Our Fall Issue takes one day at a time, with new stories unfolding over a week. Each day, we invite you to do one simple thing — reach out to someone you miss, take a walk, turn down the lights — and participate at your own pace.
Take Your Seat
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
For the premiere of our Fall Issue, we bring you three stories by writer Aida Osman (Big Mouth, Betty, Keep It!), filmmakers Vanessa Carr and Josh Gleason, and artist Christine Sun Kim (maybe you saw her sign at the Super Bowl?). Together, they will dare you to not laugh, reimagine the meaning of home, and change the way you see everything — including our show.
Turn Off the Lights
This story is best watched in the dark, under a blanket.
Following his deeply personal HBO special, The Golden One, comedian Whitmer Thomas revisits another childhood memory: the time he — a 10-year-old skater boy — had to fake his way through Boy Scout camp for a summer. It’s a story full of heart and humor, brought to life with fantastical shadow puppetry and a synth-infused score by the Emmy Award–winning Manual Cinema.
Write a letter
Write to someone you miss and drop your message in the mail. Members receive an exclusive set of postcards designed with love by our award-winning art department. Learn more and join us.
Dear Pen Pal
When writer Rachel Syme (The New Yorker) offered to set up pen pals during quarantine, she didn’t expect to spend months pairing thousands of people from around the world. The results have been surprising, hilarious, and heartwarming.
Take a Walk
Grab your headphones (and your mask), step outside, and start walking.
Actress Jenny Slate, Anna Sale (Death, Sex & Money), Antwan Williams (Ear Hustle), author and radio host Lulu Miller, writer Sam Jay (Saturday Night Live), and more invite you to look around and imagine as they share walking stories — profound, unexpected, moving, and life-changing. Available wherever you get your podcasts or as text. Members get access to a longer walk, with additional voices including authors Rebecca Solnit and Davy Rothbart, photographer Jamel Shabbaz, and more. Learn more and join us.
Call an Elder
Do you know someone with a lifetime’s worth of stories to share? Give them a call, hit record, and listen.
Filmmaker and photographer Adrian Burrell has been documenting his family’s life in West Oakland since high school. Now, he’s turning his lens on the woman it all started with: his 94-year-old grandmother. Since migrating to Oakland from Jim Crow Louisiana in 1945, she has had 16 children, 58 grandchildren, 112 great-grandchildren, and 158 great-great-grandchildren.
Music by Damani Rhodes
Join Our Community
Support our work with an annual membership! Members receive exclusive products like a beautifully designed set of postcards to go along with our story on pen pals, access to an extended cut of our walking story, a playlist of lullabies curated by Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, early access to tickets for our live touring show, limited-edition artwork, and more.Become a Member
Adrian L. Burrell (“Mama’s Babies”) is a multidisciplinary storyteller who uses film, photography, and other media to explore race, class, gender, and intergenerational dynamics. An Oakland native, he’s earned his B.F.A. in film from the San Francisco Art Institute and is currently working on an M.F.A. at Stanford. If you’re in the Bay Area, check out his latest multimedia installation, also featuring his grandmother, which debuts at SFMOMA in December. Follow Adrian on instagram at @1.living.
Vanessa Carr (“Nomads”) has worked as a director of photography for a decade, filming documentaries and series for PBS, HBO, Disney+, Showtime, FX, and others. She holds a master’s in journalism from UC Berkeley. Nomads is her first feature documentary as a director.
Josh Gleason (“Nomads”) is a documentary filmmaker whose work has been screened at festivals across the country and featured in The Atlantic. He’s directed and produced programs for PBS, including episodes of American Experience and Finding Your Roots. You can watch his short documentary The Believer here.
Christine Sun Kim (“[Closer Captions]”) explores the conceptual aspect of sound by connecting it to acts of drawing, painting, and performance. Her projects include using the audience’s voice as her own, conducting a group of people to “sing” with facial movements, and composing visual scores with sign language and musical symbols. Check out her piece in The New York Times about performing at the Super Bowl.
Manual Cinema (“Scout’s Honor”) is a performance collective, design studio, and production company founded in 2010 by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Ben Kauffman, Julia Miller, and Kyle Vegter. They combine handmade puppetry and innovative sound and music to create immersive stories for stage and screen. Don’t miss their puppet animations in the remake of Candyman, directed by Nia DaCosta, which debuts next year.
