It’s been over two years, a geographical move, and a career change since I last published on this blog.
I’ve decided to revive this as a place where I can write about the type of reporting I do now — crime. It’s messy and it’s heartbreaking. And after a year and a half of doing this, I realized this is a good way to deal with my own feelings about the tragedies I am faced with almost daily.
So I am going to start with something I wrote this weekend about a shooting that took place among a crowd of festival-goers at Zombicon in Fort Myers.
I was off the clock and spending time with friends, until the unthinkable happened.
This isn’t deeply edited, but here goes.
I drove to my friends house today, only the sound of the GPS interrupted my thoughts and accompanied my tears as I thought of George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
There was a poignant post on my Facebook newsfeed earlier this week. What if Trayvon Martin was a white boy and George Zimmerman was a black male?
“What if history was changed? Slavery reversed
Would black ladies see white boys and clench they purse?”
I don’t really have the words to explain my feelings on the verdict. I just feel empty. Between abortion regulation in Texas and Zimmerman’s verdict and the NSA spying on us, there’s just a big empty hole in my mind where rational thoughts used to live. It’s shameful. I’m just going to watch reality television for the rest of my life because real life is too fucked.
P.S. U.S., I’m sorry my home state is dumb.
The fact that I haven’t had the time to bid a proper adieu to 1 Herald Plaza is a testament to the greatness of The Miami Herald and its legacy of churning out hardworking newspaper folks.
After learning the basics of reporting at Miami Dade College and Emerson College, it was the Miami Herald’s newsroom that welcomed me with arms wide open.
After countless of drives from Miami Beach to Downtown Miami, on the MacArthur Causeway, the Herald’s iconic building welcomes you from a day of beach-bumming to reality.
It was in May of 2010 that I, a bumbling intern, made it through its doors into its grandiose lobby. The memory is ingrained in my mind and that’s because the security guard who beckoned me through the metal detector noticed I was new.
“You’re a new intern,” he asked.
After I nodded and mumbled my hello, he said, “Don’t worry. You’re going to do great.”
I don’t know if I’m doing great. But I am a reporter. So there’s that.
Over the last few days, countless of posts on my Facebook news-feed are from Herald reporters posting their finals moments in the building, thoughtful accounts from past interns about how the paper has influenced them and silly photographs from current interns exploring the 750,000 square foot structure.
One of the Herald’s interns is heading to New York City for another internship. Of the summer interns I worked with three years ago, I know of six others who have spread out throughout the country to cover crime, city government and other beats.
Even though its move leaves me feeling kind of wistful, this is what I cling to. That’s the nature of the beast. Miami, as a burgeoning city, is changing. The news business is changing. But despite the changes, there are still amazing reporters typing away getting their stories out. And even if it was only three months, it makes me happy that I was a part of the Herald’s legacy and it was a part of me.
Boston is not the kind of town that welcomes you with open arms. It’s the kind of town that forces you to break down and if you have tough skin, in the end, it makes you a stronger person. Each time a stranger pushes you out of the way on the T, you grind your teeth a little, but you persevere because it gives you the fortitude to grow with each shove and each grimace.
It’s a city of vagabonds. Artists flock to it; college students dominate it. It’s a transient town, full of out-of- towners.
For some, it might take a few months, for others it takes years of frigid winters to warm up to this small little city. Once you pass these tests, you begin to feel like you belong. Once you belong, you’re a hardened individual with a wise soul.
When I first arrived in Boston in late August 2008 I was enamored with its appearance. To me, this glorious city is what American metropolises are supposed to look like. None of that palm tree garbage I grew up with and large parking lots. These trees with their vibrant red and orange leaves that make way for naked branches that make way for cherry blossoms–that shit was picturesque to me. Finally, the American Dream, and I had arrived.
And then Boston slaps that shit out of you and laughs while pointing its finger, mocking you because you had the audacity to think you fit it. And then you overcome it because you meet like-minded individuals and make unshakable friendships and you begin to expand your family away from family.
You take long walks that begin in Allston Rat City that lead you to Commonwealth avenue and its overabundance of Boston University students. You walk beneath the arches at the BU Central stop that lead to the BU Beach that lead to the Esplanade. You watch as people sunbathe on the banks of the Charles. Across the water’s surface you watch sail boats glide in the water and you might catch one of the crew teams from one of those small, insignificant Cambridge schools practicing.
Time passes by, but you don’t notice because everything you see captivates you. A short walk, one maybe two hours, and you’re in the heart of the city. You might decide to stop at Newbury street and enjoy a cup of J.P. Licks ice cream while gossiping with friends at the nearest coffee shop, watching as passersby go about their day. Or if you’re lucky, a group of Berklee College of Music students are serenading the entire block with their melodic voices and instruments.
