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Ramadan

I had a pretty busy day. In the morning I went to one of the trainings and town hall meeting for the Poor People’s Campaign in the morning. In the afternoon I decided to go to Third Eye Comics in Annapolis, since that day was also Free Comic Book Day nationwide. (If all that weren’t enough, it was also Cinco de Mayo. I ended up eating tacos at home that I made myself using ingredients that I purchased from Aldi. I learned a long time ago that it’s total folly to attempt to eat in any kind of Mexican/Hispanic/Latino restaurant on Cinco de Mayo.)

So after checking out the Poor People’s Campaign, I drove to Annapolis. I arrived at Third Eye Comics only to find that parking was harder to find than usual. I ended up parking a few blocks away in an office park, which had some nice wall murals.

The next photo shows how crowded that store was. The next photo shows the line to the checkout counter.

I saw these vintage Atari video game cartridges on sale. I remember when Atari originally came out but I never owned one mainly because I was in college at the time and money was a bit tight at the time. It never bothered me that I never owed an Atari because my college (the University of Maryland) had plenty of arcade games on campus and some of the local off-campus fast food places also had arcade games.

I saw a few other interesting things on sale at Third Eye Comics.

I came across a whole aisle full of the ever-popular Funko Pop! statues. I found one new trend: Funko Pops based on real dead rock stars like Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead and Joey Ramone of The Ramones.

There were plenty of Funko Pops based on comic book and video game characters such as Rocket Raccoon, Mega Man, Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent, Wonder Woman, Batman, Batwoman, and Batgirl.

I also found an actual WTF t-shirt and a special edition of the Monopoly game board based on the latest Jurassic Park movie called Jurassic World.

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While everyone else was focused on either Cinco de Mayo or Free Comic Book Day or both, I went to another Poor People’s Campaign training and town hall event. This one was held at Jubilee United Church of Christ in Lanham, Maryland. I had gone to a previous training in Bethesda a few weeks ago but that event had two simultaneous workshops—one on civil disobedience and the other on being a legal observer. I went to the civil disobedience one that night. I went to the Lanham training because that was also was going to have the same two workshops so I’d thought I would go to the legal observer training. Here are a few shots of the building itself.

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Like the Bethesda event, this one also began with a town hall about the Poor People’s Campaign. It included readings from the scripture, what the Poor People’s Campaign is about, and testimonials from people who are living on the margins because they are either living below the poverty level, homeless, unemployed, transgender, over the age of 50 or some combination of the above.

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

The event also included a few musical numbers as well.

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

After a brief break, it was time to begin the workshops. It turned out that the person who was supposed to do the legal observer training had car trouble (or something similar) and the person ended up being a no-show. So the organizers made a decision where they would combine the two workshops into one. A lawyer spoke about what a legal observer does while she also spoke about what to do or not do if you get arrested for doing civil disobedience.

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Training, Lanham, Maryland May 5, 2018

Someone shot a video of this event and it’s currently online on the Maryland Poor People’s Campaign’s Facebook page. The Poor People’s Campaign will officially start on the Monday after Mother’s Day on May 14.

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Cinco de Mayo

The haunting photography of a serial killer.

Martin Luther King’s friend and photographer was also an informant for the FBI.

Amazon Key flaw lets couriers stay in your home unnoticed.

This clever new font, Braille Neue, combines braille with Latin and Japanese alphabets.

To solve America’s housing crisis, build public housing.

The labor of bringing a baby into Appalachia.

How to spot a fake Instagram influencer.

Restricting abortion access is class warfare.

Here’s a reminder that Donald Trump is a sociopath.

Three-year-old scrawls on furniture cushions, mom embroiders them.

Soon you’ll be able to make anything. It’ll change politics forever.

Childfree is a legitimate choice.

Southern California has the resources to solve homelessness. It chooses not to.

A Superman super fan is “obsessed” with buying memorabilia.

Segregation’s constant gardeners: How white women kept Jim Crow alive.

Transgender World War II veteran comes out as a woman at age 90.

Gigs are no longer just for musicians: How the Gig Economy is creating a society of starving artists.

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Cinco de Mayo

Last November I did a video book review of this book I checked out of the local public library that was written by Emmanuelle Dirix called Dressing the Decades. Yesterday I received a Facebook message from the author herself. She said that one of her students had come across my video and had told her about it. She basically liked my review.

That was pretty cool feedback. In case you’ve missed it, here is my review below.

I haven’t done another book review since then. It’s mainly because I haven’t gotten much views and I felt that it wasn’t worth the time and effort in making these reviews. With that nice feedback from Emmanuelle Dirix, maybe I should give it another try.

I only started these video book reviews because my friend, Phil Shapiro, urged me to do so. He thought it would help me build my personal brand and ultimately lead to a decent job. (So far my videos haven’t done that.) He does there video book reviews on a regular basis. Here’s his latest video book review on Crowdfunding Basics in 30 Minutes by Michael J. Epstein.

He’s done several others, with views ranging from around 50 to around 500. (Okay, so he’s not Pew Die Pie. LOL!) You can see them all right here.

Cinco de Mayo

Click here to learn about the origins of this.

Benjamin Franklin

Better slip with Foot than Tongue.

Cinco de Mayo

I found some more drawings from my childhood. Since I’ve been told by my parents and grandmother that I started drawing once I learned how to hold a pencil in my hand, I can easily say that they were all done sometime between ages 2-10.

picture11

picture10

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picture15

picture14

picture13

picture12

American Flag

I know I’m posting this on Memorial Day. In a way that’s fitting because the recent Baltimore Uprising (like the march I went to on May Day) happened over the death of a young African American man at the hands of the police. I know some of you would balk at that description saying that Memorial Day is only for those who died in war. From the viewpoint of a poor African American person living in Baltimore, every day is a war zone with gangs battling each other along with police and citizens battling each other.

A few weeks ago The New York Times published an article titled How Racism Doomed Baltimore and it included information about segregation coupled together with poverty has created a vicious cycle that’s incredibly difficult for anyone born into that situation to escape. That article came on the heels of an even more in-depth article in The Baltimore Sun which examined Baltimore’s racist past titled Baltimore leaders agree: City has a race problem. Both articles are just latest in a series of articles about how dysfunctional the City of Baltimore has become, which the recent riots have exposed for all the world to see. After reading and watching with horror the madness that has descended over Baltimore in the wake of the police killing Freddie Gray and the subsequent riot, I decided to take a special trip to Baltimore where I would visit the riot-stricken areas on the one-week anniversary of the violence that followed Freddie Gray’s funeral.

Even though May 4 was the actual anniversary, I had to wait a day to make my pilgrimage because I had a couple of appointments on the 4th. So I spent the late afternoon of Cinco de Mayo touring the violence-stricken areas as a white woman walking through a majority African American neighborhood.

Some of my friends and family would probably question my sanity for doing this and express concern about the possibility that I could’ve been harmed or even killed. Yes, that thought have crossed my mind. But I don’t really have many things that would tie me down and stop me from making that journey out of concern for being killed. I don’t have small children living with me at home. I am divorced from a man who, through his actions in recent years, have expressed nothing but contempt for me. My mother struggles with MS but she’s well cared for so even if I somehow die prematurely, she would continue to get the same level of care. In a way, I’m more of an ideal candidate to risk making the ultimate sacrifice in order to find out the truth about what happened to the city where I was born and lived in for the first five years of my life than, let’s say, a struggling single mother of two elementary school age children whose father is completely out of the picture.

I still remember when my mother used to say to me as a child “You have to learn how to put yourself out for others.” Well, by doing what I did, I put my life and safety out there so other people will learn what’s really going on in Baltimore that the mainstream media tends to ignore these days.

Despite all that, I still went out of my way to make a few precautions. I locked my purse in the trunk of my car when I arrived at the North Linthicum light rail stop and transferred my money, keys, smartphone, extra smartphone battery, and a tube of Vaseline Lip Therapy to my pants pockets. My credit and debit cards were locked along with my purse in the car trunk. I dressed in grey jeans and a T-shirt. The only jewelry I wore was a wrist watch, which is functional but it’s a far cry from a Tiffany or a Cartier watch (not that I’ve ever owned any watch that was THAT expensive <LOL!>).

I managed to survive and take a bunch of photos that I hope will be an eye-opener for anyone who wants to learn more about Baltimore than what the mainstream media has been spoon-feeding the general public. What happened in Baltimore wasn’t some kind of an anomaly but the result of over 100 years of a brutal history that includes slavery, Jim Crow, the rise and fall of unions, the outsourcing of good manufacturing jobs to Third World countries, the replacement of those good paying jobs with lower paying jobs in the retail and service sector, the chronic underfunding and mismanagement of public education, the mismanagement of providing decent low income housing, white flight to the suburbs, the arrival of crack cocaine, and the War on Drugs. I could take the scholarly approach and talk about how each factor have affected the city but it’s much easier for me to just show you the pictures because, as the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This sign I saw posted in Baltimore says it all about the current conditions in the city.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

I took the light rail from North Linthicum to Lexington Market then switched to the Baltimore Metro subway. On my way to the  Lexington Market Metro station, I saw a few boarded up buildings that have been that way for decades.

Area near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

#FreddieGray #BaltimoreUprising #protestify #BlackLivesMatter Area near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

Area near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

I saw a former stately looking bank building that’s now being used as an Islamic mosque.

Area near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

I took the Baltimore Metro until I got off at the Mondawmin Mall, which bore the brunt of the looting that took place just a week ago. Here are a few exterior shots of that mall.

#FreddieGray #BaltimoreUprising #BlackLivesMatter Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Inside the mall isn’t really that different from many other shopping malls in the suburbs. Even though Mondawmin Mall is relatively small compared to the one in Tyson’s Corner in Virginia, it’s filled with the same kind of chain stores that are common to other shopping malls throughout the country. In fact, Mondawmin Mall seems like a healthy, thriving shopping mall compared to another shopping mall located just south of Baltimore, the Centre at Glen Burnie (formerly known as the Glen Burnie Mall).

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

During my time there, I saw only two tell-tale signs that there was any trouble at the mall recently. One was a jewelry store that remained shuttered and all of its cases looked empty.

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

The other was a sign that announced limited operating hours for the mall for the rest of the week.

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Otherwise, things at Mondawmin Mall seemed to be back to normal.

There’s even a Target located just outside the mall, which reminded me of a joke that went around during one of my weekly support group meetings for people who are separated or divorce a few weeks earlier, which went “No matter where you are, you can always find a Target.”

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

I briefly went inside of Target to use the women’s restroom. Afterwards I stayed in Target long enough to take this next wide shot of the store’s interior then left. (I didn’t bother investigating the Mondawmin Mall Target store too closely because I’ve previously visited Target stores in other locations and, to be honest, that store didn’t look any different from the others.)

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

I walked to the perimeter of the mall parking lot, where I noticed this construction along the edge of the mall parking lot. I wasn’t able to tell what was being built in that location.

Mondawmin Mall one week after it was rocked by violent protests

From that point, I walked down Pennsylvania Avenue. Compared to the tidiness and upscale look of Mondawmin Mall, the rest of the area looked incredibly downtrodden. I saw thriving businesses located next to boarded up storefronts. I saw inhabited townhouses located next to boarded up townhouses. While I saw about two or three other white people inside the mall (they were all in the Target store), once I left the mall, I was the only white person who walked down Pennsylvania Avenue. But, in the end, it didn’t really matter that much because I didn’t see too many people walking outside for several blocks despite the fact that it was a warm sunny day with temperatures in the mid-80’s.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

The whole time I was walking down Pennsylvania Avenue I was walking down a hill (which sure beats walking UP a hill <LOL!>). At one point, after I walked about two or three blocks away from Mondawmin Mall, I saw a faraway view of the skyscrapers of downtown Baltimore. Even though downtown is just a few miles away, given the sharp difference between the glitzy downtown area with the boarded up buildings of Pennsylvania Avenue, those two places might as well be on different planets.

#FreddieGray #BaltimoreUprising #BlackLivesMatter Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

#FreddieGray #BaltimoreUprising #BlackLivesMatter Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

About two or three blocks away from Mondawmin Mall I found this professional looking camera that was set up on a tripod next to a car. I wasn’t able to figure out if the camera person worked for any media or if the person was a freelancer.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

As I continued to see a surreal mix of occupied homes next to boarded up houses and thriving small businesses next to boarded up storefronts, I found myself wondering what living or working next to a boarded up building does to someone’s psyche over time. If a boarded up townhouse attracts rats and other pests, chances are that the occupied townhouse next door will also have to deal with the same vermin. Imagine what it’s like to constantly walk past a home next door to yours that’s boarded up with no new neighbors ready to move in. Or to walk past several boarded up storefronts ever time you decide to go out to buy yourself a soda or a pack of cigarettes. Does it induce despair or loneliness in a person? Does living or working in an environment on a daily basis over months or even years affect the psyche enough to induce depression or wanting to take drugs/drink alcohol to numb the pain? Or does living or working in such an environment induce a seething rage that, when someone like Freddie Gray gets killed, just boils over enough in a person that makes him or her start to riot and loot in a manner that’s similar to a tea kettle whistling when it’s hot?

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

#FreddieGray #BaltimoreUprising #BlackLivesMatter Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

During my walk I stayed on Pennsylvania Avenue the entire time. From time to time I would point the camera at a side street but I didn’t dare walk down them. Pennsylvania Avenue was bad enough for me. I can’t even imagine being a person who has to live there with no way out due to poverty and circumstance.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

My walk down Pennsylvania Avenue was mostly uneventful with one exception. At one point I came across a group of young African American men who were all gathered outside this one townhouse. They were joking and roughhousing with each other. I had no idea what was going on. I thought about taking a photo of the gathering from the front of the house but then paranoia set in, which stemmed from the fact that I was a white woman walking by herself in a poor, majority African American area. It would be just my luck that I would take a photo from the front of the house, the young guys would notice me, and something bad might happen to me because there was no way in hell that I could single-handedly fight off a bunch of young men. So I walked a few feet away from the house and caught this side shot of the gathering.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

At that point I heard one of them say, “Is someone taking a picture?” I immediately turned around and walked fast for the next block or two. I managed to slow down my pace once I realized that no one from that group was following me. The rest of my time walking on Pennsylvania Avenue was uneventful as I continued to take a variety of pictures.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

This billboard in the next shot is the very definition of “surreal” as it advertises the upcoming Preakness in the midst of a down-on-its-luck neighborhood that’s so impoverished that it’s highly unlikely that most of the residents there could even afford to go to the Pimlico Raceway. (Not to mention that the area surrounding Pimlico is just as impoverished and rundown as the area I walked through thanks to various slumlords.)

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

What’s really infuriating about all those boarded up houses is that I frequently see homeless people walk around the Inner Harbor. Think about how many of the homeless could actually be housed with these boarded up buildings. Habitat for Humanity or some other homeless advocacy group could easily send out volunteers to make any necessary repairs and have a homeless person or a whole family move in. Baltimore could easily lower its homeless rate if city officials could find a way of making those boarded up homes habitable for the homeless, even if they have to resort to eminent domain to seize these homes from any owners (most likely slumlords) who allow these homes to go uninhabited.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

#FreddieGray #BaltimoreUprising #BlackLivesMatter #protestify Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

I found the mostly empty Daisys Bakery rack outside one of the homes to be curious because it’s the kind of rack that one usually finds in stores. I found myself wondering if it was looted from the nearby CVS pharmacy that was hard hit by the riots in the wake of Freddie Gray’s funeral.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

The next few photos show the few relatively modern looking buildings I found on Pennsylvania Avenue (near the intersection with North Avenue). They look like they have been built within the last 10 years. I don’t know if they are affordable housing for the impoverished residents or if they are the start of some kind of a new gentrification project that’s designed to build expensive upscale homes for the affluent at the expense of longtime lower income residents.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

In that same general area as the modern buildings I also saw the foundation of a new building that’s under construction. Again I have no idea if they are affordable housing for the impoverished residents or if they are the start of some kind of a new gentrification project designed to attract the affluent.

Pennsylvania Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

I eventually came upon the intersection of Pennsylvania and North Avenues, which was another flash point for the riots that happened the week before. There were two buildings at that intersection that were the hardest hit. One of them was the CVS building, which was looted and burned. It was boarded up when I was there and there were graffiti on the sides.

CVS pharmacy at Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

CVS pharmacy at Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

CVS pharmacy at Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

CVS pharmacy at Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

CVS pharmacy at Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

CVS pharmacy at Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

CVS pharmacy at Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

CVS pharmacy at Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

CVS pharmacy at Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

CVS pharmacy at Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

CVS pharmacy at Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

A few days after I took these photos, CVS announced that this store will be rebuilt.

I also saw the other business that had been looted at that same intersection that was also boarded up. Unlike the CVS, I didn’t see any graffiti on that building.

Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

For a week after both businesses were looted I saw and read all kind of things, including the inaccurate description of the other place as being a bank. That business was not a bank, it was one of those check cashing/payday lending places that one sees in the inner city.

While I agree that looting the CVS was senseless (especially since it was one of the few pharmacies operating in that area—now Target and Shoppers Food Warehouse, both located at Mondawmin Mall, are the only options in that area for people who need to fulfill a prescription), I can understand why that check cashing/payday lending place was targeted by looters. Those kinds of places are ones that have sprung up in the inner city areas where regular banks have been reluctant to set up shop. Those places fulfill a need among the poor families there but they also prey on them at the same time. They charge far more to cash a check than if the person had gone to a regular bank, deposited the check, then wait until the next day when the check clears. And those payday loans charge a higher interest rate than a regular bank as well. So basically the people who rioted that night were in a rage and that check cashing place reminded them of why they remain poor so they decided to trash it.

There was one local media outlet that was at the intersection of Pennsylvania and North Avenues: WZJ-TV Channel 13, which broadcasts out of Baltimore.

Local media show up at Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Local media show up at Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Actually it was only after I arrived at the intersection of Pennsylvania and North Avenues when I began to see more people. While I saw one or two other whites like myself, the place was still overwhelmingly African American. The protesters were gone. The closest I found to a protester was this man with a bullhorn in the next photo but he was a street preacher who was urging people to follow Jesus and read the Bible.

Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

What I learned from my walk is that while Mondawmin Mall and the corner of Pennsylvania and North Avenues have thriving businesses, are lively, and are full of people, the long stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue between those two areas is another story altogether. This intersection also has this building with really interesting architecture that looks like it’s a social club of some sort. I was glad that the looters left that building alone because it is really lovely to look at.

Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

That same intersection also has the Pennsylvania Avenue branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. It looked very modern from the outside. (I didn’t go inside.)

Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

While I had a mostly placid walk, the area still has its share of problems. May 5 fell on a Tuesday this year and, just a few hours after I left the area via the Baltimore Metro, there was a triple shooting which happened one block from that same looted CVS pharmacy where I shot pictures. One of the shootings was fatal. Had I arrived at that same location just a few hours later, there’s a strong chance that I could’ve been caught up in it. It was only through sheer luck that nothing bad happened to me on this trip. But that’s not the end of it. Ten days after the riots there have been at least 3-4 shootings a day with a whopping 9 shootings that happened on May 7. I’m afraid that things are going to get a lot worse in certain parts of Baltimore before they get better (assuming if they ever get better). The last few photos I took of the area was of the Baltimore Metro Penn-North station where I boarded the subway.

Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

Pennsylvania & North Avenue one week after it was rocked by violent protests.

I got off at the Lexington Market Metro station. When I was on my way to transferring to the Lexington Market light rail station, I took some photos of an abandoned Hutzler’s department store building, which has long been boarded up ever since Hutzler’s went out of business back in 1990. It was my mother’s favorite department store and she went to the Glen Burnie location a lot. (I could write a separate post about this, believe me. <LOL!>) I recall only going in the Baltimore location once. I remember it was a very elegant store but that’s about it. I think it’s a shame that this lovely building has gone unused for so many years. Sadly Hutzler’s is one of many boarded-up buildings that litter Baltimore City. There are many remaining features on the outside that hint at that building’s elegant past.

The former Hutzler's department store near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

The former Hutzler's department store near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

The former Hutzler's department store near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

The former Hutzler's department store near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

The former Hutzler's department store near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

The former Hutzler's department store near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

The former Hutzler's department store near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

The former Hutzler's department store near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

The former Hutzler's department store near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

The former Hutzler's department store near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

The former Hutzler's department store near Lexington Market one week after violent protests.

I got off at the Baltimore Convention Center, walked a block until I reached the nearest bus stop, and took the Charm City Circulator until I reached the far end of Harborplace. After a quick dinner at the Shake Shack (where I redeemed this coupon for a free shake, which I received for making a donation during my last visit on the same day as the May Day protest), I walked around the Inner Harbor for a bit. The last time I was there I saw a whole phalanx of police and Maryland National Guard people wearing riot gear while most of the businesses around the Inner Harbor were either closed or were going to close relatively early for a Friday night due to the curfew.

