When I left Yugoslavia early in January 1990, Croatia's political backwaters were just upset by appearance of Franjo Tudjman on the Independent Television (OTV) in prime time over Christmas holidays. When the League of Communists, still in power at that time, scheduled the first democratic elections, they allowed each party some television time. They did not expect that somebody would dare to give the best TV time to a radical nationalist opposition party. This was the first Tudjman's TV appearance since he was banished from public as a dissident years ago. Croatian Communists were angry at OTV, but apparently they passed their usual violent enforcement of their anger this time terrified by the bigger threat for them: a Serbian communist-turned-nationalist leader, Slobodan Milosevic.

Four months later, while I was still in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, completing my student exchange program, Tudjman was elected President of Croatia. Communists were purged from TV and other media, and Tudjman replaced them with his party's aparatchicks and loyalists. Since then, he is on TV every night. Later in the course of time the struggle between Yugoslav political powers transformed from the intelligence and trade wars to a real military operation, which I continued to watch closely on CNN Headline News.

StakorNow I live in New York city in El Barrio (Spanish Harlem), where I can observe with macabre amusement similarities between ethnic hatred and racial hatred. The land of the free, home of the brave, doesn't really want me, either. I guess, I am probably too American for the U.S., too. But there is no more places on this planet to be "discovered", and I can't go to Mars, yet, so I'll have to stay here, despite fantastically disappointing experiences I had with such a diverse bunch of corporate establishments like Voice Of America, Columbia University and Wired magazine. This sounds like it is straight from the "My life is worse than yours" TV show by Charlie Peres.
I while my life as a lifeguard at the pool with my laptop, which is not as bad. Only it doesn't really pay ones rent. However, it leaves plenty of opportunity to think and scream.

ArrestThis is a street arrest in Harlem. Actually, this one happened right underneath my window - very conveniently for taking pictures. This happened on April 25, 1997, during the street demonstrations a day after the tragic death of Shirley Colon. 33 years old woman died after falling 18 flights down off the roof of the housing project on the corner of 109th and Lexington. Police claims it was a suicide. Neighbors swear they saw homicide unit removing handcuffs from the corpse. Official story goes: a despondent woman was on the roof, tenant living at the top floor heard nervous pacing above and called the police. Police came. She jumped. Oh boy, did she jump - she jumped so fiercely that she landed way up in the playground. Fox 5 which reported the news the evening of the death, missed to show a little shrine put up immediately outside of the "fall area": it said - oppose police oppression. It disappeared in less than an hour.

WalkAnticipating unrest, NYPD swarmed the hood with its light-blue squadron of Community Affairs police (i.e. the guys that kindly ask you to stretch out your arms so that the darker blue uniformed policemen can put handcuffs on you). Community's waryness with the police has roots in the police practice in the neighborhood to first arrest you and then ask questions and read you your rights. Just two weeks beforet this incident, police killed a drug-dealer two blocks away (he wasn't armed, apparently). Political leaders appeared and sought "justice" winning a few votes for the future elections. The death of Shirley Colon is still under investigation.