Mary Andom

Mary Andom is a 2007 graduate of Western Washington University located in the Pacific Northwest. She majored in print journalism with a minor in political science. Andom is originally from the north east African nation of Eritrea and credits her parent�s harrowing journey escaping the war-torn country and growing up in her culturally diverse neighborhood in Seattle for her inspiration to become a journalist. In high school and early college, Andom penned columns for The Seattle Times youth section NEXT. She was also involved in her school newspaper, The Western Front, as a reporter and later as a columnist. Last summer, Andom interned at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Andom hopes to become a newspaper reporter either covering education or immigration/refugee issues.


Personal Narrative – Mary Andom

“Ay yo, lil’ mama.”

A candy-apple green Oldsmobile with shiny chrome wheels pulled up beside me.

“Shit,” I whispered under my breath. I kept walking, flashing an uneasy smile.

“How old you be,” he said in his syrupy Southern accent.

I laughed. “I’m 15.” I paused. “A minor.”

“Well, you don’t look 15,” he said. I shrugged my shoulders and continued to walk. The car crept on by. And I was thankful.

Here I was, a nosy reporter with my Poynter badge and my Canon camera, parading around the ‘hood taking photos. I was in Palmetto Park, a black neighborhood in St. Petersburg, Fla. It was sizzling hot, one of those days you just wish you were inside.

I wanted to explore my beat and tell their stories.

I must have looked like an outsider, a person of authority. The person I feared I would become, the one they did not trust.

I was paranoid. What if I asked the wrong question to the wrong person. Would I get shot? A disheveled man mumbled something incoherent. A crackhead. I looked away. And all I could think about was my camera, this $1,000 camera wrapped around my neck. I had to guard with my life.

My journalism training couldn’t save me now.

I quickly tucked away my badge, switched into my urban slang, and slung my camera to my side so it was out of sight.

The further I walked into Palmetto, the further I was from the neat houses with manicured lawns, and the closer I came to the boarded-up houses with cars parked on lawns.

An hour had passed but time had slithered on without me noticing. The beating sun was waning. I had to leave before it turned dark. I noticed a group of boisterous youngsters posted outside. They shot me a glance, just like they do when a cop car cruises by. Their suspicious looks said it all: What the hell are you doing here? Why she got a camera? Mind your business lady. I crossed the street to avoid their catcalls.

I was just looking for a friendly face, someone I could talk to.

Along the way I met “Worm.” He was about my age. He had an armful of tattoos and was sitting on a lawn chair, while his grandma fried fish in the front yard.

I was black, he was black. And I wanted to say, “Hey, I’m no different than you, I can relate to your experience.” I approached. “I want to hear your story.”

He dismissed me and I left, defeated.

I’ve always been drawn to “bad” neighborhoods. The ghetto, the ‘hood, the inner city, whatever name you want to call it. It was always that sketchy part of town where few dared to enter.

But I wasn’t scared, or at least I told myself that. After all I grew up in that “bad” place, the daughter of Eritrean refugees. My parents escaped civil war only to be transplanted into another war zone in Seattle. My mother worked late nights as a housekeeper at a nursing home and my father worked at the Seattle Housing Authority as a groundskeeper.

I remember sneaking out playing in Park Lake projects with my best friend from Cambodia. Her parents too had escaped the killing fields.

I wasn’t fearful of the gangbangers, the kids with backwards pants and red bandannas slipped in their pockets. I was too young to understand why sometimes we couldn’t play outside, or why some houses had bars on the windows.

I remember riding the Metro 135 and looking out the grease-stained window to see yellow tape and patrol cars. The next day a short blurb appeared in the newspaper, something about the rash of violence: three dead within a month in White Center, nothing more. Whenever someone died, it was always gang-related, drug-related, or the person deserved it. I longed to know more about the chalk figure drawn in the concrete. It’s the reason why I wanted to become a journalist.

Back in Palmetto, an older black man pushing a lawn mower in the street looked at me. I looked back. And then we played tug of war with our eyes, glancing back at each other. Finally I approached him. He stepped back. I repeated the script I had rehearsed over and over. I reached out my hand. His were rough and calloused. “Hi, I’m Mary, I’m working on a student journalism project. I’m taking pictures. Do you have a second to talk to me?”

His eyes were large and sallow and he revealed a toothless grin. “You better be careful,” he said, a warning disguised as a threat.

