Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Políticas Públicas de Sanders sopla Clinton y Otros Candidatos Fuera del Agua


Sanders no ha abordado formalmente solo la desigualdad de ingresos, pero las condiciones que crearon comunidades negras empobrecidas. Décadas de discriminación extrema en la vivienda, el empleo, la imposibilidad de obtener préstamos para pequeñas empresas u hogares, y la incapacidad para conseguir aprovechar los programas gubernamentales beneficiosos como el GI Bill después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial tienen la riqueza negro en promedio un 5% de la riqueza blanco. El economista Richard Rothstein detalla cómo la política gubernamental obligó a los afroamericanos a permanecer en ghettos del centro urbano, las políticas que permanecieron en el lugar durante toda la nación y cuya herencia afecta a los afroamericanos en la actualidad.

Bernie es el único político importante que completamente ha reconocido cómo la política pública creado estos guetos. Sus planes para deshacer esta política es horrible, para fomentar la inversión en las comunidades de bajos ingresos. Él no es compatible con las reparaciones, sino que apoya el gobierno y la inversión del sector privado en las comunidades de bajos ingresos de colores. Sanders, como Rothstein toma nota de que la política federal creó los proyectos de vivienda y guetos del centro urbano, que tomará una reversión de la política federal para poner fin a esto. Esto significa que necesitamos un gobierno que no permite que las empresas de acumular grandes cantidades de dinero, mientras que la deslocalización de puestos de trabajo en el país tercero del mundo más barato disponible. No sólo ha de libre comercio perjudicado aún más comunidades negras pobres, comunidades de la clase trabajadora blanca ya tienen el aumento de las tasas de mortalidad debido a la insuficiencia de ingresos ya que las empresas utilizan la deslocalización y la subcontratación a empresas de trabajo temporal a otra fuente de ingresos los trabajadores más bajos y que terminan por completo cualquier sentido de la estabilidad en el empleo para los trabajadores . Sanders va mucho más allá de Clinton en desafiar el sector empresarial en estos temas. Cabe señalar que la administración Clinton antes de firmar los acuerdos TLCAN y la OMC que devastaron aún más la mano de obra. Ataques de la era de Reagan contra el trabajo, así como el gobierno dando licencias excesivas a las tiendas de licores en los barrios pobres negros, que ofrecen en ese momento poco en la forma de tratamiento para problemas de adicción a las personas pobres ayudó a contribuir a la era de crack. La respuesta de Clinton a esto fue las tasas de encarcelamiento en masa que crearon un gran número de hombres negros no pueden trabajar debido a sus antecedentes penales. El esposo de Clinton llamó el Negro Lives activistas de los delincuentes cuando se enfrentaron a él. Sanders por el contrario quiere hacera frentelos problemas de raíz que causan tanta miseria en las comunidades negras, y que ahora están contribuyendo al aumento de las tasas de mortalidad entre los estadounidenses blancos de clase trabajadora. Está claro que Sanders es el candidato superior, por el momento, y que lo necesitamos como Presidente, así como más gente como él elegidos para el cargo de todos los niveles. Es hora de que la nación entera para sentir el Bern.

Activismo Canalizada Través del Escuelas de Pública


El apoyo del estado financiado de ESL y otros programas que atienden a las minorías han permitido la movilidad ascendente para las minorías en California y esto ha llevado a altos niveles de aceptación en la Universidad de California. Los activistas tratan de dar a las minorías el acceso a los servicios gubernamentales que crearon la clase media blanca. Ellos promueven programas que incluso las disparidades educativas entre niños de diferentes orígenes socioeconómicos y raciales. Estos programas también contratan a personas de municipios y proporcionan una vía para la clase media para sus empleados. Esto ha sido beneficioso para las minorías, a veces, ya que estos programas hacen para ayudar a los grupos raciales / étnicos marginados también contratar a muchas personas de esos grupos. El sistema educativo ha servido durante mucho tiempo como un programa de puestos de trabajo que se expande la clase media, y California en su abrazo temprana de ESL y educación bilingüe se ha movido por delante de otros estados en la incorporación de las minorías en la clase media.

California utiliza la educación como un programa de empleo para hacer frente a las cantidades en acelerado aumento de los latinos y los asiáticos. Las leyes de derechos civiles llevan a la Ley Hart-Celler, que abolió las cuotas para los inmigrantes europeos a los EE.UU.. Una vez que los EE.UU. fue abierto, el número de inmigrantes asiáticos e hispanos aumentó rápidamente. Esto condujo a enormes nuevas poblaciones de niños que eran personas que no hablan inglés. Los sistemas de educación pública y el estado de California tuvieron que hacer frente a estas cuestiones. Activistas de la comunidad lucharon por los programas de educación y de ESL bilingües en sus distritos locales. Se contrató a profesores de las comunidades que hablaban chino español o para enseñar a esos idiomas. Estos maestros no estaban acreditados. Más tarde en la burocracia educativa instituido requisitos para la educación bilingüe y ESL, pero para entonces se llevaron a cabo otros cambios importantes en relación con la inclusión de maestros pertenecientes a minorías. Activistas en California llevan la carga para la creación de los estudios étnicos en las universidades. El objetivo era que no sólo promueven orgullo étnico, sino de proporcionar empleo para los latinos y los asiáticos. Se ayudó a sentar las bases para la creación de una clase media latina y asiática. La innovación de California en la educación bilingüe y ESL, más el apoyo de ESL para adultos a través de los distritos escolares locales ayudó a más familias inmigrantes se mueven hacia arriba socioeconómica.

