Scott Simon

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. 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.

Simon's weekly show, 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." He 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. Simon 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 Nobles' Sports Book of the Year. His novel, Pretty Birds, the story of two teenage girls in Sarajevo during the siege, received rave reviews, 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. He is completing a book on their last week together that will appear in time for Mother's Day 2015.

Simon is a native of Chicago and the son of comedian Ernie Simon and Patricia Lyons Simon. His hobbies are books, theater, ballet, British comedy, Mexican cooking and "bleeding for the Chicago Cubs." He appeared as Mother Ginger in the Ballet Austin production of The Nutcracker.

Vijay Iyer is an acclaimed jazz pianist, MacArthur winner and Harvard professor of music. His new album, recorded with a six-person band, is called Far From Over. With the band, he says, he wanted to write with "different dance rhythms and dance impulses" in mind; the record also reflects Iyer's belief that jazz is "a category that keeps shifting."

Jerry Lewis could make people laugh with a sneeze. My mother remembered being in an old freight elevator with Jerry at the Chez Paree nightclub in Chicago as it rose slowly in silence to the show floor. Jerry Lewis sneezed. He didn't twist his lips or roll his eyes. Jerry just sneezed: and the waiters, janitors, and showgirls in the elevator erupted in laughter.

When Jerry Lewis died this week, at the age of 91, he was acclaimed as a clown, a genius, a humanitarian and egomaniac, all in the same breath.

Nazis don't always look like bad guys in funny helmets. The Nazis and other bigots in khaki slacks and bright polo shirts who marched in Charlottesville chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans I'd rather not repeat on a Saturday — or at all. But it's discouraging to feel that you have to explain, more than 70 years after Nazi Germany was defeated, why Nazis are still the menace that embody evil.

I am of that generation of Americans — Russians, too, I think — who grew up squatting under our school desks to practice how to survive a nuclear blast. "Duck and cover" was an actual jingle about Bert the Turtle, a cartoon character in a black and white civil defense film that was considered antique even by the time it was threaded up in our classroom. We'd squish ourselves below our desks, chortle, giggle, and wiggle our backsides.

This week President Trump said of China's president Xi Jinping, "Well, he's a friend of mine. I have great respect for him. We've gotten to know each other very well. A great leader ... I like being with him a lot. And he's a very special person."

For parents, the thought of a child being sick or hurt can be a heart-stopper. Fortunately, for those who do confront such realities, there are doctors like Kurt Newman.

Newman is president and CEO of Children's National Health System, known as Children's National, in Washington, D.C. He started there as a surgeon more than 30 years ago.

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I wait all week to say time for sports.

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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is a brilliant, scalding and essential play that is often revived. But the Complete Works Project in Oregon won't present the play this fall because the estate of the playwright, Edward Albee, won't give permission for them to cast an African-American actor in the featured role of Nick, a young professor.

The play's director, Michael Streeter, refuses to fire an actor for the color of his skin.

"I am furious and dumbfounded," he wrote on Facebook.

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The official portrait of Pat Quinn, the former governor of Illinois, was unveiled this week at the state Capitol in Springfield. There was a little more attention to the ritual this time because Pat Quinn is the first governor of Illinois in a while who hasn't left office and gone to prison.

Four of the state's last nine governors have been sent to prison. Illinois' unofficial motto may be, "A State So Great, The Governor Makes Your License Plate."

One of the world's most lauded novelists has produced her first collection of short stories in decades. The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories is by Penelope Lively, who won the Man Booker Prize in 1987 for Moon Tiger and had a bestseller in How it All Began. Her latest is a collection that looks at life in ancient Pompeii, and modern-day western metropolises. They are often short, even for short stories — and subtly simple, or, if you prefer, deceptively nuanced.

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There is a photograph that's been seen around the world this week. It seems to hold both civilization and destruction in the same frame.

