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The Day Before the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 1)
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 2)
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 3)

Doing constant walking during the holiday weekend began to take a toll on me by Labor Day itself. I woke up feeling totally stiff and sore and I was facing a day that included the annual Labor Day Parade in the morning then the afternoon would be the fourth and final day of the Labor Day Festival itself.

I briefly thought about blowing off the parade until I remembered that some of my friends were marching in it and I really wanted to see them strut their stuff on the parade route. So I forced myself out of bed and ate a quick breakfast. I decided to drive my car as close to the parade route as possible. I figured that I would have better luck if I parked towards the early part of the route instead of Roosevelt Center, where the parade ends and it is also where the festival fairgrounds are located so it draws a larger crowd. I was proven correct and I really lucked out when I found a parking spot located just around the corner from the parade route.

I found the temperature to be quite reasonable. It was in the low 70s with low humidity and it was bright and sunny outside. I set up my folding chair, pulled out my new Canon camera (which I bought off eBay for $80 and it arrived just a few days before the holiday weekend), and waited for the parade to begin. I started taking pictures when the marchers arrived.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Paul Downs, who won the Greenbelt’s Outstanding Citizen Award just three days ago, was in the first car in that parade.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

A colonial-style fife and drum corp marched behind the car carrying Paul Downs.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Mayor Emmett Jordan and the Greenbelt City Council rode in this vintage red fire truck.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen took part in the parade.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

The parade continued with more marchers, some of whom were on horseback.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

There was this ominous looking military vehicle in the parade. There were no signs indicating who this vehicle was aligned with or anything like that.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

The next two photos show robots that were created by a group of students known as The Irrational Engineers.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

It was the unions who helped to create Labor Day to begin with so a few local unions took part in this parade.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Some local political groups and politicians took part in this parade.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Maryland State Senator Paul Pinsky worked the crowds as he marched in the parade.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Maryland House of Delegates member Anne Healey preferred to ride instead.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

There were a contingent calling for affordable health care available for all U.S. citizens.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

This one politician, David Grogan, managed to get Spider-Man (or someone dressed like him) on his side.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Here’s one of my friends, Patty Daukantas, who was riding in the Toastmasters parade float.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Makerspace 125 finally showed off its completed parade float, which I saw being constructed during the last few days.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Some more of my friends were marching with the New Deal Cafe. This group won the Best in Parade award and they were awarded $400. Here are a few still photos I shot.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

I also shot a short video of this group in action. They took a festive New Orleans Mardi Gras jazz approach, which probably explains why they won.

Here’s the rest of the parade that I photographed.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Finally here is the Mission BBQ truck which ended the parade.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

After the parade ended I went back home where I ate lunch (mainly because it was cheaper than eating yet another meal at the festival).

Next in This Series

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 4)

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Back on Inauguration Day in January I made this prediction where I said that Donald Trump would not last past his first term in office while also saying that it’s possible that he may not even finish his first and only term. Each day I find that my prediction is inching just closer to becoming a reality.

A couple of days ago I came across this video by Keith Olbermann where he’s reporting that, after serving less than a year in office, President Donald Trump has finally realized that “people really fucking hate me.” Here’s the video where you can hear about this for yourself.

But I really don’t need Keith Olbermann to tell me this. As a Washington, DC-area resident, I’ve seen this lack of love for The Donald first-hand ranging from hearing frequent cracks about President Trump from various locals to seeing some of the stores in DC create signs and store windows openly mocking the president.

I even have new evidence showing how unpopular Donald Trump has become since he occupied the White House. Last Saturday there were two major political rallies both occurring on opposite sides of the Mall and the local media were speculating that it might turn into a total street brawl between the two different groups that would be similar to what went down in Charlottesville. One was being put on by Donald Trump supporters and it was called “The Mother of All Rallies” (or MOAR, for short). The other was being put on by the rap group Insane Clown Posse and this group was holding this event as a protest against the FBI classifying its fans as a gang. To be fair, I read that the ICP had planned this rally for over a year—long before Trump was elected president and Barack Obama was still in office. (Which means that it was an Obama Administration FBI who had made the gang proclamation against the ICP’s fans.)

There was so much hype in the media over this so-called “clash of two different groups” that Metro had decided to close the Smithsonian Metro station that day, which turned out to be a totally bone-headed decision. (That’s not to mention that I had to do more walking than usual because I had to get off and on at stations further away from the Mall because Metro had closed down the one station that is actually located right on the Mall itself.)

