Stories about the people who helped make us who we are.

The story behind the project.

If not for my childhood trumpet teacher, Edward Treutel, every single thing in my life would be completely different. Who I know. What I know. What I’ve done. How I think. Who I am.

Between age 5 and 17, he made more of a difference to me than anyone else. More than my parents. More than my school teachers. More than my friends.

Sadly, I didn’t realize this until long after he died in 1997. So I never had a chance to tell him. It’s a daily lament.

This is why I started If Not For.

I wanted to create a way for people to share the stories of the folks who made them who they are — for free and without ads.

Featured podcast episodes.

If not for Mark White, Jack Shafer, Hanna Rosin

From David Plotz in Washington, DC

In David’s kitchen after our interview.

Links from this episode.

Mark White (blog) — :42

High School (St. Albans website) — :50

The Resurrection of Marion Barry (article) — 4:45

Jack Shafer (Twitter) — 4:45

Hanna Rosin (website) — 8:40

Slate (website) — 9:30

David Carr (NYT obituary) — 9:53

Kate Boo (Pulitzer award page) — 10:00

Clara Jeffery (Twitter) — 10:07

Amanda Ripley (website) — 10:13

Jon Cohen (byline at Science) — 10:17

Layoffs at Slate (Atlantic article) — 12:15

Jack Shafer’s media criticism column at Politico (website) — 13:14

Michael Kinsley (Google Sites page) — 16:39

The Genius Factory (GoodReads) — 16:56

Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible (GoodReads) — 16:58

Atlas Obscura (website) — 18:02

Dr. Judith Plotz (GWU website) — 20:08

Dr. Paul Plotz (NIH retirement announcement) — 20:12

Dispatch about meeting Martin Thom (Slate) — 29:11

Butsted Flush, article in Harper’s (website, subscription required) — 33:09


Christoph in his studio, in the Mitte district of Berlin, after our interview.

Links from this episode.

Heinz Edelmann, Christoph’s teacher at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart (Wikipedia) — :57

Christoph Niemann’s brother, Benedikt (website) — 1:31

Modern Art (Wikipedia); Constructivism (Wikipedia); Pop Art (Wikipedia); Hockney (Wikipedia) compared to Bonnard (Wikipedia) — 7:53

Art in Star Wars (Ralph McQuarrie book) and Lord of the Rings (Gary Russell book) — 8:48

Christoph’s wife, Lisa Zeitz (Instagram) — 11:11

Nicholas Blechman (website) — 11:16

Nicholas’ father, R. O. Blechman (website) — 12:28

Nicholas Blechman/​Christoph Niemann, Conversations (website) — 13:00

The MET (website) — 18:40

David Remnick (Wikipedia) — 19:00

Exquisite corpse (Wikipedia) — 19:19

Heinz Edelmann (Wikipedia) — 20:34

Mort Drucker (Wikipedia) — 25:39

Frank Frazetta (Wikipedia) — 25:43

Tomi Ungerer (Wikipedia) — 27:41

Albert Uderzo (Wikipedia) — 28:03

Mad Magazine (website) — 28:21

Don Martin (Wikipedia) — 28:34

Mort Drucker (Wikipedia) — 29:11

Christoph Niemann’s brother, Benedikt (website) — 30:50

Jeno Barcsay, Anatomie für Künstler (Amazon) — 32:21

Paul Sahre (website); Christoph Niemann, Abstract City (website) — 34:15

Netflix documentary series, Abstract: The Art of Design (video) — 38:28

Stefan Sagmeister (AIGA profile) — 39:59

Tina Roth Eisenberg (website bio), Tattly (website), Christoph’s Tattlys (website) — 42:57

Jon Huang (New York Times articles), Petting Zoo (app) — 51:58

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Upcoming episodes.

Co-creator of Phineas & Ferb, Jeff Swampy” Marsh.

Graphic designer, storyteller, and typographer, Stefan Sagmeister.

Graphic designer, Paul Sahre.

Featured short stories.


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