It is always a good practice to go back through the files to find new pictures that were never made available to the public before. Unfortunately, some of the negatives from this shoot for Neiman Marcus in May of 2004 were lost during a flood at the studio on July 25, 2021. The flood was caused by a ruptured water main at the corner of 6th & Bainbridge streets in Philadelphia. We were at ground zero during the event taking on thousands of gallons of water before the Philadelphia Water Department was able to shutdown the water flowing at break neck speed through the ruptured pipe.
It has taken me weeks to sift through the losses of countless negatives that were in the darkroom suite while I was in the process of reviewing negatives from the archives for an upcoming exhibition at the Dupree Gallery opening on October 1, 2021. Unfortunately, some of the images I was considering to exhibit have been destroyed due to catastrophic flood damage to the negatives that were in the process of being printed in the darkroom in consideration for the exhibition.
This color negative of Inez, modeling lingerie for my client Neiman Marcus survived the floodwaters. Approximately, twelve thousand seven hundred and twenty other negatives in color and black and white did not have the same fate.
2006 is feeling closer and further from me everyday. I was wrestling professionally on PPV, a guest on the Howard Stern show and I had finally done an amazing shoot with Tony Ward for Hustlers Taboo magazine. Things for a then 24 years old me were happening. I didn’t have a set career or any clue as to what direction I was going to go. That’s what you do in your 20’s. Aimlessly going on with life as it was coming, just riding the wave. July of that year had made everything stop when my older sister had passed away that summer in a car wreck. The devastation hit me harder than one could ever imagine. I wiped out off of that wave I was riding and found myself over the next five years slowly sinking to the bottom of the abyss that was called life. Self destruction quickly set in. I had left wrestling; was being over medicated with psych drugs, which led me to my journey of self medicating which led to a full blown narcotic addiction.
Rock bottom is a lonely place, but a perfect place when your down, hopeless and out. I had managed to push everyone and anyone that ever gave a damn away. Undoing all that I was working for or towards. That’s how quickly you can rise and fall. When your young, things are there for the taking and you just take it all for granted. Why not, it’s all right there being handed to you hand over fist. And I took it all, but when my life was hit by tragedy I was 100% accountable for letting it all go to ruin. I don’t regret facing those bad times. Talking about it and doing what it took to get through them. Putting in the work and getting help so that I can get the real me back to myself. It’s not easy and for everyone. I had to realize I was meant for so much more; that I deserved way better than what I was encountering. By this time, December 2011; I was 29. And I signed myself in at a rehab facility voluntarily and got the long awaited help I needed. I chose life. Coming back into the world after being down so damn long is surreal. You are not only relearning who you are organically; but releasing the demon that carried you through the darkness and didn’t want to let you go. Life feels like a night swim; alone and bare allowing the universe to see every bit of you. Raw, exposed and unapologetic.
I worked really hard through the years trying to figure out what direction I wanted to take in my life. Not many people who go where I’ve gone get to live to fight another day. I also had faced a new struggle with body image issues. I was no longer a 20 something thin model type. I was healthy, but I let my physicality go as I was more focused on staying the course of the straight and narrow instead of looking at all of me and keeping on top of myself. I needed to find a purpose again. I needed to continue the work. It was time to manifest change across the board.
In 2015, a lifelong film producer friend of mine offered to host me for a visit to her L.A. home. At that point life went stagnant and I needed a reset. While visiting, she had gotten a quick commercial gig for a popular money app we are all familiar with today and asked if I wanted to make a few bucks being a Production Assistant. Going on runs, being on set, supporting the big wigs. In the freelance film industry; you take the work when it comes but on your own terms. This had my attention right away. Take as much work as you want, make your own schedule, and gain a career without having to drop 100k on film school?! SIGN ME UP. I saw if you worked hard and put the time in this could blossom into the career for me.
I came home from my trip to SoCal and decided that this was an opportunity that I could not turn down. 33 years old, I packed up and drove across country with hopes that this could be my shot. It was. I’ve worked with recognizable names; commercials, short films, still work and music videos. I had worked hard and made my way up from a PA, grabbing Directors coffee and running errands to a Production Supervisor. Being a Production Manager/Supervisor you are the center of the universe of a shoot. You prep the job by getting everything all the crews need in order to support the Directors creativity so that we can make the project come to life, while hiring the crew and vendors as well.
It is all a chaotic world until we actually get up to the day of shoot; that’s where I can focus on the accounting aspects for the company and start pulling all the behind the scenes elements together. There’s no business like show business. It’s 24/7, and thankless at times. It would be a lie to tell you something was missing for me out there in LaLaLand. I’m East Coast born and raised. Home was calling.
I had arrived back home to Philadelphia on New Years Eve 2018. Humbled, harmonious and able to continue everything I had worked so very hard for in my career, I was welcomed with open arms in the city of brotherly love. It’s been a crazy journey to say the least, life’s been give and take; times are up and down. Whenever I feel like I start to lose myself again; I try to remember who I am during that night swim; raw, exposed and unapologetic. And keep going.
