Hey, all, I'm Catherine Burns, artistic director of The Moth, and we have exciting news for the first time in our history, we're helping launch a new podcast about ugly confessions from beautiful people.
It's called The Confessional, and it's created and hosted by beloved moth storyteller and friend Nadia Boltz. Weber now describes the show as a car wash for people, shame and secrets, and it includes confessions, big and small.
We're so proud to be a part of this collaboration between Nadya. Your producers at House of Cards in Denver and her longtime partners practice the confessional with valuables. Weber is available now. This is the Moth Radio Hour complex, and I'm Catherine Burns. The moth is all about true stories told live. And many more stories involve those moments in life. When we find ourselves in unknown territory, sometimes it's by choice.
When we push towards some unfamiliar place like the edge of old maps where the cartographers would right here there be dragons.
Other times you get shoved towards the edge against our will. That's the case in our first story. Toback Casden, the show we produced with our friends at Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures. Here's Carl. I wanted a fresh start, my boyfriend Adam broke up with me, I was living in New York, he broke up with me and moved across the country to Los Angeles.
He was a good guy. It was just one of those going nowhere for three years kind of relationships like neither of us had done anything horrible, like have an affair. We liked each other.
We just weren't a good fit, which my mother used to tell me on the phone all the time. You guys are both such nice people.
Maybe you're just not a good fit, but Adam and I were just passive enough to keep it going. And if things ever got bad, like if one of us might start to muster the courage to pull the plug, then it would be someone's birthday or we'd get really great concert tickets and that would keep the relationship going.
I remember in three years, Adam never told me he loved me and I think I loved him, but I wasn't going to say it first because that's how mature I am.
And then one day, Adam took me out to this really nice dinner and he told me he really cared about me and he didn't want to marry me.
It was a reverse proposal.
And we broke up and that was it. He moved to L.A. and I remember it was so painful.
I just wanted to forget him and forget even the last three years. Just wake up one morning and start fresh.
I got my wish. I woke up in an ambulance wearing a cheerleading outfit, which if you're over 30 and it's not Halloween, raises questions. And there were there were EMTs all around me and I was being placed on a gurney and then I was being put into a CT scan. And then I was in this hospital room with all these concerned strangers gathered around the bed. But they weren't strangers. I just couldn't identify them because what I didn't know is there had been an accident.
Earlier that day, I'd been filming a television pilot.
It was a movie spoof show. And the pilot was a parody of Bring It On, the cheerleading movie. And the producers who were horrible, horrible people, strong armed me into doing a stunt we hadn't planned to rehearsed.
I was to be thrown high up in the air and caught. I was thrown high up in the air. I landed on my back in my head, I suffered a massive concussion, I could barely walk and I had no idea who I was, diagnosis, amnesia.
So I also didn't know that my boyfriend had broken up with me and moved across the country to L.A., I didn't know anything. In the hospital, someone put a cell phone up to my ear, they said it was my mother on the phone, I heard this frantic female voice. It meant nothing to me. A friend knew where I lived and took me home, dug the keys out of my purse, put me into bed. I wanted to call my dad.
I just had that thought. And my friend said, why don't you rest? We can call him later. But I wanted to call my dad and I needed help because I didn't know the number and again, my friend just said, why don't you sleep for a little while? And then we can call him. And and I got so frustrated he was putting me off and I didn't understand why. And I said, I want to call my dad, why aren't you helping me?
And he looked at me like I was out of my mind. And finally he said, We just did call your dad. In fact, we've done this three times. Every time you hang up the phone, you ask if you can call your dad. So we can call him, but it'll be the fourth time and I'm just worried we're going to freak him out. This whole conversation, by the way, is happening with me still wearing the cheerleading outfit, because when the hospital discharges you, it's like prison.
They give you the clothes you showed up with, which for me was the costume from the pilot, which is a little white pleated mini skirt and a little navy and white top.
I had both short and long term amnesia. I knew some things, like I knew how to speak and I knew how to read, but I didn't know the big stuff like who I was. And I also couldn't retain anything. So if someone left the room and came back 10 minutes later, we had to start over. I was living quite literally moment to moment. A cat walks into the bedroom. What is this cat doing here? Well, they say they told me it's my cat.
