The past seven days have provided us with a Pulitzerpalooza that includes the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Boston Globe.
Start with the leader in the clubhouse: Andrea Elliott’s Invisible Child, the Times five-part series chronicling the major obstacles and minor triumphs of a family living in a hellhole of a Brooklyn homeless shelter.
She wakes to the sound of breathing. The smaller children lie tangled beside her, their chests rising and falling under winter coats and wool blankets. A few feet away, their mother and father sleep near the mop bucket they use as a toilet. Two other children share a mattress by the rotting wall where the mice live, opposite the baby, whose crib is warmed by a hair dryer perched on a milk crate.
Slipping out from her covers, the oldest girl sits at the window. On mornings like this, she can see all the way across Brooklyn to the Empire State Building, the first New York skyscraper to reach 100 floors. Her gaze always stops at that iconic temple of stone, its tip pointed celestially, its facade lit with promise.
“It makes me feel like there’s something going on out there,” says the 11-year-old girl, never one for patience. This child of New York is always running before she walks. She likes being first — the first to be born, the first to go to school, the first to make the honor roll.
Even her name, Dasani, speaks of a certain reach. The bottled water had come to Brooklyn’s bodegas just before she was born, catching the fancy of her mother, who could not afford such indulgences. It hinted at a different, upwardly mobile clientele, a set of newcomers who over the next decade would transform the borough.
It’s a heart-wrenching story of people trying to overcome the day-to-day struggles they’re mired in.
Cut to last week’s Journal three-part series The Lobotomy Files, in which Michael M. Phillips details the heart-wrenching stories of people haunted by the war they were mired in.
Roman Tritz’s memories of the past six decades are blurred by age and delusion. But one thing he remembers clearly is the fight he put up the day the orderlies came for him.
The orderlies at the veterans hospital pinned Mr. Tritz to the floor, he recalls. He fought so hard that eventually they gave up. But the orderlies came for him again on Wednesday, July 1, 1953, a few weeks before his 30th birthday.
This time, the doctors got their way.
The U.S. government lobotomized roughly 2,000 mentally ill veterans—and likely hundreds more—during and after World War II, according to a cache of forgotten memos, letters and government reports unearthed by The Wall Street Journal. Besieged by psychologically damaged troops returning from the battlefields of North Africa, Europe and the Pacific, the Veterans Administration performed the brain-altering operation on former servicemen it diagnosed as depressives, psychotics and schizophrenics, and occasionally on people identified as homosexuals.
Kicker: “The VA doctors considered themselves conservative in using lobotomy.”
Motoring north, yesterday’s Sunday Boston Globe front-paged The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev, the paper’s tag-team “five-month investigation [that] offers new insights into the two suspects in the Marathon bombings and their deeply dysfunctional family.”
Also on Page One of yesterday’s Globe was the first part of Neil Swidey and Patricia Wen’s story, A medical collision with a child in the middle, about Justina Pelletier’s hellish ride through the healthcare world.
Justina has a metabolic disease. Or does she? Her parents and Children’s Hospital deadlocked, she was placed in state custody
Full disclosure: The hardworking staff is still working its way through the Globe pieces.
Regardless, let the wild Pulitzer rumpus begin!
P.S. More to come in Two-Daily Town later this AM about the Globe’s Tsarnaev piece.