By Charles Gustine
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How do we understand the places we visit (and even the places we’ve never been)? As a shorthand, we use agreed-upon touchstones - famous places, famous people famous foods, and, of course, dreams. Dreamed-up people and dreamed-up places and dreamed-up things. This podcast looks at a culture's icons - real and imagined - to see what they say about the culture itself, as well as the outsiders who've elevated those icons above all others.
||CleanThe Mayflower||The Mayflower is a foundational icon of the United States, but it was a British ship carrying British subjects to a British colony. So how does the UK plan to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower's journey from one Plymouth to another?||12/21/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe First Thanksgiving||Sarah Josepha Hale, editress of Godey's Lady's Book, dedicated years of her life to the crusade to make Thanksgiving a national holiday - she was successful. And yet, Reverend Alexander Young wrote one footnote about Thanksgiving, and he may have inadve||11/21/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitThe Crucible of Modern Salem||The Witchfinder General of Salem, Eric Dwinnells leads us on a Halloween journey to the heart of Salem, Massachusetts. Find it questionable that the Salem Witch Trials and The Crucible would be covered in a Halloween episode at all? That friction - the||10/30/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitThe Witch Hunt||Can a witch hunt narrative be effective if it includes actual witches? In part one of a two part series on Salem and its Witch Trials, Iconography uses Hocus Pocus, Scooby Doo, and The Blair Witch Project to see how the bad witch stands in for the unkno||10/20/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanSquanto||A visit to Plymouth 400’s “Our” Story exhibit with guest Paula Peters. On remembering, balance, Squanto, and Epanow.||8/15/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanSpecial Episode: Reaching Mars||Look up. This month, July 2018, Mars is as close as he'll get for another 17 years. So let's pause our New England journey for a moment and consider an icon that unites us all.||7/18/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanJohn Smith, Admiral of New England||The story of how John Smith made New England, and how New England destroyed John Smith.||7/4/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Citgo Sign and the Boston Marathon||Season 2 of Iconography begins with a look at the relationship between two New England icons - a marathon that's become not just the definitive marathon experience but perhaps the definitive Boston experience, and an advertisement that's transcended its||6/20/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanSeason 2 Preview||From England to New England. No I didn't move from London to Boston so I could have that catchy tagline, but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Heck no, I'm going to ride that horse all the way from Charlestown to Cambridge shouting "Seaso||6/2/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanJames Bond in 2015||Revisit 2015, when the most recent Bond film came out on the tails of a series of revelatory spy films - and world events - that argued for 007's irrelevance. This episode: - How the NSA shows up in mainstream entertainment - So many Bond themes - Melis||2/27/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Death of Hercule Poirot||There are very few things in life that are truly once in a lifetime experiences. If you had picked up the New York Times on August 6, 1975 you would have experienced one of them. “Hercule Poirot Is Dead; Famed Belgian Detective.” It would have been||2/11/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Guy Fawkes Mask||This is the story of Guy Fawkes, but it's also the story of the comic book that forever gave him rosy cheeks and a smile that taunts authority.||11/16/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Ghost Stories of M.R. James||You never know what your legacy is going to be. There once was a scholar at Cambridge who dedicated probably 90% of his adult waking hours to scholarship - cataloging dusty old manuscripts, caring for fragile old artifacts, studying creaky old churches.||10/23/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanTerry Pratchett's Discworld||How does one map onto our world a fantasy world that rides around on the back of a turtle, where there is no London or England - or, to be more precise, where those places exist, but only in a magicless round world that’s kept in a glass sphere at Uns||10/1/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Legacy of Dunkirk||What started as the second half of a series on Dunkirk turned into a meditation on Charlottesville, Nazis, statues, and symbols.||9/3/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanA Tapestry of Dunkirk||It all feels immersive, especially in IMAX. But I’m having a wider screen experience when I watch Dunkirk. I imagine what’s just on the periphery; who else, besides Mr. Dawson, is setting off from England in a little dinghy? Who is up in the air mon||8/13/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanPaddington||An episode dedicated to Michael Bond, and his little bear from Darkest Peru.