Thursday, April 30, 2015

Shame on Baltimore



For many years now, there has been the repetitive mantra "that's not the real Baltimore" in regards to any reviews or discussions about the very popular HBO television series "The Wire" and "Homicide" and even "The Corner". The reality is..........it's worse than is portrayed on those shows. The powers that be.....well.....they have a way of offering up obfuscation and misdirection to keep any focus away from the reality. 

I felt the need to write about this today after recent events here in Baltimore...........rioting......"protesting"......chaos......looting........and now the National Guard being deployed. I have watched the tv reports......mostly the national news stations.......and payed attention to the tv camera shots.....the background imagery when a reporter goes live on camera.........and you will not see images like the one shown in the above photo. The photo above shows some of the Fulton Avenue neighborhood which is the very same neighborhood considered ground zero this past week. There is no pride shown here. The picture above shows what it looks like on a "normal" day. I recommend that if you truly want to see what neighborhoods such as west Baltimore looks like, get on your Google Maps application and get the street view and virtually drive through these streets. See it for yourself.....with no editing or carefully selected camera angles. This is Baltimore.

Is all of Baltimore so terrible?...........of course not. But a huge chunk of it is. And this chunk has not been decreasing over the past 30 or 40 years.........in fact, it has been spreading from the west side to the east side. That's the reality. Likewise, aside from how things look, there's the crime and safety issues along for the ride. The solutions are not simple, the solutions require tough actions. Ever hear of the phrase "suffer for good"? The kind of suffering now in Baltimore is NOT good in any way shape or form. Misdirected anger, senseless destruction of businesses and home....cars.....etc.....makes me believe that a ridiculous proportion of the population have no good sense or focus. 

I realize that most of the problems cannot be fixed by legislation or money. I am sure that both can contribute to the cause........but.......the biggest fix would be if people would stop making excuses and targeting their anger on things and people that have nothing to do with the problems in this city. So where is the blame? Who is responsible?

It makes no sense to me that this recent chaos all started simply because a man named Freddie Gray ends up dead while in the custody of the police. Nonsense. How is it that there is no outrage....no large scale protests.......no nothing about the daily murders in these neighborhoods throughout the city. Oh......its okay as long as it wasn't the police that shot someone.........yeah, right. So this is not about just that Freddie Gray died one day in Baltimore.........nobody has asked how many murders occurred that week.....no outrage.
 Its hard to wrap your head around this bullcrap.

While watching the news reports, politician after politician came before the cameras.......some that represent that very district and born and raised in that neighborhood. As if all of a sudden, out of the blue, there is a problem............some even claiming to explain their presence there to get things back to "normal"........imagine that!    "NORMAL"!!!!!!........just like the normal as shown in the photo above!

The politicians........hmmmmm........these career politicians.......elected and re-elected year after year........."representing the people from their districts" .......their communities...........seems to me that they need to own up to being part of the problem.......what good have they done? They are all players in the game.....as much as the gangs and drug dealers. The politicians need to be the enemies of the bad not the enemies of the good. Throw these bums out! What have they done for Baltimore? This?

Back to the "pride" thing. People that live is these neighborhoods would obviously have difficulty having any pride in anything. Look at the picture. There is an old saying......."I may have holes in my pants, but they are at least clean holes." That would be a good start...... a place to begin...........get these neighborhoods cleaned up. And for those that intend to dirty it up.......well........fine them heavily........make people accountable.

Shame on these politicians.....shame on the Mayor and the city council........shame on Elijah Cummings......shame on Carl Stokes........shame on the President and the senators of Maryland.
Shame on the pastors of the communities........shame on the media...........shame on the "protestors".

Can this be fixed?.........yes it can.
I could go on and on about this. I love Baltimore and I hate to see this.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Painted Crab Shell (Update)


Frozen?............Damn its cold! I just got back from a trip to Tennessee, which went very well, and returned home to an assortment of chaos, mayhem, and aggravation. All in all, things could be worse........let's hope not. Heating issues, minor health issues, ice, a dead refrigerator......of all things.......and an assortment of discombobulation..............let's put it this way..............I just need to step back, take a few breaths, and get my shit in order. I could use Spring right now.

Before I took the trip to Tennessee, getting some decent crab shells was a bit of a problem as it always has been in recent years during January and February. Couple that with a decent barrage of customers during the Christmas shopping season and I find myself with a depleted stock of painted crab shells. No.......its not like I don't have anything to sell.........it's just that I really need to get cranking and paint the more popular ones that people have come to expect that I will have. That....of course......takes time.........and crab shells.

The good news is that I just got a good bunch of shells this week and have anticipation of getting more this weekend. Ahhhhhhh.......progress. But since things are a bit awry, as described above, a wrench is thrown into any possibillity of setting up at the flea market this weekend...........oh.........and to add insult to injury, another blast of snow on Saturday. 

So, If you want to purchase or order a painted crab shell, come see me at the Northpoint Plaza Flea Market next Saturday February 28th or Sunday, March 1st.

For those who had requested some shells prior to my vacation, you can pick up your shells next weekend or thereafter. Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Merry Crabmas!


Holey Moley! Where has the time gone? It seems like time has been flying by at an unprecedented pace.......at least for me it has. I really need time to slow down a bit. Nonetheless, here we are with the Christmas shopping season upon us and never enough time to prepare for it. Needless to say, I have been pretty much spending every waking moment scrubbing shells and painting them. As I try my best to have the shells that most people want to buy, it is never enough........I simply cannot mass produce them. Some people will be disappointed, and some will be very happy. I cannot please everyone........although I try to do so. Often, it is difficult to anticipate what people will want to buy. As an example.........do I spend the time making six Steelers shells and then find out I should have spent the time making six Redskins shells? It's all about time........isn't it? 

Some of my customers have played it smart and planned ahead by ordering their shells ahead of time........(there's that TIME thing again).........good for them. And I know there will be some who are waiting until the last minute and will expect me to knock out some custom shells for them in record time............aaarrggghh!
Lack of planning on their part does not constitute an emergency on my part. Once again it is all about TIME.  And time is running out.........at least for Christmas orders.

If you are reading this blog for the first time.......welcome!
If you are local to the Baltimore area........come see us at the flea market!
If you have the need for something special to give as a gift..........I have what you need.

Single crab shells with rope.........only $10.
Diorama shells...........................only $15.
Crab shell in 5x7 display box.....only $25.
Two shells in 8x10 display box...only $45.
Larger display boxes with three shells or combo with mallets........prices vary.




Time is running out..........first come, first served. 






Saturdays and Sundays at Northpoint Plaza Flea Market in Dundalk, MD.
7am until 4pm

Monday at Hunter's Sale Barn in Cecil County MD 3pm until 8pm.


Sorry......no online purchasing available at this time. 

Feel free to contact me via email:  signtopia@aol.com

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Vacation Is Over.......More Crab Shells.

I really wished I could have spent more time in the Riviera Maya. Although this was a brief trip for us this time, the time spent on the beach and in the water was therapeutic. I really needed it. Each day was as perfect as it could be and the beauty of this place has a place in my heart.............and we try to come back each year. I didn't think of crab shells, flea markets, or any of the things that consume my days at home. Nice!

Oh.......but good things must come to an end, for the time being, and there is much work to do. Since my return home, I have been busy filling custom orders and trying to get ahead of the game in preparation for the onslaught of Christmas shoppers. Everybody wants an egg from the golden goose............in my case, insert "crab shell".

Here are a few more pictures of my work:







And if that's not enough......here's some more:







As I have mentioned before on this blog, I set up at Northpoint Plaza Flea Market in Dundalk, MD. on Saturdays and Sundays. On Mondays you can find me at Hunter's Sale Barn near Rising Sun in Cecil County, MD. If you live in the area, stop on by and say hello!








I am usually busy painting away on a dozen of so crab shells, which you can watch me paint if you care to do so............... but if you have children with you, be sure to read the riot act to them or at least duct tape their hands together.......hehehe.......this stuff is fragile and nobody likes paying for a broken crab shell. :)






There's more to come................meanwhile, as I paint the crab shells, I'll be thinking about the days I spent on vacation...........and I will still have to say that I am the luckiest man on the planet.............





.......indeed I am.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Quick Trip To Austin

 I am constantly reminded as to how I am the luckiest guy and how truly blessed I am. 

My daughter, Noodle decided to give me a special birthday present........albeit a month early........in the form of a paid trip to Austin to attend a Ringo Starr and the All Stars concert at the Moody Theater! Imagine that!
I got to see a Beatle!......and as a special bonus, my favorite musician Todd Rundgren was performing with him! This was really awesome. Not to mention that I got to visit with my daughter and two of my grandchildren. Can't you tell by the picture that happiness abounds?

It was one hell of a show! Totally awesome. Perhaps I will write some more about this but I am pressed for time, as always. I flew to Austin on Tuesday, returned home Friday night, stayed up all night painting crab shells, worked the flea market on Saturday, came home and agonized over the Orioles game and painted more shells and put together some display boxes.........oh yeah........I did manage to get an hour or two of sleep in between all of that. As I write this, me and Supernurse are just about to leave for the airport..........hehehehe..........oh yeah.........we are off to Mexico again for some rest and relaxation........same place as usual. I shall return to Baltimore  on the 19th. Not bad eh?

For those readers who ain't particularly interested in such goings on.....and only here to find out about some painted crab shells, feel free to search around the older posts. My sons will be handling the flea market biz for me until I get back.

See you soon!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


I recently attended an Aberdeen Ironbirds game...........and yes......I sat there eating steamed crabs!
Me and Supernurse and a contingency of the Emergency Nurses Association.........and uh.......Mr Boh, of course. It was a great evening..........capped off with a fabulous display of fireworks. Cal Ripken built quite a complex and I recommend that you at least take one day and take in a game. You will not be disappointed.

All work and no play is never a good thing. As it happens though, I seem to get busier and busier with painting crab shells and it is a challenge to squeeze in some time away from that. The good news is that I have two trips coming up in October......one to Texas and one to the Riviera Maya.........and then back to Baltimore for the mayhem that is the Christmas shopping season.

Today, I figured I would post some photos of some of the custom orders that I made for people. Special requests sometimes are challenging........but I actually enjoy the challenge. As usual, the customers were very happy with the end results.


Many people like to have a shell personalized.


This one was to be a gift for the owners of a cafe in Bethany Beach, Delaware.





This one is self explanatory.



And there's more..............


This one was challenging.  A drummer for the prog-rock band Sonus Umbra asked if I could somehow do the cover of their album on a crab shell...........arrrrggghhhh..........I had to really think this one out.........but after scratching my head for a few hours, I managed to git 'r done.






Sometimes the requests are for display cases with shells. This six shell and two mallet custom box was put together in honor of the career of Zach Clark, pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles farm system. Each shell had each farm team logo and the dates Clark was with them. The center shell included his photo and date that he played his first game in the Majors as a big league Oriole reliever.


Another request was for a woman who is crazy about the Orioles center fielder Adam Jones.


That's it for now..........I have shells to paint.

Until next time..............by the way, if you want to see more photos, simply search the archives, there's tons of pictures.