I’m not sure what’s happening here, but I believe Mike Gundy is blaming Apple for all that parity in college football. You know … alllllll that parity (two coaches have won seven of the 10 titles since smart phones became a thing).Anyway, on Monday, Gundy blames smart phones on the parity. Really. Watch the whole thing.No clue if this is true or not, but when Mike Gundy’s relaxed, his press conferences produce some incredibly interesting stuff. #OKState pic.twitter.com/x8DZjacNjf— Cayden McFarland (@caydenmc) October 17, 2016“The players we coach who come in,” said Gundy. “They’re not like guys we coached 10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago. Your generation spends all their time looking all their time looking at their phones. My generation spent all their time in the front yard playing games so they were more ready to go into college athletics. They understood the dynamics of it.”Just over 40 days ago, this is what he said about high school players.“I think [freshmen come in more equipped] than ever,” said Gundy. “Like [Dillon] Stoner, the program he comes out of has won 19 state championships in a row or how many ever they won. He played corner, he’s punted, he’s kicked off, he held one time when he wasn’t kicking, and he played wide-out. So when he comes in, he’s ready made.“And, lastly, the training these juniors and seniors in high school are getting, is a lot like what we got when we were in college. They have personal trainers, they’re getting information on nutrition, strength, conditioning … they’re coming and showing up at campus like we used to coming off summer. We’re at the pool chasin’ chicks all summer and we showed up in August to try and get in shape. These guys show up in June and they’re ready to play.”So it has to be one or the other, right? It can’t be both phones cause parity but players are more ready. This makes zero sense. The logic to make this work is staggeringly difficult. This was quite funny though. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Related: Mike Gundy does not anticipate the Big 12 will expand due to global warming.— Travis Haney (@travhaney) October 17, 2016Also, I do get what he’s saying about parity. At the upper end, there is no parity (as you can see above). But games against lower-tier teams (i.e. Kansas and Iowa State) aren’t as easy for the best teams to win as they used to be.But do you see what Gundy is insinuating here? His reasoning is because, what, the best players for the best teams are on their phones thus allowing the lesser players on lesser teams to catch up?? His actual statement a month ago about players developing earlier is the actual reason for parity (inasmuch as parity is a thing).The incentive to play college football (and be good at it) is higher than ever, and players are working towards that at an earlier age. There are more good players to fill out close to the same number of rosters, thus parity.Also, I blame Gundy. Get off your phone, coach!
Some interesting action taking place down the stretch towards national signing day. On Sunday evening, 2017 tight end commitment Tyler Henderson flipped his pledge from OSU to Baylor. And on the same day, Oklahoma State extended a scholarship offer to 6-foot-6 tight end Charlie Kolar — the younger brother of Oklahoma State quarterback John Kolar.As you can see from his 247sports profile, Kolar, who held offers from Iowa State, Army, New Mexico, Air Force and Stephen F. Austin, is committed to Iowa State. And has been since last June.According to MaxPreps, Kolar recorded 66 receptions for 1,241 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior for Norman North. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
Up this week is a Wednesday trip to Fort Worth where the Pokes will take a swipe at moving up the Big 12 rankings against an upstart TCU squad, followed by Bedlam in Stillwater.This Oklahoma State ball club is on pace to be the second-highest scoring squad in Big 12 history behind only the 2001-02 Kansas team that averaged 90.9 per game.Offenses with Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, T.J. Ford and the Morris twins won’t end up being as efficient as this one. So what’s behind the curtain?1. All the HelpersSo many things contribute to the success of the offense: Underwood’s system, the emergence of Jeffrey Carroll, King Forte owning the three point line and Mitchell Solomon ruling the boards. The Cowboys ran up 84 points on Texas, a defense giving up 69.1 per game on the year, a defense built on pressuring you into bad decisions with lots of athletes.A steady dose of offense the Cowboys have leaned on this year is the free throw game, shooting a league-leading 25.8 per game. But that wasn’t the case on Saturday as OSU only shot eight. So how’d they get into the 80s against Texas?I’d contest the answer is a healthy mix of good ball movement/giving Jawun lots of leash (in conjunction with another other-worldly shooting performance).The Pokes had 18 assists against the Horns, highlighted by plays like these:HIGHLIGHTS: Check out how the Cowboys put together last night’s 84-71 win over Texas in GIA today. #okstate pic.twitter.com/iZYntdBTYp— Cowboy Basketball (@OSUMBB) February 12, 2017Things just looked easy on Saturday as the Pokes offense was flowing naturally with unselfish guys. Five guys reached double digits, and you could see shades of that West Virginia offense. Shots weren’t forced and guys were aggressive in correct proportions, trends that