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DRESS LIKE A MAN | MARIJUANA AT YOUR DOORSTEP | KALE, ANYONE?

JANUARY 12, 2014

LOST BOY

Are Public Schools Failing Students With Disabilities?

PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

By Joy Resmovits


01.12.14 #83 CONTENTS

Enter POINTERS: Polar Vortex... Guess Who’s Back? JASON LINKINS: Looking Forward in Angst DATA: The State of Modern Slavery Q&A: Candace Cameron Bure on Being a ‘Submissive’ Wife HEADLINES MOVING IMAGE

Voices

FROM TOP: MAYA’S EYE PHOTOGRAPHY; ARI ESPAY AND LIZA POLITI/GETTY IMAGES

JENNIFER BENDERY: Searching for Kristin

SPECIAL EDUCATION “This process is a joke.” BY JOY RESMOVITS

AMY CHAN: The Daily Contract QUOTED

Exit STYLE: 17 Essential Items Every Guy Should Own THE THIRD METRIC: Your Body on Yoga EAT THIS: Homemade Kale Chips MUSIC: Dog Ears TFU

POT PEDDLERS “It’s NYC... everyone expects everything delivered to their front door.” BY HUNTER STUART

FROM THE EDITOR: A Better Life ON THE COVER: Photograph

of Max Masucci by Maya’s Eye Photography


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

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ART STREIBER

A Better Life I

N THIS WEEK’S ISSUE, Joy Resmovits takes a look at one family’s uphill battle to get their son the education he needs. Greg Masucci and Maya Wechsler’s son Max is 6 years old and suffers from severe autism. Max has moved through four different Washington, D.C., public schools and regressed to the point where he cannot say words and phrases he was able to say a few years ago. While researchers say regression can be normal in some cases of autism, Greg argues that the backslide has coincided with Max’s time in D.C.’s public schools, and that a better education could turn things around. Greg and Maya dream of their son becoming an independent adult. But they believe time is

running out for Max to learn the skills that will give him a better chance of being able to support himself later in life. “The window of opportunity is that the brain is still developing and very malleable until age eight or nine,” explains Dr. Laurie Stephens, a researcher at the California-based Education Spectrum. Greg and Maya are “hopeful,” Joy writes, “that if Max catches the right instruction at the critical moment, he might learn to ask questions. To read. To become an independent member of society.” Their best chance, they feel, is private school, where there are teachers equipped to handle Max’s needs. Federal law requires public school systems

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

to pay for private schooling for children like Max, if local public schools are unable to offer a “free and appropriate education.” How they determine an “appropriate” education, however, is where Greg and Maya have run into trouble. They filed for private school placement for Max more than a year ago, a fight that continues to this day. “This is part of their strategy,” Greg tells Joy. “Make us broke and tired, and perhaps leave us with no private school choices that would meet his needs.” Elsewhere in the issue, Hunter Stuart goes behind the scenes of the more than a dozen delivery services that bring weed straight to people’s doors in New York City. Typically, such services have offered New Yorkers a safe and convenient way to buy weed, which remains illegal in all forms in New York State. One former marijuana salesman, Adam, tells Hunter he’s delivered to a mostly middle- to upper-middle-class clientele, everywhere from West Village buildings with doormen to artists in brownstones. “Because it’s NYC, everyone

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Greg and Maya dream of their son becoming an independent adult. But they believe time is running out for Max.” expects to have anything and everything delivered to their front door,” Adam says. In our Voices section, lifestyle expert Amy Chan offers thoughtful suggestions for how to be a more patient version of yourself in the new year. “Before you roll your eyes because the cashier is being too slow, or silently judge someone’s intelligence because they are taking too long, adjust your reaction and remember, it’s not your place to make someone feel anxiety because they aren’t performing a task at the pace you’d prefer,” Chan writes. Finally, as part of our ongoing focus on the Third Metric, we take you through the ways yoga affects your body — minutes, months and even years after you practice.

ARIANNA


POINTERS

SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES

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DEEP FREEZE

Icy weather gripped much of the United States this week, with record lows recorded in many cities. The Midwest saw temperatures far below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Brimson, Minn., recorded a low of -40 degrees, and the Chicago region registered a wind chill factor that made the temperature feel as low as -42 degrees -- prompting the Lincoln Park Zoo to move even its polar bear indoors. The weather grounded flights across the country, and the frigid conditions caused at least 20 deaths. The chill came courtesy of a polar vortex, a circulation of winds that typically surround the North Pole but can occasionally become distorted and send cold air southward. Temperatures were warming by Wednesday, with the high in New York City a balmy 25 degrees.


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POINTERS

OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Colorado saw the first legal sales of recreational marijuana on Jan. 1, as 37 new dispensaries around the state opened their doors. According to a HuffPost calculation, first-week sales totaled roughly $5 million. In an email to supporters, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) noted, “Across the state, recreational marijuana was sold for the first time. And guess what? The world didn’t end.”

FROM TOP: THEO STROOMER/GETTY IMAGES; JEFF ZELEVANSKY/GETTY IMAGES; AP PHOTO/RICK BOWMER

3 BRIDGEGATE

4

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WALK BACK

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) spent more than two hours on Thursday apologizing over revelations that his staff purposefully caused a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge in order to punish a local mayor who did not endorse the governor’s reelection bid. Christie, a possible presidential contender for 2016, maintained he knew nothing of the plan, which caused major traffic jams for four days on the nation’s busiest bridge. The governor dismissed his deputy chief of staff and cut ties with another key member of his inner circle over the scandal, and the U.S. attorney for New Jersey has opened a probe into the incident.

Utah’s governor on Wednesday announced the state will not recognize the more than 1,000 same-sex marriages that have been performed since a federal judge ruled in December that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to wed. The Supreme Court officially halted same-sex marriages in Utah on Monday, pending an appeal of the judge’s decision. The governor’s announcement means the newlywed couples in Utah are in legal limbo and cannot currently file joint state tax returns, add spouses to insurance or adopt children.


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‘A FIERCE CHAMPION’

Janet Yellen was confirmed as the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve on Monday. She is the first woman to lead the institution, which controls interest rates in order to direct inflation and employment levels. The Fed’s general role and powers make it one of the most influential institutions in the global economy. “The American people will have a fierce champion who understands that the ultimate goal of economic and financial policy making is to improve the lives, jobs and standard of living of American workers and their families,” President Barack Obama said of Yellen in a statement.

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FROM TOP: AP PHOTO/JACQUELYN MARTIN; ART STREIBER/NBC

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THEY’RE BACK

Saturday Night Live veterans Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will co-host the Golden Globes for the second time this Sunday after their wildly popular 2013 debut. Gravity, American Hustle, Her and Wolf of Wall Street are up for film awards, in addition to big names like Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf) and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave). On the TV side, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey and Girls are among those nominated.

THAT’S VIRAL THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT YELLING

A selection of the week’s most talked-about stories. HEADLINES TO VIEW FULL STORIES

12-YEAR-OLD CHARLIZE GLASS IS A BETTER DANCER THAN YOU

FROZEN CHICAGO

THE COLDEST COLLEGES IN THE COUNTRY

IF THIS DOESN’T INSPIRE YOU, NOTHING WILL


JAHI CHIKWENDIU/THE WASHINGTON POST/GETTY IMAGES

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LOOKING FORWARD IN ANGST

JASON LINKINS

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NEW YEAR, OLD UNEMPLOYMENT CRISIS ELCOME TO A NEW YEAR everyone! How do you like the look of 2014 so far? Well, if you are like me, you’re worried. It’s not the sort of thing that got talked about on the Sunday shows, because the producers of those shows don’t actually like ordinary people, but on Dec. 28, 1.3 million

W

Americans who had been left clinging to their unemployment insurance as a lifeline during the unemployment crisis lost that lifeline, and have taken an incremental step closer to a 2014 of possibly freezing or starving to death. This is, as The Economist points out, the “darker shadow” of this crisis — the world of the long-term unemployed. It’s a story that resonates with me, because not long ago, I was unemployed for an extended pe-

Thousands of applicants attend a job fair hosted by Tanger Outlets for its November opening on Sept. 17, 2013, in Fort Washington, Md.


Enter riod of time. And, actually, that’s a lie. That time in my life is more than eight years in the past. And I was fortunate enough to experience unemployment in the pre-Great Recession age, before this strange new normal settled on the landscape. The thing is, it doesn’t take much for my brain to tap that old well of fear and spread the anxiety I felt for that half-year throughout my body. The recall is near instant, and the emotional response beyond my control. But this was before the rest of the world downturned in 2008, and unemployment shifted from being a terrifying, ethereal setback to something that felt hand-delivered by the Grim Reaper. There’s a fatalist edge to unemployment stories now. I’ve read about men and women, desperate for work, who’ve made thousands upon thousands of attempts to get hired. I’ve read about middle-aged and aging families, where fathers, sons, mothers, and daughters have unimpeachably played by the old rules of the game, only to end up here, at the start of a new century, falling apart in spite of it all. The protagonists of these stories sound a little more like cornered

LOOKING FORWARD IN ANGST

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The hardest problem they face is the fact that employers persistently discriminate against the long-term unemployed.” animals than human beings. There is a lot of suicidal ideation. I understand that a little bit — after a few months of fruitlessly looking for work, desperately hoping for one more want ad that’s alive with possibilities or one more voice on the phone that seems remotely interested in you, you do start to wonder, “What is the point of me?” Of course, the unemployment rate has been ticking down, in a not insignificant way. And we begin this year with talk of a more genuine, sustainable, recovery. But whether these predictions end up being what we hope, or what we’ve hyped, here are four real unemployment worries to be mindful of. 1. THE PROBLEMS THE LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED FACE ARE UNIQUE. And as The Economist points out, the hardest problem they face is the fact that employers persistently discriminate against the longterm unemployed. 2. JUST ADDING JOBS TO THE ECONOMY ISN’T ENOUGH. “Typically,” writes The New York


Enter Times’ Catherine Rampell, “the figure economists cite as the minimum number of additional jobs needed to keep the unemployment rate flat is about 150,000 to 200,000” each month. We’ve been doing a better job lately, but remember, we’re also digging out of a hole. 3. THAT SHRINKING UNEMPLOYMENT RATE CAN COVER UP A NUMBER OF SINS. Such as: the U6 unemployment rate, which measures the unemployed, the underemployed, and those too discouraged to look for work. In November 2013, this rate stood at 13.2 percent. 4. WHAT WILL THE FUTURE OF JOBS LOOK LIKE? Remember: all the people from Mac McClelland’s story about Amazon fulfillment center workers show up on the positive side of the U4 unemployment rate. As people get back to work, we have to start asking what sort of jobs are we going back to? And do they offer real dignity? Finally, don’t expect much help from your Beltway centrist elites, who’ve lately been doing a lot of disingenuous moaning about em-

LOOKING FORWARD IN ANGST

ployment, many years after it would have been useful. That’s by design, by the way. Washington Monthly’s Ryan Cooper closed out the year with a piece I’ve not been able to forget. Specifically, this part: I think ... the new centrist focus on jobs is best viewed as a tactical retreat cloaking the traditional elite agenda of austerity and deficit reduction, which has been discredited due to its utter intellectual collapse. There are a variety of cultural, financial and political reasons for this kind of thinking (best outlined by Michal Kalecki) but the important thing is that they have nothing to do with jobs or growth, so they’re completely impervious to traditional evidence. And this makes perfect sense — as Paul Krugman points out today, the American elite has almost never been in such a dominant position. Who needs a stronger job market when profits are high and workers cowed? Oh, yeah, and you should probably worry about health care, too, right? Happy New Year!

