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Wednesday, October 31, 2018



by David-Elijah Nahmod

She explains why she chose to share the story of Lexie, her college caregiver.

“It was a profound relationship that took place at a critical juncture in my life,” she said.

“We all enjoy reminiscing about our college days, and I simply can’t separate that experience from the relationship I had with Lexie. 

I also wanted to write about a rite of passage that was perhaps a little less obvious than something like first love or losing one’s virginity.”

And what advice does Johnson-Wright offer to other disabled people?

“Don’t hide, don’t try to pass for non-disabled,” she says. “If someone makes you feel inferior for having a disability, get the hell away from them. Hang out with kind, good hearted, nurturing people. Stay away from manipulators and abusers. Find out what you’re good at, discover your passion, and follow it. Find your disability identity and be proud.”

The anthology Firsts: Coming of Age Stories by People with Disabilities is available now on Amazon and other retailers.

David-Elijah Nahmod is an award-winning film critic and celebrity interviewer. You can find him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018



by David-Elijah Nahmod

Ride service providers such as Uber and Lyft also do not accommodate people with disabilities, according to Johnson-Wright.

“Yet we don’t hear the outrage and disgust,” she said. “That is disability discrimination.”

Johnson-Wright’s disability did not play a role in her becoming an attorney. It’s what her father wanted her to do, and it’s what he was willing to pay for.

“I would love to have been an Egyptologist, or perhaps an art historian,” she said. “I also think it would be amazing to work with animals, perhaps for an animal conservation organization. 

But on a more practical level, I could see myself as a college literature professor.”

Monday, October 29, 2018



by David-Elijah Nahmod

Johnson-Wright has also faced obstacles in her adult life, such as disability discrimination.

 “Every time a building, a transit station, or a streetscape is designed with an end user in mind that is the mythical 5-foot, 9-inches, 175-pound, white, non-disabled male, disability discrimination is there,” she pointed out.

She added that she recently saw a statistic which said that less than one percent of housing units in the United States are move-in ready for wheelchair users.

“The other 99 percent require renovations before someone like me could live there,” she said. 

“Imagine going apartment hunting and knowing that 99 percent of what’s out there will automatically be off limits to you, simply because you have a disability.”

Sunday, October 28, 2018



by David-Elijah Nahmod

And because of the nature of their relationship, Johnson-Wright was never able to discuss these issues with her mother. 

“I don’t remember ever truly having a constructive conversation with my mother,” she recalls. 

“Not in the sense of two people communicating, truly listening to each other, and respecting each other’s feelings and opinions.

Part of that was due to her having what I believe to be borderline personality disorder, and never being able to get beyond being a narcissistic bully. 

But part of it was due to the generation my parents came from. 

Children were devalued and were expected to be seen but not heard.”

Saturday, October 27, 2018



by David-Elijah Nahmod

Johnson-Wright noted that when she was a child — in the worst throes of her disease — kids were not treated as full-fledged humans.

 “The pain of kids was not taken as seriously as that of adult patients,” she said.

 “It seems incredible now when I think about it, but all the years that I received treatment at what was considered a cutting edge pediatric rheumatology clinic, no one ever asked me how I was managing the pain.”

Friday, October 26, 2018



by David-Elijah Nahmod

In “Life with Lexie,” her Firsts contribution, Johnson-Wright recalls her friendship with Lexie, her college caregiver. 

She also recalls the abuse she withstood at the hands of her own mother, who was unable to deal with the harsh realities of Johnson-Wright’s disability. 

Johnson-Wright now speaks to us about how this abuse affected her rheumatoid arthritis.

“As is true of many other medical conditions, stress can exacerbate rheumatoid arthritis, making one prone to flairs,” she said. “The more the disease acts up, the faster permanent joint damage occurs. 

And if you have a condition with chronic pain, anxiety makes the physical sensations of the pain worse. I didn’t learn that until I was in my 30s. No one bothered to tell me that when I was a kid.”

Thursday, October 25, 2018



by David-Elijah Nahmod
Heidi Johnson-Wright, author of the leading story in the collection Firsts: coming of Age Stories by People with Disabilities, has lived with the complicated effects of rheumatoid arthritis since around the age of 9.

The condition made it necessary for her to use a wheelchair and curtailed her ability to perform simple, everyday tasks. 

When she began college in the 1980s, she needed a caregiver to help her dress and get to class on time.

Johnson-Wright quietly accepted her situation, excelling in her studies. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018



I am proud to be the editor of the English language version of PHOTOJOURNALIST: The Life Story of Ara Guler, by the warm, wonderful and talented Nezih Tavlas.

