Category Archives: Photography

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.

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Studio News: Recent Vintage Print Sales

Recent Sales

 

 

STUDIO NEWS:

A pair of limited edition vintage prints from the archives of Tony Ward have been purchased for $5500.00 by a wine connoisseur based in Geneva, Switzerland. Caress. New York, 1997, a vintage gelatin silver print in the size of 16 x 20 recently sold for $3000.00.  Surrogate. New York, 1997, was sold for $2500.00. 

For information regarding print sales contact: tony@tonyward.com

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A.H. Scott: The Spartacus Effect

Whistleblower. Photo by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

Text by A. H. Scott, Copyright 2019

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Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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THE SPARTACUS EFFECT

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If a person says ‘perfect call’ a thousand times, all memory of the past six months will be erased for every man, woman, child, and household pet in the United States of America.

But, a certain person calling it a ‘perfect’ call won’t make the sow’s ear a silk purse. Or, even dissuade the march of history’s footsteps straight into the Oval Office.

Whistleblower files a complaint. Corroborator confirms complaint. Impeacher articulates articles of the corroborated complaint that has been filed.

Thus, the Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump becomes the next chapter in the history of the United States of America.

The President and his GOP allies go on and on about needing to unmask the whistleblower. But, the fact is that the whistleblower is just a thimble. Yet, it is all who have corroborated the information surrounding the entire “Ukraine” situation which have transformed into an ocean seemingly about to drown the Presidency of Donald J. Trump.

And there with a glint in his eye and a smirk upon his face in front of cheering crowds across the USA, a putrid performance roars onward with little pushback. But, not so fast I say to the furious crew:

Trump/GOP – Where is the one who knows what happened?

Person #1 – I am here!

Trump/GOP – Whistleblower!

Person #2 – I am here!

Person #3 – Me, too! I am here!

Trump/GOP – Whistleblower!

Persons #4,5,6, and etc. – I am here!

And, the Spartacus effect rises, as the target which is seen by Trump and his allies metastasize from one to all who have seen the actions from the Oval Office.

By focusing on ‘whistleblower’, the President and his barking acolytes miss the forest of a fiasco by his own making from the trees of truth, justice and patriotism for the National Security of the people of the United States of America who are the courageous corroborators.

These men and women stand up; not seeking the limelight, but in a sense of aversion to it. They are not household names that are on the tips of the American public’s tongues. Yet, in the field of foreign policy, they are experts in navigating the choppy tides of international diplomacy.

The American people are not fools, although there are certain politicians who wish and assume we are. Most of us are just trying to live our lives in peach with family, friends and work. Yet, when Donald J. Trump goes off the rails of common decency time and time again, there are those who find a way of apologizing for what he and those around him does.

Ordering the whistleblower’s head to be handed to him on a silver platter sounds like a monarch making a proclamation that should be unquestioned and obeyed, rather than the President of the United States of America.

When acting-White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney tosses down the verbal gauntlet of ‘get over it’ during a White House News conference when speaking about the back channel dealings of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Guiliani involving the Ukraine imbroglio; he admits what Donald Trump has done in holding the congressionally approved aid over Ukraine President Zelensky’s head like Damaches’ sword in exchange for concocting an investigation into the 2016 Presidential Election and possible 2020 Presidential opponent, Joseph R. Biden.

I am Whistleblower!

I am blowing the whistle on the crap storm that is the consistently, churning conspiracy cauldron where the craven Trump, Guiliani, and many others marinate within.

Blow, Whistle, Blow!!

Donald J. Trump – “Where is my Roy Cohn?

Just thinking about a person in a position of unbridled power seeming to need any other being’s assistance to maintaining his perch might to some come off as a sign of a person less strong than he thumps his chest to be.

Alas, if the aforementioned is that descending reality, then a question can be pondered in homage to Trumbo’s triumph.

Unknown American Citizen – “Where is our Spartacus?”

I, as one of those citizens have an answer: “WE are SPARTACUS!”

We are Spartacus!

Every time we raise our voice in dissent!

We are Spartacus!

Every time we vote!

We are Spartacus!

Every time we fight for fairness!

We are Spartacus!

Every time we hold those in power accountable!

We are Spartacus!

Every time we express our thanks to the men and women who speak truth to power!

We are Spartacus!

Every time we unite behind the Constitution!

Wow, suddenly everyone is a Latin scholar in saying the term ‘quid pro quo’, like its’ the latest dance craze or a new pop tune.

If it means “this for that”, then even those who are defending the entirety of the actions of the President, are living the ‘quid pro quo’ themselves; for they are doing THIS FOR THAT!

If the quid is this, then THIS is your soul.

If the pro is for, then FOR what/who/why you do what you do

If quo is that, then THAT is how much my soul was worth to stand with Donald J. Trump.

I say to them all, I truly hope HE was worth it, though.

QUID PRO QUO!

Blow, whistle, blow!!

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About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by Ms. Scott, go here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/a-h-scott-elevation/

 

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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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Gilles Berquet: I’ll Be Your Mirror

Exhibition Announcement: Paris

PRESS RELEASE:

Gilles Berquest: I’ll be your mirror

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43 rue de Montmorency – 45003 Paris, France

Du 2 au 30 Novembre 2019

vernissage le samedi 2 a partir de 16hr

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