Friday, April 20, 2007

This American Post

Among my guilty pleasures these days is listening to 'This American Life' on the local public radio station. I'm not a regular listener by any means. In fact, I'm not even sure what time the program airs, but if I'm listening to the radio (certainly not an unusual hobby in Eric's World) and the show comes on, I will, most times, pay attention - which is not something that can be said with regard to a lot of the other stuff I hear on the radio. I find 'This American Life' to be an interesting, and often times, enjoyable show. I can even do a passable Ira Glass impersonation (speak in a lightly feminine air, with just a touch of monotone staccato rhythm, and sound like you're mildly bored with whatever it is you're discussing. Ex. "Chapter One... Eric Writes A Blog Post... Sara Leventhal travels to Boston where she endeavors to discover... what exactly it is that makes a bad blog entry. She finds out, however... that things in the competitive world of blogging... aren't exactly... what they might seem...")

"But wait" you say, "guilty pleasure?" Well... yes, and I don't know that I can adequately explain why. You see, whenever I listen I get this sense that I'm trying to be something I'm not. It's as if, by tuning in, I'm then saying to myself, "I, too, can be an early 30's hipster who wears glasses with thick dark frames and makes half-hearted attempts at being outraged over a lack of social justice. I CARE, dammit, and I listen to this program to open my mind and find my affirmation!"

I don't, of course, say any of these things, but I kind of feel like I should in order to listen to the program and truly get it - as if being a socially conscious, city dwelling hipster is a necessary prerequisite. I'm not any of those things (well, OK - I'm a city dweller, and I'm ever so slightly socially conscious. But, I'm not a hipster. I don't wear Che Guevarra t-shirts, or surplus German army jackets with long red scarves. In other words, I don't look/act like a character in 'Rent.' For the most part, I conform to societal pressures and norms with regard to dress and political thought, thank you very much.) Hence, the guilt. It's an imposter thing.

Identity crisis aside, I've never really articulated any of this until now, and I'm finding it strangely cathartic. What brought this on? Onions. Or rather, THE Onion. If you're a fan of 'This American Life', or at least have a reasonable familiarity with it, then you should read this "article." As is so often the case, they have a knack for peeling away the different layers (pun intended - onion? peeling layers? get it? ha?) and facades of a subject and - I don't want to say "expose", but take shots at something while cutting to its core. They kinda did that with this article. Comedy gold.

Although they probably won't, I wouldn't be totally surprised to see 'This American Life' address The Onion article in some way in a future show - either through its own "chapter" or in Ira's closing comments. Credibility through either self-deprecation or acknowledgement of shortcomings - both obvious and not so - and ensuing exploration of such, is a somewhat familiar recurrence in the show's stories and monologues. However, I'll keep listening to the show, regardless. Whatever it is or is not, and whatever I am or am not, it's still enjoyable and I still - most times, anyway - learn something new and interesting from it. If in the course of listening, I start noticing the absence of guilt, that means I'll have either joined 'La revoluciĆ³n' or simply stopped worrying about it. Either one would be a somewhat momentous occasion, and I'll be sure to let you know. Maybe I'll get my own chapter. "Chapter 3... Eric Hears A Who... We follow a man on his search for meaning..."

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Blogger J-Dog said...

dude, a love TAL. Have you seen the TV program on Showtime?

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Count me in as another TAL fan; those famous "driveway moments" so often involve Ira's studied hesitations, or Sarah Vowell's nasal recountings of Civil War monuments.

p.s. I think I'm also addicted to the Onion article.

p.p.s. I also like They Might Be Giants. I might be yuppie scum.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

J-Dog - sadly, I have not. I don't have Showtime, or any of the pay channels for that matter. Guess I'll have to wait until it shows up on Netflix. Is it as good as the radio show? I can't even imagine it. They do such a good job on the radio... it's hard to think that the actual reality they present would be as enjoyable as my imagination.

Che - I'm with you on both counts. They described me well in the Onion article and, as such, I have chosen to embrace my new found scumness. Viva la revoluciĆ³n.

10:50 PM  
Blogger J-Dog said...

my only real complaint about the TAL TV show is that its too short. After years of hour long episodes (radio), trying to downgrade to half our (TV) is hard. Also, I feel like the stories themselves are just as good, if not better, because of the images that TV allows, but I also think that Ira doesn't do as good of a job constructing an overall show theme. I feel like Ira's role is deminished in the TV show, which I think is sad.

2:54 PM  
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