Scott Simon

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

Weekend Edition Saturday has been called by the Washington Post, "the most literate, witty, moving, and just plain interesting news show on any dial," and by Brett Martin of Time Out New York, "the most eclectic, intelligent two hours of broadcasting on the airwaves." Simon has won every major award in broadcasting, including the Peabody, the Emmy, the Columbia-DuPont, the Ohio State Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Sidney Hillman Award. He received the Presidential End Hunger Award for his coverage of the Ethiopian civil war and famine, and a special citation from the Peabody Awards for his weekly essays, which were cited as "consistently thoughtful, graceful, and challenging." He has also received the Barry M. Goldwater Award from the Human Rights Fund. Recently, he was awarded the Studs Terkel Award.

Simon has hosted many television specials, including the PBS's "State of Mind," "Voices of Vision," and "Need to Know." "The Paterson Project" won a national Emmy, as did his two-hour special from the Rio Earth Summit meeting. He co-anchored PBS's "Millennium 2000" coverage in concert with the BBC, and has co-hosted the televised Columbia-DuPont Awards. He also became familiar to viewers in Great Britain as host of the continuing BBC series, "Eyewitness," and a special on the White House press corps. He has appeared as a guest and commentator on all major networks, including BBC, NBC, CNN, and ESPN.

Simon has contributed articles to The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Sunday Times of London, The Guardian, and Gourmet among other publications, and won a James Beard Award for his story, "Conflict Cuisine" in Gourmet. He has received numerous honorary degrees.

Sports Illustrated called his book Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan "extraordinary...uniformly superb...a memoir of such breadth and reach that it compares favorably with Fredrick Exley's A Fan's Notes." It was at the top of several non-fiction bestseller lists. His book, and Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, was Barnes and Noble's Sports Book of the Year. His novel, Pretty Birds, the story of two teenage girls in Sarajevo during the siege, received rave reviews, with Scott Turow calling it, "the most auspicious fiction debut by a journalist of note since Tom Wolfe's. . . always gripping, always tender, and often painfully funny. It is a marvel of technical finesse, close observation, and a perfectly pitched heart." Windy City, Simon's second novel, is a political comedy set in the Chicago City Council. Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other, an essay about the joys of adoption, was published in August 2010.

Simon's tweets to his 1.25 million Twitter followers from his mother's bedside in the summer of 2013 gathered major media attention around the world. They inspired his New York Times bestseller book Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime. Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Unbroken and Seabiscuit, called the book "poignant, funny, intimate, and unforgettable." Scott Turow called it "a treasure. It is as poignant and tender and wise as Tuesdays with Morrie, with the added virtues of being unflinching and, quite often, very funny." Laurie Halse Anderson just called the book, "Amazing. Breathtaking. Affirming. This book will change lives, restore hopes to the brokenhearted, and remind the rest of us what is truly important." Carlos Lozado of The Washington Post called it, in a rave review, "a book that easily matches its title."

Simon also wrote the book Just Getting Started with Tony Bennett. His latest books is My Cubs: A Love Story about his lifelong fandom of the Chicago Cubs, and their historic World Series victory.

Simon is a native of Chicago and the son of comedian Ernie Simon and Patricia Lyons Simon. He is married to Caroline Richard Simon, and their daughters are Elise and Paulina. His hobbies are books, theater, ballet, British comedy, Mexican cooking, and "bleeding for the Chicago Cubs." He has thrown out the first pitch at Wrigley Field (low and outside) and appeared as Mother Ginger in the Ballet Austin production of The Nutcracker. Scott received the Order of Lincoln from the State of Illinois in 2016, the state's highest honor. He adds, "If you prick me, I'll bleed Chicago Cubs blue."

Why don't you hear a pterodactyl go to the bathroom? The P is silent.

I'm a father. I tell dad jokes.

See that farmer? A man outstanding in his field.

Peter Sokolowski, editor at large of Merriam-Webster, defined dad jokes for us as "an obvious or predictable pun or play on words and usually judged to be endearingly corny or unfunny."

Did you see that documentary about beavers? What a great dam show ...

Linda Fairstein won fame prosecuting criminals and then wrote crime fiction. Did she allow her gift for fiction to guide her powers as a prosecutor?

For 25 years, Linda Fairstein led sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, which inspired Law and Order: SVU. She's written bestselling crime novels, like Blood Oath and Death Dance, about a hard-nosed, tenderhearted Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper who eats in a lot of New York's classiest Italian restaurants on a public servant's salary.

Now there's a mystery.

