Category Archives: Men

Bob Shell: Doing Time in Virginia

Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

 

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Doing Time in Virginia

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I had the misfortune of living in Virginia when I was arrested, tried, and convicted. Virginia is a beautiful place, with fertile valleys and beautiful mountains. The history is rich and significant. The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest sitting legislature in North America, and was the model for the United States Congress. Virginia’s declaration of human rights was the model for the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. So Virginia should be a great place to live, right?

Unfortunately, no. We have a ‘justice system” run amok. Back in 1996 we had a Governor named George Allen, a baby-faced, benevolent-looking man, Republican, of course, who was determined to be “tough on crime,” and with the complicity of the legislature, abolished parole. Parole rates before that were about 30%. Abolishing parole with the idea of keeping criminals out of society didn’t work, it had absolutely no effect on Virginia’s crime rate.

Anyone convicted before that change is still eligible for parole, anyone convicted after 1996 isn’t. I was convicted in 2007, so no parole for me.

They did establish something called Geriatric Conditional Release, known informally as geriatric parole. After age 65 you go before the Parole Board once a year, automatically, to be considered for this. I’ve been interviewed by teleconferencing, never a live person, and turned down annually seven times now!

From July through December of last year, the latest period for which I have the figures, out of 307 people eligible for Geriatric Conditional Release, only 25 were granted. If I’ve done the math right, that’s just over 8%, most of them very old and Ill, and costing the Virginia Department of Corrections significant amounts of money in medical expenses. I’m in a handicapped pod with 80 men total. Of those 80, there are ten who are confined to wheelchairs, and two, including me, who need canes to get around. All are older, three over 80.

Adrianne Bennett, Chair of the Virginia Parole Board says there is a looming crisis due to the large number of prisoners who will soon be eligible for geriatric release. Where, I ask, is this crisis if they release so few?

All told there are more than 40,000 people in Virginia prisons, at an annual cost to taxpayers of a billion dollars, the single biggest item in the budget. Insanity!

Everyone who knows me, knows that I could be released today and would not be a threat to anyone, because I was never a threat to anyone in the first place. The same is true of many in here.

There is also the governor’s pardon, technically called Executive Clemency. This was supposed to replace parole, but it hasn’t. Very few have been granted. I filed my petition with the Governor in 2006, accompanied by more than fifty letters attesting to my character, from former photography models, industry colleagues, even a United States Senator, and it has yet to be acted on. I’m on my third governor! When I write and ask what’s taking so long, they send me a form letter saying please be patient, the process can take up to a year! It’s been THREE bloody years!

My case is a political hot potato that each governor has handed off to his successor, while I sit in prison.

My suggested sentence, using the guidelines established by the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines Commission was 1 -1/2 to 3 years, but by “stacking” sentences and making them run consecutive, the judge gave me 32 -1/2 years! I’m 72 years old right now, and my release date is 2033. What sense does that make?

I’m classified as a “numerical lifer,” that is a person who does not have a life sentence, but is unlikely to live long enough to be released. In 2033, if I live that long, I’ll be 87 years old! I was 56, healthy, vigorous, and at the peak of my career, when this all started. Now I’m an old man, taking dozens of pills every day to stay alive, whose thriving business and life were destroyed by a pack of lies and nonsense, a prominent photographer who has not been allowed to touch a camera in twelve years.

The prosecution offered me a plea bargain of ten years, but I would have to plead guilty. I am not guilty and refuse to say otherwise. Later, he offered five years. but, again, contingent on pleading guilty. I simply would never do that. I have never in my life physically harmed anyone, and have never had sex with any woman without her consent. I have high moral standards, and have lived my life by them, and will stay in prison rather than compromise what I believe in. So here I sit on a hard bunk in a 9 X 12 room with cold metal walls, waiting and hoping for justice.

I’ve had proof for years that the medical testimony that put me here was false. The Chief Medical Examiner for Virginia says so, and so does Dr. Cyril Wecht, the dean of American pathologists. The “expert testimony” of the prosecution’s witnesses was, to be polite, garbage. But the jury of small town folk accepted it and ignored me and my witnesses. They voted not on the evidence, but on their own prejudices against a man who took erotic photographs. It was a modern day witch trial. The judge called my photography, which the prosecution gleefully projected up to giant size in the courtroom wall, the worst pornography he’d ever seen. Obviously, he’d never surfed the Internet! But he said all he knew about computers was how to turn his on.

