Category Archives: Science

Steve Cohen: Louis Kahn and I

Portrait of Louis Kahn by George Krause, Copyright 2020

 

Text by Steve Cohen, Copyright 2020

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Louis Kahn and I

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The world knows Louis Kahn as one of the greatest architects of all time, a visionary with extraordinary imagination. I knew him as a friend, and a collaborator. I sat with him and discussed his ideas for the government buildings in Bangladesh and for the Salk Institute in California. But our most interesting conversations were about a more personal creation.

That experience was the direct result of my father’s long friendship with Kahn.

My dad and Lou were the same age, and both worked in center city Philadelphia in professions that previously had been unwelcoming to Jews. My father was an optician who opened his own store at 1624 Spruce Street in 1933, shortly before Kahn opened his architectural studio at 1728 Spruce. Kahn was not religiously observant, and he said that the reason some people discriminated against him was not because of his beliefs but solely because of his ethnic heritage.

Lou had worked at the firm that designed the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1928 and he drew some of the plans for the Rodin Museum that opened in 1930. He had a populist social agenda and modernist aesthetics as he designed projects for Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration and for Jersey Homesteads near Hightstown, New Jersey, where hundreds of Jewish garment workers moved as part of a back-to-the-land movement.

After he reached middle age, Lou became recognized worldwide and was hired by the Jonas Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, by the new nation of Bangladesh, and for other notable projects. Architectural critic Nicolai Ouroussoff of the New York Times wrote, “Kahn’s mythic stature in American architecture is matched only by that of Frank Lloyd Wright; and even Wright is less likely to be spoken of with such reverence.”

He was an unassuming man, short, muscularly built, with a scarred face which was the result of severe burns when he was three years old.

A showcase for a revitalized Philadelphia was co-designed by Kahn and Edmund Bacon in 1947. A spectacular 30-by-14-foot model of the city center occupied two floors of Gimbel’s department store, attracted thousands of visitors, and won public support for the idea of modernizing the city. Then Bacon became executive director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and he rejected all of Kahn’s ideas and ridiculed him as an impractical dreamer.

Among other projects, Kahn recommended large parking towers around the edges of the city center to create a pedestrian-friendly downtown. Kahn described expressways as being like rivers, and “Rivers have harbors, and harbors are the municipal parking towers.”

Bacon became the darling of Philadelphia’s social and political elite, while Kahn rarely was hired to design any public or corporate building in his home town. A notable exception was the Richards Medical Research Building at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960.

During the first half of the 20th century, with its quietly-accepted genteel anti-Semitism, my father, Charles Cohen, hid behind a name which he felt would be more acceptable to a broad public — as Charles Sigismund, optician, which is how he was listed in Philadelphia phone books. (Sigismund was his middle name.) Despite dad’s effort to widen his appeal, the majority of my father’s customers were Jewish professionals who lived or worked in center-city Philadelphia and wanted to patronize “one of their own.” In addition, a large number of non-Jewish artists and musicians came to his store.

In the 1920s and ‘30s the Cohen and Kahn families lived near each other in West Philadelphia. Lou and his wife Esther resided at 5243 Chester Avenue. My father lived with his parents at 4533 Larchwood Avenue, then, as a new husband and father, on 46th Street near Chestnut. While Lou and Esther remained in their house for decades, in 1938 my mom and dad moved to a new home constructed at 6507 Lawnton Avenue, in the Oak Lane section of Philly.

Around the time we moved there, Kahn was hired to design a synagogue for Congregation Ahavath Israel in our new neighborhood. The chairman of the synagogue’s building committee, Barnett Lieberman, was a family friend and his daughter Sylvia babysat me and my younger sister. Because of those connections, we became congregants in that unpretentious structure.

My father had no talent for architecture, but was an amateur painter and a collector of prints. My mother was a pianist, and my parents avidly attended theater and concerts. Lou was an excellent pianist and a painter aside from his architectural drawings. So they (and I) frequently talked together about music and art. I got to know Lou’s wife and their daughter, Sue Ann, who is a flutist, six years younger than I.

Eventually, my dad purchased a property at 1835 Chestnut Street (Philly’s main shopping street) and the Kahn’s came there for all their eyeglasses. Lou also brought members of his design staff to Sigismund Opticians. I worked for my father, while also producing and hosting radio programs for WHYY in the evenings. 

