No Sympathy for a Burning Wells Fargo Building

As riots burn Minneapolis, I heard folks torched a Wells Fargo building.

Good!

Borrowed from Star Tribune.

I realize this is the improper way to behave. Arson is wrong. Arson can kill. Arson lowers me to the level of those I despise. Yet, I am still happy folks torched a Wells Fargo building.

My happiness is personal.  Somewhere around 2005 or 2006, my late mother took out a second mortgage from Wells Fargo.  When she died in 2016, she nearly owed Wells Fargo one hundred and thirty-nine thousand dollars, this for a house my mother bought for around seventy-two thousand dollars in 1998. The life insurance my mom left couldn’t pay off the debt.  So, eventually the house foreclosed.  Last year, after some renovations, that same house sold for over two hundred thousand dollars.

Readers don’t have to agree with my feelings. Yet, I saw the need to explain them. Fuck Wells Fargo!

It wasn’t just my mom, either. Wells Fargo screwed many other African-American homeowners, including Hispanic homeowners.  Bank employees steered African-American and Hispanic homeowners to subprime mortgages. Subprime mortgages are intended for folks with low credit ratings.  Also, such mortgages have a higher interest rate than prime mortgages. Yet, even though they qualified for a prime mortgage, many African-American and Hispanic homeowners were steered towards subprime mortgages, anyway.  Because of the high interest rate, folks couldn’t keep up with the monthly payments, leading to foreclosures.

When she was alive, there was a point my mother almost did lose her home.  This was a few years after she was given a second mortgage. A relative gave my mother the money to save the house.

Still, that proved only a temporary fix. After my mom’s death, the family found out about that huge debt.

After my personal experience, I could give two shits about a burning Wells Fargo bank. I’m not saying it’s right to burn property. Yet, fuck Wells Fargo.

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Black People, High Blood Pressure and COVID-19

In a previous blog, I feared losing my job. As of this writing, the world is experiencing a recession. I always get fired during recessions.

Now, another fear adds on to my first one.  I have high blood pressure.  With high blood pressure, a person is more likely to catch COVID-19.  Not only are symptoms more likely worse for them, people with high blood pressure are also more likely to die from COVID-19.

Underlying conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes partly explains why African-Americans are dying at a high rate from COVID-19.  I live near Orlando.  Here’s an April statistic about Orange County, Florida.  Black people make up 22.7% of the population. Yet, accounted for 42% of Orange County’s Covid-19 deaths.

These grim realities force me to take COVID-19 seriously.  When I go to a store, I wear a face mask. When I pick up takeout food, I wear a mask when I enter the building. When I take walks in a park, I keep my distance.

Okay, once, I did break my own distance rule. I was walking at a park. There, I saw a cute female friend. I was depressed. So, I hugged her. COVID-19 or not, I was getting my hug.

Now, back to the seriousness. I also take my meds. I have to keep my blood pressure below 130/80.  Most times, this has been successful. Other times, it hasn’t.

One last thing, I don’t go out much.  I rarely even take the walks I mentioned previously. After work, I would stop by a grocery store. Then, I would come home. If I’m not working, I’m usually home.

At the moment, Florida is going through a reopening phase. Certain businesses are opening up.

I don’t trust that, even if the businesses are trying to be safe.  As of this writing, there is no vaccine for COVID-19.  No vaccine? Well, my black ass is going to keep wearing my mask and keep staying home.

Image by Linda Bartlett

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Happy Past Jobs Fired Me

In the previous blog, I mentioned both Wal-Mart and Kmart firing me during economic recessions.  Also, in past blogs, I mentioned Beacham Nightclub firing me. All three incidents left psychological damage I never fully recovered from.

As of this writing, I now suffer paranoia about me losing my current job.  Right now, as far as I know, I am not handing my current employer any ammunition to fire my ass.  Actually, almost everyone respects me at my current job, including my superiors. Still, job paranoia messes with me.

Yet, the current pandemic has me counting my blessings. Unlike the three mentioned jobs, I don’t deal with the public. The only contact my employer has with the public is shipping, email and phone. Also, my co-workers and I are usually working six feet or more from one another.

