A.H. Scott: True Believers and Tallywhackers (The Elephant’s Underbelly)

still life of Uncle Sam top hat with executives briefcases
Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2022

True Believers and Tallywhackers (The Elephant’s Underbelly)

By

A.H. Scott

 

“Lord, lift us up where we belong….”

Oh no, it’s not a humming of a romantic theme from the film “An Officer and A Gentleman”, but, an undertone score of those who benefit from the perks of marrying well. 

One might think that if someone mired in the off-the-wall conspiracy swamp of election lie lunacy tried to take one toe onto the grounds of the White House, that person would be turned around and be noted as persona non grata. 

Yet, for a lady who married well, she is given carte blanche on not just entering the White House grounds; but, escorted into the office of oval. She comes with lists of ‘wants’, from suggestions for employees throughout an administration to propelling legal theories into overturning a failed re-election bid. 

Some in the administration may humor this woman, while others may be humbled by which elite plateau she exists upon.

Oh yes, this lovely lady is a light in the darkness to show the way to victory. In fact, her maiden name was Lamp. But, that was before she wed a man in black. A black robe that is. Her name is Virginia and her beloved’s name is Clarence. 

Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas is a conservative activist and her husband is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In the land of D.C. power is a key. The accelerant of power is a key to unlocking doors that the commoners shall never hold. 

A question: Who is more powerful, a President who serves four to eight years in office; or, a Supreme Court Justice who has a lifetime appointment?

Ding! Ding! Ding! I hear a symphony!

Answer: Justice is Supreme.

Some may see the attack of January 6th as an isolated event. But, the fact is that it actually was just a mid-way point in an ongoing scheme of fallacy involving a tiny man with a bruised ego of not wanting to admit his loss in an election. It didn’t begin one day in January 2021, but ten months prior. 

Screeches from Donald Trump’s mouth on the campaign trail starting in April 2020 about a possibility of him not being elected as being due to fraudulence and outright theft in that upcoming election of that November were just the greasing of the wheels in getting his supporters to believe his lies were truth and the truth were lies. 

With the panoply of titled configurations in the conservative bloodstream known as ‘Stop the Steal’, ‘The Madison Sweep’ and all other kind of calliope chaos under the circus tent to keep Donald J. Trump in office by any means necessary, the planning and operation of Trump’s Big Lie came vividly to life.  

Sandwiched between two pardoned felons, Steve Bannon and Mike Flynn is pillow-pusher Mike Lindell. No, that’s not some sort of double-entendre. Mr. Lindell really pushes pillows for a living as CEO of a pillow manufacturing empire. Alongside as crisp pickle in this buffet of audacity was another pardoned felon, Roger Stone. 

As to Mr. Stone, it seems Roger always has a way of inserting himself in the middle of one thing or another. But, I shall get back to him a little bit later in this article. 

 With that being said, there is another person in the linkage of this chain of conservatives. His name is Mark Meadows, former White House Chief of Staff to Donald J. Trump and former Republican member of Congress from North Carolina’s 11th district. Both of these titles of Mr. Meadows have placed him in quite an interesting position of being point-man in this see-sawing situation.

Ginni Thomas is not some over-eager, collegiate, campaign volunteer stuffing envelopes, door-knocking, lawn sign posting, and silk-screening t-shirts for the cause. Far from that lowly place, she is at the pinnacle of power; where all that is needed is the right name and right spouse to be granted anything that is sought after. 

Days after the election of 2020 to before the inauguration in 2021, a back and forth of text messages[1] numbering 29 was sent from Mrs. Thomas to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, proving one thing was clear; Ginni is a true believer in the labyrinth of ideological extremity. She isn’t even on the same page of working the type of self-aggrandizing grift that Donald Trump is. From jowl of Powell to the esoteric of  Eastman, Virginia Lamp Thomas is earnestly all in for countering what she calls President Joseph R. Biden’s election win as ‘the end of liberty’[2]. 

Ginni Thomas being a true believer in whatever she believes in wouldn’t mean much to me or any other citizen of the United States of America, if she had remained Virginia Lamp. Yet, she is who she is and her husband just coincidentally happens to be one of nine persons who rule supreme. 

