On Police Misconduct, an NYPD precinct with extraordinarily high civilian complaint statistics (the 75th), and when you once get wrongly cuffed for six hours to a precinct bench and you once get wrongly assaulted by a police officer in a precinct, there isn’t, wasn’t, a damn thing I could do about it So I wrote this

On Police  Misconduct, an NYPD precinct with extraordinarily high civilian complaint statistics (the 75th), and when you once get wrongly  cuffed for six hours to a precinct bench and you once get wrongly assaulted by a police officer in a precinct, there isn’t, wasn’t, a damn thing I could do about it  So I wrote this

Attached in this post below are screen shots from the NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board 2015 annual report

In the report they list every single NYPD precinct in New York City and the number of complaints that have been lodged against each precinct. Here they cite a five year total 2011-2015

Most precincts have 200,300,400 complaints; 500 in a rougher precinct. Two particularly dangerous crime ridden areas in the Bronx patrolled by the 44th and the 40th precincts have 700 complaints. And that’s it, a complete picture of crime and community police relations in the city.

But there’s one glaringly how the hell can this be allowed tolerated (italics mine but they should  be yours and the NYPD’s) exception.

The  75th police precinct of East New York Brooklyn. For that same period it had a number absurdly higher than any other place– 1,344 complaints — you hear, one precinct in one community had 1,344 complaints lodged against it. Almost double the number of those two for real rough precincts in the Bronx .

I know I might be beating a dead horse, I’ve written and reported on East New York a lot.

But what the hell NYPD, CCRB- Garner, chokeholds, stop and frisk  are legitimate  and important issues  bit in some ways they’re individual isolated of a time. This is endemic, its been like this  in East New York since CCRB stats were being  compiled. No sarcasm, but where’s your white paper on this, your New York Lawyers for The Public Interest led civil suit on this, even a damn mention on your website that’s chock full of every imaginable statistical minutiae — a 1,344 complaints against cops in one community.

Commanding Officer of the 75th Michael Lipetri seems like a decent and honorable leader  (as much as you can tell from a twitter account) and the 75th is a hard hard precinct to work.

But sincerely how the heck do you look in the eye  of a decent East New York resident and rationally justifiably explain without apology  1,344 complaints when,say, Murray Hill where my girl lived has 260 complaints for the same period. People don’t  have a right to live like this (on a side note when I was reporting in East New York I could’ve filed legitimate CCRB complaints on different police officers maybe  12 times).

On a larger  side note I got yanked off a Port Authority bus by a group of police officers on some false charge of making a 911 call to endanger East New York police. I was handcuffed to a bench for six hours. When I went back to that precinct a week later as the desk sergeant instructed me in a phone conversation, an officer there whose badge number and name I will never forget – – how do I say this properly — degraded me, taunted me, confiscated destroyed my property, had me on my knees, lies to me, then assaulted the hell out of me hard —  in his precinct right there in Port Authority  with 12 other cops there  who witnessed it.  I’m laying there crumpled on the ground and I said to  him why the hell did you do that? He said because I hit him first. Since I’m not dead or doing  a 2 year bid in Dannemora Correctional, you he and I know that that’s a straight up ugly lie, and coming from a police officer it’s essentially a damn false criminal charge. And God help the defendant who gets this officer on the stand testifying against him.*

I called 911, EMS, Internal Affairs, Port Authority Integrity Unit, CCRB, reported it to another precinct trying to file assault charges – no one ever got back to me, nothing at all happened.  Call the Port Authority Integrity Unit (their version of Internal Affairs) anytime and it just  rings and rings, no one ever answers, they don’t even have voice mail.  I had to leave my complaint with a secretary in administration.

So this heavyweight Port Authority officer got to play UFC with me sending me flying 6 feet thorough the air into a concrete wall (though maybe play UFC is not quite right, when I looked up at him as he was standing over me after the assault his whole body was visibly shaking).

I hope he’s sorry, maybe PTSD, he served  in the military in combat, but at my worst I sometimes imagine he tells the story over beers laughing about what he did to that fucken reporter. No macho on this but if I ever somehow impossibly heard him doing this word is just about bond please  put money on my commissary books because I would proudly do 2 years on the gate on the count in the dayroom etc for that kind of violation.

Seriously these 75th Precinct numbers are too exceptional; something is very wrong at that precinct and command should do something otherwise you’ll have more Michael Dowds running your streets  hurting people, communities, and tarnishing the image of good cops.

 

QUEENS and STATEN ISLAND 

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MANHATTAN

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BROOKLYN

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BRONX

capture_1468544409603~2*On not naming this officer, I know this is not strongly defensible or consistent with how I operate as a journalist  but I can’t bring myself to fuck with him that way, something he would probably do, low-grade coward snitch to hurt or to ruin a man without giving him a chance.   And it’s for a similar reason I went down to the precinct when the sergeant told me to over the phone.  I knew I was walking into a lions den, the desk Sergeant was being obnoxious, game playing hostile. But I went because I hate the idea of being afraid or having to watch myself or call a lawyer to fight in the shadows; not confront them man to man when I did absolutely nothing wrong and they acted so immoraly.  That cop wouldn’t have done it, and I don’t want to be that kind of man.  In fact in between throwing a folder of my papers across the room screaming in my face and body slamming me he told me maybe three times “Get the fuck out of here, call a lawyer.”

But I may be wrong about this, if I had an emergency and to call 911 meant this officer would show up I would just quote NWA and handle it myself. He either learned his lesson after coming close to being burnt (after this happened I raised hell to him and every other cop in the precinct, to 911, to EMS who responded while I was in the precinct (first it was get the fuck out, after the assault they wouldn’t let me leave  even though I said I wanted to repeatedly) called my wife, a lawyer and told her what happened gave the officer’s badge number and spelled out his name all in front of him, them; strong loud and emphatically. Or the cop doesn’t give a damn about a kevin heldman and doesn’t belong on the streets with a gun and extraordinary powers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POLICE OFFICER SHOOTS CIVILAIN DEAD,WHAT THE HELL FOR, SILLY ASS TRAFFIC DISPUTE

