s-town_social.jpgLast weekend, my husband & I took a mini-break to Western Colorado. On the drive we started listening to the new podcast brainchild of Serial and This American Life: S-Town. While I am a huge fan of Season 1 of Serial, I have never listened Brian Reed, the host of S-Town (and This American Life). He is an amazing host who is able to get anyone to open up, while remaining completely nonjudgmental. Of course, these qualities are key elements of good journalism, but are so often missing in today’s “news”! I have 1 episode left and I don’t want it to end. Without giving to much away, the story begins with a disgruntled citizen (John B McLemore), reporting a murder covered up by a prominent local family in Woodstock, Alabama (aka Sh*t town). The story evolves and goes into several interesting directions and at the heart of it is John B: a complex, socially conscience, watch restorer, and a character that I won’t soon forget. Check it out!

Recently, another story has also been keeping me entertained, the HBO Series Big Little Lies (BLL) (I mentioned it in another post).  The soundtrack to the series was released a few days ago, a diverse mix of soulful tracks that I can’t stop listening to. Spotify has released the mix, but it’s also available on Google Play Music.  These seemingly disparate stories share a common theme: depravity (such a dramatic term!). S-Town focuses on the real and imagined moral shortcomings of Woodstock, Alabama; while, BLL explores flaws underneath picture perfect marriages and relationships in Monterey, California.

The setting of both stories couldn’t be more different, Woodstock, AL is extremely rural with only around 1500 residents, while the City of Monterey is an affluent area on California’s Central Coast . However, when I pulled numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, I was surprised to find that the data is not as different as I expected. In 2015 Woodstock‘s median household income was $54,519, 13.5% of the residents were in poverty, and 12.3 % of the population lacked health insurance.  On the other hand, Monterey City has 28,338 residents, a median household income in 2015 was $66,166, 9.1% poverty rate, and 11.4% lacked health insurance. Of course, BLL is a fictionalized HBO series that might have been filmed in an exclusive enclave within Monterey County. Either way, both stories present similar studies in human nature. As I have mentioned, the depravity layer but also both explore friendships and they way that these connections can save people. I can’t get these characters out of my head- just good storytelling!

One final thing, whenever I travel anywhere I seek out the library.  I consider it a touchstone of the community.  On the trip back to Denver, I came across the Basalt Regional Library, which is one of the coolest libraries I have ever seen:

Basalt Regional Library
Image Credit

Happy wandering!


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