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I’d waited months, nay years, for this moment. I was finally getting a tattoo and not just any tattoo but a tattoo of a Hamilton lyric after seeing the musical on broadway. In high school I was dead set on getting the Fall Out Boy lyric, “I can write it better than you ever felt it,” in dainty script across my rib cage. I was introduced to their music at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (or PAFA) summer camp in middle school and ever since, their music was the lifeblood of my of young angsty want-to-be-artist soul. So after seeing them live and getting into college as an English major, I felt I needed something to commemorate both my love for this band and for writing. But that was a childish notion (that my mother said absolutely not to). I was 17, what did I know about anything? Plus, now at 22, I barely even listen to Fall Out Boy. But Hamilton — a Tony award winning, constantly sold out, people of color driven narrative — was never going to go out of style.

Now after spending months scrolling through BuzzFeed articles about the best tattoo artists around Philadelphia and New York, I found the place, Bang Bang tattoo studio. The minimalist black and white building, the artist bios about how each person has carefully cultivated one skill or another, and of course the owner, Keith McCurdy, nicknamed Bang Bang for reasons I didn’t bother to google, who’s tattooed everyone from Rihanna to Adele. This was it. This was the place I was going to get my tattoo. After months of scrolling through images of script, watercolor, and portraits, the day was here. I should have been excited. More… “Like You’re Running Out of Time”

Byshera Williams is a Senior English Major at Drexel University and the current Associate Editor for The Smart Set.

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“Don’t worry, ‘muggle’ isn’t a derogatory term or anything. “ But I wasn’t offended by 28-year-old Freya Fridy’s using the M-word that Friday afternoon on the phone, mostly because I had no idea what the hell she was talking about. “It’s just our term to refer to people who don’t know much about Harry Potter.”

 

“Well, in that case,” I thought to myself, “thank God, I’m a muggle.” Or more apropos, I suppose, thank Aberforth Dumbledore. Or Kingsley Shackleport. Or Mundungus Fletcher. Or Sir Nicholas Mimsy-Porpington. Or Nymphadora Tonks. Or Cornelius Fudge. Or Whoever the Fuckingdweedle…

And I don’t thank all these wizards, witches and, um, Metamorphmaguses because I think I’m too good for Harry Potter. Quite the opposite, actually: I’m probably not good enough. As I would soon come to find out, to become a part of… More…

In the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center just outside Chicago, I bump into a crowd of Jedi wearing Obi-Wan-style robes and munching popcorn. I change direction and slip around the Star Wars fans, who are just a few of the thousands of people attending Wizard World Chicago, the second-largest comic book convention in the country.

There’s a large crowd of kids in X-Men costumes in front of me, and I take out my camera.  When I was at the height of my comic-book fandom (now more than a decade ago), the X-Men titles were by far my favorites. There were two things I especially liked about the team of mutants: The X-Men were outcasts, and they had strong, capable females on their team. Sure, those women were drawn with wildly disproportionate bodies, but they were also given equal page time as the men. Gleefully I snap pictures of the costumed… More…

“I never lecture, not because I am shy or a bad speaker, but simply because I detest the sort of people who go to lectures and don’t want to meet them.” – H.L. Mencken

 

This weekend, like they do every year around H.L. Mencken’s September 12 birthday, about one hundred Mencken fans descend on Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Library to pay tribute to the man famous for his scathing attacks on religion, creationism, the middle class, politicians, countryfolk, and a host of other targets he blamed for the ruination of America. The Pratt is the perfect setting for such a celebration. There are parts that feel as if they haven’t changed since Mencken wandered its halls. The first day of the celebration, the library’s main elevator was broken. Visitors who didn’t want to climb the stairs to the third floor auditorium — and there were many, Mencken fans being on… More…