My instincts warned me to get the hell out of there. A minute later an old white Chevy pulled up, passenger door flew open. I could hear some yelling. But I didn’t turn back. I knew it was a drug deal.

At the end of the block there was nowhere to turn besides a deserted industrial area. It would get dark soon.

I wanted to cry. But I had to be tough because my mother was strong. She survived war. Over and over in my head I said, “Toughen up, Mary, you can’t be weak. Journalists aren’t weak.”

I was just looking for a friendly face, someone I could talk to.

I saw a mother with her two children. I prayed she would talk to me. Even for a second, I wanted to be reassured.

The church-going woman smiled. “Sure, honey,” she said. I was caught off guard.

She was vulnerable to me. “I need some shade. I can’t stand this heat,” she said. Patches of discolored skin on her chest and arms were reminders of a long-ago fire. She survived with God and her two daughters, no man, she added.

We continued to talk for 30 minutes, as I fiddled with my camera and unraveled the wires of my audio recording machine. I snapped photos of her two daughters as they jumped rope.

But then I stopped and listened.

“Ya know the neighborhood is changing. But I only let them play in pairs,” she said alluding to the danger up the street.

Her daughter Kenya reminded me of me, all smiles, a bright future clouded by uncertainty. She wanted to be a teacher. Her older sister received a $10,000 scholarship, her mother beamed.

“I was the first in my family to go to college,” I said.

She wrapped her arms around me. “Thank you, Mary.” Her words were simple and at that moment I knew it was all worth it. I walked around the corner past the drug dealers and crackheads, content. I tucked away my camera. I knew there was hope.

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Pride. Through our eyes

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Pride through their eyes: Five stories

St. Pete Pride parade has grown from a small event into a celebration noticed by the entire city.

One of the largest gatherings for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Florida, the event has more than doubled in attendance since its beginning in 2003.

Back then, the small parade brought a crowd of 13,000 onlookers and participants. This year, St. Petersburg Police estimated that 40,000 people were on hand to watch or be part of the procession down the Grand Central business district.

Drag queens leaned from floats tossing free condoms and Mardi Gras beads like candy. Lesbian couples pushed their children in strollers. Volunteers passed out orange juice boxes to marchers in the parade. A mobile van offered free HIV tests.

Pride is a mostly celebratory event, except for the presence of a handful of protestors. Police watched from the sidelines. They fenced off detractors with orange construction cones, to prevent a confrontation. Synthesized techno music blared from nearby speakers as evangelists preached through megaphones about sodomy and sin.

In response, parade participants defiantly hugged and kissed in sight of the protest zone.

Others took pictures to poke fun of the message. One marcher sounded an air horn to drown out a preacher with a megaphone. The crowd erupted in cheers.

It was also a day to console and support victims of hate crimes.

One young woman drove her graffiti-painted “fag bug” through the parade amid cheers.

There was also a memorial to Ryan Skipper, a Polk County man stabbed 20 times during a robbery and dumped along side the road where he died.

To some revelers the St. Pete Pride is a colorful display of drag queens and leather-clad motorcycle riders. To some it’s just an excuse to party. To some it’s a day to spend with family and loved ones. But everyone at the pride parade has a reason to be there.

Here are the stories of five people we encountered along sidewalks last week:

1: What it means to be gay and black

Name: Herbe Murray
Age: 47
Hometown: Tampa, Fla.

Herbe Murray calls himself black, not African-American; homosexual, not gay.

“I identify with being homosexual instead of gay because it’s a way of life. Gay is a political statement that people use as activism,” he said.

Murray is one of few black vendors at the pride event. He represents Tampa Black Pride, a three-day event that focuses on the issues facing blacks in the gay community.

Murray said it’s tough for black men and women to be acknowledged by the greater gay community and the conversation should go farther.

“We should sit down and honestly talk about where we go from here,” Murray said. “Blacks are still angry about so many issues, that being homosexual is one more thing they don’t want to deal with.”

2: Lesbian couple in a closeted community

Name: Evelyn Thomas
Age: 64
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Fla.

Evelyn Thomas lives with her partner Carol Stone, 67, in Pinellas Park, Fla., a condominium community with older residents.

Thomas and her partner of 12 years are originally from New York. When she first moved to the South, it felt a bit hostile.

“Most of my friends are still in the closet. They don’t want to make any waves,” Thomas said. “We have neighbors who are in their 80s and have been together for 50 years and they are still in the closet.”

