Running From Myself

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Intro from Jay Allison: There's something about Louis' voice; it's both wise and callow. It feels like he has the answers while he's searching for them. Louis used to rob people on the street, but he stopped. Now, he's trying to reconcile the person he was with the person he is and wants to be. Louis worked with Anthony Mascorro at 826NYC to tell this powerful, complicated story. (By the way, it was nice for us to learn that Anthony acquired his editing chops at Transom.) We all hope you'll visit Transom to listen, and talk to Louis and Anthony about their piece.

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Listen to “Running From Myself”

About “Running From Myself” from Louis

I learned about 826NYC when their staff came to my high school to work with my English class. The goal was to publish a collection of our short stories. 826NYC approached me at the end of my senior year to ask if I would be interested in telling my story in a radio piece. I met Anthony who gave me a mini-disc recorder and a microphone and told me to record anything I thought would work for the piece.

“Running from Myself” begins after I give up my negative lifestyle. I question whether my days of mugging have permanently stopped. And I look at my fear of losing many of the positive things I’ve struggled to gain since I stepped on a brighter path. The piece is my attempt to establish if I’ve legitimately changed. And so, I talk to various people about the old me.

Picking the recordings that would make the final cut was time consuming. Many of the conversations were spontaneous, resulting in a mixture of both significant and unnecessary material. The passing of time made the shape of the project clearer, which made editing simpler.

Piecing this together was an emotional time for me. Hearing my friend express her disappointment in me was hard to swallow. There were days where I didn’t want to hear the recordings I’d made to avoid feeling depressed. There were many cuts and changes in what I wanted to say throughout the editing process, because each time I spoke to someone, I learned something about myself. I can honestly say that working on this piece with Anthony and 826NYC was a growing process for me which I enjoyed and am grateful for.

About “Running From Myself” from Anthony Mascorro

I work for 826NYC, a non-profit writing and tutoring center in Brooklyn. We operate out of the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. The store is basically set up like a hardware store, but for superheroes. We sell all kinds of superhero supplies, like capes, cans of Anti-Matter, blobs, unstable molecules, etc. It serves to get kids inside the space and interested, and it also generates a portion of our annual budget to run the educational programming. One of the best things it does, I think, is that it lets the kids know in a very direct way that it’s possible to make kind of a lifelong practice out of honoring your imagination, being creative, and entertaining yourself as opposed to always turning to someone else for entertainment. You know, those things don’t have to end once you grow up and decide to do something productive, like run a tutoring center. It also really does get kids inside and doing homework, a lot of whom would not otherwise seek out the help that they need.

Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co store sign
Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co

We first met Louis during the In-Schools program he mentioned above. Louis wound up contributing a few personal essays that were really well written and compelling, so when we decided to try a radio project with a high school student, it seemed natural to ask him if he was interested. He agreed, and we decided to use one of his essays as a jumping off point.

We got set up with an Mbox, Pro Tools, and a mini-disc recorder that Louis took with him to conduct the interviews you’ll hear in the piece. We really kind of figured everything out as we went along – not so much the technical stuff, which I was fairly familiar with, but more how to approach the story Louis wanted to tell through the medium of radio. Almost all of the radio classes we’d run at 826NYC up until now had produced fictional dramas and narratives. Neither Louis nor I had any idea how to deal with something that was, for lack of a better term, real. So, we figured, “real” means “interviews.” It was a good starting point, anyway.

Over the course of several months, Louis came down to Brooklyn (an hour and a half commute from his neighborhood in the Bronx), and we listened to the conversations he’d recorded with different people the previous week. We’d load it all into the computer, and then go through it to see if it could help us define the over-all shape of the story. A lot of the process for us turned out to be the trimming down of what was, at first, a huge amount of material. Not just in terms of recorded audio, but in terms of the potential scope of the story. The more I hung out with Louis and got to know him, the more I realized that the story he was telling could potentially reach back through his entire life. And that, to me, made it all the more interesting.

Something else that was interesting to me about the whole process was what a strange way of getting to know someone producing a radio piece is. You end up listening to hours of recorded conversations they’ve had with all kinds of people, and in that way are able to observe them relating to a variety of people in a variety of contexts. Louis’s conversations were consistently warm, often funny, and always driven by his desire to better understand himself. Something else that’s evident in all of them, and that I noticed the first time I met him, is that he’s a really good listener. All of these qualities, I think, add up to a person who’s got a natural capacity for making interesting radio.