we hope continue in the coming week.2. The StrawCoach Underwood raved about Jawun post-Arkansas for good reason, the offense flows so much better when he’s on the floor. And right now he’s playing impeccably.I thought he was incredible today. Eight assists, seven rebounds, it was his floor game and the passes up the floor. He got us off to an incredible start. My goodness was he good today. Jawun is the straw that stirs the drink.Early in the season, Jawun was plagued with foul trouble and some minor injuries that he didn’t seem to bounce back from until a few games into Big 12 play. We learned that having No. 1 at the point is comparable to living at a vacation destination — tough to appreciate while you’re there, but painfully apparent once you’re gone. He took the KenPom MVP in four of the last six games.Offensively, what things excite you most about this team? Here’s my best guess:Phil Forte from 26 feetDavon going downhillJeffrey Carroll in a shooting motionCrime Dog man-child momentsJawun with the ball in his hands.Jawun is a darling both statistically and to the untrained eye. He’s second in the league in scoring (18.0 a game), second in assists (5.5 per game), fourth in steals and what I contest may be most important: eighth in assist to turnover ratio (1.9 assists to 1 turnover). He plays point guard for 80 percent of OSU’s offense while putting up KenPom’s 10th-best assist rate in the country. For the extraordinary burden he bears, he’s incredibly efficient and productive.Dat pass! pic.twitter.com/4JfLcEPHy1— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) February 9, 2017One of my favorite things to watch in a game is how he’s nearly always in the right place at the right time. He is 72nd in the country in KenPom’s steal rate, fast breaks start with the ball in the smartest Cowboy’s hands.Think about the OU game winner alone: Evans stole it and made the diving out-of-bounds pass that landed in Forte’s hands. It’s no wonder the guy is considered one of the nation’s top 30 players.THAT JUST HAPPENED pic.twitter.com/QY3EgkWENE— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) January 31, 2017If anybody ever does a highlight reel for Jawun’s dimes and Dillard’s dunks, I’ll be KO’ed faster than Huggy losing at home.DOWN GOES HUGGY! pic.twitter.com/TMEDM61vys— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) February 4, 2017There are almost always more McDonald’s than McDonald’s All-Americans in Stillwater, but boy do we enjoy this one.3. Defensive OpportunityAfter taking on No. 9 Texas, up next are the No. 8 (TCU) and No. 10 (OU) least-efficient offenses in the Big 12 (followed by No. 7 Kansas State and No. 6 Texas Tech). For a Cowboy defense shy on rim protection and overall length, it’s a timely opportunity get some momentum prior to finishing with some offensive powerhouses in Kansas and Iowa State.OU shoots a league-low 41.5 percent from the field, not a lot of Buddy Ball being played in Norman these days. And Sunday the Sooners got some sad news as senior Jordan Woodard, OU’s key offensive player is done for the season. A really good player who will be missed there.And while TCU’s length makes them a bear defensively, their three point percentage is down there with Texas and there’s not a lot of fire power outside of the Eastern European big (KenPom’s 44th-highest offensive rating).KenPom would have you believe these couple of games are winnable (one more than the other), the more difficult coming at a newly-renovated facility for a scrappy TCU team. OU has lost eight of their last ten and it’d be a real disappointment to lose to the last place team but who knows #Bedlam. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
Monaco signing Cesc pays tribute to Chelsea and fansby Paul Vegas9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveAS Monaco signing Cesc Fabregas has paid tribute to Chelsea and their fans after leaving today.Fabregas has sent a message to Chelsea fans after his move to Monaco was confirmed.“It’s with mixed emotions that I am writing this message,” he posted on Twitter.“To everyone at Chelsea Football Club. The owner Mr Abramovich who brought me here, to my teammates who helped me win so many trophies, to the staff who made my time here so easy and to all you fans who made me feel so special week in week out.“It has been an incredible journey and it is with great sadness that I must say goodbye. I will miss you all and wish you the best of luck for the future.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
Willis AnkleKentucky may have the best backcourt in the country, with Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray having fantastic seasons, but the Wildcats’ frontcourt hasn’t quite matched this season. UK has lost two of its last three games, dropping games to Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. Kentucky was out-rebounded in both contests. UK has been without one of its key forwards, junior Derek Willis, for two games after spraining his ankle against the Aggies. During today’s SEC teleconference, Calipari gave an update on Willis’ status.Cal says Derek Willis ran up and down the practice court yesterday. “I would say he’s getting closer. I would doubt he plays tomorrow.”— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 29, 2016Willis is averaging 7.8 points and four rebounds in just under 19 minutes per game this season. Kentucky and Florida tip off in Gainesville at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night.