||7/23/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanKing John and the Magna Carta||To wrap up our three-part series on the turn of the 13th century, we take a look at King John - no longer a petulant prince - and how he transformed England for the best by being the absolute worst.||7/2/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanRichard the Lionheart||This episode we consider the legacy of Richard the Lionheart - was he a disobedient son, a bad governor, a harbinger of death? This far out from the 1190s, does it matter anymore who he was, or does it matter who he's become?||6/11/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanRobin Hood||It might surprise you how much Robin Hood has been transformed by the way we want to see history; and by how much the way we see history has been transformed by Robin Hood.||5/21/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Full English Breakfast||This week, our first culinary icon. The Full English. The fry-up. What does it mean for a national cuisine - one that finds itself frequently derided for its blandness - to be tied so obviously to a meal as fickle - as subject to trends, whims, diets, a||4/23/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanSpice Girls (Part 2)||This episode: why Britpop orphaned the very British, very popular Spice Girls, and why feminists refused to adopt them.||4/2/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanSpice Girls (Part 1)||20 years ago, in March 1997, our world was in truth, a Spice World. Revisit those heady days as we look back at Girl Power and its influence today.||3/19/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanPiccadilly Circus||The lights are out in Piccadilly Circus, just the latest change for an icon that's characterized by change. We look to a lot of icons to tell us about the past - Piccadilly Circus is that rare icon we want to look like the future, right down to the simp||2/19/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanCrimson Peak and British Gothic||This is the iTunes debut of the podcast that inspired Iconography. In this episode, I considered Crimson Peak within the context of American vs. British ghost stories, and within the context of Gothic Romance.||2/5/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanFour Weddings and a Funeral||In 1994, it became the highest grossing British film of all time. How Four Weddings and a Funeral changed Richard Curtis's career - for better and worse.||1/22/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanTwelfth Night||What happens when an icon dies? It's not just people that pass away, or buildings that get demolished... ideas to can be weathered away by time. Twelfth Night, as it was celebrated in England for centuries - as Shakespeare knew it when he wrote a comedy||1/6/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGeorge Michael's Leather Jacket||This is a special in memoriam episode of the podcast, dedicated to one the brightest stars in the constellation of British music, George Michael. And specifically, dedicated to his fascinating relationship with his most iconic of totems - the leather ja||12/30/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanEbenezer Scrooge||Every day of the holiday season, there is probably someone in your neighborhood watching or reading some version of A Christmas Carol. If you think about it, that means we probably see early Victorian England as often as any other time period. What has||12/24/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Remembrance Poppy||The poppy is an elegant symbol of remembrance - for soldiers who died and for those who came back; but there's a lot of conflict behind the story of its creation - the war that inspired a poem, and the two women who fought to be the true Poppy Lady.||12/11/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Many London Bridges||Many who cross London Bridge today wonder why the bridge to the east looks more like the London Bridge they imagined. In this episode, we look at the powerful, enduring image of London Bridge - a nursery rhyme, a medieval wonder of the world, a quirky A||11/25/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
Impressive new (to me) podcast
I'm a newcomer to this podcast mainly because season 2 is focused on Boston. I listened to the first episode about the Citgo sign and the Boston Marathon. I only equated that Citgo sign with Fenway Park. I never realized it was such a big deal for marathon runners. Nor did I realize how big the Boston marathon was vs other major marathons. I can't get past the fact that this podcast is done by only one person. Really well-done.
This Show is Iconic
In my mind there is a show where an icon is discussed with reference to its location in an incredibly cursory and uninteresting way. This? This is not that show. Charles quite literally explores every avenue, every nook and cranny, and presents the listener with a very robust and engaging story. As we draw closer to the beginning of Season 2, which moved the show from jolly olde England to cranky New England, now is the perfect time to start listening and catch up.
It’s well produced, interesting, and he picks great topics. The music and other effects are a wonderful touch.