Category Archives: Politics

Bob Shell: The Weinstein Matter

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Images: Harvey Weinstein

 

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #23

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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THE WEINSTEIN MATTER

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Since the Harvey Weinstein matter surfaced in Hollywood, a number of people have asked me for my thoughts. I do have a somewhat unique perspective on the matter, being myself falsely accused of sexual offenses against my girlfriend and model, but not so accused by her. I won’t spend the time here telling my story. Anyone interested can read the whole story at: www.bobshelltruth.com, particularly the NEWS UPDATES page. Suffice it to say that I have never acted inappropriately with any model, and dozens of them will vouch for me on that. The police spent four years looking for a former model who would say anything bad about me and gave up. They had my records with model releases from everyone who modeled for me from 1969 until 2003! That’s 34 years and more than 200 models!

What amazed me when the Weinstein accusations came out was that anyone was surprised. This was Hollywood, after all, where the “casting couch” has been a ubiquitous feature since the early days. I’m only peripherally connected to the movie industry, but I’ve known about this for many years. After all, any industry that combines powerful Alpha Male type men with beautiful young women striving for their big break invites abuses. Now, as I read in the March issue of Vogue, the accusations have spread to the fashion photography world, with accusations by models against some of the top male photographers in the business. And according to the latest issue of PDN, the accusations have spread to instructors at prominent photo workshops. You get the impression that every man in a position of authority has misused that authority.

What has been lost in the current hysteria is the old American maxim of “innocent until proven guilty.”. Right now the field is wide open for people to settle old grudges that may have nothing to do with sex by making accusations of sexual misconduct. People are losing their jobs and careers over accusations that may never be proven. That’s wrong.

I’m not defending the pervasive culture in Hollywood or the fashion business, or anywhere else. Much harm has been done to many people. I’ve known a number of models and actresses, some of whom were successful in the movie business. Some have told me horror stories, but others have had positive experiences. There are some bad people in Hollywood (and in the photography business, and everywhere else in life), but there are also some very fine people. Let’s not tar everyone with the same brush.

Most of us know the sad story of Tippi Hedrin, who starred in Hitchcock’s The Birds. Hitch ruined her career after that because she refused to go to bed with him. But many other actresses launched successful careers with the support of producers and directors who respected them and treated them with dignity. Should Hitchcock have been ostracized by the industry for his despicable behaviour? Probably, but that’s water under the bridge. We can’t fix the past, but we can clean things up today.

One of the rules I always taught my workshop students is: Do not touch the model. I’ve had many students come to a workshop thinking that you pose a model by grabbing her and positioning her like a department store mannequin, and I’ve quickly disabused them of that idea. Even when working with models I’ve known and photographed for years I always observed that rule. To convey a particular pose I wanted, I’d assume the pose myself. Then, after the model stopped laughing, she knew exactly what I wanted, often improving on it by making it her own. I also kept a clip book, and whenever I saw a pose I particularly liked in a magazine, I’d cut it out and add it to the book. Show and tell rather than “grab and twist.”

The Weinstein matter has been portrayed in a one-sided manner, I think. While some industry men have been vilified for taking advantage of vulnerable young women (and men), sometimes it’s the other way ’round. I’ve had more than one model bat her pretty eyes at me and purr, “I’ll do anything to get published,” or the variant, “I’ll do anything for money.” My reply was always the same, “If you’re a really good model, I’ll publish (or pay) you. Nothing more required.”. And I’ve launched more than a few careers when they were good. The photos were satisfaction enough for me. I valued my reputation too much to compromise it. Models have a grapevine, after all, and talk to each other. I took great satisfaction from the fact that after I was arrested and charged and the story broadcast all over the Internet, I still had no trouble getting models to work with me. If they were hesitant, I just gave new models the email addresses of several of the models I’d worked with for years and said, “Check me out.”. They did, and none refused to work with me. I was able to finish my bondage book (which required a great deal of trust by the model in my total professionalism) and other books, as well as photo magazine and website articles, with no problems, using a mix of old and new models. If I could be released tomorrow, I have no doubt I could go right back to my photography without any problems finding models.

