July 12, 2002

Give the People What They Want

Stories of people who go to great lengths to give people what they want, and how they're rewarded sometimes, misguided other times.


Host Ira Glass goes to a fake wedding at a home for Alzheimer's patients in Davenport, Iowa. Two high school kids who've never even kissed are the bride and groom. Most of the residents couldn't tell you either of their names. But the staff of the Country House residence stages the event because it makes the residents happy...even if they won't remember it by dinnertime. (3 minutes)
Act Two

God Shed His Grace On Thee

A fable of how America got its name, and how it was named after someone who was a fraud, but the kind of fraud people love, the kind of fraud who knows how to please a crowd. Jack Hitt tells the racy and little-known story of how Amerigo Vespucci got his name all over the map of the western hemisphere by telling lies about what he found there—the type of lies which can be found today in the pages of Penthouse magazine. (13 minutes)

Act Three

Have Paint, Will Travel

Milton Reid works as a freelance muralist in one of the largest housing projects in America, Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes. For fifty to two hundred dollars, he'll paint a mural on a resident's living room wall, or in their kitchen, or in the bathroom. He explains that when he first started, all his clients wanted were black and gold panthers, but their tastes have gotten more varied. (8 minutes)
Act Four

Handing People Their Dreams

Ali Davis literally hands people their fantasies, in her job at a Chicago video store with a huge porn section. She tells true stories about what the job is like. (10 minutes)
Act Five

What Daddy Wants

In any family, giving other people what they want becomes fantastically complicated, often because people tend to give others the things they'd like themselves. Curtis Sittenfeld explains how the drama plays out in her family, when it comes to her father's weight. Recently her dad signed up with a woman known as "The Diet Nazi." (16 minutes)