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Q&A

FROM TOP: PAUL ARCHULETA/FILMMAGIC/GETTY IMAGES; RICHARD SHOTWELL/INVISION/AP

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Candace Cameron Bure on Being ‘Submissive to Her Husband “Listen, I love that my man is a leader. I want him to lead and be the head of our family... major decisions do fall on him. It doesn’t mean I don’t voice my opinion.”

Above: Actress Cameron Bure at the Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family Holiday Special” on Nov. 18, 2013. Below: Bure at the U.S. premiere of Saving Mr. Banks on Dec. 9, 2013.

FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW, VISIT HUFFPOST LIVE


DATA

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The State of Modern Slavery Nearly 30 million people worldwide are living as slaves, according to a shocking report from The Global Slavery Index. The index defines modern day slavery as debt bondage, human trafficking

and forced marriage. India ranks the higest with 14 million people living as slaves. Here are the 10 countries where the most people are enslaved. – Renee Jacques INDIA

RUSSIA

13,956,010 CHINA

516,217

2,949,243 PAKISTAN

ETHIOPIA

2,127,132

651,110 BANGLADESH

NIGERIA

701,032 DR CONGO

GLOBAL SLAVERY INDEX. WALL SXC.HU/ PASIP

462,327 THERE ARE AN ESTIMATED

29.8 MILLION

PEOPLE IN MODERN SLAVERY GLOBALLY

= 200,000 People

MAURITANIA HAS THE HIGHEST PROPORTION OF SLAVES, WITH ABOUT 4% OF ITS 3.8 MILLION PEOPLE ENSLAVED

343,192 BURMA

384,037 THAILAND

472,811 INDIA, CHINA, PAKISTAN, NIGERIA, ETHIOPIA, RUSSIA, THAILAND, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, BURMA AND BANGLADESH ACCOUNT FOR 76% OF ENSLAVED PEOPLE GLOBALLY


HEADLINES

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The Week That Was

AP PHOTO/MIKE GROLL (WALLOPED); AP PHOTO/SUSAN WALSH (FED TO FOXES); AP PHOTO/ NAM Y. HUH (FREEZE SETS IN); AP PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE (BRIDGE TROLL)

TAP IMAGE TO ENLARGE, TAP EACH DATE FOR FULL ARTICLE ON THE HUFFINGTON POST

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St. Louis, Miss. 01.05.2014 A person struggles to cross a street in blowing and falling snow as the Gateway Arch materializes in the distance. PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

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Herat, Afghanistan 01.03.2014 Afghan boys carry firewood home. High unemployment and the high cost of living have increased vulnerability to the weather for large sections of the Afghan population. PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

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Tel Aviv, Israel 01.05.2014 African migrants sit atop a Holocaust memorial installation in Rabin Square, after a march to demand worker rights and better treatment from the Israeli government. PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 01.04.2014 People enjoy Ipanema Beach during a summer heat wave. Temperatures climbed to 104 in the city with a heat index measured at 122 degrees. PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

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Dhaka, Bangladesh 01.04.2014 Bangladeshi men stand near a fire during a cold winter morning. About one third of Dhaka’s 15 million residents live in poverty. PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

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Simpang Empat, North Sumatra, Indonesia 01.04.2014 A woman carries her daughter in a field as Mount Sinabung spews pyroclastic smoke. The number of displaced persons has increased to more than 20,000 in Western Indonesia as Mount Sinabung continues to spew ash and smoke after several eruptions since September. Eleven deaths have now been recorded as a result of the eruptions with hundreds more falling ill. Officials expect the number of evacuees to rise as volcanic activity remains high. PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

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THE ASAHI SHIMBUN VIA GETTY IMAGES

Tokyo, Japan 12.30.2013 “Nakamise” shopping street is packed as people prepare for the new year. PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK


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Bischofshofen, Austria 01.05.2014 Thomas Diethart of Austria soars through the air during his qualification jump on day one of the 62nd Four Hills Tournament event. PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

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Kalofer, Bulgaria 01.06.2014 Men perform a traditional dance in the icy winter waters of the Tundzha River as part of the Epiphany Day celebrations. As a tradition, an Eastern Orthodox priest throws a cross in the river and it is believed that the one who retrieves it will be healthy through the year, along with all those who dance in the icy waters. PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

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Awerial, Sudan 01.02.2014 One of the few to have a mosquito net, this displaced family — who fled the recent fighting between government and rebel forces in Bor by boat — wakes in the morning in the town of Awerial. The international Red Cross said the gathering of displaced “is the largest single identified concentration of displaced people in the country so far.” PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

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Birmingham, Ala. 01.04.2014 Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is doused by linebacker Chase Garnham after they defeated Houston, 41-24, in the BBVA Compass Bowl NCAA college football game. PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

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Jammu, India 01.04.2014 A Sikh girl shouts slogans during a religious procession ahead of the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh guru. Tap here for a more extensive look at the week on The Huffington Post. PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

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JENNIFER BENDERY

Voices

JENNIFER BENDERY

Searching for Kristin WITH ALL THESE stories coming out about what happened in 2013 and what we’ll remember — in sum, the Pope and Jennifer

Lawrence are awesome, Syria is a mess and Congress got totally pwned by the gun lobby — it got me thinking about what the hell happened in my little world over the past year. A few things stand out. I went

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Voices to Greece for two weeks with my girlfriend and imagined a life of feta cheese and wine instead of Washington politics. Over the summer, my friend and I speedwalked, strolled and finally limped for 18 miles overnight to help raise money for suicide prevention programs. And miracle of all miracles, my ex and I sold our condo, a plan that was years in the making and executed with remarkable grace. We walked away from that chapter of our lives with a clink of glasses, a small chunk of change and a sense of closure. Some other stuff happened, too. I wrote stories I was proud of. Joe Biden called my dad at a holiday party. I lost days of my life watching back-to-back episodes of Homeland. But all those things were overshadowed by the loss of my friend Kristin, who died in January 2013 after battling bladder cancer. She was only 42. I never thought she’d actually lose to stupidcancer, as she called it, always keeping the two words together. She was the healthiest person you’d ever meet, eating salmon and blueberries all the time, swimming insanely long races to Alcatraz or in be-

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tween islands in Alaska. She had so many friends, and she was so kind, so adventurous. I always thought if anyone could kick cancer it would be her. When I really think about 2013, I realize I spent most of the year looking for her. We once had a pact: If one of us died, you’d have to send the other one a sign that you were okay, that you weren’t reeeeeally gone but just in a differ-

We once had a pact: If one of us died, you’d have to send the other one a sign that you were okay, that you weren’t reeeeeally gone but just in a different place.” ent place. Because we felt pretty connected to each other, we figured our bond was strong enough to break through this afterlife business and transmit a message about what it was like. We thought, How cool would that be? So when she actually passed away, I began searching for signs from her everywhere. In my dreams. In a flickering light. In the glances of strangers who maybe, sort of resembled Kristin. So many


JENNIFER BENDERY

Voices

nights, when I was lying in bed and thought I’d heard something in the room, I’d nervously open my eyes to see if it was Kristin standing there smiling, saying something like, “See? We did it!” I even stood alone in my kitchen once and, feeling a bit nuts, said out loud to nobody, “Okay Kristin, I’m ready.

JENNIFER BENDERY

Give me a sign!” And I waited. And waited. But nothing happened. As the months rolled by, I started to worry that maybe Kristin had sent me a message and I’d missed it. What if that woman at the Metro station who’d smiled and stared at me knowingly had been her, somehow? What if Kristin had stood next to my bed one night but it had been the one time I’d chosen not to open my eyes?

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Hundreds of cairns, little piles of rocks, at Samaria Gorge in Greece.


Voices How lame would it be if she’d managed, against all odds, to send a signal and I overlooked it? This anxiety over finding Kristin’s message had subsided somewhat by the fall, when my girlfriend and I headed to Greece and checked out for awhile. One day, as we were putzing around in Crete, we started talking to this woman who was raving about having just hiked Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe. It happened to be a couple hours away from where we were. We decided we should probably check it out, so we bought bus tickets to go the next day. That night, I had a dream about Kristin. I don’t remember much about it, except that I could see her vividly and I woke up feeling good. I kept thinking about it on the bus ride the next morning. I told my girlfriend about it too, and said how surprised I was to finally see Kristin in my dreams as we rolled around in Greece, so far from home. Samaria Gorge is a wild scene. You’re in a remote part of an island with hardly anybody around, just ambling your way down a mountain and through a rocky valley for 10 miles. It’s six hours

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of breathtaking scenery and concentrating on where you step so you don’t bite it on loose pebbles. That’s where my mind was when, a few miles in, we turned a corner and came across a couple of cairns. They’re little piles of rocks that people stack up and leave behind as a form of art or as a marker that someone was there. Kristin had absolutely loved these things. Whenever we’d go on

As the months rolled by, I started to worry that maybe Kristin had sent me a message and I’d missed it... How lame would it be if she’d managed, against all odds, to send a signal and I overlooked it?” walks, she’d always stop and stack one up, and I’d leave one, too. It didn’t matter where we were; she was always leaving behind little rock piles. So when I spotted them on our trail that day, we decided to leave one in honor of Kristin. We took a picture of our rock stack and kept moving. Even seeing a handful of cairns on the trail was a surprise. This place felt so far from anything,


Voices with nobody passing by and few signs that people had been here before us, that we might as well have been on the moon. Which is why when we turned another corner and saw what was in front of us, my jaw dropped and, quite literally, I had to catch my breath. Hundreds of cairns surrounded us. Hundreds. Balanced in rows on the ground, on fallen trees, on boulders, along the trail and further out into the woods, even delicately arranged in the branches of the trees above us. Like nothing I’ve ever seen. Just everywhere. I was paralyzed. It was one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen. A gift, it seemed, just for us, in the stillness and the privacy of these woods. As my eyes teared up, for the first time since January, I felt Kristin again. I mean I really felt her presence. It was overpowering. I realized if I was ever going to get a sign, it would be like this — one that demonstrated beauty, creativity and cleverness. It was Kristin, at her best. The rest of the hike was a blur. I was wiping my eyes for the last couple of miles, wondering if what we’d seen was real, and unable to shake the feeling I’d just been with Kristin. We made it

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out of the gorge and into town, and caught our rickety bus back to where we were staying. Soon, we were on a plane to D.C. and back at work, falling into our regular lives again. I never really told anyone about looking for Kristin over the last year. Death isn’t an easy subject to begin with. How do you casually mention you’re keeping an eye out for signs that your

I realized if I was ever going to get a sign, it would be like this — one that demonstrated beauty, creativity and cleverness. It was Kristin, at her best.” friend who died is doing great in the afterlife? But as the year winds down and everyone takes stock of what mattered and what didn’t, it’s that sprawling scene of little rock piles in the middle of nowhere — Kristin’s message delivered, and received — that mattered the most to me. Rest in peace, my friend. Jennifer Bendery is a politics reporter at The Huffington Post.


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Voices

AMY CHAN

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The Daily Contract ’VE NEVER BEEN BIG on New Year’s resolutions. Setting grand, lofty resolutions only to be forgotten weeks into the year may be well intended, but for the most part, are ineffective. ¶ I am a true believer that it’s the small, everyday changes we make that collectively result in great change. So this year, instead of creating a new set of goals and resolutions, I’ve decided to create a contract. This is a contract with myself, on the everyday behaviors and perspectives I can incorporate so I can grow — so that I can be the best version of “me,” that I can be.