When Lou Kahn developed cataracts, in 1972, he underwent surgery and brought his new eyeglass prescription to us. In those days, such surgery necessitated the wearing of thick magnifying lenses, so his next glasses would have to be much more noticeable than his previous. Lou walked in with his sketch of what he’d like his frame to look like.

Kahn’s works are considered as monumental. This particular creation was only seven inches across. My dad asked Lou to sit down with me and discuss how to execute his desires.

Some of Kahn’s architectural colleagues (such as Philip Johnson) chose to wear small, roundish eyeglasses. Lou told me that function was his main concern and he wanted something larger, to give himself a wider field of vision. He and I discussed the fact that larger dimensions would cause the centers of his lenses to become thicker, and he understood that.

We discussed the principle that we could grind his lenses extremely thin at the edges, but the nature of his prescription necessitated an accelerating center thickness as the longitude increased. In other words, small frames would allow his lenses to be thinner. But Lou Kahn didn’t want to copy his colleagues’s minimalistic look.

What we agreed on was a design with softly curved corners, not nearly as large nor rectangular as the fashionable styles of the 1970s, but not as small and round as Philip Johnson’s or John Lennon’s glasses.

An additional alteration was needed. Lou had drawn a bridge that was centered vertically in relation to the lenses. This looked attractively symmetrical but would cause his eyeglasses to sit up too high, with the top rim bumping against his eyebrows and the bottom being too far above his cheeks. I drew my suggested changes on his drawings and he approved them.

Ed Bacon criticized Kahn’s stubbornness and inability to compromise. That’s the opposite of what I experienced in our collaboration.

I carried our drawing to Joe Danieli, who used the name Joe Daniels and whom we frequently employed to custom-make frames for us. At his walk-up studio on Sansom Street, Joe used cellulose acetate plastic, which the public knows as “tortoise shell”, and fabricated the Kahn frame to our specifications. We then made Lou’s lenses and heated the frames to insert the lenses into the grooves.

After Kahn got his glasses, a four-by-six card of its specifications went into our file drawer, along with the original sketch, neatly folded. This was the same year that Kahn was working on the parliament building for Bangladesh; the opening of his Kimbell art museum in Fort Worth, Texas; and the dedication of his library at the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

On March 17, 1974, Khan died of a heart attack in Pennsylvania Station in New York City at the age of 73. Stupidly, I did nothing to preserve or copy our drawing. In 1980 my ailing father sold his building on Chestnut Street and sold his business records to Limeburner Opticians, one of our friendly competitors.

A couple of years later I belatedly thought about its importance and went to Limeburner in search of that drawing. Limeburner’s manager told me: “We sent a mailing to everyone in your files and, if they didn’t come in to get new glasses from us, we dumped their records.”

I find it fascinating that Lou showed interest in the refraction of light reaching his eyes, when a unique part of his architectural creativity was his refraction of, and positioning of light inside his buildings. As Wendy Lesser wrote in her biography of Kahn, all of his great buildings reveal his interest in light — “how natural light can come in through windows, skylights, holes in the roof.”

Thomas Schielke called Kahn “a master of light” and Kahn talked about the subject: “All material in nature, the mountains and the streams and the air and we, are made of Light which has been spent, and this crumpled mass called ‘material’ casts a shadow, and the shadow belongs to Light. A plan of a building should be read like a harmony of spaces in light. Even a space intended to be dark should have just enough light from some mysterious opening to tell us how dark it really is.”

In our conversations, Kahn was simple and unpretentious. When speaking with other architects, Kahn often used parables, but not with us. He did not indulge in the poetic aphorisms of a guru — such as this famous one that’s been oft quoted:

“If you think of Brick, you say to Brick, ‘What do you want, Brick?’ And Brick says to you, ‘I like an arch.’ And if you say to Brick, ‘Look, arches are expensive, and I can use a concrete lintel over you. What do you think of that, Brick?’ Brick says, ‘I like an arch.’ And it’s important, you see, that you honor the material that you use.”

And he revealed nothing that would make me suspect that this ordinary-looking “old man” — my father’s age — had extramarital love affairs, and additional children born to two single women who worked with him. He clearly compartmentalized his life; thus my remembrances are specific to one small part of his persona.