More than 6,000 residents in the Taylor Land community of East Rural St. Andrew now have easier access to their homes, following the opening of a bridge in the area today (January 14).Speaking at the official opening, Member of Parliament for the area and wife of the Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness, said the new infrastructure has brought relief for users of the roadway as, previously, they had to travel longer to enter the community.Mrs. Holness noted that without the bridge, it is very hard to secure the community, as the added distance meant that the police could not respond timely to situations.The Member of Parliament also lauded the community members for their co-operation during the construction, and for ensuring that there was no undue delay or additional cost.Meanwhile, Director of Technical Services at the National Works Agency (NWA), Roger Smith, told the gathering that the new bridge replaced the previous one that had served the area for more than 45 years, and that the work was done to the agency’s satisfaction.He said the bridge was the first of several that the NWA bought from China recently, and that they are being deployed at “designated sites” across the island to be installed at a cost of $100 million.A motorist drives across the new bridge that was officially opened today (January 14) in the Taylor Land community of East Rural St. Andrew by Member of Parliament and wife of the Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness.Bridges will also be erected at Chesterfield and Barracks in St. Mary, and Southwood, in Clarendon.Meanwhile, Councillor for the Dallas Division, Celia James, said she is overjoyed, as the Member of Parliament did intensive lobbying to get the bridge erected. “I am so happy for the people in Taylor Land,” the Councillor said.Several of the residents told JIS News that they welcomed the bridge, noting that it will lessen their travel time and add to security in the area.
by Kaitlyn Goalenphotographs by Jillian ClarkWhen it comes to Valentine’s Day, the last thing I want is the crowded, stressed-out environment of a completely booked restaurant. I much prefer to cook at home, with or for the object of my affection.While the majority of this year’s meal will likely come down to a game-day decision, I knew months beforehand what I want this year’s dessert to be: chocolate mousse.This basic dessert has everything going for it in the romance department. For starters, it’s French. What’s more, it features chocolate, the consumption of which on Valentine’s Day is something of an unwritten rule.And while I don’t expect to find any chocolate that is truly local – the cacao bean needs a tropical climate to flourish – Raleigh does have exceptional bean-to-bar producers within its city limits (for a story about them, see Walter’s August 2013 issue or waltermagazine.com).Escazu, which launched in 2006, was the first to offer the city a chocolate where producers were involved in the production process from start to finish, giving them complete control over the result. More recently, Videri Chocolate Factory has opened its doors, offering even more transparency into the process of making chocolate at their beautiful glass-encased factory.For my mousse, I chose Videri’s classic dark bar, because I wanted an intensely rich depth to my dessert. Then I sought out my two mousse ninjas, one close to home and one further afield.The first is Jody Williams, chef of Buvette, a tiny French boite in New York City’s West Village neighborhood. The mousse on that menu is the Platonic ideal, in my opinion, of what all mousse should be – crazy-dense, but somehow fluffy at the same time; so rich that you must cap it with some fresh whipped cream just to keep going. Furthermore, Williams is a romantic about the process, sweetly but firmly insisting that it comes out best when you whip the egg whites and egg yolks in separate copper bowls, as the French would do. It’s the type of ludicrous (copper bowls? are you kidding me?) but charming detail that adds to the allure of this dessert.My second reference is in Durham, at Vin Rouge Bistro. Chef Matthew Kelly has had chocolate mousse on the menu since the beginning, and it has become the most frequently ordered dessert by a long shot. He scoffed when I told him about Jody’s copper bowl technique – “that’s ridiculous,” he said – but Kelly has his own romantic ideas about the dessert. For one, his love for mousse is rooted in childhood nostalgia, born of a deep love for mousse’s American step-sister, chocolate pudding. Secondly, he serves the chocolate mousse at Vin Rouge tableside – a waiter comes over with a giant ceramic vessel of the stuff and scoops spoonfuls on to your plate. It’s a retro touch that adds an intimate whimsy to the meal.I pulled from both recipes in coming to my own. The resulting mousse makes way more than two people would ever need, and it’s a splurge to use Videri, which runs at $8 for two bars, but the luxuriousness of the finished product is as romantic as it gets.Chocolate Mousse Serves 8 to 10 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes14 ounces Videri dark chocolate (or another high quality dark or bittersweet chocolate), chopped6 large eggs, separated, plus 3 egg whitesSalt6 teaspoons superfine sugarFreshly whipped cream, for servingIn a bowl set over a small pot of simmering water, add the butter and the chocolate and stir until melted and combined. Transfer to a large bowl.In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with a pinch of salt until they turn a pale yellow color.In a second large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form.Whisk a few tablespoons of the warm chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper it, then add the egg yolk mixture to the chocolate mixture in small additions, whisking each time to thoroughly incorporate before adding more. **Carefully fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.**Transfer the mousse to a large ceramic serving vessel, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.Serve by scooping out helpings of the mousse into ramekins and topping each with a dollop of fresh cream. Or, if you’re eating with your loved one, eat the mousse directly from the dish with spoons like it’s a pint of ice cream.*Note: If your mixture breaks — that is, if the fat from the chocolate separates and the whole thing looks like an oily mess — quickly heat about 1 cup of skim or lowfat milk in a microwave until warm. Then, with an electric mixer running, add the milk in a slow drizzle to the chocolate-egg yolk mixture until it re-emulsifies and becomes smooth again (you may not need to use the whole cup). Then proceed with adding your egg whites.
by Joyce FitzpatrickThe late winter sunlight slanted through the old stained glass windows of Raleigh’s First Baptist Church, casting a golden glow. Among a small, quiet group were women in their late 50s who had come to help their friend mourn her father’s death.He was the last of a dying breed: veterans of World War II, born of hardscrabble but good families, who went to war, came home, married strong women, and fathered even stronger ones.The minister told the story of how this father, Dick, had taken time off from his job as an emergency room physician to attend a Girl Scout dance with his daughter, our friend, Susan Kelly Nichols, when she was 12. The minister continued: “It seems that the custom was for each father to bring a corsage for his daughter. When they arrived at the dance hall, Susan noticed a table full of corsages made of yellow roses. It turns out that Dick was concerned that not every girl’s father would remember the tradition and that some girls might be embarrassed. So he had seen to it that each girl attending the dance had a corsage of yellow roses.”Sweet, and tender – but tough. That was Susan’s dad.But then, we knew about that kind of man.“What is it that defines us?” we asked each other as fast friends just weeks into our freshman year at UNC Chapel Hill. That question has intrigued us for decades since – years in which we raised our own children, built our own careers, pursued our dreams, and buried our dads.The answer is in the story of the yellow roses. We had fathers who loved, nurtured and tended to us in ways so gentle and lovely they defy description. They attended no childbirth classes, read no parenting books, and didn’t know Mars from Venus except as celestial navigation tools. Yet somehow, from their own experiences of war and the world, they simply encouraged us to dream – promising we could do anything we wanted. They were patient and kind but no-nonsense. Proud fathers of smart girls.What we shared seemed more than serendipity. How was it that we flourished? It had to do with how Ed, Jim, Fred, and Dick dared to father us, unfettered by convention and full of optimism.That day, at the funeral for Susan’s father – the last of the dads to die – we realized that we were standing on the front line now. It was time for taking stock. How did we account for our lives? Our choices to be working mothers? Our confidence? Our strength? Our work ethic?What was it about these four men and their four daughters who became best friends? One dad a lawyer and chemist; one a basketball coach and college administrator; one an educator; and one a doctor. One daughter an accountant; one a dentist and public health advocate; one a lawyer; and one an entrepreneur.One by oneFirst there was Ed. Ed Murray from Baltimore. He had a Canadian mother and a long history on his father’s side where four generations had attended the University at Chapel Hill. After graduating from UNC, he served valiantly in the Army’s 89th Chemical Mortar Battalion at the Battle of the Bulge. During the crossing of the Rhine, he helped lay the largest smoke shield seen in the European Theater allowing the Allies cover to cross over. He won two bronze stars and attained the rank of captain. After the war, he returned to Baltimore and managed the family business, Yaeger’s Drug Company. Frances Louise Murray, his first child, was born on Dec. 7, 1954. She was smart and loved to dance. She remembers Ed as discerning, wise, rugged and real. Summers were spent at Camp Wapomeo in Algonquin Park, near where he had summered as a child in Canada. Three-week canoe trips into the wild were what she was raised on. That and a father who worked hard, but encouraged her in every way.Next there was Jim. Jim Fitzpatrick grew up in Asheville on the Biltmore Estate, where his father and grandfather worked for Biltmore Dairy. His childhood was spent running through gardens that Frederick Law Olmsted laid out on the 8,000-acre estate. An only child, he lied about his age and enlisted in the Army Air Corps at 17. Based out of Brighton, England, he served in the Mighty Eighth Air Force and completed more than 35 missions as a B-17 ball turret gunner. He returned home and attended Brevard College and the University of Florida on the GI Bill. After graduating, he moved to Winston-Salem and began a long career as a teacher and principal in Forsyth County. Joyce Lee Fitzpatrick, his first child, was born on Oct. 30, 1954. She was feisty. The apple of his eye. Her dreams of her father are of early morning escapes for coffee and to the feed store. Weeding the garden. Fishing at Smith’s pond. Looking for lost golf balls. Never no. Always yes.And then there was Fred. Fred McCall grew up in Denver, N.C. He was a tall, strapping three-sport athlete at Lenoir-Rhyne College. He graduated from infantry school in Fort Benning, Ga., and then was stationed at Fort Hood training infantry. He served, along with two brothers, as an officer and shipped out to the Philippines just before the end of the war. In 1953 he came to Campbell College in Buies Creek, N.C., where he became head coach of the men’s basketball team, winning more than 220 games in 16 seasons. In 1954, he and Wake Forest Coach “Bones” McKinney founded the Campbell Basketball School, which featured sports greats such as Coach John Wooden of UCLA. Fred’s coaching skills were legendary, and he was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Later, he became Campbell’s first vice president for advancement. Leah Ann McCall, his second child, was born on Aug. 10, 1954. She was tall and lithe, bright-eyed and brilliant. She remembers her dad as a magnet for other people. Their house was often filled with college coaches, boosters, and basketball players. He coached Leah and her two sisters to play hard. To win. She did.Richard Alexander Kelly, Jr. grew up in Louisville, Ky., the son of a Baptist pastor. He went to Wake Forest College and played center of the football team that won the first Gator Bowl in 1946. He interrupted his education to serve as a clerk on an Army hospital ship after World War II. Transporting injured servicemen and their families from the battlefields of Europe to New York through the North Atlantic may not have been a typical experience for a young soldier, but a valuable one for an aspiring doctor. He returned to North Carolina, graduated from Wake Forest, and attended Duke University Medical School. Susan Gail Kelly, his first child, was born on June 13, 1954. Dick adored his little Irish rose. He and wife Patsy settled in Greensboro, where he opened a family practice and then ran the emergency room at Moses Cone Hospital. Susan remembers his corny jokes, his love of gardening and classical music. His encouragement. His million-dollar smile. His generosity. The yellow roses.Fast friendsOn a hot August day in 1972, Ed’s Francie; Jim’s Joyce; Fred’s Leah; and Dick’s Susan met at freshman orientation in Chapel Hill.That same year, Title IX successfully banned sexual discrimination in college admissions. As a result, UNC-Chapel Hill was transformed. Women, who had made up 30 percent of the total student body, were now admitted on equal terms with men. Practically overnight, the tumultuous change that had danced around their childhoods caused seismic changes on campus. The curriculum was overhauled. Dorm mothers gave way to co-ed dorms and 24-hour visitation by male students. So four young women, daughters of patriots and strong-willed mothers, made their way with few role models. They just set their own course because their dads said they could do it.Flash forward.Ed’s Francie, the CPA, is chief financial officer of the Abell Foundation in Baltimore and has managed ground-breaking bio-diesel manufacturing and multi-year litigation with Toyota and Ford that added millions to the Foundation’s endowment. Mother of three, she worked throughout her child-bearing years and is just hitting her stride. Ed would be proud.Fred’s Leah graduated from UNC in three years, received her dental degree and then a master’s in public health. After many years as N.C. Health Director, she serves now as a professor at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is the mother of one son and has worked tirelessly for many years to improve the public health of North Carolina. She is a trustee at Campbell University, where Fred served so long. How happy he would be.Jim’s Joyce founded a public relations firm in Washington, D.C., sold it and started another firm in Raleigh. Mother of three, Joyce, too, worked throughout her children’s early years. She helps corporations and institutions in times of crisis and serves on the board of trustees at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Jim would say, “That’s my girl.”Dick’s Susan attended law school at UNC after a teaching stint in Virginia Beach and gave birth to two sons, practicing law throughout – first at Poyner and Spruill and then for many years in the election law section of the state attorney general’s office. She recently retired, the first of these four to do so. Of his daughter Dick would say, “Well done.”First Ed died, in 1997. Then Jim in 2006. Fred died in 2010. And now, Dick in 2014.Their daughters turn 60 this year. IN PRAISE OF LOST FATHERS You were there when we needed you.In the ’50s when dads were supposed to be aloof and absent,you were there, always comforting.And, though you were a man’s man, you didn’t crave sonsIn the ’60s when our Southern towns were burning and leaders shot down, you told us we were safe.Quietly you taught us about equality and justice.In the ’70s when we started to date boys,you taught us how a man was to treat a woman.With respect. With awe. With a sense of humor.You made us feel as if we were the only girls on earthYou expected a lot from us. You said: It is OK to be smart. OK to beat the boys. Don’t ever lose on purpose. Don’t be like everyone else.You are beautiful just the way you are!In the ’80s when we began working, you said:You can do anything, sister. Let’s go buy a suit for that interview. Let’s make sure you love your work.But always take time to smell the flowers.In the ‘90s when we were having our babies you reassured us:Whatever makes the mother strong makes the children strong.Then, at the end when we said we need you, don’t leave, you said:Don’t cry for us when we’re gone.Your children are all we need of immortalityWe should have died in the war. How lucky we were to make it through.We saw so much suffering.But, we came home.With dreams of you.And gifts of yellow roses.
by Kaitlyn Goalenphotographs by Jillian ClarkSpring is about hedging expectations.The season promises to redeem us from the cold, frost, and boredom of winter produce with fresh greens, young peas, and asparagus spears.But that promise comes with a caveat: Spring is flaky. Like the friend you have to give a 15-minute head-start because she is notoriously late, spring’s growing season is never a sure bet.This can be endlessly frustrating for cooks and gardeners, who wait eagerly for spring produce to arrive, only to be thwarted by late frosts and colder-than-average temperatures.Then again, there’s always rhubarb. This brightly-hued stalk is a constant in the otherwise-shifting timeline of spring arrivals, thanks to its proclivity for cold weather. In Raleigh, rhubarb – ranging from flamingo pink to ruby – reliably begins to appear starting in late March and extends through mid May.And yet this dependable vegetable gets the short end of the stalk when it comes to cooking. As a quick Google search will reveal, rhubarb appears almost exclusively in dessert and preserves recipes, despite the fact that it has a bright, acidic flavor which, in my mind, can do backflips around a savory dish.One new cookbook, Root to Leaf by chef Steven Satterfield of Miller Union restaurant in Atlanta, validated my assertion that rhubarb can be used in savory preparations. Satterfield suggests simple roasted rhubarb as a bedfellow to roasted spring chicken or even lamb.In my kitchen, rhubarb’s tangy stems cut through the richness of a cheesy potato gratin, adding a pop of spring color to boot. I’ve also added diced rhubarb to a spring risotto with morels and asparagus, and roasted the stalks to make remoulade for fried shrimp.It’s time to give this spring reliable its due.
