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Prologue

A few years back, when he and his family were driving home from a vacation in Texas, John Nova Lomax realized that the police were aggressively tailing him. And he was definitely not prepared for the reason they pulled him over.

Prologue

Ira tells what happened this week to Dan Curry in Odessa Texas on Wednesday, to eight-year-old Ruby Melman on Sunday in New Jersey, to Beau O'Reilly at a bike store in Chicago on Saturday, to Theodosha Alexander at the World Trade Center site on Thursday, to Dr. Wade Gordon in Afghanistan on Thursday, to a high school class at the Grand Canyon on Wednesday, and at a bar in New York City on Saturday.

Act One

Host Ira Glass describes scenes from a rest stop on the New York State Thruway, the Plattekill Travel Plaza, and the kind of people you might meet if you ever stayed long enough to talk with them. These include Robert Woodhill, the general manager, who needs a good sales day so he can beat his friend Andy, who manages a rest stop in Maine, in their weekly competition.

Act One: In the Event of An Emergency

In the middle of the news coverage of Hurricane Rita, newscasts broke into their coverage to show JetBlue flight 292, with its landing gear stuck in the wrong direction. For hours, the plane circled over the exurbs of Los Angeles to burn off fuel before it attempted an emergency landing.

Prologue

Ira tells the story about how Scott first got into radio. He was listening to a story on the radio one day, thought "I can do that," and promptly hitchhiked across the country to Washington, to the headquarters of NPR.

Act Three: Notes From A Native Daughter

Is Paris still the racially tolerant place that Richard Wright and James Baldwin discovered in the 1940s? Janet McDonald talks about whether African-Americans are still welcomed in Paris so warmly, even after a half century of African migration to the city. Also: Why it's sometimes better for her to put on a bad American accent.

Prologue

Three days into the beginning of the new millenium, Kahari Mosley and Garcia Suzinko left home to do something they'd never done before: They took a twelve-hour bus ride to New Hampshire to volunteer for a Presidential campaign. What they saw...and what moved them to volunteer in the first place.

Act One: Exodus

These teenagers are the children the Christian right has in mind when it holds conferences on what's at stake in America's culture war. On the fourteen-hour drive to West Virginia, we listen to the Backstreet Boys and talk about Dawson's Creek. One of the things that's so interesting about these teenagers is the odd mix of Christian and secular pop in their lives.

Prologue

Amy McGuiness flies tourists to the North Pole who pay thousands of dollars for the privilege. When you get to the Pole, it looks exactly like all the other ice you've been staring at for hours.

Act One: Ishtar Days, Arabian Nights

John Bowe decided to visit a friend of his who was in the peace corp in Mali, in West Africa. But he chose the most difficult possible route to get there.

Prologue

The story of the lengths a father will go to to retrieve a lost teddy bear, and why—after he's enlisted many other parents to help him wade through tens of thousands of bags of trash to find it—none of the parents involved think he's nuts.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass with Eddy Harris. The first time Eddie set foot in a black nation in Africa, a man at the border found out he was an American—a black American—and said "Welcome home." But Eddy Harris says the Motherland doesn't really feel much like home.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks about the Four Corners tourist monument where Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico meet. He proposes creating our own little monument to America: a four corners show depicting life on four street corners across this great nation.

Act Five: Black Box

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.