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Do the Most Interesting Musical Pipes Come from Ireland?

While Scottish culture is branded by its famous Highland bagpipes, its neighbor across the water has long made a very different set of pipes that plays a much wider range of music. Our correspondent visits the indefatigable, obsessive masters of the uilleann pipes.

Story by LARRY GALLAGHER
Photography by RUTH CARDEN

The Soul Of Community

Like many American cities, Durham, N.C. has been turning once-abandoned factories into tech hubs and microbreweries. Over the decades, it has also been building a shared commitment to the poor, the disenfranchised, and people of color. Barry Yeoman, a veteran journalist who has lived in and loved Durham since 1985, digs into the city’s soul. And he discovers an architecture underneath this community with some unusual layers.

Story by BARRY YEOMAN
Photography by ALEX BOERNER

The Art of the Joke

When you watch masterful stand-up comics perform, it seems like they are just naturally hilarious. Don’t kid yourself. This is hard work, requiring hours and hours of trial and error. To its masters, the art of comedy is a craft, not unlike the careful, step-by-step work required to make a fine piece of furniture.

By DAVID MUNRO

The Watchman of Lausanne

Every night for the last 612 years, a man has been climbing 153 stone steps of Lausanne’s cathedral to call out the hour, telling the city that all is well. For the last 28 years, this ritual has fallen to Renato Häusler. “Here it is good values,” he says. “Wood, stone, history – nothing complicated.”

By MICHAEL CERVIN

The New Sign Painters

One would think that the invention of digital lettering for our commercial signs—on everything from shops to billboards—was nothing but an industrial step forward. As it’s turned out, yesteryear’s signs, which were all painted by hand, offered a beauty and personality that today’s automated version has been unable to duplicate; more important, a hand-made sign lasts much longer. Our correspondent explores what’s left of the old tradition, and stumbles on small but lively seeds of revival.

By LAURA FRASER
Photography by ANDREW SULLIVAN

The Celluloid Gumshoe

Eddie Muller has dedicated his life to finding, and restoring, lost films of the great Film Noir era of the 1940s and ’50s. At this point, Muller is much like one of his favorite characters—a beaten down but determined gumshoe, always looking for a lucky break. At stake: the preservation of our cinematic history, well beyond film noir.

By BARBARA TANNENBAUM

Our Second Artisanal Gift Guide

The word artisanal has become so shopworn that it’s almost devoid of meaning. (To wit: we once saw a pizza outlet on the outskirts of a small town in northern France that was fashioned in the style of an ATM-kiosk under the following sign: “Artisanal Pizza.”) In stark contrast to this sorry state of affairs, we would like to suggest a few items for holiday shopping made by some of the masters we profiled in 2016.

By SHARON TILLEY

The Mind of a Cartoonist

A dive into the twisted, obsessive, goofy world of Ken Krimstein, who draws cartoons for a range of magazines, including The New Yorker. What does this art form tell us about the nature of humor, and cartooning’s lure?

By LORI ROTENBERK

The Rise and Fall of Toy Theatre

In the depths of London, a “toy theatre” born in the 1800s continues to stage regular performances. In their heyday, these productions drew London’s top writers and artists, creating Victorian England’s version of the modern PR campaign. Replicas of these miniature theatres are still for sale.

By GARRETT EPPS

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