Podcast You Should Hear: Carruth

Podcast: Carruth
Genre:
Sports, True Crime
How Can I Listen?: Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Podcast, RadioPublic, TuneIn

What’s it about?: Carruth is a podcast about Rae Carruth and the murder of his pregnant girlfriend Cherica Adams. It is also a lot more. Released in October of 2018 to coincide with the release of its namesake from prison, Carruth takes a fine-toothed comb over all the details and lays bare not only the details of the crime but the aftermath.

Much like Gladiator, this podcast is given extra weight and legitimacy because of how it is reported. Scott Fowler has been reporting on this case since 1999, and what we are welcomed to is seven episodes of depth, familiarity, and gravity that can only come from someone who lived with something for almost 20 years. Instead of diving into rumors and hearsay, it hammers home facts to paint the picture.

On the first episode, I instantly compared it to Gladiator and Fall of a Titan. It appeared to be a podcast that would lean on reporting and an attempt to shine new light on the case. I figured that meant to come up with reasons Carruth wasn’t responsible for Cherica’s death. Instead, it reveals the heart of what was a heartbreaking tale. It reveals the fight of Cherica Adams, who after being shot four times called 911 and hung on long enough for her son to be born.

Carruth isn’t short on details of violence. It describes how the murder of Adams took place. It also explains who both Carruth and Adams were, how they got together, and why he might have wanted her dead. But beyond all these details of the case, the one thing that becomes obvious is that the podcast isn’t about Carruth at all. It is a podcast that shows that in the wake of something truly horrible something absolutely beautiful can bloom. The beauty of the podcast comes from the love of mothers and the fight in Carruth’s son, Chancellor Lee Adams, who due to his mother’s murder has Cerebral Palsy.

Where other true crime podcasts give the details of something grisly, this podcast had me feeling hopeful and ultimately made me admire the good things that can come from the worst moments. The podcast ends talking about Carruth’s eventual freedom, but by that then you are less concerned about what happens to him and more happy at how the Adams Family will live the rest of their lives.

Length: Seven episodes ranging from 50 – 60 minutes.

Similar Podcasts: Steve McNair: Fall of a Titan, Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc., Crimetown, Serial

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#transparentTuesdays: Showing Up, Missing, and Regret.

Sometimes the hardest part is showing up.

Almost from the moment, I started this blog I’ve been avoiding it. Sitting down to write something that didn’t feel good was painful. I’ve read plenty of pieces about attacking procrastination, writer’s block, and any other mental malady that gets in the way of productivity. They all stress the importance of just being present. They say things like “do it for fifteen minutes” to test the waters, but that’s easier said than done. It really comes down to what you want to write to be more powerful than the urge to run from it, and that’s where I am now.

When I came up with the idea for the Slow Watch I felt reinvigorated. It was something I was interested in and wanted to write about. I loved film analysis in college, and I wanted to dive head first into this idea. Then the first movie came and I watched it, but it took me an eternity to do light research on the subject, and then even longer to sit down to write. But I tried something different because this idea was important to me. I kept trying and it was painful. What I was writing wasn’t good, but I kept it.

I decided not to put myself on a timeline, but to keep bringing myself to my Macbook to try again. To give different approaches. To try to find something that works, and I think I finally got it. What I learned was the process of showing up to write was the sledgehammer that wore down my writer’s block. Then it was when I was away from the MacBook that the breakthrough happened. I wouldn’t have known where to go, but here I am with a direction and that makes me happy.

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I don’t miss people, and I don’t spend much time questioning whether it is a feature or a flaw.

It’s one of the driving reasons that I find it hard to stay connected with friends and family. I enjoy the company of the people I love, but when they’re absent from my life I don’t feel as if I’m missing anything. I can go days, weeks, months, and sometimes years without communicating and I won’t think twice about it. In the past I’ve made excuses for it: I was married, I have multiple jobs, I have a child, but there are people who have the same issues who manage to stay in contact.

