Sunday, April 22, 2018

Elixir of Love at The Dr. Phillips Center of the Performing Arts.

Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love) was a light hearted operatic comedy that was staged for free at the Dr. Phillips Center of the Performing Arts (445 S Magnolia Ave
Orlando, FL 32801.) This truly classic opera endures the ages and speaks to the hearts of all who come in contact with it. 

Elixir tells the story of a young, poor man, Nemorino (David Soto Zambrana) who tries to win the heart of a beautiful wealthy woman, Adina (Romana Saintil). Add to the mix a blustering self-absorbed officer, Belcore (Justin Morrison) and a traveling quack doctor, Dr. Dulcamara (Juan Tomas Martinez) who claims to sell potions that cure everything from psoriasis and old age to diabetes and – well, you name it! – and you have the principal cast of one of the most beloved and melodic operas ever written.

This modernized adaptation featured a cast member on a Segway which clearly set the scene in the modern day. The painted backdrop set the scene in a modern day park. Nemorino yearns for Adina from a distance. Sergeant Belcore his passion for Adina. Dulcamara sells a bottle of a love elixir to Nemorino who drinks it. He approaches Adina with a confident swagger and she is turned off and decides to flirt with Belcore. It was basically a story of how drinking lots of wine builds your romantic confidence and love wins in the end. It was a fun operatic romp.

The production was staged as part of the week long UCF Celebrates the Arts.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Dance 10 at the Dr.Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Dance 10 featured 80 dancers who performed at the Disney Theater in the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (455 S. Magnolia Avenue Orlando FL.) The performance was one of many during the week long UCF Celebrates the Arts. In the spring of 2015, the university launched this
festival to celebrate UCF’s visual and performing arts through plays, exhibitions, and musical performances.

For its second year, the School of Performing Arts and the School of Visual Arts and Design, in
collaboration with community and university partners, has prepared a showcase of UCF’s
vibrant disciplines to delight and educate audiences. The festival included over 30 performances by Theatre students and Music students, as well as gallery and interactive exhibitions by student visual artists. The showcase brought to Central Florida a celebration of the talent, creativity, and dedication of the school's student artists. 

The Disney Theater was packed for Dance 10. I had to find a spot in the nose bleed seats. Many of the people  in the audience around me seemed like they might be dancers themselves. With the low light, I  painted the scene with just the three primary colors, red yellow and blue. It was a good lesson in leaving out local colors like the colors of a dress or the tint of a blouse, and instead just focusing on large washes to cover the page quickly. Photography and video wasn't allowed but no one mentioned that art could not be created at a festival of the arts.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Friday, April 20, 2018

Weekend Top 6 Picks for April 21 and 22, 2018

Saturday April 21, 2018
8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Parramore Farmers Market. the east side of the Orlando City Stadium, across from City View. Open every Saturday on the east side of the Orlando City Stadium, across from City View.Purchase quality, fresh and healthy food grown in your own neighborhood by local farmers, including Fleet Farming, Growing Orlando, and other community growers.

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Book Festival. Downtown Orlando Public Library 101 E. Central Blvd.Orlando FL 32801. The Orlando Book Festival is a day-long celebration of books at the Orlando Public Library. New York Times bestseller S. Jae-Jones, author of Wintersong, will kick off the day with an opening keynote. Join us for panels, writing workshops, book signings, and more from bestselling authors from all over the country. Enjoy a closing keynote address from New York Times bestseller David Baldacci. Seating is limited for the David Baldacci talk; a limited number of wristbands will be distributed starting at 9:30 a.m. You must be present to receive a wristband. One wristband per person.
This event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but RSVP on Facebook to see updates and ask questions. 
Schedule (Subject to Change)
For Readers and Writers
10-10:50 a.m. Opening Keynote - S. Jae-Jones
10 a.m. - 2p.m. Literary Organization Tables
11-11:50 a.m. Panel and Workshop, Session 1
12-12:50 p.m. Panel and Workshop, Session 2
1-1:50 p.m. Panel and Workshop, Session 3
2-2:50 p.m. Closing Keynote - David Baldacci
2-2:50 p.m. Explore the Melrose Center
3-4:30 p.m. Book Signing, all authors 

4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Cruisin' Downtown DeLand Car Show! East Indiana Ave Downtown DeLand, Deland FL . Classic cars & rods. Live DJ, giveaways, shopping & dining. Fun for the family! Every 3rd Saturday night!
INFO: & for showing your car 386-738-0649
East Indiana Ave Downtown DeLand, Deland FL

Sunday April 22, 2018
 Noon to 3 p.m. Donation based. Music at the Casa. Vocalist and Guitarist Reverend Shawn Garvey. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, 656 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. Members of the public are invited to visit our historic home museum on a Sunday afternoon from 12 to 3 pm, listen to live music and take a tour of our historic home museum and the James Gamble Rogers II Studio by trained docents.

1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Free. "Chalk Walk" program open-house Polasek House. Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, 633 Osceola Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. The week-long Winter Park Paint Out plein air festival officially starts with this open house event where artists will be on site painting the picturesque sculpture gardens. Artist Michelle Held will lead registered teams in the “Student Chalk Walk” program by showing visitors and students her chalk design on one of the garden’s sidewalk squares. Students will have just two hours to complete their designs which will be on display through the week-long event. Complimentary plein air watercolor activities appropriate for all ages and skill levels will be available in the gardens throughout the afternoon. E-mail to register a team to participate in the chalk walk. More information on Winter Park Paint Out at

10 Midnight. Free but get a coffee. Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee 929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. Free comedy show! Come out and laugh, or give it a try yourself.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tiffany Johnson Bartending at Pulse on June 12, 2016

There is sensitive content and disturbing details included within. If you feel you may be affected, please do not read this post.

Tiffany Johnson was bar tending the Pulse Nightclub patio bar on the night of the attack on June 12, 2016. Pulse was a second job, her fun job. She also worked at the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. She would go straight from Dr. Phillips to her evening shift at Pulse.  She  was introduced to the club by a friend named Ryan who asked her to come see him dance. Ryan also let her know that they were hiring bartenders and she applied for the job. Neema Bahrami interviewed her and she started in 2015 as a bartender on call. Pulse felt comfortable, and she knew Ryan, so it was like family. By June, she was starting to work Saturdays with another bartender on the Pulse patio.

On the evening of June 11, 2016 Tiffany was working at Dr. Phillips as usual. The show that night let out late though she couldn't remember what it was.  When she got to Pulse, the other bartender was already doing her thing. It was a busy night but not super busy. Fringe had just ended so the night was slow in comparison. She took a cellphone photo of the crowd dancing.

A little after 2 a.m. the bartenders stopped after last call. Tiffany's computer had broken, so she was sharing a computer with the other bartender. Tiffany texted her boyfriend "Lets go eat." She went to the bathroom and cut through the VIP area to get back up front. Brian was talking to her as she gathered her sales slips. In mid sentence, as he spoke to her, two shots went off. Then the shots just started. She saw out of her periphery and then ran to the outside corner of the bar. She was frozen. The music was still going. She could hear people running and screaming. Then Ryan shouted, "Everybody out!" She snapped back into reality and ran out, thinking, 'please don't shoot me in the back.' Somebody was running with her. "What the hell is going on?" she asked. "I don't know, someone is shooting." he countered. His car was in the parking lot. She shouted at him, "Is this your car?" "Get in the car lets go!" They drove around the neighborhood. She doesn't smoke, but she started chain smoking his Newport's. She tried to get him to take her to her friend's house, but she was too distraught to give directions. She called her boyfriend who was working in a downtown club.

