Chris Rodell [00:00:00]:
Hi. I'm Chris Rodell, author of Use All the Crayons, and these are my stories. Today, we'll be focusing on a story about an escaped prisoner who authorities claim was really hung, and we're not talking capital punishment. Hi. I'm Chris Rodell. I've written stories and features for just about every major magazine or publication in America. This is the Use All The Crayons Podcast where I'll share those colorful stories with you.
Chris Rodell [00:00:27]:
July 2, 1992 to be precise. That's the last time I had a regular job, one with benefits, steady paycheck, etcetera. Being without those foundational staples has been, well, disturbing. I'll never forget the time my wife asked me what I wanted for my 50th birthday. I said I wanted a Bob Doan theme time radio poster. What? She said, are you in the 8th grade? I said, nope. But my office is. It's true. My office has juggling implements, toy soldiers, marbles, and prominently displayed pictures of 3 beautiful girls.
Chris Rodell [00:00:50]:
They're my daughters and wife. All the decor screams in a voice that cracks, “I'm impatient for puberty.” The 8th grade was essential to my development. It was in the 8th grade that I learned that I had a knack for telling stories. I learned I could be funny and that people like funny people. I think my urge to tell stories became acute at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville where I spent hours and hours basking in the storytelling glories of singer songwriters like Don Schlitz, Evan Welsh and Patty Griffin. They were mesmerizing. I doubt I'd have become the writer that I am had I gotten my start in, say, Buffalo or Reno.
Chris Rodell [00:01:19]:
Because it wasn't long after I left Nashville that the National Enquirer came calling. They were the most notorious paper in the country. They paid well and promised a treasure chest of rollicking stories. I'm not one to brag, but in no time, I became their top reporter. I was daring. I was stylish. I was relentless. In fact, in hindsight, it seems the only flaw I had was ahead in the foggiest idea of the definition of the word brag.
Chris Rodell [00:01:39]:
How valuable was I? The fax machine at Inquire HQ had 50 names on the speed dial. I was number 01. With Enquirer I snuck into rehab to interview Courtney Love, created a red carpet frenzy at the opening of the Baltimore Planet Hollywood and was nearly mentioned by name in president Bill Clinton's 98 state of the union address. It wasn't long before I was doing front cover features for PEOPLE, Sports Illustrated, Maxim, Travel and Leisure. All the great magazines from back when magazines were still great. When I started full time freelancing in 92, I was confronted with coming up with a title I could use to describe myself. Some writer friends chose author, editor in chief, president. I chose to call myself ‘storyteller,’ and that's just what I've been doing for 30 years.
Chris Rodell [00:02:17]:
I'm still doing it today. It's my intention to share these with you the very best of these stories. I'll regale you with tales of heroism and cowardice, of kings and fools, love and hate. They're the greatest stories in humanity. My goal is to make you think, feel and imagine. I want nothing less than to get inside your head. Hey. Maybe I'm a brain surgeon after all.
Mike Ciotti [00:02:36]:
Hi. This is Mike with 512 Coffee and Ice Cream, and our colorful tip of the day is number 921: Be a Johnny Nappleseed. Tell friends about studies that showed power nappers experience benefits in both mind and body, and it worked for renowned nappers like Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Leonardo da Vinci.
Chris Rodell [00:03:02]:
A recent manhunt for an escaped Pennsylvania murderer had me recollecting 2 other escapes, both unusual for vastly different reasons. The first was a ‘92 escape by a convicted murder with the goal of playing golf at Pebble Beach. The 2nd involved a guy who apparently was really hung, and I'm not talking capital punishment. Let's today tell the story of the one with the really large penis. It was 2015 when Richard Matt and David Sweat split from a federal prison in Dannemore in upstate New York. The escape prompted 1 detective to issue a kind of description I'd never heard detective Joe Friday give. “hen he's all cleaned up, he's very handsome. And in all frankness, very well endowed,” said retired detective David Bennett of Matt.
Chris Rodell [00:03:39]:
I remember being baffled as to why a detective will release that kind of information. Was he trying to motivate horny women to join the manhunt. The only way I could see it being relevant at all is if Matt had lost his pants during the escape. And just how did Bentley know? All familiar with the convict mugshots that depict the vertical inches of each inmate. We knew there were horizontal ones. I read the quote about 3 times the day I saw it, yet I still had trouble believing what I'd read. Then my buddy, Paul, a veteran newspaper reporter, came into the bar for our Friday puzzle and asked if I had seen the quote. He couldn't believe it either. In context, it was one of the most odd quotes I'd ever read.
