At the first day assembly, the freshman seem confused and nervous while the seniors are boisterous and confident. It's exactly the kind of first day stuff you'd expect at any school.
Reporter Alex Kotlowitz spends time in the social work office, where the effects of gun violence are most often apparent. Early on in the year, social worker Crystal Smith spends time with a junior named Devonte, talking him through his grief and guilt after Devonte accidentally shot and killed his 14 year old brother last year.
Ira talks with UC Davis Professor Kathy Stuart about a macabre trend that dates back to 17th and 18th century Europe. It seems that in order to avoid eternal damnation for the sin of committing suicide, a number of people began committing murder for the express purpose of turning themselves in, confessing their sins to a priest in order to be blessed and forgiven before being executed.
An estate attorney in Rhode Island discovers the investor's Holy Grail: a financial scheme that guarantees only reward and no risk. All upside with no downside.
Host Ira Glass talks to someone who escaped from the twin towers with a minute to spare and someone who lost her husband on 9/11. Both say they try to avoid 9/11 commemorations.
Marian Fontana, whose husband was a firefighter who died on 9/11, originally appeared on our show in 2005. Ira talks with Marian today, about what has changed for her over the last 10 years.
Michael Ian Black reads an excerpt from his book You're Not Doing It Right, about his dad and about being a dad. Michael hosts the podcast How To Be Amazing.
Actor Michael Chernus reads Etgar Keret's short story "What Of This Goldfish Would You Wish?" in which a young man decides to make a documentary about the secret longings of everyday Israelis. But he's not prepared for what he sees in the house of a man named Sergei.
Allen Wigington, former Chief Deputy at the Pickens County Sheriff's department, now magistrate judge, tells the story a soldier killed in Iraq—Specialist David Collins—arriving back home in Georgia to be buried.
Planet Money's Chana Joffe-Walt has this story about a really ambitious million dollar idea: Getting people to see the good side of death. Planet Money is a collaboration between NPR and This American Life.
There is a four mile long bridge in Naan-jing China, famous for how many people jump off to commit suicide. In 2003, a man named Chen Sah began spending all of his weekends on the bridge, trying to single handedly stop the jumpers.
In the Middle East, hundreds and hundreds of tunnels connect the Gaza strip and Egypt, allowing supplies to bypass the Israeli blockade against Hamas-controlled Gaza. Producer Nancy Updike speaks with Ira about the tunnels, and plays tape from an interview she conducted with a tunnel owner.
Rebecca was 16 years old when her mother Elizabeth died of cancer. But before she died, she wrote letters to Rebecca, to be given to her on her birthday each year for thirteen years.
Shalom Auslander knows his next door neighbor will die in 2010. He's the author, most recently, of the memoir Foreskin's Lament.
Dan Savage points a finger at the Catholic Church for being the kind of criminal organization that drives him to atheism—despite the fact that he still wants to believe he'll see his mom in heaven someday. Dan writes the sex advice column Savage Love and is the author of several books including The Commitment.
Kathie Russo's husband was Spalding Gray, who was best known for delivering monologues onstage—like "Monster in a Box," and "Swimming to Cambodia." On January 10, 2004, he went missing. Witnesses said they saw him on the Staten Island Ferry that night.
For some people, the fear of sleep is linked to the fear of death. We hear from some of them.
One day at church camp, David Maxon challenged the devil to show himself. Just then, a huge thunderstorm started, and David felt sure the devil was behind it.
Everyone told Darin Strauss that there would have been no way to avoid hitting the bicyclist who swerved into the path of his car. When the girl died, the police said Darin wasn't at fault.
In the late 1960s, a California TV repairman named Bob Nelson joined a group of enthusiasts who believed they could cheat death with a new technology called cryonics. But freezing dead people so scientists can reanimate them in the future is a lot harder than it sounds.
When Sarah was 10 years old, she got a heart transplant. Soon after, her mother decided to find out more about the person who saved her daughter's life.
When Francois Mitterand knew he was about to die, he decided that the last food to cross his lips would be poultry...a tiny bird that is actually illegal to eat in France. It's a bird that, by tradition, is eaten with a napkin covering your head.
A story about a mother who wants to commit suicide and a son who dutifully helps her do it—even though his mother is a happy, healthy, independent person. How did they manage to pull it off? Practice, practice, practice.