by Anna Deavere Smith, Los Angeles Times, April 28th, 2002
Gordon Davidson, artistic director of the Mark Taper Forum, took me out to breakfast in New York City after seeing my play “Fires in the Mirror,” about riots in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in August 1991. Those riots were the consequence of a buildup of tensions between blacks and Jews, sparked by the death of a young black boy, Gavin Cato, and the murder of a young Hasidic scholar, Yankel Rosenbaum.
Some would call the death of Cato a murder; others would call it an accident. Some would call it a reckless accident. Most people would consent that Rosenbaum was murdered. Some people would call what happened in Crown Heights a riot, others would say it was an occupied territory. There were Jews who called the events a pogrom.
How do you even begin to have a conversation when the terms themselves are a cause for dispute? And so they should be. After all, history is made by the way the stories are told, and particularly by whoever has the power to put the words in print, or some other form of dissemination. Being a student of language, I was intrigued to come to Los Angeles, and to work with Davidson and his theater to create a play about the riots in LA.
"Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992" was to be based on interviews, of which I would perform excerpts in a one-woman show. I was already aware that I could not start an interview by using the word "riot.” I would ask first to see how the interviewee labeled the “events.” It was variously called, at the time, a “riot,” “a “rebellion,” an “uprising,” a “revolution.” In political circles, where language tends to be most calculated, it was called the “events of April 29.”
Soon after my arrival, two Korean American graduate students at UCLA contacted me. My heart raced when the conversation began. “We heard what you are doing, and we are afraid you’re going to get it wrong.” Here we go again, I thought to myself.
by David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times—April 22nd, 2012
One of my favorite pieces of writing to emerge from the 1992 LosAngelesriots is a poem by a writer named Nicole Sampogna, called “Another L.A.” In it, the poet traces the odd dislocation of living on the Westside while so much of the city burns. “They send us home early, again,” she begins, “supposedly for curfew sake, / but I know it’s to beat the traffic.” And then: “over there the smoke rises, / horns blare, streets scream, / shoot, loot, / bash windows, bash heads, / lights out / knocked out / by a black & white with a baton. / but, here / will the pizza man deliver after sunset?”
There it is, the dislocation that so often marks LosAngeles, and never more profoundly than when the not-guilty verdicts in the LAPD beating of Rodney King came down 20 years ago. Depending on where you lived or the part of town in which you found yourself, the atmosphere was static or chaotic, suspended or engaged. I remember, on the second afternoon of the conflagration, watching as a Fairfax district neighbor sunned herself on her small front lawn, while in the distance, sirens screamed. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, perhaps in the way it reflects Sampogna’s sense of the city as disoriented, in which we connect (or don’t) “to the other LA with the flip of a switch.” How in such a place do we evoke the larger story? How do we find common ground?
This four-part series went deep inside a Brooklyn shooting gallery to explore addiction and the AIDS epidemic. The reporting is masterful and provides a deeply nuanced account of a very specific moment in history. The pieces were written by journalist Barry Bearak and appeared in the Los Angeles Times during the last week of September, 1992. Bearak won a Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists for the series, in the category of editorial writing. Bearak has also written for The New York Times and The Miami Herald. He won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his accounts of poverty and war in Afghanistan, and currently teaches at the Columbia School of Journalism.
Not only does it serve as an example of extraordinary journalism, but it is also a reminder that newspapers truly are the first draft of history.
Read it for the writing, which is as lyrical as it is evocative. Read it for the narrative, which will draw you in and seize your heart. Read it as an artifact of history, a haunting snapshot of what it was like to be alive and addicted and possibly HIV-positive in 1992. Read it because it is a reminder of what happens when societies don’t act fast enough, and when we willfully ignore the people who live in the dark shadows of our great cities. But mainly you should just read it, because it is important, and it is powerful, and it is true.
This is what happened:
[Georgie Vega] rarely ventured into Manhattan. He seemed a yokel amid the great hum. [Nelson Martinez] sensed this. He began to make fun of Georgie’s rumpled cutoffs. “If we’re going to be dope fiends, let’s at least be clean dope fiends,” he said, steering his pal to a store and treating him to a pair of new jeans.
It was almost 4:30 by then, but Nelson and Georgie set aside a few moments to shoot up their drugs in the men’s room. Georgie removed his shirt so he could use it as a tourniquet. He wrapped it around his left arm, holding one end with his hand, the other with his teeth. He found a plump vein.
"For heroin addicts, the nation’s switch to a war footing had some odd and unintended effects. A drug habit is a brutal taskmaster; addicts look for stable routines. They need reliable ways to get cash and drugs. And they covet dependable spots to inject, sheltered places with a stash of needles, where other addicts are nearby to share a shot or help them "hit" an ornery vein.
Instead, needles have remained a mainstay of the black markets. Georgie Vega, who last summer ran the gallery on Melrose, partially kept up his own dope habit by selling them at $2 apiece. Georgie, 38, was a 25-year veteran of the hustles of heroin addiction. He understood the cat-and-mouse games between junkies and cops-and appreciated the fact that the addicts of Bushwick were harassed but seldom arrested. Their safety was in their own insignificance.”
