Why Do We Count Down to the New Year?

How the Doomsday Clock, a German Sci-Fi Film, and Dick Clark Got Us to '5-4-3-2-1'

Few people counted down to anything until the 1960s and 1970s—and yes, that included the new year. Celebrations and midnight kisses on December 31, of course. Countdowns, no. How, then, did the countdown go from almost nonexistent to ubiquitous in the latter half of the 20th century? And why are we so drawn to them now, especially to mark one year’s end and another’s beginning?

Countdowns as we know them today serve many purposes. The New Year’s Eve countdown might be characterized as a “genesis countdown”: After time runs out, it …

How 1970s Pop Culture Cemented Today’s Partisan Divisions | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How 1970s Pop Culture Cemented Today’s Partisan Divisions

Journalist Ronald Brownstein Explores the Creative Explosion in Los Angeles That Prefigures Our Current Politics

Longtime political journalist Ronald Brownstein paid a visit to Zócalo yesterday to speak about his new book, Rock Me On the Water: 1974- The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, …

Where I Go: Coming Together ’Round the Telly | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Where I Go: Coming Together ’Round the Telly

In Praise of TV-Watching, the Pinnacle of Evening Entertainment

I wish I was watching TV right now. When I’m not watching TV, I like to reflect on all the previous times I’ve watched TV or look forward to the …

Why Americans Love Andy Griffith’s Toothy Grin | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why Americans Love Andy Griffith’s Toothy Grin

In the Post-Civil Rights Era, Images of Southerners as ‘Slow-Witted Rubes’ Soothed White Anxieties

Today, when many Americans think of the “good old days”—when neighbors knew each other and the world seemed safer and simpler—they often conjure visions of the 1950s and early 1960s, …

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 …