Weekend Edition on 89.5-1

Saturdays & Sundays 7am to 10am
  • Hosted by Scott Simon and Rachel Martin

This two-hour morning newsmagazine covers hard news, a wide variety of newsmakers, and cultural stories with care, accuracy, and a wink of humor.

The nation's oldest black church reopens to the public this week after a $9-million restoration fueled in part by federal stimulus funds, and completed in painstaking detail despite the recession. Shannon Mullen tours Boston's African Meeting House with the woman who led the project.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

While Newt Gingrich may not have universal appeal among Tea Party voters, he seems to be drawing wide support from a key Republican constituency, Christian conservatives. The religious right has significant influence in many early voting states, including Iowa, which has its caucuses coming up on January 3rd.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Time now for your letters.

Last week, we spoke with artist John Morse. He creates traffic warning signs complete with haikus for the New York City Transportation Department.

JOHN MORSE: (Reading) Cyclist writes screenplay. Plot features bike lane drama. How pedestrian.

SIMON: Michael Haslam, in Bellows Falls, Vermont, asks: Is there a potential downside to the New York City haiku signs for pedestrians and bicyclists? Crossing street downtown, signs catch attention, enthrall; fatal distraction.

Anita Desai's new collection of stories, The Artist of Disappearance, reads a bit like three symphonic movements in a minor key. They're three novellas, set in modern India, where the past is giving way. In one story, a government official inspects the forgotten treasures left behind in a fated mansion. In another story, a translator becomes a little too creative; and in the third, a man living in solitude finds his world upset by roving visitors.

Classical Contemporaries Perform With A Ghost

Dec 9, 2011

What's it like to perform with a ghost?

"There was no pianist breathing or cueing me," cellist Zuill Bailey says. "The good news is that he was very consistent." Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian adds, "It's absolutely true — it takes a little bit of adjusting."

Bailey and Bayrakdarian are talking about their accompanist: the late — very late — Manuel de Falla, who died in 1946. With the help of new recording technology, the two have performed de Falla's Seven Popular Spanish Songs for a new release, The Spanish Masters.

Back in the 1930s, Boyd Lee Dunlop taught himself to play music on a broken piano left out on the streets of Buffalo, N.Y. Only half the keys worked.

He also taught his little brother Frank to play the drums while they were growing up. Frankie Dunlop went on to record with Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus, among other jazz greats. Boyd Lee Dunlop went to work in the steel mills and rail yards of Buffalo, occasionally playing piano at local clubs.

Cain Leaves Presidential Race

Dec 3, 2011

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Herman Cain is appearing before his supporters in Georgia now, and NPR's Don Gonyea is going to join us. He's speaking but, in fact, he hasn't reached what we would call the hard news lead to announce whether he's staying in the race for the Republican nomination for president, or getting out. Don, are you there?

Herman Cain Decides Campaign's Future

Dec 3, 2011

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And we're going to end with some breaking news today. Moments ago, Herman Cain announced that he is suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Here is what Mr. Cain said moments ago; his wife, Gloria, standing behind him outside of his Georgia campaign headquarters.

HERMAN CAIN: Today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD GROANING)

Celebrity auctions have become common, but once in a while there's an event that will make almost anyone stand up and take notice. After a world tour, the entire collection of Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry, clothing and memorabilia is on view starting Saturday at Christie's auction house in New York City.

After 10 days, there will be a four-day auction. Some 2,000 objects from the film star's life will be on the block, both at Christie's and online.

'Gutsy, Glamorous'

Jon Klassen's latest book, I Want My Hat Back, is the delightful story about a bear who loses, and then finds, his hat. Scott talks with Weekend Edition's ambassador to the world of children's literature, Daniel Pinkwater, about the story and the importance of art in children's books.

So many end-of-the year lists detail something trivial. But sometimes those lists can help us appreciate something obvious.

BabyCenter.com has just released their list of the most popular names for American babies in 2011.

The most popular girl's names: Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia, and Ava, which sound like they could be lifted, letter by letter, from 1960s movie marquees. The most popular boy's names: Aiden, Jackson, Mason, Liam and Jacob, which could be the name of a Boston or Chicago law firm.

Gary Oldman Steps Into A Spymaster's Shoes

Dec 3, 2011

The character of George Smiley is an iconic one — longtime spy, mild, podgy, middle-aged. He blends into the fog and the old gray streets of London.

If you're walking or biking around New York City this weekend you might look up at a busy intersection and see signs like these:

Traffic warning street signs written as haiku are appearing on poles around the five boroughs, posted by the New York City Department of Transportation. The poems and accompanying artwork were created by artist John Morse. There are 12 designs in all, 10 in English and two in Spanish.

An artist with an idyllic childhood might be as rare as a house with walls made of air, but both play a part in the story of architect John Lautner.

Lautner's homes have appeared in Hollywood movies, but the architect himself wasn't particularly well-known when he died in 1994. Still, in 2011 — the centennial year of Lautner's birth — his hometown of Marquette, Mich., has honored him with two exhibitions: one at Northern Michigan University's DeVos Art Museum and one at the Marquette Regional History Center.