It’s been 30 years since Thomas came out. The former housewife with four children broke the news to her husband and consequently lost custody of her children. Thomas said she was forced to make the toughest decision in her life: to be honest about who she was, or maintain the lie and retain custody of her children.

“My biggest regret was not being able to keep custody of my kids. In those days being gay was enough reason to lose your children,” she said.

But her husband was accepting and eventually let her back into the lives of her children.

Although Thomas is content with her public image, her partner still struggles with displaying affection in their neighborhood.

“I love to dance,” she said. “But my partner is uncomfortable in public.”

3: How one woman changed a slur into a triumph

Name: Erin Davies
Age: 29
Hometown: Albany, New York

Earlier this year, vandals tagged Erin Davies’ silver Volkswagen Beetle with the words, “U R Gay” and the word “Fag.” The Albany, N.Y., college student had to drive around in the car for several days while her insurance company processed her claim.

At first it was humiliating. But as strangers asked her what happened and she explained, she found an opportunity to turn the attack into a conversation. Instead of covering it up she decided to make a display of it.

“The typical response would be to cover it up and pretend it never happened. But I’m not going to internalize it,” Davies said.

Now, she and her car are traveling across the country spreading the word about hate crimes.

Today, Davies sells “fag bug” bumper stickers for $5 and T-shirts for $15 to help fund her trip. Within minute of opening her booth, a crowd flocks to her. Some offer her hugs; others slip money into her donation jar.

Davies’ says on her Web site that she hopes to convince 1 million to put the bumper stickers on their car. That would go a long way in taking the sting out the hateful word.

“The word is offensive and hurtful, but I wanted other people to experience the same thing,” Davies said. “We call it the ‘conversation bug.’ ”

4: “I’m gay and I’m proud”

Name: Jim Bennett
Age: 52
Hometown: New Port Richey, Fla.

Jim Bennett is all smiles in his rainbow feather boa and a blue-sequined blouse.

“It took me an half-hour to make this outfit,” Bennett said as he proudly shook his head full of colorful Mardi Gras beads.

This is his first year at St. Pete Pride.

Bennett, who was married to a woman for 26 years, said he always knew he had “gay tendencies.” For years, he struggled with revealing his sexual orientation to his family because he feared he would lose so much.

On this day, surrounded by other gay people, he is proud.

“When you come out, you are more at peace with yourself, then pretending to be straight,” Bennett said.

5: Evangelist with a lesbian sister

Name: Evan Johnston
Age: 44
Hometown: Tampa, Fla.

Evan Johnston distances himself from a man in a red T-shirt yelling “SODOMY is a SIN,” through a megaphone.

“You know what? I don’t even agree with what they are saying,” he said in calm voice. “I don’t like confrontation.”

The 44-year-old evangelist from Tampa Bay Word of Faith church carries a large sign on a foot-long stick with a verse from the Bible. It reads, “Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. John 11:25-26.’ “

The reason why Johnston preaches is simple: “I want to get the attention of people. Once you rile them up, then you give them the mercy and love of God.”

Johnston looks intensely into the eyes of his onlookers, so they can feel what he is preaching. He speaks in biblical metaphors, often comparing his work cleansing sinners to the work of Jesus. But he chastises his fellow Christians who push away gays instead of embracing them.

Johnston is dealing with his own moral dilemma: Can a person be gay and Christian?

“I have a sister who is gay,” he stumbles.

“I can’t bless what God can’t bless. He created sex in the context of a man and a woman,” Johnston said. “But I still love my sister.” Read more

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Keeping the beat

Kids nervously tap drumsticks on the Seventh-day Adventist Church steps in St. Petersburg, Fla., rehearsing the beats in their heads. The cymbal players swivel and rotate their wrists with their imaginary instruments.

Inside the whitewashed church, is chaos.

Musicians scramble to get dressed for their big performance at the Bringe Music Center. The little drummers stuff their khaki shirts inside their black slacks, sometimes missing a corner. The older kids help the younger kids tie royal-blue scarves around their necks.

A Jamaican woman wears a sash with at least 50 badges for sewing, Bible reciting and nature walking.

Think Boy Scouts meet the military.

The All Nations Seventh-day Adventist Church drum corps is an outgrowth of its youth program, aimed at teaching young people discipline, respect and precision through drums and spirituality.


Watch a video and interviews with drum corps members.


Darrell Edwards does not possess a commanding presence, but he is the key to calming the chaos inside the church.

