Reply All: #99 Black Hole, New Jersey
June 15, 2017 9:43 PM - Subscribe

A mysterious thief has been using the internet to steal a bizarre array of items - watches, scooter parts, clown costumes. This week, Alex heads straight towards his hideout.
posted by bq (12 comments total)
 
This felt like a return to the episodes I really enjoy-pretty facintating, though fizzled out a bit at the end. And much better than the Mason Reese episode, which left me feeling voyeuristic and sad.
posted by purenitrous at 10:00 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


Listening to this at work today was a bit uncanny. I used to live in Woodbridge and my mother used to teach in Port Reading. And having worked in e-commerce for the past several years, I've sent a lot of stuff to parcel forwarders, including Meest.
posted by theartandsound at 10:03 PM on June 15


Loved this episode, mainly because it felt like there was actually some suspense around whether the company was a front for something bad or legit company that's being used by criminals.
posted by noneuclidean at 2:52 AM on June 16


I really enjoyed this. I'd have applauded if they'd gone even further (and looked into the Clown costumes !!), but the conclusion was satisfying. The sketchy-business investigative reporting setup in the first act could have felt manipulative, but it totally worked for me and wasn't heavy handed. Their decision to include the failed GPS tracker bit in the final edit even though it didn't lead to anything was interesting and fun.

I'm also a bit curious why a US teenager selling a watch would pick an obscure auction site rather than EBay or Craig's List. Is it random noise, or is there a specific demographic using this site that I don't spend time with? If the later, I'd love to know more.
And much better than the Mason Reese episode, which left me feeling voyeuristic and sad.
I'm guessing it was a "hey, free Wiretap content so we can spend two weeks on the next episode" choice that they made in 2015 when they first aired it. (Why they'd play it again. . . and, for that matter, why so many talented people would be willing to work with Goldstein, or be capable of restraining the urge to punch him in the face, is unclear.)

Listening to the Reese episode again - and not being entirely sure I'd heard it before - was interesting. In the first half, I was surprised to discover that it was engaging and thoughtful. I was intrigued. Then the host and producer whipped out their TV-writer daddy-issues theories and reaffirmed my assumption that everything Goldstein touches is sure to become a pile of flaming garbage.

This post also caused me to look up Mason Reese. Hearing him on the program, I'd assumed he was African American. His photos sure look quite a bit different from what I expected. I'm torn between wanting to listen to the show again to try to dig into why I made that assumption and not wanting to put up with another half hour of Goldstein.
posted by eotvos at 6:01 AM on June 16


..
posted by to sir with millipedes at 8:35 AM on June 16


"hey, free Wiretap content so we can spend two weeks on the next episode"

It was written for, and edited by, Reply All. I promise you we didn't get a break making that episode.

why so many talented people would be willing to work with Goldstein, or be capable of restraining the urge to punch him in the face, is unclear.

Because he is maybe the best writer I've ever met and one of the most compassionate, curious, funny, and genuinely kind people I know.
posted by Alex Goldman at 8:38 AM on June 16 [6 favorites]


Ooh, sick Goldman burn!

I enjoyed it, though I was sad the girl didn't get reimbursed for her watch (I think Meest should have stepped up there). I liked that Alex was so excited to get the story that he didn't realize the girl would be sad not to get the watch or the money back.

Not enough banter though. I love the Yes Yes No episodes because they are so banter heavy. I guess they save all the good banter for the commercials, which I mostly skip. Yeah, I'm that guy.
posted by rikschell at 11:24 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


Reply All fans will want to listen to the latest episode of Science Vs, in which Alex and PJ participate in an experiment.
posted by bq at 12:05 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


How fascinating! I was definitely nervous at several points during the story that PJ, Alex, and/or Phia were going to get targeted by the Russian mafia. I agree with noneuclidean that there was definite tension when they were figuring out whether or not Meest was legit or not. I do feel bad that the girl didn't get her money back, but the story was pretty satisfying regardless.

eotvos, I don't think Poshmark is that obscure, but maybe I've just gotten a ton of targeted ads from them on Facebook. eBay has a pretty awful interface and sub-optimal user experience. There are several good alternatives for certain types of items. For example, I sold a phone on Swappa and it was much smoother than anything I've done on eBay. I'm not enough into fashion to use Poshmark, but clicking around on Poshmark's site, it's clear it's nicely-designed, which is appealing.

I have fallen out of listening to Scienve Vs, but I'll check out that episode since I love crossovers! I recall PJ being on Planet Money years ago in an episode about online dating.
posted by radioamy at 9:43 PM on June 16


Yeah, poshmark is pretty well known-or at least in my 20 year old fashionista daughter's circle, so that seemed legit to me. I am skeptical for a living, so I still am not convinced that Meest was the "shocked innocence" that they portrayed-but that could just be me.
posted by purenitrous at 9:29 PM on June 18


Because he is maybe the best writer I've ever met and one of the most compassionate, curious, funny, and genuinely kind people I know.
For what it's worth, I'm sorry for what were, on reflection, unnecessarily mean comments above. The unexaggerated statement I should have made is that Goldstein's choices as an audio-content producer don't happen to appeal to me personally. That his material makes other people happy is a great thing. I know that ragging on public radio personalities in a public forum is a much different and far meaner thing than, say, posting snarky digs at Arnold Schwarzenegger. But, it's easy to forget.

Sorry for being a jerk.
posted by eotvos at 10:48 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


I like this kind of episode too. Investigative journalism is fun.

I was trying to figure out what kind of GPS tracker they used, was trying to imagine a device that was going to be able to connect to a network and upload data from Eastern Europe. They mention "Spytech login" so I Binged it up and maybe they used one of these? Some of them come with $15/month data contracts and mention CDMA and SMS, but it's not clear if those work internationally or not.

(A meta comment, I'm annoyed at how Gimlet podcasts are so padded with non-content. The 38 minute program has about 5 minutes of paid ads, another 2 minutes of intro/outro, and often a couple minutes promoting another podcast. Now that I wrote all that out it's not much different than commercial TV, and I hardly have a right to complain about my free professionally produced podcast content. And yet here I am, complaining.)
posted by Nelson at 4:23 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


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