You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Civil War’ tag.

Twitter is loving this gay nativity scene with two Josephs.

Black trans filmmaker says the creator of a Netflix documentary stole her work.

An obscure copyright law is letting the Internet Archive distribute books published between 1923-1941.

The 9 most underpaid jobs in America.

The Amazon Effect: How taxpayers are funding the disruption of the U.S. economy.

109-year-old woman says that the secret to long life is avoiding men.

How a narcissistic brand of nationalism is taking over the United States.

Why would Tesla lay off hundreds of workers when it’s ramping up production?

Stop everything and check out these killer needleworks.

Five books to make you less stupid about the Civil War.

Facebook is facing a class-action lawsuit for trying to avoid paying its workers overtime.

3D carving is more than just a tool. It’s also a community and a book.

How colonialism destroyed cultures and shaped the world.

Donald and Ivanka Trump’s brands are tanking due to his pathetic presidency.

Artists are frequently asked to do work for free. As an experiment, an artist walked through a town asking other type of workers (such as barbers and a florist) if they would be willing to work for free.

Click here to learn more.


How classic cartoons created a culturally literate generation.

People are furious at these new shirts from Kylie and Kendall Jenner.

Kylie Jenner and Khloe Kardashian are accused of stealing ideas from indie African American designers. 

See photographs of figures in Russian history rendered in colorized portraits, such as Tolstoy, Chekhov, and more.

This artist is brining out the beauty in stretch marks.

The rise in art protests: how the gallery became a new battleground.

What it means to be on the left.

Interactive Periodic Table of Elements shows how the elements actually get used in making everyday things.

Someone called this white girl’s Japanese tea party racist on social media but then this Japanese user stepped in.

Gorgeous color autochromes of American women from over 100 years ago.

Creative mom dresses up in amazing cosplay to represent older women characters.

Fender custom shop recycles Hollywood Bowl bench boards to make $12k guitars.

Rural America is stranded in the dial-up age.

Director Michel Gondry makes a charming film on his iPhone, proving that we could be making movies, not taking selfies.

This man spent 6 years crocheting a Super Mario Bros map blanket.

Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals.

Transgender soldiers of the American Civil War.

The 11 most unintentionally hilarious religious paintings.

Meet the unconventional family who lives in a 1940s time warp.

$330,000 in financial aid bought this person a slot in the American meritocracy. He writes about the flaws in that system.

Like I wrote in my previous post, I did other things in Baltimore besides take pictures of cosplayers next to a fountain that has since been closed down. I took a little walk around the downtown area, starting with these police motorcycles parked outside the Baltimore Convention Center.


These street drummers outside the PNC Bank building could be heard throughout the surrounding blocks.


This marker shows where a series of riots took place in Baltimore during the Civil War. Maryland was one of those border states that nearly seceded to the Confederacy until Abraham Lincoln offered a compromise where Maryland could still keep slavery legal in exchange for the state remaining in the U.S. Had Lincoln not done that and Maryland became a Confederate state, Washington, DC would’ve ended up being in the geographically awkward position of being the U.S. capital located inside of the Confederate States of America.


I briefly stepped inside Harborplace but there are so many empty storefronts in both pavilions that I no longer make a special shopping trip there. These days I only go to Harborplace if I’m in the Inner Harbor area for a different reason and I feel the need for some food, drink, or to use the restroom. There are just a few stores left that I felt was worth photographing, such as McCormick World of Flavors.





I also stopped briefly at the giant candy store It’s Sugar, which sold sexy underwear for both men and women made from candy.


It’s Sugar also sold some election-themed stuff like party masks and toilet paper featuring Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I had sticker shock when I saw that each roll of toilet paper costs $6. (I could buy a 12-pack of toilet paper at Aldi for $1 less than that.)



Like I wrote before, there are a lot of empty store spaces in both Harborplace pavilions. Someone tried to cover one of the spaces with this nice looking ceramic art.


Across the street from Harborplace is The Gallery, which is yet another shopping mall. The Gallery has more stores than Harborplace but most of the stores are chains (such as Game Stop) which already have stores located closer to my home so I don’t really need to drive all the way to Baltimore to shop. The Gallery had this interesting vending machine that I’ve never seen before—it sells rollable flats. That’s right, it’s a vending machine that sells shoes. I thought it was pretty interesting but I don’t know if it’s the sort of thing that will catch on in other shopping malls in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area.




