It takes four seconds to hit the water from the Golden Gate Bridge. A year ago the producer’s friend Phil took that fatal jump. They met several years before that when Phil’s brother committed suicide (transcript).
“The Man with the White Cane” (1980 / 9:36) Josh Darsa
Herman Porter, a blind man, slipped unseen beneath a moving subway train: 90 tons of steel and electricity. (Hear Alex Chadwick’s eulogize for NPR’s pioneering producer: “Josh Darsa Obituary“.)
Scott Carrier talks to the family, the ex-husband, the mortuary, the doctors, even the grave digger, in piecing together the memory of a life. Prodcued for New American Radio. (Scott’s most recent book is Prisoner of Zion.)
“Kaddish” (1994 / 3:26)
Messages on my the producer’s mother’s tape machine, found after his father’s death; original music by Skyward. This Kaddish is a mourner’s prayer.
Thruout the hour, we hear excerpts from the tracks “Zhangmu: Crossing A Landslide Area” (2300 meters above sea level), “Palung: A Yak Caravan is Coming (5400m), “Cho Oyo Basecamp: Morning” (5700m), “Jobo Rabzang: A 6666 metre peak in the Cho Oyu Himal”, “Camp 3: Neighbours On Oxygen” (7500m), “Summit: Only slight breeze on the summit at 8201m.” Also this piece “sampled and processed from a cassette of Tibetan music.”
For twenty years, Reverend Robert Shields, of Dayton, Washington, kept a written record of absolutely everything that happened to him, day and night. For four hours each day, Shields holes himself up in the small office in his home, turns on his stereo, and types. His diary, at 35 million words, is believed the world’s longest. A Sound Portraits production, on the CD Holding On: Dreamers, Visionaries, Eccentrics And Other American Heroes (and companion book)
“Nick in SLC: Home School to High School” (1999 / 16:39) Radio Diaries
For RD’s Teenage Diaries project, they gave “tape recorders to young people around the country to report on their own lives. They conduct interviews, keep an audio journal and record the sounds of daily life — usually collecting more than 40 hours of raw tape over the course of a year. Nick Epperson of Salt Lake City began his audio diary when he was 13. The talented singer/cellist music, but has a hard time making friends.
Land of 10K Homeless is a Minneapolis music-audio documentary project by Voices of the Streets, “An Artistic Portrayal of Homelessness in Minnesota.” Thier “website of artistic activism provides a space for the disadvantaged to share their stories.” Producer Danny Burke created this mix of the main theme, blended with interviews with individuals staying at a family shelter in Minneapolis.
After leaving the Marines, George Hill became addicted to drugs and alcohol. He soon found himself on the streets of Los Angeles, homeless for 12 years. But the kindness of another homeless man changed everything. Hill is now off the streets, working for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and pursuing a computer information systems degree at Cal State University. Recorded in Santa Monica, CA; part of StoryCorps’Griot Initiative.
A portrait of the self-named, Crazy John, who lives on the streets of Austin, Texas. He tells writer Carmen Delzell about his life. Carmen was homeless for a couple of years in the early 1990s. This piece was made after she got on her feet and was living in Austin. Produced by Jay Allison (PRX).
This time alone living in the luxury of Martha’s house has helped me relax enough to see myself and my circumstances a little more clearly.
I’m sick of Mexico. Sick of living in fear, of poverty, of the (mostly) assholes I know there and most of all sick of loneliness.
So tonight I’ve decided to head out into the night with my digital recorder and start doing a story on loneliness. You know, loneliness is probably the hardest thing to admit and for sure the hardest thing to bear.
I was inspired last weekend by a singer songwriter named Steve, who is sadly, dead.
#1 Bar Noise at a place called Buttons.
So here I am again alone in a bar waiting for this Dave Millsap to come on stage and sing the songs of Steve Bruton whose life was loosely depicted in Crazy Heart, the movie with Jeff Bridges.
I actually cried when I saw his beat up old truck drive down one of these breath-taking New Mexico highways because God Damn It that’s me driving up from the Matehuala Desert towards Saltillo, Coahuila in my beat-up Jeep and whatever it is that’s sent me down those lonely Mexican and New Mexican roads, I’m pretty sure it has something to do with movies like this.
The difference is that I’m a woman and don’t play the guitar or paint or anything except live and write about being alienated and sad and, yes, lonely. More…
Just imagine, if you can being an old (and you know I don’t feel all that old) woman with less than a hundred dollars to her name driving north on Hwy 57 between San Luis Potosi and Matehuala as the sun goes down.
A motel costs 400 pesos. So does a tank of gas.
Children stand by the side of the road holding out live rattle snakes for sale or a wild eagle dangled by its feet.
It’s getting dark.
The empty light comes on the dash board. There are no gas stations anywhere.
Food is out of the question till you get to the border; and when you do get there it’ll be another six hours to your friend’s house where you can sleep for a couple of nights.
I thought—in that hazy hopeful time right after graduation and before my foolish marriage that I could be a bohemian, a colorful avant-garde part of the late 1960s and then (I’m not sure when I thought it would actually be) I expected to have a house, go to graduate school and eventually teach at some small liberal arts college somewhere.
I guess I got a lot of these notions from biographies and magazine articles that fell into my hands from my mother’s casual (and probably mundane) choice of reading material.
She herself had fancied a similar life and she too found the shock of turning middle aged without it too much to bear.
The places we live and the people who live there; a desert, a city, two small towns, and another country:
Scott Carrier has a cultural history of the Great Salt Lake’s “West Desert,” a land of polygymists, bombing ranges, and toxic waste incinerators. There’s chlorine gas in the air, anthrax stored underground, and people who call the place home.
Sarah Vowell‘s childhood move from rural Oklahoma to small-town Montana was, for her, a change from the middle ages to a modern metropolis.
[Carmen Delzell lives in Mexico, travels to India, and does occasional audio essays for us. Here’s the first of what we hope will be a series of posts & pix she’s calling the Bag Lady’s Guide to What’s Left of the Planet. This one’s from India…]
Today I took my regular rickshaw to Mother Theresa’s house to see if there was anything I could do to help or just see the poorest of the poor. I was expecting to be horrified by all the suffering but it wasn’t really as bad as I had expected. When I say it wasn’t as bad I mean it wasn’t as bad as the miserable beggars I see everyday on the streets of Delhi and Jaipur. At least at Mother Theresa the people I sat with were clean, comfortable and most of all smiling.
Years ago when I was at Mother Theresa in Calcutta a traveler girl told me that the ladies loved to be touched and hugged and patted. So I did that and I sang to them and I started to dance my version of Bollywood style movements waving my arms and undulating my hips. They were delighted… all of them old ladies or very brain damaged young women. More…
This weeks HV Podcast— Sampling the “Ritual Magic” of a voodoo Santera, soaks in a spirit bath, the producer prays for sex, adventure, and central heat. By producer Carmen Delzell, “Ritual Magic” (4:39 mp3):