Giving Up Part of Herself

Another from Justin George’s series, Deciding: RIVERVIEW – She came home from work and asked her husband about his day, holding back the question pressing on her mind.

Nicki Bradley, 38, fixed dinner and bathed her twins. When her husband played solitaire on the computer, Nicki ran a bubble bath and bared her soul to God.

It had started a day earlier in a phone call with her best friend, Denise Robinson, whose husband, Alex, was on dialysis. By the end of the conversation, Nicki had volunteered, “Well, maybe I can give Alex a kidney.”

The Hack As Journalist

Manuel Roig-Franzia (thanks, Brady): SAN PEDRO GARZA GARCIA, Mexico — Tinny salsa downbeats jangled out of the flashing cellphone. Mario Salas pressed hard on the clutch, jammed the gearshift into second and wedged the phone between his right ear and shoulder.

“Dime,” he said — “Tell me.”

“Si,” he said. “Si. A bad accident? A really bad one? I’m on my way.”

It was 5:15 p.m. in this moneyed suburb of Monterrey– time for Salas to transform. When the call came in, Salas was a taxi driver, prowling the streets for fares in a dented, bright green Ford sedan. But the phone call hurled him into his other identity — hustling TV cameraman.

Salas is a Mexican archetype. In this country, where wages are painfully low, almost everyone, it seems, has a second gig, or a third, or a fourth. Moonlighting isn’t a luxury; for many, it is a necessity.

Salas juggles three jobs. He is a taxi driver, a newspaper reporter and a TV cameraman. Sometimes, he’s all three at once.

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Promised Land

Bill Reiter: Eddie Johnson walked through the door of the Cadillac dealership in crisp white clothes and dark tinted sunglasses. A small fortune in diamonds hung from his wrists and ears.

The words “4 Real” were trimmed into his hair, a statement to his critics that he would be as big as he’d always dreamed. The tattoo “God’s Child” was etched on the right side of his neck, a mark of the pressure he’d placed on himself since he was a child. His right arm bore an ode to his mother — the tattoo of a large, flowing angel.

No fans rushed forward. No whispers floated from the waiting room. Without any ado, the 23-year-old soccer star for the Wizards moved slowly across the showroom floor, past the $21,745 Buick LaCrosse, past the $41,288 Cadillac STS4, to the empty space on the gray-colored tile where the gift he’d given himself had waited.

“Your car is ready, sir,” a man said.

The Apprentice

S.L. Price (thanks, Tim): ONCE YOU DISCOVER THE SALVATION OF TRAVEL, the way it allows you to escape the old, escape yourself, it’s a habit as tough to kick as any narcotic. But it wasn’t the thrill of the exotic that got me hooked. It was the shock of becoming exotic, too. Arrive from somewhere six hundred—or twenty-five hundred—miles away, without parents and school ties, as a stranger spouting certainties, and you are no longer bland suburban boy, heir of nothing. You awake suddenly imbued with unearned mystery, like that Czech exchange student who transferred into high school. Now you are different. You have done nothing but show up from far away, yet to the people you come upon it’s a distinction. You were like them once, restless and stuck. Not anymore. You moved.

Two More

Stephen Farrell and Peter Gelling (thanks, Alex): The bare statistics will record that in the 71st minute of a soccer tournament 5,000 miles from Iraq, a Kurd from Mosul kicked a ball onto the head of a Sunni from Kirkuk, who ricocheted it into the goal to secure a 1-0 victory for Iraq over Saudi Arabia on Sunday in the final of the 2007 Asian Cup.

What weeping, shouting, horn-honking, flag-kissing, Kalashnikov-firing Iraqis will remember is that their team, known as the Lions of the Two Rivers, overcame virtually insurmountable sporting and societal odds on Sunday to vanquish the land of the Two Holy Mosques. It was one of the few unifying moments in the recent history of a perhaps fatally disunited country.

