August 26th, 2010, by LORI R. WEST

It looks like the end of the beginning of the Gulf oil disaster is at hand. The well has been “killed,” and new oil no longer flows into the water and onto our shores. But this catastrophe is far from over. Entire communities have been deprived of reliable sources of income and production and distribution systems developed over decades have been fundamentally disrupted.

But hope emanates from an unlikely source: Hurricane Katrina. Or, more precisely, the response to that disaster. A number of relief and development groups, including ours, have been working in the region since 2005. Together with federal and state government agencies and private businesses, these groups have implemented successful programs that have made a real impact in the lives of Katrina survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi. The lessons these private groups have learned can and should be applied to those harmed by the oil spill.

Put Income First. A lack of income is a devastating blow and a main source of stress for people suffering from disaster. Timely claims payments and aggressive efforts by governments and private entities to provide alternative sources of income are the best way to avoid depression, substance abuse, and similar negative outcomes. As part of this, it is critical to recognize the large number of affected people who will never file claims because they cannot document their income due to their participation in the cash economy. These citizens must not be allowed to fall through the cracks. To reach and assist them requires aggressive outreach by community-based organizations. 

Help People Plan. BP will pay claims to affected individuals and businesses for a long time to come. Every claim center should include certified financial advisers with knowledge of the needs of the Gulf region. They can advise claimants on the best way to use the payments to not only survive, but to improve their condition. For instance, payments might be best used to start a new business, or receive training for a new job. Advisers who have worked in the region for years assisting Katrina survivors would be invaluable resources to help people use claims money productively.

Engage the Community. There are numerous local, state, federal, and private services available for those impacted by the spill. Having never used them, most people have no idea how to access these services. South Mississippi Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (SMVOAD) has helped thousands of Katrina survivors obtain housing, job training, and other assistance. Volunteers go out into neighborhoods and provide people with lists of service providers, types of services available, and eligibility requirements. At the same time, through their conversations, they obtain data on community needs to inform public and private decision makers as they fashion relief and development programs.

Another example of a successful post-Katrina community-based initiative is YouthBuild. Managed by the U.S. Department of Labor and state agencies, this is a comprehensive program for vocational development, workforce training, and career counseling for Gulf Coast youth. At-risk high school students are trained on how to assist in rebuilding homes. At the same time, trainers assist them to obtain their GED. Thousands of young people have received constructions skills and a high school diploma that makes them attractive to potential employers. This kind of training, geared to the needs and potential of particular Gulf communities, should be a key part of any long-term post-spill strategy.

The Gulf Coast has been pummeled by disasters of natural and human provenance. The response to Katrina was never what it could or should have been. But there are success stories. These community-based initiatives, combined with real resources from the federal government to help rebuild the Gulf, can help residents maintain and even improve a way of life we cherish.

Lori R. West is Gulf Region Director for International Relief & Development, which runs U.S. Gulf Coast Community Resource Centers in Mississippi and Louisiana.

August 23rd, 2010, by

If you missed the recent “week of rock” with John Mellencamp, when the rock legend debuted tracks from his latest album “No Better Than This,” or if you just want to watch the performances all over again, then you’ve come to the right place.

Check out video of “No Better Than This,” “Pink Houses” and “Save Some Time To Dream” below. To watch performances of “West End,” “Thinking About You” and “Don’t Forget About Me,” click here.


August 17th, 2010, by

When legendary rocker John Mellencamp recorded his latest (and 25th) album, “No Better Than This,” he decided to keep it simple.

(To see Mellencamp perform live, click here.)

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and his producer, T-Bone Burnett, recorded in mono, went straight to tape with a 1950s Ampex reel-to-reel recorder and used one microphone.

They also set up the recording sessions at three historic locations: Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, TX, where Robert Johnson recorded his blues album in November 1936; Sun Studio in Memphis, TN, where a host of music legends (read: Elvis) have recorded; and First African Baptist Church in Savannah, GA, one of the oldest African American Baptist churches in the country and a part of the Underground Railroad.

In his recent conversation with Tavis, Mellencamp shared the backstory of the decision:

Bob Dylan and I were on tour together and I had written this song called ‘Save Some Time to Dream,’ and I thought, well, this is an awfully good song for me; I’ll just play it live. But I played it, and I thought, I’m going to be in this location and that location, and I started looking geographically that I’m going to be in Savannah, Georgia, where the First African Baptist Church is, where the Underground Railroad started and people went through.

