Caption: PRX default Piece image
PRX default Piece image 

The Mayor of Nichols

From: Third Coast International Audio Festival
Length: 34:33

A remembrance of a friend from junior high school who was murdered in 2000 by a chicago policeman

Default-piece-image-2 In 1972, I knew Arthur Earl Hutchinson as an eighth grader, full of beans. In 2000 he was shot by a Chicago policeman and killed. At the time he was described as homeless. I wanted to go back and try and find out what happened to him in the thirty three years since I had last seen him. This piece is a personal remembrance.
Featured on Transom.org. For more information and conversation, visit "The Mayor of Nichols" on Transom.

To hear the full audio, sign up for a free PRX account or log in.

Piece Description

In 1972, I knew Arthur Earl Hutchinson as an eighth grader, full of beans. In 2000 he was shot by a Chicago policeman and killed. At the time he was described as homeless. I wanted to go back and try and find out what happened to him in the thirty three years since I had last seen him. This piece is a personal remembrance.
Featured on Transom.org. For more information and conversation, visit "The Mayor of Nichols" on Transom.

3 Comments Atom Feed

User image

Review of The Mayor of Nichols

Great storytelling, great radio. Makes you think and feel. It's funny and sad. I like Gwen's presence and style, her matter of fact tone and insightful writing.
One of the best things about the piece is how it begins. I was not sure where it was going but I was happy to be on the ride. And then the piece turns. It's a great surprise, and the set-up makes sense and the subject matter becomes more "meaningful." Gwen takes us on a journey (love the stuff about how she could not get editors interested). She starts with herself, single voice, memories of childhood, and it becomes an investigation/ documentary full of other voices, probing questions.
I have two constructive pieces of critique. If I was editing this piece, I would have pushed hard to cut down on the middle/ end segments about the police. The story makes a very distinct shift when the tape of the TV news story is played in its entirety. That tape was too long, and did not add anything to my understanding of the story. And from there the story gets side tracked, to my ears. Not that the hard questions for the police are not really important ones, but I didn't think all the time spent on that was really part of THIS story. I think the time spent on challenging the accounts of the shooting got me off track a bit, took me away from the story/ journey that the producer was on.
Also, music at the end is too dramatic. I had to turn it off. The music made much too strong a comment. The story didn't need that drama to conclude.
Overall though, great, great work and I loved listening.

User image

Review of The Mayor of Nichols

Gwen Macsai remains one of publis radio's great storytellers. Here she gives light to the life of Arthur Earl Hutchinson, her high school friend who died as a homeless man at the hand of police a few years ago. Her story's wordy beginning quickly evolves into a piece of investigative journailism that never forgets that at the heart of the story is a man who touched Gwen'slife as well as the life of many others. The "Mayor" of Nichols Middle School was no saint, but Macsai's tribute/ investigation/ personal essay / documentary portarit of a friend certain makes clear what a blessing his life was to those he touched.

At an odd length of 35:00 will make this program hard to air, but find the time, during a literary block of programming or other spoken word shows.

User image

The Mayor of Nichols Compels

This story works because it accomplishes two things that by themselves might seem simple, but together are difficult to do successfully. First, Gwen tells a story, clearly and confidently, with pacing driven from the obvious chronologies of events - all crossing paths with the life of one homeless individual, Earl Hutchinson. Then she does something that is rare. She tells this story in such a way as to give us all a certain empathy to the story - not necessarily the individual. Those of us "of an age" have these stories in our past. Friends and acquaintances that have dropped off our radar, but who, somehow, pop up now and again in our memories - fond and rich with the clarity of a photograph. This allows us to attach ourselves to the story, relating to it, step by step, saying "Damn, that's sad, and I knew someone just like that." The story is the radio equivalent of a surveyor tying bright orange ribbon to the trees, and stakes, and brush in a field - that field of course is our memory. Those bright flags provide us with markers to measure our own story.

The length of this piece and its narrative tone lend itself to the likes of This American Life, or at least a show with longer-form content. It is compelling, well recorded, and beautifully written.

Broadcast History

This piece aired locally on Re:sound on WBEZ in Chicago.

Transcript

THE MAYOR OF NICHOLS

In 1972 , a girl named Jackie Smith beat me up. She was big, I was little, she was black, I was white, she was in eighth grade, I was in seventh. It wasn't the best way to start my career at a new school in a new town. Obviously I hadn't yet learned the social terrain.
Then Earl Hutchinson came along. I didn't know much about him other than he was bigger than me, older than me and had the air of someone who could take care of himself. One day, before science class, from his seat in the back of the room, he started giving me a hard time. Teasing me. I froze. He looked tough and could easily masacre me if he wanted to. But, he didn't have the air of danger and malice that Jackie did. Then again, I didn't know him from Adam so why risk another confrontation or bodily harm? On the other hand, I was sick of being careful, sick of getting picked on,...
Read the full transcript

Timing and Cues

Running time is 34:32. Ending music comes in (in the clear) at 32:23. Outcue comes in at 33:25 and music ends at 34:32

Musical Works

Kojyo No Tsuki by Taki Rentaro, arranged by Saegusa Sigeaki
The CD is called Salut D'Amour by Anne Akiko Meyers with Sanra Rivers on the BMG label, 1994. The excerpt is 2:20