October 3, 2007

Nine years late and a buck seventy-five short

Paul Tough, another [This American Life] staff member, had a thought: ''We could do a whole show in which people tell stories in which the last line is, 'And that boy was Henry Kissinger.' '' —The New York Times, March 19, 1998

Ira Glass: "Every high school also has bullies, and there was one guy who picked on Jonathan..."
Jonathan Gold: “He was the sort of person who would walk across the street to be unpleasant to somebody. Or in my most notable instance, I was walking down the hall to history class and he hip-checked me. I was carrying my cello, and I went sailing down the stairs with my cello… He was laughing about it to his friends. I suspect he forgot about it five minutes later. I didn’t."
IG: "And so who was he. Who was that guy?"
JG: "That guy was Jack Abramoff."
This American Life, September 28, 2007

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Wow, Abramoff totally looks like someone who would have been a HS bully...

I am sorry I missed that episode.

and this info is already in his wikipedia entry, along with his embracing orthodox judaism after seeing fiddler on the roof.

14 years later than the fictional realm.

Simpson's episode 9F21, original airdate September 30, 1993.

Listening to a Paul Harvey radio show which concludes "and that little boy who nobody liked grew up to be...Roy Cohn."

I remember that well, all they had was the tail end of the Paul Harvey. 1993 was a good year for The Simpsons...

To be clear about this - and this is what struck me immediately upon reading the first sentence of this post - that classic construction, "and that little boy grew up to be..." is the standard ending not of TAL bits but of Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story," which ran on radio for decades and may still be on, for all I know.

So the Simpsons and the TAL guy were both referring back to the same ancient trope. It was already enough of a cliche in the early 80s that the radio comedy show I cowrote in college reported on a famous Russian pianist, Petrovich Gorodpaslat, who had a public meltdown, dropped out of the concert circuit, learned electric guitar and became a famous rock star ... named Pete Townsend.

And now you know... the rest of the story.

Um, yeah, of course. The twist was that Harvey's little boy didn't ususally grow up to be a notorious villain. I admit I'd forgotten about the Simpson's line. I just found it amusing that something originally tossed out as a joke in a story meeting ended up (well, sorta) on the air so many years later -- and not as a Paul Harvey reference.

FYI abe, you can get the episode as an iTunes podcast.

What, you don't consider Pete Townsend a notorious villain? After they found all that kiddie po -

...wait, sorry. Forgot who I was talking to.

In reality, of course, Paul Harvey did do the notorious villains, too. I know for sure he did Al Capone and John Wilkes Booth, and either he did do the young, frustrated art student Adolf Hitler or someone else did such a vivid takeoff of it that I've misremembered it as such.

I used to listen to Paul Harvey when I was a kid. But even then, though, it was obvious to me that he was pretty much batshit insane.

I do love me some This American Life, but Radio Lab has recently become a rival for my affection. (Check out the podcast if it's not on in your area. I loved the recent "Detective Stories" episode.)

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