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Posts Tagged ‘Monticello’

What do Lucille Ball and Malcolm X have in common?

They’re both part of Studio 360 American Icons series.  This fall, we’ve traced the impact of The Autobiography of Malcolm X on race relations and glimpsed the dawn of the American sitcom with I Love Lucy.  Last week we visited Monticello – Thomas Jefferson’s home in Virginia – and in wandering the building and the grounds, confronted some lingering questions about the country and its founding.

Monticello (photo by Geoff Kilmer / Monticello)

Now we’re turning to you for a little “listener support.”  No, it’s not a pledge drive (though we encourage you to support your local station…).

Tell us what we’ve missed. We’ve produced nine new Icons — we want you to decide the tenth.  If your pick is selected, we’ll make a radio story about it — and you could be a guest on an episode of Studio 360.

We put out the call a few weeks ago, and our listeners have already come up with some surprising and impressive ideas. They range wide across America’s cultural landscape: from My Antonia and The Sound and the Fury to Bugs Bunny, from the Airstream Trailer to Apollo 11.  Daniel Leathersich, of Kutztown, Pennsylvania, suggested Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” because it’s a “quintessential song of the dreams of youth, the wonder of escape, and what people become from their memories.”

We need to hear from you.  Tell us your ideas…and listen for our tenth American Icon!

– Michael Guerriero

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Last night, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced that they would hold sort-of-but-not-really-competing rallies at the Lincoln Memorial on October 30th.

Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” will be the voice of reason countering Colbert’s alarmist “March to Keep Fear Alive.” It’s a real-life satire of Glenn Beck’s Tea Party demonstration called “Restoring Honor” held on the National mall this past August. And it brings Comedy Central’s continued lampooning of absurd punditry and broken politics to a whole new level.

The Lincoln Memorial is America’s soap box. Most famously, in 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech catapulted the efforts of the Civil Rights movement, and it helped make the memorial one of the country’s most powerful architectural symbols.  It’s without a doubt a solemn space for Americans, but not one the comedy world hasn’t touched before.  After all, Legally Blonde’s cartoonish “Elle Woods” and the actual cartoon Lisa Simpson have both found inspiration there.  Who knows if history will be made there on October 30th, but we can probably count on Colbert and Stewart being pretty funny.

A few years ago, as part of our series American Icons, Studio 360 devoted a whole hour to the Memorial, in which Kurt Andersen looked at what makes it the place to give a speech.

This fall, our Peabody Award-winning series returns.  Studio 360 will bring you stories on I Love Lucy, Jimi Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner,” the Harley-Davidson, and that other piece of architectural Americana, Monticello (an episode that, coincidentally, features Stephen Colbert).  American Icons picks up next week with the premiere of our one-hour episode on The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  Don’t miss it!

-Stephen Reader

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Move over American Idol. Presenting: Studio 360’s American Icons.

Sure, Abraham Lincoln isn’t most people’s idea of a triple threat (though his voice was said to be a reedy tenor). But his memorial in Washington, DC, has staying power. History was made there, and continues to be made there. It was the backdrop for opera singer Marian Anderson’s barrier-defying concert in 1939 and the setting for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Last week we explored how the monument became America’s soapbox and guidepost – with the help of Sarah Vowell, David Strathairn, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

The Lincoln Memorial is just one episode from Studio 360’s American Icons series. American Icons shows take a work of art – something that’s changed the cultural conversation – and unpack it, often with surprising results. Among these special episodes, Lincoln shares top billing with Superman, Barbie, Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, and “The Wizard of Oz.”

One of the defining aspects of an American Icon is that it can both reflect and absorb our interpretations. We all have our own memories and experiences of these works of art. Now we’re at work on our next series, and we’d love to know what you think of the new Icons we’ve chosen  In the fall of 2010 we’ll broadcast episodes exploring The Autobiography of Malcolm X, “I Love Lucy,” Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Do you have particular memories about these works?

Post them below…we’re eager to hear…

– Michael Guerriero

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