Books & Podcasts


Being alive is hard.

Sometimes, all I want is for my brain to turn off, if just for a couple hours.

To date, besides drinking (cheers to turning 21), the best form of escapism that I’ve discovered is reading.

Also, rumor has it that it makes you a more empathetic (and maybe even smarter) person.

Podcasts are my second choice for beating back the ever-present threat of being alone with my thoughts.

Also, they can be listened to in the car or while you clean, which makes them convenient.

For the first edition of my new column, we focus on one of my absolute favorite podcasts in the world, “The Last Podcast on the Left.”

“Last” focuses on the “true horrors” of life, a phrase that the hosts use to describe subject matter from serial killers to alien abductions and mass murders.

Fret not, dear reader, the hosts manage against all odds to take extremely serious and grotesque subject matter and make it easy to swallow.

Okay, maybe not “easy to swallow,” but palatable enough that you can probably eat or go to bed after an episode without feeling like a gross human being.

I discovered the podcast five years ago when I was going through a huge true-crime phase.

I was having issues digesting copious amounts of dark, depressing material even though I was interested in it.

What was a girl to do?

Enter the “Last” podcast.

Ben Kissel is the political activist whose presence on the show represents the “everyday man.” He also tends to make a lot of dad jokes.      

Marcus Parks is the tireless researcher and defacto leader of the group, who also collects bones in his spare time.

Henry Zebrowski is the weed-loving, UFOlogist actor who can probably do an impression of anyone in the world.

“The Boys,” as some fans affectionately call them, combine their various talents into producing one damn good podcast. It’s no wonder why they are the tenth most-listened-to podcast on iTunes.

One important thing to note is that even though some of the jokes can push the envelope – and it’s a crude and profanity-filled show – the hosts do not make fun of the victims or their families.

The Boys do not “worship” the criminals or think that they are cool or admirable, as some true-crime hosts tend to do.

I knew that I had found a gem when I started listening to them, but that fact really hit home on the Henry Lee Lucas episodes.

The hosts got word that one of their fans, Cooper, had committed suicide after a lifelong struggle with depression.

Marcus got choked up while giving the news, and all of them urged fans who might be struggling to get help or talk to someone.

Overall, the podcast is in-your-face, dark and raunchy.

It is also intelligent, well researched and at times very heartfelt.

So, give it a try and listen to an episode.

In the words of Ben, Marcus and Henry, “Hail yourselves.”