“Tuck in your shirt,” he points his finger, then barks, ”Don’t you guys know how to be on time?”
If the drum corps members are soldiers Edwards, 26, is the corporal, with a heart.

His experience and discipline are two skills that have served him well.
Edwards, was born into the church. At the age of 16, he joined the Conqueror’s Pathfinders drum corps and for 10 years he played on the team that could never quite win a championship.

Each year the team moved up in rank. In the fifth year he competed they came in third. The sixth year they came in second.

“Jesus was a conqueror,” Edwards says. “That’s where we get the name from.”

This is his first year as coach. Edwards puts in at least 40 hours a week as a Pathfinder leader and drum corps director. He works a full-time job at TradeWinds Island Grand Beach Resort and takes architecture classes on the side at St. Petersburg College.

He makes time for his true passion: youth and drums.

He gave up his spot on the team in 2006 to give younger kids a chance to drum and became director of the team.

“There were more kids who wanted to play than there were drums available,” says Edwards, who led the performers to victory earlier this year at the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Orlando.

The annual conference features the best drill teams, a Bible Bowl quiz show and the highlight of the event: the drum line competition. When they won state, Edwards said the drummers were so excited they jumped in the air and dropped the Bible Bowl trophy.

It broke.

Last week Edwards played the bass drum with the team he led to the championship. A kid missed practice. They needed a replacement.

Edwards knows the routine by heart.

He stepped in, sandwiched between drummers ranging in age from 10 to 22 years old. Some grumbled about the heat, others put on their game faces.

It’s showtime.

Clickity, click, click.

The snare drums join the big bass drums.

Thump, thump, thump.

Then the ra tit tat tat of the snare, followed by the cymbals clashing.

“Mmmhmph,” they grunt. And then they start to feel the beat.

It could be a scene out of the movie “Drumline,” which depicts the tradition of drum corps as a fixture at historically black colleges. The drummers rock their hips and the cymbal players dip their shoulders low. The tricks include fancy footwork and spins, blindfolding the drummers, and older cymbal players hoisting their younger counterparts onto their shoulders.

The turnout at Bringe Music Center is slim, but parents cheer from the sidelines. Their younger brothers and sisters look on with awe. They ooh and ahh.

The sun is relentless, beating down on the drummers, and there is no shade. For 15 minutes they give it their all. Edwards wipes the beads trickling down his face, a continent of sweat on his back. After the performance, the troupe congregates in the shade of a tree, eating cookies and sipping generic cherry cola provided by the music center.

Seventh-day Adventists don’t drink caffeine, Edwards explains. But the kids are too thirsty to care. But the Bringe Music Center did something else right. In honor of the drum corps’ religious beliefs, the music center moved their Saturday music festival to Friday.

Not all the youth are involved in the church or follow Seventh-day Adventist beliefs.

Many of the participants are neighborhood kids who want to play the drums, with no ties to the church. Young people of any religious background, or none at all, are welcome and encouraged to join the organization. However, participants are expected to follow the rules:

Profanity is prohibited, personal hygiene is key and Saturdays are holy days reserved for rest.

Drummers also need to complete eight levels of coursework measuring their comprehension of the Bible, from reciting all the books from Genesis through Revelation to quoting Scripture. The youth can’t play drums until they do their homework.

The All Nations Adventist Church is a Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the “seventh day” of the week, as the Sabbath. From sundown on Friday to sunup on Saturday is a holy day of worship. This is the day God rested, says Michael Reid, who pastors the church.

There are two Seventh-day Adventist churches in St. Petersburg and 100 churches in Florida. Much of Reid’s congregation immigrated to America from Jamaica like him, a fact only evident in his slight Patois, or broken English accent. Many of the participants in the drum corps are second-generation Jamaicans who consider themselves American. At a recent fundraiser for the drum corps’ next competition, church members cooked and brought curried goat, jerk chicken and plantains.

In terms of the drum corps, Reid says participants learn discipline, coordination and precision. “The church teaches young people to be rounded individuals socially, mentally, spirituality and physically,” he says.

The church also emphasizes diet, health and oneness with nature. Most members lean towards vegetarianism. Edwards doesn’t have that much dedication. “I eat meat like chicken, fish without scales, but never pork,” Edwards says.

Edwards decided to give his life to Jesus Christ at 17 by being baptized. In the Seventh-day Adventist, young people are encouraged to find God on their own.

“I wanted to make sure I was ready to receive Christ,” Edwards says.

