Category Archives: Politics

Bob Shell: American Justice System

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Bob-Shell_portrait-of_marion_franklin_american-justice-system

Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

 

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #20

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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AMERICAN JUSTICE SYSTEM

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In 1923 the great American journalist H. L. Mencken wrote:

You will find as many intelligent and honest men in the average prison as you will find in the average club, and when it comes to courage, enterprise, and determination — in brief the special virtues which mark the superior man — you will probably find many more.

Here is Menckin’s description of a trial:

With a crowd of poltroons in the jury box venting their envious hatred of enterprise and daring upon a man who, at worst, is at least as decent as they are: with a scoundrel in the bench lording over a scoundrel in the dock because the latter is less clever than he is.

Menckin pretty much nailed the “American Justice System,” which has never really been about justice, if we’re honest about it. A real justice system would provide the accused with resources equal to those of the prosecution. A person should not be forced to bankrupt himself to defend against false charges. When you are accused of a crime. the state martials all its resources against you, and unless you are rich, you most likely can’t come up with equivalent resources. Criminal investigators, expert witnesses, paralegals, and good criminal lawyers are very expensive. When I was charged I contacted the best criminal lawyer I knew of. He listened to my story and asked if I could raise several million dollars, and when I said no, he said that I couldn’t afford him. As actor Robert Blake said, “In America today you are presumed innocent until you are found broke.”.

And think about that presumption of innocence. In the USA you are “presumed innocent until proven guilty.”. Note the use of the word “until” which carries the implication that you WILL be proven guilty. The word should be “unless.”. But in most cases you will be found guilty because most people think “they wouldn’t have charged him if he didn’t do it.”

Just how did I end up in prison at the age of 60 with a 32 1/2 year sentence? I’d had my studio in Radford, Virginia since the end of the 1970s. I had been working for Shutterbug magazine for years, first in the 70s as a columnist, then as Technical Editor, and in 1991 I became Editor in Chief, and held that position until I “retired” in 2001, staying on as Editor At Large. Actually, “retired” was a euphemism for ” forced out in a palace coup.”. I first had my studio in Radford starting in 1981, when I took over an existing business that was studio/photo shop. I had been working for Gentry Studios in Blacksburg. Gentry also had a location in Radford and had decided to close it. I took the risk and took it over. At first I made hardly any money there, but in time it picked up and by the time Shutterbug offered me the Editor’s job it was doing well enough that I was able to sell the business. We were living on a small farm at the time, so we sold the farm and bought a house in Radford. (Oddly enough, we sold the farm back to the man we’d bought it from fifteen years earlier. It was his wife’s old home place and she was homesick for it.)

My original Radford studio was in downtown just a block off main street. Once I was living in town, I went looking for a new studio and found it at 239 West Main Street, just a couple of blocks from the police station.

Let me make something clear, during all those years I worked for Patch Communications, publisher of Shutterbug, PhotoPRO, Outdoor and Nature Photography, and other magazines I was never an employee. My company, Bob Shell Ltd., contracted with Patch for my services. This arrangement allowed me to work from my home office and set my own hours, for a flat monthly fee. It saved Patch money, too, since they didn’t have to provide me benefits. I took care of my own medical insurance and dealt with the IRS myself. I valued my freedom and my right to take time off whenever I wanted without being tied down to an office.

In 1991 I found the ideal studio location in a storefront between a drugstore and an antique shop. The space was about 40 X 80. I wanted a big space because I wanted it to be a teaching studio where I could hold my studio lighting and posing workshops. With the help of a friend I built a wall across the front for a small office, and built a dressing room in back, with big mirrors for the models. There was already a storage room and restroom in the back. The same friend and I remodeled the restroom. The floor was covered with old wall-to-wall carpet, which was in terrible shape. I hired a couple of strong young college men to take up the carpet, which had to be scraped up with shovels, and to use a big commercial sander to sand the wood floor smooth. Then I painted all the walls and floor with white pigmented shellac, which I’d used before and is very durable. I then approached photo equipment companies to loan me equipment and props, which they were all too glad to do because they knew my students would buy equipment they had used in my workshops. It was a win-win for them and me. I soon had s studio bulging with equipment and props. The studio was big enough that I could have three sets going at once. To keep the flash units on one set from interfering with another I used Wein Products infrared flash triggers, and later radio slaves. My studio workshops were held three or four days a year, each for two days on a weekend.

