Category Archives: Affiliates

Steve Cohen: Louis Kahn and I

Portrait of Louis Kahn by George Krause, Copyright 2020

 

Text by Steve Cohen, Copyright 2020

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The world knows Louis Kahn as one of the greatest architects of all time, a visionary with extraordinary imagination. I knew him as a friend, and a collaborator. I sat with him and discussed his ideas for the government buildings in Bangladesh and for the Salk Institute in California. But our most interesting conversations were about a more personal creation.

That experience was the direct result of my father’s long friendship with Kahn.

My dad and Lou were the same age, and both worked in center city Philadelphia in professions that previously had been unwelcoming to Jews. My father was an optician who opened his own store at 1624 Spruce Street in 1933, shortly before Kahn opened his architectural studio at 1728 Spruce. Kahn was not religiously observant, and he said that the reason some people discriminated against him was not because of his beliefs but solely because of his ethnic heritage.

Lou had worked at the firm that designed the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1928 and he drew some of the plans for the Rodin Museum that opened in 1930. He had a populist social agenda and modernist aesthetics as he designed projects for Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration and for Jersey Homesteads near Hightstown, New Jersey, where hundreds of Jewish garment workers moved as part of a back-to-the-land movement.

After he reached middle age, Lou became recognized worldwide and was hired by the Jonas Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, by the new nation of Bangladesh, and for other notable projects. Architectural critic Nicolai Ouroussoff of the New York Times wrote, “Kahn’s mythic stature in American architecture is matched only by that of Frank Lloyd Wright; and even Wright is less likely to be spoken of with such reverence.”

He was an unassuming man, short, muscularly built, with a scarred face which was the result of severe burns when he was three years old.

A showcase for a revitalized Philadelphia was co-designed by Kahn and Edmund Bacon in 1947. A spectacular 30-by-14-foot model of the city center occupied two floors of Gimbel’s department store, attracted thousands of visitors, and won public support for the idea of modernizing the city. Then Bacon became executive director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and he rejected all of Kahn’s ideas and ridiculed him as an impractical dreamer.

Among other projects, Kahn recommended large parking towers around the edges of the city center to create a pedestrian-friendly downtown. Kahn described expressways as being like rivers, and “Rivers have harbors, and harbors are the municipal parking towers.”

Bacon became the darling of Philadelphia’s social and political elite, while Kahn rarely was hired to design any public or corporate building in his home town. A notable exception was the Richards Medical Research Building at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960.

During the first half of the 20th century, with its quietly-accepted genteel anti-Semitism, my father, Charles Cohen, hid behind a name which he felt would be more acceptable to a broad public — as Charles Sigismund, optician, which is how he was listed in Philadelphia phone books. (Sigismund was his middle name.) Despite dad’s effort to widen his appeal, the majority of my father’s customers were Jewish professionals who lived or worked in center-city Philadelphia and wanted to patronize “one of their own.” In addition, a large number of non-Jewish artists and musicians came to his store.

In the 1920s and ‘30s the Cohen and Kahn families lived near each other in West Philadelphia. Lou and his wife Esther resided at 5243 Chester Avenue. My father lived with his parents at 4533 Larchwood Avenue, then, as a new husband and father, on 46th Street near Chestnut. While Lou and Esther remained in their house for decades, in 1938 my mom and dad moved to a new home constructed at 6507 Lawnton Avenue, in the Oak Lane section of Philly.

Around the time we moved there, Kahn was hired to design a synagogue for Congregation Ahavath Israel in our new neighborhood. The chairman of the synagogue’s building committee, Barnett Lieberman, was a family friend and his daughter Sylvia babysat me and my younger sister. Because of those connections, we became congregants in that unpretentious structure.

My father had no talent for architecture, but was an amateur painter and a collector of prints. My mother was a pianist, and my parents avidly attended theater and concerts. Lou was an excellent pianist and a painter aside from his architectural drawings. So they (and I) frequently talked together about music and art. I got to know Lou’s wife and their daughter, Sue Ann, who is a flutist, six years younger than I.

Eventually, my dad purchased a property at 1835 Chestnut Street (Philly’s main shopping street) and the Kahn’s came there for all their eyeglasses. Lou also brought members of his design staff to Sigismund Opticians. I worked for my father, while also producing and hosting radio programs for WHYY in the evenings. 