The first black Supreme Court Justice was Thurgood Marshall, a legal lion who earned his roar from winning the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, which desegregated public schools.  As civil rights legend Marshall had announced his retirement, many wondered who would possibly be a replacement upon the bench. 

“It was in this spirit in 1981 that I joined the Administration as an Assistant Secretary in the Department of Education. I had, initially, declined taking the position of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights simply because my career was not in civil rights and I had no intention of moving into this area. In fact, I was insulted by the initial contact about the position as well as my current position.”– Clarence Thomas, Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1987[3]

Back when Clarence Thomas was nominated and introduced as a nominee for his current position to the American public by President George H.W. Bush on a sunny July day in 1991, little did the majority of us know of the variables which would surface during his confirmation hearing later in that year. 

On September 10th, 1991 when the Senate Judiciary Committee (whose chairman was Senator Joseph R. Biden of Delaware) began an average, advise and consent confirmation hearing of reviewing the then Judge Thomas’ rulings over the years, it seemed as plain as vanilla. 

Nothing to see here, nothing to cause a rumble or grumble. It was just your mellow tedium of questions and responses over precedents, legal codes, law articles, and judicial philosophy. 

By September 27th, 1991, the hearings had come to a successful end, as Thomas was voted out of committee for a full floor vote to a somewhat speedy confirmation for him to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Preparing for the final Senate vote on Thomas’ nomination after debating on October 6th, 1991, suddenly everything was set off course for the heralding of a new Supreme Court Justice. 

A leaked FBI interview with a former underling of Clarence Thomas when he chaired the EEOC named Anita Hill had been reported by NPR’s Nina Totenberg on October 6th. For the next five days until October 11th, the heat was on the Judiciary Committee to allow the University of Oklahoma Law Professor to testify on the character and fitness of a man who was to be exalted into a job with lifetime tenure. 

Quite ironic it became when things turned unpleasant for Clarence Thomas, for although Anita Hill sat at the table giving her testimony about him; there was a shadow which hovered over the hearing room. 

Daniel Arthur Mead played a part in how history of that moment in time now hangs in perpetuity for any retelling of the events of those days back in 1991. 

Mr. Mead was mentioned only by his unforgettable stage name – Long Dong Silver. Anita Hill’s mentioning of this porn actor whose claim to fame was his above average asset was just part of what she had to deal with in being put-upon by her supervisor at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Clarence Thomas. 

Oddly enough of what the EEOC is meant to prevent is not lost on anyone who still shake our heads in disbelief that Thomas wasn’t a protector of women, but more in the mode of a predatory archetype.  

Anita Hill’s recollections of Thomas’ pornographic extravaganza of long dongs and amply bosomed women, down to just his creepy come-ons to her, hit a nerve for many women who were in her same position. Yet, even though Clarence Thomas was confirmed by members of the United States Senate, it was her courage and exposure of what kind of character that man actually is which has remained a lasting hallmark of Anita Hill’s heroism to this day. 

The lives of Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas intersected in 1981 to 1983, when she was an attorney-adviser to him at the United States Department of Education Office Of Civil Rights and she served as his assistant when he became chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1982. 

After exiting her job at the EEOC in 1983, Anita Hill went on to becoming an assistant law professor at Oral Roberts University until 1986 when she became a member of the faculty at the University of Oklahoma’s College of Law. 

Professor Hill was dignified and determined to move on from the events she encountered with Clarence Thomas back in the 1980’s, yet a person who had no first-hand knowledge of her life or even his back in 1981 to 1983 decided to ring her up from out of the blue in October 2010. It was good ‘ol Ginni Thomas, who had married Clarence in 1987, leaving Hill a voicemail in requesting her to apologize for the testimony given back in 1991 at the confirmation hearings of her husband. What is funny about that telephone voice-mail message[4] that was left for Anita Hill is that it is based off of what Clarence told his wife about whatever occurred back when he was alone with Anita Hill. 

