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On the Friday before Halloween I wanted to have fun. I found out that there were two events happening on the same night. One was the Final Friday Art Walk in Hyattsville and the other was the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival. I decided to go to the Hyattsville one first since that one was scheduled to end earlier. Costumes were encouraged for all ages so I put on my Rainbow Dash hoodie. When I arrived in Hyattsville I decided to check my smartphone to see if my camera was even working and—to my surprise—I found that it was working. I decided to use that opportunity to take a rare selfie.

A Rare Selfie

Sadly my smartphone camera stopped working after that selfie. At least I have my Canon camera with me to continue taking photographs with. The only bad thing was that I discovered that I didn’t have much battery power left. I managed to take a few pictures nonetheless.

The entire Art Walk trail was marked by orange balloons, such as the one in the next photograph.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I first went to the horn sculpture that is located outside the Hyattsville Court House.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Next I went to Art Works Now, which was all decked out for Halloween.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Art Works Now had this hands-on demonstration in a type of printing process using acrylic paint and glass plates.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Here is what I created.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I briefly visited this new place known as Uzu, which provides Japanese comfort food. (No, I didn’t eat there.)

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I went to the Artist & Craftsman Supply store, which had a special art exhibit done by the store’s employees.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I visited Tanglewood Works, which held a meade tasting by a local supplier who plans to set up shop in Hyattsville soon.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

A marching band was playing music as it walked along the sidewalk.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I went inside this haunted house that was created using upcycled and recycled materials.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I went inside this place that housed a recording studio and a tattoo parlor.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

The last place I went to on the Final Friday Art Walk was to the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. By that point my camera battery had died and the art walk was going to officially end soon. So I took these last two pictures before I got back in my car and headed for the other event.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I headed to the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival, where people were still carving pumpkins. I pulled out my camera in the hopes of being able to get one picture and, miraculously, I managed to take this picture of a pumpkin carving in progress.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival, October 27, 2017

But then my camera totally died. I tried my smartphone camera since it had worked earlier only to find that it wasn’t working either. I decided to duck inside the New Deal Cafe and make an effort to recharge my battery for a few minutes before I would go back outside and take more pictures of the lit pumpkins. I rested for a few minutes when I suddenly got this urgent Facebook Message from someone whom I’ve been doing some recent video work for.

On that note, I’m going to violate my own personal policy of never writing in this blog about ongoing projects I do for other people until after the project in question is done because I can’t really go any further in this narrative unless I write a little about this project. Here’s the thing. The New Deal Cafe is a non-profit cooperatively-run eating establishment that’s located in Greenbelt, Maryland. (You can read more about it here and here.) Ever since its inception it has hosted live music (mostly from local bands). The performers don’t get paid by the cafe (mainly because it’s totally run on a very shoestring budget) but the cafe provides tip jars and that is how the musicians make any money. From time to time I’ve shot videos there of various acts over the years, all of which I’ve uploaded on to YouTube and embedded in various posts throughout the seven years that this blog has existed.

A few months ago this filmmaker whom I’ve known for a few years came up with this idea of doing a documentary featuring the various music acts who have played at the cafe over the 22 years that the cafe has existed. He found out that I had been shooting some video and wanted to use what I’ve got. I gave him the video footage that I have on my laptop (and it’s also the same footage that I’ve uploaded on to YouTube) and he has been contacting other people who have also shot videos in an effort to obtain their footage as well. He also planned on interviewing various people to get their recollections of what it’s like to see these bands or work with them or even play in those bands.

Despite the video footage he received from myself and others and his plans to interview people, he still wanted new footage of recent band performances and he asked for my help in filming. Fortunately I had recently purchased a used Canon digital camera off eBay so I had a more reliable camera than my nearly four-year-old smartphone camera, which only sporadically works these days.

So I shot some recent footage of various bands over the past several weeks, which is why you’ve been seeing more embedded footage of what I’ve shot at the New Deal Cafe lately.

So I was sitting in the New Deal Cafe waiting for my camera battery to recharge so I could shoot still photos of the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival when this filmmaker came over on Facebook Messenger. He decided at the last minute that he urgently needed new footage for two bands—one that was scheduled to perform that very night I happened to be at the New Deal Cafe while getting his message. The other would be scheduled to perform the following night. He couldn’t be there for either band but he desperately wanted some footage of both bands. I told him that I was recharging my camera battery and I could try to record that night’s band but I couldn’t guarantee anything. (I had never tried shooting anything on a half-charged battery before.) He got me to agree to shoot both that night’s band and the other band the following night, even though I can’t stay too late most Saturday nights these days. (That’s because I not only attend church on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. but I’m currently volunteering with the church’s program of teaching English to recent immigrants and those classes run from 1:15-3:15 p.m. On top of it, that Sunday was the Sunday before Halloween and I was among the adults who were involved with the Trunk or Treat event that was scheduled to run between the end of Sunday service and the beginning of English classes.)