In the late 80s I’d bought a tract of forest land and had a road built into it and began conducting outdoor workshops there. It was beautiful forest, and my plan was (and still is) to put a house or cabin there at some point.

On June 3, 2003, I returned to my studio in the evening and found my girlfriend, Marion Franklin, passed out. When I could not awaken her I called 911 and then my nightmare began. I was accused of killing her based on false testimony of an incompetent medical examiner, and I sit here today because the man is too stubborn to admit that he was wrong. That’s today’s American Justice System.

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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/2018/08/bob-shell-warning-environmentalist-rant/

 

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A.H. Scott: By George, He’s Got it!

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Tony_Ward_Studio_Trump_ThePetulantPuppetTS_1984

The Petulant Puppet by Thomcat23

 

Poetry by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2018

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Illustration by Thomcat23, Copyright 2018

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For me, this quote below was truly the kicker that set my head spinning! You can’t make this craziness from his lips up. Unbelievable!

 

Standing in front of the VFW Convention last Tuesday, he actually said this:

 “Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening,” – Donald J. Trump, President of The United States, Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, July 24th, 2018

 70 years ago a work of fiction was written, but reality is always stranger than anything one can come up with in their imagination:

 “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” – George Orwell, “1984”, published 1949

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 By George, He’s Got It!

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Happening now, is not what you see

Happening now, is not what you hear

Pay attention only to the billboard on the wall with the one of tiny hands and mind that is so small

Pied piper he may never be

But, leader is the only one he is as you can see

Free press is the enemy

Stenographers are the friend of He

We must praise the leader, for He is law

Truth and justice cannot be something we saw

By George, he’s got it!

He is ever so wise

Controlling the masses with his lies

Look at the shiny orb he holds in his hands

It glistens with xenophobia and shimmers with manufactured rage

All he does hypnotizes the senses

The takeover of the muddled mind is going as planned

This is his moment

He is the CHOSEN man

Pay attention to the wall of division

Your neighbor is not your equal

Report them in accordance to the leader

Speak only of the agenda repeated like parrots

Never step out of line or think for yourself

Isn’t it better to let the leader of the state take care of those little agitations, formerly known as rights and freedoms?

Just listen to the mantra for solace and control

By George, he’s got it!

Let the cloud of conformity mollify your soul

Obey the voice of the state and you can never go wrong

Pen scratched against history has cast a shadow ever so long

Seventy-years on, the bell tolls strong

By George, he’s got it!

Now, we are through the looking glass

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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 A. H. Scott, go here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/a-h-scott-the-torch/

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About The Illustrator: Thomcat23 is a new contributing artist at Tony Ward Studio. The owner of a hyperactive imagination, Thomcat23 creates images based on a wide variety of categories. Everything from cartoons to politics are mangled, jumbled, smashed, merged and synthesized to create colorful and interesting works of art. The pop surrealist approach Thomcat23, stems from his formal training as a graphic designer and his love of comic book-style pen and ink illustration he’s sharpened over the years. He has a wide variety of influence, which include Jack Kirby and Renee Magritte. To access more of Thomcat 23’s work, follow him on Instagram @Thomcat23. Or Facebook: The Art of Thomcat23.

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Bob Shell: Dead Cats in the Studio – Yikes!

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Tony_Ward_Studio_affiliate_artist_Dean_Rosenzweig_pop_ODXT_art_logo_hope_flying_saucers_graphics_cats_Bob_Shell

Artwork by Dean Rosenzweig, Copyright 2018

 

 

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison # 17

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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Artwork by Dean Rosenzweig, Copyright 2018

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DEAD CATS IN THE STUDIO – YIKES!