So glad I got up the nerve to approach (the famously cantankerous but infinitely
talented) Ara Guler in Beyoglu during my second visit to Istanbul.

I understand why he thought of himself as a photojournalist.

But he was a great artist.

He was one of the greatest photographers.

I visited Ara Cafe a half dozen times, scouting famous Photo Journalist Guler.

Finally, he was sitting down to some food and tea.

I had bought a rare book of his, haggling at a book fair that was part of Ramazan.

I lugged the heavy book from Taksim to Galatasaray for him to sign.

He was, a most human of human beings.

Frank, honest, humorous.

You cannot capture life they way he does on film, without having a great amount of empathy and love of your fellow brethren on earth.

Less than a month ago, I was in Paris...exploring the stories of Ara Guler from @MagnumPhotos to Salvador Dali to @LeMeurice to the back streets and main
streets of the City of Light.

RIP Ara.

Read the Kindle version of Photojournalist at:

Watch the movie on Prime at:

a great Twitter feed at:

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


I’m now officially 54.

I’ve walked the Earth for more than half a century.

My wife and I have a combined century-plus of life experience.

Speaking of my spouse of 30+ years: she uses a wheelchair for mobility.
It never made her less of a person to me. Yet, clearly, it makes her less of a person to a lot of architects and designers.

They bristle at even the simplest request to design bathrooms that are comfortable for her, or to design accessible front entrances (as opposed to the "deliveries only" back entrance) and that they don’t relegate her to third-class citizen status because she can’t negotiate their grand (or is that grandiose?) stair cases.

I posted a couple days ago that my simple birthday wish was that urban designers, town planners, architects, engineers, landscape architects and the entire lot of other designers and regulators – in both the public and private sectors – admit that if they’re worth a damn, they can design for all.

The blog item ended up drawing out the inflexibility and closed-mindedness of planner/urban designer types.

Being all about inclusion, I have dedicated this essay to shaming architects, engineers and others who design for the built environment yet push back against the concept of universal design.

If I had a dollar for every architect -- from no-name designers of chain sandwich shops to world-famous starchitects (whose influence rivals their out-sized egos) – who call “no fair" on the ADA, I’d have enough money to sue all of them for malpractice.

The civil engineer or town planner who cannot seem to design a community park without stairs that push wheelchair users off to some corner and the architect who balks at designing for all should be off flipping burgers at the mall or otherwise making an honorable living that doesn't create a segregated world off limits to tens of millions of people with disabilities.

“But the ADA puts us in a nanny state. I have someone looking over my shoulder, so I can’t think creatively before I sit down to design my building,” says the pigheaded architect.

So that must mean when the height district is capped at 30 stories, you walk away from the commission. Such a restriction on your "build to the moon" mentality makes it impossible for you to work.

Or if your town center must fit on 40 acres, you turn away the client because your dream design covers 50 acres and you just can’t be constrained.

Sound idiotic, on the border of French farce?  I’m just starting.

So if an accessibility standard destroys the design process, then do architects disregard fire, electrical, plumbing, HVAC requirements?

What about flood plain issues? These are major constraints to building design.

Why are these code requirements seen as a welcome challenge, a chance for creativity, an opportunity to show off skills and resilience?  Why do architects meet that new challenge with boundless enthusiasm, yet turn spiteful toward a wider entrance, a larger bathroom, a lowered sink, a zero-step entrance?

Perhaps the reason is prejudice: pure and simple. The AIA’s finest are harboring these toxic attitudes toward designing for anything but the mythical 5 foot 10, 180-pound, non-disabled male.

In South Florida, we have building requirements about roofs, shutters, impact class, construction materials, etc. to keep our residents from perishing inside a structure not built to withstand 100+ mile per hour hurricane winds.

How is it that architects accept hurricane building standards yet resist designing for inclusion?

If it is not bigotry -- specifically ableism -- I don’t know what it can be.

As a reporter, public servant and communications consultant, I have talked to world famous architects who have had the guts to point at their woeful retrofit, their shameful defiance of ADA, their new tower with built-in barriers to all but the most fit of occupants…and say “you know, I’ve never had wheelchair users complain about the usefulness of my buildings.”

Maybe they can’t even get in the place, because your entrance has stairs with a sad, little mechanical outdoor lift off to the side. A lift that will inevitably break down within a month leaving people with disabilities out in the cold.