By the time I got away from Facebook Messenger, I put the battery back into my camera and darted outside to see the lit pumpkins only to find that volunteers had already taken them away. Yeah, it sucked but I’ve shot photos and videos of previous Greenbelt Pumpkin Festivals so it’s not like I don’t know what such an event is like. I went back inside the New Deal Cafe and I managed to film one of the bands in question, The Mojo Priests. I didn’t film for too long because I only had a half-charged battery. But I managed to film some footage of the band in action.

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At last I finally got around to writing a blog post about what happened on the Mall in Washington, DC on September 16, 2017. In a nutshell there were three different events happening simultaneously on different parts of the Mall at the same time. These events were enough for the local media to warn would-be commuters that many roads would be closed to traffic that day. In addition, Metro decided to close the Smithsonian station, which I felt was a bone-headed move because it not only led to more walking for me than usual (due to the fact that Metro closed the only Metro station that is located directly on the Mall) but it could’ve led to a dangerous situation had something violent happened and people couldn’t try to escape to the nearest Metro station so they could board the next train.

Despite the Metro hassle there was still a potential for drama and it was possible that it could’ve lead to a situation similar to what went on in Charlottesville. I decided to show up in person with my camera to check everything out for myself. I would be there to document anything that went wrong if the situation warranted it.

Arriving to the Greenbelt Metro wasn’t so bad. Compared to the Women’s March back in January, that station wasn’t very crowded and I was able to add more money to my SmartTrip card and get on a train with no problem at all.

As I exited the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro station the first thing I saw was the closed-off streets.

Fiesta DC, September 16, 2017

Fiesta DC, September 16, 2017

Fiesta DC, September 16, 2017

Fiesta DC, September 16, 2017

First there was the annual Fiesta DC event, which was a celebration of Latino/Latina/Latinx culture that started with a parade down Constitution Avenue and ended with a festival on the Mall itself. This event was the least political and least controversial of the three events. I arrived early enough to shoot some parade participants getting ready for their turn to march.

Fiesta DC, September 16, 2017

Fiesta DC, September 16, 2017

Fiesta DC, September 16, 2017

Fiesta DC, September 16, 2017

Fiesta DC, September 16, 2017

Fiesta DC, September 16, 2017

I briefly thought about sitting in on some of the parade until I saw the huge crowds gathering on Connecticut Avenue. I decided to head to the two competing political events that were taking place on opposite sides of the Mall. As I made my way towards the grounds of the Washington Monument, I saw the set-up for the Fiesta DC festival that would begin once the parade ended.

Fiesta DC, September 16, 2017

As I continued my walk I saw a flock of birds taking a bath in a puddle on the Mall.

Bathing Birds, September 16, 2017

Before I go any further to write about the two rallies I attended that day I want to say a few things, especially to any fans of Donald Trump and the Insane Clown Posse who happens to be reading this. While I used Photoshop to edit my photos, I only used its basic features for cropping and for lightening up a few dark shaded areas in some of the photographs. I did not digitally add or delete any people. Everything you see in these pictures are what I actually saw in real life and they can be corroborated by numerous other media reports such as BillboardThe Guardian, Metro, and The Chicago Tribune.  What I’m posting here is NOT “fake news” that I pulled directly out of my ass. If, after seeing everything I posted here, you still believe that I’m posting “fake news,” then that’s your problem—not mine.

Here’s a short video I shot of both political events. Like the still pictures, I did not digitally add or subtract any people. (In fact I’m not capable of doing that on video because I can’t afford the software needed to achieve something like this.) What you see in this video is what I saw that day.

I started to shoot that video at the pro-Trump event right at the moment when people started to chant “LOCK HER UP!” in reference to Hillary Clinton (which you can hear and see within the first minute of that video). Donald Trump used to get his supporters to chant this at various rally events during last year’s campaign while calling her “Crooked Hillary.” I’m willing to admit that both Hillary and her husband Bill have a whole bunch of ethical problems, some of which goes as far back as Bill’s time as Arkansas governor. But I find it interesting that ever since Donald Trump moved into the White House, he hasn’t lifted a finger towards having any kind of criminal investigation against Hillary Clinton. He seems to deflect the blame towards Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the lack of action. But, to be blunt, if Hillary Clinton is a criminal who needs to be investigated, tried, and convicted, he needs to encourage the government to do this or else he and his followers (including the ones at the recent DC rally) need to stop using Hillary Clinton as some kind of a scapegoat that they conveniently chant “LOCK HER UP!” at rallies with nothing being done afterwards.