By this time sirens could be heard approaching. They parked at McDonald's, which is just south of Pulse on Orange Avenue. People were coming into McDonald's covered in blood. There weren't major injures, but the blood might have been from other people who had been shot. A bum started asking people for money. Couldn't he see what was going on? She went off on him. The other person she rode with's friend made it to McDonald's to meet them. "Can you just drop me off Downtown?" she asked him. Then she looked down at her hands and she realized she was still clutching her credit card slips. She had been holding them all this time. The friend dropped her off on Garland Avenue and she ran to the Beacham Theater where her boyfriend worked. The bouncer didn't let her in, at first thinking she might just be some distraught drunk girl. When she saw her boyfriend she broke down and cried. They went back to Pulse together but couldn't get close. She wanted to recover her car and belongings. The police said to, "Take her home." She couldn't sleep that night, it was horrible.

She didn't have her house key, phone, car, or any of her belongings. Her friends got some clothes for her. She basically lived in her Pulse t shirt for a week. She was helpless and didn't know what to do. The police interview took about half an hour. They could not let her know when she could get her car and it put her in a really weird place. She finally got a call  that she could pick up her car a week and a half later. There was human matter on the hood. A friend of hers details cars, so they traded cars and he got it deep cleaned for her. Inside some Michael Kors merchandise had literally melted.

It took about a month for the full magnitude of what happened to hit her. She couldn't go to the Dr. Phillips vigil, she wasn't ready. That Thursday there was a fundraiser at Southern Nights and that was an emotional night. That Friday they all met a Neema's house. She did get to the Lake Eola Vigil. Over time she learned who had survived and who died that night. Camping World Stadium assistance wasn't too complicated, it was just weird that she had to do it. Southwest airlines sent her home for two weeks. On the second day at Camping World, she got her purse back. She had to sketch out where she had been that night.

Orlando had showed up in strength that first week and a half. She felt proud to live here. She was invited with some survivors to Boston. That particular group got very close. The parade was amazing. It was good to get away and finally relax. Sometimes when the survivors get together and start talking about that evening, she just has to remove herself from the conversation.

Barbara Poma invited some of the Pulse staff to return to the building and go inside. Tiffany didn't have a chance to go back to the patio where she worked that night because someone had tried to break into the building and the area was blocked off. To her, it seemed eerie inside. It did nothing for her. She kind of wished that she just remembered the place as it used to be, but now there was this new memory. Tiffany started bartending again when Pulse employees started holding events at The Abbey. It felt OK because she was with everyone. She has a new family since that evening. That is the best part of the whole shitty mess.

This article and sketch have been posted with the express written permission of the interviewee. Analog Artist Digital World takes the privacy and wishes of individuals very seriously.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

“Merging Art and Language in Museums”

Sergio Bessa gave a talk titled, “Merging Art and Language in Museums” at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, (1414 Art Center Ave, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168). I figured this was a fine subject to  bring along Pam Schwartz, the chief curator at the Orange County Regional History Center. The Atlantic Arts Center of the Arts is like an artist camp set out in the woods at the edge of civilization. Boardwalks interconnect communal cabins. We were at a loss to find where the talk would take place and we finally asked another artist wandering about, and he guided us there. The lecture hall was about the size of a small basketball court with stadium seating for the attendees. We sat in the front row to get a good view of Sergio. Perhaps a dozen or so people filed in to listen.

Sergio Bessa is the director of curatorial and education programs at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, which he joined in 2003. A scholar of concrete poetry, Bessa has published several volumes on the subject.  At the Bronx Museum, he has organized several exhibitions including Joan Semmel: The Lucid Eye (2013), Paulo Bruscky: Art is our last hope (2013); Martin Wong: Human Instamatic (2015), in collaboration with Yasmin Ramirez, and later this year he will present Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect, organized in collaboration with Jessamyn Fiore.

The talk was all about concrete poetry, which is poetry organized to fill specific shapes and structures. Concrete poetry has developed from a long tradition of shaped poems in which the words are arranged in such a way as to depict their subject. The talk was a dry and in-depth look at concrete poetry in its early days in Brazil. Without digital tricks the early poets had to rely on typewriters with different colored ink tapes and extensive use of actual cutting and pasting of text. A poem by Augusto de Campos, titled “here are the lovers,” is meant to depict nude lovers copulating. 

Other audience members must have had a solid week of exposure to concrete poetry because they interpreted the work with reflective and deep interpretation as if their grade depended upon it. Personally, if I want to depict something on a page, I  would much rather sketch it with line and color  than be limited by the linear structure of words. Now that I am firmly aware of this form of poetry, it seems I can't escape it. Pam and I ran across a concrete poetry exhibit in Miami shortly after the talk. Every poem was arranged the the shape of a cube. What did it all mean? I don't know. I don't think I am esoteric enough to let this poetry affect me deeply. I  just like to draw stuff. Pam was just surprised that the talk had absolutely nothing to do with museums.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Orlando Drink and Draw 10

Orlando Drink and Draw ventures to a new bar each month to sample beers and sketch. There is no model fee and no instruction. This is just a chance to get out, meet fellow artists and draw. Big Daddy's (Orlando 3001 Corrine Dr, Orlando, Florida 32803) is a traditional dive bar in the Audubon District.  New owner Frankie Guerrero has made some amazing improvements including a new game room and additional table seating area.

This ODD event wasn't very crowded, but quality artists showed up like Audrey Zindler, Noga Grossman and also Wendy Wallenberg. The place had the rich thick smell of cigarettes which for me was a draw back. I breathed shallow as I sketched. My goal has always been to find Orlando's true dive bars and I have to live with some smoke to get some of these sketches on location. My clothes had a good washing when I got home.

The space reminded me of the strangely sinister pool room Vincent Van Gogh painted in the south of France as he slowly lost his mind. At the time of this sketch I was contemplating separation and a few weeks later I had left. It is almost two years since I left and the divorce is still held up as the value of my art work is being argued. Most of my sketches are in hard bound sketchbooks which are impossible to sell since there is another sketch on the back of each page.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Monday, April 16, 2018

Lauren Jane in Blue Box 11

27 Blue Boxes are painted on sidewalks in Downtown Orlando. These boxes are for panhandlers and buskers. Busking is now possible day and night in these blue boxes. Although set up for panhandlers, police have insisted street performers must use the blue boxes. Artists are labeled as performers by this city law. Performing outside the boxes can result in 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

I am working towards  scheduling 27 sketch opportunities in which performers utilize these Blue Boxes. I am about half way through the project. These Boxes represent the only places downtown where there is theoretically freedom of speech. This group page is set up to organize the systematic documentation of these 27 Boxes using sketches and articles about what results.

