Great episode. Whichever listener that recommended the story has great taste. I actually did recommend it because of the hot dog scene. That's also why I read it to my wife! Your cast really opened up the story for me, thank you.
I've read Ligotti's three most physically accessible books. (I finished one of them just two days ago!) I have a good grasp on his style. The method of his terror, or rather it's setting, is more or less always the same: urban or suburban cities going through decay. He is from Detroit, which is the epicenter of urban decay, the bradycardic heart of the rust belt.
While no where near as bad, my childhood shared a lot of the same grossness of the story. I have been in some really rough places. All terror has origins in our childhood insecurities. Our farm breed forebears were scared of the dark, the wolves at the edge of the fire, the alien. People like Lovecraft wrote about that terror, because that was the terror of his age. The terror of our age is rot, clutter, decay, regret, degeneration, despair. I grew up in a poor family, in the poor part of town, in poor towns, in poor houses. Things weren't that bad, but sometimes things were falling apart or smelt bad. The Pacific Northwest has it's own very unique sort of grossness, probably due to how wet everything is, and how just a few hours drive away is an endless desert wasteland. I certainly relate to the narrator's main complaint, and know why he has such a problem with his parent's smoking. And why all us lost souls only harp on the most about the small things. Because they are controllable. The hole in the closest will take huge resources to fix, which some elective vice takes much less will to fix. The neighborhood will take decades to fix, if ever, while any given family can dig themselves out in a few short years. Maybe. And if the damn parents can stop smoking maybe they can afford to paint the house! Having said all that, even though I don't share in those vices, I still can't find the energy to clean up whatever random mess is around here, or planting my own food which would save me so much money. The terror is we made so much we're drowning in it.
I live in a pretty rural area, across the street from me, swallowed up by the woods, is an abandoned house. It looks to be very old. That conjures up in my mind a crew of men building it, scrutinizing every angle and cut. It must have been a lot of fun putting it up, the builders must have taken a lot of pride in their work. And now it's nothing. The opposite is equally terrible, coats of painting and polish put on a corpse, like make up on a cadaver, people desperate trying to keep a dead thing alive. A forest's canopy choking out new life.
Ligotti's antinatalism is central to understanding his stories. The disease we must be purified of is life itself. Countries, religions, families, all give us reasons to life. Ideas that keep us going. While the only true path to happiness is never being. The whole philosophy is pretty hard to argue against, from the logical perspective. The strategy of opposing it so far seems to be just ignoring it. Which obviously isn't enough. The point made that purity is a negative concept, is brilliant, and weird that I never realized that. So Ligotti the antinatalist sees what the problem is, life, and chooses the equivalent of ignoring the problem, non-life. I'm certainly also guilty of seeing problems while being incapable of purposing solutions.
I don't know if I answered any of your questions, or just ranted. I should start making master threads for any given cast, listing questions and writing prompts you dude's purpose.