Well, I guess that proves Ginni is a true believer in all sorts of spheres; believing anything told to her from a man she wasn’t even with back in 1981 to 1983, as if he were Moses bringing down the tablets from off the mountain. 

You would figure that some cases that are brought before the Supreme Court would be difficult for Judge Clarence Thomas to even touch with a ten foot pole. But, oh no – he goes chin forward without blinking or wondering whether it might make him look bad in the public eye. Public be damned! Decorum be damned!

One example of this is the case of Vance versus Ball State University. 

Muncie, Indiana’s Ball State University was sued by Maetta Vance, a server who worked for Ball State University Dining under the catering supervisor, Saundra Davis. Vance contended that Davis made the workplace odious due to physical actions and racial harassment against her. 

In a 5-4 ruling of the Supreme Court on June 24th, 2013 of a case involving workplace harassment which ruled in favor of the defendant, Ball State University[5]; it proved once more that the little guy or in this case, little gal seems to always be up against it. 

And, guess who was one among the five who voted in the majority against the plaintiff, a woman suing her employer for workplace harassment by a supervisor. Yep, you guessed it – Thom Ass. Oops, I think I worded that wrong. Or, did I? (lol) 

“I join the opinion because it provides the narrowest and most workable rule for when an employer may be held vicariously liable for an employee’s harassment. “ – Clarence Thomas, re: Vance v. Ball State University 

Odd isn’t it, to see a concurrent opinion of the Vance v. Ball State University decision from the Supreme Court about a rule for employee harassment is written by a man who has his own questionable past with a person when he chairing the EEOC.

Is Clarence just a man of such high morality and unimpeachable virtue that has been misunderstood by so many of us for so many years? Or, is this just a dirty talkin’, ass-grabbin’[6], long-dong envyin’, big boob admirin’ man?  If you want to think, hmm, to each his own, then on the other side of that it means keep them hands to your damn self, grubby grabber. 

Yet, first impressions have a way of being set in stone. In the case of associate Justice Thomas, it might be the marble of the Supreme Court where he is ensconced within. 

As with the aforementioned dangle of hung Silver in the land of public virtue and private vices, there’s more to be seen of the elephant’s underbelly. 

What’s in a name, some might wonder. 

In the Republican cage-match otherwise known as “Who Can Be the Most Vile?”, there is one person who is in the running for the title. His name is Representative Madison Cawthorn. And, he is shining star and a thorn all rolled up into one.

“XX chromosomes, no tallywhacker” – Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-North Carolina[7]

And, to think the man who followed in the tracks of Mark Meadows in representing the people of the 11th District of North Carolina is the same man who has such a way with words. I guess you could say Representative Madison Cawthorn is on a roll with letting it all hang out.

Speaking of which, Cawthorn’s big mouth[8] has a way of getting his hand spanked by House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and defended in a nice, long stroke by a man who knows of dirty deeds first-hand. 

Referencing of ‘first-hand’ and ‘tallywhackers’ – wow, the elephant’s underbelly definitely continues to be stroked mighty well and mighty hard. Ha! Ha!!

The GOP and cocaine orgies? Oh, Madison, make them clutch their pearls in hearing their dirty little secrets being revealed by you. McCarthy dismisses you, not because what you say. But, the fact that you said what you said for public consumption. Now, just the opposite you get defended by Roger Stone. 

“And I can see why Washington elites would now be scrambling to try to deny it because maybe the voters back home won’t like what they’re hearing.”- Roger Stone[9]

Oh yes, that same Roger Stone, who’s dirty tricks and dirty deeds go back many a year. Having described himself as ‘try-sexual'[10], raunchy Roger knows of what he speaks when he stands up in defense of Rep. Madison Cawthorn. Using pseudonyms of “Swash Buckler” and “Nikki”, the adventurous Stones have been a couple of extraordinarily friendly and social beings in havens far from the pristine crowd. 

Snark-Boy Rep. Cawthorn isn’t alone on the crazy train of blabbering when he talks about coke orgies, as Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tosses and stirs in some unappetizing words into the political pot also. 

