Piece Comment

Review of Are There Any More Rare, Plastic Ponies?

Having a sister-in-law who has always loved horses and a brother who became a late convert to the beasts, I have learned to appreciate the connection between humans and these particular ungulates. The non-narrator form of radio piece can be transcendent, but when the ambitions are to connect the filaments between ponies and plastic model horses, the almost-hardwired human tendency to amass and collect, and the apparent secret wish to groom among girls to groom massive animals that they will control -- that's a lot to accomplish.

Julie Shapiro very nearly succeeds here. I would argue the musical choices here -- there's lots of music out there in the real world that has nothing to do with cowboys that would have informed the human sensibility of horsiness here -- were inconsequential. And yet those horsey pieces would have imbued the story with an undeniably ungulate rhythm that isn't matched by the strains chosen in their stead.

But don't let that qualification stop you from reading on.

Even more challenging in Shapiro's storytelling task is making the connection between collecting model horses and horseback riding. How do the model collectors care for, feed, and maintain their stables? We hear from owners of tens, hundreds, thousands of plastic ponies. It would be terrific to discover how they make their petrochemical models worthy of being considered for best in show.

All of which is to say that Shapiro's story is so terrific it allowed me to think enough about what she did here to conceive of alternate endings. The production and mix are impeccable. As is, it would be a terrific thing to hear anywhere, any time.