And people came and went, but they were all strangers to me from the past I didn't even know existed. And they tried to help. I remember my best friend Amy stormed into my bedroom screaming, She's a vegetarian.
Don't let her eat any meat.
And it it sounded familiar, but it didn't mean anything I could have been gnawing on a veal shank, you know, just didn't. But I it sounded important, so I didn't want to forget it. There was a pad of Post-it notes and a pen on my bedside table.
So I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget. I wrote, You are a vegetarian. Someone had called Adam and he flew in from L.A. right away and he just stayed at my bedside with tears in his eyes. In fact, the first night he slept in my bed with me, which I thought was weird and presumptuous.
Like, who is this guy? And he told me he was my boyfriend, but I mean, he could have been the mailman, I don't know.
And the next day he showed me pictures of us together to see if he could jog my memory or maybe even to make a case for the fact that we were a couple.
Apparently, it was a recent trip I had just taken to L.A., Adam and Cole at the beach, Adam and Cole in front of Mann's Chinese Theater, Adam and Cole in the Ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier. I was in the pictures, but I remembered none of it. I wrote everything down, I was terrified of forgetting every piece of information was precious, any time someone told me something or on the rare occasions where something might come back on its own, I wrote it down.
You are a vegetarian. We are at war with Iraq. Christine is your friend, who is Luddy. One one afternoon, I was coming home from physical therapy, I was in a cab going over the Queensboro Bridge and I noticed the hole in the skyline where the World Trade Center Twin Towers used to be.
That's weird. I wrote it down, Post-it note, Twin Towers gone. Adam was the wonderful boyfriend, this accident was the best thing to ever happen to our relationship.
He took care of me, took me to my weekly neurologist appointments and almost daily physical therapy, he gave me my medications and then held me at night when I woke screaming from the nightmares that those medications gave me or from the sheer disorientation of not knowing who or where I was.
A girl from yoga visited. I do yoga. What else do I do? I was on this detective mission to find out who I was. I found journals written in my handwriting in another language. Adam tells me it's Portuguese from when I lived in Brazil. I lived in Brazil. That's so cool. You know, what else do I do, do I paint, can I cook?
Am I an asshole? What if I'm an asshole?
I overheard doctors saying things like, we don't know how long she's going to be like this and we're not sure if she'll ever fully recover and they're talking about me. I mean, I'm sitting there in the room while they're having these conversations. The only thing that I could be sure of was this growing pile of Post-it notes, my bedside table. The bigger that pile got, the more of a person I became. But it still wasn't me, it was just information filling an empty space.
One afternoon, I was in a cab coming home from physical therapy, going over the Queensboro Bridge, and I started to cry. I didn't know why. I just started crying. I couldn't stop. And it was right as we were passing the hole in the skyline where the Twin Towers used to be. It was a really chilling empty space, almost like ghosts of buildings, and I felt flooded. I mean, I wailed and I didn't understand it and then it hit me.
I was remembering not a fact or a person, but a feeling. It was the first time since the accident that I felt real. That night, Adam was tucking me into bed, he had just given me my medications, so he was writing on a Post-it note that he had just given me my medications for one in ten minutes. I asked if it was time to take my medication. And I was watching him. The way he was taking care of me.
And I was overcome. And I said, I love you. And he said nothing. So I said it again because I had amnesia and I could get away with that. I love you and again, nothing. And I didn't understand, and then he came back the break up and all the pain that went with it, his move to L.A. and then a post 9/11 reconciliation, September 11th happened and we decided we were going to give it one more try.
And I went to L.A. to visit him. And we went to the beach and we went to Mann's Chinese theater. And we rode the Ferris wheel, the Santa Monica Pier. But I didn't care about the past anymore because all I knew was this right now. And here was this man doing everything for me, and if this wasn't love, what was and why was he even here? And I think the answer is. He's a really, really good person, and he cared about me very, very deeply.
But he was a Giuliani boyfriend, good in crisis. And and maybe maybe he loved me, maybe he loved me and couldn't say the words, I'll never know. I think I loved him, but maybe I just wanted to say thank you and I couldn't tell the difference. It took about six months for me to recover, my memory just came back slowly over time, and then I must have been fully healed because a few months after that, Adam and I broke up again.
