Scott Simon

From Ground Zero in New York to ground zero in Kabul, to police stations, subway platforms, and darkened theaters, NPR's Peabody-Award-winning correspondent Scott Simon brings a well-traveled perspective to his role as host of Weekend Edition Saturday.

Simon joined NPR in 1977 as chief of its Chicago bureau. Since then, he has reported from all 50 states, covered presidential campaigns and eight wars, and reported from Central America, Africa, India, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. In 2002, Simon took leave of his usual post at Weekend Edition Saturday to cover the war in Afghanistan for NPR. He has also reported from Central America on the continuing wars in that region; from Cuba on the nation's resistance to change; from Ethiopia on the country's famine and prolonged civil war; from the Middle East during the Gulf War; and from the siege of Sarajevo and the destruction of Kosovo.

Simon has received numerous honors for his reporting. His work was part of the Overseas Press Club and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards NPR earned for coverage of Sept. 11 and its aftermath. He was part of the NPR news teams that won prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for covering the war in Kosovo as well as the Gulf War. In 1989, he won a George Foster Peabody Award for his weekly radio essays. The award commended him for his sensitivity and literary style in coverage of events including the murder of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador and the San Francisco earthquake. Simon also accepted the Presidential End Hunger Award for his series of reports on the 1987-1988 Ethiopian civil war and drought. He received a 1986 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for his coverage of racism in a South Philadelphia neighborhood, and a 1986 Silver Cindy for a report on conditions at the Immigration and Naturalization Service's detention center in Harlingen, Texas.

Simon received a Major Armstrong Award in 1979 for his coverage of the American Nazi Party rally in Chicago, and a Unity Award in Media in 1978 for his political reporting on All Things Considered. He also won a 1982 Emmy for the public television documentary The Patterson Project, which examined the effects of President Reagan's budget cuts on the lives of 12 New Jersey residents.

Simon has been a frequent guest host of the CBS television program Nightwatch and CNBC's TalkBack Live. In addition to hosting Weekend Edition Saturday, Simon has appeared as an essayist and commentator on NBC's Weekend Today and NOW with Bill Moyers. He has hosted many public television programs, including "Voices of Vision," "Life on the Internet," "State of Mind," "American Pie," "Search for Common Ground," and specials on privacy in America and democracy in the Middle East. He also narrated the documentary film "Lincoln of Illinois" for PBS. Simon participated in the Grammy Award-nominated 50th anniversary remake of The War of the Worlds (co-starring Jason Robards), and hosted public television's coverage of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Simon has hosted the BBC series Eyewitness, which was seen in the United States on the Discovery Channel, and a BBC special on the White House press corps. Simon was also a featured co-anchor of PBS's millennium special broadcast in 2000.

Simon has written for The New York Times' Book Review and Opinion sections, the Wall Street Journal opinion page, the Los Angeles Times, and Gourmet Magazine.

The son of comedian Ernie Simon and actress Patricia Lyons, Simon grew up in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Montreal, Cleveland, and Washington, DC. He attended the University of Chicago and McGill University, and he has received a number of honorary degrees.

Simon's book Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan was published in the spring of 2000 by Hyperion, a division of Disney. It topped the Los Angeles Times nonfiction bestseller list for several weeks, and was cited as one of the best books of the year in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and several other publications. His second book, Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, kicked off the prestigious Wiley Turning Points series in September of 2002, and was the Barnes & Noble "Sports Book of the Year." Simon's first novel, Pretty Birds, about female teenaged snipers in Sarajevo, was released in May 2005 and acclaimed as "the start of a brilliant new career." His most recent novel, a political comedy called Windy City, was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the best novels of 2008.

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Around the Nation
6:52 am
Sat April 5, 2014

'Muse Of Painting' Came To Churchill's Rescue — And Bush's

Originally published on Sat April 5, 2014 10:18 am

Portraits of world leaders painted by former President George W. Bush go on exhibit in Dallas on Saturday. He took up the hobby after he read Winston Churchill's essay, "Painting as Pastime."

Simon Says
7:09 am
Sat March 29, 2014

A Bill To Distill Simmers In Tennessee

What legally makes whiskey taste like Tennessee?
Piotr Wawryniuk iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat March 29, 2014 10:27 am

Would Tennessee whiskey by any other name taste as sweet?

A debate in Tennessee simmers over a legal definition of what makes Tennessee whiskey "Tennessee."