Most of the photos and videos presented in evidence were private photos and videos Marion and I created for ourselves. None were intended for publication or distribution, none showed actual sexual activity, and none were ever published or publicly displayed except on the wall of that courtroom. My and Marion’s privacy was grossly invaded. And the photos were not illegal or evidence of anything illegal.

If you want to read the Chief Medical Examiner’s statements, I’ve posted the interview with him and lots of details on one of my websites: www.bobshelltruth.com.

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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://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-no-nudes-is-good-news/

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 Affiliates, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Environment, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Glamour, History, Models, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women

Katie Kerl: Derek Bailey Green Car Innovator

Derek Bailey Interview by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

 

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Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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Derek and I came across each other on Instagram. After seeing what he was doing I immediately asked to interview him. He welcomed any positive press and agreed. I had the Opportunity to sit down with Derek after the interview as well.

I was able to learn a little more about his company, but more importantly what kind of person he is. The questionnaire part of interview was completed a  few months ago. Derek’s car just recently arrived in the United States a few weeks back. I went to Hatfield, Pa to check it out in person last weekend. Also, I was able to meet part of his growing sales team; leads coming from the top Volkswagen and Lexus dealerships in the area.  They just like Derek were very welcoming, informative, and excited about what was happening there. 

The car industry is pretty cut throat, but I was pleasantly surprised at what gentlemen and active listeners they all were. 

No pretentious bullshit in this crew; he cut right to the chase and had quite the sense of humor about him. A very family oriented man. He loves his two daughters, and speaks highly of both of them. Derek’s mother and brother all are in the area as well. They take part in many charity events giving back to the community. Being so busy he still takes the time to give back and show gratitude for all his accomplishments. 

For me not knowing the first thing about cars; after talking with Derek I feel like Id be able to speak intelligently about his new innovation. One cool feature not seen on many electric cars; the Avani’s fully retractable sunroof. Most electric car dealers leave this out not wanting to waste precious battery charge. The Avani will not have that issue.

Derek broke it down in a way anyone could understand. That is what you need when trying to sway people into the clean energy movement; understanding. If we don’t educate the public, how will they make informed decisions about helping our declining environment? Tony Ward actually took the photos for this article. Derek had a drone flying the day of inspection. That was also taking place at the same time as Tony was capturing his shots. The drone capture was a pretty monumental; a famous photographer capturing a new leading green car mogul. 

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Derek Automotive started taking pre-orders with a $2,500 refundable deposit starting in September 2019. Deposits will also earn the first 200 buyers one thousand shares of company stock, as a founding buyer incentive.  

For all the information you’d need to know about Derek’s green car, please visit his site : 

https://snapshot.derekautomotive.com/

Derek Bailey

Derek Automotive

INTERVIEW

K.K. Tell me a little bit about yourself please?

D.B.  I was born in New Orleans and I’m 50 years old. I studied Economic – Major & a marketing minor, at Virginia State University, and went on to study for an MBA at the University of Edinburgh, which I did complete – due mostly to the interruption of launching businesses.

K.K. Being a serial entrepreneur how many businesses have you had since the beginning of your career; were you happy with all of them?

D.B. Actually, I’ve not had a job where I received a paycheck since I was about 19. I’ve launched many businesses, with many failures, but also a few big successes.  One being a Company called Popa Media which I sold for $11 million. I’ve been in the Temporary staffing business for over 35 years. It’s been the financial fuel for my other bigger endeavors like; Wolverton Bailey the company I co-founded to design and patent our new engine supercharger technology. After receiving two patents, I decided to launch Derek Automotive Technologies to commercialize our engine technology, as opposed to asking other companies to include my technology in their products.

K.K. When did you realize you wanted to be a part of the clean energy movement, and produce an electric car that has the ability to be self charging?

D.B. This whole effort has been about saving our planet, without harming our economy, as most approaches to climate change solutions seem to do. There are trade-offs to going green. When people talk about electric cars it’s as if they think the electricity comes from magic. Over 70% of the electricity produced in the world comes from burning fossil fuels, like coal and natural. If all electricity was created with nuclear energy or wind and solar, then electric cars make a lot more sense – no emission at the source of the energy, and no emissions at the vehicle – totally carbon free! What we have today is a situation where electric cars are pollution-shifting; no emissions in the car, but emissions are created far away at the electric plant. Our grid is so complex; it’s difficult to know the carbon footprint of a specific electric vehicle because we might not know where the power is coming from. I wanted to empower us to know the carbon footprint of every electric vehicle. The reason I wanted to build an electric vehicle that recharges itself is to get consumers to purchase electric cars! Electric car adoption has been slow because consumers don’t trust them and find them inconvenient (i.e., being able to recharge, the long time period required to recharge, etc.) plus they’re expensive. It’s my goal to solve these problems, and deliver an electric car that the masses will want to buy.