Wendy Lesser also wrote, “He was a narrative artist. In his buildings, there’s a plot, with surprises.” Certainly in his personal life there were fantastic surprises.

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Editor’s Note: This is a repost with permission granted by the author, Steve Cohen. For additional access to Steve Cohen’s writings on art, theater, music, books and travel, click herehttp://theculturalcritic.com

To access additional work by the legendary photographer, George Krause, click herehttps://georgekrause.com

Also posted in Affiliates, Architecture, Art, Blog, Documentary, Friends of TWS, History, lifestyle, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel

Bob Shell: What’s in a Name

Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell. Copyright 2020

 

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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What’s in a Name?

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I’m reading a very interesting book: Ancient History of Aratta-Ukraine by Yuri Shilov. I’ve read a lot of books on ancient history, but had never heard of Aratta, so when my friend Ed told me about this book, I just had to read it. Most traditional historians believe that writing originated with the Sumerian culture, but this book sets forth convincing evidence that writing originated much earlier in Aratta, in what today is Ukraine, perhaps as early as 20,000 BCE. The problem I’m having in reading the book is that the Ukrainians have recently changed all the names of places. Kiev is now Kyiv! Ruegen Island is now Ruyan. The Dnieper River is now Dnipro. The Dniester River has become the Dnistro. And so on, and because the book is translated from the Russian original, some of the maps are labeled in Cyrillic. The book is lavishly illustrated in black and white, and will fascinate anyone interested in ancient history who makes the effort to read it.

There’s an old song that goes something like:

Take me back to Constantinople,

No you can’t go back to Constantinople,

Now it’s Istanbul not Constantinople,

Why did Constantinople get the works?

That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

I guess we should say the name changes are nobody’s business but the Ukrainians. But it sure can be confusing to an outsider trying to figure out where places mentioned in the text actually are. I have the same problem with India, where Bombay became Mumbai, and how did Burma become Myanmar and Rangoon turn into Yangon? I have a nice little Atlas I bought several years ago, but it hasn’t caught up with the dissolution of Yugoslavia or any of the more recent name changes. I think any book for outsiders should have the old name in parentheses after the new name, at least the first time it appears — Yangon (Rangoon).

Anyway, it seems that the Ukrainian legislature passed a law in 1995 requiring the use of the new names. But the Arsenal Factory certainly didn’t change the names of their cameras from Kiev to Kyiv! I have a collection of their cameras, many made after 1995, and the export versions all bear the KIEV nameplates. Those for domestic sale within the old USSR are marked KNEB with the N backwards, the equivalent of an “I” in the Cyrillic alphabet used by most of the countries of the former USSR, which looks like CCCP, but is actually SSSR. I had to learn the Cyrillic alphabet when I started collecting Soviet cameras in the 80s, so I’d know things like what looks like Zopkuu is actually Zorkii.

The folks at the Kiev factory struggled to make good products under the old Soviet system. My late friend Saul Kaminsky was the official US distributor of Ukrainian, Russian, Belarussian, etc., cameras, lenses, and other optical products. His company in Connecticut was called Kiev USA. He told me a story that once he went by the factory in Kiev to check on a shipment and found the factory shut down because there was no electricity. He located the manager who explained that the electric plant had no coal, so was shut down. He then went to the electric plant and they said they had no money to buy coal. So he went to the coal company and bought a trainload of coal that was delivered to the electric plant where they fired up the generators, and sent electricity to the camera factory, where the cameras Saul needed were then made. That’s how business was frequently done in the old USSR! One day Saul called me: “Bob, could I interest you in a hotel in Kiev?”. It seems that someone there owed him money and was trying to settle the debt with this hotel! Of course he knew I’d have no interest in a Ukrainian hotel, no matter how cheap! Selling cameras from the USSR was a sideline he’d stumbled into during travel for his real job, lighting technician for CNN. Saul used to say to me that I made him famous from my Shutterbug articles about his products. I used a number of his Soviet cameras over the years with good results, and have a bunch of them in storage right now. One of my first cameras was a Zenit B bought from the old Cambridge Camera Exchange in 1969 for $ 49.95 with 50mm f/2 Helios lens and leather case. The negatives I shot with that old beast are super sharp and contrasty. The folks in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, etc. knew how to make good lenses.

