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Ed Simmons: In Memorium, 10-07-1952 – 9-22-22

Ed Simmons. Self-Portrait. LA. 2018.
Ed Simmons. Self-Portrait, Los Angeles, 2018.

In Memorium: 

Ed Simmons: 10-07-1952 – 9-22-22

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Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2022

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It figures that today is a dreary rainy day.  Not easy getting bad news on a day like this, but it happened anyway. Jacqueline Simmons, the daughter of a dear friend,  Ed Simmons called at 10:42 this morning to inform tearfully that  her Dad passed away peacefully from complications of renal cancer. She was by his bedside at the time of his passing.  Anyone that knew Ed would know how much he was comforted by Jacqueline’s presence.  His daughter was the apple of his eye, a complicated relationship but they loved each other immensely none the less.  Ed called early in June of this year and gave me the news his diagnosis was terminal.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Ed always appeared fit and healthy. He didn’t exactly know how much time he had in June. He was acutely aware his time was very limited on this earth.  We talked about therapy options that he didn’t want any part of.  I tried to encourage him to look on the bright side, hoping against hope there would be a miracle, certainly there were plenty of prayers. Ed was steadfast. He starred squarely at his mortality and accepted his pending demise without complaint. He remembered seeing his dad suffer with the end stages of the same disease and decided after conferring with doctors not to take any chemo or radiation. He didn’t want to suffer with ineffective treatments the way his dad did.  He said the disease was really nasty. 

So we talked since  June numerous times about what he would do with his personal effects, especially his photography collection.  Ed was an amazing photographer and always offered his assistance on my shoots  whenever I worked in Los Angeles.   He loved LA’s nightlife and became a fixture, particularly around Melrose and his home away from home, Venice Beach, where he wished to have his remains released to the sea, where his spirit can eternally enjoy the sun and surf.

A life well lived and a close friend I will truly miss.

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Here are a few links to past contributions Ed Simmons made to this blog. He would love for visitors to enjoy the articles he left behind:

. Dancing Girls Harvard and Stone: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/ed-simmons-dancing-girls-harvard-and-stone/

. Venice Beach Trashed: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/ed-simmons-dancing-girls-harvard-and-stone/

. Jay Adams Local Hero: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/ed-simmons-jay-adams-local-hero/

Kitchie Ohh: Beyond The Playground

 

Text by Kitchie Ohh, Copyright 2022

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Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2022

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Creative Direction: KVaughn

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Hair & Makeup: Michael Connor

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Photography Assistant: Anthony Colagreco

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BEYOND THE PLAYGROUND

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Most often, when we think of a bully, we think about the bigger kid on the playground picking on the smaller ones; pushing them around or beating them up for their lunch money.  The problem is so much more complex and, I can assure you from experience, it goes well beyond the schoolyard; running rampant in office settings, social groups, and in families around the world. 

I have already shared at a very surface level that I suffered years of verbal abuse from my peers growing up. The daily reminders of everything that was wrong with me lead me to believe that they must be right. I just wasn’t good enough, and it hurt like hell. I did my best to avoid anything that made me a target. I faded into the background, withdrew into myself, and watched with a mixture of relief and extreme Catholic guilt as the bullseyes were drawn on other kids’ backs. I coasted, invisible, right on through high school graduation. Paralyzed with fear that I would encounter a new crop of bullies with new things to hate about me, I opted out of college. I did explore my independence by moving out of my parents home.  

Entering the workforce, full-time as a teenager, I was kind of a novelty in the office. I was, and still am, incredibly responsible, dedicated and hard-working. Only now, I’m nowhere near as naive. I often found myself responsible for my workload, plus the things that coworkers didn’t want to do. Experience told me that speaking up would make me a target, so I just did the work and kept my mouth shut. Soon, I was doing the work and taking the blame for nearly everything that went wrong or didn’t get finished, even if I had nothing to do with it. I had countless meetings about performance-related problems that weren’t actually mine. Someone needed to be reprimanded, might as well be me. They knew I wouldn’t fight back. Next, I was pushed into covering extra hours, holidays, all the shifts no one else wanted. “You’re not dating anyone, you don’t have kids, no reason you can’t do this. You don’t have anything to do.” Ouch. If I ever was lucky enough to have a day off, the very next time in the office I was berated with how inconvenient my absence was for everyone.  I did eventually reach my limit and left.

