PAKET UMROH BULAN FEBRUARI MARET APRIL MEI 2018




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ilmu-allah Berkata Malaikat: "Maha Suci Engkau, tidak ada ilmu bagi kami kecuali yang telah Engkau ajarkan kepada kami; sesungguhnya Engkau Dzat Yang Maha Mengetahui dan Yang Maha Menghukumi" Surat Al-Baqoroh (2:32). Beribu-ribu tahun yang lalu, ketika Allah akan menjadikan Adam sebagai khalifah di muka bumi, para Malaikat sempat mempertanyakan mengapa Allah memilih mahluk yang doyan berbuat kerusakan dan mengalirkan darah menjadi khalifah?. Mengapa bukan justru mereka saja yang terus menerus tanpa putus bertasbih yang dinobatkan menjadi khalifah bumi? Heran. Bagaimana cara Allah menangani keheranan Malaikat? Wa ‘allamal adaama asmaa-a kullahaa diajarkan-Nya-lah kepada Adam nama seluruh benda yang waktu itu ada di muka bumi. Sini tanah, situ pohon, sana batu, sono langit, ini hidung, itu kaki, dst, dst. Setelah itu Allah berkata kepada Malaikat: "Sebutkanlah kepada-Ku nama benda-benda itu jika kalian benar". Malaikat menyerah. Fasajaduu – mana sujud para Malaikat itu, kepada Adam, illaa ibliis – kecuali Iblis. Hanya ilmu tentang nama-nama benda. Bukan ilmu dasar iptek matematika, fisika, kimia, biologi yang ruwet-rumit. Hanya nama-nama benda. Tidak lebih. Peristiwa Besar Kejadian itu sepertinya hal kecil. Padahal adalah sebuah peristiwa besar. Yang menunjukkan betapa makhluq itu tidak ada apa-apanya dimata Sang Khaliq. Malaikat dibuat dari cahaya. Manusia dibuat dari tanah. Tugas manusia adalah beribadah kepada Allah. Tugas Malaikat adalah, antara lain, mencatat amal baik dan amal buruk manusia. Dari hal-hal itu, seorang anak kecil saja bisa menarik kesimpulan bahwa kedudukan Malaikat lebih tinggi dari manusia. Tapi mengapa Malaikat “kalah” ketika di test nama-nama? Padahal hanya nama-nama sederhana? Kalah oleh manusia yang ingredient alias ramuan bahan dasarnya saja “lebih rendah”?. Jawabnya: karena Allah menghendaki demikian. Karena Allah menghendaki mengajarkan kepada Adam ilmu nama-nama yang tidak pernah diajarkan-Nya kepada Malaikat. Einstein-Hawking Jika ditanya siapakah ilmuwan-ilmuwan terbesar sepanjang masa, maka Albert Einsten dan Stephen Hawking adalah dua nama diantaranya. Yang pertama terkenal dengan teori relativitasnya, yang kedua terkenal dengan teori ‘big bang’ alias dentuman besarnya. Teori apa itu? Bukan porsi artikel ini untuk menjelaskannya. Jawaban terhadap pertanyaan mengapa kecemerlangan otak mereka tidak diberikan kepada ilmuwan Muslim melainkan justru diberikan kepada ilmuwan atheis, identik dengan jawaban terhadap pertanyaan mengapa ilmu nama-nama tidak diberikan kepada Malaikat. Diantara 25 Nabi, ada 5 Nabi yang mendapatkan peringkat Ulul ‘Azmi: Fashbir kamaa shobaro uulul ‘azmi – shobarlah sebagaimana rasul yang diberi keshobaran hati. Mereka adalah Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, Isa dan Muhammad. Tetapi mengapa Musa sampai harus meminta-minta diajari ilmu mengetahui masa depan kepada Nabi Khidir yang di dalam daftar 25 Nabi pun, tidak ada? Tragisnya, boro-boro mendapatkan ilmu, Musa menjadi murid Khidir pun, gagal, karena tidak bisa menahan diri untuk tidak bertanya atas berbagai hal yang memang aneh dan layak ditanyakan. Misalnya, dengan enaknya Khidir membunuh orok yang masih merah, dll. Mengapa Khidir lebih pintar dari Musa? Jawabnya: karena Allah menghendaki demikian. Dikejadian lain, mengapa Musa yang Ulul ‘Azmi bisa dikalahkan oleh ilmunya Bal’an bin Bauro sehingga muter-muter selama 40 tahun sampai bisa menemukan Baitul Maqdis? Jawabnya: karena Allah menghendaki demikian. Jika sejak tahun 1886 mobil Merdeces-Benz menemukan puluhan ribu paten, maka setiap paten sesungguhnya adalah Ilmu Allah, hanya saja awalnya ditemukan oleh orang Jerman, Tuan Gottlieb Daimler dan Tuan Carl Benz. Dst., dst. Tidak ada secuilpun di dunia ini yang tidak didasarkan atas ilmu Allah. Bahkan sekedar nama-nama benda. Ikhtilaf Sayang sekali, untuk 1 ilmu yang sama, Allah memberi keleluasaan kepada manusia untuk menafsirkannya secara berbeda. Terutama ilmu-ilmu non-eksakta. Untuk ilmu eksakta, atau dulu disebut ‘ilmu pasti’, dimana-mana di belahan dunia manapun yang namanya 2 kali 2 hasilnya 4; yang namanya air selalu mengalir ke tempat yang lebih rendah; yang namanya kecepatan cahaya selalu jauh lebih besar daripada kecepatan suara; dst., dst. Tetapi bagaimana dengan ilmu yang satu ini yang berbunyi: al-jamaa’atu rohmatun wal firqotu ‘adzabun – jamaah adalah rohmat dan pecah belah adalah siksa. Ada seabrek pengertian yang dimaksud ‘jamaah’, ada seabrek pengertian yang dimaksud ‘rohmat’, ada seabrek pengertian yang dimaksud ‘firqoh’, dan ada seabrek pengertian yang dimaksud ‘adzab’. Kalau dibuat matriks 4x4 jamaah-rohmat-firqoh-adzab, maka pengertiannya sudah pasti seabrek-abrek. Maka disinilah fungsinya isnad atau mata rantai yang menjamin tersambungnya dengan pengertian yang sebenarnya dengan apa yang diajarkan dan dimaksudkan oleh Nabi. Disinilah pentingnya ilmu asbabun-nuzul atau sebab-sebab