The photo shows a white-haired man sitting on a bed in the midst of rubble. He sits in front of broad windows, which have been shattered; and gauzy white curtains, which flap like wounded white birds.

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We keep on learning from great lives.

On Oct. 16, 1939, just weeks after Germany invaded Poland and Britain was at war, Winston Churchill, who had warned of Germany's wicked and avaricious ambitions, was called out of political isolation to become First Lord of the Admiralty and drafted an essay in which he asked, perhaps himself as much as anyone who would read it, "Are We Alone in the Universe?"

Amnesty International released a report this week that may make you wonder how much of what we conscientiously report as important news truly is by comparison.

The human rights group, which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977, says as many as 13,000 opponents of Bashar Assad have been hanged in the Saydnaya prison on the outskirts of Damascus.

It is worth repeating that number: as many as 13,000 people, hanged to death.

The researchers interviewed 84 people, including former guards, a military judge, and 31 people who were held in two buildings of the prison.

I am surrounded by Mary Tyler Moores: smart, strong, independent women who have enriched the news business, and, for that matter, our world.

When Mary Tyler Moore died this week, at the age of 80, a lot of women in the news business — and women who are lawyers, teachers, accountants, and software engineers — cited Mary Richards, the role she played on The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1970 to 1977, as an inspiration.

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The great British actor John Hurt has died. He got his start early, said he appeared in front of an audience for the first time when he was just 9 years old.

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There is a funeral service for Ashley Theriot in Pensacola, Fla. today. She was just 32, and a gifted freelance writer.

The death of a vibrant young person is a tragedy in all ways. But the person who dies can leave a gift for someone else to go on. That can be a flesh and blood blessing.

Ashley Theriot returned from Colombia on Jan. 1 and began to have seizures. She turned out to have a rare tear in the artery of her brain stem.

They Said 'Never Again'

Dec 18, 2016

Aleppo has been slaughtered right in front of us — almost bomb by bomb, brick by brick, drop by drop.

The civilians — women, men, and children, we might remind ourselves — have died by bombardment, shooting and sniper fire, and lack of medical care in the four-year siege of Aleppo, which came to a brutal close this week.

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I always had a wonderful time in Fidel Castro's Cuba, and usually wound up feeling bad about it.

The island is beautiful, the people even sunnier: warm and friendly, especially to Americans. The responsables — government minders — assigned to each reporting crew would tease me about being from Chicago.

"Your mobsters used to run this place," they'd say. "Sam Giancana, The Godfather. You made our men bellboys and our women prostitutes." And then they'd treat you to mojitos and fabulous music.

A lot of us live in bubbles. The bubbles that took some pot-shots this week are the ones in which pundits, reporters, and other opinion-flingers who seemed dead-solid-certain that Hillary Clinton would be elected president of the United States on Tuesday live, work, breathe the same air, and seem to exhale similar opinions.

I know baseball is not real life.

While Chicago's streets teemed with loud whoops and waving banners as the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, 18 more people were killed over two days on the south and west sides of the city. The number of homicides in Chicago has surged past 600 this year. 2016 could be the city's deadliest year in nearly 20, and the people in those afflicted neighborhoods, usually a long way from Wrigley Field, will remember this year more for their losses than any World Series victory.

I have a special respect for political losers. Losing can reveal a candidate's character in a humbling, vulnerable moment.

An Ohio politician who lost a race for governor once explained to me that most politicians are used to being popular. They were often class officers and top athletes as kids, who become lawyers, professors, or business owners. They get used to people listening to them, and laughing at their jokes.

What's in a name?

The Chicago White Sox, mired in in the middle of the American League Central division, announced this week they've signed a 13 year deal to rename the park where they play Guaranteed Rate Field.

Guaranteed Rate is a home loan company, headquartered in Chicago.

But as Rick Morrisey wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, "Guaranteed Rate Field. You're kidding, right? Was Year End Clearance Sale Stadium already taken?"

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