March 31, 2000

What Remains

Usually This American Life brings you stories of people in the middle of big experiences. But sometimes these moments of dramatic change are only half the story. The other half occurs after time passes and they return to revisit what happened, and who they were back when. Today's show is about what they find.


Host Ira Glass talks with people who've been hit by lightning. They describe what happened at the moment the bolt struck ... and how they came to view it later. (5 minutes)
Act One

I Used To Bank Here But That Was Long, Long Ago

David Rakoff goes in search of the only existing mementos of a year-and-a-half of his life when he nearly died from Hodgkins Disease. The missing relics are his own pre-chemotherapized sperm — which reside somewhere in a Toronto lab. But over the years, his hospital has moved, the lab has moved, and he has moved. (22 minutes)
Act Two

Exile On Main Street

Keith Gessen, a young Russian emigre, revisits the heroes of his youth: the brave Soviet dissidents who risked their lives at the height of the Cold War. Many of them resettled into comfortable suburban lives in America. That these idealists would wind up on shady streets where private lives are more important than public ones is perplexing to Keith. (18 minutes)
Act Three

Shopping for a Better Future

Producer Julie Snyder looks at what happens in one poor Chicago neighborhood when the community begins to undergo a revitalization and a new store comes to town. (11 minutes)