Lauren Jane is a talented local visual artist in Orlando. Her representational work is large and bold. She decided to sketch me as I sketched her. The legs of her easel fit neatly in the blue box but one leg jutted just outside the confines of the box. If a police officer wanted to cite her on a technicality that inch might have been interpreted as blocking the flow of traffic on the sidewalk. This blue box is right near the downtown post office. You might think there wold be a greater flow of foot traffic justified by people going to the post office to get stamps. I think I am one of the few antiquated individuals who still sends bills via the mail.

Jane and I settled in to our task at hand. Very few people wandered by or even noticed that she was creating art. Lauren has started a business called Lauren Jane Inc. that teaches artists how to show, promote and sell their art. She has a free art biz blueprint book for anyone who joins her Art Biz Secrets Facebook Group. Secrets offered include: -How to Sell your art - How to Get in shows - Learn what other artists are doing... what works and what doesn’t - Learn how to talk about your art - Join a close community of like minded artists who want to see each other thrive, in art Creations and Sales. It is all advice I desperately need. I am doing expense reports for 2017 and some months did not generate enough income to justify my staying in Orlando. I love creating, but sales don't justify all the commitment to this city's arts community.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Josephine: a Burlesque Cabaret Dream Play Rehearsal

Josephine: a Burlesque Cabaret Dream Play is a one-woman musical biographical play about the iconic Josephine Baker. Created by Tymisha Harris, Michael Marinaccio and Tod Kimbro. Book and Musical Direction by Tod Kimbro, performed by Tymisha Harris. Directed and Produced by Michael Marinaccio

I went to a rehearsal just prior to the Fab Fringe 2018 Fundraiser to be held at the Plaza Live (425 N Bumby Ave, Orlando, Florida 32803) on March 5th. Josephine, combines cabaret, theatre, and dance to tell the story of the iconic Josephine Baker, the first African-American international superstar and one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th Century. Josephine shatters stereotypes of race, gender roles, and sexuality in this intimate, charming and haunting cabaret with a twist. Born in St. Louis in 1906, Josephine Baker achieved only moderate success in the United States but became an international superstar after moving to France in the early 20s. She starred alongside white romantic leading men in films in the 30s, had multiple interracial marriages and homosexual relationships, and performed in men's clothing before the term "drag" existed in the lexicon. Her adopted country of France gave her the opportunity to live freely without the racial oppression of her home nation, though she never stopped yearning for acceptance in America.

The rehearsal was in a small Orlando bungalow just south of Greenwood Cemetery. The band squeezed into the small  living room. There were drums, a guitar, Todd on Piano, a violinist and bass along with an accordion. The conversations between sets offered plenty of saucy humor and the show itself offered the same. I don't believe I saw the entire run through so I will not venture a review. But I could tell this was going to be a very fun musical review with a serious message.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Little Shop of Horrors in Eustis

Clandestine Arts in conjunction with the Bay Street Players presents the hilariously kooky musical favorite, "Little Shop of Horrors" as part of the State Theatre Studio Series. Derek Critzer produced and directed the show while also taking the lead role. This was a herculean task and he pulled it off. Pam Schwartz and I rushed up to The Historic State Theater (109 N Bay St, Eustis, Florida 32726) after I had taught my weekend Urban Sketching class. We negotiated our way into seats in the very back row feeling our way in the dark. We had missed some of the first act, but I was intent on getting a sketch. The soundtrack to the musical Little Shop of Horrors with music by Howard Ashman and lyrics by Alan Mencken got me through some rough times as I struggled to survive as an artist in NYC. I always felt I was trying to escape from skid row. As an artist you are always trying to make magic happen on a shoe-string budget.

When we arrived Audrey (Savannah Pedersen) was on a date with Orin Scrivello the dentist (Robb Ross). His maniacal laughing was unnerving and abrasive. As he suffocated in his laughing gas helmet I felt claustrophobic for him. Could he get enough air in that fish bowl of a helmet? Seymour Krelborn (Derek Critzer) who raised the mysterious plant gets the girl but needs to feed the plants insatiable appetite for blood in his hope to keep her. The meek, plant shop apprentice is thrown into the public eye.

The voice of the plant (Eduardo Rivera) was silky and enticing. One trumpet player in the live orchestra kept blatting out his notes and some voices in the cast seemed worn. In some ways this was fitting for the urban grunge aesthetic, but the 3 woman chorus (Camila Camilo, Nyeshia Smith, and  Felichia Chivaughn Wright) was on point doing a stellar job.

Overall this was a fun day of theater, well worth the drive. 
Remaining show dates are today and tomorrow, 
Tickets are $21 

Saturday April 14, 2018
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Sunday April 15, 2018
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Friday, April 13, 2018

Weekend Top 6 Picks for April 14th and 15th

Saturday April 14, 2018
9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Free. Curry Ford Community Bike and Pedestrian Safety Fair. 2850 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, FL 32806. Curry Ford Road is undergoing a temporary transformation to make the corridor safer and more accommodating for all modes of travel. This includes a reduction in travel lanes and the addition of bicycle lanes and mid-block pedestrian crossings. This community event will focus on bicycle and pedestrian safety by providing demonstrations, interactive drills, helmet fittings, and giveaways. Walk or ride your bike to the free event.

4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  Free. Young Voices. J.B. Callaman Center 102 North Parramore Ave Orlando FL.
Teen Open Mic Every second Saturday of the month.

7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Free. Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Mozart and Dvorak. Saint Luke's Lutheran Church (2021 West SR 426 Oviedo FL. Benjamin Hochman, Pianist and guest Conductor.

Sunday April 15, 2018
10 a.m. to noon.  Free, Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation Class. University, 5200 Vineland Rd, Orlando, FL 32811.  The Method of Heartfulness A simple and practical way to experience the heart’s unlimited resources.

Noon to3 p.m. Donation based. Music at the Casa. Flamenco Guitarist Omar Miguel. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, 656 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. Members of the public are invited to visit our historic home museum to listen to live music and take a tour of our historic home museum and the James Gamble Rogers II Studio by trained docents.

10 p.m. to midnight. Free but get some coffee. Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee, 929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. Free comedy show! Come out and laugh, or give it a try yourself.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Luckiest People at the Shakes

The Luckiest People written by Meridith Friedman will rip your heart out. Oscar Hoffman (J.D.Sutton) and his son Richard (David Lane) enter Oscar's retirement in an assisted living facility along with David's partner David (Alexander Mrazek.) David is carrying what I presumed to be ashes. They had just returned from a funeral burring Oscar's wife. Oscar finds himself alone in the world and he is cantankerous and angry. Richard is blindsided when his father demands to leave his assisted living facility.

With his sister Laura (Suzanne O'Donnell) living in Shanghai, and his plans to soon to become a first time father with his partner, he is less than thrilled at the prospect of housing his–to put it mildly–difficult father. Accusations begin to fly and defenses are drawn, spiraling father and son, brother and sister, and spouses into a heated game of finger pointing with unintended consequences.

When Richard has second thoughts about adopting a child with his partner, their relationship is strained to the point of breaking. David knows he wants to raise a child but suddenly Richard is faced with having to possibly care for his father. He also discovers that his sister Laura is planning to meet an old boy friend behind her husband's back. She yearns to be with someone who knew her before life set so many demands on her. This contemporary and wryly humorous play touchingly explores the middle years of life when competing priorities from children, spouses, and parents create challenges and self-examination.

