06 August 2007

On the subject of Art.

Yes, Art with a capital "A."

I'm a pretty big fan of This American Life. My local PBS affiliate still hasn't picked it up, but recently, the show has been putting their broadcasts out in podcast-form.

For those that aren't familiar, the show follows a relatively consistent format: it's an hour long radio program with an introduction to a theme (sometimes literal, sometimes abstract), followed by three or so stories adherent to that theme. The thing about these stories is that they're all true. They're about real people and the thrills and the cuts and the bumps that they withstand. It's a basic idea, yes, but the execution and the work involved is exceptional. Going out and sifting through people's stories- finding ones that are not only entertaining, but that really strike a chord. Its host, Ira Glass, is a rather straight-forward but compelling storyteller. He usually conducts the interviews and moves the stories along, but the majority of the story-telling is done by the people who are the focus. It really is a straight-from-the-horse's-mouth deal.

This American Life has been additionally adapted into a half-hour TV show on Showtime and is for sale in the iTunes store. I've seen three episodes so far, and they're all quite good. They have an interesting feel: part documentary, part science show, part history program. Once again, shout out to their fantastic editors.

If you find people endlessly fascinating like I do, I recommend both programs.

Back to radio program, one of my favorites episodes is actually the second most recent new one (non-repeat, that is), entitled "Who Can You Save?" Simply an incredibly compelling episode that examines how people value others' lives, both scientifically and socially, how far would one go to save another, and more. Just a warning- This American Life, this broadcast in particular, can make you laugh and weep.

This week's episode is "Blame It on Art," an interesting (and somewhat sympathetic/understanding), take on art and artists. It begins with chatting about France and the Renaissance and Florence and art... so obviously, I was glued to my speakers. But the show explores themes like success, rejection, jealousy, and alienation in the art world in a slightly different way than the norm (can you say "balloon animals?") But those themes and feelings are universally known to all artists in one form or another. Here is the direct iTunes podcast link for that particular show.

You just need to listen to it because I could pretty much just quote Ira Glass' entire intro about how sadly weird and hard it is to be an artist and get respect (though he steers away from feeling too badly). It really is a noble and simultaneously degrading, life-long endeavor... and I'll stop myself there. But do- DO- take a listen to the show. They have them all streaming on their website and the most recent episode is available to download from iTunes at the podcast link just above here. We'll get a coffee and talk about it. It'll be great.


Eryn said...

i'll have to check this "An American Life" show out. If you love it dearest, I know I will.

Eryn said...

damnit......i mean "This American Life"


(when I took Spanish, "uf" was always their word/sound for distress/frustration)


Alec said...

I didn't know that. I like "uf." But I also like the French equivalent "bof."

*Puts on beret, picks up baget* Bof.