Local - Page 1


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Scene Title Local - Page 1
Synopsis Faith and Hope put the final touches on their latest article — but what to do with this interesting photo they have. Hmm.
Date June 1, 2009

Faith and Hope's Apartment

Chicago Air Hands Out Soup to New York's Abandoned

Story by Hope Kelly
Photo Essay by Faith Kelly

STATEN ISLAND — For some of the poor, hungry, and homeless people that now call Staten Island their home, the bowl of soup and crust of bread is the first real meal they've had in days, months, or even years. For at least one recipient, the steaming hot soup, provided by Chicago Air free of charge, was a physical symbol of hope.

"There's a poem about hope being a thing with feathers, but for me, hope is this here bowl of soup. I know I can get a meal now, when everything else is down and out. At least I don't have to be hungry," said Melvin Brown, a 55 year old who has lived in Staten Island for the past three years. His home was lost in the 2006 explosion. "I lost everything. I do what I can to get by but some days there's just not enough food for all of us lost souls here abouts. Chicago Air? I didn't know much about them, but they is guardian angels in my mind."

Since Friday, ten vans have been distributing soup, bottled water and bread across the island. The drivers of the vans determine their routes and how long to stay at any given destination. Each van is manned by a driver, two servers, and a navigator, all volunteers. Two vans are set up at a stationary camp at Miller Park so that there is a permanent location for hungry island residents to find a meal, according to the chief pilot, Petter Kobrin. The food is brought over to the island by Chicago Air pilots who are paid.

The Airline does this all through charitable donations, but hopes to be able to reach more of the needy soon. "There are a lot more than we can hit with ten vans. We're running pretty much all day, every day. A hundred vans wouldn't be enough," Kobrin said. "Chicago Air can only afford ten trucks though. We're taking downations, but they've been slow."

With more partnerships and more money, the organization's leaders hope to accomplish much more than a simple soup kitchen, however. Kobrin said they plan to reintroduce trade to the island.

"Once we prove the island isn't Mad Max, we're going to try and attract corporate retail partners. We supply them for real cheap, and they sell stuff on the island. Eventually we'd like to fix Staten," Kobrin said.
According to the CEO of Chicago Air Fedor Ibragimov, the charitable work of the organization is simply a way to help those on Staten Island pursue happiness. "All men have the same inherent right to a decent shot at prosperity. It is unacceptable to let some prosper whilst others suffer but for simple lack of effort."

An eclectic mix of hungry make up the lines waiting to be served the hot steaming soup, but they all have one thing in common: they are hungry and they appreciate the food. For some, it was the first hot meal they have had in days, weeks or even months. Some have had to resort to stealing food just to survive, but now they can rest easy that meals will be provided for them.

One young man, Toru Arai, 20, said the soup was good. "Free food is free food, right? I ain't gonna turn down a handout, plus I figure it aint' like there's anyone needs it I'm takin' it from," Arai said. A former Chinatown resident, he moved to Staten because he heard it was easier to find work.

Those who are interested in donating or working in partnership with Chicago Air should call Petter Kobrin at (555) 555-2581.

Hope finishes typing up the article from her computer and begins to read the story outloud. She does this for a couple of reasons — she catches simple typos this way, plus she gets a chance to see how the story flows. She seems rather satisfied with the way this story is read as she turns to look at her sister who is going over photos on the kitchen table. "Whaddya think? Worthy of Page 7 in the Life Section?" she asks, glancing in her direction. "Figured out which photos you want to submit?

There are several photos on the Faith's laptop including one of the volunteers dishing out soup, a long line waiting to be served, an aerial view of the camp, a picture of Arai, along with a close up of his fingerless gloves spooning up the soup. Finally there is a photo of an Asian woman dressed provocatively and eating soup, smiling over to someone off camera.

"This is the one who threatened to sue me because she claimed to be Witness Protection, which made no sense at all… why would the police put someone in Witness Protection on Staten Island where the cops don't even have any clout? Obviously she just doesn't want to be in the newspaper for some reason," Faith says, angling her laptop so her twin can see the graphic display of her photos. Her laptop's screen is larger than Hope's, as Faith needs to be able to see the images and, sometimes, if there's money involve, Photoshop them, after all! "Which do you like? I think it could be a nice little spread, but I'm thinking more like page 1 of the Life section. They're good photos, and no one goes to Staten for news. It's newsworthy. Maybe even Page 1 of Local."

Hope comes over to look at the photo of the woman more closely. "I know her from somewhere. Or.. I've seen her somewhere." The reporter studies the photo for a moment, waves her sister to move to the next image as she slides into a chair at the table next to her twin glancing at the photos as they flip across the screen. "You think? Local Page 1? I dunno — the boss is kind of a prick. I can see him burying us for no good reason."

"This one is really good." She points out one of the photos. "Definitely this one." Her eyes wided as she sees the photo of the Asian woman. This is digging at her. "I definitely want to go out there next time. I hate missing out on all the fun stuff!" she grumbles to Faith distractedly. "I really have seen this girl somewhere. But her story doesn't jive. Not at all. Did she give you a name?"

Faith shakes her blond waves. "Nope. She was just sitting there and then told me not to use her photos, and said she didn't want to be in the paper, so I knew I wasn't going to get it at that point," the photographer points out. "The only reason, maybe for local 1… it's Staten news, you know? No one else is out there. I think the photos show the reality of it all — how bad it is there." She enlarges the picture of the woman, centering on her face. "She does look familiar. But not like I know her in person. Like I know her from … someone else. Oh… but the guy knew her, too. He insinuated she was with Humanis First."

Arching her brow, Hope grins. "Really?" She suddenly smacks her hand down on the table. "I know! Gimme your laptop." Thanks the Lord for YouTube as she typetypes in and pulls up the video service and types in 'Humanis First'. Search! Several pages of videos come up and — there's the one. The news feed from the day the riot nearly happened with one of the Presidential advisors.

"She's the one who nearly started that ruckus downtown a couple of weeks ago. It was all over the news. Looks." She points to the image on the screen. The feed itself is a little grainy, but there's no mistaken it's her. Still no name listed, but there's a lead that can be followed up. It may not make it to story, but there's a chance this could benefit the twins in some manner — if they play it right.

"Oh, shit, I should have recognized her," Faith says, smacking herself in the forehead. "You know what's ironic? The pilot, Kobrin, he said that he'd been shot down by HF at some point, and that's why he wouldn't let me take his photos. So what do we want to do? Should we publish it? I don't think it fits well with the story, anyway. She looks … well, dirty and tired, but she was trying to flirt with some guy off the camera, and it doesn't fit with the feel of the rest of the photos." She goes back to the YouTube video, however, and finds a good spot to pause, taking a screen capture of an angle similar to those in her photographs. "But… I mean, that's a story, right? HF terrorist chick gets free soup from charitable organization? Not to mention Kobrin is all pro-Evolved and so is the airline…"

"No. We don't want to use that just yet. Not with this. There's a bigger story there somewhere and we're going to find out just what it is. Keep that photo." Hope grins over to her twin as she already has those 'There's a big fucking story here' look in her eyes. It's a look her sister has seen many times before. "Now we just need to find out who she is, and what her story /really/ is. Looks like it's my turn to take a trip out to Staten."

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