The Men in the Wheelchair

This article was an assignment for my Feature Writing course the first semester of my junior year at Boston College. The assignment was to go to a location off-campus and sit and observe for an hour and detail what you see. I chose to visit the finish line of the Boston Marathon and this is what I saw. 

It’s 2:19 pm on a cool Wednesday autumn afternoon and in the midpoint of Boylston Street between Exeter Street and Dartmouth Street lies a stretch of yellow paint with the word “FINISH” in navy blue letters. The ambiance is serene as if you were walking by the Charles River walking by or taking a stroll with your dog. At the epicenter of this street sits a man, motionless in his wheelchair, with a shopping cart full of soiled clothing.

With a 7 Eleven cup in his hand facing west of Boylston street, it’s as if he is replaying events that occurred on this street. Five months ago, this man would have had a front row seat to the Boston Marathon bombings and the chaos that followed the explosions. Citizens, law enforcement, medical staff, all spring into action on April 15th, 2013, but today, September 18th, 2013, the man sits their on his wheelchair, with no one offering any help.

A man dressed in a white shirt and a black tie sits on a bench across from the man in the wheelchair. Sipping on his Red Bull and smoking a cigarette, the man pauses and takes in the calm autumn day, relishing the serene nature of the street. A street once filled with thousands of cheers and then thousands of screams of panic now lies dormant, with only footsteps to be heard. All the while, pedestrians pass by the man in the wheelchair as he sits there in the same position, 7 Eleven cup in one hand and his eyes in the direction of where the bombs went off.

Cars, taxis, and buses drive by the finish line. The 55 bus stops in front of the north side of Boston Public Library and by the door lies a sticker in the shape of ribbon with blue and yellow colors and a “T” in the center of the ribbon. Off in the distance, a siren blares. As the ambulance approaches the finish line, the sirens cease for a moment as if to observe a moment of silence. The ambulance crosses the finish line and at the intersection of Boylston and Dartmouth Street, blares its sirens as it begins to accelerate. It’s 2:40 p.m. and the man still sits there in the wheelchair with a 7 Eleven cup in one hand and his eyes still fixated west on Boylston Street.

A young man dressed in tattered clothing approaches the man in the wheelchair and begins a conversation with him. While it is quiet, the conversation is inaudible due to the myriad of footsteps and speeding cars passing by. The young man departs leaving some wires on top of the shopping cart of clothes and approaches a man smoking a cigarette to ask for one. A couple walks by with the man wearing no shirt and tattered jeans and the woman wearing an unclean sweater and flip-flops. There is a man lying down in front of the subway entrance on the corner of Boylston and Dartmouth. For an entire minute, 33 people pass by the man in the wheelchair without putting anything into his 7 Eleven cup.

Suddenly, the man struggles to get up and walks towards the young man he was conversing with earlier. He tells the young man he needs to use the bathroom so the young man takes the 7 Eleven cup and replaces the man in his wheelchair. Nothing else happens. The young man sits there in the wheelchair facing the same direction as the old man with a 7 Eleven cup in his right hand.

Five months ago, these men may have been helped. Five months ago, every one in the vicinity of the bombings was evacuated and brought to safety. Five months ago, the city of Boston was united against terrorism and everyone sought to help out those unable to help themselves. Five months later, two men took turns sitting in wheelchairs hoping they too would be assisted just like the victims. Three middle-aged individuals approached the man with the black tie to ask about the bombings, but strolled by the men in the wheelchair asking for assistance. Five months ago still reigned over a moment happening in the present.

Across the street stood the Charlesmark Hotel with a banner in the middle of the building reading, “Charlesmark Strong. What Big Papi Said.” Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz cried out to Bostonians in the aftermath of the Boston bombings, “This is our (expletive) city!” Five months later, two men in a wheelchair wait for helping hands of their own along with many other displaced individuals at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

BM Finish Line

Taking Back the Marathon: For My Father

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The Boston Marathon has traditionally been a day of partying for local college students, with little focus on the running of the race itself. However, the tragic bombings that occurred on April 15,  2013 have inspired many to run in 2014. Taking Back the Marathon features Boston College students who are planning to run in the 2014 Boston Marathon, along with the stories behind their motivation to make this year’s race one to remember.

1st Installment – Sothavy Doeur, Boston College, Lynch School of Education, Class of 2015

Click the link below

Taking Back the Marathon: For my Father

I’m Going to Israel!

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I’m going to Israel!!!

You’re going to Israel? Yes, I’m going to Israel! Bring a kevlar with you.