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Some years ago my friend Steve Sint and I were eating in a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan, when the subject of discussion turned to what our personal limits were, what we would and would not photograph. Basically Steve argued for photographing anything at all, so long as the pay was good and it wouldn’t get you arrested, while I thought a photographer should have some narrower limits. Looking back on that now, I realize that my limits are pretty bizarre by many people’s standards.

Case in point: Those dead cats.

At some time in the mid-80s, Ruth Steinberger, an illustrator friend who primarily illustrates textbooks, came to me with a project. It was to illustrate an anatomy and physiology lab manual. The plan was for Ruth and the author to bring the dead cats to my studio and dissect them in stages. I was to take photos and Ruth would do line drawings to make the details easier to locate, photo on left page, drawing on right page. This project took something like two weeks with the smelly cats in my studio. I don’t know what they use as a preservative now that formaldehyde has been banned, but it sure stinks! Took weeks for that smell to leave my studio completely. Limits: they also wanted some pictures of cadavers, but I said no, no dead people in my studio!

Was I wrong? Steve would have thought so, and said go for it. But I just couldn’t wrap my mind around working with dead bodies. The cats were enough for me.

Which brings me to another weird project, dead aliens. You may remember the furor raised by the FOX TV program Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction broadcast, I think, in 1995.. As it turned out the owner of the film wanted my help in authenticating that the 16mm film actually dated from 1947. I knew that Kodak used edge marks exposed onto the film during manufacture to make dating of film footage possible. I was sent some pieces of the actual film to analyze, and the edge markings were correct for 1927, 1947, or 1967 (Kodak reuses the code every 20 years), but there was a hitch – the film was a copy, not camera original footage. This was explained because the camera original would have been a negative and copied onto another film for projection. The film was supposedly shot by an Army photographer after the crash near Roswell, New Mexico, of an unknown aircraft The film couldn’t have been shot in 1927 or 1967 because the film type (Kodak Super XX) wasn’t made in those years. So was it really filmed in 1947? I couldn’t say 100% yes or no, but my gut feeling is that it was.

While working on this project I was contacted by a producer from TF1, one of the French TV networks. Would I come to Paris to give my opinion on a live, two hour program they were doing on the film? Oui! So off to Paris I flew to appear on Jacques Pradel Presents. Pradel was sort of like the French Dan Rather, with an enormous following. They’d built a giant eye on the set with a working iris, and it opened and I walked out of it and down stairs to dramatic music to meet Pradel. We carried on a conversation that was somewhat stilted because I don’t speak French. So as he was speaking a babelfish in my ear was piping in a “simultaneous” translation. The same for him since he doesn’t speak English. Anyway, it was a blast, particularly the after party! Anyone interested in learning more about this episode of my photographic career can read the book that Mike Hesemann, Philip Mantle, and I wrote titled Beyond Roswell. My name isn’t on the book cover due to contractual problems, but I’m in there as co-author. And, no, I don’t get any royalties, that’s long since ended, so I don’t profit if you buy the book. Actually I’m still mad at the publisher. They sent me galley proofs so I could make corrections, I spent hours going over them and sent in a long list of corrections. Then the book came out without a single correction being made! These things happen and the authors get the blame. When my first book (Pro Guide: The Canon EOS System) came out, two of my photographs were printed upside-down! Of course those readers who noticed blamed me.

Is that really a dead Roswell alien being sliced and diced in that strange film? The jury is still out on that. Anyone interested can find tons of pro and con on the Internet, including an audio file of my interview with Art Bell on his old Coast to Coast FM radio program. I’ve just learned that Art died, a real loss to his many listeners over the years.

