177: American Limbo
Feb 9, 2001
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.
- 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)
- 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)
- Adam Gopnik reads a story from his book Paris to the Moon, about living in Paris with his family and wanting his son to be a bit more American. He tells him a bedtime story about the most American thing he can think of: baseball. But it doesn't work out the way he planned. (18 minutes)
- 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.
An interpretation of Limbo, as described in Dante's 'Divine Comedy'