There are a couple of interesting sculptures at the fountain that’s located near the entrance to The Gallery.



Walking north of the Inner Harbor one can find some interesting things to photograph.



I walked along East Baltimore Street until I hit The Block. Historically that area was a place where burlesque performers did their striptease act while comedians performed there as well. By the 1950’s The Block became a full-fledged red light district with strippers who took all of their clothes off replacing the more demure burlesque performers and X-rated movies replacing the comedians. It was and still is the epitome of sleaze. As a child I can remember my father once loaded up the car when some relatives from Ohio came to visit and he gave a driving tour around Baltimore. He drove through The Block, which was lit up at dusk, while my Ohio relatives just oohed and ahhhed. He didn’t stop the car in The Block because even then it was way too sleazy for families to walk around in.


I had a misadventure at The Block when I was 19. I was attending Anne Arundel Community College as a freshman at the time and things between my then-boyfriend and I weren’t going too well. My boyfriend’s best friend, whom I’ll just call “John,” who was also a student at the same college, suggested that the three of us check out The Block. So we all loaded into his car and drove down East Baltimore until we hit that area.

John took us around to a couple of strip bars. The strippers weren’t all that attractive and I remember one of them looking like she weighed at least 250 pounds. We also checked out some peep shows, which were porn movies that were shown in individual booths. Basically you dropped a quarter into this slot and you saw the movie for about a minute or two then it would stop. If you wanted to see more of that same movie, you dropped another quarter, then another quarter, then another until you reached the end of that movie or you’ve had your fill of it (whichever came first).

At the time the legal drinking age was 18 so I drank a few beers and got drunk in the process. I remember the last thing we did was to go into these individual rooms that had a glass partition that was covered with a curtain. There was a phone next to this pay box that asked for a quarter. I picked up the phone receiver, dropped a quarter into the box, and the curtain was drawn to reveal this scantily-clad woman on the other side. I was totally blasted by then and all I could do was laugh hysterically. The woman was pretty patient about seeing this drunken teenage girl just laughing her ass off like a hyena and I think she asked if I was okay and having a good time. The curtain abruptly closed after a couple of minutes and I staggered out of that room.

I was totally hung over the next day. My boyfriend and I went our separate ways, I transferred to the University of Maryland at College Park the following year, and I basically focused more on my studies and campus life in general and less on visiting red light districts. When I was married I think my then-husband may have driven briefly through The Block once or twice on the way to someplace else in Baltimore but I don’t remember.


My devout Roman Catholic grandmother used to tell me that good girls don’t go to The Block. My grandmother is now deceased along with most of my older relatives, with the exception of my mother (who’s currently struggling with multiple sclerosis), so there’s no one around to warn me to not to venture near The Block because I’m a good girl. Heck, I’m divorced so I don’t have to worry about protecting my virtue and innocence anymore since it’s all gone, baby, gone.


I haven’t really explored The Block since my brief misadventure when I was 19 and seeing it now just looks sad. The X-rated movie theaters and peep shows are now gone (thanks in large part to the advent of home video and the Internet). There’s strictly an emphasis on live performances by strippers and selling sex toys. The Block is also way smaller than I recall. (The Wikipedia says that at its height The Block stretched several blocks long. I think I remember The Block being around two or three blocks long when I was there at 19. Nowadays The Block is literally one block long.)


These buildings on the edge of The Block are being renovated into office buildings although, to be honest, I can’t imagine any corporation or medical practice or any kind of straight-laced businesses (like insurance companies or travel agencies) wanting to put its offices next to strip clubs and sex shops. But, then again, Disney did take a risk in New York City when it decided to pour money into renovating the historic New Amsterdam Theater in Times Square, which led to other companies following suit and ultimately pushing out the strip clubs, peep shows, porn theaters, and sex shops. Maybe that’s what Baltimore is hoping: Disney or some other straight-laced company decide to invest in that area while leading other straight-laced businesses to relocate to The Block and ultimately purge the area of its burlesque and porn past. Maybe it’ll happen once the ugly memories of Freddie Gray and the Baltimore Uprising recedes further into the past but that’s going to take a very long time. (LOL!)