It turned out that more people turned out for the Insane Clown Posse than for Donald Trump. That’s right, there were more people who were willing to openly proclaim that they are a Juggalo (which is how the ICP dubbed their fans) than people willing to openly proclaim that they still support Donald Trump.

I shot a short video comparing the two events where you can clearly see how lopsided the attendance at both events were. Don’t let the anti-Hillary Clinton “Lock Her Up” chant at the beginning deter you from watching the rest of this video. Just marvel at how the Juggalos outnumbered the Trump supporters.

I also shot a bunch of still photos as well but I’ll make a separate post featuring them sometime next week. In the meantime, you can check my recent posts on Instagram or Flickr if you’re dying to see these pictures right now.

For the past few weeks I’ve been complaining about dealing with not one—but two problem cameras. The camera that’s in my smartphone has been acting more and more inconsistently since last Christmas. I would frequently get those dreaded “Camera Error Please Restart Camera.” I would frequently complain about it in this blog. (You can read the most recent example here.)

That problem got so bad that I went back to using my 15-year-old Canon Digital Rebel EOS DSLR camera. That camera was once a top-of-the-line camera but the newer cameras have more megapixels plus that camera only does still photography. (I’m well aware that the newer DSLR cameras does videos as well as still photographs.) It’s also bulky and heavy compared to my smartphone.

For a while I brought the DSLR camera whenever I was going somewhere where I was sure that I would want to take photographs and I didn’t want to risk relying on the smartphone alone. But lately the DSLR camera’s battery isn’t charging (even though I make sure that I charge that battery ahead of whatever event I was taking it to). That came to a head when I made sure to charge it a day or two before the recent solar eclipse only to find that the battery wasn’t working at all. I was lucky that my smartphone camera decided to function just like old times so I was able to get a few photos of that eclipse. But then my smartphone camera reverted back to that “Camera Error Please Restart” message when I went to a Meetup event that took place just a few hours later.

I subsequently looked up replacement batteries for my DSLR camera and I saw that it varied widely between $8 to a whopping $60!

Then there was the issue of having to lug a heavy camera plus there are times when I want to shoot video and I would have to hope and pray that my smartphone camera is up to that challenge. I decided to shop around for a relatively cheap point-and-shoot camera that’s small enough to be portable (so I can easily carry it in a bag or in my purse), provide as many megapixels as the smartphone cameras, and is capable of shooting video.

After doing some Internet research on various camera prices and reading various online reviews, I decided on a Canon PowerShot ELPH 190IS. I purchased a used camera for only $80 on eBay and it arrived in my home just in time for the Labor Day holiday weekend. I got a camera, a battery, and a battery charger. The one thing missing was an SD card but I already had one on hand so it was no big deal to pop it into the camera. The only other thing missing was the manual but I was able to find a .pdf copy by doing a Google search then downloading it.

By the way, that’s the best way of finding a new copy of any missing manual. These days you can find a missing manual for just about anything no matter what the product is or how old a certain product is. (Don’t be like this guy and email some random stranger asking to scan a copy of a manual then email it to him for no compensation and to email it ASAP. It’s just quicker to do your own Google search and you won’t have to irritate random strangers either.)

Since the camera just a couple of days before upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend I decided to give it a real workout at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. On the Thursday night before the start of the festival and the holiday weekend I decided to use the video feature to record a friend of mine who was performing at the New Deal Cafe’s regular Thursday night Open Mike. He usually performs as one-half of the duo The Bachelor and the Bad Actress and I did that animated music video to the duo’s song “Butcher the Hog” not too long ago. (They were also the same couple who held a public outdoor wedding in the middle of a music festival a two years ago and I have the video and a bunch of photos to prove it.)

My friend was doing a solo set that night under the name Joey Campfire. (His wife wasn’t at the cafe that night.) He sang two songs and I shot a short video for the last one as a way of testing out my new camera. I have to say that I liked the results, which I uploaded on to YouTube. Here it is below.

I also took a couple of shots of the various carnival rides that people were setting up near the cafe in order to be ready for the festival’s opening the following evening. I took a boatload of photos and another short video that holiday weekend. I’m trying to get everything sifted, edited, and uploaded as fast as I can. I’m trying to aim for next week when I’ll show off what I took with my new camera.

