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It’s been two years since I last went to this annual event, which traditionally closes the weeks-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. The last time I was there, the Sakura Matsuri was held on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the Old Post Office Building (which was then undergoing renovation into the Trump International Hotel—you can see those giant blue TRUMP signs in the background of some of the photos I took during that event).
Since that time the event has been relocated. It is now held at the Navy Yards near Nationals Park. I don’t know if Donald Trump have had a hand in that festival’s relocation or not but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to see those Trump International Hotel signs.
Like previous Sakura Matsuri festivals, this one was a celebration of all aspects of Japanese culture including anime, J-pop, J-rock, kendo, and traditional Japanese crafts. There were also a lot of cosplayers walking around. Here are the photos I took of the Sakura Matsuri.
I had a relatively quiet Halloween this year due mainly to a combination of tight finances and my mother’s latest health battle. (She spent a few days in the hospital earlier this month for sepsis.) I purchased this interesting pack of marshmallow Peeps from Five Below because these Halloween Peeps looked pretty unusual. I’ve seen Halloween Peeps shaped like black cats, ghosts, jack o’lanterns, and gravestones but this was the first time I’ve seen Peeps shaped like Frankenstein’s head.
But that’s not all I found at Five Below. I also found pumpkin spice-flavored Peeps. These are the chicks that I usually see at Easter but I guess Just Born has decided that chicks aren’t just for Easter anymore.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the combination of marshmallow, white chocolate fudge, and pumpkin spice but I found that they were quite tasty.
Among the treats I gave out this year was Utz Bats & Jacks Pretzels. That pack usually gives out a free black and white Halloween decoration (which is basically the Utz girl dressed as a witch while being surrounded by bats).
The same decoration is given out each year. I know that the decoration is in black and white because it’s meant for children to color it using crayons or other media. I displayed it outside a couple of years ago in its uncolored state at the last minute before the first trick or treater arrived. This year I decided to take out some colored pencils and color it in.
I did the coloring Friday night. I displayed it in the trunk of my car at my church’s Trunk or Treat event yesterday (Sunday), which was held in the parking lot for the children at that congregation. I took some photos of the event, which I’ll write about later.
After the Trunk or Treat event I hung that same colored decoration on the door of my home alongside the ghost from the Scream movies (which I’ve owned for a number of years) and a traditional Mexican Day of the Dead decoration (which I purchased from Five Below just a couple of days ago for only 99 cents).
Like I wrote two weeks ago, I purchased this new bat to replace a previous bat that was stolen from the porch in 2014.
I have a Grim Reaper dangling from the bottom of my mailbox near my small coffin.
I also have some smaller Halloween items placed on the front porch near the coffin and Grim Reaper.
I deliberately didn’t cut down the dead Black-Eyed Susans and other dead foliage in order to have this dead plants effect (which is way cheaper than buying fake dead Halloween foliage in the stores). Safeway had a special “2 medium pumpkins for $10” sale so I bought two pumpkins and carved jack o’lantern faces on them then placed them among the dead plants. I kept the seeds and roasted them so I now have healthy snacks.
The next photos were taken in Glen Burnie earlier this month during one of the days I visited my mother in the hospital. After that visit I drove past a couple of homes where I saw those Donald Trump signs on the front lawn, which were the first homes I’ve ever seen anyone display anything that was pro-Trump. (It figures that I saw them in the town where I grew up from ages 5-19.) After I took photos of those two houses with the Trump signs, I decided to stop by Giant because I needed to buy a few things and I thought it would be easier to buy them at the Giant in Glen Burnie then drive straight home. I got out of that store just in time to enjoy this lovely sunset.
In the same shopping center as that particular Giant I saw that one of those Spirit of Halloween stores had set up its temporary shop there.
I went over to that store where I took these pictures documenting what’s considered “in” for Halloween 2016.
Of course since this is an election year, there would be opportunities for people to dress up as either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
There was a Bernie Sanders mask available for sale. It’s too bad that there were reports of primary election rigging in places like Illinois, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Arizona, New York, California, and Nevada since there were many poll results that stated that Bernie Sanders could’ve beaten Donald Trump by a much wider margin than the current narrow margin between Clinton and Trump. (Some recent polls say that Hillary Clinton has since come out way ahead but who knows what will go down on November 8.)
I didn’t buy anything at that store due to tight finances. Even if I could afford to shop there I don’t think I would buy very many items because I’m really not into large lawn displays and there are so many costumes and masks that I can really keep in my home before I get overrun with costumes and masks.
I spent the bulk of Halloween day going to the first of a two-day session on how to improve my job hunting skills that’s offered by the State of Maryland. It’s currently being held in its offices in Laurel, which is located next to Laurel Shopping Center. During one of the breaks I walked around the far end of that shopping center where I saw the place where a second-run movie theater used to operate (but it went out of business a few years ago). There’s currently a haunted house known as Laurel’s House of Horrors that’s operating there. I didn’t go inside at all mainly because the admission was $30 and I’m really not into spending that much money on something that’s only going to last one hour at the most. I have to admit that the exterior looked interesting.
I’ll finish this entry with this giant spider in the center of this giant spider web that’s currently displayed outside Makerspace 125.
Like I wrote in my previous post, I did other things in Baltimore besides take pictures of cosplayers next to a fountain that has since been closed down. I took a little walk around the downtown area, starting with these police motorcycles parked outside the Baltimore Convention Center.
These street drummers outside the PNC Bank building could be heard throughout the surrounding blocks.
This marker shows where a series of riots took place in Baltimore during the Civil War. Maryland was one of those border states that nearly seceded to the Confederacy until Abraham Lincoln offered a compromise where Maryland could still keep slavery legal in exchange for the state remaining in the U.S. Had Lincoln not done that and Maryland became a Confederate state, Washington, DC would’ve ended up being in the geographically awkward position of being the U.S. capital located inside of the Confederate States of America.
I briefly stepped inside Harborplace but there are so many empty storefronts in both pavilions that I no longer make a special shopping trip there. These days I only go to Harborplace if I’m in the Inner Harbor area for a different reason and I feel the need for some food, drink, or to use the restroom. There are just a few stores left that I felt was worth photographing, such as McCormick World of Flavors.
I also stopped briefly at the giant candy store It’s Sugar, which sold sexy underwear for both men and women made from candy.
It’s Sugar also sold some election-themed stuff like party masks and toilet paper featuring Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I had sticker shock when I saw that each roll of toilet paper costs $6. (I could buy a 12-pack of toilet paper at Aldi for $1 less than that.)
Like I wrote before, there are a lot of empty store spaces in both Harborplace pavilions. Someone tried to cover one of the spaces with this nice looking ceramic art.
Across the street from Harborplace is The Gallery, which is yet another shopping mall. The Gallery has more stores than Harborplace but most of the stores are chains (such as Game Stop) which already have stores located closer to my home so I don’t really need to drive all the way to Baltimore to shop. The Gallery had this interesting vending machine that I’ve never seen before—it sells rollable flats. That’s right, it’s a vending machine that sells shoes. I thought it was pretty interesting but I don’t know if it’s the sort of thing that will catch on in other shopping malls in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area.
There are a couple of interesting sculptures at the fountain that’s located near the entrance to The Gallery.
Walking north of the Inner Harbor one can find some interesting things to photograph.
I walked along East Baltimore Street until I hit The Block. Historically that area was a place where burlesque performers did their striptease act while comedians performed there as well. By the 1950’s The Block became a full-fledged red light district with strippers who took all of their clothes off replacing the more demure burlesque performers and X-rated movies replacing the comedians. It was and still is the epitome of sleaze. As a child I can remember my father once loaded up the car when some relatives from Ohio came to visit and he gave a driving tour around Baltimore. He drove through The Block, which was lit up at dusk, while my Ohio relatives just oohed and ahhhed. He didn’t stop the car in The Block because even then it was way too sleazy for families to walk around in.
I had a misadventure at The Block when I was 19. I was attending Anne Arundel Community College as a freshman at the time and things between my then-boyfriend and I weren’t going too well. My boyfriend’s best friend, whom I’ll just call “John,” who was also a student at the same college, suggested that the three of us check out The Block. So we all loaded into his car and drove down East Baltimore until we hit that area.
John took us around to a couple of strip bars. The strippers weren’t all that attractive and I remember one of them looking like she weighed at least 250 pounds. We also checked out some peep shows, which were porn movies that were shown in individual booths. Basically you dropped a quarter into this slot and you saw the movie for about a minute or two then it would stop. If you wanted to see more of that same movie, you dropped another quarter, then another quarter, then another until you reached the end of that movie or you’ve had your fill of it (whichever came first).
At the time the legal drinking age was 18 so I drank a few beers and got drunk in the process. I remember the last thing we did was to go into these individual rooms that had a glass partition that was covered with a curtain. There was a phone next to this pay box that asked for a quarter. I picked up the phone receiver, dropped a quarter into the box, and the curtain was drawn to reveal this scantily-clad woman on the other side. I was totally blasted by then and all I could do was laugh hysterically. The woman was pretty patient about seeing this drunken teenage girl just laughing her ass off like a hyena and I think she asked if I was okay and having a good time. The curtain abruptly closed after a couple of minutes and I staggered out of that room.
I was totally hung over the next day. My boyfriend and I went our separate ways, I transferred to the University of Maryland at College Park the following year, and I basically focused more on my studies and campus life in general and less on visiting red light districts. When I was married I think my then-husband may have driven briefly through The Block once or twice on the way to someplace else in Baltimore but I don’t remember.
My devout Roman Catholic grandmother used to tell me that good girls don’t go to The Block. My grandmother is now deceased along with most of my older relatives, with the exception of my mother (who’s currently struggling with multiple sclerosis), so there’s no one around to warn me to not to venture near The Block because I’m a good girl. Heck, I’m divorced so I don’t have to worry about protecting my virtue and innocence anymore since it’s all gone, baby, gone.
I haven’t really explored The Block since my brief misadventure when I was 19 and seeing it now just looks sad. The X-rated movie theaters and peep shows are now gone (thanks in large part to the advent of home video and the Internet). There’s strictly an emphasis on live performances by strippers and selling sex toys. The Block is also way smaller than I recall. (The Wikipedia says that at its height The Block stretched several blocks long. I think I remember The Block being around two or three blocks long when I was there at 19. Nowadays The Block is literally one block long.)
These buildings on the edge of The Block are being renovated into office buildings although, to be honest, I can’t imagine any corporation or medical practice or any kind of straight-laced businesses (like insurance companies or travel agencies) wanting to put its offices next to strip clubs and sex shops. But, then again, Disney did take a risk in New York City when it decided to pour money into renovating the historic New Amsterdam Theater in Times Square, which led to other companies following suit and ultimately pushing out the strip clubs, peep shows, porn theaters, and sex shops. Maybe that’s what Baltimore is hoping: Disney or some other straight-laced company decide to invest in that area while leading other straight-laced businesses to relocate to The Block and ultimately purge the area of its burlesque and porn past. Maybe it’ll happen once the ugly memories of Freddie Gray and the Baltimore Uprising recedes further into the past but that’s going to take a very long time. (LOL!)
Around the corner from The Block is The Grace and Hope Mission. That’s right, it’s a Christian church and/or mission that probably caters to the people who work there. If one considers the fact that Jesus reached out to the prostitutes and other societal outcasts in his day, one can say that The Grace & Hope Mission is really being very Christian by emulating Jesus. If one were to look at the upper left corner of the photograph below, one would see what looks like apartments or condominiums. (The balconies are a definitely giveaway.) I’m not sure if I would even want to live so close to The Block given the fact that it’s a very high crime area. I would be especially afraid to go to or from my apartment/condo at night.
The crown jewel of The Block is the historic Gayety Theater. Not only did burlesque performers like Blaze Starr performed there but comedians like Jackie Gleason and Red Skelton used to have shows there whenever they came to Baltimore. It has a lovely facade that was restored not too long ago.
Today the Gayety houses Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club, which features entertainment that’s a far cry from Jackie Gleason’s comedy routines of yore.
The Hustler Club also has a sex shop that not only features all kinds of sex toys but there are even signs advertising something called “the official pleasure collection” that’s inspired by the controversial Fifty Shades of Grey book trilogy and movie.
I came across something that I didn’t expect to see at The Block. Apparently the Hustler Club had something called “WTF Weekend” that featured Mama June from that controversial TV reality show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, which was abruptly cancelled by TLC despite its high ratings a few years ago after Mama June left the father of her youngest daughter, Honey Boo Boo, for an old flame. Except it was revealed that this old flame had just finished serving time in prison for child molestation involving a young girl. Worse, before he was arrested and convicted for that molestation, he was accused of sexually abusing Mama June’s oldest daughter, who was a child at the time. Basically Mama June threw away her well-paying job as a reality TV star for hooking up with a convicted child molester despite having minor daughters still living at home (including Honey Boo Boo) while alienating her now-adult oldest daughter in the process. So now Mama June is reduced to making a living by doing live appearances in sleazy places like The Block with Little Sassee Cassee, a two-foot tall woman who’s billed as The World’s Smallest Entertainer. That event had just passed a week before I showed up yet that poster was still up.
The whole area of The Block just looked like a sad shadow of its past self. Unlike my last extended visit at 19, I didn’t even bother going inside any of the buildings because I had a feeling that the interiors would look even sleazier and more depressing than what I saw on the outside. Plus the people who were going inside and outside these buildings just looked like the kind of people I just don’t want to make even small talk with. Some of these people just oozed sleazy vibes on first sight. You’re definitely not going to find anyone like Richard Gere’s suave wealthy character in Pretty Woman. (Hell, I can’t imagine anyone from the 1% venturing anywhere near The Block, especially when they have the money to pay for a high-priced escort service to make house calls.) It was just as well that I didn’t go indoors because I was spared what goes on in these establishments, as described in this article.
Not only did I not bother with entering any of the nightclubs on The Block, I didn’t even bother with entering the few non-sexually oriented businesses either, such as Subway. (Shoot, I don’t even remember any corporate chain fast food places on The Block when I went there at 19.)
The 2 O’Clock Club is one of the few original businesses left on The Block. Blaze Starr got her start as a burlesque performer there and she even owned the place at one point. She sold it and retired from her burlesque career when The Block went from being an area that featured burlesque shows to showing porn movies and peep shows. That place was the site of a brutal murder not too long ago.
I can remember when the neon signs on The Block would especially stand out at night. Given the crime that frequently goes on these days, there is no way in hell I would ever walk in that area at night to see the lights in their full glory, even if I was with other people.
Right where The Block ends is a carry-out place called Mandi Kitchen that serves Halal dishes.
Right next to The Block is a police station. Seriously! Anyone who becomes a crime victim on The Block would only have to walk a few feet to get a police officer for help. It’s been said that the police station is there so the cops can keep a close eye on The Block, although given the crime that still goes on, I can’t say that they are watching that area too closely.
Across the street from the police station is a building that probably had a business that was once a part of The Block. The side edge of this building still says “KS Film Game Room,” even though that business has long since closed.
The building now houses offices of a business that specializes in retirement savings plans.
I have to admire The Block for still tenaciously hanging on when red light districts in other U.S. cities (such as the intersection of 14th & U Streets, N.W. in Washington, DC and Times Square in New York City) have long since fallen to gentrification, home videos, and Internet streaming. But The Block seems like a cancer or AIDS patient who is still alive but the body has dwindled to skin and bones and the patient is mostly bedridden. Only time will tell whether The Block will still be around for the turn of the 22nd century or if it will ultimately be something that one only reads about on the Wikipedia.
I got away from The Block and I walked past the historic Shot Tower. This particular photograph has some very subtle delicate cloud formation in the sky.
I briefly walked into Little Italy but I only walked about a half a block in the area when I felt my feet getting really tired. I managed to stay long enough to admire some of the building facades but I decided that I’m going to have to explore Little Italy another day.
I walked back to the Shot Tower Metro Station and took the subway to Lexington Market. I thought about going inside to get a soda but I arrived 20 minutes late because the building had already closed for the day by then. I ended up taking a photo of the outside before walking to the Lexington Market light rail stop. I took the light rail train out of the city and to North Linthicum, where my car was parked.
I spent part of the Mother’s Day weekend at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival. Earlier this month I made an allusion to showing off a new product that I modeled on behalf of a new startup. Basically the startup’s first product is a jumpsuit that’s been pretreated with Sawyer Permethrin so one can go hiking, camping, gardening, and other types of outdoor activities without worrying about being bitten by ticks and mosquitos (both of which carry nasty diseases like Lyme and Zika). I posted a selfie while wearing one of those suits. I was also given packaged suits to carry around with me to sell as I walked around the festival ground.
I didn’t sell any suits. Most of the people I spoke with said that they weren’t into camping or money was tight. But the suit I was wearing did get people to open up to me about Lyme disease because they mentioned that they have a friend or relative who’s struggling with this devastating illness. I even had a longtime friend admit to me that she currently has Lyme disease. I knew that she had health issues, which have affected her mobility, but they never got specific as to the cause until she saw me wear that jumpsuit with a sign affixed to the back saying “Ask Me About Permethrin-Treated Disposable Jumpsuit.”
I wore the suit on the first day of the festival while I walked around taking pictures.
Like I wrote earlier I didn’t make any sales on those permethrin-treated jumpsuits. What was worse was that I saw The Backstabbing Couple From Hell (a.k.a. my ex-husband and his mentally ill second wife who used to be a friend of mine until I found out she wasn’t such a good friend). I left the festival about an hour before closing time because I grew tired of seeing them walking around acting all happy. (I have no idea if they are really happy or not and I don’t care.)
The following day I was scheduled to be a substitute teacher for the English language classes my church offers to recent immigrants on Sunday afternoons. I ended up skipping Sunday morning service so I could check out some of Greenbelt Green Man Festival. I didn’t wear the jumpsuit on the second day because I was only there about an hour and a half at the most and I went straight to church for the English classes. I took a few photos of the second day of the festival.
I bought just two items at this weekend’s Greenbelt Green Man Festival. One was a pendant made from recycled dominos that features an image of Edgar Allan Poe.
The other was a t-shirt featuring an image of Jesus riding on the back of a dinosaur.
Anyway that’s it for this year’s Greenbelt Green Man Festival.
UPDATE (June 25, 2016): You can read about why I’m no longer involved with that startup for whom I was selling those jumpsuits at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival right here.
Last week I uploaded a few quick sketches because I had this New Year’s resolution that I would do a quick doodle every day. I’ve started to realize that doing a new sketch every day isn’t realistic because there are days when I’m working on other things and I end up not being able to squeeze any drawing time. So I’m going to modify it by trying for at least twice a week. If I draw more than that, then great! So here are the three sketches I drew over the past seven days.
Once again I turned to Rory’s Story Cubes for inspiration. I got two dice that had a question mark and a drawing of the Janus comedy/tragedy masks. That served as an inspiration for this sketch, which is based on my trepidation about the possibility of getting some work as a paid contractor. (I can’t go into details right now because things haven’t settled. I’m hoping that they do but right now I just don’t know. For the time being I’m still relying on my ex-husband’s alimony payments plus whatever little money I make selling my arts and crafts in order to survive.)
This next drawing was inspired by a recent trip to the campus of Saint John’s College in Annapolis where I saw a large navigational device called a Ptolemy Stone (which is mentioned on the Roadside Attractions website). I took photos of this stone, which I’ll upload at a later date. But here’s the drawing I did entirely in ink along with some information about the Ptolemy Stone (most of which I took from Wikipedia since I have never attended that school as a student).
This last drawing I did immediately after I finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (I waited two weeks after the movie was released because I wanted to avoid the crowds. I went on a Tuesday night because one of the local movie theaters in my area have special $5 days on Tuesday that apply to any movie that have been released longer than a week. I really loved this movie. It was on par with the original trilogy that I saw in my youth and it was way superior to those mediocre prequels that George Lucas insisted on unleashing to the general public. I’m glad that Lucas sold the franchise to Disney because the studio gave it to J.J. Abrams who did a tremendous job with it.) I did a quick fan sketch of one of the newer characters, a robot known as BB-8.
That’s it for my latest crop of quick sketches. I’ll try to do some more next week.
I was invited to check out an open house in Laurel, Maryland that was held at the home of an alumni of my support group for people who are separated or divorced. So I went to the open house, ate food, socialized, and took a few pictures while I was there.
The man who hosted that event had a collection of Venetian masks on display.
The man’s home overlooks Stone Lake, which is the main lake in his housing development.
And here is Stone Lake at sunset.
This year I went to the Maryland Faerie Festival for the first time since 2011, when it was held in its previous location of Upper Marlboro. But, starting in 2012, the Maryland Faerie Festival was being held at Camp Ramblewood in Darlington, which is at least an hour and a half drive away from my home. On top of it, the Maryland Faerie Festival began to hold its event on Mother’s Day weekend, which was at the same time as the similarly-themed Greenbelt Green Man Festival. (Prior to the change in location, the Faerie Festival was usually held a weekend or two after the Green Man Festival so anyone interested in such things didn’t have to choose which one to go to.) I generally went to the Green Man Festival because it was held closer to my home.
Until this year when the organizers of the Maryland Faerie Festival finally decided to hold it later in the spring so it wouldn’t conflict with Mother’s Day. I was pretty happy because I missed not going to that festival so I finally got the chance to check out Camp Ramblewood to see what it was like.
The only bad thing was that the weather had been hot and humid like crazy. (The weather was more like July and August than a typical June in the Mid-Atlantic region.) But I had missed going to that festival so much that I was willing to overlook the weather in order to go. Besides the AccuWeather app on my smartphone said that it was going to rain on that same day and I figured that it would cool things off a bit so I packed an umbrella.
Except I went to the Bowie Baysox baseball game the night before and found that AccuWeather was wrong about the weather because it rained when that app said it wouldn’t rain at all and I had left my umbrella in the car because of it. So for the Maryland Faerie Festival I packed my umbrella to bring with me into the park and it not only didn’t rain at all but the humidity was very high and the temperature rose to the low 90’s.
Despite the weather I still liked the atmosphere of the place overall and I took a bunch of nice photos.
Here’s a rare selfie of me wearing a unicorn mask. I purchased the mask a few years earlier from Mythical Masks by Miscellaneous Oddiments LLC at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival back when I was still happily married and I could easily afford the occasional indulgence.
I wore the mask long enough so I could get a discount on admissions (which was given to anyone who arrived in costume) but I ended up taking it off and putting it in my tote bag for the rest of my time at the festival because I was positively sweltering while wearing it due to the high heat/high humidity. (Most of the time I have that mask hanging on a wall in my home like a picture using special hooks.)
As I wandered around the festival I was delighted to see the abundant fantasy and nature that seemed to be naturally blurred as one. It was my first time at Camp Ramblewood and I hadn’t been to the Maryland Faerie Festival in four years so everything was new and novel to me as I took out my smartphone and photographed everything like mad.
I was taking a picture of the man in the next photo wearing a Green Man t-shirt and holding his dragon. When I mentioned his t-shirt and the Greenbelt Green Man Festival, we got to talking and it turned out that we have two friends in common yet I have never met him until that festival. It’s a small world after all (to quote the famous Disney song).
The next few photos show the booth that was staffed by the band Frenchy and the Punk. I once caught them live in a show that my husband and I attended together just a few months before he abruptly left me for someone else. (I even shot a few videos from that show here, here, here, and here.) Apparently Frenchy and the Punk is evolving beyond music to show off and sell their handmade arts and crafts, much of which I found quite impressive.
Everywhere I went there were all kinds of sights, sounds, and colors.
At the Wishing Tree Grove, people could hang up their wishes written on tiny strips of paper while children of all ages had the opportunity to create small fairy houses and fairy doors for all the wee magical folk.
And here are some more nice bucolic scenes.
There were all kinds of performances at that festival throughout the day. I caught one such act by a band known as Telesma, which played very catchy music that got people dancing on their feet while others sat around both inside and outside near the open-air barn where the performance took place.
I came across a Mermaid Lagoon. Seriously!
I came across this pirate ship display which had a large doll whose face resembled Barbie. I later did some Google research and I found that there is a three-foot version of Barbie available for sale. Wow! I never knew that before!
I also ran into a friend of mine at this festival. The woman on the right is Patty. She’s standing next to a friend of hers named Alex.
For those who wanted to spend an entire weekend at the Maryland Faerie Festival (the festival ran from late Friday night through late Sunday afternoon) but didn’t want to face a three-day long commute, Camp Ramblewood has cabins where individuals and small groups can rent that provides rustic living. For people who prefer to get even closer to nature, there are also areas that one can rent so he/she can erect a tent.
There was a red unicorn who was sharing a pen with a fairy goat while both mythical animals were being cared for by a yellow fairy. When the yellow fairy decided to ride the red unicorn’s back for a brief stroll around the festival grounds, the fairy goat, which had been lying down resting, suddenly got up and began to wander around the pen and bleat like crazy. I guess the fairy goat was upset over not being included with that outing. LOL!
I went through some forbidden forest, known as the Unseelie Woods until I found some Unseelie Faeries.
I checked out some goblins in a goblin tent.
There were also all kinds of arts and crafts that one can view and/or purchase.
At times the heat and humidity was pretty overwhelming. At one point I actually rested under one of the tent canopies where I struck up this pleasant conversation with a woman and her owl.
I ended up eating dinner at the festival and I stayed until the official 6 p.m. closing time. (There was a special nighttime party event that was scheduled to begin a few hours later but I would’ve had to pay an extra $25 and I just didn’t want to deal with facing the first leg of my return trip home along dark rural roads by myself.) By the end of the day there were very few visitors left. I think the high heat and high humidity got to a lot of people because the place was nearly empty by around 4 or 5 p.m. I left after I finished my dinner. On my way out I saw that Camp Ramblewood has this wooden sculpture that’s not only two-sided but also has two genders.
Here is the one thing I got at the Maryland Faerie Festival and I got it for free. It’s a temporary rose tattoo. I put it on while I was still at the festival using some bottled water I had with me. The temporary tattoo lasted around five days until some of it began to break up. It became unrecognizable after seven days as more of the tattoo flecked away from the skin.
Once again the annual Greenbelt Green Man Festival was held on Mother’s Day weekend. For the first time in three years I went to that festival without being involved in anything. (That was also the year I brought my late pet hedgehog Spike with me because there was also a Greenbelt Pet Expo that was held nearby.) Two years ago I worked as a vendor hawking my handcrafted wares, which turned out to be so financially disappointing to me that I decided to never sell there again. (I’ve worked as a vendor at that same festival other years before that one and the results were definitely mixed for me.) Last year I helped out with staffing a table that was run by the Greenbelt Cooperative Incubator for a few hours. So this year it’s pretty novel for me to go to this festival without having any kind of behind-the-scenes commitment and it felt great!
I arrived later to the festival than other years mainly because my lawn desperately needed mowing. I had mowed it the week before but the grass grew quickly back because of the frequent showers that have passed through our area. So I arrived to the festival feeling even more laid back this year.
The only downside was that it was very hot and humid that weekend. (The temperature went as high as 85 degrees Fahrenheit.) It usually doesn’t get that hot and humid in May. It’s the kind of weather that tends to show up in July and August. I ended up dressing lightly that weekend.
There were vendors selling their wares, a variety of entertainment acts performing on stage, an a variety of hands-on activities for people of all ages. Naturally I took a bunch of pictures. Here are the ones I took on the first day of the festival on May 9.
The second day was actually Mother’s Day itself. I’m also helping my church will a social action project where I’m helping with teaching English to local immigrants. I decided to skip Sunday service so I could check out Day 2 of the Greenbelt Green Man Festival in the morning, then leave for the English class that I’m helping with teaching at my church from 1:15-3:30 p.m. After the class ended, I went back to the festival for some late afternoon fun before I headed home for dinner. I managed to arrive during the early part of the festival just in time to check out the first day of the new season of the Greenbelt Farmers Market. (That farmers market always have its first day coincide with Mother’s Day AND the second day of the Greenbelt Green Man Festival, which makes parking a total bitch. I managed to find some parking that was a short walking distance away from where all the action took place.)
I did some browsing at the Green Man Festival as well. There was an exhibit featuring a beehive that was run by some local beekeepers, which was pretty cool.
This particular hive has a newly hatched queen bee, whom the other bees have surrounded in an effort to protect her. Someone painted a blue dot on the queen bee’s back so visitors can easily spot her.
After checking out the Greenbelt Farmers Market and a little bit of the Greenbelt Green Man Festival, I left for my church’s English class. After that class ended I returned to the festival. By that time the vendors from the farmers market had left so there were more available parking. The beekeepers had left with their hive by then but there were plenty of things to see and do and photograph.
I basically hung around for a couple of hours until it was close to dinner (also when the festival started to wind down) then headed home.
It’s been two years since I last attended the annual Sakura Matsuri street festival that’s held in downtown Washington, DC as part of the larger National Cherry Blossom Festival. I thought about going down early in the morning so I could check out the Cherry Blossom Parade that precedes the Sakura Matsuri by starting at 10 a.m. But I was too lazy to get my act together so I could arrive that early so I basically ate breakfast and lunch at home then headed out to the Sakura Matsuri in the afternoon. (I was glad I ate my meals at home because nearly all of the food vendors had very long lines.)
I even dug out this Japanese imported Stitch hat that I purchased at one of the Otakon anime conventions that were held in Baltimore. I know it was before my marriage broke up because I bought it with my then-husband in mind because he was such a huge fan of the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch and Stitch was his favorite Disney character. I also remember when I modeled the hat for him and he was thrilled with it. That hat had been sitting in a drawer since my husband left but I decided that I could continue to use it because I think it’s a cute hat. Besides, it enabled me to blend in a little bit with the other people who were cosplaying. I even had several people at the festival notice my hat and telling me that they loved it. When I arrived in downtown DC, the one of the first things I did was to take a rare selfie of me wearing that hat.
Like most other years, the festival was very crowded. I still enjoyed myself as I looked around at the sights and sounds of the festival. I even took a few silly pictures while I was there. I recently started to follow the official Sonic the Hedgehog accounts on Facebook and Instagram and it was through social media I learned that there is something called Travel Tuesday where people can submit photos of a Sonic doll or stuffed animal either at an event or some famous landmark (like the Eiffel Tower). I decided to pack my articulated Sonic vinyl doll so I could take his photo for Travel Tuesday. Here are the photos that I submitted but, as of this writing, none of them have been selected for Travel Tuesday.
I also played around a little bit with the Hatsune Miku photo app on my smartphone. I thought it was appropriate since that character originated in Japan. (Although now that I look at the pictures, I realized that I should’ve varied the girl’s pose just a little bit since she had the same facial expression and pose. Oh well.)
I basically walked around shooting pictures of cosplayers and the various items I saw on sale. I noticed a lot of ram and sheep plushies on sale this year, which makes sense since 2015 is the year that’s known alternatively as the Year of the Sheep, the Year of the Ram, or the Year of the Goat.
I only purchased one thing at this year’s festival.
Yes, it’s chocolate gelato made by Dolci Gelati and it was very delicious!
While I heard musicians perform on the various stages throughout the festival, I only managed to capture one of the acts with my smartphone because it was one of the few times that I was even able to get close to a stage because everything was so crowded. As for the act that I captured, according to the program book, she is a pop singer from Kyoto named Jonetsu Mariko. I thought I recognized the name for some reason and the program book said that she was making a return appearance to the Sakura Matsuri. After I got home, I searched through this blog and I found out that I previously saw her at the 2010 Sakura Matsuri and I had also videotaped her that time. (She appeared under the name Jonetsu Marie and Shabondama High School.) In any case I took a still photo of her.
I even shot a short video of her performing on stage.
That video was the only one I shot at this year’s Sakura Matsuri.
I also saw that NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata was there with his race car, just like the last time I attended the Sakura Matsuri two years ago. Once again he appeared with Eneos, which makes motor oil. Eneos also had a bean bag toss game called “Cornhole.”
Getting on the Metro so I could go home was a bit of a hassle. The last photo shows the long line that I had to stand in just so I could enter the Federal Triangle Metro Station. I’m only lucky that I had the foresight to put enough money on my Metro SmartTrip card for a round trip so I wouldn’t have to stand in another line at the farecard machines.
Last Saturday I wanted to do something fun after I went through a bunch of CD’s to determine which ones I wanted to keep and which ones I should get rid of after ripping the songs that I really like to my MacBook. The weather was warm but not too hot while the humidity wasn’t too bad either so I decided to go to Artscape in Baltimore. (The fact that the festival was free was definitely a plus for me.) I walked around for a few hours and I mostly had a good time. I also took a whole boatload of photos and I uploaded three videos on to YouTube. So, anyway, here it goes!
Everywhere you went at Artscape there were lots of live music and vendors selling their arts and crafts.
I took the next few photos of this booth because some of the t-shirts said things like “Poly Girl Rock” and “Run Poly” (the latter is a parody of the famous Run-DMC logo) because one of my friends from my Unitarian Universalist congregation came out publicly as a polyamory person (along with her principal partner whom I also met through my church—I have never met any of their other paramours) and she has given media interviews about polyamory while also leading an organization called Practical Polyamory. I later uploaded these photos to Facebook while I tagged her name.
There were all kinds of trucks. Some of them sold food and beverages while others provided services like providing free testing for STDs and HIV/AIDS.
There were also interesting people to photograph on the street as well.
Someone made a statue of a sea turtle using recycled plastic shopping bags.
I’d never thought I’d ever see the National Bohemian beer (a.k.a. Natty Boh) mascot rendered in real life.
There was an area dedicated to building the World’s Largest Art Park where, for a $5 donation, people could paint bricks that will ultimately be used to create such a park. I regretted not doing this myself but money was so tight for me that I had to literally hang on to all the cash that I had on me at the time. I would love to see the entire park when it’s finished.
