My legs are killing me, but what a great day! It started off promising to be awful. Our assignment was to get a crime story that hadn't yet been covered by the papers, chasing down the miniscule press releases sent out by the Police. A pretty typical one:
ON THURSDAY 10/2/03 AT 0815 HRS IN THE CONFINES OF THE 1__ PCT. THE
VICTIM, A F/W/14 STATES THAT WHILE BOARDING A BUS NEAR THE __
TRAIN STATION AT __ AVE, SHE WAS SEXUALLY ABUSE BY A
M/H/25-30. SUSPECT FLED THE SCENE ON FOOT IN UNKNOWN DIRECTION. NO
ARRESTS, INVESTIGATION CONTINUING.
SUSPECT: M/H/25-30 WEARING LIGHT COLORED BLUE JEANS, DARK SWEATSHIRT
First we went to the scene of a Tuesday fire in Harlem that killed one man and sent his roommate to the hospital. We talked to the Super who said he'd never seen the guys before as they were illegally subletting the apartment for about two weeks. The super only knew that the apartment had the most minimal of damage and he theorized that the men had been drinking in bed. Nobody knew them or anything about the fire, and the entire local ladder had been emptied out for some huge fire somewhere. . .the firefighter tending the station claimed cluelessness. After my partner dragged me away from gawking at firehouse pole (wow! they really have those things!) we tried to find witnesses to a robbery in the very southern part of Harlem, where a girl exited a Deli holding $40 in her hand when some guy snatched it. Reports say that she and passersby chased him, but he boarded a bus and forced the driver to take him a few blocks away, where he escaped by foot. But no one at the deli knew anything except that the police had come in looking for the security tape; their colleagues from the previous shift didn't even mention it. Had a fun time trying my french out for kicks on the deli worker who's from Rabat, Morocco (told him all about Dave McCormick
, and he and the Yemeni manager said that was the best way to learn Arabic and seemed suitably impressed). But no leads. We noticed another guy in a leather jacket asking questions along with a photographer, and after calling our Professor to see if it was okay to talk to them we did. Jackpot!
The photographer was Angel Franco, a Pulitzer Prize
winning staff photographer with the New York Times. I cannot adequately describe how incredibly nice and helpful and cool he was. Well, I can, but that's due at 9am on Monday and will require more style than I can muster right now. He let us tag along as he drove the city hunting photographs, and we tried working on a couple shootings and reported on an attempted suicide with his help. This was particularly fun because yesterday I got to hear from another NYT staff photographer and Pulitzer
winner, Vincent LaForet, tell us about his job.
Harlem has some amazingly beautiful housing stock, big brick and stone townhouses with elegant yet massive gables and porches. Along the northern shore of Manhattan leading up to the George Washington Bridge is a sloping field of green green grass sitting right on the water, just a few boulders above lapping waves. So pretty it made me a little homesick.