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Death, Sex & Money

Every Wednesday, we'll let you know what we're working on, as well as what we're reading and listening to. And we'll share some of the stories and questions that we've been getting from you. Check out past newsletters here.


02/07/2017B & E dedicate this episode to a slept-on G.O.A.T. - the legendary Donny Hathaway. Revisiting his raw talent, unforgettable balladry, and why we need him today.
The most recent episode of For Colored Nerds dives in deep into soulful balladeer Donny Hathaway's musical catalog. Co-host Eric Eddings reflects on Hathaway's cover of "A Song For You" as a particularly gut-wrenching track that's different than most other songs about heartbreak. "Usually you're hearing these songs and these ballads and you're in it—you're at the bottom," Eric says of the song's emotional depth. "But this is slightly after that, where you're trying to see if there's possibly an upswing." Hear him and co-host Brittany Luse explore how Hathaway's music stays relevant to anyone in or out of love today.
12/14/2016Two more murders in Boston bring the total to 7. The Strangler continues to elude investigators through the winter and spring of 1963. Then, in June, New York police find the body of sixty-two-year-old Zenovia Clegg in a Times Square hotel. She had been strangled, using a scarf tied in the Strangler’s signature bow. The NYPD quickly catches Clegg’s killer, a drifter from Maine named Charles Terry, and one legendary detective there, Tom Cavanagh, begins to suspect that he has arrested the real Boston Strangler. But the Boston PD doesn't seem to care. Host Portland Helmich traces Cavanagh’s life-long pursuit of evidence supporting his theory, and reveals the surprising details of Charles Terry’s life that seem to confirm his guilt. This episode is brought to you by Talkspace (, Audible (, Blue Apron (, Casper Mattresses (, Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories, and A Crime to Remember on Investigation Discovery.
One of the biggest surprises for me in new and favorite podcasts has been Stranglers by Earwolf. It's about the Boston Stranglers. Yes, plural. It looks at the crimes that unfolded in the early 1960s, the possible suspects, and the difficulties of investigating a sensationalized series of murders. The production values are top-notch and there are still new stories and details that have surprised even this Bostonian (and there's even a possible NYC connection—see Episode 5, "The Gotham Strangler.") It's gripping storytelling—and yes, that is a poor choice of words—that keeps me pulling the covers up even more during a late-night listen.
01/13/2017Nazanin Rafsanjani is a beloved member of the Gimlet family, overseeing Gimlet’s advertising wing. She also has an incredible family story, moving to the U.S. from Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. And Nazanin’s family tree is filled with people who left their communities and started over, from the victim of an epidemic, to two literary icons. We’ll tell these stories, and introduce her to a mystery relative. CREDITS Twice Removed is produced by Meg Driscoll, Ngofeen Mputubwele, Matthew Nelson, Audrey Quinn, and Kimmie Regler. Our senior producer is Eric Mennel. Editing by Jorge Just and Alex Blumberg. Michelle Harris is our fact checker. Research and genealogy by J. Mark Lowe and Eowyn Langholf. Music and sound design by Haley Shaw. Interpreting and translations by Raha Hakimdavar and Sara Goudarzi. Additional music by Blue Note Sessions. Special thanks this week to Casey Turner, Loretta Shugrue, Sarah Rodriguez, Suzanne Campbell and the West Texas Collection at San Angelo State University,Vickie Webb, Dr. Frank Sousa, Heather Wylie, Brad Moseley and The American School for the Deaf, Dr. Amy Malek, Khodadad Rezakahani, and the band Lowland Hum. Jeffrey Einboden’s new book which talks about Emerson and his Persian influences is “The Islamic Lineage of American Literary Culture.” You can reach us at We tweet @TwiceRemoved, and we’re also on Facebook. Twice Removed is a production of Gimlet Media. I’m AJ Jacobs, we’ll be back next week with more Twice Removed. Hopefully you’ll be filled with delight… or perhaps abject horror. You never know. It’s family. Our Sponsors Blue Apron- Get your first three Blue Apron meals delivered for free by going to Squarespace - Go to and use the offer code "TWICE REMOVED" at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase And be sure to check out another podcast about family: The Longest Shortest Time, hosted by Hillary Frank! 