THIS IS WHAT I WROTE THE OTHER DAY WHEN I READ ABOUT A POLICE OFFICER SHOOTING A MAN IN AN A TRAFFIC DISPUTE IN EAST NEW YORK BROOKLYN
37 year-old Delron Dempsey, his girlfriend, their 4-month son and two daughters were driving through East New York at around midnight on July 4. NYPD Officer Wayne Isaacs, 37, an off duty cop with 3 years on the job was also on the road.  They got into a foolish macho traffic dispute. Both men stopped at a light.
Officer Issacs stayed in his car, Dempsey exited  and according to police punched Isaacs through the car window(?)  The Daily News reported:
“Dempsey approached the driver’s side window and punched the cop twice as he sat in the vehicle — once in the face and another time in the mouth, a police source said.”
Issacs called police stating  officer needs assistance. But why did Issacs even pull over and play this macho game. Why didn’t he roll up his damn window, drive away.  Isaacs’ life was really on danger? Dempsey was unarmed. The intersection where they pulled over, Atlantic & Bradford, was one mile from the 75th police precinct, six  minutes if you’re driving the speed limit. If Isaacs thought he was going to die from Dempsey’s punches, he’s on the radio with cops and he could floor it to the 75th, be there in 3 minutes and be safe.  But no retreat, no deescaltion, no effort to preserve and protect life for Issacs.
He’s gonna thug up and bring a gun to a fist fight; pull his service revolver and shoot Dempsey dead.  Self defense George Zimmerman style. What a man, what a cop.
Yeah Dempsey’s not a choir boy as Giuliani used to slander; he had 19 arrests (who knows, serious crimes, turnstile  jumping, arrests dismissed?) But Issacs apparently wasnt showing up at Sunday mass either. According to the Daily News ,”Isaacs was accused in a 2014 lawsuit with a false arrest in which the suspect was ‘punched, kicked and struck several times in the head and body.’  The plaintiff also charged that one of the arresting cops called him a “nigger” before the case was settled for $20,000.
 

HERE’S THE NY POST (much respect Post)  FOLLOW UP July 8 Where it looks like this 79th Precinct cop Isaacs murdered a man without cause


An off-duty NYPD cop waited exactly one second before gunning down another driver in a Brooklyn road rage incident on Monday.Exclusive video obtained by The Post shows the moment that Officer Wayne Isaacs fired two shots through his car window at Delrawn Small, who collapsed and died in the street.

The NYPD and the Attorney General’s office are investigating the shooting, which the victim’s family said is a clear case of excessive force.

He barely has time to look the cop in the eye or even utter a word before Isaacs opens fire, causing him to stagger backward.

He stumbles to the ground, gets up for a moment — and then collapses again for good.

Isaacs, meanwhile, lurches his car forward a few feet before slamming on the brakes and getting out. He appears to tuck the gun into his waistband as he walks over toward Small.

Isaacs looks in the direction of the dying man, pausing for a few moments near his body, before returning to his vehicle.

He is then seen pacing around and talking on the phone. Sources have said he called 911.

Small’s girlfriend Zaquanna Albert, 35, then pulls the man’s car across the street before frantically running toward the scene.

That’s when the footage cuts off.

Police sources said Small’s temper flared when he thought Isaac cut him off as they were driving down Atlantic Avenue. Small followed the cop in his unmarked car for several blocks before getting out at the traffic light to confront him.

Albert told investigators that she begged Small, who’d had three drinks at a barbecue they’d just left, not to get out.

Isaacs, who has since been put on administrative duty, was on his way home after a shift in the 79th Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He used his service weapon to shoot Small in the head and chest, police sources have said.

Small’s brother, Victor Dempsey, said the video shows he was “point-blank murdered.”

“Now that I saw that video, I’m outraged,” he said at a press conference Friday night at the shooting scene. “It’s time for us to get justice on it. Everything they told us from the very ­beginning is a lie.”

Victoria Davis, Small’s sister, said watching the video was difficult. “Him stumbling, and even when the officer got out of the car, he didn’t seem to have any care,” she said.

“He just put his gun away.”

Albert’s mom said the video proves the cop never gave her son a chance.

“You can see that the police officer was very aggressive,” she told The Post. “He killed my son-in-law. And you know what, that is wrong. My son-in-law did not do anything wrong.”

She railed against the NYPD, and said her church plans to protest in “a peaceful way.”

“My grandson who is four months old is not going to be able to have a father to bring him up,” she cried.

Brooklyn Assemblyman Charles Barron insisted “things can get out of control” if the attorney general doesn’t bring charges against the cop.

“We won’t have any next steps to tell our people to even bother with this system,” he said. “People will take matters into their own hands because they won’t have any other alternative.”

The family’s lawyer, Roger Wareham, said it confirms that the shooting was a “cold-blooded murder.”

“From what it shows, there was no threat to the cop. Deadly force was not justified,” he said. “Delrawn looks in, then he’s falling down, in an instant.”

Wareham insisted the cop’s behavior after the shooting shows he had “total disdain” for Small.

“After he shoots him, and after Delrawn falls to the ground, the cop just casually gets out of his car. There’s no urgency, no attitude like, ‘I need to get help for this person.’”

The footage contradicts the claims of the owner of a nearby building who had insisted the angry motorist could be seen on video “punching the s–t” out of Isaacs after breaking free from Albert’s grasp.

Attorney General Schneiderman said in a statement, “I am committed to conducting a full, fair and independent investigation of this tragedy, and will follow the facts and evidence—including this video evidence—wherever they lead.”

The NYPD declined to comment.

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Damn NYPD, you didn’t decline to comment when you talked about Dempsey punching  the hell out of Issacs. I know you have a hard job, stress, danger but a lot of us do.  How are we supposed to believe you, you know us, the public that you seem to regard with such contempt.

 

 

When They Start Charging Corner Boys With Terrorism and Think They’re Superman in LE

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Recovered in East New York by a 75th  precinct raid;  6 men arrested:.  25 caliber Raven Arms semi-automatic, .38 caliber Revolver Taurus. .380, pistol-grip shotgun, 3 lbs weed, cocaine residue, a.22 caliber, .9 mm  ammo and $1,329 in cash.

Ok fair enough,gangsters but these were the changes against all six:
Criminal Possession of a Weapon (six counts)
Criminal Possession of Marihuana
Tampering with Physical Evidence
Obstructing Governmental Administration
Criminal Use of Drug Paraphernalia
Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance
Violation of local law
And all six were also charged with Terrorism Criminal Possession of a Weapon (italics and emphasis not mine but probably overzealous prosecutors). 

And small thing but whats up with cops wearing superman, batman t-shirts and hats played backward at a press conference- heros ok but be humble out there or well you know

New York City Asbestos Violations

US EPA  Enforcement

Last updated on June 18, 2016

FISCAL YEAR: 2013

1. PRINCIPAL DEFENDANT: Michael Mark LaCommare
S.D.  New York  1:13CR00248JGK

A New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) report shows that the defendant preformed an illegal asbestos abatement of 400 linear feet of asbestos pipe insulation and 1000 square feet of asbestos tile; removing it with mechanical means. There was no notification with the NYC DEP or the U.S. EPA. There was no critical barrier, no personnel wearing protective gear and no air monitoring.

April 2, 2013

LaCommare was charged with violating the CAA {42 U.S.C. 7413(c)(1) – knowingly violates}.

CITATION: 42 U.S.C. 7413(c)(1)

August 7, 2013

LaCommare pled guilty and was sentenced to 12 months probation, with 3 months home confinement and ordered to pay a $2,000 federal fine.