Having learned a little bit about office dynamics and politics, the next job was a vast improvement.  Not perfect, but I gained some respect – and learned how to set some professional boundaries. This angered the office bully. They came for me, personally. I declined a happy hour invitation. They told everyone I wasn’t coming because I thought I was “too good” for them. I ate salad for lunch and it was clearly and directly a statement about the unhealthy choices they made for their midday meal. Leaving the office for the gym every evening was an equally heinous rebellion against them. A prominent member of the community left one of our events saying “see you later, hon.” The minute we were back at the office, I was accused of having an affair with this married man. Everything I did was wrong, but I wasn’t doing anything!

Things that happened at that job were the final straw. I was working in that position at the time I had my revelation that not one of the names I was called, not a single thing I was accused of, or made to do, had a damn thing to do with me. That realization gave me back all of my power and my voice. I didn’t – and don’t – need to shrink myself down, make myself invisible or watered down for the benefit of another. I can say no, I can refuse to take on more than I’m able, I can defend myself against insults and allegations. Professionally, personally, socially, in relationships. I am worthy of respect and should not accept less.

It’s an ongoing process of undoing all of the damage; I don’t think it will ever be finished. There will always be people who just can’t hold their tongues. Their obligation to point out flaws, try to exploit them, and put others down is a force they just cannot resist. I could write a whole book of very scathing stories, with damning details from various people who have entered and thankfully exited my life over the years. But like I said, their behavior has got nothing at all to do with me. Neither forgiven or forgotten, I’ve accepted, let go and moved on. And I am so much better for it. 

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About The Author:

Kitchie Ohh is a full-time professional fundraiser who has worked with a number of health and human services nonprofits for over the last 20 years, currently with a food-related Philadelphia nonprofit. She found her passion for modeling after a pinup-style photoshoot in 2013. Since then shes worked with many talented photographers, stylists, hair and makeup artists in a variety of styles.  She has been featured in -and on the covers of- multiple print and digital publications. Over the years she has branched out from pinup studio modeling to serve as a figure model for live sketching, walked a runway, and was part of two campaigns for local Philadelphia designer K. Vaughn. 

In addition to her food insecurity-related work, she has also volunteered with art, historical, and community organizations, and even on the events team of a local brewery, pre-pandemic.  

Youre just as likely to find her whipping up something deliciously plant-based in her kitchen or knitting a sweater as you are to find her on a photography set. Her motto is be both.” The model and the homemaker,  sultry and sweet, serious and silly. All the things, all at once.  

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To access additional articles by Kitchie Ohh, click here:

A.H. Scott: “Under The Banner Of Heaven (Abyss – Part Two)”

Illustration of Donald Trump as treasonous traitor of american democracy
Maga Trump. Artwork by Thomcat23, Copyright 2022

“Under The Banner Of Heaven (Abyss – Part Two)”

By

A.H. Scott

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In a review of the seventh hearing, Donald J. Trump’s acts of commission were spectacularly displayed in showing how much in charge he was of the dainty dolls in satin and rough boys in leather. 

As for the eight hearing[18] of the House January 6th Committee, it was an exacting reverse engineered inaction of omission which came in the form of a more demurred presentation from a President who always boasted with anything which would arise, that he alone could fix it. 

Overview of the Eighth Hearing – July 21st, 2022

“Abyss”

“For 187 minutes on January 6th, this man of unbridled destructive energy could not be moved, not by his aides, not by his allies, not by the violent chants of rioters, or the desperate pleas of those facing down the riot. And more tellingly, Donald Trump ignored and disregarded the desperate pleas of his own family, including Ivanka and Don Junior. Even though he was the only person in the world who could call off the mob he sent to the Capitol, he could not be moved to rise from his dining room table and walk the few steps down the White House hallway into the press briefing room, where cameras were anxiously and desperately waiting to carry his message to the armed and violent mob savagely beating and killing law enforcement officers ravaging the Capitol and hunting down the vice president and various members of Congress.” – Bennie Thompson, D-MISS, Chairman, January 6th Committee

Donald Trump’s inaction was an action of sorts, as sitting on his rump in the dining room off the Oval Office doing nothing showed the abandonment of the American people, when some sense of leadership was needed. But, then again, the American people did not the full portrait of a man who was not just a rider in the storm, but the driver of devastation. 

