09 August, 2012
FAITH LAPIDUS: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Faith Lapidus. This week, we play some older music recorded by newer bands...
We also report on "Old News..."
But first, some Muslims in America tell us how they are observing Ramadan this summer...
Ramadan in Summer
FAITH LAPIDUS: Muslims around the world have been fasting for three weeks. They are not permitted to eat or drink anything in daylight hours during the month of Ramadan.
This year, the observance falls during summer in Earth's northern hemisphere. In the United States, the fasting day is long and the weather can be hot. Barbara Klein tells how some American Muslims are dealing with this.
BARBARA KLEIN: Fourteen year old Maleke Nabbus enjoys playing basketball with relatives during the summer, although they are all fasting. Maleke says they make some compromises to have fun.
MALEKE NABBUS: "It's not that hard. Sometimes, like, you can't play for that long, like you only play for an hour or so."
His cousin Adeeb Baiou agrees. Adeeb also plays on an organized sports team. He says that activity is more competitive and intense. So he chooses to break his fast during games, like many other Muslim athletes.
ADEEB BAIOU: "The most challenging part is staying hydrated and not being able to drink water."
His sister Sabrine finds it easier to fast in the summer. Why? No school.
SABRINE BAIOU: "I actually like it better because we don't have to wake up as early and the days, they might be longer, but you can sleep in, until, like, really late in the afternoon."
Sabrine has a summer job at a local restaurant. She has to be around other people who are eating and drinking while she is fasting.
SABRINE BAIOU: "It's a little tough as like a person who serves food and drink to people. It's, like, hard watching them but I kind of try not to think about it."
Fifteen year old Serage Gerbbi says many of his non-Muslim friends wonder how he is able to keep the fast.
SERAGE GERBBI: "In the very beginning they will be in shock, like how you stay without water the whole day. They are very supportive, like sometimes they're too shy to eat in front of me."
Serage and his friends say they might feel hungry, thirsty and tired at times while fasting. But, they say they understand why they are doing it.
SERAGE GERBBI: "You start being closer to your religion, closer to God. Second of all, you remember the poor and people are suffering, like, we're only staying throughout the day. People are not going to sleep hungry."
SABRINA BAIOU: "Not eating for the whole day, you, like, realize, you don't actually need the stuff that you put in your mouth all the time."
Islam does not require young children to fast during Ramadan. But nine year old Nourene Nabbus is fasting this year, for the second time.
NORENE NABBUS: "I wanted to fast because I wanted to see what it felt like with my Mom and my Dad, and them all fasting like I didn't know how it felt."
Wafaa Elmahgob is Nourene's mother. She says she and Nourene's father told her she could try avoiding food and drinks half a day because the day is long. But she says Nourene was firm about fasting the whole day.
Ms. Elmahgob is happy that her daughter is joining in the tradition. She says she gets pleasure out of doing commonplace things, like cooking, during this special time. Everything slows down.
WAFAA ELMAHGOB: "During the regular day – or not the Ramadan day – usually I'd like you to prepare your food in a rush, and hurry to finish just one dish. But Ramadan, it's different, because you're taking your time. Actually it's the time when I call my sisters overseas and ask them for more recipes and try new things. It's really enjoyable."
Wafaa Elmahgob says Ramadan is the best time of year for family members to reconnect.
FAITH LAPIDUS: VOA's Christopher Cruise has been receiving an unusual newspaper in the mail. There recently was a story about the sinking of the passenger ship Titanic, and another on Thomas Edison and the electric light he invented. Other stories tell about Russian claims to Alaska, and how British leader Winston Churchill expects trouble from Nazi Germany. As Chris tells us, these stories are from what another newspaper has called "perhaps the most peculiar newspaper in the United States."
CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: The newspaper is called simply "Old News." One critic said it "provides nuggets of old news from every corner of Western Civilization, changing historical events into great stories of remarkable people." Another critic said, "you might feel as though you've stepped back in time."
"Old News" reports on events from the nineteen-thirties back to about four hundred years before the start of Christianity. Rick Bromer and his parents began publishing the newspaper in nineteen eighty-nine. Now, he and three other people write many of the stories.
RICK BROMER: "Been doing it for a long time. The basic idea is we're trying to make history entertaining. We try to tell a story about a particular character in history and we try to structure it like a short story. We don't fictionalize and we don't use the usual devices of fiction. But we start with one character who's got a goal he's trying to reach and their difficulties. And the story's all about his attempts to overcome those difficulties. And when he does overcome them and succeeds, or if he fails, that's the end of the story.
A subscription to "Old News" costs seventeen dollars a year in the United States. About ten years ago, over thirty-three thousand subscribers were receiving the newspaper. But, like other papers, "Old News" has been affected by the Internet. The readership has dropped to about twenty-three thousand, all of them in the United States. Mr. Bromer says another reason for the drop is a reduction in the number of issues produced. He now publishes six times a year – down from a high of eleven.
Mr. Bromer says his readers are history lovers and teachers, including his daughter -- who uses the paper in her classes.
The publication is now available on the Internet. Some of the stories were recorded, and can be purchased online. Here is sound from one of them, a story about Amelia Earhart, from Audible.com.
Fleetwood Mac Tribute
FAITH LAPIDUS: That is "The Chain" by the band Fleetwood Mac. The song was on the band's nineteen seventy-seven record album "Rumours," the eighth highest selling album of all time.
Fleetwood Mac formed about forty-five years ago and is still performing today. The group had numerous hit songs that have influenced many musicians. Now, some of them have joined together and recorded a CD called "Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac."
That is Best Coast performing "Rhiannon," a nineteen seventy-six Fleetwood Mac release. Stevie Nicks wrote and sang the original version.
An indie group from Canada also performs on "Just Tell Me That You Want Me." The New Pornographers play a song from the Fleetwood Mac double album "Tusk." Here is "Think About Me."
"Gypsy" is from Fleetwood Mac's thirteenth studio album, "Mirage." Stevie Nicks has said the song is partly about her life before joining Fleetwood Mac. Back then, she had little money and few possessions. Yet, she found a certain beauty in that.
Gardens & Villa is a five member band from Santa Barbara, California. We leave you with their version of "Gypsy."
FAITH LAPIDUS: I'm Faith Lapidus. This program was written by Christopher Cruise and Caty Weaver, who was also the producer. Faiza Elmasry provided additional reporting.
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Join us again next week for music and more on AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.