Otro ejemplo de cómo contratar y capacitar a los miembros locales de una población minoritaria creado movilidad socioeconómica se produjo en Mississippi. El programa de ventaja inicial en Mississippi desde la década de 1960 llamado CDGM fue formado por una coalición de activistas locales y del Norte. Se entrenaron mujeres de la localidad con la educación media para trabajar como maestros de Head Start. Alrededor de este punto negros de Mississippi tenían bajas tasas de alfabetización y un gran número de ellos trabajaban en el sector agrícola o en el servicio doméstico. El programa de ventaja inicial dio muchas mujeres negras en Mississippi su primer empleo y capacitación laboral formal. Muchos de ellos eran capaces de avanzar para obtener la educación universitaria e incluso graduados. El programa de ventaja inicial, además de la enseñanza de la alfabetización niños Negro, trató de contrarrestar los estereotipos negativos que se habían arraigado en el pueblo negro debido a la opresión extrema. Los programas tratado de preparar a los niños para un mundo en el que tendrían que luchar por sus derechos y por la capacidad de moverse hacia arriba socioeconómica. En Wisconsin una dinámica más cerca de California ocurrió con los inmigrantes a los negros del Sur. A medida que los negros se unieron a la expansión de migrantes comunidades empobrecidas, activistas como William Kelly lucharon por las autoridades escolares locales para contratar maestros negros.

Los esfuerzos para aumentar la matrícula de minorías han dado resultado en California. En California, mientras la economía sigue recuperándose el sistema de la UC se ha incrementado el número de residentes que acepta. Durante la recesión, el sistema de la Universidad de California aceptó más provecho de los estudiantes estatales e internacionales para compensar los déficits de presupuesto, ya que recibieron subsidios estatales reducidos. Con tanto las finanzas universitarias y estatales recuperaron, el sistema de la Universidad de California ofreció la admisión a un 15% más californianos. El diario Los Angeles Times informa que el número de latinos admitidos en el sistema de la UC aumentaron de 16 608 a 22, 704, lo que representa el 32% del total de la clase admitida. En general, el sistema de la UC admitió 66, 123 estudiantes de primer año en el sistema. El número de los negros aumentó de 2.337 a 3.083, lo que representa un 4,7%. Los blancos y los asiáticos americanos representan el 25% y el 34,3% por ciento, respectivamente. California es un estado de mayoría minoritaria y el sistema de la UC está reflejando eso. Los estudiantes minoritarios aceptados en UCLA mencionan los programas del sector sin fines de lucro y desde el sistema de la UC como jugar papeles importantes en guiándolos a los cursos apropiados para tomar con el fin de ser competitivos solicitudes para la universidad. La investigación ha indicado que la educación bilingüe tiene beneficios cognitivos a largo plazo. El Instituto Nacional de Salud afirma que los bilingües tienen mejor capacidad de atención, habilidades de conmutación aumento de tareas, el aumento de la capacidad de adaptación a los cambios ambientales, y menos deterioro cognitivo en la vejez. Hay un número de escuelas bilingües de caracteres en California. Las escuelas charter están cumpliendo una función de su misión, de ser innovadora en la educación bilingüe. Los programas que California tiene que las minorías de ayuda no se limitan a los menores de 18. Los distritos escolares locales y el estado también financian ESL para adultos.

Otros factores aparte de los cambios en la política de educación que han llevado a un aumento de la matrícula universitaria minoría en California. Los estudiantes entrevistaron en los citados artículos los Angeles Times mencionó todo el trabajo duro que ponen en hacer bien en la escuela. Y seguramente los padres de estos estudiantes a ambos apoyados emocionalmente y financieramente. No hay duda de la responsabilidad individual y familiar como en juego en estos casos y juega un papel importante. Esto no niega el hecho de una buena política pública en forma de dibujo educadores de estas comunidades ayudaron a abrir las vías para estos estudiantes minoritarios para entrar en el sistema de la UC en cifras récord. El aumento de la matrícula de los residentes de California, así como la creciente población latina y asiática eran obviamente factores en el aumento de la matrícula de minorías. Sin embargo hay que tener en cuenta que en la década de 1960 los estudiantes de ESL fueron colocados en clases para niños con retraso mental y tenía muy altas tasas de deserción. Es evidente que la creación de programas que atienden a las minorías lingüísticas y el cese de las prácticas discriminatorias hacia las minorías lingüísticas hicieron enormes diferencias en los resultados educativos de California entonces y California ahora.

California es un ejemplo de cómo la contratación de más educadores minoritarios aumenta el número de minorías de clase media y proporciona vías para otros a seguir su educación superior. Más esfuerzos deben hacerse para contratar maestros minoritarios de las comunidades que tienen problemas con la escasez de maestros. En la contratación de los locales de estas comunidades existe una clara vía para salir de la pobreza para aquellos que son contratados como puestos de trabajo en la educación son estables con buenas prestaciones. En 2016 la ciudad de Nueva York anunció que iba a contratar a 1.000 hombres de las minorías de CUNY para enseñar en las escuelas públicas de Nueva York. Este programa necesita ser ampliado. Ahora que Nueva York tiene universales pre-k aquellos maestros también deben ser contratados de las comunidades locales NYC que vayan a enseñar él. Estas iniciativas deben ser ampliados a nivel nacional. Los programas que ayudaron a esas minorías con baja representación en California en convertirse en estudiantes competitivos para el sistema de la UC se deben crear o ampliado en otros estados.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Transformation in the 21st Century


Harold Smith sits in his living room, drinking coffee. Harold is an shriveled up old man in his 90s. He looks at his sleek tablet and reads the news online. The date is Dec. 23, 2094. Harold has work to do before his husband Frank Torres gets home. In Frank’s advanced age he is still able to drive limousines. Though Harold truly loves Frank, Frank’s battle with depression often annoyed him. But regardless, today Harold has work to do. This is work that must be done in secret. Harold is a powerful sorcerer unknown to Frank. He chants. Today is the day when he must commune with the spirit world of his family line. An astral image appears. The image is that of Harold’s father Nate.

