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Kamu tlah tinggal dalam hati
Dan takkan kulepas lagi
Tetaplah kau disini
Kamu bagaikan bidadari
Datang dan turun ke bumi
Dan berdetak dalam nadi
Kamu wanita pilihanku
Kamu cinta matiku
Kamu redakan ambisiku
Bila kita bersama
Kan kudendangkan lagu
Itu hanya untukmu
Bila engkau pergi
Karna kusetia padamu
Aku takut kehilanganmu
> KANGEN BAND BIDADARIKU SURGAKU
Editor : Dian Sukmawati
kirim barang selalu identik dengan berat dan volume, semakin tinggi nilai berat dan volume semakin tinggi pula biaya kirimnya. Kami spesialisasikan pelayanan kami khusus kirim barang via darat dan laut. Jika dibandingkan kirim barang via udara yang mengutamakan kecepatan (Speed) dan pelayanan (Service oriented) dimana biaya kirim relatif lebih tinggi, dengan Pengiriman barang via darat dan laut yang fokus pada biaya kirim rendah (low cost) sangat cocok dalam mendukung kirim barang hasil produk usaha anda dengan biaya murah.
Pengiriman NTT dan NTB via darat dan laut : (Min. 100Kg)
Nusa Tenggara Barat: 8000 / Kg (Volume P x L x T : 4000)
Lombok Barat / Mataram
Lombok Tengah / Praya
Lombok Timur / Selong
Lombok Utara / Tanjung
Sumbawa Barat / Taliwang
Sumbawa / Sumbawa Besar
Bima / Raba
Nusa Yenggara Timur: 9000 / Kg (Volume P x L x T : 4000)
Manggarai Barat / Labuan Bajo
Manggarai / Ruteng
Ngada / Bajawa
Sikka / Maumere
Sumba Barat Daya / Waikabula
Sumba Barat / Waikabubak
Sumba Tengah / Anakalang
Sumba Timur / Waingapu
Kalabahai - Alor
Saco-Indonesia.com,-Dalam 15 tahun terakhir, Jody Brotosuseno (39) sudah mencoba berbagai usaha. Peruntungan berbuah di usaha kuliner dengan tulang punggung pada Waroeng Steak and Shake. Kini, ia punya 50 gerai Waroeng Steak and Shake di sejumlah kota.
Ia juga memiliki belasan gerai untuk unit usaha lainnya. Paling sedikit 1.000 pekerja mendapatkan kegiatan sekaligus penghasilan dari seluruh unit usahanya.
Pencapaiannya hari ini tentu tidak diraih dalam semalam. Bersama istrinya, Siti Handayani alias Aniek, Jody berkali-kali merasakan jatuh bangun berwirausaha. Hal itu bukan hal mudah karena modal mereka terbatas dan belum ada investor pada awal membangun usaha.
Memang banyak orang pada awalnya tidak akan percaya Jody bekerja keras membangun bisnis. Hal itu tidak lepas dari latar belakang keluarganya, pemilik jaringan restoran Obonk Steak and Ribs.
Meski ayahnya, Sugondo, pemilik jaringan restoran yang punya lebih dari 60 gerai itu, Jody tidak mendapat perlakuan istimewa. Ia menerima gaji sebagai pegawai biasa di jaringan restoran tersebut. Apalagi Jody bertekad mandiri sejak menikahi Siti Hariani alias Aniek pada 1998.
Dengan gaji itu, Jody dan Aniek tahu mereka butuh pendapatan lebih baik. Dengan ijazah terakhir setingkat SMA, sangat sulit mendapat peluang kerja jika harus melamar ke tempat lain. Jody dan Aniek akhirnya membulatkan tekad menjadi wirausaha. Agar bisa fokus, mereka sepakat meninggalkan bangku kuliah. Jody meninggalkan pendidikannya pada Jurusan Arsitektur, Universitas Atma Jaya Yogyakarta, pada semester delapan.
Sambil bekerja di Obonk, Jody mencoba berjualan aneka makanan. Awalnya berjualan susu segar, lalu roti bakar dan jus buah. Namun, bisnis itu terpaksa berhenti karena peralatannya banyak diambil orang.
Jody juga berjualan kaus partai politik. Pada Pemilu 1999, jumlah partai membengkak dari tiga menjadi 48 partai. Jody melihat peluang itu dan memanfaatkan dengan berjualan kaus berlambang partai politik. Hasil penjualan, antara lain, digunakan untuk mengontrak rumah di kawasan Demangan, Yogyakarta.
Selepas pemilu, Jody dan Aniek berpikir lagi mencari tambahan. Kelahiran anak pertama, Yuga Adiaksa, membuat kebutuhan bertambah. Akhirnya pasangan itu memutuskan berjualan steik, seperti yang sudah dilakukan keluarga Jody. Namun, pasangan itu tidak meniru konsep Obonk Steak.
Mereka memilih mahasiswa dan pelajar sebagai target pasar. Untuk merek usaha, mereka memilih nama Waroeng Steak and Shake. Gerai pertama dibuka di teras rumah mereka karena tidak ada dana untuk menyewa tempat. ”Saya pilih istilah warung untuk menegaskan pesan makan steik di sini tidak mahal,” ujar Jody.
Namun, mereka terbentur modal untuk memulai usaha. Kala itu, Jody dan Aniek hanya punya uang Rp 100.000. Akhirnya, Jody menjual motor dan hasilnya dipakai untuk modal awal Waroeng Steak. Ketika baru mulai, Jody mengurus dapur dan melayani pembeli, sementara Aniek menjadi kasir. Namun, warung itu tidak langsung ramai. ”Pernah sehari cuma dapat bersih Rp 30.000,” ujarnya.
Pembeli masih sepi, antara lain karena warung itu belum terkenal. Selain itu, masyarakat juga masih menganggap steik makanan mahal. ”Pembeli memberi masukan agar warung saya lebih disukai. Saya dengar masukan mereka,” ujarnya.
Jody membuat spanduk besar dengan warna mencolok di depan gerainya. Di spanduk dicantumkan harga steik yang murah. Ia juga mempromosikan warungnya lewat selebaran. Tidak butuh lama, warung Jody mulai ramai pembeli dari kalangan mahasiswa dan pelajar. ”Malah kami mulai kewalahan,” ujarnya.
Kala itu, Waroeng Steak and Shake baru punya 10 hotplate dan lima meja. Saat ramai, tak jarang pembeli terpaksa menunggu meja kosong. Bahkan, Jody beberapa kali terpaksa mengambil hotplate setelah pembeli selesai makan tetapi masih duduk di meja. Sebab, hotplate akan dipakai untuk memenuhi pesanan pembeli lain.
Pelan-pelan, Jody menambah peralatan. Ia juga merekrut pegawai untuk melayani pembeli yang semakin banyak. ”Setahun sejak buka di Demangan, kami membuka satu cabang lagi,” ujarnya.
Untuk pembukaan gerai kedua, Jody mengajak kerabat dan temannya menanam modal dengan pola bagi hasil. Pola itu dipakainya sampai gerai kedelapan. Di gerai kesembilan dan seterusnya, Jody mendanai sendiri. ”Asal bisa menyesuaikan inovasi dengan kebutuhan pasar, bisa berkembang terus. Masukan pelanggan selalu kami perhatikan,” tuturnya.
