Graffiti is Art

The dictionary defines graffiti as something so simple and understated. “Writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place.”  That graffiti is comparable to a scratch on a table at the local Chinese restaurant. Yet when art is defined you understand the beauty of its purpose and its place in this world. “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power”. When I read that personally, I think of all the graffiti I have ever seen. That in every piece of work there is an emotional power that overcomes me.
Not every piece of graffiti is going to be some form of tagging or gang related. Sometimes it’s put out there where everyone can see so that it makes you think. Often in my old history in high school, we went over what the comics from the cold war meant. That they were some piece of art that was to make you laugh but there was also a deeper mean that was true. To see the meaning, you had to look longer than just a quick glance. Graffiti is the same way. One of my favorite pieces is in Chicago. It’s a beautiful piece of art that blends the cultures of women in Chicago. Together we are stronger.
As you take a deeper look you see the stereotypes of each woman. The oppression that their culture has placed on them. Take one more look though. The piece is only outlining what has made them strong and what has brought them to be. There is no definition of women that will explain us all but here you see the wrinkles that brought wisdom to all generations to come, the color the brings expressions of the heart, and the power that created women with a voice.
Now the typical everyday graffiti still has its story. Somewhere out there someone is fighting for their constitutional right of expression without fear of repercussions. Just as everyone else we all want our place in this world. We want to be heard and expressed. Some people use social media, some use their voice, and other use art. Try some graffiti of your own and feel the confidence it brings. Graffiti is art.
-Abigail

How to Fix a Sticky Grinder

GrinderGot a sticky grinder? Don’t have anything but hot water? That’s cool we got this!

 

  1. Separate the top 2 chambers form the bottom, so that you are left with only parts that have teeth.
  2. Remove as much plant matter as possible using what ever you have available. Paper clips are good.
  3. Once you have removed everything you care to keep, put the 2 halves back together.
  4. Turn on your water. You want it to be hot, but not to burn your self. Again, NOT SO HOT YOU HURT OR BURN YOUR SELF!
  5. With the 2 halves of your grinder together place it under the water with the open side up so that water can get in.
  6. Start to slowly turn your grinder just as you would when you grind up your herb of choice, only upside down. Keep the water running into the grinder.
  7. Take your 2 halves apart and lay them on a window ledge, teeth up, to dry.
  8. Repeat this as necessary and you should save your self time and frustration throughout your life.

JPope & Funk Friday

If you want someone who is real and doesn’t give two fucks about your opinion then you want Jpope & Funk Friday. I truly have no other way to put Jpope’s style and attitude than REAL 100% in your face. If you like Lauryn Hill then you will love Jpope and Funk Friday. I had the opportunity to see them perform at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore, MD. During her performance she yelled out to the crowed how many of y’all voted for Trump?……. After a short pause and no one willing to admit to the stupid mistake they had made (being a Trump supporter) she laughed and then asked again how many of y’all voted for Trump? A small crowed in the back got their balls up and cheered out she quickly silenced them by saying “Fuck all of y’all” and faded into the next song gracefully. Jpope and Funk Friday have become one of my favorite groups to just turn on and vibe to at any point of the day they combine an old school funk feel with the amazing lyrics of Jpope, that leave you begging for more. We where able to speak with Jpope after the show as soon as you walk up to her she will greet you like a long time friend and is more than willing to give you her outlook on life as well as listen to your opinion. What I took away from the conversation was that no one should live in fear, fear of prosecution based on your skin color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or income. I would now demand you to check them out.    Reminiscing by J Pope and Funk Friday

-M.Mclaughli Jr.

The Greater Brunswick BBQ Throwdown

 

When I left my house in South Central PA on March 4th, it was @20 degrees. The BBQ safe_imagejudging was held outdoors right next to the railroad tracks in Brunswick, MD. When I arrived at the judge’s site at 9:30, it was 25 degrees. My greatest concern was staying warm until the entries were turned in at noon.

