Greater than 5 years after the discharge of “S-City,” we’re nonetheless fascinated with this suspenseful podcast. This seven-part thriller from the creators of “This American Life”and “Serial” (each binge-worthy in their very own proper) was launched in March 2017 to a lot acclaim. Even now, the grasp clockmakers at Chelsea Clock are hooked on the way it makes use of real-life horology and vintage clocks as the premise for a charming investigative story.
The sequence options seven hour-long episodes which comply with the mysteries and curiosities (and at occasions, tragedies) of John B. McLemore, a horologist who repaired vintage clocks for a dwelling in rural Alabama. What initially begins as a reporter wanting right into a potential homicide cover-up finally includes an extra demise, feuds, hidden treasures and more-all by means of the framework of vintage clocks and the secrets and techniques they maintain.
What Is Horology?
Horology actually means “the research of time.” Extra broadly, it refers to learning the measurement of time together with the devices used to measure it, together with clocks, watches, marine chronometers, atomic clocks and even traditional sundials. A horologist like McLemore is an individual enthusiastic about learning time. Due to their huge vintage clock data, many horologists additionally make and restore clocks.
Within the case of John B. McLemore, who was one of many world’s most expert clock restorers, his intricate skilled work fixing uncommon clocks is a metaphor for the bigger story. Moreover, the clocks are a part of the person’s legacy; podcast host and government producer Brian Reed makes an attempt to unravel the mysteries inside McLemore’s city in the identical manner McLemore would remedy the thriller of fixing an vintage clock.
Reed spends a lot time discussing clock restore, together with subjects corresponding to how clocks are gilded and the historical past of sundials, all in hopes of higher understanding the eccentric McLemore and why he summoned him to the small Alabama city within the first place. You possibly can view a number of the clocks that John labored on and owned by visiting the “S-City” podcast Instagram web page.
Origins of the “S-City” Podcast
Reed says the roots of “S-City” date again to 2012, when McLemore despatched him an unsolicited electronic mail with the topic line, “John B. McLemore lives in Sh*&city, Alabama” (though the precise topic line was uncensored). There had been a homicide in his city, and he was satisfied it had been lined up. He was asking the producers of “This American Life” to come back out and assist examine. After a number of correspondences, Reed determined to take McLemore up on his proposal.
“When Reed ventures to McLemore’s sprawling ancestral property and its environs, in Woodstock, Alabama, the homicide thriller proves cussed and elusive,” writes Sara Larson for The New Yorker. “At one level, Reed finds himself standing with McLemore inside a hedge maze that he’s designed and had constructed on his land, and so they’re each questioning find out how to get out. Such framing about clocks and mazes is palpably deliberate-right from the start, ‘S-City’ desires to reassure you that meanderings and muddles are a part of the design.”
The Mysteries of Clock Restore
“When an vintage clock breaks-a clock that’s been telling time for two-hundred or three-hundred years-fixing it may be an actual puzzle,” Reed says within the opening episode of “S-City.” “An previous clock like that was handmade by somebody: it would tick away the time with a pendulum, with a spring, with a pulley system; it might need bells which can be presupposed to strike the hour, or a chicken that’s meant to come out and cuckoo at you. There will be lots of of tiny particular person items, every of which must work together with the others exactly. To make the job even trickier, you typically can’t inform what’s been accomplished to a clock over lots of of years. Perhaps there’s injury that was by no means mounted or mounted badly. Typically total parts of the unique clockwork are lacking, however you’ll be able to’t know for positive; a clock that previous doesn’t include a handbook. So as an alternative, the few individuals left on the earth who know find out how to do this sort of factor depend on what are sometimes referred to as ‘witness marks’ to information their manner. A witness mark might be a small dent, a gap that after held a screw: These are precise impressions and dent traces and discolorations left contained in the clock of items that will have as soon as been there. They’re clues as to what was within the clockmaker’s thoughts when he first created the factor. I’m instructed fixing an previous clock will be maddening. You’re consistently questioning if you happen to’ve simply spent hours happening a path that can doubtless take you nowhere, and all you’ve received are these obscure witness marks which could not even imply what you assume they imply.”
After this compelling introduction to the artwork of clock restore (which we love since we will relate so properly), Reed introduces McLemore, and the thriller of the podcast, and of John McLemore himself, begins to unfold. Hearken to chapter 1 under and tell us what you assume!