Mikala Mikrut: The Best Way to Speak to a Monster is From a Distance


Text by Mikala Mikrut, Copyright 2019

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Artwork by Christopher Suciu, Copyright 2019

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The Best Way to Speak to a Monster is From a Distance

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Humans have always feared the unknown. More often than not, it meant death. Throughout time, the term “monster” has been used to explain the inexplicable whether it was a strange shape or sound coming from an unexplored part of the woods or the man who will abandon all sense of morals to get to where he wants to be. Monster is such a broad term that Webster’s Dictionary defines it both as “an animal or plant of abnormal form or structure” and “one who deviates from normal or acceptable behavior or character,” which makes sense given that both of these examples are out of the norm. Monsters matter because they are a category in which society sorts the misfits, the unexamined, and the suspicious; there are exceptions to every rule and monsters are the outliers from whatever is perceived as “right.”

There is a certain fascination that comes with witnessing something out of the ordinary. While women in the 1400s would hide their children behind their skirt to shield them from beholding a deformed man on the street, they would have no problem with paying money to observe him behind bars or glass. Putting a barrier or separation between normal people and mysterious forces makes them appear less realistic and thus safer. It is with this feeling of safety that people will engage in activities such as walking through haunted houses or watching horror movies. If they know they won’t get hurt, then the fear is an exciting rush rather than a question of survival. Stephen King, American horror author, argues that “we’re all mentally ill,” (King, 16) and that perhaps the fear factor is braved to prove that it can be done. But more likely, it is “to re-establish our feelings of essential normality,” (King, 16) because the people in the theater screaming at a screen to run away are far more sane than an actress knowingly advancing towards a monster. It is the monster that is used as a platform to define normality and make the average Joe feel like at least they’re doing something right; so long as they’re not dripping with green goo or hiding in a teenage girl’s closet with a knife, they’re succeeding at life.

This has been the mindset for centuries. Daniel Cohen, French economist and professor, brings to light how the Aztecs and the Incas were terrified at the sight of men on horses (Cohen). Having never fathomed the relationship, they assumed the two bodies were one, yet again using that term, monster, to define something unknown. But even way back then, the people were fascinated by monsters when it meant they wouldn’t have to be faced. Cohen talks about how “griffin’s claws or the roc’s eggs were brought back” (Cohen, 139) from travels, making people believe that these creatures were real. They would buy these things valuing them as exotic and maybe even magical without even questioning why they resembled why perhaps their “feathers” looked like palm leaves or why their “griffin’s claws” resembled animal tusks or horns. People just couldn’t resist believing that there were rare creatures out in the parts of the world they wouldn’t dare to venture; the idea of the unknown is scary and exciting, but the actual notion of leaving home could mean danger or even death. So why risk it? Venturing the unknown is hardly celebrated.

That’s why most people’s interaction with something they’ve never seen before or those woods that just don’t feel right to be around are from the comforts of their own home or theaters. Horror movies satisfy the curiosity of what lies beyond Nancy’s humdrum nine to five office job. Given that the horror genre observes the weird and creepy, it makes sense that the people who work on them aren’t considered on the same spectrum when it comes to artistry. Michael Varrati, American screenwriter, columnist and actor, has written an article that examines just that. He believes it’s absolutely absurd that people who make monsters possible in cinema and literature are “routinely looked down upon by the ‘real’ artists,” (Varrati, 1) how could a comedy be viewed as any more or less artistic than horror? Well, because comedy involves believable characters in normal or at least semi-realistic situations. Horror is laughable simply because creatures are strange, they’re intriguing but not worth more than an prolonged glance of judgement. Again, the point of people still giving monsters their attention in this modern world is to remind themselves how normal and socially accepted they are.

A more concise example would be Frankenstein’s monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This creature is certainly hideous, even learning language and emotion doesn’t stop people from fearing his grotesque presence. Zoe Beenstock wrote an article in which she addresses “whether individualism can produce sociability,” (Beenstock, 1). She doesn’t shy away from revealing the natural contradiction of human tolerance. It is often assumed that accepting others and celebrating individuality and differences is taught from childhood; and yet there are still hate crimes and separation. What people view as monstrous is that which is unfamiliar to them.

So perhaps humanity has not made so much progress in understanding others and the world after all. But that is okay, because the world is so vast that what really matters is that humanity consistently puts its efforts towards understanding and improving. In conclusion, monsters matter because they are a reflection of what is not yet understood and are the basis on which people judge normality. Without monsters, people would be left to judge themselves and their personal flaws and immoral behaviors. Monsters are a scape goat, something to point a finger at and say, “Well, at least I’m not THAT thing.”

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Works Cited

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Beenstock, Zoe. “Lyrical Sociability: The Social Contract and Mary Shelley’s

Frankenstein.” Philosophy & Literature, vol. 39, no. 2, Oct. 2015, pp. 406-421.

EBSCOhost,proxy.li.suu.edu:2443/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=115185220&site=ehost-live.

Cohen, Daniel. “The Birth of Monsters.” Monsters, edited by Andrew J. Hoffman, Bedford/St.

Martins, 2016, 134-139.

King, Stephen. “Why We Crave Horror Movies.” Monsters, edited by Andrew J. Hoffman,

Bedford/St. Martins, 2016, 16-18.

“Monster.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/monster.

Varrati, Michael. “Unfairly Maligned Monsters: Why Horror Matters.” The Huffington Post,

TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Apr. 2012, www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-varrati/horror

movies-books_b_1441467.html.

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Mikala: Photographed by Tony Ward. Copyright 2019

Mikala: Photographed by Tony Ward. Copyright 2019

About The Author: Mikala Mikrut is a sophomore enrolled at Southern Utah University. To access additional articles by Mikala Mikrut, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/mikala-mikrut-change/

 

Posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, Music, Popular Culture, Student Life, Women

Katie Kerl: Philadelphia Foodgasim

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Photography and Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2018

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Philadelphia Foodgasim

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Two things I love about Philadelphia are the amazing restaurants and historic architecture. I’ve lived in the city for quite some time now. Being a major foodie I had to let you in on a few of my favorites. Some on the top 50 list , and others that you’d have to search off the beaten path to find . Being that I love cooking it’s a great hobby for inspiration. 

Philly is known for its boutique dining experiences. I usually categorize my favorites by section of the city. Some of the major names in food that stick out in my mind are:

Michael Solomnov. He is a pioneer of Israel’s most authentic food in Philadelphia. Zahav located in Society Hill,  is on the essential 38 restaurants list in the country . Their tasting menu is my personal favorite, and the food goes on for days. One bite better than the next, and leaves you with the happiest of foodgasms. If that were to be my last meal I’d be more than ok with it. We worked with him at Mr. Bar Stool for the seating in the restaurant. Often booked on the weekends, you can slide into the bar mid week and get full service . His other venues include Goldie, Federal donuts, Percy Street Barbecue, Abe Fisher,and Dizengoff  . You cannot choose a bad one. His cookbook is on display in all of his restaurants. It is a must have for the at home Chef. His back story has to be one of my favorites as well .A recovered addict, an immigrant to this country, turned restaurant mogul. That’s an amazing feat. 

That takes me to Stephen Starr. Everyone knows his name and conglomerate of restaurants he owns in the city. Parc Rittenhouse is the best people watching spot in my opinion, and a brunch staple in Philadelphia. The outside seating overlooking Rittenhouse Park is just gorgeous. The service is great, and a fresh bread basket that will make you forget you just gave up carbs.

Then there is the amazing female duo Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran. They own Lolita, Jamonera, Barbuzzo, Bud & Marilyn’s, and Little Nonna’s, two boutiques (Open House and Verde) which I get a lot of my gifts at. Of them all Lolita is my favorite. I remember when they used to be a BYO tequila place with fresh mixers before they got their liquor license. After their remodel the food is just as amazing and the cocktails always keep me coming back. 

Ardiente is a new spot on my list. Just a few blocks from my work on second street. I had the pleasure of working with Michael Sciore for some of the seating. He also owns Philly’s Latin radio station known as La Mega. He brought a touch of Miami flavor to Philly with the all white interior seating against gorgeous stained glass, amazing food/ drinks, peep shows in the bathrooms, and the pastry chef from the old Le Bec Fin. Be sure to try the stamp collector cocktail when you go it’s my favorite yet lethal!

Pine Fish situated in the Gayborhood has a bohemian Moroccan vibe on the inside to die for. They do an amazing happy hour 7 days a week that is hard to compete with. It has a neighborhood clientele , and quite a few regulars that will absolutely humor you while snacking on 1$ oysters and sipping champagne.  