But to backtrack for a minute, being a very good artist, no matter what the medium, doesn’t mean a person is a decent man or woman. Read biographies of great artists, and you’ll find that many of them were not nice people. Some were horrible people. Artistic talent does not restrict itself to nice people. That’s as true today as ever. Should we discount a person’s art because he or she is a nasty, rotten person? To consider Hitchcock again, should we ignore the greatness of many of his films because he was personally despicable? I don’t claim to have the answer to that question. We must be careful, as the old saying goes, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonyward.com/2018/09/bob-shell-remembrances/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, Men, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women

A.H. Scott: The Devil and the Catholic Church

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Photo; Tony Ward. Copyright 2018

 

 

A.H. Scott: The Devil and the Catholic Church

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Copyright 2018

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Passing the plate of gold coin and paper in a solemn aria

While passing around the pubescent in a Luciferian bacchanalia 

On our knees we pray

On your knees we prey

Your innocence we take with four points of blessing

There, there, my child, all which we do is ordained

Believe in the collar and be leashed to silence in the wake of what we do

We prey upon you

Nobody will say a word, for your tale of truth will not be believed

Another deviant shuffled to a new meadow of fresh faces to deceive

All which we have done is good for the soul

Even if it ain’t, the ones who get off are the old

Because, for them to get off, reveals the sickness of their soul

This is not nothing new to the cathedral of hypocrisy

Fornication is a sin and it is the ace we always play to the hilt

After all, this is how our gilded empire has been built

And, don’t you dare be gay, lez, trans, or queer

Our public face must always be clear

Preying is how we play

Up is down, right is wrong

Yet if the word of sin is spoken upon what we do, you damn sure better sing a different song

The Devil is here and hard

No matter how much we keep mouthing that holy card

Taking the pure and ripping away their virtue

Filming our sins is what we do and passing around our victims to the rest of this predatory crew is how we prey

We even hand out crosses as the radar to give a heads up to others of our sadistic brotherhood

Devil’s whisper is the hymn they sing

For when we prey upon the innocent our collar becomes a leash

Like hounds of Hell and pigs in swine, they kneel for the Devil and call their unspeakable actions divine

Confessionals transform into stadiums for the wicked to be contained

When will my sins wane?

When their tears become years as well as you feel their pain

Now is the moment when your knees to them you shall be

As you said once in your dark den of deviance in days gone by, “This is God’s will”

And, if you believe that as the leash is tightened and your comeuppance begins

Be still and accept what is happening now is God’s will

And, don’t you dare shed a tear and cry

For you fallen Princes of the church have forfeited mercy beneath the altar of sadism, orthodoxy, complicity and lies

Hypnosis of ritualistic grandeur is slowly evaporating, as that yoke of blind faith becomes unshackled beyond the walls of stained glass

Angels surpass

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About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by A. H. Scott, go herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/a-h-scott-by-george-hes-got-it/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women

Bob Shell: American Justice System

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Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

 

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #20

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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AMERICAN JUSTICE SYSTEM

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In 1923 the great American journalist H. L. Mencken wrote:

You will find as many intelligent and honest men in the average prison as you will find in the average club, and when it comes to courage, enterprise, and determination — in brief the special virtues which mark the superior man — you will probably find many more.

Here is Menckin’s description of a trial:

With a crowd of poltroons in the jury box venting their envious hatred of enterprise and daring upon a man who, at worst, is at least as decent as they are: with a scoundrel in the bench lording over a scoundrel in the dock because the latter is less clever than he is.

Menckin pretty much nailed the “American Justice System,” which has never really been about justice, if we’re honest about it. A real justice system would provide the accused with resources equal to those of the prosecution. A person should not be forced to bankrupt himself to defend against false charges. When you are accused of a crime. the state martials all its resources against you, and unless you are rich, you most likely can’t come up with equivalent resources. Criminal investigators, expert witnesses, paralegals, and good criminal lawyers are very expensive. When I was charged I contacted the best criminal lawyer I knew of. He listened to my story and asked if I could raise several million dollars, and when I said no, he said that I couldn’t afford him. As actor Robert Blake said, “In America today you are presumed innocent until you are found broke.”.

And think about that presumption of innocence. In the USA you are “presumed innocent until proven guilty.”. Note the use of the word “until” which carries the implication that you WILL be proven guilty. The word should be “unless.”. But in most cases you will be found guilty because most people think “they wouldn’t have charged him if he didn’t do it.”