The state legislature passed a bill last year saying whiskey can be labeled "Tennessee" only if it's made in the state from a mash that's 51-percent corn, trickles through maple charcoal, and is aged in new, charred oak barrels.

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Simon Says
6:50 am
Sat March 22, 2014

A Tatar's Death Chills Those Who Suffered Under Russia Before

Crimean Tatars carry the body of Reshat Ametov during his funeral outside the town of Simferopol on Tuesday.
Vasily Fedosenko Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Sat March 22, 2014 10:18 am

Amid all the of necessary analysis of what Russia's move into Crimea means geopolitically and strategically, it might also be good to remember Reshat Ametov.

Mr. Ametov was buried this week. He was 39 years old, married and the father of three young children.

He was last seen at a demonstration on March 3 in Simferopol, where he joined other Crimean Tatars held a silent protest before the pro-Russian armed men in unmarked uniforms who surrounded the cabinet ministers building.

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Simon Says
8:58 am
Sat February 22, 2014

Ukrainian Olympic Skier's Stand Is A Sacrifice For Her Country

Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska decided not to compete in Friday's slalom race, in a show of solidarity with protesters in Kiev.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 22, 2014 12:06 pm

Sports are supposed to be separate from politics, but athletes and games can't always be kept separate from life and death.

Scores of people were killed in Ukraine this week, as the security forces of President Viktor Yanukovich opened fire on anti-government protesters in Kiev's Maidan, now called Independence Square.

While some 800 miles away, more than 40 Ukrainian athletes have been skiing, skating, working hard to win medals at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

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Around the Nation
7:03 am
Sat February 22, 2014

Girl Scout Sells Cookies Outside Medical Marijuana Clinic

Originally published on Sat February 22, 2014 12:06 pm

Girl Scout cookies are never that hard to sell, but this week, one 13-year-old San Franciscan may have outsmarted the competition altogether.

Simon Says
9:34 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Shirley Temple's Films Still Charm After All These Years

Shirley Temple started performing in films when she was just 3 years old.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 9:47 pm

Shirley Temple really could be as effervescent as a jolt of ginger ale and as cheery as a maraschino cherry in the kid's cocktail that is still ordered by her name. When Shirley Temple Black, the name she used after her marriage to Charles Black, laughed — and she liked to laugh — tears came to her eyes.

She told us how once she'd been called to jury duty, and learned the case involved erotic bondage.

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Opinion
10:20 am
Sat February 8, 2014

Forego The Faux Snow: The Games Could Use A Permanent Home

China's National Stadium, right, and National Aquatics Center, cost half a billion dollars to build and struggle to attract visitors.
Greg Baker AP

Originally published on Sat February 8, 2014 1:43 pm

The Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, are certifiably the most expensive and allegedly staggeringly corrupt.

Upwards of $50 billion has been spent to turn a place that's been best known as a Black Sea beach resort, where rich Russians could warm themselves under palm trees during long Moscow winters, into a winter sports capital with ski slopes and bobsled runs.

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Simon Says
9:03 am
Sat February 1, 2014

Opera Star Renee Fleming Brings Grace To The Super Bowl

Opera singer Renee Fleming will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" live on Sunday night.
Larry Busacca Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 11:00 pm

Who knows who'll win the Super Bowl tomorrow, but history will be made before the coin toss.

Renee Fleming will sing the national anthem at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. She is the first opera star to be asked, and it seems so utterly fitting, both for the first Super Bowl to be played within view of the towers of New York, and in the 200th anniversary year of the national anthem.

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Simon Says
9:10 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Rodman's Tour Of North Korea: Diplomacy Or Propaganda?

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman leaves a sports arena after a practice session for North Korean basketball players in Pyongyang in December 2013.
David Guttenfelder AP

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 11:53 am

There's been a publicity circus trailing Dennis Rodman to North Korea to present a big, bouncing birthday present of a basketball game to Kim Jong Un. But did you see the score of the game?

The U.S. team of former NBA players lost the first half, 47 to 39, before the sides were combined.

Well, if you play a team sponsored by a ruthless leader who recently had his own uncle iced, losing is probably the smart move.

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Simon Says
5:12 am
Sat December 7, 2013

As We Memorialize Mandela, Remember Those Who Stood With Him

Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu raise their fists in 1990, one day after Mandela was released from jail.
Walter Dhladhla AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 2:36 pm

By the time he died this week, Nelson Mandela was considered one of the few — perhaps the only — giants on the world stage.