“Hello, father.”

“Son, you are the last of your line. I was destroyed before I could father another son. Your cousins were all killed in the battle with the Brinsley clam.”

“What do you expect me to do about it?”

“You must father children, Harold. With the most negative woman you can find. Only a vile negative person can carry our seed.”

“I’m gay Dad.”

“If our lines ends with you I will torment you endlessly in the afterlife. Find a way to father kids and continue my line, or you will suffer as though you never thought possible.”

“I’ll see what I can do father.”

Nate smiles. Then he disappears.

Frank enters. He staggers in drunk. Harold looks at him with pity. Nothing seems to stop Frank’s alcoholism. Frank collapses on the couch.

“Hey babe. Has my nephew Juan come over?”, said Frank.

“No, he hasn’t. Shouldn’t you stop drinking so much?”

“When pigs fly!”

“Suit yourself. I have to go out on an errand.”

Harold leaves the apartment. He walks down the street. He concentrates all around and looks for the perfect woman. His magic summons a woman to him. But she’s horribly fat. A snap of his fingers dismisses her. He works his magic again. A horrible old woman comes to him. Clearly she went through menopause decades ago. He dismisses her. He walks along the street till he sees a newspaper at a newstand. An article titled the transformation machine is there. As he reads the article, it says how the latest research has come up with a machine that can reshape the human body. An old body can be made young. The machine can instantly perform surgeries and even genetically modify bodies. Harold grabs the article and heads home.

Harold opens the door. Frank is still sleeping. He wakes him up.
“What the hell, Harold?”
Harold shows him the article.

“We can be young again!”

“You woke me up for this bullshit? I don’t want to be young and stupid again.”

“Stop being such a miserable old drunk. You’re coming with me whether you want to or not.”

At the university medical center, Harold and Frank both sign in. The clerk takes them to the machine that they both look at in awe. Harold smiles at the machine. He’ll be a young man again, and this will surely make it easier for him to find the perfect bitter woman to have his children. Besides, as an old man he possibly didn’t have the sperm to impregnate a woman. Harold walks towards the machine.

“I’m going in first.”

Harold enters the machine. Frank looks in fear. A blindly light comes out of the machine. Out stumbles Harold, a hot, handsome 25 year old lookimg man.

“It feels so wonderful to be young again. It’s your turn now.”

“Never. This is bullshit and unnatural. And stupid. I don’t know how I let you talk me into even being here. Fine, you’re young again. Go back to the clubs and the sites and whore around like you did when you were young again.” Harold waves his hand and Frank is slammed across the room.

“What has the machine done to you?”

“I was always a warlock, you rotten old fool”

Frank’s eyes grow wide with fear. Harold laughs. He looks at the machine. He looks at Frank.

“I should let you rot and be worm food. But I do have my plans.”

Harold waves his hand and Frank is forced into the machine. Harold then casts a spell.

“In the name of the ancient gods, I perform a reverse, and from now on Frank shall carry a purse.”

A blinding light comes out of the machine. A 25 year old woman comes out of the machine. She’s tall, busty, and curvy. She feels her body. She’s frightened and horrified. She puts her hand in her crotch and she finds there is no penis. She has a vagina. Harold sits there with glowing eyes.

“You don’t just have a vagina, sweets. You have ovaries and an uterus too.”

“How could you?”

“Your new name is Nicoletta, my love.”

Harold eyes glow and Nicoletta falls to his charms. They make passionate love in the university medical center. Nine months later, Harold and Nicoletta are back at the university medical center. Nicoletta has just given birth to quadruplets. The quadruplets are two boys and two girls. Juan, Harold’s nephew is there. Nicoletta lays down in the hospital bed. Nate’s spirit appears.

“You fathered four children and the family life will flourish.”

“Yes, father. I will be raising the children with my new husband, Juan.”

Nicoletta screams.

“What? You can’t have left me for my young nephew!”

“But I have Nicoletta. You served your purpose. No one was more bitter and negative than you. So I realize I should turn you into a woman and impregnate you. Only an extreme negative person could stand to carry the children of a warlock.”

“Fuck you Harold!” screams Nicoletta.

“You have done far better than I could have dreamed Harold. Our line is safe in your hands.”

“Thanks Dad.”

Weeks later Nicoletta is wasted at a bar. She’s crying. Kylene, a purple haired woman comes over and puts her hand on Nicoletta’s shoulders.

“Honey, what’s wrong?”

“My husband left me for his nephew right after I gave birth to his children.”

“Men are scum honey.”

Nicoletta sobs. Kylene kisses her tenderly. Nicoletta looks into Kylene’s eyes and in the depts of Kylene’s purple eyes, she finds true love. She collapses into Kylene’s arms and lays her head on Kylene’s breasts.