turunnya sebuah ayat Al-Quran atau asbabul-wurud atau sebab-sebab adanya sebuah hadits. Disinilah penting hadits Bukhori, Muslim, Nasai, Abu Daud, Tirmidzi, Ibnu Majah, dsb. Ilmu Tidak Bermanfaat. Hah! Mosok iya ada ilmu yang tidak bermanfaat? Yakin, haq: ada!. Buktinya Nabi mengajarkan do’a yang dibaca sebelum minum air zamzam: Alloohumma innii as-aluka ‘ilman naafi’a – Ya Allah hamba memohon ilmu yang bermanfaat. Bukti lain, di hadits lain, Nabi mengajarkan do’a: Alloohumma innii a’uudzu bika min ‘ilmin laa yanfa’ – Ya Allah hamba berlindung dari ilmu yang tidak bermanfaat. Nah. Banyak ilmu ternyata tidak selamanya identik dengan orang faqih atau orang faham. Faqihun wahidun asyaddu ‘alasy syaithooni min alfi ‘aabid – Satu orang faqih lebih berat bagi syaithan daripada seribu orang yang bodoh. Jadi bukan orang yang banyak ilmunya yang ditakuti syetan. Tapi orang faqih. Satu ketika ada seorang sahabat yang menyimpan sedekah di sebelah mimbar di masjid, dengan harapan diambil oleh orang miskin. Apa yang terjadi? Sedekah tadi diambil oleh seorang pencuri. Di lain hari, disimpannya lagi sedekah di sebelah mimbar masjid, dengan harapan yang sama. Apa yang terjadi? Sedekah tadi diambil oleh orang tidak baik lainnya. Demikian seterusnya. Sohabat tadi kemudian lapor kepada Nabi yang kemudian dijawab bahwa pada saat sedekah itu diletakkan di sebelah mimbar, pahalanya sudah diterima di sisi Allah. Ilmu Allah dari hadits diatas adalah, saat sedekah, pahala sudah jadi. Urusan sedekah itu menjadi apa, sudah menjadi urusan Allah. Identik dengan keadaan masa kini. Saat seorang Mumin menyerahkan sedekahnya kepada Baitul Maal wa Tamwil (BMT), saat itu pahalanya sudah diterima oleh Allah. Terserah Allah, melalui pengurus BMT mau diapakan sedekahnya itu. Itulah ilmu Allah, sebagaimana yang dapat dipetik dari hadits sedekah yang diambil bukan oleh orang miskin diatas. Sebaliknya mereka yang sedekah kemudian mengungkit-ungkit, mencari-cari, berprasangka, suudzon tanpa hak, itu adalah Ilmu Syetan yang mengajak menghancur-leburkan amal sedekahnya sendiri. Yaa ayyuhalladziina aamanuu laa tubtiluu shodaqootikum bil manni wal adza – Wahai orang-orang yang beriman janganlah kalian membatalkan sedekahmu dengan mengungkit-ungkit dan menyakitkan hati. Nah, apalagi kalau bukan Ilmu Syetan yang membatalkan amalan? Ibadah Ghoiro Maghdhoh Definisi syirik sudah jelas. Ada di Al-Quran dan ada di Al-Hadits. Syirik yang terang-terangan alias dzahar adalah menyembah kepada selain Allah, atau menduakan Allah. Syirik yang samar alias khoufi adalah ibadah mengharapkan ‘sesuatu’ selain pahala dari Allah. Segala macam syirik ganjarannya adalah dimasukkan kedalam neraka. Maka itu terhadap pendapat yang menyatakan bahwa menghormat bendera adalah perbuatan syirik, sudah pasti disebabkan bingung tidak bisa membedakan antara “menyembah” dengan “menghormat”. Hormat bendera adalah bagian dari kewajiban warga negara untuk selayaknya menghormati segala atribut yang melambangkan kebesaran negara. Bahkan untuk hal-hal tertentu, pelecehan terhadap atribut negara menimbulkan konsekwensi hukum. Jika istiqomah – konsisten dengan keyakinannya, yang menyatakan syirik terhadap menghormat bendera, seharusnya menyatakan syirik pula terhadap yang mentaati lampu setopan di perempatan jalan, dan yang mentaati tukang parkir, karena bukankan taat itu hanya kepada Allah dan Rasul? Bahkan seharusnya menyatakan perbuatan syirik pula terhadap pembayaran STNK, pembuatan KTP dan SIM, dll., dll., bukan? Karena kebanyakan ilmu, namun bukan Ilmu Allah, melainkan ro’yu ilmu fikiran sendiri, maka syetan pun masuk. Padahal ro’yu itu sangat berbahaya. Sabda Nabi, barang siapa yang berkata dengan ro’yu alias fikiran sendiri - fa ashooba faqod akhto – umpamapun perkataannya benar, maka tetap saja salah. Apalagi perkataannya salah. Pantas bingung. Kalau sudah bingung, firman Allah tsummun bukmun ‘umyun – tuli bisu buta, fahum laa yarji’uun – maka mereka tidak bisa kembali. Alhamdulillah bagi mereka yang bisa mengamalkan ibadah maghdhoh yang berkaitan dengan Rukun Iman percaya kepada Allah, Malaikat, Kitab, Nabi, Qodar dan Kiamat; serta ibadah yang berkaitan dengan Rukun Islam Syahadat, Sholat, Zakat, Puasa dan Haji. Alhamdulillah bagi mereka yang bisa membedakan mana ibadah ghoiro maghdhoh yang tidak berkaitan dengan kedua rukun diatas, melainkan ibadah sosial. Yaitu memiliki keyakinan bahwa menjadi warga negara yang taat kepada Pemerintah yang sah serta menghormati 4 pilar (1) Pancasila, (2) Undang-undang Dasar (UUD) 1945, (3) Bhineka Tunggal Ika dan (4) NKRI, adalah bagian daripada ibadah. Hanya Ilmu Allah yang sebenarnya yang bisa membawa keyakinan seperti itu. Maka sesekali tirukanlah ucapan Malaikat ketika menyerah kepada Allah untuk sujud kepada Adam: “Ya Allah, tidak ada ilmu bagi kami kecuali yang telah Engkau ajarkan kepada kami”. Kalau sudah demikian, setinggi apapun ilmu agama dan ilmu dunia yang dikuasai, bagaimana mungkin masih bisa sombong? Fa aina tadzhabuun? Liwon Maulana (galipat)ILMU ALLAH

