Vanessa and I are wrapping up. I’ve noticed that in interviews, the best question usually comes last. Not because you’re finally ready to deliver the right query that’ll land you an amazing response, or because you’re just so relieved it’s over. No, usually the last question is pretty open-ended. But somehow, the person you’re talking to becomes exactly as articulate as you have tape left in your machine.
There’s a tried-and-true radio trick that’ll get the same result. Look, you tell your interviewee. I’m drunk, I’m stupid, and if you can get this information through my thick skull, it will save my life. Studs Terkel spoke of fumbling with his recorder to bring about a compassionate clarity on the part of his subjects; I have my ways, too. But Vanessa required no such trickery. She had simply offered me an eloquent overview of her experiences in, and in response to, Chicago.
In many cases, our urban environment was the only thing I had in common with the interviewees I’ve shared over a hundred clips from in the past six months—Vanessa and I just happened to have more to build on. But the degree to which she was willing to open up her life and share it with me was not, in any way, unusual.
Revision Street: America is going on indefinite hiatus.
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