In other words, either press criminal charges against Hillary Clinton or STFU!!!

Now that I got everything out of the way, I’m going to continue with posting the still pictures I took that day. As I arrived closer to the Washington Monument I began to see the site of one of the rallies located nearby.

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

I arrived at the Mother of All Rallies (or MOAR, for short) which was put on by supporters of President Donald Trump near the base of the Washington Monument. Despite the organizers claiming that thousands of people would turn out for it, the reality was that it was more like tens of people actually turned out.

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

I have a few theories on why the turnout was so disappointing. First, Donald Trump’s approval ratings had literally hit a new low shortly before this rally, which would definitely turn off some of his alienated supporters. I also heard that the organizers had not only discouraged participants from bringing Confederate flags to this rally but they had also sought to include people of other races in this rally. Given the fact that Trump had been so blatant in courting neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, and other white supremacists as his supporters, it’s obvious that many of them would be less-than-thrilled with the idea of leaving their Confederate flags at home and hanging out with people who are non-white (even if they are fellow supporters).

I did see a few people of color at this rally, such as these African-American men in this next photo. I don’t know for sure if they actually supported President Trump or if they were simply there out of curiosity like I was. I didn’t see anyone express any kind of dismay that they were there or anything like that. Nor did I hear any racial slurs being dropped. I think the people who were there were okay with non-whites also being there.

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

Despite the efforts to reach out to people of other races, this rally was still overwhelmingly white.

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

The rally was surrounded by fences and it was guarded by volunteer security people. With all that green space and low turnout, it seemed like the rally didn’t need to bother with either. Here’s are a few shots of the rally from behind the back fence.

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

While I was there I felt a bit uneasy and it wasn’t because of the speakers. (I knew what I was getting into when I went to that rally.) I didn’t feel comfortable being there and it didn’t help that there was no one there who was reaching out to me and saying “hi” or being friendly in general. I tried to blend in. That day I wore a t-shirt featuring Mickey Mouse giving the salute in front of an American flag and I wore a red, white, and blue bandana on my head, which I’m wearing in the photo below that I took two weeks later.

What I Wore That Day

Despite my efforts to blend in, I had a feeling that I still felt like “the other” despite that. It didn’t help that there were those volunteer guards at the fence area, some of whom looked bored while others looked intimidating. I also didn’t have anyone come up to be in a friendly manner trying to make me feel welcomed. I can’t put my finger on it but I just didn’t feel welcomed in a way I hadn’t felt since I lived in Glen Burnie (where I grew up with the other kids deciding that I was “retarded” so I was “inferior” and they never changed their attitude towards me as we went all the way through high school). I opted not to pull out the portable folding chair I had brought with me because I didn’t feel comfortable being around these people. I decided to leave that rally and head towards the Lincoln Memorial while taking pictures of the closed off streets.

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

As I walked past the Washington Monument, I took one nice shot of the obelisk in the dramatic-looking clouds.

The Mother of All Rallies (aka MOAR) on the Mall in Washington, DC

I started to head over to the Lincoln Memorial to check out the other big political event. Even though some people thought this was an anti-Trump event, the Juggalo March was something that had been planned for over the year by the rap group the Insane Clown Posse as a protest against the FBI labeling their fans as being a “gang.” This labeling happened while Barack Obama was still in office, which is yet another reason why I feel that he was such a big letdown from 2008 when he campaigned as this big time progressive clamoring for change but I’m not going to go there right now. (You can read my previous posts on why I became disappointed in Obama here, here, and here.)

As I walked past the World War II Memorial, I knew I was getting closer to the rally area for the Juggalo March when I saw these juggalos (which is what the Insane Clown Posse call their fans) posing for photographs.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

I eventually reached the Reflecting Pool with the Lincoln Memorial in the far background.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

I arrived at the Juggalo March site and instantly saw that there were more people present at that event than at MOAR.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

I’ve been to other rallies and marches on the Mall and I’ll admit that the Juggalo March turnout paled in comparison to them. One example was the 2010 One Nation Working Together March, which also took place at the Lincoln Memorial end of the Mall (you can read the text description and see the photos and video). And even that march was overshadowed by two even larger Mall marches: 2010’s Rally to Restore Sanity an/or Fear that was organized by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (you can read the text description and see the video) and the Women’s March, which took place earlier this year.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

In any case, the Juggalo March may have been smaller than all of those aforementioned Mall marches but it still outdrew the MOAR event and that is what the media focused on after both events ended. It’s kind of fitting that supporters of a buffoon were outnumbered by a bunch of clowns. (LOL!)

