“Portrait of an artist, exploring.” by Angel Brynner/AOLAB 29APR2014

I have to admit… there is a divergent pin-up aspect to me.  I got into it off in the cut due to the vintage scene in Shaker Square[the hood I grew up in in Cleveland] being outrageous, and a simple low-key appreciation of an actually well-made garment right as all was going to hell in a hand basket fashion production-wise in the early 90s. If you wanted stuff that was not going to fall apart, you were probably rocking it old-school when I came up.

Add to all that the fact that although I talk often about my Dad & his five brothers inspiring my menswear arc, by the same token my mom& her sisters to this day when it comes to wardrobes could hand out many an ass-whupping. And they were all the size I happened to be during this Junior & Senior year high school blossoming…and they’d all kept everything. AND much of it they’d custom-made themselves. We’re talking made to measure to the bones I literally came from. My getting my own labels for clothing was no big whoop  because all of them had’em before I was a twinkle in naan an eye.

It was all kinds of skewered- During the day & underground it was fishnets, boxer shorts, bra straps & a-shirts under  my dad’s 46L perfectly cut blazers over doc marten stompers, some variant of drawers all over the damn place as daywear. But whenever it was say hello to my little friend time, it was ridiculous Vintage, to the full, til it overflowed. From debutante ball to prom, I went raw- hard-core.

Chicks were maaaaad at the shock & awe aspect of it all. Hilarious. I wasn’t even going to go to prom but one of my BFF’s [gay professional ballet dancer, made me go w/his straight dancer friend from a catholic school] made me agree to go 3days before and I went out and found a frock for like $30[no, like a frock …with a frock coat]…& confused the FUCK out of my social butterfly mom by so stunning all Prom proceeding parties that my underground ass came home w/ a prom queen sash & tiara tossed akimbo on me. A chick who loathed me stayed pissed all the way through graduation because my $30 ensemble was the same color of the custom sausage dress she’d kept top secret beyond having spent something like $700 on. And For the record, my school was crazy, so this was not a traditional election whatsoever. Teachers chose Prom King &Queen[& I’d no clue of that prior to all that mess] &I think they were just fureaking STUNNED & flabbergasted that the mouthy, brainy torn jeans  fishnets,”a bra & overalls is NOT-you know what just go to class~” chick came all Slaughterhouse Five about the thing.

But…i was at a special place at that time called “If Imma come to this shit…Yall trifling mugs are not going to Forget that I CAME to this shit”.

WHO SHOT THE DOG pause: I found the FN venue. Pristine condition grand gilded ballroom in Old money section of Cleveland Heights. It used to be a glorious hotel, they’d flipped it to  a retirement home. Aptly called the Alcazar. Top floor, overlooking a courtyard garden. Fucking Beautiful. Brokered a Steal of a deal on the place, including Catering-half the cost of the other option-brought on by $700 sausage dress chick. a Marriot, way out by the airport. That we were going to have to pay out the nose for, trek like a motherfuck to- & THIS…was BEFORE Marriot was trying to have flourishes. I presented my vision, if you will, pointed out the price & in hindsight I realize I basically went the” God is putting before us blessings and curses,  choose the flipping blessing” route when I was full-on Heathen, rolling deep.  They picked the Alcazar & paid me back by scattering my crew of 4 BFFs across so we couldn’t sit together-basically because the four were the lives of the party & their meals would’ve been more moist than their dead fucking tables without them. I’d also laid out the entire fucking Yearbook & helped all these cunts design their own pages so we wouldn’t put out the same shit the classes before us did, which was what none wanted to do. THIS is why my guy BFF had to Strong-arm me into going. And…even though I glam-camped it up like a motherfuck & walked in with the hottest fucking dude in the room thanks to him-gotta love a gay man who is as “fuck them” as you are about shit…I always felt like the teachers crowned me because they watched all the foul shit these cunts tried AND saw all the work I’d done.

&in hindsight, I DO see that they wanted the hotel way out because they didn’t have the balls to fuck at home or just get a hotel in a city of hotels, but still. Grow up. Book your hotel like the badass your 18 year old ass is trying to act like you be rolling like.

I also see that my get-up fit the venue to the tee lol, so maybe the spirit of the place possessed the team to crown me[in silver leather heels from mah momma & Madonna blond ambition tour I dream of Jeanie swinging ponytail  ] & the 6’4″ dude who came in a white tux[tails & top hat] King & Queen just so said spirits could witness another waltz, reminiscent of its yesteryears.

But anywhoo~ We’re talking vintage aphorisms in fashion & life.