K.K. Can you tell me how the technology works?

D.B. We’ve created a technology we call a Proteus Supercharger. Of course Proteus is the god of nature /sea that could take any shape. The super charger is based on two patents we’ve been awarded. One patent is for a highly efficient combustion engine that burns all of its fuel (most of the pollution coming from vehicles today is unburnt fuel) so it emits 83% less carbon than today’s engines. The second patent is for a special amplifier-generator that intakes 1-volt on input end, runs it through a magnetic field and outputs 1000-volts on the other end. Our clean engine (technically, it’s called a prime-mover), which runs on a small amount of gas, turns the generator to create an abundant amount of electricity (gas-to-electric power generation) for the batteries and interior cabin in the electric car. The supercharger only creates electricity; it does not help power the car like in a typical Hybrid-car. So, effectively, we’ve put a small power plant inside the car to make it more convenient for consumers. We believe that most consumers will enjoy driving totally on electric power, but also spend only 2-minutes putting a few dollars of gas in the car, as opposed to sitting for a charge for 35-minutes up to 5-hours.

K.K. Who did you turn to for production of this new venture?

D.B. Unlike Tesla and others, we can’t raise the hundreds of millions required to build our own plant, so we’re using the Apple model where we design and have more experienced manufacturers build for us. The Chinese are actually leaders in building electric vehicles and we’re partnered with a Chinese manufacturer to build our electric car, and we will integrate our supercharger into it here in America, to create American jobs.

K.K. Is gaining investors easy considering it’s a form of clean energy, or is it difficult being it could shut other vehicle producers down?

D.B. We’ve been powered mostly by my own capital, and capital from small investors who share our passion for workable green tech solution to carbon emission from the transportation sector. It’s unfortunate to say, but minority-entrepreneurs don’t have the same access to venture capital as others. Seeing genius from us is still a little hard for many investors, so we have to be willing to bleed-alone to get things done – but hey, that’s the American way – entrepreneurship is for the rugged. As far as shutting down other producers, our goal is to produce a great vehicle, using our technology, get it into the market, have consumers go crazy for the power of electric driving, the recharging convenience, and then license our technology to all the other car makers.  Licensing is another billion dollar opportunity for us.

K.K. What are some of the road blocks you have had to overcome along the way in testing / production?

D.B.  You ever hear that song “no one knows the trouble I’ve seen?”  Well, our roadblocks have been plenty. No one believed we could build a better engine. Once built, no one believed we could get a patent. Now we have two. No one thought I could get a car built. Now, that I’m introducing the car, no one believes I can build a car company against the big competitors and in the current car market. At each step it’s an excuse not to invest in us. Always with the assumption that I won’t make it to the next step.  Yet each time I do – and now the incredible thing is I find myself still owning 65% of the company.  Now, I’m only a few steps from shocking the world. I learned a saying a few years back – “as an entrepreneur one might have to bleed and cry by him/her self, but we also get to go to the bank by Ourselves.”  It’s that thought that keeps me going.

K.K. Is this more of a luxury car, or will it be something that is affordable to everyone on a scale that will stop the way we pollute the environment?

D.B.  This first vehicle is an SUV; its styling is like that of a Range Rover. We needed to design something that consumers would recognize and have an idea of its value. Once we make some money with the luxury vehicle, I will build an affordable car that I already have on the drawing board and named. That is a secret for now.

K.K. How do you deal with stress of starting something so new?

D.B. That’s a great question and I’m not sure I’ve found the answer. I workout, take long drives just to play music and think. I’m not in a relationship right now, the place where one would find the best stress relief, assuming the relationship is a good one. So, I struggle a bit with managing my stress – I’ll admit I sometimes turn to Mr. Jack Daniels and a mindless TV show. The key is I’m always ready to get back on the grind every morning.

K.K. What are your hobbies?

D.B.  I like to hit golf balls, play chess, ride bikes, but business is my hobby. I also love cooking and construction because I can see the results of my efforts quickly, as opposed to the years it takes to build a business.

