One of the joys of being a photographer for the past 40 plus years is that I’ve accumulated a large body of work and incredible visual memories. In this series of pictures, the subject met me only once but left a trail of images that brings back memories of the days, months and years I worked in Amsterdam photographing some of the most beautiful women in the world.
On September 25th, 2003 I was out having dinner and drinks at Club Nl, a very well known night club in the heart of the city that was frequented mostly by locals. This was the place where I often met with Dutch friends to enjoy Amsterdam’s nightlife. It was also a place where I scouted for models.
On this particular evening almost 30 years ago, Frans a close friend mentioned there was a young woman by the name of Layla who wanted to meet me for a casting. Arrangements were made for the prospective model to meet me at the apartment I was renting in the Red light District. Layla arrived on a beautiful sunny afternoon looking forward to the opportunity to meet me with hopes that she could model for one of the magazines of which I was a contributing photographer. She knew that I was a specialist in erotic photography so the sitting went smoothly as she was eager to exhibit her youthful beauty within this small sliver of time that has left lasting visual memories.
With Republicans, there is always a touch of crass.
Like oxygen that fills their lungs and blood that pumps through their veins, that extra dagger of cruelty has to be there. Not just when they are musing about winning, but even after they’ve won an election and their opponent has been defeated.
Take for example, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs’ gleeful chide at Speaker Nancy Pelosi of these following words:“she’s losing the gavel, but finding the hammer”.
“We can’t wait to get back to Washington, D.C. with some new Arizona Congressmen. And, we’re going to show Nancy Pelosi the door very shortly. Don’t let it get you on the backside, Nancy! Yeah, she’s losing the gavel, but finding the hammer” – Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona
As those words leave his lips and that smile came across his face, Biggs has that look of a man who is so damned proud of himself and what he’s saying. Then, he adds a dastardly quip to the audience before him, “Too soon? Too soon…I just didn’t know?”
I guess it must be something in the water out there in Arizona, because Kari Lake had to add her measly two cents into the mix of a morbid snicker at Pelosi also, when she spoke about the violent attack upon the Speaker’s husband, 82-year old Paul Pelosi in the couple’s home in San Francisco.
That crassness in not just wanting to defeat the opposition, but to obliterate it is that chip of callousness upon the shoulders of Republicans is what comes across.
If one looks at a 7-day period of events in November 2022 from Saturday, November 12th to Saturday, November 19th you can see the rollercoaster ride that has been life in America as unfolding in a snapshot of contradictions.
Control of the United States Senate by the Democrats was projected on Saturday, November 12th, with the re-election of Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez-Mastro in her race against Republican Adam Laxalt. I’ll admit I was surprised with the outcome, but definitely am giving thumbs up to the Democrats for holding onto the Senate with 50 votes, with the possibility of extending to 51 votes with Senator Raphael Warnock winning his December run-off against Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia.
Wow, maybe the sun’s going to shine and the darkness will vanish in the maudlin mist of the past couple of years. Not so fast or easy anything could ever be, I have come to realize.
On Tuesday, November 15th, 2022, like Dracula rising from his crypt, former President Donald Trump announced another bid for his old office. Geez, it’s like one step forward with electoral progress and a thousand steps back to hear him making another run.
Like a gold medallion wearing lounge singer adorned in a super-ruffled shirt stolen from Liberace whose act is as obsolete as a fake spray-tan and failed comb-over, Donald J. Trump waddled onto a flag festooned stage at his ballroom with security blocking the doors for no one in attendance to exit early before deflating to that final note of his incoherent announcement of resurgence of a Republican candidacy for 2024, was something definitely to be bypassed.
Even Roger Stone, who was on hand for his old compatriot’s speech had the gaze of a man in need of a double-martini and quick getaway from a low energy effort by a once entertaining figure. The thrill is gone and so is the enthusiasm from Trump’s cash-infusing benefactors. I guess they’ve decided on a newer and younger dance partner from the Sunshine state.
With the Senate in control of the Democrats, fingers were crossed by yours truly in the hope that the House of Representatives would hold Democratic also. But, it was not meant to be in the Democrats’ hands, as the Republicans have taken control of the lower house of Congress on Wednesday, November 16th, 2022.