When you put up barriers – physical, visual, symbolic – you effectively discriminate against one out of five Americans. People who have every right to enter without needing to be carried, lifted, or directed toward the locked back door adjacent to the garbage bins.

I will say this to the grave: if you are unwilling or unable to design for all, then you should surrender your professional license.

Go make floral arrangements, or the prettiest cupcakes for sale at the mall.

But please -- for the sake of social equality -- stop designing. The world is already filled with prejudice and hate. We don't need it in our buildings, too.

Monday, October 22, 2018



1.     I want the world designed for all -- so folks aged 8 to 80 can get around without obstructions, restrictions, threats of injury, or damage to their dignity.

2.     I want folks who use assistive mobility devices, who have hearing loss, who have vision impairments, who have cognitive issues -- to be known as people with disabilities. Because the person part matters more than disability.

3.     I want every writer and editor to stop saying “wheelchair bound” and “confined to a wheelchair.” First it is inaccurate. My wife sleeps, bathes and does tons of things without her mobility device. Second, it is pejorative. We hear the dog whistle. Nothing good comes out of being confined or bound to something, so we know these modifiers are code words for “devalued” or “less than human.”

4.     I want assistive mobility devices -- wheelchairs (power and push), scooters, rolling walkers, crutches, etc. -- to be looked at simply as what they are: devices that enable mobility. Most people live five miles or more from work. They jump in a sedan to make it in on time, because it would take an hour to walk it. Why do I never hear them described as poor souls that are Toyota-bound, or confined to a Chevy?

5.     I would like the media to really cover strong, global, prevailing issues in the disability community. Far too often -- when I worked in a newsroom and right up through today when folks are as likely to get their news via tweet or website as TV, radio or printed paper -- the editor's idea of covering an issue on disability is to do the "super gimp" profile. A person in a wheelchair has been elected to the city council, or they are chair of the library board or the new VP for student affairs at the local university. The story could detail what knowledge and experience they will bring, as someone who likely had to struggle for accommodations in grade school, at college, in the work place, etc.

Instead, they all but say the "normal" people, the able bodied, should be shocked and amazed that a "pathetic cripple" can someone sob story their way into a position of respect and power. How many editors would say this of a person of color? That it is amazing they could "overcome" their blackness and be something more than a shoe shine guy or maid? If a modern story fell into the Jim Crow time machine and came out inaccurately labeling African Americans this way, it would be correctly judged as racist and the bigoted writer/editor/publisher would be justifiably fired. Yet negative stereotyping of people with disabilities in all modern media is the rule, not the exception.

Is it relevant to write about the first African American fire chief, or the first person who uses a wheelchair for mobility to be elected to the city commission? Yes. Should the story focus on the unique insights their minority status gave them and how they plan to use that to make the organization they serve more inclusive? You bet.  But I would hope in the year 2018 that a news story would not fawn over the fact that someone "overcame the impossibly long odds" of becoming a community leader despite the confines (and implied inferiority) of being black, female, Hispanic, etc.

Sadly, virtually every story of achievement about a person with a disability perpetuates medieval stereotypes by building a portrayal that implies we able bodied (who should thank every deity know that we're not a pathetic cripple) are still far superior to the person with a disability who lucked into the job, got the sympathy vote, and rose above half-human status. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Honored to have photographed the Eye of Istanbul. Ara Guler, the eye of Istanbul | Showcase Special



Tomorrow, I turn 54. 

I don't want a cake, candles or surprise well-wishers to mark my five-plus decades on earth.

I want designers to be more inclusive.

Designers includes, but is not limited to: architects, landscape architects, interior designers, engineers, planners, urban designers and all the government officials that oversee them.

I have been with my wife for a third of a century and for those 33.3 years, I have (as a journalist, policy advisor and marketer) heard designers whine like little children about the "constraints" of universal design, inclusive mobility and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mind you, when most of them know my wife has used a wheelchair for mobility for more than four decades, the designer I know makes some halfhearted mention of the time they built a ramp, or widened a door way or, at the last second just before occupancy permit and grand opening, added in some such thing meant to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

But in their day-to-day practice, they could give a rat's ass.

Some, and maybe they think they're being cool and revolutionary for "telling me like it is" have no problem saying they think buildings build before the ADA should not have to be made accessible, even if they are being gutted and rebuilt.

Many say it is impossible to design for accessibility. Or it is only on large scale projects.

Others, especially many of those who run in the New Urbanism circles love to rant about how the ADA is the end of town design and how it destroys their ability to create walkable, compact, sustainable communities.

