Bob Shell: Marijuana Legal in Virginia

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2021

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2021

.

Marijuana Legal in Virginia

.

Much to the surprise of many, recreational marijuana became legal in Virginia on July 1. I never thought I’d see something so progressive in stodgy old Virginia.
There are limits, of course. You can have up to an ounce for personal use or grow up to four plants. Possession of more than an ounce up to a pound will get you a $ 25 fine.
If you want all the details you can read the story in the Galax Gazette, an excellent regional newspaper here in southwest Virginia. (www.galaxgazette.com).
The reason this resonates so strongly with me goes back to the summer of 1969.
I was living in Richmond, Virginia, in a nice, three-bedroom, apartment on Grace Street. I shared the apartment with four other people. One weekend we had a friend from Washington, D.C., visiting with us.
Saturday morning, the Richmond narcotics police raided the apartment. They did not knock or identify themselves. I was standing in the kitchen at the back of the apartment when a man strode down the hall and pointed a gun in my face. I had no idea who the hell he was. I was twenty-two at the time, never been in any trouble. This was the first time in my life that I’d looked down the barrel of a gun pointed at my face. It scared me so badly that I almost passed out.
As it turned out, the police searched the place and found nothing. But, in the pocket of the man visiting from D.C. was one ‘joint’, one marijuana cigarette.
We were all arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, a felony at that time, facing possible thirty year sentences!
Now, let me repeat, only one person possessed marijuana, and he didn’t even live there! But, that was how police treated ‘hippies’ in the ’60s.
We all hired lawyers, but were denied bail and spent three months in the old Richmond City Jail.
In court it came out that the search warrant was for a different address. Our lawyers tried to get the case thrown out on those grounds, but the judge refused.
We went to trial, and in a great show of ‘judicial mercy’ were only sentenced to three years each. That’s a cumulative fifteen years for one silly joint.
Thankfully, our lawyers pleaded with the judge and got the sentences suspended. But we were forbidden to associate with each other even though we were best friends. So we were split up, and I went back to Roanoke, where I’m from, and went to work for a local TV station and theater.
My dear friend Mark couldn’t take the stress and killed himself, a promising young life ended for nothing.
The first time I was to meet with my probation officer I showed up and was taken to his office.
He read my file, and said, “Possession of marijuana, eh?”
When I said, “Yes,” he got up from behind his desk, locked his office door, sat back behind his desk, and pulled a joint from a drawer. We shared it. I never had any trouble with my probation officer!
So, after my three years of probation was over, I petitioned the governor to expunge my conviction and restore my rights. He and my father were friends, and my petition was quickly granted. I could vote, own guns, whatever I wanted to do. I took my voting rights seriously, and voted in every election from 1972 until 2007. Then I was convicted on the current absurd charges and lost my rights all over again.
But, back to marijuana. When I was arrested for possession back in ’69, I didn’t have any. But I’d been smoking it since 1965 when I went off to college at Virginia Tech and found it abundant on campus and cheap. I smoked it pretty regularly through the sixties, seventies and early eighties, and then just tapered off.
When my late girlfriend convinced me to try some of hers in 2003, I hadn’t had any in years. The stuff she got from a student at Radford University was by far more potent than anything we had in the ’60s and ’70s! I couldn’t handle it. One hit and I was ‘One Toke Over the Line,’ as Brewer and Shipley sang.
The law legalizing marijuana in Virginia has penalties for giving any to young people under the age of twenty-one, but that’s unrealistic. Once it’s legal, young people and kids are going to get it, just as they already get alcohol.
Now, even though marijuana possession becomes legal on July 1 of this year, selling any amount is still illegal, and the state’s legal dispensaries won’t open until 2024! So you can legally have it, but there’s no legal way to get it!
Also, when marijuana becomes legal on July 1, everyone in jail or prison for possession will be released, right? Wrong! There’s no provision in the law to resentence people serving time for possession of a legal substance!
The legal theory is that they broke the law as it existed at the time, so they won’t be released. The Governor wanted to include a provision in the law that would have automatically resentenced those people, but opposition in our legislature told him if he insisted on including that provision, the bill would die. So he took what he could get.
That’s Virginia politics!