I believe overtime many people in my life have come to understand the way I am. I notice it in how they wait for me to reach out. I don’t think they hold it against me, but I’m honestly not sure. When I see them everything seems fine. So why overthink and mess up what works? I don’t know. It’s a thing I think.

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I do feel regret.

One of my biggest regrets folds into what I wrote above. It was years before I appreciated and understood who he was and the sacrifices he made for his family. Much of that was because of how he communicated. There was a lot of yelling in the house. It wasn’t abusive, but it bordered on annoying because it was about any and everything. It was when I watched his failing health that I realized that he was a product of his childhood.

He was the son of an abusive womanizer, who had extramarital affairs, and an alcoholic mother. He didn’t have an education past middle school. He dropped out and went to work. For a brief period of time he worked for the city of Coatesville, but then he landed a job at Lukens Steel where he worked for decades. It was this job that provided the life that allowed my Mom to raise seven children (two of which were from her first marriage). He would work doubles, and sometimes triples, and he would walk home from work often to work more in the house. He micromanaged household task and often kept busy. I would say he didn’t complain, but he did, and it is his complaints that I can recite to this day (such gems like “if I didn’t wash clothes everyday, I’d have to wash clothes everyday).

When I was a child I gravitated to my Mother. Much of the reasoning was because she was home and we saw her more. But as an adult I can see my Dad as someone who grew up in a completely different and harder time. He wasn’t the best at communicating his feelings, or having a deep conversation, and many times he would leave a conflict by running down the steps and mumbling only to rant later. I often look at my siblings and see both his good and traits show up. It’s not that we are trying. It’s just that they are so discreetly written in our DNAs that they show up even if in the slightest ways.

My Dad was a hard worker. He couldn’t stop. Some people look to retire and relax, but instead he became the backbone of my Mom’s in-home daycare. He’d cook meals, wash clothes, put kids to sleep. He was their Uncle Genie and the kids loved them, and he loved them as well even if he fussed endlessly. That’s how he showed his love. Well that’s how he showed it until we found out his hip was rotted and he needed hip surgery. The surgery was risky for someone at his age, but in an evaluation they also discovered prostate cancer. The Doctors said that it didn’t necessarily have to be treated. It was so early that he might be able to live the rest of his life and never have to deal with it. He opted for treatment.

What happened over months ended was a line of demarcation between what was and what became. My Dad was never the same. When he was getting treatments there were moments when he lashed out in anger, and as a result he was put in an old folks home. He stayed there months after the treatments were over. When I write this I can feel the sadness that emitted from him as he sat in that barren room. He was the same man I knew my entire life, but yet somehow he was different. He was showing a side of himself that he never showed me. He showed a vulnerability that I didn’t know and it was in this time that I became closer with him than I imagined. It was then that I heard him say that he loved me for the first time.

I wish there was a clear line of recovery from that point but there were starts and stops. We found out he had dementia as well, and he fought to try to convince us that his memory was great and he didn’t forget anything. He would prove this by recalling things that we never knew in the first place and this took over any other conversation.

My brother Matt, my sister Polly, and I all had children in the span of two months. I remember my Dad saying that he wanted to see all his grandchildren. And there was a day when he sat in his living room with his three new grandchildren and he said he was happy because he got to see them all. It was a beautiful moment, and I think somewhere he knew he wouldn’t be seeing them grow up. It was at that moment that he said he wasn’t afraid to die. I get choked up at the thought of that because I don’t know what it would take to get to that point.

I just regret that I didn’t give him the chance to have more moments like that. I lived about an hour away, but when things got really rough I wasn’t there. My (now ex-)wife wasn’t comfortable around my family so I didn’t go despite having my own car. I stayed under her in a situation where I wasn’t happy. I didn’t take my son with me to see him more often. I took his life for granted, and I can’t go back and change that and that hurts. I feel this wound daily, but before now I keep it covered. When I was still married I told me ex-wife this and she took it as I was blaming her… but I was blaming myself.