Only this time I knew it was coming because we'd done it before. I had wanted this fresh start and I got it. I mean, I lost everything, I lost myself, but it didn't change reality and it didn't even change me.
I was still the same person I was even in the same relationship. When I got myself back. I realized nothing had changed. But this time there was something comforting about that, because it meant I finally knew who I was and it meant I could move forward. I mean, even without my memory, I was still me. Thank you. Kazdin is a writer performer and four time Emmy Award winning television news producer living in Los Angeles. She's won the math grand slam championship there three times.
Coal story appears in the moth book, all these wonders, true stories about facing the unknown. Coming up, a father in Sheffield, England, is forced to use a most unusual weapon to defend himself when the Moth Radio Hour returns.
The Moth Radio Hour is produced by Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and presented by Rex.
This is the Moth Radio Hour from Pyrex. I'm Catherine Burns. Our next storyteller is Simon Bell.
The Moth now has a regular presence in London, and Simon told the story there live at Islington Union Chapel. Here's Simon. This is something that happened a bit more than three years ago, it happened in 2013, in July. I was sitting at home in my big Victorian house in Sheffield. It was a warm night and the windows were open. And I was home with my daughter, who was asleep. It was late at night and I was thinking of going to bed myself.
And I've been hearing kind of percussive sounds coming from outside. Well, they sounded close, but there's nothing that hot weather does where far things sound close. So I thought it's that sort of thing. I was about to go to bed when I heard that unmistakable sound of somebody beating a door on my back door. And I looked out the bedroom window.
The bedroom window is over the back door to the house, which is goes into the kitchen and there's a man beating the door repeatedly.
So I said, Oh.
And he said, what? And and I said, well, fuck off.
And he said, come down to make me.
So I knew at this stage I was going to have you know, he's I was going have trouble with this man.
So I ran downstairs, went to the living room where I got the the the phone, the the landline, picked it up, dialed 999 and raced into the kitchen, which is where he was about the door. He was going to come through and made the 911 call where I was looking at him through the window of the back door, repeatedly ramming the door. And I was for some reason, there was very slow speaking people to answer 999 calls.
So it was which service do you require?
And the call proceeded and I was about to give my address and the frame of the door splintered completely.
I thought, right the next one. So I said to his in I dropped the phone on the kitchen table and I thought, I need something.
So I ran to the cupboard under the stairs for garden tools and stuff. And I looked at the shovels and spades and the spade could have been very handy because a spade, you know, so a reasonable weapon if you hit on the head with it. But I used to collect Victorian swords.
I lost interest in it as a hobby. I sold most of them.
But I still had the 1796 British Light Cavalry saber, which is a I was a fearsome looking thing.
And even if I don't use it from a psychological perspective, it's what I need right now. It says not now, but Google it later, 1786, which has a very broad, very wide curved blade. It looks, you know, awesome. So I grabbed it.
I rushed back into the kitchen. Oh. The other thing about it is that in movies, when people draw swords, it goes schwing and real swords mostly down. But this one does because it has a steel scabbard. So as I'm entering the kitchen, I'm drawing the sword and he goes Schwing.
And at that instant, so we enter the kitchen both directions simultaneously, meaning the burglar.
He walks almost through the door and this guy is off. He's not he sees his eyes are bulging.
That is kind of the blue and red because the red is the one of his eyes is completely bloodshot. And he's he's got a kind of a cultural club is basically is the thing the size and the shape of a baseball bat that he's holding, ready to hit someone with it. So he's ready and I'm ready. And he looks he I see him register the saw the sabre and he bolts, I think brilliant. It's worked perfectly.
What I want to do at this stage is lock the back door. But I can't because it's imbeds.
So I have to I need to make sure he's off the property.
And so I run out to the back garden. And at this point he changed his mind about being frightened of the sword and decided he wasn't frightened at all anymore. I saw it and he ran at me and he started trying to hit me with this length of timber, this club, and then ensued quite a long fight.
I knew it was a fight in which he was trying to hurt me.
I know, but for all sorts of reasons, which I'll go into in a second. I was trying to look not hurt him, but look. If I was going to because I needed to get him off the property, so, yeah, why wasn't I trying to actually hurt him since he was obviously so intent on doing it to me?
