Tag Archives: new york city

Why I’ll Never Fly American

Nothing stresses me out more than searching for plane tickets. In fact, searching for and buying those tickets is one of the few things that manages to punch me in the gut. I’ve been lucky so far. Two round-trip Delta tickets for Charleston-NYC each at $220. Then two round-trip TAM tickets for NYC-Santiago-one at $850, the second at $950.

This time around, I went through hell to get back to Santiago.

I bought my plane ticket about a month ago and I decided to try to cut down on my layover time (previous tickets put me in Sao Paolo GRU for about 12 hours each time).

I bought a round-trip ticket with American Airlines for $1,300. Although I plan on staying longer, a friend recommended that I buy a round-trip ticket because I could be turned away for not having proof of residency.

Right from the start, I’m already paying at least $300 more than my previous two trips to Chile. Granted, it’s high travel season for South America so I can understand the high price. I also read that I will have to pay for my second checked luggage (tack on $30). Once again, I look back to my TAM flights where I had a second checked bag for free, and I wonder, “what’s up with that?”

As I boarded the plane, I noticed how packed the flight was. They must have sold out this flight. Yep. Sure enough it was a full house, leaving little room for people’s carry-on luggage. That was a pain, especially since I was carrying my acoustic guitar, too. Upon sitting at my seat, I couldn’t help but feel cramped. I’m only 6’1” so I’m not that tall, but damn were those seats uncomfortable and damn there was no leg space.

As the flight began, I noticed that the seats didn’t have individual TV screens on the back of the headrests. Well, that’s annoying. There goes any chance of watching back-t0-back-to-back movies. Granted, this is petty stuff in the grand scheme of things, but when you’ve been paying less and getting more, you know what makes a good deal. They did have NBC Universal television network shows on, but the only good show was The Office, which was played first.

When we arrived in Miami, I had no trouble getting off the plane and into the airport. I stopped and ate an amazing empanada–the best chicken empanada I’ve ever had, and made my way to my next departure gate.

Our flight from Miami to Santiago was scheduled for 11:20, but we did not end up boarding until 11:12. This was after they announced they were still cleaning the cabin from the previous flight and after they announced that they overbooked the flight and needed three people to stay behind in Miami with hotel, transportation and food vouchers, which I should have done. How do you overbook a flight? Honestly. One would think that because of the Internet and advanced technology, this would not be an issue.

Finally after being delayed, we were allowed to board. Once again, full-house with very little space for carry-on luggage and little to no personal space. This just sucks. To make matters worse, there was no free alcohol. C’mon now! TAM offered me free wine and liquor. What’s the beef, American?

Due to the lack of personal space on the plane and the inability of the seats to lean back an adequate distance, I could not sleep whatsoever on the plane. Fail. Nothing like 10 hours in a seat with no movies to watch. I also had the option of watching the same episode of The Office again. No thanks.

When I landed in Santiago, we conveniently landed just after two other flights arrived. Sure enough, it would be an hour and a half before we got our luggage. At least they had the decency to warn us.

Let’s recap:

-Overbook your flight and make people stay behind?
-Be late letting crew and people board the flight?
-Charge for your second checked luggage and still not have enough room for carry-ons?
-Not enough room period for people to sit comfortably? Your seats don’t even lean back far.
-No individual TV screens in the back of every seat?
-International flight and no free alcohol?
-Hour and a half wait for luggage to load off the plane?
I cannot wait to take you again, American Airlines. Your $1,300 round-trip ticket can die.

Take Care, New York

Three weeks after finishing grad school, I packed up everything I owned. I sold my furniture. I gave bags of clothes to Goodwill. I threw away tons of junk. I left Brooklyn for Santiago, Chile.

While I’m excited about my move and my future here in South America, I cannot help but miss all the wonderful friends and memories that I had during my year and a half in New York City. A year and a half is in no way a long time, but it was still a terrific experience with people I’ll never forget.

Music: Explosions in the Sky “Last Known Surroundings” from the 2011 album “Take Care, Take Care, Take Care”

Shot and Produced by Nathan Frandino

CUNY Graduate School of Journalism 2011 Commencement Nathan Frandino

I bid you farewell

If you’re wondering where I’ve been for most of the past 16 months, it’s because I’ve been neck-deep in deadlines, sources, stories, and everything else you can imagine. After three grueling semesters, I finally made it through: I graduated from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.

I’m a member of the Class of 2011, the fifth class of this young school and third among the international reporting concentration students.

During this time, I’ve had the great pleasure of reporting on the pains and risks faced by immigrant deliverymen, the high school dropout rates among Latinos, violence against Copts in Egypt, custom bike building in Bushwick, pigeon racing and so much more. New York City has given me an endless supply of stories that have expanded my mind beyond belief.

I’ve learned new skills that I’m very proud to have. I know how to shoot video and edit on Final Cut Pro. I know how to collect tape and edit in Pro Tools. I know how to map out a multimedia story drawing on all of the elements. I know to take 750 photos because I’ll be lucky if about 20 will be good enough to use.

I know how to find and cultivate sources (find the jelly bean). I know what stories are (get a hero, put him in a tree, throw rocks at hero to get him/her down from tree). I know what to do with adverbs–although this has recently come into debate (‘die motherf**ker’ v. proudly, strongly and happily supporting adverbs).

I’ve also met the most talented colleagues I could have ever imagined. I won’t forget reading on my iPod Touch on a weekend morning Hannah Miet’s piece on a college dating site published in the New York Times. Nor will I forget reading Patrick Hickey’s piece on an East Village video designer, which was picked up my multiple sites after being published on The Lo-Down. I won’t forget An Phung’s piece on drug rehab centers in Indonesia published in the Jakarta Globe. Countless other colleagues got published for stories around the world. Their hard work, dedication, and shoe leather reporting never cease to amaze me.

There are plenty more bylines to share, but I’m wearing a little thin right now–long flight with very little sleep (blog post TK). I promise I’ll write something more inspiring soon. Instead, I’ll leave you with a music video (fast forward to about 32 seconds to get to the music) that has one of the most fun inspiring messages relevant to this field. (Hint: listen to the lyrics)

Immigrants Rally For Protection Of Civic Services Funding

After New York passed its $132.5 billion budget, many New Yorkers are left wondering how the cuts will trickle down to the local level. Here in New York City, immigrant groups are now wondering how the budgets will affect the Immigrant Opportunities Initiative. Nathan Frandino reports.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/22259078″>Immigrants Rally For Protection Of Civic Services Funding</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user6038265″>Nathan Frandino</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Co-produced with Hannah Miet

U.S. Marshals prep for Madoff auction

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – When U.S. Marshal Jennifer Crane visited convicted financier Bernard Madoff’s co-op in East Midtown more than a year ago, there wasn’t much out of the ordinary for the 4,000 square-foot, 7-bedroom, 12th-floor penthouse.

“I expected walking into something a little more palatial, but it was like an everyday home,” said Crane, who works for the Asset Forfeiture Division and still remembers exactly where every vase, candlestick and statue went. “It was like walking into my grandparents—my grandparents with a lot of money.”

The man behind the biggest Ponzi scheme in history was already in federal custody, and wife Ruth Madoff was still living there. But that home is now gone—sold for $8 million. As is Madoff’s $9.41 million Montauk beach house and his West Palm $5.65 million home.

Now the U.S. Marshals Office is getting rid of the rest of Madoff’s personal property in an auction Saturday at the New York Sheraton Hotel and Towers. Everything from his collection of jewelry, watches, bull statues, and personally labeled clothing will be sold in an effort to compensate the victims, Madoff’s investors, who lost upwards of $65 billion.

Bernie Madoff's labeled slippers. (Credit: Nathan Frandino)

“We’ve had one goal and one priority in mind and that’s restitution toward the victims and we will continue with that goal in mind until every item is sold,” said Roland Ubaldo, supervisory deputy of the U.S. Marshals in New York.

The U.S. Marshals set up more than 400 pieces of personal property, jewelry and antiques that were seized from the homes in connection with the prosecution of Madoff.

The items vary in price range, but Ubaldo said they aim to sell everything at market price or above in order to give back the most money to the victims.

One of the most prominent items is the 10.5-caret diamond ring, said Bob Sheehan of Gaston & Sheehan, the company responsible for auctioning off the property.

The custom ring with an emerald cut diamond is valued between $300,000 and $350,000, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

What is also impressive, Sheehan said, is the Steinway Grand Piano, which the Madoffs kept in their greeting room overlooking their panoramic view of Manhattan.

“It’s the Cadillac of pianos,” said Sheehan, who added that it was estimated up to $16,000.

Among other items were a pair of black velvet slippers with red lining and his initials “BLM” embroidered in gold, two Ralph Lauren Polo belts with one sterling silver buckle and one gold-filled buckle—both engraved with “BLM,” and matching Nike Storm Fit black and red jumpsuits. The small suit had “Ruth Madoff” written on the tag and the XL suit had “BLM Madoff” written on the tag.

“He certainly liked to mark what he owned and his initials BLM or his company initials BLMIS or her initials RM. You’ll find it on most of the assets,” Crane said.

Madoff pleaded guilty in March 2009 to four counts of fraud, three counts of money laundering, making false statements, perjury, making false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and theft from an employee benefit plan, according to the United States Attorney General’s office.

Madoff is now serving a 150-year term in federal prison in Butner, N.C.

As the auction approaches, the Marshals hope to surpass the first auction, which raised $1 million for the victims—only a smidgen of the damage Madoff did.

“Do I think the amount of proceeds gained would equal what was taken? Absolutely not,” Crane said. “We certainly can’t make up for all the crimes that were perpetrated against the victims, but we can try our best.”

Disappearing subway workers worry New York City commuters

Agent by agent, booth by booth, New York City subway stations are getting a little more deserted. Sabrina Greenwood agrees. Greenwood worked as an M.T.A. station agent until she was laid off on Aug. 13, 2010. Now, commuters are worried about their safety. Nathan Frandino reports on the disappearing station booths.

The Subway Brought Me Back: An Interview with James Joseph

Musicians often dream of hitting it big, touring the nation and playing sold-out clubs. But for Brooklyn’s James Joseph, hitting it big only means playing the subway for late-night commuters. Nathan Frandino has more on the New Yorker’s life as a subway musician.

Produced by Nathan Frandino

Music by GHSTS N GUITARS (James Joseph)