San Francisco International High School is the city’s only high school exclusively for recently arrived immigrants. But you can also think of it as a factory.
Today’s story is about a very bad smell: the smell of butt crack with a hint of dead animals, to quote its inventors. Is it actually the world’s worst smell? Hard to say for certain, but it’s gotta be up there.
One morning last year, Bryan Bashin sat down to check his email. One peculiarly short note caught his attention.
“A businessman has passed away. I think you might want to talk to us,” it read.
In this story, we meet Frankie as he sprints away from his history of mental illness and toward the “normal” life he always wanted. Along the way, we meet a man who got sucked into an underwater pipe, clutching a bag of lobsters.
Surfing big waves is both bliss and conflict for New Yorker correspondent William Finnegan. His Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, Barbarian Days, describes a decades-long tension between a grounded, responsible life on land, and an open, fanatical life riding waves. Travel with us to the cliffs of Oahu, where Finnegan's passion for waves began, and where his sea-land dilemma continues.
Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen takes us to Southern California's Little Saigon, known for its strip malls and tract homes. There, Nguyen unearths a culture that is firmly set in the U.S. but always looking over its shoulder to Vietnam.
Novelist Daniel José Older grew up devouring the sci-fi horror classics of HP Lovecraft. But as a mixed-race kid, Older was torn between fandom for Lovecraft's stories, and resentment over the way people of color and immigrants were so often portrayed. In this episode, Older introduces us to his Brooklyn neighborhood--the setting for Half-Resurrection Blues, and a community of paranormal fans who are reinventing the genre.
What happens when a city girl from Los Angeles unexpectedly inherits 800 acres of sugarcane in southern Louisiana? Join author Natalie Baszile – along with former sugarcane farmer Rene Simon and other trusted sources – as she rediscovers her southern roots and mines the landscape for her novel Queen Sugar; the inspiration for the Oprah Winfrey Network TV show.
Many material trifles, such as Silly Putty, started as attempts at serious inventions, but in rare cases, the process works in reverse: something developed as a gag gift can turn into something truly heroic. Invented by high school prankster Allen Wittman using a home chemistry set, the “worst smell in the world” began as a novelty but eventually came to serve a higher purpose.