I have never been to Los Angeles (sad but true) but Katrina Longworth paints such an extraordinary portrait of this company town, I don't need to! The images she conjures is better than any trip I can imagine.
Longworth's 12-part series on the Manson murders stopped me cold. She had me hook, line, and sinker. I would go as far to say it is better than Serial, the first season.
To create a comprehensive narrative of this American tragedy in what was the first odd decade of several to come, Longworth is a master weaver of cultural references (both high and low). If it was in the air, it's in the story. If they smoked it, saw it, heard it, touched it, ate it, visited or lived there, Longworth has it covered.
This is binge listening at it's best. If I had known that Hollywood historian was a viable career option, my life would be very different today.
As if that was not enough, I just completed her latest series, MGM Stories, in 15 episodes. Louis B. Mayer was a real asshole. He followed his own code of ethics, which cemented this country's Puritan image of itself. Talk about common denominator, he offered fare that would appeal to each and every sad sack out there as an escape from their own small lives.
This podcast sparks my nostalgia at a molecular level. I can see how these films in wide-release influenced my midwestern grandmother and her sisters, and how these blockbusters endorsed their own core values of goodness, generosity, and that nice things happen to nice people who went to church, didn't sleep around or use swear words. It would have been such a treat for these young women, reared during the depression, to save their meager wages to escape in the darkness, just as Mayer engineered. And if there was an uplifting song and dance number, even better.
So, drop what you are doing and download this podcast.