I’m going to be in Memphis, where Sun Studios is located and where Sam Phillips recorded “Howling Wolf” and Johnny Cash, and I’m also going to be close to San Antonio, which is where Robert Johnson recorded back in the ’30s at the Gunter Hotel.

So I started thinking, and things get on your back. So I thought, well, if we’re going to record in these historic locations then we should use that type of gear. Now, those guys, like Johnson, when they recorded him, they recorded straight to disc, straight to the record, so I thought that’s what we’ll do.

But that turned out to be really problematic in this day since nobody does it anymore, so then we went with I think it’s a 1954 mono Ampex field recording machine and an RCA microphone, and recorded in those three locations with the band the old fashioned way — set a microphone up, everybody kind of gathers around it, and you play…the minute we started playing, it was just like well, this sounds like the Sun sessions. It sounds just like Johnny Cash.

And those production choices made for a 13-song album that was released today, but could have been released 50 or 60 years ago. From “Don’t Forget About Me” to “Pink Houses,” the sound is timeless.

But don’t take our word for it!

Watch performances online and tune in each night this week; Mellencamp closes each show with an exclusive, live performance of tracks from the album.

We’re calling it the “week of rock” with John Mellencamp. We know. We know. It truly gets no better than this.

August 12th, 2010, by

For those of you who love Grammy Award-winning rock legend John Mellencamp of “Jack & Diane,” “Small Town” and “Hurts So Good” fame, check out our line-up of shows next week.

In a “week of rock” that begins Monday, August 16 and runs through Friday, August 20, the legendary performer will debut songs from his new album No Better Than This during exclusive, live performances each night of the week.

(Check your local listings for air times.)

Mellencamp is currently on a 12-city, limited engagement tour to promote his latest album. The first leg of the “No Better Than This” tour will kick off at Indiana University (Tavis’ alma mater) on October 29. The album will be released August 17.

Rolling Stone has called Mellencamp’s latest project “musical storytelling for hard times: far-fetched, violent, sexy, played for laughs.”

Don’t miss Mellencamp’s exclusive preview! Tune in each night August 16-20. And share your Mellencamp stories below.

July 29th, 2010, by

Recent reports about the rising rate of obesity are alarming.

More adults are using canes and grab bars at younger ages to cope with obesity. New research shows that the impact of childhood obesity reaches into adulthood and affects a person’s social and economic outcomes.

And even weight-gain during pregnancy is not off-limits.

Citing an obesity “epidemic” among pregnant women, the UK’s national health organization has issued guidelines that encourage continued physical activity and discourage “eating for two.”

So we thought we’d give you a round-up of previous content that offers information for tackling this difficult issue.

Be sure to check it out and let us know what you do (or plan to do) to stay healthy.

Medical and Diet Expert Ian Smith
“People have to want it for themselves. You can’t want for people to be healthy and they automatically become healthy. They themselves have to say, ‘This is … the change, the lifestyle I want.’ If they don’t want it, you can’t make them take it.”
Watch interview



Previous Post in ‘Health’
BLOG  | What to Do About Childhood Obesity?
July 29th, 2010, by KRISTINA WONG
Headshot and poster by Diana Toshiko.

My earliest memories of even thinking I might be depressed were met with warnings by my mother that if I ever dare seek professional help for depression, even as a kid, my employers would one day find out and fire me. It did bother me that being depressed-but-employed versus happy-and-unemployed was the better of the two (and only two) options, but I heeded her advice and never sought professional help. God forbid anyone know I was once a crazy 12-year-old kid.

So I hid it for years. And not very well. Even into my college years, I managed to turn club meetings, sleepovers, friendships and intimate relationships into my own impromptu therapy sessions. Anything to avoid the stigma of actually seeking professional help. When I introduced myself to a circle of new friends, somehow unsolicited emotional clutter would always spill out with it. Sometimes my friends were halfway decent at playing Freud, but very often, they were so mired in their own messy lives that my problems just exhausted them.

In high school, my best friend was a white girl named Siobhan. She told me about her therapist. How much her therapist listened to her. How much her therapist loved her. I wanted a therapist to listen to me and love me too. But I didn’t have $50 an hour to pay for that kind of love. Instead, I settled for casually asking for help from friends who would jokingly dismiss me with: “You’re a crazy weirdo, Kristina Wong.”

