February 9, 2001

American Limbo

Stories of people living completely outside the grid of American life. Americans in Paris. Chinese in America. West Virginians in treehouses. Mexican-Americans in Rochester.

An interpretation of Limbo, as described in Dante's 'Divine Comedy'


Ira talks with Lee Qi, who came to America from China. He worked in Chinese restaurants in small towns, live in tiny apartments with other illegal immigrants who worked there as well—apartments that were sometimes in the back of the restaurants. He couldn't speak English, didn't go to school. He was 15. It was like being in limbo, he says: Here in America, but not part of it at all. (4 minutes)
Act One

The Family That Flees Together, Trees Together

The Jarvis family, a group of eight, goes on the run from the law—for seven years. They live on a boat, in a treehouse in a swamp. They escape capture time after time. And how do the kids turn out, living a life outside of society, as fugitives? Surprisingly great. (23 minutes)
Act Three

It's Julie Andrews' World, Sylvia Just Lives In It

Sylvia becomes the first person in her Mexican-American family to go away to college, at a predominantly white school in upstate New York. As all her cousins at home get married, start families, and seem happier than she is, she wonders why, exactly, is her route the better one? (11 minutes) Sylvia first talked about her experiences with her mother and family in high school in our "Escape the Box" show in 1998.