"[Lips] had a partner at the gallery, Georgie Vega. For use of their place, they charged people $2 or a taste of drugs. It was strictly a business arrangement. Lips did not like Georgie and vice versa, especially with him letting [Lourdes Pabon] hang around there to share in the heroin and cocaine.
Lips was dope sick too. He was taking all the tastes for himself, and it was a few hours before he was willing to share any with Lourdes. Then they sent someone to call 911 on the pay phone at the corner. An ambulance came 90 minutes later, and Lourdes was carried away on a stretcher.”
This is the first of a four-part series of articles that went deep inside a Brooklyn shooting gallery to explore addiction and the AIDS epidemic. The reporting is masterful and provides a deeply nuanced account of a very specific moment in history. The pieces were written by journalist Barry Bearak and appeared in the Los Angeles Times during the last week of September, 1992. Bearak won a Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists for the series, in the category of editorial writing. Bearak has also written for The New York Times and The Miami Herald. He won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his accounts of poverty and war in Afghanistan, and currently teaches at the Columbia School of Journalism.
"America has long had a malign attitude toward its heroin addicts, alarmed by their crimes and intent on their punishments. In the age of AIDS, this sternness bears the heavy weight of self-destruction. The nation has an estimated 1 million injecting drug users, and in recent years they have not only been responsible for 34% of all newly reported AIDS cases, they have also been the main cause of the epidemic’s spread to the heterosexual population.
HIV eventually becomes the full-blown syndrome. The CDC has recorded 24,323 cases of AIDS among adult women. Of those, 71% are considered IDU-related (50% are drug injectors themselves and 21% are women who had sex with IDUs). By the same token, 57% of 3,898 pediatric AIDS cases have been tied to IDUs (40% were children of IDU mothers and 17% were born to women who had drug injectors as sex partners).”
The Plagiarism Hunter: “Former student Tom Matrka has made a hobby of uncovering plagiarism in masters’ theses at Ohio University, and thus far has found thirty examples. The university was slow to act on his discoveries, and a scandal has erupted over the plagiarism.”
Cheating Goes Global As Essay Mills Multiply: ”Everyone knows essaymills exist. What’s surprising is how sophisticated and international they’ve become, not to mention profitable. In a previous era, you might have found an essay mill near a college bookstore, staffed by former students. Now you’ll find them online, and the actual writing is likely to be done by someone in Manila or Mumbai.”
The Shadow Scholar: Looking at essay mills from another angle, or “how an academic ghostwriter for hire produced thousands of pages for undergraduates as well as master’s and doctoral candidates.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education 52. 49 (Aug 11, 2006): A8-A11.
by Paula Wasley
Former student Tom Matrka has made a hobby of uncovering plagiarism in masters’ theses at Ohio University, and thus far has found thirty examples. The university was slow to act on his discoveries, and a scandal has erupted over the plagiarism.
In a conference room in Ohio University’s Vernon R. Alden Library, Thomas A. Matrka takes just 15 minutes to hit pay dirt.
Scattered before him on a table are 16 chemical-engineering master’s theses on “multiphase flow.” He examines them in pairs. With a hand on each manuscript, eyes darting back and forth, he quickly scans the pages.
Identical diagrams in two theses from 1997 and 1998 strike him as suspicious. Turning a few more pages, he confirms what he suspected.
"This one needs to be turned in," he says, pointing to an introductory chapter that not only mirrors the structure and content of the earlier one, but also includes whole paragraphs that are virtually identical. "This guy didn’t do a literature review," he says. "His literature review was opening this guy’s and copying it."
He reaches for another thesis. “Give me time,” he says. “I’ll find some more.”
Over the past two years, ferreting out plagiarism has become Tom Matrka’s hobby, maybe even his obsession. And he’s gotten very good at it. So adept, in fact, that the former graduate student at Ohio University — now a project engineer at a nearby explosives factory - - has single-handedly blown the lid off a hugeplagiarism scandal at his alma mater. Dozens of former students are now caught up in the investigation, several professors have been reprimanded, and the university is wrestling with how one department fostered a culture of academic cheating.
Regardless of whether Mr. Matrka was driven by revenge or ethics, this much is certain: The scandal would never have erupted without one graduate student’s doggedness.
By Ed Dante, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2010
Editor’s note: Ed Dante is a pseudonym for a writer who lives on the East Coast. Through a literary agent, he approached The Chronicle wanting to tell the story of how he makes a living writing papers for a custom-essay company and to describe the extent of student cheating he has observed. In the course of editing his article, The Chronicle reviewed correspondence Dante had with clients and some of the papers he had been paid to write. In the article published here, some details of the assignment he describes have been altered to protect the identity of the student.
The request came in by e-mail around 2 in the afternoon. It was from a previous customer, and she had urgent business. I quote her message here verbatim (if I had to put up with it, so should you): “You did me business ethics propsal for me I need propsal got approved pls can you will write me paper?”
I’ve gotten pretty good at interpreting this kind of correspondence. The client had attached a document from her professor with details about the paper. She needed the first section in a week. Seventy-five pages.
I told her no problem.
It truly was no problem. In the past year, I’ve written roughly 5,000 pages of scholarly literature, most on very tight deadlines. But you won’t find my name on a single paper.