With fervor in her voice, trying to earn some political brownie points from the whacked-out right wing, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene spouts off in defense of some of the January 6th capitol rioters. Calling the jail where they are being detained a ‘gulag’, she attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over ‘gazpacho police’[11]. No, you are not reading the wrong word. This is the word that came out her mouth. She said it and didn’t try to correct herself or even possibly stop the recording and then re-record what she wanted to say. 

With both of these blockheads, one thing is for sure; if you say something with vigor and a sense of righteousness, then by God, it has to be held upward on the side of the angels. Ya’ both are lying like vipers in the pit; but, hey you guys keep on saying stuff over and over again. And, maybe just maybe you’ll believe your own hype one day. For now, ya’ll just keep thrashing your tallywhacker[12] and swimming in your soup. 

Right among the conspiracy cacklers and disuniting schemers is Ginni Thomas, who has an ace up her sleeve to be on the side of what she considers righteous. As the wife of a Supreme Court Justice, she needn’t have to tell her husband of her wishes and wants, for each knows the other’s heart. 

With the loose ends of court cases involving that which happened before, during and after the election of 2020 making their way up through the courts of appeals and making the final landing before the Supreme Court of the United States of America, anyone who has a spouse that has a vested interest in the ruling of a case should step aside and let the other judges do the judging.

In a time where the American system of democracy has never been before, as an overturning of an election and systematic coup is too close to being fulfilled; there must be a rejoinder. And, even the rarified bubble in which the members of the Supreme Court exist must be pierced and a code of ethics needs be implemented. 

All other levels of the judiciary have a list of standards for conduct for the men and women who sit upon the bench. Yet, the Supremes get to just make up their own rules as they see fit. 

Being blunt, it is as if some of the justices who sit on that bench exemplify the RDA principle of ‘rules don’t apply’; just for the sake of because they can. They sit up there in their robes of black and act like their decisions that affect each and every person in this country are handed down from a Celestial plain. Yet, they are above it, for they need never live under the same standards, laws, regulations or coda that the rest of us have to. 

But, in the end, when they are addressed by any of us common folk, they are bestowed a title before their surnames are mentioned – Justice. 

Thus, Justice Clarence Thomas goes on grinning with a (cow) chip on his shoulder and gravitas because of his point of position.  

Alas, as Thomas prepares to slide back onto the bench at the Supreme Court, he will have a new colleague before the new session begins. She is associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first black women on the bench of nine.

During her Senate confirmation hearing, the then Judge Brown Jackson was asked about recusal in an upcoming case that would be before the Supreme Court, involving affirmative action admissions policy at Harvard from where she is a graduate of. 

Without hesitation or playing a game of weasel-words in answering this question from Texas’ tacky n’ trollin’ Senator Ted Cruz, this forthright woman said she would recuse[13] herself. 

Now, the balls of his wife’s conspiracies, contradictions, and cravenness are in Clarence’s court, to show how stand-up or stand-above (the rest of us) he actually is. 

I guess you could say her jewels of favor are in his hands. Or, maybe it’s his jewels of favor that are in her hands? Yeah, that’s the ticket. It’s all about friendship. 

“My wife Virginia, my best friend in the world” – The Honorable Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of The United States Supreme Court[14]

Lucky by confirmation’s fateful thumbs up, a man of dubious honesty is granted an imprimatur of being honorable. 

Will Justice Thomas set himself on a perch of propriety and judiciously stand on the side of recusal or, will he flip us the bird in the same fashion his late colleague, associate Justice Antonin Scalia did back in 2004, when giving a mocking retort during a conflict of interest dust-up over a case involving his duck-hunting[15] buddy and then vice-President Dick Cheney’s role in the George W. Bush administration’s Energy Task Force policy. Never a shrinking violet, Scalia rubbed salt into the wound of those calling for his recusal of the case with a pithy quip of the following pair of words – “Quack, quack”.

A roadrunner may catch the worm, but an appearance of conflicted interest can’t make a person who thinks any sort of rules don’t apply to himself squirm. 

If past is prologue, good ‘ol Clarence will take the road of the long dong or the dirty bird, and so-called equal justice shall be bastardized and splat downward from up where he and his ‘best friend’ Ginni soar. 

