American Mosaic

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/> AMERICAN MOSAIC - Looking High and Low for Meaning of 'Pop Culture'
By Dana Demange and Nancy Steinbach / Broadcast date: Friday, November 16, 2007 Source: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English. (MUSIC) I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week: We listen to some music from singer Gloria Estefan ... Answer a question about "pop culture" ... And report about an American sports hero's trip to China. Sports Ambassador HOST: America's newest sports ambassador has returned home from his first government supported trip outside the United States. Former Baltimore Orioles baseball player Cal Ripken was named to the position in August. His first trip was to China. Bob Doughty has more. BOB DOUGHTY: Cal Ripken was in China for ten days, visiting with Road Elementary School in Shanghai sports officials and young people in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. He talked about baseball and showed Chinese young people how to play the game. His hometown newspaper, The Baltimore Sun, provided sound from his trip on its Web site. Here, he works with students at Xidan Elementary School in Beijing. (SOUND)
Cal Ripken at No.1 Dahushan
Cal Ripken is not the first American sports ambassador. Last year, figure skater Michele Kwan visited China and Russia. She said that meeting with young people of other nations gives them a better understanding of the United States. She also said such meetings help change any false ideas that people have about this country. Baseball is not very well understood or very popular in China. The Chinese people enjoy basketball and soccer much more. But things are changing. American major league baseball just signed four Chinese players and Major League Baseball International has begun a program in China. Cal Ripken says he went to China to open communication with another culture through sports. He told reporters that sports bring people together in a friendly way, and he is sharing with others the sport that he loves. One thing he says he has learned is that children are children no matter where they live. They love to play and want to have fun. Cal Ripken says being a sports ambassador means teaching baseball as a way of making friends in other nations. And he says that the rules of baseball include values that provide people with an idea of American life. Pop Culture HOST: Our listener question this week comes from Vietnam. H. Nguyen wants to know what the expression "pop culture" means. This is a good question that requires a more complex answer than we can give in a few minutes. In very general terms, pop culture, or popular culture, includes the movies, television shows, sports, music, cooking, clothing styles and other examples of mass culture that a society produces. Examples of American pop culture that have become, well, popular around the world include the movies of Sylvester Stallone, hip -hop music, fast food, and blue jeans. Many professors who study culture argue about what is,

    Remembering the Man Who Gave Rock 'n' Roll the 'Bo Diddley Beat' Also: The Library of Congress adds to its National Recording Registry. And a listener in Iran

    wants to know more about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Transcript of radio broadcast:

    05 June 2008


    Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


    I‟m Doug Johnson.

    Today we tell about the new additions to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry ...

    Answer a question about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology … And remember musician Bo Diddley who died this week.


    National Recording Registry


    The United States Library of Congress has added twenty-five more sounds to its National

    Recording Registry. They include the best selling pop music album of all time, the first broadcast

    across the Atlantic Ocean and some noise from Earth that was sent into space. Faith Lapidus has

    our report.


    The National Recording Registry began its work in two thousand. Its goal is to protect the

    “sound” history of the nation. It currently holds about two hundred fifty recordings.

    The latest additions include a former Mayor of New York,

    Fiorello LaGuardia. Listen as he does his part to help the

    city during a newspaper delivery strike in nineteen

    forty-five. The mayor read the newspaper comic strips over

    the radio to New York City children.

    FIORELLO LAGUARDIA: “Now children, I know you‟re

    all disappointed today that you didn‟t get the funnies, so

    gather around. Here‟s „Dick Tracy.‟ Let‟s see what „Dick

    Tracy‟ is doing…”

    Fiorello LaGuardia The nineteen seventy-three jazz album, “Head Hunters,” by pianist and composer Herbie Hancock also made the registry. Here is some of the title track.


    The Library of Congress also added Michael Jackson‟s huge hit album, “Thriller.”


    Released in nineteen eighty-two, “Thriller” remains the top selling album of all time.

    KURT WALDHEIM: “I send greetings on behalf of the people of our planet.” That was former United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim on a recording called “Sounds

    of the Earth.” A NASA spacecraft took the recording on a trip to the outer planets and beyond in

    nineteen seventy-seven. The recording included sounds of nature, wildlife, and human culture as

    well as messages in fifty-five languages.