Aida Osman (“How to Laugh When Nothing Is Funny”) is a comedian, a writer for Netflix’s Big Mouth and HBO’s Betty, and a co-host of Keep It!, a podcast from Crooked Media. If you laughed watching this story, we highly recommend Aida’s Instagram and Twitter.
Rachel Syme (“Dear Pen Pal”) is a staff writer for The New Yorker, where she has covered fashion, style, and other cultural subjects since 2012. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Elle, Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, and on NPR. Her #Penpalooza hashtag is a rare spot of joy on the internet, too.
Whitmer Thomas (“Scout’s Honor”) is a comedian from Gulf Shores, Alabama, currently living in Los Angeles. He recently made his first stand-up comedy/music/documentary special for HBO: Whitmer Thomas: The Golden One. Whit’s favorite band is Blink 182.
Artists & Musicians
Annelise Capossela (“Dear Pen Pal”) is an award-winning illustrator living and working in New York City. She’s illustrated for The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair and has created images and motion work for books, comics, advertising, and more. With her work, and in teaching, Annelise’s focus is on art with purpose, story, and heart. Originally from Vermont, Annelise spends every free moment she can in the mountains with her family.
Minna Choi is a composer living in San Francisco. She is the choir director for City Church and the music director for Pop-Up Magazine. As the founder of Magik*Magik Orchestra, she has collaborated with numerous recording artists in the rock and pop world. Most recently, she contributed original music to Terrence Malick’s WWII drama, A Hidden Life.
Geneva Harrison (“How to Laugh When Nothing Is Funny”) is a multi-instrumentalist and composer based between Oakland and New York City. She served as the touring drummer for WNYC’s Snap Judgement (2016-2019), co-composing all original scoring with her band, Bells Atlas. Geneva occasionally tours with Pop-Up Magazine as a percussionist/drummer and has performed with Terence Blanchard, Van Dyke Parks, Sonya Tayeh, The Bengsons, and Poolside, among others.
Ben Hickey (“Take a Walk”) is an illustrator and designer from Dublin, Ireland. He moved to New York in 2016, where he’s been working as a graphic designer at Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv. His illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and The Irish Independent. In 2019, he was featured in The New York Times’ Best of Illustration.
Ben Kauffman (“Scout’s Honor”) is a Chicago-based composer, sound designer, and co-artistic director of Manual Cinema, a theater and film company. His work has been shown at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the University of Wisconsin’s Institute of Visual Arts, and CUNY’s Baruch College. His past composer and sound-design credits with Manual Cinema include Frankenstein, The End of TV, and the Emmy Award–winning New York Times documentary The Forger.
Holly Mead is a pianist and composer hailing from Berkeley. Her work has been featured at the San Francisco International Film Festival, Pixar Animation Studios, the Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival, and the Morris Graves Museum of Art. Her most recent accomplishment was the release of a new album of original solo piano music, Solitary Animals (June 2020).
Alexander Overington (“Take a Walk”) is a composer, producer, and sound designer from New York City. His recent work can be heard across shows like Radiolab, The Daily, 2 Dope Queens, Nancy, and More Perfect. Previously, he co-created and produced the Peabody Award–winning podcast Meet the Composer for New York Public Radio.
Damani Rhodes (“Mama’s Babies”) is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, artist, and entrepreneur from Sacramento, California. He founded the jazz fusion group Mino Yanci, which was selected as one of the YBCA 100. He’s the founder of the drum-education platform DrumTrax, and he has recently released a single featuring Grammy Award–winning trumpeter Keyon Harrold.
Kyle Vegter (“Scout’s Honor”) is a Chicago-based composer, producer, sound designer, and co-artistic director of Manual Cinema. His work has been commissioned by the Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and The New York Times. His theatrical music and sound design for Manual Cinema has been performed at venues worldwide. He also co-founded Chicago’s only contemporary classical music cassette label, Parlour Tapes+.
Warren Wolf (“Dear Pen Pal”) is a multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, educator, and composer from Baltimore. Currently, he’s a professor of music at Peabody Conservatory and San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Warren is a member of the highly acclaimed jazz supergroup, the SFJAZZ Collective. He’s also a member of Christian McBride & Inside Straight.
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