Arts & Culture
The Ira Glass Infatuation Post/This American Life Review: Poultry Slam 2003
This American Life gives us a rerun…and we’re totally okay with that. Read More
Salinger’s long lost eighth brilliant Glass child graces the airwaves as a Wise Child via the classic holiday episode Poultry Slam 2003. The occasion is inspired by the tryptophan haze that hits Americans heaviest in the five holiday weeks that Ira reports to make up a quarter of national poultry consumption.
Act 1: He’s in denial that he’s weak and tiny and dirty
Ducky is a stuffed bird that is very much a part of a family’s dynamic, affecting their lexicon (calling poultry dishes fish out of consideration) and providing an outlet for split personalities. “We had two daughters who only communicated through a duck,” explains the Mrs., whose spirit animal, alternatively, is a mute hedgehog.
The account of the duck sisters, Danielle and Ashley, sounds like Franny & Zooey reads, equipped with a theory-riddled mother, a detached father, and siblings with a lexicon of their own. And despite the outward absurdity of Ducky, that a relationship was cultivated between two people who otherwise did not get along makes Ducky the fam’s personal Switzerland.
Act 2: Like the mighty cockroach, like..the bagel, like halvah…Chickenman will endure
A knack that Ira has, which makes TAL the ultimate niche for his talents, is connecting seemingly non sequitor topics to relevant issues. In this case, married to the chicken, Glass still manages to get in some radio gaga. The pair of 1960s installments of Chickenman embodying bunk superheroness has since been translated into many tongues and airs these days in various venues. Listening to Ira run free in radio archive relics is “like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin.”
Act 3: Although I stand before you a chicken who is dripping wet
Jack Hitt is the man, providing a dispatch on Love’s Fowl, the Chicken Little themed opera, in Italian, with puppets. Susan Vitucci, the opera’s cowriter along with Henry Krieger, explains of the allure, “As soon as it’s in Italian it gives us enough distance that we can come in… it’s like the lover that doesn’t want you. You don’t want anything more…” In the quixotic mission of la pulcina piccola, Hitt searches for truth. The opera’s surprisingly dramatic plot is of the feverish hallucinating sort. Love lost, quests for reality, demise of companions–are we really still talking about chicken, or do I need a Pepto?
In the end, the tabula rasa presented with the central figure of Chicken is an untapped fruitbasket that artists endlessly seek out like flies. Furthermore, the medium of clothespin puppets that echoes Jason xxxxx’s vampire opera in provides a cheap medium on which to project profound, accessible ideas that, as Ira points out, made Jack Hitt cry.
Even Crown Heights babelas get a showcase in this poultry-driven episode.
Act 4: Grabs a hen and waves it at the flaccid cock. The cock does not rise. I can say that on the radio, can’t I?
Ira’s pal Tamara Staples’ chicken photocouture is the absolute rage among urban crowds, going by the wayside with the country mice. This is attributed to the charm of the chicks captured in her photos that seduces outsiders but says nothing of critical breed standards to those in the know. Stepping one skip outside of Chicago, Ira follows Staples to a farm for a barn hookup where they talk chicken eugenics and anthropomorphism in the midst of yodels and squawks. “You’ve got to breed to the fads,” says the resident farmer, showcasing his prized white cornish showbird, a handsome cock that quickly goes soft in the limelight.
“Not only do we completely dominate every aspect of chicken life..we’ve created a standard of what it means to be a chicken that most chickens can never meet.” Ira speaks with his inner chicken-addict, talking over that “mysterious hold” of poultry over the American public. Word on the street these days is Ira has a fowl mouth no more. Still, he has proven again to be the rare bird that dilates a girl’s pupils: in tune with his deepest urges, he unashamedly jettisons toward these desires until further rational notice. More raw than PETA footage.