When Lou Kahn developed cataracts, in 1972, he underwent surgery and brought his new eyeglass prescription to us. In those days, such surgery necessitated the wearing of thick magnifying lenses, so his next glasses would have to be much more noticeable than his previous. Lou walked in with his sketch of what he’d like his frame to look like.

Kahn’s works are considered as monumental. This particular creation was only seven inches across. My dad asked Lou to sit down with me and discuss how to execute his desires.

Some of Kahn’s architectural colleagues (such as Philip Johnson) chose to wear small, roundish eyeglasses. Lou told me that function was his main concern and he wanted something larger, to give himself a wider field of vision. He and I discussed the fact that larger dimensions would cause the centers of his lenses to become thicker, and he understood that.

We discussed the principle that we could grind his lenses extremely thin at the edges, but the nature of his prescription necessitated an accelerating center thickness as the longitude increased. In other words, small frames would allow his lenses to be thinner. But Lou Kahn didn’t want to copy his colleagues’s minimalistic look.

What we agreed on was a design with softly curved corners, not nearly as large nor rectangular as the fashionable styles of the 1970s, but not as small and round as Philip Johnson’s or John Lennon’s glasses.

An additional alteration was needed. Lou had drawn a bridge that was centered vertically in relation to the lenses. This looked attractively symmetrical but would cause his eyeglasses to sit up too high, with the top rim bumping against his eyebrows and the bottom being too far above his cheeks. I drew my suggested changes on his drawings and he approved them.

Ed Bacon criticized Kahn’s stubbornness and inability to compromise. That’s the opposite of what I experienced in our collaboration.

I carried our drawing to Joe Danieli, who used the name Joe Daniels and whom we frequently employed to custom-make frames for us. At his walk-up studio on Sansom Street, Joe used cellulose acetate plastic, which the public knows as “tortoise shell”, and fabricated the Kahn frame to our specifications. We then made Lou’s lenses and heated the frames to insert the lenses into the grooves.

After Kahn got his glasses, a four-by-six card of its specifications went into our file drawer, along with the original sketch, neatly folded. This was the same year that Kahn was working on the parliament building for Bangladesh; the opening of his Kimbell art museum in Fort Worth, Texas; and the dedication of his library at the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

On March 17, 1974, Khan died of a heart attack in Pennsylvania Station in New York City at the age of 73. Stupidly, I did nothing to preserve or copy our drawing. In 1980 my ailing father sold his building on Chestnut Street and sold his business records to Limeburner Opticians, one of our friendly competitors.

A couple of years later I belatedly thought about its importance and went to Limeburner in search of that drawing. Limeburner’s manager told me: “We sent a mailing to everyone in your files and, if they didn’t come in to get new glasses from us, we dumped their records.”

I find it fascinating that Lou showed interest in the refraction of light reaching his eyes, when a unique part of his architectural creativity was his refraction of, and positioning of light inside his buildings. As Wendy Lesser wrote in her biography of Kahn, all of his great buildings reveal his interest in light — “how natural light can come in through windows, skylights, holes in the roof.”

Thomas Schielke called Kahn “a master of light” and Kahn talked about the subject: “All material in nature, the mountains and the streams and the air and we, are made of Light which has been spent, and this crumpled mass called ‘material’ casts a shadow, and the shadow belongs to Light. A plan of a building should be read like a harmony of spaces in light. Even a space intended to be dark should have just enough light from some mysterious opening to tell us how dark it really is.”

In our conversations, Kahn was simple and unpretentious. When speaking with other architects, Kahn often used parables, but not with us. He did not indulge in the poetic aphorisms of a guru — such as this famous one that’s been oft quoted:

“If you think of Brick, you say to Brick, ‘What do you want, Brick?’ And Brick says to you, ‘I like an arch.’ And if you say to Brick, ‘Look, arches are expensive, and I can use a concrete lintel over you. What do you think of that, Brick?’ Brick says, ‘I like an arch.’ And it’s important, you see, that you honor the material that you use.”

And he revealed nothing that would make me suspect that this ordinary-looking “old man” — my father’s age — had extramarital love affairs, and additional children born to two single women who worked with him. He clearly compartmentalized his life; thus my remembrances are specific to one small part of his persona.