by Lewis Bealephotographs by Nick PironioWhen Marco Zárate arrived here from Mexico in 1979 to study for his master’s degree in industrial engineering at N.C. State, he discovered that Hispanic culture in the Triangle was basically nonexistent. No Hispanic markets, no taquerias, no stores selling Mexican soccer T’s. No nothing. Nada.“You can go to any university in the United States and find someone who will speak your language,” says Zárate, “but once I stepped off the campus, to hear somebody on the street or in the stores speaking Spanish, you didn’t see it.”Things were so bad that when Zárate would go on break to his hometown of Tampico, a large city on the Gulf of Mexico, his mother would load him up with native goodies to take back to North Carolina. Canned hot peppers, the thick cream sauce known as crema Mexicana, Oaxaca and Manchego cheeses. All things he couldn’t find here then. “Even in the early 2000s,” Zárate says, “we were still bringing in some food items from Mexico.”That was then. This is now.This past March, Zárate watched as 800 Hispanic students from around North Carolina crowded into N.C. State’s McKimmon Center to attend the 16th Hispanic Educational Summit. The event was hosted by N.C. State and sponsored by the North Carolina Society of Hispanic Professionals (NCSHP), the group Zárate and his wife Susan, an English as a Second Language teacher in the Wake County Public School System, helped found.These middle and high school kids were in town to spend a day listening to inspirational speakers, taking workshops on life skills and education planning, and checking out exhibits sponsored by local colleges and universities, the Raleigh Police Department, and businesses like PNC Bank and Univision 40, the local Spanish-language TV channel.“We are a professional organization,” says Zárate of the NCSHP, which boasts nearly 650 members and 1,000 volunteers, “and although most professional organizations focus on the professional development of their members, in our case the education of young people is the main focus. The society has become a kind of platform for people who want to help these kids succeed.”Zárate comes from a solidly middle-class Mexican family. His father worked as an accountant for Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the state-run oil company, and his mother founded a secretarial school that morphed into a middle school. The parents also were heavily involved with the Lion’s Club, helping Tampico’s disadvantaged population. After graduating from N.C. State, Zárate returned to Mexico, where he worked for Pemex as an environmental engineer.Back to the Tar Heel state But North Carolina called him back, and in 1991 Zárate returned to the Tar Heel State for good. He found a job with a large consulting company working on environmental compliance regulations across a broad range of industries.Soon enough, Zárate settled down to a comfortable American middle-class life, raising two children – Christian, now in the U.S. Army, and Caroline, a nurse – and relaxing in his spare time by landscaping his property, hitting the beach, and playing tennis. Around the turn of the century, however, he began to notice a significant change in North Carolina demographics.It turned out that the growth spurt in the state’s population had also attracted a lot of Hispanic immigrants – the majority of them Mexican – who gravitated towards the agricultural and construction industries.The Hispanic population of Raleigh has grown by over 138% since the beginning of the millennium, and now makes up over 11% of the city’s overall population. Hispanic restaurants, markets, bakeries, and other commercial outlets are now ubiquitous around the state. There are Spanish-language TV stations, newspapers, and magazines. Spanish-language films play on a regular basis in the theaters. Hispanics now account for nearly 9% of the state’s population, 13% of all K-12 school enrollment, and 15% of school kids in Wake County.This huge influx put a lot of pressure on all sorts of organizations, not least the state’s educational institutions. Most school districts were unprepared to deal with an immigrant population that spoke another language, suffered cultural isolation, and had less parental involvement in the educational process as a result. The fallout was bad enough that in 1999, nearly half of all Hispanic students were dropping out of high school.