Spiritual quotients (SQ) is the soul of wit that can form the whole person. SQ does not follow the values ​​that exist , but creating a possibility to have it 's own values ​. Spiritual quotients (SQ) is the intelligence that comes from the heart, makes us creative when we are faced with personal problems, and try to understand the meaning of the trials and finish well. Spiritual quotients (SQ) make each individual is able to interpret the activity as worship, for the sake of mankind and his God...

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SPIRITUAL QUOTIENTS (SQ)

JAKARTA, Saco-Indonesia.com — Politisi PDI Perjuangan, Eva Kusuma Sundari, mengatakan, digunakannya foto Joko Widodo alias Jokowi dalam baliho kampanye calon anggota legislatif dari partai lain menunjukkan bahwa popularitas Gubernur DKI Jakarta itu lintas partai politik. Partainya, kata Eva, tak mempermasalahkan soal itu.

"Mau enggak mau, kita enggak bisa melawan zaman bahwa Jokowi paling populer dan lintas parpol," kata Eva, di Kompleks Gedung Parlemen, Jakarta, Kamis (30/1/2014).

Anggota Komisi III DPR itu mengatakan, sosok Jokowi memang telah sangat dicintai oleh masyarakat, termasuk politisi dari partai politik lain. Hal itu, lanjut Eva, terlihat saat ia menyosialisasikan diri sebagai calon anggota legislatif (caleg) DPR periode 2014-2019 di daerah pemilihannya.

Eva mengungkapkan, dalam alat peraga kampanyenya, ia hanya memasang foto Ketua Umum PDI Perjuangan Megawati Soekarnoputri dan foto Soekarno. Akan tetapi, ia mengaku terpaksa membuat alat peraga kampanye baru yang juga memuat foto Jokowi karena besarnya permintaan dari konstituen di daerah pemilihan.

"Dipasangnya foto Jokowi itu bukan urusan PDI-P, tapi urusan masing-masing caleg, ini kan strategi pemasaran. Di dapil saya banyak caleg dari partai lain yang terang-terangan dukung Jokowi maju sebagai calon presiden," kata Eva.

Seperti diberitakan sebelumnya, caleg DPR dari Partai Nasdem di Daerah Pemilihan (Dapil) Sumatera Barat II Nomor urut 1, Erizal Effendi, memasang foto Jokowi pada baliho kampanyenya. Yose Hendra, warga Padang, Sumatera Barat, mengatakan, dirinya melihat setidaknya dua baliho di pinggir ruas jalan di wilayah Padang Pariaman, Sumatera Barat, yaitu di Simpang Duku dan di depan pasar Lubuk Alung. Kedua baliho itu dipasang di Jalan Lintas Padang-Bukit Tinggi.