Thinking about this cuckooing (or, coup-coup-ing) couple brings an apt lyric from the magnificent Cole Porter to my mischievous mind: 

“If you’re ever in a jam, here I am

If you’re ever in a mess, S-O-S

If you ever feel so happy, you land in jail, I’m your bail.

It’s friendship, friendship, just a perfect blendship.

When other friendships have been forgot,

Ours will still be hot.” – “Friendship”, words and music by Cole Porter, 1939[16]

Beep, beep!

“When the fringe becomes normal and normal becomes the fringe; it is sanity to all that it shall hinge.” – A.H. Scott

End.

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“True Believers and Tallywhackers (The Elephant’s Underbelly)” – The Footnotes:

1) –“Ginni Thomas Reportedly Pressed Trump’s Chief of Staff on Overturning the Election” – NPR

https://www.npr.org/2022/03/25/1088720571/ginni-thomas-tex-messages-mark-meadows-2020-election

2) –“The Real Ginni Thomas Revelation” – Vox

https://www.vox.com/22996180/ginni-thomas-texts

3) –“Why Black Americans Should Look At Conservative Policies” – The Heritage Foundation

https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/why-black-americans-should-look-conservative-policies

4) –“Justice Thomas’ Wife Asks Anita Hill To Apologize” – NPR

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130688438

5) –“Score One More for the Corporations” – US News

https://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/pat-garofalo/2013/06/24/supreme-court-sides-with-business-in-vance-v-ball-state-harassment-case

6) –“Do You Believe Her Now?” – New York Magazine

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/02/the-case-for-impeaching-clarence-thomas.html

7) –’Science Isn’t Burger King,’ Rep. Cawthorn Says In House Floor Speech” – WNCN-TV, CBS affiliate, North Carolina 

8) –“Party That Excused Rioters Smearing Human Sh*t On the Walls Of The Capitol Draws The Line At Cocaine And Orgy Allegations” – Vanity Fair 

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/03/madison-cawthorn-cocaine-orgy-punishment

9) –“Roger Stone Defends Madison Cawthorn, Claims Orgies and Drug Abuse Not Uncommon in DC

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/roger-stone-defends-madison-cawthorn-says-orgies-and-drug-abuse-not-uncommon-in-dc

10) –“Inside Roger Stone’s Swinging Marriage” – Daily Mail

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6640233/Inside-Roger-Stones-swinging-marriage-posted-ads-online-frequented-sex-clubs.html

11) –“Marjorie Taylor Greene Confuses Soup with Hitler’s Secret Police in Viral Rant” – CNN

12) –“‘No tallywhacker,’ North Carolina Rep. Cawthorn Says In House Floor Speech On Definition Of Woman” – WBTW

https://www.wbtw.com/news/state-regional-news/no-tallywhacker-north-carolina-rep-cawthorn-says-in-house-floor-speech-on-definition-of-woman/

13) –“Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson ’92 Pledges to Recuse Herself From Harvard Affirmative Action Case” – Harvard Crimson

https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2022/3/24/ketanji-brown-jackson-recuse-sffa/

14) –“Character – A Speech Delivered by Justice Clarence Thomas, February 1, 1998” – The Heritage Foundation

http://www.heritage.org/heritage25/lectures/feb98/thomas.html

15) –“Scalia Rejects Pleas For Recusal In Cheney Case” – The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2004/02/12/scalia-rejects-pleas-for-recusal-in-cheney-case/810d9810-34b5-496c-89d3-d2c0364f13ab/

16) –“Du Barry Was A Lady” – Internet Broadway Database

https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-production/1024)

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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/everlast-putins-war/

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A.H. Scott’s book: Bad Guys Finish Fast & Good Guys Finish Last is available on Amazon!

 

Katie Kerl: Fall Fun Guide

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Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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Falling for Philly

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The weather in Philly is finally changing! I had to pull out the sweaters, boots, and scarves last weekend. It was sad to see summer go, but I also love everything fall. Not to mention shorts, sweaters, and scarves happen to be my favorite. No pumpkin spice for this girl though; unless it is my own homemade pumpkin pie and cookies. I made them with my mom and grandmother for as long as I can remember. It is one of my fondest memories as a child. I am more of an apple cider girl, and happen to make pretty potent cider sangria. The recipe proven sneaky enough to put down the heaviest of drinker haha!