You make your way up Boylston street. The Boston Public Library greets you and in that moment you’re certain books are created by some kind of God because surely anything that’s housed at that library must be sent from above. A 10-minute walk leads you to the Public Gardens, but everyone knows The Common is where the action is, so you continue there to watch a quick game of baseball or to just lay down for a quick nap on the grass. You’re drifting off into peaceful serenity while you peer upward, your eyes are glued to the blues skies. You watch the clouds drift across that deep blue. And all of a sudden, it dawns on you: I love Boston.
And in that moment you feel so fulfilled. Because you’ve accepted your circumstances and despite the ache you miss for those crappy palm trees, Boston, this hard-ass city has finally accepted you, too.
And you begin to collect memories, memories that you’ll play over and over in your head because you know your days in this small big city are numbered.
And its these memories that make you smile.
That first time you headed to Beacon street because there was a Marathon and apparently it engulfs the city. You even get a day off from school, so you take your tripod and camera and set up to get some B-roll of the action because at a journalism school, you always need B-roll. But before long, you’re holding on to that railing, screaming yourself hoarse as these people are using their super human strength to run for long distances. And you’re holding your breath because you’ve never seen anything quite like it.
It’s a happy day. Patriot’s Day and Opening day at Fenway Park are the happiest days in Boston. No one is going to push you around on the T and no one is going to scowl at you. Everyone’s in a jovial mood.
Those are the things you think about on Patriot’s Day in Boston. That and the random Paul Revere horseback rider that’s galloping down Harvard avenue yelling, “The British are coming,” as you wash down a doughnut with some Dunkin coffee.
Fast-forward to Monday, April 15, 2013. More than two years have passed since you’ve been in the northeast–far too long.
You’re an adult working a job that Boston–and South Florida newsrooms–prepared you for.
And you read a headline on your phone and your breath catches. And everything seems to stop. That press conference you’re supposed to be paying attention to ceases to exist.
You make it home to watch the video of an explosion on Boylston street, the blast pummels survivors into different directions and there’s blood smeared across the sidewalks you walked on. And you cry. You cry for those that died. You cry because you can’t find significance in what you’re seeing. There’s no message. There’s no stamp of approval from an outside organization, so you can rationalize the reasons someone might want to cause others such hurt.
And after reading every headline there is to read, your own memories of Marathon Monday begin to fade. They are replaced with the white smoke and the image of a first responder wheeling away a survivor whose legs have been completely severed. And that photo is emblazoned in your mind.
But, then you shake it out because you are a hardened individual because Boston shaped you that way. And then you begin to smile, in between tears, because those memories are still alive. Those memories of walks on Landowne street when Fenway Park lets lose its rabid fans are still vivid and easy to recall.
You still remember those makeshift Nike posters you used to cheer on the runners in 2009. It’s of no consequence, but you still remember them and that’s the best part.
You watch the press conferences on CNN and you laugh because everyone speaking has the most perfect Boston accent.
And then you realize that everything is going to be OK because it’s Boston. It’s a tough town, full of tough people. And no one can take away your memories and experience.
And it’s going to remain a beacon of freedom and it’s going to continue educating many more generations to come and the world will be better for it.
Consider donating some funds to those who have been affected: http://onefundboston.com/
And consider visiting Boston. My words don’t do this city justice.
Music is a powerful thing. The sound of a familiar song instantly triggers a reaction that pulls a long forgotten memory to the forefront of my brain. It replays itself in my mind until it causes me to laugh or cry because of its fleeting existence. Music is much stronger than scent for me.
I don’t know if it’s a curse or a gift. I’m a sucker for feelings and emotions and any happy memory can cause me to cry my life away.
Anyway, this got me thinking about all of the music that elicits this response in me. I’ve decided to list them in hopes that the next time I hear one, they will treat me kind.
1. The song that started it all: Temper Trap-Sweet Disposition
I recently road-tripped from Miami, Fla. to South Texas. My car doesn’t have a fancy connection for iPods or mp3 players. So, my little cousin, who rode with me, made us a bunch of mix CDs and included Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition on it.
I still have a hard time listening to those CDs because they makes me miss my family so much.
2. The song that derailed my night. The Killers-All These Things That I’ve Done
Anyway, I was watching local band play, Vinyl Dharma, today and they covered this song and it took me back seven years. Holy shit, seven years. It’s been seven years since I was in high school. That just gave me the chills. I watched The Killers perform this song at the Hard Rock in Fort Lauderdale, Fla during their 2006 tour. It was a magical moment I got to spend with one of my friends, who will be coming to see me in two months! Love her.
3. The song that makes me scream: Hawthorne Heights-Niki Fm
There’s a vivid memory tied to this one. I was a senior in high school and I was on my way to a party with a few friends in a car. We had a bottle of Malibu Coconut Rum and we were mixing drinks in the back seat because this was Miami. No one cared. This song came on and we just sang and screamed along to the chorus. I felt “infinite.”