Being called a “crazy weirdo” was enough for me to not show signs of weakness again. So I’d call out other people as “crazy.” I decided that as long as I could call somebody else crazy, I was doing just fine.

Siobhan didn’t seem to care that one day she would be found out as crazy and never get hired for a job. Somehow, she passed off her crazy as cool. In fact, she relished in being “the bad girl with the shrink.” I think Siobhan fed off the energy of everyone thinking she was so bad she needed help. Being branded a “bad girl” was easier than trying to carve out her own identity.

In retrospect, it may not have even been that I was actually clinically depressed. I think I was just very isolated ina predominantly Chinese-American community that shunned ever talking about anything that might be going wrong. My family was so insistent that I project only the best, that during car rides en route to family engagements, my parents prepped me with which highlights of my life to talk about with the rest of our family. It was as if I was a political candidate being prepped for a campaign speech. Except, the people voting for me were from my own family.

I was constantly being introduced by my accomplishments (“This is Kristina. She wins trophies and has a perfect GPA”). This confirmed that the only value I had to the world was my net worth. I was never introduced as who I was… because who was I but my accomplishments? I was living in a fictitious world where the only life worth living seemed to be the one that moved along a specific storyline of success. Simply, I was a living cliché of Asian American teenhood: Get good grades, go to the best college, go to the best med school, marry a Chinese doctor, buy the biggest house on the block, and then have Chinese doctor babies.

Supposedly, after that storyline was complete, I would be successful. And successful would equate happiness. Never mind how unhappy the whole journey was because how could a six-figure income and a Chinese doctor husband not make anyone happy? Right? Right?! Nobody talked about what would happen if I diverged from this storyline, but I could only imagine the worst… Poverty! Obscurity! A single woman surrounded by cats!

I lived in so much fear of failure and struggled to meet an unrealistic prescription of success. I’d break down crying over the unwritten fate that lay ahead if I failed my parents’ expectations.

The misery was becoming undeniable even in high school. I went to a Catholic all-girls school in San Francisco. At the start of religion class, we could go around and set an intention for prayer. Girls would pray for relatives dying of cancer or the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. I’d pray for God to bring me the same thing in rain or shine: “Please God, help the babies dying of cancer and whatever, but especially help me ace that Trig test!”

Now that I’m a grown woman, I’ve learned that having a liberal arts degree does not cause you to self-destruct the moment you graduate. And as evidenced by many of my fellow Asian-Americans thriving in a whole range of professions, there is indeed, life outside of medical school.

And no, you won’t get fired from your job for having gone to therapy at 12, 32 or 65. In fact, I’ve learned you can actually make a career out of addressing the crazy that nobody will talk about in graphic detail. I am now gainfully self-employed as a solo performer and writer. I tour the country and make a living talking about all of the things I never got to talk about as a kid, in front of packed audiences.

It is no cake life to make a living as a performer and writer. I keep late hours, often wonder where my next paycheck is coming from, and I have an extremely difficult time assuring the people I am dating that they will not be part of my shows.

I implode… on stage, and people pay to see it. For the most part, unlike implosions in real life, I can put myself back together again.

My show Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest addresses the stigma and shame around depression and suicide among Asian-American women. Asian-American women have some of the highest rates of depression and suicide in this country. It’s the kind of factoid that simultaneously shocks some and seems intimately right to others.

In the show, I critique the insanely unrealistic pressures some Asian-American women have to please everyone and the dangerous cultural pressure to hide that anything is going wrong. In the show, I use the “Dramatic arc of Fiction” to critique the fictitious lives women like me were expected to live out. It’s been a wonderful poetic justice to take a whole lifetime of angst and confusion and find a way to channel it into something creative.

In talking to women about their depression and getting audience feedback after my shows, I didn’t anticipate how many women would “out” themselves as depressed or suicidal. Many of these women are the women I thought least likely to show their vulnerability. They are professors, professionals, and community leaders. Where were these emotionally open women in high school? Would our lives have been less depressing if we knew each other more honestly? What if we could have been so vulnerable with each other? Would this problem even persist?

Kristina Wong is a writer and performer, who is touring Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The concert film version of the show is available on DVD for schools and libraries.

July 27th, 2010, by PETER J. HOTEZ

In my previous guest blog post for this site I described a hidden burden of poverty and illness resulting from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the world’s poorest countries. In addition to representing the most common infections of the “bottom billion” — people who live on less than $1.25 per day — I revealed that NTDs are also historically connected to slavery. Today, some of the most common NTDs in Latin America and the Caribbean were brought over by captives from West Africa during 400 years of the Middle Passage.

