Associated “Content Producer” Delete-Happy with Reader Comments

February 8, 2009 at 8:57 pm | Posted in Cancun, Internet | 11 Comments

Mexico’s drug carteles are no joke.  Neither is President Felipe Calderon as he attempts to hire the best and brightest to combat the horrifyingly violent and incredibly pissed off elements of organized crime throughout Mexico.  It’s sickening how quickly the narcotraficantes pick off Calderon’s appointed crime fighters, often within days of starting the job.  The most recent assassination occurred in Cancun, where Retired General Mauro Enrique Tello Quinonez was found mutilated alongside his aide/bodyguard and driver. 

But what I find sickening is Julia Bodeeb’s assertion in an article she wrote for Associated Content (and which is subsequently being reposted around the Internet) that tourists should stay far, far away from Cancun:

 If you are looking for a lovely beach vacation, I would recommend you avoid Cancun.  It does not seem therisk with organized crime murdering so many people.  Find a safer place to vacation at.  Cancun, Mexico needs to solve their violent crime problem before tourists return there. 

To read the entire “article,” click here.

I will leave the grammatical errors, torturous syntax, and accidentally omitted words for another tirade.  But this is clearly an opinion piece, no?  And Associated Content allows for comments.  One would think that such a strong editorial, urging tourists to stay far away from Cancun (and indeed the entire country) would be followed by a rousing dialogue on whether such an extreme stance is warranted.  Alas, this is not the case, as the author of this article, Julia Bodeeb chose to continually delete comments that respectfully disagreed with her position. 

Several members of the Cancun Care forum attempted to post in response to her article.  Their comments were almost immediately deleted.  None used profanity, all were respectful, and all were immediately deleted.  Julia Bodeeb then posted a link to a site which discussed accidental deaths in Cancun over the last few years.

One intrepid Cancun lover, Vegas, wrote directly to that siren of journalistic integrity, asking what her problem is and why she is not allowing any discussion about her article if the comments disagree with her position.

Julia Bodeeb’s response? It’s a good one, and one that Vegas posted for us all to marvel at:

VivaLasVegas,

Another Content Producer, Julia Bodeeb, has sent you the following message on Associated Content:

When you are a writer here feel free to expect your comments to stay.  otherwise, you blow.

Julia Bodeeb, are you really a writer?  Because, despite the great publications you seem to have been published in, it seems that you are missing the point of what good Internet writing does.  It provokes thought.  It engages people so that they want to respond.  It starts a conversation, especially when the platform for a conversation is right there in the form of a comment box.  It brings to light different opinions that may even enable the original writer to re-examine her original position.

But Julia, why do you keep deleting comments?  What do you know about Mexico beyond what you’ve read on CNN?  Is it possible that you are so uninformed about the incredible complexity of Cancun that you are threatened by those who possess more knowledge about this dynamic city of almost one million?  Is that why you refuse to engage with them?

And why, oh why, would a freelance writer, one whose Internet reputation is their bread and butter, tell someone “you blow.”  Fo’ real? 

Perhaps you should stick to articles like your Gift in a Jar Ideas for Valentine’s Day.  You TOTALLY rocked that one!

But we all still really want to know: Julia Bodeeb, have you ever even been to Cancun?

To the Cancun Care community: feel free to post here your comments that were deleted from her article.  I promise not to make them disappear.  Unless, of course, you tell me I blow.  But I know you’re all too classy to say that!

A Bittersweet Day

January 14, 2009 at 9:19 pm | Posted in Life in the US, The Bucket, Working | 4 Comments

I’ve known of this kid for almost three years.  For the first two and a half, he would just barrel by me, head down, hands in his pockets, and his hood up.  Then he got shot in the back.  After he got out of the hospital, he got serious about completing his community service for an old charge and getting into Job Corps to move out of state. 

I’m not sure at what point I realized that he came to see us literally every day.  Maybe in the summer.  But the weeks when we didn’t see him that much, he’d come in only three times.  He’d get another hospital bill and bring it directly to me.  He’d get a phone call from the Job Corps lady and come right over.  He once told me that he would never read out loud in front of anyone because he was too embarrassed when he stumbled over words.  Then it hit me that he’d read things in front of my coworker and I with no problem. 

