I Had a Chance to Travel Anywhere. Why Did I Pick Spokane?

“After 18 months of pandemic parenting isolation, the writer Jon Mooallem knew just where the cure might lie: a minor-league baseball game in eastern Washington.”

Published: Sep 21, 2021
Length: 20 minutes (5,238 words)

At the Very Beginning of the Great Alaska Earthquake

“Many people mistook the low growl of the churning earth for a nuclear bomb.” An excerpt from THIS IS CHANCE! 

Source: LitHub
Published: Mar 24, 2020
Length: 8 minutes (2,100 words)

“We Have Fire Everywhere”

For eight hours last fall, Paradise, California, became a zone at the limits of the American imagination—and a preview of the American future.

Published: Jul 31, 2019
Length: 43 minutes (10,800 words)

The Senseless Logic of the Wild

It was just a kayaking trip. Until it upended three men’s lives.

Published: Mar 21, 2019
Length: 40 minutes (10,000 words)

One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die

A profile of Dr. B.J. Miller, a triple amputee whose own near-death experience in college–and his return to life afterward–inform his approach to palliative care.

Published: Jan 3, 2017
Length: 33 minutes (8,250 words)

You Just Got Out of Prison. Now What?

Mooallem follows two ex-convicts who pick up inmates the day they are released and help then navigate through their first day of freedom.

Published: Jul 16, 2015
Length: 26 minutes (6,606 words)

Death, Redesigned

A global design firm makes an attempt to change the way we prepare for death.

Published: Mar 20, 2015
Length: 26 minutes (6,607 words)

Larry Ellison Bought an Island in Hawaii. Now What?

Larry Ellison, the billionaire co-founder of the Oracle Corporation, bought 97 percent of the Hawaiian island of Lanai. Ellison wants to make Lanai a premier tourist destination and “the first economically viable, 100 percent green community,” but things haven’t gone as planned.

Published: Sep 23, 2014
Length: 32 minutes (8,099 words)

‘He Has Baptized 66 Umpires, Calling Them Safe in the Only Way that Matters’

Jon Mooallem meets Pastor Dean, who uses religion to help baseball umpires deal with what can be an emotionally difficult job:

Every day is Judgment Day for an umpire. In the early days of organized baseball, team owners actually encouraged fans to harass umps who made questionable, or just unpopular, calls – throw beer bottles at them, or even the occasional brick. The sadism of Orioles fans was especially well-known, according to the 2008 book Death at the Ballpark. “They broke the spirits of some fine men,” one ump later remembered. By the end of the 1920s, at least 10 umpires had been killed or mortally wounded on the field – in one case, an umpire was punched so hard in the face that a fragment of his jaw ripped through his brain like a spear. In 1911, a semipro player in Georgia got so tired of insisting that the umpire had the score wrong that he walked off the bench with a pistol and shot the man.

Source: ESPN
Published: Jun 20, 2014
Length: 20 minutes (5,120 words)

A Journey to the Center of the World

Jacques-André Istel and his wife Felicia built the tiny town of Felicity, Calif. in the middle of a desert. Istel convinced a county board to recognize Felclity as “the center of the world” and has been at work building monuments depicting the “History of Humanity”:

The afternoon that Istel walked me through the monuments, six or seven other people were ambling around, too. This was high season for tourists. Istel does not advertise and almost never approaches the media. His attitude is: There will be plenty of time for humanity to appreciate what he built. But every winter, retirees from frigid places like Edmonton and Idaho take up residence on tracts of nearby land and sometimes wander in. From the highway, you can see their white R.V.s clustered in the emptiness, like desert blooms.

Istel was glad to have guests. “Welcome to Felicity,” he said, bowing and clasping the ladies’ hands to pantomime a kiss. “What do you think of this?” he kept asking. Their responses did not seem very satisfying — nearly everyone said, “It’s very interesting” — but Istel seemed genuinely touched. “What do you think of this?” Istel asked a large man from Missouri in jean shorts. The man was wheezing a little — it was hot. After a beat of silence, his wife said, “A lot of engraving!”

Published: Feb 19, 2014
Length: 18 minutes (4,727 words)