Ed Simmons: Dancing Girls Harvard and Stone

Photography and Text by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2020

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Dancing Girls Harvard and Stone

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Chuck E Weiss. Yeah, I knew that guy. The dude from that Rickey Lee Jones tune, “Chuck E’s In Love”. I was hanging around with him back in the early 80’s at Hollywood’s Club Lingeri.  I read in the LA Weekly a few years back, that Chuck E Weiss was playing a late night set at The Piano Bar on Selma Avenue in Hollywood, so I go on down to check it out.

I bet around about now, you may be wondering how in the hell does this tie into “Dancing Girls”.  Austin was the door man at the Piano Bar that night, a Nigerian with one punch biceps, tells me that on Sundays, this spot, The Piano Bar, barbecues out back, and that I should start stopping by on a regular basis with my camera. I do and we become good friends.  As a photographer, the Sunday afternoon crowd at the Piano Bar was so interesting, so friendly and open to me, but like all slices of life in LA, this ends too before long.

Austin also informed he would be working the door at a spot in East Hollywood’s Thai Town, called Harvard and Stone, that I should start showing up there,  bring the camera, Austin, a bit of a ham…likes being photographed Hollywood ya know. This spot is sorta dark, I’ve got a pretty hot camera, I figure I can hang and see what unfolds. The location is built somewhat like a Hollywood set, lots of interesting industrial architectural treatments, a couple of bars, a smoking area in the back, a stage, live music, shoulder to shoulder people,  and very hard to move around this place, no tension though, everybody’s having fun!  

 One night, I’m  hanging by the front bar at Harvard and Stone chatting it up a bit with Yale, she’s cool, mostly says she bartends at the Hollywood Roosevelt, on this nite she was just filling in. The House Band steps onto the stage and start playing this raunchy tune with a filthy beat, then out from nowhere it seems as if dancing girls started to rain down through the rafters. They start dancing across the catwalks and bar, then down on to the stage. I was shocked, well… surprised,  I didn’t have a clue and couldn’t move. This crowd was thick, shoulder to shoulder.  Hell, no one in this mob was willing to give me an inch as I clicked away.

 The show ends, so I search out Austin as the crowd begins to thin out. He sees my look and ask’s well, did you get anything good? I’m like dude, I couldn’t even move but managed to get some great shots!

Two shows go on, Friday and Saturday nights.  I found the house always full, as I worked through a few months of making images at this venue, I found a need to pre plan. Photographing these dancing girls, week to week, nite by nite I had to pick my spot. If you are a photographer in LA its best to be friendly with door men.

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Ed Simmons photographed by Bonnie Schiffman. Copyright 1972

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Posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Erotica, Friends of TWS, Glamour, lifestyle, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Travel, Women

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.

Posted in Affiliates, Blog, Book Reviews, Cameras, commentary, Environment, Erotica, Friends of TWS, Glamour, History, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Science, 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/

 

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

Katie Kerl: Tis the Season for Giving

 

Photography and Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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Tis’ the Season for Giving

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This year I took a different approach to the holidays. I packed an entire townhouse and moved two times in November (yes again). If you have followed my previous year in writing I felt like a nomad; finally feeling like I’m at HOME in my new PERMANENT space. Through the two moves I was able to complete my small food drive before Thanksgiving. Being short on time I wanted to do more. Realizing life could be much worse in many ways; I did not want my hectic personal life to change my demeanor, but enhance it. Let me tell you, if you are struggling mentally the best thing you can do is keep busy. Doing nice things for people who are REALLY STRUGGLING improves your overall well being.

 I also joined The Philly Influencer Mixer during that time run by Davida JanaeThey cover everything exciting going on in Philly while looking fabulous. I never really considered myself an influencer, but I guess promoting my lifestyle ,interviews, & blogging qualifies as such. If I can influence people to just be themselves despite criticism & stigma; I am doing what I set out to do.  

Once accepted to the group, I noticed there was a charity event that needed to be covered. The Black Tie Gala with Sneakers, benefiting the Trauma Survivors Foundation. The event took place at The Queen concert hall in Delaware. The evening included Two VIP tickets to the event and hotel accommodations. The curator of this event and head of The Trauma Survivors Foundation, Dennis Carradin is an angel of the trauma survivors.

I spoke with him briefly on the phone before the event and got a few tips to promote it. Dennis is a licensed therapist and goes into crisis situations to help the people in need. He also teaches a class training people to become crisis internationalists all over the country. This event had been running for a number of years with a traditional sit down banquet Hall event. 

This year they wanted to make it less stuffy, and that it was.

The Queen is a really cool event space and everyone looked amazing. I brought Rob Li with me my acro friend I previously interviewed as well. Rob is a great date for events. He comes ready to have a good time, and takes photos with the bomb lighting. Doing mini photo shoots through the night was also really fun. 

