Out Laws

Email a Friend

We look at people living outside the law ”“ both voluntarily and involuntarily. Host Dean Olsher explores the messy legal terrain confronting gay couples who want the privileges of a “divorce,” and talks to local historians about female criminals on the Lower East Side in the 19th century. Sound artist Miranda July introduces a new crime genre ”“ the Independent Crime Crime Crime Crime Crime. Plus, radio producer Ken Hom on growing up under the influence of Chinese Opera.

Same Sex... Divorce?

The struggle for legal recognition of long-term, committed homosexual relationships has been going on for a long time. But it’s only in the last few years that gay men and women have begun to take on another hurdle ”“ the right to a divorce, or at least the legal protections that divorce law provides. Host Dean Olsher speaks with clients and lawyers now attempting to navigate this uncharted terrain. Produced by Michael Kavanagh.

Walkman Busting

So a guy walks up to you on the street, and asks you what what’s playing on your Walkman. You tell him. But he’s not through with you. Now he says he wants to listen too and before you know it, he’s plugged in a mini-disc and started recording. Gideon D’Archangelo invented what he calls “Walkman busting,” and today we plug into HIS player, to find out what he’s heard on the street.

Chinatown Blues

When Ken Hom was growing up in New York City’s Chinatown, his mother used to drag him to Chinese Opera films at the Sun Sing Theater. He hated them. Years later he revisits his neighborhood and his mother’s attachment to those Sunday movie-going excursions.

The Spoiled and Arbitrary Princess and the Candid General

Excerpts from the Chinese opera performed by Wai Wah Lo and Ying Ying Zhu, formerly of the Guangzhou Opera Company. They now live and perform in New York City. They were recorded last weekend at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, in New York’s Chinatown.

Queen of Fences

As Hollywood prepares to celebrate the street gangs of mid-19th century New York, we turn to a lesser-known law-breaker. Her name was Fredericka Mandelbaum (pictured right), also known as “Marm,” and for nearly 25 years she ran an extensive fencing operation ”“ moving stolen goods from thieves to buyers ”“ on the Lower East Side. Host Dean Olsher unpacks the history of this well-respected criminal with the help of historians Rona Holub and Luc Sante. Produced by Julie Subrin

Let’s Now Praise Female Outlaws

Fredericka Mandelbaum wasn’t the only woman making trouble in the mid-19th century. Woody Guthrie wrote this ballad in honor of Belle Starr, who ran a den of thieves in Oklahoma’s “Indian Territory” during those years. Performed here by Pete Seeger and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.

Independent Crime Crime Crime Crime Crime

Writer/performer Miranda July dreams up an entirely new genre: The Independent Crime Crime Crime Crime Crime. It's not the sort of thing you see on TV. July’s monologue was commissioned by The Next Big Thing, with music by Curtis Knapp. Recorded and mixed by Tim Renner.

Five Sounds in Search of an Author

Next Big Thing contest judge Jesse Green returns to choose a winner from this month's entries.


The poems in Kentucky-based poet Nikky Finney’s newest collection, The World Is Round (January 2003, InnerLight Publishing), examine intimacy in all its disguises. Here, a short one about going (and leaving) home - in honor of Thanksgiving, a holiday that often prompts those kinds of journeys.

WNYC archives id: 30335