184- Rajneeshpuram

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Indian philosopher and mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh had a vision: he would build a Utopian city from the ground up, starting with 64,000 acres of muddy ranchland in rural Oregon. Purchased in 1981, this expanse was to become both a fully-functional urban center and a spiritual mecca for his followers from around the world. For this plan to work Rajneesh and his red-clad devotees (known as “sannyasins”) needed autonomous authority with which to construct their paradise. Rajneeshpuram


183- Dead Letter Office

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

When something is lost in the mail, it feels like it has disappeared into the ether, like it was sucked into a black hole, like it no longer exists. But, it turns out, a lot of the mail we think is lost is actually in a designated place. The USPS Mail Recovery Center is the contemporary name for the Dead Letter Office. It’s where our lost mail ends up. And eventually, if our mail doesn’t find its way back to its rightful owner, it’s auctioned off to the highest bidder. Samara Freemark is reporter at APM’s American RadioWorks. Dead Letter Office


182- A Sweet Surprise Awaits You

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On the night of March 30, 2005, the Powerball jackpot was 25 million dollars. The grand prize winner was in Tennessee, but all over the United States, one hundred and ten second-place winners came forward. Normally just three or four players guess all but the last digit and claim a secondary prize, but this time something was clearly different. Lottery officials were flustered, unsure if there was a computer glitch or a hack in the system, but when they asked the winners how they picked their numbers each had the same response: from a fortune cookie. What we call Chinese food (including the fortune-filled cookies) has become an integral part of the American culture and cuisine, with a complex history that dates back to the 19th Century. A Sweet Surprise Awaits You


181- Milk Carton Kids

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

On a Sunday morning in 1982, in Des Moines, Iowa, Johnny Gosch left his house to begin his usual paper route. A short time later, his parents were awakened by a phone call–it was a neighbor—their paper hadn’t come. When the Goschs went looking for Johnny they found only his red wagon full of newspapers, abandoned on the sidewalk. Johnny Gosch was 13 when he disappeared. He had blue eyes and dirty blond hair with a small gap between his front teeth. And his would be the first face of a missing child ever printed on a milk carton. Reporter Annie Brown spoke with Noreen Gosch, mother of Johnny Gosch and author of the Johnny Gosch Bill; Barbara Huggett of the National Child Safety Council; Paul Mokrzycki-Renfro, historian at the University of Iowa; and Bonnie Lohman, who was found through the milk carton campaign. Milk Carton Kids


180- Reefer Madness

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

There are around 6,000 cargo vessels out on the ocean right now, carrying 20,000,000 shipping containers, which are delivering most of the products you see around you. And among all the containers are a special subset of temperature-controlled units known in the global cargo industry, in all seriousness, as reefers. 70% of what we eat passes through the global cold chain, a series of artificially-cooled spaces, which is where the reefer comes into play. For this story, Nicola Twilley, reporter and founder of Edible Geography, spoke with Barbara Pratt, Director of Refrigerated Services at Maersk. Reefer Madness


179- Bathysphere

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

In 1860, a chance find at sea forever changed our understanding of marine habitats, sparking an unprecedented push to explore a new world of possibilities far below the surface of our planet’s oceans. Deep sea life, previously thought possible down to a maximum depth of 1,800 feet, was found in the form of creatures attached to a transatlantic telegraph cable. Raised for repair from its resting place some 6,000 feet down on the ocean floor, the line was covered with marine species. This paradigm-shifting revelation sparked the public’s imagination, fueled global scientific research and propelled the eventual development of new submarine vessels, including the record-breaking Bathysphere.


178- The Great Restoration

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Stirling, Scotland is the home of Stirling Castle, which sits atop a giant crag, or hill, overlooking the whole town of Stirling. There has been a castle on that hill since the 12th century at least, and maybe before, but the current buildings date from the 15th and 16th centuries. When we think of medieval castles we usually picture a grand structure, with subdued, dark stone masonry. But when you gaze upon Stirling Castle today from the town below, you will notice that one of the buildings is different from the others. Since 1999, after a decade long restoration effort that altered the building inside and out, the Great Hall of Stirling Castle has been a bright, cheery yellow. But not everyone in Stirling is happy about that. The Great Restoration Plus, we’re featuring an episode from our Radiotopia sister, The Allusionist. Enjoy!