K.K. When will your self charging electric car be released to the public?

D.B. As I said earlier, I still have a few more steps to my ultimate goal of the self-charging car. This first car I’m revealing in September 2019 is an all-electric SUV. The strategy is to sell 150 all-electric units (same as what the other automakers are selling) and plow that money back into reducing the size and completing the integration of the supercharger into the electric vehicle – it’s a lot of work, still. To answer your question, I think we will have our self-charging vehicle on the market in early 2021, maybe sooner if all the stars align.

K.K. I noticed you were granted the right to import vehicles as well. What are you planning to do with that?

D.B.  That import license is important because one can’t import vehicles into the USA without approvals from the EPA and DOT. This was a stepping stone for us.

K.K. Where do you see this taking you in the next 5 years?

D.B.  In 5-years Derek Automotive Technologies will be known as America’s first minority-owned car manufacturer and the leader in carbon emission reduction from the transportation sector. We’ll operate in 3 countries, have sales in excess of $600 million and valuation of more than three billion; minting me as a new American billionaire.

K.K. What are your personal, company, and environmental goals?

D.B.  My personal goals are to see my two daughters finish their schooling debt free, or near debt free, find my forever girl, and leave a legacy of having had a huge impact on climate change by reducing carbon emission in the transportation sector.

K.K. When will the launch party be?

D.B. The launch party will now be this fall. We had a bit of a trip through The Department of Transportation and got a bit delayed.  Fall is the perfect time for a launch Party, everyone is back from vacation and ready for what’s new. I’m looking at a few locations as I couldn’t book anything because I was not sure when we’d get all our approvals. 

Awww the stress of it all!

I’ll put out a notice on social media and my e-mail once the date and location is decided.

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Katie Kerl checks out the new Avani by Derek Automotive

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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://tonywardstudio.com/blog/katie-kerl-weed-the-people/

 

Also posted in Accessories, Advertising, Affiliates, Announcements, Blog, Covers, Current Events, Engineering, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, interview, lifestyle, News, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Posters, Travel, Video, Women

MiKala Mikrut: Impeachment

The Chosen One

 

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Text by Mikala Mikrut, Copyright 2019

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There Will Be Hell Toupee!

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Donald J. Trump: our 45th and current president of the United States. Businessman, TV personality, and avid Twitter participant. This 73 year old, 6′ 3″ man has been quite the talk lately. He’s also been on the tail end of recent articles and memes. The same country who elected him is desperately finding reasons to impeach him.

Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton are the only two presidents that have been formally impeached by Congress and no president of the United States have ever been removed from office through impeachment. Only two other of our presidents have faced formal impeachment inquiries in the House of Representatives: Richard Nixon and Donald Trump. It was intentionally made difficult by the framers of the Constitution to remove a sitting president. The House of Representatives starts the impeachment process with a formal impeachment inquiry. The members of the House Judiciary Committee write and pass articles of impeachment if sufficient grounds are found, then go to the full House to vote.

Political corruption is defined as, “the abuse of public power, office, or resources by elected government officials for personal gain, by extortion, soliciting or offering bribes. It can also take the form of office holders maintaining themselves in office by purchasing votes by enacting laws which use taxpayers’ money.” According to Robert Reich, the impeachment inquiry is still essential even though Trump won’t lose his job. It seems like there’s never been such a push to get a president out of office before. Regardless, it’s impressive that one man can rack up the trifecta of corruption in less than a term: sex, money, and power control.

Reportedly, Trump has used high office to line his own pockets just like Vice President Spiro Agnew, who took kickbacks on government contracts as governor of Maryland. The two great presidential scandals before Watergate also involved money. Trump’s effort to silence Stormy Daniels from publicizing their relationship eventually sent his former lawyer, Michael Cohen to jail. There would undoubtedly be other reasons (criminal misconduct?) to impeach the man who bragged about grabbing women’s genitals on tape if any of the almost 20 women who accused him of sexual harassment had a chance to speak in court. There is also evidence of attempting to coerce a vulnerable foreign government into providing dirt on a political opponent in the Ukraine affair.

So what will it be? Is Trump within his rights to behave as he has been or is he a tyrant at the end of his sinning spree? At the end of the day, we did elect him and as his term comes to an end it is still our responsibility to vote and make it known whether or not this is the America we want to keep or change. There certainly seems to be a dichotomy when it comes to peoples’ opinions on Trump. Let’s just say there didn’t seem to be this much drama surrounding Obama.