EMMA GUTTERIDGE/GETTY IMAGES

Voices

1. SPEND LESS TIME SHOPPING, MORE TIME TRAVELING. Yes, those stilettos have a slightly different heel than the ones you already have in your closet, and yes, they are gorgeous. But you’ll forget about those shoes in a season, and could have spent that money on a trip where you would have met new people and savored a heart enriching memory. Invest in experiences, not things. 2. START HONORING YOUR INTUITION. You know that feeling of resistance and hesitation you’ve ig-

AMY CHAN

nored all these years? Well, it’s time to start listening. You’ve been through enough life situations and met enough people to give your intuition the trust and respect it deserves. Next time your gut tells you something, don’t make excuses to justify it into silence. Listen. 3. REMEMBER THAT YOUR PARENTS ARE AGING. AND ONE DAY IT WILL BE TOO LATE TO CALL, WRITE AND MAKE TIME FOR THEM. There is this naivety that comes along with youth, where you think that you’re invincible, and nothing bad will ever happen to you or the people you love. But as you grow older, you start to realize this

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Voices

AMY CHAN

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isn’t the case. No matter what your relationship is with your parents, you will miss them when they are gone. Make the time now to show that you appreciate them. Learn their stories, ask them new questions and find out as much about their history as possible. “Don’t wait until a crisis to discover what is important in your life.”

GETTY IMAGES/TETRA IMAGES RF

4. WHEN YOU’RE FEELING IMPATIENT, ADJUST YOUR REACTION. Yes you’re busy. But don’t think you’re more important or more entitled that you actually are. Before you roll your eyes because the cashier is being too slow, or silently judge someone’s intelligence because they are taking too long, adjust your reaction and remember, it’s not your place to make someone feel anxiety because they aren’t performing a task at the pace you’d prefer. 5. EACH WEEK, DO SOMETHING TO SHOW APPRECIATION FOR SOMEONE. Write a card, send flowers “just because,” or pick up the phone and call. Do something random to show someone you love that you appreciate and care about them. Making someone feel special

When you’re angry or blaming someone, it’s easy to dehumanize the person. But even the target of your frustration has a history and a story.” shouldn’t be reserved for birthdays or Hallmark holidays. Make proactive gestures of appreciation a part of your weekly routine. 6. START YOUR MORNING WITH ‘ME’ TIME. Before the rush of the workday begins, start your morning off with some “me” time. Fill that time with


Voices something that feeds your spirit. Meditate, read, go for a walk... Don’t make the first thing you do before you get out of bed to grab your phone and check your email. If you start your day with a sense of calm, you can set precedent for the tone of the rest of your day. 7. SAY A POSITIVE AFFIRMATION ALOUD EVERY MORNING. Seems cheesy. But it works. Every morning, look in the mirror, say a positive affirmation. Start your morning that way and it will affect the attitude you choose for the day. 8. CARVE OUT TIME EVERY DAY TO FEED A PASSION. Make it a daily habit to carve time out to do something that feeds a passion or builds on your personal development. Write, doodle, make something with your hands, dance... It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of every day. If you need to, schedule that time in your calendar. If you woke up half an hour earlier and slept half an hour later each day to feed a side project, by the end of the year, you’d have over two extra full weeks spent doing something that is soul enriching.

AMY CHAN

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9. BEFORE BED, WRITE OR SAY ALOUD SOMETHING YOU’RE GRATEFUL FOR. Gratitude rewires your brain for happiness. Write down something you’re grateful for every night before bed. Make that ritual of gratitude be the last thing you do before you sleep.

You’ve been through enough life situations and met enough people to give your intuition the trust and respect it deserves.” 10. THE PERSON IN FRONT OF YOU IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR PHONE. As someone who prides yourself on having good manners, since when did it become normalized to check your phone in the middle of a conversation? We’ve become so accustomed to racing to react to the sound of a new message or email coming in, that we forget that such constant “connection” is what’s disconnecting us more than ever. Remind yourself that the email can wait. Your Instagram followers will understand if you don’t post that photo of our


Voices

GETTY IMAGES/CULTURA RF

meal in real time. Remind yourself that being present is the most authentic way of truly experiencing something - whether that be a dinner conversation, a concert or a hike. That urge to capture the moment in a picture, document and share with the world doesn’t add to that experience’s authenticity, in fact, it detracts from it. Being a slave to your phone is addictive. Start by small changes. When someone is speaking to you, stop typing, looking at your screen and pay full attention. When you’re having a meal with someone, leave your phone off the table so that you’re not tempted to keep checking it. 11. WHEN YOU’RE FEELING JUDGMENTAL, REMEMBER, EMPATHY ALWAYS WINS. People are going to frustrate you, hurt you and even enrage you. It’ll be easy to hate or judge these people. But try to think about why that person is behaving that way. Remember that “hurt people hurt people.” Think about what their childhood may have been like, what they may be going through, what they’re scared of. When you’re angry or blaming someone, it’s easy to dehumanize the per-

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son. But even the target of your frustration has a history and a story. Ask yourself why the person is affecting you so much as there’s likely something you can learn from the challenging interaction. Lastly, don’t be so hard on yourself. You will slip. There will be times where you’ll be lazy and lack the discipline to follow the points of this contract. Don’t self loathe when you do. Remember to be gentle with yourself. Give yourself permission to be soft, to not know all the answers, to be vulnerable, and most importantly, to be human. Amy Chan is a relationship & lifestyle columnist.

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: AP PHOTO/ALESSANDRA TARANTINO; WILLIAM B. PLOWMAN/NBC/NBC NEWSWIRE; JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

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QUOTED

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“For a little while in my teenage years, my friends and I read David [Brooks] columns... I have some fond memories of us all being uninformed and feeling superior together.”

— Vanity Fair’s Juli Weiner

“Her portrayal of an intelligent agent is beyond artificial.”

on the NYTimes columnist’s roundly mocked piece on smoking weed

— Siri,

when asked about the voice software program voiced by Scarlet Johansson in Spike Jonze’s new film Her

The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. Guess this guy’s not there yet.

— HuffPost commenter Rheinbear on “Toyota Driver Hates His Ex Enough To Rant About It On His License Plate”

“La la la la... I’m not listening... more fossil fuel please!” — HuffPost commenter Reverend_Atheist

on “Message In A Bottle Found In Arctic Glacier Ultimately Reveals Global Warming In Region”


Voices

QUOTED

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“We will not stop reporting on the political actions and the consequences of the political actions of rich and powerful men, even if they send angry letters every time we do it.”

— Rachel Maddow

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: AP PHOTO/CHARLES REX ARBOGAST; LLOYD BISHOP/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK; AKIO KON/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES; JORDAN STRAUSS/INVISION/AP

“Let’s go after all of those free-loading walkers also.”

on her show, after receiving a letter from the Koch brothers’ lawyers

— HuffPost commenter chicagokt

on “With Cycling A Growing Choice For Transit, Chicago And Other Cities Tempted By Bike Taxes”

“Never read the comments section … or Google oneself, at any time.”

— Sandra Bullock

on Googling herself, at the Palm Springs International Film Festival Gala

“Parents are more than happy allowing their children to play violent games but have a problem with their children being exposed to something their parents are doing all the time... Makes sense.”

— HuffPost commenter pleblian

on “8-Year-Old Finds Porn On Nintendo System He Got For Christmas”


MAYA’S EYE PHOTOGRAPHY

01.12.14 #83 FEATURES LOST BOY

THE MARIJUANA DELIVERY NETWORK


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ONE FAMILY’S FIGHT TO GET THEIR SON THE EDUCATION HE NEEDS BY JOY RESMOVITS PHOTOGRAPHS BY MAYA’S EYE PHOTOGRAPHY


WASHINGTON —

Greg Masucci just wants to hear his little boy say his own name. ¶ That’s what he tells developmental specialists as he sits in an office at John Tyler Elementary School for what feels like the hundredth meeting to hash out his son’s educational goals. This time, the specialists insist the school can’t be expected to teach 6-yearold Maximus to say his name and his family’s name upon request. “He should be able to say his name, our name … and maybe ‘Washington, D.C.,’” Greg says. “You know, just, God forbid, if he gets kidnapped.” Max has severe autism. He can’t talk, sit still or express his desires. Sometimes he smears his own feces on bathroom walls and dives head first onto his bed. No

one understands why. Greg’s nightmare scenario of losing Max isn’t hypothetical. Schools have lost him in the past. Once, he escaped through a broken gate and into a field adjacent to a feeder street to the highway. When his father found him, Max was just feet away from oncoming traffic, walking toward a soccer goal at the field’s end. Although his story ended happily, it doesn’t always for others. Avonte Oquendo, a 14-yearold New York City boy with autism, is still missing more than four weeks after walking out the front doors of his public school.


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Max’s parents believe there is hope that their giggly, sweet child can grow up to be somewhat independent if he receives the right education. And at age 6, they believe that his window for learning how to learn is closing. Max is one of several hundred thousand American children who have been diagnosed with autism in the last decade. Diagnosis rates have skyrocketed from one in 155 in 2002, to one in 88 in 2008. And as these boys and girls grow up, our budget-strapped country will face yet another blow: Ac-

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cording to the Autism Society, if these children aren’t taught early and effectively the skills that could eventually allow them to live on their own, they’ll cost taxpayers about $3.2 million each throughout their lifetimes for services such as nurses to help them go to the bathroom and group homes where they can live after their parents can no longer care for them. In 10 years, those children will grow up and cost taxpayers anywhere between $200 billion and $400 billion annually. But with proper care and schooling, according to research and physicians, there’s a roughly 60 percent chance they’ll be able to

Greg stands with protest posters outside a local school on Capitol Hill in April 2013, where D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray was visiting to discuss education policy and the progress DCPS had made during his time in office.


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support themselves. Of course, autism spectrum disorders are complicated. Researchers have yet to identify the causes of the condition, and every child develops differently. But many physicians, such as researcher Dr. Laurie Stephens of the California-based Education Spectrum and Dr. Kathleen Atmore, Max’s doctor at Children’s National Medical Center, describe a “window of opportunity.” “The window of opportunity is that the brain is still developing and very malleable until age eight or nine,” Stephens said. “If, at that point, you utilize some of the evidence-based best practices like behavioral intervention strategy, you really are rewiring the brain.” Different researchers have different ideas about how this works. Peter Mundy, the director of educational research at University of California Davis’ MIND Institute, says there might be a second window later on. But Mundy and Stephens agree that study after study has shown that early intervention — targeting children during this critical period for brain development — is key. A 2005 Research in Developmental Disabilities study found that children who received spe-

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cific autism school programming called “intensive behavior analytic intervention” in small teacherstudent ratios yielded “statistically significant” gains in all areas except for motor skills when compared with their peers. Studies like those have made Greg and his wife, Maya Wechsler, hopeful that if Max catches the right instruc-

Max has severe autism. He can’t talk, sit still or express his desires. Sometimes he smears his own feces on bathroom walls and dives head first onto his bed. No one understands why. tion at the critical moment, he might learn to ask questions. To read. To become an independent member of society. Experts have seen children become self-sufficient after starting off more despondent than Max. That’s what enrages Greg during the school meetings, an extreme version of the kind experienced by nearly every parent: That schools are wasting his son’s precious time and, more significantly, the plasticity of his young brain. After cycling Max through four public schools in his short life,


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Greg and Maya have come to the conclusion that the District of Columbia Public Schools system doesn’t have the capacity to educate their son. Federal law states that public school systems must foot the bill for private schooling for students like Max if the public schools can’t give him a “free and appropriate public education.” How you define “appropriate,” though, is where it gets blurry.