Wendy Lesser also wrote, “He was a narrative artist. In his buildings, there’s a plot, with surprises.” Certainly in his personal life there were fantastic surprises.

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Editor’s Note: This is a repost with permission granted by the author, Steve Cohen. For additional access to Steve Cohen’s writings on art, theater, music, books and travel, click herehttp://theculturalcritic.com

To access additional work by the legendary photographer, George Krause, click herehttps://georgekrause.com

Also posted in Architecture, Art, Blog, Documentary, Friends of TWS, History, lifestyle, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Science, Travel

Katie Kerl: Dating Guide 2020

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

 

Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2020

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Dating Guide

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This is the first time I have really been totally single in a few years.  After much on and off with my last relationship I fully understand the saying, “I do not have to know you to know your energy.” Unfortunately, our lives led us onto completely different paths, and that is more than ok.

I know upon meeting someone what they are going to bring into my life, and I’m very rarely surprised anymore. If your partner is seeking acceptance from others they have yet to discover who they really are, or they would not care about anyone else’s opinion. This also confuses the fuck out of me. You may be nice, sweet, giving, and that is great! On the flip side though; if you spend too much time trying to be a people pleaser your light will be dimmed. I have said that a few times previously but it is IMPORTANT.

As new decade falls upon us; I wanted to feel like me again. I really started thinking about my life, friends, and family. Those who have yet to drop the ball have made me feel so full of life and appreciated. If you are having a hard time relating to people I suggest joining groups you’re interested in, expand your knowledge on human behavior, and take a few basic psychology classes, or simply try every new thing you can. This will give you basic understanding of human nature, and why we make the choices we do. We will never fully understand what the other person is going through, but you absolutely CAN TRY.

  I find that being an Empath in a world of narcissism and materialistic bullshit is basically suicide. You can be caring to a point, but when you care too much people take advantage of that. It totally depletes your efforts of maintaining a healthy relationship and lifestyle. When you see things in someone that other people do not, you end up an enemy every damn time. While relationships have come and gone through my adult life, I am very fortunate to have gained the life experience, and grown from all of them. The good, bad, and the ugly because let’s face it; something went right before it went wrong, and was not able to be communicated and worked out. Some people will never face their demons and that is ok; making peace with that maybe the hardest part. Moving on is never easy but you must keep growing.

Here are a few things I always keep in mind when bringing someone new into my life.

Top 20 for 2020:

  1. Never compromise who you are for someone else.
  2. Be kind
  3. Have shared interests, your own hobbies, and friends.
  4. Have amazing SEX & lots of it!!! After all, that is half the fun of dating.
  5. Do not try to control people they will show you exactly who they are over time; take it or leave it. A little jealousy is cute, being a stalker is scary.
  6. Be HONEST do not promise someone the world when you are not capable of giving it; no matter how good the intention is. Saying I’m sorry is something that should be eliminated, and replaced with changed behavior if you actually care about the person you hurt.
  7. Go on dates!! Stop accepting, “You want to hang out?” if you are looking for love. The person who says do you wanna hang out has 0 plan, is expecting to get laid, and has probably mass sent that text out to whomever they started talking to on a variety of dating apps. Already in a relationship? Never stop dating the person you are with; that is when the spark dies. If you have to use the phrase “we used to do this.” Things have probably gotten a little stale.
  8. Show appreciation and celebrate their accomplishments.
  9. Be present in the situation… I realize we live in a world of technology and convenience, but your partner does not want a phone in their face every time you go out with them.  If one starts off that way you can be sure it is going to end badly.
  10. Communication; IM FINE is no longer an acceptable response when you are clearly bothered by something. Not speaking on what bothers you only leads to a buildup of anxiety and emotional delusion that could have been handled when your partner asked, “WHAT’S WRONG?” to begin with.
  11. Fighting is two people disputing an issue. Understand no one is going to have the same perspective as you. They have not experienced what you have; also they may have very limited understanding of large life issues if they have not had life smack them down to size yet. Do not discount someone’s feelings based on your own. If they say they are upset, that should be enough.
  12. Have FUN and do not take yourself so seriously….. That is BORING.   There is nothing worse than someone with no quick wit, or funny charm.   
  13. Cook together! Making a meal with someone is a very attractive thing. Anyone can swipe their credit card at a restaurant. If you create a beautiful plate while listening to good music; for me there’s nothing better. Except maybe dancing off the calories after. 
  14. If you are on dating sites try to remember something; not everyone is looking for what you are. Be it friends because you just moved, or sex because you just have not the time or energy to date. If you are seeking dating or a relationship say it. The reality is; you cannot order any of these up like ramen on a snowy day.  If you choose to meet someone on line, my suggestion would be having ZERO expectations, and do not commit to a dinner. You will possibly end up awkwardly stuck for two hours with a person you’re not sure can hold a fifteen minute conversation. Start with a drink alcohol or coffee/juice bar, walk in the park, fitness class, cooking demo, art show, or a museum. This gives you a quick out if you need it, and it is different! Lastly, always tell a friend where you are going because STRANGER DANGER!!!
  15. Be understanding and accept constructive criticism, especially if you were the one asking for it. If you value the person you are with why would you not want to accept their opinions? 
  16. Wait until you find out who you are before bringing someone else into your situation. If you have not figured out how to navigate it, how can someone else?
  17. In 2020 we are not ghosting people anymore. You do not like that person, or they were not what you were expecting? Have some fucking balls and say, “I do not think our lives are on the same path.”  When did we get to be such emotional pussies we cannot convey simple interest, or dislike? It has to be all out war, or radio silence? 
  18. Stay healthy!!  Be the best version of yourself; even when life is smacking you. That shows true dignity when you are still standing when it is all going wrong. Your partner is there for support, but if you are not being honest with yourself how can they truly be there?
  19. MAKE THE TIME, give unexpected gifts, and respect that person’s life for what it is, or walk away. Unless they express they want to be different, do not push. Even if they do talk about it. There is a very large difference between talk and action. You can talk till you’re blue in the face, until you make that decision to be different on your own. It is not going to happen.
  20. Above all else; be careful with that person’s heart. You do not want to be the reason they give up on themselves, love, or dating.

There are only a few billion frogs left to kiss out in the world. Get leaping and put yourself out there. Cheers to all, hoping everyone looking for something special finds it!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living  in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached  on Instagram @kerlupwithkate 

For collaboration e-mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

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To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here:https://tonyward.com/katie-kerl-tis-the-season-for-giving/

Also posted in Art, Blog, commentary, Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, lifestyle, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Student Life, Women

Ed Simmons: Dancing Girls Harvard and Stone

Photography and Text by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2020

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Dancing Girls Harvard and Stone

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Chuck E Weiss. Yeah, I knew that guy. The dude from that Rickey Lee Jones tune, “Chuck E’s In Love”. I was hanging around with him back in the early 80’s at Hollywood’s Club Lingeri.  I read in the LA Weekly a few years back, that Chuck E Weiss was playing a late night set at The Piano Bar on Selma Avenue in Hollywood, so I go on down to check it out.

I bet around about now, you may be wondering how in the hell does this tie into “Dancing Girls”.  Austin was the door man at the Piano Bar that night, a Nigerian with one punch biceps, tells me that on Sundays, this spot, The Piano Bar, barbecues out back, and that I should start stopping by on a regular basis with my camera. I do and we become good friends.  As a photographer, the Sunday afternoon crowd at the Piano Bar was so interesting, so friendly and open to me, but like all slices of life in LA, this ends too before long.

Austin also informed he would be working the door at a spot in East Hollywood’s Thai Town, called Harvard and Stone, that I should start showing up there,  bring the camera, Austin, a bit of a ham…likes being photographed Hollywood ya know. This spot is sorta dark, I’ve got a pretty hot camera, I figure I can hang and see what unfolds. The location is built somewhat like a Hollywood set, lots of interesting industrial architectural treatments, a couple of bars, a smoking area in the back, a stage, live music, shoulder to shoulder people,  and very hard to move around this place, no tension though, everybody’s having fun!  