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About The Author: Mikala Mikrut is a junior enrolled at Southern Utah University. To access additional articles by Mikala Mikrut, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/mikala-mikrut-romance-with-horror/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, commentary, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, lifestyle, News, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Travel, Women

Bob Shell: No Nudes is Good News

Topless. Photo by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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No Nudes is Good News

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As far as the Virginia Dept. of Corrections is concerned, that is. They came out with a new OP (Operating Procedure) a couple years ago, banning all nudity in publications, with no exceptions. The OP bans any depiction (photo, drawing, painting, sculpture, even cartoon) of a female human breast unless it has a “fully opaque covering” of the nipple and areola. Huh? Yep, you read that right. Isn’t it illegal to discriminate based on sex? But bare male breasts, like Vladimir Putin’s, are OK. And what about the breasts of a hermaphrodite, or a transgender person, born with male genitals, but through hormones or surgery has fully developed breasts? What about men with gynacomasty, who just develop large breasts for no known reason? Like most things they do, the DOC issued this OP without thinking it through. I’m particularly affected by this policy because it prohibits me from having copies of most of my own photographs and most of the books I wrote. A friend tried to send me a copy of my Pro Guide: Mamiya Medium Format Camera Systems and it was disallowed due to one small bare breasted photo in which the breasts in question were tiny. Must have gone through the book with a magnifying glass looking for nipples or areolae! How silly! I saw the actual breasts when I took the picture and it’s now going to harm me in some way to see the photo years later???

And, when they find a single offending picture, they don’t black it out or cut it out, they disapprove the entire publication. This in spite of the Supreme Court saying that books and other publications must be considered as a whole, and not disapprove for a single image.

Thankfully, the Virginia ACLU has gotten involved on behalf of the American Humanist Association because an issue of the American Humanist magazine was prohibited for containing a famous painting of Adam and Eve by Peter Paul Rubens, one of the great old masters of art. The lawsuit over this is currently in federal court.

For any Virginia agency to prohibit showing of bare breasts is particularly silly because the official Great Seal of Virginia has depicted the Amazon warrior goddess Virtus, whose tunic bares her left breast, since 1776! This seal appears on all Virginia Governmental stationery, including the DOC’s, as well as on the state flag, calendars, signs, guard badges, and. in numerous other places. Am I supposed to avert my eyes from all these things lest I be harmed in some unstated way? Must the state stop using its official seal on anything that might find it’s way into a DOC facility?

Has exposure to this bare breast driven all Virginia politicians mad? The whole thing is just stupid and silly!

When I first came into the DOC system eleven years ago, you could subscribe to Playboy, Penthouse, etc., and they showed us “adult” movies on the TVs. Since then they’ve grown more and more prudish and puritanical. But those are religious proscriptions based on perverted misogynist versions of Christianity to which I do not subscribe. My personal religion contains no such proscriptions. Does the DOC have the right to shove their religion down my throat?

If you think I sound angry about this, you’re right. I’m sick and tired of having my magazines disapproved because someone thinks they can see a tit! Just this week I had the latest Rolling Stone disapproved for nudity. I subscribe to Rolling Stone to keep up on music and politics, not for the chance to glimpse Lady Gaga’s nipples. That’s why one issue was disapproved. She was covered, but the blouse wasn’t “fully opaque,” and with a lot of imagination you might have just made out a nipple. I know this because disapproved magazines go to the DOC’s Publication Review Committee and in that case I got the magazine after they approved it — months later! Not much good for a news magazine! Most magazines disapproved at the institutional level are eventually given to me, but the process is slow. I did eventually get three issues of Rangefinder,, but not until a year later. So much for new product news.

Apparently the people who wrote this policy have an unhealthy breast fixation. Were they all bottle fed as babies? There’s something very wrong with a person who cannot look at a bare breast without being consumed by deviant thoughts, and assumes that everyone else is just as perverted. Human breasts are natural, normal, and beautiful. These people should visit European beaches, as I have, where bare breasts are proudly displayed, or just public parks and walking trails where encountering nude hikers, male and female, doesn’t even raise an eyebrow. Even in stodgy old England there are public nude beaches dating back to Victorian times. I know because I’ve been there. What’s the big deal about nudity, anyway? Were these folks born fully clothed in opaque fabric? Equating all nudity with sexual titillation is just plain sick!