Dia mengatakan, baliho tersebut sudah dipasang selama sekitar 15 hari. Di baliho tersebut terpajang gambar Erizal, Jokowi, dan Ketua Umum Partai Nasdem Surya Paloh. Selain itu, di baliho itu juga tertulis slogan Partai Nasdem, "Gerakan Perubahan" dan slogan yang sering dikaitkan dengan Jokowi, "Indonesia Baru".

Sumber:kompas.com

Editor : Maulana Lee

"Sudah bukan Rahasia Umum Popularitas Jokowi Memang Lintas Partai"

saco-indonesia.com, Ledakan keras telah terdengar tidak jauh dari RS Premier Bintaro Pondok Aren, Tangerang Selatan. Petugas sedang menuju lokasi kejadian.

Informasi yang telah dihimpun , Senin (27/1), ledakan telah terjadi sekitar pukul 23.45 WIB. Diduga ledakan tersebut telah berasal dari di Rest Burger and Grill.

Petugas RS Premier Bintaro saat dihubungi telah membenarkan informasi ini. Namun pria itu juga mengaku belum bisa mendapat informasi lebih lanjut.

"Katanya petasan biasa. Nanti langsung ke satpam saja ya," katanya.

Petugas Polsek Pondok Aren juga mengatakan, anggota sedang mengecek ke lokasi. Belum dapat dipastikan penyebab ledakan tersebut.


Editor : Dian Sukmawati

TERJADI LEDAKAN DI DEKAT RUMAH SAKIT PREMIER BINTARO

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.

Masukan pelanggan

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.

Pengembangan

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)

 

Sumber : Kompas Cetak/http://bisniskeuangan.kompas.com/read/2013/06/08/08323684/Gagal.Jadi.Arsitek..Sukses.Berbis nis.Steik
Editor :Liwon Maulana
Gagal Jadi Arsitek, Malah Sukses Berbisnis Steik

Mr. Napoleon was a self-taught musician whose career began in earnest with the orchestra led by Chico Marx of the Marx Brothers.

Marty Napoleon, 93, Dies; Jazz Pianist Played With Louis Armstrong

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.

Photo
 
Credit Peter Arkle

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.

How Some Men Fake an 80-Hour Workweek, and Why It Matters
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United’s first-class and business fliers get Rhapsody, its high-minded in-flight magazine, seen here at its office in Brooklyn. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

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.

 

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Sean Manning, executive editor of Rhapsody, which publishes works by the likes of Joyce Carol Oates, Amy Bloom and Anthony Doerr, who won a Pulitzer Prize. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

 

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.

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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.”

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ate in February, Dr. Ben Carson, the celebrated pediatric neurosurgeon turned political insurrectionist, was trying to check off another box on his presidential-campaign to-do list: hiring a press secretary. The lead prospect, a public-relations specialist named Deana Bass, had come to meet him at the dimly lit Capitol Hill office of Carson’s confidant and business manager, Armstrong Williams. Carson sat back and scrutinized her from behind a small granite table, as life-size cardboard cutouts of more conventional politicians — President Obama, with a tight smile, and Senator John McCain, glowering — loomed behind each of his shoulders. (The mock $3 bill someone had left on a table in Williams’s waiting room undercut any notion that this was a bipartisan zone; it featured Obama wearing a turban.)

Bass seemed momentarily speechless, and not just because no one had warned her that a New York Times reporter would be sitting in on her job interview. Though she knew Williams — a jack-of-all-trades entrepreneur who owns several television stations and a public-affairs business and who hosts a daily talk-radio show — through Washington’s small circle of black conservatives, the two hadn’t spoken in years until he called her two days earlier. He had been struggling to come up with the perfect national spokesperson, he told her. Then, at the gym, her name popped into his head; Williams was fairly certain she was the one. Sitting across from a likely candidate for president, Bass was adjusting to the idea that her life might be about to take a sudden chaotic turn.

“It’s like getting the most random call on a Monday that you simply do not see coming,” she said. “Oftentimes, that is how the Lord works.”

Continue reading the main story

His life in brain surgery
has prepared him for the
presidency, he maintains,
better than lives in
politics have for his rivals.

Carson concurred: “It’s always how he works in my life.” Carson is soft-spoken and often talks with his eyes half closed, frequently punctuating his sentences with a small laugh, even if the humor of his statement is not readily apparent. Bass told Carson that she had been a Republican staff member on Capitol Hill then worked for the Republican National Committee. In 2007 she started a Christian public-relations firm with her sister. She enjoyed working on the Hill, she said, but the pay wasn’t as high as the hours were long. “We figured that we worked like slaves for other people, and we wanted to work for ourselves.”

Carson stopped her. “You know you can’t mention that word, right?” Carson waited a beat, then laughed, and Williams and Bass joined in. He was getting to the point; he needed a professional who could help him check his penchant for creating uncontrolled controversy just by talking.