But the man who was prisoner 466/64 on Robben Island was a giant among heroes who offered their lives for freedom as valiantly as he did. In a way, the acclaim the world now heaps so justly on Nelson Mandela commemorates them, too.

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Simon Says
7:07 am
Sat October 26, 2013

Modern Love Is More About Algorithms Than 'Witchcraft'

survey also found 23 percent of online daters found a spouse or long-term partner that way." href="/post/modern-love-more-about-algorithms-witchcraft" class="noexit lightbox">
The Pew Internet and American Life Project survey also found 23 percent of online daters found a spouse or long-term partner that way.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat October 26, 2013 10:28 am

The Pew Research Center issued a report this week with findings that may sound unremarkable, but have implications to alter not just how we live, but what we dream, fantasize, gossip and sing about.

Online dating has become commonplace.

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Simon Says
4:33 am
Sat September 7, 2013

When Weighing Intervention In Syria, Consider The Children

Leo del Aguila (from left), Vesa Gashi, Scott Simon, Erblin Mehmetaj and Shawn Fox in 1999 in a housing complex in Pristina. Del Aguila, Simon and Fox were covering the Kosovo conflict for NPR; the children lived in the war-stricken area.
Courtesy of Erblin Mehmetaj

Originally published on Sat September 7, 2013 12:01 pm

I was in a grocery store one night this week when a sturdy young man approached with a smile.

"Do you remember me?" he asked. "Bini."

Bini — Erblin Mehmataj — was a bony-shouldered 9-year-old boy with a full, toothy grin who lived in an Albanian Muslim housing complex in Pristina, where we stayed to cover the war in Kosovo in 1999.

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Simon Says
4:27 am
Sat August 24, 2013

Remembering Elmore Leonard, A Writer Who Hated Literature

Many of Elmore Leonard's stories have been adapted for the screen, from the movie Get Shorty to the TV show, Justified.
Vince Bucci Getty Images

Originally published on Sat August 24, 2013 10:39 am

Elmore Leonard was a writer who hated — and I don't mean disliked; Elmore had a contempt for putting pretty clothes on hard, direct words, so I mean hated — literature, or at least what he believed a lot of people mean when they say liter-a-ture, as if it were a Members Only club.

Elmore Leonard wrote for a living, from the time in his 20s when he turned out ads for Detroit department stores and vacuum cleaners during the day, and wrote cowboy and crime stories for pulp magazines at night.

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Simon Says
4:47 am
Sat July 13, 2013

Retire The Phrase, 'This Wouldn't Be A Scandal In Europe'

Reporters swarm around former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer as he attempts to collect signatures for his run for New York City comptroller.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 12:22 pm

I hope we've heard the last of people saying, "This would never be a scandal in Europe." They usually mean "sex scandal," and by now I think Americans are entitled to boast that we've become as blase about politicians with their pants down — or, in the case of Anthony Weiner, pec-flexing with his shirt off — as Europeans like to think they are.

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Middle East
5:39 am
Sat June 1, 2013

Peaceful Protest Over Istanbul Park Turns Violent

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 6:55 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is Weekend Edition from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon.

(SOUNDBITE OF RIOTING)

SIMON: Turkish riot police fired tear gas and water cannons on demonstrators in downtown Istanbul during a second day of protests. The clashes were triggered by the government's plan to build a shopping mall in a downtown park. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called for an immediate end to the protest. NPR's Peter Kenyon joins us from Istanbul. Peter, thanks for being with us.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Hi, Scott.

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Simon Says
4:29 am
Sat June 1, 2013

High School Newspapers: An Endangered Species

Student newspapers may be the latest victims of social media.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 1, 2013 1:49 pm

Does your local high school have a student newspaper? And in this day when a social media message saying, "Tonight's Green Design and Technology class homework sucks!" can instantly be sent to thousands, does it need to?

The New York Times reports this week that only 1 in 8 of New York's public high schools has a student newspaper — and many of those are published just a few times a year. A few more are online, which can leave out poorer schools.

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Simon Says
7:54 am
Sat May 11, 2013

The X-ray Vision Of Mothers

Mothers somehow know when we've been bad, but when times are tough, they also have our back.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat May 11, 2013 1:10 pm

Mothers have eyes in the back of their heads. They may not show up on X-rays, but they're there.

