You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Baltimore’ tag.

Robocalls flooding your cellphone? Here’s how to stop them.

The lower sugar version of Quaker Apples & Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal has 35% less sugar because they’ve cut the portion size by 35% while the price remains at 100%.

Girl shames friend for achieving everything because of white privilege but doesn’t expect to get a response like this.

The Greek gods and goddesses come to line in this magnificent cartoon family tree.

Donald Trump and the Elements of Dictator Style.

Yes, this $375 “antifa” jacket from Barneys is actually real.

This is what a news cycle that holds sexual predators accountable looks like.

A look at some daguerreotypes of anonymous African Americans.

Nina Turner explains why “the Democratic Party can’t just whisper sweet nothings anymore.”

70 years before Harvey Weinstein, Maureen O’Hara dropped this bombshell on Hollywood predators.

Bella Cornell, a 14-year-old Native American activist, is no stranger to racism.

Tiny 3D-printed Raspberry Pi cases look like classic computers.

The Democrats’ reckoning with the Clintons is long overdue.

A written portrait of Baltimore in black and white.

Bill Clinton was accused of sexual assault 15 times. Why is he still treated like a hero?

A tiny hedgehog named Azuki goes camping and his pictures are the best thing you’ll see today.

The rigged system of the second Gilded Age isn’t being challenged.

Reaganomics killed America’s middle class.

The Retaliatory State: How Donald Trump is turning government into a weapon of revenge.

Advertisements

Ever since Donald Trump has gotten into office there have been so many incidents of ICE agents cracking down on immigrants and deporting them along with so many stories about families who have literally been torn apart. To be fair, Barack Obama’s administration did a lot of deportations as well but those flew under the radar because President Obama was the first African American president and there were plenty of people leery about criticizing him although one could easily criticize President Obama’s policies without resorting to racism. Since Donald Trump is an old white guy who ran his campaign based on his racist imagery of Mexican drug dealers and rapists and building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, there is now more media attention on those deportations—most of which affect immigrants with black or brown skin. (And that’s not to mention President Trump’s recent descriptions of Haiti and Africa as “shithole countries.”)

Recently a white immigrant was rounded up by ICE agents and they are trying to deport him as well. Lukasz Niec was a guy who was born in Poland and he was brought to the U.S. with his parents back in 1979 when he was only five years old. (At that time Poland was a communist country that was aligned with the Soviet Union and it did the usual communist repression against its own citizens so it was understandable why his parents wanted to leave.) When he was a teenager he got into some minor troubles with the law. He got a green card and he decided to straighten out his life by going to college then to medical school. He became a doctor and he eventually got married and had two children. His most recent offense was an arrest on a domestic violence charge in 2013 but he was later found not guilty by a jury.

Those brief brushes with the law were enough to provide an excuse for ICE agents to round up this guy and begin proceedings to have him deported back to Poland. This is a country that this guy had not even lived in since he was five years old. He has long since forgotten how to speak Polish and he has no immediate family ties in that nation.

When I saw this story blow up on social media I read social media posts from people acting surprised that the Trump Administration would focus on a white man. As I think back to my childhood, I have to say that I’m far less surprised that his ICE agents would pick on a Pole than most people.

Let me give you a brief history lesson here. There was a time prior to the Industrial Revolution where most Americans considered themselves to be WASPs—White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Beginning with the Industrial Revolution there were plenty of immigrants from many European nations, including Poland. While many Polish immigrants had white skin, they were not Anglo-Saxons so, according to attitudes of the time, they didn’t count as being real white people. On top of it, most Poles were either Roman Catholics or Jews, which made them be seen more as outsiders by the WASPs. Given that attitude, it was no wonder that hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan considered Jews and Roman Catholics to be just as bad as African Americans.

Even though Poles gradually were assimilated into the melting pot, there were stereotypes that still persisted. I was born in Baltimore, where many Polish immigrants settled, and I grew up in nearby Glen Burnie. Even though my family lived next door to a Polish American family and there were plenty of people of Polish descent, I still grew up hearing Poles being described as “Dumb Pollocks.” I heard a lot of Dumb Pollock jokes being told on the playground while I grew up. Here’s one such example, which was among the milder Dumb Pollock jokes I heard:

Q: Take Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Smart Pollock, and the Dumb Pollock. Put them all into a single room together. Place a $5 bill in the middle of that room. Who would get that $5 bill?

A: The Dumb Pollock because there is no such thing as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, or a Smart Pollock.

The Dumb Pollock stereotype didn’t end with just jokes. There was a liquor store that I used to go with my parents when they made an occasional trip there. That was because that store had a shelf that sold novelty gag gifts and I loved looking at them. Among the gag gifts sold was a box marked “Polish Gun.” When you open the lid, you see a gun with the barrel bent backwards making it look like you would get struck with a bullet when you pull the trigger.

But that’s not all. When my family used to make its annual summer vacation to Ocean City, I remember the raunchy t-shirts. Among the t-shirts I remembered was an illustration of a guy looking down his own pants with the slogan “Polish Peeping Tom.” Another shirt had an illustration of a guy in a boat holding a fishing rod where the hook was on the back of the guy’s pants that had the slogan “Polish Fisherman.”