About The Author: Diana Desiderio is a motion picture production manager based in Philadelphia.
Uncovering interesting women entrepreneurs that are down to earth, smart, witty, and pretty in Philadelphia is really a fun thing. It is hard enough to find decent women friends in general as we get older.Finding women who want more for themselves outside of their homes not confined to 9-5 is refreshing!
Women that know who they are, and have known for quite sometime seem to be the ones who make it. To me that is the key to success in anything you do. If you can not see your own vision, a set business plan, and a determination to win, it is just not going to work for you.
I came across Brittany from her now husband, Jason Goldberg. Jason has been tattooing me at Olde City Tattoo for about five years. This was before the shut down. I had just started a sleeve and was sitting in the chair telling mygirlfriend who happened to come with me that I wanted pink hair. Jason let me know his soon to be wife was opening a salon that did bold color. Now, if you have seen my tattoos you would know If I can trust someone to permanently put bold color on my body; Jason just might have had a great suggestion.
Needless to say, I made an appointment with Brittany.
Upon arriving at the Heavy Metal Hair Salon, I knew I was in the right spot!
A bright pink and black colored interior, funky Heavy Metal art around, and the nicest girls working there. There is no elitist attitude like in some salons.My favorite piece of art happened to be the gold Kiss head. Brittany could not have been more informative. I thought it would take forever to get the color I wanted. She let me know it would be done that day.
Looking around everyone had perfect hair. There was nothing to be worried about. Not only was Brittany informative, she was personable. Talking to her I felt like I knew her for a while. You always end up talking to your hairstylist. Oftentimes I find myself feeling awkward in really high end salons unless it is for a wedding, or a glam event. I also do not live a normal lifestyle that does not leave me with much to say to a lot of people in general. When I feel comfortable in my surroundings; I am sure there are plenty of people who wished my gift of gab was not so great haha!
When I feel someone’s zest for life and a different vibe; that is what leaves me wanting to know more about the person behind the business. I watched as Brittany took my drab COVID hair to a vibrant dark to light pink. I was so happy to feel Alive again. It’s amazing what a little hair color can do for your soul.
It felt like COVID continued forever…
When restrictions were lifted Iwent back to have my tattoo worked on. I asked how Brittany was doing opening the salon in the pandemic. Jason said she is doing amazing!
I knew then I should interview her.
Anyone that opened a new business in COVID, a female entrepreneur, andliving an alternative lifestyle that she loves should be on Tony Ward’s platform.
Tony also agreed, and used Brittany as this month’s cover photo.
The photo shoot was a fun day. I always love seeing Tony in his element, and getting to take my own behind the scenes shots as my piece comes together.
Brittany did an amazing job! There is no wonder why Heavy Metal Hair is doing so well.
She is a pleasure to work with!
Interview as follows:
Full name:Brittany Goldberg
Hometown: Abington PA
Present Residence: Philadelphia
KK– As a child what activities were you involved with?
BG– I played a lot of sports growing up (basketball, track, cheerleading, volleyball) and did attend acting and modeling school as well!
KK– What was your family dynamic like?
BG– I’m the second youngest of 5 kids, so things were chaotic at times. We’re all close in age though so it was fun having people to hang out with all the time.
KK– At what point in your life did you realize normalcy was not for you ?
BG– I don’t know that I’ve ever been normal haha!
KK– What was the first bold color you dyed your hair, and how old were you?
BG– The first color I ever had put in my hair was by my sister while she was coloring her hair fuchsia. It was just a little streak in the underneath of my hair. I was probably 12ish.
KK– If it was much younger was your family pleased?
BG– I think my mom was pretty pissed when she saw but was always supportive of me coloring my hair at a young age after that. As long as it was done by a professional.
KK– When you started being more true to who you are now; were you met with any opposition from your parents, friends,previous employers, or in relationships ?
BG– I’ve pretty muchbeen this way as long as I can remember, and I definitely struggled finding a solid group of friends until I was a teen, but my family was always accepting of who I was. I have been turned down jobs though for looking “too extreme” in the past.
KK– Were all of your tattoos and piercings accepted as well ?
BG– Tattoos yes! My parents took me to my cousin’s shop (Kadillac Tattoo in Manayunk ) for my first tattoo and my mom got one with me. Piercings were sometimes an issue though but to be honest I did go a little overboard with those.
KK– At what age did you start doing those ?
BG– Other than my ears, my belly button was my first piercing at I think 15?
My first tattoo was 17
KK– What is your favorite piece on your body?
BG– The next one 😉
KK– At what point did you realize bold alternative cosmetology was for you?
BG– I always loved doing hair, so when my counselor in high school mentioned tech school as an option, I was sold immediately. When I was a teen, bold hair wasn’t that common especially where I grew up. I wanted to be able to color my hair how I wanted. Beauty school was where I was going to learn the basics. I started tech school at the age of 16 and went every morning for two years straight. I was basically ready to graduate the same time I was graduating high school
KK– Were your career choices accepted as you got older having an alternative to a 9-5?
