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In his take in the latest Atlantic, Michael Hirschorn puts the screws, ever so gently, to This American Life and its arbiter of rehashed quirk, Ira Glass. I approve. And what’s more, the mag’s columnist puts the CP’s beloved and reviled neighborhood in a list, quirky in its own rite, of “engaged, aware” disparate places. Right in there with Red Hook and Cambridge, if you can believe:
It’s easy to fall in with TAL. The rhythms are lulling, and everyone involved appears to be—is—smart, idiosyncratic, charmingly self-effacing, well-meaning, much as most of us would like to be seen. Glass tells stories, and who does that anymore? The radio show has birthed and nurtured a slew of alt-culture stars (John Hodgman, Sarah Vowell, David Sedaris), and it thrives as the voice of a generation too young to buy into the broader public-radio mission (“This is the sound of Guatemalan basket weavers; their way of life is threatened …”) and too smart or old for the braying of commercial radio. It’s the sound of Austin, Boulder, Berkeley, Red Hook, Madison, Cambridge, Adams Morgan—of people who tend to think of themselves as engaged, aware.
The aforementioned gentle screws on TAL come later. But they’re there, my friends, they’re there. So how ’bout it kids. Are we thinking of ourselves as “engaged, aware” or just really into a jumbo slice?