Category Archives: News

Steve Cohen: Frank Gehry’s Spectacular Architecture


.

 

.
Text by Steve Cohen, Copyright 2020

.

Photo Credits: Frank Gehry Studio and the Philadelphia Museum of Art

.

When the most flamboyant architect in the world was awarded the job of redesigning the interior —  just the interior —  of the Philadelphia Art Museum, the choice appeared to be puzzling.

Frank Gehry’s fame comes from spectacular curvaceous structures covered with reflective metal, but he will not be able to alter anything on the exterior of this building. Therefore the assignment seemed like a mis-match. Or could it be a brilliant upsetting of expectations?

*   *   *

“So you want to know why I’d do a project where nothing will show on the outside? Because what’s always been important to me is the inside, the purpose, the function,” Gehry told me in an interview in November of 2007, right after the assignment was announced..

Gehry’s challenge at the Philadelphia Museum of Art was to create new spaces for art and for visitors without disturbing the classic exterior of a building that is a landmark in Philadelphia. He is in charge of excavating under the Museum’s east side on the hill of Fairmount, and will renovate the Museum’s existing interiors. A 60% increase in the museum’s public space is anticipated, with 80,000 additional square feet.

I point out to Gehry that he’s been criticized as a proponent of the DeCon Movement in architecture, the deconstructionist movement that gives more importance to impressive exteriors than to functional necessity.

“That just isn’t true,” he cheerfully argues. “Everything I design is from the inside. All my projects started with the function. Disney (the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles) started with the sound of the orchestra, and Bilbao started with the gallery. And my buildings do function. Just ask any of my clients.”

“To say that what I care about most is the exterior look is wrong. Thank you for giving me a chance to rebut what those people say. When I was a kid, people said that I killed Christ, and that wasn’t true either.”

Before the Disney concert hall, Gehry had never been hired for a large, expensive building. “I heard that one of the Disney people said he’d never set foot in the building if it was designed by Gehry, and I remembered the reputation Walt Disney had for being anti-Semitic.”

Despite all his acclaim, Gehry often feels vulnerable and afraid. For example, afraid to wish for things because he fears he won’t get them. “I’m always scared,” he says. Of what? “Scared that I won’t know what to do when I start a job, for instance.” And he’s aware of negative things that are said about him.

These qualities are endearing. Friends describe him as a Columbo, shuffling and self-effacing. He confirms that. “I want to be a nice guy, the aw-shucks type, but inside I’m competitive as hell.”

“Some people say that I repeat myself. That Disney and Bilbao are similar. But they’re not. I’ve been careful not to repeat myself. Disney and Bilbao have different shapes, different functions. Even the metal isn’t the same.” Gehry goes on to observe that sculptors use plaster and painters use canvas but that scarcely indicates that all their work looks alike.

Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, completed in 1997, is such a stunning achievement that it’s what people see in their minds when they hear his name. The architect concedes that maybe some people hire him because they expect another Bilbao, “but I tell them it’s not what I do. What you want from a building is that the public likes it and that it functions.”

Anne d’Harnoncourt, former director of the Philadelphia museum, said: “The decision to hire him was based on the exceptional range of Gehry’s accomplishments, his love of art, admiration for our collections, respect for the neoclassical building, and the firm’s success even in smaller projects, such as the renovations to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena where the hand of the architect is discreet yet wonderfully sensitive to the needs of great works of art.”

Gehry told me that he sought this project because he loves Philadelphia and he respected d’Harnoncourt. “I resonate with its collections, and Anne is one of the best museum directors in the world.” [d’Harnoncourt died unexpectedly at the age of 64 in June of 2008.]

“I always wanted to do something in Philadelphia. It’s an architects’ city. I look up to Bob Venturi; he’s a mentor and I treasure my friendship with Bob and Denise (Venturi’s wife and partner.) I attended lectures by Louis Kahn and we spoke afterwards. I loved his work. Ed Bacon was a hero of mine in the area of city planning.”

This grouping is a bit surprising when you realize how Bacon and Kahn disliked each other and criticized each other’s plans. Gehry’s choices also surprise because Kahn was hailed for emphasizing the pipes, ducts and other inner functions of buildings and Venturi has been complimented for his “modest, self-effacing” architecture while Gehry’s work fits neither of these descriptions.

“Our architecture is different,” says Venturi, “but we are good friends. We — Denise and I — would have liked to have gotten the job but, since we didn’t, I’m glad Frank did. He’s a noble person, kind, intelligent, understanding.” Speaking at his headquarters in Manayunk, the Philadelphia-born Venturi says that he and his wife became friends of Gehry when they all lived in Santa Monica forty years ago. Fifty years ago, Venturi worked in Kahn’s office on Walnut Street in Philly.

There are parallels between the careers of Kahn and Gehry. Both were Jewish immigrants to the USA (Kahn from Estonia, Gehry from Canada.) Both toiled for years before they received sudden acclaim in middle age and went on to international stardom.

“I told Anne that I’d like to do this project many years ago,” says Gehry. “I wanted Philadelphia but I never pursued the subject after that one conversation. I tried to push it from my mind. I’m superstitious. I don’t yearn for things because I know I won’t get them. When you go after something, you get rejected. So don’t ask me what type of projects are on my wish list.”

Still, under gentle pressure from me, he discloses one thing on his wish list. He admits that he always wanted to design a synagogue and has not yet had a chance to do so.

Frank Gehry was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1929. He drew a picture of Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, at his Hebrew school and the rabbi told his mother, in Yiddish, that young Frank had goldene hent, golden hands. When he was 17 his family moved to California where his dad worked as a truck driver. For three years Frank also drove a delivery truck and studied at Los Angeles City College before graduating from the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture. When he was 24 and newly married, Frank changed his last name from Goldberg to Gehry to counteract the anti-Semitism that he saw in the architectural establishment.

He and a partner ran a commercial architecture firm that designed homes and small businesses, then began to build stores for the Kay Jewelry chain and large malls for the Rouse company in Maryland. “Shopping centers don’t give much leeway; everything’s proscribed. At my home in Santa Monica I had freedom to be creative and try new ideas.” [Gehry’s design for his own home was radical; some critics said it looked like a pile of junk.]

“The CEO of Rouse, Mathias DeVito, pointed out that what I did at my home was the direction I should take. I took his advice and I resigned the Rouse account. I let 45 people go and reduced my staff to three people.”

His home and the buildings he designed in the 1980s feature rudimentary construction materials, throwaway things like corrugated metal and chain link, and random objects arranged artistically. His use of corrugated steel and chain link was partly inspired by spending Saturday mornings at his grandfather’s hardware store.

He feels that a breakthrough came in 1989 when he designed the thrusting, soaring, Vitra furniture museum in Weil-am-Rhein in southwestern Germany, that juxtaposed curved shapes with rectilinear ones. From there, his work became bigger, broader, wilder.

His buildings look like sculpture. When he was young he liked to make things with his hands but says he never had aspirations to sculpt or paint. “I have sculpture on an emotional pedestal. I revere artists and sculptors; they’re like my Holy Book. But I wouldn’t dare to try it myself. Sure, I create shapes, but the ones I produce are to keep heat in and the water out, to support the walls, to enclose utilities.” Self-effacingly, he concludes: “If it has plumbing it can’t be art, can it?”

Many of Gehry’s buildings are museums and concert halls. He always has loved art and music, and artists who know him since the 1960s say they always saw him at exhibits and at parties. “I have artists and musicians as friends,” he explains, “because they’re outside the politics of my profession. With them I can be an observer instead of a participant. There’s less pressure.”

In the early 1960s Gehry hung out with the rebellious young artists who were known as the Cool School in Los Angeles. Their work often was described as abstract expressionism but there were many individualistic variations. Frank, with long hair, a droopy mustache and a cigar, partied with them and attended their exhibitions. “I grew from here to there (reaching ‘way up) because I spent time with them,” Gehry says.

His artist friends included people like Jasper Johns, Bob Rauschenberg, Ed Kienholz, Claes Oldenburg, Julian Schnabel. “They were working with very inexpensive materials — broken wood and paper, and they were making beauty. They made beauty with junk. That inspired me. I began to explore the processes of raw construction materials to try giving feeling and spirit to form.”

Gehry’s love of music came from his mother, who studied violin and took him to concerts when he was a child. In 1970 he got a contract to redesign the Hollywood Bowl and its director, Ernest Fleischman, introduced him to Zubin Mehta (then the conductor of the LA Philharmonic) and “through Mehta I got to know the Israeli mafia” — Daniel Barenboim, Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman and Jacqueline DuPre — who performed and socialized with each other.

“Contemporary music interests me most. John Adams. Boulez and his friends. The electronic composers. Metaphorically, they try to answer the same questions I have: How do you react to changing conditions? How do you adapt to a changing world filled with disparity and inequality?”                          .

Before the Disney hall, Gehry designed the Merriweather Post Pavilion of Music in Columbia, Maryland, and the Concord Amphitheatre in northern California. More recently he designed a lovely little concert hall on the campus of Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley.

The music directors of the San Francisco and Los Angeles symphonies are among his pals. Gehry worked closely with Esa Pekka Salonen in the development of the Disney Hall. And Gehry and his first wife used to babysit for Michael Tilson Thomas when Thomas’s parents lived in the San Fernando Valley. Now Gehry is designing a concert hall for MTT’s New World Symphony in Miami.

Because of his lifelong connection with music and his friendships with musicians, Gehry reacted strongly when I brought up the subject of Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center: “It’s lazy to design a hall that has movable parts to change the sound of the music. Flexible, movable walls are in vogue but it’s intellectually dishonest because no one has 500 years’ experience playing that instrument. Making musical instruments, however, has that background and that tradition. An architect should design, to the best of his ability, an auditorium that will enhance the sound of an orchestra and then the players and the conductor will make their own adjustments. Musicians adjust to the room.”

The Walt Disney Concert Hall does not have movable panels, flaps, baffles or anything of that sort. “It’s all fixed. Nothing moves. The interior is a box because that reflects sound the best. Then I covered the outside of that rectangle with large curved panels, like sails.”

He is glad that a major part of his Philadelphia Museum redesign will be making a space for the museum’s contemporary collection. Although Gehry will leave no imprint on the outside of the building, look for unusual design and wall treatments inside. “I hate sterilized white cubes and the artists don’t like it either. Everybody has been making galleries with plain white walls and it’s time for things to change.”

One example of Gehry’s design for an art museum is the MARTa museum in Herford, Germany, which has nary a rectangular wall. Interior shapes range from trapezoidal to curved, using the colors of blue, yellow, grey and off-white with contrasting textures ranging from soft to reflective.

Gehry says that his walls are more flattering to the art that hangs on them: “I could show you love letters that I’ve gotten from artists.” Julian Schnabel is one who says: “I feel comfortable in his spaces. I want to stick my stuff in there.”

His work is so popular that Gehry’s firm now employs a staff of 150. Frank travels a good part of the year and when he is at his office in LA he runs between client meetings, contractor meetings, phone calls and design sessions. On the road, he carries tracing paper so he can create new designs on site. When he was in Philadelphia for a week he spent his time exploring the art museum and meeting with its staff, turning down requests for media interviews and photo sessions.

He says he’ll start slowing down now that he’s  80, in 2009. “But I love my work, I love what I’m doing. I don’t ever want to retire. I have friends who retired and I could see their deterioration when they left their profession.”

When asked why he has taken on new, commercial projects such as designing jewelry for Tiffany, he says: “Do you mean, why did I sell out? I didn’t seek it but I went along with it because I can play with my children, so-to-speak. It’s one-on-one between the idea and the craft. I’m designing three-dimensional objects, working directly. Vases, silverware, candlesticks and jewelry have a visceral gratification, and I do all those things for Tiffany, not just jewelry. Architects throughout history have designed jewelry; there’s nothing wrong about it.”

His real-life children are daughters in their fifties and sons in their thirties from Gehry’s second marriage. The older boy is an artist and the younger is interested in architecture.

He says that his buildings are like his children, but with a difference: “After they’re done I’ll see them only three or four more times in my life!”

Among his many buildings, Gehry spoke especially fondly of what he called “my Israeli project,” the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem. Gehry said the project had awakened memories of his grandfather who taught him about the Talmud and Zionism. ”If you’re raised a Jewish kid, Israel’s the most important place in the world where there’s some sense of belonging when all else fails.”

But in 2010 Gehry withdrew from the project amid controversy over the fact that the museum was to be built on the site of a former Muslim cemetery. (He had no input on the location.) The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the project had to be radically changed because of what it called “the affront to the honor of the dead as a constitutional right.”

The American architect and critic Michael Sorkin had stirred up opposition when he claimed in Architectural Record that the Gehry design’s use of large, irregular stone blocks ”uncomfortably evokes the deconstruction of Yasir Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah into a pile of rubble by Israeli security forces.”

The end of this project left Gehry feeling unfulfilled and angry.

More recently, in 2014 two significant museums designed by Gehry opened: the Biomuseo in Panama City, Panama, and the Fondation Louis Vuitton, a modern art museum in the Bois de Boulogne park in Paris. In February 2015 a new building for the University of Technology in Sydney opened, with a facade constructed from more than 320,000 hand-placed bricks and glass slabs.

Gehry said he drew inspiration from folds in the skin and clothing. Some say it resembles a “squashed brown paper bag.” He responded, “Maybe it’s a brown paper bag, but it’s flexible on the inside, so there’s a lot of room for changes or movement.”

Sir Peter Cosgrove, Australia’s Governor-General, described it fondly as “the most beautiful squashed brown paper bag I’ve ever seen. It’s bold, it’s inspiring and the traditional notions of hallowed sandstone quadrangles, spires and large lecture halls as symbols of tertiary education have been reinvented, reinterpreted and reinvigorated by the building.” 

.

Steven Cohen

.

Editor’s Note: This is a repost with permission granted by the author, Steve Cohen. For additional access to Steve Cohen’s writings on art, theater, music, books and travel, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/steve-cohen-louis-kahn-and-i/

.

To access Mr. Cohen’s web site, click herehttp://theculturalcritic.com

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, commentary, lifestyle, Men, Popular Culture, Travel

Katie Kerl: Dating Guide 2020

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

 

Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2020

.

Dating Guide

.

This is the first time I have really been totally single in a few years.  After much on and off with my last relationship I fully understand the saying, “I do not have to know you to know your energy.” Unfortunately, our lives led us onto completely different paths, and that is more than ok.

I know upon meeting someone what they are going to bring into my life, and I’m very rarely surprised anymore. If your partner is seeking acceptance from others they have yet to discover who they really are, or they would not care about anyone else’s opinion. This also confuses the fuck out of me. You may be nice, sweet, giving, and that is great! On the flip side though; if you spend too much time trying to be a people pleaser your light will be dimmed. I have said that a few times previously but it is IMPORTANT.

As new decade falls upon us; I wanted to feel like me again. I really started thinking about my life, friends, and family. Those who have yet to drop the ball have made me feel so full of life and appreciated. If you are having a hard time relating to people I suggest joining groups you’re interested in, expand your knowledge on human behavior, and take a few basic psychology classes, or simply try every new thing you can. This will give you basic understanding of human nature, and why we make the choices we do. We will never fully understand what the other person is going through, but you absolutely CAN TRY.

  I find that being an Empath in a world of narcissism and materialistic bullshit is basically suicide. You can be caring to a point, but when you care too much people take advantage of that. It totally depletes your efforts of maintaining a healthy relationship and lifestyle. When you see things in someone that other people do not, you end up an enemy every damn time. While relationships have come and gone through my adult life, I am very fortunate to have gained the life experience, and grown from all of them. The good, bad, and the ugly because let’s face it; something went right before it went wrong, and was not able to be communicated and worked out. Some people will never face their demons and that is ok; making peace with that maybe the hardest part. Moving on is never easy but you must keep growing.

Here are a few things I always keep in mind when bringing someone new into my life.

Top 20 for 2020:

  1. Never compromise who you are for someone else.
  2. Be kind
  3. Have shared interests, your own hobbies, and friends.
  4. Have amazing SEX & lots of it!!! After all, that is half the fun of dating.
  5. Do not try to control people they will show you exactly who they are over time; take it or leave it. A little jealousy is cute, being a stalker is scary.
  6. Be HONEST do not promise someone the world when you are not capable of giving it; no matter how good the intention is. Saying I’m sorry is something that should be eliminated, and replaced with changed behavior if you actually care about the person you hurt.
  7. Go on dates!! Stop accepting, “You want to hang out?” if you are looking for love. The person who says do you wanna hang out has 0 plan, is expecting to get laid, and has probably mass sent that text out to whomever they started talking to on a variety of dating apps. Already in a relationship? Never stop dating the person you are with; that is when the spark dies. If you have to use the phrase “we used to do this.” Things have probably gotten a little stale.
  8. Show appreciation and celebrate their accomplishments.
  9. Be present in the situation… I realize we live in a world of technology and convenience, but your partner does not want a phone in their face every time you go out with them.  If one starts off that way you can be sure it is going to end badly.
  10. Communication; IM FINE is no longer an acceptable response when you are clearly bothered by something. Not speaking on what bothers you only leads to a buildup of anxiety and emotional delusion that could have been handled when your partner asked, “WHAT’S WRONG?” to begin with.
  11. Fighting is two people disputing an issue. Understand no one is going to have the same perspective as you. They have not experienced what you have; also they may have very limited understanding of large life issues if they have not had life smack them down to size yet. Do not discount someone’s feelings based on your own. If they say they are upset, that should be enough.
  12. Have FUN and do not take yourself so seriously….. That is BORING.   There is nothing worse than someone with no quick wit, or funny charm.   
  13. Cook together! Making a meal with someone is a very attractive thing. Anyone can swipe their credit card at a restaurant. If you create a beautiful plate while listening to good music; for me there’s nothing better. Except maybe dancing off the calories after. 
  14. If you are on dating sites try to remember something; not everyone is looking for what you are. Be it friends because you just moved, or sex because you just have not the time or energy to date. If you are seeking dating or a relationship say it. The reality is; you cannot order any of these up like ramen on a snowy day.  If you choose to meet someone on line, my suggestion would be having ZERO expectations, and do not commit to a dinner. You will possibly end up awkwardly stuck for two hours with a person you’re not sure can hold a fifteen minute conversation. Start with a drink alcohol or coffee/juice bar, walk in the park, fitness class, cooking demo, art show, or a museum. This gives you a quick out if you need it, and it is different! Lastly, always tell a friend where you are going because STRANGER DANGER!!!
  15. Be understanding and accept constructive criticism, especially if you were the one asking for it. If you value the person you are with why would you not want to accept their opinions? 
  16. Wait until you find out who you are before bringing someone else into your situation. If you have not figured out how to navigate it, how can someone else?
  17. In 2020 we are not ghosting people anymore. You do not like that person, or they were not what you were expecting? Have some fucking balls and say, “I do not think our lives are on the same path.”  When did we get to be such emotional pussies we cannot convey simple interest, or dislike? It has to be all out war, or radio silence? 
  18. Stay healthy!!  Be the best version of yourself; even when life is smacking you. That shows true dignity when you are still standing when it is all going wrong. Your partner is there for support, but if you are not being honest with yourself how can they truly be there?
  19. MAKE THE TIME, give unexpected gifts, and respect that person’s life for what it is, or walk away. Unless they express they want to be different, do not push. Even if they do talk about it. There is a very large difference between talk and action. You can talk till you’re blue in the face, until you make that decision to be different on your own. It is not going to happen.
  20. Above all else; be careful with that person’s heart. You do not want to be the reason they give up on themselves, love, or dating.

There are only a few billion frogs left to kiss out in the world. Get leaping and put yourself out there. Cheers to all, hoping everyone looking for something special finds it!

.

.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

.

To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here:https://tonyward.com/katie-kerl-tis-the-season-for-giving/

Also posted in Art, Blog, Erotica, Glamour, lifestyle, Popular Culture, women

Ed Simmons: Dancing Girls Harvard and Stone

 

Photography and Text by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2020

.

Dancing Girls Harvard and Stone

.

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.

.

.

Ed Simmons photographed by Bonnie Schiffman. Copyright 1972

.

About The Author: Ed Simmons is a documentary photographer and assistant to Tony Ward, based in Los Angeles, California. To access additional articles by Ed Simmons, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/ed-simmons-venice-beach-trashed/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, commentary, Documentary, Glamour, lifestyle, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel, women

Katie Kerl: Tis’ the Season for Giving

 

Photography and Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

.

Tis’ the Season for Giving

.

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/

.

.

 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!! 

.

Katie Kerl. December 2019

.

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

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

.

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

Also posted in Blog, commentary, Documentary, lifestyle, Popular Culture, women

Bob Shell: On The Legal Front

Marion in Vegas. Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

.

On The Legal Front

.

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!

.

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.

Also posted in Blog, Cameras, Documentary, lifestyle, Men, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, women