Although these NTDs of slavery are no longer endemic in the United States, we nonetheless have great pockets of poverty here and with it high rates of parasitic infections that resemble the NTDs. In a paper published in 2008 in the Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases, I reported on surprisingly high rates of parasitic infections among the poor, particularly among minority populations, in the U.S.

Given the upcoming fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, it is sad to point out that poverty is still very much with us in Louisiana and elsewhere in the Mississippi Delta region. Along with it are high rates of these parasitic infections, which I call the neglected infections of poverty. Almost one million African American women in the American South and inner cities suffer from a parasitic infection of their genital tract known as trichomoniasis. Young African American women are also as much as 50 fold times more at risk for acquiring a viral infection known as cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. When CMV is passed down to the unborn fetus, the baby can be born with severe hearing loss and mental retardation.

(To watch the full episode of Tavis Smiley Reports “New Orleans: Been in the Storm Too Long,” click here.)

More than 20% of poor African Americans show evidence of exposure to a parasitic Toxocara worm transmitted from dogs. The parasitic worm infection, known as toxocariasis when it occurs in humans, has been associated with asthma and developmental delays. The parasitic heart infection known as Chagas disease was also recently determined to occur in New Orleans. And now that dengue fever, and its dreaded complication dengue hemorrhagic fever, is widespread in the Caribbean and Central America, recent observations of a dengue outbreak in the Florida Keys should be a wake-up call that the entire Gulf coast of the U.S. is vulnerable especially in areas with poor housing where Aedes mosquitoes can breed and transmit this disease.

We now believe that millions of African Americans suffer from neglected infections of poverty, but sadly we do not know much more than that. I have worked with Congressman Hank Johnson, Jr. of Georgia and his staff, as well as some other scientists and activists committed to better understanding of these diseases. After a summit held on this topic in Washington D.C., Congressman Johnson is hoping to introduce new legislation for increased research on the subject.

I believe that there is an urgent need to obtain better information about these conditions in terms of how widespread they are in areas of poverty and to determine exactly how they are transmitted. We need new and better insight in how to prevent and treat the neglected infections of poverty in the U.S. In some cases we need better drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics. To address this, I’m working with colleagues in Washington D.C. to develop a new and improved diagnostic method for toxocariasis, which can be made more widely available.

One of the reasons the neglected infections of poverty are so “neglected” is that they disproportionately occur among the poor. While the depth of poverty in the U.S. is not as extreme as it is in Haiti and West Africa, it is still substantial and capable of harboring several important neglected infections. These are not rare diseases; they are just hidden from view because they occur among the poor.

As Gandhi once said, “a civilization is to be judged by the treatment of its minorities.” We need to heed this statement and launch an assault on neglected infections of poverty in the Gulf Coast, our Southern cities and wherever the poor live.

Dr. Peter Hotez is President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Distinguished Research Professor at The George Washington University.  He is also the author of Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases.

July 19th, 2010, by WESLEY T. BISHOP

After five years of clawing, fighting and working to rebuild our lives, much work still needs to be done to bring back the city that I call home. I wish that I could say that life in the Big Easy is getting easier, but for many of us, it isn’t.

I have spent the last 30 years living in a section of the city called New Orleans East. My parents moved here from the now world-renowned Lower Ninth Ward. At that time, my siblings and I thought we had died and gone to heaven. Here we found new homes, quality schools, vibrant shopping venues and a future that was full of possibilities.

True enough, many things needed to be improved even before August 29, 2005. But never in my wildest imagination did I believe it would take this long to get back up to our knees, let alone our feet.

What a Difference a Storm Makes

Many institutions were severely damaged by the storm. No better example exists than my alma mater, Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO).

SUNO is a Historically Black College/University (HBCU) that is home to nearly 4,000 students who yearn to achieve upward mobility and are pursuing the American dream. As both a graduate and an administrator on the campus, I know firsthand of the destruction. The campus was flooded by 8 feet of water, which closed the institution for an entire semester. Many in the state of Louisiana believed that Hurricane Katrina would be the end of SUNO. However, they underestimated the resolve of my Alma Mater.

In January 2006, SUNO returned home and registered nearly 2,000 students in the dining hall of a local church pastored by a SUNO alum. Classes were held at a middle school, while FEMA constructed a temporary trailer campus for our institution.

