Emotional eavesdropping
August 15, 2010 1:57 PM   Subscribe

StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit fostering and preserving meaningful conversations between two people who are important to each other. The vignettes are addictive little heart-grabbers, some unearthing long-held secrets. Here's a sampling: I don't know anything about white people; A son's premonition; Bathtub gin; Adoption; Two canoes; Where's the colored section?; Good hugger; Court every day; A schmear; Stonewall memories; and one video animation - a charming talk between a 12 year old with Asperger's and his Mom. There are hundreds more.

StoryCorp's history and mission

Clips are often featured on NPR.

One clip features mefite irisclara and her very touching talk with her dad, which was discussed in the
West Virginia Mine Explosion thread in April.
posted by madamjujujive (28 comments total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
Damnit, madamjujujive you're breaking me up right here.
posted by nola at 2:34 PM on August 15, 2010

That animation of the conversation between Josh and his mom is wonderful.

Thank you for the link mjjj. There's a lot of great stuff to listen to here that I would never have come across otherwise.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:51 PM on August 15, 2010

The conversation between a father and his daughter, who has Down syndrome, is one of my favorites.

I highly recommend subscribing to the podcast.
posted by emilyd22222 at 3:06 PM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, if you're in New York, San Francisco, or Atlanta, you can record your own story. They also have a mobile StoryBooth in case you're not close to one of those places.
posted by emilyd22222 at 3:08 PM on August 15, 2010

I like it when they play this on NPR during Morning Edition. And then I can show up to work all red faced and tear stained.
posted by contessa at 3:34 PM on August 15, 2010

It's going to make me sound like a jerk, but I generally find "StoryCorps" pieces to be pretty maudlin.

Also, I hate their oh-so-folksy theme music.
posted by ryanshepard at 3:41 PM on August 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

I am on the jerk bench with ryanshepard. I generally switch stations when StoryCorps comes on.
posted by shiny blue object at 3:49 PM on August 15, 2010

Thats not entirely fair, guys. Just like anything else, some are good, some are bad and some are just ok.
posted by subaruwrx at 3:59 PM on August 15, 2010

I generally find "StoryCorps" pieces to be pretty maudlin.

I think some of them are. And they are an artificial construct: here, interview someone close to you. But I think they create a climate and a way for people to step out of their day-to-day lives and relate on a more emotional plane. That's certainly not something I do every day, although as I grow older and experience more loss, I consciously try to let people that I care about know that - which I suppose makes me a little maudlin, too, but I am willing to risk that ;-)

I wish that I had thought to do something like this with my Mom and Dad before I lost them. Oh, yes, they knew I loved them and I knew they loved me. But I wish we had talked about it more, put more into words. And I wish I had asked them more about thier lives.

One thing that I find very sweet is the affirmation that is going on in these. I love this talk between student and a school janitor - he sounds like such a great man, I wish I knew him. With many of these people, I wish I could get more of their stories than just the little snippet or that I could continue the conversation with them.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:14 PM on August 15, 2010

Thats not entirely fair, guys. Just like anything else, some are good, some are bad and some are just ok.

I haven't heard all of them by any stretch, but every single one that I have heard seemed like a calculated, grossly sentimental, hugs-and-bunnies tearjerker.

To be fair, I generally find NPR to be awash in cheap, pandering sentimentality, though. It's not just StoryCorps.
posted by ryanshepard at 4:16 PM on August 15, 2010

It's like playing Russian Roulette. The fifth one made me cry. I came close with White People, but Adoption did it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:17 PM on August 15, 2010

Hey, congratulations to those of you who are canny enough to dodge these wily emotioneers! Keep those heartstrings taut! Guard your empathy for when it counts! You might run out!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:25 PM on August 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

Keep those heartstrings taut! Guard your empathy for when it counts! You might run out!