The Ben Carson movement began in 2013, when Carson, a neurosurgeon, whose operating-room prowess and up-from-poverty back story had made him the subject of a television movie and a regular on the inspirational-speaking circuit, was invited to address the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. With Barack Obama sitting just two seats away, Carson warned that “moral decay” and “fiscal irresponsibility” could destroy America just as it did ancient Rome. He proposed a substitute for Obamacare — Health Savings Accounts, which, he said, would end any talk of “death panels” — and a flat-tax based on the concept of tithing. His address, combined with the president’s stony reaction, was a smash with Republican activists. Speaking and interview requests flooded in. Carson, then 61, announced his planned retirement a few weeks later, freeing his calendar to accept just about all of them. In the months that followed, his rhetoric became increasingly strident. The claim that drew the most attention, perhaps, was that Obamacare was “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”

Bass’s own use of the word prompted Carson to ask her what she thought about that incident. She considered for a moment.

“If you want to reach people and have them even understand what you’re saying, there is a way to do it, without that hyperbole, that might be. . . . ” She paused. “I just think it’s important not to shut people off before they —”

Carson jumped in. “That doesn’t allow them to hear what you’re saying?”

Bass nodded.

Likening Obamacare to slavery — and slavery was incomparably worse, Carson said — had its political advantages for a candidacy like his. It was the kind of statement that stoked the angriest of the Republican voters: conservative stalwarts who can’t hear enough bad things about Obama. This, in turn, led to more talk-radio and Fox News appearances, more book sales, more donations to the super PAC started in his name, more support in the polls. (The day before the meeting, one poll of Republican voters showed Carson statistically tied for first place with Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.)

Rhetorical excess was good for business, but Carson now wants to be seen as more than a novelty candidate. He has come to learn that such extreme analogies, while true to his views, aren’t especially presidential. They alienate more moderate voters and, perhaps even more damaging, reinforce the impression that he is not “serious” — that he is another Herman Cain, the black former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive who rose to the top of the early presidential polls in 2011 but then bowed out before the Iowa caucuses, largely because of leaked allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied but from which he never recovered. Cain lingers as a cautionary tale for the party as much as for a right-leaning candidate like Carson. The fact that Cain, with his folksy sayings (“shucky ducky”) and misnomers (“Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan”), reached the top of the national polls — much less that he was eventually followed there by the likes of Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who all topped one or another poll in the 2012 primary season — wound up being a considerable embarrassment for the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, and for the longtime party regulars who were trying to fast-track his way to the nomination.

Carson liked Bass and, without directly saying so, made it clear the job was hers for the taking. Carson’s campaign chairman, Terry Giles — a white lawyer whose clients have included the comedian Richard Pryor and the stepson of the model Anna Nicole Smith and who helped reconcile the business interests of the descendants of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — had assembled a mostly white campaign team, including many from the 2012 Gingrich effort, and Carson wanted a person of color to speak for him. Bass said she would have to mull it over, pray about it. Carson nodded approvingly. “Pray about it,” he said. “See what you think.”

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Williams knew the party was intent on protecting the eventual 2016 nominee from the same embarrassment Romney suffered. Already, suspiciously tough articles about Carson were showing up in conservative magazines and on right-wing websites. “They’re protecting these establishment candidates,” Williams said. “This is coming from within the house. This is family.” At the very least, he wanted to make sure that Carson didn’t do their work for them. (Carson would commit another unforced error a week later, when he told CNN that homosexuality was clearly a choice, because a lot of people go in prison straight and “when they come out, they’re gay”; he later apologized.)

“We need somebody to protect him, sometimes, from himself,” he told Bass — laughing, but only half kidding.

A candidacy like Carson’s presents a new kind of problem to the establishment wing of the G.O.P., which, at least since 1980, has selected its presidential nominees with a routine efficiency that Democrats could only envy. The establishment candidate has usually been a current or former governor or senator, blandly Protestant, hailing from the moderate, big-business wing of the party (or at least friendly with it) and almost always a second-, third- or fourth-time national contender — someone who had waited “his turn.” These candidates would tack predictably to the right during the primaries to satisfy the evangelicals, deficit hawks, libertarian leaners and other inconvenient but vital constituents who made up the “base” of the party. In return, the base would, after a brief flirtation with some fantasy candidate like Steve Forbes or Pat Buchanan, “hold their noses” and deliver their votes come November. This bargain was always tenuous, of course, and when some of the furthest-right activists turned against George W. Bush, citing (among other apostasies) his expansion of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, it began to fall apart. After Barack Obama defeated McCain in 2008, the party’s once dependable base started to reconsider the wisdom of holding their noses at all.

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Republican candidates at a pre-straw-poll debate, held at Iowa State University in 2011. Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

This insurgent attitude was helped along by changes in the nomination rules. In 2010, the Republican National Committee, hoping to capture the excitement of the coast-to-coast Democratic primary competition between Obama and Hillary Clinton, introduced new voting rules that required many of the early voting states to award some delegates to losing candidates, based on their shares of the vote. The proportional voting rules would encourage struggling candidates to stay in the primaries even after successive losses, as Clinton did, because they might be able to pull together enough delegates to take the nomination in a convention-floor fight or at least use them to bargain for a prime speaking slot or cabinet post.

This shift in incentives did not go unnoticed by potential 2012 candidates, nor did changes in election law that allowed billionaire donors to form super PACs in support of pet candidacies. At the same time, increasingly widespread broadband Internet access allowed candidates to reach supporters directly with video and email appeals and supporters to send money with the tap of a smartphone, making it easier than ever for individual candidates to ignore the wishes of the party.