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Once I reached the area I pulled out my portable folding chair and ate the lunch that I brought with me. Compared to MOAR, I felt pretty comfortable being among the juggalos. Even though I don’t own any Insane Clown Posse t-shirts nor do I have any tattoos, the people there were more laid back and mellow. They kind of reminded me of Deadheads except with more clown makeup. I even smelled someone smoking marijuana while I was walking among the crowd taking pictures.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

The participants and the speakers on stage frequently said “Whoop! Whoop!”, which is apparently how juggalos frequently greet each other. I listened to the speeches from the stage and I heard some heartbreaking stories that stemmed from the FBI’s classification of the Insane Clown Posse’s fans as a gang. One woman who was among the speakers talked about how the state took custody of her children simply because she had a tattoo shaped like a hatchet man (which is one of the Insane Clown Posse’s symbols). Another woman, who had been given positive reviews by her bosses at her job ended up losing her job after one of them visited her Facebook page and saw that she had simply hit the “Like” button on the Insane Clown Posse’s official Facebook page. One man recounted being pulled over by the police simply because he had an Insane Clown Posse bumpersticker on his car.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

As I listened to those stories, I felt unnerved because that could’ve been me or anyone I knew had any of us ever been fans of the Insane Clown Posse or if the FBI had branded fans of a band I liked as being in a gang. Had the FBI given the same classification to fans of Bruce Springsteen, U2, or Nirvana, I definitely would’ve had a much harder life because of fears that I would lose my job or my car or my home simply because I like a certain band and its music. (For the record, I had only previously heard of the Insane Clown Posse because they had been signed to a recording contract by a label that was owned by Disney only to have that contract quickly rescinded when Disney got wind of what their debut album was like and the company developed cold feet. I’ve been watching some of their old videos on YouTube and I find their music to be catchy, sort of like what Cypress Hill was like in their heyday.)

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

All I know is that I felt far more comfortable around the juggalos than I did around the Donald Trump fans. When I was at the Juggalo March I never once felt like I was a freak who didn’t belong because I was way out of my element—unlike the MOAR event.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

I found the people to be very friendly and I found it incredulous that the FBI would label these people as being a gang.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

This next photo was the closest I was able to get to seeing someone speak at the podium on stage. Even then I was only able to get this quick shot before someone else crowded his head in front of me.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

The impression I got is that the people there were happy and having a very good time even if they were protesting how the FBI classified them.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

I have to admit that I only became uneasy when I saw some people holding signs saying “Clown Lives Matter” just like those in the next two photos. It’s because my Unitarian Universalist congregation (as well as other congregations in the greater Unitarian Universalist Association) has been actively involved in anti-racism work in order to make the denomination more friendly to people of color. (One example is the UUA’s ongoing Standing on the Side of Love campaign.) Our congregation has been actively confronting White Privilege and learning about how we white members may be unconscious racists due to being raised in a toxic racist culture like the United States of America where people of color, especially African Americans, are frequently subjected to police brutality and mass incarceration. There are quite a few members in my congregation who have read Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. It’s a topic that’s way too complex to discuss here but, as part of our anti-racism efforts, our congregation has been selling “Black Lives Matter” buttons and yard signs and I’ve seen many white members wear those buttons to church on Sunday.

My problem with “Clown Lives Matter” signs is this: Being a clown is a choice. You can choose to put greasepaint on your face and wear funny clothes. When you’re tired of people staring at you for being dressed like a clown, you can always take off your clothes and makeup. Black people don’t have that choice. They didn’t choose to have dark skin—they were born with it. Unlike being a clown, black people can’t remove their dark skin when they’re tired of being gawked at and/or looked down upon and quietly live lives as private citizens. Being a clown is a choice. Being black is NOT a choice.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

I wasn’t the only one who felt uneasy. I heard a speaker at the podium who was identified as a juggalo of Puerto Rican descent and she explicitly said that it wasn’t cool for juggalos to make signs appropriating slogans and language from other groups’ struggles for this rally. I knew what she was talking about because I heard her say this after I had taken the above two photographs.