Nazanin Rafsanjani's family fled Tehran in the early 1980s, soon after the Iranian Revolution. Nazanin was four years old at the time, and doesn’t remember as much about the journey as she does about transitioning into her new American life. "When you're a kid, people are protecting you and you don’t even know," the Gimlet Media creative director tells Twice Removed. Hear Nazanin retrace her family's arrival in the U.S., and reconnect with a mystery guest who made their relocation possible.
01/30/2017Irene is 73. She has severe kidney failure. She is frail, and walks with a stick. And she may be about to be deported. Grace Dent gets inside the complex deportation process with a family stuck right in the middle of it, through the highs and the lows, the emotional turmoil, the applications and appeals and the long monotonous waiting. Grandmother Irene first came to the UK 4 years ago, in 2012, to visit her family. She travelled from South Africa on a 6 month tourist visa and settled in at the family home in North Bristol. Soon after arriving however she fell ill, was rushed to hospital, and was put on emergency dialysis for acute renal failure. This treatment is keeping her alive, and it is all being provided by the NHS. Her family are British. But Irene is not. So she is here illegally, and there's no guarantee she can stay. This is the story of a short drive to a police station and a meeting with immigration officers, in which the future of a family hangs in the balance. Produced in Bristol by Emily Knight.
Irene was diagnosed with renal failure a few weeks after she arrived in the United Kingdom from South Africa on a tourist visa. Her family in the UK has spent the last four years fighting to keep her in the country so they can care for her. Producers with the BBC’s The Untold podcast follow Irene and her daughter to the local police station to check in with authorities, not knowing whether she will be sent back to South Africa to face almost certain death without treatment. "If they give me a chance tomorrow, I’ll be happy just to be with my kids," Irene says. "That’s all. I just want to be with them."
08/28/2014 An enchanting hour of poetry drawing on the ways family and religion shape our lives. Marie Howe works and plays with her Catholic upbringing, the universal drama of family, and the ordinary time that sustains us. The moral life, she says, is lived out in what we say as much as what we do — and so words have a power to save us.
"I have listened to the On Being podcast with Marie Howe probably five times since I first heard it. This is extremely rare for me. Marie speaks poetry in every line. I love how she talks about mothering, parenting, and the wisdom of her young child. The episode is called "The Poetry of Ordinary Time" and it serves as a reminder to me to appreciate the beauty of the mundane. It also reminds me of the incredible power of poetry to help me do that."
01/19/2017This week — a new technology falls into the wrong hands. Pope Brock's book, Charlatan Penny Lane's documentary, Nuts!
In the early 1900s, John Brinkley developed a cure for male impotency. Men flocked to his small Kansas clinic to be treated. The only problem? The cure was a scam—a deadly one. The state medical board took action in 1930, author Pope Brock tells Reply All, using death certificates signed by Brinkley as evidence. "That’s 42 dead people right there," Pope says. "Beyond that, you can only imagine." Listen to the whole episode to hear why Brinkley's story was far from over after his professional disgrace, and how his legacy endures in a West Texas border town.
01/12/2017"You were the angriest against injustice, and you were the hungriest for something new". From drive-by shootings and drug addiction in the ganglands of the San Gabriel Valley to a life dedicated to poetry and community service: the story of Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis Rodriguez this week on ARRVLS.
Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez remembers the day he decided to change his life. He tells the ARRVLS podcast about joining a gang before he was in high school and embracing a lifestyle fueled by violence and drugs. Then, at 18, he saw a group of people beat up a girl. Witnesses walked away, but Luis felt like he needed to stay and help her. "I didn't want to be a gangster. I wanted to be...I don't know exactly what," Luis says. "I was already prepared to be a different person."
01/16/2017 Solange Knowles released her first album in 2002, at the age of 16. Her third album, A Seat at the Table, came out in September 2016, and debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts. It’s gotten widespread critical acclaim, including being named album of the year by Pitchfork and by Vibe. In this episode, Solange takes apart the song "Cranes in the Sky," which began back in 2008.
In her song "Cranes in the Sky," singer Solange Knowles sings the words, "Don't you cry it, baby." She says when she hears it, she thinks of its three-part harmony as the voices of the women in her life, especially her mom. Solange remembers how if something bad or sad would happen when she was young, her mother would let her mope around and stay in bed for two days. "But on that third day, you get your ass up and you ride," Solange tells Song Exploder.
