The leek: a satirical take

By Horace Heller Hedley, IV

The evolving story of widespread NSA surveillance on ordinary Americans has taken a surprising turn. Dozens of citizens are reporting mysterious, helpful messages from an unidentified sender, popularly dubbed “the NSAngel.” In each case, the messages have appeared without warning on the screens of users, with no earmarks of a known program, and no trace of a sender’s address. They invariably pertain to events in the recipient’s recent life, and are polite and helpful in tone. Often the mysterious sender shows knowledge that indicates extraordinary access to information. All these factors point to a rogue, do-gooder element of the NSA that has so far escaped supervisory sanction. Continue reading »

 

 The Cleveland case, part 2

By Beth Connors-Manke

Editor’s note: in part one of her essay, Beth began examining the ways Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who recently pleaded guilty to imprisoning and raping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, represents structures of thought that are shocking yet familiar in our culture. Here, she looks more closely at the ways privatization threatens individuals and the public sphere.

Unless something very unexpected happens, we’ll probably see relatively little of any of them again. The picture will fade; whatever pattern was momentarily illuminated for us will fall back into disparate pieces; we won’t be able to see how any of this works.

Ariel Castro, by agreeing to a plea deal of life in prison without parole, seems to be avoiding both the death penalty and the probing glare that would come with a trial. Whether it is his intention or not, he may also be granting Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight the privacy they have asked for—the privacy that they recently affirmed via video is necessary for their recovery. The women’s strong desire to be shielded from public interest was asserted again when family members of Berry and DeJesus presented victim’s statements in court.

Sylvia Colon, DeJesus’s cousin, said, “Today is the last day we want to think or talk about this. These events will not hold a place in our hearts.”

Beth Serrano, Berry’s sister, explained Berry’s wish to shield her daughter: “She [Berry] does not want to talk about these things, she has not talked about them even to me. She does not want others to talk about these things. The main reason she does not want anyone to talk about the things or be forced to talk about these things is because she has a young daughter. She would love to be the person who decides to tell her daughter, when to tell her daughter, how to tell her daughter, certain things.” Serrano’s statement goes on to say that Berry does not want other people to talk or write about what happened.

For the time being, what happened in that house at 2207 Seymour Avenue in Cleveland will remain veiled, cordoned off from public view. What Castro was once keeping from the world, the young women are now asking to be the gatekeepers of. Continue reading »

 

By Taylor Riley

Editor’s note: in her previous article, Taylor introduced readers to the Common Good program; here, we meet a Common Good family. 

“Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!”

Waiting for the kids to file from a basement classroom of Common Good, I sit at a table and observe.

Most of the kids are waiting for their parents and guardians to pick them up, but most of them aren’t quite ready to go home.

“Say ‘goodbye’ to Henry. You’ll see him tomorrow,” a tired-sounding mother says to her elementary-aged son as she practically drags him to the door.

Common Good, a non-profit afterschool program founded by John and Laura Gallaher on the northside, proves to be a place where kids want to be day after day.

And who can blame them? Common Good is an equal opportunity place to go for kids—black, white, Latino, large, small. Nobody, the mentors or the other children, really seems to care about the physical attributes.  Continue reading »

 

By Marcus Flores

When Trayvon Martin died, it seemed that decency as well as level-headed thinking died too. Both perished in the wake of a media frenzy that clung to a narrative of race that was, in my opinion, the least salient element of a wholly ambiguous encounter that no one personally witnessed. I attempted to write a column to clarify this, though it was a failure due to the time I devoted to disentangling the legal minutiae as if I were an attorney. I remind you that I am not.

Nonetheless, Trayvon Martin’s death remains a tragedy of the highest order, and not in the least because the teen is dead. As a group, Americans wholeheartedly surrendered their faculties to the corporate manifestation of the left-right paradigm: the media.  Continue reading »

 

The legal haze over the war on drugs

By Marcus Flores 

Ginny Saville had been waiting. Several months passed before Lexington police realized they should probably obey a court order—not the first—requiring them to return tens of thousands of dollars of purloined bongs and rolling papers to The Botany Bay, Saville’s eclectic little store. By May 15, according to the store’s Facebook page, some of the goods had been returned.

It was a minor victory in a local battle in the national war on drugs. However, Saville cannot breathe a sigh of relief just yet: since this is not her first entanglement with the law, she runs the real risk of felony charges this time around. Understandably, both she and Chris Miller, one of the attorneys representing her, were hesitant to go on the record when I requested an interview. Continue reading »

 

By Sunny Montgomery 

 

Holler 52. Melissa Carter.

Holler 52. Melissa Carter.

It is no secret. I am Holler Poet’s Series’ biggest fan. In fact, if Holler handed out superlatives today, I would likely win “Most School Spirit.” The monthly series, which is held at Al’s Bar, includes an open mic, live music, and featured readings by local literary heavyweights such as Frank X Walker, Ed McClanahan, and Maurice Manning.

