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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Dr. Seuss Anniversary / American Political Parties / The Ramones  - 2004-09-10


Broadcast: September 10, 2004

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DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English. This is Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

Some music by The Ramones.

And we answer a question about the political parties involved in the upcoming American presidential election.

But first, a report about the celebration of one of America’s best loved writers.

Dr. Seuss Anniversary

This year is the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of the American writer of children’s books known as Doctor Seuss. There is a year-long celebration of the writer and his work called the Seussentennial. Shep O’Neal has more.

SHEP O'NEAL: Doctor Seuss’ real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel. He died in nineteen ninety-one. He wrote forty-six children’s books that have sold more than two hundred million copies. His books have been translated into twenty languages. All the books are fun to read. They contain pictures of funny creatures and plants. Yet they are about serious subjects like equality, responsibility and protecting the environment.

Children and their parents enjoy the creatures created by Doctor Seuss: the elephant Horton from “Horton Hatches the Egg”, the mean Grinch from “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Cat In The Hat.”

The year’s celebration began with an Imagination Tour — one hundred days of events honoring the memory of Doctor Seuss. The tour visited more than forty cities. It entertained children and adults with performances by actors dressed as Seuss characters and readings of Doctor Seuss books.

Another traveling show that is part of the year-long celebration is “The Art of Doctor Seuss Tour.” This tour provides a look at Doctor Seuss’ artistic life. It has brought together examples of his art from galleries across the country. Doctor Seuss also is being honored through an interactive art show at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan in New York City. It is a Seussian world presented in activity areas for children. Museum officials say every part of the show is linked with some of his books.

One of the simplest areas for the youngest children is a copy of the nest that Horton sits on when he hatches the egg. Other areas use modern digital technology. For example, children can change the pictures and words from Seuss stories on a huge wall. Or they can take part in vehicle races on video screens.

In another interactive area, children can watch themselves on a large screen. Words from Doctor Seuss books rain down on them and they can push, move or catch the words. Museum officials say this fun activity teaches children how to read without having them recognize that they are learning.

American Political Parties

DOUG JOHNSON: Our VOA listener question this week comes from Vietnam. Phuong Le asks how many political parties are taking part in the American presidential election in November.

A great many political parties are active in the United States. Some have candidates competing for the presidency. Others do not. The major parties involved in every presidential election are the Republican and Democratic parties. More than thirty other small political parties are known as “third parties.” More than ten of the third parties have candidates running for president.

These include the Libertarian Party and the Green Party. Libertarians want more freedom, lower taxes and less government. The Libertarian Party has more candidates than any other third party competing in local elections across the country. Four hundred of its members now hold local government offices.

The Green Party is linked to the environmental Green movement around the world. The Green Party became important in American politics when activist Ralph Nader became its first presidential candidate in nineteen ninety-six. He got more than seven hundred thousand votes and finished fourth in the election.

Mister Nader was the Green Party candidate again in two thousand. That time, he finished third with more than two million votes. This year, Ralph Nader is once again competing for the presidency, but not for the Green Party. This year, he is an independent candidate and the nominee of the Reform Party.

Businessman Ross Perot founded the Reform Party in nineteen ninety-five. The next year, he ran as the party’s presidential nominee. He received eight million votes. However, he had received nineteen million votes when he ran as an independent candidate for president four years earlier, in nineteen ninety-two.

Sometimes the two major parties object to candidates from third parties competing in the presidential race. They say these candidates receive votes that would have gone to one of the two main candidates. For example, in two thousand, the Democrats asked Ralph Nader not to compete for president. They said he would take votes away from their candidate, Vice President Al Gore. Political experts say that is what happened. Some say Mister Gore would have won the election if Ralph Nader had not been a candidate.

The Ramones

The Ramones, probably America's most famous punk rock band, broke up eight years ago. But this Sunday fans will gather for a thirtieth anniversary celebration. Also, there is new documentary film called “End of the Century: the Story of the Ramones." Faith Lapidus has our own story.

FAITH LAPIDUS: The year is nineteen seventy-four. The place is New York City. Four young friends are influenced by the music of punk rockers like the New York Dolls and Iggy Pop. They form their own band and call it the Ramones. They call themselves Johnny, Tommy, Joey and Dee Dee Ramone. They seem like a band of brothers.

After they play at a New York music club, C.B.G.B, they gain a local following. In nineteen seventy-five, they sign a recording deal and release their first album. The first song is “Blitzkrieg Bop," also known as “Hey Ho, Let’s Go.”

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Several popular albums follow, including “Leave Home” and “Road to Ruin.” In nineteen eighty-one the Ramones release “Pleasant Dreams." Fans love this song: “The K.K.K. Took My Baby Away.”

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In nineteen ninety-six, the Ramones play at the Avalon in Hollywood. It is their last show together.

Dee Dee died from drugs two years ago, a year after Joey died of cancer. And Johnny was treated in June for cancer. Organizers of the party this Sunday at the Avalon say the money will go to aid cancer research.

Two later Ramones, Marky and C.J., will perform, and Tommy will speak to the crowd. The show is also to include performances by members of Pearl Jam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Sex Pistols.

We leave you with a nineteen eighty Ramones hit, “Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio?”

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DOUG JOHNSON: This is Doug Johnson.

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

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

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