Masukan pembeli tetap diandalkan dalam pertimbangan pengembangan usaha. Menu-menu baru dihadirkan untuk menyesuaikan permintaan pelanggan. Meski bermerek Waroeng Steak and Shake, gerai-gerai Jody juga menyediakan menu dengan bahan utama nasi. Padahal, steik biasanya disantap dengan kentang goreng.
Saat Waroeng Steak and Shake semakin berkembang, Jody kembali membuat keputusan untuk berkonsentrasi penuh. Ia tinggalkan Obonk agar bisa sepenuhnya mengurus Waroeng Steak and Shake. Sejak 2002, ia fokus mengembangkan Waroeng Steak and Shake yang terus menambah gerai.
Konsentrasinya membawa hasil menggembirakan. Kini, ia mengelola 50 gerai Waroeng Steak and Shake di sejumlah kota. Ia juga membuka gerai aneka makanan dengan bendera Festival Kuliner. Bisnis kulinernya dilengkapi dengan Waroeng Penyetan dan Bebaqaran serta delapan gerai waralaba merek lain. Ia juga merambah bisnis olahraga dengan membuka arena futsal.
Meski yakin pasar Indonesia masih terbuka sangat luas, Jody sudah mulai mempersiapkan ekspansi ke luar negeri. Untuk pasar luar negeri, Waroeng Group akan menggunakan pola waralaba. ”Untuk pengembangan pasar Indonesia, kami berusaha dikelola sendiri dengan dana sendiri,” ungkapnya.
Wajar ia yakin bisa mendanai sendiri pembukaan gerai baru. Dalam salah satu kuliah umum di Yogyakarta terungkap, salah satu gerainya di Yogyakarta beromzet rata-rata Rp 500 juta per bulan. Padahal, ia mengoperasikan puluhan gerai.
Namun, tidak semua dinikmati sendiri oleh Jody. Salah satu gerainya di kawasan Gejayan, Yogyakarta, didedikasikan untuk kegiatan amal. Seluruh keuntungan dari gerai itu dipakai untuk mendanai Rumah Tahfidz, pesantren penghafal Al Quran dengan santri hampir 2.000 orang. Selain dari gerai itu, Jody juga menyumbangkan sebagian keuntungan dari unit usaha lainnya untuk mendanai tujuh Rumah Tahfidz yang dikelolanya. ”Saya dibantu teman-teman, tidak menanggung sendiri,” ujarnya merendah.
Jody memang selalu tampak bersahaja dan merendah. Jika bertemu sepintas, sama sekali tidak terlihat sosok orang muda pemilik bisnis beromzet puluhan miliar rupiah per bulan. Bisnis yang dibangun dengan kerja keras sendiri, bukan warisan. Kerja keras dalam 12 tahun mengantarnya dari pemuda yang batal jadi arsitek tetapi menjadi raja steik. (Kris Razianto Mada)
Arsitektur suci Islam yang paling awal adalah Baitullah (Ka’bah), dengan titik poros langit yang menembus bumi.
Monumen primordial yang dibangun oleh Nabi Adam As dan kemudian dibangun kembali oleh Nabi Ibrahim As, ini merupakan refleksi duniawi dari monumen surgawi yang juga terpantul dalam hati manusia.
Keselarasan dimensi Ka’bah, keseimbangan dan simetrisnya, sekaligus merupakan pusat dari kosmos Islam, yang dapat ditemukan dalam arsitektur suci di seluruh dunia Islam.
Geometri, bentuk dan ukuran Ka’bah semuanya memainkan peranan penting dalam kemunculan arsitektur Islam. Menurut beberapa riwayat, pada waktu Nabi Ibrahim As membina Ka’bah, bahan untuk pembikinan Ka’bah itu diambil dari enam buah gunung (bukit).
Pertama bukit Qubaisy, bukit Thursina di Syam, bukit Qudus di Syam pula, bukit Warqon yang terletak antara Mekah dan Madinah, bukit Radhwi, sebuah bukit yang terletak antara Madinah dan Yanbu dekat Wadi Yanbu, dan yang terakhir adalah bukit Uhud yang terletak di Madinah.
Dalam pengangkutan batu-batu dari bukit-bukit tersebut Allah SWT telah memerintahkan kepada para Malaikat Jabbal dan para Malaikat Hafadzhah untuk membantu Nabi Ibrahim.
Ka’bah yang dibangun oleh Nabi Ibrahim As memiliki dua sudut yang diberi nama Rukun, yaitu ; Rukun yamani dan Rukun Hajar Aswad (batu hitam).
Arah Ka’bah bertolak belakang dengan kedua rukun tersebut, yang berbentuk bulat (bundar) seperti bentuk Hijr Ismail, yang panjangnya 6 hasta. Pada masa kaum Quraisy, Hijr Ismail bergeser letaknya di luar Ka’bah karena dikurangi 6 hasta.
Oleh karena itu, perbaikan yang dilakukan kaum Quraisy itu tidak sesuai dengan ukuran yang ditentukan oleh Nabi Ibrahim As. Selain itu, Ka’bah pada masa pembinaan Nabi Ibrahim As tidak memiliki atap (tidak beratap) seperti yang terdapat pada Ka’bah sekarang ini. Justru di masa itu, Ka’bah memiliki dua pintu yang menghadap ke Timur dan Barat.
Pintu arah Timur melambangkan hakikat realitas penerbangan dan pendakian dalam melawan seluruh hal yang merendahkan derajat serta menurunkan dunia ini. Hal itu mengantarkan manusia pada kebebasan dari kungkungan duniawi yang serba terbatas.
Juga, bermakna sebagai simbol cahaya yang memancar secara serempak di antara langit dan bumi yang mengungkapkan hubungan-hubungan kosmik tertentu.
Sementara, pintu arah Barat melambangkan hukum Ilahi, yang berisi perintah-perintah bagi kaum muslim tentang “bagaimana berbuat bukan bagaimana membuat sesuatu.”
Ini bermakna pula sebagai upaya membantu setiap Muslim menembus ke dalam dan ditembusi oleh kehadiran Ilahi yang sesuai dengan kapasitas spiritual setiap orang.
Ketika seseorang memasuki Ka’bah, maka keheningan ruang Ka’bah akan mengingatkannya kepada yang gaib, seperti halnya seseorang yang harus bertelanjang kaki jika ingin mengenal tanah.
Sumber : http://www.jurnalhaji.com
Baca Artikel Lainnya : MINA DI JADIKAN TEMPAT MABIT> ARSITEKTUR PERTAMA DALAM SEJARAH ISLAM
Terimakasih untuk saco indonesia yang memberikan ruang untuk saya dapat share apa apa yang saya ketahui..
Pada kesempatan ini saya ingin sharing tentang fungsi dan maafaat dari google analistics
Fungsi Google Analytics Untuk website umum digunakan untuk mendapatkan informasi lengkap seputar pengunjung website.
Secara umum fungsi Google Analytics adalah:
Pada bagian ini, anda dapat melihat laporan mengenai :
Total kunjungan baru (pengunjung yang baru pertama kali datang ke website anda)
Rata-rata waktu yang dihabiskan oleh pengunjung di website
Kesetiaan pengunjung. Ini dilihat dari data jumlah kunjungan seseorang ke website anda. Jika berulang maka pengunjung ini dikategorikan sebagai pengunjung setia
Persentasi pengunjung baru dengan total kunjungan
Asal negara pengunjung dan bahasa yang digunakan pengunjung
Jenis browser dan sistem operasi yang digunakan pengunjung
Resolusi monitor pengunjung
Jenis gadget yang digunakan pengunjung (Komputer, Handphone) dan sistem operasi handphone yang digunakan pengunjung
Kecepatan koneksi pengunjung
ISP pengunjung berikut nama ISP tersebut
Sumber Trafik (Traffic Sources)
Google Analytics juga memberikan laporan detil tentang dari mana pengunjung menemukan website kita. Hal-hal yang bisa dilihat adalah :
Asal kunjungan. Seperti yang aku sebutkan sebelumnya, asal kunjungan dikategorikan berdasarkan kunjungan dari search engine, website refferal dan kunjungan langsung. Kita bisa mengambil kesimpulan hal-hal manakah yang mendatangkan pengunjung terbanyak ke website kita. Apakah dari optimasi SEO (Search Engine), kegiatan blog walking dan tebar backlink (Referring Sites) atau dari kunjungan langsung (promosi dari selain blogwalking dan tebar backlink)
Pada bagian konten, aku bisa melihat laporan yang rinci mengenai :
Artikel/Posting mana yang paling banyak dikunjungi
Artikel paling akhir yang dibaca oleh pengunjung sebelum meninggalkan website. Dari poin 1 dan 2 ini bisa diambil kesimpulan apakah pengunjung cukup tertarik dengan artikel-artikel lain di website kita. Jika poin 1 dan 2 mengacu pada judul artikel yang sama, secara kasar bisa disimpulkan bahwa konten di website kurang menarik perhatian pengunjung
> FUNGSI DAN MANFAAT GOOGLE ANALISTICS
“It was really nice to play with other women and not have this underlying tone of being at each other’s throats.”ay 4, 2015 â€˜Game of Thronesâ€™ Q&A: Keisha Castle-Hughes on the Tao of the Sand Snakes | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016
Imagine an elite professional services firm with a high-performing, workaholic culture. Everyone is expected to turn on a dime to serve a client, travel at a moment’s notice, and be available pretty much every evening and weekend. It can make for a grueling work life, but at the highest levels of accounting, law, investment banking and consulting firms, it is just the way things are.
Except for one dirty little secret: Some of the people ostensibly turning in those 80- or 90-hour workweeks, particularly men, may just be faking it.
Many of them were, at least, at one elite consulting firm studied by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. It’s impossible to know if what she learned at that unidentified consulting firm applies across the world of work more broadly. But her research, published in the academic journal Organization Science, offers a way to understand how the professional world differs between men and women, and some of the ways a hard-charging culture that emphasizes long hours above all can make some companies worse off.
Ms. Reid interviewed more than 100 people in the American offices of a global consulting firm and had access to performance reviews and internal human resources documents. At the firm there was a strong culture around long hours and responding to clients promptly.
“When the client needs me to be somewhere, I just have to be there,” said one of the consultants Ms. Reid interviewed. “And if you can’t be there, it’s probably because you’ve got another client meeting at the same time. You know it’s tough to say I can’t be there because my son had a Cub Scout meeting.”
Some people fully embraced this culture and put in the long hours, and they tended to be top performers. Others openly pushed back against it, insisting upon lighter and more flexible work hours, or less travel; they were punished in their performance reviews.
The third group is most interesting. Some 31 percent of the men and 11 percent of the women whose records Ms. Reid examined managed to achieve the benefits of a more moderate work schedule without explicitly asking for it.
They made an effort to line up clients who were local, reducing the need for travel. When they skipped work to spend time with their children or spouse, they didn’t call attention to it. One team on which several members had small children agreed among themselves to cover for one another so that everyone could have more flexible hours.
A male junior manager described working to have repeat consulting engagements with a company near enough to his home that he could take care of it with day trips. “I try to head out by 5, get home at 5:30, have dinner, play with my daughter,” he said, adding that he generally kept weekend work down to two hours of catching up on email.
Despite the limited hours, he said: “I know what clients are expecting. So I deliver above that.” He received a high performance review and a promotion.
What is fascinating about the firm Ms. Reid studied is that these people, who in her terminology were “passing” as workaholics, received performance reviews that were as strong as their hyper-ambitious colleagues. For people who were good at faking it, there was no real damage done by their lighter workloads.
It calls to mind the episode of “Seinfeld” in which George Costanza leaves his car in the parking lot at Yankee Stadium, where he works, and gets a promotion because his boss sees the car and thinks he is getting to work earlier and staying later than anyone else. (The strategy goes awry for him, and is not recommended for any aspiring partners in a consulting firm.)
A second finding is that women, particularly those with young children, were much more likely to request greater flexibility through more formal means, such as returning from maternity leave with an explicitly reduced schedule. Men who requested a paternity leave seemed to be punished come review time, and so may have felt more need to take time to spend with their families through those unofficial methods.
The result of this is easy to see: Those specifically requesting a lighter workload, who were disproportionately women, suffered in their performance reviews; those who took a lighter workload more discreetly didn’t suffer. The maxim of “ask forgiveness, not permission” seemed to apply.
It would be dangerous to extrapolate too much from a study at one firm, but Ms. Reid said in an interview that since publishing a summary of her research in Harvard Business Review she has heard from people in a variety of industries describing the same dynamic.
High-octane professional service firms are that way for a reason, and no one would doubt that insane hours and lots of travel can be necessary if you’re a lawyer on the verge of a big trial, an accountant right before tax day or an investment banker advising on a huge merger.
But the fact that the consultants who quietly lightened their workload did just as well in their performance reviews as those who were truly working 80 or more hours a week suggests that in normal times, heavy workloads may be more about signaling devotion to a firm than really being more productive. The person working 80 hours isn’t necessarily serving clients any better than the person working 50.
In other words, maybe the real problem isn’t men faking greater devotion to their jobs. Maybe it’s that too many companies reward the wrong things, favoring the illusion of extraordinary effort over actual productivity.
Last summer at a writers’ workshop in Oregon, the novelists Anthony Doerr, Karen Russell and Elissa Schappell were chatting over cocktails when they realized they had all published work in the same magazine. It wasn’t one of the usual literary outlets, like Tin House, The Paris Review or The New Yorker. It was Rhapsody, an in-flight magazine for United Airlines.
It seemed like a weird coincidence. Then again, considering Rhapsody’s growing roster of A-list fiction writers, maybe not. Since its first issue hit plane cabins a year and a half ago, Rhapsody has published original works by literary stars like Joyce Carol Oates, Rick Moody, Amy Bloom, Emma Straub and Mr. Doerr, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction two weeks ago.
As airlines try to distinguish their high-end service with luxuries like private sleeping chambers, showers, butler service and meals from five-star chefs, United Airlines is offering a loftier, more cerebral amenity to its first-class and business-class passengers: elegant prose by prominent novelists. There are no airport maps or disheartening lists of in-flight meal and entertainment options in Rhapsody. Instead, the magazine has published ruminative first-person travel accounts, cultural dispatches and probing essays about flight by more than 30 literary fiction writers.
An airline might seem like an odd literary patron. But as publishers and writers look for new ways to reach readers in a shaky retail climate, many have formed corporate alliances with transit companies, including American Airlines, JetBlue and Amtrak, that provide a captive audience.
Mark Krolick, United Airlines’ managing director of marketing and product development, said the quality of the writing in Rhapsody brings a patina of sophistication to its first-class service, along with other opulent touches like mood lighting, soft music and a branded scent.
“The high-end leisure or business-class traveler has higher expectations, even in the entertainment we provide,” he said.
Some of Rhapsody’s contributing writers say they were lured by the promise of free airfare and luxury accommodations provided by United, as well as exposure to an elite audience of some two million first-class and business-class travelers.
“It’s not your normal Park Slope Community Bookstore types who read Rhapsody,” Mr. Moody, author of the 1994 novel “The Ice Storm,” who wrote an introspective, philosophical piece about traveling to the Aran Islands of Ireland for Rhapsody, said in an email. “I’m not sure I myself am in that Rhapsody demographic, but I would like them to buy my books one day.”
In addition to offering travel perks, the magazine pays well and gives writers freedom, within reason, to choose their subject matter and write with style. Certain genres of flight stories are off limits, naturally: no plane crashes or woeful tales of lost luggage or rude flight attendants, and nothing too risqué.
“We’re not going to have someone write about joining the mile-high club,” said Jordan Heller, the editor in chief of Rhapsody. “Despite those restrictions, we’ve managed to come up with a lot of high-minded literary content.”
Guiding writers toward the right idea occasionally requires some gentle prodding. When Rhapsody’s executive editor asked Ms. Russell to contribute an essay about a memorable flight experience, she first pitched a story about the time she was chaperoning a group of teenagers on a trip to Europe, and their delayed plane sat at the airport in New York for several hours while other passengers got progressively drunker.
“He pointed out that disaster flights are not what people want to read about when they’re in transit, and very diplomatically suggested that maybe people want to read something that casts air travel in a more positive light,” said Ms. Russell, whose novel “Swamplandia!” was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.
She turned in a nostalgia-tinged essay about her first flight on a trip to Disney World when she was 6. “The Magic Kingdom was an anticlimax,” she wrote. “What ride could compare to that first flight?”
Ms. Oates also wrote about her first flight, in a tiny yellow propeller plane piloted by her father. The novelist Joyce Maynard told of the constant disappointment of never seeing her books in airport bookstores and the thrill of finally spotting a fellow plane passenger reading her novel “Labor Day.” Emily St. John Mandel, who was a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction last year, wrote about agonizing over which books to bring on a long flight.
“There’s nobody that’s looked down their noses at us as an in-flight magazine,” said Sean Manning, the magazine’s executive editor. “As big as these people are in the literary world, there’s still this untapped audience for them of luxury travelers.”
United is one of a handful of companies showcasing work by literary writers as a way to elevate their brands and engage customers. Chipotle has printed original work from writers like Toni Morrison, Jeffrey Eugenides and Barbara Kingsolver on its disposable cups and paper bags. The eyeglass company Warby Parker hosts parties for authors and sells books from 14 independent publishers in its stores.
JetBlue offers around 40 e-books from HarperCollins and Penguin Random House on its free wireless network, allowing passengers to read free samples and buy and download books. JetBlue will start offering 11 digital titles from Simon & Schuster soon. Amtrak recently forged an alliance with Penguin Random House to provide free digital samples from 28 popular titles, which passengers can buy and download over Amtrak’s admittedly spotty wireless service.
Amtrak is becoming an incubator for literary talent in its own right. Last year, it started a residency program, offering writers a free long-distance train trip and complimentary food. More than 16,000 writers applied and 24 made the cut.
Like Amtrak, Rhapsody has found that writers are eager to get onboard. On a rainy spring afternoon, Rhapsody’s editorial staff sat around a conference table discussing the June issue, which will feature an essay by the novelist Hannah Pittard and an unpublished short story by the late Elmore Leonard.
“Do you have that photo of Elmore Leonard? Can I see it?” Mr. Heller, the editor in chief, asked Rhapsody’s design director, Christos Hannides. Mr. Hannides slid it across the table and noted that they also had a photograph of cowboy spurs. “It’s very simple; it won’t take away from the literature,” he said.
Rhapsody’s office, an open space with exposed pipes and a vaulted brick ceiling, sits in Dumbo at the epicenter of literary Brooklyn, in the same converted tea warehouse as the literary journal N+1 and the digital publisher Atavist. Two of the magazine’s seven staff members hold graduate degrees in creative writing. Mr. Manning, the executive editor, has published a memoir and edited five literary anthologies.
Mr. Manning said Rhapsody was conceived from the start as a place for literary novelists to write with voice and style, and nobody had been put off that their work would live in plane cabins and airport lounges.
Still, some contributors say they wish the magazine were more widely circulated.
“I would love it if I could read it,” said Ms. Schappell, a Brooklyn-based novelist who wrote a feature story for Rhapsody’s inaugural issue. “But I never fly first class.”Rhapsody, a Lofty Literary Journal, Perused at 39,000 Feet | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016
From sea to shining sea, or at least from one side of the Hudson to the other, politicians you have barely heard of are being accused of wrongdoing. There were so many court proceedings involving public officials on Monday that it was hard to keep up.
In Newark, two underlings of Gov. Chris Christie were arraigned on charges that they were in on the truly deranged plot to block traffic leading onto the George Washington Bridge.
Ten miles away, in Lower Manhattan, Dean G. Skelos, the leader of the New York State Senate, and his son, Adam B. Skelos, were arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on accusations of far more conventional political larceny, involving a job with a sewer company for the son and commissions on title insurance and bond work.
The younger man managed to receive a 150 percent pay increase from the sewer company even though, as he said on tape, he “literally knew nothing about water or, you know, any of that stuff,” according to a criminal complaint the United States attorney’s office filed.
The success of Adam Skelos, 32, was attributed by prosecutors to his father’s influence as the leader of the Senate and as a potentate among state Republicans. The indictment can also be read as one of those unfailingly sad tales of a father who cannot stop indulging a grown son. The senator himself is not alleged to have profited from the schemes, except by being relieved of the burden of underwriting Adam.
The bridge traffic caper is its own species of crazy; what distinguishes the charges against the two Skeloses is the apparent absence of a survival instinct. It is one thing not to know anything about water or that stuff. More remarkable, if true, is the fact that the sewer machinations continued even after the former New York Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, was charged in January with taking bribes disguised as fees.
It was by then common gossip in political and news media circles that Senator Skelos, a Republican, the counterpart in the Senate to Mr. Silver, a Democrat, in the Assembly, could be next in line for the criminal dock. “Stay tuned,” the United States attorney, Preet Bharara said, leaving not much to the imagination.
Even though the cat had been unmistakably belled, Skelos father and son continued to talk about how to advance the interests of the sewer company, though the son did begin to use a burner cellphone, the kind people pay for in cash, with no traceable contracts.
That was indeed prudent, as prosecutors had been wiretapping the cellphones of both men. But it would seem that the burner was of limited value, because by then the prosecutors had managed to secure the help of a business executive who agreed to record calls with the Skeloses. It would further seem that the business executive was more attentive to the perils of pending investigations than the politician.
Through the end of the New York State budget negotiations in March, the hopes of the younger Skelos rested on his father’s ability to devise legislation that would benefit the sewer company. That did not pan out. But Senator Skelos did boast that he had haggled with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, in a successful effort to raise a $150 million allocation for Long Island to $550 million, for what the budget called “transformative economic development projects.” It included money for the kind of work done by the sewer company.
The lawyer for Adam Skelos said he was not guilty and would win in court. Senator Skelos issued a ringing declaration that he was unequivocally innocent.
THIS was also the approach taken in New Jersey by Bill Baroni, a man of great presence and eloquence who stopped outside the federal courthouse to note that he had taken risks as a Republican by bucking his party to support paid family leave, medical marijuana and marriage equality. “I would never risk my career, my job, my reputation for something like this,” Mr. Baroni said. “I am an innocent man.”
The lawyer for his co-defendant, Bridget Anne Kelly, the former deputy chief of staff to Mr. Christie, a Republican, said that she would strongly rebut the charges.
Perhaps they had nothing to do with the lane closings. But neither Mr. Baroni nor Ms. Kelly addressed the question of why they did not return repeated calls from the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., begging them to stop the traffic tie-ups, over three days.
That silence was a low moment. But perhaps New York hit bottom faster. Senator Skelos, the prosecutors charged, arranged to meet Long Island politicians at the wake of Wenjian Liu, a New York City police officer shot dead in December, to press for payments to the company employing his son.
Sometimes it seems as though for some people, the only thing to be ashamed of is shame itself.Finding Scandal in New York and New Jersey, but No Shame | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016
Gagne wrestled professionally from the late 1940s until the 1980s and was a transitional figure between the early 20th century barnstormers and the steroidal sideshows of todayVerne Gagne, Wrestler Who Grappled Through Two Eras, Dies at 89 | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016
Ms. Rendell was a prolific writer of intricately plotted mystery novels that combined psychological insight, social conscience and teeth-chattering terror.Ruth Rendell, Novelist Who Thrilled and Educated, Dies at 85 | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016
Since a white police officer, Darren Wilson fatally shot unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, in a confrontation last August in Ferguson, Mo., there have been many other cases in which the police have shot and killed suspects, some of them unarmed. Mr. Brown's death set off protests throughout the country, pushing law enforcement into the spotlight and sparking a public debate on police tactics. Here is a selection of police shootings that have been reported by news organizations since Mr. Brown's death. In some cases, investigations are continuing.
BEIJING (AP) — The head of Taiwan's Nationalists reaffirmed the party's support for eventual unification with the mainland when he met Monday with Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of continuing rapprochement between the former bitter enemies.
Nationalist Party Chairman Eric Chu, a likely presidential candidate next year, also affirmed Taiwan's desire to join the proposed Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank during the meeting in Beijing. China claims Taiwan as its own territory and doesn't want the island to join using a name that might imply it is an independent country.
Chu's comments during his meeting with Xi were carried live on Hong Kong-based broadcaster Phoenix Television.
The Nationalists were driven to Taiwan by Mao Zedong's Communists during the Chinese civil war in 1949, leading to decades of hostility between the sides. Chu, who took over as party leader in January, is the third Nationalist chairman to visit the mainland and the first since 2009.
Relations between the communist-ruled mainland and the self-governing democratic island of Taiwan began to warm in the 1990s, partly out of their common opposition to Taiwan's formal independence from China, a position advocated by the island's Democratic Progressive Party.
Despite increasingly close economic ties, the prospect of political unification has grown increasingly unpopular on Taiwan, especially with younger voters. Opposition to the Nationalists' pro-China policies was seen as a driver behind heavy local electoral defeats for the party last year that led to Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou resigning as party chairman.Taiwan party leader affirms eventual reunion with China | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016
Public perceptions of race relations in America have grown substantially more negative in the aftermath of the death of a young black man who was injured while in police custody in Baltimore and the subsequent unrest, far eclipsing the sentiment recorded in the wake of turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., last summer.
Americans are also increasingly likely to say that the police are more apt to use deadly force against a black person, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll finds.
The poll findings highlight the challenges for local leaders and police officials in trying to maintain order while sustaining faith in the criminal justice system in a racially polarized nation.
Sixty-one percent of Americans now say race relations in this country are generally bad. That figure is up sharply from 44 percent after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown and the unrest that followed in Ferguson in August, and 43 percent in December. In a CBS News poll just two months ago, 38 percent said race relations were generally bad. Current views are by far the worst of Barack Obama’s presidency.
The negative sentiment is echoed by broad majorities of blacks and whites alike, a stark change from earlier this year, when 58 percent of blacks thought race relations were bad, but just 35 percent of whites agreed. In August, 48 percent of blacks and 41 percent of whites said they felt that way.
Looking ahead, 44 percent of Americans think race relations are worsening, up from 36 percent in December. Forty-one percent of blacks and 46 percent of whites think so. Pessimism among whites has increased 10 points since December.
The poll finds that profound racial divisions in views of how the police use deadly force remain. Blacks are more than twice as likely to say police in most communities are more apt to use deadly force against a black person — 79 percent of blacks say so compared with 37 percent of whites. A slim majority of whites say race is not a factor in a police officer’s decision to use deadly force.
Overall, 44 percent of Americans say deadly force is more likely to be used against a black person, up from 37 percent in August and 40 percent in December.
Blacks also remain far more likely than whites to say they feel mostly anxious about the police in their community. Forty-two percent say so, while 51 percent feel mostly safe. Among whites, 8 in 10 feel mostly safe.
One proposal to address the matter — having on-duty police officers wear body cameras — receives overwhelming support. More than 9 in 10 whites and blacks alike favor it.
Asked specifically about the situation in Baltimore, most Americans expressed at least some confidence that the investigation by local authorities would be conducted fairly. But while nearly two-thirds of whites think so, fewer than half of blacks agree. Still, more blacks are confident now than were in August regarding the investigation in Ferguson. On Friday, six members of the police force involved in the arrest of Mr. Gray were charged with serious offenses, including manslaughter. The poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday; results from before charges were announced are similar to those from after.
Reaction to the recent turmoil in Baltimore, however, is similar among blacks and whites. Most Americans, 61 percent, say the unrest after Mr. Gray’s death was not justified. That includes 64 percent of whites and 57 percent of blacks.
The nationwide poll was conducted from April 30 to May 3 on landlines and cellphones with 1,027 adults, including 793 whites and 128 blacks. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points for all adults, four percentage points for whites and nine percentage points for blacks. See the full poll here.
Pronovost, who played for the Red Wings, was not a prolific scorer, but he was a consummate team player with bruising checks and fearless bursts up the ice that could puncture a defense.Marcel Pronovost, 84, Dies; Hall of Famer Shared in Five N.H.L. Titles | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016
Mr. King sang for the Drifters and found success as a solo performer with hits like “Spanish Harlem.”Ben E. King, Soulful Singer of â€˜Stand by Me,â€™ Dies at 76 | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016
Ms. Meadows was the older sister of Audrey Meadows, who played Alice Kramden on “The Honeymooners.”Jayne Meadows, Actress and Steve Allenâ€™s Wife and Co-Star, Dies at 95 | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016
The live music at the Vice Media party on Friday shook the room. Shane Smith, Vice’s chief executive, was standing near the stage — with a drink in his hand, pants sagging, tattoos showing — watching the rapper-cum-chef Action Bronson make pizzas.
The event was an after-party, a happy-hour bacchanal for the hundreds of guests who had come for Vice’s annual presentation to advertisers and agencies that afternoon, part of the annual frenzy for ad dollars called the Digital Content NewFronts. Mr. Smith had spoken there for all of five minutes before running a slam-bang highlight reel of the company’s shows that had titles like “Weediquette” and “Gaycation.”
In the last year, Vice has secured $500 million in financing and signed deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars with established media companies like HBO that are eager to engage the young viewers Vice attracts. Vice said it was now worth at least $4 billion, with nearly $1 billion in projected revenue for 2015. It is a long way from Vice’s humble start as a free magazine in 1994.
But even as cash flows freely in Vice’s direction, the company is trying to keep its brash, insurgent image. At the party on Friday, it plied guests with beers and cocktails. Its apparently unrehearsed presentation to advertisers was peppered with expletives. At one point, the director Spike Jonze, a longtime Vice collaborator, asked on stage if Mr. Smith had been drinking.
“My assistant tried to cut me off,” Mr. Smith replied. “I’m on buzz control.”
Now, Vice is on the verge of getting its own cable channel, which would give the company a traditional outlet for its slate of non-news programming. If all goes as planned, A&E Networks, the television group owned by Hearst and Disney, will turn over its History Channel spinoff, H2, to Vice.
The deal’s announcement was expected last week, but not all of A&E’s distribution partners — the cable and satellite TV companies that carry the network’s channels — have signed off on the change, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks were private.
A cable channel would be a further step in a transformation for Vice, from bad-boy digital upstart to mainstream media company.
Keen for the core audience of young men who come to Vice, media giants like 21st Century Fox, Time Warner and Disney all showed interest in the company last year. Vice ultimately secured $500 million in financing from A&E Networks and Technology Crossover Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has invested in Facebook and Netflix.
Those investments valued Vice at more than $2.5 billion. (In 2013, Fox bought a 5 percent stake for $70 million.)
Then in March, HBO announced that it had signed a multiyear deal to broadcast a daily half-hour Vice newscast. Vice already produces a weekly newsmagazine show, called “Vice,” for the network. That show will extend its run through 2018, with an increase to 35 episodes a year, from 14.
Michael Lombardo, HBO’s president for programming, said when the deal was announced that it was “certainly one of our biggest investments with hours on the air.”
Vice, based in Brooklyn, also recently signed a multiyear $100 million deal with Rogers Communications, a Canadian media conglomerate, to produce original content for TV, smartphone and desktop viewers.
Vice’s finances are private, but according to an internal document reviewed by The New York Times and verified by a person familiar with the company’s financials, the company is on track to make about $915 million in revenue this year.
It brought in $545 million in a strong first quarter, which included portions of the new HBO deal and the Rogers deal, according to the document. More of its revenue now comes from these types of content partnerships, compared with the branded content deals that made up much of its revenue a year ago, the company said.
Mr. Smith said the company was worth at least $4 billion. If the valuation gets much higher, he said he would consider taking the company public.
“I don’t care about money; we have plenty of money,” Mr. Smith, who is Vice’s biggest shareholder, said in an interview after the presentation on Friday. “I care about strategic deals.”
In the United States, Vice Media had 35.2 million unique visitors across its sites in March, according to comScore.
The third season of Vice’s weekly HBO show has averaged 1.8 million viewers per episode, including reruns, through April 12, according to Brad Adgate, the director of research at Horizon Media. (Vice said the show attracted three million weekly viewers when repeat broadcasts, online and on-demand viewings were included.)
For years, Mr. Smith has criticized traditional TV, calling it slow and unable to draw younger viewers. But if all the deals Vice has struck are to work out, Mr. Smith may have to play more by the rules of traditional media. James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s son and a member of Vice’s board, was at the company’s presentation on Friday, as were other top media executives.
“They know they need people like me to help them, but they can’t get out of their own way,” Mr. Smith said in the interview Friday. “My only real frustration is we’re used to being incredibly dynamic, and they’re not incredibly dynamic.”
With its own television channel in the United States, Vice would have something it has long coveted even as traditional media companies are looking beyond TV. Last year, Vice’s deal with Time Warner failed in part because the two companies could not agree on how much control Vice would have over a 24-hour television network.
Vice said it intended to fill its new channel with non-news programming. The company plans to have sports shows, fashion shows, food shows and the “Gaycation” travel show with the actress Ellen Page. It is also in talks with Kanye West about a show.
It remains to be seen whether Vice’s audience will watch a traditional cable channel. Still, Vice has effectively presold all of the ad spots to two of the biggest advertising agencies for the first three years, Mr. Smith said.
In the meantime, Mr. Smith is enjoying Vice’s newfound role as a potential savior of traditional media companies.
“I’m a C.E.O. of a content company,” Mr. Smith said before he caught a flight to Las Vegas for the boxing match on Saturday between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. “If it stops being fun, then why are you doing it?”As Vice Moves More to TV, It Tries to Keep Brash Voice | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016
THE WRITERS ASHLEY AND JAQUAVIS COLEMAN know the value of a good curtain-raiser. The couple have co-authored dozens of novels, and they like to start them with a bang: a headlong action sequence, a blast of violence or sex that rocks readers back on their heels. But the Colemans concede they would be hard-pressed to dream up anything more gripping than their own real-life opening scene.
In the summer of 2001, JaQuavis Coleman was a 16-year-old foster child in Flint, Mich., the former auto-manufacturing mecca that had devolved, in the wake of General Motors’ plant closures, into one of the country’s most dangerous cities, with a decimated economy and a violent crime rate more than three times the national average. When JaQuavis was 8, social services had removed him from his mother’s home. He spent years bouncing between foster families. At 16, JaQuavis was also a businessman: a crack dealer with a network of street-corner peddlers in his employ.
One day that summer, JaQuavis met a fellow dealer in a parking lot on Flint’s west side. He was there to make a bulk sale of a quarter-brick, or “nine-piece” — a nine-ounce parcel of cocaine, with a street value of about $11,000. In the middle of the transaction, JaQuavis heard the telltale chirp of a walkie-talkie. His customer, he now realized, was an undercover policeman. JaQuavis jumped into his car and spun out onto the road, with two unmarked police cars in pursuit. He didn’t want to get into a high-speed chase, so he whipped his car into a church parking lot and made a run for it, darting into an alleyway behind a row of small houses, where he tossed the quarter-brick into some bushes. When JaQuavis reached the small residential street on the other side of the houses, he was greeted by the police, who handcuffed him and went to search behind the houses where, they told him, they were certain he had ditched the drugs. JaQuavis had been dealing since he was 12, had amassed more than $100,000 and had never been arrested. Now, he thought: It’s over.
But when the police looked in the bushes, they couldn’t find any cocaine. They interrogated JaQuavis, who denied having ever possessed or sold drugs. They combed the backyard alley some more. After an hour of fruitless efforts, the police were forced to unlock the handcuffs and release their suspect.
JaQuavis was baffled by the turn of events until the next day, when he received a phone call. The previous afternoon, a 15-year-old girl had been sitting in her home on the west side of Flint when she heard sirens. She looked out of the window of her bedroom, and watched a young man throw a package in the bushes behind her house. She recognized him. He was a high school classmate — a handsome, charismatic boy whom she had admired from afar. The girl crept outside and grabbed the bundle, which she hid in her basement. “I have something that belongs to you,” Ashley Snell told JaQuavis Coleman when she reached him by phone. “You wanna come over here and pick it up?”
In the Colemans’ first novel, “Dirty Money” (2005), they told a version of this story. The outline was the same: the drug deal gone bad, the dope chucked in the bushes, the fateful phone call. To the extent that the authors took poetic license, it was to tone down the meet-cute improbability of the true-life events. In “Dirty Money,” the girl, Anari, and the crack dealer, Maurice, circle each other warily for a year or so before coupling up. But the facts of Ashley and JaQuavis’s romance outstripped pulp fiction. They fell in love more or less at first sight, moved into their own apartment while still in high school and were married in 2008. “We were together from the day we met,” Ashley says. “I don’t think we’ve spent more than a week apart in total over the past 14 years.”
That partnership turned out to be creative and entrepreneurial as well as romantic. Over the past decade, the Colemans have published nearly 50 books, sometimes as solo writers, sometimes under pseudonyms, but usually as collaborators with a byline that has become a trusted brand: “Ashley & JaQuavis.” They are marquee stars of urban fiction, or street lit, a genre whose inner-city settings and lurid mix of crime, sex and sensationalism have earned it comparisons to gangsta rap. The emergence of street lit is one of the big stories in recent American publishing, a juggernaut that has generated huge sales by catering to a readership — young, black and, for the most part, female — that historically has been ill-served by the book business. But the genre is also widely maligned. Street lit is subject to a kind of triple snobbery: scorned by literati who look down on genre fiction generally, ignored by a white publishing establishment that remains largely indifferent to black books and disparaged by African-American intellectuals for poor writing, coarse values and trafficking in racial stereotypes.
But if a certain kind of cultural prestige is shut off to the Colemans, they have reaped other rewards. They’ve built a large and loyal fan base, which gobbles up the new Ashley & JaQuavis titles that arrive every few months. Many of those books are sold at street-corner stands and other off-the-grid venues in African-American neighborhoods, a literary gray market that doesn’t register a blip on best-seller tallies. Yet the Colemans’ most popular series now regularly crack the trade fiction best-seller lists of The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. For years, the pair had no literary agent; they sold hundreds of thousands of books without banking a penny in royalties. Still, they have earned millions of dollars, almost exclusively from cash-for-manuscript deals negotiated directly with independent publishing houses. In short, though little known outside of the world of urban fiction, the Colemans are one of America’s most successful literary couples, a distinction they’ve achieved, they insist, because of their work’s gritty authenticity and their devotion to a primal literary virtue: the power of the ripping yarn.
“When you read our books, you’re gonna realize: ‘Ashley & JaQuavis are storytellers,’ ” says Ashley. “Our tales will get your heart pounding.”
THE COLEMANS’ HOME BASE — the cottage from which they operate their cottage industry — is a spacious four-bedroom house in a genteel suburb about 35 miles north of downtown Detroit. The house is plush, but when I visited this past winter, it was sparsely appointed. The couple had just recently moved in, and had only had time to fully furnish the bedroom of their 4-year-old son, Quaye.
In conversation, Ashley and JaQuavis exude both modesty and bravado: gratitude for their good fortune and bootstrappers’ pride in having made their own luck. They talk a lot about their time in the trenches, the years they spent as a drug dealer and “ride-or-die girl” tandem. In Flint they learned to “grind hard.” Writing, they say, is merely a more elevated kind of grind.
“Instead of hitting the block like we used to, we hit the laptops,” says Ashley. “I know what every word is worth. So while I’m writing, I’m like: ‘Okay, there’s a hundred dollars. There’s a thousand dollars. There’s five thousand dollars.’ ”
They maintain a rigorous regimen. They each try to write 5,000 words per day, five days a week. The writers stagger their shifts: JaQuavis goes to bed at 7 p.m. and wakes up early, around 3 or 4 in the morning, to work while his wife and child sleep. Ashley writes during the day, often in libraries or at Starbucks.
They divide the labor in other ways. Chapters are divvied up more or less equally, with tasks assigned according to individual strengths. (JaQuavis typically handles character development. Ashley loves writing murder scenes.) The results are stitched together, with no editorial interference from one author in the other’s text. The real work, they contend, is the brainstorming. The Colemans spend weeks mapping out their plot-driven books — long conversations that turn into elaborate diagrams on dry-erase boards. “JaQuavis and I are so close, it makes the process real easy,” says Ashley. “Sometimes when I’m thinking of something, a plot point, he’ll say it out loud, and I’m like: ‘Wait — did I say that?’ ”
Their collaboration developed by accident, and on the fly. Both were bookish teenagers. Ashley read lots of Judy Blume and John Grisham; JaQuavis liked Shakespeare, Richard Wright and “Atlas Shrugged.” (Their first official date was at a Borders bookstore, where Ashley bought “The Coldest Winter Ever,” the Sister Souljah novel often credited with kick-starting the contemporary street-lit movement.) In 2003, Ashley, then 17, was forced to terminate an ectopic pregnancy. She was bedridden for three weeks, and to provide distraction and boost her spirits, JaQuavis challenged his girlfriend to a writing contest. “She just wasn’t talking. She was laying in bed. I said, ‘You know what? I bet you I could write a better book than you.’ My wife is real competitive. So I said, ‘Yo, all right, $500 bet.’ And I saw her eyes spark, like, ‘What?! You can’t write no better book than me!’ So I wrote about three chapters. She wrote about three chapters. Two days later, we switched.”
The result, hammered out in a few days, would become “Dirty Money.” Two years later, when Ashley and JaQuavis were students at Ferris State University in Western Michigan, they sold the manuscript to Urban Books, a street-lit imprint founded by the best-selling author Carl Weber. At the time, JaQuavis was still making his living selling drugs. When Ashley got the phone call informing her that their book had been bought, she assumed they’d hit it big, and flushed more than $10,000 worth of cocaine down the toilet. Their advance was a mere $4,000.
Those advances would soon increase, eventually reaching five and six figures. The Colemans built their career, JaQuavis says, in a manner that made sense to him as a veteran dope peddler: by flooding the street with product. From the start, they were prolific, churning out books at a rate of four or five a year. Their novels made their way into stores; the now-defunct chain Waldenbooks, which had stores in urban areas typically bypassed by booksellers, was a major engine of the street-lit market. But Ashley and JaQuavis took advantage of distribution channels established by pioneering urban fiction authors such as Teri Woods and Vickie Stringer, and a network of street-corner tables, magazine stands, corner shops and bodegas. Like rappers who establish their bona fides with gray-market mixtapes, street-lit authors use this system to circumnavigate industry gatekeepers, bringing their work straight to the genre’s core readership. But urban fiction has other aficionados, in less likely places. “Our books are so popular in the prison system,” JaQuavis says. “We’re banned in certain penitentiaries. Inmates fight over the books — there are incidents, you know? I have loved ones in jail, and they’re like: ‘Yo, your books can’t come in here. It’s against the rules.’ ”
The appeal of the Colemans’ work is not hard to fathom. The books are formulaic and taut; they deliver the expected goods efficiently and exuberantly. The titles telegraph the contents: “Diary of a Street Diva,” “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” “Murderville.” The novels serve up a stream of explicit sex and violence in a slangy, tangy, profane voice. In Ashley & JaQuavis’s books people don’t get killed: they get “popped,” “laid out,” get their “cap twisted back.” The smut is constant, with emphasis on the earthy, sticky, olfactory particulars. Romance novel clichés — shuddering orgasms, heroic carnal feats, superlative sexual skill sets — are rendered in the Colemans’ punchy patois.
Subtlety, in other words, isn’t Ashley & JaQuavis’s forte. But their books do have a grainy specificity. In “The Cartel” (2008), the first novel in the Colemans’ best-selling saga of a Miami drug syndicate, they catch the sights and smells of a crack workshop in a housing project: the nostril-stinging scent of cocaine and baking soda bubbling on stovetops; the teams of women, stripped naked except for hospital masks so they can’t pilfer the merchandise, “cutting up the cooked coke on the round wood table.” The subject matter is dark, but the Colemans’ tone is not quite noir. Even in the grimmest scenes, the mood is high-spirited, with the writers palpably relishing the lewd and gory details: the bodies writhing in boudoirs and crumpling under volleys of bullets, the geysers of blood and other bodily fluids.
The luridness of street lit has made it a flashpoint, inciting controversy reminiscent of the hip-hop culture wars of the 1980s and ’90s. But the street-lit debate touches deeper historical roots, reviving decades-old arguments in black literary circles about the mandate to uplift the race and present wholesome images of African-Americans. In 1928, W. E. B. Du Bois slammed the “licentiousness” of “Home to Harlem,” Claude McKay’s rollicking novel of Harlem nightlife. McKay’s book, Du Bois wrote, “for the most part nauseates me, and after the dirtier parts of its filth I feel distinctly like taking a bath.” Similar sentiments have greeted 21st-century street lit. In a 2006 New York Times Op-Ed essay, the journalist and author Nick Chiles decried “the sexualization and degradation of black fiction.” African-American bookstores, Chiles complained, are “overrun with novels that . . . appeal exclusively to our most prurient natures — as if these nasty books were pairing off back in the stockrooms like little paperback rabbits and churning out even more graphic offspring that make Ralph Ellison books cringe into a dusty corner.”
Copulating paperbacks aside, it’s clear that the street-lit debate is about more than literature, touching on questions of paternalism versus populism, and on middle-class anxieties about the black underclass. “It’s part and parcel of black elites’ efforts to define not only a literary tradition, but a racial politics,” said Kinohi Nishikawa, an assistant professor of English and African-American Studies at Princeton University. “There has always been a sense that because African-Americans’ opportunities to represent themselves are so limited in the first place, any hint of criminality or salaciousness would necessarily be a knock on the entire racial politics. One of the pressing debates about African-American literature today is: If we can’t include writers like Ashley & JaQuavis, to what extent is the foundation of our thinking about black literature faulty? Is it just a literature for elites? Or can it be inclusive, bringing urban fiction under the purview of our umbrella term ‘African-American literature’?”
Defenders of street lit note that the genre has a pedigree: a tradition of black pulp fiction that stretches from Chester Himes, the midcentury author of hardboiled Harlem detective stories, to the 1960s and ’70s “ghetto fiction” of Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines, to the current wave of urban fiction authors. Others argue for street lit as a social good, noting that it attracts a large audience that might otherwise never read at all. Scholars like Nishikawa link street lit to recent studies showing increased reading among African-Americans. A 2014 Pew Research Center report found that a greater percentage of black Americans are book readers than whites or Latinos.
For their part, the Colemans place their work in the broader black literary tradition. “You have Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, James Baldwin — all of these traditional black writers, who wrote about the struggles of racism, injustice, inequality,” says Ashley. “We’re writing about the struggle as it happens now. It’s just a different struggle. I’m telling my story. I’m telling the struggle of a black girl from Flint, Michigan, who grew up on welfare.”
Perhaps there is a high-minded case to be made for street lit. But the virtues of Ashley & JaQuavis’s work are more basic. Their novels do lack literary polish. The writing is not graceful; there are passages of clunky exposition and sex scenes that induce guffaws and eye rolls. But the pleasure quotient is high. The books flaunt a garish brand of feminism, with women characters cast not just as vixens, but also as gangsters — cold-blooded killers, “murder mamas.” The stories are exceptionally well-plotted. “The Cartel” opens by introducing its hero, the crime boss Carter Diamond; on page 9, a gunshot spatters Diamond’s brain across the interior of a police cruiser. The book then flashes back seven years and begins to hurtle forward again — a bullet train, whizzing readers through shifting alliances, romantic entanglements and betrayals, kidnappings, shootouts with Haitian and Dominican gangsters, and a cliffhanger closing scene that leaves the novel’s heroine tied to a chair in a basement, gruesomely tortured to the edge of death. Ashley & JaQuavis’s books are not Ralph Ellison, certainly, but they build up quite a head of steam. They move.
The Colemans are moving themselves these days. They recently signed a deal with St. Martin’s Press, which will bring out the next installment in the “Cartel” series as well as new solo series by both writers. The St. Martin’s deal is both lucrative and legitimizing — a validation of Ashley and JaQuavis’s work by one of publishing’s most venerable houses. The Colemans’ ambitions have grown, as well. A recent trilogy, “Murderville,” tackles human trafficking and the blood-diamond industry in West Africa, with storylines that sweep from Sierra Leone to Mexico to Los Angeles. Increasingly, Ashley & JaQuavis are leaning on research — traveling to far-flung settings and hitting the books in the libraries — and spending less time mining their own rough-and-tumble past.
But Flint remains a source of inspiration. One evening not long ago, JaQuavis led me on a tour of his hometown: a popular roadside bar; the parking lot where he met the undercover cop for the ill-fated drug deal; Ashley’s old house, the site of his almost-arrest. He took me to a ramshackle vehicle repair shop on Flint’s west side, where he worked as a kid, washing cars. He showed me a bathroom at the rear of the garage, where, at age 12, he sneaked away to inspect the first “boulder” of crack that he ever sold. A spray-painted sign on the garage wall, which JaQuavis remembered from his time at the car wash, offered words of warning:
WHAT EVERY YOUNG MAN SHOULD KNOW
ABOUT USING A GUN:
MURDER . . . 30 Years
ARMED ROBBERY . . . 15 Years
ASSAULT . . . 15 Years
RAPE . . . 20 Years
POSSESSION . . . 5 Years
JACKING . . . 20 YEARS
“We still love Flint, Michigan,” JaQuavis says. “It’s so seedy, so treacherous. But there’s some heart in this city. This is where it all started, selling books out the box. In the days when we would get those little $40,000 advances, they’d send us a couple boxes of books for free. We would hit the streets to sell our books, right out of the car trunk. It was a hustle. It still is.”
One old neighborhood asset that the Colemans have not shaken off is swagger. “My wife is the best female writer in the game,” JaQuavis told me. “I believe I’m the best male writer in the game. I’m sleeping next to the best writer in the world. And she’s doing the same.”From T Magazine: Street Litâ€™s Power Couple | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016
Mr. Goldberg was a serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist who was married to Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook.PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016