99% Invisible

Roman Mars

Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars. Learn more at 99percentinvisible.org.

  • 26 minutes 26 seconds
    583- The Lost Subways of North America

    Los Angeles actually used to have a massive electric railway system in the early 1900s, called the Red Car. Jake Berman, the author of The Lost Subways of North America, tells us about how, time after time, when North American cities seemed just inches away from having a robust, utopian future of fast, reliable, and convenient public transportation systems, something gets in the way. That thing is sometimes dysfunctional local politics, sometimes it’s bureaucracy. Sometimes it’s the way our infrastructure favors cars over mass transit, and too often, it’s racism.

    583- The Lost Subways of North America

    22 May 2024, 12:28 am
  • 2 hours 11 minutes
    The Power Broker #05: Brandy Zadrozny

    This is the fifth official episode, breaking down the 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Power Broker by our hero Robert Caro. 

    This week, Roman and Elliott also sit down with Brandy Zadrozny, a senior reporter for NBC News who covers misinformation, conspiracy theories, and the internet. Brandy recently finished The Power Broker, and she’s got a great perspective on what the book says about the press and its relationship to power, what has changed in journalism, and what has remained the same.

    On today’s show, Elliott Kalan and Roman Mars will cover the last section of Part 4 of the book (Chapters 21 through Chapter 24), discussing the major story beats and themes.

    The Power Broker #5: Brandy Zadrozny

    Join the discussion on Discord and our Subreddit

    18 May 2024, 12:33 am
  • 40 minutes 20 seconds
    582- Rocket Man

    In the twentieth century, the jetpack became synonymous with the idea of a ‘futuristic society.’ Appearing in cartoons and magazines, it felt like a matter of time before people could ride a jetpack to work. But jetpacks never became a mainstream technology, leaving many to wonder... why did they fall off the radar? 

    582- Rocket Man

    14 May 2024, 11:08 pm
  • 37 minutes 16 seconds
    581- It's Howdy Doody Time!

    The Howdy Doody Show is one of those pieces of 1950s ephemera that has come to symbolize mid-century American childhood. For over a decade, every weeknight at 5pm, kids all across the country would sit down in front of their parents’ tiny televisions and take in the wild west adventures of Buffalo Bob and his puppet sidekick Howdy Doody.

    The show was disproportionately important in the history of television. It was the first television program to reach 1,000 episodes, one of the first shows to broadcast in color, and it pioneered new ways of marketing products to children. But in the early days of the medium, especially when Howdy Doody first started, the world of television was strange. In many ways, the story of Howdy Doody is the story of the weird, wild-west days of early TV. A story in which programmers, advertisers, artists and money men were inventing everything as they went along. Starting with what to put on television in the first place.

    581- It's Howdy Doody Time!

    7 May 2024, 9:22 pm
  • 32 minutes 18 seconds
    579 BONUS- Towers of Silence: Vulture Conservation

    Recently we published an episode called Towers of Silence. It's about how the Parsis in India are grappling with the loss of vultures and how it changed something very intimate and meaningful for the community. It was reported by our own Lasha Madan and it is epic and it is beautiful. So first of all, go listen to that story if you haven't heard it. It's so good. 

    On the one hand, it's a very specific story, it's about a unique set of circumstances that happened to a very specific community. But it also feels universally relevant. Because it's a story about death and how we choose to transition out of this world. It's about how we might react when there’s a major cultural shift that we cannot control. And importantly it is about a keystone species collapse, which is something we are on track to see more of in these times. Lasha Madan collected a ton of information about vulture conservation in their reporting but it didn't quite fit into the original story that we wanted to tell but it's so vital and interesting that we're releasing this bonus episode to cover it all.

    3 May 2024, 10:03 pm
  • 56 minutes 15 seconds
    580- Mr Yuk

    Mr. Yuk is a neon green circular sticker with a cartoon face on it. His face is scrunched up with his eyes squeezed tight and his tongue is sticking out of its mouth. It's the face you make when you taste something disgusting. He's the pictorial embodiment of the sentiment of yuck. Aptly enough: he was designed to be the symbol for hazardous substances, aimed at deterring children from ingesting them. The idea what that if you saw a Mr. Yuk sticker on something around the house, it meant that that something was poison.

    Friend of the show, Gillian Jacobs, is a BIG FAN of Mr Yuk, who turns out to be a hometown hero of her beloved Pittsburgh, and talked Roman through the origins of the mean, green face that was meant to save children from their worst impulses.

