98 year old Dobri Dobrev, a man who lost his hearing in the second world war, walks 10 kilometers from his village in his homemade clothes and leather shoes to the city of Sofia, where he spends the day begging for money.
Though a well recognized fixture around several of the city’s chruches, known for his prostrations of thanks to all donors, it was only recently discovered that he has donated every penny he has collected — over 40,000 euros — towards the restoration of decaying Bulgarian monasteries and churches and the utility bills of orphanages, living entirely off his monthly state pension of 80 euros and the kindness of others.
“Sitting on a dirty straw mat on the parched ground of southern Afghanistan, Masooma sank deeper inside a giant black shawl. Hidden from view, her words burst forth as she told her side of what happened to her family sometime before dawn on March 11, 2012.
According to Masooma, an American soldier wearing a helmet equipped with a flashlight burst into her two-room mud home while everyone slept. He killed her husband, Dawood, punched her 7-year-old son and shoved a pistol into the mouth of his baby brother.
“We were asleep. He came in and he was shouting, saying something about Taliban, Taliban, and then he pulled my husband up. I screamed and screamed and said, ‘We are not Taliban, we are not government. We are no one. Please don’t hurt us,’” she said.
The soldier wasn’t listening. He pointed his pistol at Masooma to quiet her and pushed her husband into the living room.
“My husband just looked back at me and said, ‘I will be back.’” Seconds later she heard gunshots, she recalled, her voice cracking as she was momentarily unable to speak. Her husband was dead.
Masooma, who like many Afghans uses only one name, defied tribal traditions that prohibit women from speaking to strangers to talk to The Associated Press while — half a world away — the military prepares to court-martial a U.S. serviceman in the killing of her husband and 15 other Afghan civilians, mainly women and children.
The AP also interviewed other villagers about the case, all of whom are identified by the U.S. Army as witnesses or relatives of witnesses. They included a sister and brother who were wounded and two men who were away during the killings and returned to find wives and children slain. The sister and brother told AP how they tried to run away and hide from a soldier with a gun, only to be shot — and see their neighbors and grandmother killed.” (Read on)
1. Shahara, now 3, sits tucked inside the shawl of her mother, Masooma, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Saturday, April 20, 2013 as Masooma recalls the night she says a U.S. soldier killed her husband and attacked her children in a southern Afghanistan village. Masooma says the soldier grabbed Shahara’s pony tails and shook her head violently after killing her father.
2. A girl plays at her home on the outskirts of Kandahar, Afghanistan on Saturday, April 20, 2013.
3. Zardana, 11, sits as she talks in Kandahar, Afghanistan on Monday, April 22, 2013 about a pre-dawn last year when a U.S. soldier burst into her family’s home. Zardana said her visiting cousin saw the soldier chasing them and ran to help, but he was shot and killed. “We couldn’t stop. We just wanted somewhere to hide. I was holding on to my grandmother and we ran to our neighbors.”
4. Naseebullah, fourth from left, plays with his sisters and cousins at the cousins’ home on the outskirts of Kandahar, Afghanistan on Saturday, April 20, 2013.
5. Masooma sits with her children at her brother-in-law’s house on the outskirts of Kandahar, Afghanistan on Saturday, April 20, 2013. In an interview, Masooma recounted the events of pre-dawn March 11, 2012 when a U.S. soldier rampaged through two villages killing 16 people, including her husband. U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales of Lake Tapps, Washington, is accused of the killings.
6. Mohammed Wazir, left, and his only surviving son, Habib Shahin show pictures or their slain relatives during an interview in Kandahar, Afghanistan on Monday, April 22, 2013.
7. Three girls play hide and seek at their home on the outskirts of Kandahar, Afghanistan on Saturday, April 20, 2013.
[Credit : Anja Niedringhaus/AP]
Ka’Nard Allen, 10, does not want to talk about what must be the longest and hardest year of his life. He doesn’t want to talk about Mother’s Day, when he was grazed by a bullet at a second line parade in New Orleans’ 7th Ward, one of 19 people injured in amass shooting.
He doesn’t want to talk about October, when his father, 38-year-old Bernard Washington, was fatally stabbed in eastern New Orleans by his stepmother after Washington allegedly choked and beat her. She has been charged with manslaughter.
And he really doesn’t want to talk about his 10th birthday party last May 29, when his 5-year-old cousin, Briana Allen, was fatally shot and a bullet hit Ka’Nard in the neck. The man accused of shooting Briana was arrested last month and, last week, was among 15 people indicted on gang racketeering charges in that incident and many others.
Standing on the Simon Bolivar Avenue neutral ground Monday evening, across from his grandmother’s house where Briana was killed, Ka’Nard just wants to ride his shiny black four-wheeler, a gift from his mom after his dad’s death.
He wants an adult to start peeling an orange for him because he can’t get it started himself. He wants to dunk an empty juice bottle into a garbage can and launch high, elegant roundhouse kicks at the pail. He wants to get on that black four-wheeler and drive it off the grass speckled with broken glass, watching for traffic, circling on Simon Bolivar — fast. He’ll even give you a ride on the back.
