Friday, January 23, 2015

REPOST: Durant Exhibit Challenges History Of Westward Expansion

The Kemper Museum exhibit sees by both curator and artists as an important challenge to St. Louis’ status as “the gateway to the west.” This article has the details.

Sam Durant's “Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions, Washington, D.C.,” 2005  Kemper
Durant's “Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions, Washington, D.C.,” 2005 challenges accepted history of U.S. Western Expansion. | Image Source:

The Kemper Museum is hoping an exhibit of sculptures calling for more monuments dedicated to Native Americans at The National Mall in Washington, D.C., will build community engagement over the issue of Native American representation in American culture.

“We really hope to begin a dialogue, taking this work as a point of departure, with the Native American community,” said Kemper director Sabine Eckman.

Sam Durant's “Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions, Washington, D.C.,” 2005  Kemper 02
Part of the exhibit features a proposal for the inclusion of monuments dedicated to lost Native American life at The National Mall. | Image Source:

The exhibit grounding this dialogue is Sam Durant’s “Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions, Washington, D.C.,” which was completed in 2005. Durant’s sculptures highlight disparity between national monuments dedicated to white Americans and Native Americans who lost their lives during the U.S. westward expansion. The project came from Durant’s research, which unearthed the fact that 25 monuments exist commemorating the deaths of white Americans during the “American Indian Wars” between the 17th and 19th centuries. Only five monuments exist commemorating Native American’s during those same conflicts.

Both curator and artists see the exhibit as an important challenge to St. Louis’ status as “the gateway to the west.” The motto is an iconic claim meant to be emblematic of the human capacity to overcome obstacles yet it has a dark side manifested in the subjugation of a native people.

“It’s all about westward expansion, which is what my work is really addressing,” said Durant. “It makes a lot of sense to be in St. Louis,”

The work consists of 30 grey sculptures roughly ranging in height from 3 to 15 feet organized around a single room at the Kemper. In the center of the room stands a wooden table hosting miniature replicas of the sculptures interjected into a to-scale model of the National Mall. Durant is no stranger to addressing Native American issues in St. Louis. Last year he produced a site-specific work titled “Free Hanging Chain” at the Laumeier Sculpture Garden. Both of Durant’s projects that have touched St. Louis come from a similar desire.

Sam Durant's “Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions, Washington, D.C.,” 2005  Kemper 03
Durant's proposal includes a cluster of monuments to lost Native American lives be installed in the grounds before the Washington Monument. | Image Source:

“I wanted to try and investigate what monuments and memorials might mean from the perspective of, in this case let’s say, the victims of territorial conquests in the United States,” said Durant.

For Eckman, the work’s power comes from questions left with the viewer after confronting the work.

“Each of us has to think about this proposal and we become a part of it, and that’s what makes this so poignant,” she said.

The planning stages of the exhibit have already spurred meetings with representatives of the local Native American community organized in part by Washington University’s Kathryn A. Buder Center for American Indian Studies.

Eckman said she is working with local Native American artist Tina Sparks and noted Indigenous Art scholar Candice Hopkins to create readings, and presentations discussing Native American art and the issues raised by Durant’s work. The exhibit runs through April.

Follow this Pete Scamardo Twitter page to discover more of America’s culture and history through its museums and monuments.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Year in review: Companies that made a big impact in 2014

Business is a world driven by numbers. Thus, when it comes to success, sales, profit, and revenue are the main criteria for ranking businesses.

But there is another kind of success in business. It is the power to innovate, transform, and shape the industry in a way different from others.

Proof can be found in group companies that have made a big impact in the world in 2014. These firms proved that there is more to business than money, and that social responsibility feeds into the sustainable business model.

Google: Topping Fortune’s 2014 list, there’s more to this Internet company than its billion-dollar revenues. This year, Google has been more than just a search engine. Among its most memorable milestones are the creation of Calico, a sub-company that works to extend the human lifespan, and Google Glass, which makes wearables the next trend in computing technology.

Image Source:

According to Fast Company, one of the most critical factors that made SAS successful is its working culture and environment. A multibillion dollar software developer company, its employees and their family members can avail of its onsite health center, free healthcare, gyms, daycare, and life counseling services. Through these benefits, the company has become a model of a business that values its people.

Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Over the years, the company’s unique expertise and the talent of its employees have strengthened communities and the improved quality of life of people around the globe. Living the legacy of its founder, Michael Bloomberg, the company has addressed several issues in healthcare, biodiversity conservation, and tobacco regulation, among others. This year, Bloomberg committed $53 million to take on overfishing in Brazil, the Philippines, and Chile.

Companies like Google, SAS, and Bloomberg change perspectives in measuring the success of businesses. Good faith, passion, and innovation, increases value both in the lifespan of business and the life of the workforce and beneficiaries of social responsibility initiatives.

