Episode 17: The Row

Illustration by Antwan Williams (Nigel and Earlonne conducting phone interviews for this episode)

Illustration by Antwan Williams
(Nigel and Earlonne conducting phone interviews for this episode)

San Quentin houses California’s only death row for male inmates. And though it’s technically not far from the media lab, access to this area of the prison is highly restricted. Still, Earlonne and Nigel figured out a way to reach out to the guys there, and interviewed three men about daily life on death row.

Thanks to: Kevin Sawyer for recounting his memory of the execution that took place at San Quentin in 1999, Father George Williams and Rabbi Paul Shleffar for sitting down with us in the media lab, and Steve Champion, Joseph Manuel Montes and Daniel Wozniak for speaking to us from death row. 

“The Row” was scored and sound designed with music by Antwan Williams and contributions from David Jassy. Here's a transcript, and you can download the episode here. Now and always: thanks to Lt. Sam Robinson and Warden Ron Davis for their support of Ear Hustle.

Human Element
By Mesro Coles-El

(Featured in Count Time)

I wanted to shine like Magnesium
But my enthalpy was too low. 
So I tried to convert to Helium, 
But my Hydrogen was too slow. 
I weigh like ten kilograms per mole. Blast! 
I need to drop a few pounds, 
But my structure's like a noble gas
With no electrons to pass around. 
I wanted to change my name and symbol
To fit in the periodic table. 
Potassium and Tungsten giggled
When Iron said I wasn't able. 
Gold and Silver and Copper were on my side
With Mercury to lend a hand, 
But those metals don't react or collide — 
Results aren't in the plans. 
Sodium was salty I dated Chlorine. 
I was just trying to be nice. 
Iodine red on the scene — 
Conversion won't come out right. 
I want to balance my equation. 
Limited reagents cause precipitation
Instead of combustion. 
Now I hang with the sun, who is patient, 
Showing light from my spectrum and state functions.

Season 2Nigel Poor