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December 25, 2001
A gift for someone not on the shopping list

By Alex Dominguez on Tuesday December 25, @10:20PM
from the yes, it really happened dept.

Deciding what to give the sly fox for Christmas was not difficult.
Deciding whether it was enough was more difficult.

Coming home from a Christmas Day walk with my father in the swampy stretch near his home that we have always called ``the sandpit,’’ I heard a rustling in the reeds.

``Wait,’’ I said.

``Mira,’’ I added, pointing to a flash of fur about 10 yards off the side of the trail. ``A deer?’’

``No ,’’ he said. ``It looks like a fox.’’

I walked up closer and sure enough, it was a fox _ trapped.

``Watch out, it could have rabies.’’

``Don’t worry, I’ll throw my coat over it,’’ I said, tossing the puffy nylon jacket over its head.

The fox scampered from underneath as I tried to see how it was trapped. Looking at each paw, I saw all four were free. It’s tail had all of the fur missing from one section and it had a nasty cut next to its eyeball, but both eyes appeared normal.

The thin steel cable led from the tree to the fox’s neck and I finally deduced he had stuck his head into a loop, placed by a trapper, that tightened as he tried to escape.

I threw my jacket over him again, grabbed him around the neck and squatted over his body to still him, thinking how my friends who trapped back in the '70s were paid $75 for a red fox pelt. The fox didn’t make any noise.

``I don’t think he’s going to bite,’’ I said.

``Give me some slack. It’s stuck, we might have to cut it,’’ my father said.

``Let me give you some more, I think it’ll come out,’’ I said.

The noose came off, and as I stood up, I thought about what to do. The cut on the fox’s eye was pretty bad, and he was thin. But a wild animal probably won’t take help that easily, and carrying him home wrapped in a jacket would be difficult, even if he was fairly docile.

By the time I stood up, I let him go and watched as he ran six or seven feet before cutting up a trail.

``That's not right, trappers are supposed to check every day,'' my father said taking the loop from the tree.

That was the most I could have done, I hope, I thought, looking at the blood on the inside of my jacket.

It’s always that way.

What should I do? Is an occasional free meal to the homeless guy enough? Will more help? Or should I try to make him help himself more?

In the season of giving, what to give is always difficult.

Posted by Alex at 10:20 PM
December 05, 2001
Arafat caves, cedes W. Bank, Gaza to Israel, forms NAAPP

By Alex Dominguez on Wednesday December 05, @06:08PM
from the speak truth to power dept.

RAMALLAH, West Bank (JNS) _ Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat ended his quest for statehood on Friday, ceding the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Israel.

``That’s it, I give up. Fuck a whole bunch of this shit,’’ Arafat said while viewing the smoking remains of his three helicopters in Gaza City via television from his West Bank bunker, where Israeli forces delivered a missile message to their partner in peace.

``Who wants to be a leader if I’m going to be stuck in this hole.’’

Arafat said he now supported Israel’s right to rule the West Bank and Gaza as well as control valuable water resources in the Golan Heights, which are disputed by Lebanon and Syria.

The PLO leader also said he would form a new group called the National Association for the Advancement of Palestinian People to seek suffrage for the 3 million Palestinians living in the two areas. In addition, the group will seek constitutional reforms to ensure Palestinians are afforded the same civil liberties as Israel’s 6 million citizens.

``Residents of this new Israel should not have to live in fear that they will be _ as their ancestors have been so many times in the past _ attacked, expelled, enslaved, or killed,’’ Arafat said. ``Never again should a people be treated as second-class citizens because of their religion.’’

Finally, Arafat said he would meet with the leaders of neighboring countries, including Iraq and Syria, to urge them to aid the new Israel and its large Muslim minority.

Posted by Alex at 06:08 PM
December 01, 2001
Mark Abernathy: He made Fells Point a better place to live

By Alex Dominguez
from the man's humanity to man dept.

I drove into Fells Point for the first time in March of 1989, parking a 1979 Ford Bronco, complete with jumping bass decals and U-Haul trailer in tow, on the cobblestones outside of Bertha’s.

``I’ll have a beer, ask about the neighborhood,’’ I thought, sunlight streaming past grey clouds scudding over tugboats at the end of the block.

``What can I get you,’’ the t-shirted, curly-haired young bartender said, stopping his discussion for a minute.

``I don’t know, what’s this Oxford Class, is it English?’’ I said, picking one from the dozen taps.

``I think it’s made in Glen Burnie,’’ he said, dispelling any pretense.

``Where is that, Scotland?’’

``No, it’s in Anne Arundel County,’’ he said, looking down and stopping to let me hear his constrained ``hee-yeh’’ kind of laugh for the first time. ``Yeah, it’s near the moors of Linthicum.’’

The joke wasn’t on me, he was laughing with me, realizing I wasn’t from the area.

I drank my beer, he resumed his conversation with Dan about some bar overlooking a river somewhere, and what a deal it would be if either one of them owned it. The discussion shifted, a question came up, and Mark _ unwilling to suffer a barroom discussion between the uninformed _ pulled down a dictionary to find the answer.

``A bar with a dictionary, this is a place I can handle,’’ I said.

I didn’t realize he was only 19 or 20 at the time. He made me feel like there was a reason to move to the neighborhood. While others said they were reading Jack Kerouac, we lived on the waterfront with the bums and tugboat crews.

His sister, Karen, bartended more often than he did, commanding attention with her long dark hair and bracelets that covered half her forearms. A negative word hardly came from Mark’s mouth as he sat on the customer side and we all soaked in what we had discovered _ the mix of art students, drunks who had plied the streets for too long, longtime residents being slowly priced out of their neighborhood, and recent graduates amazed that their college days weren’t over in Fells Point, they just had to go to work instead of class.

I soaked in the beer and the liquor and the scene for years. Mark was always there. I bought a building, built a coffee shop, and he came in to get coffee, a sandwich and cigarettes on the way to see his sister, or the boat he had moved onto, or the job he got making beer.

Mark fell off the boat and drowned as Thanksgiving turned into Black Friday. I don’t know why.

I’d like to think there’s a reason. His new job would have taken him to northern Virginia, that obviously wasn’t to be. We remain behind, saddened by his loss and thankful for what he brought us.

Posted by Alex at 01:02 AM