Well, there is the moral thing, but partly because I had and I seem to be thinking a lot during this this violent episode was that my daughter was had been asleep upstairs and I thought she ought to have heard that the sound of a man beating a door in it was immense. And I had this mental image of her coming down stairs. And if I had hit him with the saber of her coming out and saying, Daddy, what's all that?
And seeing me standing over this twitching corpse of a burglar with blood everywhere. So I thought, well, that can't happen. So I had to I had to get him away from the eye to get him off the premises. So there was this long, long fight during which I was he was swinging at me with his club and I was ducking and blocking and I was swinging at him with a sword. And and he was backing off, as you were, with a chunky piece of metal, keeps going by your face a lot.
So we're back round the side. That has quite a big houses across the back garden, around the side of the house where he got the thing he had actually was I've been collecting some wood for the stove and I had some planks of wood and handrails, kind of thick timber. What I'd been hearing earlier was him snapping the end of a nine foot length to make something more his as a weapon. So perhaps on a dual carriageway, but there's no one around.
It's dead quiet.
So just two men swinging each other with primitive weapons and we go away up the dual carriageway. And this battle has been going on for a minute, which when you're really fighting like crazy, is a long time. And I reached the point where I'm out of ideas and I've got no energy left. And I think any second now he's going to realise I'm not trying to hurt him and then what am I going to do? But at that point, he gave up and he disappeared.
And I can't emphasize how quickly this man was moving. I don't know what he was on, but it was helping him to move around very quickly.
And he was just gone like that, like a spot on the horizon, like a genie evaporating. Then I turned and started walking back to the house and I was thinking, how is going to explain to my daughter, Evelyn, that daddy had been out, you know, at this time what daddy was doing outside in the garden with a sword. I looked all shattered.
I was beginning to leave the saw by the door. I don't need to take it in. I'm just developing my strategy. And I heard very fast footsteps behind me.
He'd run away very quickly and he'd come back quicker. And I turned and he was he was almost on me with his arms race, obviously with this in both about to hit me with the club. And I took the bloke. We hit each other simultaneously. I turned and swung the sword across my body, catching him on the chest at the same time as his club caught my forearm. Then he kept running. The sword actually is blunt. If it had been sharp, it would have been much, much more messy, I think.
I think I broke the skin, but I think he was basically not that badly injured.
He was gone this time. He just bolted up the dual carriageway and I got back in the house. Evelyn had slept through the whole thing. She wasn't there. So I made another 999 phone call and the police turned up incredibly quickly afterwards. I said that was quick. And I said, no. We responding to the earlier one.
There were there were so told us that guns and armor and riot shields and stuff, um. They apparently you can you can find out where a phone call is going. They said, you know, we heard a lot of it over the phone. We heard that heard this fire crash, bang, wallop. And so they said and also, as luck would have it, the the burglar had been running up the dual carriageway and he ran into this convoy of police vans full of heavily armed police.
And they caught him there and then they actually had him in the van. And so obviously he was arrested very much. And it was he was remanded in custody and took a long time for it to come to court. Came in December. And I was very glad I didn't have to go to court. He fessed up right at the last minute and he said, yes, I did do it then.
And he got three and a half years for aggravated burglary. Now, that's not quite the end of the this story got into The Guardian. The Guardian magazine has a feature called Experience, which is, you know, real experiences.
And this this article had a huge response online. It was like there was 15000 shares and hundreds and hundreds of comments. And most of them were, you know, nice comments, people saying, you know, I'm glad you're OK. And that sounds horrible. Some of them were actually like reviews.
They were negative reviews of my performance dealing with a violent intruder.
And a lot of them these these hostile reviews came from the United States, especially Texas.
I didn't I had no idea that people in Texas read The Guardian, but some do.
And what they felt was that where I've gone wrong is I didn't kill him and I didn't I didn't enter into a because you can't really have a serious conversation online about serious matters. So I would have answered I thought of answering online, but I didn't. So I haven't I haven't actually spoken to any of those people.
But what I would like to say to them if I got a chance to do it in a sensible context, is if if you if it does ever happen to you that you have a violent intruder and I know you're sort of going around these some people really want a violent intruder.