    Roy Orbison is also on the registry with his song “Oh, Pretty

    Woman” from nineteen sixty-four.


    The National Recording Registry also includes the first

    trans-Atlantic radio broadcast in nineteen twenty-five. Radio

    broadcasts from Ronald Reagan in the nineteen seventies shortly

    before he became president of the United States. And this

    nineteen fifty-nine recording written and sung by Elizabeth

    Cotten. It is a North Carolina folk song called “Freight Train.”

    Elizabeth Cotton (MUSIC)

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology


    Our listener question this week comes from Mohamad Firouzi in Iran. He would like to know more about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT. This famous university in Cambridge is best known for producing top scientists, architects, and engineers. In the mid nineteenth century, the scientist and educator William Barton Rogers began working to establish a university that would teach the sciences as well as provide education about the arts. He received official permission from state lawmakers to create the school in eighteen sixty-one. MIT first began holding classes four years later. This school was one of the first to include laboratory experiments in the classroom. This way, students could learn by working on real experiments rather than just by listening to a teacher talk about theory.

    In nineteen sixteen, MIT moved across the Charles River

    from Boston to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Today, MIT

    has about four thousand undergraduate students and about

    six thousand graduate students. Among them are about four

    hundred undergraduates and about two thousand five

    hundred graduate students from more than one hundred

    foreign countries.

To attend this school, students pay about thirty-four The Massachusetts Institute of thousand dollars an academic year. MIT is one of the most Technology selective schools in the United States. Last year, only about

    twelve percent of those who applied as first year students were offered admission. Most people may think MIT only offers science and engineering programs. MIT researchers are often noted for new studies, discoveries and experiments. And, over twenty-five former students at MIT have won Nobel prizes for work in science and economics and even peace.

    However, MIT also has schools of architecture, management, and humanities, arts and social sciences. And, there is also a college of health sciences and technology. Undergraduate students in the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences can get degrees in anthropology, comparative media studies or literature.

    Bo Diddley HOST:

    One of America's first rock and rollers died this week. Celebrated guitarist, singer and songwriter Bo Diddley was seventy-nine. Katherine Cole tells about him and plays some of his music. (MUSIC: “Who Do You Love”)


    That was “Who Do You Love” from the musician‟s first album,

    “Bo Diddley.” It came out in nineteen fifty-eight. Bo

    Diddley was one of the most influential musicians of the

    nineteen fifties and sixties. The guitarist combined rhythm and

    blues with Latin and African musical influences and created a

    new sound all his own -- the “Bo Diddley beat.” Many

    performers copied this sound, including the Rolling Stones,

    Elvis Presley and the Who.

    Here is Bo Diddley performing “I‟m a Man,” one of his early


    Bo Diddley (MUSIC) Bo Diddley was born Otha Ellas Bates in the state of Mississippi in nineteen twenty-eight. He

    grew up in Chicago, Illinois. By age seven he could play the violin. He taught himself to play

    guitar when he was a teenager. He said blues musician John Lee Hooker was a major musical


    As a young man, he changed his name to Bo Diddley and started playing music on the streets of

    Chicago. He formed a band and started playing in clubs. He signed a recording contract with

    Chess Records in nineteen fifty-five.

    Bo Diddley made hit records throughout the nineteen sixties. Many British rock bands recorded

    versions of his songs that also became popular.

    Bo Diddley was admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in nineteen eighty-seven. He

    received a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California. And he was honored with a

    Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in nineteen ninety-eight.

    Bo Diddley kept performing live shows until last year. He stopped performing after suffering a

    stroke at a concert in Iowa. He died of heart failure June second at his home in Archer, Florida.

    We leave you with Bo Diddley performing “Pretty Thing.”



    I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

    It was written by Caty Weaver and Dana Demange, who also was the producer. To read the text of

    this program and download audio, go to our Web site,

    Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA‟s radio magazine in Special English.

A 'Volunteer Vacation' at a Habitat for Humanity Building Project

    A question from Vietnam about Flag Day. And the electronic soul sound of the group Gnarls

    Barkley. Transcript of radio broadcast: 12 June 2008


    Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


    I‟m Doug Johnson.

    Today we play music by Gnarls Barkley … Answer a question about Flag Day … And report on a “volunteer vacation” at a Habitat for Humanity home building project.


