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Ramadan

Like I wrote yesterday, I decided to devote a separate post to my attendance at the latest installment of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School in the Dupont Circle area of Washington, DC because it would have made my last post extremely long otherwise.

This event was held during DC Pride Weekend and it was also held on the same day as a big demonstration on the Mall for LGBTQ rights. I wasn’t able to make it because I attended Sunday service at my church that morning, Dr. Sketchy’s was supposed to begin at 3 p.m., and there’s the issue of Metro’s unreliable weekend service where you typically have to wait between 15 minutes to a half-an-hour for the next train. I wasn’t too bitter about missing the march because it was very hot outside. (The temperature went as high as 95 degrees with high humidity.)

I saw rainbow flags everywhere in Dupont Circle as I was walking to the Bier Baron, where the event was held. Even the Bier Baron itself was decked out in rainbow colors.

Once I was inside I even got in on the act by laying out my pencils in a rainbow pattern.

Once again Reverend Valentine hosted the event. I gave her this toy dinosaur that I found outside Makerspace 125 in Greenbelt, which was among the items that the STEM center invited the general public to take for free. (Makerspace 125 is currently undergoing some major spring cleaning and reorganization of the space.) I knew she was into dinosaurs so I figured what the hell since it was free and everything. (Besides, it gives me the excuse to post this picture right here.)

She loved it when I gave it to her. She said that it will live with the other toy dinosaurs that she has on display in her kitchen.

The event was pretty well-attended despite the fact that it was scheduled during DC Pride Weekend and that big march was still going on at the Mall just a few miles away. The model for this event was a burlesque performer named Amira Jade and some of these drawings are definitely NSFW.

There was only one contest at that event. This one was a beach theme. She said that she would also give extra points for including a dinosaur. So I had Amira Jade with Dino the Dinosaur.

I also decided to ad Batman surfing on a surfboard in the ocean as my personal tribute to Adam West, the actor who played Batman in the 1960’s TV series who had died the day before. It was based on this incredibly campy clip from the TV show.

My drawing made it among the finalists but I didn’t win. Oh well. You win some and you lose some.

I did a couple of more drawings of Amira Jade before the event ended.

Ramadan

The STEM center known as Makerspace 125 in Greenbelt, Maryland is currently reorganizing its space and doing some spring cleaning. They left quite a few items outside its doors encouraging passers-by to take what was there. Among the free times that were available was a nice looking wood desk and a wood cabinet. I also saw some half-built desktop computers outside, which would be perfect for anyone who is into building computers from scratch.

I managed to snag this toy dinosaur because I have a friend who’s into dinosaurs in a big way. She loved it when I gave it to her. She said that it will live with the other toy dinosaurs that she has on display in her kitchen.

Ramadan

A new shopping center has just been opened a few months ago in Riverdale Park, Maryland but I decided to wait a few months until the crowds drawn by the novelty of a new place have died down. In addition, I decided to go on a weeknight because I’ve seen the parking lot filled with cars on the weekend. Here are the photographs I took.

The new shopping center’s main draw is a Whole Foods Market.

In the middle of the new shopping center is this really interesting statue of a blue bear.

If you look up close at that statue you’d see the statue is composed of little blue butterfly-shaped pieces.

Behind the bear statue is this low-level fountain where the water seems to spout from the ground. I can imagine kids splashing around in that fountain once the summer heatwave begins in earnest.

The new shopping center is located on what was once a farm. Here is some background. Riverdale Park was originally a big plantation known as Riversdale Park (note the additional “s”), which was founded by descendants of the original Lord Baltimore, George Calvert (who founded what eventually became the state of Maryland). One of his descendants, Charles Baltimore Calvert, inherited a portion of the original Riversdale Park plantation and he named it MacAlpine Farm after his wife’s family home in Scotland. While Riversdale Park grew tobacco using slave labor, MacAlpine Farm was more of a general farm that grew a variety of crops and raised livestock while using paid labor.

Eventually much of the land surrounding both Riversdale Park and MacAlpine Farm were sold to developers. The original Riversdale mansion still stands with just a small portion of the original grounds remaining. (Last summer I took extensive photos of the place while I was attending a drawing event there.) Much of MacAlpine Farm was razed with the exception of this building in the next two photographs.

This building is the remains of a 19th century icehouse that once served MacAlpine Farm. The sign in the next photo provides information about this icehouse. Basically icehouses were once common prior to electricity being widely adopted. Ice would be harvested further north from either freshwater rivers and lakes or ice manufactured by electrically powered factories. The ice would be stored in an icehouse, whose foundation ran several feet below the earth. Icehouses like this one became obsolete when government-supported rural electrification programs started in the 1930’s. This icehouse can be found on the perimeter of the shopping center parking lot.

So far there are only two places opened at this new shopping center. One is Whole Foods Market and the other is a Starbucks that’s located directly around the corner from Whole Foods.

A few people decide to socialize and eat al fresco outside one of the Whole Foods side entrances. (It was pretty balmy weather that evening.)

This Whole Foods have a few nice touches, such as this place where bicyclists can inflate their tires and maker other minor repairs.

Not only does this store promotes composting and recycling but it even provides a special water fountain for pets.

There are designated parking spots for electric cars along with a recharging pump.

This Whole Foods Market has only been opened for a few months so everything is still brand-new.

I walked around it and I basically limited my purchase to a couple of cookies because the store is a bit on the pricey side. (There’s a reason why many detractors refer to this store as “Whole Paycheck.”) There was an area where people can order artisanal hearth baked pizza for either consuming on the premises (there were tables provided nearby) or to take home. I really liked that large blue-tiled oven in the background that had “RIVERDALE” in written in white tile.

Next to the area where you can order pizza there is a baking area that’s behind transparent plexiglass so shoppers can see various baked goods made on the premises.

This new shopping center is still a work in progress (so far Whole Foods and Starbucks are the only places currently opened). The last two photos show addition store space currently under construction. I have no idea when the construction will be finished or what stores are scheduled to move in there.

UPDATE (June 16, 2017): Who could’ve predicted that just a few months after this particular Whole Foods opened and a mere two days after this post went live that Amazon.com would buy the entire Whole Foods chain? Not me, that’s for sure. That announcement came from out of the blue since I hadn’t previously heard of Amazon even publicly expressing any kind of interest in Whole Foods. It’ll be interesting to see whether this merger will have an effect on prices at Whole Foods since that chain has long had a reputation for prices so high that it’s been dubbed “Whole Paycheck” while Amazon has long been into keeping prices as cheap as possible.

I attended this year’s Greenbelt Green Man Festival. On the first day (May 13) I arrived shortly before the festival closed down for the day mainly because I had spent the bulk of the day walking the Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour. I still managed to take a few photos.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The following day was more sunny and it was a warm pleasant day. Plus it was Mother’s Day on top of it. I spent the bulk of my day at the festival where I took these photos.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

Makerspace 125 had its giant box full of Legos for any child to play with.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

While the outdoor festival was winding down, the festival moved indoors to the New Deal Cafe. The band Kiva closed the 2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival with their show.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

I only purchased one thing for myself that weekend: a bar of honey rose-scented goat milk soap that was made by Natural Image Botanicals.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

Yesterday morning I learned about the suicide of Soundgarden and Audioslave lead singer Chris Cornell just before I was on my way to Silver Spring to attend a one-day conference for people of a certain age who are looking for new career opportunities or are looking into becoming entrepreneurs. I took the Metro and walked through the unusually hot and humid weather (it was 90 degrees and it felt more like August than May) to get to the conference.

When the conference ended I had to make my way back to the Metro in the hot and humidity. While I was walking along Colesville Road on my way back to the Metro station, I happened to be walking past the Fillmore when I saw this tribute to Chris Cornell.

On a different subject matter, for the past week or so I started to notice these empty brown cicada shell casings on the ground. These are normally the ones from the Brood X cicadas, which emerge from the ground once every 17 years. Except some of these bugs are waking up four years early, which has vexed a bunch of experts.

When I arrived home from Silver Spring I saw one of those large bugs just resting on one of the concrete steps outside my home. I took a photo of that cicada for posterity.

I was going through my hard drive when I found some photos I took in Takoma Park last summer. They focused on some of the newer art installations that were set up around town recently. I found them to be quite creative and imaginative.

There’s this S & A Beads store window, which had its own commentary on last year’s presidential campaign.

Pepe the Frog

A public school student’s tribute to Pepe the Frog on display at an art show featuring work by students at Greenbelt Elementary School and Greenbelt Middle School at the Greenbelt Community Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Photo taken on May 8, 2017.

Matt Furie is an artist who had an online comic strip known as Boy’s Club, which received plenty of attention for one of its characters—Pepe the Frog, a basically laid-back peaceful character whose personality was something that could’ve come from a Cheech and Chong movie. Furie had no hateful or malicious intent when he created Pepe.

Imagine his surprise when various alt-right groups appropriated Pepe and used him to attack women, LGBTQ persons, Muslims, people of color, and other groups who aren’t white heterosexual Christian men. In time the Anti Defamation League added Pepe the Frog to its list of hate symbols.

This kind of appropriation is every creative’s worst nightmare come true. In the past I’ve had my own creative work (including drawings, paintings, and animations) get interpreted by others in ways that surprised me because I never had that kind of idea in mind when I originally created it. At least those alternative interpretations were benign and they didn’t hurt my work or my reputation.

Matt Furie had the misfortune of seeing one of his creations not only get interpreted by others in ways that he never intended but he had to stand by while seeing his creation get appropriated as a hate symbol. He tried to put the word out that he never created Pepe the Frog in that way but his protests fell on deaf ears as the alt-right continues to use Pepe for their own ends.

Last weekend Matt Furie uploaded a cartoon panel he drew depicting Pepe lying in a coffin. He also included that panel in a comic book that was distributed in comic book stores nationwide as part of the annual Free Comic Book Day. It was his way of announcing that Pepe the Frog is officially dead.

I don’t blame Matt Furie for what he did. If I was in his shoes, I would’ve done something similar as a way of distancing myself from seeing one of my own creations get twisted into a hate symbol.

I know some of you will ask why didn’t he simply get a lawyer and sue those sites that continue to use his Pepe the Frog in a despicable manner. Here’s the thing—launching a lawsuit in the U.S. is not cheap. I know this first-hand when my estranged husband sued me for divorce and I had no other alternative but to get my own lawyer. Even though my divorce was a relatively simple cut and dry matter (we didn’t have minor children living at home nor did we own much in terms of property and investments), I still had to pay around $250 in order to have my lawyer represent me in divorce court for a trial that lasted less than a half-an-hour.

Look at the late pop star Prince. He managed to get the majority of his videos withdrawn from YouTube and other online video sites but, in order to accomplish this, he had to hire an expensive team of lawyers whose job was to scour the Internet for any unauthorized uploads of his videos (including uploads made by his own fans). Prince was rich enough to afford such legal help.

In contrast, the vast majority of creative people, including Matt Furie, don’t have Prince’s deep pocketed financial resources to hire a similar team of Internet-savvy lawyers to do such work. Given the nature of the Internet, it would’ve been impossible for him to save legal fees by focusing on—let’s say—the controversial 4chan.org site (one of the places where those memes originated) because even if he had won that case, people would’ve taken those twisted Pepe memes and store them on other sites (such as the notorious white power site Stormfront.org) and he would’ve had to raise more money to pay lawyers to launch lawsuits against those sites.

Trying to delete anything off of the Internet is like playing Whack-A-Mole because once you get something taken off one site, that same thing will crop up on another site, then another site, and so on. Once you upload anything online, it’s nearly impossible to remove it.

Basically Matt Furie did the only thing he could do to distance himself from the hateful versions of Pepe the Frog by killing off his character. I don’t blame him one bit for what he did.

I headed to Dupont Circle to check out Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School at the Bier Baron in Washington, DC. Usually I would get to Dupont Circle by taking the Green Line Metro from the Greenbelt station, transfer to the Red Line at the Fort Totten station then taking that train the rest of the way to the Dupont Circle station. This particular Sunday the Greenbelt station was closed because Metro was doing this month-long Safe Track work and it was offering shuttle buses as a substitute.