Monday, January 4, 2016


Raymond Arrieta, the Telemundo host has a history of doing Blackface and Brownface in his sketches. Strangely Telemundo which took great offense at Donald Trump’s comments seems to think that mocking Black and Brown people is harmless. Media representation of Latinos in Spanish Language media historically has been White. Afro Latinos or people of Native descent were excluded or otherwise marginalized by Spanish Language Media. A movement has risen against this and now protesters are taking to the internet to protest these racist images in Spanish language media. An example of this is a petition that demands Raymond Arrieta stop his Blackface and Brownface performances. More appalling is that Telemundo is owned by NBC Universal. NBC could never get away with having Blackface on their English language channels, so why is it okay for them to have Blackface on their Spanish language channels?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Homecoming to Jackson Heights


I was born in Elmhurst Hospital in Elmhurst, NY. Elmhurst is a neighborhood in Queens, a heavily Asian and Latin neighborhood. At the time we lived in Jackson Heights, a neighborhood that’s largely a combination of South Asian and Latino (Central and South American and Mexican). When I was a little boy we left the neighborhood. But Central Queens always seemed like home. I had fond childhood memories, and I often visited my aunt there. After finishing up at Cornell University I ended up staying with my aunt. Queens seemed like the perfect place to come out of the closet as being gay, as I had such wonderful memories of it.

But childhood memories are deceptive. Children are often not fully aware of what’s going on around them. In my early 20s upon moving back to Jackson Heights, I rather quickly got to know my neighborhoods. I was living in the historic district, near the post World War II apartments. The neighborhood had a diverse array of food, and as someone who was an exchange student and who studied Spanish at the university, it seemed cool to be able to use that in my everyday life.

I soon started looking for work. My first few jobs were temp jobs in the banking sector. I used the money I earned to buy more clothes. Walking around the neighborhood, I was often offered bazooka. Bazooka wasn’t the gum. Bazooka was a crack cocaine derivative. Two people on my block I’ll call Marco and Fred would offer it to me all the time. I quickly rejected it. Fred and Marco were aggressively insistent. When I would go grocery shopping, in order to get to my place I had walk past there’s. They would ask for my food. During the day in those days I would dress professionally, a sign in their minds I had money. I was afraid of Fred and Marco. But in order to get them off my backs I told them I did 5 years in a state psychiatric hospital for arson and that I was on a variety of prescription pills and therefore had no need for crack. That wasn’t true, I would never do arson or anything violent. But Fred and Marco didn’t know that. So they were nervous and stopping offering me drugs and stopped trying to get my food. Marco and Fred in those days hung out on 37th road. It was called Vaseline Alley as male prostitutes sold their services to other men in those days. Eventually the NYPD under Giuliani cleared out Vaseline Alley, plus prostitution generally went online to sites like Adam4Adam.

The other two notables on my neighborhood were the grandparents of the block. Jim and Louise, an elderly couple who had lived there before the neighborhood had changed demographics. They were friends with my aunt. Through my aunt I found out which of our neighbors were bad. Allegedly, Jose and Jose had robbed a candy store and killed the owner. Those two were creepy enough, so it wasn’t like I was going to ask them detail or if what Jim and Louise said was true. They were friends with Julio, a crack addict male street prostitute.

But not all of my neighbors were bad. Though I would say I eventually learned appearances can be deceiving. Alfonso was a recovering drug addict who got a job, got married and raised a family. I knew his daughter Elizabeth. She was often outside with her friends Stephanie and Anthony. They were in high school. As far as I know they were law abiding, and they certainly never gave me trouble. Last I heard from Alfonso Elizabeth had gone off to college. Alfonso was nice and always friends with my aunt and with the elderly landlord couple. There was a huge Pakistani family in the apartment above us. The guys worked as cab drivers and they also worked for our neighbor Anit. Anit was a photographer and filmmaker. The men and Anit had their differences as they were Muslim and Anit was Hindu. Still, they worked together professionally. Anit also had others who worked with him. Matt, who lived across the street from me looked like a stereotypical California surf dude. He was tall and blonde. He worked at NBC Universal.

After getting reintegrated into my block, I decided to explore the gay bars in Jackson Heights. My favorite drink in those days was red wine. I soon got to know a number of people in the bars. My friend Anna worked as a secretary and then a licensed massage therapist. She always came out to the bar early in the week. We often discussed spiritual topics and what we read about herbal treatments. Matt hung out in those places, and he was friends with George. George was a neurologist. He shared my love of fantasy and sci fi movies, and we could talk for hours about Xena, Charmed, Hercules, and related shows. I was friends Pedro, the bartender from Peru. Yosef was an accountant who lived in Chelsea, in Manhattan. But he hung out in Queens. Frank was an older man who worked for a car service. Frank would appear in the bar at rather odd hours, as his work schedule varied. It stressed him out and he drank rather heavily. The bar was pretty much a home for Frank. He often slept in the bar. He was lovers with Gerald, a retired professor who lived in the East Village. Those two fought frequently.

As I always loved X-Men comics (and other Marvel Comics) I went to a local comic book store in Jackson Heights. There I met Paul the hippier owner. The main people who hung out there where Serbian twin brothers Adrijan and Darko. Darko was a normal stable man. He ended up marrying a woman from the old country, and they had 4 children. Adrijan was a cringing machoist who attended S& M conventions with his sexually liberal girlfriend Michelle. The Serbian twins were good friends with Raul aka John aka Franklin aka Davio aka Daniel aka Gustavo, the cool man of many names and many a bar fight. I always had fun at that shop. Adriana, Tiffany, and Isabel were the girls who hung out there. Tiffany was the lover of Paul. The others made fun of her and called her ghetto because she was originally from Harlem. The others in the shop accused Tiffany of being a player, so there was often tension between her and the others. The relationship between TIffany and Paul fell apart when she pawned his mother’s old ring, which was a gift from the heart to Tiffany.

