The apartment that I rented in Amsterdam at the turn of the 2000’s was a perfect location for me to work from at that point in time. I had become friends with local businesswoman, Danny Linden who owned a fetish shop on the famous Oudezijds Achterburgwal in the Red Light district. Danny and I became friends and worked on a number of shoots together for her shop. She realized that I was going back and forth to the states on a regular basis between 1999 and 2005 so she offered me to stay at an apartment that she managed just around the corner from her shop on a tiny little street that looked on to rows and rows of prostitute windows. I was such a frequent visitor that they always said hello to me as if I was their neighbor or something. Yes. There was the something too.
In this part of the apartment where I made the photographs of Mel there was natural light entering the living area windows. The warm red walls bathed my models in beautiful afternoon light as we worked through a series of test pictures for the latest body of work.
Mel was one those visitors on a go see. I remember her most as a makeup artist. However, when I saw how exotic she looked I asked to photograph her right there on the spot. No conversation before , it was very spontaneous. I never saw or had the opportunity to work with Mel as a makeup artist this occasion but I do cherish the brief time that we met. It was fun to have bathed her in such beautiful light.
Sneakers to me are more than an item of clothing. It’s a way for me to express myself. I’m never the most outspoken person in the room. It’s often my sneakers that speak for me. My love of shoes started at a young age. My grandfather would send me a pair once a year. Upon his passing, I had a pretty nice collection. Unfortunately with his passing so did my love for shoes. It was many years later I met my friend Herb Simpson. His exact words to me were “You’re a good dude but you need better shoes”. The next day he came to work with the newest Jordans for me. With that one gesture, the love for shoes was back. For a while, I would often run my purchases by Herb. If he approved I would purchase it. I eventually developed my style and direction. My collection started as only Air Jordans. I branched out to Adidas, Reebok, Fila, Puma, Vans, and Asics. If I felt it was nice I got it. Like many people during the pandemic, I had a lot of free time. So I decided to try something different. I began recording YouTube videos about sneakers. I did vlogs of me shopping in stores. I also did reviews of the newest sneakers. Things started to pick up for me during that time. With the notoriety from my videos, I began selling shoes. It started slow but I became everyone’s sneaker connect. Sneakers have allowed me to do things I would’ve never thought of. From traveling to different events, being on podcasts, modeling for K.Vaughn, and now even being on the cover of Tony Ward Studio. In closing, if you have a passion, no matter how big or small follow it. You never know where it might take you!
About The Author: Matthew Sampson is a full-time father of a wonderful 16-year-old daughter who also loves shoes. He recently started creating content in 2020 and posting to IG and YouTube. Matt also has become the sneaker connect for multiple people in Philadelphia. You can his sneakers for sale on his Instagram sampson_matt_. Feel free to reach out if you need items sold as well. This is Matt’s first contribution to TWS.
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
We all know that sight, smell, and sound can trigger memory. Neuroscience has proven this to be true, finding that the same part of our the brain that processes our senses is also partly responsible for storing emotional memories. As someone who has on multiple occasions said “this smell reminds me of…” or immediately thinks of someone with just a few notes of a song, I am not at all surprised. I am shocked that it took actual scientific study, though, as it seems a clear and logical connection.
This sensory-emotional connection is very likely the reason the holidays are so overwhelming for many of us. We decorate, we prepare special foods that emit delicious smells, and listen to songs written and performed specifically for this season. These things are tradition, they’ve been done for centuries, passed through generations. It seems nearly impossible to not be triggered into remembering people and holidays past during the extended period of exposure.
While our senses can, and do, link happy memories to all of these things, if you’re anything like me, you sit with the opposite type for a little longer, and compare what is to what was. Who was there to who is gone now, or who wasn’t always but now is. Memory and feeling get all jumbled.
When I pull out the decorations, the ones I hand-selected to match my style and home, I can’t help but think of all the pieces I used to excitedly pull out of their storage boxes to help decorate my childhood home and our tree. There were definitely some ornaments that I tried to avoid using only to find that mom had pulled them out to display after I had finished. Those styrofoam, glittery apples were in a word: hideous. But the year we found the squirrels had gotten into the decorations and destroyed them was sad, and something I always think of when trimming the tree. Those apples were from my parents’ first Christmas tree after they were married. I get it now. Sorry, Mom, but they were still ugly.
When I bake my dozens and dozens of cookies, alone in my kitchen, in the organized, step-by-step, everything-must-be-uniform process I rely on, I remember the way we used to make them growing up. It was an explosion of sugar, flour, and so many sprinkles. It was chaos. The sweetest, happiest chaos of at least half a dozen people in the kitchen and dining room- mixing, rolling, filling, and decorating. Every surface in those two rooms got absolutely covered. We made such a mess. Again, sorry, Mom! But also, thanks. I also recall the batches of cookies that only Grammy made. I loved to see them, didn’t like to eat them – the anisette and almond extracts she loved were not my favorite, still aren’t. I would give up all of the baked goods in the world to have her at the kitchen table with those heavily flavored, secret recipe cookies of hers this Christmas.
I’m not at all religious these days, but a dozen years at Catholic school sure drilled an appreciation for those Christmas hymns into my head. I can even still sing a few of them in Latin. Though, I do prefer the non-religious carols and above all, enjoy the jazzy, swingy versions like those performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. No matter what style they might be sung in, I cannot hear “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” or “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” without giggling at my Poppy’s versions. In case you were wondering, he insisted they were “Mark and Harold Angels Sing” and “God Rest Ye Gerry Mendelson.” Newer versions of misheard lyrics have weaved their way into the holiday memories thanks to my nieces and nephews. I think Poppy would have loved them and sang along.
Laughing while crying, smiling but sad, enjoying the presence of others while unable to ignore the void left by those absent. The holidays as an adult have taken a more reflective turn for me. I appreciate that I am able to see Santa and remember that time Aunt Betty decorated her entire bedroom to be Christmas year round. Or that year I learned the truth about how presents magically appeared under the tree after I heard one go thumping down the steps with Grammy chasing behind it cursing in Italian like we didn’t know what she was saying. And the time our extended family pollyanna was too much for the restaurant and Nanny was asked to never book there again. (For the record, I do not blame the management of that establishment at all! We were a lot then, and even more now!) All the visits from distant family friends and relatives, the local ones too, that slowed, stopped and have since faded to memory. All of it that comes rushing back with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, brings with it a twinge of sadness, sure, but most importantly, overwhelming gratitude that in all my years on this planet, I have been completely surrounded by love. No matter what else may change, that never will.
There are at least 14 holidays that occur in December. Each, I am sure, comes with specific sensory-emotion-memory triggers. So whichever one is yours, I wish you the happiest, merriest, best one ever.
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 she’s 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.
You’re 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.
KVaughn called and said he was on his way to New York to select fabrics for his Winter collection of custom made scarves to be released on December 2, 2022. Every time we talk about his trips to New York you can tell his energy easily matches that of the city that never sleeps. On that note, Kevin sent me a few voice notes for this article in an attempt for the reader to gather insight on how his creative process works. They are posted here as a linear series of voice messages. This season he focused on purchasing silks, cashmere and wool for his one of kind custom made scarves. He also hung out with this seasons muse:
VM 1: Friday, November 11, 2022, Magdim Towers, Philadelphia .
VM 2: Arrives in NYC, journey begins.
VM 3: Arrives at Chic Fabrics, 247 West 38th Street, NYC.
VM4: Has lunch at Lazzara’s Pizza Cafe & Restaurant at 221 West 38th st. NYC.
VM5: Muse Adira love arrives for photos and shopping in NYC.