In the fall, he got more and more stressed out over hospital bills and not hearing from Job Corps, so there were lots of days when he’d just sit silently in my office and I started panicking that they would’t accept him.  I started calling the Job Corps lady.  One day he came in happy because she had called him to say that Maine looked good for him.  And could he please tell me to stop leaving messages for her.

He finally got the call from Maine to say that he’d been accepted and he’d leave in January.  For the next month, my coworker and I spent at least an hour with him a day.  We’d Google the campus and “bother” him with reminders to buy woolies.  I made him pinky swear that there would be no Job Corps babies but we amended that Job Corps hoes would be okay.

Monday we loaded him up with presents (practical things like phone cards, lip balm, a mini pack of Rhode Island playing cards), went over his packing list, and made sure he had his bus info.  Of course, we decided to show up at the bus station Tuesday morning with breakfast sandwiches. 

In dealing with him, I seem to be channeling my own mother, neurotically asking the same questions over and over and generally acting like a mother hen.  As we stood outside getting ready to see him off, I started in on my litany of reminders.  My coworker asked him how annoying it was that he had to deal with his own birth mother as well as us, his two adopted mommies.  He said “I only wish youz (mumble, mumble) been there my whole life.”

This comment, coupled with the general feeling of empty space after his frequent presence, made both of us burst into tears periodically through the day. 

I can’t believe that, after so much work and patience, he’s finally gotten to go.  And I hope he doesn’t get too lonely and if he does, that he manages to work through it.  And I hope that his body heals and detoxes and appreciates the wild beauty of Maine without being frightened by so much open space.  I hope that he endears himself to everyone there as he has endeared himself to us.  And that he gets as fiercely protective of new people as he had gotten of me.  And that he takes advantage of this time investing in himself and come back to a welcoming job market. 

Who knew that I’d get a taste of the sadness and joy of sending my own child off on a new adventure without me from an incredibly tall, pissed off kid whose face is transformed by his dimpled smile.  Even if that smile comes from making fun of me.

Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!

December 26, 2008 at 3:29 pm | Posted in Life in the US, Self | 3 Comments

There’s nothing like celebrating the birth of Baby Jesus by going home and pretending you’re 16 again. 

This time I brought Homeboy to my oldest friend’s parents’ house for Christmas Eve.  I drank a lot of wine with her various family members and traipsed down memory lane talking about people from high school I haven’t seen or thought about for over ten years.  This time, we were helped along by Facebook.

The evening culminated as it always does, with her parents yelling at her and her siblings to shut up so they can go to sleep.  Then off to the driveway for the ritual smoking of the Christmas joint.

All the old questions from my adolescence resurfaced in my pot-addled brain: will my mom be awake still?  will she know I’m high? did she leave food for us to reheat and eat?

The answers were: no, no, and yes. Score!

Before chowing down on what we found in my mom’s doggie bags, we partook in yet another comforting ritual from my adolescence: the smoking of the bowl in mom’s driveway.  But this time Homeboy joined in.

Thank you, Baby Jesus, for letting me relive my youthful rituals.  And to all 3 of my regular readers, some of whom may be surprised by my posting about illegal activity: yes, I do have other, more wholesome memories from my teenage years.  But none quite so bittersweet as sneaking into mom’s house ripping high and digging into baked macaroni and cheese with lobster.

The Best Tuesday Ever

December 7, 2008 at 1:26 pm | Posted in The Bucket, Working | Leave a comment

Last Tuesday, two of my Christmas wishes came true.

First, one of my favorite clients finally got word that he got into Job Corps in Maine after months of waiting.  He decided that he wanted to leave Rhode Island, but Job Corps asks that you make weekly phone calls to the in-state admissions counselor to show your continued interest.  We stayed on top of that, but it was taking so long that I started leaving voice mails for her.  Finally two weeks ago she called him to say that he didn’t get into the one in Massachusetts, but things looked good for Maine, and could he please tell that lady (that’d be me) to stop calling her.

And on Tuesday they called him from Maine to say that he was accepted.  And he’s going to Job Corps on an Air Force Base right on the border of Canada.  I tried to explain Maine to him, but I’m not sure he quite understands just how isolated it is.  He now spends a lot of time on Mapquest checking out the location.  He will literally be at the end of the road.