Even though I lived next door to a Polish American family and grew up attending a Roman Catholic parish that had Polish Americans among its membership, I still heard those Dumb Pollock jokes. Given that Donald Trump spent his entire life in New York City, which was another place where Polish Immigrants settled in large numbers during the Industrial Revolution, I’m sure that he heard those Dumb Pollock jokes as well. Except he was more insulated from actually knowing any person of Polish descent than I was because he grew up in a wealthy neighborhood in a WASP family (two of his grandparents were German immigrants and his mother was from Scotland) and his father was arrested back in the 1920s for attending a Ku Klux Klan rally. (Like I wrote a few paragraphs ago, the KKK hated Roman Catholics and Jews just as much as it hated African Americans.)

Growing up I used to love telling Dumb Pollock jokes as much as the other kids on the playground. But it has been many years since I told those jokes because I don’t find them funny anymore. What happened? I can’t say for sure but there were a few factors. First of all I grew up and I became exposed to more sophisticated adult humor (especially from watching TV shows like Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Saturday Night Live) that made those Dumb Pollock jokes seem stupid and childish by comparison. Then I went away to college at the University of Maryland at College Park where I met a variety of people and there was sort of an unsaid social thing against telling ethnic jokes of any kind. (At least that was the case among the groups of people I socialized with.)

What finally got me to quit telling Dumb Pollock jokes for good was when I converted to Unitarian Universalism a year after I graduated from college but shortly before I got married. That faith has seven principles, the first of which is this:

The inherent worth and dignity of every person.

In a nutshell every person is entitled to being respected no matter what that person’s background is. Telling Dumb Pollock jokes—or any other type of ethnic jokes—dehumanizes a certain category of people simply because they were born that way and it’s not something that one can control.

While I managed to let go of the Dumb Pollock stereotype, it’s obvious that President Trump has not. In fact back in the 1980’s it was said that he broke the law by hiring illegal Polish immigrants to work on building his Trump Tower without even providing the proper safety equipment necessary to do the job. He paid them $4 per hour, which is far less than the minimum wage at that time. Of course that was when he even bothered to pay them. Many of these workers weren’t paid at all yet they were forced to continue working on that building project because they were threatened with being reported to authorities and deported. If that weren’t bad enough, here is what one Polish worker said about his time working on the Trump Tower project:

Trump also hired a smaller crew of unionized demolition workers who teased their nonunion Polish counterparts. “They told me and my friends that we are stupid Poles and we are working for such low money,” Adam Mrowiec, one of the Polish workers, later testified.

So here is a man who was probably exposed to the same Dumb Pollock jokes that I was, except he grew up in a more insulated environment than I was so he never learned to consider Polish people as being anything other than Dumb Pollocks to be used and discarded for his own purposes just like inanimate objects. And if these Dumb Pollocks aren’t useful to him, then they should just go away.

With a mindset like that, it’s no wonder the Trump Administration has sent ICE agents after a Polish American man to be deported from the only country he has ever known to a nation that he hasn’t seen since he was five years old.

If you’re a Polish American who voted for Donald Trump back in 2016 expecting that he will—to quote his campaign slogan—Make America Great Again, then the joke’s on you since he’s basically a con artist who could care less for anyone who isn’t a wealthy WASP like he is and who basically looks down on people like you.

Last year I went to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore because it has free admission on Martin Luther King Day. (The regular admission price is $15.95 for adults under 60 and $13.95 for people age 60 and up.) I had a blast even though I arrived too late in the day to get a free slice of birthday cake that the museum usually serves for that occasion. This year I decided to do it again except I made every effort to wake up early and get out of the door so I could arrive by noon (when the birthday cake would be served).

So I managed to arrive earlier than last year while braving the cold weather (the temperature was in the low 20’s that day). I took the light rail into the city then transferred to the Charm City Circulator bus. I managed to arrive shortly before noon. The main disadvantage is that the museum was way more crowded than I remembered last year when I arrived later in the afternoon. But I still tried to make the best of my visit since it was free admission day.

One of the buildings had a new exhibition which featured this giant dragon sculpture that was made entirely from balloons.

There were a few wall hangings that were literally displayed on the ceiling of that building.

I managed to arrive on the third floor of the building where the birthday cake was being served along with a few other activities as well. There was an opportunity to create buttons, which I didn’t get to do because the museum had run out of button making supplies by the time I arrived. But I managed to get a photo of a couple who were able to make buttons.

The entertainment featured a children’s gospel choir known as the Cardinal Shehan School Choir, who came from one of the local Catholic schools in Baltimore. This group has been featured on Good Morning America after one of their videos went viral. After hearing them, I understood why because this choir was so phenomenal, especially since the singers were all children.

In fact, I shot this video of them doing their final number called “Rise Up” that I think you will definitely enjoy.

While the choir was performing I got a chance to look at the birthday cakes that were served to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. The cakes were available in a variety of flavors.

The museum also gave out a variety of hot beverages (including hot chocolate and a few different flavors of tea). The next photo shows my cup of hot chocolate and the slice of cake that I chose.

This next photo should give you an idea as to how crowded this room got with people making buttons and consuming cake and hot drinks.

I stepped out of the balcony on that third floor where I got a great view of both the museum’s main building and Federal Hill.