01/09/2017It's not exactly normal for a 5-year-old kid to listen to Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water over and over and over, but Andy Richter didn't know that. It felt natural to him. The actor and longtime comedic accompanist to Conan O'Brien relates his childhood in Illinois, the impact of divorce on his nascent depression, and how he plugged away at finding both an effective treatment and who he really was. Also, are ALL people who go into comedy at least a little twisted? Here Andy's answer.
Signs of comedian Andy Richter's depression came at an early age. He used to repeatedly listen to "Bridge Over Troubled Water" when he was 5 years old. He was diagnosed with heartburn before he was 9—it turned out to be stress related. Andy tells The Hilarious World of Depression about how he finally had a personal breakthrough when saw a medical expert who, after a 20-minute consultation, said he was "obviously a depressed person." "I thought I was doing a good job of hiding it," Andy says, opening up to the podcast about what he does today to keep himself mentally healthy.
01/06/2017This week, Ahmed talks immigration, work, and movies with two Rad Brown Dads: Jamil Ali, who has worked in the taxi industry since the ‘80s, and Dr. Waheed Akbar, Ahmed’s dad. Plus: Ahmed tries to speak Urdu and it is very bad. Please do not drag him on Twitter. Join us for a live taping of See Something Say Something in New York on January 25th! Get your tickets here: Follow Ahmed at @radbrowndads. Find more episodes at
In the latest See Something Say Something, host Ahmed Ali Akbar hops into a New York City cab and meets driver Jamil Ali. It turns out Jamil moved to the United States from the same city in Pakistan as Ahmed's father. "I knew that I had to tell my dad about it," Ahmed says. "He's somebody who taught me that it's important every time you get into a cab to get to know the person that you're riding with." Ahmed talks to both his dad and Jamil about moving to the U.S., raising their Muslim families there, and their shared love of Hollywood movies. Make sure to check out the video of Ahmed and his sister driving around Manhattan with Jamil in search of the city's best $1 chai.
01/02/2017 When I arrived in Akwesasne, I didn't know what to expect. I struggled with bouts of depression and hella anxiety— Why do I care so much? What do I do now that I'm here?  Subscribe on iTunes or wherever else you listen to podcasts.  New episodes released every first Monday of the month. Episode extras every two weeks.  Music: "Deuce" by Indian Wells. "Glass Piano" by Podington Bear. "Puzzle Pieces" by Lee Rosevere.  Episode Extra Family Trees are dope... sometimes. When I traveled to Akwesasne, I didn't have expectations or goals. I blindly went with the hope of learning something, anything. What I got was pretty remarkable. 
Sam Sabin learned more information about her father from his obituary than she ever did while growing up. He left her family when she was young, and one of the few things she knew was that he was Native American. Still, she never knew which tribe he was from—until he died. In the Good Grief podcast, Sam sets off on a journey to connect with her dad's roots. When she tracks down her family tree and is offered a chance to join the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, it shakes her self-identity. "I am white. Or at least, I grew up white. So why do I deserve membership?" she asks in the latest episode.
12/20/2016Tonia Miller lost control and shook her baby to death. That’s what prosecutors said. Miller denied it, but a Michigan jury wasn’t convinced and convicted her of murder. At 19 years old, Miller was separated from her family, sent to prison and found herself having lost something else: her life. Over 13 years later, those who knew the young family are haunted by moments when the child showed signs something was wrong during the short time she was alive. According to medical experts, authorities may have foreclosed the possibility that the death was the result of something other than murder—birth trauma, an accident or illness.  This shaken-baby syndrome investigation was reported by The Medill Justice Project, an award-winning national investigative journalism center based at Northwestern University that examines potentially wrongful convictions and criminal justice issues. Production Notes Shaken was a co-production with The Medill Justice Project and was reported by Adele Humbert and Taylor Mullaney with production by Adele Humbert and editing by Alec Klein and Amanda Westrich. Our Senior Producer is Tony Gannon. Our Post Production Editors are Kirsten Jusewicz-Haidle and Rachael Cain. We want to thank Allisha Azlan and Rachel Fobar, Medill Justice Project associates, and Anthony Settipani, former Medill Justice Project fellow for their help with the reporting and production of our story.  Our engineers were Adam Yoffe at WBEZ in Chicago and Howard Gelman at KQED Radio in San Francisco.  Music in this episode was from The Audio Network.