Hours and hours of conversation and monologue, however, interesting as it was, probably wasn’t going to yield a very digestible piece. So, we whittled and cut and re-focused on what emerged as the most immediate, important threads in the story. What came out, I hope, still retains the character of Louis’s voice and style, and the real meat of his story. I also hope that listening to it is sort of like hanging out with Louis. Because it’s pretty fun.

Anthony Mascorro

About
Anthony Mascorro

Anthony Mascorro works for a non-profit writing and tutoring center in Brooklyn, called 826NYC. 826NYC generally tries to offer educational projects that are as interesting to themselves as they are to their students, and all of their radio projects have fallen into that category. Anthony first learned about using Pro Tools from the Transom Tools section about five years ago, and has enjoyed audio editing ever since. Before working for 826NYC, Anthony worked in a few different areas, not totally related to each other, most recently with Habitat for Humanity.

Louis

About
Louis

My name is Louis. I'm leaving out my last name, because the piece contains some details about my life that I wouldn't want an employer or internship official to find if they Googled me. Both my parents are Ecuadorian, but I was raised in the Bronx by my mother. There are many females in my family which is a huge reason I feel comfortable around women. When I was younger I thought that made me weak, but I've learned to embrace what I've learned from all the strong females in my family. I am currently working towards a B.S. in financial economics and am driven to complete my degree not just to please my family, but to please myself.

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  • Antonio

    2.26.08

    Reply
    after thoughts

    Louis, wish you the best. I’m a bit speechless, just touched and inspired, and honestly grateful for what you shared. I’m reflecting your closing words upon my past and am surprised by how listening to your piece helps me. I came across this quite randomly, looking for info about a microphone.
    What can I say but … thank you.
    from Guatemala,
    Antonio

  • Louis

    2.27.08

    Reply

    Antonio, thank you for listening to this piece. I’m glad my words have given you inspiration. Responses such as the one you’ve given bring me joy and make me feel as if working on this piece was worth it. Again, thank you for listening.
    Louis

  • Kevin Shah

    3.01.08

    Reply
    To Louis

    Louis, I’m glad you shared the story. You took some courageous steps in your journey to recover. This has encouraged me in my own struggles with daily living. Making peace with moms always brings new energy for living. I pray for you to be able to make peace with all those important people in your life, including those who are absent. Forgive and you will begin to heal.

    -Kevin in Southern CA

  • Dino Cardamone

    3.10.08

    Reply
    Great Job

    Louis,

    You inspire me to say a lot, so I hope it’s not too much. As background I’m a 45 year old single man who’s lived a fairly priviliged life economically, but still struggled with self doubt and low self esteem since grade school, consequently learning a great deal about myself and others from it. But, it took years and years and a lot of hard work, and a lot of different experiences.

    First, the fact that you bring your honesty, and your whole self to the story and to the mission of finding out what you want most from life and yourself, and your search to do what you think is "good" for you, your family, and the society you touch…are all qualities that are to be applauded at length. They are rare in our society and are badly needed if we are all going to learn how to live together with love and safety and not hate and misery.

    I saw myself on both sides of the coin since I’m involved in a 12 step group that deals directly with drug addiction and dealers etc. But, I also have some fears, though I try to not indulge them, about being a victim of violent crime too.

    The fact that you’re not only doing a search for your own sanity, happiness and peace of mind, but also looking to see how that search is affected by, and affects, others is very healthy and respectable because we all live in the context of others…and see ourselves through others in addition to how we see ourselves on our own.

    Further respect for your story and life should be realized because of the fact that you’ve made these decisions on your own, and early in your life, and that you think deeply about the root causes of these things, and not just the surface of the issues.

    As your friend from the violence program said…these are not easy issues,and take work to uncover, see clearly and understand. She, by the way, sounds like an incredibly caring, responsible and honest person to be involved with.

    I think that this story shows an enormous amount of inherent self worth and I strongly encourage you to continue on this path…because we need you so badly as a communicator, economic contributor and community member…and don’t need any more violent or abusive crime.

    Your experiences, as you say in the end of the piece, are all part of you…and there is a mix of who you are, who you were, and who you are becoming at each moment in time. Your experiences all can be, and should be, highly valued, even, and especially, the painful experiences. They are what give you insight to others and yourself.

    You’ve done well and I’m very proud to have read your story and really hope you continue to find your voice and your contributions to the world.

    Maybe some day we will share a meal and talk about how far we’ve both come over the years. I’d enjoy that.

  • Anonymous

    3.13.08

    Reply
    running to yourself

    That’s what you did in this piece, Louis. All of the LIVE confrontations you had with your friend, the woman at the center – I heard this as a literal documentation of your changes. Brilliant! I felt like I was on that ride with you for the duration of the piece. You trust the listener with alot of personal information which always makes me lean in closer to the speakers to hear every little sound.