“Donald Trump’s own White House counsel, his own White House staff, members of his own family all implored him to immediately intervene to condemn the violence and instruct his supporters to stand down, leave the Capitol, and disperse. For multiple hours, he would not. Donald Trump would not get on the phone and order the military or law enforcement agencies to help. And for hours, Donald Trump chose not to answer the pleas from Congress, from his own party, and from all across our nation to do what his oath required. He refused to defend our nation and our Constitution. He refused to do what every American President must.” – Liz Cheney, R-WY, vice-Chair, January 6th Committee

All about the numbers.

All about an Election Day.

All about 11,780 votes.

All about an electoral certification.

All about machinations of a coup.

All about inaction.

All about President Donald J. Trump.

This is January 6th, 2021!

This is 187 minutes!

Sending out a few chirping characters of persuasion to his second in command at 8:17am, Donald Trump was bright-eyed and fluffy tailed for his big speech at the Ellipse:

“States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!” – President Donald J. Trump[19]

With morning turning to afternoon, not only was Vice-President Mike Pence in danger, but so was Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was third in line of Presidential succession. I think someone who might have been overlooked in the enormity of calamity that was hovering over that day was the fact that the former Senator from California who was now Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris was having a meeting inside of the Democratic National Committee and was evacuated at 1:14pm, where the first of two pipe bombs were found that day. 

Pence, Pelosi, Harris – just to think about what could have happened to one or all of them is beyond any type of horror I wish not to think about ever again after writing this article. 

At 2:24pm another needling of Vice-President Pence came from Trump: 

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify.USA demands the truth!” – President Donald J. Trump

With all hell breaking loose, to the left, right, up, down and all around the Capitol, all Donald Trump was focusing on was urging further objection to the electoral count, as he was working the phones in dialing for Senators from Utah and Alabama at 2:26 pm to help him implement the pernicious plan. 

“Within minutes of stepping off the Ellipse stage, Donald Trump knew about the violent attack on the Capitol. From the comfort of his dining room, he watched on TV as the attack escalated. He sent tweets that inflamed and expressed support for the desire of some to literally kill Vice President Mike Pence. For three hours, he refused to call off the attack. Donald Trump refused to take the urgent advice he received that day, not from his political opponents or from the liberal media, but from his own family, his own friends, his own staff, and his own advisers. In the midst of an attack when there was no time for politics, the people closest to Trump told him the truth.” – Adam Kinzinger, R-IL, January 6th Committee Member

At 2:38 pm, while Capitol Police and congressional staffers were barricading the main entrance that leads to the House floor, President Donald J. Trump tweeted the following:

“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!” – President Donald J. Trump

Without missing a beat, Trump touted that false flag sloganeering of “Support the Blue”. “Back The Blue” and “Blue Lives Matter”, which didn’t mean a damn thing as those men and women of law enforcement who in that same moment were in the middle of a battle for their lives with his supporters in and around the Capitol complex. 

For the 8th hearing of the January 6th Committee, there were a pair of witnesses who were White House insiders. One was from the communications sphere and the second was from the national security realm. 

Sarah Matthews, Deputy White House Press Secretary had served under Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and she testified about the media messaging for that hectic day. 

Matthews and Kayleigh McEnany had a conversation after the President’s tweet at 2:38, which the White House Deputy Press Secretary recounted in her testimony before the committee about the reluctance Trump was giving everyone who was advising him on what to say in those 250 characters. 