 

Cider Sangria Recipe:

1.5 L bottle of Pinot Grigio

½ pint fireball

1.5 c regular whiskey

4 chopped apples

½ c orange juice

5 cinnamon sticks

1 pint fresh apple cider

1 Chopped orange

½ c sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

 

Chop orange and apples into tiny pieces add cinnamon sticks. Then rub them with the cinnamon sugar. Pour in the liquids. Mix and refrigerate. Let the sangria sit for at least 6 hours to overnight for best taste. Add more or less of anything to your liking.  (Guaranteed to leave a few corpses behind at your fall parties)

 On the first day of fall, also fell the first dinner service at K’Far Cafe. This happens to be the newest spot opened by the number one restaurateurs’ in the country, Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook. It was the most exceptional meal that I have had here in Philadelphia. I left in the happiest of food coma after ordering almost the whole menu. I highly suggest checking it out before you can not get a reservation. 

 Linvilla Orchards is great for all ages. This is the best place to go pumpkin and apple picking. It is a very large working farm that makes their own amazing baked goods, grows their own Christmas trees, hay rides, corn mazes, face painting, pony rides, play area for the kids, and many farm animals.

 A few of my favorites from there are the homemade apple cider & donuts, Dutch apple pie, apple/pumpkin butter, apple bread mix, house made honey from their own bees, cheddar bacon bread, and the grilled corn. Let’s just say if you were looking to gain a few extra fall pounds for winter like myself; it is a perfect place to pig out. Not to mention getting everything to decorate the house in the craft section, and coming home with piles of pumpkins to roast seeds and carve.

 If you are not up to leaving the city this year Morgan’s Pier stayed open for Fall Fest. Every weekend you can carve pumpkins and take photos around their foliage decorated deck. All while sipping a crisp cider relaxing before the winter air comes rolling in on the water.

If you are more into horror check out Nightmare before Tinsel in the gayborhood in Philadelphia. It is a seasonal bar, which was most recently Blume for the summer months. Owned by Teddy Sourias, his group is killing the bar game in Philadelphia. You are guaranteed a spooky time here.

 People watching by the park is also fun, P.J Clark’s in Washington square offers a 7 day a week happy hour. That is pretty amazing in any season. The interior is old school chocolate and red leather tufted seating, white table cloths, and an array of black and white photography. Making you feel nostalgia just by walking in the door. Sitting in the walnut room you look out onto the kaleidoscope of colors the city has turned itself into.

 Onto a few parties in the city you would not want to miss. Every fall I attend The Taste of Philly. Being a foodie it is not one to miss, it is held at the Crystal Tea Room. Sampling Philly’s top food and drink destinations, followed by a dance party with a DJ at the end.  

 If you are into house music like myself check out Hallowink 5 featuring Louie Vega & Josh Wink at Warehouse on Watts on the 31st. It is a party that has yet to disappoint me.

 Also, at the same venue the next night Nov.1st, is 14th Annual PEX Halloween Ball “Wizard of Woz. If you want to feel like you have been transformed to another place in time this is the party for you. It is not for the basic bitch bar hopper that is for sure. Get your most extreme costume ready, or just paint it onto yourself. PEX the Philadelphia Experiment is a group of burners (meaning they attend Burning Man) that throw the most fantastic BE YOURSELF parties free of judgment.  

 Now if you are not really into that sort of thing; it is not for everyone. I also noticed on Oct. 26th there is a Haunted Halloween boat party on the Moshulu, and a 2 hour open bar with a VIP ticket. On Oct.26th Dj Ghost will be playing at Noto Nightclub, and 3lau will also be at Noto Nightclub on Halloween night.

 There are tons of other great events through the month. You just have to do a little digging to find what fits your vibe.  Cheers to Falling in love with Philly this Season.