There were MANY chances to win cool prizes. Two awards for the best sneakers his and hers, 50/50 raffles, silent auction, and at least 5 major vacations that were given away through the night.   

The Trauma Survivors foundation runs many events through the year. You can find this information, and the link to sign up for the crisis intervention training program listed on their web site. This year’s proceeds from the Taste of Philly went to the organization as well.

This charity really hit home for me because I have been through hell and back; yet would not change a thing because I am completely different person now. When you leave a part of you behind that felt dead; it is a large weight lifted off your soul. That is what I call healing, and I did it on my own mentally, and with the support of really good friends helping me through the last few months.  

The world needs more caring people like Dennis and his whole crew that put the event together. The thing with trauma is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s easy to feel defeated and give up, it’s not easy to change life and fight for what you really want.

That is what they are here to help survivors do.

For information on the Philly Influencer Mixer and Davita Janae visit:

https://phillyinfluencermixer.com/

For more information about Dennis and the Trauma Survivors Foundation please visit:

https://www.denniscarradin.com/

https://www.thetraumasurvivorsfoundation.com/

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 The second event I was invited to was The Ronald McDonald House Lighting. This was really a cute event for families, kids, sponsors, and employees there. The evening was filled with a catered buffet, The University of Pennsylvania band playing holiday music, beautiful house lights, Philly sports mascots entertaining everyone, history characters, Lego Land experience, face painting, Disney princesses, and all the positive holiday joy one could ask for.

 I took my girlfriend Aimee with me and we brought a bunch of unwrapped toys. When leaving, we both felt like the families there are very fortunate to have such a positive place to recover. Seeing all of the kids having a great time with the band and mascots was really heartwarming. After being there I wanted to let people know about their mission.

Ronald McDonald House History:

 Dr. Audrey E. Evans saw families spend night after night in the hospital while their children received life-saving medical treatment. She knew there had to be a better way and envisioned a house where families could stay during these stressful and uncertain times.

At the same time, the Philadelphia Eagles were raising funds in support of player Fred Hill, whose daughter, Kim, was in treatment for leukemia at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Eagles’ General Manager Jimmy Murray approached St. Christopher’s about making a donation, Dr. Lawrence Naiman suggested there was an even greater need for funds resting with Dr. Evans. Mr. Murray met Dr. Evans and became a champion for her cause. He reached out to Eagles advertiser, McDonald’s, with the idea that they could offer the proceeds from their Shamrock Shake sales to benefit this new house. McDonald’s agreed, and the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House was born on October 15, 1974.

Thanks to the generosity of dedicated donors, the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House has grown from a single idea to the model for over 365 Houses worldwide. 

The Ronald McDonald House Philadelphia care program is also listed on their site, and is as follows:

“Our two Ronald McDonald Houses provide temporary lodging, transportation, meals, and social services to families who travel to Philadelphia for pediatric care. Our three Ronald McDonald Family Rooms extend the support of our Houses into the hospital setting and offer a quiet respite space for families at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Ronald McDonald Camp is a week-long overnight camp for children with cancer and their siblings held in the Pocono Mountains every August. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, operated in partnership with St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, provides comprehensive and continuous oral healthcare to children in North Philadelphia.

“Proceeds from donations made at local McDonald’s restaurants make up approximately 10% of our annual revenue, with the remaining 90% generated through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. It costs the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House $148 a night per family to provide housing and supportive services; however, families are only asked to contribute $15 per night. No one is ever turned away due to inability to pay and the House waives approximately half the nightly fees annually.

For more information on volunteering, donating, or using services for your family please visit:

 https://www.philarmh.org/about-us/mission-history/

Both of these events were really something anyone could get behind. What saddened me was most of the attendees were all baby boomers. I feel like the notion of giving back and service has gone out the window with the home telephone and kids playing outside. It has been replaced with IPhone 11’s, and video game consoles. If you unplug from your own life you might just be able to help someone else. 

The New Year, and decade is approaching 2020!!

Ask yourself, “What change do you want to see?” Make the effort to promote it and stop complaining about the THINGS you do not have. No matter how small the service you are still doing something to promote your passion.

 To me that is much more valuable than any present one could give.

Happy Holidays Friends!! 

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Katie Kerl. December 2019

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Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living  in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached  on Instagram @kerlupwithkate 

For collaboration e-mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

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To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here: https://tonyward.com/katie-kerl-derek-bailey-green-car-innovator/

 

Posted in Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Health Care, lifestyle, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, Video, Women

Bob Shell: On The Legal Front

Marion in Vegas. Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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On The Legal Front

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Believe it or not, I stay very busy here, so I hope no one minds these impersonal periodic updates.

