June 26, 2009

Fall Guy

Sometimes when things go wrong, parsing out who all is to blame and taking them to task is just too complicated and haaaard! What's easy is pinning it all on one person and watching them go down in flames.
Design by Chris Ware.
This week Mike Birbiglia tells what it's like to be the fall guy for an entire high school. Also, Philip Gourevitch on the most infamous fall girl in recent history, and Shalom Auslander on fall dogs and fall grandmas.


Host Ira Glass talks to Rich Farrell, writer and former addict, about the code of silence he learned as a kid, and the times he took the fall for his friends' misdeeds. (7 minutes)
Act One

Beat It

Mike Birbiglia explains the chain of events that resulted in him becoming the fall guy for his entire high school, and how it took him a while to catch on to what was happening. This story was recorded live in front of an audience in Cambridge, Mass. (10 minutes)

Act Two

Be Careful Who You Love

The story of a famous but not well-understood political fall guy, someone who became a scapegoat for American policies worldwide. Philip Gourevitch writes about listening to nine hours of interviews with Lynndie England, the American servicewoman photographed at Abu Ghraib prison holding a leash with a naked, Iraqi prisoner on the end of it. (15 minutes)

Philip Gourevitch's book about what happened in that prison and in those photos is called The Ballad of Abu Ghraib. Audio in this act came from Errol Morris's interviews in the film Standard Operating Procedure.

Act Four

Man In The Mirror

In big families, there's often one kid who always gets blamed when something goes wrong. But Shalom Auslander came from a small family, so the role of fall guy was up for grabs. Shalom Auslander is the author of several books, including Foreskin's Lament. (13 minutes)