.

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 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read additional articles by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/behind-bars/

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.

Aliana Ho: Love Letters

Text and Photography by Aliana Ho, Copyright 2021

.

Love Letters

.

In approaching this assignment, I was drawn to the idea of creating space for reflection. In my own personal reflection on this course and the content I’ve produced, I’ve noticed recurring themes associated with the global pandemic. This pandemic, so deeply ingrained in our collective experiences, has produced such great loss that has been emphasized in so many different forms of expression, almost to an excessive extent. However, the pandemic’s pervasive nature keeps it a relevant and intrusive muse at every attempt of art I make, and often I don’t have the luxury of turning a blind eye.

 

In creating the physical space of the shoot, I included a speaker for music, Oreo cookies for incentive and a token of thanks, and index cards. On these index cards, I asked everyone to write a love letter to someone. I placed no bounds on who the recipient of the letter could be, I just wanted them to sit, reflect on their love for someone, and immortalize it on a colorful index card. Some wrote to their mothers, some wrote to their younger selves, some to their siblings, and some to seemingly random people who got them where they are today. A sentiment that has been circulating the internet right now is the idea that we are all just a collection of habits and quirks of all those we’ve surrounded ourselves with over the years. I wanted to capture the fleeting moments of recognition and appreciation for those people in our lives. 

 

These images represent a piece of ourselves given to this school, this space, and this past year of triumphs and tribulations. To see yourself, and to love yourself is to see and love all of the people who have touched your life, and all of the lives you have touched. I am eternally grateful for the community created out of these trying times, and I hope to never forget the impact every single one of my friends, those pictured and those not, have had on my small life. You know who you are, this is my love letter to you. Thank you and I love you. 

love,

ali

.

.

About The Author: Aliana Ho is an Anthropology major, Visual Studies & Health Studie Minor student at Haverford College, Haverford, Pa. Class of 2022. To see additional articles by Aliana, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/unity_at_the_initiative/

 

Katie Kerl: Philly Reloaded-Life After Lockdown

Aronimink Swim Club. Drexel Hill, Pa. Photo: Katie Kerl, Copyright 2021

Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2021

.

Philly Reloaded: Life After Lockdown

.

After a year and two months, Philadelphia is about to lift all the restrictions put in place for COVID.  I get my second Moderna Shot June 1st. I honestly am having a hard time wrapping my head around all of it to be honest. It was a Rainy Memorial Day weekend in the city. What better way to spend it than to inform people of some upcoming events, and other local small business re-openings.

We all have setbacks and I am healing from the entire year. I have no idea what the fuck I am doing now, but its working for me…

My lips and Botox…….. I wake up every day and am so happy I did it. because adulting Is hard, but we really do not have to look old anymore. 

My idea of fun has changed so drastically, I think I am still discovering what new things make me happy.

Personally, I do not think I am ready to be in large crowds even after being vaccinated. While others slowly got to see more and more people, some never stopped what they were doing to begin with, and I am still getting used to being around 5-10 people again. 

Be mindful that not all your friends will be running out the door to large events. That has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with their own comfort level, and their experience this year. more importantly feeling freedom again.

The beginning of summer always leads me to the pool..

I belong to a quiet & a party pool (balance).

.