I laughed, I cried, I sketched. Seemingly comedic at first, the play delved deep into this family's relationships, demands, and blunt trauma.  The injuries of childhood surface and the injustice of being treated like a child as an elder become a driving theme. "You are lucky to have somewhere to runaway to. Someone to run to." Everyone had hidden scars and no one seemed particularly lucky to me. This is the first play in a trilogy about the Hoffman family.

The Luckiest People runs approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.
Tickets are $25 to $50
John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center 812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL 32803
The remaining show dates are:

Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Friday, April 13, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 14, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 15, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Friday, April 20, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 21, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 22, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Thursday, April 26, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Friday, April 27, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 28, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 29, 2018 - 2:00 PM

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

NOT GUILTY verdict for Noor Salman

On the third day of deliberations the jury in the trial of Noor Salman announced that they had a verdict. The media was alerted by the court with an e-mail. It said, "Judge Byron's Chambers has just notified us that the jury has reached its verdict. The verdict will be published in open court in approximately 30 minutes. If you want to hear the verdict you must be in either Courtroom 4B (if you have a red media ticket) or in Courtroom 3A." I asked the court's media relations officer if I could get into courtroom 4B this one last time for the announcement. She agreed and I was given a blue ticket at the last moment when she was sure the room was not full, which allowed me to enter as a member of the public. I settled in quickly, put on my binocular glasses and focused only on Noor and her attorneys as the jury entered.

The verdict was handed to a clerk of the court and she read each count. The room grew silent. Noor listened with her hand to her mouth and tears in her eyes. She was found not guilty of obstruction of justice, and not guilty of aiding and abetting her husband in his plans to murder 49 people inside the Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. She broke down and sobbed when she realized she had been cleared of all charges. Her uncle and a cousin seated two rows behind her also cried when they heard the news. They huddled together hugging as they sobbed. My side of the courtroom had victims' families and survivors who were eerily silent and stone-faced. It was all over in a matter of 5 minutes. I only had enough time to scratch out the gesture of the attorney Fritz Scheller comforting Noor. I rushed back to my studio a few blocks away to finish up the sketch. I was one of the first people to exit the courtroom. The phalanx of TV cameras were waiting to hear the verdict first hand.

"Noor can go home now to her son, resume her life and try to pick up the pieces from two years in jail," The family spokeswoman Susan Clary said, adding that the relatives were grateful for the verdict. Salman's relatives and Clary said they were sorry for the victims and survivors. Defense attorney Linda Moreno also expressed admiration for the victims' families and survivors.
"We're very grateful to this jury and to the Orlando community," she said. "Maybe this was the only community that could do this."

The jury foremen felt the need to contact the media to explain the verdict that had been reached. “As foreperson of the jury in the Noor Salman trial I felt it important that I present a juror’s perspective of the verdicts. I am giving you my perspective, and not speaking for the entire jury. My initial inclination was not to communicate with the news media at all, however once I returned home and watched the news coverage of the reactions to the verdicts I felt compelled to at least clarify several misconceptions.

First, I want to express my deepest sympathy to family and friends of the victims of this senseless tragedy. I understand the desire to hold someone accountable for this heinous act of violence. Omar Mateen is dead. He cannot be punished. It is only logical the world would look next to Noor Salman.
These past few days have been very difficult. We listened carefully to opening arguments, testimonies from both prosecution and defense witnesses, viewed many exhibits and heard closing statements. We received many pages of documentation from the court outlining very specific instructions related to the charges and how we should apply the law. We used these detailed instructions, our courtroom notes, and all evidence presented by both sides in our deliberations.

Having said that, I want to make several things very clear. A verdict of not guilty did NOT mean that we thought Noor Salman was unaware of what Omar Mateen was planning to do. On the contrary we were convinced she did know. She may not have known what day, or what location, but she knew. However, we were not tasked with deciding if she was aware of a potential attack. The charges were aiding and abetting and obstruction of justice. I felt that both the prosecution and the defense did an excellent job presenting their case. I wish that the FBI had recorded their interviews with Ms. Salman as there were several significant inconsistencies with the written summaries of her statements. The bottom line is that, based on the letter of the law, and the detailed instructions provided by the court, we were presented with no option but to return a verdict of not guilty.”

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Day 2 Waiting for a Verdict in the Noor Salman Trial

I arrived at the Orlando Federal Courthouse bright and early and decided to sketch the TV News cameras set up outside waiting for the verdict in the Noor Salman trial. It felt good to sketch outside after being cooped up in court for a solid month. The phalanx grew as I sketched and then a tripod was set up with all the microphones waiting for an announcement. A few reporters were curious about what I was doing and were pleased to see themselves in sketch form. I was hoping that the jury would be deliberating for a few more hours so that I had plenty of time to sketch. With the sketch complete I decided to get inside to continue waiting. Shoes and belt came off as I went through the security metal detectors. I usually don't redress since there is a second security check at the courtroom entrance, but I was heading up to the media room today to wait.

The media room has a refrigerator, microwave and a sink, so it is quite civilized. Several reporters had ordered bagels. The channel 9 reporter across from me Ken Tyndall showed me a sketch that had been done of him by a Saint Augustine artist. It depicted him as a bad ass pirate. On top of that I knew the hand of the artist. It was done by Orlando artist KC Cali. I told him the artists name, but it didn't seem to register.

A female reporter with immense eyelashes and plenty of mascara sat next to me. Her laptop was covered with stickers. One said something about Jihad. I was the outsider in the room, so I assumed she had been coming to this media room throughout the trial. This sketch was pretty far along, so I couldn't place her in the scene. Her head would have been about where the bagel is and that is the center of interest. Ken Tyndall shot a cell phone photo of her and the laptop and sent it to other reporters in the courthouse.

The previous evening I had received a e-mail from the court saying that a member of the media had been banned from the courthouse for harassing members of Noor Salman's family as they walked to their cars. As she said, "When I confronted her family outside the courthouse and asked them if “Jihad” is an act of terrorism, they REFUSED to answer!" To me these actions read as bigotry masked as journalism. The media were reminded that interviews must be conducted in specific designated locations. It turned out that this was the blogger who had been evicted from court and she returned anyway the next day. The photo tipped off security and soon a US Marshall entered the media room and asked the woman seated next to me to "Come with me."

She was escorted downstairs and back outside the courtroom. A second hand report claims that she wanted to shoot cell phone footage as she was being escorted out but the US Marshall took her phone until she was back outside. The same Marshall had confiscated a sketch I started of the courthouse lobby. My sketch showed the entry security system so I fully understood his concerns and gave him the unfinished sketches after I signed it. The female blogger stood outside the courthouse all afternoon shooting cell phone footage she posed online demanding her first amendment rights had been violated. I have to agree with the judges ruling that these rights do not include harassing family of the person on trial. She claimed that the media looked down on her by referring to her as a blogger. Personally I am proud to be a blogger. It allows me to freedom to report on this trial visually in a way that no other media outlet can match. The tight court rules were restrictive, but I worked within those restrictions to report during the entire length of the trial.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Monday, April 9, 2018

Waiting for the Verdict in the Noor Salan Trial.