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In November 2012, Max’s family filed for private school funding. In January, a DCPS hearing officer denied their claim on the grounds that Max’s lack of progress is not legal reason enough to grant him free tuition. Washington, D.C., like other school districts throughout the country, is currently trying to reduce the number of special education students on the rolls of costly private schools. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has called for reducing his city’s private placements by

Max’s parents took him to the hospital to determine whether he had epilepsy on July 24, 2013. About one third of those with autism also suffer from epilepsy at some point in their lives. While he did display some abnormal brain activity, Max is not epileptic.


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half. A document obtained by The Huffington Post shows that the district is offering incentives to public and charter school administrators who keep special education students under their roofs. But in a positive sign for special education students in D.C., the most recent results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress found that students with disabilities increased their scores by nine points in fourth grade reading and eighth grade reading and math, and by three points in fourth grade reading. The district declined to discuss Max’s case, citing privacy and pending litigation. It asserts the switch from private to public schools assuages a civil rights concern, because students with disabilities can stay in regular public schools where they can be included and not segregated. “Federal law requires that local education agencies evaluate every child at least once a year to determine whether or not they are in the least restrictive environment possible,” Dr. Nathaniel Beers, a pediatrician who oversees special education for DCPS, told HuffPost. “Is there a kid in a self-contained classroom who doesn’t need to be? Is this

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a kid who is in a more restrictive setting, like one of our self-contained school buildings?” But many special needs advocates suspect it’s an attempt to save money. For years, a court injunction compelled D.C. to place more special education students with even low or moderate disabilities in private placement.

At age 6, they believe that his window for learning how to learn is closing. Consequently, private school tuition ate significantly into the city’s school budget. All of which scratches only the surface of the complicated questions being asked by school districts across the country: How do we educate our most vulnerable citizens, children who have disabilities ranging from dyslexia to autism? Is it better to make sure their individual needs are met, or is it better to surround them with their “neurotypical” peers? When making budgeting decisions in the face of dwindling resources, do your last dollars go to general education students or to the neediest cases? Within the world of autism interventions, these questions only get tougher. As a civil right for


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students with disabilities, inclusion would have such children taught in a regular classroom among their peers. But what if the teacher isn’t trained to cater to a student’s specific diagnosis? The questions demand answers. In an effort to find them, HuffPost reviewed the inner workings, documentation and correspondence between Greg and Maya and their schools — hundreds of pages that trace their struggle for their son’s future, and the future of those like them.

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To those children like Max, these abstract questions mean nothing. While policies change, mistakes happen, and a school district tries to emerge from decades of expensive litigation and retrofit its classrooms for students with special needs, he waits. His parents think Max may be losing his best chance to develop the skills to lead an independent life. And he could not even say his own name. THE ROAD TO DIAGNOSIS Most moms have big dreams for their kids. Maya Wechsler has them, too, only hers are a little different. Maya dreams of the day when

Max during his hospital visit in July, during which he wore an elaborate head wrap to support the equipment needed to read his brain activity.


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her Max can sit through a cartoon. Maybe one day, Max could talk, instead of uttering a limited range of sounds like “swee” (swing) and “Maaaah” (Max). Maybe he’ll be able to show people what he wants, instead of running around a room, shrieking, his desires anyone’s guess. When Maya really lets her imagination run wild, she pictures Max as an independent adult. Employed as a grocery bagger. Or a mail sorter. “The best scenario is that he learns how to learn,” Maya says. She struggles to reconcile her love for her son with her dismay for his situation. “I love my son so much,” she says. But, she adds, “I didn’t sign up to be a parent of a child who will remain a child until I die.” On a sunny Thursday in February, Max’s parents sat on their couch in D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood to tell Max’s story. Their living room is a flurry of toys — dolls, a mini-stroller and equipment one might expect to see at the Cirque du Soleil. Hanging down from the ceiling is a spinning red-and-white fabric enclosure that looks like a cocoon; a monkey bar with two yellow rings to hold; and a long piece of

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purple fabric, a swing. Max, a balletic child, is calmed by spinning, swinging and jumping, so these things are everywhere: a swing in the parents’ bedroom, a small trampoline in Max’s room. Every small movement in the house is picked up by an extensive intercom system. “If it’s too quiet,” Greg says, “we worry.”

When Maya really lets her imagination run wild, she pictures Max as an independent adult. Employed as a grocery bagger. Or a mail sorter. Greg, a 51-year-old realtor, and Maya, a 35-year-old photographer, met in Denver in the fall of 2004 and married about two years later. She gave birth to Max, their first child, in November 2007, under normal circumstances. Max was late to a few milestones, like walking. So at 18 months, he was examined by a doctor from Early Stages, D.C. Public Schools’ diagnostic center. After that, the city sent thirdparty contractors — speech, physical and occupational therapists — to visit Greg and Maya’s yellow townhouse to work with Max on


Max, at age 5, on New Year’s Day in 2013.


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his speech. They brought toys and forms to fill out. As Maya recalls, they came, sat on the living room floor, stayed for an hour and left. By the time Max turned 2, his speech delay became more worrisome. Max attended a daycare operated by a Spanish-speaking woman, so his parents assumed that was the cause. More evaluators checked him out, but none offered a diagnosis. Max would walk around the house carrying random objects like plastic knives, hammers or drumsticks. “We thought he was just a quirky kid,” Maya recalls. And besides, a speech delay had an unexpected benefit: D.C. would provide him with free preschool earlier. At 2 years old, Maya and Greg took Max to Walker-Jones Elementary School to be formally evaluated. Six professionals worked with Max, who started climbing bookshelves and screaming and crying. Then a therapist started hitting Max on the back rhythmically. She squeezed him from behind and picked him up, then dropped him to the floor so that his feet hit the ground hard. He calmed down. “I was just blown away that someone knew what to do to make my child shut

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down,” Maya says, “in a good way.” For the next few months, Maya and Greg waited, checking the mail for the letter from the district that would explain Max’s speech problems. Instead, on Oct. 28, 2010, they got an email. Maya burst into tears. Greg did not believe the diagnosis. Max had severe autism and ADHD. “It’s like being told you have AIDS in an email,” he says. For a few weeks, they mourned the death of the son they thought they would have. What makes the episode so tough to comprehend was that, compared with his present state, Max was talking then. In video footage compiled by Greg to argue that while with DCPS, Max “has regressed to the point where he can barely speak,” Max was developing language skills when he was younger. In a scene shot in 2010, Max is in pajamas next to his little sister, Delilah, then an infant. From off-camera, Maya says, “Say, ‘I love you, baby.’” After a few tries Max says, “Ayaya beebee.” A later clip shows him speaking more clearly, yelling, “Mommy’s shoes!” while dancing in them. But a few years later, he could not repeat any of those phrases. When asked to name a hammer, he jumped up and down and put the hammer in his mouth.


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In some cases of autism, regression can be normal, researchers say. But as Mundy put it, it’s hard to know whether the cause is biological or because new behaviors are demanded as part of an intervention. In another scene, Delilah is rocking back and forth in her bassinet. Max says, “Deyayah, Deyayah.” When prompted, he runs over to kiss her. Then he says, “I hug the beebee,” and puts his arms around her. Now, when Delilah, age 3, tries to engage Max, she gets nothing. Max can also be seen saying things like, “I miss you, Mommy.” But he can’t say that anymore. Maya says she can’t watch the video without crying. The memory haunts her. The last time Max showed sustained interest in something, Maya says, was that Christmas in 2010. The family was home, and Maya sat with her laptop looking for activities. Max grabbed his toy laptop, sauntered over and sat next to her. “Mommy’s ’puter! Mommy’s ’puter!” he yelled. “Then,” she says, “it went into freefall.” GETTING SCHOOLED IN SPECIAL ED Once upon a time, students like

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Max had no schools to attend. In 1970, only 1 in 5 children with disabilities attended any school. But after the race riots of 1968, the winds of the civil rights movement swept up parents who believed their children deserved more. These parents were part of a burgeoning movement, a patchwork of active families. In the early 1970s, two major lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Washington,

“I love my son so much. [But] I didn’t sign up to be a parent of a child who will remain a child until I die.” D.C., shone a light on schools’ exclusionary practices. In 1971, four mothers in Washington state wrote the nation’s first law to guarantee equal rights for children with disabilities. This law became the model for the 1975 federal Education For All Handicapped Children Act. The law relied on the nondiscrimination clause of the 14th Amendment to require that states guarantee all students with disabilities “a free appropriate public education” through the implementation of an individualized education plan, or IEP — the document distrib-


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uted to special education parents across the country to track and map their goals for their children. Some still saw room for improvement. In 1989, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), whose own brother was deaf, introduced several updates to EHA, transforming the law into what would become known as the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Harkin’s updates prescribed that students with disabilities be educated in the “least restrictive environment” possible. Overall, the

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federal government is supposed to provide 40 percent of total IDEA costs, but in 2012, the measure was underfunded by about $17 billion. President Barack Obama’s 2014 budget, released in April, does not include an increase to IDEA, but Harkin has said he plans to reintroduce legislation that would fully fund the law through a tobacco tax. Under IDEA, a school district is responsible for meeting a student’s IEP goals. If the school district in which the student is enrolled cannot provide an educational program that delivers “free and appropriate public educa-

Max inside a moon bounce at a birthday party on June 26, 2011. “This was probably one of the last birthday parties we took him to, because he simply becomes too overwhelmed, sensory-wise, to remain calm and interested in the party,” Maya said.


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tion,” they are required to find a program elsewhere — whether in another public school district or in nearby private schools — and pay for the student to participate. While IDEA expanded schooling for a few hundred thousand students, it also set up a system that, by its nature, can quickly become litigious and contentious for parents and school districts. “Conflict is inherent in this scenario,” said Candace Cortiella, a disabilities rights advocate at the D.C.-area Advocacy Institute, which aims to help people with disabilities. Parents might believe their child needs certain services to accomplish his or her IEP, but special needs advocates say school districts often push for less. Under IDEA, districts are not allowed to make decisions based on costs, but the law allows them to take cost into consideration when assessing different “configurations” of the same services. With IDEA so severely underfunded, this process has long strained parents’ relationships with school districts. And over the past few years, as schools have had to cut their budgets during the recession, some say the situation has worsened. With the fate of sequestration cuts still uncer-

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tain, IDEA is losing $600 million this year, paving the way for greater tension in future negotiations. It is these factors that lead parents like Maya to conclude that “the deck is stacked against us.” For decades, Washington, D.C., was particularly negligent. In 1995, parents of students with disabilities filed two class-action

“It’s pathetic. We’re witnessing a gut job on accountability for  special education kids.” lawsuits against DCPS, claiming that the district endangered their children’s right to schooling under IDEA by not paying their private school tuition on time. The resulting federal court injunction, the Petties decision, required that D.C. implement hearing decisions in a “timely manner,” and gave a federal court supervision over D.C.’s special education transportation program. (A judge dismissed the case in December 2012.) “A lot of parents started bringing due process cases against them,” Cortiella recalls. “Parents were just winning these private placements on procedural grounds, simply because the


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district was failing to evaluate them on time.” So D.C. became a national outlier for the number of children it placed in private schools, with 2,204, or about 4 percent of students, in the 2011-12 school year, compared to a national average of about 1,300 in each state, according to federal data. All those private placements put a strain on D.C.’s budget. One estimate found the district pays as much as $200 million annually between private school tuition and

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transportation; in a recent budget, private school tuition cost the district $109 million. In 2006, another court decree, known as Blackman Jones, required the district to eliminate its backlog of more than 1,000 placement decisions from hearing officers. That settlement mandated that D.C. introduce $6 million in special education programming as part of an effort to better equip public schools to educate students with disabilities so some could be pulled back in from the private schools. While D.C.’s situation might be extreme, parents nationwide

Max receiving speech therapy at home. He sits on a green exercise ball, a more “active” seating position that provides greater sensory input and helps him think more clearly.


