Street-Hustler Bartleby

Michael Brick in court: By his own description, the contract Jessie Jacobus signed with prosecutors offers a warm letter to his sentencing judge in return for his pledge to “be truthful, give details about every crime I’ve ever done in my life, go to the hearings and testify.”

Though the agreement does not address how he is to behave on cross-examination, Mr. Jacobus appeared as a man transfigured yesterday in Federal District Court in Brooklyn when a defense lawyer questioned him about the killing of two undercover detectives.

Gone was the compliant, forthcoming, soft-spoken, hulking young man who had patiently translated street terminology, who had explained gang hand signals and who had clarified the gaps in a surveillance recording.

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Killing Deer

Corey Kilgannon in this morning’s NYT: In a wooded patch between a schoolyard and a row of backyards, Danny Azzato perched himself 20 feet up a tree and nocked a razor-sharp, carbon-shafted arrow to his hunting bow. He wore a camouflage-print outfit designed to retain body scent and carried a variety of calls and sprays devised to attract white-tailed deer in mating season.

Mr. Azzato is among a growing number of suburban deer hunters who have emerged as the latest line of defense in areas that were once rural and are now peppered with housing developments. As wooded areas shrink, the deer are increasingly pushed into human habitats, where they eat vegetation, spread ticks and wander onto roads.

To thin out the deer populations, municipalities are increasingly relying on weekend warriors by opening public space to them and urging landowners to allow recreational bowhunters like Mr. Azzato to prowl their wooded acres for does and bucks.

The Daughter

This comes from Jessie Bonner via Poynter: She blinked and wondered how long she had been asleep. She saw the Chanel ads and Vogue magazine pages taped to her white walls. She blinked again. Her head pounded. She saw the photos of her high school friends tacked to a bulletin board. Bin Na looked up at her twin bed. Why, she wondered, was she on the floor? Why was her head throbbing?


Read Jennifer 8. Lee’s story: Paul Iversen had not seen his aging parents in three years, even though their homes are but a mile apart in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. They had a falling out around the summer of 2003.

But he missed them, and recently called his mother to reconcile.

So yesterday, he returned home. His mother, Joanne, 73, had sad news for him: His father was dead.

She then led him to a bedroom, where, the police said, the skeletal remains of a body lay in the bed, covered with a blanket.

Ten Best?

(Via Romenesko) A reader asked Howard Kurtz to list the top ten newspapers in the country. His reply:

“It’s an entirely subjective exercise, of course. I think that the NYT, LAT, WP and WSJ are widely seen as in the top tier of American newspapers, and the Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe a notch below. In the past, the list would have included the Inquirer and Miami Herald, both former Knight Ridder papers that have suffered their share of cutbacks. The Atlanta and San Francisco papers certainly have their strengths. The Dallas Morning News was an up and coming paper but has been hard hit by cutbacks. USA Today is influential but obviously a different kind of publication. And if sales are the measure, the New York Post is the No. 5 paper in America. So I guess these lists have to be revised as this industry shakeout continues.”

Romenesko asks the same question. Some folks are responding with their own lists.

I found Time Magazine’s list in 1964:

1. Baltimore Sun
2. Cleveland Press
3. Los Angeles Times
4. Louisville Courier-Journal
5. Milwaukee Journal
6. Minneapolis morning Tribune
7. New York Daily News
8. New York Times
9. St. Louis Post-Dispatch
10. Washington Post

And Time’s list in 1974 (the last year I could find the list):

1. Boston Globe
2. Chicago Tribune
3. L.A. Times
4. Louisville Courier-Journal
5. Miami Herald
6. Milwaukee Journal
7. Newsday
8. New York Times
9. Wall Street Journal
10. Washington Post

I’m curious what your list would be.

The Personal Journey

Check this out from Shauna Stephenson at the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle: The idea was if I can do it, anyone can. But I don’t believe that anymore. There were 300 grueling miles ahead, the earth was spewing water, and already my team was quarreling. Now, combine a strange breed with a desert downpour. Oh yeah, the worst was definitely ahead.

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The ‘Re-imagining’ of a Real Story

Some interesting stuff in the Post’s review of the new Eggers book: And he’s talking about one thing readers of “What Is the What” can’t say for sure: How much is fact and how much is fiction.

Why the line-blurring? The explanation goes like this: Introduced to Deng in early 2003 and deeply engaged by his story, Eggers set out to write a conventional biography. But he kept getting stuck.

“I didn’t know how to do it,” he says. “I didn’t want my own voice in there.”

Despairing, he was ready to give the whole thing up. Then it occurred to him that “all the books that we remember about war and about the biggest events of the 20th century are novels.” Think of “The Naked and the Dead,” “Catch-22” and “all Hemingway’s stuff.”

More important, think of the ways fictionalizing Deng’s story could solve narrative problems. By labeling the book a novel, Eggers says, he freed himself to re-create conversations, streamline complex relationships, add relevant detail and manipulate time and space in helpful ways — all while maintaining the essential truthfulness of the storytelling.


Read Sara Rosenbaum’s story: The boy is wired into the computer.

He is 8 years old and has gray cat-eyes. A little blond mohawk sticks up on his head like a strip of uncut grass. His right arm stops just below the elbow.

Its rounded end fits into a clear socket containing two electrodes. From there, two wires lead to the computer.

Boy and machine: a single circuit.

Greg Bauer, the prosthetist, asks him: “Are you ready for the moment of truth?”

“Yes,” Jonathan whispers. He’s been looking forward to this all week.

On the computer screen is a red bar. When Jonathan flexes one muscle in his elbow, the bar will jump.

Jonathan leans forward, looking down at his arm.

He concentrates.

Nothing happens.

“All right, my man,” Bauer says. “This is going to take a little bit of focus.”

How Did He Do It?

Sent along by David Finkel and very much worth discussing: Reader Mario Possamai of Toronto raised a good question last week that can come up with longer stories written from an intensely personal angle. “David Finkel’s piece ‘The Meaning of Work’ was brilliant. But in reading its so well-crafted narrative and voices, I kept wondering how he had been able to report some parts of it, like the poignant conversation between Mike and Chris. It would help the reader’s assessment of the veracity of a story if we knew more about how it was put together. . . . Was the reporter there? Was the conversation based on a reconstruction from Mike’s recollection? Chris? Both? . . . It would help sometimes skeptical readers to know how scenes . . . were reported and how the Post ensured the reporting was accurate and totally factual.”

The Massapequa Boys

Read Corey Kilgannon’s story: But on the field Saturday, the trappings of their current lives fell away, from the opening kickoff until the game was called when another group of Turkey Bowlers wanted the field.

“Twenty-one years we’ve been doing this, and we’ll be doing it till we can’t walk onto the field anymore,” said Eric Dell, 38, who organizes the games.

Most of them spent their teenage years valiantly vying on playing fields for the Berner Bisons, but most could not make it around the Berner Junior High School track today without an oxygen tank. Still, there they were, some clad in their old, faded, frayed high school-issue uniforms, gutting it out as kids again. Bodies were softer and bones more brittle, but the old spirit and taunts and nicknames were trotted out for two halves of football.