If if you if it does happen and it almost certainly won't, the first thing you think of doing should not be that you start shooting guns in the house because it's just going to go badly wrong from there on.
I've told my daughter that it happened this year, and she really is three or three years on now, and she's old enough and enough time has elapsed. So she was quite surprised that she'd slept through a thing that was, you know, that big in her own house. And that sort of is the end of the burglar will be getting out. So any time now.
I'm okay. My daughter is okay. And I sort of hope, even though I don't love the guy, I sort of hope he's okay now, too. Thank you.
That was Simon. Bill Simon is the author of the very funny novel Artist in Residence.
He's also a painter and he's most known for making these oval shaped paintings that are all the same size but feature wildly diverse subject matter, dried maize, bath sealant, champagne corks and dental floss.
When Simon, you were working on this story, I asked him about why he thinks someone would dream of having a standoff like this. He said he thinks that some people seem to really want a violent intruder because they think they're going to have a chance to be like Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies or something.
They see that as being manly.
But what Simon actually did, keeping himself, his daughter and for the most part, even the intruder safe from harm, that seems like a real man to me.
Do you have a story about something crazy that happened to you, call our pitch line, which will let you leave a two minute version of a story you'd like to tell. The number to call is 877 799 MOTHE. Or you can pick up the story right on our Web site, The Moth Dogs. Here's a pitch we liked.
Years ago, I was working at a great Italian restaurant here in New York City and my hero, Al Pacino, walked in and he walked with my eight people. So I walked off the table, said, hi, I'm Johnny.
Really nice to meet you. I wanted to tell you today, our special is the fact that it's amazing. And Al Pacino said our tech savvy lettuce tomato stopped in Bangkok.
I said, you know, it's wonderful, but I really would love for you to tell the program. It's amazing. So I said, OK. So I ran to the kitchen. I gave the order.
I was a little disappointed when I went outside. He looked at me and he got off the Braves.
I mean, it's the security head back of the restaurant towards the back and so nervous Prince Albert Salpetriere.
I followed and he said, listen, that's my agent manager. They want me to lose 20 pounds, make me a clam sauce, extra spicy, bring it to the office. Wait. Which is, of course, Mr. Chino.
I went into the kitchen when we were clamshells extra spicy for Mr. Pacino, when it was ready and waiting for them, waiting on me and, you know, to start a little secret. So beautiful. We went downstairs. You love to disguise the gown in the minutes, but that was good. I really love it. So goodbye. I thought of least e-mail, but I didn't. And then the next day he went back in and he said, hey, let me let me have a clear shot.
I can't I got a plane to catch. So I made a greeting thanks to your clients. Also, I kept saying to them, you know, I know I don't want to ask too many questions, but I'd like to know a few things about acting. And what's your process where you left? You gave me his email and he was walking out. He smashed his face into the chandeliered door of the restaurant.
He fell down and he was OK. Are are you OK?
I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I hope you'll recall the ambulance. He looked through his fingers and he said, your job. That's acting lesson number one. Can I have more lessons for you?
The going to get me again, you can pick up your own story by calling 877 seven nine nine mothe or by going to the morgue. Coming up, the rise and fall of a one hit wonder hip hop star. That's next on the Moth Radio Hour. The Moth Radio Hour is produced by Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and presented by the Public Radio Exchange PUREX Doug.
This is the Moth Radio Hour from Prick's, I'm Catherine Burns, and now we're going to hear from Chincha Iku Mineka. He told the story live at a show we did in partnership with the Blue Man Group.
We actually performed a moth show on their New York set with the Blumen themselves hosting silently. Here's Chenjerai. On December twenty first twenty seven to fifteen p.m., a colleague at my job told me the boss wanted to see me and I should brace myself because the boss wasn't pleased. Now, when I say my job, which I should know is this was a temporary job. And when I say it was a temporary job, which you should know is that my performance today determine whether I would be asked back tomorrow.
So when I went in the boss's office, here's what she said. Hi, Chenjerai. Yesterday, I asked you to make two hundred Gilmore Girls Thanksgiving Day special DVDs, but the Excel spreadsheet that you made ordered more than that. OK, how many more? One million Gilmore Girls, Thanksgiving Day, special DVDs. Can you explain that, please?
I have no idea how to use Microsoft Excel.