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have seen little progress on the special education policies that dictate their children’s schooling. As the word “accountability” has gripped education policy, students have been left behind by special education. Movies like Waiting for Superman, the advent of “no excuses” schools, states that tie teacher evaluations to students’ standardized test scores — these have defined the current trajectory of the nation’s public education system. A slew of so-called reformers insist that opportunities don’t matter as much as student progress. With DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee at the helm from 2007 to 2010, Washington, D.C., drove this renaissance. But for students with disabilities, little changed. Schools have few incentives to improve education for them, because for the most part, schools aren’t judged on these students’ test scores. In fact, some advocates think that recent policy changes leave students in special education programs worse off. Even the Obama administration’s post-No Child Left Behind school tracking system has allowed states — as well as D.C. — to set significantly lower performance goals for students in

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special education. “It’s pathetic,” says Margaret Spellings, who served as U.S. Secretary of Education under George W. Bush. “We’re witnessing a gut job on accountability for special education kids.” While IDEA might soon come up for reauthorization, current law makes it possible for D.C. to argue that a boy like Max has been properly educated, and that he’s making progress. His parents think it’s a joke. THE NEW KID, OVER AND OVER As D.C.’s cases unraveled, Greg and Maya were diving into uncharted waters. Once they accepted the diagnosis, they had to hunt down resources. They had to learn a new language, an alphabet soup of acronyms that are common parlance in the world of special education services. They asked friends for referrals to therapists. They criss-crossed the city trying to find help and doctors and school advice. They tried everything, from wonky behavioral approaches to diets rumored to help students progress, before arriving at an approach called verbal behavior. Early on, they stumbled upon a meeting of parents of students with autism. Amid a sea of complaints, one constructive but vague comment


Maya and Greg created a series of protest images like this one to bring attention to their cause.


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stood out: One man said that Walker-Jones Elementary School had served his son well, but didn’t go into specifics. But when Greg and Maya inquired there, it had no spots left for Max. In January 2011, Max began preschool at Patterson Elementary School. Greg and Maya say his teacher was stellar, but records show that the school was not providing the services required by Max’s IEP. Once, instead of taking him to his required occupational therapy, Maya says the school sent him to a Martin Luther King Day assembly. After a few months, the school made it clear that it didn’t have proper staffing to meet Max’s IEP. So he transferred into Bridges Public Charter School, a school a few miles from his house that specializes in integrating children with disabilities. Once again, the teacher was beloved. Then, a few months later, a slot opened at Walker-Jones, the public school Greg and Maya had heard was outstanding. And besides, the charter school went only through first grade. They had mixed feelings about leaving Bridges, because they felt they were treated well there, that the

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staff truly cared about their desires and concerns. But by fall 2011, Max transferred to WalkerJones. The move filled his parents with hope. There were early signs of trouble. During the parents’ first meeting with the school, it became clear that Walker-Jones didn’t even know Max had au-

“[We’ve] taken on a dangerous amount  of debt ... We can’t afford private school.” tism. The school ultimately placed him in a classroom with Stephanie Aduso, another teacher whom the family loved. What they didn’t know, though, was that the class was intended for high-functioning children with autism, who could keep up with the general curriculum. Nobody examined Max and told his parents that he would not be a good fit for this classroom. Aduso, the teacher, figured this out immediately. According to internal emails provided to HuffPost, early in the school year, on Oct. 24, Aduso wrote to her school’s special education team expressing her concerns. “The way our pro-


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gram is set up, I can’t meet those hours,” she wrote, referring to Max’s IEP. “So I think this will lead to a placement discussion.” The school’s special education coordinator, wrote back later that day saying that “this may not be an easy conversation with his parents.” At around the same time, Maya wrote to Aduso: “We have NO IDEA why he’s regressing all of a sudden.” Over the next few months, Aduso continued to send daily notes home with Max. There were the exciting days when Max sang for the first time, filling in “E I E I O” in “Old McDonald.” Then there was the day when Aduso wrote that “Max has been a little off ... not as smile-ly or as giggly as usual.” By March 7, 2012, Max’s misplacement in Aduso’s class had become so painfully obvious that she brought it up to his parents. “[H]is needs would be better met in a classroom with a lower student-teacher ratio,” she wrote to them. Greg responded, saying he was “shocked” by the news. “That’s when we decided DCPS had formally failed our child,” Maya recalls. At that point, Maya and Greg were more than $40,000 in

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debt. They were working Max hard after school with behavioral therapists and speech help. But the news that Max needed more led them to worry his education would tip them over the financial edge. On March 11, Maya wrote to Aduso that they’d “taken on a dangerous amount of debt ... We can’t afford private school.” PUBLIC TO PRIVATE AND BACK AGAIN When Mayor Gray took office in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 2, 2011, there were 2,204 special education students enrolled in private placements. By last school year, that number decreased to about 1,200. Seventy-five students, DCPS said in response to a data request, returned from private school placement to DCPS between the 2011-12 school year and 2012-13. (DCPS is also reducing private placements through graduation: As explained by Beers, the head of special education for the district, many students in private schools are in higher grades. Last year, 160 students graduated from private placement, and DCPS expects 200 more to graduate this year.) In 2014, according to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, DC’s budget included $32 million it had saved from a reduction in private placements for special educa-


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tion students. The district maintains that its new programs have improved its special education offerings, making public schools a better fit for students with all types of disabilities. Beers says the district is currently building up capacity so that its classrooms are equipped to teach children who were previously shunted into private schools. And he cautions that these decisions are nuanced. “The mayor wants to continue to see reductions in our nonpublic population.

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I have agreed ... that this is a goal that we need to continue to pursue,” Beers said. “We won’t pursue it if we can’t ensure that kids aren’t getting the services they need. ... There’s no one who comes to me when I make a recommendation ... and says, ‘Oh no, you can’t do that because we don’t have the money.’” Meanwhile, in August 2012, DCPS transferred Max to Tyler Elementary School. Once again, school administrators didn’t realize Max had autism. Greg and Maya had requested Emily Schneider, the only teacher in D.C. certified in a special be-

Greg testifies before the DC Council’s Education Committee on April 22, 2013.


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havioral method called Applied Behavior Analysis. Instead, Max was placed in a class taught by a woman who was a Spanish immersion teacher and had no special education certification. “Walker-Jones had just wasted a year of our lives,” Greg says. “At Tyler he’s being taught by a Spanish teacher!” What’s more, they weren’t receiving regular reports from Tyler. And the school’s supplemental services were no better. Once, Greg walked into the school to pick up Max, only to find him sweaty from humping a beanbag chair. A teacher’s aide sat four feet away, reading a book, as if everything were normal. Another time, when Maya picked up Max, she thought his classroom smelled but made nothing of it. But the smell followed Max to the car: He had defecated in his pants, and no one had cleaned it up. No one even mentioned it. So she walked him back and did it herself. After parents learned that Max’s teacher had been absent for about 25 of 99 school days, the school decided to combine Max’s class with another. Max was finally placed in Schneider’s class, but

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now she had double the students. On Nov. 5, 2012, Greg and Maya filed for private placement. Greg had visited one called Trellis, in Hunt Valley, Md. Trellis used the tactile equipment his parents believe Max needs to focus. For the first time, Greg said, Max seemed at home and en-

“This is part of their strategy. Make us broke and tired, and perhaps leave us with no private school choices in the end that would meet his needs.” gaged. One teacher showed him images on an iPad as he jumped on a small moon bounce. It was heaven. It was also $400 a day. In late January, Maya and Greg learned that the district had denied them private placement, on the grounds that Max doesn’t have to be making progress for D.C. to be in compliance with IDEA. Quoting an earlier case, hearing officer Bruce Ryan wrote, “While the District of Columbia is required to provide [disabled] students with a[n appropriate] public education, it does not guar-


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antee any particular outcome or any particular level of education.” Now furious and frustrated, Greg and Maya felt the district had wasted months of Max’s precious early, “plastic” years. But what bothers Greg and Maya, along with a slew of advocates, is that Ryan isn’t wrong. Technically, schools aren’t judged on special education outcomes. “I don’t think he’s making any progress, but that’s not how the school system judges their work,” said Amy Dunn, a special education teacher who is friends with Max’s parents. In some ways, the path of Dunn’s son Oliver mirrors Max’s: He has attended five schools, one that didn’t continue past age 5, another that couldn’t meet his needs. Dunn calls the changing DCPS leadership “a political football game,” from which she says she’s benefited. During Rhee’s tenure as chancellor a few years ago, Dunn met with the district’s then-special education chief Dr. Ryan Nyankori. Together, they concluded that, despite concerns about “least restrictive environments,” Oliver needed to be in a school that serves only children with special education needs. Since that deci-

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sion, the district has paid for her son to attend Ivymount, a private school in Maryland, where he’s been doing better. But she’s worried. Along with other parents, she received a notice from the mayor’s office saying that the district would move students from private to public school. “It’s scary,” she says. “But this is federal law, so DCPS can’t have the final word. They can’t.” NOWHERE TO TURN At Max’s February IEP meeting, Greg continued to push for more

In May 2013, Max came home from school with a hand-shaped bruise on his arm. They took him to their pediatrician, who said it was “reasonable to suspect aggressive and inappropriate care.”


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ambitious goals for his son. He refused to accept anything less. A few minutes earlier, Daniel McCall, one of the district’s eight attorneys for the special education division, had kicked this reporter out of the room, then out of the school building entirely. After arguing for the meeting’s privacy on legal grounds, he and the special education coordinator simply refused to have the meeting in the presence of a reporter. (The following account of that meeting is based on an audio recording supplied by the family. Both Greg and the school district had digital recorders on and visible during the meeting.) Greg was livid as the meeting began. He hadn’t been told the district would bring an attorney. At one point, McCall intervenes as Greg, the specialists and Max’s teacher, Emily Schneider, appear ready to write more ambitious goals for Max’s IEP. “Any goal that you put ... the team has to say, ‘Do we reasonably feel or believe that we can achieve a mastery?’” the attorney says. “Just be mindful of that, that’s what you’re agreeing to. If you don’t think you have a reasonable belief that he can do that, don’t put it down.” “Are you just here to help him

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craft an IEP that they’ll go to court with?” Greg shoots back. “Why are you here?” “We want to focus on the child’s goals, not personal goals,” the special education coordinator says. “It’s hard to do that when the gentleman is interrupting and stating how they should write it so, legally, they can defend it in court,” Greg responds. The district

“We’re losing our little  boy, and this process is a joke. They keep saying he’s progressing, but how  come he has no vocabulary left? How come he  has poop in his pants?” winds up offering Max $1,500 in therapy, Greg says, or enough to cover Max’s therapy for about a week and a half. That afternoon, Max spends three hours running around his house, jumping on a trampoline, grabbing people’s hands and dragging them to do things he can’t describe. He wears big headphones attached to nothing, probably because he likes the way they make his ears feel. He tends to stay close to Maya, the center of his universe.


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Max is happiest on the swing, spinning like a dancer. Apparently, this regulates his brain. But he’s trying to work on his social behavior, and his parents are trying to encourage him. He walks into the kitchen and immediately reaches for the Teddy Grahams. Before he can have them, Maya tries to get him to say cracker. “Ah ah” comes out. Maya and Greg fear for the future. While they believe a school

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like Trellis could potentially help Max, they’re loath to consider the alternative: Max languishing in lesser schools and winding up later in a group home. So in March, they filed another claim for private education against the district, hoping for a different outcome. Between the hearing and its resolution, however, the situation worsened. One afternoon in May, a day after the second hearing, Max came home from school with a handshaped bruise. Doctors confirmed it was a handprint. “Bruising on

A family portrait taken in Ocean City, N.J., last August.


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left forearm is very consistent with fingers gripping too tightly,” pediatrician Kathleen Lundgren wrote in an evaluation. “It is very reasonable to suspect aggressive and inappropriate care.” For Greg, this was the final straw. “You have once again failed miserably in both capacities,” he wrote in a May 16 email to Henderson, Beers, Schneider and a superintendent in DCPS. The paraprofessional who was eventually fired for the incident had been reported for previous misconduct. Greg and Maya asked that the district reopen the case to include pictures of the bruises — but their request was declined. A few days later, they heard back: They won their case, but just barely. The hearing officer sided with DCPS in most areas, saying that Greg and Maya had failed to prove that Max had regressed since starting school. Max, the decision stated, “has been able to progress on some goals.” The officer did, however, fault DCPS for the absence of Max’s teacher. Max had missed six months of “free and appropriate public education” under IDEA, and on that basis, was awarded with one year of private school funding sufficient for

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Ivymount. It wasn’t quite Trellis, but at the very least it was a school where qualified teachers could provide Max with the individual attention doctor after doctor had said he needed. Greg and Maya were relieved. They were surprised by some aspects of the ruling, but pleased to have the funding. “We still felt like it was a bad decision,” Greg recalls. “Since we were getting private placement, we didn’t question it.” But their relief was short lived. After nine days, “our bubble burst,” Greg says. DCPS filed an appeal, which prevented Max from starting at his new school. DCPS maintained that Max’s school had indeed offered the family the services they needed. Greg and Maya have been vocal about their plight, bringing attention to what they call their “invisible boy” through a Facebook page and a local news segment. They argue the district is being retributive. “This is part of their strategy,” Maya says. “Make us broke and tired, and perhaps leave us with no private school choices in the end that would meet his needs, when this whole evil, endless legal process finally comes to an end.” The family faced a crossroads: Greg and Maya did not feel that they could send Max back to a


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DCPS school, where he had been lost, ignored and manhandled. And if he started off the year in public school, he would lose his slot at Ivymount. So the couple took a second mortgage on their home, which has provided them enough to pay for a year’s tuition there at a whopping $70,000. “I’ve already lost three of Max’s years,” Greg says. “What does it take? We’re losing our little boy, and this process is a joke. They keep saying he’s progressing, but how come he has no vocabulary left? How come he has poop in his pants?” So, Greg and Maya filed a counter-appeal and their own injunction in federal court this summer. At first, the judge’s response seemed favorable: DCPS, the judge wrote, must implement the hearing officer’s decision. But on the 15th page, the judge wrote that the district will have 20 days to stay the initial decision, which allowed the bureaucratic process to continue to unspool. The ruling is “ridiculous,” Greg wrote in an email. “What incentive does DC have to implement these decisions when there are almost no consequences to them for NOT doing so?” he wrote. “DCPS

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knows all too well that the average family will give up the fight. The emotional cost is staggering.” Now the family is tied up in mountains of legal paperwork. Greg and Maya have filed an appeal in the original case and a counter-appeal in the second. Then there’s the injunction they filed to enforce the most recent decision to send Max to Ivymount. Until they hear back, Max waits. So far, he’s made great strides during his first months at Ivymount. He’s mostly back to being potty trained. Greg and Maya say he’s trying to speak again. He’s even sitting still long enough to play games with two people. If no change results from all the filings, he’ll have the one year in a decent school. After that, nothing is guaranteed. Joy Resmovits is an education reporter at The Huffington Post.

Maya and Greg discuss the difficulties of getting their case taken seriously on HuffPost Live. Watch the full segment here.


THE MARIJUANA DELIVERY NETWORK


In New York City, the Best Bud Is Just a Phone Call Away

PREVIOUS PAGE: SAM DIEPHUIS/ GETTY IMAGES THIS PAGE: GETTY IMAGES/FLICKR RF

BY HUNTER STUART

ON A TYPICAL WEEKDAY AFTERNOON, Adam would bicycle past rows of Brooklyn brownstones with a half-dozen plastic, orange pill bottles full of high-quality marijuana in the pockets of his Carhartt jacket. He’d stop at an apartment building, lock his metallic 9-speed Bianchi road bike on the sidewalk and call his client to be buzzed inside.


THE MARIJUANA DELIVERY NETWORK

Adam’s customer, who was always someone who’d been referred by a friend or a prior client, could examine the 2.5 grams of fragrant flower clusters before handing Adam $50 in cash. Adam wouldn’t make much small talk — on most days he’d have between 10 and 15 more deliveries to make, meaning he’d often bike upward of 30 miles a day during a typical nine-hour shift. For nearly two years throughout 2007 and 2008, Adam (whose last name has been withheld to protect his identity) delivered weed for a small, illegal company he and a friend started in New York City. His territory covered a wide swath of Brooklyn — from the neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Bushwick to eastern Bed-Stuy and down to Park Slope — and included lower Manhattan, too. Delivering pot, Adam could make up to $250 a day, tax free. At his previous job selling car rims, Adam had made about $66 per day after taxes. So when the opportunity arose to pedal vials of cannabis around New York City, it was a no-brainer. “I enjoy smoking weed immensely,” Adam says. “It was my way of meeting people and get-

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ting out and seeing and learning everything I could about the city. I learned the streets of Brooklyn like the back of my hand.” It all started not long after Adam first moved to the city after majoring in history at a college upstate. “The gentrification

Delivering pot, Adam could make up to $250 a day, tax free. At his previous job selling car rims, Adam had made about $66 per day after taxes. happening in the Williamsburg, Bushwick, Fort Greene area” during that time had created “an untapped market for selling weed,” Adam said. The work was physically taxing, and Adam lost several bikes to broken wheels and thieves; but he says he loved the job, particularly getting to interact with New Yorkers. “I met people from all walks of life connected by their love of weed. I’d deliver to fancy buildings with doormen in the West Village and to artists living in brownstones. I got asked out on dates and invited to dinner parties by my customers — all kinds of stuff,” he said. There are more than a dozen marijuana home delivery com-


PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

Runners typically arrive with at least three or four different strains of neatly packaged and labeled bud, and they will explain its qualities like a waiter reciting the specials at a fancy restaurant.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY HUNTER STUART


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panies currently operating in New York City. There are bigger ones like Safeway, whose voicemails sound like an actual Safeway supermarket, and Sour Kush Cafe, which sends its customers alerts via text message when a courier is nearby. There are also smaller, boutique services like Fresh Direct, Jackpot, Exotic 420, Brooklyn Organics, Reliable and Speedy’s Dogwalkers. Such companies have existed since at least the late 1980s. Despite the dramatic rise in street arrests for marijuana possession in the mid 1990s, spearheaded by Mayor Rudy Giuliani and zealously continued by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the services have proliferated, offering residents a safe and private way to buy pot. Many of the services, if not all of them, avoid police infiltration with a simple but apparently effective system in which new customers must be personally referred by existing clients. Some services have code words: Customers of one company must ask if a “rep” is available when they call and specify that they need help with their “cookies programming” if they want to buy edibles. Communication between dis-

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patchers and couriers is often done using mobile messaging apps that are said to be more difficult for the police to access. Many services employ marketing techniques to increase their customer base, like offering incentives for frequent customers,

“I met people from all walks  of life connected by their love of weed. I’d deliver to fancy buildings with doormen in the West Village and to artists living in brownstones.” customers who buy large quantities or customers who refer their friends to the service. Most of New York’s cannabis couriers are knowledgeable about their product in a way that suggests they cater to buyers who take their pot seriously. Runners typically arrive with at least three or four different strains of neatly packaged and labeled bud, and they will explain its qualities like a waiter reciting the specials at a fancy restaurant. The weed itself — usually ultra-potent buds grown hydroponically or occasionally in outdoor gardens — comes from Pennsylvania and New England but also from the West Coast, British Co-


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THE MARIJUANA DELIVERY NETWORK

lumbia and Quebec. Most services carry both indica and sativa weed varieties, as well as hybrid strains that incorporate qualities from both, giving consumers a range of choices to suit their tastes. The difference between indica and sativa, says Abdullah Saeed, author of the weekly Vice series “Weediquette,” is that sativas “tend to make you feel more active and creative,” whereas indicas are “nighttime stuff” that

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“make you feel more introspective and sedated.” “Everybody has their own personal preferences for what works for them,” said a wool sweater-clad Saeed, his hair in a topknot, at the Manhattan loft where he works. One of the only drawbacks to getting such good pot, many New Yorkers will tell you, is that a standard “eighth” in the Big Apple contains only 2.5 grams of pot (an eighth of an ounce of weed should weigh a little over 3.5 grams.) But that’s the price you pay in New York City. Part of the reason is that customers are paying for conve-


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nience. “Because it’s NYC, everyone expects to have anything and everything delivered to their front door,” Adam says. Since the services have a relatively high buy-in threshold ($50 or $60 is the least you can spend) most customers tend to be hardworking, often middle- or uppermiddle class people. “A lot of my customers were 9-to-5 people who just needed that after-work break,” Adam said. “If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that weed knows no boundaries when it comes to who wants to smoke. For the most part, people just want a little distraction from their everyday struggle. I was more than happy to provide them with it.” Remarkably, these illegal herb services are allowed to operate with near impunity. Couriers who have been arrested report being let off with a relatively small fine. In the last 20 years, there has only been one major bust involving a delivery service. That business, known as the Cartoon Network, had been a large and lucrative operation before it was broken up in 2005 by a team of federal and local law enforcement agents. According to court documents, Car-

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toon Network sold about 2,200 pounds of weed over a seven-year period, sometimes moving more than $12,000 of pot per day. Still, its ringleader, John Nebel, served just a little more than four years of his five-year sentence. For Adam, who is black, the statistical likelihood that he’d be caught via “stop and frisk” — the controversial New York Police Department (NYPD) tactic where people are questioned and patted down on mere suspicion of criminal activity — was high. In 2007

“Because it’s NYC, everyone expects to have anything and everything delivered to their front door.” and 2008, when Adam was delivering marijuana three to five days a week, blacks in New York were about nine times more likely to be stopped and patted down by the police than whites, according to calculations based on data from the New York Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Census Bureau. Luckily, though, Adam was never caught. He believes it was because he didn’t “fit the prototype for a ‘drug dealer.’” “Even though I was a black male in his early 20s, I wore skinny


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jeans, glasses, and had a high-top haircut,” he said. Part of the reason for the NYPD’s apparent indifference to busting weed couriers is because of the small quantities being sold. Runners use New York’s marijuana possession laws to their advantage by never carrying too much weed at any given time. Being caught with less than 25 grams is a violation, not a criminal offense, under New York state law. “The people being prosecuted as dealers in NYC are generally not those selling an ounce or a half-pound of weed, unless they’re also selling harder drugs,” said New York attorney Joseph Bondy, who specializes in defending people who have been arrested for marijuana offenses. “Unless you’re doing a deal in broad daylight, and you happen to get stopped by the cops, the police are not going to concern themselves.” The services themselves are also structured to prevent snitching. “The system [used by weed delivery companies] is set up so that they can’t roll anybody up the chain. That’s why it’s so resilient,” said National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Executive Director Allen St. Pierre.