    Plus, we revisit another story about warning symbols from our archive: the quest to find a symbol that would warn future humans of dangerous radiation 10,000 years in the future.

    Mr Yuk

    30 April 2024, 10:59 pm
  • 1 hour 11 minutes
    579- Towers of Silence

    Situated right in downtown Mumbai, India is an area of about 55 acres of dense, overgrown forest. In one of the most populous cities in the world, this is a place where peacocks roam freely -- a space out of time. This forest is protected by a religious community. It has survived in a relatively undeveloped state in the middle of this gargantuan city. Importantly, it’s also home to an ancient tradition in crisis -- one that is central to the lives (and deaths) of a particular population.

    There’s a certain point in this forest beyond which almost no one can step -- only special caretakers of these grounds can go any further. They go by many names: khandia, nassassalar, pallbearer, corpse bearer. Their work here is holy. They carry dead bodies to their final resting place – atop stone structures that stand gray against the lush green. These buildings are called Towers of Silence.

    Towers of Silence

    23 April 2024, 11:59 pm
  • 2 hours 39 minutes
    The Power Broker #04: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    This is the fourth official episode, breaking down the 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Power Broker by our hero Robert Caro. 

    Roman and Elliott also sit down with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the U.S. representative for New York's 14th congressional district, who describes the lasting impact Moses’ highways have made on her district, and her own philosophy when it comes to political power and bringing ambitious projects to life.

    On today’s show, Elliott Kalan and Roman Mars will cover the second section of Part 4 of the book (Chapters 16 through the end of Chapter 20), discussing the major story beats and themes.

    The Power Broker #4: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    Join the discussion on Discord and our Subreddit

    19 April 2024, 9:06 pm
  • 44 minutes 43 seconds
    578- Anything's Pastable: Eat Sauté Love

    This week we're featuring an episode from The Sporkful's series on the creation of "Anything's Pastable," Dan Pashman's new pasta cookbook.

    Dan talks with Roman about how this massive project came to be and all the design decisions required to put together a cookbook.

    And then, in part two of “Anything’s Pastable,” Dan embarks on an epic trip across Italy in search of lesser-known pasta dishes — and to learn about the evolution of pasta more broadly. He starts in Rome, where food writer Katie Parla reveals a shocking truth about pasta. Then an Italian food historian challenges Dan’s thinking about carbonara. Finally, he heads south to meet a chef who was there when a regional specialty called spaghetti all’assassina (“assassin’s spaghetti”) was invented. All of this leads Dan to wonder: What does evolution look like in a food culture that’s so often depicted in sepia tones? And what’s his place in that process?

    Preorder Dan’s cookbook today (including signed copies), and see if he’s visiting a city near you on his tour of book signings and live podcast tapings with special guests! Follow Dan on Instagram to see photos and videos from the Anything’s Pastable journey.

    Anything's Pastable: Eat Sauté Love

    16 April 2024, 10:19 pm
  • 35 minutes 18 seconds
    577- The Society of Ambiance Makers and Elegant Persons

    Hailing from central African cities of Brazzaville and Kinshasa, sapeurs have become increasingly recognizable around the world. Since the 1970s, sapeurs (from: le sape, short for "Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes") have been known for donning technicolored three-piece suits with flamboyant accessories like golden walking sticks and leopard-print fedoras, and then cat-walking through their city streets.

    In recent years, Solange, Kendrick and SZA have all featured sapeurs in their music videos. The iconic British menswear designer Paul Smith did a whole spring line of sapeur-inspired suits and bowler hats.

    The Society of Ambiance Makers and Elegant Persons

    9 April 2024, 8:49 pm
  • 33 minutes 22 seconds
    576- Chambre de Bonne

    A chambre de bonne is usually one small room, on the top floor of a five- or six-story apartment building, and it’s usually just big enough to fit a bed and a table. It’s affordable housing in a city where finding housing is nearly impossible. Reporter Jeanne Boëzec tells about the history of the chambre de bonne apartments, and how while cute, they are also cramped and can be unpleasant spaces for people who have to live there, a living embodiment of the gap between the rich in Paris and everyone else.

    Chambre de Bonne

    2 April 2024, 9:08 pm
  • More Episodes? Get the App
© MoonFM 2024. All rights reserved.