From time to time I would hang out with Yosef. We would hang out at the beach. It was fun for us as we were both swimmers. I learned that Yosef was really a swimming instructor, not an accountant. He worked part time. And that wasn’t the only think Yosef was hiding. He lived in a low income apartment in Chelsea and was on welfare as he made so little money from his swimming instructor job. Yosef exploited the system in ways I never thought possible. His low income apartment had two bedrooms. He paid $500 a month in rent. He rented out both bedrooms for $1,000 each, while he slept in the living room. He collected food stamps and medicaid, so his income from his low income apartment was obviously unreported. As time went by, Yosef became a bolder con artist. He got yet another low income apartment (also in Chelsea) and rented it out as well. The second low income apartment was an 80/20. 80/20 apartments are 80 percent luxury/market rate and 20 percent low income. So Yosef got a low income apartment in a luxury building in a prime location. He rented it out to tourists he found off craigslist and off certain agencies that find temporary housing for European and Asian tourists. Yosef began taking vacations to Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.

As for me, the type of jobs in banking I was able to get quite frankly sucked. The better, more interesting career paths were out of reach. Since that clearly wasn’t going to work out in any worthwhile way the effort I put into work went down. I began hanging out at the bars more often. To be completely honest what was the point of having a regular job, I began to wonder, when the Yosef’s of New York City did so well financially by living this less than conventional lifestyle. Of course that’s just a polite way of saying criminal lifestyle. Still, I decided it was not a good idea to do anything that could put me behind bars. Still, it seemed nice that people from the clubs could take such extensive and frequent vacations all over the nation and the world. I began wondering about some of the others. I did know legitimately wealthy people from Cornell who worked as lawyers or certain other professionals (I looked up their post graduate lives via Google). And at the same time, I respected people’s right of privacy not to prime into every claim. But still, I wondered. I myself had legitimately been all over the US and I was an exchange student in Paraguay. I’ve visited Brazil. So I personally like to travel. But something seemed a little off with some of my friends trips.

At this time, Anna and I had become close. She lived in Manhattan. She was often in and out of town, so she would ask me to house sit for her. I glady did so, as who wouldn’t like to stay in Manhattan if only temporarily. Of course, I should have been a bit more suspicious on how does a secretary/massage therapist afford a Manhattan apartment. Still, Anna was nice to me so there was no reason for me to question her or get into her business. She had her share of family drama with ex husbands and the rest of her family. Still, her children had grown up and become productive citizens. Who doesn’t have issues or drama in their life?

At this time my friend George had grown tired of working as a neurologist, or so he claimed. He got a job at a floral shop owned by Cassandra and her brother Miguel. George and Miguel often went to Colombia, supposedly to visit Miguel’s family. One day I got a hysterical call from George. He told me a disaster had happened on their last vacation in Colombia. But he sobbed so loudly he couldn’t talk straight. He said he had an e-mail for me. I checked my e-mail. An article from a newspaper named La Patria (from Pereira, Colombia) showed a picture of Miguel. I read the article in Spanish. Miguel was unfortunate enough to be busted in an airport in Colombia for trying to smuggle cocaine out of the country. George called me back to tell me he and Miguel were supposed to run coke for Cassandra. But George always made Miguel carry all the coke. So when they got busted, George put all the blame on Miguel. Miguel got locked away in jail in Colombia and 14 years later to this date I never found out what became of him. George was hysterically guilty as he was truly close to Miguel. But he quickly got over it. Cassandra, after attempting to smuggle coke herself, also got busted in Colombia and did time there. Upon returning to the states she existed the drug business and legitimately stuck to working as a florist. Or at least that was the story George told me 10 years ago. Cassandra refused to speak to George again as she wanted to cut all her ties to that world, so I have no idea what she’s currently doing. Similarly, Pedro the bartender got busted. He would work for two months, and then stay in Peru for one month. Allegedly he was taking care of a grandfather who had cancer. But the reality is he was a mule. A mule is another name for international cocaine runner. Pedro got fired by his job (they suspected something shady) and after he attempted his last run he got busted on the Peruvian side. I’m told by those in the business that due to increased scrutiny at the airports, most drugs are brought in on cargo ships and cargo planes as it’s two difficult to get drugs past the airports. Unless of course one wants to put the drugs inside condoms and place them in one’s own stomach or intestines.

At the comic book store, it eventually fell victim to new development. The owner Paul moved on to opening up another store elsewhere. The man of many names, now calling himself the Sphinx is the same as ever. He still gets in bar fights and can still drink everyone in any bar under the table and still remain standing. It would take something industrial strength to put him down. The Serbian twins, sadly, both got played big time. Darko found out his wife Bojana cheated on him many times and was only interested in marrying him to get US citizenship. He had their children dna tested and found out he was the father of only two of them. They got divorced. Adrijan’s girlfriend, Michelle, after she tied him to the bed during an S&M act, left him tied there and robbed his apartment. Poor Adrijan was found two days later, still tied up and alive. His girlfriend had fled the country. Adrijan had valuable baseball cards, gold watches, an expensive stamp collection, and a rare coin collection. All of this was stolen by Michelle, and these assets were worth an estimated 800k. We still don’t know of Michelle’s whereabouts. Oh, and what happened to my friend Matt . He was a typical Jackson Heights case after all. He turned out to be a gigolo, and this was confirmed by people who saw his dirty little deeds in action at various Midtown Manhattan bars. He was evicted from his apartment. That wasn’t the end of him. He swindled his way into a lover’s apartment, and stole quite a bit of money from the lover. After that, he disappeared. Perhaps he returned to his home state of California (if he is really from there) or maybe he went to jail. Or perhaps he went elsewhere. Who knows?

