All posts by Ted Landphair

Here’s to the Troubadours

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 6:18 pm (UTC-4)

I’ve been downloading some of my favorite folk music to my iPod, a sicknasty* example of bridging the generation gap, if you ask me. [sicknasty: a good thing, like, you know, extremely amazing] In these days of indie, emo, screamo/post-hardcore, alternative-pink, goth punk, and grindcore musical genres — and I use the term “musical” gingerly […]

‘Most Unusual and Surrealistic’ Central Park

Posted July 12th, 2011 at 5:28 pm (UTC-4)
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The quote in my title is from the Bulgarian-born artist Christo, who, with his wife Jeanne-Claude, erected 7,500 colorful “gates” draped in billowing saffron-orange fabric in New York City’s Central Park over 16 days in the dead of winter in 2005.  Their work was surrealistic, too, as you see: At 341 hectares (843 acres), Central […]

Freedom Isn’t Free — Or Always Pretty

Posted July 7th, 2011 at 1:27 pm (UTC-4)

Children’s first exposure to the freedoms that Americans cherish sometimes comes not from kindly parents or wise teachers, but from an obnoxious jerk insulting someone or cursing at something.  Ranting till the veins bulge in his neck. If confronted, the loudmouth snaps back, “Yeah, well, it’s a free country.” Indeed it is, as we reminded […]

25 and Counting: Thoughts on a Worklife

Posted July 1st, 2011 at 4:17 pm (UTC-4)

The other morning, VOA’s Central News Division chief handed me a certificate, “suitable for framing” as they say, that noted a milestone — hard evidence that careers are marathons, not sprints.  It, and a handsome eagle pin that went with it, acknowledged my reaching 25 years of government service, all of it here at VOA. […]

America’s High-Speed Rail: ‘I Think I Can, I Think I Can’

Posted June 28th, 2011 at 7:07 pm (UTC-4)

A dozen or so years ago, Carol — my photographer wife whose images often grace this space — was hired by Amtrak to go to Pueblo, Colorado,  where the passenger railroad was testing America’s version of the Japanese “bullet train.”  Although our nation was embarrassingly late to the party, high-speed train travel was finally pulling […]

We’re No. 1? Not in World Expos

Posted June 24th, 2011 at 1:50 pm (UTC-4)

Last time, in a grand tour of the six great world’s fairs hosted by the United States in the single decade of the 1930s — Depression times, no less — I pointed out that it has been 27 years since tour nation threw such a party for the world.  And there won’t be another one […]

World’s Fairs Then, Now, and Whenever

Posted June 17th, 2011 at 4:42 pm (UTC-4)

  Imagine a time of wonderment when lofty dreams and sleek designs and magical technology could inspire a worn and dejected nation to dream. World’s fairs had that power in the 1930s — the decade that bore the brunt of the Great Depression — when six U.S. extravaganzas lifted spirits and gave our people the […]

Dealing with the Fat of Our Land

Posted June 13th, 2011 at 6:18 pm (UTC-4)

Of late I’ve lost 16 kilos (35 pounds).  Friends look at me with startled wonder, as if they’ve bumped into a unicorn.  “You OK?” they say.  Since I’m well known for lacking dietary discipline, they figure I’ve come down with a deadly disease. To their surprise, and mine, I have shrunk the puffy jowls and […]

Whole Lotta Shaking, Baking — and Snaking

Posted June 9th, 2011 at 1:30 pm (UTC-4)
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Last posting, I presented a reasonably close inspection of the somewhat aloof, but by no means separatist, Amish people and their culture.  I pointed out that although the sect clings to 19th-century ways, it is growing and thriving. As I noted, however, the long-term success of other onetime “people apart” in the mainstream American culture […]

The Amish: Among Us But Apart — and Thriving

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 6:04 pm (UTC-4)

Many U.S. separatist religious or cultural sects have seen their numbers diminish or die out.  In fact, in a short follow-up to this posting in a couple of days, I’ll tell you about two of them. But some remarkably plain people who wear what must be uncomfortably hot outfits as the American summer nears, and […]

Ted Landphair


This is a far-ranging exploration of American life by a veteran Voice of America “Americana” reporter and essayist.

Ted writes about the thousands of places he has visited and written about as a broadcaster and book author. Ted Landphair’s America often showcases the work of his wife and traveling companion, renowned American photographer Carol M. Highsmith.

Ted welcomes feedback, questions, and ideas. View Ted’s profile. Watch a video about Ted and Carol by VOA’s Nico Colombant.

Photos by Carol M. Highsmith


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