This goes back to the end of WW II. The USSR troops, mostly Russian, took over the eastern part of Germany. They took the Zeiss-Ikon factory in Dresden, dismantled it, loaded it onto a train, and shipped it, lock, stock, and barrel, to Kiev. They also took the best Zeiss technicians. When I first learned of this in the 80s, many of those men were still living in and near Kiev, where they’d settled down, married, and raised families, and didn’t want to leave. Many of the first generation of Kiev cameras were built from German parts taken from Dresden.

The other best known Soviet cameras are the Fed series. The name Fed comes from the initials of Felix E. Dzerzhinsky, founder of the KGB, who wanted a quality camera to give his men. He had a factory set up to build the Fed camera, a part by part copy of a Leica. I don’t have my reference books here, but I believe they copied a Leica IIIa. I have around a dozen Fed cameras of different vintages. All are capable of taking excellent pictures. I also have a number of Russian fake Leica cameras, which enterprising Russians made from Fed cameras to sell to unsuspecting tourists. One of them is so good only an expert would know it wasn’t a real Leica. Saul picked most of them up for me on his trips to Russia and Ukraine. He also knew of my interest in mechanical watches and brought me a couple Shtermanskyi (Navigator) chronometers, the same watch Yuri Gagarin wore into space. They keep very accurate time but must be wound once a day. One has a rotating bezel for travel, and I used it for years in my trips to keep track of local time and time back home.

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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://tonyward.com/bob-shell-on-the-legal-front/ 

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, Book Reviews, Cameras, commentary, Environment, Erotica, Friends of TWS, Glamour, History, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Travel

Studio News: A Return to Teaching

A Photography Critique at Haverford College. Photo: Dan Burns

 

Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

After a two year hiatus from teaching, I have accepted an invitation as visiting instructor of Fine Arts at Haverford College. On December 17th, 2019 my first meeting with photography students took place at the Jane Lutnick Fine Arts Center. My colleague Professor William Williams asked me to join him for a final critique of student work performed during the fall semester. In preparation for lecturing at Haverford I am currently reading, Criticizing Photographs by Terry Barrett. I look forward to the opportunity of teaching a color course with these bright exceptional students at Haverford beginning this month.

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About Tony Ward:

Tony Ward began his professional career in 1980 as a corporate photographer for the pharmaceutical giant, Smithkline Corporation.  After several years of working in the department of corporate communications for Smithkline, he opened the Tony Ward Studio in Philadelphia, to service a variety of Fortune 500 companies and smaller business entities.

His personal work and research during the past 25 years has been rooted in exploring the visual cross sections of fashion and erotic photography by capturing the impact the sexual revolution of the 1960’s had on advertising and in particular magazine publishing.  His first book of photography, Obsessions with forward by A.D. Coleman was his first attempt at challenging the lines drawn between Art and Obscenity by questioning social mores, existing laws, and the evolution of photographic imagery that is viewed as inappropriate in some cultures and acceptable in others. He is particularly interested in further examining the first amendment right to freedom of expression and the impact censorship has had on the evolution of photography’s history.

To access Tony Ward’s curriculum vitae, click here:https://tonyward.com/about/

 

Also posted in Announcements, Art, Blog, Book Reviews, Cameras, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Exhibitions, Film, History, lifestyle, Men, News, Philadelphia, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life

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/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, commentary, Covers, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Health Care, interview, lifestyle, Men, News, Philadelphia, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women

Bob Shell: Starting a Studio

Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Starting a Studio

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Several friends have asked me for equipment recommendations for setting up a studio. If I were to set up a studio for still photography today (and I hope to soon do so), I’d invest in a set of Paul C. Buff’s Einstein flash units. I’ve used Paul’s flash equipment with complete satisfaction since he first started building it in Nashville, Tennessee. At the time of my conviction I was using several of Paul’s Alien Bees flash units, and some of his older units that are no longer made. Today I’d buy as many of his Einstein units as my budget would bear. They have every feature I could ask for, and can be used anywhere. On my European trips I used to take a Buff unit that Paul loaned me made for European voltage and a medium umbrella, since European hotel rooms tend to be small, and I used hotel rooms as impromptu studios when traveling.