The aunt that I was staying with retired and moved away. Now there are those who thought why stay in Jackson Heights, which is so full of such sketchy characters? So my friend Anna had decided to rent out space in her apartment in the Upper East Side. I happily moved in. From Queens to the Upper East Side of Manhattan. That was a great transition. I loved living in Manhattan. I was a shorter train ride to work in midtown, and on a good day I often walked home. It was nice living more upscale people and not around the scammers of Jackson Heights. All was apparently well. But I of course forgot that I met Anna in Jackson Heights. I’d been living there for awhile, lots of men came by the apartment to see Anna. Noises came from Anna’s room that sounded like Cape Buffalo on the savannah in heat! And clearly these were too many men to be boyfriends. Anna confessed that being a licensed massage therapist didn’t pay enough to live the lifestyle she wanted, so she had become a prostitute. She made an upgrade to her career and become a madam. So gave me a deal on the room, free rent in exchange for writing the advertisements for her business. She recruited desperate illegal immigrant girls from places like Jackson Heights, Corona, the Bronx, Washington Heights, Harlem, Woodside, and other neighborhoods full of immigrants. She pimped them out.

After a few years of living in Anna’s apartment, I ended up moving to a nice part of the Rockaways (the Jewish part of Far Rockaway). I loved living there, where in the summer I went swimming in the ocean on a regular basis. Hurricane Sandy ended that, unfortunately and now I am presently out of New York. Still, I fondly remember my Jackson Heights days and my New York days. I know real success in much harder than it appears, and aside from inheriting money from one’s parents or having influential parents who are able to hook you up with opportunities, there are no magically easy paths to success. For many, it won’t just happen. Others are determined to make it happen in any way possible, no matter at whose’s expense or what laws they have to break. The tales of Jackson Heights would be the tales of a significant portion of any large international city. In these places, the traditionally hard working people are basically treated like suckers and are played by the every economy of the city itself. The nature of New York’s economy encourages the shenanigans of those I mentioned in Jackson Heights, and clearly not just in Jackson Heights. Anna slept her way all the way up to an apartment on the Upper East Side, one of Manhattan’s most prestigious neighborhoods. Two English professors I had and the cranky old man Frank said there’s only two ways make money, to inherit it from your parents or to steal it. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. And by the way, Frank can be found in the same spot in the bar that he has been occupying for 30 years, still fighting with his lover Gerald. Some things never chang

A Hipster in Do or Die Bedstuy


After my living situation in Chelsea was no more, I decided to try out Brooklyn. I first looked at that hipster haven, Williamsburg. Williamsburg was full of creative, educated people. Unfortunately it was out of my price range. But I soon found out many creative types were moving to Bedstuy and Bushwick. So I went on Craigslist and I found an one bedroom apartment I could afford. Finally, I wouldn’t have to deal with con artists and hookers as roommates. So I signed for the first apartment I looked at, near the subway station Bedford/Nostrand Avenues on the G train. It was just a few stops away from Williamsburg or Downtown Brooklyn. The G train is often called the ghost train as it doesn’t frequently run and has only 4 cars, but it has convenient connections to both the L and A. The L and A trains both go to parts of Manhattan that I do business and socialize in. So it seemed perfectly convenient when I moved in that cold winter day. I didn’t even see any hoodlums there, so rumors that Bedstuy was ghetto seemed greatly exaggerated. Of course, crime always does down in the winter in New York, and up in the summer when it’s warm enough for people to go out.

Virginia was living in Williamsburg itself. She lived with her roommate Billie. We often hung out in the East Village, going to movies and bars and taking the L train back to Brooklyn. But Bedstuy certainly had it’s rough side. Despite gentrification, gunfire was a problem during the summers. Bedstuy, which had seemed gentrified in the winter, was pretty ghetto in the summer. I wished I had listened to all those who warned me about moving to Bedstuy. But as a broke freelance writer, what else could I afford? Virginia and I were both living in less than ideal circumstances, due to our shared career path. Virginia also freelanced as a writer and we both went to Cornell. Virginia, desperate not to live in unsafe circumstances, convinced a women’s group that she was battered when she wasn’t. She was able to move into a women’s only residence run by nuns. The women’s only residence was cheap, and she saved a lot of money by living there. I thought about moving in with priests to get a decent price for a Manhattan location, but never got around to doing it.

As for me, I too needed a way to raise extra money. I had dental problems, and I had to pay off student loans. So I decided to get roommates. I rented out my apartments to two Norwegian girls, who paid a lovely amount of money for my apartment each month in cash. I crashed in the upstate NY home of my friend Yosef, who was my mentor in every thing that had to do with NYC. As the cash came in over a period of 10 months, I paid for my dental work and reduced my student loans by one third. As for what I did for fun when not writing, I did what I always do. I took the G train a few stops to Williamsburg and went swimming at the gym on the corner of Bedford and Metropolitan. I went there on a regular basis. I also went to Metropolitan, the one gay bar in Williamsburg at that time. During the time I lived and hung out in hipster people, it was a revolving door. Many creatives moved in. Many creatives moved out in a few months, totally underestimating what it would take to establish oneself in a career in anything in New York. It’s particularly difficult in the creative fields, where multiple factors such as talent, luck, family connections, education, and things I likely haven’t thought of all way in. The instability of this crowd made it difficult to bond with anyone long enough to have a decent boyfriend. Those that stayed any length of time had to resort to extreme measures like Virginia and I did. Everyone loves a success story, but those A listers are few and far between in a city of 8 million that has been a revolving door for centuries.