Like a lot of youngsters, I used to get my mother to turn her head so I could search through her hair for the eyeballs she claimed to have back there, telling her, "No you don't! No you don't!" But when I'd scamper off to another part of the apartment and pick up an ashtray or fiddle with the window blinds, I'd hear my mother's voice ring out, "I can see you! I know what you're up to!"

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Simon Says
10:08 am
Sat April 20, 2013

A 'Tough, Smart, Proud Town' Meets Terror With Determination

Boston residents celebrated Friday night after law enforcement officers captured one of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat April 20, 2013 12:57 pm

People in Boston can speak for themselves. And do. Loudly, bluntly and often with humor that bites.

It's a city that speaks with both its own broad, homebrew, local accent — although no one really pahks thea cah in Havahd Yahd — and dialects from around the world. It is home to some of America's oldest founding families, and fathers, mothers and children who have just arrived from Jamaica, Ireland, Bangladesh and Ghana.

There are people in Boston who dress in pinstripes and tweeds, and tattoos and spiked hair. Sometimes, they are even the same person.

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Remembrances
4:07 am
Sat April 13, 2013

How Did All Those People Get Inside Jonathan Winters?

Originally published on Sat April 13, 2013 9:11 am

You can call anyone but Einstein a genius and start an argument.

Well, maybe Einstein or Jonathan Winters. The comedian, who died Friday at the age of 87, was immediately hailed by Steve Martin, Robin Williams and others as a genius.

He made hit comedy albums, was a regular on the old Tonight Show, memorably knocked down a gas station in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World and co-starred with and inspired Robin Williams.

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Simon Says
4:11 am
Sat April 6, 2013

Roger Ebert: Elegance and Empathy

The iconic Chicago photographer Art Shay took portraits of presidents, prizefighters, prose poets — and in the person of Roger Ebert, at least one Pulitzer-winning critic.
Art Shay

Originally published on Sun April 7, 2013 10:08 am

Roger Ebert was a critic, not a blowtorch. He could be sharp if he thought a movie insulted the audience, but had a champ's disdain for a cheap shot.

Many critics ridiculed the film Deep Throat when it came out in 1973. Who couldn't mock its absurdities? Roger just wrote, "If you have to work this hard at sexual freedom, maybe it isn't worth the effort."

Roger Ebert was a Chicago newspaperman who typed with two fingers — it sounded like a machine gun, columnist Bob Greene remembered on Friday — who was from the age when reporters were fueled by ink and booze.

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Commentary
7:13 am
Sat March 23, 2013

Resurrected Frog Gives Us Cause To Brood

This week scientists announced they have reproduced the genome of an extinct amphibian, the gastric brooding frog.
Auscape/UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 23, 2013 1:06 pm

The gastric brooding frog may be coming back. Does that give us a lot to brood about, too?

This week scientists at the University of New South Wales' Lazarus Project announced they have reproduced the genome — that bit of biological material that carries our genetic structure — of a gastric brooding frog.

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Simon Says
7:18 am
Sat March 9, 2013

Snowquester Fizzles, But We're Humbled Anyway

The failed Snowquester reminds us, during a time of national debate, that experts can still be wrong.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 9, 2013 1:22 pm

Snowquester fizzled.

Wednesday was more or less canceled this week in official Washington, D.C. An enormous winter storm bore down on the region, threatening ice, a foot of snow in the city (more in the suburbs), and wind and misery throughout the region.

Most of the federal government was closed. I know, I know. How could they tell? Local governments and schools, too. Flights were canceled, planes diverted, and throngs descended on grocery stores, picking the shelves clean of bread, milk and toilet tissue.

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Commentary
7:11 am
Sat March 2, 2013

Pianist Van Cliburn, Warmed Russian Hearts During Cold War

Van Cliburn accepts flowers from the audience in the Moscow Conservatory in April 1958, after a performance during the first International Tchaikovsky Competition, which he won.
Courtesy Van Cliburn Foundation AP

Originally published on Sat March 2, 2013 5:35 pm

Van Cliburn thawed out the Cold War.

He went to Moscow in 1958 for the first International Tchaikovsky Competition. When he sat down to play, Russians saw a tall, 23-year-old Texan, rail thin and tousle-haired, with great, gangly fingers that grew evocative and eloquent when he played the music of the true Russian masters — Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and Borodin.

Cliburn died Wednesday at his home in Fort Worth, Texas. He was 78.