Thursday, November 17th, 2022 was the unveiling of what the newly minted House leadership would be focusing upon in the new session starting in January of next year. During a press conference, the incoming chairs of the Judiciary and Oversight Committees did not mince words on their plans for the future. Democracy for the time being has held. Yet, the demonization of Hunter Biden will ensue.
Returning to that old nugget from Mitch’s mouth about candidate quality; here comes up the pachyderm’s ass the twice impeached former President of the United States of America Donald J. Trump, announcing he’s re-animated from the political grave to run again for the same office which he was tossed out of in 2021.
Big liar with his Big Lie is stirring from his crypt in West Palm Beach, spewing the same crap he’s been spewing for the past couple of years.
Some may wonder why is it that Trump is announcing his candidacy for a second go round at being President so far away from 2024. Well, a man of such exacerbated vanity in thinking he alone is the only being in this nation that can be at the helm of the government could be one reason.
But, the more obvious answer to the timing of this announcement can go to something of Donald J. Trump thinking the Feds or New York investigators won’t indict him if he’s murmuring about being a man running for the highest office in the land.
Filing papers with the FEC (Federal Election Commission) in becoming a candidate for presidency and giving a few weak words in a flag festooned ballroom at Mar-A-Lago doesn’t drape you under a super-shield of impenetrability for any illegalities you have committed.
There have been politicians from both political parties in local, state, and federal positions that have faced investigation and indictments during terms in office. So, Donald you ain’t special in thinking that only you can skirt the reach of the Feds slapping you with charges.
So, on Friday, November 18th when Attorney General Merrick Garland named Jack Smith as Special Counsel to investigate the purloined papers the former President had in his possession at Mar-A-Lago and aspects of the fake elector plot the former occupant of the White House was involved in, Donald’s starting to hear the faint sound of silver cuffs and shackles in the distance.
Oh no, this election season is not over. It in some ways has not even begun. This is a conveyor belt of chaos that is just unraveling before the American people’s eyes.
There is an accelerated level of packaging which DeSantis and some others, such as candidate Kari Lake perpetrate on a plateau which Donald J. Trump isn’t even as deft at performing.
When fascism comes to America, it won’t be a howling madman of a citric hue. It will be buffed from any jagged edges and smoothed with a delivery that would make a liberal nod in an off-guarded way of agreeing with the most miniscule of flickers of what is being spoken of. Now, that’s the crisply molded configuration of fascism upon the shores of these United States.
With enough gauzy lighting and calming vocal tone which Kari Lake uses ever so deftly, there will a lulling of many citizen’s senses in thinking nothing so unpleasant shall ever touch these American shores.
You won’t know you are under the boot, until the faint impression of a sole has been left upon your psyche. It won’t be stark, but definitely indelible in what we become transformed within.
Have no doubt that these people are still out there. They may have gone back into the woodwork or the shadows, and not be so loudly heard. Yet, for the rest of us out here in America, it would be an enormous mistake for anyone to be wafted back to dreamland in thinking there is no longer any danger or diminution of what our democracy is.
We must all remain vigilant in keeping an eye out for that trickle of caustic crimson which remains.
There is love in this country, and there is no doubt about that. On the parallel track there is hate in this country, and there is no doubt about that, also.
So, where do we go from here…?
I guess you could call the tactics of the Republican party truly GOP, for they sure as hell are Grooving Off Pantomime. When they need to find a way out of hot water, they gravitate to using a certain prop here and there.
The whole idea of what Trump is doing is just plain quackers, or should I say bonkers.
Oops, speaking of bonkers, there’s Lindsey Graham again.
Senator Lindsey Graham’s head is so far up Trump’s hoop skirt that his neck is twisted, his morals are twisted and other things on that man is in a twist.
Or, maybe I should say a snit, a knot, or just a vapor inducing spat.
It’s amazing to me that a Senator who once seemed placid, all of a sudden has become drunk on being in proximity of Presidential power; almost to the extent of thinking he might have some of that power and prestige cloak him under a state of privilege.
But, uh-uh, Mr. South Carolina; you can’t do what the boy from Queens can do. Trump can call the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and spin a tale of needing a certain number of votes to win that Southern state. Okay, that’s Trump doing what he do.Yet, you, Lindsey are under some assumption in thinking you can do some callin’ n’ sniffin’ around officials to throw out ballots in Georgia and not have your hand smacked or the Fulton County District Attorney come with some questions for you specifically.