And then The Thing of Which We Must Not Speak came to pass.  The reason that we must not speak of this is because Rhode Island is so darn small that everyone and their mother knew that this Thing came to pass as of Wednesday morning.  Because my blogger’s cloak of anonymity is fairly half-assed, I can’t go on record to share my outright joy and glee that This Thing finally came to pass after a very long year.  But behind closed doors, we danced and jumped and screamed.   Work should now be more productive, transparent, and sane. 

Though watching Vanessa get eliminated as Paris Hilton’s New BFF was NOT one of my Xmas wishes, I got to see it happen with a bottle of champagne, my best friend, and her boyfriend.  The bubbles went to my head, and I spent an hour alternately hissing that everyone STFU so we could see the finale of Paris Hilton’s New BFF and screaming “Best Tuesday Everrrrrr” over and over. 

This is probably why I spent the day after The Best Tuesday Ever with a blinding headache, fielding phone calls from surprised Community Center stakeholders and funders, and breaking out into a little jig every once in a while.

Now we’ve got to spend quite a bit of time cleaning up the mess created before That Thing of Which We Must Not Speak happened.

That Special Christmas Feeling

November 29, 2008 at 7:39 pm | Posted in Life in the US, The Bucket, Working | 5 Comments

I’m the type of person who keeps her feelings closely guarded.  My true feelings often come out in a stream of invective and swears and very rarely comes out in tears.  When I’m actually ready to share my feelings, it’s when I’ve managed to attain a level of removal.  Recounting events that made me feel deeply and sharing my emotions about such events becomes almost clinical.  In my evasion of all things real, I am truly at my WASPiest.

Which is why I’m so surprised at my talent for getting others who equally bury what they feel to spill their guts.  Especially those who pride themselves on presenting a “Fuck You” front to the whole world.  Kids who show their pit bull exterior to everyone start to roll over and show their puppy soft underbelly the moment my office door is closed.  My coworker and officemate like to play Good Cop, Bad Cop, but when the doors are closed, we suddenly turn into everyone’s Special Mommies.

I have been witness to the most amazing self-disclosures, some ridiculous and some sublime.  Who new that Woodlawn’s residents hard ass wants to become a CNA to “like help old people and slow people”?  I was certainly taken aback when another very masculine kid screamed “Yo, that’s my joint” and starting singing and dancing wildly to “I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world.”  And I went home and cried after one kid who feels the need to check in daily put his head down and starting crying over what shit he thinks his life is. 

But one of the most recent confessions was part pathos and part pure innocent joy.  We had three dear fellows in our office, all ripping high and quite relaxed.  One was going through the ringtones on his new cell phone and playing them for us.  There was some country and western tune and I asked him how he managed to steal a cell phone from a redneck.  Then he came to “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” and everyone thought it’d be great if that played every time his phone rang during the Xmas season. 

Another very high young man said, “Aw, I can’t wait until Christmas.  I just love it.” 

And I responded, “G-Black, I am just picturing you wearing footie pajamas and opening your stocking gifts.”

He said, “Naah, dawg, it ain’t even that.  I don’t even get presents like that.  I just love that special Christmas feeling.” 

His friends laughed out loud and half-heartedly tried to make fun for sharing that.  Then they started saying, “Yo, n***, I feel you on that.”  I tried to get them to commit to going carolling but they told me they’d get shot.  Then they launched into their favorite tough guy conversation of which brand of hot cocoa they prefer and whether little marshmellows or Fluff belong in the perfect cup.

So this comment of “that special Christmas feeling” has spurred us into action.  How shall we make Christmas special for this amazing group of people without being totally cheesy?  How can we celebrate this season with no money yet remind these boys that they are loved and honored?  And how do I remain open to new insights and be the receptacle for their relevations while never engaging in self-reflection?

I think that last question is key, and one of the reasons why I very rarely share of myself and therefore post infrequently.  I am only willing to share of myself through the medium of others. 

Regardless, I feel the excitement of Xmas joy and want to share it.  Most want to feel that joy through their small loved ones who still believe in Santa.  Yet for me, I want to bring that sense of abundance and joy to those who feel that this sense of abundance is reserved for others.

