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Jack Agüeros, a New York poet with Alzheimer’s disease, has lost the ability to read and write but still has moments of lucidity. Published on NYTimes.com on June 30, 2011.
Most college students don’t know exactly what they’ll do after graduation. But for some students, even a bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean they’ll be able to work. Undocumented students like Lehman College freshman Marlen Fernandez pursue higher education hoping their circumstances will change.
I always had the hope that it would pass so I continued to study for my nursing major. I’ve wasted a whole year studying to become a nurse. Now I have to change my entire major. In a way I feel lost, and without direction.
Even when I major in something else, if the DREAM Act doesn’t pass, I’m not going to be able to work in whatever field that I have.
I know that I would be a great nurse. Now I have to sacrifice that. I think about all the other things I’ve had to give up because of the situation that I’m in. It’s just unfair, just because of a simple number.
Maybe someday I can always come back and get a second degree. Be the nurse that I couldn’t become during this time.
In three years, Marlen will become the first member of her family to graduate from college. But without the DREAM Act, and without citizenship, she won’t be able to work in most jobs. A social security number stands between Marlen and higher-paying careers that require bachelor’s degrees. For now, Marlen has given up on her dream to become a nurse because working in a hospital requires a social security number she doesn’t have.
In the meantime, she’s fighting alongside http://www.nysylc.org/other students like her to push politicians to pass the DREAM Act. Marlen was hopeful when the DREAM Act passed the House in December but hope was quickly replaced by disappointment when it failed in the Senate by just five votes. Now that it has been reintroduced http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/senate-democrats-reintroduce-dream-act/, Marlen waits to see whether doors will open or again be slammed shut.
Karen Mulligan, a physical education teacher and former college basketball player, now gets her athletic kicks as quarterback for the New York Sharks of the Women’s Professional Football League. Nine years after donning her first set of shoulder pads, Mulligan is one of the league’s standout players who continues to shatter the stereotypes of how a quarterback — and football player – looks and plays.
SOUNDS OF PRACTICE
I was having a conversation with one of the assistant athletic directors. She was explaining that it was women’s tackle football with equipment pads helmets. I couldn’t believe it. So I immediately went on line and looked up women’s professional football in New York and the first web site was the New York Sharks.
I am a middle school phys ed teacher. There’s a set of students of kids who know and they pass it around and there are still a whole bunch of kids who have no idea. So even though i’ll wear my sharks sweatshirt to school or my t-shirt, they’ll ask me, ‘Ms. M, is that your team?’ and I’m like, ‘yeah.’”
PA ANNOUNCER AT GAME
When guys talk about it…I had a guy in a corner deli who had no clue women’s football existed. He was like, ‘you guys play tackle?’ It was more of like those type of questions. ‘You guys play tackle? Like the guys? With shoulder pads and helmets?’ You’re like ‘yes, yes, yes.’ ‘Well, what position do you play?’…’quarterback.’”
We used to hear a lot of stuff..you know like that they compared it to..and may be its true…like a good boys high school game.
Two seasons ago I snapped my ringer finger in half. that was the minor stuff. I’ve tore my acl, mcl, both meniscus in my right knee. one substantial concussion and probably two minor ones.
PA ANNOUNCER AT GAME
The best thing…there’s the competitiveness, there’s the camaraderie with the girls. Being a part of this organization as the sharks and being a part of a the whole as women’s football.
I didn’t know how much it would affect my life. Not only the opportunities it would open but the good friends I’ve made. There are girls on the team that are like family.
In addition to leading the Sharks to league titles and the superbowl, she’s the WFL’s all-time leading passer, served as a national ambassador for the sport and has represented the U.S. at the women’s football Olympics.
Mulligan is one of 60-plus Sharks who commit to a three-month season that includes twice-a-week practices on top of weekly film study sessions and weekend games – including road trips to play in Boston, Washington, D.C. and beyond.
Despite the Sharks’ talented roster and growing fan base, the team can’t afford to pay its players; rather, the players, upon being selected at spring tryouts, are required to raise funds to cover travel, equipment and team expenses. (Approximately $1,000 per season based on tenure.)