I've never seen anything like THIS at Harborplace or the Inner Harbor.

I've never seen anything like THIS at Harborplace or the Inner Harbor.

Since that time the curfew has been lifted, the Maryland National Guard has withdrawn from the Inner Harbor, and things are now back to normal. All of the businesses in and around Harborplace have resumed their normal operation hours. It’s such a contrast to what I saw just four days earlier. It’s also a contrast to what I saw further north on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

Harborplace after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

The Inner Harbor after the protests ended and the National Guard left.

There was one other incident that had me startled. After I took the last picture (which I posted above), I was about to walk from the Inner Harbor towards the Camden Yards Light Rail stop, I happened to walk past the statue devoted to the late Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer when some boys on a bike (who looked like they were somewhere between 12-15) veered close to me. They came close to hitting me with their bikes but they swerved just in time then they started to laugh among each other. I overheard one of them say something like “She didn’t have anything” as they sped away. I don’t know exactly what they meant by that. My only theory is that they were looking to steal something while on their bikes then quickly ride away. They decided to target the Inner Harbor because it’s a major tourist destination. My cell phone and money were all tucked away in my pants pockets. Had I had a purse on me at the time (instead of leaving it in the trunk of my car that was parked at the North Linthicum Light Rail station), it’s quite possible they could’ve easily have stolen it and they would be riding their bikes so fast that I couldn’t run after them.

So I walked down the riot stricken areas of Baltimore one week after the Baltimore Uprising and I dodged being a potential crime victim in Baltimore today. Good for me, I suppose.

Yesterday I went on a personal quest armed with only my smartphone. I decided to go into the areas of Baltimore that were hit heavily by the riots. I started my quest in Mondawmin Mall then walked down Pennsylvania Avenue until I hit the intersection with North Avenue and I saw the boarded up CVS and a check cashing place that were hit the hardest by the riots. Between those two points I saw a lot of boarded up housing—some of which could easily be renovated and given to someone who’s currently homeless (which would be a start to alleviate Baltimore’s chronic homeless problem) and boarded up storefronts. I saw an area that was literally empty of people during daytime. It was creepy at times.

Despite what I saw, I don’t regret doing this instead of going to some bar getting drunk on Corona beer because some marketers want to create a Latino version of St. Patrick’s Day. (Never mind the fact that Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico and no other Latin American nation observes that holiday. Also never mind the fact that in Mexico itself, Cinco de Mayo is a big deal only in the Mexican state of Puebla.)

I plan on eventually finishing with uploading the pictures I took yesterday. You can see what I’ve uploaded so far on either Flickr or Instagram.

In the meantime here are some related links you may be interested in.

Mondawmin Mall reopens, but not all stores recovered from looting

Baltimore mayor requests federal investigation into city’s police

Freddie Gray officer threatened to kill himself and ex-partner’s husband, court document alleges

Cinco de Mayo

I shot this video of Janet Thomas doing a T’ai Chi Fan Dance during the 10th annual dance service at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland on March 29, 2015.

Cinco de Mayo

Today I decided to go to the local shopping center because I needed to purchase a few things at CVS. This shopping center also has a Chevy’s, which is the Mexican restaurant chain. You wouldn’t believe the crowds I saw outside Chevy’s today.

These photos I took with my smartphone should show you why going to any Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo is just as insane as going to any Irish pub or restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day. Note the number of people waiting in line to even enter the restaurant.

Cinco de Mayo at Chevy's,  May 5, 2013
Cinco de Mayo at Chevy's,  May 5, 2013
Cinco de Mayo at Chevy's,  May 5, 2013
Cinco de Mayo at Chevy's,  May 5, 2013
Cinco de Mayo at Chevy's,  May 5, 2013
Cinco de Mayo at Chevy's,  May 5, 2013

The big irony is that Chevy’s usually don’t draw THAT huge of a crowd. Yes it gets crowded on weekend nights but that’s nothing compared to what I saw today. What’s really amazing is that I’m old enough to remember a time when Cinco de Mayo was largely ignored in the United States. I first heard of it when I took Spanish in college and the teacher mentioned it very briefly. (My class focused more on the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday that follows Halloween than on Cinco de Mayo.) Now the marketers are trying to make Cinco de Mayo the Latino equivalent of St. Patrick’s Day (namely an excuse to drink lots of beer).

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