Happy Birthday Dear Meg, Happy Birthday To You

Say it isn’t so!   Seriously, Meg just doesn’t have time for a birthday.  She is way too busy saving the world.  Her life is in constant motion, working on Deb’s exciting campaign, protecting the environment and in all ways using her energy to make the world better, happier and more fun.

Meg In Overdrive

Meg In Overdrive

Her life is in constant motion.  Meg celebrates life, not just on her birthday, but everyday.  When she has free time she loves to:

Photograph her beloved California coast.

Meg Photographs Her Beloved California

Hike with Jake and their beloved greyhounds.

Family photo while hiking on Ring Mountain

And search for “made in the USA” clothing.

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On your special day, Meg, relax and reflect on the great year you have had and the great years to come.  DSC_0025

Love ya–Mumsy

HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Happy Birthday to my Sweet Mama!

So, clearly Mum and I have been so busy the last few months that we hardly post anything, but today is a day to celebrate….IT’S MUM’S BIRTHDAY!!Meg and Ann in London, November 2013

Mumsy at Christmas 2013While I was working the 2012 campaign cycle, Mum sent me a card to keep me cheery and motivated. The front reads, “Three of my favorite words?” and then the inside says, “That’s my daughter.” Ever since then I’ve kept the card on my desk, because it always reminds me how loved and supported I am by this amazing woman.

Mum, I’m so sorry I can’t be there to give you a big birthday hug, but I hope it’s a wonderful day and that Casey gives you lots of love for the two of us! Oh, and getting on a plane with Mr. T to go to France won’t be too bad either:)

Love you,

Lil you:)

Lily is 12 today!

Campaign season has gone into full swing, but I just had to do a birthday post for our special princess. Lily Ann is 12 years young today! As a retired greyhound, she works hard to sleep as often as possible on as many soft, cushy surfaces as she can. Couch? check. Bed? check. Lots of blankets and pillows? ….well, you get the idea.

LilyHappy Birthday, Princess!

 

Graffiti Marathon: Bad, Sad and Gang Graffiti

In preparing a post on graffiti in the West Bottoms I happened upon a wall with crudely written graffiti: “One dead cop is a good start”.  Immediately my focus shifted from the West Bottoms to graffiti focused on gangs and violence.  It isn’t hard to find.IMG_3794

Kansas City has well over 3000 gang members, far in excess of the number of local police. A small number of Kansas City gangs are extensions of gangs that originated in other parts of the country. Most are loosely organized neighborhood groups.  Some are well-organized and highly disciplined. Others consistent of friends who seek community and protection within their own neighborhoods.  Kansas City has gangs of both kinds.  Both can be dangerous to the gang members and the communities in which they live.

Graffiti is the language and culture of the streets.  Often the  language is clear and threatening. More often, it is only understood by the gang members themselves and, perhaps, rival gangs to whom they are sending a message–whatever message that may be.

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Along Troost near Brush Creek, three walls were smeared with the word “Death”.  In a neighborhood where the violent deaths of young men are rampant, only a fool would ignore the potential threat suggested by the language.  Below, the inclusion of the skull on a wall of otherwise seemingly unintelligible letters is ominous.

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It would be foolish to suggest that all hostile graffiti can be backed up by force, but the intimidation is there nonetheless.

While each of us wants to believe that gang activity is in someone else’s neighborhood, that would be wrong.  I found graffiti identifying the 18th Street Gang on Truman Road, less than a mile from the center of Independence.  Surely I jest, you may say.  In fact, the 18th Street Gang is known to be located in the territories of both William Chrisman and Truman High Schools. It is certainly possible that a teenager, with just a bit of gang knowledge, painted the wall, but it is more likely the gang is marking its territory.  The 18th Street Gang is a multi-ethnic gang that started in Los Angeles.  It operates throughout the U.S. and in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Canada.

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Drive through the streets of the City and you will find markers for other gangs. Surenos 13 (13 stands for the letter “M” indicating it is a Mexican gang) operates in North Kansas City.  Like the 18th Street Gang it is a national organization with most of its membership in California.  This graffiti found just off I-35 on the Northeast side of downtown indicates that the Surenos claim some territory South of the river.

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This next graffiti has me confused.  The three-pointed crown with the dots above the points appears to me to mark territory of the Latin Kings.  But crowns can be identified with gangs other than the Latin Kings.   I have seen numerous similar inscriptions East of Downtown.  The Latin Kings are one of the largest Hispanic street gangs in the U.S,  They originated in Chicago in the 1940s.  In Kansas City they operate both East and West of Downtown.  IMG_3888

Throughout our wonderful community there are telephone poles, bridges, walls of deserted buildings, walls of businesses filled with symbols similar to those above.  They are designed to instill fear, claim territory and warn off potential rival gangs.  You and I drive past these markers on a daily basis and don’t even notice they are present.

While most of the street graffiti is confusing, the language of the street is not always capable of being understood only by the “initiated”.  Some writings are easy to understand.  This expression of grief is for the death of a loved one, almost surely the victim of violence in our streets.

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There are so many reasons people join gangs.  Maybe that can be the focus of another blog on another day.  But today, I want to simply reflect on the reality that not all graffiti is fun.  Some of it is bad, sad and gang related.

Graffiti Marathon: Coming Soon

Westport has an extensive variety of graffiti, focused on Broadway, extending from Westport Road North.  Our next destination is 39th and Central.  Here, for the first time, I discovered a building where two walls are currently being painted with colorful murals.  Hopefully, you will immediately recognize our friend, Scribe.  Each painter has a unique style.  Many can be found in Westport, along Broadway, Oak, and even in the West Bottoms.

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As I have driven throughout the city, I have become acquainted with many of the artists.  Many identify themselves with names like “Scribe”, “Saron”, “Storm”, “Frost” and “feminine”.  Some artists  use initials “SKY ZNK” and “TCTW”.  Their styles are also becoming familiar.

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Cartoon characters, dogs, cats, dragons and birds and even insects, are common themes.

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This great bull dog is identified as the work of “GEAR”.

For those not yet weary of graffiti, still to be explored is art from outside the Mid-town corridors.

Graffiti Marathon: 40th Street and Broadway

On the East side of Broadway, at 40th Street, there is a significant stretch of wonderful graffiti.  Begin at the Open Fire Wood Burning Pizza shop.  The front and South sides of the building have a wonderful mural identified as “GATS Coast to Coast 2013”.  The reference to GATS sent me to the internet.  GATS (Graffiti Against the System) identifies a California street artist whose paintings are found throughout the country as well as European countries including Portugal, Germany, Italy and England.  While s/he claims to paint illegally, I cannot imagine many of these murals would be in existence without the approval of the property owners.

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Follow the mural into the adjacent parking lot behind the Highway 420 Smoke Shop.  There you will discover another series of panels created by  different artists.

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Much to my surprise, graffiti continues beyond the South edge of the parking lot through a stretch of alley that extends East to Central.

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More to come:  Graffiti under construction on 39th East of Broadway.

Graffiti Marathon: Westport and Broadway

Westport represents a distinctive subculture within the Kansas City community.  It is hip.  It is alternative.

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It is the place young people go on Friday night, Saturday night and St. Patrick’s Day.  It is also a mecca for graffiti artists.

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AKKA Karate deserves its own post.  Located at 40th Terrace, just North of Westport Road, AKKA is rich with graffiti.

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Colorful images fill the East and North sides of the building.  They delight us with their creative energy.

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Tigers, fish with fangs, honey bees and other strange critters, known and unknowable, confront us from the walls.

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If you look closely, and compare the images on these walls, you will start to see similarities to other paintings on walls throughout town.

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Scribe, whoever you are, congratulations on some great work.

Next, we will cross Broadway where more graffiti awaits us.

Graffiti Marathon: The Mother Load

There is probably no area in Kansas City with a more varied mix of graffiti than the blocks extending from Oak to Cherry and from 19th Street to 16th.  IMG_3662

I suggest you get your walking shoes as you explore the neighborhood.  Some walls are in your face.

IMG_3641But there is graffiti everywhere.  It is in alleys, behind fences and almost completely hidden by automobiles and dumpsters.

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Every time I explore the area I find new treasurers I have missed in prior visits.