Aronimink Swim Club

Address: 1180 Dermond Rd, Drexel hill Pa 19026

I am fortunate to belong to Aronimink Swim Club in Drexel Hill with my parents. A much more subdued non partying pool, but it is a perfect pool if you have children. There is a large main pool with a connected baby pool, diving board, and a slide. There is a smaller adult pool which is nothing but peaceful. Downstairs from the pool deck is basketball, tennis, volleyball, BBQ stations, food to order, and a playground for kids. My father’s family has been a member there for as long as I can remember. He coached the diving team when I was a kid, and I was a swimmer. Generational membership was a real thing there is the 1960s- 1990s. Families with their great grandchildren and everyone knew each other. It still has that vibe today. Sometimes I complain about things feeling like I am stuck in the 1950’s, but something about the pool never changing kind of reminds me of a scene from Dirty Dancing. That type of nostalgia I am completely ok with.

.

Vesper Day Club

.

Vesper Day Club

Address: 1031 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia Pa, 19123

Website: www.vesperdayclub.com

IG: @vesperdayclub

.

Vesper Day Club

.

Located in Northern Liberties and a convenient 10 minute walk from my house . I have been a member here for a few years now. When I had a regular 9-5 job, I could not take advantage of how peaceful it is there during the week. I want to go when there is not a large crowd. It really satisfied my need for me time, and quite a few frozen Pina Coladas. The slushie drinks are lethal in the sun. Be sure to have many and stay hydrated. I do not remember a time walking out of there without being a shade darker, and a smile on my face.

The staff there this year is nice. Another reason I like going places when it is not crowded. There is nothing worse than  a bad attitude.

The host Gia was informative about renting out the private cabanas with tv, seating, and your own private elevated pool. Perfect for birthdays and business events. There are two levels to the pool deck. If you want a quieter experience the upstairs lounges are nice as well. There is a DJ on the weekends and music playing around the pool daily. They also do networking and wellness events. Be sure to reserve your lounge, daybed, or cabana, and the time slot you wish to go on the website.

To receive 20% off your season membership please use my link on the website:

http://Vesperdayclub.refr.cc/katiek1

.

Fold Theory Presents Michelle Sparks

.

Fold Theory Presents: Michelle Sparks

Date: 6/26

Time: 10-2:30am

Music style: Techno

Artist info: https://www.michele-sparks.com/

Price: $20 presale/ $30 at the door

Tickets: https://ra.co/promoters/81983

Venue: Warehouse on Watts (WOW)

Address: 923 N. Watts St. Philadelphia, Pa 19123

Fold Theory and their large group of like-minded friends held a live stream fundraiser totaling $5k to benefit Warehouse on Watts. Seeing communities of people coming together to save a venue is huge. After losing so many restaurants/clubs in the city; it would be nice to see more of this.

.

Noto NightClub

.

NOTO Nightclub

Address: 1209 Vine street, Philadelphia, Pa 19107

For tickets and Vip Bottle Service contact:

Aleckrayzel@yahoo.com

Phone: 215.694.8584

Ig: AK Promotions

The opening weekend line up:

Friday 6/18 with Vicetone, Saturday 6/19 Dj Stevie J

Friday 6/25 Andrew Rayel, Saturday 6/26 Dj Spade

I have had some amazing nights here before the shutdown. One of my favorite nights at NOTO was Fisher; his parties never disappoint!

I highly suggest booking a table, so you have room to dance.

.

Old City Tattoo

.

Old City Tattoo

.

Olde City Tattoo

Hours open 11am -7pm

Address: 44 s 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

P: 215.627.6271

IG: oldecitytattoo, jag13badluck

They will soon be open later Saturday and Sunday.

.

 I may not be ready for giant crowds, but I was however ready to finish my Alice in Wonderland half sleeve. Jason Goldberg is the owner and has been tattooing my whimsical dream since 2017. I finish my half sleeve in June, after starting it right before the pandemic hit. The funny thing is; when I was at Vesper Day Club two of the people had been tattooed there!. Jason has been in business for 20+ years Check them out if you are looking for ink.

 .