Those signs were the only time I had any kind of negative impressions about the Juggalo March. The vast majority of people held signs that were relatively benign and didn’t appropriate Black Lives Matter or any other movements.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

The Juggalo March emphasized that it was open to all regardless of political beliefs or affiliations. As a result I saw people carrying anti-Trump signs and these people in the next photo who wore t-shirts indicating that they are part of the Three Percenters movement.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Since I was at the Lincoln Memorial anyway I decided to step inside and see the statue of Honest Abe for the first time in so many years. (Even though I’m a local I don’t always make time to visit all the tourist hot spots every single week.) I’ve seen that statue in person so many times throughout my life (especially when I went on school field trips as a child) but it’s still nice to be able to see it just one more time.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

There were juggalos, like this person in the next photo, who took the time to go inside the Lincoln Memorial and see the statue of Abraham Lincoln.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

As for the weather itself it drizzled at one point for less than a half-an-hour but, otherwise it was very cloudy and pretty muggy with the high humidity. (At least the temperature was in the low 80’s.)

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

The juggalos made me feel so welcome that one of them even gave me a lollipop.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

After holding their rally next to the Lincoln Memorial, the juggalos started to march. My legs were so stiff and sore that they were close of giving out (walking down the entire length of the Mall will do that to you) so I ended up not marching with them.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

I later read online that they basically walked around the Mall then returned to their original starting point where the Insane Clown Posse gave a free concert that lasted past twilight and into the night.

Instead I walked towards George Washington University so I could pick up the Metro at the Foggy Bottom station. I took these last two pictures on the campus while I was walking.

George Washington University, September 16, 2017

George Washington University, September 16, 2017

While I was riding the Metro I heard an announcement saying that the Smithsonian Metro had just been re-opened. If my legs hadn’t been so tired, I might have gone off at that station so I could check out the booths at the Fiesta DC. But I was tired and stiff so I just took the Metro back into Maryland.

I was sore for the next few days but it was all worth it in the end because it was a memorable day.

Whoop! Whoop!

Last summer I designed a t-shirt for myself using a white t-shirt, Lumi Inkodye, and a beaded t-shirt transfer. I wear it on a somewhat regular basis in warm weather and I even had a stranger on the Metro compliment me on my shirt. I’ve been wearing it whenever I attend various networking events at the Maryland Workforce Exchange mainly in order to promote myself as a crafty creative person. I began to think about designing more t-shirts so I can wear them at various networking events (especially the ones I learn of through Meetup.com), especially if I end up attending more than one networking event in a week.

I still have a small pile of plain white t-shirts that are leftovers from previous projects. (I purchased the t-shirts in bulk.) I also have a pile of rubber bands that are leftover from previous tye-dye projects. I decided to design two new tye-dye t-shirts.

First I bought two t-shirt transfers and a pack of yellow Rit dye from Michaels Arts & Crafts and Jo-Ann’s Fabrics and Crafts.


Then I tied the two t-shirts in rubber bands. After that, I did the washing machine method (as described on the inside package of the Rit dye) of dying my two t-shirts yellow. I removed the rubber bands and let the two t-shirts air dry before I moved on to the next step.

I took an iron and ironing board and placed the two iron-on transfers on the t-shirts. Here are the results. The next two pictures show my yellow tye-dye peacock t-shirt.

Here’s a selfie of me modeling the yellow tye-dye peacock t-shirt.

Here are the pictures of my beaded pirate skull and crossbones t-shirt.

And here’s a selfie of me wearing my new yellow tye-dye pirate skull and crossbones t-shirt.

I’m happy with the results! 🙂

Passover

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Passover

As I look back on this, I have to admit that I really pushed my body to the max. That was because the night before I went to Light City in Baltimore, where I waited outside in the cold for over two hours waiting for my animation, The March of Liberty, to finally show on the big screen. I was so stiff and sore the following day that I ended up skipping church.

I still pushed myself to check out the first annual Kamecon because I like seeing cosplayers all dressed up, I was attracted by the $3 admission fee, it was held on the campus of my alma mater (the University of Maryland at College Park), and it was held just three miles from my current home.

Compared to other anime conventions like Otakon and Katsucon, Kamecon is relatively small. The entire event was held in one of the ballrooms at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union building. But the participants were pretty enthusiastic as they donned costumes and hung out. Here are some photos I took.

There was a line at the ticket office located next to the Hoff Theater but it wasn’t too bad. I think I may have spent about 15 minutes in line at the most.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I decided to bring my Canon Digital Rebel EOS camera with me to this event. Here’s a selfie I was able to take thanks to the restroom mirror. (Yes, I was wearing the My Little Pony Rainbow Dash hoodie in order to blend in a little bit with the cosplayers.)

Kamecon 2017

Some people were waiting to have their photo professionally taken.

Kamecon 2017

The entire convention took place in a ballroom, which included an indoor tent/lounge where people could chill.

Kamecon 2017

There was a Jubeat video game that had a cool cube design. I didn’t see anyone play it mainly because it was directly imported from Japan and that machine required a 1 yen coin, which doesn’t do any good for the vast majority of Americans present.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

There were other video games that people played.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I took a few shots of two cosplayers who were dancing alongside one of the dancing video games while it was playing Lady Gaga’s hit song “Poker Face.”

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I even shot a short video of those two dancing cosplayers.

The ballroom was divided, with half of the room being reserved for Artists Alley. There was a photography ban of that area (unless the photographer gets permission from an Artists Alley participant) so I took only one wide shot of the entire area from the other side.

Kamecon 2017

There were board games and card game packs available for attendees to play with.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Here are some more pictures of Kamecon, including cosplayers.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I also took a few pictures of the University of Maryland campus because it was such a lovely warm sunny spring day. But I didn’t take too many pictures because I was growing tired from both checking out Kamecon and Light City the night before. Here’s a long shot of the Jim Henson Memorial.

University of Maryland

The cherry blossom trees on campus were in full bloom.

University of Maryland

University of Maryland

Here’s a shot of the Mall.

University of Maryland

One of the terrapin statues that are located on campus.

University of Maryland

March is Women’s History Month, which ended just two days earlier, but there was still this poster featuring the University of Maryland’s famous female alumni including Connie Chung, Dominique Dawes, Gayle King, Sarah Winnemucca, Judith Resnik, Adele H. Stamp, and Carolina Rojas Bahr.

University of Maryland

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Last year I briefly worked for a start-up that was founded by a housemate of a friend of mine. (At the time I wrote in this blog that he was a friend of a friend. In reality the two of them share the same house. I didn’t want to go into too many details about my friend because I didn’t want his home life to be adversely affected by whatever I write in this blog.) Basically the start-up would sell disposable jumpsuits that were pre-sprayed with Sawyer Permethrin spray. I did the administrative tasks, including manually spraying these jumpsuits with the permethrin spray and packing them into plastic bags.

There were weird things about the start-up from the beginning, such as the owner’s insistence on using my Square reader card for all credit card transactions (even though it was connected to my PayPal account and not the start-up’s) instead of getting one for the start-up. But I had let my bullshit guard down mainly because he was my friend’s housemate. On top of it this person was dealing with his own struggles with Lyme disease while also simultaneously dealing with a partner with dementia. If it weren’t for my compassion and softheartedness, I probably would’ve walked out the door way sooner because I grew weary of dealing with the frequent reprimands for any slight mistakes while being discouraged from taking any notes on procedures so I can do my job better. (He expected me to just retain his instructions in my head instead of taking notes.)

Even though I tried to encourage the founder to get a free blogging account, he talked me into writing a post in this very blog instead and I foolishly went along with it. I wrote this post about what I was doing and I included a selfie of me wearing one of the jumpsuits.

firstprototype6

We were preparing for formally rolling out the jumpsuits at the Loudon Lyme 10K/5K/1K Fun Run. When the founder asked me about other events, I mentioned the Greenbelt Green Man Festival that took place the weekend before the Loudon event. By that point it was too late to get a vendor booth but he talked me into wearing one of the jumpsuits to that event and sell them from a large Aldi recyclable shopping bag. Even though I got plenty of attention, I failed to sell a single jumpsuit. The start-up owner wasn’t too concerned about the lack of sales and he assured me that we would sell more at the next event.

I naturally assumed that we would have a vendor booth for the Loudon Lyme event where we would sell the jumpsuits. In fact I even helped out with designing promotional materials that I assumed would be displayed at the booth along with the jumpsuits. It wasn’t until two days before this event I was told that there wouldn’t be a vendor booth. That was how I found out that the founder had this sales plan where you never register for vendor booths at events. Instead you would just show up to these events wearing one of the jumpsuits while selling the others from backpacks—just like I did at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival.

Anyway we failed to sell a single jumpsuit and the person sent me a text message a few days later accusing me of self-sabotage. I was pissed at that point because I had written that blog post promoting the start-up and it was basically too late for me to delete it since it’s common knowledge that what you put online lasts forever. So I wrote a retraction post where I announced a new policy where I would no longer write about work I do for other people until after a project is finished and I provided details as to why I’m no longer with the start-up that I previously wrote about. I basically put that start-up behind me after I wrote that post.

I would occasionally hear from my former boss on Facebook but we didn’t interact very much. A few days ago he tagged my name to a Facebook page that was a sales page selling permethrin-treated jumpsuits. I took a look at that page. It looked like it wasn’t even completed and it didn’t look like it was a real business page. There was no email address, phone number, nor any other information about that business other than the name. There was one post on that page that said “Don’t tick me off” but that was it. Here’s is why this page raised my ire: This page was using my selfie as an avatar, implying that I was the owner of that company. Which meant that the one post on that page had my selfie next to it, implying that I was the one who wrote that.

I sent a message to my former boss asking him if that was his page but he didn’t respond. The next day I decided to send an email my friend asking him if he knew anything about this since they are still housemates. My friend promptly responded with an email where he said that his housemate had not mentioned reviving his jumpsuit business at all nor had he seen any evidence that he had done so (such as seeing an excess amount of jumpsuits lying around the house). I began to think that some unknown sleazy asshole was trying to start some bogus business on Facebook while using my selfie as the face of that fake business and that was why my former boss tagged my name.

So I reported that page to Facebook. After I did that, I sent a message to my former boss thanking him for letting me know about this page and I had reported it to Facebook for using my photo without even telling me. At that point he finally responded saying that, yes, it’s his page and he doesn’t know how to remove my photo that he uploaded on that page without even telling me. He offered to pay me for the use of my image.

Six months after I wrote my original retraction post, I made an update at the end of that post because the founder finally paid me the rest of the money he owed me and I wrote that update to reflect that fact. At the time I wrote:

Would I work for him again? I don’t know. It really depends on a lot of things (such as whether he would do things differently now or not).

After his latest shenanigans with using my selfie as the face of that Facebook page without even telling me fist, I have decided that there’s no way in hell I would work for him again. It was bad enough how he ran that start-up last year. What he recently did is totally sleazy and unethical and I want no part of that.

As a photographer I feel that I really need to speak out on the issue of whether it’s proper to risk your life for a selfie. I’ll admit that there are times when even I take the occasional selfie, such as these.

photo1

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Million Mask March, Washington, DC, November 5, 2013

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

A rare selfie taken at the #marylandfaeriefestival

photo2

At least I’m standing on solid ground when I take selfies. Some people take their selfies a bit further than I ever would. These people, such as Kirill Vselensky and Angela Nikolau, have received a huge following on Instagram because of their penchant for taking selfies from really high places (like the beam of a skyscraper or the edge of a tall mountain).

Then there is this photograph of three teenaged girls, which has made the rounds of Facebook a few times for the past month or so. The girls were standing on a train track when a train whizzed past them on the opposite track. They decided to take a selfie as the train went past while blowing their hair. At the same time another train that was on the same track was approaching the three girls from behind while they were busy taking their selfie. Technically the photograph is well-composed, complete with the light from the oncoming train in the background producing a halo effect around the girls’ heads. It’s the kind of photo that the girls would’ve been proud of.

Unfortunately they didn’t live to enjoy the result of making such a well-composed selfie. The engineers on that oncoming train tried tooting the horn to warn the girls to get off the track but, for some reason that will never be fully known, the girls failed to listen to that train horn. The engineers tried to stop the train but the train hit the girls before it was able to make a full and complete stop. All three girls died as a result.

Sadly this tragedy is not an isolated incident. An Instagram user known as drewsssik had also gained a huge following for his death defying selfies. In 2015 he attempted to make a selfie where it looked like he was falling to his death from a rooftop. He was supposed to be suspended by a rope but the rope snapped and he really fell to his death. He was only 17.

There are plenty of other examples where people have literally died while taking a selfie. Yes, it’s true that there are times throughout history when photographers have literally risked their lives in order to take certain shots. Some of these have become well known, such as this photograph showing the 1968 execution of a Vietcong officer during the Vietnam War. In this case these photographers are trying to reveal the truth about a certain issue or story to as wide an audience as possible. The world would’ve been worse off had these brave photographers not revealed what was going on in a certain situation.

In contrast, dying for a selfie is far more unnecessary than dying to reveal a truth because selfies tend to be more self-indulgent. The people who take these selfies are basically thrill-seekers who want to impress people with their abilities to take selfies while standing from a tall ledge or mountain top. They exhibit a devil-may-care attitude while thinking that they will wow people online with their latest thrilling stunt selfie only to make a fatal error in judgement and they end up having their families bury them.

In short, these thrill-seeking selfie takers are needlessly throwing their lives away for no good reason other than to take a shot that may go viral on Instagram and other social media sites for a very brief time until a different photo or video replaces that shot as the most viral thing on social media.

There are legitimate reasons for risking your life. One is to defend the homeland against a foreign invader. Another is to fight a repressive regime. A third is to try saving someone else’s life in a dangerous situation. Taking a selfie in a dangerous place is NOT a legitimate reason for risking your life.

Think about the three teenaged girls whom I wrote about at the beginning of this post who died needlessly for taking a selfie on a railroad track. Two of them were 15 while the third was 13. They had their lives cut off at a very early age. They will never get to experience such things as getting a driver’s license, falling in love for the first time, going to the senior prom, graduating from high school, going to college or trade school, getting their first job, getting married, having children, traveling to a different location they had never been before, or meeting all kinds of interesting people throughout their lives. They will never get to experience all that life has to offer because of a selfie.

On top of it, their parents had to bear the tragic burden of burying their own children and they will have to live with the sad knowledge that they have outlived their own children for the rest of their lives. Add to the fact that the engineers on that train who tried tooting the horn and stopping the train only to fail to stop that train before it hit the girls will have to live with that nightmare for the rest of their lives. They will continuously ponder what else they could have done to make those girls get off the track while living with such horrible guilt. All this will happen because of a selfie.

If, for some reason, you feel tempted into taking such death-defying selfie, please read and re-read this post before you start risking your life foolishly.

A selfie is not worth dying for.

Santa Claus

 

 

 

 

Ever since I did some serious downsizing in the wake of my husband’s sudden walkout on me five years ago, I’ve been making do with limiting most of my Christmas decorations to a coffee table in my living room. I basically celebrate something I call a Tabletop Christmas. Here’s a picture of my setup that I took in 2012 but it’s still the same this year so I have no problem with reposting it.

Christmas tree in 2012

I’ve written previous blog posts about some of my decorations that I’ve put up, which you can read about at these links below:

Angel Christmas Tree Topper

Christmas angel treetopper

Hippie Merman Ornament

Ginger Cottages Incense Burner

Behnke's Nurseries, December 14, 2012

A Small One-Piece Peruvian Nativity Set

Nativity made in Peru

A Small One-Piece Wooden Nativity Set

My new nativity scene I purchased from Valley View Farms

Two Hedgehog Ornaments That I Originally Purchased When I Owned Spike, My Late Pet Hedgehog

My new hedgehog ornaments I purchased from Valley View Farms

Befana the Witch Glass Ornament

photo18

Ornament Resembling a Stuffed Teddy Bear in a Traditional German Outfit

photo19

A Snowman Bell

photo20

A Robot Nutcracker

photo5

A Fused Glass Gingerbread Man That I Made in a Workshop

Christmas-Ornament,-December-16,-2013

A Fused Glass Tree-Shaped Ornament That I Made in a Workshop

Fused Glass Christmas Ornament

A Vintage Elf That I’ve Owned Long Before the Elf on the Shelf Became This Annual Big Marketing Juggernaut

IMG_20131228_103201787-small

Animatronic Mickey’s Clock Shop

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Tangled Reindeer Which I Customized Myself

Rudolf the Red-Nosed Tangled Reindeer

Steampunk Snowman Which I Customized Myself

Steampunk Snowman

Macy’s Christmas Ornament Featuring a Mickey Mouse Balloon and the World Trade Center

2000 Macy's Christmas Ornament

Lace Moose Ornament

photo11

Owl Made From a Tiny Gourd

Owl Gourd Christmas Ornament

A Delftware Style Ornament

photo94

There’s only one other place where I also make a token observation to Christmas besides my living room coffee table. I have a wooden Santa Mickey Mouse puppet that hangs outside throughout the holiday season. That’s my only outdoor decoration I have and it’s one that I previously wrote about back in 2014.

photo1

And now, for the first time in this blog, here’s a selfie of me wearing a Santa Mickey hat and a red Christmas sweater posting next to my Santa Mickey puppet.

photo1

For added measure, here’s another selfie.

photo2

This morning I went to church (Christmas fell on a Sunday this year) then I went to a local Chinese restaurant where I ate lunch at its usual special-priced weekend buffet. Here is what I got in my fortune cookie: A message that said “You will pass a difficult test that will make you happier.”

photo3

Hmmmm. I’ll see about that. It would be cool if that fortune came true because I can use some happy times right about now.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12

The night before I was at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland attending a Halloween dance dressed in my Rainbow Dash hoodie. The following morning I went to Sunday service but I decide to jettison the My Little Pony garb in favor of wearing a witch hat with a black cloak. (The hat was one that my then-husband bought for me years ago. The cloak was also something that he purchased for me at the annual Maryland Renaissance Festival a few years before he left me.) I took a couple of selfies before I went to church.

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Here is a Halloween pumpkin that my church displayed at the Sunday service. (The flaming chalice is a symbol of the Unitarian Universalist faith.)

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

After the service ended I decorated my trunk with a lot of small Halloween decorations that I brought from home.

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Here are the other decorated trunks.

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Here are a few photos of the Trunk or Treat participants.

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat, October 30, 2016

As you can see, a good time was had by all! 🙂

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