Bild is a tabloid, a German daily newspaper best-known for blaring headlines, fleshy photos and breathless coverage of gossip and scandals.

But this week, the newspaper ran a kippah on its front page: a Jewish skullcap that signifies reverence for God above. It's blue and white, with Stars of David. Readers could cut out the kippah and wear it.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read.

The mother has come to Hartford, Conn. after living through a hellscape of war in Vietnam. She goes to work at a nail salon, smokes Marlboro Reds, and more than once — more than 20 times — beats her son. But she tells herself, "I'm not a monster. I'm a mother."

The son, known as Little Dog, bears some resemblance to his author, Ocean Vuong.

YouTube

Nearly a half-century ago, in the summer of 1971, the young singer-songwriter Cass Wheeler entered a studio in London to record "Common Ground." A wistful acoustic-guitar and piano-dri

I want to thank politicians for promoting a new cliché I now deploy to avoid giving direct answers to my daughters.

When they ask, "Can we get a second dog?" "Can we learn how to drive?" or "Can we go camping?" I now tell them, "Well, I think we should have that conversation."

It's not "yes." It's not "no." It's not even "maybe," "I dunno," "I haven't thought about it" or "we'll see."

"We should have that conversation" is a strategic nonanswer. It buys time. It can mean anything. It can mean nothing. It implies understanding. It avoids actual agreement.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Seychelles magpie-robin is about 9 inches long, with inky blue-black feathers, and white patches along its wings. There may be only 200 or so of these beguiling birds in the world, all in forests of the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa.

It is alarming to think of just a few birds left of a single species, isolated and fragile. It seems as if a sudden storm, or a rampant sickness, could extinguish them.

On April 19, 1775, the "shot heard 'round the world" was fired on the Lexington, Mass. town green. No one knows for sure who fired the shot, but when British soldiers heard it, they panicked. The red coats fired at members of the local militia, killing eight and wounding 10. With that, the Revolutionary War had begun.

Craig Ferguson is in his upper 50s, and it's a small — maybe not so small — kind of a miracle that between drinking, drugs, and hard general hard living, he's around, and a quarter-century sober, to write this book.

Riding the Elephant is a series of reflections on what he's learned along the road of being a comic and a drummer in Scotland, a bouncer in New York, stints on American TV shows, including The Late Late Show, meeting Princess Diana, and all 12 steps of recovery.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

I was sitting next to a college chancellor at an event Tuesday night when our cell phones began to beep with the first bulletins about the shootings at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Two students were killed; four were injured.

"My first thought," Susan Koch, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Springfield, told me, "was, 'That could have been my campus.' All campuses in the U.S. are vulnerable."

There has never been a better name for a person than Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick. She died this week, at the age of 35.

Charity was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension when she was a young opera singer in Europe. She had two double lung transplants in the past 10 years, flatlined twice, sank into comas, suffered innumerable close calls and lights-blinking, horn-blaring intensive care unit emergencies, only to always to come roaring back with rekindled energy and sunny grace — to sing and to shine.

Margaret Trudeau married Pierre Trudeau, the 15th prime minister of Canada, when she was 22. He was 51. That marriage came apart — publicly, spectacularly — as she made public rounds with rockers, actors and other celebrities.

More than 400 firefighters answered the call when fire broke out in the Notre Dame Cathedral this Holy Week. As Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel Plus, spokesperson for the Paris firefighters, told the Agence France Press, "One doesn't imagine as a Paris firefighter one day intervening to save Notre Dame!"

"Time worked against us," he said. "The wind was against us, and we needed to retake control."

When Jeff Kinney started working on Diary of a Wimpy Kid, he thought he was writing a comic for adults. "I always thought of comics as being for grown-ups, or maybe just for everyone," he says. After eight years of work, he finally showed it to an editor and learned: "I had actually written a children's series which was an absolute surprise to me."

That "surprise" has now sold 180 million copies. There are 13 installments of Greg Heffley's diary and now, Greg's best friend Rowley Jefferson, is getting his own book — Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid.

An art show opens in El Paso today. It's what they call a "multi-sensory exhibit" that includes works like a chapel, cut from cardboard, surrounded by trees and hedges spun from yarn, with Popsicle stick church pews and crosses. There are many images of bright birds, cooing in trees; and a looming volcano, smoking over a bright, cheery town.

It has not been uplifting for Americans to look across the ocean the past few years and see Great Britain's Brexit imbroglio.

Almost three years ago, a slim majority, 51.9 percent, voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. But breaking up is hard to do.

