August 27, 1999

The Real Thing

Stories of people drawn to some idea, some picture, some "thing" that they just want to be. How some people imitate this "thing" innocently, some less innocently, and how easy it is to slip from one to the other.


The story of Jug Burkett, a businessman in Dallas and a Vietnam vet, who years ago routinely started checking the bona fides of anyone in the news who claimed to have served in the Vietnam war. He says he's found hundreds of fakers, and he says that one of the tricky things about the fakers is that they often seem more like The Real Thing than real vets do. (5 minutes)
Act One

My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult

The story of someone trying and trying to get close to The Real Thing, and why it was so difficult. Kelly McEvers was a newspaper writer here in Chicago and started to get interested in stories she was hearing about girl gang members. So she got an assignment and tried to get to know them. She found herself changing the way she dressed, changing the way she talked, changing herself to become more like a real gang girl. (13 minutes)

Act Two

Black Like Me

Professor Glenn Loury from Boston University and John Simpkins on basketball, hockey, and what makes a real black person. (10 minutes)
Act Three


What does it mean to talk like a real Southerner—and why a multimillion industry can't seem to figure it out. Southern expatriate Mark Schone dissects Southern accents as they're portrayed in movies and TV shows. (15 minutes)
Act Four

Real Love

There's The Real Thing when it comes to your idea of what job you want, what house you want, what person you want to fall in love with. And until you find The Real Thing you seek, life is the same story over and over again: It's the story of not getting The Real Thing yet again. Los Angeles writer and performer Sandra Tsing Loh tells what happened to her when she found the perfect man via a computer dating service. (12 minutes)