The prosecution and defense had finished their closing statements in the Noor Salman trial before lunch. Judge Paul G. Byron send the jury to deliberate when everyone got back from lunch. I wrote an article at my apartment figuring it was safe to be away from the court house for a while. All afternoon the jury discussed the case and the media waited in the designated media room. Since the courtrooms were closed up, I had to wait in the media room as well. This was my first time in the room since I  hadn't really needed to use it during the trial. When I had wanted to write an article, I simply walked back to my downtown apartment. Now however I couldn't leave. The jury could reach a verdict at any time. Several times the jury asked to see more evidence. When that would happen, the media would rush to the courtroom and Judge Byron would provide what her could to the jury. When I returned from my apartment, I got through the security for one of these evidence requests, I was just about to sit down and it was over. I hadn't gotten my belt or shoes back on yet from the security check. The jury went back to deliberate.

Walking to the media room I ran into a reporter from CNN who wanted to buy some of my courtroom sketches for broadcast.  On the very first day of the trail, at 7:30 a.m., I stood at the entrance of the courthouse with Dan, a CNN reporter waiting for the doors to open. We discussed the case and I told him of my trials and tribulations of not being able to get into courtroom 4B. I suspect he put in a good word for me. My work apparently is to expensive to be used by Orlando news stations, but CNN knew they were getting what they paid for. These would be my only sales during the course of this month long trial. Otherwise, I was a volunteer citizen reporter with a sketchbook.

Sequestered away in the media room, we all wondered if the jury would be able  to reach a verdict on this first afternoon of deliberations. With over 64 bits of evidence and testimony to consider, that seemed unlikely to me. Reporters leaned into their laptops typing their copy for the day. I stood and drew them at work for the first time. Some reporters were in the hallway recording audio for broadcast. An intern was helping a radio reporter by reading some of the report into a microphone. He didn't finish every task on point, but she was grateful for the help. Some reporters had been here since the beginning, following every nuance of the trial. Other reporters had been sent her at the last minute to be on hand to report the verdict only. I identified with certain reporters from Channel 9 News who felt a sense of ownership of the case, feeling it was best reported by locals who were most effected by the tragedy itself. Being in the media overflow courtroom with then each day I got to hear their opinions about how the trial was progressing.

Five o'clock approached and we all thought the jury might pull in a last minute verdict. It was past most reporters deadlines for the day's report on the evening news. We were told that the jury might want to stay and order in food to deliberate late into the evening. If a reporter left to get dinner, they wouldn't be able to get back into the court house for security reasons. Most security officers would go home for the night.  I was told that if the jury had decided to stay late, then a verdict was very close, but if Judge Byron insisted they they continue to deliberate then they were not close. I am not sure which was the case. While some reporters were scrambling to make take out orders, a court officer  entered the media room again and said that the jury had changed it's mind. They were going home for the day. The jury deliberation would continue starting at 9 a.m. the next morning.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Closing Statements in the Noor Salman Trial

There is some sensitive content and disturbing details included within. If you feel you may be affected, please do not read this post.

 The court day began with Judge Paul G. Byron wanting to get a confirmation from Noor Salman that she did not want to testify in court. She spoke for the first time with a quiet "No." Sarah Sweeney presented the prosecution's closing statements. She would go through the several hundred items of evidence and use that to prove what Salman knew and what she did leading up to the attack. She said that everything Salman did was a green light for her husband to attack. Exhibits 1-99 covered Noor Salman's written statements and evidence from her apartment. Exhibits 100-199 revolved around Pulse and the exhibits from 200 and up involved banking and spending.

The first part of the prosecution's case involved proving obstruction of justice. She pointed out that Noor gave misleading information to Lieutenant William Hall, Agent Christopher Mayo, Agent T.J. Sypniewski, and Agent Ricardo Enriquez. She gave false statements and partial statements tat were intended to obscure the full truth. She claimed that Omar Mateen disconnected Facebook in 2013 and yet she communicated with him via Facebook in 2014. She claimed that her husband didn't use the Internet in their apartment. She claimed that her husband was moderate, but an ISIS flag was found in the apartment and he had videos of be-headings on his computer. Mateen left their apartment on June 11, 2016 with a firearm but she claimed he only had one gun. Yet she knew there was a riffle case in their car since she wanted it removed before she took her drivers test. She lied twice saying he was at dinner with Nemo on June11, 2016. The broadest lie was that she didn't know he was going to plan a terrorist attack.

Sweeney changed tack from everything said during the course of the trial saying that the target of the attack that night was NOT the Pulse Nightclub but rather Disney Springs. She also claimed that Noor knew the target was Disney. That would explain Noor's odd comment when Lieutenant William Hall asked her to leave her apartment for questioning. She said, "Are they going to bring me to Disney?" Sweeney also claimed that Noor was confused during questioning and thought that Pulse was at Disney. When Noor could not reach her husband on the night of June11, 2016, she knew that he had committed the attack.

The couples finances consisted of an average monthly credit card bill of $1500. But From June 5 to 15, 2016 the couple spent $26,000. There were gaps in Mateen's Internet browsing activity between 2:09a.m. and 9a.m. in which he might have shown his wife his intended target although it might not have been Pulse. Google history ended on his computer on June 10, 2016 and started again on June 12, 2016 with his search for Eve. 

Proving aiding and abetting was the prosecution's biggest challenge. They needed to show that Noor provided material support to ISIS.  Showing Omar's material support was easy. Sweeney showed a still from the Pulse surveillance camera that showed Omar shooting people at point blank range. But did Noor provide the same support as she slept at home?

The defense closing arguments by Charles Swift brought up some new points in Noor's defense. A baby carriage and doll were found by Omar Mateen's rental van parked near Pulse. But his son is too old for such a carriage. The new theory was that Omar intended to use the baby carriage to transport his rifle into Disney Springs without raising suspicion. If that were the case and Noor was an accomplice, wouldn't it make more sense to have her push the baby carriage? Was she a victim or accomplice? Swift argued Mateen had no reason to involve his wife in his plan to carry out mass murder June 12, 2016. “Why would he tell her?” he said. “I cannot think of an earthly reason for it. I cannot think of one. What could she help him with?”

The defense acknowledged the heartbreaking grief of the community but reminded the jury to look at all the facts. Defense attorney Lisa Morino reminded the jury that Noor simply struggled educationally. She painted a picture of her as a simple housewife who loved her child and was more concerned with reading romance novels that in world politics.That she could not accept money for baby sitting a friends child. Pulse she stressed was a random target. "Where are all the girls at?" Omar asked the Pulse security, meaning he didn't know where he was. Omar didn't respect his wife. Why would he confide in her? She was dependent on him not the other way around. If he didn't know what his target was that night, how could she know? The dead have been given the truth in this trial. The tragedy shouldn't be pinned on Noor. The true terrorist was already killed by police on the evening of the attack. "Don't makeNoor Salman the last victim of Omar Mateen." Swift concluded.

