I have binge watched TV shows before. It took me a few months to get through seven seasons of Game of Thrones and less than a week to watch National Geographic’s, Genius, a ten-part series on the life of Einstein. I tried to binge watch The Sopranos, however, I ended up with nightmares if I viewed more than two episodes an evening so I quit.
But Ear Hustle is the only pod cast that I have binge-listenened. Ear Hustle is a series that comes out of San Quentin State Prison Media Lab. It is the collaboration of inmates Earlonne Woods (l) and Antwan Williams (r), currently incarcerated at San Quentin, and Nigel Poor, a Bay Area artist (center).
This look at life inside prison through stories and interviews is different from anything you have ever seen or heard before. Forgot the trauma drama TV shows or the tough love scared straight reality series. This is a podcast about men who manage to live…really live and often thrive…in a confined guarded atmosphere.
You think you have problems with a roommate? What if your newly appointed cellie won’t stop talking? Ever. Or if new to a prison and a cell, your roommate threatens murder as you step into your 4’x9’ home? But what if you get along like ‘peas and carrots’ as Forest Gump once said and you spend your time joking, laughing and enjoying the day-to-day company. Those stories are all on Ear Hustle, which is prison slang for eavesdropping.
The deep humor, the remorse, the longing, the drive to give back and the sadness are all real and touching. How do you throw a birthday party in San Quentin? Check out Episode 7, Unwritten. How do you have privacy with your wife? That’s Episode 6, The Boom Boom Room. How do you feel when you get paroled and you must leave behind friends of more than 15 years? That’s Episode 10, Getting a Date.
For a podcast that has only been on the air five months, its meteoric rise is based, I think, on the ability to capture pure honesty. Ear Hustle has been featured in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, the San Jose Mercury News, Al Jezera, The Guardian and my hometown paper, the Marin Independent Journal. Here is the link if you want to read http://www.marinij.com/general-news/20171022/san-quentin-inmates-win-raves-with-podcast
The first ten-part series finished up last month, October 2017. You can listen to all episodes here. Click on the Ear Hustle logo (the man in the beanie) below: