A recent Sunday morning found NPR reporter Ari Shapiro in Washington Square Park, vaulting over a fence. After crawling along a railing like a cat, Shapiro tore off on a circuit around the southeast quadrant of the park, leaping over anything in his way. Shapiro is an enthusiastic student of parkour, the acrobatic movement that started in France. But the Sunday Timesreading bench-sitters hardly seemed to notice.
Shapiro, 30, is tall and bears a passing resemblance to the actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers. He should not necessarily have been the most energetic person in the park. The night before, his hotel room had been the staging ground for a gay bachelor party. But Shapiro hadnt attended.
Ten lawyers? Im sure it was boring! he exclaimed. After an early round of drinks, the lawyers had decamped to a sleazy downtown bar while Shapiro caught up with a non-lawyer friend across town.
Any judgments Shapiro has about attorneys have more basis than your average lawyer joke. He is married to one (the planner of the bachelor party) and he has been covering the Department of Justice for NPR from Washington, D.C. since 2005.
Earlier this year, one of Shapiros biggest scoops was powerfully confirmed. An internal Justice Department investigation found that a staff attorney had been improperly passed over for a promotion because of rumors she was a lesbian. Shapiro broke the story on NPR in April.
He said the official finding came more as a relief than as a personal triumph.
When I do a story like that, no matter how many sources I talk to, no matter how solid it is, theres still this nagging fear: What if I got the story totally wrong?
Shapiros BlackBerry tinkled. It was Mike Gottlieb, his husband, standing in a playground across the park. No sooner had they had reunited and kissed, than Shapiro brushed Gottliebs eyebrow with his thumb.
Did you bleach your eyebrows last night?
What are you talking about? Gottlieb said.
The couple ambled toward West Broadway, trading stories of their separate weekends in New York. Shapiro inquired about the bachelor party, suggesting that with all the lawyers present, it was surely a snooze.
You werent there, Gottlieb snapped back. The party, he said, had been very raunchy indeed.
At the top of West Broadway, Shapiro spotted a mens boutique that shared his first name. Gottlieb agreed: They had to go inside.
After a few minutes, Gottlieb honed in on a pale pink dress shirt on the sale pile.
Shapiro! he called out across the room.
Gottlieb? said Shapiro.
Shapiro, Im thinking of trying this shirt on.
Dont you have a similar one?
Gottlieb stepped in front of a big mirror, and checked himself out in the pink shirt. There was approval all around the room.
At the register, the cashier handed Gottlieb his purchase in a big paper shopping bag that read ARI on the side.
Gottlieb asked the sales associate for a second bag. This can be your present for this trip, he said, turning to his husband.
Great, said Shapiro, a tad archly. Ill take my lunch to work in it every day.