STATUTE:

  • Clean Air Act (CAA)
###########################

Below however is a 2016 EPA list of Certified Asbestos Investigators listing the same Michael Mark LaCommare as good to go in service certified, ID# 118702, his certification set to expire next month 7/19/2016 with his telephone number helpfully  listed if you want him to swing by your place of business or residence and let him take another shot at removing asbestos safely and legally.The EPA thinks it trusts him.

 

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Rolling Stone (fucking) Journalism

Limp Bizkit investigates statistical manipulation in FDA clinical drug trials

Bret Michaels on transnational petro smuggling inside the ISIS network

The Oak Ridge Boys analyze the Chinese expansion threat and cross strait relations

Heavy D’s last dispatch – – Bullfighting in Catalonia

Rico Suave on memoir, idenity and magic realism in Latin American Literature

 

East New York, Brooklyn; The, or very close to The worst all around quality of life 5.6 square miles of hood in NYC, likely in America, for close to a hundred years

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Consider its NYC stats: most sex offenders, highest crime stats by far in every category every single year without pause for good period rehab or for some other hood to give it a break and take over the mayhem; most homeless, most HIV cases, most lead posionings, most child abuse cases and Childrens’ Services cases, highest # of deaths from alcoholism, highest # of gonorrhea cases, most police abuse complaints, police corruption (michael dowd ran with a crew of  75th Precinct NYPD cops turned all out hands on gangsters – ski mask armed robberies while on duty), most # of waste sites and waste carting,  most dangerous roads, asbestos, industrial toxins, highest # of industrial manufacturing and use of highly dangerous and destructive special license chemicals, highest # of children in foster care, most vacant lots, highest # of shelters, drug rehabs, mental health facilities, nursing homes, methadone clinics, food pantries, bus depots, a freight train line from a 100 years ago still there rotting seeping overgrown and derelict, a huge Con Ed plant exactly the same, junkyards, Super Fund sites, a huge sewage treatment plant under emergency federal care and sanction, mercury, fecal matter and arsenic polluting the creeks and the section of the Jamaica Bay it sits on, the largest residential facility for the developmentally disabled. in NY state is there (in process of shutting down because of repeated state sanctions for violations related to patient care). And there’s more and its just as bad and worse.

So you see East New York is not “my hood is so gangsta paradise bad, lets freestyle rap about it and represent cool and crime glam.” East New York is so close to the worst  place for 200,000 to have to make their homes but they try and they do and two little girls sold me lemonade out of their cute ass little kid lemonade stand while there mom good mom watched over them in East New York Brooklyn. true story I needlessly might add, where you get your wings clipped all the time.

The Sunday Body Count In East New York, Brooklyn

There are two avenues that run parallel  up and down the length of East New York, about a mile and a half – – and they run like yin and yang mirror counterparts of the  fugged up mean city street archetype.  And  I only realized it when they fugged me up and I  confused them  though I’ve been studying and looking at them so long and so explorer hard and been down down them so often on Hagstrom maps, satellite maps, and on foot that I should have an all but dissertation on Van Sinderen vs. Van Siclen Ave.

Van Sinderen runs nonstop looking like the worst possible road in America to walk down, looking like a fake caricature. here’s a part of that avenue down on the south end of East New York – – every time I walk down it – – with cars flying by at 60 mph with no sidewalk, no shoulder, all debris and you having to pin yourself against some graffiti on the wall so you’re not mowed down – – every time I think, actually I can feel it, this desolate street is really by definition where bad things must occur, I can feel it, I just shake my head that it’s allowed to exist and that it is so evidently haunted.

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*** May 7, 2015 6 a.m. –woman found stabbed and unconscious on Van Sinderen sidewalk; wounds on her head and bicep and trauma to her body, blood trail showed she was dragged about 150 feet. No suspect, no reason known.

*** May 11, 2015, 9 p.m. — an intersection of Van Sinderen, 14-year-old boy attacked by gang of five, punched in the face, mugged of his Android cellphone and wallet. No arrests.

And this is Van Siclen Avenue (below) where it lives as awfully as Van Sinderen looks

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*** On Sunday, October 18, 2015 (this week) at 10:15 am a gunman wearing a black hoodie approached and shot and killed 28- year old Troy Mitchell while he stood on Van Siclen.  Hooded killer fled, no motive known.

*** On Sunday July 27, 2014, 8:15 p.m. Shaun Green, 41, had a small dog on a leash outside a bodega  at Van Siclen Ave.  Footage from a security camera shows the suspect —  6-foot-3, about 230 pounds — calmly walking up to the Green, pulling a pistol out of his pocket and shooting him  point blank in the face. No motive. Still image below from surveillance video; below that is a link to the actual video.

The gunman shot the 41-year-old one time in the face before running away.
Surveillance video link

Then it gets sick because it’s East New York and that place is unlike other thug life hoods; crimes go down there that are in a separate category.

*** Sunday, June 1, 2014, 6 p.m. — Daniel St. Hubert, 27, (mentally ill, just weeks out of prison off a five-year sentence for choking his mother with an electrical cord) he’s wandering East New York with various knives like it’s a killing field.   He follows two children,  Prince Joshua Avitto, 6, and Mikayla Capers, 7, into an elevator in the Boulevard Houses (NYCHA Public Housing, projects), they just stepped out for ice cream and ices.  With a butcher knife Hubert attacks the kids,  hacking and stabbing them multiple times, killing the boy Prince, critically wounding the girl Mikayla — a grown man stabbed a 7-year-old girl  he just laid eyes on 16 times while he had her caged in an elevator — imagine the psychosis. Imagine that psychosis that must’ve been so evident when he was released from Clinton prison and put on East New York streets to wander on Van Siclen — what else could have happened.

Two days before this elevator rampage, at 10:30 p.m. on Friday, May 30, an  18-year-old girl, Tanaya Grant-Copeland was found unconscious on a sidewalk near a rail yard at Stanley Avenue and Linwood Street, minutes away from Van Siclen and  the Boulevard Houses.  She had multiple stab wounds and was taken to Brookdale Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Police said Hubert was in the area and was also the likely killer; they traced his EBT transactions to that same bodega on cold ass broken down bad to the bone should be ripped up Van Siclen Avenue. And this is what he looks like, but I imagine you probably have an idea, we all know what fucked up looks like; we just can’t seem to do anything about it but recognize it and wait for it to bump into one of us. That’s young Prince up in the left hand corner, Rest In Peace — he too looks like you’d expect a never hurt no one 6-year-old good kid at peace in the world to look like — so there’s hope.

Mom of boy slain in elevator by ‘Brooklyn Ripper’ sues city

And here’s Mikayla out of the hospital in August (and don’t hate because it’s Sharpton, just focus on what that kid went through with that madness going on in the elevator, imagine that and forget the politics for 7 minutes).

7-year-old survivor of ‘Brooklyn Ripper’ makes first appearance

And here’s what this princess said and what’s going on in her life as reported in the NY Post :

“I’m feeling good because you all supported me,” said the bubbly 7-year-old, in a pretty pink and purple dress and sandals, as she sat with relatives at Al Sharpton’s weekly National Action Network meeting in Harlem.