“I started thinking: What can I do in education?” Zárate says. “And what I was seeing, was that the people in the schools, what they were thinking was that eventually (the Hispanic immigrants) would go back” to their home countries. “But what we started seeing was that they didn’t go back. Initially there were a lot of men working without their families, but we started seeing that their families would come up. And the thought was if we don’t focus on the children, we are not going to have the professionals that we want for our state. We’re not going to have the skilled people we need to help our state progress.”Investing in the future So Zárate, his wife, and two other couples founded the NCSHP. Their goal was to bring together Hispanic professionals who could mentor local students, and help them along on the road to success. “We offer guidance and consulting to parents about the education of their children,” Zárate says. “We also inform them about educational resources – how to navigate the school system, things like that.”“Marco wants to give high school students all the knowledge he has,” says Rosa Rangel, a member of the NCSHP board and the senior administrator for family and community engagement in the Wake County school system. “He tells them you can still have fun and be a teenager, but still go to school. I think they look up to him as a grandfather, they think of him as el abuelo (the grandfather), they listen more when they see him. He has that respect.”Since its founding, Zárate’s organization has helped over 11,000 Hispanic students through its summits, mentors, and tutors, and has awarded nearly $250,000 in scholarships to 170 college attendees. The NCSHP has a yearly “Stay In School” campaign that raises awareness through Hispanic media, and a bilingual “¡Gradúate!” program that targets high school students. It’s a broad-based educational initiative with a big focus on mentoring.Yessica Vazquez, a Nicaraguan native who attended high school in North Carolina before the NCSHP was established, now heads the group’s Triad chapter. She knows what it was like for a kid with aspirations before the NCSHP came along. “Being an immigrant myself, and my parents, it was hard for them to navigate the schools,” she says. “There is a knowledge about going to college that people who have gone to college, they know what the requirements are. When I talked to my teachers and guidance counselors, they only came to me with assumptions, that there were things I should know.” The NCSHP is “giving these tools to parents and students.”Juan Fuentes, who grew up in Johnson County, can attest to this. He vividly remembers going to his first summit, and what it meant for him. “I was excited going to my first summit,” he says, “seeing successful mentors that shared similar traditions, culture, and language made me realize that I can be victorious. The motivational effect of the summit is they bring in other success stories. The overall message NCSHP provides to students is to overcome barriers.”Fuentes, who had been interested in journalism, was encouraged by meeting Pamela Silvia Conde, an award-winning journalist for the Spanish-language Univision Network at the summit. He subsequently majored in communications, got a job when he graduated with the Spanish-language newspaper La Conexión, and now works in marketing for Oxford University Press. “It’s important to see a Hispanic person become successful,” he says, “so you can do the same thing.”Marco Zárate can look at his work and see that it is good. But he also emphasizes that despite current controversies over national immigration policy, the NCSHP is about education and nothing else. Sure, the group supports in-state tuition for undocumented students, and is part of the Adelante (“forward” in Spanish) Coalition, a nonprofit fighting for tuition equality for Latino students. And the NCSHP is also in favor of the DREAM Act, which would provide permanent residency to immigrants who serve in the military or attend college.But ask Zárate to comment on other issues involving immigration and the undocumented, and he becomes visibly uncomfortable, saying only that he hopes the federal government can put together “a comprehensive immigration package.” He doesn’t go into specifics. “This happened a lot when we started, he says. “We were supposed to be an expert on everything, but we decided we just want to talk about education.”And things are certainly looking up. Thanks to increasing cultural awareness on the part of local school systems and the work of groups like the NCSHP, the Hispanic graduation rate in North Carolina is now over 75%, a significant increase in 15 years. It makes Marco Zárate plenty proud to think of all the future wage earners and professionals his group has mentored.“We believe an investment in Hispanic education is an investment in North Carolina,” he says. “We have professional people who believe in productivity, in a skilled workforce. And all those things are going to be better for everybody.”