My Dad knew I loved him. I told him as much, and I’m glad I had moments with him that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I just feel like I failed him in so many ways when he was here. I failed even more when I wanted to write something to say at his funeral but I ran from it out of fear. The only way I can pay him back is to stand on his shoulders and learn the lessons from him and be the best father I can be with what I was given. To not hold back my love for Cameron, and hope that if there is a heaven (and I believe there might be) that he’s looking down and sees that I’m thankful for everything he gave me.

I just wish I had another chance to do things differently.

Podcast You Should Hear: Gladiator

Podcast: Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc.
Genre: Sports, True Crime
How Can I Listen?: Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Podcast

What’s it about?:
If you were to say that Gladiator was about Aaron Hernandez’s murder, the ensuing trial, and his eventual death I wouldn’t say you were wrong. I would say you weren’t taking in the whole story. Gladiator is all of those things, but it is also an indictment of the University of Florida Gators, New England Patriots, the world of football at large, and anyone who benefitted by looking the other way. This podcast is one so thoroughly reported that even Bob Hohler, the host and lead writer, is not free from blame. Blame for what exactly? Blame for looking the other way when interceding could have saved lives.

Gladiator is a podcast about how a troubled adolescent can move through the world of athletics. How the value of an athlete is only measured in what they can provide on the field of play. How it’s easy to turn away from off-the-field issues as long as they don’t become a distraction. Aaron Hernandez was an elite talent, an important piece of great teams for both the University of Florida and the New England Patriots. He was so good that they looked past his off-the-field violence to a point. For, then-Florida coach, Urban Meyer it reached a point where he forced Hernandez to go pro and for Bill Belichik and the Patriots they cut the cord when he was tagged with the murder charge.

If you came to Gladiator looking for sensationalism you will be disappointed. Instead you’ll watch as they uncover the troubled life of someone who made a ton of bad decisions, who was enabled, and caught up in several bad currents. This isn’t to remove blame from Hernandez, but there is a heavy sadness that comes from a moment in fifth episode. Using recordings from his prison phone calls we hear Hernandez talk about his prison cell. I was so used to hearing descriptions of cells being confining, being cold, being a cage, but to Aaron he spoke in quaint terms like he finally found a home. A home free from everything the outside world put in his path.

Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football, Inc. is one of the greatest achievements I’ve heard in the world of podcasts. It hints at the potential that has yet to be uncovered. There’s something about great reporting, and professionalism that this podcast brings. Each podcast ranges from 40 – 50 minutes. The last episode is set to be posted on Tuesday, November 13th.a

Length: Weekly episode ranging from 40 – 50 minutes.

Similar Podcasts: Steve McNair: Fall of a Titan, Sold In America, Crimetown, Serial

Slow Watch: An Introduction

Like many things from the past, the idea of Netflix by mail seems quaint.

Explain it to any teenager within reach and they’ll look at you like your crazy. It’ll fit right beside things like programming VCRs, TV Guide, the Walkman, and dial-up internet. Things that don’t seem to have a place in today’s instant climate. Why would you create a queue of movies and wait two (or three) days for them to be shipped to your home? They would ask this because streaming Netflix has been something they’ve had for as long as they can remember.

It’s not just teenagers either. A few months ago, I was surprised when I discovered Netflix’s DVD service still existed and had a healthy subscriber base. I didn’t make the connection to myself until one day I saw that red envelope in a neighbor’s mailbox. It sparked memories of Amores Perros, City of God, Cool Hand Luke, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest amongst many others that came in the mail. Each arrival was welcoming me to a different corner and time of film that I had never explored. It reminded me that these were films I was recommended and wanted to watch. That I selected them and anticipated their arrival. That wasn’t something that Netflix Streaming gave me.