Thoughts, Comments, and Snippets from Today

November 20, 2008 at 11:11 pm | Posted in Self | 2 Comments

Dude with a wonky eye I haven’t seen in months says: “I drive by your house often.”

Gabacha glances around the table nervously.

Wonky Eye Dude: “I’m not stalking you or anything.”

Patrick Swayze is not a very good actor.  And I’m embarrassed by how much I loved Dirty Dancing.

Kid stinking of weed pops up at my office window after my fourth time seeing him that day: “Hi, honey.  I’m home!”

I let him in and ask: “Do you guys spark a blunt and march directly over here?”

High kid: “No.  Well, yeah. Sometimes.”

It’s a delicious feeling to know that nobody has to be privy to the world inside your head unless you invite them.

Charming middle-aged job developer: “Honey, with those boots on, you could be down on X Street.” (area known for having a high concentration of ladies turning tricks for crack.)

Gabacha, deciding whether to be offended or not and going with the latter: “Uncle J, if I wanted to go whoring, I’d certainly be more high class than that.”

Line from a packet of Ramen Noodles: Not only do Ramen Noodles make all kinds of exciting soups, but are excellent when used in salads.

An Inquisitive Gabacha: “So your new project is making bongs and selling them.”

Slightly Tapped Unemployed Friend launches into an extremely detailed account of all the steps necessary to make bongs from looking for hardware at Lowe’s to lovingly placing the piece in his stoned friends’ hands.

Unemployed Friend’s Girlfriend: “Yep, he loves it.  He even brought one to a party as their housewarming gift.”

Piece of dialogue from The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, the book by Umberto Eco I’m reading: “I thought it was a real find.” “Do you know you’re the only man in the world, the only man on the face of the earth from Adam up to now, who when his wife sends him out to buy roses comes home with a pair of dog balls?”

Oh Lordy, Here We Go Again

October 21, 2008 at 8:31 pm | Posted in The Bucket, Working | 1 Comment

What do the following have in common?:

  • a paper on the Burmese Python
  • a hysterical, crazy elderly volunteer
  • a “train” with a girl with a fat neck
  • a meeting about nothing
  • borderline sexual harassment about 7X
  • a mystery dude named Meatball
  • endless paperwork
  • “What’s Your Fantasy?” by Ludacris
  • Phish on MyTube
  • about 16 quarterly reports
  • a voice mail left for a detective
  • a frantic phone call from a funder
  • emails asking me for yet another calendar of events
  • 12 kids setting up for an annual meeting
  • yet another convo with that crazy lady whose daughter REALLY doesn’t want to get her GED
  • endless tallying of demographic information for 3 separate reports
  • fudging of said reports
  • faxing about seventy forms I had to fill out for the second time to the funder
  • fending off an eleven year old who really wants me to buy his candles
  • calling the Mayor’s office to make an appointment with a notary for both me and a client
  • questioning the sinister kid about the laptop (his story doesn’t match up)
  • escorting ten kids out of the building
  • preventing them from slipping back in
  • talking about some kid’s “pimp hand”

You got it! Just another typical Tuesday at work!

And ya wonder why I don’t have the energy to write about much else.  This shit is waaaaayyyyy too good.

A Thought (Or a Couple)

October 17, 2008 at 10:34 pm | Posted in Life in the US, Mayan Culture | 1 Comment

I’m not going to post an actual well-thought out narrative with stats and links, because I’m just too brain-dead.  But the violence in Mexico is picking up and spreading out and affecting those not involved in narcotrafico.  The death toll is probably in the thousands, but I’m not going to go looking for the numbers.  And all those drugs are headed north where the demand is.  Americans are so sincere about supporting those who want to end genocide in Africa and feed little poor cuties in Central America.  But what about if Americans decided to put an end to the deaths in Mexico that come from fighting carteles?  We’re all doing our part to go green, right?  Why don’t we get the coke consumers to band together and just say no to do their part in saving the innocent people dying in Mexico?  And we’re all about Farmers’ Markets and buying local.  Why don’t all the stoners just say no to the cheap Mexican shwag and and start buying the domestic kind?

I swear, if there were any more drama and excitement in my forty-hour work week, it might just give me a stroke.  So I’m going to post one of my favorite pictures from Chichimila, Yucatan.

 

A little blurry, no?  Any ideas how to fix it?

