S-town Podcast Discussion

edited March 31 in Art of Podcasting
A new podcast from This American Life and Serial dropped yesterday. They dropped all seven episodes at once and I was up half the night listening to it. Drop everything you're doing and download it now. It's the most beautiful and devastating and interesting story I've ever experienced outside the confines of a book or a screen. Would love to discuss with the community.
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  • DeeDee Adelaide
    Hi Nikki, I've got it downloaded but haven't listened. Is it reportage or fiction?
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    I downloaded this yesterday as well. I have yet to touch it, but can't wait to do so. I've heard great things. 
    NikkiP
  • @Dee, it's a true story. The narration is very literary.
    Dee
  • I loved this as well!
  • [Spoiler alert]
    @April_May_June, Do you think someone stole the gold, or do you think there was no gold?
    GBralta
  • It's pretty great through 3 episodes.  
  • aberry89aberry89 California
    Is this a spinoff of Serial? 
  • Doctor_NickDoctor_Nick Terminus
    edited March 30
    It's edited and produced by most of the same team.  It's not related to the first two seasons, and it's not serial at all, the whole podcast dropped at once.  
    aberry89 said:

    Is this a spinoff of Serial? 


  • edited March 30
    @Doctor_Nick, you only liked the first 3? Why'd it go downhill for you?

    I really liked meeting all the friends on the list as well as the one gent from the call line. I also thought the search for gold and uncovering JBM's horology feats were a good way to tie in the secondary stories. Plus one of the most hilarious rants is in the latter episodes: "We ain't nothing but a nation of [series of expletives] whiney, fat, flabby, out of shape, Facebook looking, twerk fest, peeking out the windows and slipping around listening on the cell phones and spying in the peep hole and peeping in the crack of the gd door and listening in the sheet rock... *sigh* I gotta have me some tea." I laughed so hard.

    I'd be interested to hear what didn't work for you.
  • SPOILERS BELOW:

    @NikkiP - I don't know! I kind of think someone did (I go back and forth between Tyler and the clerk lady), but then sometimes I think there never was any gold ...
    What do you think?
  • @April_May_June, As far as the gold in the freezer, the clerk and the police are the only ones who had an opportunity, but Tyler could've found something elsewhere. That could be what Tyler told Brian off the record but that could've also been about something else. At the same time, if he had found gold, he wouldn't have been taking all that other stuff off the property and selling it because he wouldn't have felt cheated and he wouldn't need the money.
  • SPOILERS BELOW

    @NikkiP - good points. To be honest, I think almost everyone's worst sides came out after John's death. I mean, between the cousin's weird comments about wanting John's nipple rings, to Tyler's basically looting the house and all the searches, to the clerk (seemingly on purpose?) not calling all the people on John's list, to ... I could go on and on.

    One major take-away from this is that if you want your possessions to go to specific people after you pass, you need to make sure you have a will!

    I'm also heartbroken that the amazing maze John made will most likely not be around to much longer. I've seen pictures of it, and it's incredible.
  • Doctor_NickDoctor_Nick Terminus
    edited March 30
    That's as far as I've gotten so far. My commute's not that long and I still have my regulars to listen to in between. Also had to catch up on Crimetown.
    NikkiP said:

    @Doctor_Nick, you only liked the first 3? Why'd it go downhill for you?

    I really liked meeting all the friends on the list as well as the one gent from the call line. I also thought the search for gold and uncovering JBM's horology feats were a good way to tie in the secondary stories. Plus one of the most hilarious rants is in the latter episodes: "We ain't nothing but a nation of [series of expletives] whiney, fat, flabby, out of shape, Facebook looking, twerk fest, peeking out the windows and slipping around listening on the cell phones and spying in the peep hole and peeping in the crack of the gd door and listening in the sheet rock... *sigh* I gotta have me some tea." I laughed so hard.

    I'd be interested to hear what didn't work for you.

  • @April_May_June, I feel the same about the maze, and I felt some distress about his tombstone. That was the biggest strike against the cousins for me - at least mark the man's grave. It would be cool to fundraise to get him a tombstone that's actually a sun dial.
    sommadis
  • I'm on the first episode - but John kindof is like a real life Eugene from TWD with how he spouts off on random obscure scientific subjects.
    trippyghm3
  • @MrX, I think John B. is actually as smart as Eugene pretends to be, and I'd definitely want him on my team during the ZA.
  • edited March 30
    Does it have a pricipitious drop in quality halfway through, like Serial? And does it end without any answers, just a shrug of the shoulders from the narrator, like Serial?
  • CretanBullCretanBull Toronto
    edited March 30
    NikkiP said:

     [Spoiler alert]
    @April_May_June, Do you think someone stole the gold, or do you think there was no gold?



