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20+ before and after pictures showing how the world has changed over time.

There’s no scientific basis for race—It’s a made-up label.

How American racism influenced Hitler.

This artist was offered a full-time job after someone on the Internet properly credited their work.

A few reporters for USA Today read every one of the 3,517 Facebook ads from 2016 that were connected to Russia. They found that vast majority of the ads focused on inflaming racial tensions.

A profile of Diamond and Silk, two African American sisters and political entrepreneurs who are also avid Trump supporters.

Elsie de Wolfe was the American Marie Antoinette of pre-war Paris.

Unpaid internships favor the wealthy.

Mad magazine’s clout may have faded but its ethos matters more than ever before.

Hear the actual voices of enslaved black people recorded from the 1800s.

Black activist jailed for his Facebook posts speaks out about secret FBI surveillance.

Do we really need to understand Trump supporters?

Stephen Shore on why young photographers need to start with film.

In Europe they actually fine and jail misbehaving CEOs. Why can’t we?

Taking children from their parents is a form of state terror.

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Ramadan

Fan art featuring 30 Disney cartoon girls reimagined as grown-ups.

Why aren’t people talking more about Latinos killed by police?

Will Donald Trump destroy the presidency?

A look at vintage Polaroids of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and other Star Wars actors taken during the making of Return of the Jedi.

Undercover author finds Amazon warehouse workers in UK peed in bottles over fears of being punished for taking a break.

Understanding the difference between race and ethnicity.

3 medical projects driving maker innovation in health.

A look at the 13 lesser known members of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Ex-Facebook president Sean Parker said that the site was made to exploit human vulnerability.

15 tattooed seniors answer the question: “What will it look like in 40 years?”

How these lava lamps are securing the Internet.

Behold the unnervingly rectangular livestock of pastoral art.

Watch as a 17th century portrait emerges from 200 years of discolored varnish.

Why job hunters don’t find work.

A profile of the man who is helping Americans access safe drinking water.

Why the US fails at worker training.

Somebody wrote an email bot to waste scammers’ time.

Twist fabric scraps into colorful twine.

This “Ordinary People vs. Creative People” comic has spawned a very creative meme.

Neoliberalm has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals.

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Can we fix it? The repair cafes are waging war on throwaway culture.

The REAL reason behind Toys R Us shutting down.

Baltimore spends billions on corporate subsidies but can’t heat its schools.

The missing link: why disabled people can’t afford to #DeleteFacebook.

Corruption, not Russia, is Trump’s greatest political liability.

Parkland student Emma González opens up about her fight for gun control.

What’s driving Republican retirements from Congress?

Why everyone should work a shit job at least once in his/her life.

The DCCC’s long, ugly history of sabotaging progressives. 

It’s time to boycott Amazon.

100 years ago a German-American was lynched by a self-proclaimed patriots. 

Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez might be the most under-appreciated superhero artist of all time.

America’s youth are rejecting capitalism. What do they want instead?

This high school student said she learned nothing at one of New York City’s elite high schools.

A white mob wiped this all-black Florida town off the map. 60 years later their story was finally told.

Watch the world’s oldest board game, The Royal Game of Ur, being played.

New studies show that legal marijuana states have lower opiate use.

What is the Donald Trump vs. Jeff Bezos feud really about?

What black voters lost by aligning with the Democratic party.

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Woman sews a handmade kimono to honor her Japanese and Scottish ancestry.

Virtually no economists believes the GOP tax bill will generate much growth.

Depression steals your soul then it takes your friends.

The things that dogs do and what they’re trying to tell you when they do them.

A list of the 100 best anime movies of all time.

White women keep on fucking us over.

Ex-Facebook President Sean Parker says that the social media site was made to exploit human vulnerability.

14 delicate and offensive teacups to insult your guests with class.

This 11-year-old girl invented a device that detects lead in water.