    Habitat for Humanity


    Volunteers from across the United States and other countries went to the Gulf Coast last month to

    rebuild communities destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in two thousand five. One VOA employee

    was among them. Barbara Klein has more.


    Habitat for Humanity is an international nonprofit group that invites people to build houses

    together with families in need. It has built more than two hundred fifty thousand houses around

    the world since it began in nineteen seventy-six.

This year, Habitat for Humanity organized a special five-day

    project. It observed twenty-five years of leadership in the

    organization by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife

    Rosalyn Carter. Two thousand five hundred volunteers took

    part in building projects in six cities in Alabama, Louisiana

    and Mississippi. The Carters helped build a new house and

    visited the project work sites.

    One of the volunteers was Erin Brummett, the moderator and executive producer of VOA's T2A Web chat. She decided to Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter with spend a week of her vacation time in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Kim Edwards, center She helped build a house for Kim Edwards and her teenage

    daughter, Miah.

    Miz Brummett says she has been concerned about the

    problems in rebuilding communities destroyed by the

    hurricane. "It still troubles me that a rich country like ours

    struggles to help its own people more than two and a half

    years after a disaster," she says.

    During the Christmas holiday last year, she decided that

    helping to build a house would be her present to the people of

    the Gulf Coast. But, she said, it turned out that "they were the gift." She says, "The experience provided people like me Erin Brummett with Kim Edwards with the chance to do something important." who will receive the home built

    by Habitat for Humanity The building teams included between eight and twenty volunteers. Miz Brummett, who is forty-five, did not realize how hard building a house would

    be. Like many of us at VOA, she sits at a computer most of the day and does not get a lot of

    exercise. During her Habitat experience, she says, "I found muscles in my body that I never knew


    In the middle of the week she started taking pain relief medicine. She says her hand swelled and

    grew larger than normal from using a hammer and paint brush for many hours. And her feet hurt

    from standing all the time. But, she says, "That was a very small price to pay."

    Erin Brummett says she was happy to be on a team of experienced volunteers who have built

    houses for several years. She says the team leaders were in the construction business and were the

    best teachers anyone could have. And, she says, "I can do anything now."

    Erin Brummett says the best part of the experience was the satisfaction of using her own hands to

    help give a family a new home.

    Flag Day


    Our VOA question this week comes from Vietnam. Duc Nguyen asks about the Flag Day holiday.

    Perfect timing! Flag Day is tomorrow, June fourteenth. Every year, shortly before June fourteenth, the president of the United States signs a document declaring “Flag Day and National Flag Week.” Some Americans will fly an American flag outside their

    house on Saturday. Still, many Americans will not even

    know it is Flag Day. They do not get a day off work. They

    do not buy or receive anything. And, as far as we know

    there are no big stores holding “Flag Day” sales.

    Flag Day observes the anniversary of the day America's

    first lawmakers approved the design of a new flag for a new


     The United States of America began as thirteen British A Boy Scout on Flag Day last year colonies. Each colony had its own flag. But the colonists

    fought under a common flag during the Revolutionary War against Britain. It looked a lot like the American flag today. That flag had thirteen red and white stripes for the thirteen colonies. It also had a square blue area in the upper left corner. Inside that area were the red cross and white lines of the British flag.

    On July fourth, seventeen seventy-six, the American colonists declared their independence. The United States of America was born. The Continental Congress of the new nation approved a new flag on June fourteenth of the following year. The thirteen red and white stripes remained. Thirteen white stars replaced the British flag inside the blue area. The thirteen stars represented, in the words of Congress, "a new constellation."

    In eighteen eighteen, Congress approved a law that said a new star would be added to the flag for each new state that joined the union. Today, there are fifty states, and fifty white stars in the blue area of the flag.

    There is a famous story that a woman named Betsy Ross made the first American flag. Betsy Ross was a sewing expert in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the official flag maker for the Pennsylvania navy. But, historians have not been able to confirm that she made the first American flag.

    Gnarls Barkley


Gnarls Barkley is the name of a group of two performers, Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo Green. In

    two thousand six, their song “Crazy” became one of the most popular songs of the year. Their new

    album, “The Odd Couple,” is filled with energetic songs that tell about pain and conflict. Faith

    Lapidus has more.