Once I finished eating my cake and the choir finished performing its set, I left that large and crowded room and explored the rest of the museum where I took these pictures.

The museum had this special exhibit called The Great Mystery Show, which featured art related to science and mysticism. This NASA astronaut sculpture in the next photo had me thinking about how my ex-husband would’ve loved this since he works for NASA and he told me that he once wanted to become an astronaut only to find out that his eyesight would’ve been considered too poor for such a position. (He managed to study computer programming so he found another way of working for NASA even if he never became an astronaut.)

The statue in the next two photos intrigued me because it was made mostly from sea shells.

The most memorable part of the museum was seeing this sculpture of Edgar Allan Poe that was made entirely from marshmallow Peeps.

The base of the Poe sculpture was flanked by a black cat and a raven, who were both also made from marshmallow Peeps. (Those two were references to two of Poe’s famous works—The Black Cat and The Raven.)

Near the Poe sculpture was this heart that was made from glass, which was a reference to another famous Poe piece known as The Tell-Tale Heart.

The most surreal part of the museum was seeing a TV monitor that had non-stop showings of Martin Luther King giving his famous “I Have a Dream” speech while the monitor was flanked by flowers, tarot cards, two gold masks, and an Ouija board.

I was amazed by this life-sized sculpture of what looked like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.

I found this interesting recipe posted on the museum wall that I would like to try at some point in the future.


I really liked this colorful and funky cat illustration.

This dress looked like it was made from glass with all of the glass beads.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this inspirational quote from Leonardo da Vinci regarding science and art.

I really liked this next photo, which is a painting of Albert Einstein.

I was also amazed by what this one artist did with small tins (such as a sardine tin and a tin box that was about the size of a pack of Altoids). This person created scenes with paper cutouts. The tiny details were astounding.

I made only one purchase at that museum. I found this crochet pattern book for $5 that was about creating tiny equipment, furniture, and buildings that were small enough for LEGO Minifigs, tiny dolls, and other types of tiny toys. It looked really interesting.

Even though I had that slice of cake, it was no substitute for lunch and I was starting to feel hungry as I was touring the museum. I thought about eating in the museum’s cafe until I saw that it was very crowded. I began to become tired of the throngs of people who were crowding in the museum because they were also taking advantage of the free admission. I decided to leave the museum and walk along the Inner Harbor while taking some photos. This next photo shows a building in the middle that’s under construction complete with a construction crane.

The weather had been mostly non-stop freezing since Christmas with an exception of a couple of days when the temperature reached the low 50’s just a couple of days before MLK Day. Unfortunately that respite was short-lived and the area was plunged into yet another deep freeze. The next few pictures clearly show the effects of the below-freezing temperatures had on the water itself where you can clearly see ice that had been forming.

Some of the litter thrown into the Inner Harbor had been encased in ice.

A pair of ducks were swimming in the non-icy portions of the water.

These stone installations resembled three Adirondack chairs.

The next photo shows the statue of William Donald Schaefer, who served as the mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland.

I walked by Harborplace where I visited It’s Sugar.

 

I bought a few things in that store, including a special pack of Skittles that  was known as “Sweet Heat” because spices were added to the candy. I tried them and I found the spicy taste to be interesting but, to be honest, I prefer regular Skittles.

I bought a small box of this treat called Marshmallow Madness. The idea is based on the Lucky Charms cereal except that the cereal part has been excluded so all you get is just small colored marshmallows in a variety of shapes. I’ve seen Marshmallow Madness be available in cereal-sized boxes. On this trip I saw that there were smaller box versions of Marshmallow Madness so I decided to buy it to see what it tasted like.

My verdict is that while the marshmallows are tasty, I found myself missing the cereal part. (I used to frequently eat Lucky Charms cereal as a child. Even though I rarely eat presweetened cereal these days, I still found myself lamenting the lack of cereal in Marshmallow Madness. I guess old habits die hard. LOL!)

I purchased a pack of orange-flavored Donald Trump-themed gummy candy known as Make America Sweet Again mainly because the package design was such a hoot. I took a bunch of detailed photographs of this product so you’ll get the idea.

I haven’t opened that candy as of this writing. I have an idea of doing something creative with this candy so I don’t want to just eat it right now, especially since there are only two It’s Sugar locations in the entire Baltimore-Washington, DC area (one at Harborplace and the other in the Chinatown area of DC) and I don’t really live close to either location so I can’t shop there too often.

I took a couple of photos of Harborplace, which showed it becoming more and more of a dead mall. This was shot on Martin Luther King Day when a lot of people are off from school and work. I remember Harborplace in better days when it used to draw a huge crowd of shoppers. I remember the days when I made special trips to this place so I could spend the day there. Despite the presence of It’s Sugar, H&M, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, this pavilion is still pretty much empty. I didn’t even bother with visiting the other pavilion because I know it’s the same situation from previous visits. Too bad, so sad.

The sign announcing a “New Tradition” at Harborplace that “Begins Fall 2016” had me laughing. Or maybe having a mostly empty mall is Harborplace’s idea of a “new tradition.” LOL!

The only area of Harborplace where I saw quite a few people was at the temporary ice skating rink that was set outside of one of the pavilions.