177- Lawn Order

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In communities across America, lawns that are brown or overgrown are considered especially heinous. Elite squads of dedicated individuals have been deputized by their local governments or homeowners’ associations to take action against those whose lawns fail to meet community standards. Call them—lawn enforcement agents. There’s a paradox to the lawn. On the one hand, it is the pedestal on which sits the greatest symbol of the American Dream, the home, which people can ostensibly govern however they wish. And yet—homeowner often have almost no control over how they should maintain their lawn. Grass may be a plant, but a lawn is a designed object. Lawn Order


176- Hard to Love a Brute

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

No matter which James Bond actor is your favorite, it’s undeniable that the Sean Connery films had the best villains. There’s Blofeld, who turned cat-stroking into a thing that super-villains do, and then there’s Goldfinger—Bond’s flashiest nemesis. Fun fact: the author of the James Bond books, Ian Fleming, named Goldfinger for a real person—an architect by the name of Ernő Goldfinger, who made giant, hulking, austere concrete buildings. Fleming disliked these buildings so intensely that he immortalized their architect as a villain in pop culture. This divide—this hatred from the public and love from designers and architects, tends to be the narrative around buildings like Goldfinger’s. Which is to say, gigantic, imposing buildings made of concrete.


175- The Sunshine Hotel

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Bowery, in lower Manhattan, is one of New York’s oldest neighborhoods. It’s been through a lot of iterations. In the 1650s, a handful of freed slaves were the neighborhood’s first residents. At the time, New York was still a Dutch colony called New Amsterdam, and the Lower East Side was farm land. In the early 1800s, The Bowery had become a bustling thoroughfare with elegant theaters, and taverns, and shops. But by the late 1800s it had become a much seedier place, full of saloons, and dance halls, and prostitution. By the 1940s, The Bowery had become New York’s skid row—a place where down-and-out men could go and rent a cheap room for the night in one of the neighborhood’s many flop houses. Now, of course, Lower Manhattan affords no room for a skid row. The Bowery, like the rest of that area, is full of expensive places to live, and fancy grocery stores. But back in 1998, before the last of the flop hotels closed their doors, David Isay and Stacy Abramson spent months documenting one of the last of these places: The Sunshine Hotel.


174- From the Sea, Freedom

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

In 1933, delegates from the United States and fourteen other countries met in Montevideo, Uruguay to define what it means to be a state. The resulting treaty from the Montevideo Convention established four basic criteria for statehood—essentially, what is required to be recognized as a country. The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: 1. A defined territory 2. A permanent population 3. A government 4. Capacity to enter into relations with the other states Over time, some people got to thinking that the criteria for becoming a state seemed surprisingly simple. So simple, that some attempted to declare their house an independent country. So-called “micronations” popped up around the world. Most of these micronations aren’t expecting anyone to take them seriously, and many don’t even meet all four criteria laid out at the Montevideo Convention. But one micronation, The Principality of Sealand, cannot be dismissed so easily.


173- Awareness

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

By the late 1980s, AIDS had been in the United States for almost a decade. AIDS had be the number one killer of young men in New York City, then of young men in the country, then of young men and women in the country. Despite the gravity of the AIDS crisis, in the late 1980s there was little public acknowledgement of AIDS. A group of artists in Manhattan decided to change that. New York artist Patrick O’Connel would spend days visiting friends in the hospital, going to funerals, and coming home to a panicked answering machine message from friends who just learned they were sick. O’Connel and other artists banded together and started making art in response to AIDS. In 1988 they began calling their collective Visual AIDS. Visual AIDS held public events and organized gallery shows to raise AIDS awareness. But of all the work the group did, they made their biggest impact with a simple little symbol. A little concept that, at the time, was very novel: The AIDS awareness ribbon.