After closing statements, Judge Byron read the 57 pages of jury instructions. Basically they had to decide on two counts. One was obstruction of justice and the other was aiding and abetting.
The jury instructions said convicting Salman “Requires proof that (she was) intentionally associated with or participated in the crime, not just proof that (she) was simply present at the scene of a crime or knew about it." The help can be just about anything including, “financial services, lodging, safe houses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities and weapons." If convicted, Noor could face life in prison.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Transition: An Original Docudrama

Transition is an original docudrama directed by the Valencia College Theater program chair John DiDonna. The show explores the lives, concerns and obstacles facing those in and through a period of gender transition. It was created through interviews with members of the transgender community.

The show started off the entire cast entering the black box theater telling tales of Greek myths. The pace was hurried with members of the cast obsessionally talking over one another. Then the cast settled in and we were allowed to meet each in turn as they discussed their lives. For some, gender was fluid, not as sharply defined as the blue and pink world that delineates boys and girls from childhood on.

A relationship developed between a woman who fell in love with a man who was transitioning into womanhood. He pushed her away feeling she was naive, but she persisted and she was with him through his entire transition. The important theme throughout was that we should all be accepting and love one another.

The word SEX was boldly projected on the screen. The entire case suddenly grew quiet and uncomfortable. It was a comic moment that grew as the moment lengthened. One cat member walked the runway out into the audience dressed in his khaki shorts, a t shirt and open dress shirt. He must have once been female, but I couldn't tell. He glanced at the word and looked back out at the audience and finally said "heel no." and walked back to the cast.

By the end of the show the cast held one another as each in turn asked for  understanding as they moved forward with their lives. Shots of estrogen or testosterone defined their gradual transformations. Skin grew smoother or voices changed pitch. Each wanted what we all want, acceptance and love. This was a unique evening of beautiful people sharing their stories.

The remaining show dates are:
April 7, 9 13 and 14, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.
April 8 and 15, 2018 at 2:00 p.m.
The performance on April 14 will have an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter.
$12 General Admission
$10 Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Seniors.
Save with you-pick packages. Mix and match any dance and theater performance.
Four tickets for $36 or eight for $60.
Valencia College East Campus, Black Box Theater
701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail Orlando Fl 32825

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Friday, April 6, 2018

Weekend Top 6 Picks for April 7 and 8, 2018

Saturday April 7, 2018
8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Free. Lake Virginia Watershed Cleanup. Dinky Dock 410 Ollie Ave, Winter Park, Florida 32789. In conjunction with Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup, join us as we clean-up litter in and around Lake Virginia. Activities may include but are not limited to picking up litter in and around the lake – stooping, kneeling, and bending.
Breakfast, volunteer t-shirt, snacks, and water will be provided. We will also provide litter grabbers, safety vests, gloves and garbage bags.
Please remember to bring a reusable water bottle, wear closed-toe shoes, hats, and long pants, & carpool! Kayaks and paddle boarders are welcome!
To register, please visit:

11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Spring Market at Audubon. Audubon Park Garden District Orlando, Florida 32803. Come out for Central Florida's best artists, native and Florida friendly plants, locally produced artisanal foods, handmade crafts, music, food trucks and more at APGD's Spring Market at Audubon.

8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Free. Shuffleboard at Orlando's Beardall Courts. Orlando's Beardall Courts 800 Delaney Ave Orlando FL. 1st Saturday of each month. Free fun!

Sunday April8, 2018
9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. $275.00 for 6 classes. Crealde Urban Sketch Class. Crealde School of Art, 600 St Andrews Blvd, Winter Park, FL 32792. Urban Sketcher Thomas Thorspecken teaches you to sketch from studio subjects to the environment. Classroom sessions will focus on sketching clothed models and progress towards sketching the model and classroom environment. Learn how to incorporate storytelling into your sketches in our location sessions. These trips to local venues will challenge you to use your sketchbook the way a photojournalist uses a camera. The six-week goal is to produce finished sketches using pencil, pen, and watercolor within two hours. Main Campus
Room 1B.

11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. $12. Locally Fresh. Enzian Theater 1300 S Orlando Ave, Maitland, Florida 32751. Feed all your senses! Central Florida foodies partner-up with local filmmakers at this utterly unique (and mouth-watering) event—a festival favorite! Filmmakers dig into the stock and trade of what makes Central Florida delicious. Watch their documentaries, accompanied by cooking demonstrations and sumptuous samples. A feast for the eyes and the taste buds.
Locally Fresh! Farmers Market
Noon-2:30PM Free.
Lawn at Eden Bar
After Locally Fresh! Scrumptious Cinema, the lawn at Eden Bar transforms into a Farmers Market, filled with local products fresh from the field. Get to know Central Florida’s finest farmers and vendors, and don’t miss this delicious opportunity to take some local goodies home for your own feast.

1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Family Day on the Second Sunday. The Mennello Museum of American Art, 900 East Princeton Street, Orlando, FL 32803. The make-and-take craft table is open from noon-2:30 p.m., and docents are available to give mini-tours of the museum. Then it's open house in the galleries until 4:30 p.m.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Final Defense Witness

There is some sensitive content and disturbing details included within. If you feel you may be affected, please do not read this post.

 Dr. Frumkin was the final witness for the defense. He is a clinical and forensic psychologist. His main office is in South Miami. He specializes in disputed confessions. This is when someone partially confesses and then retracts the confession. he was paid $390 an hour to testify and had been paid $130,000 to date to conduct interviews accessing Noor Salman.

He spoke of a college study in which students were told to write their papers on a certain computer and warned that if they pressed the alt key, the computer would crash. A remote system was set up so that the computer could be crashed remotely. When asked about the crashes, students would often confess. In another study, students would have three interviews with researchers and the idea that the student committed a felony as a child was planted into the discussion. Students would begin to accept this altered history. The Dr. noted that the average interrogation is 1.5 hours. Any interrogation over 3 hours is excessive. Noor Salman was interrogated for over 11 hours.

Frumkin has a test which gauges how a subject yields to untrue facts. He called this the yield shift sustainability score. In his talks with Noor, he found her to have odd thinking. She was alienated, self conscious and introverted. Her emotions were all over the place, like a yo-yo as she put it. She suffered from auditory hallucinations, hearing banging sounds and smelling the cologne from her deceased grandfather. She is anxious in a room alone and obsessively scratches her arms. She is anxious when she eats around other people. She calls her son every day at 3 p.m.

He said that Noor is more accommodating that 90% of the population and that she is more anxious than 96% of the population. She is also 90% more deferential and submissive than most people. The Wexler intelligence scale rated her at 4 with an IQ of 84 meaning that 86% of people are brighter than her and that she is in the lower 14 percentile range. The college Noor attended was a for profit institution and it was shut down because the institution lied about the placements of grads in the workplace.

The Reed Technique of interrogation was used on Noor Salman by the FBI. Officers at first accept denials and minimize the seriousness of the offense. Te technique is used to get facts from guilty suspects but it can also elicit false confessions from someone who is eager to please and susceptible to coercion. The interrogation escalated into confrontation and a refusal to allow denials. Step 9 of the process is writing down confessions of the suspect and having them initial those documents.

The Dr. stresses the Noor is more likely to give a false confession because of her mental illness, anxiety and the fact that she isn't very bright. Sleep deprivation makes one more susceptible and Noor was suffering from menstrual cramps when her was being interrogated.

