A to B 14: Allie and Maddie

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Music in this show:
1. Architecture in Helsinki, “The owls go”
2. Gaby Kerpel, “Se que no vas a volver”
3. Zap Mama, “Zap bébés”
4. Yppah, “Blue Schwinn”
5. Raymond Scott, “The toy trumpet”
6. Human Skab, “Bein’ bad”
7. Regina Spektor, “Consequence of sounds”
8. Amanda, “Incantation”
9. Gotye, “Smoke and mirrors”
10. Mucca Pazza, “The centennial”
11. Architecture in Helsinki, “The owls go”
12. Gaby Kerpel, “Gabytok”
13. Breathe Owl Breathe, “Lions jaw”
14. Raymond Scott, “Lady Gaylord”


This show, Point A to Point B, is a way to examine how people got from A to B in their lives, often to reach a point where they are successful and comfortable. This show is a search for wise words and lessons learned, which you and I can apply to maybe steer away from bad decisions or toward smoother roads.

So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 3 months. I hopped in my motor home (the turtle), and suddenly I had the time to pursue projects like this show…and other things I’ve postponed, like saving my backlog of favorite voicemails as digital files.

I don’t know about you, but my voicemail regularly fills up, and I get complaints. Maybe you’re the type who doesn’t listen to messages at all; if you’re like me, though, you just can’t erase some of the gems. I tend to keep the ones that make me laugh, and I’ve got messages in my voicemailbox from years ago. When I finally saved my favorites to the computer, I found birthday messages from my little nieces, which were recorded a year apart. It tickled me how different they sounded. It felt like opening a treasure chest of cute. It was almost like hearing them grow.

So let’s say there’s the point A of being a kid and the point B of adulthood. And of course, there are all the landmarks along the way. To record and remember the growth of their kids, parents take fancy family portraits every couple years. School photos memorialize a kid’s cowlick on picture day, or gigantic glasses, or missing teeth. Older parents used to coat with bronze their kids’ first shoes; remember that? The shoe-bronzing tradition seems like it’s gone out of style, but in any case, these items are visually striking ways to note the progress of a child through development and life. It’s less common for us to hear the sound of a growing child. And hearing children grow is much different from seeing the timeline in pictures.

So it struck me that I had a record of children growing in the form of annual birthday voicemails, and I wonder why audio records of the growth of children are so rare. It’s a thrill for parents to hear their kids’ first words, which is why it’s surprising that so few record the sound of their kids early in life.

Maybe pictures are just easier to store and display.

Could be that something about seeing a person develop is easier to understand.

Or maybe it’s rare that a compelling story–with all the ingredients of plot, tension, and drama–comes together in a kid’s sound bites.

Maybe pictures reflect parents more than audio would. Maybe pictures allow parents to see themselves in their children in a way that’s very different, or even nonexistent, via audio.

In some way, a kid can create using audio, rather than being depicted. Being photographed largely is a passive process, so maybe audio gives a kid more power than photography does.

And it occurred to me–
Non-rhetorical question of the week:
What if the prevalence of pictures and the lack of audio is evidence indicating that children most often are expected to be seen and not heard?

Listening to a kid is a powerful way to hear how ideas develop. It’s important to listen to what they say, and it’s helpful for everybody. Plus, it’s cute and hilarious a lot of the time.

There’s this cliché in storytelling that the end actually brings the characters and the audience back to the beginning. Thinking about going from point A to point B in terms of childhood to adulthood, I kind of hope that the cliché turns out to be true–that you can get to point B without ever leaving point A, in a sense. That you can reach adulthood without abandoning childhood.

— — — — —

This is the last episode of Point A to Point B, at least in its once-a-week incarnation. Archives (and new, albeit sporadic, episodes) will be available online, now and forever, in the same spot on the interweb!

The A to B series serves as a record of how these people I bumped into across the country conceive of the roads they’ve chosen through the years. It’s a timeline that you can revisit, hopefully with new insights each time you listen. And the show also is a sort of record of my adventure in the turtle, in terms of places, people, ideas, and communicating all that stuff.

Thanks for listening. I hope you get to where you’re going.

AND stay tuned in the coming weeks for a show called “hugabug”, where we hug bugs instead of squishing them (unless they’re toxic or aggressive). It’ll be about the weirdness of animals!

— — — — —

Other related enjoyable things around the internet:
(be sure to see the links in the music list above, too)

The Scared is scared of things you like.

Dutch people speaking their age from 1 to 100

The best video on the internet of a drunk baby trashing a bar, guaranteed.

“Death of a Turtle” is a fantastic recording by Tony Schwartz.

Eyeball Skeleton

This American Life, “How to Talk to Kids”
This American Life, “Kid Logic”

aww. From TAL’s web site: When Aric Knuth was a little kid, his dad would leave for six months at a time. He was a merchant marine. And Aric would record cassettes of himself and send them. He’d leave one side blank, for his father to record a response. But he never did, even though Aric asked him to on every tape. Aric talks to host Ira Glass about what it was like to finally ask his dad why.


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