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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://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-art-of-rope/

 

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A.H. Scott: The Torch

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Tony_Ward_Studio_protest_philadelphia_anti_Trump-Torch

The Torch

 

 

Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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Poetry by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2018

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“A fool who dances with fascism balances on a tightrope of fallacy. Melody of the cheering masses are the intoxicant that allows the fool to believe all which he thinks and does is a symphony of approval; when in fact, many in that crowd are just amused by circus act that arrived before their eyes. History is a flame which never is truly doused, as it can burn that tightrope the fool balances precariously upon. Empires fall as do fools” – A.H. Scott

The Torch

Callous to the core
When the world wants less of his mess, he presses forth with more, more, more
As everything he ever touches turns to ash
Hopes of Dreamers are dashed
Core of who he is churns on the spit of hate, proving this spoiled, rich man’s son is beneath and below a penniless reprobate
Dollars he may have
But, sense is vacant in his sphere
Accept what the leader says is how a megalomaniac gets his kicks
And, for this year’s pick it isn’t Chairman Kim
But, this propaganda is not about DRPK’s nuclear ambition
This is about an orange hedonist’s vicious disposition
Commandant of Cruelty doesn’t ride solo
Prince of piety is Mike Pence
His swooning gaze at his orange-tinged King can make the world blush a rainbow
Yet, loving your fellow man can never be in the land of He and his preachy beliefs
On a Trump leash Mike always heels, especially if in a stadium where an ungrateful bunch of sons of bitches kneels
So pure Pence is, of mind and soul
Yet, he works under a man whose own words have told to grab a lady’s angel part and not bat a delicate eyelash of backlash
Frauds come and frauds go, but this crapshow of an administration is a swamp that truly overflows
Babies in cages and parents taken away
Standing up and wishing for the day when ICE will melt away
Humans aren’t stained with a stamp of being illegal
But, now they have been judged by a singular man in a house of white as being not worth anything
They are invisible to his eyes
Even when his beloved daughter and wifey pouted to him about hearing the audio of their cries
He still don’t give two shakes of care, but realized the impact of those bad optics were ever so bruising to his brand
MAGA! MAGA! MAGA!
Sounds like a chant of an arm held at a specified angle upward
Making this country great again, isn’t coming on the watch of this regime
Hearing them thar’ words are just a bumper sticker scheme
Trump and his crew of division and despair have been kicking liberty in the rear for more than a year
From that moment he rolled down the escalator in that tarnished tower that bears his name, the push beyond the limits has been clear
Beyond dignity
Beyond respect
Beyond humanity
Beyond shame
Beyond anything considered normal has been eviscerated
Did it happen overnight?
Of course not
We are the frog in the fractured melting pot
Slow boil
Bit by bit, sliding towards something so dire
It can’t happen here
This is America
Red, White and Blue
It can’t happen here
What is the glue to patch the melting pot?
Resistance!
Voices rise!
Democracy!
This is OUR country, not HIS alone!
We are the BEACON in the darkness!
America is MY home and FREEDOM is my song!

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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 A. H. Scott, go herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/a-h-scott-tws/

 

 

 

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Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #14

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Tony_Ward_Studio_Letters_From_Prison_Photograph_Bob_Shell

Photo of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

 

 

Letters From Prison: Part 14, 2018

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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I should explain my reactions on being arrested. I was raised to believe the police were my friends. My father, a TV news reporter, had many friends on the Roanoke force, and one of my cousins was a police chief. So I’d been around policemen all my life and was comfortable with them. So when the Radford police arrested me I talked to them honestly and figured they’d quickly realize they had it all wrong and drop the charges. Wrong!