(For stories of other residents struggling to rebuild in New Orleans, visit the “Tavis Smiley Reports” web site.)

Faculty and students shared living space at the Marriott Hotel and subsequently moved to 400 temporary housing trailers adjacent to the temporary campus. The students, faculty and staff of SUNO stand as a testament of what it means to be a trouper. While, five years later, the temporary classrooms remain, so too does the fighting spirit of SUNO. The snail’s pace of the recovery of our institution mirrors the condition of many of our residential neighborhoods.

The Tale of Two Cities

Six months ago, my wife and I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. While this was one of the happiest days of my life, it was bittersweet. Why? Because we drove 30 minutes to get to a hospital when there used to be one 3 minutes away. Moreover, my mother spent 30 years at that hospital as a ward clerk. It now sits dormant as a relic of a time gone by.  

As I drove from my home in New Orleans East to the hospital near the Central Business District (CBD), I realized that my city is actually two cities, and I had gone from one to the other — Online New Orleans to Offline New Orleans. While Online New Orleans is fully functional with all of the basic amenities of any modern city, Offline New Orleans is still struggling to get back to normal. Those of us who live in Offline New Orleans have to travel completely outside of Orleans Parish to purchase basic goods and services.

While much of the CBD is bustling with talk of new growth, hotels and restaurants returning to provide the hospitality that this city is known for, much of the city seems to be on an island. As a resident of eastern New Orleans, every day I watch hospitals lie dormant and healthcare needs continue to go unmet. I see parents and kids unsure of where their kids will be educated in the fall because there are too many students and not enough schools.

The Spirit of a Champion

We have survived the storm. What remains to be overcome is the paralysis of analysis that anyone, anywhere near this place realizes must be abandoned. What must be eliminated is this stagnated recovery, or lack thereof, that has a whole section of the city without meaningful access to basic services.

What we need, more than anything else, is for national outlets to invest in our city, particularly New Orleans East. While neighboring Chalmette was equally devastated, it now has all of the amenities that its neighbor to the east longs for. If New Orleans East were a city, it would be the fifth largest city in Louisiana. Surely we merit the presence of national retail outlets, quality schools and adequate health care facilities. Right about now, we would almost take national anything.

Like most New Orleanians, I am a diehard Saints fan. In fact, they first took the field at Tulane Stadium two months before I was born. For the next 40 years, they have been mired in the muck of mediocrity, until last season. With the help of Sean Payton, Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Jonathan Vilma and Darren Sharper, our city was taken on a ride to the NFL’s Promised Land.

While the boys in Black and Gold have made us peacock proud by bringing a world title to the Crescent City, I — and most WhoDats in New Orleans East — would trade in the Super Bowl trophy in a heartbeat for a Super Wal-Mart, a first-class hospital and quality family entertainment and restaurants. That’s the least that the troupers of New Orleans East deserve. We need both industry titans and ordinary folks to partner with our community to make this great city great again.  

As I recently watched a group of gospel superstars come together to deliver a stirring anthem for the devastated people of Haiti, they asked the question, “Is there anybody out there listening?” I don’t think that Kirk Franklin and Yolanda Adams would mind if I borrowed their hook for just a minute.

To all who are listening, please hear this. Take a chance on New Orleans East and invest in the most unique city in America. We chose to come back home and we’re here to stay. New Orleans needs New Orleans East to come back bigger and stronger than ever before.

As I reflect on the past five years, I have come to the realization that the spirit of New Orleans is one grounded in a resolve that will not die. We are storm troupers. Not to be confused with the storm troopers that were specialized German soldiers during World War I, a storm trouper is someone who perseveres in the face of difficulty or hardship; someone who keeps going when logic would suggest that they should throw in the towel.

We recognize the hardships we face, yet we have chosen to rise above it. We represent the best that this city has to offer and are focused on the promise of today and not the problems of yesterday. While we understand how far we still have to go, we appreciate how far we have come. We are troupers in every sense of the word. Always have been…always will be.

Attorney Wesley T. Bishop is an Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Southern University at New Orleans. He is a motivational speaker and author of the upcoming book entitled Come Out Swinging: A Blueprint to Becoming Your Best.

Tune in Wednesday, July 21, at 8/7c for Tavis Smiley ReportsNew Orleans: Been in the Storm Too Long.” 

July 15th, 2010, by PAUL GREENBERG
Photo by Laura Straus.