At one point she raised her hands over her head and cupped them together in the shape of a heart.

“It’s for P.J.,” she said, referring to her 6-year-old pal, P.J. Avitto, who was killed in the June 1 attack.

Her family, which has asked for help relocating, is hoping to get Mikayla settled into a new home by Sept. 1 so she can start the third grade in housing away from the Boulevard Houses project — the scene of the carnage.

“The most exciting thing about it is that I get to see the rest of my classmates again,” Mikayla said when asked about the new school year.

The child, with two visible scars on her chest, bounced to music, smiled and hugged great-grandmother Regenia Trevathan just a day after her alleged attacker was found mentally fit to stand trial.

Mikayla has been living with her great-grandmother in a different part of Brooklyn because she can no longer stand being at the apartment complex where the horror unfolded.

“She has not been back in that elevator . . . She cannot stay there 24/7. It’s a constant reminder,” Trevathan said. The family has struggled to help Mikayla, who is in psychotherapy, cope with the psychological impact of the attack.

“My electric bill was overwhelmingly high because every light had to remain on. They call it post-traumatic stress. We don’t know the long-term effects but we tried to keep her busy,” Trevathan said.

The girl has asked to go put flowers on P.J.’s grave, forcing Trevathan to explain some very grown-up things.

“One of the hardest things I had to explain to her that she doesn’t understand is cremation,” Trevathan said.

Her family, which has asked for help relocating, is hoping to get Mikayla settled into a new home by Sept. 1 so she can start the third grade in housing away from the Boulevard Houses project — the scene of the carnage.

“The most exciting thing about it is that I get to see the rest of my classmates again,” Mikayla said when asked about the new school year.

The child, with two visible scars on her chest, bounced to music, smiled and hugged great-grandmother Regenia Trevathan just a day after her alleged attacker was found mentally fit to stand trial.

Mikayla has been living with her great-grandmother in a different part of Brooklyn because she can no longer stand being at the apartment complex where the horror unfolded.

“She has not been back in that elevator . . . She cannot stay there 24/7. It’s a constant reminder,” Trevathan said. The family has struggled to help Mikayla, who is in psychotherapy, cope with the psychological impact of the attack.

“My electric bill was overwhelmingly high because every light had to remain on. They call it post-traumatic stress. We don’t know the long-term effects but we tried to keep her busy,” Trevathan said.

The girl has asked to go put flowers on P.J.’s grave, forcing Trevathan to explain some very grown-up things.

“One of the hardest things I had to explain to her that she doesn’t understand is cremation,” Trevathan said.

Two months living in a London homeless shelter I went native and realized Simon of Cyrene was no joke, no myth, no parable among the glue huffers and the young man who threw himself in front of a train because of drink and the Brown (heroin)

bullring

 

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The Carter Family

Rosalyn Carter and President Jimmy Carter with me lurking in the background looking freaky. I won a Carter Center journalism fellow and they had us down to Atlanta.  I can not say enough about that women, she is wonderful and treated me with such respect, compassion and kindness.  She's a saint.

Rosalyn Carter and President Jimmy Carter with me lurking in the background looking freaky.
I won a Carter Center journalism fellowship and they had us down to Atlanta. I can not say enough about that woman, she is wonderful and treated me with such respect, compassion and kindness. She’s a saint.

Ambien is destroying (seriously) lives

I don’t want to write this – – it’s personal, autobiographical, and personally damaging and I’m long since tired of that genre – I say this sincerely, this is not a gimmick I’m trotting out to justify memoir writing.

But I’m a journalist, and you find the best subject to tell a story. And if I’m not the best subject on this issue I’m a pretty damn good one.

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Interview with an Escapee from a Maximum Security Jail, a reform school buddy

With jail/prison escapes in the news, this seems relevant — an old acquaintance from a bad boys home gave me a detailed break down on how he escaped, it was crazy and ingenious and probably instructive for jailers.
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Mick (he didn’t want his real name used) engineered a complicated escape from a jail in Nassau County, New York that landed him on the front page. He took along a  career criminal (now deceased), and a man awaiting murder charges; that man, Shi Fu Huang,  once featured on America’s Most Wanted, is still at large.

 

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A Memoir: The Old School Rehab; shaved heads, digging your own grave outside, young men forced to wear diapers, donkey costumes, eat baby food, and sit for weeks motionless on a wooden chair with no back

They went quite crazy back then in the name of reforming us; the other aspect of the war on drugs.
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Photo: Me at 17 with my buddy, the armed robber, dust patient bisexual, martial arts expert from Hollis, Queens

It was the early 1980s in NYC, around the birth of hip hop and these rehabs (TCs) were a world of prison culture, living in Bronx tenements, sleeping with one eye open, 125th Street in Harlem, Pitkin Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn, dusties detoxing on cranberry juice, the cooker, razor blades in mouths, Nicky Barnes, fresh waves, Five Percenters, Mighty Whiteys from Queens, speedballs, the hole stroll, spades, playing the corner slap boxing, wild like reform school, excessively rigid as a skinner box mixed with super Orwellian behaviorism (forced to constantly inform on each other to staff) — all to treat us misfits, gangstas and burnouts in army jackets and work-boots messing with girls with roach clip feather earrings who were made to wear stocking caps if they broke a rule.

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Beyond NSA’s PRISM — The Extreme Monitoring Developed in the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office

In their 2012 Review publication a seemingly obscure government entity, the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), describes an operational program called PRISM.  The description doesn’t match exactly with the NSA slides of the PRISM program that the Washington Post recently published in relation to leaks by former CIA/former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.   In the CTTSO publication there is no specific mention of PRISM working with Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, or Apple and the collection focus is, as some government officials have stated, on what is referred to as foreign web media extraction. There is language that hints at ambiguity, overreach, potential for abuse (“PRISM provided access to an extensive database of related contextual data trends”) and there is language that might just be pseudo-Intelligence babble (“PRISM integrated visualization components with sentiment estimation” or “a cognitive task analysis was conducted to develop an analytic methodology and a processing pipeline to provide trend data from foreign media.”)

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Senator Rand Paul believes mental health is a hoax; legislation pending

In late 2011 Senator Rand Paul introduced Bill H.R. 2769 and related Bill S.1800, co-sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Rep. Dan Burton, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling. It was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

The name of the legislation was disingenuously called The Parental Consent Act – – it pretends to be all about protecting the children and stopping the state from taking away your parental right to raise your child as you see fit, but it’s just as much, more really, about adult issues masquerading as child protection.

The gist of it is that Rand Paul believes mental health is a hoax.

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Here’s a look inside America’s largest gun manufacturer (a bit ugly and hypocritical)

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Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity firm was/is the primary owner of The Freedom Group, one of the largest manufacturers in the world of firearms and ammunition. Their brands include including Remington, Bushmaster Firearms, DPMS/Panther Arms, Marlin, H&R, The Parker Gun, Mountain Khakis, Advanced Armament Corp. Dakota Arms, Para USA and Barnes Bullets.