I lied about my skills to get this job and my solution to the first two problems has been when in doubt, hit enter.
What I'm trying to explain to you is on December 21st, 2007 at two fifteen p.m., my life sucked and it didn't just suck because I had a job that I was no good at and that few people wanted.
It sucked because only two years ago I had a job that I was very good at and that everyone wanted.
I was a full time hip hop artist, you see in nineteen ninety five for friends, and I decided that the music industry was missing something. What the game needed was a group that was kind of like the Fuji's, but not quite as talented.
Kind of like the roots, but not quite as creative, so we form the Spook's and after years of grinding out demos and everybody telling us we were never going to make it. We finally did the impossible. We came up to New York and we signed a record deal. One day, the CEO of our record label called us into his office and his assistant said we should brace ourselves because he was very excited. Spooks. He likes saying it a little too much for a white guy.
In my opinion, I figured out how we're all going to make millions and it comes down to two words, Laurence Fishburne. I was like, wait a minute, you mean like the movie star Laurence Fishburne, like Apocalypse Now, Laurence Fishburne, Morpheus, The Matrix, Laurence Fishburne? According to our CEO, the Laurence Fishburne had agreed to make our song the main theme song of the first film he ever directed. All we had to do was go to dinner with him and solidify the deal.
No problem. Went up to New York, waited out in front of a restaurant, and sure enough, the Laurence Fishburne pulled up on a scooter.
Not only did he agree to put our song in his film, but he agreed to be in our music video. Awesome. So like many genius artists before us, Jimi Hendrix, James Baldwin, the Spice Girls, we blew up in Europe first.
We got a gold album in the U.K. Then we got a gold single in France. Then we got a gold single in Belgium. We got a gold single in Sweden.
You know, I was telling this to a friend of mine the other day, kind of bragging. And he was like, wait a minute, it doesn't only take like three thousand albums go gold in Belgium. Yeah, that's true. But how many godowns you got? Fuck you don't be a hater.
We were top 10. You know, I'm saying we would top 10 all over Europe. You know, I mean I mean, we did all the TV shows we did like Viva MTV, Jools Holland, Top of the Pops, you name it.
We were flying all over doing concerts, you know, like Glastonbury leads, Roskilde, all those shows.
I finally felt like we had made it when one day my manager told me we had a problem. We had to do two shows in two different countries on the same day. Solution was simple. Sony rented a private jet eight o'clock show in Berlin, eleven thirty show in London. And as we were flying across Europe.
From one set of screaming fans to another in a private jet, drinking, specially procured Scandinavian parasitize, I was sitting next to a record exec that I felt like was kind of becoming my friend because, you know, a lot of people around us at this time just were telling us what we wanted to hear.
You know, they had a financial incentive to do that.
But this person was somebody I felt like, you know, I'm starting to trust. So I was like, Susan, I got an idea when we finished touring. Let's just meet up somewhere in Europe like all of us. In fact, maybe we could make it like a yearly thing, just like pick a place in Europe somewhere and somewhere in the world and just kick it. We have been laughing up to that point. But suddenly she got really serious.
And she took my hand and she said, listen, Chenjerai, I have to be honest with you. I don't know where you're going to be next year. Enjoy it while it lasts. She kind of knocked the wind out of me with that one. It's like, what do you mean we're going to be making music next year? We're good at this and people like our songs. I like doing this. I thought we were finally part of the club.
Look at this private jet.
Look at these specially procured Scandinavian parasites, but she was right, two months later, a marketing exact called us into his office and said that due to a poorly chosen third single, they had run out of money to promote our album. And it was over. I moved to Los Angeles, I got married. And eventually I found myself in a cubicle producing Gilmore Girls DVDs. But even then, I kind of felt like I still had a foot in the game and I think my wife felt the same way because she was like, honey, I have a job for you.
Will you kind of work with some celebrities? Are you interested? And I was like, of course, but I'm going to be around my people. I'm probably gonna need to go shopping. She reached in her purse, pulled out the J.C. Penney card. She was like, get a suit, not the most expensive one. You'll be working security. I went to the gig. Now, this was kind of like a gathering of the black filmmaking elite, you know, Spike Lee was there, Tyler Perry was there, yet the whole cast from The Wire was there.