Over the years, Holler has also provided a truly grassroots opportunity to experience not just great writing, but also great artwork. Since its beginning in May 2008, Holler has relied upon the work of local artists John Lackey and Melissa Carter to help promote the literary gathering. The posters, distributed around town and offered at Holler for a nominal price, relate the time, location, gathering number, and featured presenters (two poets and a musician, normally). Beyond that, though, anything’s possible.

Continue reading »

 

The business of revolution

Dakota Shaw of the Stoner Creek Boys hard at work at his temporary day job as CEO of Revolting! Inc. Photo by Patrick O’Dowd.

Dakota Shaw of the Stoner Creek Boys hard at work at his temporary day job as CEO of Revolting! Inc. Photo by Patrick O’Dowd.

By Patrick O’Dowd 

Walking up to the Lexington branch of the Land of Tomorrow gallery, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Earlier in the week, I had spoken to ELandF Projects founder Bruce Burris—the instigator behind this performance piece and countless others—and he had made it clear he didn’t have the slightest clue what Dakota Shaw and Paul Michael Brown had up their sleeves for the “Design Your Own Revolution” project. Burris even warned that it was well within the performers’ rights to not show up at all.

The revolutionaries-turned-startup-business-partners did show—or at least one of them did. Sitting behind a desk in Land of Tomorrow’s gallery space was Dakota Shaw. You might know him better from the local band Stoner Creek Boys, but I suspect it’s highly unlikely that when performing music Shaw is dressed up in a tie and tucked-in, button-down shirt—which he was today. The sight was some sort of cross between Office Space and the Brad Pitt character from that one movie about soap. When asked about the current location of his business associate, Paul Michael Brown, Shaw said he was busy running errands around town. They’re a young business on the rocks and certain hands about town had to be greased. Providing affordable revolutions in this day and age isn’t easy. It’s all about who you know.  Continue reading »

 

The familiar Castro

By Beth Connors-Manke

 

You’re looking and looking at something for years. Eyes wide as they can be, waiting for the equation, or picture in the puzzle, or the kaleidoscope pieces to fall into place. So the problem can be resolved, so your life can move on. So that you can look at something else.

***

My husband usually doesn’t wake me up for breaking news. But there he was, beside the bed saying things my groggy mind couldn’t quite tie together: “Amanda Berry,” “Cleveland,” “found.” Nonetheless, before I went back to sleep, I did register one thing: he felt connected to the story.

All three women held by Ariel Castro disappeared after my husband and I had moved away from Cleveland: Michelle Knight in 2002, Amanda Berry in 2003, and Gina DeJesus in 2004. We were gone, so their disappearances weren’t stories that we woke up to every morning in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. But when the news broke on May 6, that didn’t seem to matter. My husband is a born Clevelander; he quickly placed the now infamous 2207 Seymour Avenue address; his father had grown up a few blocks away during the 1930s and 40s. The area of the abductions, near West 110th and Lorain Avenue, abutted my old neighborhood, where I walked the streets and took the bus. If nothing else, the geography of the story tied him to the Internet as events unfolded during that first week. Continue reading »

 

The Leek: a satirical take

By Horace Heller Hedley, IV

Image by Christopher Epling.

Image by Christopher Epling.

A confidential source has provided The Leek with a surreptitious tape of a strategy session held by senior officials of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The recording was made on April 18, 2013, the day after measures banning assault weapons and extending gun buyer background checks were defeated in the Senate.

The confidential source told The Leek that he entered the meeting with a recording device concealed in an oversized ammunition clip attached to an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. The weapon did not arouse suspicion and was not searched.

The Leek took no direct part in making the recording. Therefore, whatever the legality of the recording, The Leek is exercising its First Amendment right to publish the manuscript, and is held harmless from legal liability under Supreme Court precedent set in the case of Bartnicki v. Vopper.

The participants in the NRA meeting appear to have been senior policymakers and legal specialists within the organization, but could not be identified.  Continue reading »

 

By Marcus Flores

I spent my honeymoon in Curacao, an island in the southern Caribbean quite near Venezuela. Flying by commercial airline in the post-9/11 era entails security procedures that, while mildly inconvenient to some (my wife, for example), constitute civil rights infringements to others. As a libertarian, I think I needn’t bother saying to which camp I belong.

Perhaps it comes with the ideology, but I am also not scared shitless of the .00000004% chance of dying in a terrorist attack. No, what unnerves me is the chance that some drunken airline mechanic fails to notice a leaky hose, or that a recently divorced pilot brings his distractful personal baggage with him into the cockpit. (I am not at all reassured by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report on the Comair Flight 5191 disaster, which listed small talk among the factors that led the pilot down the wrong runway at Bluegrass Airport in 2006.) In short, I hope that more attention is directed at preventable dangers rather than the guy with the beard. Continue reading »