The problem with cooking BBQ on a wood fired smoker in such cold weather is maintaining the heat level you need to get your entries done on time and keeping them warm until judging. It had been as low as 18 degrees during the night and when the cooks got up in the morning they discovered that their wash water had frozen. They have to maintain warm water and sterilized water in order to comply with Health Department standards for safe food. So they set out to get things heated up and get their bodies moving in the chilly morning air.

The judges meeting began at 10:30 am and we discussed the conditions of the day and how they would affect judging. Once the Judge’s Oath was administered we had about 30 minutes before the entries would arrive at the judging area. Most of us discovered that it was a little warmer in the Sunshine than it was inside the judge’s tent (if you could find a place out of the wind).

It was a little surprising that people began arriving around 11 am. They could walk along the street where the contestants were and see them getting ready for turn-in17098423_10154148121465738_8565991092155872245_n.jpg. They could also shop where the vendors had space to sell items. A few people even stuck their heads in the judge’s tent, although I suspect they were just looking for a place out of the wind and cold.

Every few minutes a train would pass and give us several blasts from the horn, just to wake us up and let us know they were there. You know that caused several comments. But, that was OK because judging was about to begin. We would judge each entry on Appearance, Taste and Tenderness.

Entries began arriving at 11:55 am and judges were encouraged that the meat was warm and tasty. The cold had little affect on the veteran BBQers. Chicken was judged at noon, Pork Ribs at 12:30, Pork at 1:00, and Brisket at 1:30. There were some fantastic entries in each category. Old Virginia Smoke won the Chicken category with a perfect score of 180, Pork Ribs was won by Beer Meets Grill with a score of 175.44, Pork went to Wolf’s Revenge BBQ with a perfect 180, and Brisket went to LO’-N- SLO’ BBQ with at 177.1544. These were fantastic scores given the conditions of the day. There were 50 BBQ teams competing for prize money, andwhen all of the scores were compiled, the top 5 finishers were:

  1. OLD VIRGINIA SMOKE (Grand Champion) 691.9888OVS.jpg
  2. WOLF’S REVENGE BBQ (Reserve GC)          678.2168
  3. RHODE HOG BBQ                                               677.6684
  4. LIFE IS GOOD BUT BBQ IS BETTER               677.6572
  5. LO’-N- SLO’ BBQ                                               675.9316

We are very thankful for those who worked so hard on a cold weekend, with special thanks going to contest organizer Beth Johnson, who did an outstanding job for a first time event. The Kansas City Barbeque Society Reps were Bob and Angela McKee from Germantown, Maryland. We all had a great time and by the time we left Brunswick, it was almost 35 balmy degrees.

Roger Fair

Meditation

When people think of meditation they generally see someone sitting cross-legged on a beach or on top of a mountain. But I was slapped in the face recently by my own narrow-mindedness. My wife and five-year old son went on a day hike/camping trip (my son’s first camping trip) and I started to see everyone out at the break of dawn getting in their boats to go fishing. I have known about people hunting, fishing, way early in the morning because it’s the best time to do so. But it wasn’t until we stopped for lunch by the river on or camping trip that I realized that all these morning rituals where a form of meditation in themselves. Sitting quietly in a or up in a tree stand boat at four in the morning is in my opinion definitely a form of meditation. So I started to think about other rituals do we as humans that may be considered a form of meditation. First thing to pop up in my mind was wake and bake or any time of the day you get to sit down and enjoy a toke or two. Think about it: deep calming breathes in and out letting go of the stress of the day, you’re just adding a little herbal inhalant to your deep breaths. Maybe that’s not your thing maybe you go on long walks/runs and find our self focusing on your breath or the pain in your calves. This can be a form of meditation and actually help you get through the pain faster, among many other reasons running can leave you laughing for no reason just because of the endorphins. Maybe you like to take a long quite drive just enjoying the sound of the engine clearing your mind. Maybe your only time to your self is in the shower where you sit for as long as possible just trying to clear your mind of all the day has brought. In the end what I’m trying to get at is that most people seek out some form of meditation in their life, whether it’s fishing, running, hitting the shower, or just going for a drive, we all seem to seek out some form of meditation, some kind of peace in our life. Life is short but we have plenty of time if we can just learn not to care about the things that hold us back in life and focus on the things that bring us joy and make us truly happy.

 

-M. McLaughlin Jr.

Trump Calls for Zero Tolerance Policy on Violence Against Police

Trump spoke the Major Cities Chief’s Association and Major Counties Sheriff’s Association at a joint conference in Washington on Wednesday morning, during which he defended his immigration order and his proposal to deny funding to sanctuary cities. Recently, Trump has come under criticism from these associtations who released a joint statement along with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, expressing “strong reservations” about the order. They argue that it will make it harder for police to find and prosecute violent criminals because immigrants are less likely to cooperate with police investigations, provide witness testimonies and report crimes if sanctuary protections are eliminated. The President used his speech as an opportunity to pander to law enforcement and argue that the immigration ban will actually make it easier for officers to do their jobs because it will “stop the drugs from pouring into our cities”. He asked police and the public to turn in illegal immigrants to homeland security saying, “I want you to turn in the bad ones”. In addition, he associated violence in Chicago, with illegal immigration, saying that, “many of the problems [there] are caused by gang members, many of whom are not even legally in our country”. Although over a dozen American cities have a higher per capita murder rate, Trump has called out Chicago specifically four times so far in his presidency, comparing the violence there to the war zones in the middle east and threatening to “send in the feds”. The president also proposed a zero tolerance policy for violence against law enforcement during the speech. He cited the incident in Dallas in which 5 officers were killed and said that “those who demonize law enforcement or who use the actions of a few… are hurting the very people that say they want to help”. Over the years, an increasing amount of research on zero tolerance policies in schools has concluded that there is little to no evidence that they have any effect in reducing violence. A study done at the Indiana Education Policy Center in 2000 found that “harsher punishments may even invoke a ‘go for broke’ mentality in students i.e. if they know they will be suspended or expelled without question, they will try to commit the most severe form of the offense, or commit additional offenses in addition to their initial act.” and that “minority students are actually less prone to serious offenses related to drugs, alcohol, vandalism, etc. and more likely to receive harsher punishments for milder, more general problems”. If a zero tolerance policy is put into place regarding violence against law enforcement, it is improbable that it will do anything to protect officers, more likely, it will only increase the severity of existing violence and exacerbate the systematic prejudice against minorities by police.

C.McLaughlin

Trump’s First Two Weeks

As soon as they entered office, the Trump administration immediately got busy pumping out legislation on everything from immigration to financial regulation. With new White House press releases, executive orders(and the protests incited by said orders) seeming to be in the news everyday, along with the rumors of laws could potentially get passed, it can be hard to understand and keep up with everything that’s actually happening. So, here is a break-down of everything that the Trump Administration has done, so far, in their first two weeks.

 

Immigration

Trump’s first executive action in office was to change immigration policy, and add agents to the Enforcement and Removal office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency . The U.S. already detains more than four hundred thousand people a year in over two hundred detention centers around the country. There, immigrants, including children, are subjected to conditions of confinement, denied access to medical care, legal counsel and family contact. More than 150 people have died in these centers(sixty two percent of which are privately owned) since 2003. In the past many of these people were allowed to stay in the U.S. on their own and wait for either an asylum interview, or a court date to determine residency status. However, the new order that was enacted requires all unauthorized immigrants to be detained. The administration also expanded the prioritized deportation of criminals to include those merely charged with a crime and reinstated the Secure Communities giving them the ability to deport and immigrant in jail.

 

Refugee Ban

On date, an executive order was signed suspending the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for one hundred twenty days and end the Syrian Refugee Admissions Program indefinitely. The order also blocked immigrants and visa holders from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan for ninety days. The refugee quota for 2017 was cut in half, and Trump stated that “religious minorities” would be prioritized for the remaining spots. Immediately following the order, protests were held at major airports in cities around the country. Forty separate lawsuits were filed against the order, and on Friday night, Judge James Robart of the Western District of Washington ruled of one of these cases, issuing a temporary restraining order that forces the federal government to stop enforcing the ban, effectively undoing the legislation. This, however, will does not reinstate the sixty to one hundred thousand visas that have already been revoked.

 

Government Agencies

A hiring freeze was put in place in the federal government, and a regulatory freeze was implemented in all agencies, meaning that no new regulations can move forward without approval from the new administration. The administration also temporarily suspended all new business activities at the Department of Agriculture, including any press releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds and social media content. This came after the official account of the Nation Parks Service, a bureau of the department, retweeted a photo that compared the crowd gathered on the National Mall for Trump with the much larger gathering that stood in the same spot eight years earlier for President Barack Obama’s swearing-in.

 

Foreign Affairs

In response to a ballistic missile test conducted by the country of Iran, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on more than two dozen people and Iranian companies. National Security Advisor, David Flynn, said that, “The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over.” Iran’s foreign ministry, however, declared the sanctions to be “illegitimate” and insists nothing was done to violate the nuclear deal made between Iran and the U.S. because the missiles tested were not designed to be capable of delivering nuclear warheads. The president also approved a raid in Yemen last week in which an eight-year-old American girl, a member of seal team six, and several other non-combatant men, women and children were killed, resulting in a death toll of nearly sixty. When speaking to NBC, a military official said of the raid, “Almost everything went wrong”.

 

Economy

The new administration has also ordered the Department of Labor to reconsider the Fiduciary rule which requires retirement advisors to act in the best interest of their clients. The rule was designed to be a basic consumer protection preventing brokers from taking advantage of vulnerable consumers. Trump has directed the department to investigate whether or not the rule may “adversely affect” investors’ ability to access financial advice, and to rescind it if it does. In addition he ordered the Treasury Department to start undoing the financial reform regulations outlined in the Dodd-Frank bill that was enacted following the 2008 financial crisis. Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform said of the order, “The administration apparently plans to turn over financial regulation to Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs, and make it easier for them and other big banks like Wells Fargo to steal from their customers and destabilize the economy. That betrays the promises Trump made to stand up to Wall Street, and it will have dire consequences if he’s successful.”

 

Reproductive Rights

The Mexico City policy, also known as the “global gag rule”, denies federal funding to any foreign family planning organizations that “provide, support or discuss abortion”, even if they are using funds from non-US government sources for the operations and even if abortion is completely legal in their countries. The policy was first put in place by President Reagan in 1984 and has since been repealed, reinstated and repealed again – in 1993, 2001 and 2009, respectively. Whenever it is in effect, it causes clinics around the world to close, service are reduced and there are more unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions. The Trump administration has not only reinstated the policy, they have also expanded it to include all global health organizations, not only family planning centers could mean endangering maternal and child health programs, efforts to fight the Zika virus and the expansive PEPFAR program which was intended stop HIV/AIDS and has been hailed as the most successful health aid program in US history.

Other Things

In his first two weeks Trump has also cancelled all ads promoting ObamaCare and ordered all agencies to waive any fees and regulations imposed by ObamaCare “to the maximum extent permitted by law”, in congruency with his plans to dismantle and replace the system. He has also encouraged Energy Transfers Partners to continue construction on the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline and hinted that the TransCanada Company could reapply for a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline with success. In addition he’s nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, who has long a record of siding with corporations over workers in court cases.

Now that Donald Trump has been elected, gone are the promises to “drain the swamp” and “improve the lives of the working people” and here are the Goldman-Sachs and ExxonMoblie executives-turned-cabinet-members. With his first two weeks barely behind him, Trump has already set the tone for what we can expect from the rest of his term, and it is not far off from what his critics predicted.

C. McLaughlin