Friday, November 14, 2008

For Sarah Tea...

OK, interesting stuff. So there's this music Web site called "," which I'm always on. What is it? Basically, you can enter a song — like, any song by any artist — and seeqpod will call it up and you can listen to the song for free. You can build play lists and everything. The only catch is, you can't burn the songs to CD. It's sorta like youtube but for music. Anyway, what's great about seeqpod is the wide, wide array of music you can call up. What also makes it great is how obscure some of the songs on it are. For example, type in Elliott Smith and you’ll not only get his major songs, but some of his home recordings, studio outtakes and even some amateur recordings taken at his concerts. Stuff you’d never imagine existed.

Anyway, tonight, doing whatever it is I do at my computer, I entered “John Lennon” into the seeqpod search field. I did this because John Lennon is simply the man. Anyway, a list of John Lennon songs appears, and I'm scrolling and I'm scrolling and I see a song called "The Worst Is Over." This intrigues me because, as far as I know, Lennon never recorded a song with this name. Anyway, I play it and, holy shit, I love it from the first note. That's because the "Worst is Over, " I soon realize, happens to be the early-stage recording — probably done at Lennon’s home — of a song that would evolve into a #1 single. It’s a sketch, if you will, of the masterwork, and both are beautiful.

Here it is, “The Worst is Over” or, as it would later be known, “Just Like Starting Over.”

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Day Story

Hey people. Below you'll find a story I wrote on Election Day last year. I was working for the Daily News that Tuesday, stringing reporting to them about what the flavor was like at a polling place in Queens. Anyway, I took it upon myself to write my own little story while I continued stringing, just jotted it down right there on my pad. The story never got in the paper, so I figured I'd post it here. Have a look, if you'd like.


“Excuse me, do you have your registration card?” was what Maria Rodrigo wanted to know as voters walked up to a side door at Public School 82 in Jamaica yesterday anxious to get to the curtained booths inside.

The Queens resident was working for the New York Board of Elections for the day, one of hundreds of similar workers stationed at all the polling places across the city whose job it was to welcome voters — both veterans and first-timers — and help guide them to the polls.

“The job is simple but it’s also hard. We’ll be standing here from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m,” she said.

After that, the work still won't be done. Rodrigo is also part of the team that will count the votes after the polls close, late into the night.

But for now, its’ still just Election Day morning and the people — young, old, black, white, Latino — keep streaming in to vote for their 44th president.

Rodrigo smiled as a man who stood by the school’s doorway offered a blank expression after she asked if he had his registration card.

“It’s okay; people forget them all the time,” she said. “Just sign in at the table and then you can vote.”

On more normal days, Rodrigo, who first came to the United States from Sri Lanka in 1995, works at the Jamaica YMCA. She helps people recently released from prison make the transition to the outside.

“It’s a mighty task, and I only get minimum wage.”

Though she stayed tightlipped when it came to her candidate of choice, higher wages and a break or two for people working in such demanding job are two things Rodrigo would like to see the next president offer.

“It’s a struggle, paycheck to paycheck,” the single mother said. “I’m a taxpayer and I’d like a little more comfort from the government. Not a handout — just a little more comfort. Either way, whoever wins is going to have a lot of mopping up to do.”

A little later, a man who just voted wheels his young daughter out in a stroller. Rodrigo, still standing by the door, still greeting and guiding voters, bent down to get face to face with the little girl.

“Well hello there. Did you get to vote today?

“Yeah,” her father said. “She voted for change.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wrenching Stuff

Today I worked on a very sad story. A mother and her baby, a baby she never got to see, were buried together. The mother, Donnette Sanz, a New York City traffic agent, was killed a week and a half ago as she crossed a street in the Bronx. She was seven months pregnant. Doctors delivered her baby by emergency cesarean section, and for about a week, the premature infant clung to life. Friday he died. Yesterday was their funeral.

I’ve heard many things from many people while working on this story: “God always takes the good ones,” “The driver of the van should rot in hell,” “This world isn’t fair.” Each comment affects me in its own way. Some I buy into, others I don’t. But let me suspend judgment for a moment to talk about how such tragedies, I think, can be avoided.

With simple responsibility.

If everyone, or at least the majority of people, realized that each action he took has a consequence ranging from from hardly-felt to earth-shattering, this world would be safer and better. It's that simple. It’s also important to realize that there really are no such things as shortcuts. For instance, the driver who slammed into Donnette and caused her death said his "breaks went out." But he had been driving with brake pads so thin, and in such need of repair, that an accident was bound to happen. In other words, this driver chose to take a shortcut: he wanted to drive, but didn't want to meet the basic requirements. This driver might have made thousands of dangerous moves in his life and taken countless shortcuts, and all could have had hardly-felt consequences. But he continued to act negligently, and this time, the consequences were earth-shattering.

The key, then, as we walk away from this tragedy, I guess, is to promise ourselves we won't be negligent with our actions — large or small — when other people's lives are at stake. And that’s friend or stranger.