Into this newly chaotic Republican landscape strode Mitt Romney. There could be no doubt that it was his turn, and yet his journey to the nomination was interrupted by one against-the-odds challenger after another — Cain, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul; always Ron Paul. It was easy to dismiss the 2012 primaries as a meaningless circus, but the onslaught did much more than tarnish the overall Republican brand. It also forced Romney to spend money he could have used against Obama and defend his right flank with embarrassing pandering that shadowed him through the general election. It was while trying to block a surge from Gingrich, for instance, that Romney told a debate audience that he was for the “self-deportation” of undocumented immigrants.

At the 2012 convention in Tampa, a group of longtime party hands, including Romney’s lawyer, Ben Ginsberg, gathered to discuss how to prevent a repeat of what had become known inside and outside the party as the “clown show.” Their aim was not just to protect the party but also to protect a potential President Romney from a primary challenge in 2016. They forced through new rules that would give future presumptive nominees more control over delegates in the event of a convention fight. They did away with the mandatory proportional delegate awards that encouraged long-shot candidacies. And, in a noticeably targeted effort, they raised the threshold that candidates needed to meet to enter their names into nomination, just as Ron Paul’s supporters were working to reach it. When John A. Boehner gaveled the rules in on a voice vote — a vote that many listeners heard as a tie, if not an outright loss — the hall erupted and a line of Ron Paul supporters walked off the floor in protest, along with many Tea Party members.

At a party meeting last winter, Reince Priebus, who as party chairman is charged with maintaining the support of all his constituencies, did restore some proportional primary and caucus voting, but only in states that held voting within a shortened two-week window. And he also condensed the nominating schedule to four and a half months from six months, and, for the first time required candidates to participate in a shortened debate schedule, determined by the party, not by the whims of the networks. (The panel that recommended those changes included names closely identified with the establishment — the former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, the Mississippi committeeman Haley Barbour and, notably, Jeb Bush’s closest adviser, Sally Bradshaw.)

Grass-roots activists have complained that the condensed schedule robs nonestablishment candidates — “movement candidates” like Carson — of the extra time they need to build momentum, money and organizations. But Priebus, who says the nomination could be close to settled by April, said it helped all the party’s constituencies when the nominee was decided quickly. “We don’t need a six-month slice-and-dice festival,” Priebus said when we spoke in mid-March. “While I can’t always control everyone’s mouth, I can control how long we can kill each other.”

All the rules changes were built to sidestep the problems of 2012. But the 2016 field is shaping up to be vastly different and far larger. A new Republican hints that he or she is considering a run seemingly every week. There are moderates like Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and former Gov. George Pataki of New York; no-compromise conservatives like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; business-wingers like the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina; one-of-a-kinds like Donald Trump — some 20 in all, a dozen or so who seem fairly serious about it. That opens the possibility of multiple candidates vying for all the major Republican constituencies, some of them possibly goaded along by super-PAC-funding billionaires, all of them trading wins and collecting delegates well into spring.

Giles says his candidate can capitalize on all that chaos. Rivals may laugh, but Giles argues that if Carson can make a respectable showing in Iowa, then win in South Carolina — or at least come in second should a home-state senator, Lindsey Graham, run — and come in second behind Bush or Senator Marco Rubio in their home state of Florida, he could be positioned to make a real run. But that would depend on avoiding pitfalls like Carson’s ill-considered comments on homosexuality. Rather than capitalizing on the chaos, Carson may only contribute to it.

Ben Carson is, in many ways, the ideal Republican presidential candidate. With a not-too-selective reading of his life story, conservative voters can — and do — see in him an inspiring, up-from-nowhere African-American who shares their beliefs, a right-wing answer to Barack Obama. Before he was born, his parents moved to Detroit from rural Tennessee as part of the second great migration. His father, Robert Solomon Carson, worked at a Cadillac factory. His mother, Sonya — who herself had grown up as one of 24 children and left school at third grade — cleaned houses. When Carson was 8, Sonya discovered that Robert was keeping a second family. She moved, with her two sons, into a rundown group house. It was in a part of town that Carson described to me as crawling with “big rats and roaches and all kinds of horrible things.” Sonya worked several jobs at a time and made up the shortfall with food stamps. (Carson has called for paring back the social safety net but not doing away with it.)

Carson recounts this story in his best-selling 1990 memoir, “Gifted Hands,” which also became the basis for a 2009 movie on TNT, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Carson. Raised as a Seventh Day Adventist, Carson realized that he wanted to become a physician during a church sermon about a missionary doctor who, while serving overseas, was almost attacked by thieves but found safety by putting his faith in God. When Carson, then 8, told his mother his new dream, “She said, ‘Absolutely, you could do it, you could do anything,’ ” he told me. Forced by his mother to read two extra books a week, he made it to Yale, then to medical school at the University of Michigan, where he decided to specialize in neurosurgery. He was selected for residency at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, where he was named director of pediatric neurosurgery at 33, becoming the youngest person, and the first black person, to hold the title. He drew national attention by conducting a succession of operations that had never been performed successfully, most famously planning and managing the first separation of conjoined twins connected through major blood vessels in the brain.