BG-Yes! My parents were always super supportive of me doing hair.
KK– What other career paths were you on before you found what truly made you happy?
BG– None! Although, when I moved to the Bay Area I thought maybe I didn’t want to do hair forever, so I tried a few different jobs out there. After moving home it was right back to hair.
KK– Being married to a tattoo artist makes you both quite the creative duo.I noticed on your Heavy Metal Mom IG page you were married at the Bates Motel?
How did that concept come about? The photo of you in the dress and the frayed leather jacket was amazing! The spiked crown just made it perfect.
BG– Yes! We originally had our wedding planned for August 2020 in Vegas. Unfortunately, due to COVID we had to cancel. We were pretty upset about that and hoped to keep it in Vegas, but weren’t sure what the future would hold for travel. We made a decision to just get married here on Halloween (our favorite holiday).
While looking for the right venue, I got an ad for Bates Motel haunted house and thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask if we could have our wedding there. They got back to us right away and we’re willing to let us use the space! It actually worked out pretty perfectly!
I ended up buying the first dress I found which was just a simple hi-low black dress. I saw a dress posted in an Instagram post a month or so later and debated it but it seemed too over the top for our outdoor DIY wedding. A week before the wedding I caved and emailed the designer of the dress and asked if she could have it shipped from Germany by the wedding. She sent it out that night and it showed up 2 days before the wedding. I didn’t even open the box until I was at my friend’s house getting ready the morning of our wedding. I brought both dresses, but once we opened the box we knew I had to wear that one, so that whole look came together in about an hour before the wedding!
KK– Did you have someone help plan the wedding, or did you come up with all the little details on your own?
BG– We DIY’d the whole thing! We couldn’t have done any of it without the help of our friends and family though.
KK– Being a mother, were you ever judged for your lifestyle and working a lot ?If so, was the judgment more from other mothers, or men? Were you able to overcome it?
BG– Yes, I know people judge me (other moms for sure) but I really don’t care haha. As long as my son is happy, and taken care of that is all that matters.
KK– what are your hobbies outside of your job?
BG– I love going on adventures with my family.Going to see live music and wrestling, and playing slots.
KK– How old is your son? Does he think he has a pretty cool mom?
BG– He’s about to turn 7. I like to think he thinks I’m cool!
KK– What kind of personality is he growing into?One of a more normal standard, or taking after his edgy mother ?
BG– He’s so funny and incredibly smart! I don’t know if he’ll follow the edgy lifestyle, but who knows.
KK– Do you have any other certifications, or academic achievements that helped you along the way?
BG– I did go back to school a few years back to become an educator, but my son got sick, and being a single parent working, schooling, and caring for a sick child proved to be too much of a challenge so I took a temporary drop. Not sure I’ll go back and finish the hours though now that the salon is up and running.
KK– How old were you when you discovered your talent for bold color hair?
BG– It took a while for me to really take hair seriously. I think before I had my son, it was more just a job. It wasn’t until I got a little older, and more mature that I really stepped up my game and furthered my education. I left my job at Supercuts and went to a more high end salon. It was definitely out of my comfortzone, but really allowed me to find my place in the beauty industry.
KK– What are your favorite products for keeping bold colored hair vibrant?
BG– Definitely the Brazilian bond builder line (especially the color lock) R+CO gemstone shampoo & conditioner. And if you’re feeling confident, the Celeb Luxury Viral Colorwash & Bondfix Conditioner
KK– What are some common misconceptions clients have when they come in wanting bold colors ?
BG– Thinking I’m a magician haha! No, a lot of the time I think they’ve either had a bad lightening experience, or no experience with lightener. They’re convinced their hair will be “fried” if we need to lighten it. Products have come a long way though, and I think it’s important to educate our clients before we start any services so they know what to expect.
KK– What kind of training do you send your employees to as far as continuing education on color ?
BG-Classes have been sparse since COVID. We all keep up on new trends and show each other new tricks. We take advantage of online classes as well.
KK– When did you decide you wanted to be an entrepreneur, and open your own salon?
BG– I wasn’t happy where I was, and Jason and I had kicked the idea around for a while. I saw a commercial property pop up on Passyunk Avenue. We figured we wouldat leastcheck it out. Unfortunately, it needed too much work so we passed. The property manager let us know about a salon who’s lease was up in a few weeks though. We signed the lease on that one just a few days later. It all happened really fast! Two weeks after the lease was signed the city shut down, so we had plenty of time to get everything together.
KK– What were some of the obstacles you had to overcome opening being we live in Philadelphia?
BG– Luckily it was already a salon so we really only had to do cosmetic work. During COVID it was really hard getting the equipment and color I needed. I was hesitating even buying the bigger equipment considering there was no end in sight with COVID, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to open. State board still came out to inspect which I was really grateful for, and that gave me the motivation to actually furnish the area. Then get it ready to open once they gave us the green light.
KK– Was the city accepting of your eighties themed alternative salon?