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“The delivery guys at the bottom often have no idea who is providing the pot to them. They may know the person, but they don’t know their real name.” The NYPD’s apparent apathy toward busting weed couriers, St. Pierre says, is simply that it has

Many of the services, if not all of them, avoid police infiltration with a simple but apparently effective system in which new customers must be personally referred by existing clients. more important things to worry about: “Gotham has so many other things going on that should rightly concern police than trying to get between two consenting adults who are having private communications and doing their business in private.” Not only was Adam never arrested, he says his parents never found out about his job. Eventually, however, he left the weed service entirely to pursue a career in hospitality. But the company he helped found in 2007 has grown and continues to prosper in his absence. Hunter Stuart is a trends reporter at The Huffington Post.


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17 Essential Items Every Guy Should Own BY ELLIE KRUPNICK

WE KNOW that many men find shopping challenging, which is why we’ve whipped up clothing guides for everything from pants to suits to shoes to shorts (yes, we’re OK with guys wearing shorts — sometimes). But at the end of the day, it’s easiest to just have a simple, go-to list: What does a guy need to have in his closet and what can he do without?


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FROM TOP: CONVERSE; J. CREW

1. DESERT BOOTS. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Desert boots are the most versatile yet neutral shoes a modern guy can own. The laceup shoes, featuring a flat sole and a slight high-top over the ankle, strike that elusive note between casual (e.g. sneakers) and fancy (dress shoes). Plus they come in traditional suede as well as canvas and can work with just about any pants. Need we say more? 2. CONVERSE SNEAKERS. Yes, nearly everyone has them. There’s a reason for that. A simple pair of solid-colored, low-top Converse All-Stars are effortlessly casual, signal cool and are comfortable without being schlubby. Get a pair in navy, dark

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gray, black or even white if that’s your sort of thing. 3. A LEATHER WATCH. We don’t care how many digital devices you have to tell you the time — a grown man wears a watch. Avoid seeming too flashy by choosing a leather band in either brown or black, depending on which color you wear most. (Not sure? Survey your closet and see whether your leather shoes and belts tend to be black or brown.) 4. A NAVY SUIT. You likely wore a black suit to your high school graduation, Bar Mitzvah or your second-cousin’s wedding your mom forced you to go to. But as a grown man, leave the black for funerals and go with timeless navy. A navy suit will flatter all skin tones, fit in at both laid-back and more formal events

Top: Chuck Taylor Washed Canvas, Converse, $65 Bottom: Chronograph Watch, Mougin & Piquard for J. Crew, $695


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and you’re good to go. Go with a dark gray, which will match navy, black, brown, khaki, denim... 6. A DARK WOOL JACKET. Unless you’re lucky enough to live in, say, Florida, you’re going to need to bundle up at some point. Instead of a puffer jacket, which should be reserved for the ski slope, get a short wool jacket in either gray or navy or camel (or black, if you insist) that hits right below your hips. A double-breasted pea coat works, as does a more casual duffle coat with toggles. Just make sure it isn’t too long — you’re not in the Matrix.

and give you endless possibilities for shirt-and-tie color combos.

FROM TOP: J. CREW; GAP

5. A GRAY SPORT COAT. When a suit is a tad too formal and a plain button-down won’t do, throw on a sport coat with just about any pants (jeans, khakis, suit pants of a contrasting color)

7. A BROWN LEATHER BELT. To match the shoes, of course. 8. A SIMPLE, DARK TIE. Suits don’t always require ties (in fact, we find a suit paired with a a nonchalantly unbuttoned-at-the-collar shirt rather attractive). But you will need a tie, so you should have a go-to

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Top: Ludlow Club Sportcoat, J. Crew, $425 Bottom: Vintage Leather Belt, Gap, $34.95


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option. Go with solid gray or dark red if you’re traditional, a Repp tie (thick navy diagonal stripes with a contrasting color) if you’re preppy and a very small, very subdued print in dark colors if you’re daring (think gingham or micro-checks in neutral tones).

French Corders Khaki, Bonobos, $125

9. DARK, STRAIGHT-LEGGED, UNEMBELLISHED JEANS. No rips, no tears (accidental or purposeful), no studs and no prefading. No sagging in the butt, no bunching around the ankles and no bagginess around the thighs. That’s all we ask.

BONOBOS

10. DARK, STRAIGHT-LEG KHAKI PANTS. Same fit requirements as the jeans, but this time, in a dark khaki color — not that stonewash, almost-gray color of Dockers you wore at age 12. Go with a caramel or camel hue that will work with a gray sport jacket or red flannel button-down alike. 11. A PLAIN, SOLID-COLORED HOODIE. You’re going to want to wear a sweatshirt (like, every day), so be sure to have a nice one on hand. That means something slightly fitted that hits no lower than the hips with sleeves that

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aren’t too long. Oh, and no logos or writing whatsoever. 12. PLAIN, SOLID-COLORED CREWNECK T-SHIRTS. Same idea as the hoodie — you’ll want to go casual, so make sure you have tee options that don’t have the names of sports teams, frats or unfunny jokes written on them. 13. A SOLID CREWNECK SWEATER. In cashmere, wool or even cotton, a thin crewneck sweater is one of the most versatile items you can


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Warwick Oxford, To Boot New York, $425

own. Wear it with jeans and a tshirt underneath with the sleeves pushed up, or try it with a buttondown underneath for that preppy look, or just throw it on with khakis or even suit pants for an easy, pulled-together appearance. We recommend light gray, navy, beige or perhaps maroon to complement the other neutrals in your closet.

NORDSTROM

14. BROWN LEATHER DRESS SHOES. Yes, brown, not black. In fact, a lighter camel color is preferred to a dark chocolatey brown, since it will match that navy suit perfectly (not to mention the gray and khaki suits we hope are also in your collection). 15. SOLID-COLORED BOXER BRIEFS Boys wear boxers, men wear boxer briefs. (Or briefs, but we’ve taken a highly unscientific survey of straight women and the votes are

in: Boxer briefs > briefs.) Stock up on solid colors and, for the love of God, throw them out when they get holes in them. 16. A MEDIUM-SIZED BAG THAT WORKS FOR BOTH THE GYM AND A WEEKEND AWAY. We know bags are tough for men, ever afraid of the dreaded “murse.” So here are some guidelines: Try a messenger bag or a duffle, go solid or with a subtle pattern and make it leather, cotton or canvas. That’s about all you need to know. 17. A BLACK UMBRELLA. When Gene Kelly kissed his lady on the doorstep and promptly started singin’ in the rain, he wasn’t carrying some flimsy neon thing with logos or ripped edges — he has a solid, trusty, black umbrella. If it worked in 1952...


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THE THIRD METRIC

The Long and Short of It: Your Body on Yoga

LAFLOR/GETTY IMAGES

BY CAROLYN GREGOIRE

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THE THIRD METRIC

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HE EASTERN PRACTICE of yoga has become a modern-day symbol of peace, serenity and well-being in the West. More than 20 million Americans practice yoga, according to the 2012 Yoga in America study, with practitioners spending more than $10 billion a year on yoga-related products and classes. The mind-body practice is frequently touted for its ability to reduce stress and boost well-being, but it also offers wide-ranging physical health benefits that rival other forms of exercise. While the scientific research on yoga’s health benefits is still young, here’s what we know so far about its potential effects on the body.

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AFTER CLASS INCREASED FLEXIBILITY. A recent Colorado State University study found that Bikram yoga — a form of yoga in which a series of 26 postures are performed for 90 minutes in a heated room — is

linked with increased shoulder, lower back and hamstring flexibility, as well as greater deadlift strength and decreased body fat, compared with a control group. IMPROVED BRAIN FUNCTION. Just 20 minutes of Hatha yoga — an ancient form of the practice that emphasizes physical postures


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rather than flow or sequences — can improve cognitive function, boosting focus and working memory. In a University of Illinois study, participants performed significantly better on tests of brain functioning after yoga, as compared to their performance after 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise. LOWER STRESS LEVELS. Yoga’s stress-busting powers may come from its ability to lessen the activity of proteins that are known to play a role in inflammation, according to a 2012 study from University of California, Los Angeles, researchers.

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ALTER GENE EXPRESSION. A small Norwegian study suggested that yoga’s many healthy benefits might come from its ability to alter gene expression in immune cells. AFTER A FEW MONTHS LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE. People with mild to moderate hypertension might benefit from a yoga practice, as a University of Pennsylvania study found that it could help to lower their blood pressure levels. Researchers found that people who practiced yoga had greater drops in blood pres-

Researchers at West Virginia University found Iyengar Yoga to be more effective in reducing pain and improving mood than standard medical treatment among those with chronic lower back problems.” sure compared with those who participated in a walking/nutrition/weight counseling program. IMPROVED LUNG CAPACITY. A small 2000 Ball State University study found that practicing Hatha yoga for 15 weeks could significantly increase vital lung capacity, which is the maximum amount of air exhaled after taking a deep breath. Vital lung capacity is one of the components of lung capacity.


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IMPROVED SEXUAL FUNCTION. A 2009 Harvard study published in the The Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that yoga could boost arousal, desire, orgasm and general sexual satisfaction for women. Yoga can also improve women’s sex lives by helping them to become more familiar with their own bodies, according to a review of studies published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, as reported by CNN.

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REDUCED CHRONIC NECK PAIN. A German study published in The Journal of Pain showed that four weeks of practicing Iyengar yoga (a type of Hatha yoga that stresses proper alignment and the use of props) is effective in reducing pain intensity in adults suffering from chronic neck pain. ANXIETY RELIEF. A 2010 Boston University study showed that 12 weeks of yoga could help to reduce anxiety and increase gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels in the brain (low levels of GABA have been linked with depression and anxiety disorders). RELIEF FROM CHRONIC BACK PAIN. Researchers at West Virginia Uni-

Just 20 minutes of Hatha yoga can improve cognitive function, boosting focus and working memory.” versity found Iyengar Yoga to be more effective in reducing pain and improving mood than standard medical treatment among those with chronic lower back problems. STEADY BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS IN PEOPLE WITH DIABETES. Adding yoga to a typical diabetes care regimen could result in steady blood sugar levels, according to a 2011 Diabetes Care study. Reuters reported that just three months of yoga in addition to diabetes care resulted in a decrease


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in body mass index, as well as no increases in blood sugar levels. IMPROVED SENSE OF BALANCE. Practicing an Iyengar yoga program designed for older adults was found to improve balance and help prevent falls in women over 65, according to a 2008 Temple University study.

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AFTER YEARS STRONGER BONES. A 2009 pilot study by Dr. Loren Fishman showed that practicing yoga could improve bone density among older adults. “We did a bone mineral density (DEXA) scan, then we taught half of them the yoga, waited two years, and did another scan,”Fishman previously told The Huffington Post. “And not only did these people not lose bone, they gained bone. The ones who didn’t do the yoga lost a little bone, as you would expect.” HEALTHY WEIGHT. Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found an association between a regular yoga practice and decreased weight — or at least a maintained weight —

Yoga could boost arousal, desire, orgasm and general sexual satisfaction for women.” among more than 15,000 healthy, middle-aged adults. “Those practicing yoga who were overweight to start with lost about five pounds during the same time period those not practicing yoga gained 14 pounds,” study researcher Alan Kristal, DPH, MPH, told WebMD. LOWER RISK OF HEART DISEASE. As part of a healthy lifestyle, yoga may lower cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, according to Harvard Health Publications.