I really enjoyed talking with Tavis today on the show. When you only have ten minutes to explain things as complicated as the oceans, over-fishing and fish-farming, you always kick yourself after the fact.

“Tavis, I meant Atlantic bluefin tuna,” you say. Or, “Tavis, you can have the salmon–but Alaska wild salmon is better for the environment than farmed Atlantic salmon!”

So I’m really thankful to be able to send a little more fish food for thought after the fact.

First off, the burning question: which fish should I eat? The Monterey Bay Aquarium has an excellent program called “Seafood Watch,” which gives ratings of most of the different seafood out there on the market today.

You can even download a “seafood watch” iPhone app that automatically adjusts for your region and the fish you’re likely to find in your particular marketplace.

(To watch the full interview with Greenberg, click here.)

But what about choosing a good fish restaurant? Charles Clover’s superb “Fish2Fork” site  tells you! In addition to posting some of Charles’ great environmental reporting, it rates restaurants in the US and Europe for their overall fish-friendly-ness. Restaurants that serve endangered fish like Atlantic bluefin tuna should be shamed! Shame on you, Nobu.

All that said, I think it’s important that consumers not only choose the right fish but also fight the right fights. When we choose fish that are environmentally sound it is a good ethical choice, but it is not a substitute for sound environmental policy. A few initiatives which I think need to be supported are:

1) Marine Reserves. Just like the U.S. Forest Service keeps millions of acres of forest in reserve for both environmental and commercial purposes, we need fisheries reserves to help protect the important commercial fish species. Fish need safe places to spawn and at least some places where they are not subject to fishing pressure. We protect around 10% of our land in some way but only about 1% of our sea. Let’s treat the ocean with the same respect we treat the land. Information about Marine Protected Areas–or MPAs as they’re called–can be found at NOAA’s National Marine Protected Areas Center.

2) Good fish farming practices. I’m not against fish farming and, in fact, I can’t be. Fish consumption has nearly doubled per capita in the last 50 years, and the overall world catch has nearly quintupled. The U.N. and the World Bank concluded recently that there are twice as many hooks and nets in the water than we need. So we have to farm fish to keep pace with demand. But we have to farm fish in a way that doesn’t hurt wild fish. WWF’s aquaculture dialogues program is trying to set standards for fish farming around the world, and they deserve our support.

3) Reliable information from the Gulf of Mexico disaster. BP’s control over the oil spill sites needs to be questioned and questioned hard. As the great biologist and writer Carl Safina put it “If you put the murderer in charge of the crime scene, the murderer’s going to hide the body.” And that’s what BP has done by spraying oil dispersants like Correxit into the Gulf. Dispersants make oil more toxic to fish, and BP–in their effort to hide the spill–might have caused even more damage. Carl has been doing outstanding reporting from the Gulf. Follow his work at and also visit the site of the organization he founded, The Blue Ocean Institute. In addition, for people following the future of seafood in the Gulf, Chef’s Collaborative has just published a useful guide.
And, of course, I’m happy to talk with anyone about their fish questions. Drop me a note on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks, and (I’ve always wanted to say this) keep the faith!

Paul Greenberg is an award-winning writer, whose essays, articles and
humor have appeared in
The New York Times Magazine, GQ and
Vogue, among others. His latest book is Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.

July 11th, 2010, by

I hadn’t until today, when news of his arrest in the Bahamas began to spread across the Internet.

Colton Harris-Moore is a 19-year-old Washington native who has been on the run from the police for over two years, evading capture by stealing cars, boats and even airplanes — despite an apparent lack of formal flight training.

Harris-Moore started his criminal career early, with his first conviction at the age of 12 for possession of stolen property. After fleeing a Washington halfway house in 2008, his run from the law took him across the country, including an alleged 1,000-mile flight from Indiana to Florida in a stolen airplane. According to the Associated Press, Harris-Moore’s story has captured the interest of tens of thousands on Facebook, where he has 58,000 fans, many of them now offering encouragement, praise and advice. He’s also got a fan page on the Internet, which sells T-shirts with his face on them and is taking donations for a Colton Harris-Moore defense fund.

With echoes of the blockbuster movie Catch Me If You Can, it’s easy to see why Harris-Moore, a tall, lanky, regular-looking kid, has garnered so much attention. While it’s yet to be seen how he will fare in court, there’s doubtless a book/movie deal in store somewhere down the line.

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