In old city, Tuna Bar recently opened in 2018. Owner Ken Sze and his wife are the nicest people. The lunch specials are great, beautiful cocktails, and tasting menu. They won the Best of restaurant design award in Philly Magazine. Mr. Bar Stool also did the seating for Ken. The live edge sushi bar is my favorite part of the interior. It is a very sexy welcoming atmosphere. Kens wife also owns the Geisha House on 3rd street. If you are in need a perfect weekend outfit that is the place to go.

I have lived in Queen Village for over a year and always overlooked going into the Morning Glory Diner. After seeing the giant mural above it, I had to check it out. They are a cash only diner and have the best pancakes, and I’m not really a pancake person. The portions are huge totally shareable and the staff is so nice! Be sure to try the homemade lemonade.

Barcelona Bar on Passyunk square is the place to go if you love red sangria and tapas. It sits a little further down from the fountain, but well worth the walk. The outside has one of my favorite quotes “I can resist anything but temptation “. – Oscar Wild. 

Now, Fond and Noord also sit on Passyunk Square. The owners also together own the breakfast spot The Dutch. All three drool worthy. Fond is my second favorite tasting menu restaurant in the city . Fantastic complex cocktails, friendly staff , and diverse food depending on how adventurous you are . Noord is a BYOB to die for overlooking the fountain. I could sit there all afternoon in the summer. 

Devon Seafood has the most amazing happy hour and again overlooks Rittenhouse Park. Sit sipping your wine people watching. Try the mini lobster rolls, mussels , and lobster Mac and cheese . Another secret, Sunday’s they do half price bottles of wine 100$ and under, perfect spot for Sunday funday adventures. 

I’m also very into Asian soups and two of my favorite spots are DanDan Rittenhouse which has an amazing spicy beef noodle soup. At Cheu Rittenhouse I’ve yet to pick a bad item on the menu. They also have a cool vibe with graffiti walls and welcoming staff. Nam Phoung is my go to pho spot on Washington Avenue. Ask for the #159 you will thank me later. 

If you’re taking a trip to Philly in the near future I hope a few of these have sparked your interest. To me food is love. Leaving a restaurant feeling full from food that was beautifully prepared creates lasting memories, and obvious reasons to go back.

Thank you to all the hard working innovative chefs in this city. 

Now where to try next? 

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About The AuthorKatie Kerl. Born 1984. Raised in Drexel Hill,  Pennsylvania. Attended Drexel University for Behavioral  Psychology .Occupation : commercial/ residential  design Philadelphia resident since 2011 . Hobbies include  : Foodie, whiskey drinker,  fitness , cooking  , tattoos , & house music lover . Instagram:  @beatz_eatz_n_freaks .To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/?p=17776&preview=true

 

Posted in Affiliates, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, News, Popular Culture, Travel, Women

Bob Shell: Prostitution?

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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #32

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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PROSTITUTION?

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As you know, prostitution is illegal almost everywhere in the USA. Should it or other “victimless crimes” be? That’s a question I’ve pondered over for years. Basically, I’m a Libertarian. I’m in favor of the smallest possible government with the least possible intrusion into our lives. I don’t want a government that’s a surrogate parent, or a government that thinks it owns me. I don’t need a parent and no one owns me! And, so long as I harm no one else, government has no damned business intruding into my life. I’ve always felt that way, and being put in prison has only strengthened that belief. I’ve never harmed anyone, but an overbearing government put me here after sticking its long nose into what should have been private grief over an untimely death.

I see nothing wrong with prostitution so long as the woman (or man, but for the rest of this post I’ll talk about women) is doing it voluntarily, and has not been coerced into it. In Germany, and I believe in most of the European Union, prostitution is legal and regulated, with regular medical checkups. The women are businesswomen, each running her own business and paying taxes, not the property of a pimp (pimping is illegal). All are adults under their country’s definition, usually 15 or 16 depending on the country.

Have I known and patronized prostitutes? Yes and no, respectively. Some of the women who modeled for me also earned money as “escorts.”. I didn’t care so long as they were good at modeling.