So, from one election in 2020 to another in 2022, Graham seems to be that kind of spinning top who is whizzing before our very eyes. With Florida Senator Rick Scott heading up the quest for electing more Republicans to the Senate, it seems that Lindsey Graham took his affinity for the peach state to another level.
You see that aspect of anesthetizing the American public seems to work on some people; but luckily not all of us, for we can see through their game of bait and switch.
During the election run-off in Georgia, the party of pantomime is revving up their engines to slide into the victory lane.
This goes into that pantomime act of South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Texas Senator Ted Cruz sitting on either side of Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker and speaking about him without letting him (or wanting him to) speak for himself. They do the talking and the man in the middle does the nodding.
More Marcel Marceau than Edgar Bergen is the situation that gets played out again and again. It doesn’t matter what the speaker is saying, for you can just mute the audio and focus on the visual only. Graham just needs his prop there with him and the segment of people he is trying to communicate the message to shall always understand what he is getting at.
No need for an ideological thesis is needed, when it can be short-circuited by what is seen before your eyes. I have a certain figure situated next to me and you can get the picture for yourself is how this handler’s comes off. Pantomime becomes ever so sublime for those who swallow the party line.
“We fired Nancy Pelosi today. All the crazy crap in the House – that is over!” – Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC
And, I just gotta’ say, what the hell has happened to Lindsey Graham? He’s preening, prissing and flusterin’ around as if someone or something’s been promised or appointed to him. It’s like he’s on another level of casting about for an epiphany to reawaken.
Graham’s snotty, pissy, and Trumped up (pun intended) outrage on behalf of a then Supreme Court nominee Bret Kavanaugh seemed that of a faked performance of wishing he could pound his chest like Tarzan, as in reality the South Carolina Senator is more akin to the character of Uncle Arthur from the old “Bewitched” television series.
First off, this is the same Lindsey Graham whom a couple of years back when he was buddies with the late Arizona Senator John McCain, spoke with an eloquent grace towards Joe Biden.
Suddenly, it’s as if Graham has transformed himself into Trump’s henchman to do a few dirty deeds here and there. Once running against Donald Trump for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination with words criticizing the man of the tower; the Senator from South Carolina seems to have penetrated the position of being a faithful helper in the previous election of 2020.
Now, he’s just goin’ off in a televised tizzy for a man whose glory days with a football is decades gone and scratching for a new gig is so far above that man’s mental might.
Hmm, what’s up? Why you? Why now? Why him?
Looks like Lindsey Graham has gone sweet for the exquisite delights of Georgia’s flavors. I mean, damn, what is it with him in particular – always scraping, bowing, and even on the verge of tears  in praise and pleasure for touting the need for Herschel Walker to get into that Senate. I mean, there is another Senator from South Carolina that won’t dive so willingly into the tank for Walker’s candidacy. Oh, and by the way, Senator Tim Scott would make for a better exemplar of what Senator Graham speaks of about using Herschel Walker as some sort of credible avatar for African-Americans to vote for the Republican Party in the future.
Graham is treating Walker like he’s his pet…ooops, I meant to say pet project.
The project of diddling away democracy can come in forms that many may actually never see coming. Sometimes it might just come out the blue.
As the seventh day of this maelstrom was underway on Saturday, November 19th, another lump of crap was tossed into the flaming pile. Oh yeah, and then there’s Elon Musk, who seems to embody the essence of an Afrikaner with that chip of arrogance and supremacy in welcoming back to his newly purchased social toy another male who has flexed his German bloodline with that similar hubris, Donald J. Trump.
Going a few feathers beyond that tarnished blue bird, let’s see what else the man of Mar-a-Lago has been up to.
Did you hear the joke about the former President breaking bread with a Holocaust denier?
STOP!!Just for a sec, re-read that question I just wrote. I am not just making things up out of thin air. Oh no, not this one.
It’s not a joke! It’s real! It happened! And, it wasn’t 20 years ago or 2 years ago! The date this article is being written is after November 8th, 2022. So, this was under the past two weeks before the end of this month.
Okay, so like the Proverb of birds of a feather flock together goes – well, FLOCKERS GONNA’ FLOCK!!