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Katie Kerl

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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 herehttps://tonywardstudio.com/blog/katie-kerl-eroticism-wins/

 

Bob Shell: Stone Walls Do Not a Prison Make

 

 

 Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #27

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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Photography by Julie Chu, Aja Butane, Katherine Jania & Zoe, Copyright 2018

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Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage.

We’ve all heard that old saying, but where does it come from? It’s the beginning of the last stanza of the poem “To Althea, from Prison” written in 1642 by Richard Lovelace, while imprisoned in Gatehouse Prison. His crime? He had petitioned to have the 1640 Clergy Act annulled. Today, no one knows for certain who Althea was, or if she was even real, but she lives on in that romantic poem. BTW, the full stanza goes:

Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage;

Minds innocent and quiet take

That for an hermitage;

If I have freedom in my love

And in my soul am free,

Angels alone, that soar above,

Enjoy such liberty.

If you want to read the whole poem, it’s on Wikipedia. Someone set the lyrics to music, and Dave Swarbrick does an excellent version on Fairport Convention’s album Nine. I was fortunate enough to be photographing Dave on stage during my music photographer days and lost all interest in photography when he launched into the fiddle intro to Althea (I say fiddle, but I believe Dave was playing a viola that night). I learned years later that Dave was struggling with hearing loss, probably from all those years on stage in front of giant amplifiers. I’m partially deaf today in my right ear, the one that was usually toward the amps when I was on stage right. Fairport was opening for Traffic on that early 70s tour, and, for my money put on a better show.

But back to poor Richard pining for Althea through his bars. Let me tell you something, Richard. Stone walls (or concrete today) do a pretty damned effective prison make!

Modern prisons are modular structures made of interlocking precast concrete slabs. The slabs are lifted into place with cranes during construction. You may find signs that the slabs were lying flat at one time in the form of muddy boot prints going across walls that no one bothered to clean off. These “build a prison kits” go together quickly, almost like building with Lego blocks. Once finished they generally are T-shaped buildings, with each arm of the T being a “pod” with cells on three sides, plus showers, and a flat concrete floor with stainless steel tables with attached seats anchored to the floor. Cells generally are about 8 x 12 feet on the inside with the door on one of the 8 foot walls and a small window on the other. Except that the designers of the prison I’m in right now decided to omit the windows. Inside each cell are two bunks attached to the walls, a very small table attached to a wall with one or two seats, also attached to the wall, and a one-piece stainless steel sink/toilet, also attached to a wall. Nothing movable! I’ve been in four different Virginia prisons in the last ten years, and they’re pretty much the same with minor variations. Storage space for personal belongings in cells is very limited, usually an under-bed locker, either welded to the bottom bunk or sliding on the floor so it can be pushed under the bottom bunk. Speaking of bunks, they’re steel slabs. We are given “mattresses” for comfort, two-inch thick foam pads that are more like yoga mats than real mattresses. I used to have a “medical mattress” prescribed by a DOC doctor, but the DOC eliminated them several years ago. It was about six inches thick and very comfortable. I guess they don’t want us to be comfortable. I’m certainly not. I’m writing this at four in the morning, unable to sleep, an all too common problem here. For towels or whatever there are two “hooks” on one wall. These are straight metal rods about three inches long with a ball on the end that fits into a socket attached to the wall. The ball is a friction fit into the socket, so if you put too much weight on it, it collapses. Why? “We don’t want no hangings.”

I really don’t understand what anyone thinks they’re accomplishing by warehousing people this way. They no longer call these places prisons. Now they’re “Correctional Centers.”. I guess the word “prison” has become non-PC. But I can tell you from personal experience that damn little correction takes place. Oh, they have programs and classes, they will tell you. I’ve “been down” ten years as of last September and have yet to be offered a seat in one of those programs or classes. I’ve certainly not been rehabilitated! Nor did I need to be. I was doing just fine, making a good living from photography and writing, and at the peak of my career. And the state brought my whole life crashing down over events that never even happened except in the imagination of an incompetent quack of a medical examiner. I’ve posted details at www.bobshelltruth.com under News Updates.