Just how did I end up in prison at the age of 60 with a 32 1/2 year sentence? I’d had my studio in Radford, Virginia since the end of the 1970s. I had been working for Shutterbug magazine for years, first in the 70s as a columnist, then as Technical Editor, and in 1991 I became Editor in Chief, and held that position until I “retired” in 2001, staying on as Editor At Large. Actually, “retired” was a euphemism for ” forced out in a palace coup.”. I first had my studio in Radford starting in 1981, when I took over an existing business that was studio/photo shop. I had been working for Gentry Studios in Blacksburg. Gentry also had a location in Radford and had decided to close it. I took the risk and took it over. At first I made hardly any money there, but in time it picked up and by the time Shutterbug offered me the Editor’s job it was doing well enough that I was able to sell the business. We were living on a small farm at the time, so we sold the farm and bought a house in Radford. (Oddly enough, we sold the farm back to the man we’d bought it from fifteen years earlier. It was his wife’s old home place and she was homesick for it.)

My original Radford studio was in downtown just a block off main street. Once I was living in town, I went looking for a new studio and found it at 239 West Main Street, just a couple of blocks from the police station.

Let me make something clear, during all those years I worked for Patch Communications, publisher of Shutterbug, PhotoPRO, Outdoor and Nature Photography, and other magazines I was never an employee. My company, Bob Shell Ltd., contracted with Patch for my services. This arrangement allowed me to work from my home office and set my own hours, for a flat monthly fee. It saved Patch money, too, since they didn’t have to provide me benefits. I took care of my own medical insurance and dealt with the IRS myself. I valued my freedom and my right to take time off whenever I wanted without being tied down to an office.

In 1991 I found the ideal studio location in a storefront between a drugstore and an antique shop. The space was about 40 X 80. I wanted a big space because I wanted it to be a teaching studio where I could hold my studio lighting and posing workshops. With the help of a friend I built a wall across the front for a small office, and built a dressing room in back, with big mirrors for the models. There was already a storage room and restroom in the back. The same friend and I remodeled the restroom. The floor was covered with old wall-to-wall carpet, which was in terrible shape. I hired a couple of strong young college men to take up the carpet, which had to be scraped up with shovels, and to use a big commercial sander to sand the wood floor smooth. Then I painted all the walls and floor with white pigmented shellac, which I’d used before and is very durable. I then approached photo equipment companies to loan me equipment and props, which they were all too glad to do because they knew my students would buy equipment they had used in my workshops. It was a win-win for them and me. I soon had s studio bulging with equipment and props. The studio was big enough that I could have three sets going at once. To keep the flash units on one set from interfering with another I used Wein Products infrared flash triggers, and later radio slaves. My studio workshops were held three or four days a year, each for two days on a weekend.

In the late 80s I’d bought a tract of forest land and had a road built into it and began conducting outdoor workshops there. It was beautiful forest, and my plan was (and still is) to put a house or cabin there at some point.

On June 3, 2003, I returned to my studio in the evening and found my girlfriend, Marion Franklin, passed out. When I could not awaken her I called 911 and then my nightmare began. I was accused of killing her based on false testimony of an incompetent medical examiner, and I sit here today because the man is too stubborn to admit that he was wrong. That’s today’s American Justice System.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonyward.com/2018/08/bob-shell-warning-environmentalist-rant/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Cameras, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Science, Women

Racquel Ward: Poor me, home alone and nuttin’ to do….

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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

Poetry by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2018

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Poor me, home alone and nuttin’ to do….

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Mmm today is one of them lucky days

The luckiest day of the month

Nobody is home

I got the house to myself

So I’m gon’ do what I want

Am I feeling like munchin’?

Puffin’ or a drink?

Sleep? Energetic?

Nah, horny I think.

And if not I can get me in the mood with this here tape

I been saving it for a time, a place

A finger to circle shape…down there

A finger to have circle shaping clockwise, counter clockwise, side to side

Back and forth

Eenie Meenie miney moe

The middle finger’s good to go

Utilize my strength and ability to be soft

I pop the tape in

Rest my feet up

2 feet between my thighs, look up

Sigh

Take the journey

Ride

Rise

Steady

Drip

Release

Sleep

Look forward to next months trip

Hell, I’ll make it next week.