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Simon Says
4:20 am
Sat February 16, 2013

Is Honest Abe's Stovepipe Hat A Fake?

Abraham Lincoln's iconic stovepipe hat is on display at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 9:06 am

Abraham Lincoln's black stovepipe hat is an icon. It seemed to enhance his height, emphasize his dignity and, I suppose, keep his head warm.

There is a stovepipe hat at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., soiled and slightly brown with age. Lincoln is said to have given it to William Waller, a farmer and political supporter in Jackson County, Ill., and kept by his family for decades.

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Simon Says
4:12 am
Sat February 2, 2013

History Sometimes Rewards Those Who Are Sidelined

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith looks on from the sidelines during the overtime period against the New York Giants on Jan. 22, 2012, in San Francisco.
G. Newman Lowrance AP

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 4:26 am

You might look for a player along the sidelines in the Super Bowl on Sunday named Alex Smith and wonder, as he might, if he'll be the next Wally Pipp or Ken Mattingly.

Pipp was the Yankee first baseman in 1925 who had a headache and was told to take two aspirin and sit out the game. A young player named Lou Gehrig took his place — and stayed at first base for 14 years, becoming one of baseball's most storied players.

Pipp wound up working in a screw factory. He was a good sport who told fans in later years, "I took the two most expensive aspirin in history."

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Simon Says
4:28 am
Sat January 26, 2013

'Ebony' Editor Began Life Black In Nazi Germany

Hans Massaquoi told his story in Destined to Witness: Growing up Black in Nazi Germany. The former managing editor of Ebony magazine died on his 87th birthday last Saturday.
Matthew P. D'Agostino AP

Originally published on Sat January 26, 2013 4:36 pm

The proudest moment of Hans Massaquoi's boyhood was when his babysitter sewed a swastika on his sweater. He was a 7-year-old boy in Hamburg who wanted to be part of the excitement of the times he saw. But when his mother got home, she snipped off the swastika.

He also wanted to join the Hitler Youth. "They had cool uniforms," Massaquoi wrote years later, "and they did exciting things — camping, parades, playing drums."

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Simon Says
9:29 am
Sat January 12, 2013

Cheating Might Buy Home Runs, But No Hall Of Fame

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 12:23 pm

The Baseball Hall of Fame is a tourist attraction, not a papal conclave. And the people who cast votes for the Hall are sportswriters, not the College of Cardinals.

But there was something momentous this week when the Baseball Writers Association elected no one to the Hall of Fame. Not Roger Clemens, who won a record seven Cy Young Awards. Not Barry Bonds, who hit a record 762 home runs. Not Sammy Sosa, who hit 60 or more home runs in a season three times.

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Simon Says
7:36 am
Sat January 12, 2013

Baseball Hall Of Fame Snub Draws The Line

Originally published on Sat January 12, 2013 8:22 am

There was something momentous this week when the Baseball Writers Association elected no one to the Hall of Fame. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon remarks on the rebuke, rare in a sport where bad behavior is routine.

Commentary
8:48 am
Sat December 22, 2012

The Mayan Apocalypse: Worthwhile, In Hindsight

Visitors at the Chichen Itza archaeological park in Yucatan state, Mexico, celebrate the end of the Mayan calendar cycle. Even a failed apocalypse has value, in reminding us that life is fragile and unpredictable.
Pedro Pardo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 10:40 am

Yesterday came and went, but I never finished Ulysses. I never took up skydiving. Come to think of it, I didn't even really finish cleaning up my closet before the "Mayan Apocalypse," which did not occur yesterday, Dec. 21.

I remember thinking,"Finally, I get a Friday off — but there's an apocalypse."

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Simon Says
5:54 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Good Intentions, Complicated Results

The photo that touched many hearts: New York City Police Officer Lawrence DePrimo gives a shoeless man a pair of boots on a frigid night last month.
Jennifer Foster NYPD via Facebook

Originally published on Sat December 8, 2012 2:57 pm

When news organizations, including ours, told of New York Police Officer Lawrence DePrimo buying boots for a barefoot man on the streets of Times Square one cold night last month, it seemed an irresistible holiday story: A kindly cop in a hard city helps a bedraggled man walking with blistered feet over some of the richest streets in the world.

The nameless, shoeless man became the best-known street person in America — just long enough to be recognized walking along the Upper West Side, where a New York Times reporter found him.

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