BG– Yes! The other businesses on The Ave were super welcoming!
KK– How did you come up with the theme?
BG– I really just had a vision for what I always wanted my salon to look like, so it was really awesome seeing it come to life! Some things I had how I wanted but then decided I didn’t love it so it’s still evolving each day.
KK– Do you find respect is an easy thing to achieve in your area(s) of work?
BG– Sometimes. I think a lot of people think hairstylists just, “play with hair” all day. That’s not the case at all, and I think stylists deserve so much more! We truly do it all.
KK– Recently you had the first post COVID event at the shop.How did the Sick66 Jewelry pop up go?
BG– The pop up was a pretty big success!We had a really nice turnout and everyone had an awesome time! I’d like to start doing pop ups every couple months or so.
KK– What do you do to overcome stress?
BG– I’m a huge advocate for self care. I take time alone whenever I can to just unwind from the day.
KK– Do you have a wellness routine?
BG– I go to my favorite spa in the city every month for a massage and some me time. My job really takes a toll on my body, so it’s so important to take care of myself physically and mentally.
KK– What is it like trying to balance being a mother, wife, and now running a successful new business?
BG– Very challenging haha. I’m still figuring everything out, but we’re getting there!
KK– Have you had many mishaps when trying to achieve these bold colors on other people?
BG– Sure have! I think we’d all be lying if we said we haven’t. I think transparency is key. If I’m not happy with something, my clients know I’ll say something right away and do what I need to get it right.
KK– Are your friends supportive of you not having much free time now?
BG– Yes! It’s hard, but I’ve been making it a priority to make time for friends now that things are starting to be a bit more steady.
KK– Are you currently happy with your endeavors?
BG-Happier than I could explain, and so grateful everyday.
KK– What tips would you give women just starting on their road to entrepreneurship?
BG– I’m still figuring things out myself, but I guess if I could give any advice, it would be to stay true to yourself and always do what you think will be best for your business. You might piss some people off along the way, but at the end of the day, no one will care more about your business than you.
Learning more about Brittany made merespect mothers that go after it all even more so than I did before. Otherwise, how are we really fulfilled living through someone else ?
The days of having to choose family or career are over.
Brittany has her son, an awesome new husband, got married in COVID, had a DIY wedding that was gorgeously the right amount of Halloween & class combined into one, and a flourishing new alternative color hair business.If you think for one second as a woman in 2021 you have to stay stuck in your situation; it might be time to dig deeper.
I suggest you start talking to women like Brittany.
She might just give you that inspiration to START your own dream.
Look out for more upcoming events at the Heavy Metal Hair Salon
Juneteenth: Long Time Coming (But, Is It Too Late?)
“By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history, and celebrate progress, and grapple with the distance we’ve come but the distance we have to travel.” – President Joseph R. Biden signing The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act at The White House, June 17th, 2021 
At the June 17th, 2021 White House bill signing ceremony making Juneteenth  a federal holiday, President Joseph R. Biden and Vice-President Kamala D. Harris, as well as members of both houses of Congress were joined by an elegant elder dressed in white sitting in attendance upon the front row for this event.
Known as Grandmother of the Juneteenth Movement, Texas native Opal Lee  has been on a long quest to get the federal recognition for getting Juneteenth made a national holiday. As part of galvanizing a national campaign to get Juneteenth to become a national holiday, this passionate and persistent woman organized a walk from her home state of Texas to Washington, D.C. to ring the mighty bell of freedom on the events of over 150 years ago.
“I’m hoping that Juneteenth will not just be about festivals, but that it will be about uplifting each other.” – Opal Lee  educator and activist
Opal Lee’s focused mission on keeping the flame of the promise and premise of honoring Juneteenth’s meaning for all Americans came to a fruitful destination on her journey over these many years to be among the luminaries at the White House signing ceremony.
“To honor the true meaning of Juneteenth, we have to continue toward that promise because we’ve not gotten there yet. The Vice President and I and our entire administration and all of you in this room are committed to doing just that.” – President Joseph R. Biden signing The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act at The White House, June 17th, 2021
We can take in the events of celebrating Juneteenth from sea to shining sea and see it as a laudable moment of unity. And, yes, the banner of sisterhood, brotherhood, and human-hood flourishes beneath a blue sky and glistening sun.
President Biden’s words and actions are symbols of good faith in placing an olive branch out to his fellow Americans for unity. Yet, we live in the Divided Territories of Amnesia; where reality of the present and reckoning with the past are in a tug of war with the future.
Happy Juneteenth! Hallelujah!
A new national holiday has been placed onto the books and all is well and as it should be in America. Or, is it?
A piece of paper is a piece of paper, is a piece of paper. Be it the Emancipation Proclamation , the 1965 Voting Rights Act, or even the Constitution of The United States Of America. Inked signature upon finest parchment is meaningless without implementation or enforcement backing up the ideals and goals laid out in any of those documents.
On June 19th, 1865 when 2,000 Union troops entered Galveston Bay, Texas; the implementation of the words written in the Emancipation Proclamation by enforcement were the action that freed the slaves. A proclamation  by General Gordon Granger of the Union Army enforced General Order No. 3.
It wasn’t just a piece of paper that freed those human beings in Texas in 1865, but the physical presence of over 2,000 armed Union soldiers to make damn sure that insidious institution would crumble beneath the weight of their boots as they marched.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. has said time and time again that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. For those of us who concur with that, should continue to beat the drum of justice and march our tired soles on that arc to help the bend of that arc to remain justified and righteous. Without vigilance of raising our voices and moving towards a more perfect union, that arc can become ragged and diminished beneath the dust of dismissal and derision.
Don’t stop! Won’t stop! March on! March strong!
“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness.” – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
Quilt of history has many patches woven into it; one thread is Juneteenth, another is Tulsa, and third is a throwback of today.
Some want to forget history, or even rewrite it as it is happening in the moment. Whether it be from a level of duplicitous amnesia; which a certain clique of persons play the game of pretending things are not as they seem. Or, an oblivious amnesia; which is like the ‘Lily Belle’ or ‘Beauregard’ kind. As to this pair, I’ll get back to explaining them a little bit further on in this article.
Another thread in that quilt of America’s history is the Tulsa Massacre, which took place one hundred years ago to this exact year. I didn’t learn about this bit of history from history books in school, but from exploring past history on my own.
In the early 1900’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the black community of Greenwood was known as ‘Black Wall Street’, due to the level of self sustainability by the citizens who owned businesses, lived and raised their families there.
One gem in the Greenwood district of Tulsa was the Stradford Hotel, owned by J.B. Stradford , who was the son of a Kentucky slave. Mr. Stradford, an Indiana University law graduate used his keen vision in real estate development with purchasing several land vacancies in Greenwood.
As well as Mr. Stradford’s namesake establishment were a plethora of other African-American attorneys, doctors, tailors, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs of varied professions who called that community their home.
May 30th until June 1st, 2021, the prosperity and serenity of Greenwood were set aflame and destroyed by rumors, resentment, racist rage, and insidious inhumanity which targeted the black citizens whose ‘American dream’ descended into a terror which seemed unending.
From the horror of 1921 to the present of 2021, only three souls have survived to speak witness to what they endured in testimony before a Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing in Congress on May 19th, 2021.
“I am seeking justice. “I am here asking my country to acknowledge what happened in Tulsa in 1921.” – Viola Fletcher, 107 year old survivor of the Tulsa Massacre  of May 1921
Newsmakers of many stripes can commiserate and commemorate in locations of racism’s touchstones around the United States of America such as Tulsa, Oklahoma, never seeming torespond with anything more than just powerful prose when the call for allowing survivors of the massacre of ‘Black Wall Street’ located in the Greenwood district to be made in some teensy way whole.
“We were laid refugees in our own country.” – Hughes Van Ellis, 100 year old survivor of the Tulsa Massacre  of May 1921, brother of Viola Fletcher, veteran of the United States Army
There are those who speak about a notion of uber-patriotism and how much they supposedly love this country more than any other person. They ramble on and on about their own figments of courageous intent. But, their chest thumping has such a hollow affect to it, when a man who served his country in an all-Black unit in the United States Army in defense of this country in World War II speaks on the reality of feeling to have to battle on two fronts when being a black man in America. It is an aspect which the black soldier has internally existed with from the seedlings of the American military to present. Now, I could take another avenue of getting into the segregationist history in the American military and that itself would lead me onto a long and lonesome highway all on its’ own.
“I have waited so long for justice.” – Lessie Beddingfield Randle, 106 year old survivor of Tulsa Massacre  of May 1921
Those who survived the Tulsa Massacre of 1921 deserve far more than just wonderful words spoken by thoughtful people in high positions; as I along with others begin to nod our heads and applaud in unison of cheering in a respectful response to each of them, “Yeah! Yeah! You give good speech!”
But, can any of you cut a check for the last three LIVING survivors of the Tulsa Massacre and place it in the palm of their hands before they are DEAD. Well, of course, after they are gone from this mortal earth, these same people in high positions can rely on this trio not being around anymore by saying, “Why bring up reparations now, when there are no survivors of the Tulsa Massacre?”
NO check! But, YES speech!
Justice too late can be justice denied, for what remains may be less than that which is implied. In this case of a newly minted holiday, it might be a day of acknowledgement that leads not very far ahead. But, a few steps beyond where we have been.
In this moment of reckoning with history, there should be some sort of blueprint for an accurate tallying of history.
“It seems that justice in America is always so slow, or not possible, for Black people. And we are made to feel crazy just for asking for things to be made right.” – Lessie Beddingfield Randle, 106 year old survivor of the Tulsa Massacre  of May 1921
Some can obscure the reality lived by their fellow Americans of a different hue of humanity by just closing their eyes, closing their ears and burying their conscience in the bone-yard of manufactured persecution.
Once Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis and Lessie Beddingfield Randle are no longer around, then maybe a fig leaf of gathering together a multi-year study on reparations for the descendants of those massacre victims might have an airing out. But, then again, when things are a long time coming, they usually don’t come along at all.
Sparkle of amnesia flares up.
With the hullabaloo that is coming from opponents of critical race theory, it seems to me how obvious their problem is truly with ONLY one of those words. If it was critical WAR theory, then they’d be cool with that.
In fact, every pre-schooler in America could be given their WAR cookies and milk right before naptime in class. Hmmm.
Okay, enough of my snarkiness about the fake outrage from people who are just whipping up hysteria about something they can’t even explain when talking about it. But, it makes me shake my head whenever I hear the conspiracy theorists who howl and moan that they are trying to save their children from the ‘horrors’ of learning about something outside of their own comfort zones.
Critical race theory is an academic discipline, which means unless you are a five or six year old going for your Master Degree, your underage self can’t even comprehend the breadth and depth of history that takes an analytical look at the social and structural elements of racism in the United States of America.
Being blunt, I think it might just be a touch of Shakespeare’s axiom of ‘doth protest too much’ is the reason people are acting like Critical Race Theory is beyond a reasonable instrument in showing the vast complexity of past and present events in this country.
This demonizing of the academic theory has even been drawn into the halls of Congress by Republicans during a military budget hearing before the House Armed Services Committee on June 23rd, 2021.
To see a frat-boy Congressman who is under investigation for under-age sex trafficking preen and denounce a twisting aspect of what he thinks Critical Race Theory means when questioning two men who have served this country is the height of bizarreness.
The only tour Rep. Matt Gaetz from Florida has served so far is one of a whole lotta doody (not duty) when he’s pretending to be this super-patriot saving America from the scourge of what he calls ‘the liberal left’.
As for his future, well maybe he’ll be serving another kind of duty in cleaning toilets with a toothbrush when he’s under the state’s lock and key.
Republicans are quick to do the warrior spiel and tout their love of country and freedom when that C-Span camera is rolling. But, the camera can also capture the eloquent clap-back from the most unlikely sources.
“So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend? And I personally find it offensive  that we are accusing the United States military, general officers, commissioned and noncommissioned officers of being quote ‘woke,’ or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there.” – General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, United States of America
Seated at the table with General Milley was the first African-American serving as Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who also responded to the thinly veiled besmirching of the military from Gaetz and other Republican members of the Armed Services Committee.
“I trust my leadership from top to bottom that they will give me fair and balanced and unvarnished  input” – Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin
I wonder if Secretary Austin wasn’t so, hmm, how can I describe him…tall? Would that be the real reason why Gaetz was such a grouch to him? Maybe, it’s just a shade of cynicism I’m recognizing.
With egg on his face, Rep. Matt ‘Florida Man’  Gaetz had to sit there and take the answer that both men unapologetically gave him.
“So what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn  the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out.” – General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, United States of America
Instead of Rep. Matt Gaetz being so inflamed over one type of theory, he should shut his trap and do some reading. For one, I suggest he read Carl von Clausewitz’ “On War”, which comprehensively analyzes the nature, strategy, theory , and socio-political phenomenon of the decision of war. Furthermore, anyone worth their salt of respecting history has read and absorbed the 4th century masterpiece  written by Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”. I seriously doubt he would do a deep dive into either of these works, for there aren’t any glossy pages for him to drool over in either of these books.
Cunning and conniving their way through the political bloodstream are the hoaxsters and hucksters who are pumping the big lie filled with venomous, repercussions that will reverberate for many a day and coming year in the future.
Now, the snake’s tongue drips with equating  the scholarly research of critical race theory to the cross-burning, hate-filled, terror of the Klu Klux Klan.
Just pump the lie like a bellow and toss in anything about race into the mix and boy, oh boy the backlash gets going full steam.
And, of course those who want to believe or want to hide from the truth will just continue to drink that narcotic cocktail of amnesia and anesthetic.
Is it compliance or is it just happenstance?
Duplicitous amnesia is the kind that is a putrid half and half. One part is being a well used instrument for self benefit with the second part of becoming pied pipers of leading lemmings, who crave direction; no matter how bat-crap crazy it is.
In some ways, those who are dredged in duplicity aren’t as pernicious as persons who are whistling with clueless abandon.
Oblivious amnesia comes from those who think history is just one of those things. You know, just happenstance that has been going on around them for all these years.
Say a polite and gentle howdy to ‘Lily Belle’ and ‘Beauregard’.
With the way things are in the current time, I the name for her could have be ‘Karen’, but, I decided to go old school (or should I say Old South) with ‘Lily Belle’. As for his name, well, ‘Beauregard’ just fits past, present and future.
It seems to me that every ‘Lily Belle’ and “Beauregard’ is under the consistent illusion that all is fine, bleached and right in this country. Of course, for them it is, as it always has been and remains. For them, no matter what happens, they’ll come out smelling like a rose. Maybe even a yellow rose of Texas.
For every law which expands, there are the subsequent actions in law and practice which are constrictive. For every action, there is reaction.
Past is present as present is past. As for what comes in the future, we hold that in our hearts and hands. If we truly want to honor that which is from years ago, we have to be honest. Or, should I say ‘critical’.
My history! Your history! American history is OUR history!
Republicans are going around flapping their gums in saying that the ‘Left’ are not talking enough about America progressing forward from the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the racist past is pitiful.
My retort to them is that progress is not blindness to the sometimes fouled nature and history of this country. Oh yes, we have come far from the past. Of course, that is true. But, the United States of America is not whole in the present moment.
“I fought for freedom abroad even though it was ripped away from me at home.” – Hughes Van Ellis, 100 year old survivor of the Tulsa Massacre of May 1921 and brother of Viola Fletcher
So, when a puissant politico who pays for his jollies via Venmo  spews his insurrectionist, conspiracy concocted bile over an academic theory he wouldn’t know if it bit him on his ‘Beauregard’ backside dares to lead with a glass jaw on the issue of racial truths in this country; he should be more concerned about having a good criminal lawyer on speed dial and checking how the color orange will look on him in the days to come.
But, oh no, I can’t stop yet and end just on critical race theory and how it’s being bastardized by those of a certain ideology to their clawing for power. As there is another thread which connects all the patches of the American quilt together – voting rights.
The story of America is on a constant continuum, as is the perception and reality of equality and justice.
One citizen’s free and fair election is another citizens’ submersion into a twisted quagmire of bamboo  fibers and table-spinning of ballots in an ass-backward carnival of a so called ‘audit’.
Taint of the big lie didn’t cease the moment a new hand took an oath. The repercussions of what was done before, during and after the election cycle of 2020 is one which will haunt this nation for longer than this author and readers of this article shall exist.
In the present, along with a flurry of bills  attempting to restrict voting rights across the country, there are two pieces of legislation to strengthen voting rights that under debate in the Congress. First bill  is the For The People Act, which is a comprehensive bill to pre-empt various state voting and election laws. Second bill  is The John Lewis Voting Rights act which focuses solely on restoring and reinforcing the 1965 Civil Rights Act.
The first of the two bills has hit a roadblock to a speedy passage to becoming a law, because of a single-focused reverence of an obsolete senatorial procedure. And, the thing about it is, is that the lines of ideology are not even what this hold-up is in getting those two laws passed in the United States Senate.
Some people are clinging to the filibuster as if it were handed down from the mountaintop and treated as if it were some religious artifact or orthodoxy. To love a technical procedure which isn’t even in the Constitution over a human right reflects on a politician’s arrogant affection for their elected moniker of the moment.
To those with the D after their name in the political class that have manifested the filibuster  as their lord and master, they better know that life is beyond the hallowed halls of the Congress and the stuffy backrooms of political contributors. Nobody and nothing happens in a vacuum. And, maybe just maybe when they come a’ callin’ to be re-elected those on the left might have amnesia of checking the box for them to stay in power.
One needs to clear their mind of that cobweb of contradiction and get a perspective in the fresh air of seeing what is going on around them in this country.
Just like Republicans, there are Democrats who are in the lane of ‘Lily Belle’ and ‘Beauregard’ who are the types of people who will always be fine; no matter if their constituents will be disenfranchised and diminished in the legal arena, as they too can preen for the spotlight with a smirk of similarity on their faces just like ‘Florida Man’.
These men and women must choose which do they respect more; a technical procedure which has an odious lineage behind it or the blood, sweat, tears, and triumphant stride of citizens. Affection for an institution should not have more of a standing than the events that are occurring simultaneously to undermine voting rights protections.
Yet, that distasteful brew of amnesia and anesthesia is churned again and again by the (once) Grand Old Party in need of proving their fidelity to a person no longer in the house of white. Yet, to me, sadly it seems because of that color’s classification and the perception all which it entails in the social order of political standing and power in this country, may be the last gasp of building an impenetrable wall of judicial and elected officials set in place as umpires of inequality based solely on a supremacist ideology.
“Talk of brotherhood and “tolerance” (are we merely to “tolerate” one another?) might once have had a cooling effect, but increasingly it grates on the nerves. It evokes contempt not because the values of brotherhood are wrong–they are more important than ever–but because it just does not correspond to the reality  we see around us. And such talk does nothing to eliminate the inequalities that breed resentment and deep discontent.” – Bayard Rustin, civil and human rights activist
In fact, some who stand in the way of moving forward try to numb us into silence over the words and actions they take. I find this as an anesthetic effect. You know, it becomes a kind of fuselage of tossing so much stuff at the American citizens that at some point those in positions of power cross their fingers and hope they’ll slide through unscathed from scrutiny.
Take for example something that should be a moment of unity in bringing us all together in recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
As the Juneteenth bill’s passage was on the verge of not getting unanimous consent in the United States Senate, one person who has been a hawker of the big lie and cradler of whacked out conspiracies finally gave his tepid blessing for it to be sent off for signing into federal law by President Biden.
He is Republican Ron Johnson, Senator from Wisconsin. His amnesiac act over the insurrection of January 6th 2021 being recounted as the mob madness being just an overblown media story by the left-wing seems not out of the ordinary for him. But, his anesthetic arrogance over being on hand for this year’s Juneteenth celebration  in Wisconsin, as if the people’s senses have dulled and their memories were wiped clean, truly takes the rotten cake of this right-wing Senator.
As I was doing the research for this article, one thing that I could not avoid was the thing about timing. Timing of history. Timing of action. Timing of reaction. Timing of injustice. Timing of recognition. Timing of justice. Timing of reckoning. History never stops, nor does the timing or vastness of the interconnections of the people of this country.
“We need to advocate for an accurate history.” – Opal Lee, Grandmother Of The Juneteenth Movement
Juneteenth 1865 (156 years ago)
Tulsa 1921 (100 years ago)
Emmett Till (65 years ago)
Medgar Evers (58 years ago)
Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman (57 years ago)
George Floyd (1 year ago)
Juneteenth is a moment to celebrate, commemorate and give honor to the determination of the long journey to national recognition. But, as the years will pass by, my hope is that it doesn’t become transformed from a history learning exercise into some sort of diluted, advertising gimmick a la “Get Your Juneteenth Mattress On Sale at Manny’s Furniture Hideaway!”
Happy Juneteenth! Remember it beyond a single day on a calendar.
“Juneteenth: Long Time Coming (But, Is It Too Late?)”- Footnotes
(1)White House Briefing Room (Juneteenth National Independence Act) –
One of my friends was the late Galen Rowell, mountaineer/photographer.
At one of the NANPA conferences (North American Nature Photographers Association, of which we were both founding members), we were just kibitzing about different things. The subject of the ‘Nude in Nature’ photography workshops I’d been conducting for years came up.
I don’t know if our conversation spurred it or if his inspiration came from elsewhere, but Galen took on the subject in one of his regular monthly columns in Outdoor Photographer magazine. He was unprepared for the firestorm of outrage he created by suggesting that the nude was a valid subject to be photographed in our national parks. The magazine was deluged with angry letters, he told me.
That struck me as very strange, since some of our finest photographers from Edward Weston on photographed nudes in national parks. At the time Galen wrote about it there was no rule against nude photography in National Parks. I don’t know if there is now.
When I first got the idea for my workshops, I contacted the National Park Service about conducting them in one of our national parks. Basically, they didn’t say ‘No,’ but made it clear I’d be bogged down in bureaucratic BS if I pursued the idea. So I gave up on the idea and put it on a back burner.
I won’t go into detail here, but ultimately I discovered that the bureaucratic paperwork load was much more manageable with state parks. That’s why I ended up holding my workshops in The Valley of Fire State Park, northwest of Las Vegas next to Lake Mead. I had to carry insurance indemnifying the State of Nevada for one million dollars in liability, but since I was only buying it for two days it wasn’t very expensive. Then I had to pay into Workman’s Comp. for the models, even though they weren’t my employees. That was expensive, but, again because it was only for two days, I got most of it back at the end of the year. Then there were forms after forms to fill out, but I managed and held successful workshops there annually through 2002.
It was worth the hassle to photograph beautiful nudes in those gorgeous settings.
My arrest forced me to cancel my planned 2003 workshop there. Even though I was ‘free’ on bond, the court would not allow me to leave Virginia.
Why are so many people in this country so hostile to nudes, in nature or anywhere else? I don’t have all the answers.
Part, I think, is that this is basically still a Puritan country. We tout our First Amendment right to freedom of expression, but tend to freak out if that expression includes nudity.
When I was Editor of SHUTTERBUG magazine, our headquarters were in Titusville, Florida. For those not familiar with the area, Titusville is right across the Indian River from Cape Canaveral, where NASA’s launch facilities are located.
North of the Kennedy Space Center is Canaveral Seashores National Park. For many years the most northern part of these beaches was traditionally a nude beach. People went there to enjoy the ocean and the beach au naturelle. They bothered no one.
Some of the local ‘Christian’ churches got all in a dither over it, and got the county to pass an ordinance forbidding nudity on the beaches. Beside the road leading to the beaches they erected a big sign forbidding nudity.
My response was to photograph a nude model leaning against the sign. Such idiotic nonsense!
When I told my doctor about this nonsense, he commented that he’d known far more people harmed by not seeing nude bodies.
If I’d stuck to photographing still life and landscapes, which make up the bulk of my photography, and not photographed nudes, particularly ‘erotic’ and ‘fetishistic’ nudes, I’d probably still have my freedom. I’m in prison because the judge and jury were offended by my nude photographs, pure and simple. I broke no laws, never had criminal intent, contributed in no way to my girlfriend’s death, but offending community standards was what got me put away. That’s America today.
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 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read Bob Shell’s, first essay on civil war, click here: https://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-nudes-in-national-parks/
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.