Sarah Sweeney of the prosecution cross examined the Dr. She wanted to know more about the GSS test which is designed to access susceptibility and suggestibility. He admitted that as intelligence goes up, the susceptibility to yield went down. Sarah noted that Noor was removed from a special ed class in 5th grade because of her academic progress. When discussing Noor's obsessive compulsive disorder, Sarah showed a photo from Noors home of her dresser. It was covered with lots of brightly colored baubles. She asked the doctor if she moved an object on that dresser, a half inch would Noor notice? He claimed she would. I believe she was trying to prove that an obsessive compulsive person wouldn't live in such chaos, but to me she proved the opposite. According to the Dr. Noor fully denied knowing what was going to happen but then "gave in" when an officer refused too believe her. She tried to give the officers what they wanted so she could get home to her son.

Another stipulation of testimony was read to the jury by the defense. It was by Pulse security guard Neal Whittleton who describing a short conversation with Mateen minutes before the attack began.
Matten said to him, “Hey, why is it so slow tonight? Where are all the girls at?” That was an odd statement making it seem like Omar had no idea he was in a gay club. Whittleton walked away from him and over to a DJ booth. He said he could feel someone staring at him and looked up to see it was Mateen. “You’re security, right?”  “I see you here all the time.” Mateen said. Whittleton did not recognize Mateen. “He was trying to see if I had a gun on me,” Whittleton later realized. “I had no idea that he was the shooter.”

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Defense Witnesses Took the Stand in Quick Succession

Delvas Salman is the Uncle of Noor Salman. He has lived in Rodeo California since 1971. He spoke of Noor with affection. When he recalled when she introduced Omar Mateen to the family he remembered saying to him, "I trust you with my niece." He got choked up with that memory and had to take a sip of water to recover his composure. Most of Mr. Salman's testimony painted a picture of his niece as a simple and caring woman. Noor was in an arranged marriage with an abusive man before she married Omar.

Mustafa Abasin is Omar Mateen's brother in law, married to Mateen’s sister. He was close to Noor Salman because he has children around the same age as her son. Since she didn't have a drivers license, he would sometimes drive her places.  He said when he talked with her on the car rides it was more like having a conversation with a child.

Noor would offer to watch his children and she refused to take money for the service. She just liked taking care of kids. When she and her son were escorted to the FBI offices to be interrogated, she didn't know she would be there as long as she was. She was interrogated for over 11 hours. Mustafa was the family member who drove to the FBI offices to pick up her son when he grew restless. Mustafa stopped inn back of the building and walked up to ring the bell. Her son was in a separate room from his mother. The FBI agent said, "She stays." Many hours later when Noor came to pick up her son at Mustafa's home, she was visibly upset. She was concerned about her son, fearing that she would loose him because of threads and implications from the FBI agents who spoke to her.

FBI Agent Kubini Martin was invited to the stand as a hostile witness by the defense. He was part of the original investigation team. He stated that Saddiqui Mateen, Omar's dad was an  FBI informant from 2006 to 2016. As an informant it is kind of insane that he would have no idea of his son's obsession with ISIS and hisplanned violence of Jihad. Saddiqui claimed ties to Al Qaeda, a militant Sunni Islamist multi-national organization founded in 1988 by Osama bin Laden, as well as Hezbollah, a Shi'a Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon.

The FBI launched its first assessment of Omar Mateen in 2013 after he had allegedly boasted to co-workers at G4S, a security company, that he had terrorist connections. The FBI reported that it had closed the investigation after Mateen told agents he made the comment to scare his co-workers, who were reportedly mocking his religion. One year after closing that first assessment, the FBI opened a second, spurred by Mateen’s relationship with Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a Florida man who became the first American suicide bomber in Syria. Mateen and Abusalha attended the same mosque on Florida’s Atlantic coast. The FBI, decided that Mateen’s contact with Abusalha was minimal, closed that assessment as well. The FBI considered turning the younger Mateen into an FBI informant after they investigated him in 2013 and 2014.

Noor was in the house for each of the interviews by the FBI.  She served refreshments including a cake that the agent admitted was delicious. She left the first interview but was there for most of the last interview. Saddique Mateen showed up at that interview as well. The agent speculated about why Saddique had shown up. Had Noor called him? There is also speculation that the investigations might have been shut down because Saddique as an informant told them that they should not be concerned with the actions of his son.

Joshua Horowitz is a cyber forensic consultant. He described Incognito Mode, which allows users who don’t want Google Chrome to remember their activity, to browse the web privately. Omar Mateen last used incognito mode on June 6, 2016 at 9:06 AM. Most of Omar's searches of ISIS and other terrorist organizations however were done in plain sight. Noor Salman had confessed that on June 10, 2016, Omar showed her the Pulse website on his computer and said, "That is my target." Joshua was tasked with looking at all the digital devices of Noor and Omar and he came to the conclusion that there is no evidence that Omar showed Noor the Pulse website on June 10th.

He had 3 computers to review along with 4 cell phones and a tablet. Of those devices only a Dell computer and 2 Samsung phones were relevant to the case. The Dell computer had never visited the Pulse website. Incognito mode doesn't mask web traffic to sites IP addresses. He confirmed that the computer never accessed the Pulse website server. The two cell phone never accessed the Pulse website prior to June 12, 2016. Noor Salman's phone never visited the Pulse website. Around the time Noor claimed that Omar showed her the Pulse website, he was actually at work.

Richard Connor has done digital forensics since 2006. He performed the forensics on the cell phones of Omar and Noor. He used cell phone tower information and google maps on Omar's phone to track his activities that night. 

Around 10 a.m. Omar went to Disney Springs. It is possible that this was his intended target that night. Video surveillance showed Omar walking alone through Disney Springs to House of Blues where he brought a t shirt which he later dis-guarded. There was a large police presence near House of Blues that night. Omar left and drove past Epcot. At 12:22 a.m. he searched for Orlando Nightclubs and he put Eve into his goggle maps to get directions too the downtown Orlando Club. Mateen got near EVE (110 South Orange Avenue) about 12:55 a.m. That club had significant security at the entrance and each guest is searched before they can enter.

He did another search in Google for Orlando Nightclubs and found Pulse which he put into google maps. The exact audio directions in that female voice played in the courtroom for Omar's every move that night. He seemed to drive aimlessly around downtown Orlando and then he drove right past my downtown apartment building before turning south on Summerlin Avenue. He arrived at Pulse around 1:12 and 1:16 a.m. at Pulse, drove around a bit and then at 1:33 a.m. he did another Google search for Eve. He started to head in that direction at 1:34 a.m. but then turned around one minute later and went back to Pulse. He started ignoring the audio  directions he was getting. At 2 a.m. he fired the first shots into helpless victims at the club who were dancing and celebrating after the evenings last call for drinks. The phone in his pocket was still giving him verbal directions as he killed 49 people.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Defense Witnesses in the Noor Salman Case

There is some sensitive content and disturbing details included within. If you feel you may be affected, please do not read this post.