When I first got to know Marion in early 2002, she was very open with me that she was a druggie. Said she’d been a “pill freak” since the age of 13. Called herself a “walking PDR” (PDR is the Physician’s Desk Reference, a big book that includes information on all prescription drugs, what they are used for, and pictures of all pills, capsules, etc.). Marion could identify almost all pills and capsules on sight. She was also a pot smoker, on pretty much a daily basis. I wasn’t concerned about the marijuana, because I knew it wouldn’t hurt her, but did have some concerns about the pills. Back in the late 60s I’d known Dr. Humphrey Osmond, a researcher at NIMH in Bethesda. He had a project in which he gave people money to buy street drugs and bring them to him. Then his lab would analyze them to see if they were really what they were sold as, and if not, what was really in them. Not surprisingly, many were not what the sellers claimed they were, and some contained pretty nasty stuff, like belladonna, formaldehyde, etc. According to studies I’ve read, the situation is even worse today. A fairly high percentage of “X” sold today is something other than MDMA, the real substance that’s called “Ecstasy.”. MDMA is a so-called “super amphetamine,” and even the real stuff can be dangerous because it spikes body temperature and blood pressure.

Anyway, the question was asked, “did you ever give Marion drugs?”. The honest answer was yes. Marion was taking Valium, and so was I. We both had prescriptions from our doctors, hers in North Carolina, mine in Virginia. Did I have any proof that she had a prescription? All I know is that she would periodically go home to North Carolina and come back with a big prescription bottle full and the label had her name on it. Anyway, she ran out one time and couldn’t go home to get a refill right away so I gave her some of mine to fill the gap. You might think “No big deal!”. But you’d be wrong. I got a one year sentence for that. Did I ever give Marion any other prescription or illegal drugs? Emphatically no! And I’ve offered to take a polygraph exam on that (or any other questions), but the prosecution turned down my offer. Polygraph results are not admissible in court in Virginia, anyway, but it would have been nice to demonstrate that I’ve told the truth from day one.

What about the marijuana? I never bought any for her, but I did pay her for modeling and studio assisting, and I’m sure she spent some of her money on marijuana and pills. Her supplier, a college student named Rob, came to my trial and testified that he’d supplied her with pot, pills, and cocaine. But he said he was not a drug dealer, just a guy who got drugs for her (!). In spite of this admission made under oath in court, he was never charged with anything!

When they searched my studio the police found in Marion’s purse her pipe and the plastic box she carried her stash in, and ignored them. The detective said that they weren’t interested. After my 1969 experience in Richmond, that really surprised me. What a turnaround in those years!

Shortly before her death, Marion had gone to Florida to spend a week with friends near Orlando, had gone to some sort of concert/party/rave and came back with some pills sold to her as X. She’d taken some at the party and said she thought it wasn’t really X. I told her to throw them away, and thought she had. I’ll talk more about those suspect pills another time.

(How many of you know that, at least in Virginia, if you pick up someone else’s prescription medications from a pharmacy, you are violating the law? I was in court for a hearing one time. The person ahead of me was a frightened young woman who had been caught with her grandfather’s pills during a traffic stop. She was facing six years in prison! I don’t know how her case turned out because the judge didn’t drop the charges at the hearing, and sent her off to jail. That’s insane!)

Since Richard Nixon pushed the “War on Drugs” all his successors have followed suit, persecuting drug users but little else. Sure, they make a big splash now and then arresting people like Pablo Escobar and “El Chapo,” but that barely dents the river flowing across our borders. The government should have learned with the Volstead Act and the “Hooch War” of the 1920s that prohibition does not work. As long as there is a demand, someone will fill it.

As far as Marion’s drug use, I figured that she would outgrow it, as I had. By the late 1970s I had completely given up on drugs and considered them time wasters. I was just too busy. I even gave up alcohol, except to nurse a single Campari and soda all evening when appearances demanded.

Marion and I went to several parties when she accompanied me to Las Vegas for a photo industry trade show in 2003. She loved it, all the glitz and glitter. At a party at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, she was delighted to meet a very drunk Val Kilmer, who was a Nikon spokesman at the time. There’s a picture of us taken by Vladimir Samarin, Editor of Photomagazin in Moscow, at another party on that trip on the opening page of bobshelltruth. com……

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-letters-from-prison-13/

 

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