Because of their financial problems, Kmart would’ve eventually laid me off anyway.  The store where I worked closed over twenty years ago.

Yet, working at Wal-Mart would’ve placed me in virus territory. In fact, a Massachusetts Walmart closed due to 81 of the 391 employees testing positive for Covid-19.

As for the Beacham, I would’ve lost money.  Florida bars and nightclubs were shut down. With that source of income gone, how was I going to pay bills?

It’s been said before.  Bad luck is sometimes a blessing in disguise. I guess all three incidents of me being fired proved to be true.

Image by TheDigitalArtist.

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Rising US Unemployment Scaring the Shit Out of Me

I have been employed since November 2019.  On Facebook, I see friends’ posts about unemployment. Some posts talk about being laid off. This due to virus lock-downs. Some posts talk about hard times getting unemployment benefits: unemployment website crashing down and can’t reach unemployment people on the phone.

Seeing some of my friend’s posts, I keep quiet about having a job.  I fear stirring up jealousy and resentment.

Still, I am experiencing something unusual.  You see, among my social circles, I am usually the one without a job.  At least, that’s how it looked. Now, things seem to have reversed.

True enough, my job doesn’t pay a lot of money. Yet, it pays the bills, fills my prescriptions and puts food in my mouth.

The rising unemployment still scares the shit out of me.  Right now, it’s at 14.7%. That’s over 23 million Americans unemployed!

Will I be joining them?

In the past, in two separate incidents, I was fired during or around a recession.  After a recession that lasted from July 1990 to March 1991, Kmart fired me. Years later, during the recession that lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, Walmart fired me.

After being at both places for years, it was only during economic hard times when folks all of a sudden had a problem with me. 

Will this same shit happen to me at my current job? Who knows?

Right now, I feel thankful.

Photo by Phil Campbell.

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Music Memorabilia Pics from Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach

Earlier this month, I rode with friends to Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach, located on the shores of Daytona Beach, Florida.

There our friends Oak Hill Drifters played a good mixture of rockabilly, classic country, western swing, late 50s-early 60s R&B and jump blues. They performed this on a stage located outside behind the hotel.

Oak Hill Drifters at Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach

Nothing against live music. Yet, as usual during these events, I got antsy. So, I started walking around inside the hotel. That’s when I noticed the music memorabilia. Not only is it located in the lobby, music memorabilia is also located on each floor of the hotel.

I photographed some of the memorabilia. As I introduce pics, some of the words are from the plaques I saw located near the pieces.

Sheryl Crow’s Velvet Pants: “For more than 25 years, Sheryl Crow has been at the vanguard of the contemporary roots music scene and enjoyed a career that’s both commercially successful and critically acclaimed. These stylish velvet pants were part of her stage wardrobe”

Racing Outfits Worn by Matthew and Gunner Nelson: “As the sons of rock legend Rick Nelson, Matthew and Gunner Nelson had big shoes to fill when they embarked on a music career in the early ’90s. They scored big with the #1 hit, “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection” in 1990 and became mainstays on both the radio and MTV. The boys wore the racing suits when they participated in a charity in Nashville on October 8, 1997.

Matthew actually won the race!”

Racing Outfit Worn by Stephen Pearcy of Ratt: “With hits like “Round and Round”, “Lay It Down” and “Wanted Man”, Los Angles-based group Ratt were among the most successful acts of the ’80s. Frontman Stephen Pearcy owned and wore this racing outfit.”

Pro-Keds Sneakers Signed by Joan Jett: From her time with the Runaways in the ’70s to her wildly successful solo career, Joan Jett has been one of the most influential women in rock. She signed these classic high-top sneakers.”

Fringed Jacket Worn by Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones: “Though he came to fame in the late ’60s with The Jeff Beck Group and Faces, guitarist Ron Wood joined the Rolling Stones in 1975 and has been with them ever since. He wore this fringed jacket to his 50th birthday party in 1975.”

An Eddie Van Halen (from the group Van Halen) Guitar: “Few guitarists in history has had the impact of Eddie Van Halen. His incendiary style and effortless virtuosity changed the landscape of rock guitar. This instrument is from Eddie’s personal collection. It’s a prototype built by Wayne Charvel.”

Harley Davidson Hat Signed by Madonna: “This classic Harley Davidson hat was owned and signed by the one and only Madonna.”

Outfit Worn by Rihanna: “International pop superstar Rihanna wore this Adam Selman-designed outfit on stage during her epic ‘Diamonds’ world tour in 2013.”

Bikini Worn by Taylor Swift: “Though she began her career as a teenage country star, Taylor Swift quickly asserted herself as one of the dominant pop stars of the 21st century. She wore this bikini while celebrating 4th of July holiday in 2015.”

So, there you have it, a sample of the music memorabilia at Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach.

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My Housing Crisis Fixed!

Not my house!

My last blog involved me having to leave my rented spot in five days.  Since then, I have successfully relocated.  A friend is allowing me to sleep in a spare room until I get back on my feet. Another friend had offered me their home also.  Shout outs to that person!  Another shout out to a friend who helped me in another particular way!

Before I moved out, I sparked a conversation with the landlord/roommate, something that gained me more days in the spot. Yet, instead of milking those days, I moved out on Day 6.   Remember, I was supposed to move out on Day 5.  On Day 6, my house host picked me up and I packed my stuff in their car.

I won’t say where I’m currently living, at least not right now.  When Facebook friends start seeing my posts, they’ll figure it out. 

The lesson I learned from this? Don’t suffer in silence. Even if you don’t have the answers, at least let friends know your current situation.  Some may help you. Some may send you positive vibes, prayers, etc.  

Others show their true colors, which is a good thing. In the past, when their ass was in a sling, they wanted you to damned near kill yourself for them. Now, when you yourself need help, they either half-ass help you or won’t help you at all. But they sure do know how to give you unsolicited advice and criticize you. Now, I have the reason to separate myself from these folks and tell them what black sexual organ they can suck.

Because they have their own problems, I do realize folks can do only so much. If they could have helped me, they would’ve. Those people I have no problems with. It’s the selfish types who can suck my black sexual organ.

When I posted my last blog, I really wasn’t expecting anything. I just wanted to vent.

Still, I am thankful for the help I have received in the past few days.

Pic by n. r. nelson.

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Five Days to Move Out!

No, this ain’t my house!

Boy, did I wind up in the shithole. Some of it is my own damned fault. So, here it goes.

I move to Orlando’s College Park. I found me a room for six hundred bucks a month, utilities included.

Yet, before that, I was living in a friend’s spot for three nights. One night was spent on their sofa. The last two nights was spent sleeping on an air mattress on their floor.

How did this happen? I was evicted from my late mother’s foreclosed home.

So, I found a spot in College Park. I had the money. Yet, that money eventually ran out. During that time, I had been searching for jobs. Nothing. Not a damned thing turned up.

Housemates may have had the impression that I was sleeping all day and not job searching.  I can see that.  Still, most places I found wanted you to fill out applications online.  So, my “pounding the pavement” happened in my room and on my laptop.

As for me not finding a job, my past might have something to do with it. I’ve been fired three times from jobs.  Also, there’s a huge gap between my last employment and my current unemployment.  I blame myself for that. All those years working under the table has caught up with me. Also, in two of those cases of me being fired I was asking for it.

Also, I had been living a lie. Folks thought I was making my living as a photographer.  I even had my landlord/roommate thinking this too.  Actually, I was living off money my late mother left me, money I didn’t want to spend up.

Then, just when I had an employment tip, my car broke down…for good.  If I tried fixing that thing, I’d soon have another car problem on my hands.

So, eventually, my money ran out. So, what does this means? This means not being able to pay the rent for the last three months. This means either choosing between buying food or buying medication. This means trying to gain money to keep your phone on.  This also means a Facebook message saying I have five days to move out.

Even if I did have the money for rent, looks like I still might have to move out.  I now have to present a pay stub. This has something to do with the landlord/roommate and the mortgage company.

For real, I didn’t like the idea of other folks paying rent when  I wasn’t. I didn’t like seeing them going to work as I was staying home. I tried making things work. Yet, I couldn’t find a solution. Again, my job searches happened online.

As much as I talk about my bad situations, I still have to own up to my own contributions. Like I said earlier, I had been fired three times over the years. Once in 1991. Another in 2008. The last was in 2017. Yet, that was a contractor thing. So, that might not count.

I usually keep my problems to myself. Folks have their own shit to deal with.  Then when folks do ask me how things are, I usually lie and say they’re going well. I don’t like depressing people.

Let’s see. Unemployed. No meds. No car. Also, I got five days to move.

I’m not expecting people to take on my bad luck. I’m just writing this to vent.  Usually, I find ways to fix problems like this. Best thing to do now is keep my head up.

Pic by Darla Brown.

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American Booty Book Covers in London

Last week, my buddy Joe Romain Facebook-messaged me some pics. I live in Orlando, Florida. Joe lives in London, England.

Recently, Joe walked around London with my two books The Butt Freak Blues and Three Orlando Nightspots. The Butt Freak Blues is a book of poetry about politics, drinking and booty. Three Orlando Nightspots contains both photos of partying nightlife women and poetry. Nightspots’ poetry deals with drinking, my mom’s death and booty. Out of the two, Three Orlando Nightspots was the most successful.

As Joe traveled around London, he took selfies of himself with my books.

First, there was this shot of Westminster Abbey. Good lord, my booty pics in front of a church! Somebody is going to hell!

Next, it’s Parliament. Maybe, I should’ve included a nasty poem badmouthing Brexit.

Last, it’s Buckingham Palace, the residence of the British Monarchy. Will God save The Queen from my booty pics?

So, there you have it. Instead of the werewolf, you now have American Booty Book Covers in London.

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110 Pics of Folks Who Bought My Orlando Photo and Poetry Book

About two years ago, I created my photo and poetry book Three Orlando Nightspots. (The book and Kindle version are available on Amazon.)

For six months, I photographed Orlando nightspots 64 North, The Patio and Aero. During this time, I always uploaded the women pics on Facebook. Folks, especially the dudes, enjoyed the pics. The enjoyment handed me one of the reasons to create Three Orlando Nightspots.

At first, the book was just going to contain photos. Yet, my friend Joe Romain suggested I add poetry dealing with my personal struggles during the time I was photographing the pics. One incident involved my mom’s death. Another involved an alcoholic blackout. Then, there was a week-long stay in the hospital due to coughing fits. Last but not least, I was dealing with the aftermath of a broken romance.

Three Orlando Nightspots was reviewed three times. Website Bungalower said my pics ” manage to capture a quasi-disconcerting side of Downtown Orlando nightlife that is often overlooked”. The Inner Circle said , “ His poetry and spoken word pieces are raw,rugged,sublime and above all else,they are HONEST.” About me combining poetry and photos, Central Florida Post said, “Barnes has seamlessly merged his two favorite mediums.”

During the two years, I would photograph folks who bought my books. Then, I would upload the those pics to Facebook. Because Facebook friends saw other people with my book, they would ask to purchase their own copy. Truth be known, I am surprised folks are still buying Three Orlando Nightspots.

Previously, I wrote a blog about gaining sixty-two photos of people who bought my book. After that blog, I decided to reach the goal of one hundred photos. Last weekend, I gained one hundred and ten photos of people who bought Three Orlando Nightspots.

Most pics are photos I took myself. Some are selfies the buyers created, which surprised my ass. Those pics are of the folks who I mailed the books to.

Anyway, enjoy!

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My Third Studio Photo Shoot: A Leather Version

Recently, I photographed Mister Pierre Fetish Fashion. Actually, I was more behind the scenes as the main photographer did the work. Still, in between shoots, the two models would allow me to photograph them.

This time around for the blog, I decided to get creative using my photo software. Besides, I already turned in the non-creative pics.

Enjoy.

Model One

Model Two: She had to leave early. This is why she has fewer pics than the first model.

Duo Shots

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