Amazing online hoax welcomes the “Washington RedHawks” to the NFL.

Medical pot is our best hope to fight the opioid epidemic.

Donald Trump’s contempt for American political institutions is only the latest chapter in a history of opportunistic attacks against them.

Where Internet orders mean real jobs and new life for communities.

This is no country for older men and women.

Nazi Hitler Pony goes viral after Chicago teacher uses him for an assignment.

A look at the NSFW vintage erotica of Chéri Hérouard.

For around $250 a company offers photo shoots on grounded Gulfstream jets on an airstrip in Moscow to impress your Instagram followers.

These adorable cartoons are dark as fuck.

Why a pill that’s 4 cents in Tanzania costs up to $400 in the U.S.

Who are the poor Americans?

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Women are calling to an end to sexual harassment in the animation industry. 

To save Net Neutrality, we must build our own Internet.

When blue chips fall like dominoes.

The deranged Twitter thread that proves that establishment liberals have lost their minds.

Why we need to appreciate the talents and abilities of the quiet introverted ones.

The mainstream media quietly erases the role NATO played in bringing slave markets to Libya.

Here’s the line-up of liars you can thank when the economy crashes.

Four WTF lessons the world teaches us about sexualizing teens.

An Internet entrepreneur makes a video expressing how shocked he is that he was sued for stealing a copyright owner’s work.

The myth that college graduates make the best employees.

Medicare for all is not socialized medicine.

Most of America’s terrorists are white and not Muslim.

Facebook’s security chief says that his company’s security is like a college campus but they face threats like a defense contractor.

All of these women of color are badder than Taylor Swift.

Punks and metalheads are infiltrating the system by winning political office.

Walt Disney World is anything but magical for its employees.

Here’s an online trove of historic sewing patterns and costumes.

An essay on being biracial without identity issues.

The 11 most unintentionally hilarious religious paintings.

“Protest Matters” museum shows what resistance looks like.

When I was growing up I used to frequently hear the saying that one should never put his/her eggs into one basket. The basic meaning is that you should never rely on just one or two things in life and one should always have a backup plan in case something unexpected happens. I had a harsh lesson in that just a few years ago when my husband abruptly walked out on me without ever indicating that he was the least bit unhappy and I later learned that there was another woman involved. Luckily I had friends and family I could rely on because had I totally concentrated only on my relationship with my husband to the exclusion of everything else, I would’ve been worse off when he left.

This saying applies to business as well. Last week a popular website known as LittleThings.com had abruptly shut down. LittleThings.com originally started as an e-commerce site selling pet supplies when it decided to branch out into posting uplifting stories about pets. LittleThings.com frequently used Facebook to promote its stories and it found a huge response to those stories in terms of clicks and likes. In time LittleThings.com morphed into a full-fledged media company that specialized in posting uplifting stories with happy endings along with DIY tips that provided a contrast with the stories involving politics and celebrities that usually get shared around Facebook. Here are just a few samples of the stories that LittleThings.com used to cover:

99-Year-Old Grandma Held Hostage By Teen Keeps Him Calm Until He Eventually Surrenders

More Than 30 Pets Left Behind During Hurricane Marie Reunite With Their Families 6 Months Later

Stranger Spots Single Dad’s 11 Missing Teeth During TV Interview And Offers Him a New Smile

Before You Toss That Toilet Paper Roll, Make a Beautiful DIY Kaleidoscope With Your Kids

Dryer Sheets: 14 Brilliant Ways To Use These Everyday Laundry Items

Mom Of 4 Fires Back At Stranger Who Ridiculed Her For Wearing ‘Inappropriate’ Ripped Jeans

The only thing major criticism I’ve ever read about LittleThings.com was that it was basically a content news aggregation site, which means that it would conduct Internet searches looking for those lighthearted uplifting stories that would fit in with LittleThings.com’s brand. Here’s an example. Let’s say that there was an incident where some burglars broke into a home in Des Moines, Iowa while a teen boy was home alone with his family’s German shepherd dog. The dog confronted the burglars only to be beaten and shot. Despite his injuries the dog continued to defend the teen against the burglars while the teen called 911. The teen was unharmed and the dog survived his injuries. This story was originally reported in the local media. A staffer on LittleThings.com would search the Internet until she came upon the original story as reported by the local media. That staffer would then write her own story about the incident based on what was reported in the local media and that story would sometimes include an embedded video from a local TV station that covered that story.