Other flash systems I have tested that work well are Multiblitz, Hensel, Profoto, and Visatek by Bron. I’m sure there are others. Stick with well known brands, because others tend to go out of business, leaving you stranded if you need parts or accessories. I have one of those orphans, a Venca power pack and three heads. If it ever needs parts I’m stuck.

I’ve not used them, but I’ve been reading about the new LED flash units in Photo District News. Their advantage is zero recycle time. Their disadvantage is lower light output, but with today’s digital cameras that’s less of an issue since images shot at higher ISO settings are perfectly usable. The days of the xenon-filled flash tube may be numbered. But I wouldn’t call traditional flash down for the count just yet.

Regardless of light source, I prefer softboxes to umbrellas when there’s room. Speaking of softboxes, I have used a number of different brands and types, but generally feel the bigger the better for my fill light, since I like to mimic natural diffuse daylight. For years I used Photoflex softboxes, but have not seen mention of them for years and don’t know if they’re still in nusiness. For quality of construction and neutrality of color, I don’t think you can beat Chimera. Gary Register’s Plume Wafer boxes are also excellent, and thinner (but pricier) than others. I also like Photek. While film was generally somewhat forgiving of color cast and mismatches between softboxes, I’ve found that digital really shows these differences, so it’s probably not good to mix brands.

Light stands: The old standard Matthews C Stand is hard to beat. I’ve kept several in my studios for years. Otherwise, the Manfrotto stuff is tried and true. I prefer stands with wheels to make moving lights easier. I avoided cheap knockoff stands. I remember once watching in horror as the upper tube section on a cheap stand I was testing twisted and buckled, sending one of my flash units crashing to the floor. Thankfully the flash’s landing was cushioned by the attached softbox and it survived. The same caution also applies to background support systems. To handle rolls of seamless paper I’ve used the Manfrotto system since the 70s. You can mount the support brackets on light stands, but for a more permanent setup I mounted the supports high up on a wall in my studio and used the plastic chains to wind the paper up and down. That way I could keep three rolls on hand at all times for quick changes. A bunch of Manfrotto Super Clamps and their attachments belong in any serious studio. They are indispensable for hooking things to light stands, pipes, 2 X 4 studs, and numerous other things.

You’ll also want several rolls of real gaffer’s tape. Don’t try to make do with cheap duct tape, which will let you down and leave a mess behind when you strip it off. The real stuff can be peeled off and leaves no residue behind, and will support a surprising amount of weight.

Whenever I needed a dead black background I used a velvety cloth backdrop from Photek. It works much better than any black paper, and can be washed if it gets dirty.

One invaluable piece of studio gear is the plastic “milk crate” sold in many stores. Mine came from CVS. They’re great for storing things, and strong enough to be stacked up to support things. To make a raised platform in my studio I used eight of them stacked two to a corner to support a 4 X 8 foot Radva foam plastic insulating panel. This was strong enough to support several people. Just don’t let any of the models wear spike heels — they’ll punch right through the foam.

If you want a fog machine and have a nearby source of dry ice, Wayne Collins showed me a trick years ago to make lots of fog. Just buy a cheap shop vac. Put a few inches of water in it, throw in the dry ice, put the lid on, hook the hose to the outlet, and turn it on. Fog will pour out and you or an assistant can control where it goes. (If you want to get fancy, add an AC motor speed control, sold in hardware stores). This works better than expensive commercial fog machines because those use mineral oil based “fog juice,” and the mineral oil will condense on your cameras and lenses, and on everything else in your studio, as I learned the hard way. Unfortunately, dry ice is not readily available everywhere, and can’t be bought in advance and stored for any length of time. There are dry ice making machines, but they’re very expensive.

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To fire the flash units you can use the old-fashioned long PC cord, but I’ve never liked tripping on cords or getting tangled up in them. For years I used the infrared systems from Wein products, made by my old friend Stan Weinberg. But, sadly, Stan has shut down the business. I also used radio slave systems when infrared didn’t work, because it won’t work around corners. A number of companies make radio systems for firing flash units, and all of the ones I’ve tested worked well.

Where do you buy all this stuff? My sources for all my studio needs were Adorama and B&H. For the more unusual items I went to The Set Shop in NYC.

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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-americas-puritanism/

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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