Around the corner from The Block is The Grace and Hope Mission. That’s right, it’s a Christian church and/or mission that probably caters to the people who work there. If one considers the fact that Jesus reached out to the prostitutes and other societal outcasts in his day, one can say that The Grace & Hope Mission is really being very Christian by emulating Jesus.  If one were to look at the upper left corner of the photograph below, one would see what looks like apartments or condominiums. (The balconies are a definitely giveaway.) I’m not sure if I would even want to live so close to The Block given the fact that it’s a very high crime area. I would be especially afraid to go to or from my apartment/condo at night.


The crown jewel of The Block is the historic Gayety Theater. Not only did burlesque performers like Blaze Starr performed there but comedians like Jackie Gleason and Red Skelton used to have shows there whenever they came to Baltimore. It has a lovely facade that was restored not too long ago.


Today the Gayety houses Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club, which features entertainment that’s a far cry from Jackie Gleason’s comedy routines of yore.



The Hustler Club also has a sex shop that not only features all kinds of sex toys but there are even signs advertising something called “the official pleasure collection” that’s inspired by the controversial Fifty Shades of Grey book trilogy and movie.




I came across something that I didn’t expect to see at The Block. Apparently the Hustler Club had something called “WTF Weekend” that featured Mama June from that controversial TV reality show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, which was abruptly cancelled by TLC despite its high ratings a few years ago after Mama June left the father of her youngest daughter, Honey Boo Boo, for an old flame. Except it was revealed that this old flame had just finished serving time in prison for child molestation involving a young girl. Worse, before he was arrested and convicted for that molestation, he was accused of sexually abusing Mama June’s oldest daughter, who was a child at the time. Basically Mama June threw away her well-paying job as a reality TV star for hooking up with a convicted child molester despite having minor daughters still living at home (including Honey Boo Boo) while alienating her now-adult oldest daughter in the process. So now Mama June is reduced to making a living by doing live appearances in sleazy places like The Block with Little Sassee Cassee, a two-foot tall woman who’s billed as The World’s Smallest Entertainer. That event had just passed a week before I showed up yet that poster was still up.


The whole area of The Block just looked like a sad shadow of its past self. Unlike my last extended visit at 19, I didn’t even bother going inside any of the buildings because I had a feeling that the interiors would look even sleazier and more depressing than what I saw on the outside. Plus the people who were going inside and outside these buildings just looked like the kind of people I just don’t want to make even small talk with. Some of these people just oozed sleazy vibes on first sight. You’re definitely not going to find anyone like Richard Gere’s suave wealthy character in Pretty Woman. (Hell, I can’t imagine anyone from the 1% venturing anywhere near The Block, especially when they have the money to pay for a high-priced escort service to make house calls.) It was just as well that I didn’t go indoors because I was spared what goes on in these establishments, as described in this article.




Not only did I not bother with entering any of the nightclubs on The Block, I didn’t even bother with entering the few non-sexually oriented businesses either, such as Subway. (Shoot, I don’t even remember any corporate chain fast food places on The Block when I went there at 19.)


The 2 O’Clock Club is one of the few original businesses left on The Block. Blaze Starr got her start as a burlesque performer there and she even owned the place at one point. She sold it and retired from her burlesque career when The Block went from being an area that featured burlesque shows to showing porn movies and peep shows. That place was the site of a brutal murder not too long ago.



I can remember when the neon signs on The Block would especially stand out at night. Given the crime that frequently goes on these days, there is no way in hell I would ever walk in that area at night to see the lights in their full glory, even if I was with other people.

Right where The Block ends is a carry-out place called Mandi Kitchen that serves Halal dishes.



Right next to The Block is a police station. Seriously! Anyone who becomes a crime victim on The Block would only have to walk a few feet to get a police officer for help. It’s been said that the police station is there so the cops can keep a close eye on The Block, although given the crime that still goes on, I can’t say that they are watching that area too closely.


Across the street from the police station is a building that probably had a business that was once a part of The Block. The side edge of this building still says “KS Film Game Room,” even though that business has long since closed.


The building now houses offices of a business that specializes in retirement savings plans.


I have to admire The Block for still tenaciously hanging on when red light districts in other U.S. cities (such as the intersection of 14th & U Streets, N.W. in Washington, DC and Times Square in New York City) have long since fallen to gentrification, home videos, and Internet streaming. But The Block seems like a cancer or AIDS patient who is still alive but the body has dwindled to skin and bones and the patient is mostly bedridden. Only time will tell whether The Block will still be around for the turn of the 22nd century or if it will ultimately be something that one only reads about on the Wikipedia.

I got away from The Block and I walked past the historic Shot Tower. This particular photograph has some very subtle delicate cloud formation in the sky.


I briefly walked into Little Italy but I only walked about a half a block in the area when I felt my feet getting really tired. I managed to stay long enough to admire some of the building facades but I decided that I’m going to have to explore Little Italy another day.



I walked back to the Shot Tower Metro Station and took the subway to Lexington Market. I thought about going inside to get a soda but I arrived 20 minutes late because the building had already closed for the day by then. I ended up taking a photo of the outside before walking to the Lexington Market light rail stop. I took the light rail train out of the city and to North Linthicum, where my car was parked.


Free Tutorials

How to make a multicolored confetti bowl using confetti paper, a balloon, and Modge Podge.

Browse other free tutorials previously mentioned in this blog (along with pictures) right here.

Miscellaneous Links

What happens when older people get ahold of children’s coloring books and doctor them into something totally twisted? Find out at Coloring Book Corruptions. (NSFW Warning!)

Remember Lisa Frank, the name associated with stickers, notebooks, toys, and similar items that featured multi-colored backgrounds and ultra-cute characters (such as unicorns and panda bears)? Looking at any Lisa Frank product would produce a psychedelic trip in anyone without needing to take LSD. Well the creator of this Tumblr page, Feminist Lisa Frank, has taken things a step further by pairing these images with feminist sayings with surreal results. By the way, the Lisa Frank Company is currently getting Tumblr to take down that particular blog while sending e-mails to the site’s creator talking about how disappointed they are at the pairing of Lisa Frank’s vintage rainbow colored art with feminist sayings. In case Tumblr yanks Feminist Lisa Frank off-line, you can follow that site’s creator at her personal blog.

Granted Lisa Frank’s reaction to that Feminist Lisa Frank site is pretty disillusioning to many of her fans who collected her multicolored products as children growing up in the 1990’s (which was the company’s biggest heyday). If you really want to feel further disillusioned about Lisa Frank, read the inside story about the company called Inside the Rainbow Gulag: The Technicolor Rise and Fall of Lisa Frank.

Computer scientists prove 80s pop music is boring. I wonder if this will lead to those who deny that 80s pop music is boring with the same fervor as climate change deniers. (LOL!)

The Stuffed Company specializes in making life-sized plushies that stand at least 5 feet tall and prices start at $550. If you’re too cash-poor for one of their stuffed animals, you can still entertain yourself by watching some of the stop-motion animations featuring those same plushies.

Most people raised in the United States know about the Civil War and how the Confederate States of America lost and how it led to the Reconstruction Era, etc. But did you know that some former Confederates opted to emigrate to Brazil to form new colonies? Not only did that happen but many of their descendants speak both Portuguese and English and their English still retains a Southern accent even though many of them have never visited the U.S. This fascinating New York Times article has the details about these Brazilian Confederates. What’s more, there’s a video about them that Vocativ did last year.

Why the Rich Don’t Care About Jobs for the Rest of Us.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism

This Saturday will be the third anniversary of the start of the Syrian Civil War and Save the Children has decided to commemorate that occasion by coming out with this gut-wrenching video. For more information about this video, click on the links embedded at the end of this video.

St. Patrick's Day

Today was one of those rarities in the Baltimore-Washington area: a St. Patrick’s Day parade that actually took place on St. Patrick’s Day. Normally such parades (which are usually held in Baltimore, Washington, and Alexandria) tend to take place either before or after the holiday itself mainly because many of the participating bands tend to spend the actual holiday performing at the larger parades in New York or Boston.

There was only one other time in my life that I actually attended a St. Patrick’s parade on St. Patrick’s Day. I was 16 years old and serving on the high school newspaper when the staff decided to attend this convention geared towards high school newspapers that was held at Columbia University. We happened to be in New York City on St. Patrick’s Day so we attempted to go to the parade only to find out that the streets were so crowded that we could only see the flags and banners. We saw people wearing green on their clothes, their faces, and even their hair. We saw people getting very drunk on green beer (which I remembered as looking kind of gross). We decided to check out Sak’s Fifth Avenue. While perusing the merchandise (which none of us bought because they carried very high prices), we heard a glass shatter in the middle of the store. Some drunk had dropped or thrown a beer bottle right in the middle of the store.

The biggest memory came when we saw a group of drunken men wearing green makeup, green afro wigs, and green clothes. A pidgeon landed in front of the men. One of them yelled “Let’s eat him!” and they descended on the poor pidgeon, who promptly flew away as soon as he realized what was happening. The men then crashed on top of each other laughing and screaming.

To say that St. Patrick’s Day in New York City is rowdy is a bit of an understatement.

I learned that there was going to be a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Gaithersburg on St. Patrick’s Day, which happened to fall on a Saturday this year. I was in a mood to attend a parade on the holiday itself this year so I grabbed my camera and made the trek up there just in time for the start of the parade at 10 a.m.

Unlike New York City, Gaithersburg is a suburban town. The parade itself was held in the middle of an outdoor shopping mall. I also noticed that this parade drew more of a family crowd than New York and I didn’t see anyone get visibly drunk.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

It wouldn’t be a St. Patrick’s Day parade without kilt-wearing people playing bagpipes.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

It also wouldn’t be a St. Patrick’s Day parade without police on horseback.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

A troupe of Irish step dancers

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

You can tell that this year is an election year since many politicians and political campaigns took part in this parade.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

A troupe of Bolivian dancers take part in the quintessential Irish holiday parade.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

This year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts of America. As a former Girl Scout myself, I can say that I am very proud that the organization has made it this far.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Mother Goose made an appearance in the parade.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Here are some more bagpipers in kilts.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

That is one funky looking fire engine.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

This year also happens to be the Civil War Sesquicentennial so a contingent of the Maryland Sons of Confederate Veterans marched in the parade complete with a kilt-wearing bagpiper playing “Dixie.” (You really can’t make this stuff up!)

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Here is another troupe of Bolivian dancers at the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Here is a group of Hari Krishnas.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Here is the mascot of the minor league Frederick Keys baseball team.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Here is yet another troupe of Bolivian dancers. I never knew there were so many Bolivians living in this area.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

And here’s the signal of the end of the parade.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

All in all this parade basically lasted just one hour, which was a little bit of a letdown. (I remembered the New York parade lasting several hours followed by people partying in the streets while getting drunk.) After the parade ended people crowded into the stores and restaurants. I decided to just get back in my car and drive home.

I spent the afternoon home mainly because I’m currently battling a cold. For this special St. Patrick’s evening, I’m going to take the advice that I heard during one of the meetings of my separated and divorced support group: Treat yourself to a homecooked soup that you make for yourself. I decided to make the Beef Stew With Guinness and Prunes that I used to make each St. Patrick’s Day for my husband and myself. As a side dish, I have some Irish soda bread that I purchased at Wegman’s a couple of days ago. At least I won’t have to battle the crowds at the Irish restaurants and pubs tonight. (My husband and I tried going to Irish pubs and restaurants on St. Patrick’s Day in previous years only to go home or to a non-Irish restaurant because of the crowds. That’s why we’ve given up on going to any Irish place on St. Patrick’s Day years ago because it just wasn’t worth the aggravation.) Plus it’ll be cheaper than eating out and I’ll have plenty of leftovers to freeze. Yum!

I finally uploaded a pair of short clips that featured Civil War era music that was performed at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church on April 10, 2011. It was the result of an auction that my husband and I won at PBUUC’s annual auction last fall and the item was a Sunday service where the highest bidder chose the theme of the service. I can remember feeling aghast when my husband kept on bidding for that item even though neither one of us had an idea in mind at the time.

Later on we found out that this year is the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War so we requested that as the theme of the Sunday service. Overall I thought they did a pretty good job. I managed to film portions of that service—mainly the music parts. You can see the effort that was put into the music. (By the way, the choir is made up of all volunteers who are very devoted at what they do on many Sunday mornings.)

First up is a short Civil War tune that was perfomred on the piano by the Music Director, David Chapman, as part of the prelude to the Sunday service.

Next is a song called "Youth is the Time When Hearts are Large", whose lyrics were written by Moby Dick author Herman Melville.

Here is a nice piano version of the classic Civil War-era song "The Battle Cry of Freedom" performed once again by the Music Director, David Chapman.

And, last but not least, the choir sings Ron Jeffers’ Civil War-era song "Workin’ for the Dawn of Peace".

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