We begin our show with the most idealistic notion of Santa. Mike Paterniti heads on a quest across the country, looking for something we've lost, when it comes to Santa.
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Students in a French language class in Paris try to explain holiday customs to a woman from Morocco, and somehow everything they describe sounds utterly improbable. A true story from writer David Sedaris, recorded before a live audience at a reading for City Arts and Lectures in San Francisco.
This American Life host Ira Glass and producer Susan Burton spent a week in August recording a suburban Chicago youth group at every stage of their very first mission trip. The teenagers were from Covenant Presbyterian Church in Chicago.
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.
The teenagers arrive in West Virginia and take a look around.
We end our show with a story of city life and the natural world co-existing peacefully. Iggy Scam went on a mission seeking urban fisherman—guys who throw down fishing poles right down in the middle of the big city, often in the most polluted industrial environments possible.
Writer Meghan Daum goes to DeSmet, South Dakota, where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived and where many of the books she wrote in the Little House on the Prairie series are set. It turns out to be remarkably similar to what Meghan had pictured before she went: The people seem like they are genuinely trying to hold on to the values Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about in her books.
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.
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.
It can be frightening to get lost, but what if you could adapt the thrill of being lost, the pleasure of being lost, to safe parameters? Just get a little lost. Is it even possible? Or is that playing with fire, where you're sure to get burned? Writer David Sedaris has these thoughts.
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.
Photographer Joel Meyerowitz decided to go on a last big trip with his father Hy, who has Alzheimer's. Joel also brought his own son.
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.
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.
How fundamentalist Christians and Orthodox Jews are combining forces to breed a perfect red cow that could bring about the end of the world. Ira talks with cattleman and minister Clyde Lott, and with New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright.
This is a story of a father and son—told by the son, Juan Zaldivar, who was born in Cuba. Juan has spent the past four years shooting a movie about his father, to try to reassure him that he did the right thing to leave Cuba with his family in the 1980s and come to America.
Host Ira Glass with Robert Lundin, who talks about a time in his life when he felt too alive, and how much more sane he feels now, though his life is less exciting.