As has been widely reported, shortly after the Newton shooting massacre (the killer used their Bushmaster weapon, and the father of Cerberus’s CEO Steven Feinberg, happened to live in Sandy Hook), Cerberus put the Freedom Group up for sale.

Here’s the press release they issued:

Cerberus Capital Management Statement Regarding Freedom Group, Inc.

NEW YORK, Dec. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — We were shocked and deeply saddened by the events that took place at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on December 14, 2012.  We cannot comprehend the losses suffered by the families and friends of those killed by the unthinkable crimes committed that day.  No words or actions can lessen the enormity of this event or make a dent in the pain that was inflicted on so many.

In 2006 affiliates of Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. made a financial investment in Freedom Group.  Freedom Group does not sell weapons or ammunition directly to consumers, through gun shows or otherwise.  Sales are made only to federally licensed firearms dealers and distributors in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.  We do not believe that Freedom Group or any single company or individual can prevent senseless violence or the illegal use or procurement of firearms and ammunition.

It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level.

The debate essentially focuses on the balance between public safety and the scope of the Constitutional rights under the Second Amendment. As a Firm, we are investors, not statesmen or policy makers.  Our role is to make investments on behalf of our clients who are comprised of the pension plans of firemen, teachers, policemen and other municipal workers and unions, endowments, and other institutions and individuals.  It is not our role to take positions, or attempt to shape or influence the gun control policy debate. That is the job of our federal and state legislators.

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Blatant LIE #1

They state that it is not their role to take positions, or attempt to shape or influence the gun control policy debate.

Except that on their gun web sites they link to the NRA web site. And

they also have on one of their gun web sites “Trigger the Vote” buttons, and “Gunvote/ Don’t lose your rights” buttons. Click on one of those buttons and this is what comes up:

 ABOUT TRIGGER THE VOTE:

Don’t buy the gun to lose the freedom! This year’s 2012 elections are more important than ever for the future of our country and our Second Amendment rights. The only protection against attacks on our Second Amendment rights and the democratic process is your vote. And this year in particular, we will need each and every individual gun owner’s vote, in every precinct and every district across the country.

We’re all concerned about the direction this country is heading, and we need to make sure that our children and grandchildren enjoy the same freedoms that we do. Your rights are within range. That’s why it all comes down to your vote.

PULL THE TRIGGER – REGISTER TO VOTE!

Trigger the Vote is the NRA’s national voter registration campaign sponsored by sponsored by The NRA Freedom Action Foundation. Help us Trigger the Vote TODAY

Here’s the link:

http://www.para-usa.com/new/why_le.php

This is also on their web site:

Community

We support and encourage community outreach and provide sustainable employment. Safety, health and environmental protection take priority over economic consideration.

Suppliers

We partner with our suppliers and conduct ourselves professionally and ethically.

Society

We produce environmentally sound products and only act within the law. We will not compromise our moral or ethical principles.

Here’s how ethical, moral, safe and community conscious they are. On one of their web sites they take a little pot-shot at Clinton and a boast about how they cleverly skirted his Crime Bill to make and sell high powered magazines:

“In early 1994, Para introduced the P13•45, a tactical-size pistol with a 4.25″ barrel and a 13-round magazine. Later, that year saw the passage of America’s infamous Clinton-backed Crime Bill with its 10-round magazine restriction. Fortunately, Para leadership had anticipated this event and had produced large reserves of legally grandfathered high-capacity magazines, still available to purchasers of Para-Ordnance pistols.”

They also state that they are the world’s leading innovator, designer, manufacturer and marketer of firearms, ammunition and related products for law enforcement.

But how about this patch they sell on one of their web sites, which I’m sure all those first responders in Newtown, Connecticut and cops everywhere who risk their lives for community and family will appreciate. A patch of a fat, stupid looking pig dressed in a police uniform. Real funny — “ethical” business men take law enforcement money on gun and gear contracts and for pensions on one web site, but mock the hell out of them on another site.

http://www.advanced-armament.com/Silent-Pig_p_528.html

And how about this on their web site:

Vision Statement

We always treat our customers, employees, business partners, environment, community and nation with the highest levels of integrity.

So you’re patriots. Except when promoting your gun brand and showing that patriotism by flying the US flag, the stars replaced with a skull and crossed bones/guns — symbolizing death and killing.

http://www.advanced-armament.com/AAC-Flag-Patch_p_517.html

Guess that didn’t “shock and sadden” you back when your were hyping guns as sexy cool bad ass killing machines

And some more patriotism, Lady Liberty throwing up a Glock-like long gun with an attached silencer (silencers on guns, it’s all about Freedom). They’ve since removed it from their site (PR? Cowards? Smart capitalists? — no matter, they’ve got guns so they’re automatic patriots (but bitches, and I use the term loosely, I would call you and your executives domestic terrorists — killing our people with your products.

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Brass knuckles, Traci Lords and your gun is for fun- how the army saved our lives

army reception docWhen  you joined the US Army, at the reception station, they gave you one last chance to drop in the Amnesty Box (no questions asked) all your contraband  — your brass knuckles, Oui magazine, num-chunks [sic] etc. — this was back in the day when soldiers would be escorted from the barracks in handcuffs for adultery, gay soldiers could get locked up, soldiers were administered Antabuse if they got in trouble for an alcohol related incident, when we ran our two minute mile in combat boots, toilets –20 in a row –had no partitions between them, a sergeant with two other troops would smother a knucklehead soldier with his laundry bag seconds before he passed out,  we worked out with barbells made of two coffee cans filled with cement with a bar in between them, you joined up with fingers orange from weed roach stains your recruiter telling you to lie because weed use would mean a meeting with a psychiatrist, dogs would run through the barracks on surprise middle of the night inspections sniffing for Amsterdam bought hash (Larsen Barracks, Kitzigen West Germany), we chanted on basic training runs I don’t know but I’ve been told Eskimo pussy is mighty cold and If I die on the Russian front I want to be buried in a Russian cunt, our SMART book (kept at all times, constantly, in the right cargo pocket of your BDUs) advised us to carry a small pebble in our mouth during long road marches to prevent dry mouth, we lit Kiwi cans on fire for a better polish, slept nude in those extreme cold weather sleeping bags, heard rumors constantly about saltpeter and undercover CID agents, called AFN Ain’t Fucken Nothing so instead bought Traci Lords videos at the PX before she would’ve landed you in prison as a Chester, had mo-gas blow up in your face in one of those field hot water drums, knew what lifer stood for (lazy ignorant, etc), knew the maximum effective range of an excuse, wore our gas masks in the field outhouses, got stuffed, really really stuffed in actual cattle cars when we were transported around.