The games can be draining. Players often wake up for work after a game day sore. So why play? It’s the love of the game and team camaraderie that keep players coming back to grind it out on the gridiron year after year, said Mulligan. .
Eric Coull, who has cerebral palsy, has been cheering for the Mets since he was 10. Now he has the chance to step out onto the diamond and become part of the action he has always watched from afar.
I pitch ball excited.
We watch the Mets together, so. He’s a Mets fan, I’m a Mets fan, and both of us are true Mets fans, so you know. Lose or win, we still love ‘em.
Coull has cheered for the Mets since he was 10 years old, but it was his cerebral palsy that made him a true fan. Between the ages of 12 and 13, Coull needed three operations on his legs, and ended up spending a year and a half in the hospital and rehabilitation center. Luckily, the hospital was near Shea Stadium, and a trip to see the Mets quickly became Coull’s favorite break from the doctors and physical therapists that crowded his days.
Now, Coull lives mostly independently, but his room shows that his devotion to the Mets has only grown stronger with time. His bedside rug has a large Mets logo. He has enough Mets gear to dress head-to-toe in blue and orange. And his windowsill serves as a gallery for all the Mets paraphernalia he has collected along the way: teddy bears, hats, license plates, baseballs.
For a long time, Coull was unable to talk, but last year, he got a handheld device that helps him communicate. While some frequent phrases are stored — “My name is Eric Coull, I understand everything you say” — tapping out new sentences one letter at a time is a laborious process.
When asked how he feels about the upcoming game, Coull got very quiet and focused, tapping away on the device for several minutes in silence. He became slightly frustrated, and had to go back and erase and start over a few times. But then he looked up.
“I pitch ball — excited,” he said through the device. And then he smiled.
NYC Council Member Margaret Chin’s new bill is an attempt to clamp down on the illegal counterfeit handbag trade. Watch the video below for an undercover look at the scope of the problem as viewed from the streets of Chinatown
R: For ladies.
V: What color you like?
R: Umm… I got to check in with her.
V: I have a black, I have a brown.
R: But is it like the bags in here?
V: No, it’s in my car, I have to bring it. I have a big like this. You want a big or a small one?
R: I think she wants a smaller one. A small handbag.
V: Yeah the small one looks like this.
Chin: The mayor and the police commissioner, they’ve been cracking down on this trademark counterfeit goods. There’s been a lot of raids going on. The problem is still there.
Chin: The bill that I just introduced last week will make it a criminal offense to purchase trademark counterfeit goods.
R: Are these ones better than the ones in the stores here though?
V: Nobody puts them in the store. Gucci? Nobody puts them in the store. It’s in the store but it’s locked. There’s no Gucci, there’s no name. Looks like Gucci, but no “Gucci,” no name.
R: Right, but those ones actually have the name on them.
V: Yeah, these ones have the name Gucci.
Chin: Bags or whatever that you see hanging in front of these stores are most likely not the trademark counterfeit goods. Off to the side, that’s where you will see a lot of this. So people should know about the consequences.
Buyers: This is a gorgeous Prada. This is a gorgeous coach. Gorgeous.
Buyer 1: They’re charging too much for Coaches and Prada’s anyways. I mean, for a purse, it’s too much money to pay two, three hundred dollars anyway. These aren’t real, they’re just knockoffs. We can get a really good look-alike for little or nothing.
Buyer 2: When you start putting bans on these kinds of things it’s going to get worse. It’s going to be even more in the backside, in the background and everything. It’s still going to happen.
Buyer 2: And maybe some people would be happy that maybe they want the real thing, but we’re satisfied, so.
Buyer 3: And we change purses like shoes, so what the heck?
Council Member Gale Brewer, a supporter of the bill, even speculated that there’s a link between the sale of these goods and the Chinese mafia. She commends Chin for her efforts.
“I thought it was really innovative and gutsy of her,” Brewer said.
The bags in the shops are not the target. They are similar to the real thing, but they are not replicas. They do not have the counterfeit tags and replicas of logos, etc. They are not illegal.
The bags sold on the streets are illegal, complete with fake, replicated tags and logos, an infringement on copyright laws.
Yet many tourists continue to purchase the replica bags with little regard for the implications on the local economy, child labor, terrorism, or any other consequences.
