Browse our archive by

Prologue

Sean Cole explains why he decided that he would speak with a British accent—morning, noon and night—from the age of sixteen until he was eighteen...and how he believed the lie that he was British must be true.

Prologue

When Alexa was seven, she started going through her grandfather's books. Her grandfather was a playwright and teacher, and through the books—and especially through his notes in the margins—she entered the world of 1930's American theater.

Act Two: Brothers Of Different Mothers

In this act we hear two stories of people who stumbled upon a place where they instantly and instinctively felt more at home than in their real homes. Stephen Dubner, author of the memoir Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family, talks about an encounter with a Jewish man named Irving that changed his life.

Prologue

When Adam and Jamie were kids, Jamie would always ask for Adam's advice, but he didn't want to hear what Adam would say himself. Instead, he wanted Adam to pretend to be an Israeli commando he once knew, named Yakov.

Act Four: Ritual

Camp Lake of the Woods holds a fake Indian powwow during the summer. This kind of fake Native American-ness has been a part of camping in America since organized camping began a century ago.

Act Two: Fists And Guns

Geoffrey Canada, author of the book Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America, talks about what it's like to carry a gun. He also talks about what poor neighborhoods in New York were like before the proliferation of handguns among young people.  When he grew up in the South Bronx, kids had fistfights in a very formal arrangement with formal rules that everyone lived by. He reads from his book and talks with Ira.

Act One: Duki

When Danielle's family serves poultry at their dinner table, no one utters the word "chicken." Instead, it is always called "fish." Danielle explains why with the help of her friend "Duki." (16 minutes)

Prologue

Ira talks about one of the purest expressions of ordinary folks' desire to be detectives: a child's detective notebook — full of information, secret codes, cases, and an application to become an FBI agent.

Act Two: Fan Dance

Barbara Adams, a former member of the Whitewater trial jury, showed up for jury duty wearing a full-scale costume from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Ira dissects a discussion on an Internet mailing list about fandom, inspired by Adams' celebrity. Also: Temple University professor Cindy Patton's childhood infatuation with G.I.

Act One: Dave's Love

Bob and Dave were close childhood friends — until their relationship began to lead their peers to believe that it might be more than a friendship. The accusations led to Dave turning on Bob.

Prologue

Susan Bergman's father was a family man, head of the church choir, and, secretly, having sex with men. He died before his children had a chance to really talk to him about what they should make of his hidden life.