Rush-hour traffic raced by the skinny boy, dressed all in red with a Band-Aid on his right cheek. Maybe when one has endured two of the most shocking shootings in the city in less than a year, and come within a hair’s breadth of serious harm or even death each time, there are bigger worries than traffic.
When the adults started shouting over his head about whether his mother was doing enough to protect him, he shared a grin and started giggling. He slouched on his chair and pulled out his phone — new that day, a gift from his mom — and pressed its buttons, even though it doesn’t do much.
“I’ve been trying to keep him out of a lot of stuff, so I’ve been giving him what he wants and what he needs,” mom Tynia Allen said of the four-wheeler and the phone. She has Angry Bird tattoos on each shoulder marked “Bri,” one with the girl’s birthdate and the other with her death date.
Some people told her she shouldn’t have taken Ka’Nard to the second line. But he’s been going to parades “since the mutt was knee-high to a pup,” she said. They have friends who march. Besides, “It was Mother’s Day! No one expected that! We went to church first. I cooked breakfast.”
Despite it all, Ka’Nard has been pressing forward. He’s getting counseling, Tynia said. He’s an usher at Greater Mount Rose Baptist Church. He’s been playing the drums, once pounding so hard they broke.
He’s a student at Pride College Prep in eastern New Orleans, in, well — he didn’t want the other kids nearby to know which grade, so he typed the number into his new cellphone. He figured he would be back in class Tuesday.
In the fall, he’s switching to the James Singleton school at the Dryades YMCA, he said, because he wants to be on the drill team. He wants to march with the “fake rifles, the wood rifles and the flag,” he said, swishing imaginary equipment in the air.
And in about two weeks, Ka’Nard will celebrate his 11th birthday. Not where he had the party last year, on Simon Bolivar. This time he wants to go to a hotel, swim in the pool and stay overnight. His mother said she couldn’t afford it.
The sun was drawing low. Ka’Nard wanted to go home. He asked his mom what was for dinner. Crawfish or pizza? Probably pizza.
But there was a small crisis: He could not find his brand-new phone. The neutral ground and his grandmother’s porch — 10 minutes passed, and still it was nowhere to be found. He slumped back on the chair.
“Am I punished?” he asked his mom.
She said, “No.”
“Imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time.”
The seasonal trope of the commencement address is upon us as wisdom on life is being dispensed from graduation podiums around the world. After Greil Marcus’s meditation on the essence of art and Neil Gaiman’s counsel on the creative life, here comes a heartening speech by artist, strategist, and interviewer extraordinaire Debbie Millman, delivered to the graduating class at San Jose State University. The talk is based on an essay titled “Fail Safe” from her fantastic 2009 anthology Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design (public library) and which has previously appeared on Literary Jukebox. The essay, which explores such existential skills as living with uncertainty, embracing the unfamiliar, allowing for not knowing, and cultivating what John Keats has famously termed “negative capability,” is reproduced below with the artist’s permission. [READ MORE…]
I think I’ll be okay. Bye Knoxville in 4 days. I love/hate being here, but will truly miss the people who have supported me entirely through my college career here.
Taking things off my Knoxville bucket list this week! :)
Idk what else to visit! I need to visit the Smokeys for sure.
Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.
It’s summer’s last breath and the air hangs like sheets of silk that grace your skin with each step. The sun is just setting—or maybe it’s rising, but it’s no matter. The world melts around you, as you begin to exist in feeling rather than words, in tastes rather than physical terms, floating in and out of coherent consciousness. There’s a very specific feeling growing inside you and it’s all poetic and encompassing, yet if asked to articulate it, you’d most likely fall short—but you can feel it, so you know it to be true. It’s as if you’re seeing the world shone in a fresh light, understanding the ineffable things that eluded you so heavily in the past.
You feel on the edge of something—a breath, a moment, an epiphany, the edge of love or anger—that vast space between moments where you can either let go or sink down into an abyss of emotion. You feel as though you’re watching the world turned on high; every dial raised just a notch, everything flickering just a bit more beautifully as everything feels a bit more melancholic, but it’s all golden and like swimming through honey. And no matter where you find yourself, no matter where you actually are, this moment or this image, is precisely the feeling that’s evoked when I listen to Eluvium.
As the ethereally beautiful musical project of Matthew Cooper, Eluvium has been providing our senses and brain waves with sweeping noise and gusts of intense emotion for years now with ambient worlds of sound. Vacillating from all-consuming atmospheric and hypnotic songs that cast you off into the space between words or the minimalistic piano numbers that feel so delicate and fragile it almost hurts to listen, Cooper has built his own sonic universe—and after 2010’sSimiles, he’s back with the stunning Nightmare Ending. Seven years in the making, the double-album feels like the synthesis of everything you’ve loved about his work—fascinatingly grand in scope and sound as it mixes the softness of songs like “Entendre” with the towering power of “By the Rails.” His music washes over you, transporting you to an incredible place you want nothing more than to get lost in.
We talked for a few minutes. She told me that she’d had a plan to join the Navy out of high school, but that fell apart because her knees were bad. She told me that she’d just finished working a 12 hour shift on a food truck. She told me that she’d moved to New York for no reason, just to get out of Kansas. “But I’m so glad I came,” she said.
“Why’s that?” I asked. Her eyes began to water.
“Because I’m so in love with a girl right now.”