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Tribute to my girl,partner,buddy,wife Sumiko Obata-Rest in Peace

Sumiko Obata RIP girl

Sumiko Obata RIP girl

 

 

Let me, a journalist, get personal – this was a hell of a girl, grew up in Japan, came to America for college and died to young from colon, brain, bone, lung, liver caner.  This is the good story as my friend Ilya Chaiken reminded me should be told — this is who she was in life before she was sick – photos, captions — check this and remember her, least I, we can do for her.

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4433985721770.2168907.1052987806&type=1&l=2a801c21a7

 

Your Wife Dies in Your Arms; This is What it Sounds Like Then and for Five More Years

 Sumiko was diagnosed with stage four cancer in September of 2001  – – 36 years old. She died on April 7, 2004.

For two years and seven months I was by default reporting all day, every day in every nook and cranny of health care.

If I look at it bluntly, now in retrospect, it was probably the worst kind of participatory, immersion journalism – – partly because when it was over I didn’t want to think about any of it again, couldn’t look at anything related to my wife, pictures, diaries, memories, do follow-up interviews. But all I could do was think about it.

What I have now amounts to basically a catalogue of suffering, some grace, and first hand reportorial experience with EMS, hospice, doctors, pain specialists, the insurance industry.

Some of what follows I wrote a month or two before Sumiko died, then I went back and revised it – – some was written after she died. The tense is not consistent so bear with me.

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TRAVELS IN WAR-TORN AFGHANISTAN

When You Run Around Afghanistan Alone And in Shirtsleeves While All Around You Your Fellow Americans Are Barricaded, Bunkered, And Bulletproof-Vested Up, This is What You Can Experience

The government, ethnic resentment dynamic seems pretty raw. Power, Karzai was from the south, being bombarded with how bad the government is, how bad the NGOs are – – I don’t know if I’m being used, spun or it’s legitimate resistance fighter rhetoric.

The rural poverty is pretty staggering. The isolation of so many of these villages also staggering — the urban areas, bazaars, mazes of mud huts, little girls carrying water jugs on their shoulders and navigating sharp rock mountains like billy goats, boys standing with naked legs in rivers while I’m bundled up against hypothermia in the SUV.

Then suddenly if you look somewhere else there are palatial structures, gleaming corporate office buildings.Two artillery sounding blasts in Faisalabad, think they were blowing something up intentionally and announced it in Dari over loudspeakers, but ugly sickening sound.

Read full story:

http://journalismworksproject.org/Afghanistan1.html

On Being Sickened, Heartbroken, thug angry at the NY Post on their photo of man about to die

I finally looked at the NY Post front page headline, Doomed, the man on the tracks, yesterday.

NY-Post-publishes-morbid-cover-photo-of-subway-killing

 

 

http://www.upi.com/blog/2012/12/04/NY-Post-publishes-morbid-cover-photo-of-subway-killing/3721354631250/

I’ve been a journalist for 25 years, wrestled with all kind of ethical issues. I know NY Post people, I worked alongside Post city editor Michelle Gotthelf for 2 years at APBNews, invited her to a Livingston Award ceremony I won for a piece she helped edit- cool woman. I sat next to the Post’s main rewrite guy Todd Venezia for two years at another newsroom. I worked in the Bronx courthouse with Post reporter Douglas Montero, a decent guy.

But that front page — a daughter and a mother had to see that photo. Are you out of your fucken minds. What no shame because there’s no name for the headline writer and the person who put it on the front page? No apology? This headline made me so upset, I was screaming at the screen for 15 minutes. I’m not a reckless, immature, protestor — but I seriously, seriously was considering throwing a brick through your window or doing something civilly disobedient. And I probably will — gladly do a small sentence and have a record for something like that. I’ve bought 3 papers a day for 25 years. I won’t buy the Post anymore. I won’t ever talk to a Post employee again. I had a wife who died, if you posted a picture of her like that before she died, I would be in your office acting like a common criminal, a thug, doing as much destruction as possible to your office.

You have power with your paper — you abused that power terribly. The man or woman who made that decision to do that front page — name your goddamn self, be a man, meet with the dead man’s 20 year old daughter Ashley, look that kid in the eye and explain your actions. At least have that courage, that decency — make it right. You really hurt so many people — can you really not care so much?
I taught journalism in a juvenile prison, I used the NY Post sometimes to teach my students — I would never again.
I’m so sickened. Please do something to make this right. It really matters to a lot of people. And people will remember this photo and this headline for a very long time.

Who’s Really Looting Who- To be poor in a hood in Hurricane Sandy/Coney Island (acting nothing like your idea of the poor in the hoods)

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Coney Island, Nov.9, 2012, 12 days after Sandy hit.

Arrive down there and find the nyc medical command center for medical/health issues in a trailer in MCU parking lot.  Hey,  I say to the  man in the trailer, I’m medic trained, mass casualty/crisis training, wildland firefighter, worked Irene and Sandy for Office of Emergency management, I have all my certifications, can I be of some help down here? No we’re good, don’t need any volunteers.

Nothing I say, you need absolutely no help at all, everybody and everything is ok, I’m willing to do anything?

No we got it, everything is fine, we have all the resources we need, everything is fine, sorry you came all the way down here?

You sure, no help at all, you guys completely got this?

Yes.

I so doubt this from experience so I start walking into the neighborhood.  Within 10 minutes I was working, almost everybody I encountered or asked needed some kind of help.  I had a back pack of gear and phone numbers for connections and I the night before I hit NYCHA (the agency that manages nyc public housing projects) where they had a list of projects and which ones were without power, electric, ect.) so I just worked.

O’Dwyer Gardens, a project complex with 6 large buildings, 572 units, with over a 1,000 residents.  Dead, no service at all.  I was doing outreach around there and some guy who turns out to be a CVS delivery man with a bag full of prescription medications and asks me for help.  He’s been sent over to one of these buildings and he’s scared, worried about danger and doesn’t have a flashlight to go up.  I look at the meds and see the DOB and the patient is 73 years old, he’s trapped up in this hell hole 13 floors up; yeah of course I’ll go, he probably needs a lot of help.  Delivery guy   calls the pharmacist, it wasn’t the patient’s his regular pharmacy because his regular one was destroyed, but pharmacist said great.  So I went in.  Hell hole, damage, pitch black, walked up 13 floors, get up there, shining light on every door and there’s no 13 N, the address on the script, only A-F.  What the hell.  I Walk down, double check the address, call the patient’s number, dead.  Call the pharmacy, does he have an emergency contact on file, no, she’s no help.

Talk  to two different cops,   one nothing, one tries, calls somebody he knows who might be able to run this name but we wait and the person never calls back, he says they’re screwed up down there in general that precinct or whoever he called.  He says it might be a set-up for you, if it’s psychiatric medicine and you go up there you could be attacked. Though he doesn’t offer to escort e up there.  I think I can handle it, I say, thanks for your concern.  Any ideas how to find this guy I ask him, databases you guys have access to  No.   Maybe go up other buildings 13 floors see if you can find an N  he suggests.  Then he’s radioed away.

