ShitTown – Chapter 4

After hearing about the mottos on the sundials earlier episode I went looking because I was sure the one in our town was more positive than the grim mottos in ShitTown.

Let others tell of storms and showers, I’ll only mark your sunny hours.

Not bad huh! A little cheesy but I like a sundial that can acknowledge its limitations.

On to the episode. I’m now assured, and I checked, that I’m listening in the right order. So it’s definitly providing some context to his abruptness about suicide. It’s bizaare the way he relates the practicalities of his early death in a way that we are lead to believe people who are serious about suicide never do. But maybe the reason that people who talk about suicide seldom carry through is because some one listens and intervenes, not because the intention isn’t there. But when you are continually suicidality depressed like John there is so much intervention involved, so much loneliness, how do you fill that void? I wish he had of got professional help… easier said than done…

So how does someone who pays such close attention to the practicalities of his suicide not leave behind a will? This makes no damn sense.

We learn a little more about the cousins in this episode, a there are inklings that maybe Tyler’s sense of entitlement might not be a well founded as it first appeared. I’m not sure he’s untrustworthy, maybe just misguided. But the cousins, man Tyler does not like them one bit, even saying that the cousins wanted John’s nipple rings because they were made of gold. And it’s true, Rita and Charlie do seem preoccupied with the gold and other things John left behind. Not to mention we don’t know what has happened to Mary Grace, John’s mother who is now under their guardianship.

We also learn that none of John’s close friends were called before his funeral, there seems to be no logical reason for this, many of them are horologists (people who study the workings of clocks), and many of them suspect that there is some nefarious reason that some one didn’t want them at the funeral. 

There seems to be a foreshadowing of problems with Tyler, and maybe another version of events that shed a less positive light on Tyler and his interest in John’s estate. He has literally towed the buses he claims are his from the property.

Then there’s the gold that Faye, the town clerk, was told about in the freezer in her final phone conversation with John. The concersation in which he drank cyanide over the phone.

The gold that dissapeared, along with some of Mary Grace’s valuables some time between that conversation and when the cousins arrived.

A time when only Mary Grace, the paramedics and the police had access…. oh and Tyler

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ShitTown ACTUAL EPISODE 1

Instead of jumping up and down about the mistake that happened in my podcast app I’m deciding to embrace the misunderstanding. And it’s a good thing too because episode 3 is much stronger, and its no wonder because it flips the entire story on it’s head.

S-Town is an amazing and intricate story that suffers from the same issue as many podcasts with a massive twist suffer from, the people working on the podcast know why the story is worth telling, but it’s hard to convey to the audience the worth of the story without giving anything away. So the listener has to just trust in the host that this story is going somewhere.

So now the allusions in the later episodes to John’s maze make sense, and people being frustrated with the large swathes of exposition also makes a lot more sense.

I wonder the whole episode was needed.

But I still love it.

I still love John, even if he suddenly reminds me more of my father in law than he did previously. The maze also adds another dimension to the treasure hunt foreshadowed in what I now know to be episode 3.

What has this experience in misplaced chronology told me?

Apart from the eccentricity of podcast apps, the importance of editing, the dangers of immediate publishing and that I’m a sucker for non-chronlogical narratives? Well listeners and readers don’t need ALL the details right away. I must remember that in my own writing.

Chronology and time are abstract and fallible, huh, how fitting for a podcast featuring a depressed, fatalistic, genius clockmaker.

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ShitTown – Chapter 2

Bahh I listened to episode 3 as episode one so any references to earlier episodes are referring to episode 3…

😑 This is why you need to fact check even if you don’t want to research and come at the podcast with fresh eyes….

Okay before we get into the episode can we just have a moments appreciation for the S-Town website, that shit is beautiful. I love the way it moves and evolves as you scroll. It’s a nice change from some of the place holder websites you often see for podcasts. (No Usidore I’m not talking about Usidore Rocks, that is another exception {listen to Hello from the Magic Tavern for context})

Anyway onto potential spoilers for Chapter 2

Hearing John for the first time was exciting, he seems to be quite the story teller. Rambling frenetic anecdotes peppered with non sequiturs. Within the first sentence of Brian’s narration we get a tantalizing hint of the crime that John was obsessed with so it doesn’t look like that thread has been dropped. I’m so glad.

Kaybrum, Kabrum, Cabram, Kabram?

Who is Kabram Burt? And why can’t I google him properly? Yes I gave in and researched, well kind of. I’m currently paused on chapter 2 with 40 minutes to go of the episode and I couldn’t resist the allure of search engine spoilers. But without and easy answers I gave up.

Kyabrum? Kabrum (Kabram? Cybrum? Quebrim?) is the person that John suspected of murder, the murder that he was discussing with Brian prior to his death. You can find some speculative research here.

We hear about John walking into the tattoo parlour with his soapbox. We meet some rough, racist guys guys from Tyler’s tattoo parlour. We hear about John the miser, John the loner, John the shut in. But we also hear about the John who hated tattoos but propped up his friend Tyler’s business by getting multiple tattoos  and piercings

At the halfway point of this episode I think I may be in love with John B. McLemore…

But then we find out Kyabram Burt didn’t kill anybody. The guy he beat up didn’t die, and it was investigated thoroughly, there was no coverup, no murder. Just a fight… a nasty fight… but a fight. And there seems to be a weird rumour mill operating off half the truth that John seems to have latched onto for some reason which is strange for someone who is so meticulous.

The annoying truth of the situation seems to have depressed him more than before. He despairs for his town and “the clusterfuck” he sees around him. It’s like he was distracting himself from the apathy of the general population towards the slow detriation of the world and the futility of the human condition by looking into what turned out to be just another fight.

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ShitTown Chapter 3 mislabelled 1 dammit

So my podcast app messed up the labelling of this podcast…. and I ended up with episode 3 labelled as episode one…shit.

I pity the podcast that gets released today, surely the latest project from Serial and This American Life is one tough act to follow. S-Town is the euphamistic listing name for ShitTown, a new podcast narrated by Brian Reed in which he explores the unfolding drama in small town Alabama.

I WILL be binging this series, but I will not be posting all of my review articles today. I’m going through the episodes carefully, 1 at a time, and I WON’T be conducting external research yet, but I don’t rule that out in the future.

Spoilers to follow. You have been warned

“John B McLemore lives in Shittown Alabama”, he is a clockmaker and he is not a joyful man. He is extrodinarily clever, meticulous, intriguing and fatalistic. He has a fine sense of injustice and the world slowly turning to shit. He has a mother he cares for, friends who love him but he is deeply depressed a lonely in a way that people who feel the full weight of the problems of the world can relate to. He sometimes upsets people with his grim world view. Particularly his employee and close friend Tyler. Tyler maintains John’s house and helps out with his mum and is an unexpected saving grace for the middle aged, “celebate homosexual” as he termed himself. Tyler rides a motorbike, is covered in tattoos and has an unmistakable southern drawl. John is dependent on Tyler, John is a surrogate father figure for Tyler, Tyler  has a bed and clothes at John’s place, Tyler’s wife implores him not to go running everytime John calls in a suicidal funk.

So when John drinks cyanide one evening with seemingly no preparations made to deal with his estate or look after his mother confusion and chaos ensues. Including surprise appearances from suspiciously unconcerned distant relatives.

See John didn’t trust banks, he told his lawyer that he had a plan for his assets. A plan that seems to include gold…

Right out of the gate ShitTown is riviting and bewitching. John is relatable and endearing, and the chaos he left in his wake seems to be completely in advertant at this stage.

There are also hinted at connections to deeper mysteries that John was interested in which I hope will be a thread that gets picked back up.

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