My last week in my apartment ended on a crazy note. I went three different birthday parties, one thrown by a group of friends, another with my family,and another with a group of friends. Upon leaving my place to go to one of my parties, I went to the store and came back. Michelle, my crackhead first floor neighborhood sat on the door steps. She was drinking out of a bottle of vodka. She had refused to move and allow me into the apartment. Not wishing to get into a fight and in trouble for punching her out, I called 911. The police always come in force in Bedstuy. Ten officers arrived. They urged me that everything was fine. I went in the house to get my camera, as I was going off to my celebrations. As I left my building and walked down the street, Michelle got up in a cops face. He slammed her to the ground and told her she had one more time. About a week later, her husband notified me he wanted to speak to me. But unknown to him, I had already packed and shipped all of my belongings out. I was just enroute to get my bus ticket. He informed me that we needed to have a serious discussion. I told him to knock on my door at 9pm the following night. I went to Port Authority, got my bus ticket and returned to my apartment. I picked up my suitcase and my laptop briefcase, called a cab, and went back to Port Authority. I boarded the bus and went off to my next adventure.

My Time in the Party Scene in NYC’s Upscale Chelsea Neighborhood


My Time in the Party Scene in NYC’s Upscale Chelsea Neighborhood

After learning that my friend Anna was a prostitute, I moved out of her apartment located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. I desperately searched on Craigslist for new roommates. None of the places I saw seemed to be good options. I figured the next roommate would be a crackhead or a serial killer with my luck. And unfortunately, even a studio in one of the worthwhile parts of NYC (Manhattan below 96th Street or East River Brooklyn or East River Queens) can cost upwards of 3k. I did not have the kind of success in my day job or in my writing that could afford a proper residence. It was either live in a high crime ghetto where rent was cheap, or do the roommate thing. But of courses, crazies, con artists, and other assorted freaks come with the territory when you’re dealing with roommates.

So what was I to do? Living in Manhattan would let me walk to work. I worked as a waiter in a wine bar/restaurant in Chelsea. Saving on commuting time would be great, plus I’d have all the convenience in Manhattan if only I could afford to live there. Various friends suggested I move into the subsidized apartments for artists. But those apartments had massive waitlists, I soon learned. Getting into an apartment like that could take years. What was I supposed to do, live in the shelter in the meantime? I finally decided to rent a room from my friend Yosef. Now Yosef I knew was a bit unconventional. He had two local income apartments in Chelsea that he rented out. I had been his friend for years. So he decided to give me a good price on one of the rooms. I moved in. Upon moving in with him, I learned that Yosef was more devious than I dreamed. In one of the apartments, he rented out both bedrooms for $1,000 dollars while he slept in the living room. His rent was only $500, so his profit was $1,500. He worked part time as a swimming instructor. But Yosef was such a schemer he had food stamps, and he went to the soup kitchens for free food. On top of that, Yosef carefully monitored the neighborhood for anything thrown out. Chelsea always has people moving in and out of town, students, interns, medical residents, law clerks, theatre industry people, film industry people, professors, etc. People often throw away good good because it’s not worth it to ship. So Yosef would scan the streets for good garbage. This way he got his air conditioners, his microwaves, his beds and other furniture all for free. Ditto his plates, pots, pans, drinking glasses and other kitchenware. The only thing Yosef paid for his apartment was his laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Yosef loved electronics. Electronics,and vacations to Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico were the only things Yosef was willing to spend money on. He was the king of being cheap, as I called it. He called himself the king of craft. Though Yosef was a bit extreme, I would say as a freelance writer I learned a lot from him. Working as a waiter and freelance writer paid poorly. In order to be able to pay my rent I needed to cut costs where possible. So each day I worked in the restaurant was a free meal on the house. That in itself helped tremendously. I did go to the soup kitchens like Yosef. I even learned you could get free groceries from certain soup kitchens. I needed to cut expenses on food so I would be able to party at the city’s most exclusive clubs. I looked up a good friend of mine from my Cornell University days. I hadn’t seen Virginia since graduation. But I looked her up and found out she lived not too far away.

Virginia was a freelance writer and a temp. She also occasionally waited tables as well. She had been living in hipster Brooklyn with her boyfriend until they fell out with each other. She went on the boards at her job looking for a new room to rent. Isabel, a woman who worked at one of Virginia’s gigs was renting out a room in a Lower East Side housing projects. Virginia accepted the room as it was cheap and within walking distance to all the places she loved. Unfortunately, shortly after moving in that building, a couple of people not known to Virginia got shot. But she and Isabel were questioned by the NYPD, along with many other building residents.

As for me, I was taking advantage of all the area had to offer. I’m an excellent swimmer, and there were several New York City Parks Department Recreation Centers nearby. These city owned gyms offer yearly membership of $150 dollars, and they have pools. I went swimming at least 5 days a week. When I could afford to do grocery shopping I went to Whole Foods and Trader Joes. I eat a lot, and what I was getting for free from the restaurants and the soup kitchens didn’t cover all of what I liked to eat. Events at various film organizations were within walking distance. I frequently attended events at Tribeca and IFP. At one of these events, I met documentary filmmaker Lukas. Lukas had a phd in astrophysics from Harvard University. He had tried to move further in the academic world, and it just wasn’t working out for him. So he decided to do documentaries on various scientific topics. Lukas was a pretty smart guy and we started hanging out. I learned he had done volunteer work for the UN across South America and Africa. He always kept himself busy. However, he hadn’t made it big as a filmmaker. Depression came in, and he turned to coke which drained his already meager finances. Now, having come across my share of frauds and psychopathic liars, of course I didn’t believe Lukas’s claims. So I did my research and found out he told the truth about his educational and work history. That was pleasing.

