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The most watched Superbowl and a podcaster who fell in line, courtesy Neil Young

AMERICAN DIARIES: New York now an urban zoo with origamic animal sculptures in public spaces

Suhashini Sarkar Published 26.02.22, 12:36 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File picture

Festive mood

The Super Bowl LVI took place on February 14 with the Los Angeles Rams defeating the Cincinnati Bengals. According to the National Football League’s website, it was watched by more than 100 million viewers on television, making it the most-watched Super Bowl in five years.


The Super Bowl is an anticipated event for Americans. The average cost of a stadium ticket is $6,214 and private suites range from $500,000 to $2.5 million. Watching from the comfort of the couch at home is, of course, free. Many host Super Bowl parties for their friends and co-workers with plenty of beer and chicken wings.

In fact, WalletHub found that people consume about 8,000 calories on an average at Super Bowl parties. Americans eat 1.42 billion pounds of chicken wings, 8 million pounds of guacamole and 10 million pounds of ribs during the Super Bowl. The game is always on a Sunday, and the Monday after is the least productive workday of the whole year.

This year, the half-time show was a blend of hip-hop, rap and R&B with Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J Blige and Kendrick Lamar taking the stage. At the end of his set, Eminem took a knee, which many interpreted as an act of solidarity with the former NFL athlete, Colin Kaepernick, who famously kneeled during the national anthem for the 2016 season to protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

Streaming trouble

People turn to podcasts for news, comedy, entertainment or just some respite. But The Joe Rogan Experience, one of the most popular podcasts in the United States of America, is at the centre of a debate on media censorship and free speech.

Joe Rogan, the host of the show, invites a wide array of guests and talks about current news items in an almost three-hour-long, unfiltered conversation-style sound byte. His podcast is streamed exclusively on Spotify and held the top spot for 2021.

But Rogan, and by extension Spotify, is under fire after he brought some guests who perpetuated misinformation about the coronavirus and distrust over the Covid vaccine. Some prominent music artists, including Neil Young, took their music off Spotify in retaliation. After that, some older episodes resurfaced with Rogan repeatedly using racial slurs.

Spotify is caught in the middle of it but has decided not to remove the podcast. The Joe Rogan Experience is its most popular show across the globe and gives it a leg up against its competitors. However, many news outlets and social media sites have noticed that the podcast mysteriously disappeared for a brief period of time from the streaming site.

Rogan has apologized for the racist slurs and removed the controversial episodes from the show. Regarding the episodes on Covid misinformation, he said that he wanted to hear all sides of a topic. He did briefly acknowledge that perhaps he should invite guests with opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

Innovative display

New York, the concrete jungle, is now becoming an urban zoo. The city has always been the epicentre of art and culture, and now you can find large, origamic animal sculptures in public in the midtown area. Starting on 34th Street, you have Rexor, a shiny red Tyrannosaurus rex. One block up is Baloo the Bear and Diego the Sabertooth Tiger. The pack includes Urus the Buffalo, Dundee the Crocodile and Mojo the Gorilla among others. The displays will be up for a year.

This exhibition is presented by the Patrons of Park Avenue — it is a group that supports the care and maintenance of malls along Park Avenue. The displays were designed by the French artist, Idriss B.

This is not the city’s first foray into temporary public animal art. A few months ago, 78 colourful, fibreglass cow sculptures were spread across eight locations in New York. The exhibition, called the CowParade, considers itself the world’s largest public art event. The organizers auction cow sculptures and the proceeds go to a charitable organization. Reportedly, Oprah once spent $100,000 on three such cows.

Twisted romance

Valentine’s Day, which is the third most expensive holiday for US shoppers, was celebrated on February 14. According to WalletHub, people spent around $175 this year, a 10 per cent increase from last year.

But instead of true love, if you want to get back at an ex-partner, the zoos are back with their traditional ‘Roach Your Ex’ programmes. The Amarillo Zoo in Texas offers several packages. The $1 package lets you name a Madagascar hissing cockroach; the $5 packages come with a cricket, mealworm, or pinky mouse that will be fed to one of the zoo’s smaller creatures such as a snake. For $20 you can name an animal to be fed to a lion or a tiger. The Bronx Zoo and the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, too, have similar packages.

But if you’d rather just do something nice, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs will let guests symbolically adopt one of its cougars for Valentine’s Day while the Milwaukee County Zoo will send personalized video messages featuring penguins, elephants, tigers and sloths.


The famous Hollywood sign on the hills of Los Angeles recently received a temporary makeover. For a few days it read “Rams House” to mark the victory of the LA Rams in this year’s Super Bowl. The mayor formally announced the change: “... we can’t wait to show off our L.A. pride with a display that only Hollywood could deliver.” The team was also honoured with a street parade.

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