Not liking treacle = coldhearted. Got it.
posted by ryanshepard at 4:54 PM on August 15, 2010

ryanshepard - what do you expect? It's ok if you don't like these, really, it is. You made your point. No one is forcing them on you.

I don't think you should be surprised by a little push back. You expect your opinion to be respected but can't you see why your comments - "maudlin" "calculated, grossly sentimental" and now "treacle" - might be a little abrasive and less than respectful to those who do like these segements? Let alone to the mefite who's segment is linked above?
posted by madamjujujive at 5:10 PM on August 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

Keep in mind that the NPR segments have been selected from longer interviews (usually the longest interviews are 40 minutes each). And there are over 40,000 interviews.

I wonder if NPR has included segments not in English; there certainly are some that are part of the StoryCorps project.

I'm teetering on the brink of a self-link to explain how I'm such a smarty-pants....
posted by datawrangler at 5:33 PM on August 15, 2010

The site says 30,000, but that's out of date....
posted by datawrangler at 5:33 PM on August 15, 2010

you can self link in threads, datawrangler - that's not a problem - and I think it would be appropriate if you have something more to add.

Is there any way to access the linger segments?
posted by madamjujujive at 5:41 PM on August 15, 2010

StoryCorps interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. There's an FAQ on AFC's home page (sorry, I can't link to it without permission). A very important heads-up: AFC doesn't receive all the interviews--only those for which a release to archive them has been signed. If you want to listen to an interview in full, you still have to go there in person, although there are partner locations in the U.S. with localized content. The FAQs will tell you, but it bears repeating: contact AFC before you visit, so the staff can be ready for you and your interests. In the not too distant future there may be a way to access the longer sections online, but that's not the very near future.

Check out information on the StoryCorps site about the Historias initiative, as well as the Memory Loss Initiative, and other attempts to capture information at least one or two people think is important.

(Mea culpa, folks: my computer is borking links as I go.)
posted by datawrangler at 5:57 PM on August 15, 2010

I always wish someone would make a parody version. A few of these go a long way, for me.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:19 PM on August 15, 2010

Ideefixe: "I always wish someone would make a parody version"

CryingStore, part of the QPR series by (MeFi's own) Merlin Mann.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:24 PM on August 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

My 9th grade all boys class worked with StoryCorps this year. It was an amazing experience for all of those involved. The laughs, tears, and growth that my young men went through as they took part in the documenting of their own history was so valuable. Here is a site that we started at the beginning of the year to help the young men become comfortable with developing good questions and talking into a microphone.
posted by misterL at 9:15 PM on August 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

There are quite a few StoryCorps dialogues that are unabashedly sentimental, but I have yet to hear one that came close to being glurge as Snopes defines and illustrates it. Different strokes, I guess.

Also, WRT Merlin Mann's aversion to StoryCorps: we already kinda knew that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:11 PM on August 15, 2010

Those of you who find StoryCorps glurgy might have a little more fun with Olly Neal's conversation with his daughter, Karama.

That's Judge Olly Neal.
posted by bakerina at 11:34 PM on August 15, 2010

misterL, thank you so much for sharing that awesome site - that must have been an amazing experience with those great kids!
posted by madamjujujive at 2:49 AM on August 16, 2010

Holy crap, the "good hugger" one killed me.
Thanks for posting.
posted by knmr76 at 4:42 PM on August 21, 2010

Danny and Annie — Danny Perasa and his wife, Annie, came to StoryCorps to recount their twenty-seven-year romance. As they remember their life together from their first date to Danny's final days with terminal cancer, these remarkable Brooklynites personify the eloquence, grace, and poetry that can be found in the voices of everyday people when we take the time to listen.

An animated short from StoryCorps. Have a tissue handy.
posted by netbros at 5:16 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I loved that one, netbros. And I agree, tissues are definitely called for.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:25 PM on August 21, 2010

wow, so touching netbros, you are right about the tissues. Thanks for coming back to the thread to share that.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:56 PM on August 21, 2010

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