Check out the video to see why Chin is so concerned.
The Innis’ family story, as well as the stories of other Caribbean teachers, is the story of a broken promise and its consequences in the life of many international teachers recruited by the NYC Department of Education a decade ago.
#00:00:57.7# [A shot of the front of the house where she lives]
#00:00:59.9# Sherin Innis: “I am coming from Guyana, in 2003 I came with my husband and my sons. The Department of Education went down to Guyana and recruited some teachers. They did an interview, my husband was a very good candidate because he was a lecturer at the university of Guyana, he was the head of the technology department, very good in math so they saw him as a good candidate and he came with his family.”
#00:01:24.1# [Sherin's son playing the piano] [Shot of a bunch of flowers; tilt down to Vernon Innis’ headshot]
#00:01:45.8# Sherin Innis: “Yesterday, I celebrated three years since the death of my husband. Since then I had to move, I had to give up my house, the house where we were living in. We had three bedrooms, each boy had his own bedroom, and I had to give it up because I cannot afford to pay the rent. I moved here, it’s uncomfortable, I sleep on the floor, my sons sleep in two single beds. There are times when we did not have food to eat, and that is just part of the story.”
#00:02:15.6# [Shot of the front of the house.] [Sherin and her sons going out of the house.] [Captions appear in the screen]
#00:02:45.8# [Final credits].
“But the DOE never fulfilled that promise,” Sherin said.
After her husband’s death, Sherin received a phone call from Helen Conrad, a lawyer assigned by the DOE to oversee Vernon’s immigration process. Conrad informed Sherin, “When your husband died, your status died with him.”
Sherin and her two sons are in the country on a working visa she received when she started to work as a tutor at Touro College in Queens in 2009. Her visa will expire in February 2012 and she and her sons will have to move back to Guyana.
“We came here as a family, and he died. He’s buried here. At least give them the opportunity to visit his burial place,” Sherin said.
Recycling bottles and cans are not only an environmental concern. For some people, it’s a way to survive, their unique income. Randy Braswell,50, has been collecting bottles for seven months. Before ending up with this job, he was a truck driver and deliveryman. But his life broke down.
And I hurt my back. I spent four month in a hospital, I lost my place to stay, my job and everything I could not work.
In the summertime, it’s much better because everybody is out in the streets. It’s hot everybody is drinking water and soda.
You can walk down on this block and collect bottles, come back an hour later and the garbage becomes full again.
Friday night, Saturday morning, people who are going out at the clubs, you go on the back behind the club, it will have lots of bottles and cans.
At Madison square garden… because there are lots of stuff going on there. The Manhattan center when they have a lot of shows. And people being on line about a movie theatre. A lot of people drink soda and water while they are online to wait to go in. When the show is over you can collect all the bottles.
People they don’t care they just don’t wait to money and I pick it up.
It’s not clear that this law actually encourages people to recycle the bottles they use. Currently, many people throw their recyclables in the trash. This behavior goes for street trash cans as well.
Often, the homeless, low-income or environmentally aware people collect these bottles, turning them into drug stores, supermarkets or cans machines.
This is how Randy has been living for 7 months after his life was turned upside-down because of health problems. His story is the same as many others here in New York. But few of them talk about it.
Nurse Inan: It could just be a little cut on the finger, or somebody wants food, or it could be a gunshot or stab wound and they need to go OR within 10 minutes.
Black woman: He’s holding my fucking hand, na, get the fuck out of here, I’m not going nowhere.
Dr. Cohan: You have to, as an emergency doctor, or an an emergency nurse, you have to be able to suspend your emotions to a large part. Because without that, you see a lot of terrible things, and it would be very hard to do the work.
Unseen voice: My brother I love you. I’l pray for you, god is great don’t give up. God is great, he’s up there.
Dr. Cohan: Probably the thing that I find most trying is dealing with sick children, and I think a lot of people feel that way.
Dr. Johnson: It’s the young ones that really stick with me because you see yourself in their shoes.
Nurse Inan: They could be my age and they’re on the table fighting for their lives.
Nurse Garcia: 18-year-old who got shot, and his mother was young on top of it. But she just came in and broke down.