In the realm of the crass, Donald J. Trump isn’t some wayward toddler being taken advantage of by the rapper named Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) in bringing white nationalist, Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes to a Tuesday dinner two days before Thanksgiving in November 2022. Donald Trump caresses the ring of crassness and polishes it to a shimmer with his ongoing courtship of the inhabitants of the hate-filled basket of intolerance and violence.
As this news of the November 22nd dinner at Donny’s has gone public, the host with the most at Mar-a-Lago isn’t condemning Fuentes and all which he proudly stands for. But, then again, Trump knows about Boys that are Proud.
By the way, the Secret Service just doesn’t let anybody stroll onto the grounds of Mar-a-Lago and escort them to the dining room to have a quick bite with a former President of the United States. Donald Trump can’t wiggle out of trying to explain this one. Even though he’s trying to push it off on Ye, the host of the meal was YOU, Donald.
So, from the words of Mitch McConnell that are ever so apt in the lane of quality, the Republicans once again have an announced candidate that has a now known history.
Joseph Robinette Biden may be a man whose policies might not be to the vast majority’s liking during his first term. Alongside that factor is one thing that is unequivocal; he is a man of quality.
Joe Biden is a good man. He is a decent man. He is one that is salt of the earth as the saying goes.
Donald John Trump is a doubly-impeached, tax twistin’, financially finaglin’, coup-humpin’, Putin praisin’, authoritarian adorin’, fine people on both sidesin’, shit-hole sneerin’, kitty-kat grabbin’, tantrum-throwin’, man of ashen timber.
For this man to the manor born, there never is any word of goodness, kindness, or humanity which is ever affixed to his name. Yet, he has a chunk of the Republican Party in his pocket that can be taken out and dangled over those who would wish him away.
Well, he’s not going away. As I wrote earlier, the election of 2022 is not really over. The votes may be counted for Democrats as victorious in several of the races. Yet, with the numbers of the election deniers who were elected across the country, that metastasis of Trumpism and all which underlies it penetrates the body politic of hypnotic duality of both remembrance and forgetfulness in the same breath.
Republicans are working to their last breath in wanting to wish away that which is seen, that which is heard. Whisper comes, just forget, just forget…..go back to sleep…just sleep through what’s coming next……
Stay awake! Keep awake! Don’t let the anesthesia and amnesia get to ya’, Americans!!
Vigilance is the antidote!!
“Quality Control” – The Footnotes:
1.- McConnell Discusses Importance Of ‘Candidate Quality’ In Senate Races – NBC News
2.- Trump Intensifies Attacks on McConnell With ‘death wish’ Remark – CNBC
Since we’re now just days away from major elections that can seriously alter the United States, I want to put out a few of my thoughts on the major issues.
I’ve been reading about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), which essentially says governments can print all the money they want, deficits don’t matter, and related concepts. After reading what these ‘economists’ believe, I’ve come to think they belong in zoos. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the more money you create out of nothing, called fiat money, the less it will be worth in the real world of goods and services.
By the way, it is called fiat money because the Latin word fiat means, ‘let there be’ as in the Latin Bible, which has God say, “Fiat lux,” ‘Let there be light,’ since God created light from darkness, nothingness. Fiat money is backed by absolutely nothing except faith in the government that prints it. Few people understand this. U S money was originally backed by gold and silver, the gold standard, that we abandoned in the 1970s. Look at money printed before that, and it says ‘Silver Certificate’ on it, meaning the government would, on request, redeem it for silver. Try going to the government today and asking for silver or gold and see how fast the door slams in your face.
Any person with a functioning brain can see that government debt, paid in fiat money, causes inflation. The massive spending and give-away programs of the Trump and Biden administrations, as well as the Obama and Bush administrations before them, have reduced the value of our money. They couldn’t have any other effect.
The reason that Bitcoin and its copiers go up in value instead of down like government-issued money is that there is a fixed, finite number of Bitcoins and the others. No one can ‘print’ more, no government controls them.
Right now, because of Putin’s disastrous policies, the Russian ruble, another fiat currency, is practically worthless.
We should learn the lessons of the old German Weimar Republic that printed so much money the joke was you’d go to the store with a wheelbarrow full of banknotes and come home with a loaf of bread. People wallpapered their houses with money.
That hasn’t happened to the U S dollar yet, but it could if our elected officials continue to act irresponsibly.
And another point. If the government can just print all the money it needs to pay its bills, as MMT theorists say, there is no need or justification for taxes. Think about it.