Chris Rodell [00:04:10]:
We're both surprised the reporter included the quote and that the editor deemed it newsworthy. As newspaper people, that last point is key. Just what did he mean by very well endowed? Because the only way I could see Bentley's observation being relevant is if it was a really, really big penis. The kind that could be spied on Google Earth. That would change everything. CNN would break in with an alert that read, “New York authorities are on the lookout for an escaped penis that broke through the walls of the Clinton Correctional Facility. The penis is considered to be armed and dangerous. If you see this penis, you're advised to contact authorities, and do not try and capture the penis yourself.”
Chris Rodell [00:04:42]:
What's portrayed on the New York wanted posters? Maybe they'd never dream of putting a really big penis on wanted posters. They realized it wouldn't draw the necessary attention. After all, who doesn't want a really big penis?
Mayor Eric Bartels [00:04:54]:
Hi. I'm mayor Eric Bartels. I've been reading your book, Which is wonderful and I have, several, reading tips. I think I'd start with this one, number 169: Did your mom ever write your name on your undershirt tag? She was years ahead of her time. Mom, inventor of the the original Caller ID. Of course, it reminds me of my own mom and just moms in general or the caretakers in our life who This they they were always looking out for us.
Chris Rodell [00:05:23]:
For the sake of mental convenience, I'm thinking of packing up the family, all our stuff and moving the whole shebang to Newton Falls, Ohio. That way I could age into eventual muddle mindedness in the town that has perhaps the easiest ZIP code to remember in the entire United States. Yep. Welcome to Newton Falls, population 4,892, ZIP code 4444. I don't think the town about 30 minutes west to the dormant smokestacks of Youngstown gets the acclaim it deserves. I'm in the midst of a comprehensive study about ZIP codes for pinheads. It has me wished I lived someplace where my ZIP had some zing.
Chris Rodell [00:05:57]:
Someplace like Seis, Schenectady, New York. ZIP code 12345. We are numerically obsessed nation that shells out precious dollars for vanity license plates and fret whenever the fickle phone company threatens to bump us from our familiar urban area ZIP codes to something less comforting. For the good of the nation, it's time we send the obsession to the humble ZIP code. I think it's time the government began selling ZIP codes to communities that stand a profit from the postal panache. Why for instance is Las Vegas 89123 allows the hand of a phone number if ever there was 1 when it could contribute $1,000,000 to the national cause by paying for the unused ZIP code 77777. Just think how much publicity would get from the news if it paid for those lucky numbers instead of having the ones randomly selected by faceless bureaucrats at the USPO. It's a sure moneymaker in many cities and towns could have contests trying to claim one of the many unused numbers still available.
Chris Rodell [00:06:47]:
And there are plenty of them. Post office uses only 43,000 out of the 100,000 possible 5 digit combinations. Many of the good and obvious ones are still gathering dust on the postal shelf. For instance, four four four four four in Newton Falls is the only 5 of a kind ZIP code in circulation. According to my research, the lowest number in the systems is Ajuntas, Puerto Rico with 00601, which begs the question, what happened to the first 600? Did someone think they'd someday annex Cuba and might need one through 600? The nosebleed award goes to Yucatoka, Alaska with 99589. Imagine the bidding war between Houston and Cape Kennedy over who deserves the available countdown zip of five four three two one. Little Rest, Massachusetts looks like a line of binary code with 01010 and is the lowest aggregate total of any ZIP code because There is no reverse 10101. I could retire to Sunrise, Florida with its full house ZIP code of 33322.
Chris Rodell [00:07:41]:
That'd be easy to remember. These kinds of trivial matters fascinate and distract me. Apparently, it is a ZIP code of enthusiasm I share with few others. I pitched the story to numerous magazines over the past years. And would you like to know how much interest I'd gotten from discerning editors? You guessed it. Zip.
Mayor Eric Bartels [00:07:58]:
I have to say, number 69 as well, in the more serious tone is: Realize how How a good warm hug beats anything you'll find in a medicine cabinet. And one of the things that, being in elected office and as far as trying to communicate to the public just, you know, who we are in Latrobe and and what we're trying to be is this this idea of doing as much as you can for other people. And I try to use that as a mouthpiece to just encourage people that you're a citizen. You live with a lot of other citizens, and and we all need help and encouragement.
Chris Rodell [00:08:38]:
I don't remember writing that. Did you make that up?
Mayor Eric Bartels [00:08:40]:
I did not make That up. It's it's right here. Number 69, Chris.
Chris Rodell [00:08:45]:
Thanks for listening. Follow me on Instagram. Please share this with an aggression that's unbecoming. You can buy crayon signed copies of Use All the Crayons and 5 of the other 10
books I acknowledge writing at chrisrodell.com.