Friday, May 29, 2009

The Invincibility of You

The entire lineup of stories on this week (all previously aired) seemed to be hitting on a common theme: the juxtaposition of the weaknesses and flexible strengths of humanity.

Studio 360's interview with Thao Nguyen takes the traditional indie-artist interview to a different place. Instead of the cheaply predictable discussion of favorite records and touring mishaps with a nice smattering of catchy clips from her newest album, Jesse Dukes gets serious with Thao at an Arlington, VA, laundromat, of all places, and interviews her mom, Nan, too. They talk about how Thao's dad walked out on his family, about how Thao sees similar non-committal tendencies in herself, and about the hard times that followed the divorce as Nan spent all of her savings on a laundromat which she still successfully operates today. The story seems to not be so much about a new album at all at a certain point, but about fragility and resilience, and I can't help but see every person I know in it.

The piece on modern photography, specifically On The Beach, by Robert Misrach, creates the same effect as the interview with Thao. People going to the beach is such an ordinary thing, especially here in FL. During the months after 9-11 Misrach was going through a period of profound artistic depression and had subsequently gone to Hawaii where he was re-inspired. Peering from his hotel window, he unexpectedly saw something precious, vulnerable, and frightened in the everyday beach goers during this period of time and he got right to work, documenting it.

Scenes that would have before seemed ordinary had a darker quality, for example a couple embracing out in the water appeared to be clinging to each other for dear life. People splayed this way and that on beach towels appear to me like lifeless bodies obscenely tossed across the landscape. The gigantic semi-aerial photographs are the vacation souvenirs of our collective American anxiety in the early 2000's.

How funny that this makes me think hopeful thoughts for us as a whole; that there is someone out there able to make money on human vincibility means our economy can't be THAT broken afterall. Maybe we are in pain, but we'll live to see another day yet.

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