    As far as production, the beginning of the piece puts us right in your life: music, we meet you, and you reflect immediately, while the conversation continues in the background. It pulls me right in. You also include the interviews of yourself and you, the narrator. It’s a great contrast of voices as we get to know what you struggle with. Great work, Louis. Keep that recorder around!

  • Sydney Lewis

    3.16.08

    Reply
    wide and deep

    Hey Louis,

    Thank you for sharing this piece. You go wide and deep. While sharing your insecurities, anger, fear, loyalty, love, and tenderness, you take us on a great journey. (And happen to touch on important social issues of class and gender while you’re at it.)

    I have to say, as someone who has been mugged, who has been assaulted, I wasn’t inclined to be on your side. My first reaction to the opening was: yeah, here’s someone whose ass I’d probably like to kick! But you had me hooked enough to keep listening. There was something in your voice that cracked my attitude, made me forget my own past and just listen. A few times, too.

    Thing is, you’ve got a good voice and you know how to get good tape. Gotta love Eugenia, speaking of honest! Don’t ask if you don’t want to know. And maybe you managed not to cry when the social worker says you give her hope, but I had to go find a tissue.

    I really liked the structure. I was a little distracted for a bit, wondering why you’d decided to change, but when you finally get around to telling, it’s worth the wait.

    I sure do believe you went through some big changes working on this piece. It takes a big heart to care enough to try to change, a strong will to stick with it, and a fine mind to see your way forward. Your ability to look hard at yourself and to ask for help will stand you in good stead forever more. It’s a real special privilege to be allowed to lean in so close to someone working so hard to be honest.

    Good luck to you…

  • Samantha Broun

    3.17.08

    Reply
    more?

    Anthony,

    I’m curious if 826 is now doing more of these types of radio pieces with kids and what you think young people get out of making a personal radio piece verses writing a personal essay?

    Thank you both for all your work.

    — Sam

  • Anthony Mascorro

    3.18.08

    Reply
    more?

    Hey Sam,

    Yes, we definitely would to like to do more. Up until now we’ve mostly done fictional drama and narrative, mainly because they seem to work better in a class or workshop setting — you can get a group of kids together to write, record and score over the course of four sessions, and at the end you have something very close to a finished piece. If it still needs editing, it’s easier to do because all the creative decisions have already been made, so it’s just piecing the takes together.

    With Louis’s piece (and I’m sure with any piece of this kind), the process was much more scattered. You can’t really know what the interview subjects are going to say until you get the conversation on tape, and then there are a ton of ways you could cut up the interview to give emphasis to certain ideas, or to release the narrative information at a certain pace or in a certain order. So those are things that require the presence of the person whose story it is, which means for us that it’s necessary to have a student who’s willing to commit to a longer, looser kind of work schedule. We definitely have a lot of interesting kids around, and now that we have a better idea of how to go about this kind of project we’ll be looking out for anyone who’s up for doing another one.

    As far as making a radio piece vs. writing a personal essay, I think it’s just fun to work in a different medium. It can be more visceral to be working with music and the sounds of people’s voices and ambient sounds, because those things don’t have to go through your brain so much. So for kids especially, who are in school all day where almost everything goes through your brain (or that’s the idea, anyway), it can be a nice way to use another part of your intelligence, one that’s more based in intuition, or feeling, or whatever you want to call it. I (and everyone here) think writing can be that way, too — but it can be hard to see writing that way when you’ve just come from two hours of standardized test prep. So hopefully radio is another, sometimes less-obscured, doorway into the same place you get through writing something you want to write, or through any kind of art. A piece like this also has room for other people’s voices and ideas, which can sometimes be more fun to work with than your own.

    The other 826 chapters are also doing radio work with their students, so I think for us it’s a natural extension of writing. This has been a great learning experience, and it’s been very encouraging to see people taking time to share their thoughts about the piece, so thanks to everyone who’s listening. Hopefully we’ll be doing more soon…

    thanks,
    Anthony

  • emily larocque

    3.18.08

    Reply

    This was great. I volunteered with kids in the Bronx when I lived in New York and was really touched by the ones (all the ones I met) who work so hard to make a good life for, and a good person of, themselves. Talking like this takes a lot of courage — the kind that impresses most adults.