Brittany Goldberg

Heavy Metal Hair Salon

1604 E. Passyunk Ave. Philadelphia Pa, 19148

215.467.1757

Hours: Mon- Fri: 10-6, Sat 9-6, Sun 10-5

Brittany Goldberg is married to Jason. They are quite the creative hustling couple. She opened her hair salon in the middle of the pandemic! I must give her credit for jumping through all the city’s hoops and restrictions. The rainbow of bold colors that come out of the salon are quite breathtaking. I walked out a perfect dark to light ombre pink. I had tried to get this color for a long time, and no one was able to do it in one shot, or as bold as Brittany did. I will be back there after the city re-opens fully.

.

.

Heavy Metal Hair is also Having an event on 6/6

The Sick66 Jewelry Pop-Up with special guest Necronomicharm

Time: 6-8

Beer included

.

Necronomicharm

.

Independent Philly

Owner : David Miller

https://www.independentphilly.com

Independent Philly has been around for quite some time. They will be up and running again next week as well. I remember them running around the venues to get the perfect shots at all the shows. This was when you could go to three amazing events in one night in Philadelphia.

 I think we were fortunate enough to live though the height of the Philly nightlife scene. I was chatting with Dave about it when I asked for this info. We have seen three cycles of venues here over the years. In each the dynamics were a bit different, but it is cool to see the change in the city.

 The photographers working with him all take amazing photos. They have been recognized in one way or another for their creativity in capturing a moment.

.

Dave Grohl. Foo Fighters. Photo: Dave Miller, Copyright 2021

.

Dave has also created an NFT Interactive gallery storefront.

NFT Store: https://oncyber.io/nftmvp

Dave has taken some of his photos and put them onto the Ethereum blockchain network. Creating an NFT (non- fungible token) store front. Which simply means it cannot be replaced with something else. If more creatives got together to learn this forward-thinking way of dealing art; there may not be so many starving artists in the future.

NFT’s are new to me so I am going to leave this link with the basics:

https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/22310199/nft-ecplainer-what-is-blockchain-crypto-art-faq

.

Pete Checchia Photography & Arts

Address: 733 n 2nd St., Philadelphia, Pa 10123

Website: www.petesart.com

Presents: Jorge Luis Vega’s Paintings

Explore a Personal Vision in Tropocalismo

Date: 6/4       Time: 6-8

Sponsored by: Stateside Vodka & The 700

.

.

Revive Medical Aesthetics & Weight Loss

.

.

I write about Revive every chance I get to support women run businesses.

Not to mention you leave there feeling and looking like a goddess. I have my Botox, and lip filler done there. Aubrey has yet to disappoint me, although the entire staff is the nicest! There are no stupid questions, no mean girl attitude, and all the information you would want to know about your service. That is absolutely something to celebrate

. Aubrey also balances being a working wife, mom, and has a cool little guy at home to raise. The more I write about the small businesses here you really get to know the people behind them. I think that it is a big factor people do not always investigate when starting a business. What is your mission, and what kind of vibe are you giving off to the community?  

Aubrey DelVescovo PA-C (Aesthetic Physician Associate)

P.484.402.4750.

Ig: preferred contact @the.aesthetic.pa  

Availability: Tues-Turs 11-6pm, Fri-11-3, Sat-10-2

Revive Med IG: @revivemedphilly

Website: www.revivemedphilly.com

.

K Vaughn Scarves

.

K Vaughn Scarves

Designer: Kevin Harris

www.kvaughnscarves.com

Ig: k.vaughn_scarves

I have been friends with Kevin for quite some time now. I am always floored at his creative energy, and ability to pick fabrics that look amazing on everyone. He took the time to hustle out in the pandemic and did pop-up shops, designed masks to go with his scarves, and coordinated a spring photoshoot in Rittenhouse Square for his line. The thing about Kevin that I love is; he is always changing and onto the next thing.

There is never a dull moment, and he is well respected in the Philadelphia arts community. The launch of his new website & Instagram events posted through the week. My grandmother told me no outfit was complete without a scarf. She was not incorrect .

