GJ Willis' Art Notes
The Adventures and Misadventures of a Neer Do Well Artist Living in Baltimore.
I am a visual artist and writer living in Baltimore. I don't have any artist friends. Frankly, artists scare me, there so darn flaky. The above picture is either of me or proof that I'm a pretty decent artist. My goal is to be a self sufficient artist, whereas I wouldn't have to do something else in the day in order to eke out an existence. I also like to attend various cultural events around town. I go to plays, the symphony, etc. Also, I have Asperger's Syndrome. I found this out recently and it has explained a heck of a lot as to why I am as I am.
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Sunday, February 26, 2006
Today, for the first time in a very long time the light rail is running all the way to Hunt Valley. It finally appears that the MTA has completed the construction of their double tracking system.
So in taking advantage of this auspicious occassion I took the light rail to church. The train I was about to get on was like a clown car. It seemed as though a hundred people poured out of the car. I suppose there must be some type of event in town today like either the circus or a wrestling match. The people coming off the car were primarily parents with small children. All in all despite this small hold up I was just five minutes late for church.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
I felt very frightended this morning. I heard loud banging noises outside. Apparently, handy men are doing work on my apartment building. I do not know what they are doing or how long they will be working. I am feeling very frightened.
Friday, February 24, 2006
Today, I bought three more Maryland Million lottery tickets. I do not know why I did this. Heck, who am I kidding? The reason I bought the tickets was the possibility of winning 3 MILLION BUCKS! To date this brings the grand total of lottery tickets I bought to four.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Today, for the first time ever I bought a lottery ticket for the Maryland Millions. The jackpot is at 3 million. I know that the mathematical odds are against me winning. But every now and then you have to say, What the hell!
Wow! Two days in a row of personal firsts!
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
THE STATE OF ME
I was pretty much out of commission this weekend. I was as my late mother would say, Sicker than ten dogs. I believe I was suffering from the flu. I do not know for sure because I was too sick to get out of bed to see a doctor. All I know is that on Saturday afternoon I had a fever that clocked in at 101.4 degrees ( I have a digital thermometer) and I had chills and ached all over. So I had no idea if it had snowed or not this weekend until I got of bed this morning to head to work. So basically, all this weekend I was taking massive doses of vitamin C, taking cold tablets, and sleeping.
Right now my temperature is pretty much back to normal. However, my throat is scratchy and my nose is running like a faucet and I am coughing up phlegm every now and then. In other words I am in perfect enough condition to head back to work!
Harry Whittington, is the 78 year old lawyer that
Vice President Dick Cheney accidently shot in the face, neck, and chest on Saturday. Last I heard the man suffered a heart attack and was moved back into intensive care.
What I do not understand about this whole situation is why it took so long for it to be reported?
I personally feel that the shooting accident should be further investigated. I feel this way because there are so many unanswered questions in this case such as; How many round of bullets did Cheney shoot before he noticed that he was hitting Whittington?, How long did it take for them to get Whittington proper medical care?, Did Cheney have a gripe against Whittington?, Did any of the people around Cheney have a gripe against Whittington?
Anyway to me this whole thing sounds like they are trying to hide something. I suppose I should just mark it down as just another typical Bush White House cover-up.....
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Holy Mother Of God!!! James Blunt is now #4 on the US Adult Contemporary Pop Chart!!! I CAN NOT BELIEVE IT!!! I Picked a winner!!!
I think it was way back in August or September 2005 when I wrote about him and Daniel Powters potential to storm the US Charts. Now all I have to do is see if Arctic Monkeys, the Kaiser Chiefs, and Sugababes and live up to my hyping of them. After that if either of those three hit the US Charts then I will apply for a job as a music director at a radio station. Ahhhh, dare to dream!
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Yesterday, I went over to see my father and my youngest nieces baby who is named Blessyn Ariel. All the baby appears to do is sleep. I saw her with her eyes open only for a few second. She is about a week old.
The reason I went over to see them was that I had cards to deliver to them. I had to give my father a birthday card and my niece a congratulations its a Girl card. I wanted to give these things to them before it was too late. My fathers birthay was last week and my grandniece was born last week.
An interesting coincidence I learned is that my father has two birthdays listed in the records, January 27 and January 29th. This little glitch occurred because the doctor who delivered my father was late in filling out paperwork. My grandmother gave my father a choice on which day to celebrate his birthday. My father opted for January 29th. The crazy coincidence is that his brand new great granddaughter was born on the 27th, which is his actual birthday!
Also after visiting my father I learned that I tracked down the right group of Willis in my family genealogy search. Some of the names listed were familiar to my father. He had memories of his parents talking about some of the people that I found in the census. Most telling of this is that he recalled his parents talking about Farmer Willis. It turns out that the name Farmer Willis was not a misprint in the census. According to my father Farmer Willis name was Farmer Lee Willis. He also recalled his parents talking about Orrick Willis. Whenever his parents talked about Farmer Lee and Orrick they would always laugh about their latest exploits. I wonder what Farmer Lee and Orrick were like? I suppose they must have been fun and always up to something.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Vernon Evans gets a stay of execution. Yipee! I am happy for him and his family. I hope that his execution is overturned.
If you have not figured it out by now, I am against the death penalty. I can not help but notice that the majority of people sitting on death row are black men who have been found guilty of killing a white person. Its as though the system values white lives over black. This systematic attitude I feel is patently racist.
Friday, February 03, 2006
All this week on local talk radio the subject has been about gay marriage. This is all because of a recent court decision where a Baltimore judge struck down a gay marriage ban.
I feel that this whole subject is a non-issue. In my opinion gays should have the the same right to marry as straight couples do. I feel that if two people love each other then they should have the right to marry no what there genders may be. Personally, I can not wait until the day that Maryland joins Massachusetts in allowing gay marriage.
The only people who seem to be against gay marriage are religious fundamentalist who believe that everyone should follow their religious guidelines. Who do they think they are, the Taliban?
To paraphrase Bono from Bullet the Blue Sky off of the Rattle and Hum cd, The God I believe in teaches love not intolerance, mister.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Happy Imbolc and Happy Ground Hog Day too!
The reason I found this show fascinating was not only the familial insight I got into the background of African American celebrities but the whole focus on genealogy. You see I have always been fascinated with the idea of tracing my family roots. However, every time I tried to research my family I went up against a brick walls I even had an uncle now deceased who at the time was the oldest living Willis forbid me from researching the family. This of course made me wonder what was the horrible event that happened in my family that he was trying to hide. Was it murder, rape, incest, prostitution, or maybe they were gun runners or bootleggers?
Also, curiously, my family does not have an oral history like the majority of African American families do. So the only thing I know about the Willis family is that both my grandparents Edward and Mamie Willis were from Gloucester, Virginia and that there is some sort of a link with the West Indies. The most recent information I found out is that they lived in the Ware township of Gloucester, Virginia.
After feeling fired up from watching the mini-series I went to the African America Lives web site and read the suggestion that Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wrote for researching African American families. Gates suggested that research for African American families should start with the 1870 census. I had never heard that advice before. Wow!
I found the names of my grandparents whom I never met as well as their parents and siblings. Heck, my father does not even know his grandparents names and now I do! The reason is because by the time he was born in 1929 his grandparents had long since left this Earth.
First off, I did not bother with going to Ancestry.com because I feel that information like that should be free for every one and not held hostage for a price. Also I am suspicious of sites that seemed to be geared soley towards getting your credit card number. So I went over to the USGen Web Census Project. I love this site because it is 100% free!! Also it contains typewritten legible US Census Information. I imagine that if I went to ancestry.com I would have to decipher through the original handwriting of the census taker. On the USGEN Web Census Project website someone else has went through the herculean effort of deciphering old time handwriting in to modern day type.
While at USGen Web Census Project I found my grandmother, Mamie Evans at age 10 in the 1900 census. The Evans family appear to have been farmers. Also in the 1900 census I found a set of my fathers uncle and aunt. An interesting side note I found is that one of my maybe possible ancestors married a Cosby. I am not sure if this Cosby is in any way related to Bill Cosby. I only found this out because I found a curious family name of Cue Willis popping up during this period of history, 1870-1900. So I decided to do a Google search on the name and found someone who was a direct descendant of Cue and Phoebe Willis. He/She mentioned that Phoebes maiden name was Cosby.
I also believe that I found my grandfather, Edward Willis in the 1880 census at age 2. It appears that his mother was a widow. Could the family shame be that my grandfathers mother, Delia Willis, was a single mother raising 7 kids alone? The next question I have to find out is when did her husband die? Was it before or well after little Edward was born? If it was after then, Oh Boy! This could be a case for Jerry Springer or Maury Povich, Who is Delias Baby Daddy? Or maybe the father is one of her brother in-laws who curiously enough is also a widower? What the heck happened to their spouses? Did they really die or maybe run off together? There are five billion questions running through my mind about this.
Another interesting fact I found out is that the Willis conglomerate of families lived next door to the Graham family. I have an aunt who married a Graham. I wonder if he was a descendant of the next door neighbors?
My mothers people were originally from South Hill, Virginia then moved to Nansemond County, Virginia which is where my mother was born. Sadly, Nansemond County no longer exits. It has long since been incorporated into Richmond, Virginia. From Virginia my grandparents, Bob and May Time Jiggetts moved on to Baltimore. They stayed in Baltimore until the day they died.
The most prominent members of the Jiggetts family that I know I am related to are George and Martha Jiggetts of New Jersey. They have owned theJiggetts Transportation bus company for well over 50 years. I remember as a child that they would come down to visit my grandparents Bob and May Time during the summer.
I just did a Google search on them and I found two nice aricles that someone wrote about them. One article talks about the struggle that George Jiggetts went though in migrating from South Hill, Virginia to New Jersey. The other article goes through a brief history of the Jiggetts Transportation Company complete with photos of George and Martha.
The only thing I can think to write is that if your last name is Jiggetts there is a 100% chance that we are somehow related. Also if anyone out there has any information about the mysterious Willis Family from Gloucester, Virginia in the Ware township circa 1870-1900 please send me an email.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The Academy Award nominations came out yesterday. For the most part I agree with them. However, I feel that there are a couple of people whom I feel do not deserve to be nominated.
The most glaring what the blank is going on here nomination is Keira Knightly being nominated for Best Actress for Pride and Prejudice. To me Knightly will always be a light weight actress. She is nothing but a blonde stick figure who can not act her way out of a paper bag. She does not deserve to be in the same category as the great Dame Judi Dench.
Another person not worthy of being nominated is Catherine Keener for Best Supporting Actress in Capote. I saw Capote and what she did in that movie was not worthy of an Oscar nomination. All she did in Capote was look bland and take notes. Albeit, I will admit that Keener has a better reputation as an actress than little Ms. Stickfigure, Knightly does. I just hate the fact that a good actress is being nominated for a nothing role.
I also feel that the only reason that Paul Giamatti was nominated this year for Best Supporting Actor in Cinderella Man is to make up for his not being nominated last year for Best Actor in Sideways. I would absolutely hate it if Giamatti got a pity win this year over George Clooney who so richly deserves this Oscar. Again, I absolutely hate it when they nominate a good actor for a nothing role.
Oddly enough, I feel that the only category that George Clooney deserves to be nominated in was Best Supporting Actor for Syriana. All the other categories that he is in for Good Night and Good Luck should have gone to a much more talented writer, director, or producer. To me Good Night and Good Luck was not a real movie but instead an excuse to re-show of archival McCarthy era film footage. It was film making at its laziest and not deserving of a nomination for anything except David Strathairns uncanny resemblance to Edward R Murrow.
Enough of the negative! The nominations I was most happiest about were Terrence Howard getting nominated for Best Actor for his work in Hustle & Flow and the rap song from Hustle & Flow Its Hard Out Here For a Pimp getting nominated for Best Original Song. Who would have ever thunk that a rap song would ever get nominated for an Oscar?