When I first started photographing nude models I was young and pretty naive about things. I ran an ad in the Roanoke newspaper for models willing to pose nude, and got a number of responses. One of them was a very pretty black woman who lived in one of the big housing projects in Roanoke. On my first shoot with her I brought her to my home studio and found her to be a natural at posing. She had a great, expressive face and was slender and very flexible. After a couple of hours of shooting I told her we were through for the day and I’d take her home. She put her hands on her hips and a pout on her face and said, “Ain’tcha gonna fuck me?”. It turned out she was afraid I wouldn’t pay her unless she “serviced” me. I put her mind at ease by paying her and assuring her nothing else was expected. After that she modeled for me several times and we became pretty good friends. Last time I saw her, she was pregnant with a “trick baby.”. I never saw or heard from her again after that. I felt bad for her because I was pretty sure she had turned to prostition because there weren’t many other opportunities available to her to make money.

Other models I knew had turned to escort work just as an easy way to pick up extra money. One I knew put herself through college with modeling and escort work, and went on to a successful career. She liked and respected me because I kept my hands to myself and never hit on her for sex during or after a modeling session. We also became friends.

Back in the 60s when I was living in DC, I knew a high class “call girl.” She had a very nice apartment in an upscale building, expensive clothes, and ate very well. She kept in shape with regular exercise. Her clients were senators, other government men, lobbyists, and wealthy businessmen. She only had one client a night, and charged hefty fees for her services and her confidentiality. When I was between jobs one time she let me stay at her place for a couple of weeks and fed me. On evenings when she didn’t have a client, we sat around and listened to music and talked. We talked philosophy, about the latest books we’d read, etc., but she never talked about her work or her clients. She took her confidentiality very seriously. I knew her for a couple of years and never knew the names of any of her clients.

I used to go to Las Vegas often, but I never frequented the legal brothels outside town in the desert. Was I tempted? Not really. I’d never had to pay for sex and just didn’t feel comfortable with the idea. Since there is no federal law against prostitution, and no state law in Nevada, it’s up to local jurisdictions to regulate. It’s illegal in the city of Las Vegas, but legal in a nearby county where the brothels are.

Once in Tokyo I’d gone out bar hopping with some executives from one of the big camera companies. By the end of the evening, after visiting many little bars where we drank warm saki and ate various things on skewers cooked on hibachi drills, we were holding on to each other just to stand up. As I was getting ready to take a cab back to my hotel, the senior of the two said, “Bob-san, I have arranged for a girl in your room tonight,” He saw my negative reaction and misunderstood, “Don’t worry, she is very clean girl, you won’t catch anything!”. In Japan it is an insult to turn down a gift, so I had to pretend I was pleased, and flopped into the cab and headed off to my hotel, falling asleep on the way. Shortly after I stumbled and fumbled my way back to my hotel room, there was a quiet knock on my door. I opened the door and there stood a lovely young Japanese woman, more of a girl really, since she looked like she couldn’t have been out of her teens. Even if I’d been interested, I was still pretty blotto, and doubt that I could have done anything. I explained my predicament in slurred English, and she seemed to understand. “No worry,” she said, “I tell Mr. —– that you perform very strong.”. I was grateful to her for understanding, gave her a generous tip, and sent her off into the Tokyo night, then fell across the bed and woke up hours later with a fierce hangover.

She was probably older than she looked, since Japanese men tend to like really young-looking women. When I was sending glamour and nude images to my Tokyo agent, she was always telling me my models looked too old, even though they were barely legal in the US. She wanted models who looked around 13, and I couldn’t get across to her that in the U.S.A. I could get arrested for photographing girls who looked underage, no matter how old they really were. It’s called “virtual child pornography,” and is illegal, which I think is a totally ridiculous idea. I’ve photographed 16 year old nude models in Germany, where it was totally legal, but I can’t bring those pictures into the U.S.A. They’d be illegal here. It’s sheer insanity!

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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 here: http://tonyward.com/bob-shell-bondage/

 

Posted in Art, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Erotica, Friends of TWS, History, Men, News, Popular Culture, Women

A.H. Scott: Sour Moneybags’ Dumbasssss Song

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A.H. Scott: Sour Moneybags’ Dumbasssss Song

 

Poetry by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2018

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Sour Moneybags’ Dumbasssss Song

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Tweets don’t fail me now!

Tweets don’t fail me now!

Tweets don’t fail me now!