 After the prosecution rested its case, the defense had a day in which they presented witnesses in the N case. The first witness was Omar Mateen's friend Nemo. I did a rather good sketch of him but unfortunately Judge Byron insisted that the sketch must not be published to protect the witnesses identity. Omar would use Nemo as an excuse when he went out to meet older women with whom he had affairs. On June 11, 2016, the evening of the attack, Omar's mom became concerned since her son had promised to stop by her house and he never showed up. Noor texted Omar that he should use the excuse that he was with Nemo. Omar's mom however ended up meeting Nemo's mom at the mosque that night and the mom explained that her son Nemo was away at a medical college in the Caribbean. Omar's mom kept trying to reach her son on the night of the attack. Nemo would work out with Omar at the gym where Omar would brag about the affairs he was having.

Two women took the stand in short order. I sketched both but later had to surrender the sketches to a U.S. Marshal. The first woman knew Omar for a year and a half. She said she didn't know Omar was married but did know that he had a child. When asked if she had a romantic relationship with him she paused. The defense showed her Internet messages between herself and Omar and she then admitted that she did make out with him once in her car near his guard booth.The second woman met Omar on the dating site, Plenty of Fish. She invited Omar to her apartment and seemed more open about the fact that she had a relationship with him. The relationship ended when Omar told her that he could not be with her because she was Jewish. His family would not approve. There was high tension in the courtroom because the women had to admit their romantic affairs right in from of Noor who was seated about five yards away.

Dali Achmed started to cry when she saw her friend Noor at the defense table. She wore a hijab. She talked to Noor on June 11, 2016 on the phone. Noor was excited about her planned trip to California. She would always talk about her child. The two women grown up together but had grown apart as they grew older. Of course loving on opposite coasts made staying close harder.

Laurie Jaber was a friend of Noor's. She had been a brides maid at her wedding to Omar Mateen. They last spoke on June 8, 2016 the day that Noor was approved to get her Florida drivers license. She spoke about how Noor took a job at a grocery store as a cashier. She didn't like having to deal with the constant math of handing back change so she asked for a transfer. She started working on the docks with inventory working much harder for less pay.

Officer Steve Brown was considered by Omar to be a mentor and a bit of a brother figure. He knew Omar to be a rather conservative in his ways, but was a member of the Democratic party because Democrats could accept his religion. Omar joked around that he liked the homosexual community because they were like pit bulls who stood up for themselves. Defense attorney Charles Swift began asking questions bout Steve's own views about homosexuals. He towed the line, but then Charles produced Internet messages between Steve and Omar. The officer read the messages and didn't remember making those statement but they were right there on paper. It was clear that his comments were derogatory. The testimony was probably intended to show that Omar didn't not attach the Pulse nightclub because he hated homosexuals. Knowing that officers were joking with a mass murderer before the massacre isn't very reassuring. Attacking the homophobic officer didn't really help the case, but it was quite dramatic.

Local media seemed to deliver a single homologous caricatured view of the proceedings from inside the courtroom. After the Casey Anthony case they banded together to settle on a single viewpoint when a case gets big. This single mindedness has the obvious drawback of limiting options when covering a story. A very conservative blogger sat next to me for a few minutes in the media room and was escorted out of the building by a US Marshal. The day before she harassed relative of Noor as they walked back to their cars. Judge Byron wrote a media release stating that she could not return to the courthouse. She came back the next day anyway and had to be escorted from the building. Since I was not permitted in the courtroom, I identified with her Facebook Live broadcasts in which she claimed her first amendment rights were being violated. However I needed to stick to every demand of the court so I  could best document the case from as close as I could get. Even closed doors can be a creative challenge.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Monday, April 2, 2018

A Day Without a Jury or Defendant in the Noor Salman Trail

There is some sensitive content and disturbing details included within. If you feel you may be affected, please do not read this post.

 One day of the trial had no jury or defendant. Noor Salman had the day off. The courtroom 4B rules were relaxed and I was permitted to sit inside courtroom 4B as a member of the public. I was issued a blue slip and told to sit on the court right general public spectator benches.  The day was spent going over a laundry list of what the jury must consider when coming to a verdict. The jury would have to be  unanimous on the charge that Noor aided and abetted her husband Omar Mateen in the mass murder committed at Pulse Nightclub. The prosecution went over a list of what items would be considered aiding and abetting.

1. Noor texted Omar on the night of the attack and told him to tell his mom that he is out with Nemo. This cover story made it seem like Noor was covering for her husband's actions.
2. The "casing" activities at City Place in West Palm Beach  on June 4-5, 2016. The timeline for this activity was later debunked with cell phone data. There was not enough time for the casing to have occurred. It was still a strange trip to take very late at night with their son Zac who usually went to bed by 9 PM.
3. A May 31, 2016 purchase of ammunition for Omar's work firearm at Walmart Supercenter. Noor and her son Zac were on that shopping trip. The prosecution wanted to imply that she encouraged the purchase. Omar's work firearm was not used in the Pulse Nightclub attack.
4. The fact that Noor knew about the new rifle gun case in the family car, because she didn't want it in the car when she took her driving test. The prosecution claimed that she was getting a Florida driver's license for the first time because she knew Omar would not be around to drive after the Pulse attack, and the defense said she wanted to be able to drive to bring her son to school.
5. On June 8, 2016, four days before the attack, Noor got her license, shopped at bass Pro shop where Omar got Ammo, went to the Florida Mall where Omar bought her some very expensive jewelry. The woman who sold them the ring noticed a tear in Noor's eye. Was she happy or sad? The purchase of the over $7000 ring was considered an enticement to lie or at least not tip off authorities to what Omar was about to do.They then went to Disney Springs, an Arab Restaurant and a mosque. It was on this night that the prosecutors though Noor and Omar went to Pulse but there wasn't enough time to drive around for 20 minutes.
6. The excessive spending in the month of June leading up to the attack.
7. Omar made Noor a beneficiary of his savings and checking accounts in the event of his death.

The prosecution would have to prove to the jury that Noor knew of Omar's intent to mass murder innocent civilians with his act of Jihad. They wanted to stress that she was at a repeated series of very important junctures leading up to the attack.  Going to the gun range was a red flag for prosecutors. She told no one about the purchase of the rifle.

The defense countered that the prosecution provided no evidence that Noor knew what "the Act" was going to be. There is no evidence that she supports ISIS. During the course of the trial holes were poked in each of Noor's six statements written by FBI agent and signed by her. Since she and Omar never went to Pulse before, it seemed to imply that FBI agents had planted information in her testimony.

The afternoon was spent going over the instructions for the jury. Each paragraph was meticulously picked apart to be sure both prosecutors and the defense were satisfied with the wording.

Noor did not plan to testify and the jury would be instructed not to consider this as a presumption of guilt. The jurors would have to weigh the testimony from each witness. They would have to consider the circumstances and weather the witness was credible or reliable. They would need to consider the witnesses age, and training.

Omar provided material support to the Islamic state. Did Noor intend to aid in the material support of ISIS? The prosecution wanted to point out that aiding and abetting can be done with a happy heart, or a sense of foreboding. Did she intend to bring about the crime? On the count of Obstruction of justice, did Noor mislead FBI agents with the statement she made on the morning after the Pulse Nightclub attack. Dis she knowingly leave things out of her statements? Once someone chooses to testify, they must do so truthfully. The venue for the obstruction of justice charge was Central Florida. Since Noor lived in Fort Pierce, the prosecutors needed to prove that her statement were intended to mislead investigators in Central Florida.

The instructions acted as a framework for the jury's deliberations.

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