Being Inspector Gadget

October 16, 2008 at 9:30 pm | Posted in Life in the US, The Bucket, Working | 2 Comments

I was walking back from the corner store this evening with my head spinning but enjoying the balmy windiness of fall.  I saw someone dressed all in black, careening down a dark street on a bike, screaming from blocks away.  My residual street smarts caused me to think, “Maybe I should be nervous.”  But then I thought, “Naah…I probably know him.” 

Sure enough, he’s one of the little nuggets who was most sympathetic to today’s drama.  I had been all set to buckle down and write a grant that’s due tomorrow when I realize that someone nabbed my laptop yesterday.  Of course, I flipped my lid.  But then I started sleuthing. 

I went over to a patrol car to try to file a report and the crazy neighborhood crack head lady was talking his ear off and then trying to bum smokes from me.  The cop asked me if it was a Gateway and I said that I didn’t actually know because I had just gotten the computer after a virus killed another and hadn’t yet used it.  He gestured to a computer case sitting shotgun but that wasn’t it.  Then he took off because he got called to a “bloody incident” that also factors into my day pretty prominently but I can’t get into it here. 

So I spent the day interrogating teenagers.  I came up with quite a bit of information about this mystery kid that was around during the period of time in question.  One girl said that he stared at her an had a “sinister laugh.”  Another kid’s mom escorted him over to talk to me. 

I then chatted with various older youth who I knew weren’t there at the time and tried to confirm where people will try to get rid of stolen electronics.  I pretty much know that it gets sold on the street (the kid even took the power cord!) and in fact, have turned down offers to buy iPhones outside my work.  Tonight I had a good laugh with the kid who tried to sell one to me a couple of weeks ago.

I was horrified to think my favorite (albeit tremendously sketchy and troubled) kid had taken it when I found out he had been there.  But another kid said that he had come in with just a T-shirt and not his customary ginormous black hoodie.  Plus, he told me when I called him: “How could I do that to you after all you’ve done for me?  Besides, I told you I stopped robbing people.”

Lesson #1 for the day: The Code of Sticky Finger Ethics make even those who frequently jump people for electronics get indignant when I get robbed.

Lesson #2: I really, really want to be a PI.

Lesson #3: Never trust the shady kid with the sinister laugh.

If I have time tomorrow between bouts of frantic grantwriting, I may check out a nearby pawn shop or two.

Knowledge is Power in Payne Park

August 17, 2008 at 11:04 pm | Posted in Life in the US, The Bucket, Working | 3 Comments

What a flippin’ fantastic day!  After only a month of chaotic, hurried planning (for those of you who don’t know about planning events, people usually spend 6 to 8 months planning a block party), we managed to pull it off.  “Knowledge is Power” was to commemorate those who have been killed violently in Pawtucket and CF and bring the neighborhood together in a nonviolent, positive setting. 

There were about 500 people and miraculously enough food to feed them all!  The Cape Verdean ladies ran a kick-butt kitchen and I am still in awe of them.  Spoken word, hip hop music, two dance groups (CV Dream Team and Victorious from Brockton), a frickin’ adorable seven-year-old musician with dreads, and a candlelight vigil for those who are gone.

I am blown away by how peaceful, happy, and helpful everyone was.  No fights, no beef, nothing.  Clean-up was a dream, and I was amazed to see all our kids pitching in.  The same guys who sit in the park, sell drugs, and mouth off to the cops were the ones with trash bags picking up plates and water bottles and moving tables inside. 

Three of the cutest booty-shakers ever

Three of the cutest booty-shakers ever

 

Food line

Food line

 

The Grill Master (400 burgers and 400 hotdogs)

The Grill Master (400 burgers and 400 hotdogs)

 

Hanging Out

Hanging Out

 

Dakarai Dancing

Dakarai Dancing

 

Victorious from Brockton

Victorious from Brockton

Alvaro, Paris, Melissa, and Jenny

Alvaro, Paris, Melissa, and Jenny

In Memory (Hell Boi Throwing Signs)

In Memory

 

 

You can't look hard while drinking a fruit punch juice box

Trying to look hard with a juice box

 

Dancing with the lil' one

Dancing with the lil' one

 

Candlelight Vigil

Candlelight Vigil

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