And then coming out of a limousine was the Laurence Fishburne. And I'm not going to lie at that point.
People weren't treating me as a security guard, you know, too well. But I was like, now they're going to learn. You know, I'm saying I didn't just get Laurence Fishburne autograph. He was in my video. But as he got closer, I kind of started to second guess myself a little bit, I was like, wait a minute now what if he wants me to go in? I can't. I'm working. How am I going to blame that?
And actually, I was like, he's not going to ask me to go in, I'm sitting here in the J.C. Penney suit. I didn't even have dress socks on, I had sweat socks on, and come to think of it, I haven't even made music in like months or whatever, you know? I mean, like, I just I'm not an artist really anymore. I'm not in the rap game.
I met Gilmore Girls DVDs, and I'm not even good at that, and I got more and more nervous and as it got closer, I just second guess myself and we got right next to me. I actually turned my head because I just didn't want to have to explain. What my situation was, I don't know if I felt more depressed or relieved at that moment. A few weeks later, I interviewed for a job as an administrative assistant. Now, this firm was in a cramped office, dimly lit, you know, the kind of place where there's just like insidious pop music leaking out on a radio, but nobody hears it because they're hopelessly staring into their computer screens.
I was hopelessly staring at my resume, trying to figure out how I was going to explain these gaps in. And why a hip hop artist was really excited about being a full time administrative assistant. And as I was listening to the music. I suddenly started to sound familiar. And then I like I recognize I recognize that song, and I was like, wait a minute, I wrote that song. That's things I've seen. That's the song. I did it for us.
One of the employees looked at his co-workers, a co-worker, and was like, yo, remember this song? Things I've seen. I love this shit. So I was hot.
I got excited, like maybe someone's going to recognize me. I started looking around, but no one recognized me. You know, that's OK. I think that was kind of the point. You know. What I always loved about making music was that you don't have to be a big, important person to make compelling songs that can reach out and touch somebody. And I didn't have to suffocate trying to pretend to be some rock star that hangs out with Laurence Fishburne to keep doing their.
I also realized in that moment that maybe I have more to offer the world than Excel spreadsheets. I was looking for a third door where I could do what I wanted and at the same time I could make opportunities for other people to make music. I found that door. When I was offered the opportunity to run a studio for an incredible non-profit organization called Street Poets Street Poets takes marginalized youth and helps develop them into artists and teachers and healers. While I was working the Street Poets, I was able to get my Ph.D. and become a professor of media studies.
And now sometimes when I'm sitting in my office, my students just come in and they're so excited to tell me about their dreams and their fears.
And I know I should tell them, like, listen, y'all, it's hard out there. Life kicked your ass. Play it safe. But I never do. I tell them, go for it, enjoy it while it lasts, but brace yourself, because when it doesn't, sometimes you've got to figure out who you're not so you can become who you are. Thank you.
Dr. Chenjerai Cremonesi is a scholar, activist and artist who holds a creativity professorship at Clemson University in South Carolina.
I first met Chenjerai when I read his article Vocal Color in Public Radio, which was produced for the website Tranz OMG.
The article went viral and spawned a much needed discussion about diversity in public media.
To read that piece, to see a clip of the Blumen Hosteen and to see the Spook's video for things I've seen starring Chenjerai and the Laurence Fishburne, go to the Moth Dog.
You're actually listening to the song right now.
Violence's. Appreciate you swapping a little demeaning this appreciation of this mediocre nature, of the position of empty words without conditions for an original path into submission. Now the dictionary has the is to be bit of a revolution. And have an audience as high as a kite. Luckily for me, I did not taste it, but a tragedy of life wasted.
Our final story is from James Shooter. He told you that one of our open mike story slam competitions in Melbourne, Australia, which is supported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC. Already the theme was Borders. Here's James. So I was 23 when I first traveled overseas, my buddy Gavin and I were in Berlin and we were staying with a bunch of German students. This this particular night, we were playing cards and having a few beers and and we're listening to the radio.
And suddenly the Germans started yelling at each other and started yelling at the radio and jumping up and down. And Gavin and I were kind of looking at each other. And this is just like a German thing that's going on.
And they started yelling out, damn our mouth and we're going down, man, what's what's done now?
And they said, the war, the war.
