114: Last Words

114: Last Words

Oct 23, 1998
Stories of people's last words before death. Their one last shot at figuring things out, summing things up. One last moment of asserting the fact of our existence, at the moment of our annihilation.
  • Host Ira Glass reads famous last words from Bing Crosby, Oscar Wilde, W.C. Fields, and talks about what we want from people's last words. (3 minutes) DeathHistory

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  • Sarah Vowell tells the story of Page Smith and Eloise Pickard Smith. They were married for over five decades, and died a day apart. It's a story of people attempting to surround death in a web of words, of very eloquent people and their last words, and of what last words can and cannot accomplish. (13 minutes) DeathMarriage

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  • Forty-five people read Luc Sante's story The Unknown Soldier, in which we hear about people's final moments, final thoughts. (7 minutes)DeathMilitary
    Song:
    • "Who By Fire", Leonard Cohen, performed by House of Love

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  • Writer Greil Marcus explains what rock fans use dead rock stars for. (4 minutes)DeathMusic
    Song:
    • "L'Anarchie Pour le U.K", The Sex Pistols, performed on the accordion

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  • An act about which the less said, the better. (12 seconds)Film/Film Making

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  • We go through transcripts from those black box flight recorders recovered from airplane crashes to see what people say. One pilot declares "I love you" to someone, another is doing his job like always and suddenly says, "uh-oh." It's an interview with Malcolm McPherson, author of The Black Box: All-New Cockpit Voice Recorder Accounts of In-Flight Accidents. (13 minutes) DeathTravel

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  • Writer Tobias Wolff reads his story "Bullet in the Brain" from his collection of stories The Night in Question, about a bank robbery and a man who's shot, and what he thinks about before he dies. (13 minutes) CrimeDeathFiction

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