahnameh, or "Epic of the Persian Kings." It took him more than three decades and comprises 60,000 couplets — twice the length of The Iliad and The Odyssey combined.

Author Azar Nafisi, who wrote the memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran, says the importance of this foundational myth epic to Iranians can't really be overstated.

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