“When she got back, she told me that a tweet had been sent out. And I told her that I thought the tweet did not go far enough, that I thought there needed to be a call to action and he needed to condemn the violence. And we were in a room full of people, but people weren’t paying attention. And so, she looked directly at me and, in a hushed tone, shared with me that the president did not want to include any sort of mention of peace in that tweet, and that it took some convincing on their part, those who were in the room. And she said that there was a back and forth, going over different phrases to find something that he was comfortable with. And it wasn’t until Ivanka Trump suggested the phrase stay peaceful that he finally agreed to include it.” – Sarah Matthews, former Deputy White House Press Secretary 

Seated next to Sarah Matthews in the hearing room was Matthew Pottinger, Deputy National Security Adviser, who took what happened on January 6th and placed it into a global narrative of how we are seen around the world, by both friend and foe. 

“The – you know, we’ve been hearing, for the entirety of US history from kings and despots, that the United States is – is in decline, and those kings and despots have been proven wrong every single time. But nonetheless, January 6th helped feed a perception that I think emboldens our adversaries. You know, the – the other part I – I think is simply our- our allies. I heard from a lot of friends in Europe, in Asia, allies, close friends, and supporters of the United States that they were concerned about the health of our democracy. And so, I think it’s incumbent upon us to put their minds at ease, to put our own hearts at ease, by investigating what happened on the 6th and making sure that it never happens again.” – Matthew Pottinger, Deputy National Security Adviser

Both Matthew Pottinger and Sarah Matthews resigned from the Trump administration in the wake of an unprecedented attack on the seat of American democracy, the United States Capitol. 

As Stephen Ayers and all the others who were there in Washington DC at the behest of the President to hear his speech at the Stop The Steal Rally, the tweet which was sent out at 2:38pm also had a reaction from someone who knew the impact of the President’s words. 

“POTUS is not ignorant of what his words would do” – Ali Alexander, Stop The Steal Rally organizer

The only hand-to-hand combat Donald J. Trump ever had was a Big Mac in either of his hands and trying to decide which he would wolf down first. 

Even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy expressed his displeasure with the antics of President Trump during those hours when he himself was cowering as the barbarians were at the gates of Congress.

“I’ve had it with this guy. What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it. The only discussions I would have with him is that I think this will pass and it would be my recommendation he should resign.” – Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-CA., House Minority Leader

Under a month of saying those words of a warrior against the vile actions by President Donald J. Trump on January 6th, it was McCarthy who went down to Mar-A-Lago to kiss Trump’s backside, grovel and play patty-cake for political dollars with him. 

Finally at 3:26pm, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser received confirmation from the Secretary of the Army of the United States Capitol Police request for DC National Guard support was approved. 

Ten minutes later, at 3:36pm, a tweet from the house of lies came from White Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany: 

“At President @realDonaldTrump’s direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services. We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful” – Kayleigh McEnany, White House Press Secretary

Earlier in the committee hearings, it was Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley who confirmed that it was not the President that gave the order to call up the National Guard, but it was Vice-President Mike Pence. 

So, once more, the house of lies does what it does oh so well – lie la lie….lie la lie, lie, lie, lie, lie…

Damn, it’s like hearing Simon and Garfunkel’s harmonizing on one of their tunes.

From 4:03pm to 4:07pm, President Trump went into the Rose Garden and scraped together some a mealy-mouthed message to his people to leave the United States Capitol peacefully. Even after all which occurred in a volley of such heinous violence, he expressed his love for those who supported him. 

“We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us, from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel, but go home and go home in peace.” – President Donald J. Trump

Not done with rubbing salt into the still festering wound of the madness which all Americans and people all over the world had been witness to in wall to wall televised coverage that day, the President’s thumbs were working overtime for a tweet that went out at 6:00pm: 

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!” – President Donald J. Trump

Citing the violation of civic integrity policy, at 7:00pm Twitter suspended Donald Trump for 12 hours. 

Geez, Twitter finally pulled his plug, as he was sounding like he was creeping into ‘Remember the Alamo’ territory there. Ugh!!