American Flag

For September 11 this year I decided to try something that’s a little different from the usual remembering the horrible terrorist attacks in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania. The terrorists all came from the Middle East and I came across something that reminded me that the Middle East wasn’t always a hotbed of terrorism.

A few months ago I came across this recording of the Hurrian Hymn Number 6 (also known as Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal), which is the oldest music to have survived to this day. The song was written on clay tablets that were found in the ruins of the ancient city of Ugarit (which is located in what is now Syria). I thought it sounded cool enough to write a blog post about it.

After I wrote that blog post I did a Google search on Hurrian Hymn Number 6 to see what would come up. I found that there have been different interpretations of those clay tablets which held the music notations and that recording I found was just one of those interpretations. I found three different published sheet music from three different people with wildly different interpretations of that song. The big issue is that the clay tablets used a music notation system that’s different from the system that’s commonly in use today and there are different arguments as to which ancient symbol represented with modern-day music note.

I managed to input the three different sheet music in the open source sheet music software MuseScore and I found that each sheet music sounded differently. So I made my own video combining the three songs (each song is relatively short) while adding in various graphics I downloaded off the Internet along with some factoids I found about the song and the area that the clay tablets were found it.

So, without further ado, here are the three different interpretations of Hurrian Hymn Number 6 (a.k.a. Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal) as rendered by MuseScore.

Just hours after I viewed the solar eclipse in Greenbelt, Maryland, I took the Metro to downtown Washington, DC in order to attend my first meetup of the District Creatives. This event took place at this place called The Hatchery, which is a startup incubator that’s run by AARP. (Yes, that’s the same AARP that was once known as the American Association of Retired Persons until the organization decided that it would be known only by its acronym, which would be pronounced as “aarp” instead of spelling out the letters “A-A-R-P.”) As this link puts it:

It turns out, AARP doesn’t just want to be a membership organization lobbying on behalf of seniors, giving discounts or suggesting tips on health. Driven by a philosophy on corporate innovation, they want to be creating their own tech products. Products focused in the areas of health, wealth and self, [SVP of innovation and product development Andy] Miller said.

I was totally impressed by The Hatchery but, unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures to show you. Here’s a confession. I’ve been having camera problems lately. First the camera on my smartphone has been acting erratically to the point where it doesn’t always load. It’s literally the luck of the draw as to whether my smartphone works or not.

I tried coping by using my older Canon Digital Rebel DSLR camera even though it has fewer megapixels than my smartphone camera so the resolution is lower. But I’ve been having problems with recharging the camera battery (probably because it’s so old). The weekend before the solar eclipse/DC Creatives meetup I made sure to charge the DSLR battery. Even though the recharger says that it was fully charges, the camera just didn’t work when I needed it that day. Yet my smartphone was working, which was convenient when the solar eclipse arrived so I was able to get quite a few photos.

By the evening my smartphone camera wouldn’t load and it was getting those dreaded error messages. So I ended up not being able to take any pictures so you’ll have to visit this link if you want to see any photographs.

The focal point of this meetup is a demonstration of this new Google 3D application known as Tilt Brush. This video shows what Tilt Brush is like.

While the video makes Tilt Brush look easy, I found the reality to be far different when I tried it. I found Tilt Brush to have a steep learning curve and it took me a while to figure out how to select certain brushes. On top of it, the tools didn’t always work when I wanted it to. I think Tilt Brush has a lot of potential in terms of unleashing all kinds of 3D creativity but one would definitely need to take at least a four-week course in order to know the basics of Tilt Brush. Then there are the clunky equipment required to use Tilt Brush (such as these bulky goggles), which means that most households would not have the money or space required for this equipment. But I still would give Google an “A” for effort and it would be interesting to see if Tilt Brush becomes The Next Big Computer Application.

I found this video of a TED talk called “Fifty-five, Unemployed, Faking Normal” that I found was inspirational to me, especially since I’m having a hard time finding a new day job.

I wish I can say that I created this meme but I really got it off of Facebook. This is so totally awesome that it really needs to be seen by more Americans.

