By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
So who did this genius rip off? Himself. Roca apparently tried to do a little bit of journalistic recycling, taking large chunks from his earlier work and trying to pass it off as new. And that's something that this sooty, smoky tailpipe can appreciate.
Neither Fernandez nor his boss, Managing Editor Judy Miller, returned calls seeking comment. Roca isn't listed in the Miami phonebook. Present and former Heraldemployees grumbled at the scandalette. "They should have done a better search, not just hired the first guy who came in the door," said one former Heraldite. Another scribe sent out the purloined stories with the following suggestion: "Feel free to forward this to anyone you want."
Word of Roca's departure spread quickly though Knight-Ridder's affiliates. The chain was already reeling from Tuesday's revelation that Macon Telegraph entertainment reporter Greg Fields had been caught lifting material from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus website. The Telegraph was also the scene this past March of one of KR's most humiliating scandals, in which Khalil Abdullah-- a reporter who had already been fired from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for plagiarism -- was found to have copied passages from numerous other publications.
Art is a messy business, señor. Tucked among the Spanish-style homes south of downtown West Palm Beach sits what looks like a pair of giant rusting tin cans half buried in the sand. The owner of the big, bunker-like Quonset huts, Alan Patrusevich, rents them out to a dozen artists who use them as a makeshift studio. It's a sort of bohemian oasis in the historic neighborhood of Flamingo Park. Under the curved ceilings, Patrusevich's tenants have built treehouse-like lofts and rooms that are home to jam sessions -- an unruly artist's paradise.
The problem is the place looks like, well, it could collapse any minute -- and that doesn't make the recently gentrified neighbors happy. Ouch. Complaints to the city's Code Compliance Division about Patrusevich's unique complex, which has been the focus of West Palm Beach's avant-garde for a decade or so, has created quite a headache for the Vietnam vet. The city has slapped the long-suffering Patrusevich with a dozen code violations this year and, he believes, is bent on forcing him out. "The same inspector," Patrusevich says, "drives by every flippin' day to see if they can get me on something again."
The code compliance officer who makes the regular drive-bys, Michael Williams, declined to comment. Williams -- obviously an anal-compulsive among loosey-goosey brush-and-palette boys -- has issued Patrusevich violations for his unpaved parking area, trash in his overgrown yard, and failing to keep the buildings weather-tight. Picky picky.
Patrusevich, a furniture restorer who knows good studio space when he sees it, thinks he's won this round. He's dealt with all of the code enforcers' tickets, including the one that he says charged him with having insects in his building. A few lousy roaches? What's the big deal? "I want to see one home that doesn't have a cockroach every once in a while," Patrusevich moans.
But he may be fighting a losing battle. The city has already condemned one of his buildings, and Patrusevich was forced to tear it down last year. He's betting he can save the other two. Like a landslide survivor hanging by his fingernails, Patrusevich will try anything. "I even asked if they would declare these things historic, and they refused."
Tailpipe's not sure about "historic," but without the Quonset community, West Palm would be a lot less interesting.
-- As told to Edmund Newton