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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://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-political-correctness/

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 Affiliates, Blog, commentary, Current Events, Environment, Erotica, Friends of TWS, History, lifestyle, Models, News, Politics, Popular Culture, Travel, Women

Katie Kerl: Weed the People

Dr. Matt Roman. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

 

Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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Weed the People

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We the people with medical marijuana cards demand the right to bear arms. Our second amendment rights are being stripped because we are legally prescribed a natural alternative to medications that otherwise cause addiction, and a plethora of other horrible side effects, and are continuing to feed our corrupt medical system in the United States. The second amendment states, “ A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED. “ As pot legalization spreads across the nation, state governments have not come to a conclusive agreement in the up and down responses to a federal law that makes it illegal to possess both a federally banned substance, and a legal fire arm. 

After being approved for my own medical card last year it saved my life. I had never thought about that as an answer for my PTDS, or for my CHRONIC pain (pun intended). I met Dr. Matt Roman at work. He needed some furniture for his office. I wouldn’t have even asked what he did for a living if he wasn’t playing a harmonica, had bright colored hair, and happened to be wearing a shirt promoting his medical marijuana clinic. Nature’s Way Medicine here in Philadelphia. 

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Dr. Matt Roman. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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Part of me can see why this is becoming such an issue. Before I met Matt, I was downing whiskey like it was water. The winter was the worst. I’d rather hibernate than go out with wrist to elbow metal plates in my arm that never fully healed correctly. Causing me extreme pain once the temperature drops below 50. 

I visited Matt’s office; it was a $200 visit that I had no problem paying because it was cheaper than a new patient trip to the psychiatrist, or pain management doctor. After already having gone down that road; I was prepared to be a drunk and in pain the rest of my life. Not to mention what the actual prescription would cost after the visit with no health insurance that I cannot afford. I was done with that and needed something to give.

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Dr. Matt Roman. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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Matt was really nice explained the whole process to me. I was approved though my medical records after coming in to talk with him. Dr. Roman showed me how to register though the state to receive my card. Ten days later it arrived in the mail. 

Before using anything I made sure to do my research. Once you are approved through the state you then go to the dispensary, register with them, and they help you find what works for your issues. You receive a patient number and prescription label on medical marijuana. Just like any other medication you have. I’ve learned the hard way that the strain called  Sativa, is not for my personal anxiety, and pain issues. I use a higher THC percentage (the psychoactive part of pot), or an indicia strain which is more to fight those kinds of physical/mental pains. Including RSO’s (Rick Simpson Oil; the edible highly concentrated THC oil) just like regular medications with long and short half lives; RSO oil has a very slow onset and is the only thing to deaden the pain I experienced in my arm. Micro dosing (taking one hit of my vaporizer) through the day completely calms any racing thoughts I have due to anxiety. Also enough to relax me, and sit through a movie which is something I could never do before. I am more creative and writing flows more fluidly being I am not overly critical and can be my true self.

Fast forward a year later, I had to make my renewal appointment. Just like at a regular doctor, the medical marijuana program is basically the same. They check on you, make sure you are still qualified, and re-certify you through the state. Upon arriving to the clinic I noticed Matt wasn’t the doctor who would be seeing me. After asking him why I could not fucking believe the story he told me.

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Dr. Matt Roman. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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I had come in to see the person who changed my life in ways he probably never realized, and to say thank you for giving me my quality of life back. No other traditional medical practitioner had been able to do that in a decade.

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Dr. Matt Roman. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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Only to later find out, In November Matt had filed a law suit against the Trump Administration claiming the federal government was preventing him from exercising his Second Amendment right to own a handgun. In his complaint, Dr. Roman said the law prevented him from buying a gun for his own safety. Matt previously had a license to carry before he left the country for medical school and gave it up. Becoming a medical marijuana patient himself automatically disqualified him from being approved. The gun dealer he tried to purchase from denied him because a 1968 law that forbids anyone who uses marijuana from owning a firearm.

Matt did not give up the fight though. The consequences of that led to the state government evaluating Matt with their own doctors who had not been treating him, or qualified him for the card. They said he had a medical marijuana addiction, put his medical license on probation, and he was no longer able to practice. He was subject to embarrassing slander in the news, narcotics rehabilitation, and weekly drug tests. He also had to pay for all of it out of his own pocket.

When Matt started to tell me the story of what went down I immediately felt sick. 

Someone who changed my life for the foreseeable future can’t chase his true passion anymore. Dr. Roman just wanted to help patients out of the traditional corrupt medical community, and turn to a more natural answer. 