Three times, Prime Minister Theresa May has proposed an exit plan. Parliament has rejected it each time. The March 29 deadline to depart has come and gone; Parliament has asked the EU for delay after delay.

Christine Goerke is focused on endurance. The dramatic soprano is tackling one of the most challenging roles in opera: singing Brünnhilde, the Valkyrie maiden warrior, in Richard Wagner's epic, Der Ring des Nibelungen, at New York's Metropolitan Opera. Otherwise known as the Ring cycle, the 16-hour saga spans four operas and tells the story of gods, monsters, humans and an insatiable urge to own an all-powerful golden ring.

And amidst all this urgent news, the 2019 Major League Baseball season also began this week. Organized baseball worries that the game once considered America's pastime has become slooowww, old, and tedious.

In 1948 — when Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson were on the field — an average 9-inning game lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes. Today, it takes more than 3 hours.

Editior's note: This story contains a racial epithet.

Damon Young says he's spent much of his life waiting to be called by a name we won't repeat, even though it appears in his new memoir — What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker — a lot. His essays are pointed, ruminative, often barbed and funny reflections on how the fact of his skin color has posed particular lifelong challenges, questions, and anxieties.

When high school senior and wrestler Brendan Johnston realized he had to face Jaslynn Gallegos, a high school senior, and Angel Rios, a high school junior, in last month's Colorado state wrestling championship, he knew his shot at a state title was over.

Johnston refused to compete against Rios and Gallegos because they are both girls.

Gallegos went on to place fifth in that tournament, and Rios was fourth — marking the first time girls have placed at a Colorado state wrestling tournament.

Etaf Rum's new novel, A Woman is No Man, may violate a code of silence in the tight-knit and often closed Palestinian American community of Brooklyn in which she grew up, and which she left.

This week, just as President Trump and Kim Jong Un prepared to meet in Hanoi — for what turned out to be their abrupt and unproductive summit — Dutch customs officials discovered and seized about 90,000 bottles of Russian vodka from a Chinese ship destined for North Korea, according to Algemeen Dagblad, the Dutch newspaper.

Maybe I didn't need to say that Algemeen Dagblad is a Dutch newspaper.

Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi opens his new memoir, I.M., in the toy aisle at the Avenue U Variety Store. It's the mid-1960s, and he desperately wants a deluxe Barbie set — which comes with a doll and three outfits. Unfortunately for 5-year-old Mizrahi, a Barbie was "the exact thing that would label a kid in those days as someone who was a freak," he says.

In the new horror-thriller film Greta, Frances and the titular Greta find each other in a time-honored old movie way: Frances sees a woman's handbag in a seat on the New York subway. This nice young woman, who has just come to New York, does a nice thing.

She opens the bag, finds a wallet, ignores the money, and returns the bag to its owner, who turns out to be an elegant older woman full of conspicuous kindness and courtesy. They seem happy to find each other.

As birds flitted on and off colorful feeders in a flicker of flapping feathers, and chattered in chirps — punctuated by the occasional trill — a band of birdwatchers offered a cacophony of their own.

"I heard a red-winged blackbird!"

"There's a blue jay!"

"Is that a downy woodpecker?"

Don't have a backyard? No problem. The Great Backyard Bird Count can be done anywhere, whether that's standing on a street outside an apartment, looking out a window at the office, or wandering around a park.

You might be surprised at what you find.

It's not just the finger of fate that brings Ren and Ji Lin together. It's a finger.

Ren is an 11-year-old houseboy at the deathbed of his master, Dr. MacFarland, who takes a last breath to ask the boy to find the finger amputated from the doctor years before, and to return it to him in his grave within 49 days before his soul disappears.

Ji Lin is a dancehall girl and dressmaker's assistant in 1930s Malaya who has a sudden gift pressed into her hand during a dance: a severed finger in a glass tube.

If you saw some of these paintings — of flowers, fields and foggy townscapes — for sale at a summer art fair, you might point at one to say, "Well, maybe for the guest bathroom."

Five pictures allegedly painted by Adolf Hitler are scheduled for auction at an art house in Nuremberg Saturday. Two dozen more were pulled after German police raided the place on Thursday, on suspicion that a number of the paintings signed, "A. Hitler," are forgeries.

In Holy Lands, Harry Rosenmerck, an aging cardiologist, has left New York and his medical practice to move to Israel — to raise pigs.

His ex-wife, Monique, is battling illness. Their son David has been estranged from Harry since he came out. Their daughter Annabelle is heartsick in Paris. And his rabbi is appalled.

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