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About The Author: Racquel Ward is a writer and educational therapist living in Los Angeles. She holds a BA in Culture and Media studies and a BFA in Contemporary Music from the New School University – Manhattan, New York. Racquel also holds a Master’s of Science in Teaching. She has been published on ThoughtCatalog and most recently finished her first children’s book. To access additional articles by Racquel Ward, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/racquel-ward-60s-back/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Environment, Erotica, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women

Bob Shell: Warning; Environmentalist Rant

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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

 

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #19

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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WARNING: ENVIRONMENTALIST RANT

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Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory of my people. The white man is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he wants. The Earth is not his brother, but his enemy.

Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste. —

That was written by Chief Seattle of the Duwanish tribe in 1855 in a letter to President Franklin Pierce. It could be written today to our present President just as well. We’ve polluted our own beds, and we’re close to the tipping point after which it will be too late. The tipping point, as explicated by Malcolm Gladwell in his book of the same name, is like making a pile of rice one grain at a time. You reach a point at which adding even one more single grain causes the whole pile to collapse. It is the straw that broke the camel’s back in the old Arab proverb.

We know how to generate clean, nonpolluting energy, but political forces are holding us back from doing it. I read several years ago that Portugal was generating all its electricity from clean, nonpolluting sources. Other European countries are on track to do the same. But not us, Do we have to wait until we pass the tipping point when the whole shebang collapses before we realize that cleaning up our act is not optional? We’re no longer cavemen who just discovered fire, and we need to stop burning stuff, particularly “fossil fuels,” and chopping down forests.

I have friends who are living “off the grid” right now, and are perfectly happy. Maybe there should be no grid. Make every household and building self sufficient. Is that possible? Yes, but it would require lifestyle changes we seem unwilling to make as a society.

For the global warming deniers I have this to say: It IS happening. Whether it’s totally anthropogenic or a natural cycle that we’re adding to and speeding up is really irrelevant. We need to stop contributing to it either way. At least for now this is the only planet we’ve got. We could have colonies on Mars one day and maybe even on other planets orbiting other stars, but until we figure out how to get into space using ways other than brute force rockets, that’s a long way off. Once we learn how gravity and inertia really work, we’ll be able to control them and move through space at near-infinite speed with very little energy expended, and the energy we need is out there to be harvested from “empty space” once we learn how. Some brilliant new Einstein will hit on the answer one day. I just hope she/he is not too late.

As Mark Twain wrote:

The researches of many commentators have already thrown much darkness on this subject, and it is probable that if they continue we shall soon know nothing at all about it.

Space migration, the first part of Tim Leary’s famous mantra SMI2LE (Space Migration, Intelligence Squared, Life Extension) is our ultimate future: “The finer part of mankind will, in all likelihood, never perish — they will migrate from sun to sun as each goes out. And so there is no end to life, to intellect, and the perfection of humanity. Its progress is everlasting.”. Konstintin E. Tsiolkovsky, father of rocketry and the Soviet space program wrote that. I agree with Tsiolkovsky that our future is in the Universe, but we must preserve this precious planetary womb until we are able to go forth “where no one has gone before.”

One of the more interesting people I’ve met in my life is Aleksander Balandin, Cosmonaut who spent six months in space aboard the old Mir space station. We met at a conference in San Marino where I was a speaker in 1996. Because he spoke no English and I no Russian, we relied on his handler Boris Tchourinoff to converse when we met for meals. I asked Aleksander what was the most beautiful thing he saw in space, and without pause he said, “Las Vegas at night.”. He wanted, he said, to go there one day. I told him not to, just to hold the memory, because seeing the real place would spoil the fantasy. Like most Astronauts and Cosmonauts, Aleksander had developed a deep, almost spiritual, feeling for the fragility of our planet, and the need to preserve it. (His handler/translator kept telling me, “I am not KGB because there is no more KGB.) But he clearly was there to watch over Aleksander and to make sure he gave away no secrets, and several times I could tell he was editing his translation and leaving things out. But we had a great time notwithstanding. We went out late one night since we were all not on local time, and I took a bunch of pictures of Boris clowning around after having a little too much to drink. I got the feeling that Russians like to have their fun, let their hair down, so to speak. But it was obvious that protection of our planet was as important to them as it was to me.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-my-years-at-shutterbug/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Popular Culture