Month: July 2011

City Smart -VS- Country clever: Are we all stupid..? (intro)

I’m a Baltimore City native, and will always see myself that way.

Born and raised in the heart of the city, in a neighborhood known as Hampden in the Northern-half of Central Baltimore, the majority of my first 40 years was spent there, except for a few years in the early 70’s to join the military (and some bumming around Florida afterwards), then back to the only home I knew.

Point is: I’m a city boy. I grew up knowing how to dodge rats (of all types) and how to read a threat in someone from a distance and basically ignore most everyone else.       Baltimore was dirty and growing more violent every year, and I secretly dreamed of snow-capped mountains and spring-fed lakes beside grassy fields.

Today, with all six children grown and gone off to add more grandchildren to Santa’s list, I’m finally living that dream.

We moved to West Virginia in 1999 as a last-ditch effort to keep my youngest from following my juvenile footsteps, a path that rarely ends well…and it worked.

In light of all of my ridiculous misconceptions, West Virginia has turned out to be the biggest surprise of my lifetime, and our time here has only just begun.

Large, beautiful homes set on grassy open lots are the norm here in Martinsburg, which contrasts sharply with my childhood cityboy visions of filthy trailers and unwashed babies playing in a puddle with their only toy, a favorite stick.

Martinsburg has undergone some sudden changes in the last decade or two; First a growth-spurt in housing, and then a sudden influx of strangers from neighboring states who came to snap-up some amazing deals on these new houses. So, while we both deal with our own growing pains, we’re also growing on each other at the same time.

Locals had their own misconceptions, I’m sure; City folks will bring arrogance and violence to their peaceful little towns, making them feel slow and stupid at every opportunity and drive a wedge into their average generation gap that will alienate their children from their small town ideals with promises of city-glitz and fast thrills…and then move on like a plaque of locusts, leaving behind ghettos, gangs, and permanently destroyed property values.

We each, the locals who have grown up here and never so much as peeked outside their own back yards, and the ‘strangers’ who have chosen Martinsburg to be home in the last 10-15 years, have our own way of thinking and of getting things done.  We tend to bump heads on occasion, partly because tolerance for the differences of others is not a priority lesson in small towns where everyone knows everyone else, and equally because cities train people to ‘cut through the crowd’ and generally ignore the toes that they step on as we’re getting our way.

We’re both right, and we’re both wrong. Learning to get along is a priority for me, and my hope is that my new neighbors will adopt the same philosophy and help me find that level ground where we can mesh.

Our differences are prominent in local traffic:  The locals enjoy the remnants of the “Stop and Smell the Roses” mindset of their grandparents that has sustained the small-town mentality of the region since it was a farming community, when waving or stopping to talk to your neighbors was the norm…and along comes all these ‘city folks’ who want to speed things up, as well as making life more expensive and a lot less friendly.

I’m trying to learn how to slow down, and I freely admit that it feels wonderful to finally begin letting my guards down for the first time in 40 years. Learning to enjoy the journey will take time, but I really do want to at least occasionally smell a rose or two…not really ready to stop for it yet, but slowing down to catch a whiff now and then is a positive first step.

The true enemy here is Evolution, and it’s a naturally-occurring phenomenon that would have caught up to this region no matter if we had stayed in the cities or not…but I don’t mind accepting my share of the blame if that will make the transition easier.

Galapagos 2012

Galapagos 2012.

Boobies, albatrosses and seabirds

The first wildlife I encountered in the Galapagos were boobies. I had photographed boobies in Europe and Hawaii before, but I quickly realized that the Galapagos is one of the really great sites for boobies. From the first minute I entered the first visitor site, I started photographing Nazca and Blue-footed boobies. Later I also photographed a large number of Red-footed boobies. The timing of my visit was good, since many of the boobies were exhibiting breeding behaviour, with pair bonding activity, nest building and also some newly hatched chicks. There were also Frigatebirds – not just a few, but thousands! Frigatebirds have the largest wingspan of any bird in relation to body weight. With stunning aerial acrobatics as well as impressive courtship rituals, I had impressive experiences with these red warriors. One of my main goals foe this Galapagos trip was to explore and photograph the Waved albatross. The Waved albatross is endemic to the Espanjola island, southeast in the Galapagos archipelago. It was extremely interesting to observe their courtship behaviour with oversized beaks. The variety of species of seabirds is not the best, but the native seabirds are very impressive and photogenic. Some of the species I observed were the Elliott’s storm-petrel, the Galapagos Shearwater, the Brown Noddy, the Red-billed Tropicbird, the Lava Gull and the Swallow-tailed Gull.

The Craze Over ‘Toning’ Shoes Is, Well, Over | Moneyland |

A year ago, consumers eagerly handed over upwards of $200 for each pair of special fitness “toning” shoes that, thanks to designs featuring padded, wobbly, uneven soles, would supposedly tighten buns, thighs, calves, and abs. Nowadays, amid widespread claims that they don’t come close to working as advertised (and may even be dangerous), toning shoes are more likely to be selling for $50 or less, and shoemakers are unloading millions of them at a loss.

via The Craze Over ‘Toning’ Shoes Is, Well, Over | Moneyland |

U.K. Bans Two Retouched Makeup Ads For Being ‘Misleading’ – TIME NewsFeed

U.K. Bans Two Retouched Makeup Ads For Being ‘Misleading’ – TIME NewsFeed.

Turns out, not even celebrities have skin this nice.

A British advertising watchdog is cracking down on two L’Oreal foundation ads after a Liberal Democrat MP, Jo Swinson, complained that they pass off airbrushing as makeup results. Swinson, who’s known for crusading against advertisers who portray unrealistic and “misleading” images of women, has brought complaints against a Julia Roberts Lancôme ad and a Christy Turlington Maybelline ad (both Lancôme and Maybelline are owned by L’Oreal) to the Advertising Standards Authority
Read more:

Angry Long Island Woman Gives Local Reporter a Very Wet Welcome

Angry Long Island Woman Gives Local Reporter a Very Wet Welcome

Yesterday, News 12 Long Island reporter Christine Insinga visited the home of a woman accused of locking her 13-month-old daughter in the backseat of a sweltering Mercedes. But instead of a simple “no comment” from the woman who answered the door, Insinga was instead treated to a face full of flying water. Which is funny, because that’s exactly what the little girl could have used when she was locked inside a car in 100 degree heat. [via TVSpy]

via Angry Long Island Woman Gives Local Reporter a Very Wet Welcome.

Casey Anthony: the Madea complex meets the age of social media

Horrific (alleged) crime aside, Casey Anthony’s case is not a shock.

She joins many infamous female murderers (serial killers), including;

> Julie Schenecker: January 2011, shot her two teenagers because they were “mouthy and disrespectful”.

> China Arnold: The 31-year old Ohio mom who killed her 28-day old baby by cooking her in the microwave.

> Andrea Yates: Texas mom who in 2001 drowned her 5 children in the tub.

> Katherine Knight: Stabbed her husband 37 times, and then tried to feed him to their two children.

> Susan Smith: Claimed in 1994 that her two sons had been kidnapped, but later confessed that she had driven them into a lake where they drowned.

…there are a few more, and will no doubt be more to come.

So, what makes Casey Anthony special?  Not much, as far as I can see.  I’ve heard a few media-types call her a “hottie”, but frankly, I don’t see it.  She’s not a disfigured elephant-woman, but “hot” is clearly a relative term.

Apparently, her real claim to fame is in being the first mother accused of a Madea-complex murder in the social-media age.

The Madea complex is an accepted psychological term, based on an ancient Greek myth (and Euripides’ play) wherein Madea, wife of Jason, murders her two sons out of fury and revenge when she discovers he has abandoned her.

Madea loved her sons, but the overwhelming emotions of the moment became temporarily stronger than that love. Jason loved his sons deeply, more than life itself, and hurting him on such a scale became far more valuable to her in the moment.

Medea is the figure against whom women who kill their children are generally measured. It is against her sin that theirs are calculated. It is against her motives that theirs are understood.

Women who kill their children are compared, then, not to an historically substantiated event or person, but to a mythical being, half mortal, half God, whose story may form part of the Jason and the Argonauts cycle which has been told for centuries, but which is still a story nonetheless.

Infanticide, or filicide, is deeply imbued with these impossible origin myths; these are not crimes in the ordinary sense of the word, merely transgressing the boundaries of human made laws. Rather, they are terrifying acts which strike, like Medea’s sword, at the heart of civilisation itself. We seem unable to approach a mother’s killing of her children in any other than the most hyperbolic way.

Is Casey Anthony special?  Hell to the No.  Facebook and Twitter, along with the media maggots who have been feasting on Caylee’s bones for ratings, have granted her celebrity status, but special she is not.

I for one believe that this lull while we wait to see who wins the bidding war for her first interview is the perfect time for all of us to step outside the circus tent for a breath of fresh air. To clear our heads and choose to get back to our lives.

The Heartless Harlot is auctioning her story in the belief that she is a hot commodity because every American wants to hear her speak.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  First, I have zero interest in seeing her face ever again, especially if she is getting paid to show it. Secondly, I guarantee that you won’t hear the truth, because she doesn’t do truth.  So, what would be the point?

A smarter liar might actually provide some degree of entertainment with a well-crafted story, but she is little more than a lucky idiot. When this idiot finally locks-in her multi-million dollar interview deal, and the promos are being pumped out every hour on the hour, that’s when we need to flash the station the collective bird by demanding that they do NOT show us 30 minutes of scripted lies and more irritating pictures of her smiling at us, made possible by the murder of an infant whose bones were not laid to rest for three years.

The television (and radio) stations are indeed a multi-million dollar, privately-owned business, but the terms of their license require that they serve the best interest of the public. This license is temporary, and needs to be re-newed regularly.  Rarely does any group feel a strong enough resentment against a station to attempt to petition for a block of this renewal…but that is exactly the power we must threaten to wield when the time of the Anthony interview draws near.



* Technorati code:  CUKUHH7M5HCR

Amy Winehouse joins the exclusive 27 Forever Club

A mere twenty seven years into her life, Amy Winehouse has been admitted into the most exclusive private club known to Boomer Rock.

Alongside immortal musicians of our era like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Curt Kobain, and Brian Jones, all of whom died in their twenty seventh year and at the pinnacle of their musical careers, Amy Winehouse and her soulful voice have become the newest addition to this list of master rockers who will remain Twenty Seven forever.

This is our hero’s club, if you will. We don’t have many left to represent the Elite of the Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll generation. We were the amateurs, they were the Pros.

We scored what we could afford now and then, and risked our lives with nearly every buy…but the Pros, our heroes, had their drugs delivered on a silver platter, by the pound. By private courier. Directly to their party mansion.

These were our heroes.  Live Fast, Die Young, Leave a good-looking corpse.

They partied til the sun came up, trashed hotel rooms that we couldn’t afford, and continued to pump out music fueled by the lifestyle…and we loved them.  Still do.

When they died, we cried. No one can fill the gaping hole that each artist left in our lives.  Shooting stars are like that.