Now everyone probably thinks if Virginia, myself, and Lukas were all having how could we afford to drink in the expensive bars in the area. Well, we looked young. I carried a backpack with me (I would go swimming earlier in the evening before going to the bars). Lukas would have his briefcase, and of course Virginia would have her purse. We would just tell the bartenders we wanted juice and that we didn’t drink alcohol. They would sell us big glasses of cranberry juice for $2. And we would sneak away at different points to the bathroom, open our bags and poor vodka or other hard liquor in the cranberry juice. We always carried booze in our bags. Granted this was low class but you do what you have to do in New York City. Isn’t that the whole point of being there? Lukas, Virginia, and I were the broke Ivy League crowd. We weren’t ever going to be Presidents, CEOs, or lawyers. Everyone always wondered why people like us attended top level universities and didn’t follow in whatever politician’s foot steps. We didn’t bother to explain. No one will ever really know why someone does or doesn’t do something. But we all felt that we missed our ship. Certain things have to be done in a very narrow time frame career wise, and if they are not done then you’ve more or less indefinitely lost your chance. You basically need the right internships and summer jobs, and your first job or two after graduation is critical. Things at Lukas’s post doctoral program ended horribly after a massive falling out with the professor he worked with. That was the end of him in academia. Virginia and I just never got good career building jobs in our first year after graduation, and after that things went downhill. So both of us gave up on normal things and ended up doing the freelance writer thing. All three of us exchanged tips on how to cut expenses and get over in New York City. Lukas had the rare cheap studio in a busted up tenement building in the Lower East Side. He got wind of this from another friend of his who hooked him up. Lukas was lucky because tenements in the Lower East Side continued to be bought out by developers. The new owners would evict those legitimately not there ,and buy out the remaining people. The tenements would be either gutted and renovated, or demolished and replaced by luxury condominiums.

As bad as things were, we all held on to the hope we would make it. Now hope can be seen as good or bad. While it is nice to be positive, if you keep hoping for something that never happens that absolutely sucks. It’s something that many artists agonize on. Most would be artists will not make it. There’s a line of thought that says since your likelihood of making it is so small, money cannot be a primary motivation for doing artwork. You have to do your art because you love doing it above all other things. I feel that way about writing and swimming. I will do those two things no matter what. So I am in the school of thought do what you love because you love it, but understand you may face indefinite poverty because of it. The stereotype of the starving artists is a fairly accurate stereotype.

Yosef on the other hand, was far from starving. He’d come along away from the housing projects of the South Bronx. He took the money he made from his low income apartments and invested it in the stock market. During the latest bull market, Yosef sold some of his stocks at the height of the market and made a huge profit. He reinvested. How could Yosef do this and not get caught by the welfare department? Yosef’s schemes new no bounds. He placed all his ill gotten money in his grandfather’s account, who he had manipulated him to name him the sole heir in his will. He had never driven a car, but with his newfound prosperity he decided to take driving lessons. He got his driver’s license. Yosef had his grandfather buy a house and a car in upstate NY. Yosef would began spending his weekends in the countryside.

Yosef nearly got busted. He took interest in a crackhead girlfriend named Nora. She was from Florida. After Nora stopped crack, she gained weight and became fat. Yosef manipulated her into moving back to Florida getting a Section 8 apartment there, and renting it out while she lived with in New York with him. Yosef took the money from that too. What possessed his girlfriend to be this dumb I’ll never know. But anyway, they had a huge fight and the girlfriend turned Yosef in to welfare fraud. She was furious when he called her a fat ass ox. But Yosef was slimy than a snake. He and the other roommate living with us were all over 6 feet tall. So when the welfare investigators came over and searched the apartment, Yosef made sure we were gone that day. He claimed our clothes and possessions as his own. By this point he had already thrown Nora’s clothes in the garbage, so her clothes were not a factor in the search. Yosef then proceeded to turn Nora as living in New York to the government, and she lost her apartment in Florida. She became homeless.

My days and my social circle in Chelsea would soon come to a quick end. In all this time, cocaine was taking a serious toll on Lukas. He decided to leave New York City and return to his native Oregon. I would miss him, but I understood. I saw him off at the airport. Virginia had grown weary of being a struggling writer in New York. She felt she’d never achieve her dream of being a property owner. She felt her financial state limited her dating and marriage options as well. She had grown depressed. She decided to return home to the Midwest. So out of the crew that just left me and Yosef. Only a developer bought the building that Yosef was in. They wanted to gut renovate this tenement. They offered Yosef 40,000 to leave. Yosef laughed at this. But the developer seriously wanted all low income people out. Yosef was eventually able to negotiate $200,000. He accepted the buyout offer and left. He still had another low income apartment in Chelsea. I declined living in it. I began the search of looking for a new roommate all over again. Then I said the hell with it and I hit the road. As for where I went to, that’s a story for another time. But after all this time I do miss my Chelsea crowd. Sadly, we did not keep in touch. But New York City is like that, people are in and out of town all the time.