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'Family of Man' Gets a 21st Century Update

Also: A question from China about the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant. And the new album from Weezer. Transcript of radio broadcast:

Correction attached


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Mario Ritter. Today: music, photographs and a basketball star, all brought to you from the City of Angels, Los Angeles, California.


21st Century Family of Man


Over fifty years ago a photographic exhibit called "The Family of Man" opened in New York City. It was a popular show with critics and the public. This fall, a similar exhibit opened in Los Angeles. It was organized by the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Barbara Klein tells about "The Twenty-first Century Family of Man."


In nineteen fifty-five, photographer Edward Steichen organized a collection of more than five hundred pictures of and by people all over the world. The photographers were professionals and non-professionals alike.

The collection was called "The Family of Man." It was shown first at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The show was designed to express the connections that link humans everywhere.

Nick Cullen is a professor of public diplomacy at the University of Southern California. He says Steichen's exhibit brought in crowds as it traveled from country to country.

NICK CULLEN: "I think part of its success was that everybody could recognize something of themselves in the exhibit and so the Family of Man show belonged to everybody."

Twenty-nine-year-old photographer Paul Rockower shows his own Family of Man pictures in the new exhibit at the University of Southern California. He says it is a re-imagining of the first show with a modern touch.

Mister Rockower has traveled and studied outside the United States since he was a teenager. He always had his camera with him. He took pictures of people, places and things around him. The exhibit presents about seventy of those images.

It is divided into several parts. In the part called "Children of Man," one photograph shows two little girls hugging in the sunlight on the street of an Asian town. In "Family of Man," a dark-haired, light-eyed woman with a bright blue head covering looks intensely at something hidden from view. In "Cities of Man," one photo shows a street light reflected in water on a stone pathway. Other parts of the exhibit include "Faith of Man" and "Terrain of Man." "Wonders of Man" includes photos of the Great Wall of China and Machu Picchu in Peru.

Mister Rockower is a graduate student of public diplomacy at the University of Southern California. He says his photographs express a common idea among all the different faces and places.

PAUL ROCKOWER: "I think the theme that comes out is really the unity of mankind, that we are all the same, the things that we share are things like family, like faith, like friendship. These are the things that are universal qualities found everywhere you go."

"The Twenty-first Century Family of Man" exhibit continues at the Annenberg Gallery at U.S.C. in Los Angeles until May of next year.


Kobe Bryant

Our question this week comes from a young listener in China who wants to know about professional basketball player Kobe Bryant.

Kobe Bryant began his career in the National Basketball Association in nineteen ninety-six. He was chosen to join the Charlotte Hornets in the state of North Carolina. He was later traded to the Los Angeles Lakers team in California.

Because of his extraordinary skills, sports critics compared Kobe Bryant to basketball great Michael Jordan. They predicted Bryant would be one of the best basketball players of all time. And they were right. Kobe Bryant has won many honors and awards including four NBA Championship victories. The most recent was earlier this year. He also was named Most Valuable Player in this year's NBA finals series.

Kobe Bryant was born in nineteen seventy-eight in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents named him after the famous beef of Kobe, Japan. His father is former NBA player Joe "Jellybean" Bryant. The older Bryant later played on basketball teams in Europe. Joe Bryant and his family moved to Italy when he played on a team there. Six-year-old Kobe learned to speak Italian and started playing basketball and soccer.

In nineteen eighty-two, the Bryant family returned to Philadelphia. Kobe attended Lower Merion High School and quickly became one of the school's top basketball players. He led his team to state championships all four years he was a student there.

Kobe received good grades as a student and received many financial offers from major universities. But the seventeen-year-old decided not to go to college but instead play for the National Basketball Association. In his second season, he was chosen as a starter for the nineteen ninety-eight NBA All-Star Game. He was nineteen years old, the youngest All-Star in NBA history. He has played on a total of eleven NBA All-Star teams.

Kobe Bryant has achieved other successes in basketball. The superstar won a Gold Medal as a member of the United States men's basketball team in the two thousand eight summer Olympic Games in China.

Kobe Bryant has been the top scorer in many basketball games. In two thousand five, he scored eighty-one points in one game. That is the second highest in NBA history.

Weezer and "Raditude"


Weezer is a four-member band from Los Angeles. The band released its seventh studio album earlier this month. "Raditude" is number one on Billboard Magazine's chart of top one hundred alternative albums and number seven on its chart of top two hundred albums. Bob Doughty plays some music and tells about Weezer's unusual marketing partner.


Most music critics do not like Weezer's new album "Raditude" as much as the public does. They say it lacks artistic depth. Many critics say Weezer has lost all connection to the alternative band it once was. They say now Weezer's sound is all pop. But a few critics argue that Weezer's pop is good pop.

And they say band leader Rivers Cuomo still writes fresh and funny songs seventeen years after the band started. This song, "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To," has something listeners like. It is on Billboard's list of hot one hundred songs based on radio play.


Recently, Weezer teamed up with the company that sells a product called the "Snuggie." It is a blanket with sleeves that a person wears to stay warm. The product is heavily advertized on television. Many Americans think the product and commercials are funny. Now there is a "Weezer Snuggie" for sale. The band wore the blankets while performing on the David Letterman late night television show. Weezer members said they were warm in the cold studio and could still play their instruments. They performed "I'm Your Daddy" from "Raditude."


The "Raditude" album cover is unusual. It is a prize-winning photograph that appeared in the National Geographic magazine. It shows a dog jumping up high in the living room of an average American home. The dog, Sidney, is a fan of the band. We leave you with Weezer and "Love is the Answer" from "Raditude."



I'm Mario Ritter. Our program was written by Lawan Davis and Caty Weaver who was also the producer. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.


Correction: As a comment below points out, Kobe Bryant's family returned to Philadelphia in 1991, not in 1982 as reported in this story.