Besides the President of the United States going round and round in looking for some way to stop the certification, even as the Capitol was being battered and flesh was being bruised, there were those legislators on the inside that commiserated in desiring the failed plan to continue. Rudy Guiliani was on the phone like a used-car salesman trying to nail down a final sale to a Congressman and six Senators. Representative Jim Jordan and Senators Marsha Blackburn, Tommy Tuberville, Bill Haggerty, Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley, and Ted Cruz were getting the big sell to make the President’s wicked dream of overturning an election come true. 

The very long ago Mayor of New York City was not going to give up the ghost of past glory, as he tried to rally the troops to help Trump: 

“Hello. Senator Tuberville? Or I should say Coach Tuberville. This is Rudy Giuliani, President’s lawyer. I’m calling you because I want to discuss with you how they’re trying to rush this hearing and how we need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you.” – Rudy Guiliani, former Mayor of New York City

What if United States Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman had a pang of selfishness in those moments as that hulking mob up that marble staircase in the Capitol was hurling expletives of both violence and racial hatred at him for the color of his skin, would have just shrugged or pointed a finger in the direction of the Senate chamber and told the mob exactly where they could find the people they considered traitors to Trump and truth? 

Unlike a well-insulated President inside of the White House, at 2:14pm Officer Eugene Goodman showed selfless service and courage in getting the rowdy mob to go into a different direction, saving the Senators and their staffs from coming face to face with those who meant them harm and even death. 

What if Vice-President Mike Pence just gave into the chattering of persuasion in tossing the Constitution in the crapper, flushing democracy down the tubes and going along to get along with a carnival-barkin’ crazy bunch of coup conspirators?

Unlike the whining man-baby inside of the White House, in the early hours of January 7th at 3:40 am Vice-President Mike Pence presided over the electoral certification of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as victors in the 2020 Presidential election over President Donald J. Trump and himself. 

Nine minutes later at 3:49am, there was a Presidential statement released via the twitter account of Dan Scavino, Deputy White House Chief of Staff:

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!” – President Donald J. Trump

What if the President of the United States would have manned up, swallowed his pride and put America before himself? 

Of course, there is no answer to this, because the person in question is Donald John Trump.  

If the President of the United States does not have the emotional bandwidth, then we were (and, I hope he doesn’t run again) and could all be screwed by his whims, flights of fancy, and just plain-out dimensions of such dark despair. 

Those in government in the days following January 6th were trying to deal with aftermath of what had gone on. There were members of the Trump cabinet and appointees in the administration resigning to whispers of the invocation of the twenty-fifth amendment to the Constitution, which would only happen with the incapacitation of the President of the United States. It was a rollercoaster of days between the 7th and 21st days of January, when a new President would be inaugurated. 

“There was a couple of the calls where, you know, Meadows and or Pompeo, but more Meadows, you know, how – how is the President doing? Like, Pompeo might say how’s the President doing? And Meadows would say, well, he’s in a really dark place. Like here’s one, for example, on the 7th of January. So this is a day after, right? POTUS is very emotional and in a bad place. Meadows.” – General Mark Milley, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman

At any point along that timeframe, from back in the early months of 2020 when Trump’s re-election campaign was starting in motion, to the days winding down to November and then after Election Day itself; 60-plus judicial rulings going in a more favorable direction, state officials turning a blind-eye here and there, getting high-appointed members of the administration to bend laws into pretzels for the sake of one man – it could have all gone sideways. 

But, even now in the wake of the remnants of that convoluted, election theory; there are turns and twists in the reshaping of how future elections have already been affected, in several new voting laws being passed across the country. Many are not too subtle voter suppression laws pushed forth by those election deniers that wallowed in the waste-water of Trump’s cynical ploy to maintain power. 

All these years, it was never about anyone else. Only and always, it was Donald Trump. He took it, he ran with it, he bastardized it, and watched us all ignite. 

