Arts & Culture

The Ira Glass Infatuation Post/This American Life Roundup: “Return to the Scene of the Crime”

Hello again TAL Lovers, This week, Ira takes listeners on an emotional rollercoaster in Return to the Scene of the Crime, a much welcomed rerun of last year’s live TAL recording at the Chicago Theater. From WBEZ Chicago it’s TAL … Read More

By / May 4, 2010

Hello again TAL Lovers,

This week, Ira takes listeners on an emotional rollercoaster in Return to the Scene of the Crime, a much welcomed rerun of last year’s live TAL recording at the Chicago Theater. From WBEZ Chicago it’s TAL distributed by Public Radio International. I’m Ira Glass. The crowd cheers in reverence, as would anyone with unfettered mindlust.

Starting off, Ira caters to the exhibitionist/ humiliation crowd in an intriguing intro resurrecting a sense of shame among petty thieves.

Asks Ira: "Why is that the important part that the public sees it?"

Answers judge: "I don’t want to be doing that, not in front of all these people." 

That theorizing with a bit of religious talk throws into the mélange a bit of scum and shame: an exhibitionist’s dream. Had I flinched when my mama guilted "What would they think?" this scenario would be the end of me.

Act 1: Karma Bitch

Heralding in some victimization and its friends (pain,conviction, rage, revenge), New Yorker Mike Birbiglia describes his misadventures with bureaucracy and humanity after a Los Angeles car accident goes even more awry. He began turning me on when he announced his disapprovalof Ye Archaic Institution of Marriage, despite his girlfriend’s protests. There’s nothing that spells L-O-V-E like a relationship built on internal sustenance that works to recharge a fiery passion through the years, but I’m not one to judge the kinksters who get off on the threat of lawsuit to carry on their partnership’s love flame.

Birbiglia even captured some authentic Jewish suffering: as he incredulously hears a drunk driver zoom off after T-boning his car, he relates, "I have that Eli Wiesel moment where I think, [in a fitting Yiddish accent] ‘Human beings are animals.’" Later he relays the system’s self-loyalty in a comparison to Polanski’s masterpiece Chinatown, a hot neo-film noir in which Jack Nicholson as private eye Jake Gittes uncovers the seedy underbelly of a corrupt Los Angeles bureaucracy.

And like Jake Gittes, Mike Birbiglia does not succeed in fighting the system and ends up sacrificing his own principles, pride, and money. This act’s ending left me with some blueballed dissatisfaction, like a Kafkaesque cold shower.


Act 2: Pick up a Stick and Find the Tick of a Heart

If you’re into Buffy, Firefly or vampire fetish, your messiah has arrived like Jesus Christ Superstar in the colorful genre of musical. When Joss Whedon’s recent online project Dr. Horrible Sing-A-Long Blog hit DVD, it included a musical commentary that he performs live in his musical theatrical debut for TAL. The ironic disposition relayed in dissecting the commentary is zesty and turns on the cult crowd, as obviated in their dispersed screams.


Act 3: There Are Things a Mother Has the Right Not to Know  

Enter God of Sex. Skyrocketing the episode’s rating is "funny and deeply informed sex-columnist" Dan Savage. A Chicago native who contextualizes the shit out of deviant quandries, it’s no wonder coy Ira hangs around Dan. (Turn up the heat in your ears every week with his brilliant podcast or read his syndicated column in a paper near you).

Usually unafraid to beat the santorum out of his listeners with an olive branch, Dan delivers a poignant montage of his Catholic experience in the framework of his mother’s death and an unlikely addiction to the church. As he put it, "I go to church about as often as I go to Planned Parenthood for a papsmear."

As repulsive as I could picture a stringently Catholic bubbe’s relationship to be with her gay son, Dan’s mom earns mad props for rejecting parts of the faith that constrained the love she could give her family. "And after four pregnancies in four years, she concluded that birth control was not a sin," tells Dan. Allegiance to the individual over the system? Totally hot–and to be expected from this relationship oracle’s bloodline. By the end of this act, everyone is in tears but still laughing–classic TAL moment.   

On top of the skills Ira brought to the interaction, he also came with toys. BONUS.

Top Ira Goodies that Will Woo You (From last to first)

4.     Joss Whedon’s satirical ode to DVD commentary is on Youtube (with footage of Senor Glass to boot).

3.     A cartoon screened at the live event, but not broadcast on the podcast can be seen here.

2.     A DVD of the event so you can watch it all over and over again until you’re satisfied.

1.     Ancient footage from another live event is embedded in the podcast that is as delicious as a saturated 70s porno. Ira and Dan invite their moms on stage to partake in some multigenerational debauchery–why not?

Two Chicago homeboys live and GGG amidst laughs, tears, and sacrilege? Sounds like a steamy night. Ira definitely makes a girl shvitz in this episode.