Scott Simon

I've had açaí berries, being one of those Americans who longs to be healthier, especially if I can do it by plopping a few berries into a smoothie.

Açaí, which to me taste a little like dull blueberries, reportedly brim with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. They are said to promote energy, healthy digestion, and even a dewier complexion.

But how do açaí berries get from the tops of trees in Brazil's Amazon into the açaí bowls that sell in San Francisco, Austin and West Des Moines?

Many are picked by children.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Updated November 29, 2021 at 10:13 AM ET

Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2020.

Animals are ... candid. It's part of why we love them. If they're hungry, they'll roar, growl or bark. If they itch, even in a most intimate and inaccessible spot, they'll scratch.

We have a dog who gets so excited about people, she relieves herself on the floor. Do we wish Daisy were more subtle in her delight? I suppose. But animals reveal what they feel without apology or restraint.

Updated October 31, 2021 at 3:49 PM ET

If you've heard people chanting, "Let's go, Brandon!" or seen someone with a shirt or hat sporting the seemingly jovial message lately, you might be wondering who Brandon is and why so many people are rooting for him.

In this case, the phrase isn't actually about supporting a guy named Brandon. Instead, it's a euphemism that many people in conservative circles are using in place of saying, "F*** Joe Biden."

Helado Negro's seventh studio album, Far In, is something of an hour-long meditation — true soundscapes, inspired by an extended stay in the austere Marfa, Texas at the beginning of last year's lockdown. Weekend Edition host Scott Simon talks with Lange about the new album, the vagaries of astrology and the endless artistic reserves residing in nature.

There's a photo that went viral in 2019, of two mountain gorillas behind a park ranger as he snaps a selfie in Congo's Virunga National Park.

One gorilla seems to glance over at the human with all the merely mild interest of a New Yorker, waiting on a subway platform, her hands at her side, as if rammed into imaginary pockets. The second gorilla, just behind the ranger, seems to lean into the shot, as if to say, "Hello! Look who's here, too!"

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This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire. It may sound strange to call something so deadly "great," but it suits Chicago's self-image as a place where things are bigger, taller, and greater, even tragedies.

The 1871 fire killed an estimated 300 people. It turned the heart of the city, wood-frame buildings quickly constructed on wooden sidewalks, into ruins, and left 100,000 people homeless.

"Six o'clock in the morning. How's your head?"

So begins a poem written this month by the Cuban writer Katherine Bisquet. She continues:

"Is it cold in Berlin?


I go to bed this morning - I'm trying to change my habits - with a complaint,


There's an animal in the front yard that eats the neighbor's pigeons.


The beast eats everything it sees in its path,


How can I tell it not to eat what doesn't belong to it?


Are there cypresses there?


Here the ceibas have lost their leaves

Neal Conan and I were once briefly roommates in Neal's apartment in a fifth floor walkup on 101st Street in New York. There was a window about the size of a cereal box over a sink that opened onto a gray gravel roof upholstered with pigeon poop.

"That's the balcony," said Neal.

How do you honor historical figures?

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced this week the state will rename nine Garden State Parkway service areas after noted New Jerseyites: Judy Blume, Celia Cruz, Connie Chung, Larry Doby, James Gandolfini, Whitney Houston, Jon Bon Jovi, Toni Morrison, and, ladies and gentlemen, the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra.

They join a few other Jerseyites already enshrined along the New Jersey Turnpike, including Alexander Hamilton, who was a rest stop in Secaucus before he was a Broadway musical.

Lucio Arreola is going to have an astounding Father's Day this year. He finds just about every day astounding now.

Arreola has a new heart; or at least, new to him. He is 50 years old, the father of three daughters and a banking executive in Puerto Rico. On April 20, doctors at Houston Methodist Hospital performed a transplant to implant inside him the heart of a deceased 25-year-old man whose identity he may never know, but to whom he and his family will always be grateful.

Parents have special eyesight. We watch our children get smarter and taller and stronger, and we dream they may someday dazzle the world. But some part of our eyes and hearts will always see them as infants we once held; children whose small hands once reached up for ours; the charmers who smiled into our faces with the power of sunlight.

Dr. Ayman Abu al-Ouf worked into the small hours last Sunday at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where he was chief of internal medicine, trained medical students and supervised a ward for COVID-19 patients.

A former colleague told the BBC, "I would say he was the most kind-hearted and compassionate person I have ever seen in my life."

I first heard of National Public Radio when it broadcast the Senate hearings into the Watergate scandal live, in the summer of 1973.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

You know what time it is? Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Bureaucratic prose is often written not to make things plain, but explain them away.

It may be especially telling this week, when 12 jurors found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd, to reread the first report the Minneapolis Police media relations office gave of Floyd's death.

I'd like to salute the great comedy writer Anne Beatts with some her own words. Anne died this week at the age of 74. But many of her signature, boundary-breaking routines are tricky to quote on a Saturday morning radio show.

"I'm often accused of 'going too far,' " she once said. "Behind my desire to shock is an even stronger desire to evade the 'feminine stereotype.' You say women are afraid of mice? I'll show you! I'll eat the mouse!"

If a cat or dog shares your domicile, I'll venture a guess that you don't refer to the four-footed family member who licks your face, naps in your lap, sleeps on your bed and inhales the redolence of your dirty socks — as if they were saturated with rose petals — as "it." You probably call them by a name; and refer to them as "he" or "she" and various nicknames inspired by their personality and habits, and for that matter, yours.

Flags were lowered to half-staff last week to remember the eight people killed by gun violence at spas in Georgia; and again this week for the 10 people killed in a Boulder, Colo. supermarket. Those crimes and tragedies made national news, and revived painful questions about race, gender and gun violence in America.

Last Saturday, a "peace march" was held in southwest Philadelphia to call for an end to gun violence there.

Poet Roya Hakakian was a teenager when she came to the United States from Iran. In A Beginner's Guide to America, she describes what it's like to step off a long airplane flight, move through glaringly bright passageways, and stand in line with most of your possessions in your hands, seeing the American flag pins on the lapels of the TSA officers — all with names like Sanchez, McWilliams and Cho, and "by God, all of them Americans."

Opinion: The 8 We Lost

Mar 20, 2021

When Amelia Pang, writer of the book Made In China, heard the news about this week's murders in Georgia, she says the spa employees who were killed reminded her of her own mother. She did different work, Pang told us, but, "she is an immigrant woman with very little means. And her life story is likely not so different from theirs. ... Who are they? How did they end up working in those salons? What were their hopes and dreams? What would they have wanted to be remembered for?"

One year ago, the coronavirus outbreak was officially named a global pandemic, and our ordinary routines came to a sudden halt.

We have lost so many lives, each of them irreplaceable; and so many millions have lost their livelihoods and have had to live in deprivation and fear. The coronavirus has intensified the sharp inequality in America, in which the poor, and old, and Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous people are at the greatest risk.

The narrator of Layla Alammar's new novel Silence is a Sense is a journalist who can't kick the habit. She's escaped the Syrian civil war and now lives in an apartment block in the UK where she looks at neighbors through her window: South Tower A, second floor. She sees the father who always forgets his key card. East Tower, third floor is the guy who barely turns on his lights and melts cheese on toast.

Kyal Sin was clear-eyed as she prepared to take part in protests this week against the military regime in Myanmar. The teenage girl wrote down her blood type in a Facebook post, should she be injured; and asked that her organs be donated should she die.

Her nickname was Angel.

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