Our favorite was Brendan Condit’s “What You Can Do” series. Inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, Condit wanted to encourage Americans to find their own ways to contribute to the public good. (Serve.gov is a real website managed by The Corporation for National and Community Service.)
Sometimes we cling tightly to things we deem “traditional” without realizing they’re not as deeply entrenched in our history as we thought.
Take Uncle Sam: he hasn’t changed much since J. M. Flagg’s iconic World War I recruitment poster, in which he appeared as an older white man wearing a snazzy red, white, and blue outfit — these days, he seems to be busy selling air-conditioners at rock bottom prices. Yet lost to time is his young, female compatriot Columbia, another once-beloved embodiment of our country who had her heyday in 19th-century political cartoons. This all got us thinking that it’s time to challenge some of the symbols for American that we’ve come to take for granted.
In honor of our nation’s birthday, Studio 360 wants you to come up with a new take on Uncle Sam. Here, Kurt outlines our challenge:
Don’t worry, it’s not a complete gutting. We’re keeping the red, white, and blue, the cookouts, and the fireworks. But there are a couple of elements that we think can use some sprucing up.
Exhibit A: Uncle Sam
In this shot, he’s downright terrifying. And when he’s not bullying and pointing, he seems to spend a lot of time selling used cars and air conditioners at low, low prices — hardly the sort of behavior we’d expect from our national icon.
The Challenge: We want you to come up with a better mascot for the United States of America. You can update Uncle Sam or completely replace him. Post your design ideas here.
When Portland Trailblazers coach Mo Cheeks steps in to help the situation, he just proves our point: while it’s certainly rousing and epic, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is notoriously difficult to sing, with lyrics most people can’t remember.
The Challenge: We want you to compose a completely new song — with original music and lyrics — for our national anthem. Post your songs here.
The fine print: Enter our challenge as many times as you like. Submissions posted before midnight (ET) Sunday, June 20 will be eligible for mention on the show, airing Fourth of July weekend.
In this week’s show, Kurt says that we can find the Lincoln Memorial on the back of any old penny. Well, that old penny is getting a new backside. Last week, the United States Mint released a new one-cent coin, in honor of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. While it still features his head on one side, the memorial will no longer be engraved on the tail.
(courtesy of usmint.gov)
In its place is a union shield — with 13 vertical stripes, representing the states, joined by a bar inscribed with E Pluribus Unum, “out of many, one.” That shield has a special association with Lincoln. An artist commissioned to create work for the U.S. Capitol building during Lincoln’s presidency used the shield in frescoes that still hang on its walls. And the union shield is prominent in some Civil War memorabilia.
Feeling nostalgic for the Lincoln Memorial? Listen to our show about the American icon:
It made me wonder why we don’t use food more often as an artistic material. Aside from the ice-swan centerpiece or the happy face of chocolate chips on your pancakes (if you’re very lucky), it’s just not done enough, in my book.
That’s why I was particularly blown away by the food sculptures on the site fabulously40.com (some of which are below). These people are serious about playing with their food.
And doesn’t a competition merit a celebrity judge? One who is familiar with the trials and triumphs of modern love?
We’re pleased to announce that best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love fame, will review your entries and decide which Valentine makeover she [hearts] most. We’ve wrangled her for judging duties while on tour for her new book: Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. She’ll pick her fave listener design and tell us what it’s like to have Julia Roberts act out her life story. (The movie version of E,P,L comes out in August.)
I’ve never been a fan of V Day, but I decided to give it a shot last year. I was newlywed, so I figured: if not now, when?
I wanted a gift that was grown-up, but not too earnest. Modest, but not drugstore cheesy. So I arranged for my husband and me to take a tennis lesson together.
But about 10 minutes in, I realized this instructor wasn’t going to foster the loving-yet-sporting atmosphere I’d envisioned. Instead, she pitted us against one another. Then I made the mistake of telling her this was my Valentine’s Day gift to my husband, so she snarked about that for the rest of the hour. By the end of the lesson, an over-priced and mediocre prix fixe dinner was actually looking good.
I know we can do better to reinvent this horrid holiday. Now’s your chance to do your part to stop the flood of ugly cards and half-dead roses.