The irony is that virtually everything that serves a person with limited mobility fits hand and glove with the New Urbanism. Just don't tell that to some of its narcissistic, self-centered founders who refuse to give an inch to universal design.

I say if you are not up to designing for all, turn in your license. Go put in sod, or plant trees, or be a bricklayer. Those are all honorable professions -- but they do not risk access for all because the lead designer is 100 percent bigoted toward people with disabilities.  If having a natural aversion to non-whites is racism, then this hatred of building for disabled people should be called ableism. Both are despicable and bordering on fascist, Nazi beliefs.

But rather than just rant and call out foolishness for what it is (and I'm being kind calling these folks fools), I'll present examples.

To the town planner, the urban designer who says they cannot make something accessible to all, that the "rules" of ADA are too restrictive.

Let's see. They have a piece of land to design.  Right off the bat, it has zoning and land use restrictions.

More likely than not, there will be draconian rules on the height, unit density, massing and other aspects of the property.

There will be dozens of restrictions on whether it can have a house, a double, a small apartment, a store, a restaurant, a skyscraper, a hospital, a park, a factory, etc.

And whatever it is that's being built must stay within the measurements of the property -- i.e., they can't built out into the road or onto a neighbor's property. Beyond that, there are required setbacks and stepbacks.

So land me get this straight. You call yourself an urban designer, a land use planner, a town planner. And you know whether the piece of land you're studying is the size of grandma's bungalow or big enough to create a new town on -- there will easily be 100 zoning, height, footprint, form and other rules that you must work within before you can be creative.

But one little issue of making sure your mini park, park, mall, civic center, complete street, transit-oriented development, commercial corridor, historic district -- can be used by all, that stumps you and defeats you?

If that is the case, Sir or Madame, you are incompetent. Turn in your license, your AICP certification, your watercolors and SketchUp software and find something else to make rent doing.

If you are angered, put off, thrown for a loss or flat out opposed to creating a new built environment that allows all to enjoy it -- then you are not fit to design anything at all.

Friday, October 19, 2018



Compared to (deserved) gains in civil rights, respect and standing in society for people of color, women, LBGTQ community, etc….people with disabilities are a century behind.

Gains in acceptance & respect by those other groups warm my heart each day.

Society’s ignorance, intolerance and ugly treatment of people with disabilities breaks it.

My wife, wheelchair user, attended a concert with me Oct. 13 at the Fillmore Miami Beach.

Multiple times, the usher asked her if she could walk and (in an annoyed manner) told her he didn't know where to seat her if she couldn't.

City facility needs to re-train its people.

An usher saying a wheelchair user must walk to a seat down steps is just as inappropriate & offensive as asking a black person to turn white, an LBGTQ person to turn straight, a Jewish person to turn Gentile -- to be seated in the city facility.

Being inappropriate and offensive to a disabled person is every bit as wrong as being outwardly bigoted toward race, religion & orientation.

Thursday, October 18, 2018



In 1976, Raymond Buckland moved to New Hampshire where he opened the museum from 1977 to 1980. 

Unfortunately, because of a rigorous writing and lecture schedule, he then had to place the museum collection into storage, where it remained for a number of years.

The museum collection was briefly reestablished in New Orleans in 1999 where it passed through multiple hands before being salvaged by Rev. Velvet Reith.  

A bit damaged and somewhat reduced collection, Velvet was instrumental in preventing the collection from degrading further and being lost.

Summer hours are Tuesday: 5pm – 7 pm, Thursday: 5pm – 7 pm, Friday: 5pm – 8pm, Saturday: 12pm – 8 pm. 

If you can’t make it during those hours please email for an appointment.

Admission is $5.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018



The museum was in existence for ten years in this New York location (1966-1976). 

During that time, it was featured in numerous magazine and newspaper articles and was the subject of a television documentary. 

The New York Times, New York Post, Newsday, Look Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Scholastic Voice, and many more, including foreign magazines, had featured articles about the museum. 

Raymond was also interviewed on a large number of radio stations and both national and international television. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art requested and featured some of the pieces in one of its special exhibits.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018



Raymond Buckland started The Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick in 1966. 

After visiting the late Gerald Gardner and his collection on the Isle of Man, Raymond was inspired to start a collection of his own. 

While working for British Airways, he was able to acquire many of the artifacts in this collection from all around the world.

He initially displayed his museum on a few shelves in the basement of his Long Island, N.Y. home. 

However, over time, Raymond’s witchcraft collection rapidly grew to well over 500 artifacts, ranging from Ancient Egyptian ushabti’s to documented artifacts from the Salem Witch trials. 