He tries to come off as tough and mean but the kids don’t take him seriously. They know he has a soft heart. “We have a MAJOR competition at Southern Union Camporee,” Edwards tells the team. “Who can tell me the dates?”

The quizzical looks say enough. “Ok, you, gimme 10,” Edwards says to a chatty kid. They burst into laughter.

If they thought the Orlando competition was tough, Camporee is the Super Bowl of drum corps. Seventh-day Adventists drum corps from seven Southern states will compete Sept. 26-30, near Gainesville.

Edwards demands his musicians’ attention, just as he craves their dedication. He has watched the drum corps draw kids off the streets, and come to Christ through the music. Joshua Roundtree is one of those teens who could have easily strayed. He credits Edwards for helping him find the drum corps.

The 18-year-old is reluctant to share his struggles because he refuses to dwell in the past.

“It’s a pride thing, I can’t give up too easily,” he says.

When Roundtree turned 17, he moved out of his mother’s house. Juggling a full course load at Lakewood High School, Roundtree played in the drum corps and worked part-time at a Publix grocery store. He barely covered his hotel rate at $250 a week.

His friend Jason, a section leader in the Seventh-day Adventist drum corps, convinced him to join. One year later, with talent and hard work, he became captain leader.

To calm his nerves, Roundtree practices day and night, at times drumming on his legs and books. “I play the drums so I can escape my problems,” he says.

Although Roundtree hasn’t been baptized, he has become more open to the religion. He was recently accepted to the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where he plans to major in business, one day becoming an entrepreneur.

“This is why I teach them the drums,” Edwards says. “So their music can bring others to the church.”

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Historic spot takes center stage — all over again

On a busy strip of 22nd Street South in St. Petersburg’s Midtown neighborhood, the smell of fried catfish from Lorene’s Fish House spills into the street. A souped-up Cadillac zooms past, bumping rap music. At a nearby stretch of public housing, residents take refuge from the heat, sitting on their cool porches.

Next door to Lorene’s, young people dance to hip-hop artists like UNK next door in a tin-roofed Quonset hut that once housed jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Sarah Vaughan.
 

The Royal Theatre has come full circle, from its heyday as a black movie house in the days before desegregation, to a new haven for young people who gather to make the music of their generation.

The rebirth is barely evident from the outside. The Quonset hut got a facelift in 2004, but otherwise seems little changed since it opened in 1948.

But its journey through history is told through the memories of those who found a sense of themselves and their community at the Royal.

One generation sees the Royal as a monument to a tight-knit community that persevered in the face of segregation. Another remembers it as a place that was shuttered and neglected during the racial and economic turbulence of the 1960s.

The young people who gather at the Royal Theatre these days only know snippets of that history, if that. For them, it’s a place to give voice to art through poetry, music, dance and theater.

“I heard it was 10 cents to see a movie,” says Ameen Nurul-haqq, 12. He’s a member of the Royal Boyz, a three-person rap group that records and performs at the theater. “My grandma used to go there.”

He’s more interested in what the building offers today.

“Instead of getting in trouble, we have something to do,” Nurul-haqq says. “I’d probably be watching TV or sleeping if I wasn’t here.”

When the Royal Theatre opened during the post World War II boom, it became one of the two movie houses in St. Petersburg, Fla., that catered to black people; the other was the Harlem Theater on Third Avenue South.

During the day and evening, the Royal was a movie theater where kids could buy a bag of popcorn for 10 cents and use soda bottle caps for admission. At night, the adults took over, gathering after stage shows at the nearby Manhattan Casino.
 
Wilbur Hunter, 58, a St. Petersburg native, still affectionately describes the 22nd Street strip by its nickname, “the Deuces.”

The city bus driver has seen the neighborhood weather many changes, from segregation and desegregation, to the 1996 racial riots incited when St. Petersburg Police shot and killed TyRon Lewis, 18, an unarmed black man who had refused to get out of his car when he was pulled over for speeding.

Hunter points to a couple of boarded-up shops sandwiched between Mt. Zion Progressive Church and St. Petersburg College.

“This was once a lively community. We were self-sufficient, there were doctors, lawyers, businesses on this corner,” Hunter says. “Things have changed for the worse.”

Ironically, the end of segregation also meant the end of the Royal Theatre. It closed in 1966, and remained silent and empty for almost a decade.
 
