Episode 7. Lora and the Grasshopper.

...in which our narrator reflects upon a good friend’s struggle with the will to die.

Sound and music by Wilson Vediner and Courtney Sheedy. Guest voice by Erin Leddy.

Episode notes:

This episode is based on a live show we did at the Shout House in Portland on November 10. This one is very dear to my heart, and I'm extremely grateful to my friend Lora for letting me tell her story. (First-time listeners can jump in with this one and not be lost.) 

(To view this in iTunes and subscribe, click the notes below. Give us a nice rating there too!…. Update 11/11/18: Unfortunately, we’re having technical difficulties with Squarespace, and this episode is not appearing on the iTunes feed. We’ll try to fix this ASAP. In the meantime, you can listen to it or download it using the player above. Thanks!)

Episode 6. The Cause of Hydrophobia as Given by a Paranoia Patient at Brigham Hall.

...in which our narrator looks at his grandfather at the start of his career and the roots of his suicide studies.

Sound and music by Wilson Vediner and Courtney Sheedy. 

Episode notes:

This episode is based on a show we did on November 3 at the Shout House in Portland. The Cook Family history I quote is titled Brigham Hall Hospital: A Family History and it's by Alan S. Cook. Special thanks to the Ontario County Historical Society for their research assistance.

(To view this in iTunes and subscribe, click the notes below. Give us a nice rating there too!)

Episode 5. City Judge Flays 'Guttersnipes' From Out-of-Town for Misdeeds.

... in which our narrator follows a thread of racism, arson and misogyny in wartime New Britain.

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Sound and music by Wilson Vediner and Courtney Sheedy. Guest vocal by Stephanie Barr.

Episode notes:

This episode is based on a performance we did at the Shout House in Portland two days after the election. Unfortunately, there are some themes in this episode that are very relevant today -- it was at least a little cathartic performing it, and hopefully you'll feel the same listening to it.

 

Episode 4.5. A Brief Announcement.

...in which our narrator makes a brief announcement.

An update on our podcasting schedule.

Also, if you're in the Portland area, please join us for the last live show in our 2016 run. This going to be a fantastic event, focusing in on the story of a friend and her struggle with suicide. It's a story of triumph you won't want to miss. Special guest: the amazing actress Erin Leddy. Please see http://www.envelopeofsuicides.com/live/ for more information. Thank you!

Episode 4. Man With $6,018 in Bank Deposit Leaps to Death from High Veranda.

...in which our narrator examines the situation of the immigrant in wartime New Britain, labor unrest and the vertical dimension of despair.

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Sound and music by Wilson Vediner and Courtney Sheedy.

Episode notes:

What I know about the amenities and layout of the New Britain National Bank building I owe solely to Pat Watson, a true librarian. While skimming through clippings in the Local History Room, I once asked her if the New Britain National Bank building had an elevator back then. She was silent for a minute and asked me to wait. She left the room and soon returned, triumphant, with an old rolled-up poster in her hand. She spread it out across the great blonde wood table in the center of the room. It was an oversized advertisement for prospective tenants of the New Britain National Bank building. She told me how someone had recently donated boxes of unsorted papers from the course of her now deceased father’s life, papers that hadn’t yet been catalogued, but Pat had briefly looked through them before they’d been stowed away in a store room, and Pat remembered seeing a schematic of an office building from that era and thought it might have been that one, and there it is, look, the elevator. The dimensions of room 705 were clearly marked, a triumph of ephemera.

Many of the details of what Mary, Philip and Vincent Moorad faced on their journey out of Persia were told to me by my Great Aunt Semmie when she had me to her home in New Britain for dinner seven years ago. When she told me about the men who swept their swords like scythes from horseback, she turned around from her way back to the kitchen to check on the chicken and, with a look of horror, she waved her hand back and forth. She asked me, “Can you imagine?” One night four years ago, when she had my Great Aunt Nancy and me to dinner, I took a picture of her, ninety years old, holding a photo from her wedding day in 1954, and her proud and radiant smile was echoed a foot lower by precisely the same proud and radiant smile she gave the world fifty-eight years before in the wedding photo she held facing out from the center of her chest. Semmie passed away earlier this year.