Dr. Roman attended medical school in Poland. Being of Polish decent he spoke the language, so it just made sense for him to go there. Not to mention medical school in Poland is $13k per year, and you get FREE HEALTH CARE. As opposed to the $ 50-70 thousand dollars it cost in the United States, on top of paying for your own health insurance as a student. Leaving you in crippling student debt.

Matt started his medical career as a hospitalist. After realizing how bankrupt people were becoming due to insanely high medical costs; he decided he wanted to do better and open his own medical marijuana clinic. 

Since this was still a pretty new concept he went where it was already legal. He opened the first clinic in Delaware. It was an uphill battle that at times seemed impossible. Matt said to me, “can you imagine going to medical school, becoming a doctor, and having to apply for food stamps!?” That’s what he had to do in order to get his dream off the ground. When it didn’t quite take off as he anticipated in Delaware; Matt moved the clinic to Philly that next year. 

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He did much better here. He even had a YouTube channel educating people about his practice, and also vented some of his own life struggles. To me I would rather have a relatable Doctor than someone who thought they were better than me because of their profession.  Every week Natures Way Medicine gave, and still gives away a $200 consultation to someone that cannot afford it.

In today’s society the only way to promote your business and have a voice for FREE is by using social media, and becoming a character. Plastic surgeons do that. They use their own products in videos demonstrating their success stories. It is also a field where people get addicted to surgery and controversial issues with over doing it. You can get mentally addicted to anything. Not only is it shameful to take away his license to certify patients for being a medical marijuana patient himself. Matt was also abused as a child and suffered from severe PTSD. Using medical marijuana that he was prescribed and licensed by the state got his dreams stolen. Why are we not taking away doctors licenses that are on heavy psychiatric medications, and pain pills that are licensed to carry as well?

While Matt is not able to certify his patient’s any more, he still runs his clinic with part time doctors that saw what happened to him. They give their time after seeing him treated like an addict, all because he fought for his right to a gun. Since being put on probation and the media slander, Matt changed his life. He started working out, became closer to his family again who did not like the idea of him running the clinic, and he hopes to open the first opiate recovery center in Philadelphia treated with medical marijuana. The traditional AA/NA court mandated religious based treatment centers are why people fail, and are horribly outdated. Understanding everyone needs something to believe in and hope; god does not have to be pushed on anyone to recover from addiction. Matt hopes to have that up and running in the next year.

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Dr. Matt Roman. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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Now, had I done this particular article sooner, I may have had a varying opinion on his fight against the government. I unfortunately had a home invasion while I was asleep a few weeks ago. We lived on one of the nicest blocks in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. I was supposed to be at a birthday that night, but decided to stay home just getting over a cold. The bedroom was on the third floor. I was very lucky screaming bloody murder had to have scared the people away who cut my screen, kicked in my door, and went thundering through the first floor of the townhouse.

To my dismay after running around the block the landlord did not do much about it. In fact I was told to get the fuck off her door step at 10:30 pm with two police officers behind me. They were waiting to see if our cameras were live above the door to the house. No attempt to help me or fix the broken door, or common decency for human life. For now weeks now, I have been staring at the broken door frame reliving that traumatic event daily as I walk in the house. Not much shakes me up, but that was enough to make me want to go get a gun. Now I cannot exercise my right as an AMERICAN to protect my home. All because I have a state issued medical marijuana card. I am not willing to give up the only thing that has improved my quality of life for a gun. I should not have to choose between the two in the HOME OF THE FREE. No matter what you cannot carry any kind of narcotic with you on your person at the same time as you are carrying a gun.

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Dr. Matt Roman. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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What happened to Matt will happen to other doctors who openly talk about their personal medical marijuana use. He advises to keep it to yourself if you are a medical practitioner. You will end up in a rehab taking drug tests weekly, made to feel like an incompetent addict, and fighting for your medical license you worked so hard for.

We are all prisoners of the U.S.A.

There is nothing free about this country.

Not the health care system.

Not the Judicial system.

Not the higher education system.

Most certainly not the right to bear arms.

If you are interested in knowing more about Dr. Matt Roman go to his web site:

www.natureswaymedicine.com

Nature’s Way Medicine

131 N. 4th st, Philadelphia, Pa 19106

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Katie Kerl. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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 herehttp://tonyward.com/katie-kerl-falling-for-philly/

 

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