On the run

Ain’t no pun

Feelin’ the strain on my feet, as under the sun my old body is beat

Hellhounds on my trail

I’m being persecuted beyond the pale

Gotta run from “The Man”

Cuz’ I’m a renegade without no plan or power

Oh, who am I kiddin’, I’m “The Man” livin’ in the Ivory Tower

They call me Prez,

But, behind my back they call me Sauer

Mueller’s on my case

But, no crimes are mine

Not even a trace

Gotta stick it to “The Man”

Cuz’ I’m a poor l’il lamb

Just ignore the fact that I’m outta’ the crib with my pappy’s platinum rib

Gold home plate is ever so great

But, I’m a lonely man in the peoples’ house all alone

Yet, there is that certain something that melts my heart and keeps me from turning to stone

As long as I have that aqua chirper, I sure as hell ain’t alone

Tweets don’t fail me now!

Tweets don’t fail me now!

Gavel’s gonna’ get me, if I stand still

Nancy P. lookin’ at me and is goin’ in for the kill

Gotta put on a mask of strength

Even though I’m on the short end of length

Dames! Dames! Ruining my game

RBG is the Energizer Bunny and fit as a fiddle

She’s older than me, but I’m a tantrum toddler that dribbles

My iron grip is startin’ to slip with every pushback of democracy’s nibble

But, I’m new to this job, ya’ gotta remember that fact

Two years running and I still ain’t got no tact

Gotta’ keep on the run

Ya’ know I ain’t no nun

Ya’ know I ain’t no monk

Damn, gotta keep on runnin’, to keep out of this funk

But, Mueller’s crampin’ my style

Now, Dems ain’t lettin’ me have no more fun

Guard rails be damned, I’m drivin’ this mutha of a country off the razor’s edge

After all, I’m running this show with my orange glow

Yet, nobody realizes that hazy hue is actually my halo

Promises, promises, I screech again and again

Gonna make a run for the border and get me some cashin’

Makin’ them Mexicans pay for my wall is my key voting blocks’ passion

Sour Moneybags spouting gibberish of worker bees praising him for shutdown

While, fed employees’ cash flow is running down

Tweets don’t fail me now!

Tweets don’t fail me now!

My dumbass song won’t do me wrong

This is my song, am I wrong? Am I wrong?

Cuz’ it got me where I am all along

Gazing out my window, I see the little bluebird

As it flies by, I run outside and give it a wave

Little bluebird comes closer towards me

It must be quite brave

A fat turd from that bird lands in my eye

Screaming, I cry, “Why? Why? Why?”

Tweet is my friend, again and again

Yet, sweet bird of blue is a myth that is ever so true

When a tweet comes from the soul which is sour, call of the barbarian is diminished in power

Tweet defeat

He CAN be beat

Dems don’t fail us now!

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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 here:http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/a-h-scott-crumblin-dice/

 

Posted in Blog, Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, News, Politics, Popular Culture, Women

Diary: Theresa. A Visit to Alcatraz

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Theresa: A Visit to Alcatraz. 1980

 

 Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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Diary: Theresa. A Visit to Alcatraz. 1980

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I first laid eyes on Theresa as she excited a cable car on a side street next to the Fairmount Hotel where I was staying in San Francisco on assignment in 1980.  She walked directly towards me as I was standing on the sidewalk next to the hotel waiting for the concierge to have my car delivered from the garage on my way to a photo shoot.   I said hello and she said hello back with a flirtatious smile.  Low and behold she was an employee of the hotel as she motioned to open a side door I noticed for employees only . As she opened her purse to get her pass key,  I commented that I was a guest at the hotel and mentioned how satisfied I was with the accommodations.  She said she would pass the compliment on to management.  We exchanged phone numbers.  Later that day we met for drinks at Donatello, her favorite Italian restaurant just off of Union Square. 

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Theresa at Donatello. Union Square. San Francisco, 1980.

Theresa at Donatello. Union Square. San Francisco, 1980.

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One thing quickly led to the next and so began a brief but romantic relationship. One of the highlights of our time together was a trip we took to Alcatraz Island where I captured this very beautiful moment with this Mexican beauty!

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To access additional diary entries, click here:http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/diary-a-fashion-shoot-at-the-jersey-shore/

 

 

Posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Diary, Documentary, Environment, Film, Glamour, History, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women