It’s not clear if $6,018 could have brought two people from Russia to America then. The path of immigration from many war-afflicted countries was rarely clear, there were countless obstacles that came from every direction, and it often seemed impossible. It took luck as much as it did resources and resilience. A 2006 piece in the Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, in this connection, quotes an Assyrian woman who recalled that in 1918, We were living in Hamadan. My in-laws asked for my hand from America. Our families were related. My husband and I were third cousins. The niece of my father-in-law and her husband took me to America. There was a large Assyrian band that came along too but got dispersed along the way. I was 14 when I left; I was 17 when I reached the American border. In those days it was not like now – pack and go. There was a quota system and the Assyrian or [Persian] quota was already filled up. So we could not get a visa. So we were going from one country to another until we got a visa. We stayed six months in Bombay. In Italy we stayed one and a half years. From Naples we came to Paris; but we did not stay there. My chaperones took me to Mexico. There we stayed 10 months. Finally we went to Cuba and stayed 10 months in Havana. A law was passed by the American authorities that whoever had a fiancé or a wife to bring across the border, had to do so in person. So my husband-to-be came to Cuba and we all went to Chicago where he lived then. During the long waiting periods people in transit lived on the remittances that relatives in America sent them. I cost my in-laws $3,500 until I got to the U.S.

Episode 2. Street Scenes - Hartford Avenue.

...in which our narrator explores how the forces of history and culture shaped one suicide story.

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This episode takes a deep dive into contemporary ethnography to  give context to one elderly man's attempt... and to provide a setting for many attempts to follow.

Sound and music by Wilson Vediner and Courtney Sheedy. Guest voices by Faith Helma and Eric Geyer. (Thanks to them for their great work!)

Episode 1. Introduction: The Envelope.

...in which our narrator tries to face death and things take a strange turn...

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This episode kicks everything off by exploring the relationship between a psychiatrist at the end of his life and his grandson trying to find his way as a young adulthood... and the grandson discovers the dying man's long-forgotten study of suicide. 

Sound and music by Wilson Vediner and Courtney Sheedy.

Episode notes:

I can’t verify his stock of pickled eggplant was the largest in Central Connecticut. I made up the room number B26 because I couldn’t find the real number. Though my grandfather remembered being mentioned by Mae West on Edgar Bergen’s variety show, I could find no independent verification after what seemed a reasonable amount of time pursuing it, and I could find no trace of a paper he’d written on female drivers; honestly, I might have imagined the whole thing. “Dinapoli” is the name I’ve given the family who owned the pond.

I later found out The New Britain Herald was an afternoon daily during this period, and home delivery most likely was suspended during the war due to gas rationing, according to the best guesses of a former Herald reporter and a recent Herald staffer as conveyed to me by Pat Watson, who runs the Local History Room of the New Britain Public Library and without whom this project would be impossible, though any errors, whether of fact, interpretation or judgment, are, god knows, solely my own.

Debut episode goes up Monday, October 17!

 My grandfather, Dr. Philip Moorad (Sr.), at the start of his career in 1935.

My grandfather, Dr. Philip Moorad (Sr.), at the start of his career in 1935.

The From the Envelope of Suicides podcast is written and performed by Ben Moorad (me), with sound and music by Wilson Vediner and Courtney Sheedy (both of the bands Months and Point Juncture WA). We'll have guest performers now and again as well.

Episode 1 is called "Introduction: The Envelope," and it sets the scene for what follows. It looks at my grandfather at the end of his long life, me at the start of adulthood, and my discovery of the envelope of suicides. I'll write back in when I've set up subscriptions, etc., in iTunes. I'm excited to share this with you!

Thanks, Ben