It reopened in 1975 as a Boys Club. But the building had suffered from years of neglect. It was renovated and reopened in 2004, as part of efforts to transform Midtown.The refurbished theater now is home to the Boys & Girls Club of the Suncoast, a program dedicated to the arts.

Hunter remembers the Royal Theatre as a lifeline of the community in the 1950s, where black people congregated every Saturday and Sunday. He paid for admission into the theater with soda bottle caps and watched movies from sunup to sundown.

“It was a treat to go to the Royal Theatre,” Hunter says. “It was employed by blacks, managed by blacks. It was our own island.”

Irene B. McCall, 60, and Paul Stewart, 59, were childhood friends and classmates who attended Jordan Park Elementary, 16th Street Junior High (now Johns Hopkins Elementary) and Gibbs High School.

Talking about the Royal is like taking a trip back in time together.

“Ahhh, I remember the Royal Theatre,” McCall chuckles. “It’s the place where you met your sweetheart.”

It was a different neighborhood back then, McCall recalls. She says everybody knew each other by name, and the teachers and adults cared about the children.

“The Royal Theatre was a mecca for black people in the area. Everybody from the Southside came there,” McCall says. She wasn’t allowed to go to the theater unless she had finished her chores and gone to church the weekend before. “I wouldn’t let anything stand in my way of getting into the Royal.”

But things changed after Gibbs High School was integrated in 1964.

The Civil Rights Act, which outlawed forced segregation in education and public places, coupled with the construction of Interstate 275, fragmented wide areas of the black community. As a result, many businesses closed and the identity of the community suffered, according to the city of St. Petersburg Historic Landmarks Web site.

As the traditional economy collapsed, drugs and gangs gained a foothold in the neighborhood.

The riots of 1996 were a low point for the neighborhood. But, Herbert Murphy, director of the Royal’s Boys & Girls Club, says the riots prompted positive change.
 
“God bless the riots. They tore down the projects and finally took notice of the community,” Murphy says of the city government. 
 
Redevelopment projects revitalized vacant lots and boarded-up buildings in the 5.5-square-mile of Midtown, the area bounded by Second Avenue North, 30th Avenue South, and Fourth and 34th streets.

One of the projects was returning the Royal Theatre to its original glory. In 2004 the theater was designated a historic building by the city.

Murphy says the Royal Theatre has become a beacon of light in the community that helps young people have hope and pacify their anger.
 
“It is teaching the young people here to take a break from their socioeconomic reality,” Murphy says. “Just like segregation, when blacks lived with the stigma of being poor and second-class citizens, they turned to the Royal Theatre.”
 
In that way, the Royal is reclaiming a bit of its history, and bridging the time between generations.

Stewart, the Gibbs High grad who used to meet his sweethearts at the Royal, remembers the summer months when the theater would host talent shows and declare hometown celebrities.

“It was like ‘American Idol’ back in the day,” he says.
 
After the show, Stewart would harmonize with his friends under the dim street light in the theater parking lot: “That was the highlight of the Royal Theatre for me.”

Now it’s Ameen Nurul-haqq’s turn to make music at the Royal. His rap group, the Royal Boyz, laid down tracks in the studio at the Royal on a recent afternoon. Later, the 12-year-old showed off his moves at an impromptu dance party. Surrounded by admirers, he shook his elbows, pumped his chest and waved his arms in an urban dance style called krumping.

“I’m a shooting star and you’re just a comet,” he raps. “I’m hotter than you can handle. Picture this, I’m the sun and you’re just a candle.” Read more

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Welcome to East of 34th!

The beat we’ve fashioned into “East of 34th Street” spans the area north of Boyd Hill Nature Park all the way up to 9th Avenue North. It’s bordered by Maggiore on the east and south and by the West of 34th Street beat to the west. It includes neighborhoods like Jordan Park and the Grand Central district.

While you’re on the beat, stop by M & N Island Kitchen for some Caribbean food, attend a wedding at Helen Davis’ chapel and turn your radio dial to WRXB to listen to the sounds of the community. Browse the dozens of antique shops in the area. Window shop along the revamped storefronts. Take a quiet moment at King of Peace Church. While you’re at it, read some earlier stories about the beat here and here, but don’t forget to check back on Wednesday, June 13, for a new perspective and new stories from east of 34th Street.


Julia Robinson

San Francisco State
(Photographer)

Billy Kulpa

Northern Illinois University
(Designer)

Mary Andom

Western Washington University
(Writer)

Mallary Tenore

Providence College
(Writer)
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