I often found with Netflix Streaming that it took me longer to find something I wanted to watch. WIth the seemingly infinite amount of choices I found myself changing my mind within the first five minutes. There was no investment and ultimately I would fall asleep more often than I finished watching something. It’s not that Netflix streaming is a bad service (it’s not!), but I found that it didn’t work for me. So with that I signed up for Netflix’s DVD service, and luckily for me they offer the first month for free.

When I made the switch I decided to have some “fun” with it. Instead of simply watching everything I’ve missed over the years, I wanted to have a learning experience. One of my favorite things in film school was film analysis, and what better way to embrace that than to use Netflix DVD’s extensive archive of old movies.

In this space, I will be taking a deep dive into the past 100 years of film. I won’t just be watching them but I will be, trying my best, to analyze the films in the context of the time they were created in. The thing I’ve learned over time is whether or not a piece of art is deemed apolitical it’s existence says something about the time it was created in. So I look forward to learning about both film and history. To select the movies I’ve gone through IMDB and selected the top films from each decade. To prevent burn out, I’ve also decided to intersperse TV shows from Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz’s TV (the Book) to give breaks.

I like to call this project the Slow Watch. It is deliberate, it’s intentional, and it’s a process that intends to force me to not only watch watch I pick but to spend time considering it. In a world where everything is available at our fingertips all the time, I like the idea of slowing down and being stuck with something.

So keep an eye on this space as my first piece will be on Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Breakfast at Timothy’s 21

I love sharing the music I like. I also like making mixes. I also do this pretty rarely and as a result, I end up explaining the entire origin of Breakfast at Timothy’s. I’m not doing that this time.

This is a 12 song mix that receives the Coatesvillain seal of approval (if that matters to you). All songs are pop, R&B, dance or some variant as that’s the music I consistently go back to. Despite being someone who can dance (but rarely does it in public) it’s the music that makes me happiest, and I want to share that joy.

Mashup Mondays: Kids See Ghosts x Akira

In a past life, I was a video editor.

I dabbled in it in college, but it wasn’t until I got a job editing wedding videos that it became something I did daily. I had only been to one wedding, but my options were to swim or fail miserably trying. The more I worked at it the better I became and the more I loved editing. The problem was when I got home I didn’t have the time nor energy to work on improving my skills. In the two years since I left that job, I haven’t gone back to editing.

This year I started to dip my toe back in with mashups. The idea was to challenge myself and see if I could put music under a clip and make it work. I will share what I have with the expressed goal of not only doing more but sparking my creativity in other areas (including more expansive editing).

A little on this video:
I grew up loving Akira even though I admittedly didn’t understand much of the story (I still need to read the graphic novel). This opening motorcycle scene is epic and when I started doing mashups I desperately sought something that fit. The problem was nothing did. Insert Kids See Ghosts. This year was a year of change and one of those was how I don’t really fuck with Kanye West like I used to. Yet, I still couldn’t stay away from listening to his new releases. This one, and Teyana Taylor’s K.T.S.E., had me stuck. So basically I tried to blend the two and I feel like it worked well.

Comment of the Weeks: September 3 – 14 – Blood Orange’s Serve

The internet is terrible except for when it’s great.

Last week Devin Hynes, who records under the name Blood Orange, went to Instagram to post a picture from his Interview Magazine feature. The picture features Hynes in a trench coat and showing a ton of leg. A fan responded in shock, but Hynes fired back with perhaps the best possible response.

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Devin Hynes, Blood Orange, Instagram, Comment of the Week

One word was all it took. I laughed incessantly when I saw the response. It was perfect, and it didn’t attempt to explain anything. Sadly, the Instagram post no longer exists. To see more of the shots from the photo shoot check out his Interview Magazine feature.

Before I go let me suggest you listen to Blood Orange’s Negro Swan album. It’s available anywhere you buy music, and anywhere you stream. Like all of his albums it is a work of art, and you will not regret it.