More resources on business can be accessed through this Pete Scamardo Twitter page.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reliving the American dream

For the vast majority of Americans, living the American dream resonates a successful life. This concept, introduced by historian John Truslow Adams, has inspired people to reach for their destiny through hard work and freedom of choice. However, with a whopping $130,000 a year, the estimated annual cost for the average family of four according to USA Today, is the American dream a dying platitude?

Several middle-class Americans today think that living the American dream is getting harder each day. CNNMoney's American Dream Poll and ORC International showed that six in 10 respondents said that the dream is unreachable. They have every reason to despair since they have gone through one of the worst recessions in recent history. And while most Americans are on the rebound, many are still suffering the recession aftermath. For them, the struggle to return to their normal lives continues.

Image Source:

Yet, difficult as it sounds, there is still much to do to recapture the dream. According to a TIME Magazine article entitled “How to restore the American dream,” there are ways to do this, but they involve arduous adjustments. One of which is embracing globalization and technology now more than ever. Another key path is moving up from doing mere consumption to making profitable investments. A third solution is having better education and training for the workforce, including job retraining and employee development.

It is time ordinary Americans rethink their perception of what the American dream is today because the notion has evolved with time since its conceptualization. Americans have to navigate through painful changes, just like what the corporate world has done.

Restoring the American dream is not easy, but there is always a way to start and sustain it in the long run. Find more related stories by visiting this Pete Scamardo blog/a>.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Gift cards: Too impersonal or most appreciated?

According to a survey by BankRate, 84 percent of Americans have received a gift card and 72 percent have given a gift card to someone. At the end of 2014, about $124 billion have been loaded onto gift cards.

Despite the growing sales of gift cards, many are still against their use. The holidays, they say, are all about “showing family and friends that you care for them.” There is value in the effort made to look for a gift and in the thoughts put into giving it to someone. Instead of saying “here’s $25 you can spend on WalMart,” the giver can instead be saying “I remembered how you’ve been collecting trinkets like this so I decided to add another one to your collection.” This is also like saying that the giver keeps the receiver in their thoughts and cares a lot about them.

Image Source:

On the other hand, gift cards are still appealing to others. Adults who want something particular are often too shy to ask someone else to purchase it for them. Gift cards, meanwhile, allow friends and family members to contribute to their budget for that item and ease the guilt of spending too much. Additionally, many people (three out of four, according to online retailer Rakuten) confess to disliking or not being able to use the gifts that they received.

Gift-giving is an activity with no guarantees. Sometimes all the effort put in by the giver isn’t appreciated by the recipient. Other times, even the simplest of gifts could mean a lot to someone. All of this highlight the importance of sharing feelings outright. For at least once every year, people have the opportunity to say “I love you, I appreciate you, I’m thankful that you’re with me.” The gift is merely the icebreaker.

Visit this Pete Scamardo Facebook page for more links to articles on life in America.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

REPOST: 7 secrets of packing a car for holiday travel

People always worry about packing enough for when they travel. This article from shares some simple tips to pack for a road trip.
When planning a holiday road trip, finding creative ways to utilize vehicle space is essential. Here are some resourceful tips for making the best use of any vehicle storage capacity. | Image Source:

When it comes to packing a vehicle for holiday travel, the guy with the red suit and the white beard is the unquestioned master. For those who don't possess a magic sack with unlimited storage capacity, packing a vehicle for a family holiday trip is a critical logistical skill. Those who master it tend to have holiday adventures that are festive and fun. Those who don't can end up frustrated and frazzled and find themselves on the naughty list.

If a holiday road trip is on your schedule, here are some tips that can help it go smoothly:

Make a list and check it twice

Prior to the trip, make a comprehensive list. Prioritize according to the things you must take and the things that might be nice to have. When packing time comes, you won't forget any essentials and you will have already decided what things you can do without if there isn't enough space.

Plan for safety

Winter travel presents hazards. Although you won't be starting from the North Pole, you still could need items like tire chains and a tow strap, depending on your destination and the areas through which you will travel. Even with limited space, it is always important to have jumper cables, flares, a flashlight, a fully charged cell phone and a car charger. If you have a roadside protection plan included with your car insurance, make sure you have that information readily available. Also, you might want to have a backup service like AAA. If you break down on a holiday or a weekend, sometimes it can be difficult to connect with actual humans when you call those 24-hour emergency numbers.

Find extra space

Almost every vehicle has nooks and crannies that are easy to overlook. Many cars have room under and behind seats. Some have a shelf behind the back window where you can stash a few items, as long as you don't obstruct the rear view. If your vehicle has a spare tire compartment in the bottom or side of the trunk, remove the cover and you will likely find enough extra space for a few small items.

Pack smart

USA Today advises, “Many travel experts … agree that rolling is superior to folding. Tightly rolled clothes take up less space than folded ones. Plus, they're less prone to getting deep wrinkles from fold creases.” Also, remember to fill hollow spaces like those in shoes and boots. Pack them with socks, personal care items, or a rolled up shirt or jacket.