"To me, if I keep telling myself they’re on vacation, I’ll eventually see them again." Theresa Miller tells the Life of the Law podcast how she lost both her daughter and her granddaughter 15 years ago. Police arrested Tonia, Theresa's daughter, after authorities said 11-week-old Alicia died as a result of shaken-baby syndrome. Tonia was convicted and sentenced to up to 30 years in prison, even though no one testified that they had witnessed her ever harming her baby or that Alicia had been suffering from other health issues before her death.
12/29/2016This week we devote the entire episode to one question: What is happening with Kanye West?
Whether you like him or not, Kanye West had a big year. And like 2016 itself, Kanye remains pretty divisive in his own right. "People get angry that Kanye is not willing to wait for people to call him a genius," posits Still Processing's Jenna Wortham. "He's just going to say it himself." She and co-host Wesley Morris dive deep into how the rap and fashion mogul's personal traumas, including his mother's death and his wife's robbery at gunpoint, play into our expectations about celebrities and how they should or shouldn't behave.
12/09/2016We're all guilty of having tried to fit in at one time or another. On this episode we'll hear stories about bending ourselves to fit into new environments and expectations, as well as about those moments when we push back against those pressures and remain true to ourselves. In the 1930s, an all-Mexican American basketball team confronts racism as it sweeps the San Antonio high school league. Viral 11-year-old Saria Gonzales talks to Maria about being unapologetically herself. And, a story about navigating identity in the cruel, cruel world known as elementary school.
Sarai Gonzalez didn't initially understand all of the Spanish lyrics for the music video she starred in earlier this year, so her mom translated them for her. "My mom said, 'This song is about empowering yourself,'" the 11-year-old recounts. "No matter what race, no matter what religion, it's just you being you and loving yourself." Sarai tells Latino USA host Maria Hinojosa about where she got the confidence that her character exudes in the viral video, and how she faces bullies in her real life.
12/06/2016In the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, travelling in the United States was fraught with difficulties if you were black. At best it was inconvenient, as white-owned businesses refused to serve African American motorists, repair their cars or offer them hotel accommodation. At worst, travel could be life-threatening if you walked into the wrong bar in the wrong town. That's why in 1936 Victor H Green, a Harlem postal worker, published the first edition of The Green Book. The guide listed hotels, restaurants, bars and service stations which would serve African Americans and was an attempt, in Victor Green's words, "to give the Negro traveller information that will keep from him running into difficulties and embarrassments". 'Embarrassments' seems rather a tame word for the outright hostility and physical danger which many black travellers experienced in segregation-era America. The Green Book became a catalogue of refuge and tolerance in a hostile and intolerant world. Alvin Hall hits the highway, Green Book in hand, to document a little-known aspect of racial segregation: the challenges - for mid-20th century America's new black middle class - of travelling in their own country. Alvin's journey starts in Tallahassee, Florida, where he was born and raised, takes him through Alabama and Tennessee and concludes in Ferguson, Missouri. The guide ceased publication soon after the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. But, as Alvin discovers in Ferguson, many African Americans still feel far from safe as they drive. Alvin asks whether the Green Book ceased publication too soon. Interviewees: Carolyn Bailey-Champion, Dr. Charles Champion, Leah Dickerman, Jerome Gray, Prof. Allyson Hobbs, Ryan Jones, Maira Liriano, Ron McCoy, Robert Moman, Dr. Gwen Patton, Calvin Ramsey, Tiffany Shawn, Rev. Henry Steele, Bryan Stevenson and Rev. Starsky Wilson Producer: Jeremy Grange Archive audio courtesy of PBS, CBS and CNN Photos: Jonathan Calm.
“Traveling with dignity." That's what historian and filmmaker Calvin Ramsey says The Green Book offered black Americans during the Jim Crow era. For 30 years, the guide offered motorists of color an updated list of hotels, restaurants and businesses that would welcome them. BBC 4's Seriously... podcast opens up a Green Book for a modern-day road trip, and explores how many Americans today still fear the consequences of "driving while black."