    I think that there either wasn't any, or there wasn't nearly as much as he led people to believe - in which case I'd guess that the police took it.  I don't think that anyone in a town like that could strike it rich without their spending habits noticeably changing and/or suddenly packing up and moving - either would cause suspicion (especially because there was a limited number of people who had access, and suspicious behaviour from any of them would instantly be linked the gold).

    John mentioned leaving 20 oz of gold to Tyler and someone else.  40 oz of gold could easily fit in a freezer (as the clerk said it was), and it's worth about $50,000.  That's an amount of money that could be divided up between a few cops who investigated the scene and wouldn't cause any major changes in their spending habits.

    Having said that, the fact that he meticulously kept track of everything, was openly suicidal and didn't have a will leads me to think that in the end he didn't have anything left to give (which might have been a contributing factor to his suicide).


    NikkiP
  • BB2KBB2K Adelaide, South Australia

    Does it have a pricipitious drop in quality halfway through, like Serial? And does it end without any answers, just a shrug of the shoulders from the narrator, like Serial?

    not at all. without spoiling it, the answers to any mystery pretty much come in episode 2/3, and the rest is just sort of a character study. it's excellent, greatly superior to serial in my opinion
    darwinfeeshyNikkiPMurderbear
  • BB2K said:

    Does it have a pricipitious drop in quality halfway through, like Serial? And does it end without any answers, just a shrug of the shoulders from the narrator, like Serial?

    not at all. without spoiling it, the answers to any mystery pretty much come in episode 2/3, and the rest is just sort of a character study. it's excellent, greatly superior to serial in my opinion
    Ah, thanks. Serial was initially engaging me, but left me very unsatisfied by the end. I will definitely check this one out.
  • GBraltaGBralta San Diego, CA
    NikkiP said:

    [Spoiler alert]
    @April_May_June, Do you think someone stole the gold, or do you think there was no gold?

    I don't think there was any real gold. I think he gold plated some brass the same way he did with that dime. People see it and think it's gold, but it's not. Whoever took it was likely in for a rude awakening.
  • edited March 31
    @GBralta, that's a very good possibility. Even with gold out of the picture though, he was still taking care of all his expenses (upkeep on large property, bills) plus taking on expensive projects like feeding 13 dogs. The ledger from the first episode has hundreds in payments to the people who worked on his land, and he was paying $100 an hour for tatoos. I believe him when he says he's unbanked, and it makes no sense that he would lie to the town clerk as he's committing suicide. I also believe him when he talked about planning to leave a substantial sum to PETA when he died. I just think the money issue is unresolved. No matter what form he kept his money in, he had it to spend.

    I also wonder how much the cousin made for selling that very large property, and why she didn't even spend a small amount of that to buy the man a dang headstone. Disgusting.
  • @CretanBull, Good theories and points. If Tyler, for example, had found it, he would not be able to help but spend it in ways visible to everybody in town. I do wonder if it's possible that "in the freezer" meant some secret compartment in there, like he hid it in the part where the fan or something. I'm dedicating more words to the gold than time I've actually spent thinking about it, but I just don't see why he would lie to the town clerk as he was committing suicide. Why even call her except to make sure the instructions he gave about expenses like the dogs were followed?

    In the scheme of everything else though, the gold is a minor point. The real gold in all this was sweet Olan and his proper way of speaking, the opera-loving grandma, John's old professor, cousin Jimmy's affirmations, learning about antiquarian horology, and seeing pictures of the maze.
  • Am I the only one who kept picturing John as Dewey Crowe from Justified?
    Doctor_Nick
  • Well this thread sent me down a 7 hours long listen while at work today....cant say i got much done.

    Just starting the last episode, kinda lost me a bit during the last few episodes but the first half was just about as entertaining as anything ive took in lately, crazy stuff!
    NikkiP
  • I'm about 20 minutes into the first episode and I cannot stand the guy on the phone. He's the real life Eugene.


    image

    manhattnik
  • @ghm3, give it another hour or two of listening.
  • @NikkiP Oh yeah I'm not stopping, it's certainly interesting, he's just annoying as hell so far.
    NikkiP
  • TiffanyTiffany Alabama
    I finally finished listening to this and I'm still not quite sure how to feel. It's very well done but I feel like the ending is rather meh...but the journey there is nothing short of interesting. As an Alabama native and a black woman, I will say some parts really make me feel unsympathetic to certain characters. I will say I recognized the areas mentioned in the podcast and I'm not very surprised.

    I am glad they didn't try to push this as a serial part 3, because this is something very different. But I dare say I liked this narrator a little more than Sarah. He is a lot less biased.
    NikkiPDoctor_Nick
  • Dang, this was such an interesting story. I stayed up until 4 this morning just sitting in the dark, absorbing the oddity of all of these characters.

    After the first episode or so John B started to wear on me, but he is such a unique guy I can't help but like him
    NikkiP
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