This episode is a rebroadcast of the interview Matt Tullis did with Luke Dittrich in September 2013. At the time, Esquire had just published his story “The Prophet,” a story about a neurosurgeon who claimed to have visited heaven in a best-selling book. Dittrich’s piece pretty much debunked those claims.
Dittrich also talks about his story about the Joplin, Missouri, tornado. The story — “Heavenly Father! I Love You! I Love Everyone,” was about 23 people who rode out the storm in a convenience store cooler. The store was destroyed, but the people within all survived. Dittrich ultimately won a National Magazine Award for the piece.
Since joining the podcast, Dittrich turned another piece that was discussed in this interview — “The Brain That Changed Everything” — into a book. “Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets” digs deep into that Esquire story and unveils the life of his grandfather, the doctor who treated Patient HM and performed lobotomies on untold numbers of people. The book is one of the best science-related books that I’ve read in a long time, and easily holds rank with “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot.
On this episode, host Matt Tullis talks with Stephen Rodrick, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and a writer-at-large for Esquire. In the third week of June, both of those magazines published profiles of two very different celebrities that Rodrick wrote.
Esquire published Rodrick’s piece on Taylor Sheridan, a writer and actor who is reinventing American Western storytelling through movies like “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water,” on June 19.
Two days later, Rolling Stone published his fascinating profile of Johnny Depp. That piece got all of the attention because Rodrick spent a sometimes sad, sometimes fun, sometimes weird 72 hours with the man who has played everyone from Willy Wonka to Jack Sparrow. It also chronicled the troubles that Depp has been face, troubles that are primarily financial despite the amount of money he has made in his illustrious career.
Rodrick was the guest of the podcast on Episode 5, back in February of 2013, when he talked about his story “The Misfits,” which was about the filming of the movie “The Canyons,” and what happened when Lindsay Lohan was cast in it. He’s written for a number of big-time magazines, like Rolling Stone, Esquire, GQ, Men’s Journal, The New York Times Magazine and New York.
At the time of his visit on the podcast, Chris Jones was a writer at large for Esquire, as well as a back-page columnist for ESPN The Magazine. Jones has twice won National Magazine Awards. In 2009, his story “The Things that Carried Him” won for feature writing.
Jones is an expert profile writer. His 2010 piece on the late Roger Ebert is, in our opinion, one of the best celebrity profiles ever written. It’s touching and poignant, showing a side of the film critic that hadn’t been seen since Ebert’s battle with cancer.
Most recently, Jones turned his eye on a man most have never heard of, but a man who has been involved in nearly every major tragic event in recent US history. His Esquire story, “Kenneth Feinberg: the nation’s leading expert in picking up the pieces,” looks at the man who decides how much money the surviving victims of horrific shootings and bombings get once there is a monetary fund set up for those victims.
In October 2012 he wrote a historical piece on what happened on Air Force 1 immediately after the President John F. Kennedy assassination.
In 2011, Jones participated in a virtual roundtable discussion moderated by podcast host Matt Tullis. That discussion focused on journalism as a sub-genre of creative nonfiction, and was published in Creative Nonfiction in the Winter 2012 issue of the magazine. The discussion was ultimately the inspiration for the podcast.
Since joining the podcast, Jones wrote a piece about astronaut Scott Kelly as he prepared to spend a full year in outer space.