4. The song I want to watch live again: Fall Out Boy-Saturday
Fall Out Boy. Oh man, Fall Out Boy… this won’t be the only Fall Out Boy song on this list. What can I say? Fall Out Boy was my world when I was a teenager. My cousin and I made sure we went to all of their shows. They were epic. This song reminds me of a show I watched at The University of Miami’s concert hall, which changes names more than I change underwear. We were right in front of Pete Wentz, and I’m certain he threw a guitar pick at me. I ditched the last few classes at school and jumped into my cousin’s car to make sure we had prime spots. It was perfect and amazing.
5. The song that we used to dance to-Fall Out Boy-Dance
Keeping with the tradition of the last song, Dance, Dance reminds of the times my friends and I would end up at a parking lot, loitering and doing all kinds of things we weren’t allowed to do. I mean, just watch the video. It screams of high school. We were too young to drink legally and we had no place to crash. So a lot of the time we would just end up in a parking lot talking shit. I hated it back then, but now I look back and those moments make me smile.
6. The song I still scream out during car rides: Taking Back Sunday-Make Damn Sure
There are way too many Taking Back Sundays that make me feel this way. If I included every single one of them, than this list would be infinite. Make Damn Sure takes me back to car rides with one of my good friends. We’d lower the windows and speed down 12th street in Miami. We’d sing along and scream our voices hoarse.
7. The song I secretly wish would play at every house party: MGMT- Electric Feel
The Electric Feel played at every single house party I went to while in school in Boston. The beginning of the song just makes you want to nod your head to the beat. I always have to shoot off a text to one of my roommates when this song plays now because it makes me smile. It makes me realize I’m a lucky person with beautiful people in my life.
8. The song we never got right: The Decemberists-Sons and Daughters
We used to drive around and try to sing this song in rounds. We were terrible. But it was hilarious. Hear all the bombs fade away!
9. The song that keeps me dreaming: The Used-The Taste of Ink
I went on a day trip to Salem with one my best friends in Boston. This song came on during the car ride home. I’ve always loved it. The Used was part of my blood during my first two years at Miami Dade College. But, I guess I had never really analyzed the lyrics, until he told me during our car ride that it was about The Used finally making it as a band and fulfilling their dream. It gave me hope at the time.
10. The song that makes me dance: Fruko y sus Tesos-El Preso
What kind of Hispanic would I be if I didn’t include some of my country’s music? I am a salsera. I learned how to dance Cuban Rueda during my sophomore year in high school and haven’t stopped since. This is a Colombian song, but it matches perfectly with la rueda. I absolutely adore this song. It’s my favorite salsa to dance to and it reminds me of learning with my friends. It’s so much fun. And it brings back memories of all of the quince parties I went to.
11. The song that reminds of a might out: Matt & Kim-Lessons Learned
There was this one night in Miami where I spent it dancing and drinking at Purdy Lounge, one of my most favorite grimiest bars in the world. Afterward, we got in the car and drove off. My friend had a bunch of indie songs on a CD and the first one that came on was either Daylight or Lessons Learned by Matt & Kim. We were all like ‘whoa, what is this?’ It was a fantastic night.
Anyway, there are so many more songs I could include in this list, but then it would never end. I only hope you’ve had the opportunity to makes some fantastic memories during your life. Also, I ran out of wine.
It’s pretty shocking to see a beautiful little girl question herself because she’s too dark.
Those are the images on my television screen during CNN’s Who is Black in America.
A seven-year-old girl, speaking with her mother about how she wants to be light-skinned.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen colorism at hand. I had a co-worker at one of my many crappy jobs who confessed, as a black male, he didn’t date dark-skinned women because they are “too crazy.”
“I don’t like those black girls,” he used to say. “They be trippin’.”
I can’t imagine what a post-racial America would look like, but it’s got to be better than the self-doubt felt by minorities after decades of racism.
While we’re at it, lets stop accusing people of “acting white.” It’s such a disgusting thing to imply.
I am very lucky that I was born in Miami where I wasn’t considered a minority. The biggest different was that I was Colombian in a sea of Cubans. I think people should start looking at Miami as the future of the United States, an amalgamation of cultures blended to form something different.
I’m going to go read some Leonard Pitts Jr. columns about race. Excuse me.
Seriously, I don’t have many regrets. The only ones I carry with me are when I miss one of my favorite artists on tour.
Right now, it’s Florence + The Machine and her September show in Miami, Fla. My heart hurts every time I think about it. And now she’s off somewhere in Australia. Who knows when she’ll be back in the U.S.
Why is British music so much better than music from the states?
Her music is all I’ve been listening to these past days. I fall asleep watching her live concerts. God bless youtube for having so many of them.
In other pop culture news, I saw Lincoln Sunday night. What an epic movie. I want to carry around Daniel Day Lewis’ Lincoln in my pocket and take him out whenever I want to hear one of his many stories. What a great film. Seriously. Go watch it.
Every time I watch this clip, it gives me the chills: