How Donald Trump Tried to Evict Rent-Controlled Tenants

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This is 100 Central Park South, which Donald Trump bought in 1981. During the 1980s, he had plans to demolish it for a tower of luxury condos. Unfortunately for him,, a group of rent controlled tenants lived there.

Donald Trump may be elected president thanks to receiving about 60 million votes, the Electoral College, and help from the Russians back in 2016. But in his hometown in New York City, he is almost universally loathed. The city may be a haven for liberals and elites but remember it’s the same place who elected Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. Yet, Trump has been disliked in NYC for decades that Sesame Street parodied him as a sleazy villain since the late 1980s. Since he and his dad were indicted by the Justice for housing discrimination in the 1970s, the people of New York City have witnessed Trump concoct his dastardly and often at their expense. Over the years, Trump has preyed on them with false promises, exploited them, scammed them, and abused them for his own enrichment. He’s even inflamed racial tensions for his own benefit like his page long ad calling for the executions of the Central Park Five. At best, New Yorkers see him as a sleazy con artist who’s not to be trusted. At worst, they see him as a nightmare. If the people of New York City despise Trump, it’s not because the politics. It’s because they know exactly who he is and why he should’ve never become president.

At 35 years old, Donald Trump was the epitome of American business bravado. He had cut multi-million land deals, saved a blighted midtown Manhattan subway hub by overhauling a building near Grand Central Station that would become the Grand Hyatt New York, and was in the process of erecting the black-framed glass behemoth, the 68-story Trump Tower. After he destroyed the old Bonwit Teller Building including the Art Deco sculptures he promised not to. And with the labor of undocumented Polish workers who were paid less than $5 an hour and lived in squalid conditions.

In 1981, Donald Trump bought the Barbizon Plaza Hotel and a neighboring 14-story apartment building on prime real estate facing New York City’s Central Park. Addressed at 100 Central Park South he paid $13 million for, he had plans to tear down the buildings and replace them with luxury condos. It would be an audacious project and on one of New York City’s most desirable blocks. Two months later, he applied for a demolition permit to blow it up.

But there was one problem. In 60 of 100 Central Park South’s 80 apartments, rent-stabilized tenants already lived Central Park South building. Donald Trump describes renters as privileged, rich “yuppies” who unfairly benefitted from rent-control, claiming the rent he collected barely covered expenses. That’s why he installed cheaper lightbulbs to cut back. As he claimed, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the rich, it’s that they have a very low threshold for even the mildest discomfort.” To be fair, a low rent home a short walk away from Broadway theaters and Carnegie Hall is a pretty sweet deal. Dentist Dr. Michael Richman paid $700 a month for his apartment. Fashion designer Arnold Scaasi paid $985 for his mind-blowing, 6-bedroom with killer views of Central Park. B-movie actress and original Rockette Suzanne Blackmer paid $203.59 month for her 2-bedroom unit which wasn’t her primary residence. A 3-room apartment in the building overlooking the part could be as low as $436 a month. In New York City this was the stuff of legend.

In reality, while rich people did inhabit a share of these apartments, most of the tenants were either working people or middle class retirees living on fixed incomes and Social Security who’ve resided there for over 20 years. None epitomizes this like B-movie Suzanne Blackmer who’d many would think was living quite extravagantly. But that wasn’t the case for she was only living on $10,000 a year from Social Security, occasional acting gigs, and a pension from the Screen Actors Guild she earned by appearing in
over 60 films. Sure she may have had multiple residences, but she kept that apartment as a place to stay for her job.

Donald Trump often demonized the tenants as freeloading millionaires as a way to justify his harassment against the tenants at 100 Central Park South. It didn’t matter who they were. It was about getting the New York City public on his side. After all, New Yorkers would hate rich people getting very good deals on prime real estate given how expensive the city rents are. And it helped that a noted fashion designer, an architect, and a B-movie actress had units there for cheap rents. As Trump stated in The Art of the Deal, “Rent control is a disaster for all but the privileged minority who are protected by it. As much as any other single factor, rent control is responsible for the desperate housing crisis that has plagued NYC for the past 20 years.” Ironically, we should keep in mind that Trump has amassed his fortune thanks in large part to government handouts.
So in order to get his luxury condos, Donald Trump wanted to get them out. After applying for the demolition permit, he fired the building manager and replaced him with Citadel Management. According to The Art of the Deal, Trump claimed he chose a company that “specialized in relocating tenants.” While most landlords commonly try buying tenants out, Trump and Citadel Management tried to get the job done for free. At first, Citadel hired agents to constantly call tenants constantly, asking to show them other properties and convincing them that they’d have to move regardless. Most tenants refused for obvious reasons.

In the meantime, they did the bare minimum one could legally get away with in terms of upkeep. These included things like removing light covers, not cleaning up the lobby, ignoring repairs and maintenance, barring doormen from carrying up packages, and putting up aluminum foil on windows facing Central Park to give the building a run down appearance. Garbage filled the hallways and elevators as rats began to swarm. And tenants weren’t even allowed to erect a Christmas tree in the lobby. According to their 1982 lawsuit, tenants claimed that Donald Trump had cut their hot water and heat during New York’s freezing winters and stopped all building repairs. One said he allowed “a rodent infestation of the premises.” Another stated he imposed burdensome new rules in an attempt to force them out. However, building superintendent Anthony Ramirez, swore in court that Trump’s building managers gave him explicit instructions. “They didn’t want any repairs done. No cleaning. No accepting of packages.” As a result of the lack of maintenance, fashion designer Arnold Scaasi’s luxurious apartment was plagued by water leaks. One imperiled his art collection that included a 1926 Picasso and works of art by Claud Monet. And he wasn’t the only one. A 10 month water leak in Apartment 14B got so nasty that 2 brothers who grew up there saw brown and white mushrooms sprouting from their bedroom carpet. One told CNN Money, “It felt like we were under attack. Trump did his best not to repair anything.” Yet, Donald Trump refused to do anything about it.

On one occasion, when Donald Trump’s new building manager reported a burglary, dentists with apartment offices were ordered to send patients to a garbage-filled service elevator. Dr. Michael Richman refused to comply, complaining in court documents that Trump “mounted a campaign of harassment.” He then added, “Mr. Trump is willing to resort to any device or tactic to drive out the tenants from the building.” Trump’s lawyers fought back, questioning whether the dentist’s office even qualified for rent control.

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This is what the eviction threat from Donald Trump looks like. And he sent this to an elderly couple, by the way.

On New Year’s Eve, several tenants received “lease violation” warning letters. The previous owners had permitted renters to knock down walls and renovate their apartment units at least 10 to 20 years prior. He reversed the exception and gave renters only 12 days to rebuild the walls or face eviction. Another time, Donald Trump sued tenant Andersen Clipper for not paying rent despite that he actually did. New York City Judge Jay Dankberg dismissed the case as “spurious and unnecessary,” as well as blasted Trump for trying to “harass” Clipper and forced the huckster to refund 5% of his rent. He then wrote, “To most landlords happiness is having tenants who pay the rent each month without prodding or litigation. However, [Trump] is apparently searching for double happiness.” According to his estranged wife Nancy who remembers the lawsuits and the refusal to fix things, “It was really a horrible experience.” She then described Trump as “insensitive, rude, and just a generally nasty man. I would never have considered him presidential.”

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This is real estate lawyer David Rozenholc who represented the tenants at 100 Central Park South. Due to his aggressive litigation nature, he’s kind of like a Michael Avenatti in the real estate world. Also, Donald Trump sued his firm in retaliation for $150 million on corruption charges.

The renters weren’t going anywhere. After all, most of them were senior citizens on rent-control and with no other place to go. In response, they hired a particularly aggressive real estate lawyer named David Rozenholc and sued Donald Trump and his company, Park South Associates. New York state judges stepped in to put Trump’s lease violation notices on hold on at least 2 occasions. Since Rozenholc took advantage of a legal flaw to block Trump’s application to begin construction. He also sued Trump for harassing his clients and having management instruct the superintendent to spy on them. In return, Trump sued Rozenholc’s firm in a federal suit for racketeering and sought $105 million in damages, which was later dismissed since it was stupid.

In 1982 and 1983, Donald Trump put out newspaper advertisements offering to shelter homeless people offering them a dozen or so free apartments with “beautiful views.” But seeing how Trump often does seemingly charitable things on selfish motives, tenants saw the move as a ruthless attempt to drive them out. Trump denied it, telling the New York Times, “Some people think I’m just doing a number on the people in the building. That’s not true. I just want to help with the homeless problem. It’ll take two or three years to get everybody out, and in the meantime I’ll have more and more vacant apartments for the indigent.” He even offered to pay for nurses and medical supplies to treat the homeless. But New York’s Human Resources deputy administrator Robert Trobe told the Times that Trump’s offer did “not seem appropriate.” In end the city declined, questioning the wisdom of moving homeless people into a building headed for demolition. Though not without a refugee charity suggesting he house Polish refugees which Trump balked at saying his offer was only for those “live in America now, not refugees.”

Alleged spying took place, too. According to superintendent Anthony Ramirez, Donald Trump’s building manager told him monitor, “the personal habits of the tenants” and “keep a list on the tenants’ activities.” While Ramirez defend Trump on maintenance issues, spying went too far. He told the manager, “Sir, I have too many things on my conscience at this late stage in life, and I don’t need anymore headaches. I’m here to do my job and to do repairs to the building.” Apparently, Trump wanted to spy on the tenants in an attempt to dig dirt on them to use as blackmail or get them evicted. Trump denied this in a sworn 1985 affidavit. First, he claimed he didn’t directly run building owner Park South Associates (despite that corporate documents show he owned 60% of the company and was the only listed officer). Second, he swore he kept the building in tip-top shape with a previous New York housing agency inspection to back it up, finding that “all public areas were clean.”

However, the same state agency, the New York’s Division of Homes and Community Renewal went after Donald Trump, too. They sued, charging him of harassing tenants after the tenants sent a barrage of complaints alleging harassment, “drastic decreases in essential services,” and “persistent delay in repairing defective conditions with life-threatening potential.” Several even went on a rent strike. The New York City filed a similar suit months later, mentioning daily harassment, “wrongful acts and
omissions”, bogus nonpayment notices, and utilities that were turned off, by Trump’s agents. The city lost the injunction in September 1985 with the state Supreme Court justice stating, The danger of irreparable harm to the tenants seems to be minimal now that the challenged activities of the defendants are under the scrutiny of the various departments of the City of New York.

Yet, there was a glimmer of peace in 1985. According to court documents, Donald Trump and the tenants’ association leader discussed a potential deal. The renters planned to team up and buy the building for $15 million to free themselves from their dreaded landlord. You’d think Trump would accept this deal and everyone would live happily ever after. But no. Instead, he used that opportunity to accuse the tenants shady behavior like using harassment lawsuits to cover their real motivations. As his attorneys claimed, tenants were “waging a ceaseless guerrilla-type war… to coerce a bargain sale of the building,” He then sued them for $150 million, escalating the legal battle. In a 1985 New York Times editorial, Sydney Schanberg called Trump a “slumlord.” Trump’s lawyers responded in an op-ed attacking Schanberg, Rozenholc, New York City, and called it a “political maneuver in a mayoral election year.”

By 1986, Trump had spent over $1 million fighting the tenants and only $160,000 on repairs. Thankfully, he finally settled with the tenants’ association that year. He then cut his attorneys a $550,000 check and agreed to let the housing agency monitor repairs for 5 years. The tenants could stay in their apartments paying their preexisting rents. As Tony Schwartz detailed in a 1985 New York Times article, “how a bunch of rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants in an old building… have managed to do what city agencies, courts, colleagues, competitors, and the National Football League have never been able to do: successfully stand in the way of something Donald Trump wants.” He described Trump as “fugue of failure, a farce of fumbling and bumbling.”

However, the harassment still didn’t stop. Donald Trump may have gave up demolition, but he decided to renovate and later convert the building into condos instead. Elderly couple Alvin and Catalina Meyer, the wife plagued with emphysema and dying of cancer. So it was a particularly rude awakening when Trump’s construction workers woke Catalina up at 7 a.m. by drilling holes in the ceiling above her bed. The construction crew also set up a workstation in the apartment next door. Mrs. Meyer complained about the dust in the air. According to court papers, she claimed, “I am a very sick woman battling for my life. I have begged for reasonableness. The landlord will not be reasonable.” After nearly a decade of nonstop fighting, tenants started turning on one another. Trump told them he couldn’t fix the building’s heating system because Mrs. Meyer didn’t give construction workers access to their apartment. Fellow tenants told Meyer to back down while her lawsuit fizzled out when her own attorney left her.

The fighting died down in the 1990s, only to pop up again in 2000 when 72-year-old Carmel Rheingold sued Donald Trump in a New York State court for overcharging her $40,000 in rent over 4 years. He paid that money back. In 1998, Trump struck a deal with the building’s remaining inhabitants allowing them to either buy their apartments at a markdown or keep renting without further pressure to leave.

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A 1988 Sesame Street episode when Oscar the Grouch signs on with Ronald Grump is said to be based on this 1980s tenant dispute.

In the end, no judge ever ruled that tenants were being harassed. After all, Donald Trump settled but he didn’t get his way. The building remains in place to this day. According to city records, Trump’s company owns 18 units and his son Eric has an apartment on the top floor. At least 2 renters actually bought their apartments. But most died or moved away. Nonetheless, as of 2016, there are still tenants who still pay rent-control rates. Meanwhile the 106 Central Park South next door offers a glimpse of what Trump would’ve built at 100 Central Park South if he had the chance: largely luxury developments sitting mostly vacant accruing value for their super wealthy owners.

Donald Trump’s dispute with the tenants of 100 Central Park South remains a defining moment that shows his character in the minds of many New Yorkers. As New York journalist and author of Trump: The Deals and the Downfall, Wayne Barrett told CNN Money, “This was a concrete choice he made, knowing he would disrupt the lives of many middle income, elderly people. He has absolutely no excuse.” In 1987, Suzanne Blackmer said of Trump, “He has such an ego. He wants to be Jesus. He wants to be Hitler. He wants to be the most powerful thing in the world.”

Looking back, you can see Trump waging a different sort of campaign but with many of the same tactics he deployed during the 2016 campaign and his presidency like the threats, theatrics, and penchant for hyperbole. David Rozenholc said of Trump in 2016, “He knows how to negotiate, he knows how to use leverage and he’s very perceptive about his opponent’s vulnerabilities. It didn’t work against me, but when you deal with Putin and Iran, these could be useful qualities.” In The Art of the Deal, Trump acknowledged that he deliberately tried driving out tenants, but claimed most of them were exploiting undeserved government subsidies. He recalled getting rid of free telephone in the building’s lobby which he claimed tenants were using, “to call their friends in Gstaad and St. Moritz.” Yet, tenant Madelyn Rubenstein and 2 other residents at the time could only remember a pay phone in the building. Nor has Trump admitted defeat as he told The New York Times, “It was a long battle, but it was a successful battle. As usual, I came out on top.” Some may think that Trump’s slumlord past has little to do with his presidency, but the episode reveals Trump’s character as a man who sees dollars and cents over people’s lives. While his callous attitude has made him a marketplace success drawing fans from all walks of life, he’s profoundly unsuited for a very humanistic job of holding the American people’s best interests.

But more importantly, Donald Trump’s clash with the 100 Central Park South tenants shows that he’s not invincible. And he can be stopped. The rent-controlled tenants at 100 Central Park South fought hard to keep their homes for years and won. They hired attorneys. They took their cause to the media. They went on rent strikes. They applied pressure to state institutions into taking action. In the end, Trump had give up his plans to demolish the building and settle with them. If we band together in solidarity and resist Trump’s monstrous presidency and his unpopular, repressive policies. We may not be able to remove him from office, but we don’t have to let him get his way. In the name of freedom and democracy, let us all unite as Americans and stop this unrespectable man. once and for all.

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A Profile in Courage or Cowardice

On Wednesday, September 5, 2018, The New York Times published an op-ed by an anonymous senior official in the Trump administration under the headline “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump White House.” The official writes that they’re one of many “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of [President Trump’s] agenda and his worst inclinations.” To put it in other words, “don’t worry because we Trump appointees are working from the inside to stop Trump from fulfilling parts of his agenda we disagree with.” The author’s motives were immediately questioned and reasonably so. But you have to wonder why this person just doesn’t quit. Is it good for people aware of Donald Trump’s dangers to stay inside the administration in an attempt to undermine it from within?

The op-ed’s major problem is with its lack of accountability. The “senior official in the Trump administration” raises a serious question on whether Donald Trump is fit to be president (oh, hell no) before slipping past any follow-up responsibility. Instead of leading a public debate of possible 25th Amendment invocation to remove Trump from office, the writer encourages Americans to trust the administration officials in the background. The author claims, “it’s okay, we got this.” For they‘ll thwart his “misguided impulses until he is out of office.”

But how much credibility should Americans give to someone who takes shots from a secret hideaway? The alleged presence of secret saviors shouldn’t surprise anyone. Every White House adviser should see it as part of their job to smother bad ideas and save the president from misguided impulses. But anonymously bashing one’s boss is disloyal and more likely makes everyone in the organization paranoid than fix anything. Though knowing the kind of boss Donald Trump is, I can hardly blame the writer for bashing him. Yet, unlike what Donald Trump states in his outbursts, it’s not treason in the slightest. Apparently, this Trump official wants a paper trail to show the world in case things go south.

The op-ed tells us nothing that we already know. It’s already established that Donald Trump is morally bankrupt, has no coherent worldview outside the primacy of his own ego and interests, and moves from objective to objective. How many times a week do news outlets and comedians broadcast his tweets? The op-ed depicts Donald Trump as anti-trade and anti-democratic while characterizing his leadership style as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” According to the writer, Trump goes on long, repetitive rants and makes “half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions.” Yet, you can easily see this whenever you tune on the news. But don’t worry, these “unsung heroes” will protect America from Trump’s “erratic behavior.” If they really feel the need to subvert Trump to protect the country, why not go all the way and get that fucking piece of shit out of the White House.

The piece suggests that the United States is currently under a “two-tier” presidency. If Donald Trump wants to do something his underlings like, they go along with it. If he wants to do something they don’t, they find ways around it. This is consistent with Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear where he describes senior officials taking things off Trump’s desk to prevent him from seeing them. However, make no mistake that those working for the Trump administration and carrying out any part of his agenda are enabling him for their own benefit, not undermining him. If Trump is so incompetent that his most trusted advisers have to play peekaboo for national security’s sake, they should work to get him out of office. Not sparing us from his cruelest instincts isn’t enough, especially if they involve sabotaging Obamacare, separating families at the border, pandering to white supremacists, being way too friendly to authoritarian dictators like Vladimir Putin, getting rid of essential regulations to satisfy major corporations, and neglecting Puerto Rico and Flint. Furthermore, Trump believes that the Justice Department should allow his allies get way with crimes but prosecute his enemies maliciously for whatever’s under the sun. Like any dictator, he thinks it should be illegal to criticize or read any criticism of him. And he believes that ethnic and religious minorities he’s bound to respect. Not to mention, Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the US Supreme Court and will very well be confirmed. Yet, Kavanaugh could bring Trump’s authoritarian agenda to fruition. More importantly, Kavanaugh believes that Republican presidents are above the law and won’ answer basic questions about conversations he’s had regarding the special counsel investigation. While the Kavanaugh nomination may be less fun and dramatic than the anonymous op-ed from the White House, it will have a far greater impact on American life.

Alas, these Trump officials are cowards too afraid of facing the consequences. While they hand-wave the notion, thus: “Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.” How is utilizing the 25th Amendment cause a constitutional crisis while admitting to subvert a so-called democratically elected president wouldn’t? The truth is Republicans like the “two-track” arrangement and don’t want Trump out of office. Because they’re advancing a right-wing economic agenda that any other batshit Republican president would’ve championed while preserving the popularity of Trump’s base. Everyone who works for Trump and his Republican allies knows he’s dangerously unfit for to be president. Yet, they’re willing to abdicate their constitutional responsibilities, sacrifice democratic principles, sell their souls, and leave their conscience at the door in a Faustian exchange for upper-income tax cuts, starving the social safety net, or solidifying a right-wing federal judiciary. Furthermore, the fact the author defends Trump’s policy agenda of “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more,” illustrating their conservative leanings. The writer even notes in the beginning that “ours is not the popular ‘resistance’ of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.” That’s not a voice of a resister, that’s an enabler. A resister like myself wants the Trump administration to go down in flames.

Nonetheless, the anonymous op-ed allows the author to have it both ways. If the Trump administration goes down in flames, they can claim to have heroically resisted the orange tyrant. If Donald Trump and his swamp toadies from the Washington cesspit triumph, they can claim to being a loyal caretaker to the conservative agenda Trump was “elected” to implement. Either way, while this self-serving cowardice might get the op-ed author off the hook, history will remember the Trump administration as a dumpster fire disaster. 2 years in, the Trump administration has led to has led to displacement and death of thousands of Americans in Puerto Rico, systematic abuse of children as immigration policy, arbitrary status revocation for black and Latino immigrants posing no threat to public safety, abdication of the federal government’s responsibility to defend the civil rights of racial and ethnic minorities, attempted subversion of federal law enforcement, and the enrichment of Trump and his affluent allies at taxpayers’ expense.
On the other hand, given the stakes up to including a literal nuclear war, there needs to be some people quietly working backstage to prevent the worst from happening. Perhaps, in the future, they will be in a position to do more when Republicans are willing to do something about Donald Trump. Of course, you can do something about that by voting straight Democrat at the polls come November. Also, you might want to call out your relatives and community for abandoning their souls to hateful and banal Trumpism and Fox News. But for now, a little resistance is better than no resistance at all.

Make no mistake that the root cause of this clusterfuck is that the Republicans chose to back an unfit and dangerous president for selfish and crass political reasons. After all, since they’re getting the policies they want, they see no reason to challenge him. Unless the Democrats sweep the 2018 midterms, there’s no reason to believe that one or several officials coming out and condemning the unrespectable Donald Trump as a threat to democracy will ever change the minds of any Republican who knows of Trump’s worst habits full well. This forces well-meaning Trump officials into a terrible choice. On one hand, they can stay and do their best to undermine him where they can. On the other hand, they could quit and potentially let Trump staff the White House with cronies and ass kissers. Choosing the latter could cause irreparable damage to American democracy, a major war, a global economic crisis, or all 3 at once.

Indeed, these Trump officials may be enablers but they’re not helping their boss implement terrible policies while trying to make them better on the margins. In fact, they’re actually blocking some of these policies from coming into existence, especially the worst ones. Not to mention, the United States is an advanced democracy with Donald Trump up for reelection within 2 years and may lose his congressional majority in 2 months. White House officials aren’t indefinitely helping an occupying power but holding the line until the legitimate political process has a chance to curb Trump’s excesses. Sure they haven’t always succeeded. And we’re not sure if the author or anyone else has even tried or wanted to try to do anything to help immigrants, refugees, Puerto Ricans, Obamacare enrollees, or any other groups of people whose lives the Trump and his administration has imperiled significantly.

Nonetheless, the vast swath of bureaucracy appears to be on the dissenting officials’ side. Since they have a real opportunity to the contain the last election’s consequences until they can be reversed. Yet, given the nearly unimaginable stakes here, it’s too dangerous for anyone of goodwill to quit. We need utilitarians around to mitigate the risks of a true disaster. Remember when Donald Trump spent the latter half of 2017 threatening Pyongyang with “fire and fury?” Well, Trump’s antics undercut then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s efforts. While the Defense Department had quietly ramped up preparations for war while Trump constantly brought up the idea of attacking North Korea in tweets and in meetings. It’s certainly apparent that a war between North Korea and the US would’ve cost millions of lives. Thankfully, we didn’t get that. Instead of a globally destructive conflict, we got a summit in Singapore and a sham deal between Trump and Kim Jong Un which seems to have moved us of the war footing for now. Sure, the summit was utterly embarrassing, but at least nobody got killed. Still, there are few practical checks to the executive branch’s ability to initiate force. If Trump decided to follow through with his “fire and fury” threats, he could’ve ordered a strike on North Korea’s nukes. But somehow, he changed his mind.

The op-ed author doesn’t go into detail on how they can assert various claims in their piece as well as they’ve personally stopped some of Donald Trump’s horrendous ideas. But a couple years of concrete reporting has uncovered concrete examples of Trump’s staff “thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses.” Last June, White House Counsel Don McGahn refused a direct order to fire special counsel Robert Mueller as well as cooperated with the Mueller investigation and sometimes didn’t tell his boss what he was doing. Then there’s White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly controlled the flow of information to Trump, blocking conspiracy theorists like Infowars’ Alex Jones or right-wing trolls like Chuck Johnson from getting into Trump’s ear. According to Bob Woodward, Secretary of Defense James Mattis had to convince Trump that trying to assassinate Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad was a bad idea. Since the move would’ve been arguably illegal and possibly set off a dangerous confrontation with Russia.

Another incident has National Economic Council chair Gary Cohn stopped Trump from withdrawing from the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement by stealing the letter that would’ve ordered withdrawal from his desk. Since withdrawing from that agreement would’ve wreaked havoc on the alliance and American businesses. If Trump had gotten his way in these cases, we would’ve had a constitutional crisis, war, and economic pain. If it weren’t for people who understood the potential consequences, everything could’ve been much worse. Of course, this doesn’t mean Trump’s staff doesn’t always succeed nor that Donald Trump’s worst policies have all been stopped. We still got the travel ban, family separations, withdrawal from the Paris climate accords, and pointless and dangerous undercutting of Obamacare, all of which has caused real pain. But as bad as things are, it’s easy to imagine them being much worse.

Some may argue that the anonymous op-ed writer identify, resign, and present evidence justifying an invocation of the 25th Amendment, impeachment, or the first necessary step toward either outcome or a Democratic Congress after the November elections. This might be noble in theory, there’s no evidence that congressional Republicans would go along with checking Donald Trump’s power. Since they went along with him knowing full well who he is. For one invoking the 25th Amendment is far more difficult than it sounds since it would require the vice president and the majority of the cabinet to decide whether Trump is fully incapacitated. But Trump could simply refuse to accept the outcome, which kicks the issue to the GOP-controlled Congress with 2/3 voting to agree to remove Trump from office. That’s not going to happen as long as Republicans dominate Capitol Hill. Then there’s the idea of a Mike Pence presidency which Democrats really don’t want at this point.

However, regardless of what some may think, what Trump officials are doing isn’t a coup but an extension of bureaucratic politics to extraordinary times. As political scientist Naunihal Singh told Vox, “This is an extreme form of things we see often, when cabinet secretaries or military officers attempt to steer policy ‘from below’ by limiting information flow to the President.” Besides, we’ve seen this before but mainly when presidents are incapacitated or physically ill. Since it can only be pulled off only when the center’s so weak that everyone grabs power. What different is that the United States is currently governed by a man so unfit for the office that his White House functions as if he’s in a hospital. But unlike previous presidents, Donald Trump isn’t going to die or get better. The constitutional remedies for such situation like the 25th Amendment or impeachment aren’t plausible options right now. So Trump aides recognizing the reality are stuck with a quiet resistance.

If anything, the most persuasive criticism of the op-ed isn’t the author doing something wrong in the White House. But rather going public in an op-ed endangers the quiet anti-Trump insurgency back stage. As Cato Institute scholar Julian Sanchez tweeted, “If you were really concerned about protecting the country from an erratic Trump — rather than, say, trying to pre-salvage your post-administration reputation — you probably wouldn’t write something like this given its predictable consequences. I can pretty much guarantee that this: (1) Triggers an epic tantrum and makes Trump even more paranoid than he already is, & (2) Sets off a mole-hunt that results in suspiciously competent persons being purged & replaced with loyalist nuts and/or Trump family members.” So writing it in a newspaper probably wasn’t a wise move. But since it has, we must hope that the author manages to rally other “resistance” members or even inspire other Trump officials to join. Sure it’s naïve and these quiet resistors aren’t the most reliable since they might sometimes enable their monstrous boss enact terrible policies they agree with. But in dark times, it makes sense to cling to whatever shred of hope we got.

A Strike Behind Bars

Amid the press coverage of Donald Trump, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on Catholic Church sexual abuse, John McCain’s funeral, the 2018 midterms, football season, back to school, and whatever else is going on with the world, there are plenty of news stories that fall through the cracks. One of these is a 3 week nationwide strike behind bars of which most will never see. Demonstrations began on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 and are scheduled to last until September 9, which marks the anniversary of the bloody uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York. During this time, inmates in 17 states have taken part in sit-ins, hunger strikes, and work strikes in an attempt to draw attention to poor prison conditions and what many view as exploitative labor in American correctional facilities. In addition, they’re calling for boycotts against agencies and companies benefitting from prisons and prison labor. As protest spokesperson Amani Sawari told Vox, “The main leverage that an inmate has is their own body. If they choose not to go to work and just sit in in the main area or the eating area, and all the prisoners choose to sit there and not go to the kitchen for lunchtime or dinnertime, if they choose not to clean or do the yardwork, this is the leverage that they have. Prisons cannot run without prisoners’ work.”

The demonstrations come 2 years after what was then viewed as the largest prison strike in United States history with protests breaking out in 12 states in 2016. While the 2016 protests were largely planned on September 9, they ended up taking part over weeks or months as prison officials tried tamping down on prison demonstrations and mitigate the protests’ effects. These current demonstrations can be even larger than those previous protests since they’re spread over 3 weeks to make it more difficult for prison officials to crack down. The inmates have outlined 10 national demands. These include “immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons” and “an immediate end to prison slavery.” They also target federal laws that boosted mass incarceration and have made it harder for inmates to sue officials for potential rights violations. In addition, they call for an end to racial disparities in the criminal justice system and an increase to rehabilitation prison programs. These demands are on top of specific local and regional requests the prisoners are making. I will get to more of these list items later, explaining what these mean.

These prison strikes are a part response to the prison riot at South Carolina’s Lee Correctional Institution in April, which state officials described as a “mass casualty” event. According to the Associated Press, 7 inmates were killed while at least 17 were seriously injured. An inmate told the AP that bodies were “literally stacked on top of each other,” claiming that prison guards did little to stop the violence between inmates. Most of the fatal injuries appeared to be due slashing and stabbing, although some inmates may have been beaten to death. No prison guards were hurt. The riot was the worst in a US prison in a quarter-century.

Based on reports following the riot, it seems some of the major causes besides personal and potentially gang-related disputes, were poor prison conditions and understaffing. So there weren’t enough guards to stop the fighting. This is part of a growing problem. According to an investigation by South Carolina’s The State, the number of inmates killed in the state’s prisons, “more than doubled in 2017 from the year before and quadrupled from two years ago.” And it wasn’t the first time Lee experienced violence that year either. Three weeks before the riot, inmates overpowered a guard, held him hostage, and took control of part of a dorm for an hour and a half before releasing him unharmed. In February one inmate fatally stabbed another. Nor is its problems with violent unique. For in Columbia’s Kirkland Correctional Institution, 4 inmates were strangled in 2017.
Obviously, violence is generally a huge problem in US prisons. According to a 2009 study, during a 6-month period, about 21% of male prison inmates are physically assaulted while 2-5% are sexually assaulted. But the problem seems particularly acute in South Carolina’s correctional facilities in recent years. One reason is understaffing for South Carolina prisons have struggled to find enough workers, making it difficult to keep these places under control. Another cause is poor prison conditions like underfunding, overcrowding, and lack of rehabilitative interventions. A strike spokesperson told Vox, “Prisoners were placed in some really aggravated conditions. They were placed on lockdown all day. They weren’t allowed to eat or use the bathroom. They were placed in units with rival gang members. And then their lockers were taken away, so they didn’t have any safe place to put their personal belongings, which really aggravated and caused tensions among prisoners — to the point where fights broke out, inevitably.”
However, for prisons, fixing the problem these demonstrations raise will require money, which cash-strapped state governments may not want to put up. This raises real questions on whether the inmates’ demands can or will be heard. Hiring more guards and paying them more money to make the job attractive to more people costs money. So does improving prison conditions in general. All of that cash could be spent elsewhere.
Nonetheless, I should give you all a rundown on the demands the prisoners have made in the strike.

1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.– in the United States, there’s a tendency for society to throw people behind bars, completely dehumanize them, and forget about them. As history shows, we tend to forget that convicts are human beings with rights and some say over their lives. Being behind bars doesn’t throw all that away. As a Jailhouse Lawyers Speak statement read, “Prisoners understand they are being treated as animals. We know that our conditions are causing physical harm and deaths that could be avoided if prison policy makers actually gave a damn. Prisons in America are a war zone. Every day prisoners are harmed due to conditions of confinement. For some of us, it’s as if we are already dead, so what do we have to lose?”

2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.– this is a major issue and affects you more than you think. If there is an issue you should care about and what unites prisoners, it’s prison labor. In many states, prisoners are forced to work for cents an hour or even for free. Though according to The Marshall Project, the average prisoner pay is 20 cents an hour. This was permitted after the 13th Amendment’s passage which banned slavery and involuntary servitude, “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” Across the US, hundreds of thousands of inmates have jobs. While California inmates have been recruited to fight the state’s record wildfires for $1 an hour and $2 per day, American prisoners also do more typical jobs like kitchen work, cleaning, and GED tutoring. Sometimes the jobs take inmates outside of prison, although more often they mimic real-world jobs or involve menial chores that need done around the prison. They also make a vast array of consumer goods like lingerie, blue jeans, toys, military equipment, and car parts. They’ve harvest Florida oranges and shoveled snow in Boston after a blizzard. Like the protestors in the 2016 prison strike, the 2018 demonstrators characterize this practice as modern slavery. And since black people are disproportionately likely to become incarcerated, there are racial disparities in this often forced, low-wage labor. In addition, companies also take advantage of prison labor. which generates over $1 billion a year for the private sector. Now both prison officials and advocates agree that prison labor helps inmates gain much-needed real-world working experience. But even if it does, that doesn’t justify paying pennies or nothing at all. In fact, if prison work programs are beneficial, spending on them should be increased so everyone can participate and get more pay for their work. Furthermore, these inmates are still often the primary breadwinners for their families and are expected to meet some financial obligations even before their release. As Sawari told Vox, “Prisoners do like having the opportunity to earn, because they do have to support themselves financially in a lot of ways. Prisoners have to provide for their health care, their dental care. They have to buy food if they want to eat outside the three times a day most prisons serve. … They have to buy clothes like jackets and boots, hygiene products, cosmetics, books, study materials, paper, tape, scissors. Any little thing they need, they have to buy that. So they want to be able to.” At the same time, they’re often subject to exorbitant markups on personal products at prison commissaries and often grossly overcharges on the ability to communicate by phone or internet with family and friends on the outside.

3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.– called the PLRA, this law makes it much harder for prisoners to file and win civil rights lawsuits in federal court. To file a lawsuit, inmates must exhaust all administrative grievance processes available to them within the correctional facility before taking their case to court. Working through these avenues can be complicated, have difficult deadlines, and often be fruitless. While suits about physical injury are allowed, those alleging mental or emotional harm are restricted. Courts can no longer waive court fees for incarcerated people but require installment payments instead. While an incarcerated plaintiff who’s had 3 lawsuits dismissed will have to pay in advance. Should a lawsuit succeed, there are limits to litigation costs the court can order the prison to pay to the prisoner’s attorney. This reduces the number of lawyers willing to take good winnable cases on behalf of incarcerated people with only 5% of prisoner civil rights cases having legal representation in 2012. In addition, the law limits the courts’ ability to change prison policy.

4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human
shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.- in the United States, Truth in Sentencing refers to policies and legislation aiming to abolish or curb parole so that convicts serve out the period to which they’ve been sentenced. In some cases, truth in sentencing is linked to movements like mandatory sentencing (in which particular crimes yield automatic sentences regardless of extenuating circumstances) and habitual offender or “three strikes” laws in which state law requires courts to hand down mandatory and extended periods of incarceration to those convicted of a criminal offense on multiple occasions. The US has the Violent Offender and Incarceration and Truth in Sentencing Program which awards grants to states so long as they pass laws requiring Part 1 violent offenders must serve at least 85% of their sentence to qualify for parole eligibility. As of 2008, the District of Columbia and 35 states qualify for this additional funding. As part of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the Sentencing Reform Act is a US statute in federal intended to increase consistency in federal sentencing. In addition to establishing the US Sentencing Commission, it abolished federal parole save for those convicted of federal crimes before 1987, those convicted under DC law, those who violated military law held in federal civilian prisons, “transfer treaty” inmates, and defendants in state cases and in witness protection. Nonetheless, both policies have contributed to mass incarceration and prison overcrowding. Many also believe that the death penalty is a stupid idea while life without parole offers no chance of a release.

5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.– this refers to the racial disparities in sentencing practices which is rampant across the United States. Nonwhite inmates are subject to harsher charges, longer sentences, and more parole denials than their white counterparts. This especially goes when the victim is white.

6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.– another addressing racial disparities in law enforcement which pertain to gangs. Gang enhancements are measures to ensure that anyone who commits a felony for a gang’s benefit, which results in a mandatory prison sentence in addition and consecutive to the penalty they receive for the underlying crime.

7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.-the film Birdman of Alcatraz offers a compelling case for this argument since Robert Stroud was indeed a violent offender. Though the real Stroud wasn’t a particularly nice guy.

8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.– in the United States, funding rehabilitation services for prisoners isn’t a high priority. Yet, the lack of rehabilitation programs for prisoners has contributed to high recidivism rates and prison overcrowding. Many released prisoners find themselves unable to adjust to outside life. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 67.8% of released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within 3 years and 76.6% were arrested within 5 years.

9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.– in most of the US, prisoners are denied the same opportunities and ways to get ahead and secure a job, which often leads to recidivism. And it doesn’t help that many of these inmates come from poverty either. For inmates seeking a college education which helps reduce their chance of recidivism, many are denied the grants and aid most college students on the outside enjoy. Nonetheless, if the drug gang members in The Wire had access to the same opportunities from the inside or out, most of them would not be selling crack on the street.

10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.– in most of the United States, convicts and ex-felons are frequently denied the right the vote. Felony disenfranchisement laws depend on each state. In Pennsylvania and 13 other states, felony disenfranchisement only lasts as long as the convict is behind bars and are restored upon release. But other states are much harsher. In 4 states including New York, felony disenfranchisement ends only after parole. In 19 states, felony disenfranchisement ends not only after incarceration or parole, but also after probation. In 7 states, restoration of voting rights after sentence completion and depending on circumstances of the crime. While 4 states like Florida require restoration to voting rights to convicts after all offenses through individual petition. In Florida, this petition must be made 5-7 years after completion of incarceration, parole, and probation. It’s said that Florida’s felony disenfranchisement laws are so harsh that in 2014 more than 1 in 10 Florida residents and 1 in 4 African Americans in the state were shut out of the polls. Nonetheless, while proponents often argue that loss of suffrage is only fair to deny political decision making to known criminals, felony disenfranchisement can create dangerous political incentives to skew criminal law in favor of disproportionally targeting groups who politically oppose those who hold power. And many of these felony disenfranchisement laws were made during segregation to keep African Americans from voting and continue to keep many blacks from the polls in several southern states. Not to mention, many states have often used prisoners’ disenfranchised status to exercise prison gerrymandering.

Despite the strike’s limited scope and difficulty corroborating the organizers’ claims, national and local media have covered the strike in earnest, some calling it, “the largest national prison strike in US history.” On the strike’s first day, news of the strike and goals have been reported on NPR, Washington Post, The Guardian, New York Magazine, Vox, Al Jazeera, BBC World News, Mother Jones, and other many other outlets. However, history shows that political actions by prisoners often have mixed results. Some prison reform advocates say that fear of reprisals coupled with the difficulty communicating between prisons makes widespread action unlikely. But some media attention is a small victory in that it has brought the issue of inhumane prison conditions to a wider audience in a way that Stephen King hasn’t. Yet, the number of prisoners striking is unknown and won’t be confirmed. So there’s no hint that the strike will be larger and more robust than past efforts. Some outlets reposted unchecked information put out by outside strike organizers, including details on how many prisons are participating. Others balanced the organizers’ accounts with official statements by state corrections departments. Nevertheless, generating media attention is the strike’s main goal since it’s very difficult to get any. Mostly because it’s hard enough to know what’s going on in prisons across the country since there’s little information available. Hopefully, this 2018 prison strike could mark turning point in meaningful criminal justice reform in the future.

The Folded Paper World of Origami

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Derived from the Japanese words that mean “folding paper,” the goal of origami is to transform a flat sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques. Use of cuts, glue, and markings are usually discouraged. The small number of basic origami folds can be combined in a variety of ways to make intricate designs. Generally, these designs start with a square paper sheet whose sides may be of different colors, prints, or patterns. Traditional Japanese origami has been practiced since the Edo period has often been less strict about these conventions, sometimes even cutting the paper or using nonsquare shapes to start with. Nonetheless, while the traditional origami is derived from the Edo period with a reference from a 1680 poem, the practice is said be introduced by Buddhist monks in the 6th century. At first, origami was only used in religious ceremonies due to the high price of paper. Though they were also used at weddings and as gifts by the upper classes. Anyway, look into Pinterest and you’ll find plenty of origami designs and types. So for your reading pleasure, I give you a treasure trove of creations from the world of origami.

  1. You’d fall for this paper raccoon.

Seems like this little guy’s searching for some nearby trash can. Since raccoons normally go for the scraps.

2. Apparently, origami has gone to the dogs.

These seem like different types of dogs. Includes Boston Terrier, Bulldogs, and Pug.

3. Perhaps you’d want something from a diamond box.

Yes, you can make boxes from origami. Yet, this shape might be more complicated.

4. Care to see a magnificent creature like this on the savannah?

Here we have an origami rhino. Have it cast a shadow and you’d mistake it for the real thing.

5. Any Catholic would love to have an origami of their favorite saint.

This is an origami of Saint Francis of Assisi. Includes a dog and bird.

6. A griffin always shows its fantastic wings.

I can guess because of the beak. Yet, this one even sports antlers for some reason.

7. You won’t be hearing these bluebirds sing.

Since they’re made of paper. But they nonetheless look quite graceful.

8. Wonder what’s hiding within these hearts.

Each of these even have a bow on them. And they’re all in shades of pink.

9. There are hundreds of folds within a bonsai.

Doesn’t have a lot of leaves on its branches. Yet, it’s a great work of paper art.

10. A hippocampi rises majestically from the sea.

You could call it a seahorse, but that term is already taken. So we call it a hippocampi, which comes from the Greeks.

11. Hope this frog can hop into your hearts.

This one is teal with yellow stripes on it. Yet, its eyes have a certain intensity.

12. Even in paper, a dragon is a sight to see.

This is of a Chinese dragon which is more serpent like. But not as dangerous as its western counterpart.

13. You won’t hear these brass bells ring.

Since they’re made of shiny paper. But they’re nicely topped with a blue bow.

14. An origami Christmas tree must have a star that stands out.

This one has paper folded in tiers. Yet, the golden star almost steals the show.

15. This crow has a piece of gold in its mouth.

Or is it a raven? Since you can’t always tell in these artistic creations. But I’m sticking with crow just to be safe.

16. Bet you wouldn’t play on this grand piano.

Probably smaller than it appears. But at least it incudes a row of keys.

17. Any Catholic would want this paper Virgin Mary.

This is Mary, Queen of Heaven. She wears a crown and a veil of stars.

18. Perhaps you might want to enjoy a bouquet of irises.

And you don’t even need a vase for these. Just some paper to hold it together.

19. This silver angel always delights.

She has silver wings and bows to pray. Perfect for topping an origami Christmas tree.

20. Bet you never saw a duck like this before.

This is just a plain white duck with yellow beak and feet. Yet, this waterfowl will get soggy if submerged.

21. You wouldn’t want to run into this this Imperial fighter.

I’m sure making this harder than it looks. But it proves futile if it defends the Death Star.

22. Some might prefer a modest donkey.

Well, this donkey seems to have a rather long neck. Yet, it can be rather stubborn.

23. You’ve probably never come across this unicorn.

Yes, this is an origami unicorn. Yet you have to admire its mane and tail.

24. You don’t want to put this waterlily in the pond.

The flower is periwinkle. Though it’s not set on a lily pad.

25. These paper flamingos are particularly striking.

They have a light pink body and bright pink legs. And no, you can’t use them for croquette mallets.

26. I’m sure nobody could resist this rat chef.

I guess this is Remy the Rat from Ratatouille. By the way, rats don’t do well in the kitchen.

27. Perhaps you might go for an origami of Our Lady of Fatima.

Not familiar with the legend of Fatima. Except that involves the Virgin Mary appearing in front of some kids.

28. You’ll be mesmerized by this origami star.

Perfect for any origami Christmas tree. Yet, involves a lot of complex folds.

29. You’ll be nuts over this origami animal.

Since it’s a paper squirrel. Too bad, it can’t find any kind of paper acorns.

30. Apparently, this fish has jumped out of the pond.

I think this is based on a real fish. But I’m afraid you won’t be frying this one since it’s made of paper.

31. I’m sure you wouldn’t see this Snoopy dance.

Since he’s an origami work. But certainly captures the true Snoopy likeness.

32. This paper Batman will always loom on Gotham City.

Of course, he only has a cape and cowl. But with origami, you have to improvise.

33. You’ll probably gawk at this majestic whale.

This is an origami of a blue whale. It’s perhaps the biggest animal on earth.

34. A lone flower can always blossom.

Not sure what flower this is supposed to be. But you have to admire the white petals.

35. Want to sit on this lily pad?

Though you wouldn’t want to put it on a pond. Goes well with an origami frog.

36. This origami cow will give you something to moo about.

This is an origami cow. Has spots, horns, and a sunny disposition. So cute.

37. Care for an origami rose?

These come in a wide array of colors. And none without stems or thorns.

38. How about a bear standing on its hind legs?

Guess this is an origami grizzly bear. Even has its own tree stand.

39. Anyone would be envious of this golden sabertooth.

this origami sabertooth is made from golden paper. But nonetheless looks fierce.

40. This origami penguin will warm your heart.

This little guy has his own tuxedo. And yes, it’s adorable as can be.

41. Bet you can’t believe seeing an origami orchid.

You can see a cascade of paper yellow flowers from the stem. Yet, please handle this pot with care.

42. Care to see a crawling black bear?

Then again, there are a few species of black bears. I’m just referring to the one from North America.

43. No one can resist these colorful gems.

They’re all in bright colors, too. Yet, these gems may be hard to fold.

44. There’s something batty about this origami.

Well, it’s an origami bat. And while they normally have black, gray, or brown fur, this one is purple.

45. A paper phoenix is always a majestic sight to behold.

This one comes with a very long tail. But if it burns, don’t bet on it rising from the ashes.

46. Any Formula 1 fan would love this paper race car.

Not very familiar with that kind of racing. Since the dominant auto racing in the states is usually NASCAR.

47. You’ll never forget this paper animal.

This is an origami elephant. And it’s gray with ears, trunk, and tusks.

48. You’d be pressed not to love these paper mammoths.

Not sure if they’re woolly. But both adult and calf have a similar set of tusks.

49. There’s nothing as graceful like an origami swan.

This is made from white and gold paper. And the folds are quite intricate.

50. Who wouldn’t what this rainbow chest of drawers.

I don’t think you can fit anything inside these. But they’re rather adorable.

51. This Emperor penguin always comes with its 2 chicks.

Okay, they may be in origami. Yet, everyone loves penguins so I couldn’t leave it out of this post.

52. For a simple paper design, a pig might suit you.

It’s made from a simple piece of pink paper. And yes, it can stand on its own 4 feet.

53. This little girl always loves her bird in her hand.

Bet this is made from a brown paper bag. Yet, you can’t help but admire this origami masterpiece.

54. This green dragon is a force to be reckoned with.

This one stands on its hind legs. And its chest is folded like a book.

55. A paper giraffe always stands tall.

Sure it may not have any spots. But it’s nonetheless quite amazing.

56. You’d be squawking over this colorful macaw.

Since the macaw is among the more colorful parrots around. Got to love its wings.

57. A lone fox always sits with grace.

You can see its ears, nose, and tail. Though you can’t help but behold how amazing it is.

58. Care for an origami spoon?

You wouldn’t want to eat with these. But they seem rather simple to make.

59. Nobody could resist this paper rubber duckie.

Of course, you wouldn’t want to have it at bath time. But it’s nonetheless so adorable.

60. You won’t believe how many kinds of horses you will find.

These origami horses come in all kinds of sizes and colors. But they’re all made of construction paper.

61. You can’t bomb a Death Star without an X-Wing fighter.

Indeed, it lacks markings. But it’s almost a dead ringer to the real thing.

62. You can’t go on a mission without this little droid.

Since R2-D2 is always saving everyone’s ass. And he never seems to get credit for anything he does that’s crucial to the plot.

63. You’ll have a hump of a time finding this camel.

Yes, it’s an origami camel. But good luck relying on this guy in the desert.

64. The mouse always gets the cheese.

Though the cat isn’t far behind. And yes, they’re all made out of paper.

65. Hope you can wish this paper couple well.

This is an origami bride and groom. Great as a wedding cake topper, so to speak.

66. Seems like these birds are coming to feed.

Consists of 4 types of birds. And yes, they’re all painted in glorious colors.

67. You can’t help but love these Japanese beauties.

All of them have their own hair and a rich kimono. Though many don’t have arms.

68. Best to watch out for this jellyfish.

Relax, it’s an origami jellyfish. So it won’t hurt you a bit.

69. Bet you don’t want to cross this scorpion.

Okay, this is a paper scorpion. Scary, but won’t hurt you.

70. Get a load of this majestic Pegasus.

This winged horse sports a folded paper pair of wings. And it’s made from off white paper.

71. This paper collie is always a faithful friend.

Sure it might not save your kid from a well. But it’s quite creative nonetheless.

72. Didn’t know anyone had a wide paper wardrobe.

Yes, these are origami clothes. And they can be in so many bright colors.

73. You’ll be jumping over this kangaroo.

Not sure if it comes with a pouch. Though it is a marsupial from Australia.

74. Would you like some ice cream?

Of course, you can’t eat it. Since it’s made out of paper. But it’s a rather ingenious design.

75. Anyone would adore these paper Dalmatians.

They even have spots and collars to show. And they’re standing on a green sheet of paper.

76. There’s no creature more magnificent than the mighty polar bear.

And it’s standing on its own hind legs. Yet, I’m sure global warming won’t help its survival odds.

77. What’s not to love about rainbow rabbits?

And they’re all in a circle for all to see. And yes, they’re quite cute.

78. Celebrate the holidays with this origami nativity scene.

Includes all the important figures. While the angel flies above watching them.

79. Per chance you might come across a mighty moose.

This is a gray moose. Since it’s made from gray construction paper.

80. You might run into this ravenous wolf.

Indeed, it’s a gray wolf. And I think it’s waiting for the pack.

81. You’d think this animal is as pretty as a peacock.

This one is made out of blue and peacock blue paper. And the folds are quite intricate as you see.

82. You’d be amazed by these autumn leaves.

These are all in fall colors. Though they’re all maple leaf shaped.

83. You’d go a long way with this dachshund.

It’s in black and brown paper. But it’s okay to pet it if you want to.

84. Care for a couple of purple tulips?

Like how these two are in a nice purple paper vase. So pretty.

85. Perhaps you’d like to have one of these cactus flowers.

Each of these cacti are in a shade of green. And each sits on a flower pot.

86. There’s nothing more spectacular like the mighty king of the jungle.

He even sports a mane with folds. Nonetheless, best you don’t touch it.

87. These origami pill boxes will come in handy.

Comes in standard and rainbow. And unlike the standard plastic ones, they don’t pose a great threat to the planet.

88. This origami deer certainly impresses.

Yes, the antlers are amazing. But you wouldn’t find a deer with a rack like that in PA.

89. You’d love to see this blackbird take flight.

This bird has its wings spread out. Though I don’t think it can fly.

90. Care for some rainbow candy?

Though none will contain any bon bons. Which is just fine since I’m more of a chocolate fan.

91. This paper Doberman stands in a dignified pose.

Indeed, it’s got quite a neck. But doberman fans can’t help but love it.

92. A mighty tiger always shows its stripes.

Though I’d use a brighter orange for the tiger. But it’s quite amazing.

93. Nobody could ever resist this panda bear.

It even has its own bamboo. Still, you knew I had to get to the panda at some point. So cute.

94. Hope you can light up with these paper lamps.

Technically, they’re lamp shades. Each is folded in its own way.

95. With the Holy Spirit, God will find a way.

Well, it’s an origami of the Holy Spirit. The white bird is supposed to be a dove.

96. How could anyone not love this sheep?

Well, it’s a paper sheep. So you won’t get any wool from it.

97. Do you want to build a snow man?

These are origami snowmen. And yes, they have scarves, hats, and smiling faces.

98. This orca rises to catch a fish.

You’d almost think it was a photograph of nature in action. But the orca is made of paper.

99. Hope you’d love to see these boxes.

They’re in different colors and have rather intricate folds on them. Love the purple ones.

100. Anyone would adore this purple flower in their home.

Has dark purple in the center and lavender petals. So pretty.

Yearbook Pictures of Schooldays Past

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While studio portraits usually reflect us looking our best, this isn’t the case with school pictures. More often than not, having your picture taken in school usually consists of you sitting for the photographer for a few minutes before they send you on your way. Not to mention, our yearbook pictures often show us in hairstyles and outfits that haven’t aged necessarily well. This is especially the case for those who attended school during the 1960s to the 1980s. Then there’s the fact many children don’t like sitting still or having their picture taken while grade school kids may be sporting missing teeth. Not to mention, when kids reach middle school age and hit puberty, they often go a few years in an awkward phase. Some may even wear braces or have very terrible acne. Anyway, the school pictures you see on this post come from Awkward Family Photos, which will make your embarrassing yearbook pics seem rather tame in comparison. So for your reading pleasure, bask in these old yearbook photos that will give you much needed back to school giggles.

  1. Sometimes you ought to know when not to put your hair up.

From Awkward Family Photos: “This is a photo of my mom when she was in 6th grade. Not sure who her barber was but they may have been blind.”

2. Apparently, Austin Powers’ mojo didn’t pass down to his young son.

Though he can behave well enough to become an international man of mystery. But the garish shirt is another matter.

3. They call him, “Triangle Guy.”

I don’t think I’d smile with pride if I played the triangle in the marching band. Then again, he may have played other instruments.

4. Obviously, Napoleon Dynamite’s school picture is exactly what you’d expect.

From Awkward Family Photos: “My senior yearbook photo, shot in the summer of 1977. My mother handed me her charge card (with a note allowing me to use it) and dared to let me go alone to pick-out my photo attire. She was horrified when I brought home a green leisure suit, sans tie. She marched me back to Montgomery Ward and returned it, and purchased this proper three-piece corduroy suit, in rust, complete with a clip-on tie and matching suede shoes. Not only was I Napoleon Dynamite before he was even born, when I looked at the yearbook photos the next year, most of the boys wearing leisure suits didn’t graduate. Thanks Mom!”

5. In the 1980s, frizzy hair was all the rage.

From Awkward Family Photos: “I love this photo because there was no doubt in my mind that I looked absolutely awesome that day. This was my favorite look and I rocked it with zero shame. Incidentally, it would be years before a boy actually liked me, but I was too cool to care.”

6. Heard of 13 Going on 30? Well, this is 6 going on 60.

From Awkward Family Photos: “Although it was nearly 30 years ago, I remember this day. Specifically, I remember putting a lot of thought into the details of my outfit. I needed to look sophisticated, and mature, but like I still knew how to have fun (hence the bolo tie and homemade fimo clay earrings). My mother helped me achieve this look by graciously allowing me to get a perm on only the top of my short hair, and by choosing my fantastic eye wear.”

7. When it’s school picture day and have to hide your hideous haircut.

From Awkward Family Photos: “The year– 1977. For my 2nd grade class picture, I was determined to wear this hat my Grandmother made for me; after all, it matched the dress my mother picked out for me! This photo is the re-take; when my mom saw the first picture – with the hat – she made me go for a do-over. Needless to say the hat came with that day too. I still stand by my decision.”

8. Apparently, wearing his hair in braids didn’t go over too well.

From Awkward Family Photos: “When my daughter asks why she can’t wear things she thinks are ‘cool,’ I show her this photo from my freshman year in high school.”

9. She has a rather angelic side to her.

The site states that it’s a senior portrait. But from the lighting, you get the impression she’s dead.

10. Nothing can tear apart a boy and his chair.

Seems more like he’s posing for a cheap advertisement or Power Point background. I’m expecting to see a brand new product or some cheesy word art any time now.

11. When you wake up with a bad hair day for school photos.

From Awkward Family Photos: “That was the last time my mom ever did my hair.” And yes, her hair is quite atrocious.

12. There are times when some people don’t know when to stop with the hair care products.

From Awkward Family Photos: “This is my oldest brother. When he came to the states , his first obsession was rock&roll… followed by big hair.”

13. The 1980s saw all kinds of mullets such as the spike top.

From Awkward Family Photos: “When my son asks why he can’t get his hair cut in a style he thinks is ‘cool’, I show him this photo from my freshman year in high school.”

14. Dwayne was always a proud son of the South.

Here he stands tall in front of the racist Confederate flag wearing a tux, mullet, and earring. Seriously, if he wore camo, he’d be full redneck.

15. A fisher always poses with his rod and reel.

And he’s not really smiling with dignity either. Nor does he seem near a lake either.

16. “I don’t want to have my picture taken!”

Then again, a lot of kids don’t like their pictures taken. This guy is no exception. But he seems among the few to show it.

17. Care to kick back and relax in a glass?

At first I thought this was some kind of ad judging by the graphics. As a school photo, it’s utterly messed up.

18. “Shirts are for losers, nerds.”

Yet, shirtlessness goes against the school dress code. As does sunglasses. But good luck telling him that.

19. Who remembers the triangle hair trend?

From Awkward Family Photos: “My mother got her hairdresser diploma in 1987. I was a poor innocent victim of her experiments. I guess she put a billiard triangle around my head and put some hairspray.”

20. Some parents have no idea when their daughter is old enough for a bouffant.

Little kids shouldn’t have big hair like that. Her parents should’ve waited until she was around, well, 40.

21. When your parents make you wear a shirt that will certainly get you beat up in school.

He can’t even smile for the camera because he knows his classmates will laugh at him. For his shirt is utterly tacky.

22. A child should always put on a happy face.

Yet, this girl seems like she’s about to kick ass in an action movie. So don’t call her pigtails cute.

23. In school pictures placement is everything.

And having that log between that boy’s legs leaves a lot to interpretation. Not sure if that’s an appropriate pose for grade-schoolers.

24. Even supervillains had to go through school once.

Okay, he’s just a comic book fan. Not sure what he’s supposed to be. But he’ll fit right in at Comic Con.

25. Sometimes injuries can’t be helped.

From Awkward Family Photos: “This my son’s school pic after busting his lip. Poor kid rolled off the bed, hit his night stand, and had to get stitches. Then picture day!”

26. If you’re in marching band, setting is everything.

From Awkward Family Photos: “In the truest sense of the term, this is an awkward family photo. Circa 1984. Failing to capture the spirit of my role in the North Stafford High School marching band, dad thought it made sense to stage a photo of me in my uniform … in the woods … in a chair that just happened to be there … and without my sax. Instead, it looks like I am the young regent of Sherwood Forest, perhaps its constable, given the bobby hat.”

27. She wanted to pose with her 2 great loves, bowling and Shakespeare.

From Awkward Family Photos: “In our senior English class we had to make Shakespearean Globe Theaters out of a non-wood material. My group used duct tape. To complete the look for the senior picture, I wore my duct tape dress, shoes, tiara and bracelet. I don’t know how the bowling pin on a pedestal worked into the theme.”

28. Seeing what’s on her shirt, you’d question her sanity.

Indeed, that may be what her shirt says. But it doesn’t reflect well on her.

29. Let’s look inside the mind of a male clarinet player in a marching band.

This is an iconic image of awkwardness. So I couldn’t leave it out if I tried.

30. “But I don’t wanna wear my Dalmatian outfit.”

From Awkward Family Photos: “Just found this gem today. Apparently my mother thought it was appropriate to take me to a rave in a dalmation outfit. Needless to say, I was not happy.”

31. Apparently, Robbie is destined to become a sportscaster someday.

I mean he’s wearing glasses and an irrepressibly tacky football shirt. Think that explains it all.

32. Apparently, he’ll grow up to be an aerobics instructor at some point.

However, his fashion sense leaves much to be desired. But he doesn’t care.

33. “Do we need another retake?”

I’m sure we all feel this way during school pictures. Most kids just want to get their photo done and get going.

34. With this Annie, it’s a hard knock life.

From Awkward Family Photos: “I was 6 years old. My mother was obsessed with me being Annie because I had curly hair. So, she fluffed it up, bought me a red dress and a stuffed dog and had my picture taken. I can’t sing, I can’t dance and had no interest in theater. Hopefully, the photo was enough for her dream.”

35. A baseball player always wants to pose with his bat.

Though often placement is everything. This might lead to some rather R-rated interpretations.

36. Some high school seniors just want to see everything burn.

Seems like he’s trying to make himself appear as badass as possible. Too bad he doesn’t have hard abs to make it compelling.

37. Make sure your pigtails aren’t too outlandish.

From Awkward Family Photos: “This is what happens when Mom goes out of town and Dad is responsible for making sure I am ready for picture day at school.”

38. On picture day, don’t forget to wear your best spiked collars.

Seems more appropriate for a dog or gang member. But he doesn’t see anything wrong with it. Until 10 years later.

39. Like they say, follow your passion.

Yet if that passion is balloon animals, expect not to get laid in high school. Since they’re kind of cheesy.

40. The 1980s were known for large frizzy hairdos.

Apparently, it’s a mix between a mullet and a weeping willow. The top is just ridiculous.

41. This high school soccer player takes his sport very seriously.

Funny how he’s sitting on a fold up chair with a soccer ball. Possibly dwelling on life’s biggest questions or soccer as a metaphor.

42. Apparently, she has a rather split personality.

And I think she probably has split ends. Certainly a photo her kids will laugh at someday.

43. She may be a girl on the inside. But outside she’s all mail.

Well, she’s wearing chainmail. Mostly because she lost a bet. Or is playing Joan of Arc in the school play.

44. “Would you please tell me where the fire is?”

Indeed, he’s carrying a fire extinguisher. Yet, he’s not sure what fire he should put out.

45. Say hello to a future car salesman.

I mean the kid’s wearing a suit, vest, and bolo tie. And he’s holding a banner with a big smile on his face.

46. Apparently, they also do school pictures at Bajor.

Wonder if this is a school photo of Major Kira. Then again, a good school photo might’ve been the last thing a Bajoran would think about under Cardassian rule.

47. There are some people who will always be more photogenic than others.

From Awkward Family Photos: “This is probably one of the worst school pictures ever. I must have been laughing when he took the picture. But why would my mom send me out like that with my hair like that, knowing that it was picture day? Everyone who sees it asks me, “Were you on drugs?”, my response was “No!”, but I should have been. I am a fairly good looking guy, I promise.”

48. “Smile? You can’t make me!”

Man, she must be a stubborn girl. Yet, she won’t be moved in the slightest.

49. This boy’s got a wicked future ahead of him.

From Awkward Family Photos: “For my 2nd grade photo I opted for the ‘Satan’s child lawyer’ look.”

50. Here Liza poses with E.T. for school.

E.T. in the movie may be freaky but he’s kind of charming. But the E.T. in this photo outright terrifies me.

51. Tessa was voted by her class as Most Likely to Hoard Cats.

After all, she’s wearing a cat vest. And when she grows up, she’ll become one of those crazy cat ladies.

52. When you’re a cowboy, your hat can be as fancy as you want it to be.

From Awkward Family Photos: “My son became a cowboy over the summer, with a feather boa hat. I love that his loose tooth he wouldn’t let me pull was just hanging for his school picture.”

53. Maybe the Gap Athletic shirt was a bad idea.

Reading from this angle, it spells out “pathetic.” That poor kid.

54. This guy seems to have no motivation whatsoever.

His shirt states “No Goals.” Though it may say more than that. Yet, the camera will only get the top.

55. “Honestly, I only went there for the Buffalo wings.”

From Awkward Family Photos: “Looks like I dressed myself for class photos… My cousin told me Hooters was a donut shop.” That’s what they all say.

56. Didn’t know the “sassy grandma” look was a hit back in the day.

She’s even wearing a sparkly outfit. but the hair speaks for itself.

57. Apparently, Guy Fieri hasn’t changed much since middle school.

Yep, seems like he’s taking one-way ticket to Flavortown on that one. Can see the flames on his collar.

58. Isn’t he a bit young to do Shakespeare?

Actually it’s a school picture from the Ukraine. They seem to take the concept to a whole new level.

59. For his picture, little Jason wore his favorite bunny shirt.

Uh, that’s the Playboy bunny. Even more disturbing, since when did they make T-shirts with the Playboy Bunny for 5-year-olds?

60. If you think playing the triangle in marching band is pathetic, you haven’t met this guy.

Actually, he might just be a normal percussionist. Yet, the expression on his face shows he doesn’t like posing with tiny cymbals.

61. “Would you like to play with me?”

I don’t know if it’s the lighting, her outfit, or her hair. But that girl’s expression kind of freaks me out for some reason.

62. As most kids smile on school picture day, Robbie is dead inside.

Seems like the demons have taken over him and rendered him into a soulless vessel. Or he just got kissed by Dementors.

63. “One more day, before the show.”

“With the saxephones a playing./When the low brass starts to drone.”

64. Some pre-schoolers prefer to keep mum.

From Awkward Family Photos: “When the teacher laughs while handing you the picture packet and says they tried everything they could, you know you’ve got a winner. When asked ‘Lilly, why didn’t you smile?’ Her response was simple: ‘I don’t like school and I don’t like to smile.’ And that will tell you everything you need to know about this 4-year-old.”

65. When the ball isn’t burning, you’re not playing hard enough.

Let’s hope this is photoshop. Because you can’t trust a kid holding a burning ball.

66. A decade later, Malarie would work as a secretary.

This bob 1970s haircut is hideous. Why would any parent subject their little girl to that?

67. Who can resist this smile?

From Awkward Family Photos: “When you are 6 years old and have been preparing all morning to pose with your hand on your hip for school pictures, because that is the cutest pose after all, and then are told to put your hand on your chin, suddenly pictures don’t seem as fun.”

68. Someone’s creeping among the tall trees.

From Awkward Family Photos: “I was having my senior photos taken and decided that I wanted something different than everyone else. Something that was fun and wasn’t so cookie-cutter. My friend, who was killing some time with me, got a Druid’s cloak from the trunk of my car, (Who didn’t have one of those in their car? It was the 90’s after all), and lurked around in the background. I dunno, I kind of like it.”

69. Mushroom hair was all the rage back in the 1970s.

Apparently, parents at the time thought such hairstyle was cute on their children. But I think it makes this little girl seem like she’s going to haunt your dreams.

70. Make sure the hair pieces always match the dress.

You’d almost think she was straight out of Little House on a Prairie. Save for the top of her hair.

71. Sometimes you’re so blasé that even faking a smile is impossible.

Wonder what’s keeping him down. School picture day? Family troubles? We may never know.

72. Joey must look his best as a keyboard virtuoso.

And here he stands for the picture all proud of himself, too. And yes, he’s a redhead with glasses.

73. Alan is always great at carrying logs on his shoulder.

I don’t like to stereotype but his short shorts aren’t helping one it. Seriously, you can see the pockets.

74. With Lacey, it’s hammer time.

In true MC Hammer fashion, she wears sunglasses and a baseball cap. But you can’t touch this.

75. “Want to see my troll collection?”

Indeed, she has a collection of troll dolls. And all clad in the same dress as she is.

76. This redhaired Fonz always knows he’s cool.

Sure he’s only about 9. But already he thinks he’s the biggest guy on campus.

77. Apparently, this young Juggalo seems to regret his school photo.

I believe he’s not wearing any face paint. Yet, his hair goes in all directions.

78. For your senior picture, you can never have enough props.

Actually, I might beg to differ. Yet, it seems this girl can’t really decide among the crap below.

79. You can pose for a picture in all kinds of patterns.

However, I don’t think a shirt like this is appropriate for a school picture. Seems to consist of sex, lies, and video tape.

80. Senior portraits are always precious.

Yet, I wouldn’t want to pose with Gollum since he needs his precious. Also, he’s been corrupted by the One Ring for far too long.

81. “Can I introduce you to my little friend?”

Yes, he’s holding a rat, which he keeps as a pet. I know it’s kind of weird.

82. Can’t believe I found a grade school picture of Miss Grokey.

She’s the hippie teacher from Recess. Okay, her hair’s short but she more or less resembles a secretary.

83. Cindy always enjoyed hours on the phone.

Before cell phones, people talked to each other on cord phones. You also had to memorize numbers, too.

84. Mike never fails to impress with his own bear.

Here he poses with his beloved bear rug. And yes, the bear has sunglasses to match.

85. “I’ve seen things at pre-school no one dared to talk about.”

Seems like she’s already traumatized by all the playground drama. And she can’t unsee it.

86. Apparently, Ellie’s mom is a hairdresser for old ladies.

From Awkward Family Photos: “Yeah, so I heard my best friend was made into a meme called the 60 year-old girl?”

87. “Ask me to smile one more time…”

Doesn’t help that he’s wearing a pink shirt and a sweater vest. Perhaps he knows he’s going to be beat up at school over his outfit.

88. It’s said that the outdoors bring great acoustics.

Wonder how she got her harp near the waterfall. Since they’re quite huge.

89. You’d think this girl would spend her spare time at a bingo hall.

From Awkward Family Photos: “A gem I found of my sister-in-law. I will call her ‘Razz-A-Ma-Tazz’ for her upside-down shades.”

90. When your hair’s not big enough, wear a wig.

From Awkward Family Photos: “This is my sister’s school photo in 1971. My Mom insisted that she wear and wig and as you can imagine, she wasn’t very happy about it. It was of course great to see your older sister get some pay back for all the torture she had caused me during that period.”

91. “You can get a lot of chicks with a keyboard.”

However, his fashion sense is best to be desired. Thinks he’s cool but comes off as ridiculous.

92. Don’t forget to dress appropriately for the camera.

From Awkward Family Photos: “My friend’s Mom mixed up pajama day with picture day. He was not pleased.”

93. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge.

From Awkward Family Photos: “My daughter collected toilet plungers when she was little. None of them ever met a toilet, face-to-face, she just liked them. She always wanted to see the ‘plunger section’ of any given store we went to. She painted the handles on some of them and would frequently line them up as her opening act for the puppet shows she would put on.”

94. Stanley was voted in his class Most Likely to Become a Serial Killer.

Sure he’s not holding a knife. But a book of pocket knives just makes you wonder about him.

95. There are some kids who don’t always know how to smile.

From Awkward Family Photos: “Our 4 year old daughter, who refers to herself as Penny Cat Aurora Leopard Butterfly With No Wings, was greatly anticipating picture day at preschool. She styled her own outfit for the occasion, and when the photographer told her to ‘Smile pretty like a princess’, this magic happened.”

96. “Let’s explore the wonders of the cosmos.”

Guess this guy is an avid Carl Sagan fan. And yes, the Milky Way Galaxy is made of “billions and billions” of stars.

98. Apparently, her hands are totally out of proportion.

Okay, those are doll hands. But they’re nonetheless incredibly creepy.

99. Casey has a knack for wildlife.

Don’t want to know what he’s doing with that raccoon. Though I know it’s taxidermy.

100. No matter how hard she tries, she just can’t feel it.

Well, she’s trying to smile. But it’s practically impossible for her at this point.