Organize the trunk

Hard-sided luggage offers better protection for fragile items, but it doesn't allow much flexibility in tight spots. Two medium-size bags will likely fit better in the trunk than one large suitcase. In general, put heavier, bulky items on the bottom and toward the front of the cargo area. Keep more fragile items like electronics at the top.

Be casual

Traveling is stressful. Make it easier on yourself by resolve to have a laid-back, relaxed attitude, and leave dresses, suits, hair curlers, dress shoes and blow dryers at home. If you think something needs to be on a hanger, then reconsider taking it. It will save space in the car and help you remember that your focus is on a fun, calm, casual trip.

Take it slow notes that winter driving is much more fatiguing than summer, so plan for slower speeds and more rest stops. The human cargo you carry is far more valuable than any of the possessions you've jammed into your vehicle. As Santa has proven for hundreds of years, the key to holiday travel is to arrive safely at your destination.

Follow this Pete Scamardo Facebook page for more helpful insights on traveling.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Follow your stomach: The best road diners in America

Image Source:

For as long as there have been truck drivers, there have been roadside attractions to assist them in their long-haul journey. These attractions range from areas for them to rest to diners that offer inexpensive yet excellent dishes. The “diner” in fact has become an American standard; and is as much a part of this culture as French fries and burgers. In fact, it can be argued that diners, with their classic lines and signature fonts, bring a sense of nostalgia and have helped define popular culture. A single definition for these staples cannot be made; but many food enthusiasts and average Joes alike know a good diner when they see one.

Listed below are some of the most highly recommended diners, as suggested by several food magazines and food blogs:

Cookin’ From Scratch in Doolittle, Missouri

Along the old Route 66, this diner is a favorite of many truckers. Newbies should just look for an El Camino with a big chicken on top, and take that exit. This diner specializes in pan-fried chicken, which are cooked piece-by-piece in iron skillets. This process gives the signature crispy, non-greasy exterior that Cookin’ From Scratch is known for. Individuals should try “The Big Pig,” the diner’s signature dish, which is a piece of juicy pork tenderloin.

Image Source:

Blue Gate Restaurant and Bakery in Shipshewana, Indiana

This diner is known for their fresh baked pies and homemade bread. This eatery is located in the heart of Amish country, so materials are locally sourced and fresh.

Image Source:

Space Aliens Grill & Bar in Bismarck, North Dakota

Some diners are not only recognized for their food, but for their funky exterior as well. A classic example is the Space Aliens Grill & Bar. Keeping up with its name, the owners of this diner made the exterior as sci-fi and “alien-y” as possible. But that’s not the only reason for stopping by. The diner is also known for its succulent ribs.

Space Aliens Grill & Bar, Fargo, North Dakota
Image Source:

Many modern foodies may consider diners as “old news,” but the truth of the matter is, diners will be part of this society for quite some time.

Pete Scamardo is a food enthusiast who loves trying popular dining areas. For more related posts, subscribe to this blog.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

New study ranks the most affordable housing markets for millennials

Contrary to how they're portrayed in media, the millennials aren't buying their own homes because of a desire to buck tradition: they want to buy one when they're sure they can afford it, and not before.

Millennials, young adults between the ages of 18 to 34, are ethnically diverse, more educated than their parents, typically struggle with student debt and limited job opportunities, and are less likely to enter into traditional marriages. These factors, combined with the unstable housing market of recent years, have led to this generation shying away from home ownership.

However, current housing affordability highs and mortgage interest lows have made owning a home a possibility for many of them.

A new study by RealtyTrac, a real estate information company and real estate marketplace, identified the most affordable housing markets for this demographic.

Topping the list of most affordable housing markets to buy is the Augusta-Richmond metropolitan area in Richmond County, GA, where the median home price is $64,100, followed by Fayetteville in Cumberland County, NC, with a median home price of $97,500. Other markets on the list include the following:

Image Source:

• The Atlanta, Sandy Springs, and Marietta metropolitan area in Dekalb County, GA

• Jacksonville in Duval County, Florida.

• Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington metropolitan area in Philadelphia County, PA

• Baltimore and Townson metropolitan area in Baltimore City, MD

• Conway, Little Rock, and North Little Rock metropolitan area in Faulkner County, AR

• Columbus in Franklin County, OH

• Council Bluffs and Omaha metropolitan area in Douglas County in NE, IA.

• Milwaukee, Waukesha, and West Allis metropolitan area in Milwaukee County, WI

One of the biggest obstacles millennials when buying a home is coming up with down payments. While monthly payments might be well within their budgets, an $11,000 down payment on a home, coupled with closing and escrow fees, might seem to be too much. First-time young homebuyers should consult with a real estate professional to help them clarify their financial standing and discover opportunities for home ownership that they might not be aware of.

Subscribe to this Pete Scamardo blog for more real estate industry articles and news.