I was accepted to study abroad over the summer for a program called “Health and Human Rights in Israel/Palestine.” The program will run from May 25th to June 15th and I for one can’t be more excited for this opportunity!

Except for this fact: It is Israel, which means, it is in the Middle East. And because it is in the Middle East, the quote about bringing a kevlar isn’t a bad piece of advice. Or is it?

See I knew what I was doing when I applied to the program. I knew it was the Middle East. I knew it was Israel where there is a hotbed of conflict that I am uneducated about. And I knew that this program has nothing to with writing, sports, or visiting places like the Eiffel Tower or partying in Ibiza. These three factors that would normally deter someone else only convinced me more to do it. And here’s why: When in the hell will I ever get to visit the Middle East to learn about health and human rights and do it with other BC students like myself? In fact, when will I ever get an opportunity like this again?

The United States loves talking about health care, I mean Obamacare (sigh), but to be honest, I don’t know jack about the health care saga. I know this. When I go to the doctor or the hospital, I’m taken care of because I have health insurance. If I didn’t, I’d be screwed. Royally screwed, which isn’t fair considering many people in the United States don’t have insurance nor have the funds to pay for such medical bills.

Why do you think people don’t go to the hospital when they’re sick?

I’ll do you one better. The United States does have it’s problems, but in places like the Middle East, health isn’t as advanced. But even though it isn’t advanced. they have something the United States doesn’t. Warning: Conservatives may find this next statement appalling. Israel has universal health care (GASP!). And they are ranked 4th in health care efficiency and have the longest life span in the Middle East. United States is ranked 46th in health care efficiency and has a lower life expectancy and higher cost per capita than Israel, according to Bloomberg.

Sure, there are many injustices occurring in the Middle East at the moment, but from this data, it seems as though the US is being the unjust one in health care, but I’ll report back on that when I get back from Israel. So point #1 is crossed off as a worry for me, now what about this whole conflict deal?

Israel is one of the most violent countries in the world!

255615_10150280250412783_1185435_nAnd the United States isn’t? Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t this the trigger-happy, war-happy, violence-happy country that has one of the amendments of the Constitution state that you have the right to bare arms? We have the most gun violence, the most military expenditures, and like I said, you can have a gun! We also have an association that defends the usage of guns in the NRA. As I’m writing this right now, I could be shot any minute by a loose bullet. And I’m in the friendly confines of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts!

Granted, our country isn’t involved with severe conflict like Israel is, but to say that the United States is a safe country is preposterous. I’m not saying Israel is going to be a cakewalk, but I’m not concerned about violence. It’s something hidden in this country that is a reality in others.

And last but not least: This has nothing to do with your major or your love of sports or your aspiring career of journalism.

Wrong, wrong, and…wrong!

Thankfully, the Health and Human Rights course is being taught by the lovely Eve Spangler, a sociology professor at Boston College whom I have taken for a class called “Inequality in America.” I am double majoring in Communications and Sociology at BC so this course counts as an elective towards my Sociology major. Strike one!

Second, sure this course doesn’t talk about sports, but you should know me by know, I will find anything connecting to sports in any situation you put me in. Bury me in a pile of sand and I will rave about how it connects to a fumble recovery in the NFL. ESPN did an amazing feature story about an American who played soccer for an Afghanistan club so who’s to say I can’t do that in three weeks? Eh, you may be right, but still, you’re wrong. Strike two!

SC Featured: A Faraway Goal

Third, this course has everything to do with my career for journalism. I am traveling to one of the most conflicted areas in the world on an education basis centered on health care and human rights. Health care is a hot topic in the United States and human rights is a hot topic globally. How much more journalistic can you get? I’m a student, not a full-time reporter, so I am learning every single day I am in Israel and every thing I will learn will culminate in a report I intend on creating. I won’t have a production team following my every footstep, but I can take photos, record videos, talk to the people, journal every day about my experience, and bring it back to the United States to reveal what I’ve learned. That’s journalism: revealing what you have learned onto others to educate them. And with that: Strike three! Yer out! 

Yes, I am going to Israel and I’m not bringing a kevlar. I’m bringing clothes, a notepad, a camera, and an open mind. Countdown: 103 days till Israel.

Why Should I Go to the Super Bowl?

(Courtesy: Forbes.com)

(Courtesy: Forbes.com)

I had a conversation with my mom before Super Bowl XLVIII started. It involved me almost sobbing over how beautiful the city I left for Boston looked during Super Bowl week. It involved me wishing I would have been there, at MetLife Stadium, and joining the 12th Man in cheering for the Seattle Seahawks to roll through the Denver Broncos.

But after the Super Bowl ended, I found myself asking, why do I need to go to the Super Bowl when I had more fun sitting on my couch in my dorm?