I finally track down the NYCHA manager for the units, Scott.  I explain ask him, he said computers are down, no power.  I say I ‘ve got a small generator in my bag can he just log on using that, no, it’s not like that he says, no access.  I’m calling everybody I can think of , manager comes by 30 minutes later, apologizes, says there’s nothing he can do everything is down, no computers.  Isn’t there a central database in Manhattan or on a generator or someplace that you can check.  He says no.

I start asking around the projects, most helpful two Latino women who were NYCHA maintenance workers raking, cleaning up amid the huge downed trees that fell in the project common areas.  They tell me there’s a NYCHA command center, another trailer, try there, they tell me where it is.  I go in and explain what’s going on.  They were very nice, but they called and called all these different places, they couldn’t get through or couldn’t get the info.  Finally, they called the manager, he’ll be able to help you out.  They offered me food, water, were real nice but I was there for almost an hour.  One guy said, the resident probably evacuated.  Another said leave the meds here, we’ll get it to him– I said I can’t do it.  Finally, I said, “Wait is the manager that I’m waiting for named Scott?”  Yeah, they tell me.  I said I talked to him twice he can’t help.  One worker there, a decent young black man, I’ll call him out by name, Kevin Norman, said call “global,” which turned out to be NYCHA’s (ESD) Emergency Services Department.  Another worker called, someone actually picked up, they gave the residents name, I said tell him to run it through any public housing in that park of Brooklyn. Finally got it.  The address was completely wrong on the prescription, turns out the database showed he lived in a different housing project 12 blocks away.  I shook all their hands, Kevin Norman gave me his cell number and said call if you need any help with him or any other residents — I said are you serious.  Another worker, Louis, I believes said, “Yeah, they’re our tenants to take care of.”  We thanked each other and while I was thanking them manager Scott walked into the trailer, looking a little abashed. Went to the other project and delivered the man his medicine. Maybe 2 hours this whole thing took.

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The real disaster of bureaucracy during Hurricane Sandy; an insider’s glimpse

On Monday during Sandy I worked a 19 hour shift for OEM (medic like stuff) at the evacuation shelter for medical needs at John Jay College west side in the 50s – didn’t handle many many people but there were so so many supplies, tons and tons of everything – food, water, med supplies, personal hygiene stuff, blankets, everything, pallets and pallets of the stuff.

And some school shelters serving as evac centers turned into and remain real homeless shelters for a real hardcore dysfunctional homeless population; same problem I wrote about last year during Irene   no-seinfeldian-glee-temporary-storm-shelter-john-jay?page=all  (okay I suck at a lot but I’m  good at a few things, this being one, so I single handedly was able to  clear the whole homeless population from Norman Thomas high school last year so it could open the next day).  That’s not a policy, that’s one guy with street charisma on a mini martyr trip who happened to be volunteering.   And non homeless folk are not going to want to share evac shelters with serious homeless people during a future disaster, even on just simple hygiene issue problems.  Evacuees  were faking illness this year to move into the nicer med evac center area rather than stay in general population.

On Thursday I went to the Lower East Side/Chinatown on my own, by Jacob Riss school, Catherine Street, near the East river (supposed to be an evac center but it never happened, not sure why, no Tues it’s still closed, presumably because of damage).

Insane – hundreds and hundreds of people lined up (Chinese and black and Latino folk from the nearby Smith projects) for promises of food and water for hours and hours, holding buckets and pots for water– they had nothing, little children and old people filling up and drinking out of fire hydrants, small children half naked using the streets as a toilet, old Chinese women burning newspapers in large flaming cans in the streets — absolutely no one there (volunteers, OEM, FEMA, city – FEMA had one big truck elsewhere in Chinatown, all they had was a power strip to charge phones for people) — nobody there to give them anything or tell them anything, know one knew anything – only a huge police presence at the distribution center and one man from the Salvation Army doing nothing (all those supplies from John Jay and likely the same supplies at many other evac shelters in upper Manhattan that didn’t need them – they could have easily been positioned or sent down there to LES/Chinatown if there was any proper or good coordination).

Up by blacked out 1st ave and the 20s in Manhattan where I live here was a one legged man in a wheelchair seemingly disoriented in a traffic. Turns out he was three days without the heavy methadone dose he takes daily (think he said 150 mgs) and also Xanax – withdrawing, weak, freaking out, crowds of people he couldn’t navigate through. He said he needed to get to Bellevue for the methadone; I pushed him like 12 blocks hard to even push him through all that chaos and when we got to Bellevue he saw the people who run the program in the lobby – they told him the program was shut. What do I do he asked? Um, I think you have to go up to Metropolitan hospital (in Harlem) and I think their meth program is working, they said. 100 blocks and many avenues. How am I going to get there? He asked. The clinic people, health care professionals said, “Um maybe you can find someone who’s going and get a ride with them.” Yeah, right. No handicap transport van, no transport ambulance offered, The guy was screwed so bad. I asked him if he wanted money for a cab and he said no that’s alright and I left him there as he was talking to them about how anguished he was and how much he hated himself.

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On the Ground in Albania Chasing the Mob World

Amazing global investigation about Albanian mob by@kevinjayheldman #longreads http://bit.ly/ONyMGl

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The Week’s Best Longreads: The Daily Beast Picks for June 16, 2012

http://www.thedailybeast.com/…/the-week-s-best-longreads-the-dailybeast-…– longreads-sessions-120614-tease  Kevin Heldman, Capital New York An investigation into the heart of Albanian-American organized crime.

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Wow. Just finished piece on Albanian gangs in @capitalnewyork. Amazing. It’s GTA: Liberty City come alive. Read now: http://t.co/LbC3efeb
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     I feel, felt, a little like a low rent John McPhee on the cops and robbers beat — 50,000 words on how Albanians settle beefs and toss silencers —  but this is my final story in a long series on Albanian transnational crime in New York, in the US, and overseas.

This article, Part I, goes in very deep on a specific NY Albanian crew and takes you, took me, all over Albania reporting on this world.  I got as deep there as I could as a reporter — gave it my all — somebody in or of that crime world or some agent in IOC2, DEA, FBI or a lawyer, prosecutor out there who’s on these cases may know this world deeper, but I’m already punching way above the weight of a press pass, hey tell me your story, I don’t have a gun, money, subpoena power or a 5k letter to give you (that’s my shout out to all you  ridiculously hard working US prosecutors and defense attorneys on this and related cases — don’t know how you do it).

FBI NY Balkan Task Force: probably have a restraining order on me, this guy again, leave us alone already, be a normal reporter, go become a security guard or something if you want street action but you all would appreciate this account and especially Part II so if you see this check it out.