 One night, I’m  hanging by the front bar at Harvard and Stone chatting it up a bit with Yale, she’s cool, mostly says she bartends at the Hollywood Roosevelt, on this nite she was just filling in. The House Band steps onto the stage and start playing this raunchy tune with a filthy beat, then out from nowhere it seems as if dancing girls started to rain down through the rafters. They start dancing across the catwalks and bar, then down on to the stage. I was shocked, well… surprised,  I didn’t have a clue and couldn’t move. This crowd was thick, shoulder to shoulder.  Hell, no one in this mob was willing to give me an inch as I clicked away.

 The show ends, so I search out Austin as the crowd begins to thin out. He sees my look and ask’s well, did you get anything good? I’m like dude, I couldn’t even move but managed to get some great shots!

Two shows go on, Friday and Saturday nights.  I found the house always full, as I worked through a few months of making images at this venue, I found a need to pre plan. Photographing these dancing girls, week to week, nite by nite I had to pick my spot. If you are a photographer in LA its best to be friendly with door men.

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Ed Simmons photographed by Bonnie Schiffman. Copyright 1972

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Also posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Erotica, Friends of TWS, Glamour, lifestyle, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Travel, Women

Bob Shell: What’s in a Name

Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell. Copyright 2020

 

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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What’s in a Name?

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I’m reading a very interesting book: Ancient History of Aratta-Ukraine by Yuri Shilov. I’ve read a lot of books on ancient history, but had never heard of Aratta, so when my friend Ed told me about this book, I just had to read it. Most traditional historians believe that writing originated with the Sumerian culture, but this book sets forth convincing evidence that writing originated much earlier in Aratta, in what today is Ukraine, perhaps as early as 20,000 BCE. The problem I’m having in reading the book is that the Ukrainians have recently changed all the names of places. Kiev is now Kyiv! Ruegen Island is now Ruyan. The Dnieper River is now Dnipro. The Dniester River has become the Dnistro. And so on, and because the book is translated from the Russian original, some of the maps are labeled in Cyrillic. The book is lavishly illustrated in black and white, and will fascinate anyone interested in ancient history who makes the effort to read it.

There’s an old song that goes something like:

Take me back to Constantinople,

No you can’t go back to Constantinople,

Now it’s Istanbul not Constantinople,

Why did Constantinople get the works?

That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

I guess we should say the name changes are nobody’s business but the Ukrainians. But it sure can be confusing to an outsider trying to figure out where places mentioned in the text actually are. I have the same problem with India, where Bombay became Mumbai, and how did Burma become Myanmar and Rangoon turn into Yangon? I have a nice little Atlas I bought several years ago, but it hasn’t caught up with the dissolution of Yugoslavia or any of the more recent name changes. I think any book for outsiders should have the old name in parentheses after the new name, at least the first time it appears — Yangon (Rangoon).

Anyway, it seems that the Ukrainian legislature passed a law in 1995 requiring the use of the new names. But the Arsenal Factory certainly didn’t change the names of their cameras from Kiev to Kyiv! I have a collection of their cameras, many made after 1995, and the export versions all bear the KIEV nameplates. Those for domestic sale within the old USSR are marked KNEB with the N backwards, the equivalent of an “I” in the Cyrillic alphabet used by most of the countries of the former USSR, which looks like CCCP, but is actually SSSR. I had to learn the Cyrillic alphabet when I started collecting Soviet cameras in the 80s, so I’d know things like what looks like Zopkuu is actually Zorkii.

The folks at the Kiev factory struggled to make good products under the old Soviet system. My late friend Saul Kaminsky was the official US distributor of Ukrainian, Russian, Belarussian, etc., cameras, lenses, and other optical products. His company in Connecticut was called Kiev USA. He told me a story that once he went by the factory in Kiev to check on a shipment and found the factory shut down because there was no electricity. He located the manager who explained that the electric plant had no coal, so was shut down. He then went to the electric plant and they said they had no money to buy coal. So he went to the coal company and bought a trainload of coal that was delivered to the electric plant where they fired up the generators, and sent electricity to the camera factory, where the cameras Saul needed were then made. That’s how business was frequently done in the old USSR! One day Saul called me: “Bob, could I interest you in a hotel in Kiev?”. It seems that someone there owed him money and was trying to settle the debt with this hotel! Of course he knew I’d have no interest in a Ukrainian hotel, no matter how cheap! Selling cameras from the USSR was a sideline he’d stumbled into during travel for his real job, lighting technician for CNN. Saul used to say to me that I made him famous from my Shutterbug articles about his products. I used a number of his Soviet cameras over the years with good results, and have a bunch of them in storage right now. One of my first cameras was a Zenit B bought from the old Cambridge Camera Exchange in 1969 for $ 49.95 with 50mm f/2 Helios lens and leather case. The negatives I shot with that old beast are super sharp and contrasty. The folks in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, etc. knew how to make good lenses.

