5.  The Changing Garden: Four Centuries of European and
American Art —
The University of Michigan Museum of
Art’s reflection on the evolution of European garden is
ridiculously comprehensive for each ornate stage. With the help of
paintings, photos and blueprints, visitors can see how British,
French and Italian garden styles all influenced American landscape

Laura Wong
(Courtesy of Arista)

4.  “Graceland” by Chris Abani —
This searing new novel about growing up in the massive slums of
Lagos, Nigeria, pulses with a desperate humanity. Even the author
is dramatic; Abani caused such an uproar with his first novel that
he was exiled from Nigeria. In a book with recipes, haunting
description and painful lessons, everything has aftershocks.

3.  Emeka Okafor’s lower back —
It’s amazing to see that a small mass of bone and tendons can
reduce grown men to tears at the slightest mention of the phrase
“swelling around the vertebrae.” Here’s to hoping
that the Connecticut star center’s lumbar region
doesn’t become the ultimate bracket buster.

2.  Petey Pablo, Still Writing In My Diary: 2nd Entry
— Rap’s best guilty pleasure, the average MC with
the booming voice, is set to drop another collection of
bumper-bubble jams with help from Mannie Fresh and Lil’ Jon.
Try not to spin articles of clothing like flying machines when the
first few bars come on.

1.  Anthony Hamilton — Hamilton is the
best-kept secret in neo-soul. This former D’Angelo backup
singer’s debut album is a throwback-in the best sense of the
word-to the slow-burning soul men of yesteryear. Months after its
release, it has received a disturbing lack of mass-media love.
Listen, and feel the North Carolina sunset.

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