  • Audio Beginner

    3.25.08

    Reply
    How to tell that story

    Hi Louis!
    That was a wonderful piece for me to hear. I listened to it because I felt it was well-timed, but perhaps this is also not a great thing to say. For me I got out of a an "interesting" sexual past a good 5 years ago, and have always, since then, wondered if it was innately part of me so I could relate to your entire piece. I could relate to talking about it to some people as this terrible thing I did, and with other people I am wistful. But in the past little while I’ve found myself getting very close to getting back into it. So, of course, I thought to myself "this is something I should document audio-style" in terms of my thought process through the whole thing (which I’m getting through and not getting back into it). I did my first audio diary this morning though, and found it really hard to talk out loud to myself. Any tips on how to become comfortable talking to a mic in an empty room? Also, were people really willing to be interviewed about you? I think most of my friends would view it as me not being serious about the issue and would be hesitant about being interviewed.
    Great piece overall!

  • Louis

    3.27.08

    Reply

    In my case, talking into a mic was initially difficult because I didn’t know what direction to take. Some of my early recordings were ramblings my friend and I had on my couch and a bulk of it were recordings of me talking. Playing my material to Anthony was a huge help. After listening, he and I talked about what message I was trying to send and what message did he get from each recording. He always asked something along the lines of,"what are you trying to tell your audience?", to remind me of my purpose. This reminder helped me narrow the many ideas in my head, which simplified the editing process and the way I handled future recordings.

    I definitely understand the awkwardness you might feel when on the mic. Talking to a machine sometimes made me feel a little insane, but it’s definitely something you get used to and ultimately enjoy. You might want to write something down before recording so you don’t get off track from what you want to say, but don’t think of it as a big deal if you do because there might be something useful in there somewhere. I also suggest analyzing your recordings days later and act as if your listening to a stranger so you can better get to the bottom of what you’re saying. I hope this post is helpful, but if not you can ask me to clarify.

    thank you for listening to my piece,
    Louis

  • susan stone

    4.11.08

    Reply
    Running From Myself

    This piece is so fresh, so sweet. It moves, it reveals. No tricks, much heart. Introspection can never come too late, and hopefully will happen without casualties. I will play this for the kids I work with in juve hall here in San Francisco. They are in writing workshops and hope to "talk" their prose soon, if not before they walk.

    Stay in touch with that Eugenia, now. Keep writing. Keep talking.

    Susan Stone

  • Louis

    4.12.08

    Reply
    Thank you Susan

    I’m glad you liked my piece. I hope it helps in those writing workshops. I’m definitely still in touch with Eugenia. Again, thanks for listening.

  • Lee Kingcombe

    10.29.08

    Reply

    Hi Louis,

    I really enjoyed your honest views its hard to face up to things in life and make a change.

    Your a top man and I hope all goes well for you.

    Lee Kinks. Plymouth, Devon, England.

  • Louis

    10.30.08

    Reply
    Hi

    First off I want to thank you for taking time to listen to me. I’m glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the wishes.

    -Louis

  • Veralyn

    11.13.08

    Reply
    Hi Louis

    I just listened to your story, and I want you know know you really inspired me. The way you talk and describe your story was very powerful–you have a real gift. I esp got emotional because I thought about my brother, who is struggling with some of the same issues–even though–like you–he has a family that loves and is trying to support him. I live in the Bronx too, and I know how easy it is to get caught out there.

    Thank you for the courage to speak. So many young men in our neighborhoods will now get insight on the same things they’re probably feeling. And because you were brave enough to speak about it– hopefully it wont seem "corny" or "un-cool" to talk about the "why".

    I hope you con’t doing radio.

    Peace and Love,

    Veralyn Williams

  • Louis

    11.16.08

    Reply

    Hey Veralyn,
    Thanks you for the love, I’m glad that voicing my opinion can grasp people’s attention and hopefully inspire them to take positive action. When I was going through these problems I thought I had no one to talk to and expressing myself in this manner took alot of self analysing, but I’m happy I did it. I don’t plan to do any more radio, but I did this because I felt my experience had to be heard.

    Take care,
    Louis

  • trishymouse

    7.03.09

    Reply
    Best of Luck, Louis

    All the best to you, Louis. You are so right – who we were, our past, makes us who are are, now. You will do great, I know it…

  • Louis

    7.06.09

    Reply
    Hi Trishymouse

    Thank you for listening. I always hope people listening find my story useful in whatever way it may be.

  • AM998

    8.22.10

    Reply
    Look at you now

    Louis you have gone a long way. I am so proud of you… look at yourself now. You are an amazing person with a humongous heart. You have accomplished more then you would have ever pictured yourself. Being graduated with a B.S in Finance and Economics with a very good GPA is the dreams of many people. Many people look after you. I love you with all my heart and I know you will reach for the stars and accomplish all your dreams because you are a successful person.

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