This goes back to the end of WW II. The USSR troops, mostly Russian, took over the eastern part of Germany. They took the Zeiss-Ikon factory in Dresden, dismantled it, loaded it onto a train, and shipped it, lock, stock, and barrel, to Kiev. They also took the best Zeiss technicians. When I first learned of this in the 80s, many of those men were still living in and near Kiev, where they’d settled down, married, and raised families, and didn’t want to leave. Many of the first generation of Kiev cameras were built from German parts taken from Dresden.

The other best known Soviet cameras are the Fed series. The name Fed comes from the initials of Felix E. Dzerzhinsky, founder of the KGB, who wanted a quality camera to give his men. He had a factory set up to build the Fed camera, a part by part copy of a Leica. I don’t have my reference books here, but I believe they copied a Leica IIIa. I have around a dozen Fed cameras of different vintages. All are capable of taking excellent pictures. I also have a number of Russian fake Leica cameras, which enterprising Russians made from Fed cameras to sell to unsuspecting tourists. One of them is so good only an expert would know it wasn’t a real Leica. Saul picked most of them up for me on his trips to Russia and Ukraine. He also knew of my interest in mechanical watches and brought me a couple Shtermanskyi (Navigator) chronometers, the same watch Yuri Gagarin wore into space. They keep very accurate time but must be wound once a day. One has a rotating bezel for travel, and I used it for years in my trips to keep track of local time and time back home.

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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.  He is serving the 11th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonyward.com/bob-shell-on-the-legal-front/ 

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Also posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Cameras, commentary, Environment, Erotica, Friends of TWS, Glamour, History, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Science, Travel

Katie Kerl: Tis the Season for Giving

 

Photography and Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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Tis’ the Season for Giving

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This year I took a different approach to the holidays. I packed an entire townhouse and moved two times in November (yes again). If you have followed my previous year in writing I felt like a nomad; finally feeling like I’m at HOME in my new PERMANENT space. Through the two moves I was able to complete my small food drive before Thanksgiving. Being short on time I wanted to do more. Realizing life could be much worse in many ways; I did not want my hectic personal life to change my demeanor, but enhance it. Let me tell you, if you are struggling mentally the best thing you can do is keep busy. Doing nice things for people who are REALLY STRUGGLING improves your overall well being.

 I also joined The Philly Influencer Mixer during that time run by Davida JanaeThey cover everything exciting going on in Philly while looking fabulous. I never really considered myself an influencer, but I guess promoting my lifestyle ,interviews, & blogging qualifies as such. If I can influence people to just be themselves despite criticism & stigma; I am doing what I set out to do.  

Once accepted to the group, I noticed there was a charity event that needed to be covered. The Black Tie Gala with Sneakers, benefiting the Trauma Survivors Foundation. The event took place at The Queen concert hall in Delaware. The evening included Two VIP tickets to the event and hotel accommodations. The curator of this event and head of The Trauma Survivors Foundation, Dennis Carradin is an angel of the trauma survivors.

I spoke with him briefly on the phone before the event and got a few tips to promote it. Dennis is a licensed therapist and goes into crisis situations to help the people in need. He also teaches a class training people to become crisis internationalists all over the country. This event had been running for a number of years with a traditional sit down banquet Hall event. 

This year they wanted to make it less stuffy, and that it was.

The Queen is a really cool event space and everyone looked amazing. I brought Rob Li with me my acro friend I previously interviewed as well. Rob is a great date for events. He comes ready to have a good time, and takes photos with the bomb lighting. Doing mini photo shoots through the night was also really fun. 

There were MANY chances to win cool prizes. Two awards for the best sneakers his and hers, 50/50 raffles, silent auction, and at least 5 major vacations that were given away through the night.   

