Sal Culosi is dead because he bet on a football game — but it wasn’t a bookie or a loan shark who killed him. His local government killed him, ostensibly to protect him from his gambling habit.
Several months earlier at a local bar, Fairfax County, Virginia, detective David Baucum overheard the thirty-eight-year-old optometrist and some friends wagering on a college football game. “To Sal, betting a few bills on the Redskins was a stress reliever, done among friends,” a friend of Culosi’s told me shortly after his death. “None of us single, successful professionals ever thought that betting fifty bucks or so on the Virginia–Virginia Tech football game was a crime worthy of investigation.” Baucum apparently did. After overhearing the men wagering, Baucum befriended Culosi as a cover to begin investigating him. During the next several months, he talked Culosi into raising the stakes of what Culosi thought were just more fun wagers between friends to make watching sports more interesting. Eventually Culosi and Baucum bet more than $2,000 in a single day. Under Virginia law, that was enough for police to charge Culosi with running a gambling operation. And that’s when they brought in the SWAT team.
On the night of January 24, 2006, Baucum called Culosi and arranged a time to drop by to collect his winnings. When Culosi, barefoot and clad in a T-shirt and jeans, stepped out of his house to meet the man he thought was a friend, the SWAT team began to move in. Seconds later, Det. Deval Bullock, who had been on duty since 4:00 AM and hadn’t slept in seventeen hours, fired a bullet that pierced Culosi’s heart.
Sal Culosi’s last words were to Baucum, the cop he thought was a friend: “Dude, what are you doing?”
-An excerpt from Radley Balko’s book Rise of the Warrior Cop.
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Photo: squirrel_brand, Flickr
“When Mary Margaret Vojtko died last September—penniless and virtually homeless and eighty-three years old, having been referred to Adult Protective Services because the effects of living in poverty made it seem to some that she was incapable of caring for herself—it made the news because she was a professor.” So begins the dark tale of what it means to be an adjunct professor in the United States today, further explored in these essays and articles.
In this excellent essay, Riederer, an adjunct professor herself, discusses the lack of support her peers face in the classroom, a lack of healthcare benefits, substandard pay, administrative hostility and more. With teachers this stressed, students should be concerned about the quality of their education. Riederer gives the dictionary definition for adjunct, but I would like to point out its synonyms: Subordinate. Auxiliary. Assistant. These terms and their connotations demean the work adjuncts do.
When I moved from a small town in Northern California to Brooklyn, New York in the summer of 2010, I felt the pang of an inarticulable loneliness. Unable to string together words to describe this complicated feeling, I found Olivia Laing’s Aeon essay, “Me, Myself and I,” to be a starting point that began to map a cartography of loneliness. Published in 2012, Laing writes, “What did it feel like? It felt like being hungry, I suppose, in a place where being hungry is shameful, and where one has no money and everyone else is full. It felt, at least sometimes, difficult and embarrassing and important to conceal.” Four years into my New York experiment, the pang of loneliness has dulled and has been exchanged for a desire to retreat from an overstimulating city with my close friends and a bag of salted caramel.
This brief list takes a dive into the discussion about loneliness and solitude in our contemporary lives—what it is, how we cope, and how it affects our bodies. Please share your recommendations: essays and articles in this vein, if you have them.
1. “American Loneliness” (Emma Healey, Los Angeles Review of Books, June 2014)
I’ve been watching MTV’s reality show, Catfish in awe for the past two seasons. I vacillate between heavy feelings of eager empathy and awkward amusement. Healy explores what Catfish reveals about our common loneliness, longing and vulnerabilities as well as how easily we suspend logic in the pursuit of companionship.
Nonetheless, whenever I see masked and helmeted police in photographs and movies or on the street going after protesters, I wonder, as I did during a battle royal between peasants and cops in the summer’s class-war sleeper Snowpiercer: “Who are these hidden people?” It crosses my mind anytime I see a helmet swing a nightstick at a skull. The movies, especially dystopic science fiction, have gotten really good at siccing human drones on human beings or just showcasing warfare as stacks and stacks of computer-generated menace. Ferguson demonstrates how good life has gotten at turning into science fiction. That collapse of the real and the morally unreal took place in last summer’s Fruitvale Station, which dramatized the 2009 shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant on an Oakland train platform. It opened the weekend before the president made his remarks about Trayvon Martin and race, and bears a subdued kernel of resemblance to the events happening now in Ferguson.
— Grantland’s Wesley Morris, on the depiction of race and police officers in movies contrasted against recent events in Ferguson. Morris won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for criticism for his work at the Boston Globe.
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Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. In the last three years at least 60 of them have been killed while covering the conflict there, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Missing from the statistics is anything about the kind of journalist who goes to Syria and why. After the death of Marie Colvin, in a blizzard of Syrian Army shells in Homs in February 2012, much of the Western media drew back from covering the country. Meanwhile, a lightly resourced, laughably paid, almost wholly uninsured cadre of freelancers, often armed with little more than a notebook and a mobile phone, infiltrated Syria anyway. A few were crazy narcissists or war-zone tourists, but most were serious reporters. Four-fifths of all journalists working in Syria, according to one estimate, are freelance and answering to no one but themselves.
Austin Tice was one of these. So was I. Our paths had even crossed. Three weeks before he disappeared, while cooling my heels in the Turkish border town of Antakya, waiting for someone to take me into Syria, I’d asked my hosts at a Free Syrian Army safe house whether any Western journalists had passed this way before. Just one, they said—an American named Austin who had stayed with them for a week. They kept in touch with him on Facebook—he was still inside.
— From a Vanity Fair story on journalists who’ve gone missing in Syria. Reporter Austin Tice, a former U.S. marine who was writing for The Washington Post and other publications, went missing in Syria two years ago today. Tice’s parents write: “Austin, please know that we love and miss you more than words can say.”
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— Watch a documentary on Tice produced and released by McClatchy Newspapers on the anniversary of his kidnapping: