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I’ve learned via Facebook that one of my cousin’s dogs have just passed away. His name was Gonzo and he was 15 years old. I have a few photos of that dog that I took when I visited my cousin’s home on Thanksgiving Day back in 2013. It was a time when I had purchased my current smartphone the day before (a Droid Ultra) because my previous smartphone had literally died. (In a weird irony, that smartphone totally died a day or two after I received a flyer from Verizon saying that I now qualify for a new smartphone. So I ended up purchasing a smartphone the day before Thanksgiving.) I was playing with the camera feature when I took pictures of my cousin’s pets, including Gonzo.

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Gonzo was an all-black furry dog and he could be hard to photograph at times. Here’s another shot of Gonzo with the other dog, Lucy.

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When I took those two photos back in 2013 my cousin had two dogs and two cats. Since then one of the cats, Cookie, has died and now Gonzo is dead. So my cousin is now down to one dog and one cat.

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I spent Thanksgiving Day visiting my mom at my cousin’s house. Other relatives were there as well. It was a pretty nice occasion and I enjoyed myself.

Someone brought this card game called Game of Phones, which requires using a smartphone to play. I took a brief look at the cards but I left before anyone decided to actually play the game.

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One of my cousin’s neighbors likes to decorate his home for all of the holidays. Here is what it looked like during the day when I first arrived.

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Here is a final shot of the same home at night.

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I recently gotten involved in a group that’s known as The Grange. This group originally started in rural areas and it’s still a big deal in small towns across the U.S. In recent years the Grange has been trying to expand to the suburban area and it was trying to start up a chapter in my neighborhood so I decided to check it out. So far I like the people and their positive attitude but I don’t know if it will take off or not. (It has only been in existence for about three or four months.) I’ve even offered to be Vice President of that chapter because they were desperate for volunteers.

Well, anyway, the last meeting was held last week and we decided to do some origami turkeys during that meeting. Someone had brought scrapbooking paper and I made this turkey.

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I’m going to visit my mother at the Thanksgiving gathering in the home of one of my cousins later today and I’ll bring this turkey with me to give to her.

I also made something else for my mother and other relatives at today’s Thanksgiving gathering. I was in Five Below recently when I saw that they had two different types of edible house kits for sale. One was the traditional gingerbread house and the other was a Hershey’s chocolate house. I went for the latter because it was different from the usual gingerbread house. Since I bought it at Five Below, I paid only $5 for the kit.

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Everything was included with the kit. There was even a small cake board included where I can display the house once I finished building it. The sides of the house were already baked so all I had to do was just assemble everything together using the included icing.

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As I was unpacking the contents, I noticed that one of the larger sides of the house was already broken. I decided that this would be the back of the house.

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I initially repaired that broken side with icing, which worked out okay. Then I followed the instructions when it came time to assembling the house together. I basically cut loose with the icing and the included candy embellishments (which included a small Hershey’s bar that could be broken into even smaller pieces, peppermint candy cane-flavored Hershey’s Kisses, a few pieces of Jolly Rancher candy, and some hard candies that resembled holly. I’ll admit that I have never attempted making anything like this before. (In the past I purchased already-made gingerbread houses from Safeway.) It was a such challenge trying to keep the walls up at times that I ended up putting this house in the refrigerator once I finished making it yesterday. Here’s the result, starting with the front of the house.

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Here’s one of the sides. (Yes, I admit that my own version looks nothing like the house that’s pictured on the box.)

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Here’s the back of the house. If you look close enough you could see the repaired break.

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Last, but not least, here’s another side of the house.

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I spent Thanksgiving Day with family members. I baked this black forest cake that I made from a cake mix that I purchased at Aldi. (All I had to do was add eggs, oil, and water.) The frosting is one of Pillsbury’s canned frostings while the cherries came in a jar. It was incredibly easy to make and my relatives were impressed so it was all good.

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The dinner itself was held in the home of one of my cousins. The house in the photos isn’t her home. It belongs to one of her neighbors who have this incredible penchant for putting up a lot of outdoor decorations for every single holiday both major and minor. Here is what it looked like with the Thanksgiving decorations.

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My cousin owns two dogs and one cat. She used to have two cats until last month when one of them, Cookie, suddenly died. While the dogs seemed normal, her remaining cat, Purdy, has taken Cookie’s death very hard. I wrote about Purdy a few months ago about how she seemed to act like she’s the queen of the home and I even took this photo.

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I generally saw Purdy more than Cookie, who was a very shy cat whom I only saw when he was darting from one hiding place to another. Despite the different personalities, Purdy has pretty much changed since Cookie’s death. My cousin told me that the cat tends to hide more and there are times when she will go outside and start meowing as if she’s calling out to Cookie. Both Purdy and Cookie arrived at the home as kittens within a few weeks of each other 15 years ago. Even though they weren’t biologically siblings, they treated each other as if they were. When I was at the home I didn’t see Purdy in her usual roosting places (either on a couch or in an empty box) and she was in hiding. She only emerged once while meowing forlornly. Only time will tell whether Purdy will get over Cookie’s death and resume her normal regal habits.

Overall I had a nice Thanksgiving Day visit and I enjoyed myself.

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Another Thanksgiving Day is here. I may not be fully recovered from that unexpected separation and divorce I went through and money is tight with me these days but I still have a lot of things I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for my health. I’m thankful for having a circle of supportive family and friends whom I can lean on whenever I go through an anxiety attack (which I’ve been suffering from ever since my husband abruptly walked our on me with zero notice that he was unhappy just three days after Christmas in 2011). I’m trying to dig myself out of this hole that I got thrown into courtesy of my so-called “dear husband” but I’m feeling far better than back in 2012. I’m hoping that I’ll feel even better by this time next year but who knows what the future will bring?

Since Thanksgiving is devoted to eating turkey, I’ll end this post with some pictures of turkeys that I took at the weekly Greenbelt Farmers Market in Greenbelt, Maryland earlier this month.

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Part 1
Part 2

This year is the fifth anniversary of this blog. For the first year I was unsure about how many photos I could actually upload because of the free WordPress.com blogging account has a space limit. So I kept photo uploads limited to just my arts and crafts along with any photographs that I actually exhibited in a show. Over time I learned such things as graphic optimization so I was able to upload more photos that way than I thought I could. So for the rest of the year I’m going to devote Throwback Thursday to photos from previous blog entries (along with links to the original posts) that I should’ve uploaded five years earlier but I didn’t.

For the past two weeks I’ve been devoting Throwback Thursdays to this ten-day trip to Florida I went on with my then-husband back in 2010. This week is the third and final part in this series.

After spending a day recuperating from my day-long trip at Sea World, I decided to try a smaller theme park, which I wrote about in this blog post on August 19, 2010. This one pre-dates even Walt Disney World and it has remained in business despite the competition ever since. It’s called Gatorland and, as you should guess by the name, it’s a theme park devoted to alligators. Lots and lots of alligators.

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There were a few shows at Gatorland. One was a demonstration on feeding alligators.

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There were other animals at Gatorland besides alligators. But the gators outnumbered the other animals.

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I ended my time at Gatorland by watching gator wrestling. Yes, gator wrestling between a human and an alligator.

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Gatorland bills itself as “Orlando’s Best Half-Day Attraction!” and, sure enough, I had done everything at that place by the early afternoon. It was also very hot and humid outside so I decided to do an indoor activity. I checked out Titanic The Experience, which was located in a nondescript building near all of the major theme parks on International Drive. (I also wrote about that trip on August 19, 2010.)

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Inside the building there were accurate replicas of the various rooms of the ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic. Here is a first-class cabin.

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Here is the grand staircase, which was restricted to first-class passengers only.

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Here’s the boiler room of the ship.

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I attempted to finish my day at Historic Cocoa Village but I didn’t last long because of the high heat and high humidity so I went back to the hotel where I was staying with my then-husband. My last full day in Florida was on August 20, 2010. In the morning I went back to Historic Cocoa Village because I found that the weather was relatively cooler before 10 a.m. when the heat and humidity suddenly jumps very high. I wrote about my last day on August 20, 2010. Here are my pictures of Historic Cocoa Village.

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I made a return visit to the massive Ron Jon’s Surf Shop.

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I bummed around Historic Downtown Melbourne for a bit.

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I got ice cream from this really funky ice cream shop.

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That’s it for photos from my 2010 trip to Florida. 🙂

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Part 1 (Artomatic 2007)
Part 2 (Artomatic 2008)

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been re-posting old blog posts that I originally made for my online Artomatic account. I would initially write a rough draft using a HTML editor then do a quick copy and paste directly into that online blog. The only thing is that the people behind Artomatic tend to wipe the official site of old content whenever a new Artomatic event is announced. Since Artomatic is going on this year, I’d thought it would be cool to re-post some of those old blog posts that exist on my hard drive.

This entry focuses on the posts I wrote when I took part in the 2009 Artomatic event. Things were pretty good for me. I was in the process of recovering from my hip replacement surgery that I underwent in late 2008  but I had felt so much better compared to the year before. I took part in Artomatic that previous year even though I hobbled around on a cane. The organizers would put me in desk jobs for my volunteer shift whenever they saw me with my cane so I was still able to do the required three volunteer shifts.

Here are some of the posts I wrote that year.

Tired, May 21, 2009

I’m participating in Artomatic this year but I’ve been a bit on the disorganized side. After spending the past year dealing with a bad left hip, I’m now getting used to being in good health once again. Six months ago I had hip replacement surgery and it was a very slow healing process. This past Monday was my six-month anniversary of the surgery. The good news is that because I’ve made great strides, my doctor told me that I can now discontinue the physical therapy that I’ve been on since the day after the surgery. (Yes, it started while I was still in the hospital.) It was only last week when I felt confident enough to stop using my cane.

Well, in any case, I’m now able to do more than I did last year. My left hip was so bad that I signed up all of my required three volunteer shifts in the Events category because I was so unsure about being able to do either Installation or Deinstallation.

This year I signed up for one shift in each of the categories. My first shift was last night, which is still in the Installation phase. My main assignment was to patrol the 8th and 9th floors to make sure that people present were actually installing their spaces and to confront anyone who didn’t seem to be installing at all. Well, everyone who was there were doing some kind of installing so it was a pretty calm night.

At 9:30 p.m. I had to let people on both the 8th and 9th floors know that the building was going to close for the night in 30 minutes. Then I did the same thing at 9:45 p.m., except to tell them that everything was going to close in 15 minutes. After 10 p.m. I went to the 8th and 9th floors to make sure everyone was gone then I turned the lights off.

It wasn’t a hard job, although it required a lot of walking since I had to cover two floors. (There weren’t enough volunteers at my shift so a few of us had to do with two floors instead of the usual one floor per person.) I really did appreciate the surgery because there was no way I could’ve done this last year with my bad hip.

The only real snag came when I got off my shift because the Washington Nationals were playing at the stadium nearby and the baseball fans were crowding the Navy Yard Metro station. In any case, I’m pretty tired from last night plus I’m getting over this head cold that I caught last week–which is why I’ve been very slow about installing my own work.

I should sign off now and get some sleep.

Finally Finished With Installing, May 27, 2009

I spent most of Memorial Day weekend on finishing with the installation of my artwork. I finally finished on Monday, Memorial Day, itself. I was totally exhausted but at least I’m done.

I’ll update my catalogue soon.

What I’ll Be Exhibiting at Artomatic This Year, May 27, 2009

This year’s show will be a mix of new work that I’ve done while I was recuperating from undergoing hip replacement surgery last November and older work that I showed last year and will be making a return visit.

First will be the images of artwork that I haven’t actually showed at Artomatic before but I uploaded them online earlier this year because Artomatic was sponsoring a special Valentine Day’s show at a few buildings in the same neighborhood where this year’s Artomatic was being held and the entires were selected from those who had updated their Artomatic catalogues. I created and uploaded two small paintings plus one photograph just in time for the deadline but none of them were selected for the show. The two paintings will be included in my exhibit. (I left the photograph of the two dolls out of this year’s show due to space issues on my wall.) Neither one have been exhibited anywhere else prior to Artomatic. Here are the paintings:

Barack Obama

Psyche and Cupid

Now for the artwork that is making a return to Artomatic this year. All of them are photographs and all of them were exhibited in last year’s show.

Where is the Alligator? Cypress Gardens, Charleston, South Carolina 2008

Cypress Gardens, Charleston, South Carolina, 2008

Volks Dollfie Dream Doll Peeking From Cherry Blossom Tree

Blythe Doll in Cherry Blossom Tree

Ellowyne Wilde Doll in Front of U.S. Capitol

Ninth Life Store Sign

Here are some additional artwork that will be making its debut at Artomatic for the first time.

Desire

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Free Beer Tomorrow

Panda Wall Hanging

Peeps Acrylic Painting

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The Scream of Nadya Suleman

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Here is a promo video I made for YouTube.

 

Dance Performances at Artomatic, June 13, 2009

Here’s a video I shot of two women who performed this dance routine under the name Hairloom.

I also shot this belly dancing performance by the group Sahara Dance.

 

Meet the Artists Night, June 13, 2009

I shot two videos of that night. Here is my exhibition space as it was set up on that night.

Most of the action took place on the 7th floor, where PostSecret author Frank Warren was having a book signing event. That floor turned into one large party complete with music and flashing lights. Here is what I shot on that floor.

 

The Sarah Palin Tribute Band at Artomatic, June 17, 2009

I shot two videos by this band called The Sarah Palin Tribute Band who, as far as I can tell, had made their performing debut at Artomatic but haven’t performed in public anywhere else since then. Here is the group doing the song “This Land is Your Land.”

And here is the group performing “This Little Light of Mine.”

 

Artomatic Musings, June 25, 2009

A few days ago I finally finished visiting all the floors and viewed all the artwork. How I did it was that I would devote a few hours a week to seeing art and I did only two floors at a time. I started with the 9th floor and worked my way down. Here are a few videos of what I saw, starting with the display of the winners of this year’s Peeps diorama contest that was sponsored by The Washington Post.

Here are the interactive displays I saw on the first, second, and third floors.

Here are the interactive displays I saw on the fourth floor.

Here are the interactive displays I saw on the fifth floor.

Here are the ones on the sixth and seventh floors.

And, finally, here are the ones on the eighth floor.

I saw incredible amounts of artwork. I saw lots of art that I liked but there was so much of it that I can’t remember which ones I liked. I did pick up a bunch of business cards and flyers and many of these artists have websites so I will be spending the next few months with gradually visiting all their sites at my own leisure.

A week ago I spent the second of my three required volunteer shifts watching the loading dock. I was glad that I brought my iPod Touch and my puzzle magazine along because it was a bit on the dull side. The highlight came when I helped another volunteer with washing out the recycling bins using a hose then spraying them with Lysol. All I can say is that stale beer is an absolutely disgusting scent.

But I still can’t complain about having to do it because last year my left hip stopped working and I had to hobble around on a cane. My hip got so bad that I had to undergo a hip replacement then go through a few months of physical therapy. Compared to the hell that I went through for the past year, washing out recycling bins is no big deal.

I checked out the first ever Zombie Prom and it was a riot!!! I wore this evening gown that I had originally purchased for my brother-in-law’s wedding a few years ago and I even had my face made up into a zombie. It was pretty fun. Here’s a video I shot at that event.

There are times when I wished Artomatic had been held in the spring like the last few years. That’s because this year both the Artomatic 500 Cardboard Car Race and the Peeps Diorama Reception are being held this Saturday and I’ll be out of town. My family had booked a week in Ocean City months before Artomatic announced its show and it was too late to re-schedule. I will be back next Friday, although I’m not sure what time I’ll arrive. If I arrive relatively early in the day and if I still have energy, I’ll check out the Art in Fashion show later that evening. But everything is really iffy. [NOTE: I ended up not attending the Art in Fashion show because we arrived late from the trip and I was pretty tired by then.]

The Last Entry for 2009, July 26, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I managed to retrieve my artwork from Artomatic. This past Friday I served the last of my three required volunteer shifts. I basically helped with taking down the partitions in the middle of the floors. The shift I was on managed to finish with the few that were left on the 9th floor before taking down all the ones on the 8th floor. By the time we started on the 7th floor, our shift was over. When I left there was still a lot of work that needed to be done but I’m sure everything will be eventually cleared out.

On that note, I’m going to stop updating this blog for the rest of the year. While I enjoyed myself at this year’s Artomatic, the big disappointment is that I didn’t sell a single thing. I don’t know if it’s due to the poor economy or the fact that Artomatic was moved to the summertime or the fact that it was located near the Nationals ballpark or a combination of all three. But right now I’m up in the air as to whether I will participate next year. It really depends on what the organizers do and where the event will be located and my own schedule.

But I’m really disappointed that all my efforts have amounted to naught when it came to my own sales and even lucking out on meeting influential curators or other movers and shakers in the art world who could help me make it to the next level. I’m at the point where I’m questioning whether it was worth it at all.

I’m not going to make any decisions about my participation in future Artomatics until next year. In the meantime I’m just going to pursue other opportunities and hope they pan out.

Next in This Series

Part 4 (Artomatic 2012)

Recently I stopped at a local Wegmans while I was on my way to my weekly support group meeting for people who are separated or divorced when I saw these.

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Halloween Candy

Butter Shaped Like a Thanksgiving Turkey

I finally did a little bit of shopping during the extended Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend but I didn’t go on the actual holiday and I didn’t bother with Black Friday or Small Business Saturday. Instead I waited until Sunday. You see, my mother decided to give me money for my birthday just a few weeks early and I decided to buy myself something.

A few months ago my oven stopped working yet the stovetop still worked. Since I only have to worry about cooking for myself these days, I’ve been making do with both the stovetop and the microwave oven. However there were times when I want to heat up some pizza that I purchased at the supermarket and, well, the microwave oven doesn’t do such a hot job because the crust is usually soggy. I wanted to get my oven fixed but, after doing some searching on the Internet, I found that, with labor costs, I would have to spend at least $100 and, with my lousy luck, it would probably cost even more than that.

One of my friends told me that she uses a convection oven (she also has to cook only for herself) and she said that she loves her. She also told me that there was a great sale going on at Target, so I ended up going there on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I found an Oster convection oven that was on sale for $40 so I bought it and, so far, I love it. I plan to eventually get that oven repaired, especially if I ever decide to sell the townhouse and move somewhere else one day in the very distant future. But this convection oven makes the perfect stopgap measure for cooking and baking right now.

While there were plenty of people at Target that day, the store was no more crowded than a usual weekend shopping day and I didn’t have to stand in any long lines at the cash registers. After I selected my convection oven, I wheeled the shopping cart around the store where I saw a whole bunch of odd stuff on sale at Target this holiday season.

In the DVD department, there was a display shelf where all of the DVDs were priced at $5 and under. Except one of the shelves had given prominence to episodes of the classic sitcom The Cosby Show. I guess the management at that store didn’t hear about the controversy swirling around Bill Cosby and why he’s not as beloved as he used to be.

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I’ve seen Christmas reindeer, Christmas dogs, Christmas cats, and Christmas mice in past years. But this is the first time I’ve ever seen a Christmas pig or a Christmas fox.

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I’ve seen Anna and Elsa Frozen dolls before but this was the first time I’ve ever seen a three-foot tall Elsa doll. This doll is as tall as the girl pictured on the box. I found myself wondering if this doll could fit into children’s clothes since she’s as tall as a young child. I wasn’t about to spend $60 to find out.

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I later looked on Target’s website and I found that there is also a three-foot tall Anna doll as well. (Anna wasn’t in stock when I was at Target that day.)

I also saw Peeps on sale in different flavors that were once unheard of when I was growing up. (Heck, when I was a child, I only saw Peeps on sale at Easter.)

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Even Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Crackers weren’t immune to special packaging as I saw special Princess and Christmas editions.

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Then there were these Wild Ophelia American Roadtrip Chocolate Bars that came in unusual flavors like Peanut Butter and Banana, Beef Jerky, and Smokehouse BBQ Potato Chip. No, I didn’t dare try any of them. I’m allergic to peanuts and the other two flavors mixed with chocolate just sounded way too strange and weird for my tastes.

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For the past few weeks there have been a lot mentioned in the media about Bill Cosby’s women problems ever since this comedy routine by Hannibal Buress, where he called Bill Cosby a rapist, went viral and it subsequently led to several women who have publicly come forward with accusations that Cosby had sexually assaulted them.

I remember when someone accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault nearly 10 years ago but then it was quietly settled out of court, it quickly faded from the media, and I forgot about it until Buress’ comedy routine went viral. I didn’t think much of it at the time other than wondering if that woman was just another one of those crazy fans.

