UnFictional Holiday Special 2015

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Meth House
There's nothing that can get former enemies working together more than when they come up against a common enemy... Storyteller Jessica Lee Williamson lives in one of those places where the neighbors don't hate each other exactly, it's more of a mild contempt. But when some new neighbors move in, who are even MORE contemptible, Jessica's neighbors become a close knit community.

Jessica Lee Williamson is a writer, an artist, and a performer living in Los Angeles. As a storyteller she's a winner of the Moth GrandSlam. 

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The meth house in flames.
Drawing by Nib Geebles


The Deepest Man on Earth
Herbert Nitsch is a world record holder in the extremely dangerous sport of no-­limits free­-diving. He holds the official world record for swimming to a depth 702 feet without scuba equipment or any external air source. He has developed some of his own techniques for dealing with the dangers and challenges of the pressures at those depths. In 2012, Nisch surpassed his record, descending to a depth of 830. However on the ascent, he suffered from severe decompression sickness resulting in multiple strokes. After being in a coma for eight days, he doctors said he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Today, Herbert Nitsch is training and freediving once again.

Produced by Daniel Gross. Story editing and original music by Bob Carlson. 

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Herbert Nitsch
Photo: © Herbert Nitsch & Phil Simha


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The "sled" device that pulls Herbert Nitsch to the surface during his dive
Photo: © Phil Simha

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Underwater, Herbert Nitsch empties his lungs into these plastic bottles.
That air can later be used in the dive to equalize pressure in his ears and sinuses.

Photo: © Francine Kreiss


Mickey Cohen: Undefeated
This is a story from Aric Allen. The notorious gangster Mickey Cohen was based in Los Angeles during his heyday and had a number of rivals. He survived nearly a dozen attempts on his life. It's easy to think that these near­-death experiences were all about luck, but Aric Allen says it had more to do with something you might call a curse: Obsessive­-compulsive disorder. Habitual hand washing, finickiness about his car, and excessive precautions at home all lead to this mobster's undefeated record.

Produced by Aric Allen. He's a digital producer based in West Hollywood. That story was edited by Nick White.

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Mickey Cohen, alive, in his blown-out Brentwood Home
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection


Love Across the Iron Curtain
In 1985 Gabriele was hitchhiking in East Germany, where she lived. By chance she was given a ride by a visiting American named Mark. They fell in love, but these were the days when the Berlin Wall was still standing. Mark and Gabriele continued their relationship and the only thing standing between them was an iron curtain.

Produced by Kerstin Zilm, an independent producer from Germany now based in Los Angeles, edited by Nick White. Mark and Gabriele Hayes are currently working on a documentary called Skid Row Marathon.

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Mark and Gabriele's wedding in 1989
Courtesy Gabriele Hayes

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Mark and Gabriele Hayes return to the Berlin Wall as documentary filmmakers
Courtesy Gabriele Hayes


A Wedding in Baghdad
Nadia traveled a long way to attend a family wedding... all the way to Baghdad, Iraq... in 2003! It was a time and place where nothing about a wedding could be expected to go off without a hitch or two. Nadia Kamil is a Welsh-­Iraqi writer, actor and comedian currently based in Los Angeles.

The story was produced by UnFictional associate producer, Nick White.

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Nadia Kamil
Courtesy of Nadia Kamil



Bob Carlson


Bob Carlson, Nick White