On the legal front, which so many of you ask about, progress is slow but certain. On Feb. 1 of this year I filed an Independent Action to Vacate in the Radford Circuit Court seeking to overturn my convictions based on the use of false evidence to convict me. Much to my surprise, the Radford prosecutor did not oppose this action, which, under Virginia law, means he accepts my allegations as true. Of course they’re true! The Chief Medical Examiner for Virginia has said unequivocally that the medical testimony (That Marion was dead when I took my last pictures of her) from the local medical examiner was “Just wrong!” This case is working its way through the courts right now. Another Independent Action on the grounds that they missed my speedy trial deadline by over a year was filed last September, and is also working its way through the courts. Courts are slow!

My other legal effort, to get my precious forest land, my “outdoor studio,” back after it was illegally sold is also moving slowly through the courts. To prevent the persons who now illegally hold my land from altering, selling, subdividing, etc. I have filed what’s called a Lis Pendens in the Floyd County courthouse. This blocks such activity on contested property. I WILL get MY land back, and will build my planned house and studio there when I’m released. I’ve been more upset by the possible loss of my forest, forest sacred to me, than anything in my life. Hardly a night goes by that I don’t have nightmares about this, and my daytime mind is constantly preoccupied with stressful worries about losing my forest and someone destroying it. It’s only a small forest, but it means the world to me.

On other fronts, things have been mixed. My book COSMIC DANCE has been out since April, and has gotten great reviews on Amazon, but without an advertising budget it’s been hard to get the word out, and sales are slow. Virginia prison inmates are forbidden to have Facebook or other social media accounts, a blatantly unconstitutional policy, so I can’t use the obvious promotional vehicles. Low cost/no cost promotional ideas welcome.

My blog that appears at www.TonyWardStudio.com/blog is popular, with many regular readers., and let’s me write about anything. Tony calls me “a natural storyteller.”

I’m also writing now for Prehistoric Times magazine, (www.prehistorictimes.com) about dinosaurs and such, a preoccupation of mine since my teens. It’s been nice to see my name in print again. The VDOC can’t ban us from writing for publication. That old First Amendment stops them, but they would if they could.

On the living conditions/health front, I’ve been back at Pocahontas State Correctional Center (PSCC) since late August. On April 4, 2018 I was shipped off to River North Correctional Center (RNCC), a high security facility built specifically to house gangs. There are no windows in the cells there, and many restrictions. My windows here at PSCC aren’t big, but at least I can see if it’s raining or snowing outside.

I was sent to RNCC due to a “clerical error.” I received a serious charge here in 2017, but the charge was dismissed by the Assistant Warden. Unfortunately for me, whoever was supposed to enter that dismissal into the VDOC’s database failed to do so. My counselor at RNCC fixed the problem, but it took well over a year for me to get back to PSCC, where I’d been since 2009.

When I got back here there was no bed available in the handicapped pod, so I was held in a medical unit holding cell for over a month until a bed opened up there. As many of you know, I suffered a serious stroke in 1991, shortly after becoming Editor of Shutterbug magazine. Due to that stroke, vertigo (I’ve had that since the 1960s), and a bad left knee (torn cartilage), I require a handicapped shower, and was walking with a cane. There’s only one handicapped shower in this whole facility, in the handicapped pod, pod A-1. I was there among old friends, had a great cellmate, and was as happy as it’s possible to be in prison.

On the morning of November 15 it all went to hell. That morning a voice came over the cell intercom, “Shell, pack your stuff. You’re moving to B building.” Sure it was a mistake, I refused to pack and move until the building manager got here, assuming he would straighten it all out. He didn’t. It seemed that the order the doctor wrote saying I require a handicapped shower couldn’t be found. The doctor who told me he wrote it isn’t here anymore, and the doctor who is refuses to write such an order.

On the same morning that I was kicked out of the handicapped pod, they called me to medical, and gave me a McKesson Rollator, a sort of four wheel walker with a seat on it. It’s not for riding, like wheelchair. The seat is only for use when you’re not moving, but it’s great in long lines, since I can sit until the line moves. My health is generally good, my hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes all controlled by daily pills. My arthritis doesn’t bother me much since I was put on Celebrex about a year ago.

I’m now in a very rough pod. I’d only been here eight days when my cell was robbed when I was out at chow or pill call and about $ 200 worth of commissary I’d just bought was stolen. Staff treat it like it’s my fault for not locking my storage box, but the box they’ve issued me cannot be locked. The flange you attach the lock to is missing. I’ve had a combination lock for years, but rarely had to use it, and in my twelve years down, I’ve never been robbed before. But, I’ve never been in such a rough pod before. Friends sent me money to replace the stolen food, but I have no assurance I won’t be robbed again.

I’m fighting now to get back in the handicapped pod where I belong. Thanks for everyone’s support! I couldn’t make it without you!

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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-doing-time-in-virginia/

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.

Posted in Affiliates, Blog, Cameras, commentary, Documentary, Erotica, Friends of TWS, History, lifestyle, Men, Models, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women