    (MUSIC: "Going On")


    That was the song “Going On." It is a good example of Gnarls

    Barkley‟s music, which combines soul and electronic sounds.

    Cee-Lo Green is a soul and hip-hop singer whose voice you

    hear on these songs. Danger Mouse, whose real name is Brian

    Burton, creates and produces the music. Both had musical

    careers before they joined together to form Gnarls Barkley.

    Danger Mouse is best known for creating an unofficial album

    called “The Gray Album.” It combined music from the Gnarls Barkley Beatles and the rapper Jay-Z. The album was illegal because Danger Mouse did not have permission to use some of the songs. But, it still became a huge


    Gnarls Barkley‟s latest album, “The Odd Couple,” was released in late March. Here is “Who‟s

    Gonna Save My Soul.”


    Gnarls Barkley's live performances are interesting to watch. They perform with many different

    musicians. And, they often wear unusual clothing. For example, they performed in two thousand

    six at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California. Gnarls Barkley and other

    musicians dressed like characters from the movie “The Wizard of Oz.”

    We leave you with the song “Run.” (MUSIC)


    I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

    It was written by Shelley Gollust, Caty Weaver and Dana Demange, who also was the producer.

    To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site,

    Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA‟s radio magazine in Special English.

    Each Year, a Million People Escape to Alcatraz Island Also: Hear about the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, D.C. And listen

    to music about crime and punishment from some famous performers.Transcript of radio


    19 June 2008


    Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


    I‟m Doug Johnson.

    On our program today, we play some songs about doing crime and doing time

    Answer a question about a famous former prison on an island in the San Francisco Bay in

    California …

    And visit the new crime museum in Washington, D.C.


    National Museum of Crime and Punishment HOST:

    The National Museum of Crime and Punishment opened

    recently in Washington, D.C. It shows an interesting part

    of American history. We have more from Faith Lapidus.


    The museum exhibits are separated into different time

    periods in America. For example, the Great Depression in

    the early nineteen thirties was a very difficult period.

    During this time, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow became famous for stealing from stores and banks and killing A prison exhibit at the National police officers in several states. Police officers finally shot Museum of Crime and Punishment and killed them in their car along a highway in Louisiana

    in nineteen thirty-four.

    Bonnie and Clyde influenced popular culture over time because of their loyalty to one another.

    There are many songs and movies about them. In the museum, you can see a copy of their car with

many bullet holes. There is also a bullet from their real car, as well as a piece of glass from a


    One of the most famous criminals in American history was

    active during the nineteen twenties. Al Capone was often

    called “Scarface.” He was the head of a criminal group in

    Chicago, Illinois. He became known as “Public Enemy

    Number One.” Capone was involved in many illegal

    activities as well as murder. He finally was sent to jail for

    not paying income taxes in nineteen thirty-one. He lived

    a wealthy life, which you can see in the jail cell recreated

    to look like the one Capone occupied when he was in

    prison. Al Capone

    Al Capone lives on in many movies, as well as on television and in books. “Scarface” is one

    famous film based on his life. The museum shows the gun that was used in the movie.

    Part of the museum tells about unsolved murders in which the killer has never been found. These

    are called "cold cases." Two of the most recent are the murders of rap performers Tupac Shakur

    and Notorious B.I.G. They were shot and killed while in their cars in the late nineteen nineties.

    One part of the National Museum of Crime and Punishment is about solving crimes. People can

    try to solve a "murder." A false dead body, drugs, and weapons are all part of the case.

    You can learn about toxicology reports, which show what chemicals were in a person‟s body

    when he or she died. You can also learn how a person's face can be recreated with a computer or

    with clay. Most importantly, learning about crime can help you protect yourself from it.

    Alcatraz Island


    While we are on the subject of crime, our listener question

    this week comes from Mohamad Firouzi in Iran. He wants

    to know about the history of Alcatraz Island and the prison

    that once operated there.

    Alcatraz Island is in the harbor of San Francisco,

    California. It is best known for being a federal prison,

    which was also called “The Rock.” It was once the most Alcatraz Island famous prison in America.

    Alcatraz was a military prison from the late eighteen fifties until the nineteen thirties. Then it

    became a federal prison for the country‟s worst criminals. These included murderers, bank robbers

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