Showing Archived Posts

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

U.S.A. “The Uninformed States of America”?

Posted May 5th, 2011 at 2:18 pm (UTC-4)

A while back, Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker wrote a troubling piece in which she described a trend that doesn’t seem to bother the country much.  But it worries me! She laid out the appalling results of two national studies, one that tested the “civic literacy” of freshmen and seniors at 50 universities across the […]

Exporting American Culture

Posted April 14th, 2011 at 11:28 am (UTC-4)
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As uprisings and near-revolts were popping up in various places throughout the Middle East over the past few months, there were many references to the “stirrings of democracy” in the statements of those leading the insurgencies.  We Americans, who talk a lot about enabling or “exporting” democracy, have shaped our interpretation of that term over […]

The Heartland

Posted April 7th, 2011 at 4:41 pm (UTC-4)
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A longtime colleague and friend, VOA science reporter Art Chimes, had the nerve to retire and move to St. Louis.  Even though he had lots of good reasons to pick the city where a stunning Gateway Arch beckons travelers to the threshold of the American West, his decision was a bit of a shock.  After […]

Memories in Stone

Posted January 14th, 2011 at 12:13 pm (UTC-4)

Whenever I get the chance — and it isn’t often enough — I’ll take my lunch hour across the street from our VOA offices, briskly walking as much of the Washington National Mall as time and weather will allow. So briskly, and so preoccupied by matters at work or the sports conversations streaming into the […]

Christmases Remembered

Posted December 22nd, 2010 at 1:01 pm (UTC-4)
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The other day I came upon a script of a VOA story that I had put together nine years ago. It was entitled, “Christmas Memories,” and it wasn’t a story so much as stories, warm reminiscences told in thin and sometimes crackly voices by men and women who lived in retirement homes — they used […]

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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