The issue of content news aggregation is a pretty controversial one and there are some nations (such as Spain) that have sought to regulate this in some way. But there’s no doubt that LittleThings.com was able to become initially successful without having to hire a team of reporters who would roam the streets looking for anything that was both newsworthy and fit in with LittleThings.com’s brand.

LittleThings.com’s popularity rose when people started using Facebook and they would share links to that site’s uplifting stories. Over time LittleThings.com relied exclusively on Facebook’s algorithms to help publicize its content. On top of it, unlike other digital media companies, LittleThings.com didn’t use venture capital (VC) money and it opted for self-funding instead. Those two factors helped propelled LittleThings.com to popularity but they were also the roots of its ultimate downfall.

What happened was that Facebook changed its algorithms so that posts generated from a user’s friends and family would be emphasized more than posts from web publishers like LittleThings.com. That algorithmic change resulted in LittleThings.com quickly losing 75% of its viewers who visited that site from Facebook. LittleThings.com apparently didn’t consider diversifying its content on to other social media sites (such as Twitter and Instagram) so it was almost totally dependent on Facebook for its business. Since LittleThings.com didn’t have VC money it had almost no financial cushion to help it weather the lean times. On top of it, LittleThings.com faced competition from larger, more established media companies.

Had LittleThings.com focused on other social media sites in addition to Facebook, it would be still around. Instead LittleThings.com had put nearly all of its eggs into one basket [Facebook] and it has gone out of business as a result. It’s too bad that it had to happen because I used to sometimes share stories from that site on Facebook and there were times when I shared the occasional LittleThings.com link in this blog. Oh well. Too bad, so sad.

UPDATE (May 8, 2018): LittleThings.com has been resurrected thanks to a buyer. One day I happened to notice a new story from LittleThings.com in my Facebook newsfeed, which freaked me out until I read about what happened. This story of a business being brought back from the dead sounds like a story straight out of LittleThings.com. (LOL!)

Man builds a Furby organ using recycled vintage electronic Furbys.

From the Green Book to Facebook: How black people still need to outwit racists in rural America.

If you care at all about the idea of journalism, Project Veritas should horrify you.

Here’s a free tutorial on how to crochet a blanket based on climate change data.

The “Pocahontas” nonsense matters but not in the way that Trump might like it to.

CNN crusades against the slave trade in Libya but they knew about it for years.

A look at a LEGO set featuring the women of NASA.

The Church of Sweden no longer refers to God as “he” or “lord.”

What if American hadn’t done the dumbest thing imaginable after 9/11?

The executives who bankrupted Toys R Us want $16-32 million in bonuses for their performance.

More than 80,000 vintage sewing patterns are now available online.

The driverless revolution may exact a political price.

10+ revenge stories that will make you think twice about being an asshole to other people.

6 badass acts of resistance erased from history.

Dollar General hits a gold mine in rural America where even Walmart failed.

Will the alt-right produce the next Timothy McVeigh?

How Clinton and Obama failed to defend the middle class.

Undoing the New Deal: The 1944 coup against Vice President Henry Wallace.

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.

This is yet more drama featuring a person whom I briefly worked with at a startup that ultimately went nowhere last year. I got the job because the entrepreneur/owner of that startup is housemates with a friend of mine. I basically did administrative work where I helped with designing promotional materials for this new startup as well as doing research on things like obtaining trademarks. I also spent a lot of time helping with creating prototypes for this startup’s product, which would be rolled out at the annual Loudon Lyme 10K/5K/1K Fun Run.