172- On Location

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

So many classic movies have been made in downtown Los Angeles. Though many don’t actually take place in downtown Los Angeles. L.A. has played almost every city in the world, thanks to its diverse landscape and architectural variety, but particular buildings just keep coming back on screen again and again. The Bradbury Building, for instance, is arguably the biggest architectural movie star in all of Los Angeles. Avery Trufelman goes On Location


171- Johnnycab (Automation Paradox, Pt. 2)

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

More than 90% of all automobile accidents are all attributable to human error, for some car industry people, a fully-automated car is a kind of holy grail. However, as automation makes our lives easier and safer, it also creates more complex systems, and fewer humans who understand those systems. Which means when problems do arise—people can be left unable to deal with them. Human factors engineers call this “the automation paradox.” Sam Greenspan gets under the hood of our potential future dominated by the “Johnnycab“.


170- Children of the Magenta (Automation Paradox, pt. 1)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

On the evening of May 31, 2009, 216 passengers, three pilots, and nine flight attendants boarded an Airbus 330 in Rio de Janeiro. This flight, Air France 447, was headed across to Paris. Everything proceeded normally for several hours. Then, with no communication to the ground to or air traffic control, Flight 447 suddenly disappeared. Days later, several bodies and some pieces of the plane were found floating in the Atlantic Ocean. But it would be two more years before most of the wreckage was recovered from the ocean’s depths. All 228 people on board had died. The cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorders, however, were intact, and these recordings told a story about how Flight 447 ended up in the bottom of the Atlantic. They told a story of a communication breakdown between the pilots and the plane’s automation. Children of the Magenta (Automation Paradox, pt. 1)


169- Freud’s Couch

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sigmund Freud’s ground-breaking techniques and theories for therapy came to be called “psychoanalysis,” and it was embodied, in practice and popular culture, by a single piece of furniture: the couch. Producer Ann Hepperman explores the role of this canonical object in the theory of the mind that changed the world.


168- All In Your Head

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

People who make horror movies know: if you want to scare someone, use scary music. Some of the most creative use of music and sound to evoke fear and anxiety is on the TV show Hannibal. Hrishikesh Hirway of Song Exploder spoke with evolutionary biologist Dan Blumstein, Hannibal executive producer David Slade, and composer Brian Reitzell. Bonus: To celebrate the addition of Song Exploder to Radiotopia, we’re playing Roman’s favorite episode of the program, featuring John Roderick of The Long Winters “exploding” his masterpiece “The Commander Thinks Aloud.” All In Your Head


167- Voices in the Wire

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

This week on 99% Invisible, we have two stories about the early days of broadcasting and home sound recording, produced by Radio Diaries and the Kitchen Sisters. The sounds that came out Frank Conrad’s Garage in 1919 and 1920 are gone. There were no recordings made, and everyone who participated in his audio experiments have died. In this piece, Radio Diaries uncovers what might have happened in Frank Conrad’s garage, where some people say modern broadcasting began. The first portable audio recorder was made in 1945 by a man named Tony Schwartz. He moved the VU meter from inside of the unit to the top, so he could see the recording volume. And, he put a strap on it so that he could hang the device over his shoulder. Armed with his recorder (and sometimes a secret microphone attached to his wrist), Schwartz chronicled every sound in his Manhattan neighborhood. He recorded children singing songs in the park, street festival music, jukeboxes in restaurants, vendors peddling vegetables, and more than 700 conversations with cab drivers, just to name a few examples. The Kitchen Sisters have his story.


166- Viva La Arquitectura!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

On January 3rd, 1961, Che Guevara suggested to Fidel Castro that they go play a round of golf. They drove out to what was then the ritziest, most elite country club in Havana. It was empty—almost all the members had fled during the revolution—and Fidel and Che romped around the bucolic green acres while their official photographer snapped publicity shots. As they played, they realized that the grounds of the country club were spectacular. They knew they had to do something with the property. There, with golf clubs in hand, they decided they would build an art school. Viva La Arquitectura!


165- The Nutshell Studies

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore, Maryland is a busy place. Anyone who dies unexpectedly in the state of Maryland will end up there for an autopsy. On an average day, they might perform twelve autopsies; on more hectic day, they might do more than twenty. But there’s one room on the fourth floor that sits apart from the buzz of normal activity. It feels a bit like an art gallery. This room houses the “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.”