Like most of us I too am looking forward to leaving 2021 behind. It was another year of Covid to contend with not to mention the economic, social and political turmoil its caused. For a moment though on August 18th, 2021, a mid point of the year seemed to have reached a peak. Not for a spike of new covid cases. No . This peak was one of fun and pure joy as hundreds of thousands of people journeyed to the Jersey shore for the annual Atlantic City Airshow. It was definitely my favorite highlight of the summer.
My son Julian Ward came up with the idea of attending the airshow. He planned the perfect place to meet up with family and friends. Julian carefully choreographed where we were to meet on the beach in front of Bally’s Beach Bar and BBQ. It was a sunny day in the open air with a slight breeze. Not a soul was wearing a mask. It was perfect weather to enjoy an assortment of old and new airplanes including our newest fighter jets maneuvers thrilling the crowd with surgical precision.
I shot the footage of this video clip using a combination of my I-Phone and a Sony mirrorless RX100V mirrorless camera. Julian edited the clip brilliantly in I-Movie. The Thunderbirds of course were my favorite. This clip is a most see. Enjoy!
About The Author: Tony Ward is the publisher and editor of Tony Ward Studio blog.
When I walked through the doors, I immediately heard this supersonic voice above the constant noise of gym rats working out.It was really crowded so I couldn’t immediately pick out the source.
After hitting the locker room, I was ready to start my ritual – the one that has kept me close to sanity for thirty years. Now I’m hearing that voiceagain and it’s really close. I see him from the back – a super fit black guy who’s training a young woman and without question she is responding because the guy has the gift. He’s got the mojo – he knows how to get into your head. All of a sudden he turns around as though he knows that I was checking him out. WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO HIM? Was he in a fire? Did someone throw acid on his face? He turned back to his client and continued the workout.
I continued mine as well but I couldn’t stop thinking about that face. He would move around the gym and greet people in an incredibly uplifting way. You could not help but like the guy. Over the next few weeks I got to know him better and eventually we became good friends. I spoke with my two partners, Gene Mayer and Matt Stanton, and we decided to make a short film about him.
This meeting happened several years ago and I am still stunned by this man’s life and by the way he crawled out of a sewer and ultimately won the game with a shitty hand.His childhood was a mess and he gravitated to selling drugs. This ultimately led to a five year federal prison term for trafficking.It’s hard to imagine, but he turned this all around and became a motivational speaker and author of children’s books. I’m a photographer and director – I’ve met many people in my forty year career – James McLeod, That Vitiligo Guy, is right up there!!!
Step up! Step in! It is the event you don’t want to miss! Circus MAGAmus welcomes you into the abyss.
Not a moment to waste! Not a moment to lose! Far more than just your pride shall be abused.
Upon his chariot he enters the venue to waves of great cheer. As he rises onto his pedestal, his devoted followers wiggle and writhe in animated flickers of delusional glory.
For now, you are allowed in his presence because he is amused by having his lemmings around. But, don’t get too comfortable in MAGAmus, for it can change at the whim of the emperor.
Make America Great Again is the slogan and roar. When you think you’ve given your allegiance, they want more, more, more. Not enough to have a ‘R’ next to your name, you must bow and bend to the emperor of tarnished fame.
In Circus MAGAmus it is not 1 which they follow, for it is an intersecting of disparate agendas that ring so hollow.
Fuselage of fibbery cascades over those so willingly assembled, as they submerge in an upside-down universe of electoral thievery and pseudo-persecution by those on the left.
He is their idol, have no doubt. Now, this is what MAGAmus is all about. As a golden edifice of their emperor is rolled onto center stage, it is quite telling that even this object of affection for MAGA was crafted in that country the great man derided south of the border. 200 pounds of fiberglass fraudulence is dazzling in gold, as the oohs and aahs of the onlookers fills the arena with bliss. Some even gaze at the posterior of this statue and ponder a nice, long, sloppy kiss.
For whom the bell tolls, some may say. It tolls for America on this very day. States of shock. States of division. States of commission. States of omission. As hands on the clock of the wall of destiny ticks away, it is only our will that can change our fate’s sway.
With the two major political parties in the United States of America, it seems like a battle of the brands.
Brand vs. Brand:
Republicans are odious and obnoxious in showing no lack of limitation in their words and actions of tastelessness intermingled with a dangerous edge to them. Flouting mask mandates within the walls of Congress, demeaning fellow members as terrorists, and using misogynistic anime are just the tip of a turgid iceberg of the Grand Old Party. They get off on saying the words of hate, which inflates their campaign war chests with each and every slight of indignity.
