Now Entering Make-Believe Country

Urbania, My Imaginary Land, Gave a Weird, Curious, and Somewhat Lonely Kid a Shorthand for the World at Large

Last year, my friend Jesús passed away when he was hit by a car while riding his bike. He was one year older than me. We both had been college professors in Venezuela, where we developed a friendship over our shared humanities-focused geekery. Jesús was also the only other person I knew at the time who had constructed a world inside his mind as a hobby. When Jesús was buried, his casket was draped with the blue, white, and green of his make-believe country’s flag. As far as I know, …

A Letter From India, Where the World Is Collapsing | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

A Letter From India, Where the World Is Collapsing

The Official Count of Cases and Deaths Doesn’t Reflect the Full Tragedy Unfolding Here

Every morning, I wake up in my home in a middle-class locality in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, and heave a sigh of relief. I do not have temperature; …

Contemplating the COVID Carnage at California’s Most Historic Cemetery | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Contemplating the COVID Carnage at California’s Most Historic Cemetery

Sites Like Forest Lawn Do More Than Bury Our Dead—They Keep the Present in Perspective

If you’re having a hard time processing the scale of death produced by the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone. In the face of mass casualties, many of us have chosen …

Will Holograms Help Us Grieve? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Will Holograms Help Us Grieve?

Ready or Not, Digital Afterlives Are Here to Stay

Long before Kim Kardashian West made headlines for being gifted a hologram of her deceased father for her 40th birthday, a panel session at South by Southwest Interactive, an annual …

My Summer at the Graveyard | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

My Summer at the Graveyard

Observing That Final Resting Sites Aren’t Always Quite So Final, KCRW’s Warren Olney Considers What He Wants for His Own Remains

We never heard about “recycling” when I grew up, during the Age of Plastics. But, during one summer off from college, I learned that one form of the practice is …

To Have a ‘Better Death,’ Play With These Cards | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

To Have a ‘Better Death,’ Play With These Cards

Sandy Chen Stokes Wants Everyone to Talk About Their Own Mortality

How can you get people to talk about what they would like the end of their lives to be like?

Here’s one technique I’ve used: get them to play cards.

For …