I’ve listened to the popular podcast, S-Town, and I loved it. What started off as a murder mystery trailed into an intimate portrait of John B. McLemore, horologist, scholar, and Woodstock, Alabama’s misanthrope.
I found a kindred spirit in McLemore in that he was an individual who didn’t resign to apathy, who cared about society and potential tragedies that could befall them. Sure his diatribes can be described as “virtuosic negativity,” but I related. I could fall into “virtuosic negativity” at the drop of a hat if I didn’t check myself.
I admired McLemore’s incredible awareness and curiosity of the events that were happening around him. In the podcast, he obsessed over climate change, racism, police brutality, and whatever came up on his mind. Sure he could talk anyone’s ear off about any subject he was passionate about, but the thing was, he was passionate. It was endearing to listen to him because I rarely found anyone who had that type of passion.
I also appreciated the generous heart that McLemore had towards people he loved, especially Tyler Goodson. He provided a place for Goodson to stay when he was drunk, offered him work around his home to keep him afloat, and had tattoos done by him to keep the tattoo parlor he co-owned open. From an outsider’s point of view, it’s easy to say that Goodson used McLemore, but from how I see it, Goodson offered the company McLemore desperately needed and wanted.
I related to the adverse traits of McLemore as well as his positive traits. For instance, McLemore became jealous when a close friend of his gained a significant other. He’d criticized his friend’s significant other and find ways to sabotage the relationship. I may not go to the extent of criticizing a friend’s significant other or undermining their relationship, but jealousy happened. I’d feel sad that my friend would be hanging out more with their significant other than me because I’d feel replaced.
Another negative trait that McLemore possessed was a lack of common sense at times, despite his incredible intelligence. Since he worked with clocks, he mastered the art of “fire-gliding.” “Fire-Gliding” involves melting gold and mercury together to leave a rich, textured layer of gold on other items. In this process, he did not use safety equipment or had a professional ventilation system to prevent breathing the mercury that evaporated in the air. Breathing in mercury is dangerous and may have contributed to McLemore’s unstable mental condition.
Even though McLemore may have seemed unhappy towards the end of his life, he did experience joy. In his suicide note that was full of impending crisis, he also wrote:
“When I look around me and see the leaden dispiritedness that envelops so many persons both young and old, I know that if I die tonight my life has been inestimably better than that of most of my compatriots.”
John B. McLemore,
I hope you know that your life has affected me and many others who have listened to your story.
I wish I had a chance to
Have fun ripping us humans apart from wherever you are.
Rants of An OCD Girl
By DwayneP (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons