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Tanah haram jika dimutlakkan secara umum yang dimaksudkan adalah tanah Haram Makkah. Inilah tanah yang dimuliakan oleh Allah dan Rasul-Nya shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Jika disebut Haromain, maka yang dimaksudkan adalah Makkah dan Madinah. Ibnu Qayyim Al Jauziyah menyebutkan dalam Zaadul Ma’ad, “Allah Ta’ala telah memilih beberapa tempat dan negeri, yang terbaik serta termulia adalah tanah Haram. Karena Allah Ta’ala telah memilih bagi nabinya –shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam- dan menjadikannya sebagai tempat manasik dan sebagai tempat menunaikan kewajiban. Orang dari dekat maupun jauh dari segala penjuru akan mendatangi tanah yang mulia tersebut.”

Di antara keutamaan tanah haram Makkah disebutkan dalam beberapa ayat dan hadits berikut.

Pertama: Di Makkah terdapat baitullah

Sebagaimana Allah menyebutkan mengenai do’a Nabi Allah –kholilullah (kekasih Allah)- Ibrahim ‘alaihis salam,

رَبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنْتُ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ عِنْدَ بَيْتِكَ الْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ فَاجْعَلْ أَفْئِدَةً مِنَ النَّاسِ تَهْوِي إِلَيْهِمْ وَارْزُقْهُمْ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ

“Ya Rabb kami, sesungguhnya aku telah menempatkan sebahagian keturunanku di lembah yang tidak mempunyai tanam-tanaman di dekat rumah Engkau (Baitullah) yang dihormati, ya Rabb kami (yang demikian itu) agar mereka mendirikan shalat, maka jadikanlah hati sebagian manusia cenderung kepada mereka dan beri rezkilah mereka dari buah-buahan, mudah-mudahan mereka bersyukur.” (QS. Ibrahim: 37).

Rumah pertama yang dijadikan peribadatan kepada Allah Ta’ala adalah baitullah sebagaimana disebutkan dalam ayat,

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِلْعَالَمِينَ

“Sesungguhnya rumah yang mula-mula dibangun untuk (tempat beribadat) manusia, ialah Baitullah yang di Bakkah (Mekah) yang diberkahi dan menjadi petunjuk bagi semua manusia” (QS. Ali Imran: 96).

Dan baitullah inilah yang dijadikan tempat berhaji sebagaimana disebutkan dalam ayat,

وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا

“Mengerjakan haji adalah kewajiban manusia terhadap Allah, yaitu (bagi) orang yang sanggup mengadakan perjalanan ke Baitullah” (QS. Ali Imran: 97).

Haji ini dijadikan sebagai amalan penghapus dosa yang telah lalu Dari Abu Hurairah, ia berkata bahwa ia mendengar Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam bersabda,

مَنْ حَجَّ لِلَّهِ فَلَمْ يَرْفُثْ وَلَمْ يَفْسُقْ رَجَعَ كَيَوْمِ وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ

“Siapa yang berhaji ke Ka’bah lalu tidak berkata-kata seronok dan tidak berbuat kefasikan maka dia pulang ke negerinya sebagaimana ketika dilahirkan oleh ibunya.” (Muttafaqun ‘alaih).

Sebagaimana shalat di baitullah juga dilipatgandakan. Dari Jabir, Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam bersabda,

صَلاَةٌ فِى مَسْجِدِى أَفْضَلُ مِنْ أَلْفِ صَلاَةٍ فِيمَا سِوَاهُ إِلاَّ الْمَسْجِدَ الْحَرَامَ وَصَلاَةٌ فِى الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ أَفْضَلُ مِنْ مِائَةِ أَلْفِ صَلاَةٍ فِيمَا سِوَاهُ

“Shalat di masjidku (Masjid Nabawi) lebih utama daripada 1000 shalat di masjid lainnya selain Masjidil Harom. Shalat di Masjidil Harom lebih utama daripada 100.000 shalat di masjid lainnya.” (HR. Ahmad 3/343 dan Ibnu Majah no. 1406, dari Jabir bin ‘Abdillah. Syaikh Al Albani mengatakan bahwa hadits ini shahih. Lihat Shahih At Targhib wa At Tarhib no. 1173).

Kedua: Tanah haram dijadikan tempat yang penuh rasa aman

Inilah berkat do’a Nabi Ibrahim ‘alaihis salam,

وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَذَا بَلَدًا آَمِنًا وَارْزُقْ أَهْلَهُ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ مَنْ آَمَنَ مِنْهُمْ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآَخِرِ قَالَ وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَأُمَتِّعُهُ قَلِيلًا ثُمَّ أَضْطَرُّهُ إِلَى عَذَابِ النَّارِ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ

“Dan (ingatlah), ketika Ibrahim berdoa: “Ya Rabbku, jadikanlah negeri ini, negeri yang aman sentosa, dan berikanlah rezki dari buah-buahan kepada penduduknya yang beriman di antara mereka kepada Allah dan hari kemudian. Allah berfirman: “Dan kepada orang yang kafirpun Aku beri kesenangan sementara, kemudian Aku paksa ia menjalani siksa neraka dan itulah seburuk-buruk tempat kembali“.” (QS. Al Baqarah: 126).

Begitu pula disebutkan dalam ayat lainnya,

وَمَنْ دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آَمِنًا

“Barangsiapa memasukinya (Baitullah itu) menjadi amanlah dia” (QS. Ali Imran: 97).

Kaum Quraisy di masa silam juga merasakan rasa aman ketika safar mereka,

الَّذِي أَطْعَمَهُمْ مِنْ جُوعٍ وَآَمَنَهُمْ مِنْ خَوْفٍ

“Yang telah memberi makanan kepada mereka untuk menghilangkan lapar dan mengamankan mereka dari ketakutan” (QS. Quraisy: 4).

Ketiga: Rizki begitu berlipat di tanah haram.

Inilah juga berkat do’a Nabi Ibrahim ‘alaihis salam,

رَبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنْتُ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ عِنْدَ بَيْتِكَ الْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ فَاجْعَلْ أَفْئِدَةً مِنَ النَّاسِ تَهْوِي إِلَيْهِمْ وَارْزُقْهُمْ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ

 “Ya Tuhan kami, sesungguhnya aku telah menempatkan sebahagian keturunanku di lembah yang tidak mempunyai tanam-tanaman di dekat rumah Engkau (Baitullah) yang dihormati, ya Tuhan kami (yang demikian itu) agar mereka mendirikan shalat, maka jadikanlah hati sebagian manusia cenderung kepada mereka dan beri rezkilah mereka dari buah-buahan, mudah-mudahan mereka bersyukur.” (QS. Ibrahim: 37).

Keempat: Tanah Haram tidak akan dimasuki Dajjal

Dajjal akan muncul dari Ashbahan dan akan menelusuri muka bumi. Tidak ada satu negeri pun melainkan Dajjal akan mampir di tempat tersebut. Yang dikecualikan di sini adalah Makkah dan Madinah karena malaikat akan menjaga dua kota tersebut. Dajjal tidak akan memasuki kedunya hingga akhir zaman. Dalam hadits Fathimah bin Qois radhiyallahu ‘anha disebutkan bahwa Dajjal mengatakan,

فَأَخْرُجَ فَأَسِيرَ فِى الأَرْضِ فَلاَ أَدَعَ قَرْيَةً إِلاَّ هَبَطْتُهَا فِى أَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةً غَيْرَ مَكَّةَ وَطَيْبَةَ فَهُمَا مُحَرَّمَتَانِ عَلَىَّ كِلْتَاهُمَا كُلَّمَا أَرَدْتُ أَنْ أَدْخُلَ وَاحِدَةً أَوْ وَاحِدًا مِنْهُمَا اسْتَقْبَلَنِى مَلَكٌ بِيَدِهِ السَّيْفُ صَلْتًا يَصُدُّنِى عَنْهَا وَإِنَّ عَلَى كُلِّ نَقْبٍ مِنْهَا مَلاَئِكَةً يَحْرُسُونَهَا

“Aku akan keluar dan menelusuri muka bumi. Tidaklah aku membiarkan suatu daerah kecuali pasti aku singgahi dalam masa empat puluh malam selain Makkah dan Thoybah (Madinah Nabawiyyah). Kedua kota tersebut diharamkan bagiku. Tatkala aku ingin memasuki salah satu dari dua kota tersebut, malaikat menemuiku dan menghadangku dengan pedangnya yang mengkilap. Dan di setiap jalan bukit ada malaikat yang menjaganya.” (HR. Muslim no. 2942)

Dan Dajjal tidak akan memasuki empat masjid. Dalam hadits disebutkan tentang Dajjal,

لاَ يَأْتِى أَرْبَعَةَ مَسَاجِدَ الْكَعْبَةَ وَمَسْجِدَ الرَّسُولِ والْمَسْجِدَ الأَقْصَى وَالطُّورَ

“Dajjal tidak akan memasuki empat masjid: masjid Ka’bah (masjidil Haram), masjid Rasul (masjid Nabawi), masjid Al Aqsho’, dan masjid Ath Thur.” (HR. Ahmad 5: 364. Kata Syaikh Syu’aib Al Arnauth, sanad hadits ini shahih)

Wallahu waliyyut taufiq.

 

@ Madinah An Nabawiyah, 14 Sya’ban 1433 H

Penulis: Muhammad Abduh Tuasikal

Sumber : http://muslim.or.id

Baca Artikel Lainnya : PENGETAHUAN UMUM IBADAH UMROH

FAEDAH TANAH HARAM MAKKAH
Jaksa Penuntut Umum Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (KPK) menuntut terdakwa dalam kasus dugaan suap pembangunan Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Uap (PLTU) 1.000 megawatt di Tarahan, Lampung, pada tahun 2004 lalu , Izedrik Emir Moeis, dengan pidana penjara selama empat tahun enam bulan. Menurut Jaksa Supardi, politikus PDI Perjuangan itu dianggap terbukti telah menerima suap USD423.985 dalam pembangunan enam bagian PLTU Tarahan. "Menuntut, supaya majelis hakim telah menjatuhkan pidana penjara kepada terdakwa Izedrik Emir Moeis selama empat tahun enam bulan dikurangi masa tahanan," jelas Jaksa Supardi saat membacakan tuntutan Emir, di Pengadilan Tindak Pidana Korupsi (Tipikor), Jakarta, Senin (10/3/2014). Jaksa Supardi juga telah menuntut Emir dengan pidana denda sebesar Rp200 juta. Apabila tidak dibayar, maka mantan Ketua KomiI XI DPR itu harus menjalani pidana kurungan selama lima bulan. Sebelumnya, Emir didakwa telah menerima suap lebih dari USD423.985 berikut bunga dari Alstom Power Incorporated (Amerika Serikat) dan memenangkan konsorsium Alstom Inc., Marubeni Corporation (Jepang), dan PT Alstom Energy System (Indonesia) dalam pembangunan enam bagian PLTU Tarahan melalui Presiden Direktur Pacific Resources Inc., Pirooz Muhammad Sharafih. Atas tindakannya, Emir diduga bertentangan dengan kewajiban sebagai anggota DPR yang membidangi energi,sumber daya mineral, riset dan teknologi serta lingkungan hidup.EMIR MOEIS DITUNTUT 4,5 TAHUN BUI & DENDA RP200 JUTA
Maling motor ini telah terbilang sangat cepat. Hanya ditinggal dua menit untuk kencing, motor Yamaha Mio milik SUpriadi yang berusia 55 tahun , raib digasak oleh pencuri di Jalan Irigasi, Kel. Gondrong, Kec. Cipondoh, Kota Tangerang. Karuan saja, telah melihat motor kesayangannya sudah tidak ada lagi, pria lebih dari setengah abad ini menangis sesunggukan di Polsek Cipondoh. Ia telah berharap polisi bisa meringkus pencuri motor tersebut. Supriadi, warga Kebon Jeruk, Jakarta Barat juga menjelaskan, sore itu ia baru saja mengunjungi kerabatnya di Cipondoh. Pria tua ini pun telah bermaksud kembali ke rumahnya. Rupanya di tengah jalan, dirinya merasa kebelet untuk buang air kecil. Korban kemudian meminggirkan motornya di pinggir jalan, sementara ia menepi ke kali untuk kencing. Rupanya karena terburu-buru, ia lupa mencabut kunci kontak yang ada di motor tersebut. Kesempatan ini telah dimanfaatkan oleh pencuri motor yang gentayangan di kawasan Cipondoh. Dalam hitungan detik motor milik Supriadi telah dibawa kabur. Korban yang selesai buang air kecil kaget saat melihat motornya sudah tidak ada lagi. Dibantu tukang ojek, korban telah melaporkan kasus ini ke Polsek Cipondoh. “Saya heran, cuma dua menit kencing di pinggir kali. Eh tahu-tahu motor sudah tidak ada. Saya salah, tidak mencabut kunci kontak,” katanya. Menurutnya, motor second tersebut dibeli seharga Rp6 juta di Kebon Jeruk. Kepala SPKT Polsek Cipondoh, Aipda Didi Sanusi juga menjelaskan pencurian motor sangat marak sehingga warga harus berhati-hati dan memberi kunci ganda kalau memarkirkan kendaraannya. KEHILANGAN MOTOR , PRIA TUA MENANGIS

saco-indonesia.com, Dua pelaku pejambretan yang biasa mengincar wanita pejalan kaki sebagai korban, telah dibekuk oleh petugas Polsek Pondok Aren, Tangerang Selatan, di dekat kampus Sekolah Tinggi Akuntansi Negara (STAN) Bintaro.

Kedua tersangka yakni Yakub Eko Yunianto yang berusia 17 tahun ,  dan Rudin yang berusia 25 tashun , telah diamankan oleh tim buru sergap (Buser) ketika sedang mencari mangsa di sektor 7 Bintaro. “Saat dikejar, keduanya juga sempat kabur tapi berhasil kami ringkus,” jelas Kanit Reskrim Polsek Pondok Aren Ipda SM Sagala,SH.

Menurut Sagala, mereka juga merupakan target operasi (TO) karena banyaknya laporan kasus penjambretan yang telah dilakukan oleh dua pengendara motor ke Polsek pondok Aren. “Terakhir seorang karyawati yang bernama Suci Dwi Utami telah dijambret dompetnya,” jelas Sagala.

Berdasarkan dari keterangan korban, ciri-ciri pelaku telah berhasil diidentifikasi petugas. Diketahui mereka juga merupakan warga Ciputat. Dalam beraksi keduanya berbondengan Honda Beat putih dengan cara memepet korbannya kemudian menyambar HP, dompet atau tas yang digenggam.

Tersangka juga mengaku sudah 7 kali beraksi di wilayah Pondok Aren dan Serpong. Petugas telah menyita barang bukti motor Honda Beat putih tanpa plat nomor, dompet wanita serta HP.


Editor : Dian Sukmawati

PEJAMBRET INCAR WANITA PEJALAN KAKI

LONDON, Saco-Indonesia.com — Pebalap tim Mercedes Nico Rosberg berharap dapat mengulangi kemenangan yang diperoleh di Monako pada F1 seri Kanada akhir pekan ini. Terlebih lagi, motivasi tim Mercedes sedang meningkat untuk memburu posisi tiga besar di kategori konstruktor.                

"Saya berharap momentum kemenangan di Monako terbawa ke Kanada agar kami dapat kembali merebut podium tertinggi. Seluruh tim termotivasi untuk berjuang keras dan kembali merebut kemenangan," kata Rosberg, Selasa (4/6/2013) di London.                

Dalam tiga seri terakhir, Rosberg selalu merebut posisi start terdepan di babak kualifikasi. Namun, baru di Monako Rosberg merebut kemenangan. Menurut Rosberg, dirinya akan kembali berusaha keras untuk mendapatkan posisi start terdepan. Posisi start yang baik akan memberikan keuntungan di awal lomba dan memungkinkannya memperlebar jarak dari pebalap di belakangnya.

Selain itu, kata Rosberg, setelan mobil yang tepat dan strategi balap yang jitu akan sangat berpengaruh dalam lomba. Rosberg berharap timnya memberikan setelan yang menambah downforce atau tekanan ke bawah bagi mobil agar tetap stabil di lintasan lurus panjang dan di tikungan cepat.

Sumber : crashnet/Kompas.com
Editor :Liwon Maulana(galipat)
Keinginan Rosberg Bisa Menang di Kanada

“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 ‘Game of Thrones’ Q&A: Keisha Castle-Hughes on the Tao of the Sand Snakes

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?”

Photo
Three of the nearly 50 works of urban fiction published by the Colemans over the last decade, often featuring drug deals, violence, sex and a brash kind of feminism.Credit Marko Metzinger

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.

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The roots of street lit, found in the midcentury detective novels of Chester Himes and the ‘60s and ‘70s “ghetto fiction” of Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines.Credit Marko Metzinger

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.”

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The Colemans in their new four-bedroom house in the northern suburbs of Detroit.Credit Courtesy of Ashley and JaQuavis Coleman

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 Lit’s Power Couple

The 6-foot-10 Phillips played alongside the 6-11 Rick Robey on the Wildcats team that won the 1978 N.C.A.A. men’s basketball title.

Mike Phillips, Half of Kentucky’s ‘Twin Towers’ of Basketball, Dies at 59

Ms. Pryor, who served more than two decades in the State Department, was the author of well-regarded biographies of the founder of the American Red Cross and the Confederate commander.

Elizabeth Brown Pryor, Biographer of Clara Barton and Robert E. Lee, Dies at 64

Mr. Paczynski was one of the concentration camp’s longest surviving inmates and served as the personal barber to its Nazi commandant Rudolf Höss.

Jozef Paczynski, Inmate Barber to Auschwitz Commandant, Dies at 95

GREENWICH, Conn. — Mago is in the bedroom. You can go in.

The big man lies on a hospital bed with his bare feet scraping its bottom rail. His head is propped on a scarlet pillow, the left temple dented, the right side paralyzed. His dark hair is kept just long enough to conceal the scars.

The occasional sounds he makes are understood only by his wife, but he still has that punctuating left hand. In slow motion, the fingers curl and close. A thumbs-up greeting.

Hello, Mago.

This is Magomed Abdusalamov, 34, also known as the Russian Tyson, also known as Mago. He is a former heavyweight boxer who scored four knockouts and 14 technical knockouts in his first 18 professional fights. He preferred to stand between rounds. Sitting conveyed weakness.

But Mago lost his 19th fight, his big chance, at the packed Theater at Madison Square Garden in November 2013. His 19th decision, and his last.

Now here he is, in a small bedroom in a working-class neighborhood in Greenwich, in a modest house his family rents cheap from a devoted friend. The air-pressure machine for his mattress hums like an expectant crowd.

 

Photo
 
Mike Perez, left, and Magomed Abdusalamov during the fight in which Abdusalamov was injured. Credit Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

 

Today is like any other day, except for those days when he is hurried in crisis to the hospital. Every three hours during the night, his slight wife, Bakanay, 28, has risen to turn his 6-foot-3 body — 210 pounds of dead weight. It has to be done. Infections of the gaping bedsore above his tailbone have nearly killed him.

Then, with the help of a young caretaker, Baka has gotten two of their daughters off to elementary school and settled down the toddler. Yes, Mago and Baka are blessed with all girls, but they had also hoped for a son someday.

They feed Mago as they clean him; it’s easier that way. For breakfast, which comes with a side of crushed antiseizure pills, he likes oatmeal with a squirt of Hershey’s chocolate syrup. But even oatmeal must be puréed and fed to him by spoon.

He opens his mouth to indicate more, the way a baby does. But his paralysis has made everything a choking hazard. His water needs a stirring of powdered food thickener, and still he chokes — eh-eh-eh — as he tries to cough up what will not go down.

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Mago used to drink only water. No alcohol. Not even soda. A sip of juice would be as far as he dared. Now even water betrays him.

With the caretaker’s help, Baka uses a washcloth and soap to clean his body and shampoo his hair. How handsome still, she has thought. Sometimes, in the night, she leaves the bedroom to watch old videos, just to hear again his voice in the fullness of life. She cries, wipes her eyes and returns, feigning happiness. Mago must never see her sad.

 

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 Abdusalamov's hand being massaged. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

 

When Baka finishes, Mago is cleanshaven and fresh down to his trimmed and filed toenails. “I want him to look good,” she says.

Theirs was an arranged Muslim marriage in Makhachkala, in the Russian republic of Dagestan. He was 23, she was 18 and their future hinged on boxing. Sometimes they would shadowbox in love, her David to his Goliath. You are so strong, he would tell her.

His father once told him he could either be a bandit or an athlete, but if he chose banditry, “I will kill you.” This paternal advice, Mago later told The Ventura County Reporter, “made it a very easy decision for me.”

Mago won against mediocre competition, in Moscow and Hollywood, Fla., in Las Vegas and Johnstown, Pa. He was knocked down only once, and even then, it surprised more than hurt. He scored a technical knockout in the next round.

It all led up to this: the undercard at the Garden, Mike Perez vs. Magomed Abdusalamov, 10 rounds, on HBO. A win, he believed, would improve his chances of taking on the heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who sat in the crowd of 4,600 with his fiancée, the actress Hayden Panettiere, watching.

Wearing black-and-red trunks and a green mouth guard, Mago went to work. But in the first round, a hard forearm to his left cheek rocked him. At the bell, he returned to his corner, and this time, he sat down. “I think it’s broken,” he repeatedly said in Russian.

 

Photo
 
Bakanay Abdusalamova, Abdusalamov's wife, and her injured husband and a masseur in the background. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

 

Maybe at that point, somebody — the referee, the ringside doctors, his handlers — should have stopped the fight, under a guiding principle: better one punch too early than one punch too late. But the bloody trade of blows continued into the seventh, eighth, ninth, a hand and orbital bone broken, his face transforming.

Meanwhile, in the family’s apartment in Miami, Baka forced herself to watch the broadcast. She could see it in his swollen eyes. Something was off.

After the final round, Perez raised his tattooed arms in victory, and Mago wandered off in a fog. He had taken 312 punches in about 40 minutes, for a purse of $40,000.

 

 

In the locker room, doctors sutured a cut above Mago’s left eye and tested his cognitive abilities. He did not do well. The ambulance that waits in expectation at every fight was not summoned by boxing officials.

Blood was pooling in Mago’s cranial cavity as he left the Garden. He vomited on the pavement while his handlers flagged a taxi to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. There, doctors induced a coma and removed part of his skull to drain fluids and ease the swelling.

Then came the stroke.

 

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A championship belt belonging to Abdusalamov and a card from one of his daughters. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

 

It is lunchtime now, and the aroma of puréed beef and potatoes lingers. So do the questions.

How will Mago and Baka pay the $2 million in medical bills they owe? What if their friend can no longer offer them this home? Will they win their lawsuits against the five ringside doctors, the referee, and a New York State boxing inspector? What about Mago’s future care?

Most of all: Is this it?

A napkin rests on Mago’s chest. As another spoonful of mush approaches, he opens his mouth, half-swallows, chokes, and coughs until it clears. Eh-eh-eh. Sometimes he turns bluish, but Baka never shows fear. Always happy for Mago.

Some days he is wheeled out for physical therapy or speech therapy. Today, two massage therapists come to knead his half-limp body like a pair of skilled corner men.

Soon, Mago will doze. Then his three daughters, ages 2, 6 and 9, will descend upon him to talk of their day. Not long ago, the oldest lugged his championship belt to school for a proud show-and-tell moment. Her classmates were amazed at the weight of it.

Then, tonight, there will be more puréed food and pulverized medication, more coughing, and more tender care from his wife, before sleep comes.

Goodbye, Mago.

He half-smiles, raises his one good hand, and forms a fist.

Meet Mago, Former Heavyweight

As he reflected on the festering wounds deepened by race and grievance that have been on painful display in America’s cities lately, President Obama on Monday found himself thinking about a young man he had just met named Malachi.

A few minutes before, in a closed-door round-table discussion at Lehman College in the Bronx, Mr. Obama had asked a group of black and Hispanic students from disadvantaged backgrounds what could be done to help them reach their goals. Several talked about counseling and guidance programs.

“Malachi, he just talked about — we should talk about love,” Mr. Obama told a crowd afterward, drifting away from his prepared remarks. “Because Malachi and I shared the fact that our dad wasn’t around and that sometimes we wondered why he wasn’t around and what had happened. But really, that’s what this comes down to is: Do we love these kids?”

Many presidents have governed during times of racial tension, but Mr. Obama is the first to see in the mirror a face that looks like those on the other side of history’s ledger. While his first term was consumed with the economy, war and health care, his second keeps coming back to the societal divide that was not bridged by his election. A president who eschewed focusing on race now seems to have found his voice again as he thinks about how to use his remaining time in office and beyond.

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Obama Speaks of a ‘Sense of Unfairness’

Obama Speaks of a ‘Sense of Unfairness’

At an event announcing the creation of a nonprofit focusing on young minority men, President Obama talked about the underlying reasons for recent protests in Baltimore and other cities.

By Associated Press on Publish Date May 4, 2015. Photo by Stephen Crowley/The New York Times.

In the aftermath of racially charged unrest in places like Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo., and New York, Mr. Obama came to the Bronx on Monday for the announcement of a new nonprofit organization that is being spun off from his White House initiative called My Brother’s Keeper. Staked by more than $80 million in commitments from corporations and other donors, the new group, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, will in effect provide the nucleus for Mr. Obama’s post-presidency, which will begin in January 2017.

“This will remain a mission for me and for Michelle not just for the rest of my presidency but for the rest of my life,” Mr. Obama said. “And the reason is simple,” he added. Referring to some of the youths he had just met, he said: “We see ourselves in these young men. I grew up without a dad. I grew up lost sometimes and adrift, not having a sense of a clear path. The only difference between me and a lot of other young men in this neighborhood and all across the country is that I grew up in an environment that was a little more forgiving.”

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Organizers said the new alliance already had financial pledges from companies like American Express, Deloitte, Discovery Communications and News Corporation. The money will be used to help companies address obstacles facing young black and Hispanic men, provide grants to programs for disadvantaged youths, and help communities aid their populations.

Joe Echevarria, a former chief executive of Deloitte, the accounting and consulting firm, will lead the alliance, and among those on its leadership team or advisory group are executives at PepsiCo, News Corporation, Sprint, BET and Prudential Group Insurance; former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell; Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey; former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.; the music star John Legend; the retired athletes Alonzo Mourning, Jerome Bettis and Shaquille O’Neal; and the mayors of Indianapolis, Sacramento and Philadelphia.

The alliance, while nominally independent of the White House, may face some of the same questions confronting former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she begins another presidential campaign. Some of those donating to the alliance may have interests in government action, and skeptics may wonder whether they are trying to curry favor with the president by contributing.

“The Obama administration will have no role in deciding how donations are screened and what criteria they’ll set at the alliance for donor policies, because it’s an entirely separate entity,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Air Force One en route to New York. But he added, “I’m confident that the members of the board are well aware of the president’s commitment to transparency.”

The alliance was in the works before the disturbances last week after the death of Freddie Gray, the black man who suffered fatal injuries while in police custody in Baltimore, but it reflected the evolution of Mr. Obama’s presidency. For him, in a way, it is coming back to issues that animated him as a young community organizer and politician. It was his own struggle with race and identity, captured in his youthful memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” that stood him apart from other presidential aspirants.

But that was a side of him that he kept largely to himself through the first years of his presidency while he focused on other priorities like turning the economy around, expanding government-subsidized health care and avoiding electoral land mines en route to re-election.

After securing a second term, Mr. Obama appeared more emboldened. Just a month after his 2013 inauguration, he talked passionately about opportunity and race with a group of teenage boys in Chicago, a moment aides point to as perhaps the first time he had spoken about these issues in such a personal, powerful way as president. A few months later, he publicly lamented the death of Trayvon Martin, a black Florida teenager, saying that “could have been me 35 years ago.”

Photo
 
President Obama on Monday with Darinel Montero, a student at Bronx International High School who introduced him before remarks at Lehman College in the Bronx. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

That case, along with public ruptures of anger over police shootings in Ferguson and elsewhere, have pushed the issue of race and law enforcement onto the public agenda. Aides said they imagined that with his presidency in its final stages, Mr. Obama might be thinking more about what comes next and causes he can advance as a private citizen.

That is not to say that his public discussion of these issues has been universally welcomed. Some conservatives said he had made matters worse by seeming in their view to blame police officers in some of the disputed cases.

“President Obama, when he was elected, could have been a unifying leader,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a Republican candidate for president, said at a forum last week. “He has made decisions that I think have inflamed racial tensions.”

On the other side of the ideological spectrum, some liberal African-American activists have complained that Mr. Obama has not done enough to help downtrodden communities. While he is speaking out more, these critics argue, he has hardly used the power of the presidency to make the sort of radical change they say is necessary.

The line Mr. Obama has tried to straddle has been a serrated one. He condemns police brutality as he defends most officers as honorable. He condemns “criminals and thugs” who looted in Baltimore while expressing empathy with those trapped in a cycle of poverty and hopelessness.

In the Bronx on Monday, Mr. Obama bemoaned the death of Brian Moore, a plainclothes New York police officer who had died earlier in the day after being shot in the head Saturday on a Queens street. Most police officers are “good and honest and fair and care deeply about their communities,” even as they put their lives on the line, Mr. Obama said.

“Which is why in addressing the issues in Baltimore or Ferguson or New York, the point I made was that if we’re just looking at policing, we’re looking at it too narrowly,” he added. “If we ask the police to simply contain and control problems that we ourselves have been unwilling to invest and solve, that’s not fair to the communities, it’s not fair to the police.”

Moreover, if society writes off some people, he said, “that’s not the kind of country I want to live in; that’s not what America is about.”

His message to young men like Malachi Hernandez, who attends Boston Latin Academy in Massachusetts, is not to give up.

“I want you to know you matter,” he said. “You matter to us.”

Obama Finds a Bolder Voice on Race Issues

Mr. Fox, known for his well-honed countrified voice, wrote about things dear to South Carolina and won over Yankee critics.

William Price Fox, Admired Southern Novelist and Humorist, Dies at 89

A 2-minute-42-second demo recording captured in one take turned out to be a one-hit wonder for Mr. Ely, who was 19 when he sang the garage-band classic.

Jack Ely, Who Sang the Kingsmen’s ‘Louie Louie’, Dies at 71

A former member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Smedvig helped found the wide-ranging Empire Brass quintet.

Rolf Smedvig, Trumpeter in the Empire Brass, Dies at 62
Children playing last week in Sandtown-Winchester, the Baltimore neighborhood where Freddie Gray was raised. One young resident called it “a tough community.”
Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Children playing last week in Sandtown-Winchester, the Baltimore neighborhood where Freddie Gray was raised. One young resident called it “a tough community.”

Hard but Hopeful Home to ‘Lot of Freddies’

Hard but Hopeful Home to ‘Lot of Freddies’

The 2015 Met Gala has only officially begun, but there's a clear leader in the race for best couple, no small feat at an event that threatens to sap Hollywood of every celebrity it has for the duration of an East Coast evening.

That would be Marc Jacobs and his surprise guest (who, by some miracle, remained under wraps until their red carpet debut), Cher.

“This has been a dream of mine for a very, very long time,” Mr. Jacobs said.

It is Cher's first appearance at the Met Gala since 1997, when she arrived on the arm of Donatella Versace.

– MATTHEW SCHNEIER

Cher and Marc Jacobs

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 today

Verne Gagne, Wrestler Who Grappled Through Two Eras, Dies at 89

Judge Patterson helped to protect the rights of Attica inmates after the prison riot in 1971 and later served on the Federal District Court in Manhattan.

Robert Patterson Jr., Lawyer and Judge Who Fought for the Accused, Dies at 91
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