Looking back, I know some amazing business owners that were able to maintain their shops. A few opened new ones in the middle of a pandemic & a shut down!!

Resilience in the face of anarchy is what we need to survive. People who live Alternative lifestyles that have different careers seem to be the ones winning.  Also, empathizing with people going through it this year. We seem to be much better with this drastic change. If you are used to life not being normal, why would this be any different?

We adapt, grow, soften with every tragedy, help others win, and support the people who have made an impact on your life.

 It is the effort we put into our lives that will direct us from here.

Good luck to all the businesses in the city about to fully open.

Happy Memorial Day!

.

Katie Kerl: Summer of 2021

.

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

To access additional article by Katie Kerl, click herehttps://tonywardstudio.com/blog/katie-kerl-thirty-seven-the-power-of-enlightenment/

 

Faizah Khan: Sentimental Objects

Photo: Faizah Khan, Copyright 2021

Photography and Text by Faizah Khan, Copyright 2021

.

Sentimental Objects

.

Everyday objects, as ordinary as they appear, often bear significant value for an individual.  Whether it be a tired old shoe or a lively stuffed animal, the objects we hold onto serve as a symbol of the life we once lived, are living, or want to live. The ability for inanimate objects to possess qualities that reflect a piece of an individual consequently inspired this project.

.

Photo: Faizah Khan, Copyright 2021

.

All items photographed belong to college students due to location and proximity. However, this was ideal because given the limited space college students must face when moving in, they must constantly narrow down their most precious items they plan on bringing with them to campus.

.

Photo: Faizah Khan, Copyright 2021

.

Through a series of conversations, each photograph was taken to capture the heartwarming memories and worthwhile stories that these items carry.  While each photograph reveals a unique story about the individual, an observer can make their own interpretations of what these stories could hold.

.

About The Author: Faizah Khan is a sophomore enrolled at Haverford College.  Class of 2023.  To access additional articles by Faizah Khan, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/lewis_hine_empire_state_building/

 

Abby Harris: Get Vaccinated!

Get Vaccinated. Photo: Abby Harris, Copyright 2021
 

Photography and Text by Abby Harris, Copyright 2021

.

Get Vaccinated!

.

As the world slowly opens and things improve each day I wanted to highlight vaccination and the pandemic on campus. As we pass the one year mark of the pandemic impacting everyone’s lives, getting vaccinated is a simple way to protect yourself and help life return to normal. The joy and relief that come with being vaccinated is an effervescent feeling. I almost cried out of happiness and exhaustion when I received my first dose. Not only did I want to spread a message about getting vaccinated I also wanted to show off the happiness people experience once they are vaccinated.

.

Get Vaccinated. Photo: Abby Harris, Copyright 2021

.

Simple portraits outside with just my friends and their vaccination cards felt like the best way to display these feelings. The pandemic has been difficult to navigate while being away at college for all of us, but we have persevered and are hopefully close to the end. Being at college during the pandemic has been very isolating and lonely. We spend all day in our dorms on zoom and see each other only occasionally. This is why I chose to shoot each of my friends individually.

.

Get Vaccinated. Photo: Abby Harris, Copyright 2021

.

When I took these photographs I didn’t direct my friends at all besides asking them to hold the card. I think it is very powerful that in each person’s eyes you can see them smiling while holding their card proudly. Even though this past year has been horrible we are on track to being okay again. My friends and I are very lucky to be vaccinated. I hope everyone who is eligible right now goes out and gets vaccinated. The weight that gets lifted off your shoulders once you are vaccinated is enormous. Vaccines should be the least scary part of the entire pandemic, they save lives and help protect yourself and others. The sooner everyone gets vaccinated the sooner life can resume. 

.

Self Portrait by Abby Harris, Copyright 2021

.

About The Author: Abby Harris is a sophomore enrolled at Bryn Mawr College, Class of 2023. To access additional articles by Abby Harris, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/happier_than_ever/