Part II, to be published pretty soon, will explain why all this matters, document the scope of this kind of crime — kind of say that this is not just arbitrary let’s write about Albanian crime because it’s novel — there is a shockingly established criminal subculture here that is very serious; I resisted believing it for the longest time because it seemed so unreal but it’s there, in mind numbing so many guns in mouths over and over again detail.

Here’e the link to the story on Capital New York.  I think it’s good, never sure on these things, you rewrite and reread and can’t read any more so much you lose perspective, but it is honest and I did work like mad on it.  If it’s not good I’m in trouble because I suck at life and I’m supposed to be good at this so… you know, there’s that. Ah, I always have to go too far.

On the Ground In Albania Chasing the Mob World

Undercover in a Locked Psychiatric Ward

pshchhosp-cover_word

7 1/2 DAYS
Reporter Kevin Heldman spent seven days undercover in the psychiatric ward
of a public hospital in one of NYC’s poorest communities

“Fine, powerful piece… hoping many people will read your story (including those who could improve the situation).”– Dr. Oliver Sacks, professor of neurology and psychiatry; best known for the books The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat and Awakenings, adapted into an Academy Award nominated film

* National Mental Health Association Award
for excellence in mental health reporting

* American Psychiatric Association Certificate of Commendation
“The entire judging panel was overwhelmingly impressed with your dedication and personal sacrifice for this story. This level of investigative reporting is certainly unique.”

Here’s the link:

http://journalismworksproject.org/psych_hosp01.html

Chinese Takeout Story — actually and really behind the bulletproof glass and out on deliveries — who the people are, what their lives are like

chinese take out 7

This is a snapshot of what life is like for one — and representative of many — Chinese takeout restaurants in New York City.  This is in an area where crime is high — Mott Haven, Bronx — and people in the restaurant, and people outside of the restaurant, may not have the opportunities to get out, move, make choices.

Takeout Story

Reporting On A Nudist Club (excerpt)

We arrive at the spa and sign in. Our car mates greet the other entering nudists with hugs and kisses on the cheek. There are couples, singles, the middle aged, twenty-somethings, older folks, all bundled up with coats and hats. We go into the locker room and the sudden onslaught of a sea of flesh is overwhelming (play it off, act natural, hi there). My eighth grade English teacher, the guy who fixes my car, my dentist; everybody is naked, walking by in a parade of immodesty, brushing hair, making small talk, pulling off underwear, bras. There are about a hundred people all stripping or stripped — the effect is like being struck by flesh-toned snow blindness.

A young, extremely shapely woman takes the locker next to me. Not possible. I had seen her standing in the lobby when I came in. High heels, lace stockings, miniskirt — must be the dance club bound aerobics instructor getting ready to leave as the nudists plodded in, I thought. I had assumed nudism was basically a support group for the nautilus-challenged, instinctively applying free market politics where the body is commodity; high quality goods wouldn’t be available so easily, for free. But here she is next to me taking off the skirt, the high heels, peeling off single leg stockings, panties, bending and reaching — why is she allowing me and others to see this, is what I can’t help asking.

I walk out with shorts on, towel in tow, uncomfortably cold. People are sitting in the lounge drinking wine, chatting. There are people covered with tattoos, with pierced body parts, obese women, here comes my dentist again bobbing toward the sauna. I walk into the pool area. The lifeguard hired by the spa is clothed in a bathing suit. I sense a vague superiority, similar to police who watch over a demonstration of activists with that silent smirking contempt. I try to saddle up to Bob who’s working the room, pressing the flesh as it were. He dismisses me and tells me to get involved, do something, then jumps into the crowded hot tub.

I pad around a bit, as people pass me wordlessly. Finally, I go to a nearby corner, pull off the trunks and walk across the deck. I feel the lifeguard’s eyes contemptuously upon my ass. Into the pool, I breaststroke around in an imitation of luxuriating copped from screen actresses who usually play these scenes with their long hair up in a modified bun while someone watches them on a terrace. I small talk with Phil. Phil wants to meet women here but he’s careful not to be blatant about it. More talk about trunk-less freedom. I meet a group of women in chest high water and we exchange pleasantries. A discarded social contract floats by.

Nine o’clock and time for the lingerie show in the lounge. It’s all camp and Tupperware party as the hostess calls out the models who wear the requisite Fredericks gear, men included. I sit naked as fellow nudists chat up the metaphysics of the lifestyle (“being nude doesn’t guarantee honesty and openness, but it helps”). Class distinctions are eliminated, apparel based categorizations aren’t readily available (love beads or pearls, work boots or sandals), so people get to know one another on a more substantive level.

Many of the people in the nudist or naturist movement (the latter being the more liberal) take pains to emphasize that nudity has nothing to do with sexual activity. Peter, who insists nudity itself is not provocative, tells the story of being on a nude beach when he spotted a woman there who was wearing a crocheted top. After a while he found himself watching her, waiting, hoping that she would move a little to the left or to the right so her nipple would come into view. He soon noticed there were a number of men on the beach doing the same thing. This in spite of the fact that there were hundreds of completely naked women all around.

My companion is still in partial dress at poolside, being talked to by bearded radical chic hustler — the others warn me about him. He’s eminently comfortable with his body and wants her to be. She tells him she still can’t seem to separate the idea of sexuality from nudity. A pause. This somehow does it for him. Following nudist etiquette he suddenly throws himself into the water, submerging his lower half, apologizing for his erection. At some point, he casually mentions there is a secluded spot in the women’s bathroom where sex can be had discreetly.

Later, I see her in the water backed up against the pool’s edge, three nudists treading water, forming a horseshoe around her in what looks like a game of sharks and minnows. I imagine them chanting over and over again “Is this your first time?”

I talk to a heavy-set woman in her forties who tells me it took her five summers of going to nudist beaches before she had the courage to disrobe. Now she feels free and good about her body, less self-conscious than if she were in a one piece. A number of women speak similarly, of women who’ve had radical mastectomies walking comfortably around nude beaches, of learning not to be self-conscious of their weight or their bodies because of nudity. I ask if they would go to an all-female nude pool party. They say it sounded like a good idea, they would. All the men I question about attending an exclusively male party ask what would be the point.

The shapely faux aerobics instructor, proud winner of the lingerie competition in her all white baby doll and garters now appears, inexplicably, wearing another lingerie outfit, wielding a whip and mock sashaying in the lounge. A man rushes up to her, prostrates himself at her high heels and says whip me.

She does, doing a little something with her lips and ass. The men guffaw, catcall, gather around, make jokes. She’s the finest one there and she’s playing it. The mood is broken, we’re in a centerfold now, the other women resent her attention grabbing. I resent her for reminding me of sex just when I was having such a good time.

Grace Amid Chaos and Desperation: Medic Inside A NYC Hurricane Shelter

I spent 41 hours over three days working for the city during Hurricane Irene.  I wrote about it for Capital New York.

This is what it was like:

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/culture/2011/09/3212810/no-seinfeldian-glee-temporary-storm-shelter-john-jay

heldman hurricane photo

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