Why Color TV Was the Quintessential Cold War Machine

The Technological Innovation Transformed How Americans Saw the World, and How the World Viewed America

In 1959, at the height of the space race, Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev stood together, surrounded by reporters, in the middle of RCA’s color television display at the American National Exhibition in Moscow. Nixon, speaking to Krushchev through a translator, pointed proudly to the television camera before them and addressed the technological competition between the two nations that the leaders had just been debating. “There are some instances where you may be ahead of us, for example, in the development of the thrusts of your …

The Circus Spectacular That Spawned American Giantism

How the “Greatest Show on Earth” Enthralled Small-Town Crowds and Inspired Shopping Malls

When Barnum and Bailey’s “Greatest Show on Earth” rolled into American towns in the 1880s, daily life abruptly stopped. Months before the show arrived, an advance team saturated the …

How Alpine Yodeling Mutated Into American Blackface Minstrelry

Vestiges of the Racist Entertainment Persist in Art and Politics

In 1822 the Austrian emperor Franz I and his ally Tsar Alexander I of Russia held a meeting in a remote valley of the war-torn Tyrolese Alps. They were entertained …

Cleveland Rocks, Even in the Dead of Winter

The City’s Unpretentious Music Scene Thrives Year Round, Under Bridges, on Porches, and Outside of the Country’s Most Famous Music Hall

In the middle of February, when the temperatures dip below freezing, Clevelanders are frequently found huddled together for warmth in one place: outside—yes, outside—under the crisp night sky, watching local …

America’s First ‘Indian’ TV Star Was a Black Man from Missouri

Stymied by Hollywood Racism, Korla Pandit Reinvented Himself as a Mystical Brahmin Pianist

Turning on the TV in Los Angeles in 1949, you might have come face-to-face with a young man in a jeweled turban with a dreamy gaze accentuated by dark eye …

Why American Satire Doesn’t Need Jon Stewart

The Daily Show Host Made an Old Tradition New Again—Which Is Why We’ll Do Just Fine without Him

Like the legions of other admirers of Jon Stewart, I’m eager to hear who will
succeed him at The Daily Show. In my research on political satire around the world, …