Like the axiom that the fish rots from its’ head, the lead of lackadaisical lashing out is a trademark of their dear leader.
Contempt is what has been dished out so furiously over the years towards the American public, as now contempt is being dished right back at two peas in Circus MAGAmus’ poisonous pod.
As for the Democrats, their brand is promoted upon competence and compassion. Being able to pass and sign programs into law and having policies that will lift the American people up are signs of proving they are able to use the government for many things positive. They show they have a vision of a fair heart.
Now, of course, being considered the only party at the moment in the vein of maturity and experience to get things done does not mean everything which they are doing is going swimmingly. Because, there self-inflicted glitches, as in getting federal voting rights legislation not being signed into law.
Simplifying each party’s brand could come down to two words; visceral and cerebral.
Visceral is that primal scream of a tantrum-tot flinging feces against the wall. Cerebral is that reflective pipe-smoking theorist in an ivory tower.
No mistakes are made when your attention is needed by the Republicans, they take the stage and full-page of focus, as the Democrats are left droning on and on in the tower.
Perceptions are what they are, as Democrats always seem to fall short or seem constantly in a state of playing catch-up when the Republicans are miles ahead in their planning or agenda.
This is where the Democrats seem slower on the uptick of holding the spotlight and proving to the American people that they are deserving of re-election. Going beyond being able to tell voters a long, rambling list of issues and policy papers is where the Democrats are falling behind in controlling the political narrative.
For this tempestuous moment, it seems only one of the two parties is taking history by the throat and twisting it for its’ own benefit.
Why is it that Democrats won’t be the party of flexing the law’s muscles to the limit, in using the trappings and levers of legality within a framework’s priority already on the books? Or, even have the imagination to think outside the box?
As for the Republicans, they’ve incinerated the box, stomped on the ashes, pissed on it and injected the inked concoction into their fountain pens they use to craft legal frameworks for whatever ideological options they wish to forward.
No law is infinite or untouchable; even though in the moment when a landmark ruling is made, marginalized members of American citizenry affected by the law are lulled beneath a fallacy of assuredness.
I’ll just place it in blunter way: “Bye, Bye, Roe!Brown, You’re Next!”
Abortion law isn’t settled, even with decades of rulings in favor of a woman’s privacy. And, the same goes for the foundational elements of equality of fifty, sixty, or seventy years. If Roe v. Wade can be overturned so can Brown v. Board of Education; and, if not outright demolished, then it is a brick by brick dismantling.
For most of the American public who are not paying attention to court actions around the country; they are hit with surprise when the media coverage of the big enchiladas of landmark laws are on the verge of being toppled.
Yet, when layers of legal rights and protections are taken away by a series of rulings; they will not be replaced in a snap of a finger. The type of reconfiguration that would be needed when rights that many of us thought were written in permanence would take generations way beyond the lifetimes of many of us who are alive today. The legal infrastructure that has been laid out over the past fifty years in placing judges on all tiers of the local, federal and Supreme Court has set its’ ideological course.
2022 is here and there is no turning back to what was thought of as being ‘normal’ before. So, the obvious question that has to be spoken out loud is: Which way, America?
Caught flat-footed in the maelstrom of a haphazardly, orchestrated coup, many Americans are still in disbelief in how close to losing democracy we actually were on that date in January a year ago.
Repeating to myself over and over again that an authoritarian’s aria wasn’t able to become an ascending anthem of America; I was tragically proven wrong.
Democrats should stop acting as if it can’t happen here; because, it did, it is, and it will continue to be. And, if they do not come off the mountain top of thinking everything is alright and we are now back to ‘normal’ in having a different President in office, they definitely are not looking at what is happening at pedestrian level.
Whether or not Donald Trump and Joe Biden want to admit it, they are bound to each other in perpetuity. Trump’s first impeachment was over his zeal to besmirch and extinguish Biden’s presidential bid. Core reason of Trump’s second impeachment was about his unnerving battle to keep Biden out of the office that the latter had won fair and square.
Trump’s lack of acquiescence in not manning up to feign conceding that he LOST the election of November 2020 or giving up these delusions of the election being stolen from him is the height of tedium of having to constantly hear him moaning about it. Still to this day, he acts as if he is Emperor in Exile.
As Mr. Trump will not acquiesce, Mr. Biden will not affirm their entanglement because of the antics of his predecessor has stunted his own administration’s flourish, as in having several appointed positions throughout the federal government unfilled.
Biden has blinders on in acting as if with him placing hand on the bible during an oath of office has returned everything as it was during his former years in the Senate and even as former Vice-President.
Neither man seems willing to acknowledge or even come to terms with where the other stands upon the timeline of this country’s history.