Dr. Cohan: We had a recent case when a young woman was hit by a car and suffered a massive spinal chord injury.
Nurse Garcia: That was hard, that one right there was really hard. I don’t know why that one sticks out any worse than any others, but that one was really hard.
Crying girl: If I didn’t move out the way, it would’ve been worse
Dr. Cohan: What does it feel like to save someones life, let me tell you that never, never gets old.
Dr. Cohan: Recently we had a young man come in the emergency room who had been stabbed in the chest. When he actually rolled in the emergency room he was actually dead, or what we call clinically dead, his heart had stopped, he had bled to death. We did everything we were suppose to do, and we were actually able to necessitate him, and get his heart beating again, and he went to the operating room, and survived and walked out a normal person again.
Dr. Johnson: It’s like what you went into it for, it reminds you what you went into medicine for.
Dr. Cohan: Usually i’m on the opposite end of things, usually I’m giving the bad news to the family. Your son has been critically injured and things look bad. I don’t say it in such blunt terms, but thats what I have to convey to them. So rarely am I able to tell someone in the emergency room, guess what we just saved your sons life, everything is going to be rosy, everything is going to be perfect. I rarely know that with the critically ill or critically injured patient.
Emergency room administrator: Sorry, medical notification in trauma one now.
Dr. Cohan: I got a patient
Emergency room administrator: I know you didn’t hear it
Dr. Cohan: I heard it but I thought it was surgical.
Emergency room administrator: No, no, no
Established in the early 80’s, Jacobi Medical Center has the only Snakebite Treatment Center in the tri-state area. The Snakebite Treatment Center provides life support and anti-venom, working in conjunction with herpetologists at The Bronx Zoo.
Jacobi Medical Center’s Hyperbaric Chamber is used for emergencies, such as smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning. The Hyperbaric Chamber is unique in that it is multi-person, able to accommodate up to nine patients at a time. The Hyperbaric Medicine Program has treated nearly 3,000 victims of carbon monoxide poisoning – more than any other hospital in the Northeastern United States.
Jacobi’s Burn Unit is a Center of Excellence, recognized for its advanced clinical research and educational programs and as a pioneer in the use of early surgical intervention to preserve skin and minimize infection and injury.
At Jacobi’s NYS Designated Stroke Center, physicians who are specialists in stroke use the most modern treatment methods to provide immediate intervention in saving life and minimizing stroke damage.
Yvette Bonilla lives in Hunts Point with her daughter and three grandchildren. All three generations suffer from asthma. Tens of thousands of trucks rumble through Hunts Point daily on their way to waste transfer stations where 40 percent of New York City’s commercial waste is dumped. Over the years, the poor air quality created an unhealthy atmosphere for Hunts Point residents, where one in four children suffer from asthma.
Yvette: The way the atmosphere is out there. It’s ick.
Priscilla: Like the sanitation trucks, since they have all the garbage, it stinks and then it makes me feel like it’s hard to breathe.
Text: The asthma rate is 1 in 10. For children, it’s 1 in 4.
Yvette: I started at the age of 12. And it was really hard. It was really difficult to live with it. And I still do. I’m 55 years old, and I still live with asthma.
Priscilla: I was sleeping one day and my chest started to hurt and it just kept getting worser and worser and my mom had to rush me to the hospital. It felt like somebody’s sitting on your chest.
Yvette: Asthma is like you know it’s really tricky. You could be one moment fine, and then the next moment you could be like in the hospital.
According to the New York City Department of Health a child’s chance of suffering from asthma is one in four. This is much higher than the overall New York City childhood asthma rate, which is one in 10.
Researchers from Lehman College and NYU’s Graduate School of Public Service have identified diesel truck emissions as the main cause of the high asthma rate in the community, along with emissions from factories and sewage plants.
This issue was first brought to light over a decade ago and spawned an environmental justice movement in the South Bronx. Today, there are over a dozen organizations in the community fighting to close the waste facilities and clean the air in the neighborhood.
Yvette gives us a glimpse into what living with asthma is like for her family and the challenges that come with the environmental burdens of her neighborhood.
