Arts & Culture

The Ira Glass Infatuation Post/This American Life Roundup: “Georgia Rambler”

Georgia, what a lovely hotbed of phenomenal tunage, distinctive cuisines, and small-town personalities. One of the hawtest states in the South, it’s where This American Life action was this past week on assignment (and not in the Hamptons as earlier … Read More

By / August 4, 2010

Georgia, what a lovely hotbed of phenomenal tunage, distinctive cuisines, and small-town personalities. One of the hawtest states in the South, it’s where This American Life action was this past week on assignment (and not in the Hamptons as earlier suspected), bringing to many international and urban listeners a whole slue of rare bomb-asstic interviews with several fascinating countyfolk. While it would be great to Faceboom these new radio friends after hearing such sexy reportage, I probably can’t expect that kind of connectivity out of these homegrown peaches. When Charles Salter began this tradition of scoping out big stories in little people out of journalistic integrity in the 70s in the form of the Georgia Rambler, he observed, "I was sinking good stories from ordinary folks." Shedding light on the point that beyond the famous glow of Ira, there is merely a man of character who does his thing just right, a responsibility he does not necessarily take on alone.

 

Act 1: It’s the 1930s version of ‘Did you inhale?’

This act’s goal: finding out if FDR got crunk on stump juice during prohibition. After stories are recounted, I do believe he would declare, as did our current leading foxzilla, "I inhaled frequently, that was the point."

Continuing on the strain of surreality ever-present in TAL observations, David Kestenbaum philosophizes: "When we say someone is unforgettable, it doesn’t mean we remember everything. It could be nice to forget. If you like to picture FDR drinking moonshine with the locals, go ahead. If not, it never happened." This allegiance to happiness that you find throughout TAL, Woody Allen movies, 1970s sexploitation flicks, and Wayne Coyne is the opiate of contemporary masses, and I’d say this holy fight for the good life trumps the Crusades any day.

 

Act 2: Artist Matt, partially inspired by Friends, wants to move to New York City

How nice to hear from the party boys now and again-it wouldn’t be sound American Life coverage without the perspective. The heathen within unleashed, three Matts thrive in a corporeal state, and why not? I can’t say, aside from all three being on probation for one reason or another, that they didn’t sound like free birds.

 

Act 3: The world stood still at that airport

Georgian soldiers and airplanes. Sounds like a perfectly attainable dream/ scene in an excellent work of cinematography I saw on a nearby iPhone on the F this week.

 

Act 4: Krystal hamburgers are at the top of Maslov’s Hierarchy

"I’m tired of waiting in line for my sausage biscuit" is one of the top anonymous rants a Georgian newspaper receives in a forum allowing locals to kvetch. The gem that is anonymity is best portrayed, taken out of context if need be, in Lisa Pollak’s words: "I don’t know this man’s name, but I won’t forget him." Oy, tell me about it.

 

Act 5: "They’re both in the military, and they were both senators, and they’re both delicious

Jane Feltes, TAL producers extraordinaire (She once said in an interview of another Southern city, Miami, "It’s culturally diverse, the air smells spicy, everyone has a boomin’ system, and any kind of woman can take her top off for no reason other than it’s hot.") interviews another delicious manipulator of sound, a smalltown musician/ music store owner. Adam Vickers conveys that when the economy struggles, music stores thrive since people stay home and strum. Nothing like a recession to get things hot and heavy in the household with some good, free fun. "Will you play a song for me?" flirts Feltes. Country boy plays a tune and I can hear the heartbreak in Feltes’s voice when he answers positively when she asks if he’s married. Jane, not everyone is lucky enough to suffer from what Hank Williams called the "Lovesick Blues."

 

Act 6:  

Sarah Koenig meets Sonya Mallory of Jeffersonville, a standup woman in a town a few years behind the civil rights times. After returning to her small town, post-big-city-stint, Mallory proves to be a do-er, in a bureaucratically/ socially broken system in which very little can be done. While every town needs a leading lady, some hidden gems can’t handle the truth (and sometimes create their own).

 

Act 7: He’ll tell you it destroyed his way of life, but it has also made him a wealthy man.

Not a woman’s doing this time, but an even bigger force: government. Charles Salter’s son is a man who is not afraid to leave the confines of his world to investigate the unknown anymore. Gimme that hot brain. His curiosity brings him to Wendell Cleveland’s farm for an updated interview with the farmer and his father who fought the government against buyout in the 70s, eventually selling most, but not all, of the land for a lake project. It’s a jarring story with heterogeneous sentiments in the end, reminiscent of another government drilling project gone off kilter…