There was this merry-go-round carousel which rotated and it had sculptures of a chicken drumstick, and ear of corn, and a crab claw.
There was a protest/community art project where people could write on Post-It Notes what they would prefer the Baltimore City Public Schools to spend its money on other than standardized tests.
It was around the time that I took the previous picture that I happened to run into some people I knew from my childhood growing up in Glen Burnie, Maryland who recognized me while I didn’t recognize them until they gave their names. I already wrote at length about that encounter so I’ll just say here that I was less than thrilled with seeing those two women again and I was glad when they left after speaking with me for a couple of minutes. (Too bad I didn’t run into anyone from my college years at the University of Maryland at College Park. I would’ve been way happier and delighted because, to be honest, I prefer my college friends over my childhood friends.)
After they left I faced a dilemma. I had reached the north end at Artspace on Mt. Royal Avenue and there was still more to see on Charles Street. Normally I would walk back down Mt. Royal Avenue towards the Mt. Royal Light Rail Station then walk up Charles Street but I really didn’t want to risk encountering those women from my past again. (My previous post has all the details why I didn’t feel warm and fuzzy about seeing them again.) I looked on the map on my smartphone and found that I was not only close to North Street but I was also close to The Wind-Up Space, where I go to attend the Baltimore chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School. I found that I could walk along North Street towards The Wind-Up Space and turn right on Charles Street and I could pick up the rest of the festival at the other end. So I did just that and I didn’t have any further encounters with those two women from my old neighborhood (nor anyone else from my Glen Burnie days, for that matter). I also took some more photos along the way to North Street.
As I was walking along North Avenue, I came upon Red Emma’s, a worker-owned cooperative that’s a coffeehouse, vegan restaurant, and bookstore. I usually walk past Red Emma’s whenever I go to Dr. Sketchy’s at The Wind-Up Space but I had never been inside because Dr. Sketchy’s is usually held on a Monday night while Red Emma’s is closed on Mondays. I found that Red Emma’s was opened so I took advantage of a rare opportunity to see what this place was like on the inside.
I found that Red Emma’s is really nice looking and I was impressed with their book selection. The lines were too crowded for me to try the food (actually the lines were crowded at practically every single restaurant, fast food place, and food truck that I encountered during Artscape) and I was too broke to buy a book. I wouldn’t mind returning at a later date when I have more time and more money.
So I turned right on Charles Street and I was able to rejoin the festival.
There was a fashion area where would-be fashion designers sold their wares from booths, the backs of parked trucks, and even a funky-painted bus.
I came across something called Magfest, which I can best describe as a festival within a festival.
This mini-festival is devoted to video gaming.
Basically there were video games (some were on computers while others were video arcade games) that people played while a live band played on a nearby stage. There was also a display of video game-inspired art.
I even shot a short video to give people an idea of what Magfest was like.
There was another mini-festival within a festival called The Alternative Art Fair that had all kinds of interesting art that was held on the lower level of a parking garage.
I came across some neat examples of urban gardening.
I found a couple of tents that had a dance demonstration by Arthur Murray, which is legendary in my family. As a teenager, my late aunt had taken dance classes through Arthur Murray and I was told that she was an excellent student. She even did a newspaper ad for Arthur Murray that included her photo and it ran in The Baltimore Sun. Sadly she had to give up those lessons when my grandfather died and money became tight as a result. (If you happened to come across a vintage 1950s Baltimore Sun newspaper and see an Arthur Murray ad featuring a photo of an attractive short-haired brunette named Linda Banahan, that was my late aunt.)
I eventually came up to the art cars that Artscape is well known for.
The car in the next photo was covered in pennies.
This car was covered in doodles.
This is the same Star Wars themed car that I saw parked outside of a baseball stadium the night that I attended a Bowie Baysox game on Star Wars night last month.
The Star Wars car also sold science fiction earrings.
Yes, it’s a cockroach car.
This vehicle was covered in bottle caps.
This art car also had art for sale.
I came across a puppeteer that had a marionette with a big butt and he was making the puppet do some twerking.
I even shot a short video of the twerking puppet.
I took more photos of various performers and other things.
I found a Midway-style carnival games that were all with twists. There was a duck game where the ducks floated around in a pool that resembled the U.S.S. Torsk that’s permanently docked in the Inner Harbor.
Believe it or not, this next photo is a ring toss.
Then there was a ball toss game called “Political Punk Rock” where people can throw balls at targets that resembled people like Hilliary Clinton, Kim Jong Un, John Boehner, Bill Clinton, Sarah Palin, and more!
The next photo shows this giant game that was a cross between pinball and a foosball table.
There was a pizza variation on the classic game Twister.
There was a performer named Gregory Morgan who was literally a one-man band. He was quite good at playing all the instruments by himself.
I even shot a short video of Gregory Morgan to give you an idea of what he was like.
I took the last few photos before I took the next light rail back to North Linthicum (where my car was parked). I was totally tired by the end.