For more information on the environmental justice movement, visit www.ssbx.org, www.mothersonthemove.org and www.sobro.org.
Eating disorders don’t just affect women, a growing number of men are now starting to “come out” of the eating disorder closet. Vic Avon shares his near death experience and talks about his battle with Anorexia, more commonly known in men as Manorexia.
In the years when I was going through the bulling and the rejection, and all the negative things in the world, that were going on around me, my coping mechanism was to turn to the food, and it just made me feel good.
Food, biologically, just makes you feel good sometimes, cus I could turn to it, and it was there to comfort me, when I was feeling bad or when I was feeling sad, or lonely. Then I hated it at the same time, cus it changed my body, and it made me have the body that I have, so if I had an emotional time of where I would eat a lot, because I was really bummed out or really depressed, I’d actually hate myself more afterwards, cus I had eaten all that, and and I knew there probably would be a negative physical reaction to it.
That’s one thing I really disliked about those years, was the fact that I didn’t know when I was hungry and when I was not, just didn’t know when my body physically needed food at that second and when to shut it off.
And it is kind of interesting because I did the exact same thing in my disordered years, where I didn’t follow the hunger ques at all . Unfortunately, my body hasn’t really adjusted, my hunger ques are all screwed up, to the point where I still need to follow a meal plan to make sure that I am eating what I need to eat, so I don’t stop too early or go to much, cus I am not intuitive like a normal person.
The disease Manorexia is more common in the gay community or amongst sportsmen who are encouraged to keep their weight low, such as jockeys. Avon is neither making his road to recovery so much harder. When it came time to find a sponsor, he was unsure who he could share his story with.
An overweight and depressed teenager, Avon started to starve himself when he entered college. He stopped himself from eating more than one meal a day and would work out for hours a day, to keep his weight and body mass as low as possibly. But no matter how low his body weight got, Avon only saw the chubby teen when he looked in the mirror.
Today, nearly five years since he was admitted to the hospital for Manorexia, Avon is still not fully cured. Although he is at a normal body weight, he is unable to recognize his body’s hunger signals and must adhere to a strict meal plan and follow his dietitian’s orders, in order to keep his disease in remission.
Cacao Prieto, is probably Red Hook’s best kept secret. The chocolate factory in the heart of industrial Brooklyn, has quietly been making chocolate bonbons for private parties and to the public in its pop-up shop in DUMBO. Although, the pop-up shop closed at the end of the Spring season, the Red Hook factory is poised to open it’s doors to the public this summer.
You’ve got this bean and I have taken the shell off, very gently. Now the bean is still quite whole. But if you get real close, you know that there are patterns. They’re almost like fracture marks in there. And if I were to apply a little bit of pressure, It’ll break along those lines.
If you notice, here there is shell and nib all together. We put it through here. This is a unique design and where some of the James Bond aspect with Daniel comes from. He’s an engineer and he designed this as a concept. Through vacuum and centripetal force it separates the shell, which collects here from the nib, which collects here.
You lose your sense of smell you lose your sense of taste. As anybody with a cold or a flu will tell you, you can’t taste anything. You can bring it to your nose you can get that general cacao flavor, and that’s a beautiful thing. What I have done here is taken on it and expanded on it. Now, there is a strong flavor smell. That’s something kind of playful. I like it.
To be honest with you, that’s not really me. With my work, I am not so kid oriented, I am not so whimsy oriented. I guess you could say, I like a little bit more sophistication and modernity, that’s what I like.
What’s going on is there is this sort of renaissance in chocolate making, in the United States. A lot of this has been spawned by the fact that for the first time, the machinery is small enough and affordable enough for smaller manufacturers. Chocolate has never really been, chocolate has only been around since the 19th century. It has always been an industrial product.
What’s great about this is there’s a huge smell factor. Because I have inlaid the cinnamon, you can take this right to the nose. So now you can smell it first, create the essence of the cassia, then you eat it.
Damien Badalementi, Cacao Prieto’s Head Confectioner explains the process and why their way is the only way to appreciate fine chocolate. But don’t mistake him for an Oompah-Loompah. Unlike the legendary Roald Dahl created chocolate factory workers, Damien prefers sophistication and flavor over candymaking fables and hijinks.