And I'm looking around what's wrong with walls, as I do have to admit that my geopolitical knowledge of the European situation at the time wasn't wasn't brilliant anyway.
Eventually they managed to explain to the ignorant Australian that the East and West German governments had just come to an agreement to open the border and that the Berlin Wall, which was five minutes away, was open. So we went downstairs and joined the throngs of people like flooding towards the closest border crossing, which happened to be Checkpoint Charlie.
Some of the most of you probably seen some of the vision from that night.
It was just incredible. It was the little Trabi cars coming across from East Germany. They kind of made of plastic and they're all the same colour.
And they were just jammed with the happiest people that you could ever imagine, saying there were people coming across in on bicycles, in prams, walking. There were people who had their dressing gowns on. It was the middle of winter. They had just dropped everything and walked out of their houses in East Berlin to come across to West Berlin. It was incredible that night. We stayed up all night. We danced, we drank, we laughed. It was it was amazing.
Like I didn't wake up because we were still awake when the sun came up the next day, we walked along the West German side of the wall and we came across bunches of people who were just smashing that wall with anything that they could get. They had hammers, they had pigs, they had their hands, whatever they could use. They were trying to destroy this symbol of oppression. The gaps in the war were getting bigger and bigger as we went further along.
And you could sort of see no man's land through there and you could see the fence on the German side with the barbed wire on it. We made our way to the centre of Berlin, to the the crossing at the Brandenburg Gate, and there were thousands of people up on top of the wall. This is only one of the only places you could actually climb the wall. So we managed to get up on top of the wall. We got our way through the crowd and sat on the edge of the wall, looking over towards East Germany.
There was a line of a couple of hundred East German soldiers in front of us. They were all well armed. There's one hundred metres of no man's land. And then it was the other fence. Everyone was chanting and singing on the wall. It was this amazing feeling of, you know, of happiness. And then there was a bit of a commotion as someone from the East German side climbed the fence and started running towards West the soldiers. Reacted almost instantly and they ran straight to the sky and the silence of those thousands of people.
Watching this was the loudest thing that I've ever heard. He was surrounded by soldiers and then an officer came out of the guard tower at the Brandenburg Gate, walked over, spoke briefly to this man, and then took his hand and walked him over to the western side of the wall.
The officer then put his hands like this and cupped them and helped the man up into the arms of all of the people waiting on the wall. And again, the eruption of emotion and ecstasy that happened from that crowd is the most amazing thing that I've ever heard.
I really don't think that the world needs borders. That was James Shuger James produces new exhibitions for Museums Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. This is the very first story ever told at The Moth. And he says his greatest fear is public speaking.
He also says that he still has no idea about the geopolitical situation in Europe.
To see a photo of James climbing the Berlin Wall in 1989, go to the moth dog.
You're listening to the song Dancing in Berlin for the 80s pop band Berlin, when the Wall came down, I was a 21 year old student. My friends and I managed to find a cassette tape of the song I think was actually a cassette single, if you guys remember those.
And we played it over and over that night, dancing and laughing. Like so many young people at the time, we lived our entire lives in the shadow of the Cold War and the wall coming down meant everything to us and.
That's it for this edition of The Moth Radio Hour. We hope you'll join us next time. Your house this hour was the most artistic director, Catherine Burns. Catherine also directed the stories in the show.
The rest of the most directorial staff include Sara Habermann, Sara Austin Ginés, Jennifer Hickson, and make bolls production support from Timothy Luly, Kirstie Bennett, Jenelle Pifer and Michelle Glowacki.
Special thanks to Daniel Greenberg, Matthew Inman and Mark Ellingham, along with all our friends at Blue Man Group. More stories are true, is remembered and affirmed by the storytellers. The story from our pitch line came from Johnny Solo. Our theme music is by the drift. Other music in this hour from Duke Levine, Mark Gordon, Angelo de Pipper, Spook's and Berlin.
The Moth is produced for radio by me, Jay Allison with Viki Merrick at Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
This hour is produced with funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation committed to building a more just verdant and peaceful world.
The Moth Radio Hour, as presented by the Public Radio Exchange PR Rexburg for more about our podcast.
For information on pitching us your own story and everything else, go to our Web site, The Moth Dog.