There were problems with this startup. I made the mistake of letting him talk me into writing a post in this blog about the startup instead of getting a separate blogging account that would be just for that startup. (The entrepreneur/owner couldn’t be bothered with getting such an account.) In addition he wanted to use my Square card reader with my linked PayPal account instead of getting a separate Square card reader/PayPal account just for that startup.

So we were preparing for the Loudon Lyme 10K/5K/1K event and I naturally assumed that we would have a vendor booth. It wasn’t until just two days before the event when he told me that he didn’t get a vendor booth. Basically I learned that his entire sales strategy consisted of this: Never register for a vendor booth at any event. Instead, just show up with backpacks full of wares, open the backpacks and sell your wares. I was appalled (especially since I had helped with creating brochures that I assumed would be displayed on a table) but, by that point, I had committed to this event.

To make a long story short, this sales strategy was a disaster and we didn’t sell anything. A few days later he sent a multi-part text message essentially blaming me because I was into “self-sabotage.” (Never mind the fact that not even registering for a vendor booth at an event is the ultimate in self-sabotage.) The following day he sent another text asking me to show up at some upcoming Lyme events where I would sell my wares from out of backpacks.

By that point I hadn’t been paid for most of the work I had done and he said that I would only get paid if I did those events. Of course he asked me after he accused me of self-sabotage. I decided to bail at this point. I even wrote a retraction post taking back everything I had ever written in that previous post the entrepreneur/owner wanted me to write while, at the same time, I announced a new policy where I would no longer write about any ongoing projects I do for other people in this blog until after they are completed. (I would be more than happy to help with setting up a separate blogging account for anyone who wants me to write work-in-progress posts.)

My former boss eventually paid me the rest of the money that he owed me six months later so I thought there were closure. But then this year began when he attempted to restart his business on Facebook using my selfie that I had taken without even asking me permission first.

But now he’s engaged in some family drama with his sister over their mother and I only know about it because he has taken it to Facebook. On Mother’s Day I saw that post in my own newsfeed where he not only has hurled accusations against his sister but he printed her name and telephone number and he encouraged anyone reading his message to start calling her.

Since that time he would occasionally write on Facebook about how horrible his sister is for somehow not letting him visit or even speak on the phone to their mother but at least he hadn’t named her or posted her phone number. I haven’t bothered with writing new posts about what he had written because I just don’t want this blog devolving into a glorified “Shit My Ex-Boss Says About His Sister on Facebook.”

But then Thanksgiving Day happened and here’s a heavily edited screenshot of what he posted about his sister.

He asked prayers for his sister while posting a horrible accusation against her plus posting her name and telephone number! If that’s not passive-aggressive behavior, I don’t know what is.

I’m not inclined to immediately side with him because I remember when he not only accused me of being into self-sabotage on the day of that Loudon Lyme 10K/5K/1K Fun Run but there was another incident that occurred while I worked for him. He wanted to use my Square Card reader with my associated PayPal account instead of getting his own Square Card/PayPal for his startup. I hadn’t used that reader in a while so I was trying to figure it out. There were some glitches and the boss started to get angry with me until we figured out what was going on. He accused me of being secretive because, while I was figuring out how that Square Card reader worked (which I was doing on HIS request), I was doing it without verbally announcing “I’m going to try Option A first. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll try Option B…” and so on.

On top of it, he then insulted me by saying that I’m naturally secretive because of my birth order. He was the first person I had ever worked for on a professional level who had made my birth order an issue.

So, yeah, I’m not going to immediately take his side, especially since I have never met either his sister or his mother so I don’t know the whole story. For all I know, his accusation against his sister could be as outrageously untrue as when he accused me of being secretive and engaging in self-sabotage.

All I know is that what he’s doing to his sister is called doxing. The minute he started posting her name and personal phone number on Facebook is the minute that he has lost whatever moral high ground he had stood on this issue. Doxing his sister on Mother’s Day didn’t help with solving the dispute he has with her so I don’t know why he thinks that doxing his sister again on Thanksgiving Day would result in anything different.

In fact, what he has done has only exposed him to a potential lawsuit because if his sister ever finds those posts, all she has to do is take screenshots, print them out, then show them to a lawyer. What’s more, it’s possible that there is a Facebook friend who is still friendly with both siblings and that person could easily send a message along with a screenshot of that post to the sister saying “Hey, check out what your brother has been posting about you on Thanksgiving Day!”

I sent the link to my ex-boss’ Facebook post in an email to my friend on Thanksgiving Day because I felt he needed to know what his housemate did. Since they share the same roof, there’s a very small chance he could be affected by whatever legal outcome could arise from that post.

I’m not totally unsympathetic to my ex-boss’ plight. If it is true that his sister is indeed trying to prevent anyone from seeing their mother, then he seriously needs to see a family lawyer who is well-versed in eldercare issues instead of posting his sister’s name and telephone number on Facebook. Doxing his sister on various holidays is not only an ineffective strategy but it’s also a lawsuit waiting to happen.

I’m just glad I walked away from his startup when I did. If he would engage in doxing against his own sister, I would hate to find out what he would’ve done to me if we had engaged in a really nasty dispute. What’s more, I now have an unedited version of that Thanksgiving Day screenshot along with the Mother’s Day screenshot that I can use on future job interviews in case anyone asks about why I left that startup because I now have evidence showing the type of person I was working for in his own words.

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 the previous year (January, 2016) 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. You can also play this song on Spotify.

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 eventually 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 thin 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.

At one point he mentioned in one of his classes that he was trying to get the school to approve his idea of a new semester-long music class that he would teach. It would be called “The History of Rock and Roll” and it would take a look at rock’s beginnings in the 1950s all the way to the present (which would’ve been the late 1970s at the time). He talked about how it would involve listening to various records as well as watching movies like Jailhouse Rock, which starred Elvis Presley. I was really eager to take such a class but, for whatever reason, he wasn’t able to get the school to consider his idea so I never had the opportunity to take it. I don’t know whether that class ever happened after I graduated from high school or if it was something that the school administration refused to ever consider offering.

The most memorable thing he demonstrated was the time he went to the piano to demonstrate how classical music influences pop culture. I don’t remember the context in which he did this but I vividly remembered what he did to this day. He started to play the song “Chopsticks,” which is the one song that nearly all beginning piano students are taught as their first song. He then started to hum the tune to the theme song from the TV show My Three Sons while he was playing “Chopsticks.” We all laughed and chortled at his contention that this theme was based on “Chopsticks.” Soon afterwards I was home when I was changing the channels on the TV set when I happened to catch the beginning of My Three Sons rerun right at the moment the theme music was playing and I began to notice the underlying “Chopsticks” melody and I realized that Mr. Landers was right. Here’s the link to the full version of the My Three Sons theme song where you can clearly hear “Chopsticks” as the melody.

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 I heard in snippets while watching news stories about this new punk rock phenomenon 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. It was bad enough that there were kids who called me “retarded.” I pretty much listened to my punk rock records on the down low in the privacy of my bedroom at home 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 and The Ramones) 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, The Ramones, 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, to be honest, 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 also there as a performer, I definitely would’ve made the time to at least spend one evening attending one of his shows. (My then-husband and sister-in-law could’ve either come with me or stay behind in our rented condo.) It would’ve been really cool if I had brought my guitar with me and we could’ve gotten into a jam session. If only I had actually taken the time to thoroughly read those various free publications that used to list various events that went on in Ocean City, I would probably have come across his name and gone to one of his shows to see if he was actually my high school teacher. 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.

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