I’m starting to think that the Germans had it right when they banned the swastika flag and all kinds of pro-Nazi propaganda following World War II. While things aren’t 100% perfect in Germany, you don’t see a German film equivalent of Gone With the Wind that openly pines for the days of the lost Nazi regime in a postwar society, you don’t see Germans argue that the swastika flag is a part of “German Heritage” and the Jews must tolerate its display in public places, you don’t see monuments erected to honor Nazi generals like Kurt Daluege, you don’t see Adolf Hitler statues erected anywhere in that nation. Because the Germans were so thorough in their de-Nazification efforts, you don’t see Germans openly proclaiming how much they want to see the return of a mythic “Third Reich” where everything was perfect for the Aryan Race.

Unless the United States of America undergoes a similar campaign to get rid of all vestiges of its Confederate past, crap like what happened yesterday in Charlottesville will happen over and over again. And that includes HBO’s attempt to do this alternate history where the Confederate States of America won the Civil War. That’s because, as this tweet so succinctly puts it:

Until the U.S. begins an earnest drive to get rid of every last vestige of the Confederate States of America and everything that it stands for, it’s up to various individuals to shed a light on those pro-Confederate, pro-Nazi assholes. So far a Twitter user known as YesYoureRacist has been busy exposing the identities of those white men who were photographed in Charlottesville and that effort has gotten results (so far one man has lost his job and I’m sure that there will be more firings to come.)

Meanwhile, here’s a perspective on yesterday’s fuckery in Charlottesville from across the pond.

Last night a bunch of white supremacist jackasses marched on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Today in Charlottesville these same assholes took their vehicles and plowed through those counter-protesters who were peacefully protesting because they simply want these neo-Nazi and KKK pussies to just go away. Right now I’m seeing tweets like these and there are literally no words to describe this.

It was only last month when I happened to be back in my hometown of Glen Burnie, Maryland when I came upon a parking lot with this yellow pickup truck that had this bumper sticker.

I can imagine the owner of that pickup truck cheering whoever plowed into a group of protesters in Charlottesville today. If he has an orgasm over this, I wouldn’t be in the least bit shocked.

This is the latest in a string of incidents that has led to the rise of the white supremacist movement, which began with the election of Barack Obama (because the American people dared to elect a black man to the White House) and it has accelerated since Donald Trump was elected.

I live just a two-hour drive away from Charlottesville so, in a way, it’s like this happened in my own backyard just like the police murder of Freddie Grey in Baltimore.

All I know is this. If you whine about terrorism from ISIL or Al Qaeda yet support the Ku Klux Klan, you are inconsistent because the KKK is a terrorist organization that is just as deadly as the other terrorist groups. If you support neo-Nazis then you are spitting on the graves of those people in the U.S. military who literally gave up their lives fighting the Nazis during World War II. There are no shades of grey when it comes to supporting white supremacists.

Not too long ago I decided to do some miscellaneous Facebook surfing by lurking on a group that has been set up for alumni of my old high school. Part of the reason was to keep my mind off my continuing job hunt and the latest political news. (I remember that was the night when new White House communications direction Anthony Scaramucci went off the profanity-laden deep end. Scaramucci was fired soon after that incident—after he had spent only 10 days working at his new job.)

While I was lurking on that high school alumni group on Facebook and scrolling through old posts that one recent night, I learned that my former music teacher, Tim Landers, had died last year of complications stemming from a liver transplant. He was either 63 or 64 (I was only able to figure out his age because he wrote this Facebook post on October 14, 2013 where he said that he was 61 so I did the math and, no, I don’t know the date of his birthday so I have no idea if he managed to celebrate his latest birthday before his death or not). In the comments section someone posted a video of a song that he wrote and sang about Ocean City, Maryland. I watched the video and I kind of liked the laid-back vibe of the song. It’s the quintessential summer song that’s perfect to listen to if you’re on a beach anywhere in the world. Here’s the video below, titled “It’s a Shore Thing.”

If you like “It’s a Shore Thing,” you can download it for 99 cents from CDBaby, Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes.

I also found another video he did as part of a trio known as The Landers and Heinz Project. It was a live performance of another song he wrote as he and his partners were playing on a local radio station in Ocean City. The song is called “Scotch and Soda” and it is just as laid-back as the other song. (Tim Landers is the guy in the glasses and mustache playing his guitar and singing.)

If you like “Scotch and Soda,”  you can download it for 99 cents from CDBaby or iTunes.