“The Big Lie has been good only for Trump and has brought him millions in donations, which some evidence suggests may have been mishandled. The Big Lie, and the related violence, election interference and other perceived misconduct, was and is an affront to this nation and its first principles. It has permanently soiled the history pages and deepened the abyss[20] that divides our country and continues to expand due to the delusions and lack of accountability of politicians in both parties. It should be disqualifying for Trump and his political acolytes, and would have been at any other time in our history. To modify a well known Seinfeld quote – SANITY NOW! ” – Ty Cobb, former White House attorney 

Trump has taking the willing and the unwilling of all Americans into the abyss without a care of how dark and deep the ramifications are into this unknown reality the United States of America is facing right now in the moment and into the unforeseen future. 

But, hey, just as long as it keeps stoking that bottomless pit of ego need that the narcissistic former President craves like inhaling hamburgers and hearing the distant strains of “Hail to the Chief” played on a loop in his mind. 

Yet, for the rest of us average citizens who are just trying to live our lives, love our families, embrace our friends, and practice the tenants of democracy and civic engagement – well, we just get the stiff-arm, brush-off and obviously the middle finger of Donald Trump, who embodies the paranoiac, incendiary and nihilistic, lyrical attitude of “Gasoline”[21] towards us all:

“I don’t give a fuck

Burn it all down, burn it to the ground

Feed the flames, go insane

And burn it all down, burn it all down

The time is up

There’s no return

Fuck them all

Watch them burn

Yeah, ’cause I don’t give a fuck

Fuck what they say, fuck everything

Light the match, gasoline

Kill it all, kill everything

And burn it all down, burn it all down” –“Gasoline” by I Prevail (songwriters, Brian Burkheiser, Eric Vanlerberghe, Steve Menoian, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.)[22]

Trump incinerates the truth to ash, as black is white and white is black, and the loser of an election makes the rest of us in this world seem like our sanity is out of whack.

“And what Trump’s going to do is declare victory, right? He’s going to declare victory, but that doesn’t mean he’s a winner. He’s just gonna say he’s a winner. The Democrats – more of our people vote early that count. Theirs vote in mail. And so they’re going to have a natural disadvantage and Trump’s going to take advantage – that’s our strategy. He’s gonna declare himself a winner. So when you wake up Wednesday morning, it’s going to be a firestorm. Also – also if Trump is – if Trump is losing by 10 or 11:00 at night, it’s going to be even crazier. Because he’s gonna sit right there and say they stole it. If Biden’s wining, Trump is going to do some crazy shit.” – Steve Bannon, advisor to President Donald J. Trump

With Trump using that crack-head logic, it was almost like him reliving his father Fred’s adoration of Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” in believing anything you can craft a positive spin upon, even an election loss would be turned into an election win if only you just believe. Not so fast, Donnie, you sure as anything ain’t a Kansas waif in need of clicking your ruby red slippers together to bring you back from Oz. You are just an opportunist with a thunderous bark, trying to plow through to a victory you did not achieve. Just say any ol’ crap and everything will fall into place. Nope, not for you, Trumpy!!

“President Trump did not then and does not now have the character or courage to say to the American people what his own people know to be true. He is responsible for the attack on the Capitol on January 6th.” – Elaine Luria, D-VA, January 6th Committee Member

Courage is what was seen and heard from the witnesses who were sworn in and testified under oath in the eight public hearings held by the House January 6th Committee. 

Vice-Chair Liz Cheney from Wyoming eloquently took a brief moment from her closing remarks to point out the women who were featured from the first to eighth hearing, in showing that a valiant heart need not be that of masculinity or muscularity, but a graceful determination of feminine will. 

“We’ve seen bravery and honor in these hearings. And Ms. Matthews and Mr. Pottinger, both of you will be remembered for that. As will Cassidy Hutchinson. She sat here alone took the oath and testified before millions of Americans. She knew all along that she would be attacked by President Trump and by the 50, 60, and 70 year old men who hide themselves behind executive privilege. But like our witnesses today, she has courage and she did it anyway. Cassidy, Sara, and our other witnesses including Officer Caroline Edwards, Shaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, are an inspiration to American women and to American girls. We owe a debt to all of those who have and will appear here.” – Liz Cheney, R-WY, vice-Chair, January 6th Committee

Donald Trump may have taken America into the abyss and figured he’d sail off into the sunset. Yet, no man is above the law. And, a castle in West Palm Beach ain’t beyond the grasp of a warrant looking for purloined papers ya’ took when you left your last gig!!

