BY KAILEY TEDESCO
This past year was hectic to say the least. I juggled a schedule where I was teaching several courses as an adjunct professor and also teaching a full day as a junior high/high school teacher. (I wanted to figure out which was for me…but that’s another story.) In order to do all of this, I had to drive about four hours a day, every week day. UGH.
Sure, I listened to music, a few e-books, I cried during Alice Isn’t Dead…but the thing that really got me though was Panoply’s podcast, You Must Remember This. As soon as I plugged it in, I was enthralled by the ghostly sounds whooshing behind the lyrics of Casablanca’s lulling “As Time Goes By.” It was an astral projection or a black and white crystal ball in my mind. I was no longer in traffic on Roosevelt Boulevard, but instead I was sucked in, haunted, and smothered by a world far more gorgeous and far more dangerous than my own.
The first full episode I listened to was entitled “Frank Sinatra in Outer Space” and, as you might imagine, it didn’t disappoint. Of course, I had heard of Sinatra before. Of course, I’d played his music on stormy days at home. But this was different. The purpose of the podcast is to bring you, deeply, into the mythos of Hollywood.
Karina Longworth, the shows ethereal director and narrator, has a seemingly preternatural knowledge of everything Hollywood. She is privy to their shallow secrets (the ones everyone’s guessed by now), but also to their darker selves, their ghosts. What makes her narration special is her compassion for these spirits. She’s not a tabloid throwing mud; she’s a mystic setting these stars free. In this Frank Sinatra episode, she tells us about his weirdly unknown album The Future (which has since become my favorite album of all time). She also tells us of Sinatra’s biggest demon — his fear of death, a fear that seems to possess a number of stars on this podcast.
And the thing that this fear reveals is their fear of death is not like ours in a general sense. I, sometimes late at night, fret over what will happen if I do not wake up. I make plans to be more spontaneous, to write more, etc. But Sinatra and the like seem to be living gods. Death for them isn’t a natural state, but a sentencing. Purgatory, in their minds, seems to be inevitable. They are promised ghost-hood. Their voices will haunt forever. The fear comes not from death itself, but from what their voices will say afterwards.
The podcast goes on to cover countless famous and infamous beings from Madonna and Sean Penn’s disastrous “love” to Kurt Cobain’s adoration of Frances Farmer. In one of my favorite episodes, Longworth details how Judy Garland indirectly incited the Stonewall Riots.
The most famous series of episodes and the one that I can’t get out of my head even now, months later, is the twelve-part unraveling of the Manson Murders. Longworth tells of the murders like no one has ever told them before. Every. Single. Detail.
And I won’t lie — it hurt. I cried, hard. But, I also could not stop listening.
My fiancé and I would go on a simple outing to the grocery store and end up parked outside of Fresh Market for a half hour, unable to even turn off the car. (This is the kind of thing I couldn’t listen to on my solo-commutes.)
Longworth shows you every vivid color of these murders and the aura that surrounded them from Charles Manson’s mother, pre-Charlie to his strange and confusing relationship with Dennis Wilson to Sharon Tate’s own tragic history including her controversial marriage and then right to the murders themselves. Every word that was said, the trials, everything.
And, for those who may enjoy little spoilers: the thing that stuck with me all these months, and the thing I think will always be with me had not so much to do with the blood or gore of it all. It had to do with the amazing magic of Sharon Tate, who as it turns out, had a premonition of sorts. She saw Charles Manson before he even conceived the idea of sending his family to her home. And, she knew it — she could sense his evil. This makes me cry harder and it also makes me believe in magic. This podcast is magic.
You Must Remember This runs continuously with the latest episode (Jean and Jane Episode 2) airing as recently as July 3rd. Whether you’re stuck in a monotonous and dreary commute or simply looking to be a little haunted, I highly recommend downloading this podcast.
Kailey Tedesco's books These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese (Dancing Girl Press) and She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publications) are both forthcoming. She is the editor-in-chief of Rag Queen Periodical and a performing member of the Poetry Brothel. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart. You can find her work in Bellevue Literary Review, Hello Giggles, UltraCulture, Poetry Quarterly, and more. For more, please visit kaileytedesco.com.