Now, personally, I think MMT is a load of bollocks, but some very influential academics are spouting it to anyone who will listen, and indoctrinating future generations of economists in it.
And, BTW, the Federal Reserve that controls the money supply is not Federal and keeps no reserve. Fact.
The Federal Reserve was created in 1910 by a cabal of bankers who met in absolute secrecy at Jekyll Island in Georgia to plan how to take control of the USA by controlling the money supply. They included Henry P. Davison, senior partner of JP Morgan, Paul Warburg, founder of Kuhn, Loeb and Co., Frank A. Vanderlip, VP of what is Citibank today, Charles D. Norton, president of Morgan’s First National bank of New York, and other powerful bankers. They wrote what became the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Thus was born ‘The Creature From Jekyll Island,’ the Federal Reserve.
Inflation is sure to be a big factor in the November elections, but as long as the printing presses roll out tons of money daily and the Federal Reserve keeps adding zeros to the bank’s balances, there’s very little the politicians can do about it.
There is nothing in the U S Constitution suggesting a central bank.
Now for the hottest of the hot potatoes, the abortion issue. Personally, I will take the antiabortion folks seriously if every single one of them signs a binding agreement to adopt at least one unwanted baby and raise that baby to adulthood. Put your money where your mouth is, folks!
I know a number of women whose lives were made better by choosing not to have a child they were not equipped to raise.
Abortion is a difficult personal decision that the government has no business intruding into, in my opinion. Because I am a man, I’ve never had to face that heart rending decision that can cause serious psychological harm, no matter which way it is decided.
We have politicized the courts in this country so much that judges can now make law, something they are manifestly not qualified to do. That was never their job. Legislatures exist to create the law, courts exist to enforce it. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, as it is expected to do this summer, this will he a radically different country afterwards. Generations of women have believed their bodies belong to themselves. Now they’re going to learn that their bodies belong to the state. This thought is positively chilling! Orwellian!
Unfortunately, the writers of our Constitution didn’t think to include a right of personal privacy. They probably took it for granted. But we simply have no constitutional right to personal privacy in this country.
France does, as I learned while there. It is illegal there to photograph a private citizen without their permission. Public figures lose a degree of this right, and crowd scenes are another exception. Otherwise I couldn’t photograph the Eiffel Tower without the permission of everyone in the crowd at the base.
But, overall, I think this is an excellent law. French citizens own their bodies, their images, themselves. I imagine some other enlightened European countries have similar privacy laws.
And while I’m on the subject of law, I believe all judges, from the Supreme Court justices down to your local magistrate, should have term limits. Term limits insure an influx of fresh ideas and minds.
Those are just some of my thoughts on the political front. More some other time.
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/cancelling_culture/
Behind the Scenes Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2022
Photographs by Earnest Thomas, Copyright 2022
Kitchie Ohh Luncheon
After the successful shoot with Kitchie Ohh for the new Vixen’s series, I invited friends over to meet Kitchie for lunch. I selected an eclectic group of friends drawing from different aspects of the professional world including; Kitty Hailey, the famous Philadelphia based private investigator who primarily works on civil rights cases. She is a good person to know if you’ve been abused by the U.S. legal system. Kitty was accompanied by her assistant investigator, Malik Mubashir a history and religion scholar who graduated from Harvard in the 1970’a. He’s currently one of the beloved teachers at the Friends Select School in Philadelphia. Malik is dedicating his free time assisting Kitty on various high profile civil rights cases.
Also in attendance was Anthony Seraphin and his lovely sister Bunny who once owned the Seraphin Gallery on Pine street in Philadelphia. Tony continues to make private sales and investments in the arts. Out of town guests included friend and colleague Ted Kawalerski, professional photographer/film maker New York and his girlfriend Dana Montemurno, a highly skilled skin care specialist based in Westport Ct.
Needless to say my personal assistant Anthony Colagreco was present offering up one of his spectacular vegetarian dishes. Besides his cooking talents TC is also a master massage therapist. Also in attendance was my long time friend, Sam Binder a Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts trained artist whose primary interest is in sculpture.
The gracious Miss Kitchie Ohh enjoyed the guests and delighted in the food, drink and lively conversations.
Many thanks to my creative director KVaughn who came up with the brilliant idea to invite the fabulous photographer Earnest Thomas to photograph the luncheon. Thanks Earnest!