Without any doubt, there is the aftermath of the election that remains in the present and onto the future.
Even after Joseph R. Biden’s swearing-in of becoming President of The United States of America, his administration is haunted by the former president.
President Biden’s optimistic tone is something which is a laudable trait and one of the reasons I voted for him. Yet, Make America Kind Again isn’t happening in the same space as Make America Great Again.
Sad to say, there can only be one or the other which stands. I have my fingers crossed with the outlook of kindness, but know that the dimness of pessimism forever hovers like a somber cloud over this land.
Emperor of hefty ego and flesh has not receded into the shadow of yesterday, as he protrudes and intrudes into the present. He need not say a word, as his weary, thumbs up or down in the caustic coliseum is his sign of favor or disfavor to those who solicitously debase themselves for his grunting approval.
“They all want the endorsement of Trump. You remember for years, you heard the expression an endorsement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. And then this whole thing came along, and it’s a very, it’s a very important, it’s a very important treasure.” – Donald J. Trump, FORMER President of the United States of America
With spines liquefied by greed or need for some sort of unholy urge for relevancy of pledging fealty to him, they squeal, squawk and stammer. Vacant of ideas or policy initiatives of their own, each man and woman in MAGAmus knows to whom they must bow.
A failed coup is only a dress rehearsal, for the tailoring of governmental restraints are systematically beginning to be unstitched from the suit of propriety and comity.
Dual tracks of violence were in effect for the first month of 2021. Yet, as the many hours of televised coverage of the horrific acts of violence shook the senses of the American public, it was what was not visible on those days which has a more insidious legacy.
On a psychological level, a seismic shifting was taking place in the corridors of power around the United States of America.
Laws are only as good as the men and women who craft them. Or, as bad as the intentions of some who have law degrees decide to disfigure the spirit of what the law is.
LawCraft: A Coup Is Brewing
With law degrees from the prestigious institutions of learning, a cadre of lawyers molded the memos that were the blueprint for a coup. Actions in the public sphere were matched by written words in varied emails, memoranda and even PowerPoint presentations to come up with some kind of scheme of legitimacy for not allowing the slate of electors to be certified by former Vice-President Mike Pence.
Good ol’ Mike was given the hard sell by lawyers John Eastman, Jenna Ellis and even his old big boss, Donnie T., to get with the coup program and not do his constitutional duty and certify the electors.
It is kind of odd to know that Mike Pence is the man who valiantly ‘salvaged’ democracy, even though now he still won’t turn his back on a man whose supporters were howling for his hanging.
But, then again, he did trigger his own political future in not doing his boss’ underhanded, bidding on a certain day in January 2021. Vice-President Mike Pence, in doing the right thing in that moment has actually shrunk his own presidential hopes for 2024.
Clasping for any validation for a lie so damnably large, the Emperor in Exile draped himself with the pelts of the willing to make a legal skirmish for him.
In a judicial spanking, lawyer Sidney “Release the Kraken” Powell and Lin Wood was sanctioned by a federal Michigan judge over their seemingly endless filing of baseless allegations in regard to overturning Donald Trump’s election loss. For their alliance with the propelling the former President’s tissue of lies, Ms. Powell and Mr. Wood have maintained the golden high life for themselves.
Aside from lawyers Powell and Wood, there was another headliner in this Revue of ridiculousness. Circus MAGAmus’ antics were at full tilt when a man who was formerly dubbed ‘America’s Mayor’, Rudolph Guiliani held an off the wall press conference at a landscaping business located between a sex shop and crematorium in Philadelphia on November 7th, 2020.
I am a person who believes in leaving the past in the past and focusing forward. Yet, the scaffolding of the events of this past year cannot be just be ignored or even accepted as something this American citizen should just live with as being a part of politics.
In Circus MAGAmus, all which would seem beyond imagination is a twisted nightmare occurring upon the shores of the United States of America.
The past year and four years before that, is not days that are over. Oh no, in fact we are all standing on at the cliff’s edge of what the experiment of democracy in this country has been, shows that this is just the creeping of a fascistic tide which many are in avoidance of admitting what can be seen across the horizon.
Gladiators of rage, roar and visibility on behalf of the Emperor in Exile are not the only ones with bloodlust; for there are those who are far more destructive with degrees of distinction, golden pens, regressive legal theories, esteemed imprimatur of Esq. who salivate in the quest of defeating the principle of one man (or woman) and one vote.
New Year’s here. Will democracy in America remain?
First step – THE FILIBUSTER MUST GO!!
