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Three Podcasts to Listen To in May: A Study of Classical Music, The Legacy of “Cops,” and Healing in Toronto’s Gay Community

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A few months ago, I was swept off my feet by “Aria Code,” from WQXR, a wondrous narrative podcast about opera with an amusingly ridiculous name. Recently, another enjoyable podcast about music, from American Public Media, made its début, with an even more ridiculous name: “Decomposed.” (It’s about composers!) It’s hosted (and co-written) by Jade Simmons, a concert pianist and storyteller whose enthusiasm and aggressively accessible narration (“Let’s start somewhere the public usually never gets to see—a rehearsal”) can distract at times from the pleasures of the stories and the music—but those pleasures are magnificent. The creative and personal lives of such figures as Clara and Robert Schumann, Richard Strauss, and Tchaikovsky are as complex as their compositions, and fascinating to contemplate alongside them; the Tchaikovsky episode, “Why Did You Betray Me?,” should be optioned as a miniseries, because I want to watch it.

Running from Cops,” the third season of Dan Taberski’s series “Headlong,” investigates the show “Cops,” a pioneer of reality television, which is now, stunningly, in its thirtieth season. Even if you’re not a “Cops” devotee, its longevity and omnipresence nearly guarantees that the mere thought of it puts its “Bad Boys” theme song in your head—and, perhaps, thoughts of a shouting police officer chasing an inebriated, half-dressed civilian. Taberski’s revelations are startling and, as ever, elegantly wrought. It turns out that the show’s many frivolous drug arrests, repetitions of the term “bad guys,” and images of poor people in trouble have shaped not only American culture but, well, reality—from its mostly white-working-class viewership’s perceptions of police work to policing itself. In the first episode, we hear audio of young kids playing “Cops” just as they might play house, the dialogue and cadence eerily familiar. “Get down on the ground, now! ” one yells, telling his friend to “stop resisting.” Then, jauntily, “So why were you running tonight?”

In Toronto’s Gay Village community, eight gay men, six of them immigrants of color, disappeared between 2010 and 2017. The investigative journalist Justin Ling began researching his excellent new podcast, “Uncover: The Village,” from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, five years ago, when it seemed that police had moved on from the investigations. “Those disappearances nagged at me,” Ling says; he suspected that the victims’ “sexuality and their skin color made them easier to forget.” With sensitivity and care, Ling’s series tells the stories of those men, all of whom were killed by a self-employed landscaper named Bruce McArthur, who was convicted this January. Ling then explores an earlier set of unsolved killings in Gay Village, in the seventies, providing historical context and empathy as he seeks answers and talks to widowers, siblings, activists, retired cops, and beyond. “The Village” is as much a gesture toward healing as it is a work of investigation; the results are illuminating and tremendously moving.



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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !