About eight years ago I read a great book, written in first person by an autistic teenager describing his interpretation of the trouble he can’t seem to stay out of. The author won a number of writers’ prizes for his novel, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime, published in 2003. In 2012 the English National Theatre adapted it to a stage play which moved to Broadway a few months ago at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Tonight I went to see it and loved everything about it, from the English actors (a total of ten who played many different characters) and the modern, moving, technicolour stage, to the cleverly portrayed storyline. The standing ovation at curtain call showed I wasn’t the only one who loved it.
Tonight, as with many days and nights this trip, I walked instead of using the subway. Manhattan Island has shrunk. Not literally, but in my mind. With few hills, points of interest on almost every block, and the easy street plan of North-South Avenues crossed by East-West Streets, Manhattan is a walker’s dream. The only place I ever get lost, and I get lost every time I go there, is Greenwich Village which is just south of the grid-pattern streets and has a number of diagonal streets which never fail to confuse me. After living there for a month four years ago, I still can’t get my bearings and continue to confuse north with south, east with west, even on corners where yesterday I appeared to have it figured out. Yesterday I left SoHo and walked over to Karen #2’s place. I stood on the sidewalk downstairs from her apartment and rang the buzzer. She spoke to me briefly then met me on the sidewalk and we walked a short way to The Meatball Shop, a trademark institution, for lunch. As I stood on that sidewalk, it hit me just what a “local New York” experience I was living!
Another current day American trademark is a recently transmitted podcast called Serial. Available free on iTunes podcasts, this documentary series is divided into twelve episodes of an hour or less, each released a week apart. It follows the plot and characters of a real-life murder mystery. A young woman Hae Min Lee was killed and left in a shallow grave in Baltimore in 1999. Her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, 17 at the time, was found guilty and is serving life in prison for her murder despite no physical evidence linking him to the crime. Serial interviewed him, his family, colleagues, friends, accusers and other significant characters to the story, which twists and turns and leaves you hanging. Ultimately they do not reach a conclusion as to Adnan’s guilt, but enough doubts are cast that you are left well aware that the criminal justice system is riddled with flaws which can ruin innocent lives and see no justice for victims. The final episode opens a can of worms related to other suspects of the crime who were not investigated properly at the time. It is well worth a listen if you’re looking for something to occupy your time. Look for Serial, via This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig who uncovers the story over 12 weeks.
Business Insider pubished this article today, about Serial. “America’s Most Popular Podcast Exposed the Ugliest Parts of Our Justice System”. http://www.businessinsider.com/serial-podcast-says-a-lot-about-americas-criminal-justice-system-2014-12 A curious incident and one which will probably / hopefully continue to unfold over the coming months.