The Trauma Survivors foundation runs many events through the year. You can find this information, and the link to sign up for the crisis intervention training program listed on their web site. This year’s proceeds from the Taste of Philly went to the organization as well.

This charity really hit home for me because I have been through hell and back; yet would not change a thing because I am completely different person now. When you leave a part of you behind that felt dead; it is a large weight lifted off your soul. That is what I call healing, and I did it on my own mentally, and with the support of really good friends helping me through the last few months.  

The world needs more caring people like Dennis and his whole crew that put the event together. The thing with trauma is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s easy to feel defeated and give up, it’s not easy to change life and fight for what you really want.

That is what they are here to help survivors do.

For information on the Philly Influencer Mixer and Davita Janae visit:

https://phillyinfluencermixer.com/

For more information about Dennis and the Trauma Survivors Foundation please visit:

https://www.denniscarradin.com/

https://www.thetraumasurvivorsfoundation.com/

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 The second event I was invited to was The Ronald McDonald House Lighting. This was really a cute event for families, kids, sponsors, and employees there. The evening was filled with a catered buffet, The University of Pennsylvania band playing holiday music, beautiful house lights, Philly sports mascots entertaining everyone, history characters, Lego Land experience, face painting, Disney princesses, and all the positive holiday joy one could ask for.

 I took my girlfriend Aimee with me and we brought a bunch of unwrapped toys. When leaving, we both felt like the families there are very fortunate to have such a positive place to recover. Seeing all of the kids having a great time with the band and mascots was really heartwarming. After being there I wanted to let people know about their mission.

Ronald McDonald House History:

 Dr. Audrey E. Evans saw families spend night after night in the hospital while their children received life-saving medical treatment. She knew there had to be a better way and envisioned a house where families could stay during these stressful and uncertain times.

At the same time, the Philadelphia Eagles were raising funds in support of player Fred Hill, whose daughter, Kim, was in treatment for leukemia at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Eagles’ General Manager Jimmy Murray approached St. Christopher’s about making a donation, Dr. Lawrence Naiman suggested there was an even greater need for funds resting with Dr. Evans. Mr. Murray met Dr. Evans and became a champion for her cause. He reached out to Eagles advertiser, McDonald’s, with the idea that they could offer the proceeds from their Shamrock Shake sales to benefit this new house. McDonald’s agreed, and the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House was born on October 15, 1974.

Thanks to the generosity of dedicated donors, the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House has grown from a single idea to the model for over 365 Houses worldwide. 

The Ronald McDonald House Philadelphia care program is also listed on their site, and is as follows:

“Our two Ronald McDonald Houses provide temporary lodging, transportation, meals, and social services to families who travel to Philadelphia for pediatric care. Our three Ronald McDonald Family Rooms extend the support of our Houses into the hospital setting and offer a quiet respite space for families at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Ronald McDonald Camp is a week-long overnight camp for children with cancer and their siblings held in the Pocono Mountains every August. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, operated in partnership with St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, provides comprehensive and continuous oral healthcare to children in North Philadelphia.

“Proceeds from donations made at local McDonald’s restaurants make up approximately 10% of our annual revenue, with the remaining 90% generated through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. It costs the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House $148 a night per family to provide housing and supportive services; however, families are only asked to contribute $15 per night. No one is ever turned away due to inability to pay and the House waives approximately half the nightly fees annually.

For more information on volunteering, donating, or using services for your family please visit:

 https://www.philarmh.org/about-us/mission-history/

Both of these events were really something anyone could get behind. What saddened me was most of the attendees were all baby boomers. I feel like the notion of giving back and service has gone out the window with the home telephone and kids playing outside. It has been replaced with IPhone 11’s, and video game consoles. If you unplug from your own life you might just be able to help someone else. 

The New Year, and decade is approaching 2020!!

Ask yourself, “What change do you want to see?” Make the effort to promote it and stop complaining about the THINGS you do not have. No matter how small the service you are still doing something to promote your passion.

 To me that is much more valuable than any present one could give.

Happy Holidays Friends!! 

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Katie Kerl. December 2019

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Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living  in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached  on Instagram @kerlupwithkate 

For collaboration e-mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

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To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here: https://tonyward.com/katie-kerl-derek-bailey-green-car-innovator/

 

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