Stereotype This! Debunking Hollywoods Italian Stereotypes and Myths
A Typical 'American' Day

American flag It's been over 500 years since Cristoforo Colombo (Christopher Columbus) traveled to the Americas. Considering that he was, in a way, the "first" Italian immigrant to these shores, what kind of an influence have his Italian brothers and sisters had on the U.S. ever since? Let's consider a typical "American" day.

Alarm Clock Radio BRRing! Your alarm clock radio goes off. (Guglielmo Marconi perfected wireless transmission.) The first thing you do is turn on the lights. (The three-way lightbulb was invented by Alessandro Dandini.) As you wash yourself in the shower (plumbing was a concept perfected by the Romans), you sing a few songs to yourself: "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" (written by Salvatore Guaragna, aka Harry Warren), "Moon River" (Henry Mancini) or the 1960's oldie "Stand by Me" (produced by Frank Guida). Or maybe you prefer a Bruce Springsteen song (his maternal family name is Zirilli) or something by Madonna (born Madonna Louise Ciccone).

At the breakfast table, you usually opt for an espresso or cappuccino (Italian coffees), but today you're in a hurry and make some good, old-fashioned American instant coffee. (Vince Marotta invented the "Mr. Coffee" machines, which were popularized by their famous spokesman, baseball great Joe DiMaggio.) Your throat feels a little scratchy from eating so fast, so on your way out the door you pop a small lozenge in your mouth. (The cough drop was created by Vincent R.Ciccone.)

Red Radio Flyer Wagon As you sprint to your car, you nearly trip over the Radio Flyer red wagon left in your driveway by a neighbor's kid. (Antonio Pasin invented the wagons in 1917.) You hop into your Chrysler (businessman Lee Iacocca saved the company in the '80s) and turn your radio on again.

There's a story about American Nazi groups planning to march somewhere. (Michael Musmanno of Pennsylvania served as chief judge at the 1945 Nuremberg Trials, which brought real Nazis to justice).

a telephone You make a quick call to work on your cell phone. (Antonio Meucci invented an early model telephone years before Alexander Graham Bell). You tell them that you'll be a little late, since you remembered to pick up an office report being designed in a print shop in a local shopping mall. (The American shopping mall was created by two developers from Ohio: William Cafaro and Edward 1. DeBartolo Sr.)

While at the mall, you're told that the report isn't quite finished yet, so you make a quick visit to Barnes and Noble (built by CEO Leonard Riggio into the nation's largest upscale bookstore.). You're a fan of Ed McBain's mystery novels (McBain's real name is Salvatore Lombardo), so you decide to buy one to read while flying out for a business meeting next week in Arkansas (a state founded by explorer Enrico Tonti). You also visit a gift shop and see a mini-reproduction of the Lincoln Memorial statue (the actual one in Washington D.C. was sculpted by the Piccirilli brothers in 1922).

Statue of Liberty You run back to the print shop to pay for your report; however, all you have is change, so you have to use a few U.S. "peace dollar" coins. (Theresa DeFrancisci served as the model for Miss Liberty's face). You remind yourself that you need to get to the bank tomorrow morning. (Banking was codified in Renaissance Italy; also, A.P.Giannini created the Bank of America).

While at work, you pound away on your computer. (Entrepreneur Frank Sordello created the tachometer, the device which speeds up information). Lunch finally arrives. Some co-workers choose to run outside to a Subway store (created by Frank De Luca). Others prefer going to McDonald's for a Big Mac (created by franchise owner Jim Delligatti). You, however, are going the diet route; broccoli (developed by the Broccoli family of Italy), a head of broccoli some peanuts (Planters Peanut Company was founded by Amedeo Obici), and maybe a low-fat ice cream cone (Italo Marcioni). You eat light so you can use your remaining lunchtime to work out at the company's health facility. (The Romans started the concept of health clubs via their famous baths; also, Charles Atlas, fitness expert, was born Angelo Siciliano).

Time to go home! You drive down well-paved roads (the Romans set the standard), though a sudden gust of wind while driving through a tunnel takes you by surprise (inventor Gaetano Lanza developed the first wind tunnel in 1909).

Filippo Mazzei You pass by a federal office building with an American flag displayed outside, recalling those famous words from the Declaration of Independence, "all men are created equal" (words suggested to Thomas Jefferson by his best friend and neighbor, the Italian political writer Filippo Mazzei). Since you left work late, you can even see a faint trace of the moon in the slowly fading sky. (Rocco Petrone headed NASA during the 1969 moon landing.)

Before going to bed, you pay a few outstanding bills, making sure your checkbook balances. (Luca Pacioli invented double-entry bookkeeping.) Your television drones on quietly in the background, featuring footage of Congress debating a new initiative. (America's Founding Fathers borrowed the concept of a Senate from the Romans.) A commercial promotes travel to the Midwestern states (which were purchased for the U.S. by a fur trader in St. Louis: Francesco Vigo).

You turn off the television and climb into bed, feeling safe and secure in living in one of the greatest nations on earth, America (named after Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci). As you lay awake and stare at the ceiling, trying to mentally plan out the next week's events according to our modem calendar (created by Pope Gregorio), sleep soon overpowers you Z-Z-Z-Z-Z.....

Brring! Your alarm clock radio goes off again. Time to begin another typical "American" day. Mamma mia!
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