There weren’t really a lot of affordable place to eat lunch at. (I still remember the old days when that pavilion I had just visited used to have an entire floor dedicated to a food court that had all kinds of foods ranging from pizza to sushi to Chinese to Subway subs.) I decided to go to the Così that’s located across the street from the Baltimore Convention Center for a late lunch. Except when I arrived just 15 minutes before 3 p.m. I saw a notice on the door saying that Così would be closing early at 3 p.m. for MLK Day. I basically got my lunch to go and walked around the area looking for an appropriate place to eat lunch. Unfortunately it was way too cold to eat anywhere outside. I ultimately walked to the Hilton Baltimore where I sat down in one of the cushions in the lobby and quietly consumed my TBM (tomato, basil, and mozzarella) sandwich with a bag of potato chips and a Diet Coke. That hotel was very empty that day where the staffers outnumbered everyone else.

After I finished lunch, I decided that it was time to head back to the light rail station and get out of the city. I walked past Orioles Park at Camden Yards and took this one last photo. The place definitely looked pretty sad and deserted in the off-season. Baseball season will begin in a few months so this area will have a lot of Baltimore Oriole fans entering through those gates. (It also reminded me of the fact that the last time I attended a game there was back in 2007. It was the year before my hip replacement and it was also when I was still married because I used to accompany my husband to those games. I don’t know when I’ll ever attend another game there in person.)

I was up in Baltimore on a very cold day (the temperature reached no higher than 20 degrees Fahrenheit and I even have a few photos of the frozen water that I took from the window of the light rail train that I was riding on) because I received an email announcing that the art show I had participated in was ending and I needed to retrieve my work. (The art show was originally going to run through January 8 but I think the organizers decided to end it a few days earlier after the weather forecasts called for freezing rain on that day.)

Basically I went to Trinacria’s Ristorante & Bar and picked up my artwork with no problem at all. I saw that the place is located near the Walters Art Museum and I really didn’t have anything else scheduled that day so I decided to go there and warm myself.

Even though the Walters Art Museum is among Baltimore’s most famous museums, I didn’t visit it for the first time until my mother took me there when I was a teenager.  I wouldn’t step foot in that place again for a number of years until 2016 when I was taking part in another art show and I saw that the venue was located near that museum. I wasn’t able to finish touring the entire place when it closed but I swore that I would make a return trip just so I can finish with visiting the rest of the building. But then I went through 2017 without stepping foot in that building again.

So I decided to take advantage of being in the area and just visit the museum. On the last trip I started on the fourth floor, visited everything on that floor, then visited everything on the third floor until I finally finished the day with visiting only part of the third floor. Once again on this trip I started at the top floor and worked my way down except I spent less time on the floors I had previously visited and focused more on the places I hadn’t gone on my last visit. That museum had all kinds of neat stuff, such as this Japanese samurai armor.

This bust in the next photo is based on William Shakespeare’s Othello and I thought it was a neat combination of white and black marble.

They had a portrait of Othello located near that marble bust.

 

When I first saw this painting of the Mona Lisa, I did a double take because I thought that this painting was in the Louvre in Paris. The accompanying label said that it was a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting done by an unknown artist and that, yes, the Louvre has the original.

The wood carving in the next photo is a typical Madonna and Child art piece. The eyes on the figures reminded me of what you’d see on a Japanese anime character.

They had a room in the museum that was set up like a room in an English home during the Renaissance (or maybe it was King Arthur’s time) while conjuring up images of knights and maidens and stuff like that.

They even had a table in the middle of that room that had chess and checkers games that were available for visitors to play, which was kind of cool. If I had taken a friend with me to the museum, we could’ve taken a stab at one of these games. Oh well.

They had an entire section of the museum dedicated to ancient Egypt, including an actual mummy.

They also had a section devoted to artifacts from ancient Greece and ancient Rome.

The last area of the museum I visited was devoted to artifacts from the reign of Czar Nicholas II in Russia. The next photo shows a rare Fabergé egg that had a tiny building inside of it.

The next photo shows a necklace that had tiny watercolor paintings of Czar Nicholas’ four daughters. These watercolors were based on actual photographs of the princesses. These four young women would be murdered along with their parents and younger brother by the Bolsheviks.

I pretty much enjoyed myself in that museum. Maybe one day I’ll make a return trip without having to combine with picking up or dropping art at a nearby exhibition.

It had been brutally cold in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area from a day or two after Christmas until January 9. During this time the weather dipped below freezing and I even directly encountered something called a bomb cyclone for the first time in my life. It was so cold that the downstairs of my townhouse was still cold even with having the heat turned way up and I spent more time in the upstairs bedroom because it was the warmest part of the house. There were news reports that the East Coast had experienced the coldest New Year’s ever.

The one thing about this bout of extreme cold weather I won’t forget soon was what happened on Monday (January 8, 2018). I had originally thought about attending Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School in Baltimore until the night before when I saw the weather reports calling for freezing rain. I decided to can that idea because I have too many memories of the times I left Dr. Sketch’s dealing with everything from pouring rain to fog as I tried to get out of the city and I just wasn’t up for yet another harrowing trip. (That event ended up being cancelled anyway due to the weather so it was all moot.)