This was the first museum of its kind in the United States with an anthropological approach to the world of folklore and the supernatural.

Monday, October 15, 2018



"There are no curses or love spells done here," Slane says. "We are a place of educating people about the collection and the history, and also celebrating the First Amendment. 

That's a really important part of our mission because of the persecution that Wiccans have felt in the past. People get labeled because of their religion or culture, and we want to be a place where it's safe to talk about that."

Gardnerian witchcraft, she notes, follows a very "do no harm to others" mantra.

Most people, Slane says, are just happy they can see the museum's artifacts for themselves.

"We get a lot of people who are just really comfortable in here being surrounded by these things. We try to keep it pretty cozy. Some say 'I'm surrounded by my ancestors here.' They feel at home."


Sunday, October 14, 2018



While the curious are sure to pop into the museum on a whim, the Buckland continues to attract members of the pagan community from right here in Northeast Ohio. One reason, beyond the history: Its open and welcoming environment.

"All kinds of people come in here, and we hear a lot of them say, 'I don't tell people about my beliefs because I'm afraid of what they'll think," Slane says. "The space offers a non-dogmatic platform for them to express themselves." 

The Buckland has been so popular that they're hoping to expand to the back of the shop early next year.

It would give them an opportunity to host more events, from seances to book signings to lectures. 

But their first focus will always be bringing information to the public and fighting stigma.


Saturday, October 13, 2018



Aleister Crowley's trident wand, ceremonial bowl and oil lamp are among the most popular with tourists. 

Though he was more of a magician and writer than a witch, his name draws visitors regularly.

"There are Crowley scholars and fanatics everywhere," Slane says.

A small trinket sits on a lower cabinet shelf. The otherwise unsuspecting artifact reads "demon in a box." According to Buckland, he and a friend trapped a demon in 1970.

"Ray was always very serious about not opening it," Slane says. "He told us, 'People are going to offer you money. Don't do it.' Two days later, someone offered us $500."


Friday, October 12, 2018



"One thing about Ray is he never shied away from the kitsch," Slane says. "We love that. 

People are sometimes like, 'Why would you have a Lisa Simpson Kidrobot Blind Box?' 

I think Ray would say, yes, this is popular culture. It's relevant. 

What Lisa says about witches - 'Why is it when a woman is confident and powerful, they call her a witch?' - still holds true today." 

The museum is full of photos, books and personal belongings of Buckland, like his ceremonial robe he's often seen wearing in photos. 

Other pieces come from witchcraft landmarks, institutions and notable figures.


Thursday, October 11, 2018



Museums have always been a source of fascination for Slane, Buckland's director, and Intermill, who serves as curator.

"We've always been interested in collections and the meaning behind artifacts," Slane says. "Neither of us were raised in a religious household, but this is a really fascinating, different way of thinking about things. I've always considered nature to be my church."

Together, with the assistance of Rotonda, they manage donations and scout new artifacts to add to the collection. 

Like a vintage Russ troll doll they were inspired to bring back to Cleveland after a visit to the Troll Hole Museum in Alliance, Ohio.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018



The museum traveled with him throughout the country until he became too busy writing and lecturing. 

He sold the collection to a couple in Louisiana in 1999, and it changed hands once again before it was retrieved by Toni Rotonda, who belonged to a coven Buckland co-founded in Columbus.

Married couple Jillian Slane and Steven Intermill reached out and told her they could find a home for the collection in Cleveland. 

People have asked: Will the museum continue after Buckland's passing?

"Raymond was here for the opening, and I think it was kind of emotional for him," Slane recalls. "He hadn't seen this in more than 30 years. Just seeing it here in one room was really great for him. I think he was very proud of that. He felt that this collection belonged to everyone. That's why when he gave it up, he was just happy it was being shown. And we're adding to it with thought and intention."


Tuesday, October 9, 2018



Rap three times on a door that reads "witch and magick museum" in the corner of Tremont's 2678 West 14th St.

A traditional altar sits in its center, a ceremonial bowl once owned by infamous occultist Aleister Crowley's rests in a case and a glittering silver spell cord cascades down the side of the room.

Most people stumble upon the Buckland Gallery of Witchcraft and Magick out of intrigue and chance.

You can get a full tour for $5.

Many others come from around the country to celebrate the legacy of Raymond Buckland, who died IN 2017.

A leading figure of the Wicca movement in the United States, particularly Gardnerian Wicca, he founded the museum in 1966 in his New York home.