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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. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonyward.com/bob-shell-whats-wrong-with-the-american-justice-system/

 

Diary: Why I bought a 38

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38 Holstered. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018. Model: Sandy Ward
 

Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018
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38 HOLSTERED

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Back in the early 90’s, my wife and I were visiting friends at a party in Vineland, New Jersey, about an hours drive from our studio in center city Philadelphia when my cell phone rang.  It was a neighbor in our building on 6th street informing me that our apartment had been broken into and police were called to investigate.  I was shocked at first never before was I violated in such a personal way. Sandy (my wife at the time) and I immediately drove home speeding up 42 North towards the Walt Whitman Bridge. By the time of our arrival home the building was silent, no police in sight,  just a vague description from a neighbor that they saw a man with a tape player in his hand hastily walking down the fire escape and out the back door of the building.

When I entered the apartment from the garage, the rear door exiting to the fire escape was closed but not locked. There was no clear sign of a break in. Not a scratch on the door or a crowbar left behind. It raised serious questions as to who could have entered the loft without breaking in? A few things were missing; change that I left on the burrow of my bedroom, my fathers antique watch that he gave me when I was in college, the new tape player that I just bought was missing.  All of the wires connecting it to the rest of the stereo equipment was strewn about. My mind started to imagine and search for who the perpetrator could be? Was it one of my employee’s some of whom did have a key?

The next day I drove up to my father’s house in Elkins Park and asked him to go with me to a gun shop that I knew was straight up 611 just before you get to the Willow Grove mall. We parked out in front of the nondescript place, walked in and began pacing up and down the cases looking for the best way to comfort my fear of the break in. Thoughts of Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry came to mind.  I also recalled when I used to go out in the back woods with my roommate in college to practice shooting at tin cans with his 44 Magnum until one day he cracked the barrel by overpacking the bullets. The store’s salesman convinced me I didn’t need anything that large. The 38 Rossi was an adequate means of protecting my home in the event of another break in when I was home or worse home with my wife and children. I became a regular at the shooting range and eventually learned how to pack my own hollow point bullets.

Fortunately, I have never had to use it other than to enjoy the cheap thrill of being able to hit a target from a certain distance. Nowadays folks go out and buy an AR15 for similar reasons. Somehow I think that is a bit over kill.

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To access additional diary entries by Tony Ward, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/diary-portrait-of-a-jersey-girl/

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About The Author: Tony Ward is a fine art photographer, author, blogger, publisher and Adjunct Professor of Photography at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Portrait of Tony Ward by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2018
Portrait of Tony Ward by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2018

Field Report: Happy Hour and Available Light

Happy Hour. Bernie's Bar & Restaurant. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018
Happy Hour. Bernie’s Bar & Restaurant. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018
 

Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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Field Report: Happy Hour and Available Light

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I was sitting at the bar at Bernie’s restaurant and bar in Glenside Pa. enjoying a delicious Ketel One martini when I finally realized why I like this place so much.  The food, beverage and sexy millennial wait staff is excellent. The modern well appointed interior space is beautifully designed accented by natures natural light. Well positioned, the bar faces west with large plate glass windows behind it looking out on to Glenside’s charming suburban neighborhood. There’s an outdoor seating area for diners as well.  I’ve observed on several occasions when the sun sets behind the bar on a clear day, it seems to have  a magical impact on the mood of the diners and wait staff.  Everyone seems to be happy in that moment. The light is deliciously seductive at that hour in this place.

I had my compact SonyRX100V camera handy and framed a few pics that I think captures the feeling during this happiest of  hours.  Camera was balanced for daylight with ISO 400, F-2.8 at 1/80th of a second. Zoom lens was set to 20mm. It’s hard to beat the nimbleness and refined resolution of this Sony capturing device.

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Happy Hour. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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Tony Ward shooting with the SonyRX100V.
Tony Ward shooting with the SonyRX100V.

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About The Author: Tony Ward is a fine art photographer, author, blogger, publisher and Adjunct Professor of Photography at the University of Pennsylvania. To access additional field reports by Tony Ward,  click herehttp://tonyward.com/2018/03/20/field-report-sony-rx100-v/