Andy sweats his way to healthier thinking

By Tommy Hallissey

A thin-armed 47-year-old white man, named Andy, crawls on his hands and knees into an igloo shaped structure of wood, called a Purification Lodge, on a Mohawk Reservation near Micena, New York.  Inside, it is so dark Andy can’t see his hand in front of his face.  Outside, Mohawk Indians dressed in street clothes chant prayers of healing for him.  Andy sits near a fire pit of red-hot stones for close to two hours.  Even stones, our oldest relative, have life, believe the Mohawks.  The heat is so intense Andy thinks he might die.  He sees white spots.

            The following morning the gray-haired medicine man takes Andy in a motorboat to an island on the St. Lawrence River for a Vision Quest.  He will be left entirely alone for 24 hours without food or water.  Native Americans traditionally do a Vision Quest at the age of 12 or 13 in hopes of achieving spiritual enlightenment.  The medicine man drops Andy off.  Turning away he says, “You’ll face every fear you ever had.  You either face your fears or you forever run from them.  Remember one thing your fears are your pathway to enlightenment.  Good Luck, you’ll need it.”

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High-stepping horse has hopes for Olympic gold

July 3, 2008

The Riverdale Press

By Tommy Hallissey

Pop Art’s muscular chestnut brown body moves with military precision as he kicks his right front leg and then his left like a four-legged Rockette, subtly guided by the slightest tapping of the spurs on the heels of Ashley Holzer’s black, knee-high boots. The horse and rider team is at the Riverdale Equestrian Centre on Broadway, getting ready to compete at the upcoming Olympic games in China.

Both are seasoned competitors. Ms. Holzer has represented her native Canada in the equestrian dressage event twice before, winning a bronze medal in 1998.

She has high hopes for her partner, Pop Art, because he hasn’t lost a competition in two years. “I thought he was going to be good, but I had no idea he was going to be this good,” said Ms. Holzer.

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A foster care survivor’s journey to independence

Without a word, Fekri’s disarming, toothy smile betrays the suffering he endured coming of age in the New York City foster care system.  His crooked pearly whites also hide the agony of being sold into slavery in Tunisia at the age of 5 for a mere $100.

Taken from Tunisia, Fekri was exchanged between parental figures that were often physically and sexually abusive. At age 9, he was beaten severely in Jackson Heights, Queens by his family of the moment. After he was hospitalized, the city recommended he not return to an abusive environment.

Without doting parents, Fekri spent most of his formative years in the less than picturesque settings of New York foster homes. At 21, Fekri was one of nearly 1,000 individuals that year forced to navigate independent living after “aging out” of the city’s foster system. These young adults must transition from a system of familiar structure to the unsettled, often cold reality of independence. According to a 2011 report by the Center for an Urban Future, roughly two-thirds of the 16,000 foster youth in America age out of the system without reuniting with their birth families or being adopted.

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The Freeman Identity: Spuyten Duyvil Centenarian Was A Master Spy

At the ripe age of 100, Riverdalian Albert Freeman came forward to tell The Riverdale Press about his life as a dual agent for both the Soviet Union and the FBI. He helped the FBI intercept secret Russian messages while living in obscurity in The Bronx.

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Bronx district attorney recognized for service

In December 2007, The Riverdale Press profiled Bronx homicide prosecutor David Greenfield, a Riverdalian that the New York City Bar Association honored with the Thomas E. Dewey Medal for a lifetime of service in the Bronx District Attorney’s office. 

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