Storytime, kids.

Food.

My suite mate, David, ordered the entire room pizza and wings from the dining hall. I went with him to go pick up our order and even though we missed the national anthem and unimportant pre-game interviews of both teams, we walked out of our dining hall holding five boxes of pizza, an order of wings, a bowl of blue cheese, and David’s stomach crying from the Tabasco sauce he drank for a free lunch at the Hillside dining hall at BC.

Now I didn’t have to pay a single dime out of pocket for the food thanks to David, but even if I did, let’s compare what I ate indoors compared to those outdoors at MetLife Stadium:

2 Bottled Waters at home: $3. 2 Bottled Waters at MetLife Stadium: $12

4 slices of Pizza: $6 (Each box of pizza cost $12 and had 8 slices) 1 Cheesesteak: $16

6 wings: $5.70 (An order of wings was 36 for $34) 1 Sausage: $14

Total at Home: $14.70 Total at the Super Bowl: $42

Staying at home makes me happy, keeps my stomach happy, and my wallet happy.

Commercials

I don’t know about any one else, but I cried during the Budweiser commercial last year, laughed during the Bud Light commercial featuring We Go in 2012, and cooed watching Darth Vader in the Volkswagen commercial in 2011.

This year, I got goosebumps during the #America Is Beautiful commercial by Coca Cola, sighed at the Bud Light commercials, and felt very uncomfortable watching the Reese’s Nestle Butterfinger Cup commercial. I also became upset at the fools on Twitter tweeting un-American tweets about the United States all while sitting on my couch, warm and full. But that’s the beauty of Super Bowl commercials. Non-sports fans watched this year’s Super Bowl for three reasons: 1) Commercials 2) Halftime Show 3) Just to say they watched the Super Bowl

Sure, at MetLife stadium you get to see the football game and see the halftime show live, but you have a much better view from the TV and we get the commercials too. And not a single dime was spent on commercials. Well, at least not from me. I wonder how Radio Shack’s wallet is feeling right now. Maybe a little like this kid.

(Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

(Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

Friends

Yes, you can go to the Super Bowl with friends, for a lot of money. Or, you can spend Super Sunday with your friends, enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts, and watch the Super Bowl together FOR FREE. I watched the Super Bowl with my closest friends at BC and while most of them were not sports geeks like myself, it was better sitting in a tank top and pajamas surrounded by the closest people in my life instead of sitting with a couple and not being able to joke around for fear of being taken out by security.

Why would be escorted out by security you ask? Well, after Bruno Mars killed the Pepsi Halftime Show (don’t compare him to Beyoncé, please), my friends and I decided to be a little foolish and well, just take a look for yourself.

That was just a prelude to what happened next. Next thing we knew, baby powder, shaving cream, and water engulfed our room and left our room looking like a foam party just occurred suddenly. Girls needed to take showers to get the shaving cream and baby powder out of their hair and guys had to change their clothes.

While our foolishness was a reaction the mauling we were witnessing on TV, it was the best moment of the Super Bowl (and picking the winner for the third straight year) for me. And it was all for free. Hmm, maybe I should’ve videotaped everything and pitched it to Mastercard for their next “Priceless” commercial. Did Mastercard even air a commercial last night?

Money

In essence, I did not pay for food because David bought the pizzas, but aside from food, I didn’t spend money on parking fees, train/bus rides, flights, food at the game, and even a ticket.

I didn’t need to go to the Super Bowl to get an amazing experience. So why should I go to the Super Bowl? Why should you go to the Super Bowl? It’s clear a lot of other people feel the same as I do considering Super Bowl XLVIII was the most watched program in US history with an average of 111.5 million viewers. Spending my time in my room, surrounded by people I love, with food I love, and creating everlasting moments is what makes staying at home and watching the Super Bowl that much better than going there.

Even if it is in New York. Or a warmer climate like New Orleans.

Let Me Wear a Yankees Hat

I am a New York Mets fan and I have worn a New York Yankees cap. Gasp.

Me wearing Yankee hatNo it’s true. Check it out. That’s me in 2012, rocking the hat Jay-Z made more famous than the Yankees. But hey, it’s a cool hat. I love the design and the New York Yankees emblem is more known as a representation of New York more than a New York Mets hat. That’s just a fact. Is it wrong for me to wear a hat I like even though I don’t like the team?

I also like the Boston Red Sox. True story. In 2004, I was one of two people in my middle school walking into school smiling after the Yankees choked in the American League Championship Series. In 2013, I watched with baited breath and “Horganed” as the Red Sox won the World Series. Okay, hold on Frankie, what’s going on here?