Carson, a two-time Jimmy Carter voter, traces his conservative political awakening to a patient he met during the Reagan years. During a routine obstetrics rotation, he found himself treating an unwed pregnant teenager who had run away from her well-to-do parents. When Carson asked her how she was getting by, she informed him she was on public assistance; this led him to ponder the fact that the government was paying for the result of what he did not view as a “wise decision.” The incident, he says, fed his growing sense that the welfare system too often saps motivation and rewards irresponsible behavior. (When we spoke, he suggested that the government should cut off assistance to would-be unwed mothers, but only after warning them that it would do so within a certain amount of time, say five years. “I bet you’d see a dramatic decrease in unwed motherhood.”)

Carson’s friends at Hopkins say they do not remember him being particularly outspoken about his conservatism. He devoted most of his public engagement to urging poor kids in bad neighborhoods to use “these fancy brains God gave us,” through weekly school visits, student hospital tours and, ultimately, a multimillion-dollar scholarship program. “His issues were always medical care for the poor, education for the poor, equal opportunity — helping the less fortunate and really inspiring them as an example,” a mentor who named him to the chief pediatrics-neurosurgery post at Hopkins, Dr. Donlin Long, told me.

Even when Carson got the chance, in 1997, to speak in front of President Bill Clinton, at the national prayer breakfast, he mostly discussed the lack of role models for black children who were not sports stars or rappers. (There was possibly an oblique reference to Clinton’s sex scandals, when he told the audience that, if they are always honest, they won’t have to worry later about “skeletons in the closet.”)

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Ben Carson at CPAC on Feb. 26 in Oxon Hill, Md. Credit Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times

In 2011, Carson’s politics took a strident turn, mirroring that of many in his party during the Obama years. “America the Beautiful,” his sixth book, which he wrote with Candy Carson, his wife of 39 years, included a get-tough-on-illegal-immigration message and offered anti-establishment praise for the Tea Party. It suggested that blacks who voted for Obama only because he was black were themselves practicing a form of racism. (Earlier this year he admitted to Buzzfeed that portions of the book were lifted directly from several sources without proper attribution.) His prayer-breakfast performance in 2013, and the extremity of his remarks in the months afterward (Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery; the United States is “very much like Nazi Germany”; allowing same-sex marriage could lead to allowing bestiality), left some of his old friends bewildered. Students at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine protested his planned convocation address there in 2013, and he eventually backed out. When I asked Carson about the view at Hopkins that he had changed, he said his themes are still the same: “hard work, self-reliance, helping other people.” If he had become more overtly political, he said, it was only because the Obama years had led him to believe that “we’re really moving in a direction that is very, very destructive.”

None of this went unnoticed by campaign professionals. In August 2013, John Philip Sousa IV and Vernon Robinson, each of whom professes to be a virtual stranger to Carson, and who had previously been active in the anti-illegal-immigration movement, started the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee. Sousa was just coming off a campaign to defend the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio, from a recall effort, and he told me that he found Carson’s lack of political experience refreshing. “We have 500 guys and gals with probably a collective 5,000 years experience, and look at the mess we’re in,” he said.

Many others in the party feel the same way. Carson’s PAC finished 2014 with more than $13 million in donations, more than Ready for Hillary. Much of its money has gone toward further fund-raising, but Sousa — the great-grandson of the famous composer — points out that their effort has already built far more than just a war chest, organizing leaders in all 99 of Iowa’s counties. Regardless, Carson credits the fund-raising success of Sousa and Robinson with persuading him to enter the race.

Very early the morning after the job interview, Carson was in a black S.U.V., heading from Washington to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md., where he was to give the opening candidate speech of the Conservative Political Action Conference. The event, which functions as an early tryout for Republican presidential contenders, tends to skew rightward in its audience, drawing many of the same sorts of people who shouted at Boehner in Tampa. As such, it tends to favor anti-establishment candidates, but the news leading up to this year’s event was that Jeb Bush hoped to make inroads there.

It was still dark when we set out, and I joked with Carson about the hour, telling him he’d better get used to it. He retorted that his career in pediatric brain surgery made him no stranger to early mornings. This is a big theme of Carson’s presidential pitch: that neither the rigors of the campaign nor those of the White House can faze a man who held children’s lives in his hands. His life in brain surgery has prepared him for the presidency, he maintains, better than lives in politics have for his rivals. At the very least, he says, it conditioned him against getting too worked up about any problem that isn’t life threatening. “I mean, it’s grueling, but interestingly enough, I don’t feel the pressure,” he said.

At the convention hall, we were quickly surrounded by admirers. Two women were already waiting to meet him — white, middle-aged volunteers for Carson’s super PAC, who had traveled from South Carolina. One of them, Chris Horne, was holding a dog-eared and taped Bible. A founding member of the Charleston Tea Party who went on to work for Gingrich’s successful South Carolina primary campaign in 2012, Horne lamented over the attacks that Carson was sure to face. “You served us, you served the Lord, just don’t let them steal that from you,” she said. Her friend told him, “You’ve got God behind you!” Such religious evocations trailed Carson constantly while I walked the CPAC floor with him. Evangelicals are impressed not only with his devotion to their politics but also with his career path; as one of them told me, what’s more pro-life than saving babies?