Knock, knock!

Who’s there?

It sure isn’t Avon calling!

Hmm….I guess that’ll keep for another time.

“Under The Banner of Heaven (Abyss Part Two)”

By

A.H. Scott

FOOTNOTES – “Under The Banner Of Heaven (Abyss Part Two)”:

18.-Transcript of the 8th Jan. 6 committee on its investigation : NPR

https://www.npr.org/2022/07/22/1112138665/jan-6-committee-hearing-transcript

19.-The Capitol Riot: A Chronology – National Security Archive

https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/news/foia/2022-01-06/capitol-riot-chronology

20.-Former White House Attorney Ty Cobb: ‘Big Lie has been good only for Trump’ – NBC News

https://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meetthepressblog/former-white-house-attorney-ty-cobb-big-lie-good-only-trump-rcna38318

21.-Gasoline Lyrics By I Prevail – LyricsFreak

https://www.lyricsfreak.com/i/i+prevail/gasoline_21636185.html

22.-I Prevail – “Gasoline” (Official Music Video) – YouTube

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Bob Shell: Cancelling Culture

God Bless America. Sculpture by Seward Johnson
God Bless America. Sculpture by Seward Johnson.

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2022

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Cancelling Culture

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Amid the ‘Cancel Culture’ movement’s weird actions have been calls to pull down monuments and statues of important historical persons. Even Queen Victoria’s and Gandhi’s statues aren’t safe from these rabid radicals. Gandhi? Yes, some want statues of this great man of peace torn down! Let’s just tear down all statues and be done with it!
I was surprised recently to learn that even classical music is under attack. Cambridge university, that bastion of learning, now has a class called ‘Decolonizing the Ear.’ According to the University, this class teaches students to listen to music in a ‘post-colonial’ way, because classical music is ‘complicit in projects of empire and neoliberal systems of power.’ It teaches that ‘genres like opera seem particularly susceptible to racialized representations.’
The class uses Aida, Giuseppe Verdi’s masterpiece as a starting point. Aida, which is set in Egypt, premiered in Cairo in 1871.
According to Oxford University, ‘Professors said the classical repertoire taught at Oxford, which spans works by Mozart and Beethoven focuses too much on white European music from the slave period.’ One Oxford professor even wrote that the musical notation system we use represents ‘white hegemony.’ I wonder what system he would have us use instead?
The most celebrated classical composers had absolutely nothing to do with the transatlantic slave trade or colonialization of Africa, Asia or the ‘New World.’ Austria, home of Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, and many others, was not a colonialist country. Nor was Russia, home of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Mussorgsky, Scriabin, and many others.
Many classical composers were Jews, persecuted since ancient times.
One less radical professor stated, ‘I teach my students we are not judging the music, it is judging us. It has been around much longer than we have, and it is reckless arrogance to think we can dismiss its impact on human civilization with our extremely short-lived blips on the human timeline.’
As I said, Aida did not premiere in Europe, but in Cairo. The story is about an Egyptian warrior fighting to free Ethiopian slaves. Aida is one of those Ethiopian slaves. The Egyptian warrior’s love for her is a beautiful example true love that transcended racial barriers.
Verdi was a political activist in his time. Verdi’s name became an acronym for the people’s struggles against oppression and desire for nationhood. And we want to ‘cancel’ this man? His music should be revered and preserved.
Unfortunately, the majority of people today don’t listen to classical music, except perhaps the short sound bites used in commercials. I was very lucky to have a father who appreciated classical music. He’d been a DJ on a classical music radio station for a while, and had an extensive collection of classical recordings. In those days it was all on 78 rpm records, which I listened to over and over. Very few children today grow up in homes where classical music is played, and that’s a real tragedy.
Yes, I do listen to modern music. but most of it is musically pretty primitive. Rap has much in common with the way the ancient Greeks chanted their poetry, rhythmically, to the beat of drums, clash of cymbals, and other accompaniment. And there are parallels in Gregorian chants, compositions like Carmena Burana and some others.
Basically, I believe music is music, it’s good or bad.
Recent music I’m listening to other than classical include:

Apples From Mars
Jenifer Lopez
Taylor Swift
Lady Gaga
House of ILL Repute
Fighting Friday
Ofenbach
M. Ridho
Aydilge
Tasya Rosmala

All are capable of producing very good music, but don’t always do so.
Should we cancel great art just because we don’t like the artist? We will lose much of cultural importance if we do.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author, former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine and veteran contributor to this blog. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 15th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read additional articles by Bob Shell, click here:https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/virginia-giveth-virginia-taketh_away/

Shanell Verandez: A Musical Journey


Text by Shanell Verandez, Copyright 2022

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Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2022

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Assistant to Photographer: Anthony Colagreco

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Creative Director: KVaughn

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A Musical Journey

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Hola, My name is Shanell  and I am a “Jane of All Trades and Master of None”. I have dabbled in almost every Artistic, Academic, Athletic and Spiritual endeavors one can possibly expose themselves to. I feel blessed to have an open mind and heart to be able to comprehend what I am absorbing from different kinds of people, places and things.
 
Most of all, Music has been one my favorite artistic endeavors, it runs through my family’s bloodline literally….I started when I was 6yrs old in Elementary school with a Music Aptitude test that I passed with flying colors which enabled me to receive an instrument of choice. My music teacher guided me to a room filled with instruments. It looked like a treasure chest! I wanted the Cello, they didn’t have one, so my teacher suggested the violin, but my arm length was too long.  So ,she finally introduced me to the Viola and the start of my ongoing relationship with that instrument began.
 
Then in Junior high school came another desire to play another instrument, the Oboe.  Once again, another unavailable instrument, but the teacher brought out an elegant beauty, the French horn. I was baffled because I had never seen this instrument before, so the teacher instructed that I had a week to blow one note in that instrument or move on. This instrument was meant to be mine, because by the end of that week, I got the note( a high C) and another musical relationship began.
 
I have another relationship with an instrument we all take for granted, the vocal cords. My singing journey began in a Baptist church set in a row house in the Historic “Black Bottom” section of Philadelphia. Most of my family was either in the choir, playing the drums or organ as well being a member on the church board. I had the chance to sing solos that were taught to me by my Aunt. Later on in life at High school I was singing in the bathroom stalls with my friend and we didn’t realize that there was another person present until she knocked on my bathroom stall and asked me to come out. She was a vocal teacher and an active Opera singer that had an interest in me becoming her student. I started studying with her and it turned out to be a very powerful  relationship out of my musical “ménage a trois”. She guided my vocal career throughout the years( high school and college, beyond).
 
So one would wonder… What is holding me back? I would point the finger at those who didn’t believe in me and tried everything in they could to block me, but no, I need to get past that pain and realize it is me holding myself back. Why? It is because I have really terrible stage fright and I have to believe in myself more and become more centered. The very thought of becoming more focused and centered within myself has inspired me to take another step and start writing songs, here is one I would like to share with all of you, the song is Titled …
                    
                   ” Soul Centered “
                    
                     Sittin’ on a Whim
                    Just Wastin’ Time
                     Feel like I’ve Lost
                           An Oasis 
                    Traveling thru Time
                    A Rush of Feelings 
               To Get Up and Get Mine
          
                        Soul Centered 
                    Is where I want to be
                         Soul Centered 
                    Is where I want to free
 
                    Different but Familiar
                             From Afar 
                  Sometimes it makes me
                     Wonder why you are
 
                     A Touch of Brilliance 
                     Growin’ From Within 
                  I’ve Trekked on Somethin’
                   Different why it’s a Sin
 
                          Soul Centered 
                     Is Where I Want to Be
                          Soul Centered 
                     Is Where I Want to Free
  
One Day I will be able to perform this Song during my Music Journey… Peace❤️
 
Editor’s Note: This is Shanell Verandez first sitting with Tony Ward for the Vixen’s series. To see all of the work to date from the new series, click herehttps://tonyward.com/new-work-the-vixens-series/