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HUFFINGTON 01.12.14

Store-Bought Kale Chips Have Nothing on Homemade

SHUTTERSTOCK/BONCHAN

BY KRISTEN AIKEN


Exit ALE HAS BEEN untouchably hot for a while now. We might even go as far as predicting that Kale is going to be the first name of the next unborn Kardashian. We can’t blame you all for your obsession, because it’s got a lot going for it. It’ll help you live longer, it can taste pretty freaking delicious, and it has forever changed our salad game. Everybody wants to take a ride on the kale train — even chips. Kale chips have hit the shelves of most mainstream food markets, so it’s time to face the music and accept that they’re in our lives. We get that there’s a slight stigma attached to kale chips, especially for those of us raised on potato chips (that’s all of us, right?). If your friends and family grew up shoving Doritos in their faces, it’s only natural for them to punch you in the forehead if you put a bowl of kale chips in front of them. But put all your fears aside for a second, because here’s the honestto-gosh truth: Kale chips are delicious. Here’s another truth: You’re never going to find that out if you buy them at a store. Food bloggers and home cooks have long asserted that homemade

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K

kale chips are far superior to the store-bought kind, and we tend to agree — but our readers recently reinforced this belief. While considering taste testing the best kale chips on the market, we reached out to our readers to ask about their favorite brands. In a completely annoying move, only one reader suggested a brand, and the rest gave answers like these: “Homemade!” “I make my own.” “The ones I make at home!” “Homemade for sure.” “Make your own!” “Homemade is the best.” “I make my own with Cajun spice and freshly grated Parmesan. They’re pretty boss.” “I like

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Exit to make my own. Kale, salt, pepper, garlic and Parmesan, baked.” “Homemade, please.” So in typical HuffPost Taste style, we gathered a large group of tasters to sample four different kinds of kale chips: two store-bought brands, and two homemade kinds. Without knowing that any of the varieties were homemade, our testers ranked them. Here are the amazingly clear results: #1: Homemade chips made with Tuscan kale, olive oil, salt and pepper (81 points) #2: Homemade chips made with curly kale, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder (69 points) #3: Kale Krunch (42 points) #4: Brad’s Raw Kale Chips (40 points) Both varieties of the homemade chips were light, shatter-in-yourmouth crispy, perfectly seasoned, and unexpectedly satisfying, with a deep, almost roasted flavor. In contrast, both varieties of the storebought chips were heavy, soggy, and laden with a thick, gunky coating of unidentifiable flavorings. They weren’t even in the same ballpark. Here’s the great news about these results. Store-bought kale chips are expensive, and

HUFFINGTON 01.12.14

Here’s the honest-to-gosh truth: Kale chips are delicious. Here’s another truth: You’re never going to find that out if you buy them at a store.” homemade kale chips are not. A 2.5-ounce bag of kale chips costs approximately $8 (!!!). Even with steep NYC prices, organic kale is $3.50 a bunch. Let’s be real and assume you have olive oil, salt and pepper in your own kitchen. Turns out, one bunch of $3.50 kale makes the same amount of kale chips that you get in the $8 bag. You can put your eyes back in your head now. If you’re one of those crazy hooligans who actually likes controlling what goes into your body and you like to save money, you might want to consider making your own kale chips. They couldn’t be much easier to make, and require only 15 minutes of patience. Like this basic recipe from Epicurious: INGREDIENTS 12 large Tuscan kale leaves, rinsed, dried, cut lengthwise in half, center ribs and stems removed ■ 1 tablespoon olive oil ■

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 250°F. Toss kale with oil in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange leaves in single layer on 2 large baking sheets. Bake until crisp, about 30 minutes for flat leaves and up to 33 minutes for wrinkled leaves. Transfer leaves to rack to cool.


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MUSIC

HUFFINGTON 01.12.14

Dog Ears: Born in January In which we spotlight music from a diversity of genres and decades, lending an insider’s ear to what deserves to be heard. BY THE EVERLASTING PHIL RAMONE AND DANIELLE EVIN

PETER BRODERICK Singer/songwriter Peter Broderick was born in 1987 in Portland, Oregon. He studied classical violin as a child and now masters a variety of instruments. Amidst his humble and sumptuous arrangements, Broderick pulls you in with a specific gravity — something very, very sincere. His collaborations include M. Ward, Horse Feathers, Laura Gibson and the British choreographer Adrienne Hart, for whom he wrote a seven-section work “Music for Falling From Trees.” Currently a Copenhagen resident, Broderick tours the world with Danish electro-folk collective Efterklang. “A Snowflake,” from his 2008 solo debut Float, produced by Broderick himself, is a reposeful gem. BUY: iTunes.com GENRE: Electronic/Electroclassic ARTIST: Peter Broderick SONG: A Snowflake ALBUM: Float

LOLA FLORES (& NARA LEÃO ANTONIO GONZÁLEZ) Spain’s flamenco triple threat Lola Flores, a.k.a. Maria Dolores Flores Ruiz, was born in Cadiz in 1923. Her early career included theater, film and ultimately record-making. In the early ’40s, she had her first hit with “El Lerele.” Flores’ credits include nearly 40 films — by 1950, she reached a global audience with her role in Captain Blackjack. Among her collaborations are Manolo Caracol, Pepe Marchena, and her husband, guitarist Antonio González. The Andalusian diva passed away in Madrid in 1995. Remember her with “Que Me Coma el Tigre,” from Lola Flores & Antonio González’s La Colección 5: Lola y Antonio. BUY: iTunes.com GENRE: World ARTIST: Lola Flores (& Antonio González) SONG: Que Me Coma el Tigre (Spanish Rumba) ALBUM: La Colección 5: Lola y Antonio

Bossa songbird Nara Leão was born in Brazil in 1942. At the age of 12, she picked up the guitar, and by her late teens, stood at the door of Brazil’s music revolution headed by João Gilberto, Vinicius de Moraes and Antônio Carlos Jobim. Leão joined Sergio Mendes on his early ’60s tour, but as the military stomped on her homeland, her political views turned to song. In the early ’70s, she relocated to Paris to start a family. Diagnosed with cancer a few years later, this bold talent worked until her death in 1989. Leão leaves behind a trove of treasures. Discover the 1986 title “Meditação,” from the collection Pure Brazil: The Girls From Ipanema. BUY: iTunes.com GENRE: Bossa Nova ARTIST: Nara Leão SONG: Meditação ALBUM: Pure Brazil: The Girls From Ipanema


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MUSIC

XAVIER CUGAT

LEAD BELLY

MAX ROACH

Rumba giant Xavier Cugat was born in Spain on New Year’s Day at the turn of the 20th century. As a young lad, Xavier relocated with his family to Cuba, where he studied classical violin. During the tango craze of the Roaring ’20s, Cugat took on New York and then L.A. as a member of The Gigolos. He moved on to film appearances, radio, and then back to New York as an installation at the WaldorfAstoria in the pre- and post-WWII eras. The maestro, who married five times, was a catalyst for the explosion of Latin-American music in the States over several decades. Credits include two-dozen-plus film appearances and soundtracks, as well as scores of releases. Collaborations include Miguelito Valdés, Vincent Lopez, Phil Harris, Don Reid, Del Campo, Dinah Shore, Desi Arnaz and Rita Hayworth. The icon passed away at the age of 90. Remember him with the 1949 title “Thanks for the Dream (Mi Sueño Azul),” from Xavier Cugat: 16 Most Requested Songs.

Huddie William Ledbetter, a.k.a. Lead Belly, “the King of the Twelve-String,” was born an only child in 1889 on a Louisiana plantation. His love affair with music began at an early age, and he quickly picked up guitar, mandolin, accordion and piano. Nearing the age of 14, he quit school and started performing in juke joints, where he became a popular attraction. His hard life, working the rails and picking cotton, heavily influenced his music — he landed in jail, escaped, lived under an alias for two years, then returned to prison in 1918, convicted of murder (he earned a pardon in 1925 by writing a song for the governor). In 1930, he was arrested again and sentenced to hard time in Louisiana’s infamous Angola Farm prison. During the Depression, music historians John and Alan Lomax, who were curating prison songs for the Library of Congress, discovered the bluesman and immortalized him on wax. These recordings gave him the chance to petition for another pardon. His freedom was granted in 1934, and he became the toast of the New York nightclub scene. Lead Belly’s catalogue includes nearly 500 songs, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. The virtuoso suffered from ALS and died in 1949. Rediscover the classic recording “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?,” from The Best of Leadbelly.

Bebop Goliath composer/drummer Max Roach was born in 1925 in North Carolina and raised in Depressionera Brooklyn. At 10, Max discovered the drums, and just six years later, he found himself at the sticks with The Duke Ellington Orchestra. In 1952, Roach co-founded Debut Records with Charles Mingus. Two years later, he and trumpeter Clifford Brown launched their classic bebop quintette with Harold Land, Richie Powell and George Morrow (Sonny Rollins would later replace Land). Collaborations include Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Oscar Brown Jr., Fab Five Freddy and Sam Shepard. Accolades include a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, and recognition as a Harvard Jazz Master. The genius’ elegant trove comprises a universe of classics. Revisit “What’s New? (With Strings),” from Clifford Brown and Max Roach’s 1954 album Alone Together: The Best of the Mercury Years.

BUY: iTunes.com GENRE: World ARTIST: Xavier Cugat SONG: Thanks for the Dream (Mi Sueño Azul) ALBUM: Xavier Cugat: 16 Most Requested Songs

BUY: iTunes.com GENRE: Blues ARTIST: Lead Belly SONG: Where Did You Sleep Last Night? ALBUM: The Best of Leadbelly

BUY: iTunes.com GENRE: Jazz ARTIST: Max Roach SONG: What’s New (With Strings) ALBUM: Alone Together: The Best of the Mercury Years


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HUFFINGTON 01.12.14

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Walmart’s Donkey Meat in China Contained Fox

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Woman Ate Nothing But Starbucks for a Full Year... and No One Knows Why

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WE MAY LET THESE ANIMALS GO EXTINCT BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT CUTE AND FUZZY

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05 Medicaid Expansions Actually Drove Up ER Visits

The World Sees the U.S. As the Greatest Threat to World Peace


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Dolphins Are Using Puffer Fish to Get High

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You Can Now Trade in Your Gift Cards for Porn

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NEWLYWEDS DIVORCE OVER PROPER WAY TO EAT PEAS

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No, Seriously, Canada Is As Cold As Mars

Appendicitis Cost This Man $55,000


Editor-in-Chief:

Arianna Huffington Editor: John Montorio Managing Editor: Gazelle Emami Senior Editor: Adam J. Rose Editor-at-Large: Katy Hall Senior Politics Editor: Sasha Belenky Senior Food Editor: Kristen Aiken Senior Voices Editor: Stuart Whatley Pointers Editor: Robyn Baitcher Viral Editor: Dean Praetorius Creative Director: Josh Klenert Design Director: Andrea Nasca Photography Director: Anna Dickson Associate Photo Editor: Wendy George Senior Designer: Martin Gee Infographics Art Director: Troy Dunham Production Director: Peter Niceberg AOL MagCore Head of UX and Design: Jeremy LaCroix Product Manager: Gabriel Giordani Architect: Scott Tury Developers: Mike Levine, Sudheer Agrawal QA: Joyce Wang, Amy Golliver Sales: Mandar Shinde AOL, Inc. Chairman & CEO:

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Huffington (Issue #83, 01.12.14)  

In this week's issue of Huffington, we travel to D.C., where one family is battling to get their autistic son the education he needs to have...

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