During our ride to the conference, Carson told me his speech was not looking to “feed the beast.” When his appointed time came, he kept his remarks as tame as promised. “Real compassion” meant “using our intellect” to help people “climb out of dependency and realize the American dream,” he said. The national debt is going to “destroy us,” Obamacare was about “redistribution and control,” but Republicans better come forward with their own alternative before they repeal it, he said.

Because his speech was first, and it started several minutes early, the auditorium was slow to fill. Still, the first day saw a crush of people seeking autographs and pictures as he roamed the hall. The Draft Carson committee’s 150 volunteers swarmed the auditorium, collecting emails and handing out “Run Ben Run” stickers. After a quick interview with Sean Hannity, the conservative-radio and Fox News host — his second in two days — Carson was off to Tampa.

In the hours that followed his talk, the hall offered a view in miniature of what the next 12 to 14 months might hold for the party. Chris Christie, sitting across from the tough-minded talk-radio host Laura Ingraham, boasted about his multiple vetoes of Planned Parenthood funding, his refusal to raise income taxes and his belief that “sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up.” Cruz, an audience favorite, warning his fellow Republicans against falling for a “squishy moderate,” declared, “Take all 125,000 I.R.S. agents and put ’em on our Southern border!” Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, surging in polls, boasted that if he could face down the 100,000 union supporters who protested his legislation limiting collective bargaining for public employees, he could certainly handle ISIS. The next day, the traditional CPAC favorite Rand Paul spoke, packing the hall with his supporters who chanted “President Paul.” He warned, counter to the overall hawkish tenor of the event, that “we should not succumb to the notion that a government inept at home will somehow become successful abroad.” But he also vowed to end foreign aid to countries whose citizens are seen burning American flags. “Not one penny more to these haters of America.”

Perhaps the defining moment came near the end of the conference, when Jeb Bush spoke. In a neat trick of political gamesmanship — and a show of establishment muscle — his team had bused in an ample cheering section for the dozens of cameras on hand for his appearance. But a small contingent of Tea Party activists and Rand Paul supporters staged a walk out. When Bush began a question-and-answer session, they turned and left the auditorium to chant “U.S.A., U.S.A.” in the hallway, led by a man in colonial garb waving a huge “Don’t Tread on Me” banner. Plenty of other detractors stayed in the hall and peppered Bush’s remarks with booing as he stood by positions unpopular with the conservative grass roots: support for the Common Core standards and an immigration overhaul that provides a “path to legal status” for undocumented immigrants. Bush took it all in good humor, but finally seemed to give up.

“For those who made an ‘oo’ sound — is that what it was? — I’m marking you down as neutral,” he said. “And I want to be your second choice.”

Bush strategists told me they would not repeat Romney’s mistakes. Of course they would love to glide to an early nomination, they said, but they are prepared for a long contest and won’t be wasting any energy bending under pressure from a Paul or a Cruz or a Carson.

No one doubts that the pressure will increase, though. Despite the best wishes of the party’s leaders, GOP primary voters have given little indication that they will narrow the field quickly.

Before I left, I spotted Newt Gingrich, himself a fleeting presidential front-runner during those strange primary days of 2012. I asked him whether he thought all the party maneuvering — all the attempts to change the rules and fast-track the process — would preclude someone from presenting the sort of outside primary challenge he had carried out in the last election.

“No,” he told me, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Look at where Ben Carson is right now.”

Jim Rutenberg is the chief political correspondent for the magazine. His most recent feature was about Megyn Kelly.

Ben Carson Says He’ll Seek 2016 G.O.P. Nomination

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?”

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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 career criminals in genre novels don’t have money problems. If they need some, they just go out and steal it. But such financial transactions can backfire, which is what happened back in 2004 when the Texas gang in Michael

Take the Money and Run

WASHINGTON — During a training course on defending against knife attacks, a young Salt Lake City police officer asked a question: “How close can somebody get to me before I’m justified in using deadly force?”

Dennis Tueller, the instructor in that class more than three decades ago, decided to find out. In the fall of 1982, he performed a rudimentary series of tests and concluded that an armed attacker who bolted toward an officer could clear 21 feet in the time it took most officers to draw, aim and fire their weapon.

The next spring, Mr. Tueller published his findings in SWAT magazine and transformed police training in the United States. The “21-foot rule” became dogma. It has been taught in police academies around the country, accepted by courts and cited by officers to justify countless shootings, including recent episodes involving a homeless woodcarver in Seattle and a schizophrenic woman in San Francisco.

Now, amid the largest national debate over policing since the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, a small but vocal set of law enforcement officials are calling for a rethinking of the 21-foot rule and other axioms that have emphasized how to use force, not how to avoid it. Several big-city police departments are already re-examining when officers should chase people or draw their guns and when they should back away, wait or try to defuse the situation

Police Rethink Long Tradition on Using Force

Mr. Mankiewicz, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter for “I Want to Live!,” also wrote episodes of television shows such as “Star Trek” and “Marcus Welby, M.D.”

Don Mankiewicz, Screenwriter in a Family Film Tradition, Dies at 93

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.

 

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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.

 

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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
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’
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