One year on from January last, another January has come. During the observation of the federal Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, we don’t need a person in the political sphere give a MLK, boiler-plate platitude of tossing out the tiniest parts of that great American’s speeches that everyone in public life has memorized. And, then the day afterwards, those same people do nothing about doing away with the filibuster.
“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by human beings for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison people because they are different from others.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Either the filibuster goes, or democracy does.
“It doesn’t matter how strong your opinions are. If you don’t use your power for positive change, you are indeed part of the problem.” – Coretta Scott King
Some have clung to the escapades of Circus MAGAmus as their guiding light, as others of us have made just the opposite decision of heeding the beacon of democracy’s flame to continue to burn bright.
As for the followers of Circus MAGAmus who are waiting with baited breath for the pronouncements from an Emperor in Exile, who in reality is a twice-impeached, washed-up television host of dubious hair and epidermal hue, who now holds a courtly display in his gaudy residence on Palm Beach; my only question that I have to raise is this – “All for him?”
In 2022, I vigorously hope not.
“Circus MAGAmus: One Year On” – The Footnotes:
1.- “Golden Trump Statue At CPAC 2021” – Deseret News
8. – “I Saw Donald Trump’s Presidency Come Crashing Down At Four Seasons Total Landscaping” – The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-election-2020/i-saw-donald-trump-s-presidency-come-crashing-down-at-four-seasons-total-landscapingb1699962.html
All of us are inside. There are feelings, images, furies wanting to emerge, awaiting a creative spark that sets them afire.
I found that spark after years of suppressing it, afraid of saying what was on mind to myself , mostly. I had no great design, but, had notebooks in boxes , of thoughts, opinions, and notions of how the forces had taken me away from whatever, I was or wanted to be , to this here and now.
Still a working man, with bosses and boundaries , that remained in the politically correct corral , I elected to inhabit a pen name, so I could write free, full throated and uninhibited. And, I called it Muscular Poetry, not about the flowers blooming, unrequited loves, the usual ebb and flow of relationships , in arcane passages, deciphered by other poets , not mere mortal men.
No, my collections are about what it is like to beman. A man who sees the world in different shades of light and gray and white, and sometimes black, and at other times, with the darkness that comes from deep within where light emerges sparingly.
Words are both sword and shield.
The great beat poet, Michael McClure, famously offered,
“Poetry is a muscular principal, there is no logic, but sequences of feelings”
And all of these feelings are for you, in an era when compliance substitutes for truth, where more is canceled than added, and the minority view masquerades as the majority will. Up is down, down is up , and two plus two equals five.
Muscular Poetry is about the inner journey to find the best of ourselves, sometimes at great cost and loss. It defines the vagaries of the essential struggle to achieve , love, overcome adversity, and find some peace of mind.
It is poetry , declaring, you are not alone, unless you want to be, and knowing that either way, that choice is the essence of your free will. If there is bliss out there, it is as much a birthright for all men as is , fortitude, courage, and grit.
I write to encourage you to write, and create. For no one but yourself. It is more than amusement or therapy, it will embolden you, knowing you have something to say that defines the purpose and meaning of your life.
There is a poet inside you, face him, and he will set you free.
About The Author: Kemo Chen is a journalist, adventurer, contrarian, and street corner philosopher. He has rubbed shoulders with moguls, Presidents, Prime Minsters, and fighting men from the Golan to Chechnya. He’s traveled from Xinjiang to the caves of Qumran. An advocate of all men finding themselves and realizing their potential. An avowed enemy of the obvious.
Muscular Poetry is now available on Amazon! Link here:
Growing up in a big city, you are never really alone. I would often walk the streets of my neighborhood at night when I couldn’t find comfort in my home. I would wander to the cemetery a few blocks away from my parents house, hopping the fence to reach the quiet of the sleeping graves. The cemetery by my parents house wasn’t a big one, but it took up a whole block and has been open since 1749. It is owned by a big landowner’s daughter originally for the use of burial grounds to the landowners family. However, most of the old Fishtown natives are buried there. Walking through the tombstones, you can almost feel the memories of the people around you.
The peace and quiet I found there really saved me when I was younger. I would take all my racing thoughts and worries and whisper to whoever was resting that wanted to listen. At home I didn’t feel like I could voice how I was feeling without judgement but with those graves, I could talk for hours. I’ve been back to the cemetery twice since I’ve moved away from my parents place and it has stayed the same. Even though I’ve changed and my neighborhood has changed with it, the cemetery stays the same; lonely and beautiful just how I always remembered it.
About The Author: Slater is a 21 year old dancer at Cheerleaders Gentlemen’s Club in Philadelphia. This is her first contribution to Tony Ward Studio.