Yes sports conscience? You are a Mets fan, who wears a Yankee hat, but are also a Red Sox fan? Yeah, what’s the big deal? The three can’t go together. You need to like one and stick with one. Wait a minute, so I can either shed a tear when Mariano Rivera is taken off the mound in his final game as Yankee or imitate a bullpen cop while I watch my second favorite team win the World Series?

That ain’t right.

WWE Hall of Famer, Ric Flair, was in the middle of this conundrum that I am currently in with my conscience. Flair was invited by the San Francisco 49ers to give a pep talk to the 49ers before their NFL Wild Card game against the Green Bay Packers. The video went viral and had many people entertained with Flair’s charisma, even at 64. It just didn’t entertain the Carolina Panthers and its’ fan base. “As a guy who actually has a Ric Flair robe, I’m real disappointed seeing that,” Smith told the Charlotte Observer. “Real disappointed. I’m not sure if he’ll get the invite here. That Golden Gate Bridge has been burned.”

Witty way with words there, Steve. Okay, I get it. It doesn’t seem right that Flair “turned heel” on the Panthers and went all-in on the 49ers to win the Super Bowl. What do you expect from the “Dirtiest Player in the Game?” I don’t have a problem with Smith’s comments, but I do have a problem with this notion of fan allegiance and what it is supposed to be.

Flair is like any other sports fan. He is a hometown fan of his Carolina Panthers and he is friendly with players from the 49ers. There is no rivalry between the Panthers or 49ers. There was no animosity between the two until the 49ers defeated the Packers and thus placed themselves in a game against the Panthers for a spot in the NFC Championship game. It was pure coincidence, but in no part was it malice from Flair against his home state.

Take Kaepernick for example. Last year, he was the face of disloyalty to the 49ers when he was spotted wearing a Miami Dolphins snapback. Here was the response from the general public.

steven-colbert

Here was my response

Jesse-eisenberg-Shrug-Social-Network

It is a piece of clothing. Why is it such a big deal that he is wearing a cap of another NFL team? Throwback jerseys were a huge trend back in the day and now the trend of sports fashion is fitted and snapback caps. It doesn’t mean Kaepernick is going to jump ship to the Dolphins.

Bill de Blasio, the new mayor of New York City, is a Boston Red Sox fan. Scroll back up to the Stephen Colbert GIF. No go, I’ll wait.

Now that you are back, this whole loyalty system needs to be addressed. Sports isn’t like a rewards systems that gives you a free flight for dealing with them for so long. I am 20 years old and have yet to see the New York Mets win a World Series. Even worse, no Chicago Cubs fan since 1908 has witnessed a World Series victory from the Cubs, who’s mascot now looks like a cross between a creepy mascot on Times Square and a cousin of the Bernstein Bears. It is this alleged fan allegiance code of conduct that inhibits malicious responses such as death tweets to from fantasy owners, Jim Joyce for his botched call against Armando Galarraga and most notably, Bill Buckner.

Giants fan, let me enjoy watching the Seahawks win the Super Bowl even though they destroyed us earlier in the year (their uniforms and fans are so cool). Mets and Red Sox fans, let me wear my Yankee hat because I just like it. I’m not going to wear it in Citi Field or Fenway, but I will when I go out either to a party or to keep me head warm. Sports fan like myself, allow me to like multiple teams without prejudice.

And Yankee fans? Well, let me gloat.

2013 World Series Game 6: St. Louis Cardinals v. Boston Red SoxSorry, not sorry.

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New York Giants: Unrestricted free agents to re-sign or decline Part 2

Jerry Reese

 

Courtesy of NJ.com

Welcome to GM Mode for the New York Giants. In the coming days, I will play Jerry Reese and decide who to keep and who to let go for the 2014 season. 

On Thursday, I wrote an article detailing the unrestricted free agents the New York Giants (7-9) should re-sign. The list included Justin Tuck, Jon Beason, Andre Brown, Stevie Brown, Josh Brown, Mike Patterson, Kevin Boothe, Keith Rivers, Louis Murphy, Ryan Mundy, Peyton Hillis and Trumaine McBride.

The “obvious” choices left out included Linval Joseph, Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Myers and David Diehl. The job of a general manager is a tough one because you need to separate personal preference from business preference. It isn’t easy to say to let go of a perennial defensive tackle, a cornerback and offensive linemen who were a part of two Super Bowl teams or a first round wide receiver, but when there is too much money or injuries are involved, that’s when you make the best decision for your team.

Read full article here –> New York Giants: Unrestricted free agents to re-sign or decline Part 2