Anyone who has been reading this blog on a regular basis would know that I don’t have too many fond memories of my old high school. In fact, last summer I went back to my old school for the first time in many years just so I could photograph my hand giving the middle finger to that school. I was on my way to the latest Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School event in Baltimore (link is NSFW) when I did this. Yes, I took advantage of the longer days so I could check out my old school quickly before driving on to Baltimore.

While I was mostly miserable in the five years I attended that huge school complex known as the Old Mill Educational Complex (one year in Old Mill Middle School-North and four years in Old Mill Senior High), there were a few teachers there who provided a few bright spots in what was otherwise a miserable existence. Like I wrote in last year’s post where I included that picture of my hand giving the finger:

Why was this school so bad? While there were plenty of teachers at the school complex who were dedicated at their jobs, it was the attitude of the administration that considered athletics more important than academics.

Among those teachers who were dedicated at their jobs was Tim Landers, who taught music (mainly guitar). I took four semesters of guitar class with him until I had exhausted all of the guitar classes that my high school offered. The one thing I never realized about him until after I learned about his death and I started reading his Facebook postings is that he was only 9 or 10 years older than me. (I know it sounds kind of strange but it wasn’t that unusual to have a teacher who was close in age to the students he/she taught in my high school. When I was a senior I had an English teacher who had only received her teaching degree the year before and she was just five years older than me.) Mr. Landers bore a slight resemblance to Mr. Van Driessen from the Beavis and Butt-Head cartoon series, more in terms of temperament than his looks. (He didn’t have a beard and he wore his long hair in the feathered style that was very popular back in the 1970s.) Here’s a photo of him I scanned from my sophomore high school yearbook.

Looking at his personal Facebook page, I found that he was a spiritual person like Mr. Van Driessen with the big difference being that he expressed himself as a devout Christian while Mr. Van Driessen was more into New Age spirituality. But he definitely shared Mr. Van Driessen’s hippie vibe in terms of his outlook on life and the funky clothes he wore to school. The main difference was that Mr. Landers was far less of a pushover than Mr. Van Driessen. He was the kind of person who was willing to help you unless you crossed him. If you did anything to push his buttons, he would not hesitate to send you to the principal’s office or to even fail you for not doing the required coursework.

Here’s one example of Mr. Landers not being a stereotypical pushover hippie. I remember it was the end of the semester when we not only took our final exams but we also were given an evaluation form where we could write about what we liked or didn’t liked about the class. Unlike the final exams, we were not required to write our names. The idea was that we could freely give our opinions without repercussions.

So we turned in our exams and the evaluation forms then returned to our seats while waiting for the bell that would signal the end of the class. Mr. Landers happened to glance through some of the exams and evaluations at his desk until he came upon an evaluation form where, according to Mr. Landers, someone had written “Mr. Landers can do something to himself.” (Given the fact that I saw that Mr. Landers was visibly angry at the time, I suspected that the wording was stronger than what he indicated—somewhere along the lines of “Mr. Landers can go fuck himself.”) By that point it was almost the end of the class but Mr. Landers was determined to get to the bottom of who wrote that evaluation form. He said that he would read what we wrote on the evaluation forms out loud and if he came upon something that one of us recognized that he/she wrote, that person was to go up to the class and pick up that form then bring it back to his/her seat. Mr. Landers came upon my form (where I basically wrote that I wished he hadn’t done so many classical guitar songs because I prefer rock guitar) so I picked mine up. It wasn’t until Mr. Landers came to the last of the evaluation forms that a boy in the class confessed that it was he who wrote that nasty message on the evaluation form.

At that point the bell rang, we returned our evaluation forms to the teacher’s desk before we headed to the next class, and Mr. Landers escorted that boy to the principal’s office. (I’ve long since forgotten who the boy was or even what he looked like—other than he was a white kid with dark hair—mainly because I wasn’t friends with him.)

Fortunately I got along pretty well with Mr. Landers and I enjoyed his classes. I think he had a high opinion of me as a student. I managed to get him to sign my yearbook only once, which was during my sophomore year (the same yearbook where I posted that photo of him).  His signed it “Kim, Take care of yourself and be good. I’m sure you will. Love, Tim Landers.”

I remember that Mr. Landers’ real ambition was to be a rock musician and he only got into teaching to pay the bills. He turned out to be one of the many talented musicians who never quite made it to the big time and it was not due to a lack of trying. He would spend evenings, weekends, and school breaks writing new music and recording demos that he would try to shop around to various agents and record companies. (I remember the times when he would occasionally play one of his demo songs in class.) I remember that he was a big Beatles fan and he used to drop tidbits about the band and their music because he was such a fan. In fact I remember one of the first songs he taught the class in Guitar I was “Let It Be.”

I loved his wacky sense of humor and his vast knowledge of famous guitarists like Jimi Hendrix. I still remember the time when it was the last class before Thanksgiving break and he played Arlo Guthrie’s classic “Alice’s Restaurant” song and we laughed at some of the humor. (It was the first time I had ever heard that song. Up until that time the only Arlo Guthrie song I knew was “The City of New Orleans” and that was because it was a hit on the radio and my father had purchased that song on a 45 r.p.m. record.) He also introduced us to the original soundtrack to the Broadway show Grease as he brought the album to class one day and he played it for us. (This was about a year before the movie version came out with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.)

I still remember the year when Frank Zappa came out with his disco parody hit “Dancin’ Fool,” which was played quite a bit at the major rock stations in my area. Mr. Landers brought in a couple of Zappa records where he not only showed us what a gifted guitar player Zappa was but he introduced us to an another disco parody that Zappa did just a few years before “Dancin’ Fool,” which was called “Disco Boy.” The lyrics to that one was even more hilarious than the “Dancin’ Fool” lyrics.

Despite the fact that he loved The Beatles and other rock bands of the 1960’s, he was a traditional music teacher in many ways. He was adamant that we learned how to read music, which was a skill that many of his favorite 1960s bands, including his beloved Beatles, didn’t have. Thanks to him, I learned the mnemonic method of music reading where I learned the lines of EGBDF as Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge while the spaces between the lines spelled out the word FACE.

He was also adamant that we learned how to do chord building, which I quickly learned was not my strongest suit. Chord building involved learning the music notes that make up a certain chord and it involved a lot of memorization (which we later had to regurgitate on the final exam). The only reason why I still know that a D chord is made up of the notes D, F#, and A is because I made up my own mnemonic sentence that went “Dick Fucks Sharp Asses.” (I didn’t dare share that secret with Mr. Landers.)

During the time that I was taking those guitar lessons from Mr. Landers, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” was frequently played on the local rock radio station for many years after it was first released back in 1971 and it would go on to become one of the biggest rock hits of the 1970s. Many people were turned on by Jimmy Page’s exquisite guitar playing throughout that song. Naturally many of Mr. Landers’ guitar students, myself included, wanted to learn how to play that song. Mr. Landers was frequently inundated with numerous requests that he teach us this song. Some kids wanted to go from a relatively easy song like “Let It Be” straight into “Stairway to Heaven” while they were in the first few weeks of Guitar I.

Eventually Mr. Landers relented sometime around Guitar III or Guitar IV and he handed out mimeographed copies of “Stairway to Heaven.” That was when we got a dose of reality about how complex that song really is as we struggled with the various chord formations. From that time on the students in the advanced guitar classes stopped wanting to learn how to play “Stairway to Heaven,” while I’m sure that the students in Guitar I were probably still begging Mr. Landers to teach them how to play that song while they were learning how to play their first chords.

There was only one time I felt Mr. Landers was wrong about something. It was when punk rock became a huge such deal in the UK that the US media started doing stories about this new phenomenon. I was intrigued by the music so I purchased The Sex Pistols’ debut album. I found that record to be a revelation in that it was so unlike the heavy metal and disco music that was prevalent on the radio at that time. A few weeks after I purchased Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, Mr. Landers openly disdained punk rock in class and he felt that all of the punk bands consisted of untalented musicians who were destined to not last very long. A few other students piped up talking about how they disliked punk rock as well. I disagreed with Mr. Landers’ low opinion of punk but I kept my mouth shut because he was one of those people whom you could never provide a contrary opinion once he made up his mind strongly about something because he never attempted to listen to the other side. (In addition, I was having a hard enough time constantly trying to avoid being someone’s bully target and I didn’t want other kids to pick on me because I owned a Sex Pistols album. I pretty much listened to my punk rock records on the down low until college when finally I met other punk rock fans and I felt comfortable enough to admit that I liked punk as well.)

Okay, Mr. Landers was right about The Sex Pistols being a short-lived phenomenon because they disbanded soon after they hit the big time but he was wrong about punk rock’s longevity because there were other punk bands (such as The Clash) who had longer careers and who released albums that are now considered rock classics right alongside albums like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. What’s more, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and other punk bands have been inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which definitely proves how wrong Mr. Landers was about his assessment of punk rock.

Mr. Landers also formed the school’s official folk rock group known only as the Old Mill Folk Rock Band. (Yeah, I know it sounds original. LOL!) The group performed at school assemblies. Each year they would go into a local recording studio to make an EP record, which consisted of four songs (which were all covers of the big hits of that era). Once the record was printed, the members would sell copies of that record among the student body. I wanted to join that band as a guitarist but competition was intense. (I had a few friends who were in that band.) While I was an okay guitarist, there were other students who were far more talented than me and I was too intimidated to every try out.

I didn’t know much about his personal life aside from a few times that he mentioned that he had a wife when I took my first guitar class with him. By the time I took my second or third guitar class he briefly mentioned that he was separated from his wife a couple of times. Then he briefly mentioned that he was divorced once or twice by the time I took my last guitar class with him. (He never mentioned why he got a divorce nor did he ever say anything nasty about his ex-wife during any of classes I took with him. He also never mentioned having any children from that marriage.) When I saw his Facebook page for the first time and he listed his marital status as “single,” I thought that my memories were wrong. But then I read an interview he gave with a local newspaper (which I’ll get to in the next two paragraphs) and he briefly mentioned “my wife at that time.” I guess he must’ve gotten married sometime in his early 20’s and it only lasted just a few years until the two of them decided to go their separate ways. It’s very likely that, by the time he created his own Facebook page, he probably felt that he had been divorced for so many years that he might as well list his marital status as “single.”

I looked on his personal Facebook page and searched his name on Google after I learned about his death and I found that he later transferred to a different high school as a music teacher before leaving the teaching field entirely in order to work as a full-time musician and songwriter. (Of course all this happened years after I graduated from high school and moved out of Glen Burnie.) He had a professional Facebook page focusing on his music career but it hadn’t been updated since 2013. At one point he had his own website, which basically had a short biography and dates of upcoming performances, which I was able to access thanks to the Internet Archive. (The last update was done after his death, which announced that he was deceased.) He even wrote a Christian musical called Walk With God, whose official website can only now be accessed through the Internet Archive.

I saw on his personal Facebook page that he had adopted a Golden Retriever puppy just a couple of years before his death. He frequently posted pictures of that dog and it was obvious that he loved his dog. I only hope that this dog found a new loving forever home after his owner died.

Recently I came across this extensive interview Mr. Landers did with a local Ocean City publication called The Coconut Times in 2014 where I was not only able to catch up on whatever became of him after I left school but I even learned about his early life before he became my music teacher. This interview is so extensive that it’s divided into Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. It’s really quite a fascinating read that I would highly recommend to anyone regardless of whether you actually knew him personally (like I did) or not. I learned that he grew up in Baltimore (in the same neighborhood where the since-demolished Memorial Stadium was located) in a very large extended family that included numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. Many of his relatives were singers and musicians and he even had a cousin who was a singer whose main rival was Patsy Cline. He landed his first job at 12 helping out in a local music store where he met professional musicians who played with the big acts like Buddy Holly.

Mr. Landers totally opened up about his life in that interview, including admitting that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in the 1990’s due to a tainted blood transfusion he received in the early 1970’s. (Which probably explains why he underwent a liver transplant in the first place.) He also mentioned that, when he was 21, his father took him to a bar so he could have his first legal alcoholic beverage while engaging in some father and son talk. His father would suddenly die of a heart attack just nine months later. (Reading that interview and seeing his old Facebook posts, it seems like longevity wasn’t exactly a family trait. Not only did his father pass away at 45, he had a brother who died in a car accident at 52, and a cousin who also died an untimely death as a result of being exposed to Agent Orange while serving in the Vietnam War. And that’s not to mention Mr. Landers’ own death while he was in his early 60’s.)

Amid the bad times there were plenty of good memories as well. He mentioned in the interview that he had recently ate lunch with a member of Pink Floyd whom he did not identify. (I can safely say that it wasn’t with Syd Barrett or Rick Wright since they were both dead by 2014, when the interview took place.) He also mentioned meeting many famous musicians, such as the band Danny and the Juniors, who is best known for the big 1950’s hit “At the Hop.”

As I read that extensive interview, I realized that Mr. Landers lived a very interesting and fascinating life and I found myself wishing he had written a book or even started a blog about his memories. That 2014 interview is about as close as we’ll ever get to an autobiography and I’m glad that it exists. (You can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

As I look over that three-part interview and those Facebook posts, I have to admit that the saddest thing about his death is that it seemed like Mr. Landers was at a point in his life where he was basically content with the things that was going on in his life over the last two or three years before he died. He had a thriving music career despite never becoming a major recording artist who sells millions of copies of his music. He was spending his summers in Ocean City where he was doing gigs at various bars and nightclubs throughout the Delmarva region. The rest of the year he was in Nashville where he was recording music and meeting people in the music industry. He had even contributed a song to this independent movie called Patapsco Valley that, as far as I can tell, only exists as a location camera test on Vimeo. (That is his song, “The River,” playing in the background of that video.) He had a dog whom he seemed to have loved very much. He achieved a point in his life where he was basically happy and content then he dies while he was in his early 60s. Yet there are a lot of loathsome people who are still alive and kicking and many of them are older than he was when he died. (I don’t want to elaborate on this any further or else this post will veer into something that would be as inappropriate as President Trump’s recent notorious speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree.)

I had pretty much cut myself off from most of the people I knew back in high school mainly because I wanted to protect myself from reliving any painful memories. (I went to my five-year reunion and that was enough for me.) I have to admit that Mr. Landers is one of the few people from my old high school I wished I had a chance to re-connect with before he died. I would’ve loved to have visited him in Ocean City (where, in his remaining years, he had spent his summers while living in Nashville the rest of the year) and I definitely would’ve brought my guitar with me so we could’ve done a jam session or two. Ironically I used to go to Ocean City with my then-husband, his sister, her son, and an invited guest (some years it was a friend of my nephew’s while other years it was a friend of my sister-in-law’s) for a week-long family vacation every year until 2011 (just a few months before my husband left me). If I had known that Tim Landers was there, I definitely would’ve made the time to look him up in the phone book so I could contact him about possibly visiting him with my guitar in hand. Oh well. It’s my loss and I have to deal with it.

I still have those mimeographed ditto sheets of guitar chords and song lyrics that Mr. Landers handed out in class stashed away in folders. They have survived various moves over the years. Writing this post has inspired me to pull out those old ditto sheets, take a look at them, pull out my guitar, and start playing it using those old sheets from years ago.

R.I.P. Mr. Landers.

These days I can’t go on a news site or social media without hearing about the latest crazy drama that’s coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. in Washington, DC. Since last week the following has happened:

President Trump hires New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as the new White House Communications director, which results in the resignation of Sean Spicer from his White House press secretary job.

White House press aide Michael Short resigned after Scaramucci threatened to fire him over alleged leaks.

Anthony Scaramucci deletes his old Twitter tweets while saying that he did this in order to be “fully transparent.” Other sites have managed to archive his deleted tweets (which proves the adage that once you post something online, it never completely goes away).

Not long afterwards Anthony Scaramucci contacts The New Yorker magazine where he accused White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus of plotting against him and said that Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, sucks his own cock.

Meanwhile Scaramucci’s wife files for divorce because she became fed up with his attempts to suck up to President Trump. (He even blew off the birth of his own son in favor of attending President Trump’s infamous speech at the Boy Scouts Jamboree.)

President Trump fires White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

Today President Trump fires Anthony Scaramucci after spending just 10 days at his new job.

Man, you really can’t make this shit up if you’ve tried!

It looks like Donald Trump is running his administration the way that he used to run his reality show The Apprentice. Granted firing people right and left made for great reality TV, such as this compilation of Trump frequently saying “You’re fired!” on his old reality show.

Hell, I used to watch The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice as my guilty pleasure until 2011 (when I became totally turned off of Trump’s show after Trump talked about running for president while questioning President Obama’s birth certificate and blatantly catering to the racist birthers who couldn’t stand the fact that an African-American man was actually elected to the White House). I’m willing to admit that frequently firing people makes very compelling TV but, to be blunt, that is no way to run to run a White House administration or even an entire country.

Trying to keep abreast on what’s going on at the White House is a really major challenge for journalists. Here’s a video of a presenter on BBC News trying to explain to the viewers of what’s going on while seeming confused himself at the same time.

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