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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Skateboarding / Presidential Terms / Seven Mary Three - 2004-08-27


Broadcast: August 27, 2004

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BOB DOUGHTY: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

This is Bob Doughty. On our show this week:

Music from the group Seven Mary Three ...

A question about presidential term limits ...

And a report about an action sport that Olympic fans haven't seen in Athens, except maybe on the local streets.

Skateboarding

The Summer Olympics end Sunday in Athens. Over the years, new sporting events have been added to the Games. Others have been taken away. It all depends on popularity. But one popular activity that is not in the Olympics -- at least not yet -- is skateboarding. Phoebe Zimmermann has our story.

PHOEBE ZIMMERMANN: Skateboards were developed in Southern California in the early nineteen fifties. Children, mostly boys, built their boards themselves. They attached four clay or metal wheels to a long, narrow piece of wood.

The earliest versions were said to have been about thirty centimeters wide and close to two meters long. They would have looked much more like surfboards than modern skateboards. In fact, the first skateboarders were probably surfers. Back then, skateboarding was called “sidewalk surfing.”

Skateboarding was popular through the early sixties. There was even some competitive skateboarding. But the boards were relatively slow and difficult to turn, and the ride was rough. By the end of the sixties, skateboards took a bad fall in sales.

All that changed in nineteen seventy with a young man named Frank Nasworthy. He was a skater in Virginia. He discovered that wheels made of a plastic called urethane created a faster, smoother ride. Soon all skateboards had urethane wheels and the number of fans began to grow again.

Today, skateboarding is popular internationally. Skaters from Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands and other countries competed last year in the X-Games Global Championship in San Antonio, Texas. X, as in “extreme” -- maybe too extreme for Olympic traditionalists.

But skateboarding has grown up in the past thirty years. Many skaters now wear helmets and other protective equipment. Also, there are parks built especially for their sport. These parks usually include smooth concrete hills, bowl-shaped areas and jumps. In fact, a skate park is being built right now in the area where Frank Nasworthy often skated. The local government in Arlington, Virginia, plans to open it in October. And as for Frank, we understand he is now an engineer … in California.

Presidential Terms in Office

BOB DOUGHTY: Our VOA listener question this week comes from two places: Mysore, India, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Mohamud Abdi and Vincent Nguyen both want to know why American presidents cannot serve more than two terms in office.

This is a good time to answer that question. The Republican Party opens its presidential nominating convention on Monday in New York City. Delegates will nominate President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for a second term in the elections in November.

The United States Constitution never said anything about how many times a president could be re-elected. The idea of serving only two four-year terms began with the first president, George Washington. He chose not to campaign for a third term. The presidents who followed him did the same. But there was no law that would have stopped them from serving longer, had they sought more terms.

Franklin Roosevelt did not follow this tradition. He served longer than any other president, from March of nineteen thirty-three until April of nineteen forty-five. Political opponents criticized his elections to a third term and a fourth. They said no one person should have so much power for so long. But others believed his leadership and experience were needed during the Great Depression and World War Two.

Franklin Roosevelt died during his fourth term. After his death, Congress proposed to amend the Constitution to limit the number of years a president could serve. States approved the change in nineteen fifty-one.

The twenty-second amendment to the Constitution says no one may be elected president more than two times. It also says no one who has served as president for more than two years of someone else’s term may be elected more than once.

All this guarantees that no American will serve as president for more than eight years, unless the Constitution is ever changed again.

Seven Mary Three

HOST:

A new school year means a new chance to make friends -- and maybe even start a band. The group Seven Mary Three started that way. Gwen Outen has more.

GWEN OUTEN: Three of the four current members of the band met in nineteen ninety-two at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. They started with a fourth member who also went there.

The name of the band comes from a television show from the late nineteen seventies. It was a police show about California Highway Patrol officers on motorcycles. The show was called "CHiPs." But one of the actors used the radio call sign "Seven Mary Three."

Seven Mary Three released its first album with a record company in nineteen ninety-five. The album was called “American Standard." It included this single, “Cumbersome.”

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In two thousand one, the band released an album called “Economy of Sound." One of the songs was used in the movie “Crazy/Beautiful.” The name of the song is “Wait.”

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The members of Seven Mary Three live in Orlando, Florida. But they travel a lot. In fact, drummer Giti Khalsa asked his father to take care of his dog for a little while, which has stretched into ten months.

Last month, Seven Mary Three appeared in a show during Major League Baseball's All Star Week in Houston, Texas. They performed two songs from “Dis/Location," their newest album. We leave you with one of those songs, “Settle Up.”

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BOB DOUGHTY: This is Bob Doughty. Send your questions about American life to mosaic@voanews.com. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, USA.

Please include your name and postal address. We'll send you a gift if we use your question.

Our program was written by Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver. Paul Thompson was our producer. And our engineer was Jim Sleeman.

I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

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