And Ralph Blumenthal: How this one-time steamboat landing on Caddo Lake got its name is, well, uncertain — as uncertain as the fate that now clouds this natural wonder, often called the state’s only honest lake.

With more submerged acreage than Minnesota, Texas has just 166 bodies of water commonly considered lakes. All but one of them, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, are artificial reservoirs, most created in the 1950s to fend off drought.

Now that one, Caddo Lake, a mystical preserve of centuries-old mossy cypress breaks, teeming fisheries and waterfowl habitats, is under siege by a fast-spreading, Velcro-like aquatic fern, Salvinia molesta, also known as Giant Salvinia.

Small City

John Doherty: This is what Newburgh is like without crack.

Laressa Knight and her friend, Yahaira Fernandez, are walking down Lander Street on their way to the city pool, pushing a pair of strollers and herding two boys before them.

“There are times, I would never — never — walk through here,” said Fernandez, 24.

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Sunday Night Reading

Miami Herald’s David Ovalle with Who killed Joaquin March? (thanks, Nigel): On a dark May morning, Joaquin March threw on a red T-shirt backward, slipped out of his house and pedaled away on his bicycle.

Three hours later, his body was found on the side of the road.

March, 18, lay on his left side, his left arm extended, his head resting on the South Miami-Dade curb. He had been run over — but the injuries to his smallish body suggested he was lying down when the wheels crushed him. His bicycle lay nearby without a scratch.

Dallas Morning News’ Michael Mooney with some gray skaters (thanks, Nigel): Wind lashes Greg Stubbs’ cheeks as he whips his skateboard down a cement embankment at 35 mph. He balances himself and rides the force of gravity.

Mr. Stubbs is 40 and still as intense a skateboarding enthusiast as they come. He started skating in the 1970s, when skateboarding was first popular, and he never let go. Not when he got married. Not when he had a daughter. Not when he started a job as a business-suit-wearing legal consultant.

He shreds with more than 30 veteran skaters – almost all in their 40s and 50s. Often ducking the police, these middle-aged thrashers jump the fences of closed motels to sip beer and grind their boards across the empty pools. They trespass into back yards. They swarm local skate parks, speeding past kids half their age.

They also own their own businesses. They have families and mortgages and disposable incomes. “I vote Republican,” said Mr. Stubbs, who lives in Dallas.

Hartford Courant’s Jesse Hamilton with Love and Pain (thanks, Vanessa): He wasn’t listed in the program, but he was first on everybody’s minds.

As William Petit’s wife and daughters were tinted with the sainthood of tragedy at this Saturday service, he sat and watched. The survivor.

Central Connecticut State University’s 1,800-seat auditorium had been filled, with hundreds more watching on screens in overflow rooms. They cried for the mother and two daughters, killed together Monday in their Cheshire home, but they wondered about Petit: How will he go on?

Then the man stood, climbed unexpectedly to the stage and began answering the unspoken question.

Why, Lindsay, Why?

Read Ben Montgomery on the fall of Lindsay Lohan:

She looks up and smiles in the video clip taken after her accident, and we’re all there, co-conspirators, watching through the glass.

We don’t know exactly how to feel. We see the Mercedes against a tree. Then the running. The cameraman panting.

“Put the f—ing camera down, bro,” someone shouts. “Seriously.”

Chillin’ At Da Depot

Read Catherine Shoichet’s story, then watch the sweet video: On the back of the shopping cart, a bright light flashes with each hip-hop beat.

Nelson Sanchez glides past piles of plywood. He crisscrosses his arms. He waves a potted plant in the air. He points at his bright orange apron.

I’m chillin’ at the Depot. I’m chillin’ with my people. Givin’ you that customer service that can’t be beat.

By day, the 27-year-old King High graduate sells windows and doors at Home Depot in Riverview. By night, he’s Kash Bezel, aspiring hip-hop artist. On a MySpace page, he promotes his music and posts pictures of himself with rap stars LL Cool J and Diddy.

He works in one world and dreams of the other.

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