But when that video went viral followed by the #CosbyMeme Twitter campaign that turned disastrous and more women came forward, the shit really hit the fan in the media. I’ve read some of the comments on the various gossip sites and there are plenty of people defending Bill Cosby and accusing those women of being liars and attention whores. I know that celebrities have to deal with mentally unstable fans who stalk them or hurl all sorts of outrageous accusations. Both former Beatle John Lennon and Tejano music singer Selena were murdered by their own fans. David Letterman had to deal with a woman stalking him repeatedly and that harassment ended only when the woman committed suicide.

If only one woman made this accusation, I can see where people are thinking that she’s just another crazed fan. But when you have (as of this writing) 19 women coming forward claiming that Bill Cosby had sexually assaulted them, it’s more than enough to make me take a serious look at the possibility that Cosby is a rapist. These women had never known each other yet they tell nearly identical stories of Cosby either drugging their drink or him urging them to take a drug that he said was an over-the-counter drug when they complained of a minor malady (like a cold) only to wake up from such a blackout that they found themselves partially or fully nude. With 19 women giving similar accounts, one can’t write them off as being a conspiracy to take down a beloved comedian because it’s hard to maintain a conspiracy with that many people. Even if only half of the women are later found to be truthful and honest, 9-10 women claiming sexual assault would be a high number.

It even makes this 1969 comedy routine Bill Cosby did about spiking women’s drinks with this drug called Spanish Fly seem very creepy in light of all of these allegations and it appeared on an album titled It’s True! It’s True!, which also seems ironically titled given the current situation.

I wish it wasn’t so. That’s because since childhood I have gotten used to Bill Cosby frequently showing up on television with his gentle fatherly persona. I vaguely remember my parents watching I Spy but I was very young so I don’t remember much about that show. My first real memory of Bill Cosby was the Saturday morning Fat Albert cartoon show where Cosby himself would appear at the beginning and end of each animated episode. There were the numerous Jello commercials he made over the years. Of course, there was The Cosby Show, which I really loved for the first few seasons until the show got stale (which usually happens to many television shows).

I wasn’t a blind loyal fan of Cosby’s though. I had long heard that he had a reputation for being nasty, rude, and a downright bully when he’s not performing in public. More recently it was revealed that Bill Cosby made a deal with The National Enquirer where, in exchange for the tabloid killing a story about Cosby allegedly swinging with Sammy Davis, Jr. and a bunch of Las Vegas showgirls, he provided an exclusive story about his then-23-year-old daughter Erinn’s problems with drugs and alcohol. But there are many celebrities who are rumored to be assholes so that isn’t necessarily a crime (even though I wouldn’t want to meet them in real life). I just preferred to just enjoy his public performances without ever wanting to meet him in real life because I knew I would be disappointed if I had done so.

Bill Cosby has a few ties to the Washington, DC area where I currently live. Bill met his future wife, Camille, on a blind date while he was doing gigs at a small club in Georgetown and Camille was attending the University of Maryland. They would frequently go out to dinner at Ben’s Chili Bowl, which is practically a DC institution, and they were married at a Catholic church in Olney, Maryland.

Bill Cosby has such fond memories of the times when he ate at Ben’s Chili Bowl that he has become the restaurant’s most fervent customer. As a reward for Cosby’s loyalty, Ben’s Chili Bowl has a policy of never charging Cosby for eating there. There is even a mural depicting Bill Cosby and President Barack Obama painted on the side of Ben’s Chili Bowl’s DC location.

Bill Cosby’s ties to the DC area became further strengthened when he and his wife decided to loan their extensive art collection to the Smithsonian to display in the National Museum of African Art. The exhibit itself has gotten a less than positive review in The Washington Post but I’ll admit that I became interested in seeing it myself for macabre reasons, especially after this interview with the Associated Press that was filmed at the exhibit itself went viral.

To be fair to the AP reporter, I have to say that, as a former journalism student, Bill Cosby’s demands to that reporter was unreasonable. That’s because the reporter isn’t the one who makes the decision on what gets into the final version of the story—it’s his editor who makes such decisions. The most the reporter could do was tell Cosby that he would tell his editor about Cosby’s concerns. Otherwise, his editor is the one who has final say over what goes or doesn’t go into a story.

So I decided to go to the museum to see Cosby’s art collection for myself. For those of you wondering if I was somehow financing a possible rapist by attending this exhibit, I have to say that, like all other buildings that make up the Smithsonian, the National Museum of African Art does not charge admission. It receives direct funding from the Federal Government so it can waive admission fees to the general public. So I could go to that exhibit with a clear conscience.

I went to the museum on the Sunday before Thanksgiving because I figured that it would be a less crowded time and I was proven correct. I had no problem with finding a seat on the Metro and there weren’t too many people on the Mall when I was there.

When I arrived in the area I saw that the giant concrete flower pots (which were installed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to deter car bombs) had winter cabbage planted in them and they were thriving very well.

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The colorful banner led to the outside of the National Museum of African Art.

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This panoramic shot shows the location of this museum relative to the other Smithsonian buildings. The building on the left is the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, which specializes in Asian art. The red brick building with the turrets in the center is the Smithsonian Castle. In front of the Castle is the Enid A. Haupt Garden. The building on the right is the National Museum of African Art.

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The front of the African Art museum had banners touting the exhibition of Cosby’s art collection.

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There aren’t too many photos of the exhibition itself. That’s because there was a “No Photography” sign in the front of the doors leading to the exhibit. The closest I came to photographing Cosby’s art collection is this next photo showing the entrance to the exhibit.

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I also took a couple of photos of the entire exhibit from the upper balcony leading into the room that had a different exhibit.

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As to why there was a photography ban, I figured it out when I visited the museum shop. There was a coffee table book about the exhibit that was on sale (it was $50 for the paperback edition and $75 for the hardcover). I didn’t buy it. Even if Cosby wasn’t accused of multiple rapes, I wouldn’t buy it because paying that much for a book is a bit extravagant for me since I’m on a tight budget. In addition for the past few years I’ve been getting rid of books in order to clear out the excess clutter in my home and buying new books is the last thing I want to do right now.

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Without taking pictures or buying the book, the only way one can view the art at home is by viewing what’s been posted at the National Museum of African Art’s website. Here are my impressions of the art collection of Bill and Camille Cosby.

A few years ago, when my then-husband and I went on a New Year’s Day excursion to the Smithsonian American Art Museum to see an exhibit of the Norman Rockwell collections of both Steven  Spielberg and George Lucas, that exhibit mentioned that one can gain insight into someone’s personality and personal preferences by looking at his/her art collection. So I went to the Cosby exhibition hoping to gain some kind of insight about Bill Cosby’s increasingly complex character.

Looking at the exhibition there’s nothing in it that’s edgy or controversial. And there are definitely no depictions of women being abused and raped. In fact, many of the artwork on display portray women as living their lives with a quiet dignity and strength despite being a member of two historically disadvantaged groups (as women and as people of color).

Tthe vast majority of the art portray the everyday lives of both Africans and African Americans. If I was viewing this exhibit with no knowledge of the rape controversy, I would say that the art collection reflects the common experiences in the everyday lives of people that’s not unlike what Bill Cosby successfully did with his 1980’s sitcom. Unlike The Jeffersons or Good Times, The Cosby Show dwelled more on the kind of issues that affect all families regardless of race than on the issues that affected primarily African Americans (such as racism). For example, the episodes that dealt with son Theo struggling with his grades in school is something that many parents can relate to regardless of race.

While I didn’t necessarily like everything that was on display, I personally liked the majority of it. I have to admit that when it comes to art, Bill and Camille Cosby have very good taste.

The most powerful of the pieces I saw is not even posted online. It’s a giant statue of Haitian Revolution leader Toussaint L’Ouverture comforting a female elderly slave while announcing that she’s free. The slave looked like she’s weeping with both agony and joy over the fact that her slave days are now over and she’s free.

All of the art on display were made by either Africans or African Americans and there are a number of works by female artists in the exhibit as well. Considering both the Cosby family as being a patron to African/African American artists AND the rape controversy swirling around Bill Cosby definitely creates a cognitive dissonance that’s similar to a recent article that was published in Philadelphia magazine called Dr. Huxtable & Mr. Hyde, which alternated between the things that Cosby has done on behalf of the African American community with the disturbing accounts of some of Cosby’s accusers.

It’s pretty surreal to think that the same Bill Cosby who is accused of raping so many women is also one who helped the careers of artists of color by buying their art and, in some cases, provided commissions as well. He helped those artists to earn some money in a field where white male artists have long been favored.

The one piece that most emphasized the surreality of this exhibit was a display of a quilt called The Ennis Quilt in honor of Bill Cosby’s son, who was murdered at 27 in 1997 by a Ukrainian immigrant who targeted him for his race. The quilt was made from Ennis’ t-shirts and other clothes by The Crossroads Quilters of Port Gibson, Mississippi. Here’s a screenshot of the quilt from the museum’s website.

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I noticed one of the t-shirts turned quilt panels because it struck me as the ultimate in irony. Here is where this panel is located on the quilt (circled in red in the photo below).

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The t-shirt/quilt panel read “What Part of NO Didn’t You Understand?” That’s the slogan frequently used by anti-rape activists to confront those who would rape or who try to justify rape by saying stuff like “Her lips may say ‘NO’ but her eyes say ‘YES’.” How ironic that Ennis Cosby, in his short life on Earth, understood the one thing that allegedly eluded his father. (Or at least Ennis was sympathetic enough to the message that he willingly bought the t-shirt and may have even worn it a few times.)

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After I had my fill of that exhibition, I decided to check out the rest of the museum. I’ll admit that it’s been a number of years since I last set foot in the National Museum of African Art. It’s not among the more popular Smithsonian museums (that honor belongs to the nearby National Air and Space Museum). I can see why the Smithsonian was so willing to borrow the art collection from Bill and Camille Cosby. The Smithsonian figured that having a major popular celebrity like Bill Cosby involved would provide enough star power to encourage people to visit that museum. With that recent controversy, it definitely delivered visitors to the museum. The museum itself wasn’t too crowded when I was there (mainly because I went on the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day) but most of the visitors were at the Cosby exhibit.

There were far fewer people in the rest of the museum, which was a shame because there are some real nice works that are part of the museum’s permanent collection. And the architecture of the museum itself is very eye catching. Since photography was allowed in the rest of the museum I took photos with impunity. The following photos should give you an idea as to what the museum is like. However some of them are definitely NSFW (due in large part to stylistic depictions of various nude body parts).

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This last photo of hunting horn from Sierra Leone was quite nice even though the label had me scratching my head.

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Why on earth would a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company own something like this in the first place? I know that it’s a well made hunting horn but it seems out of place for a company that’s more known for its animations and theme parks.

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As I left the museum and walked back towards the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station, I found this flyer that was wheat pasted on a wall. It’s for an upcoming show by all-90’s music band called White Ford Bronco and I felt old because I remembered the significance of that vehicle back then.

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This last photo shows what L’Enfant Plaza is like at twilight on the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day.

photo27For now it looks like the Smithsonian is going to keep the Cosby exhibit going despite the rape controversy. The exhibition is scheduled to close on January 24, 2016. Only time will tell whether the exhibit will stay there that long or public pressure will cause it to close prematurely.

UPDATE (July 9, 2015): A lot has happened in the nearly eight months since I last wrote this post. A few days ago Bill Cosby’s original 2005 deposition was unsealed, where he admitted to giving drugs to various women so he could have sex with them. (Note that Cosby uses the euphemism “have sex” instead of calling it what it really is—rape.) The aftermath of that revelation is the steepest fall from grace of a previously beloved celebrity I’ve ever seen since O.J. Simpson was accused of murdering his ex-wife and her friend back in the 1990’s. Walt Disney World has removed a bust of Bill Cosby from its Hollywood Studios theme park in Florida. Mark Whitaker, who wrote a biography of Bill Cosby, admitted that he was wrong to have ignored the rape allegations in his book. The Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has dropped Cosby as a client. People are pressuring President Barack Obama to take the unprecedented step of revoking Cosby’s Presidential Medal of Freedom that was previously bestowed on the comedian by President George W. Bush. Despite all that outcry, the Smithsonian is still standing with Cosby by keeping his art collection on display until its original closing date of January 24, 2016.

UPDATE (December 30, 2015): Bill Cosby has just been arrested for the alleged 2004 sexual assault against a former Temple University employee named Andrea Constand. I’m willing to bet that the Smithsonian is glad that it only has one more month left before Bill and Camille Cosby’s art collection is formally closed as originally scheduled.

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