Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. This week on our program, we dive
into the popularity of SpongeBob SquarePants.
also answer a question about soul singer Wilson Pickett.
And here in Washington, we visit
the city's oldest public market, which has been rebuilt after a fire.
SpongeBob Turns 10
Ten years ago, the bright yellow, imaginary sea
creature named SpongeBob SquarePants appeared on television for the first time.
SpongeBob won the hearts of children all over America during the first year of
the cartoon series on the Nicklelodeon cable television network. Today, the
happy-go-lucky sponge has fans in almost every country on the planet. Steve Ember tells about this popular show.
The creator of "SpongeBob SquarePants," Stephen
Hillenburg, says he did not expect the series to last longer than one season,
much less ten years.
began his career as an ocean scientist. He began to draw a cartoon about sea creatures as a way to teach
students about underwater life. Later,
he studied animation drawing at California Institute of the Arts.
took the cartoon idea to officials at the Nickelodeon film and television
company. The first show in the
"SpongeBob SquarePants" series was broadcast in nineteen ninety-nine.
is little science left in Stephen Hillenburg's cartoon. SpongeBob lives in a
pineapple in the town of Bikini Bottom. His best friend Patrick is a loyal but
stupid starfish. Another friend is a squirrel from Texas named Sandy Cheeks.
She lives in a glass house, complete with a tree for climbing and growing
nuts. When Sandy leaves her house, she
wears an astronaut's suit so she can breathe underwater. Bikini Bottom is a
crazy, magical world.
Stephen Hillenburg thinks SpongeBob's personality is
what made the show so popular. The
sponge is honest, child-like, sweet and funny. His love for his work is one of the show's great humor devices.
SpongeBob is a cook at a fast food restaurant. He feels
it is an honor to cook Krabby Patties, the restaurant's famous sandwiches.
On one episode, SpongeBob finds one
patty so appealing, he will not let anyone eat it.
SPONGEBOB: "In all my years of fry cookery, I have never seen such
a lovely group of patties. Especially…you. Such perfection!
From your little lettuce hair, to your rosy ketchup cheeks, right down to your
names it Patty and treats it like a girlfriend. He takes Patty everywhere until the sandwich starts to smell and his
employer, Mister Krabs, is a crab who cannot part with money. The evil Plankton is Mister Krabs' tiny
one-eyed enemy. He owns a competing
restaurant and is forever plotting to steal the Krabby Patty secret recipe.
unusual sea creatures have helped make "SpongeBob SquarePants" the highest
rated show on Nickelodeon. It is
broadcast in one hundred seventy countries in twenty-five languages. SpongeBob products have earned about eight
show has some famous viewers, like musician David Bowie and basketball star
LeBron James. But "SpongeBob
SquarePants" also has a famous and
powerful fan. President Obama says he
watches the show with his girls, Malia and Sasha.
Eastern Market in Washington, D.C., is the oldest
continually operated fresh food public market in the nation's capital. Its long history almost came to an end two
years ago when a major fire burned its South Hall building. Shirley Griffith
reports on the newly rebuilt market.
Market was a beautiful, modern building when it was completed in eighteen
seventy-three. It had a high, sharply
angled ceiling and many windows lining the walls of its one long, narrow room.
These features permitted as much air flow and natural light as possible.
The building was called South Hall. Meat,
fish, baked goods and fresh flowers were sold inside. Farmers sold fruits and vegetables outside under
a permanent roof. The public market
quickly became popular and welcomed shoppers for more than one hundred thirty
on April thirtieth, two thousand seven, a huge fire of unknown cause almost
completely destroyed South Hall. Many sellers and buyers wondered if this would
end the historic market.
Calomiris owns Thomas Calomiris and Sons in South Hall. The Greek food business has been in his
family for more than sixty years. He
remembers getting news of the fire.
THOMAS CALOMIRIS: "Well, our first thought was where
we're gonna' work. How we're gonna' get
a job. So either, we would have to move,
open somewhere else. That's what we were thinking. We thought that that would be it."
But the day after the fire, the mayor of the District
of Columbia, Adrian Fenty, took action. He promised to restore South Hall to "its architectural and historical
fourteen South Hall business owners moved to a temporary shelter across the
street. The farmers market also
years later, on June twenty-sixth, the new Eastern Market re-opened. Natural
light floods in from above where skylights were added along the roofline. An air conditioning system now keeps the Hall
cool. And in the winter a heating system will make it warm. There is also a new
moveable stage and theater lighting for performances.
Eastern Market project cost about twenty-two million dollars. Tom Calomiris thinks it was worth it. Business is good he says.
THOMAS CALOMIRIS: "Hey, it's been very good. We're very pleased. So, you know, we're very
happy with the work they did. You know, it's a lot nicer and cleaner."
That was "Land of 1000 Dances," one of many successful
songs from soul singer Wilson Pickett. Our listener Johnson Okwu Kamalu of Nigeria wants to know more about one
of his favorite artists.
Wilson Pickett recorded more than fifty hit songs during
his career. His heartfelt, powerful, soulful singing helped establish him as
one of the greatest rhythm and blues performers of all time.
Pickett was born in nineteen forty-one in Prattville, Alabama. Like many rhythm and blues artists of the
day, he began his musical career singing in church choirs. Later he sang in
musical groups before launching his solo career.
nineteen sixty-five Wilson Pickett had joined forces with music producer Jerry
Wexler. "In the Midnight Hour" became
his first number one song. It remains
one of his most popular songs.
Pickett joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in nineteen ninety-one. He
received a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in nineteen
ninety-three. And in nineteen ninety-nine he was inducted into the Grammy Hall
But the successful singer's personal life was as dark as
his professional career was bright. He
had a painful childhood at the hands of his mother. As an adult he was arrested for several
crimes, including carrying a loaded gun and several drug charges. In nineteen ninety-three, he spent one year
in jail on a drunk driving charge.
Pickett stopped performing in two thousand four because of health
problems. He died at the age of
sixty-four in two thousand six. We leave
you with his final number one song. From
nineteen seventy one, here is "Don't Knock My Love."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program.
It was written by June Simms and Caty Weaver, who was
also our producer.
us again next week for AMERICAN
MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.