Ólöf Arnalds was born and raised in Iceland, and has been part of its experimental rock scene for years.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Before you hear this next story, let's offer a caution. Hitchhiking is not generally safe. But just happens to be a way of life in Moscow. That may be about to change.

NPR's David Greene sent this postcard from the Russian capital.

A new name burst onto the top rungs of British pop charts this year with a song called, "My Heart." Well, maybe not a new name; it's actually one of the most famous names in musical history. Host Scott Simon speaks with screen legend Doris Day about her new album.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Arab League meets today in Cairo to consider imposing sanctions against Syria after Damascus rejected the League's demand that Syria allow an observer mission into the country. As protests there continue and the death toll mounts, neighboring Turkey says it's ready to join the Arab League in levying punitive measures against the government in Damascus. But as NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul, Turkey's deep reluctance to endorse a military option underscores the complex risks surrounding any foreign intervention in Syria.

It's hard not to look at some of the pictures of people surging into stores as they opened at the stroke of midnight for Black Friday sales and see some kind of crass, mindless mob.

The crowds in Cairo's Tahir Square clamor for democracy and free speech. Crowds in American shopping malls seem to clamor for Blu-rays, Xboxes and Wii consoles.

There were even a few reported instances of violence Friday among unruly shoppers, hell-bent for bargains.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Wayman Tisdale was that rare human being: a great athlete who had a great second act. But his life ended in tragedy. Wayman Tisdale was a three-time All-American at the University of Oklahoma, and a forward on the U.S. team that won Olympic gold, a great power forward for the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings. But music had been his first love.

WAYMAN TISDALE: OK, ready?

SIMON: And he left the NBA to become a jazz musician, and also, once again, great.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

'Unconquered' Explores An Isolated Amazon Tribe

Nov 26, 2011

The 7 billion people on this planet have never been so connected. People in Shanghai can communicate instantaneously with people in Sioux City — which makes it all the more remarkable that there still exists a few thousand people in the Amazon rain forest who have never had contact with modern civilization.

In 2002, National Geographic asked journalist Scott Wallace to chronicle the trip of a 34-man team to search for the perimeters of a people known as the flecheiros — or the Arrow People.

When Catholics arrive at church for the beginning of Advent this weekend, they may find themselves stumbling over not only the words, but also the music. The Vatican has changed the English-speaking Mass to make it more faithful to the Latin — and as a result, the sung portions of the Mass often don't work.

It's the most dramatic change in more than 40 years, and it has Mike McMahon working overtime with his choir.

Gadhafi's Son, Seif al-Islam, Arrested

Nov 19, 2011

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Libya today, news that Moammar Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam has been captured as he was traveling in a convoy across the southern desert of Libya. Seif was the only Gadhafi family member still at large. Officials said he would be held in the mountain town of Zintan until his transfer to Libya's capital, Tripoli. Joining us to talk more about this development is Leila Fadel, The Washington Post correspondent based in Cairo. Leila, good morning.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Europe's economy, the world's largest, is in the midst of economic turmoil. A growing debt crisis has already forced the resignations of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou as well as Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi. And forecasts from the European Union suggest the 17-nation Eurozone could be facing possible recession next year. Some analysts are considering the possible collapse of the Eurozone. The Institute for Policy Studies recently published an article titled "Is Europe Over?"

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Italy and Greece, two European countries mired in debt, are pinning their hopes on technocrats. It got us wondering, what exactly is a technocrat? For some answers, we first turned to former technocrat Ricardo Hausmann. He's an economist by trade and currently teaches at Harvard. But for a brief moment, starting in 1992...

RICARDO HAUSMANN: I was a, yeah, I was a minister of planning in the government of Venezuela.

WERTHEIMER: Hausmann left the post the following year. Politics, he says, has never been his calling.

The Sense of an Ending, winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, might be — paradoxically — Julian Barnes' slenderest and most emotionally forthcoming book to date. In his previous novels and short stories, emotion has been stifled, concealed or tucked behind technical devices (as in Flaubert's Parrot). In this latest book, feeling is laid bare and imbued into Barnes' longstanding intellectual preoccupations with authorship, authenticity and mortality.

Peggy Sue: Mining The Dark And The Discordant

Nov 18, 2011

There's no Peggy Sue — or even a Margaret or a Susan, for that matter — in the British folk-rock band Peggy Sue. There is, however, a hard-driving group that has just released its second album, Acrobats. Peggy Sue is the trio of singers and guitarists Rosa Slade and Katy Young, and drummer Olly Joyce.

Romeo Santos: Taking Bachata Mainstream

Nov 18, 2011

NPR's Don Gonyea normally reports on politics, but he finds other stories along the way, like this one about a touring bluegrass band from the Czech Republic.

The first time I heard Druha Trava play was April 2009. I was covering President Obama's trip to the Europe. There was a big outdoor speech in Prague, and the band was playing Czech versions of Bob Dylan songs.

I did a short radio postcard story back then, figuring it was the kind of experience that every music fan knows: You stumble upon a great band somewhere and never see them again.

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