The Memory Palace

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Episode 17:
Plummeting Approval

Published
Aug 07,2009

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Music, Footnotes & Ephemera

We roll through a couple of movie score pieces (“piano 1″ from Jon Brion’s Synecdoche, New York soundtrack, “Tissue,” from Thomas Newman’s Little Children soundtrack). Then you’ve got “Temporary Loan” by Edith Frost (from her Calling Over Time record–which is so good, by the way), “Every Day a Sunrise, a Summer,” by Telegraph Melts, and The Hold Steady covering Springsteen’s Atlantic City on a benefit album from an an international organization called WarChild that works on child soldier issues.

Accounts of Sam’s life vary pretty wildly and can be pretty tricky to sort out. One of the best accounts (it’s gotta be the most comprehensive), it seems, is Paul E. Johnson’s book, Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper.

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7 Comments | Leave a Comment

7 Comments on Plummeting Approval

  1. feitclub says:

    Your analogy to Sam and reality show “stars” raises an interesting point: are our standards really lower now than they were then? or is the audience’s needs for “more” driving television networks to sink lower and lower to fill their broadcast schedules with whatever they can find?

  2. Allison Scully says:

    Nate…you are a wonderful storyteller. Keep up the great work, you are clearly gaining momentum out there!

  3. Brian Loughran says:

    I can certainly comment on this, thus: In college, I cajoled a friend to be my subject for a photo-essay about taking a first skydive. He agreed, provided I jump too.

    There is a wonderful thing that happens as you train for a first jump; everything else clears from your mind. Money woes, fractious paramours, every possible looming catastrophe all fall away, and all you think about is doing this thing perfectly. You are constantly assured that, if you do this right, everything will be fine.

    All that morning, all I thought about was doing my jump perfectly. I thought of nothing else. And when I perfectly landed on the ground, hours passed before I thought again about my money woes, my fractious paramour, my looming catastrophes.

    I got an “A” on my photo-essay-mostly, I think, because my professor was impressed that I had jumped right after my subject. And I went on to jump two more times, and might have jumped more, but it was pretty expensive, and I was pretty broke.

    Still, there is a wonderous peace of mind that comes when you are about to do something that could end your life; when you realize that you have to REALLY focus on what’s going on HERE, AND NOW.

    Don’t think I want to jump into rivers, though.

  4. Shawn says:

    “If you could drum up a crowd and some cash and you had access to something really tall, Sam Patch would totally jump off it.”

    great line!

  5. Daniel McGauley says:

    Jeez, what a downer ending. He was alive at the end, right? RIGHT? Keep up the amazing stories. They are very entertaining.

  6. Eric says:

    I friggin’ love your site. More please!

  7. Jim Newell says:

    Great telling of the Sam Patch story. You’re facts concur with a screen play I wrote several years ago named “Patch”.

    Did you know he sometimes jumped with a bear (don’t know if he was asked) and he traveled with a pet fox (they were friends), that he saved the new bridge over the Passaic from falling into the gorge, that he jumped the Genesee twice and Niagara several times, that farm boys and store clerks would “do the Sam Patch” and jumped off hay lofts and over counters, and that Andrew Jackson named his favorite horse after him?

    Pity he gets so little recognition at Niagara Falls today.

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