When Santa visited the LA Times*


"St. Nick at the Square," featuring night-side Metro reporter Nieson Himmel and former Times CEO Mark Willes, written by an anonymous Timesian [* see update below] and pinned to a newsroom bulletin board around 1997. In many ways, it reads as though it was written yesterday. Himmel died in 1999, the same year that the Tribune Company of Chicago bought the Times and removed Willes from the building.

'Twas the night before Christmas,
and there was a feeling of doom.
Not a reporter was smiling,
in the whole City Room.

The rumors were flying,
about the layoffs next year.
So it was hard to muster up,
much Christmas cheer.

The Times gave no presents,
they just took away.
They're charging $35 a month for parking.
That's more than a dollar a day!

Well, it was way past deadline,
on that holiday night.
And Nieson was half-dozing,
while sitting upright.

Then all of a sudden
there came such a clatter,
Nieson leaped from desk
to see what was the matter.

When what to his wondering eyes
should appear
but a miniature sleigh,
and eight tiny reindeer.

More rapid than eagles,
his coursers they came.
St. Nick whistled and shouted,
and called them by name

Nieson grabbed a notebook
and he picked up a pen.
He knew it was past deadline
'cause it was way past 10.

But this was a story,
he knew it would hold.
This was real news
that would never get old.

The fat dude, he yelled:
"Now, Dasher! Now Vixen!
On, Comet! On Cupid!
On Donner! On Blitzen!"

And then in a twinkling
Nieson heard on the roof,
the prancing and pawing
of each little hoof.

"I've got extra presents,"
St. Nick said, "but I fear ,
that the reporters I've brought them for
are no longer here"

"Why are they gone?"
St. Nick asked, shaking a mitt.
"The TImes is still making money
though the stock's fallen a bit."

Before Nieson could answer
A Times guard ran to the roof.
He approached all the reindeer,
then slipped on a hoof.

"Get off of this roof,"
the Times guard said.
"And what's with that getup?
"Why're you dressed in all red?"

This made St. Nick nervous,
And he answered real quick,
"I'm here for Christmas,
And my name is St. Nick"

The guard grabbed a phone,
and called the corporate side.
He announced, "I caught St. Nick.
He was trying to hide."

Although it was late,
and the guard had called on a whim,
Mark Willes was still here
and he yelled, "Arrest him!"

"And while you're at it,
Willes managed to say,
"His sleigh was parked on Times property,
He's got thirty-five dollars to pay!'"

* Update: The poet has been revealed as Miles Corwin, then the nightside reporter for the LA Times city desk, and now an author in Los Angeles.

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