I was dealing with washing machine problems where the water wouldn’t drain and I had to manually bail out the water. I decided to go to the nearby laundromat before the rain started. So I got the laundry done and I decided to go to the Target to do some web surfing since it was in the same mall as the laundromat. (I have a Karma wi-fi plan and I had used up my gigabyte allotment for the month and I decided against paying an extra $15 for some more gigabytes until the next month kicked in.)

So I went to Target and looked at my emails while coming up with ideas for future blog posts. I hung around longer than I intended so by the time I left, it was not only night but it had started to rain.

Fortunately it was a short drive home but there were times when I felt the wheels on my car attempting to slide because they drove over some ice patches. I made it to home when I found another obstacle.

In order to get inside of my townhouse, I have to walk across the sidewalk to a set of concrete steps leading downwards to another sidewalk that leads to one concrete step leading to the front porch which then leads to the front door of my house. I know this sentence sounds complicated but it’s really easier than it sounds.

So I arrived at my home only to find that the sidewalk was completely iced over and I even felt my feet slipping whenever I tried to step on it. (Yet the blacktop covering the parking lot wasn’t icy at all.) I stupidly forgot to bring my walking cane with me. This was potentially treacherous because I have a hip replacement and I still have memories of the time when I slipped on some ice in Annapolis in early 2011. The fall was enough to knock my hip replacement out of alignment and I needed hip revision surgery in order to snap that joint back into place.

It also didn’t help that I was literally the only person on my block who was even outside with everyone else staying inside. (I remember the street was cleared of cars that night.) So it was no use staying put in the hopes that a passerby will become a Good Samaritan and help me. (Besides, given the extreme cold, I would’ve turned into a human popsicle before a Good Samaritan would even show suddenly from out of the blue.)

So my choices were 1) walk on the icy sidewalk and risk falling and possibly injuring my hip replacement or 2) spend the night sleeping in my car despite the below-freezing temperature. But then I thought of a third way.

I knelt down on the sidewalk then got on my hands and knees. I proceeded to crawl across the icy sidewalk like a baby. When I got to the concrete steps, I scooted my legs to the front and sat on the first step. I began to scoot own one step at a time on my butt. After doing the first two steps like that, I realized that the steps weren’t icy at all. So I grabbed the railing and hoisted myself back on my feet and walked the rest of the way to the front door, which wasn’t icy at all.

As for the laundry, I left it in the trunk because I wasn’t about to deal with that icy sidewalk again. I retrieved it the next morning when the temperature went above freezing for the first time since Christmas.

I took a few photos that showed how cold it really got in my area. On January 6 I decided to brave the 18 degree Fahrenheit weather to check out the interactive version of the Nutcracker at Artechouse. Before I went inside the building I took a quick photo of the Southwest Waterfront, where one can see ice being formed along the shoreline.

Despite the cold weather there was a certain beauty about it even though I could only tolerate being out in the extreme cold for so long. I managed to shoot this glorious sunset before I had to go indoors from the cold.

As I was leaving Artechouse I saw how deserted the area was. There were very few cars around. I know the weekend is part of the reason but I also think it’s because most people just didn’t want to venture anywhere in the cold. I managed to shoot the skyline where one can see the U.S. Capitol building in its full nighttime glory on the horizon.

The next day (January 7) I had to go to Baltimore so I could pick up my art that I had on display at this art show that had just ended. Once again I brave the below freezing temperature (which was 20 degrees Fahrenheit—two degrees warmer than the day before but it wasn’t much of an improvement). Since the venue was in an area with scarce parking, I parked my car at the North Linthicum light rail station and took the light rail train into the city. As the train wound its way on its route I saw that the water was made up of ice sheets.

While the effects of the extreme cold made for some good picture taking, I’m glad that the extreme cold has left the area. The temperature is currently in the 60’s, which is relatively tropical compared to what I experienced recently.

I’m old enough to remember Oprah Winfrey back when she started as a local news anchor for WJZ-TV Channel 13 in Baltimore. She eventually went on to co-host a local daytime talk show at that same station called People Are Talking (with Richard Sher), which I used to watch with my grandmother (who watched me during the week while my parents both worked) whenever I was home on summer vacation.

I even saw both Oprah Winfrey and Richard Sher in person once when they made a live appearance at the since-demolished Harundale Mall in Glen Burnie. I happened to be going to the mall that day for a different reason (that I’ve long since forgotten) without knowing about them making a special appearance and I saw them there. (I know it was after I had gotten my drivers license because I remember being at that mall alone.) They were chatting with fans and signing autographs. I still remember Oprah Winfrey with the Afro hairstyle that she wore at the time and wearing some funky mod 1970s chic brown outfit with boots while Richard Sher looked relatively drab in a typical business suit and tie. While I thought it was cool seeing them in the flesh, I didn’t bother with getting an autograph because I felt that they were just a pair of local celebrities who weren’t well-known outside of the Baltimore metropolitan area. If Phil Donahue, who had one of the highest-rated nationwide daytime talk shows at the time, had been there I definitely would’ve made an effort to get an autograph from him.

I regretted that decision years later when Oprah left Baltimore for Chicago, where she began her solo daytime talk show and it was soon syndicated to other TV stations nationwide. She eventually became a bigger phenomenon than Phil Donahue (whom she would ultimately beat in the ratings for having the highest-rated nationwide talk show in the US). She also built her media empire (which includes her own cable channel and monthly magazine) and has appeared in a few movies.

A few nights ago Oprah Winfrey gave this rousing speech at the Golden Globe Awards.

I generally avoid award shows like the plague (because I personally find them to be exercises in boredom and tedium) so I didn’t hear about it until I was checking Facebook the next day. As the day went on I started seeing some of my Facebook friends posting “Oprah Winfrey for President in 2020” and “Oprah 2020.”

I’ll admit that, in some ways, Oprah would make a better president than Donald Trump. She grew up in poverty and had to overcome a lot of hurdles in her life and career as being both African American and a woman so she has more direct knowledge of what it’s like to grow up poor without white male privilege than Trump (who was born into a wealthy white family). She doesn’t openly throw tantrums on Twitter nor has she ever publicly resorted to name calling, unlike Trump. She would be less likely to engage in a childish pissing contest with nuclear weapons than Trump (who has bragged on Twitter about how his nuclear button is bigger and works better than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s). She’s more well-spoken than Trump and I’d doubt she’d make up nonsensical English words like “covfefe” and “bigly.” While I’ve heard that Trump doesn’t even read books, Oprah Winfrey has not only read books but she used to have an ongoing book club on her old talk show where she would pick a book for people to read and she would devote episodes to discussing that book. And I think she would have a better work ethic because I don’t see her taking golfing trips every single weekend unlike Trump (who has taken more golfing trips in his first year of office than his predecessor, Barack Obama, did in his entire eight years in office).

I’ll also admit that it would be cool if someone whom I knew as a local Baltimore-area personality and saw once in person years ago would ultimately become President of the United States.

However, despite my past memories of Oprah Winfrey and my personal opinion about how she would be a step up from the orange-skinned buffoon who currently occupies the White House, I really can’t get behind the “Oprah 2020” movement at all. That’s because of the fact that she has the same problem that Donald Trump has: She has never held any kind of elected office before. That’s a serious handicap when it comes to the highest office in the land. Look at how Trump’s presidency has been adversely affected by his lack of previous experience as an elected official.

The only television talk show host who could even remotely be qualified for the White House that I could think of would be Jerry Springer and that’s because he once served as the mayor of Cincinnati before he began his television career. (However, that doesn’t mean I think he should run. Not only is there his less-than-stellar reputation stemming from his controversial talk show but he hasn’t held elected office since 1977.)

If Oprah Winfrey really wants to become president, she should start by getting elected to a lower office (such as a seat on the Chicago city council or as a representative in the Illinois state legislature) then moving up to a seat on the national level in either the Senate or the House of Representatives. If she does that, and if I like how she voted on the issues, I would definitely vote for her as the first female African American President of the United States.

Otherwise I would prefer someone with actual experience as an elected official. There are other African American women who would be more qualified for the White House than Oprah Winfrey simply because they are currently serving as elected officials, such as Maxine Waters and Nina Turner.

After all, just because someone gives a rousing speech at the Golden Globe Awards doesn’t mean that she is capable of being President of the United States. Giving great speeches and being able to run this country on a day-to-day basis (including dealing with Congress, signing bills into law, and trying to maintain relationships with different countries) are two different things.

Besides, haven’t this country learned from Donald Trump’s crazy first year in office about the pitfalls of electing a television personality with no previous elected political experience to the nation’s highest office?

UPDATE (January 10, 2018): The Washington Post has a list of some of the less savory things in Oprah’s past that could possibly haunt her on the campaign trail (such as her past friendship with Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape) should she decide to run for president.

Santa Claus Baby New Year

These days I usually tend to go to the Baltimore Dr. Sketchy’s events only on the months when there isn’t a DC Dr. Sketchy’s event. That’s because both events are usually scheduled on two consecutive nights with the DC event being on a Sunday and the Baltimore event being held on the following day. I usually find it a bit taxing to try to make two Dr. Sketchy’s events two nights in a row.

This time I decided to go to the Baltimore event the night after the DC event because they had a burlesque performer in a wheelchair, which I thought was pretty intriguing. I was born with a dislocated hip and had the doctors not put me in a body cast at an early age, I would’ve ended up in a wheelchair. (In fact, I ended up having hip replacement surgery in 2008 when the same hip that was dislocated at birth started to lose cartilage and I couldn’t walk without a cane.) My father ended up spending the last 12 years of his life in a wheelchair due to a spine injury. My mother is currently in a wheelchair due to multiple sclerosis. So, yeah, I’ve had people in wheelchairs in my life so I was curious as to how a person is able to have a burlesque career despite being in a wheelchair.

Like I wrote in a previous post, I made an attempt to do some combined trips on December 11, 2017 by going to Valley View Farms first. When I used to have a pet hedgehog, I frequently had to travel a great distance to the pet store where I got Spike so I could purchase hedgehog food. There were times when I tried to time my trips to the pet store on the same nights as the Baltimore chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s. The pet store was located about 3-5 miles away from Valley View Farms so all I had to do was to go in, buy the hedgehog food, then take a short 20-minute trip down I-83 into the city then get off at the North Avenue exit. (When I later discovered that a pet store in Columbia also sold hedgehog food, I started going there instead because it was only a 30-minute commute versus an hour-long commute for the other pet store. The pet store where I got Spike has since gone out of business.) I figured that I would do the same with going to Valley View Farms first.

Things really went awry that day. I gave myself plenty of time to get to Valley View Farms in a reasonable amount of time only to encounter this horrendous traffic jam on the Baltimore Beltway. What is usually an hour-long commute took nearly two hours to get there thanks to the traffic. So I had less time to spend at Valley View Farms than I wanted since I wanted to make the Dr. Sketchy’s event.

As I drove on I-83 I got pulled over by a cop for having a broken taillight. (I’ve been wanting to get it fixed for a while. The problem is that the electrical system is also busted so changing the bulb isn’t enough. One garage I went to wanted $600 in order to repair it entirely, which is hard to swing when I’m still looking for a new day job and money is tight.) I got a warning but I was late in getting to Dr. Sketchy’s. Here’s a photo of a promo poster I took during one of the breaks.

Here’s a photo of a Christmas tree in the corner of The Windup Space with no lights or decorations. (I shot that photo on December 11 so it’s very likely that the tree was decorated afterwards.)

A burlesque performer named Jacqueline Boxx was the model for this event and she’s the one who’s able to do her performances while in a wheelchair. Some of the drawings in this post are definitely NSFW.

I took part in two of the contests that were held that evening. The first was where we had to somehow incorporate The Price is Right because that day was Bob Barker’s birthday. I used to watch that game show with my grandmother when I was a kid. I’ve always remembered the big prize wheel so I did a prize wheel where Jacqueline Boxx was one of the prizes. My drawing was among the finalists and it came in second place.

There were two prizes that were offered for that contest. I won a pad of tracing paper.

The other contest I participated in was where we had to somehow incorporate The Muppet Christmas Carol. This one was a challenge because, I have to confess, I’ve seen numerous other versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but the one with the Muppets was the one version I had never seen. So I decided to enter a contest about a movie I hadn’t seen. I don’t know what I was thinking that night other than I was already frazzled due to the crazy traffic jams and that encounter with the cop. I began remembering the fact that I had seen Mickey’s Christmas Carol where Mickey Mouse played the Bob Cratchit role. I know that Kermit the Frog is the most beloved Muppet (just as Mickey is the most beloved Disney character) so I assumed that he would be in the same role in that movie. So I came up with this drawing.

That drawing didn’t make it among the finals. I later looked up The Muppet Christmas Carol on the Wikipedia and I found that I was right in my hunch about Kermit the Frog being cast in the Bob Cratchit role. Maybe I’ll get around to somehow seeing that movie one of these days. (LOL!)

I did one more drawing of Jacqueline Boxx before the event ended for the evening.

That pad of tracing paper wasn’t the only freebie art supply I got that night. Apparently the event’s sponsor, Blick Art Supplies, had sent over some sample art supplies (including colored pencils) and the event organizers offered them for anyone to take for free. I took three tubes of acrylic paint.

As I was driving out of Baltimore, I was stopped at a traffic light when I saw that the M&T Bank Stadium (where the Baltimore Ravens football team play their home games) were lit in red and green lights just in time for Christmas. I took advantage of the red traffic light to take a couple of quick photos, although I have to admit that the red and green lights looked far more impressive in real life than what these photos show.

Santa Claus

After spending one Sunday morning at my church, I went north to Baltimore because I had decided to take part in this art show that was being held at Trinacria’s Ristorante & Bar and Sunday was the day where we had to submit our artwork.

When I arrived at the North Linthicum light rail stop I was surprised to see nearly every single parking spot taken up with cars. I’ve taken the light rail on weekdays before and the parking lot had never gotten filled up like that. I later learned that Fox was doing a live broadcast of the Baltimore Ravens Game at M&T Bank Stadium and that was why the light rail parking lot was so crowded. Luckily for me I saw one car pull out of a parking spot and I managed to snag the last open spot at that station.

The game had started so I had no problem with purchasing a fare ticket because there were very few people at that station. I rode the light rail and got off at the Centre Street station, where I took these pictures.

That block where the light rail station is located is incredibly run down and seedy. But when I walked a half-block away from that station, it was a different story. I went inside of the Mount Vernon Marketplace, which is located inside of the former location of a Hochschild Kohn’s department store, where I took these pictures.

This marketplace has an art gallery.

Mount Vernon Marketplace is an upscale food market where you can purchase various types of food and it also has plenty of bars and restaurants with signs in English and a few other languages.

I found one reference to Christmas at this spice store, which sold these ball-shaped Christmas ornaments that were filled with different kinds of spices.

I finally came across Trinacria’s Ristorante & Bar, where I dropped off my artwork. I took a few shots of the place while I was there.

Trinacria’s had the Baltimore Ravens game on the TV screen and there were people who were watching and cheering.

Here’s the artwork that I submitted to the show at Trinacria’s.

Robot Diavolino

Robot Diavolino
Mixed media (Diavolino electronic board, polymer clay, beads, enamel paint, hand-shaped charms, acrylic gel, plastic skulls, scrapbook paper, and tin on canvas)
5 inches x 7 inches
13 cm x 18 cm
You can learn more about how I created this piece right here.

I was invited to an artists reception that was scheduled for December 8 but it got cancelled at the last minute due to forecasts of a snowstorm coupled with below-freezing temperatures that was supposed to hit the area at the same time. (As it turned out, the temperature started to get below freezing on Friday night but the snowstorm didn’t start until very early Saturday morning.) The art show is still going on as of this writing until January 8, 2018. For details and directions, I suggest that you check out Trinacria’s Facebook page.

As I was walking back towards the Centre Street light rail station, I took a few photos of these vintage signs that decorate the outside of the Maryland Historical Society building.

This next photo shows the dog Nipper with the gramophone in a giant life-sized rendition of the famous advertising art that once served as the logo for RCA and it had the tagline “His Master’s Voice.” I have memories of that statue when I was a child because every time my father used to drive to Baltimore he would always pass the RCA building, which had that statue on top of it. That statue was later removed and it moved around to various locations, which you can read about right here, until it landed in its present location. Seeing that statue brings back childhood memories of my car trips into Baltimore whenever my dad drove.

I took the light rail at Centre Street when there were very few people. By the time we reached the Hamburg Street station, which is the closest stop to the M&T Bank Stadium, it became obvious that the Baltimore Ravens football game had ended due to the huge amount of people at that station.

This is what my train looked like after it stopped at Hamburg Street.

I was seated by the window, where I was able to take these two sunset photos.

So on the Saturday after Thanksgiving I decided to go to Baltimore in order to check out the Christkindlesmarkt at the Zion Lutheran Church. I made every effort to get out of the door soon after I finished eating lunch. But then there were a lot of hassles. First I hit this awful traffic jam going northbound on the highway. I made it to the North Linthicum light rail station only to encounter a bit of a wait for the next light rail train.

I got off at Lexington Market in order to transfer to the Metro subway. But I encountered a long wait for the next subway train. I boarded it and made my way to the Shot Tower Metro station. I walked around the Shot Tower area in order to find the church. By the time I arrived at the church, I only had 45 minutes to check out the Christkindlesmarkt until the event closed for the day. So I was kind of disappointed over not having as much time to spend at that event as I wanted so I decided to hop on the next Charm City Circulator bus over to the Christmas Village in Baltimore where I ate dinner and looked around the area. At least I could more leisurely look everywhere compared to what happened at the other event since the Christmas Village was opened until well into the evening.

After I got my fill of the Christmas Village, I decided to briefly walk around the Inner Harbor where I took these spectacular photos of Baltimore Harbor itself both at twilight and after dark.

I noticed that Baltimore now has a bike sharing program of its own. (The DC area has had such a program for the past few years.)

Here’s a closeup of the wheel cover of one of these bikes that shows an illustration of the Baltimore skyline.

Here is one of the lights that were on display near the Inner Harbor.

I went to Harborplace mainly because I needed to use the restroom before getting back on the light rail. The only store I visited there was It’s Sugar because that store is always such a hoot to visit, such as these Christmas and Hanukkah Emojis lollipops that were on sale.

The store sometimes sells items that really reflect the politics of the day, such as the orange-flavored gummy Donald Trump candy.

Of course that store had a variety of Christmas and Hanukkah candy available for sale.

The weirdest thing I saw there was these dinosaur chopsticks where the dinosaur’s mouth moved every time you open and close the chopsticks.

They also had sushi made from candy (instead of fish). They would be appropriate with the dinosaur chopsticks.

They had beer-flavored gummy bears in these beer glasses. What’s more, they had white-colored gummy bears at the top so it would resemble beer foam and amber colored bears resembling beer.

I didn’t buy anything at It’s Sugar this time around since I had already spent enough money elsewhere. As I was walking back to the Camden Yards light rail station so I could take the next train out of the city, I walked past the historic Old Otterbein United Methodist Church. Here’s a shot of the church steeple as it was lit against the night sky.

The church sign had a pretty interesting message for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

So that’s it for my huge trip to Baltimore on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day.

Like I wrote in my previous post, I decided to go to Baltimore on November 25 because I wanted to check out the Christkindlesmarkt at the Zion Lutheran Church. But I got stuck in horrible northbound traffic then I waited a long time for both the light rail and the Metro subway. By the time I arrived at the church I only had 45 minutes left until the event ended for the day. (They would continue it on the next day but that day was Sunday and I wasn’t able to make it at all due to commitments I had with my own church that took up most of the day.) I eventually made it to the church, where I saw this statue outside of the church that’s dedicated to all of the Baltimore City firefighters both past and future.

Outside of the church were these trees that produced wonderful red colored autumn leaves.

Despite finally making it to the event so late in day before closing, there were still plenty of things to see and do.

There were a lot of stuff I would’ve loved to buy but I couldn’t due to tight finances. I purchased two German-imported Santa Claus chocolates that were more patterned after the original bishop, Saint Nicholas, than after the fat jolly man who hangs around with elves and reindeer. I kept one for myself and I plan on giving the other one to my mother for Christmas.

I also purchased a pack of Haribo gummy candies that were all cherry flavored and they were even shaped like cherries.

I was bummed that I arrived at the Christkindlesmarkt event so late in the day. It was still daylight outside so I decided to just take the Charm City Circulator bus to the Inner Harbor where I checked out the Christmas Village in Baltimore and the Inner Harbor itself.

Previous Entries

Categories

Advertisements