Rather than dealing with shuttle buses, I decided to go from Sunday service at my church and drive to the Silver Spring Metro station because it’s on the Red Line (plus I wouldn’t have to do any transfers). It also gave me an opportunity to take a few photographs of this charming penguin mural that was recently erected outside the station.

A homeless person’s belongings sit across from the penguins wall mural.

Once I arrived in downtown Washington, DC I saw this dog sticking its head outside the window of a car that was driving through Dupont Circle.

Here’s a welcoming sign that was posted in the window of Second Story Books.

The next few photos show the window display at 1 West Dupont Circle Wines & Liquors, including Absolute Vodka in a rainbow bottle and a few skull-shaped decanters.

I found this interesting relief outside one of the buildings in Dupont Circle.

I eventually made my way to the Bier Baron where Dr. Sketchy’s was held. The model for this event was a burlesque performer named Candy del Rio. Some of the drawings in this post are definitely NSFW.

There was only one contest during this event, which I took part in. The theme was science (in a nod to the March For Science, which was held in Washington, DC the day before.) I decided to go for science fiction and incorporate the movie Jurassic Park and dinosaurs.

I won that contest and my prize was a drink of my choice from the bar. I chose a hard cider that made me a bit loopy. (Fortunately I had taken the Metro so I was pretty much sober by the time I reached my car at the Silver Spring Metro station.)

I did a couple more drawings of Candy del Rio before the event ended.

I took a few more photographs after I left Dr. Sketchy’s and the Bier Baron starting with this window display.

I really love this building with the red brick. This one houses the Portuguese Embassy.

I’ll end this post with yet another dog sticking its head outside the window of a car.

April 22 was not only Earth Day but it was also the day that a massive March for Science took place in downtown Washington, DC to protest the Trump Administration’s official denial of climate change while cutting funds for federal research. I thought about going myself because, as someone who was once married to a NASA software engineer, I know the importance of science in everyday life (even if science was never my favorite subject in school).

But then it rained like crazy and I decided to can that idea. I didn’t feel guilt over what I did because I had already previously participated in the Women’s March on Washington and the Werk for Peace dance protest. The People’s Climate March was scheduled to be held in Washington, DC on the following Saturday. In addition, there are more anti-Trump marches on Washington planned for the future which will focus on immigration, LGBTQ rights, and fans of the hip hop group Insane Clown Posse (that one is because, for some weird reason, the federal government has classified the fans of this group as gangs and terrorists).

And I’m sure that the longer Donald Trump stays in office, the more people will hold massive protest marches.

So I ended up going to Silver Spring where I took place in the second annual Creator Con. At least it was held indoors so I didn’t have to deal with being rained on. Here are the photos I took during my time there.

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

There was one thing that blew my mind. There was a band consisting of teenage boys who did covers of classic rock songs like The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” and The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You.” I found it interesting that there were kids who did covers of songs that first came out decades before they were even born.

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con was held at Eubie Blake High School, which had these pro-LGBTQ signs on display. I’m old enough to remember a time when a teen openly admitting that he/she was LGBTQ would not only result in all kinds of bullying and harassment but many teachers would’ve been indifferent to that student’s plight. Now there are official signs making a LGBTQ teen feel welcome.

Creator Con

Creator Con

May Day

A few years ago one of my friends, Phil Shapiro, did this song called “Open Source is Yours and Mine,” which I wrote a blog post about when he originally released it on SoundCloud. He later did a video version, which he uploaded on to YouTube.

I had been thinking about doing a followup to my last animation, “The March of Liberty,” which was screened at Light City in Baltimore last month (and I even shot a short reaction video when I saw it being played on a large outdoor screen).

I was toying around with doing something based on “Open Source is Yours and Mine” for a while but I finally did it last Friday. Well, anyway, for your May Day viewing pleasure, here is the animated version of “Open Source is Yours and Mine”—complete with an appearance by a penguin.

Yes, I’ll admit that I was inspired by certain movies while I was making it (including the bridge scene from It’s a Wonderful Life and the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp). LOL!

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