Writer David Sedaris's true account of two Christmas seasons he spent working as an elf at Macy's department store in New York. When a shorter version of this story first aired on NPR's Morning Edition, it generated more tape requests than any story in the show's history to that point.
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David Rakoff tells about his experience playing Sigmund Freud in the window of upscale Barney's department store in Manhattan. For Christmas. This was the first of dozens of appearances on our show by David Rakoff, who died in 2012.
Writer Sandra Tsing Loh on how she staged stunts to get press attention. She was wildly successful, featured in the Wall Street Journal, NPR, People Magazine, CNN, and in a Tonight Show monologue.
Scott Carrier took a job in commercial radio working for a network correspondent he refers to as "The Friendly Man." Every story was supposed to be upbeat, a tale of people coming together in the heartwarming spirit of community. And every story they sent him on turned out to be a sham.
Sarah Vowell on the joy of making mix tapes of your favorite songs to send to loved ones. She spots an ad for someone who makes them for money. "Prostitute," she thinks.
LuAnne Johnson is a teacher who sold her story to Hollywood and saw it made into the film and TV series Dangerous Minds, in which a character named LuAnne Johnson does things the real LuAnne believes are unethical and silly.
Carmen Delzell on a deal she made with the devil when she turned 30.
An interview with Vampire Girl.
Ira Glass worked for NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered for seventeen years, and shares a few thoughts on the devices he and his colleagues used to simulate the real world on those shows.
Host Ira Glass on his relationship to his job, and your relationship to yours.
Radio producer Scott Carrier quit his job at a low moment in his life. His wife left him and took the kids.
The story of the worst stateside disaster during World War II, at Port Chicago, an ammunition dump for the navy just north of San Francisco. Black workers were assigned to load ammo onto ships under such unsafe conditions that on July 17, 1944, two ships blew up, killing 320 men.
Even the most innocent office job can take over your life. A story by fiction writer Daniel Orozco about one such job.
Ira meets the workers of the Wiener Circle; they're screaming and cursing at each other, and the customers, and they actually seem really happy. And then we meet some of the customers.
Playwright and contributor Beau O'Reilly talks about a more typical relationship between restaurant and customer.
Radio producer Dan Gediman's story about his older brother, "Alex Jones," who he idolized when they were kids. After many unsuccessful attempts to become a rock star, he finally made it in music, as a Tom Jones impersonator.
Ira with Sam Franco, a 72-year-old Chicagoan who spent his life playing and teaching accordion. He never became famous.
Ira talks about one of the purest expressions of ordinary folks' desire to be detectives: a child's detective notebook — full of information, secret codes, cases, and an application to become an FBI agent.
Ira went out on surveillance with a real private eye in Chicago expecting it to be drudge work with none of the glamour of movie detectives. He was wrong.
Navy Pier's renovation was presented as a success in last week's show, but recent press reveals that the pier is bleeding money. WBEZ personality Aaron Freeman and his kids take Ira on a tour of the pier, looking at it from a child's perspective.
Temporary employment agencies' business has exploded in the last few years as corporations lay off their full-time employees, especially technical workers. This American Life "hired" two temp workers, Lee and Tito, to document their experiences as temps. Ira invites Tito and Lee into the studio to spin some music "appropriate" for temp employees.
Poet/performer Lisa Buscani tells a story about her father.
Ira takes a look at the remarkably successful $156 million renovation of Chicago's Navy Pier. He talks with seven employees working at the businesses on the pier.
Who are the people we remember as significant figures from our childhood? What is their hold on our imaginations as we age? Ira visits McCosh Elementary on Chicago's South Side, where a man everyone calls "Mr. Lewis" is the surrogate dad for hundreds of kids — a nearly mythic figure.