Later on, after years of quiet vintage pattern recognition cutting across my wardrobe it regressed to primarily lingerie that I rarely wore because it was more conducive to wear a bikini living across from the beach. Which all got donated before I headed to Mexico in 2012 for Hecho en Mexico.

But THAT…is where it has all become rather fifth dimension for me. Because in all that time, I’d never once gotten a retro swimsuit. I adored the vintage pics…Never thought…but recently…I’ve been challenging a lot of the tropes[ like the ones you just read through in this post]as being the legitimate definers of  how I interact with the world. Clothes are  comfort zones. I’ve been in a certain bikini mode for a very long time. no-brainer, it works, there ya go. Uniform. Ask me no questions, i’ll tell you no lies-style. But I know that means more than just…that. And I have this desire to explore what’s under the choice, the representation…because it’s ok for your “go-to” to reload. Of course, all this calls into all kinds of stuff that women have to sort through everyday, but ya know what? I’m going to enjoy it.

Which has led full circle to vintage, but in a bikini for the 1st time ever. It’s a rub-off of a retro pattern, but new materials. Without getting too cerebral, it is just a swimsuit. But I am very giddy that the high off the suit feels as good as finding perfect tortoise shell cats-eye sunglasses, and that this aspect of me  apparently wants to live a little this year. It’s going to be interesting this summer.

So I’ve allowed myself to pick swimwear in a more …egalitarian manner this year. Which means this is about to be some campy #ownyourbeach kind of stuff this summer…made all the more poignant because  swimsuits bizarrely factor into my writing. but that’s a whole ‘nother post.


Good Day, Sunshine, or “Last Dragonizings in the Rising Sun~” AOLAB 12APR2014.


Zazen was like back to square one today.

It wasn’t so much the focus & clarity as it was the physical that  was really intense today. My back ached as though I’d never sat in group meditation even though I’ve been sitting at this dojo once a week since the start of 2014, and I simply couldn’t sit still without something or other rising up to wrestle with some other aspect free-floating within me.

It seemed to be afflicting us all a bit, but everyone soldiered on into walking meditation-which brings out a joy in me that only a woman able to find the gleeful elegance in the poetic ballet of the original night of the living dead [black & white]film and kung fu movies simultaneously could bathe in so violently- and then back down onto our pillows spread out across the padded floor of the dojo in clusters of three to zone out and therefore in once again.

The tightness migrated across the sinews my back like birds confused by late bursts of Indian Summer, looking for places to call out to one another, mocking the solace and silence I was going for inside my self. I shifted, again and again, streaks of turquoise and magenta competing for awards  that had no meaning for me whatsoever today.

Out of nowhere, I fell into a vision of being seated in meditation, a much fuller room, and an old Asian man coming up behind my still struggling  to sit body. out of nowhere, this old man Whacks the F*CK out of my spine with a wooden paddle, knocking me over my knees in both the vision and the real world of the three that I was patched into.

I felt Holy Spirit go “sit back up” as he rustled my left shoulder & I sunk back into the posture, a bit dazed, but much more relaxed. I shook off the imagery, and soon enough the brass bowl chimed  and we came fully out of it.

Sensei started his laid-back dharma talks- which always  have this uncanny way of pinpointing whatever is trying to jump off in my life outside the dojo, breaking it down and revealing the blessing in it that I had not been able to see prior, usually in the goofiest ways. He’s always intuitive about it~ just kind of goes with the flow of it.

Today, he started talking about…the Posture.

Each line as per norm was spot-on…but it was when he started describing how in some Buddhist temples, the sensei went around with a stick and Whacked you on the spine with it to release the tension that I gasped. My eyes shot to one of the black and white photographs hung up within the dojo and I just guffawed as I recognized the man’s face for the first time.osensei

“He-” I started, laughing in shock, pointing at the picture, “I just had a (I stopped short of repeating the word “vision” ) image rise up of that guy-” pointing accusingly “hitting me in my back over my knees JUST like you just described!” I crowed.

Naturally, the Aikido adepts present found this hilarious, but in a surprisingly  un-mocking way. The person I had pointed at in the photograph was none other than Ueshiba Morihei… the founder of Aikido.

…I’ve been avoiding taking it. Martial Arts of any kind. Due to personal ..vibes… I am and have been working out with fear and trembling  for a very long time. But I LOVE them. Incandescently. ALL of them. Always have. It’s literally in my blood. My grandmother used to regale me with tales of all her uncles- who were Asians that came down south to work the plantations after the railroad boom and the emancipation of slaves- who were always fighting one another wildly when she’d be sent to visit them.

And I go to the dojo now for group meditation because it centers me in ways nothing else has. And they cajole and goad me all the time, because they can TELL…but I always whinny “nay!!!! not yet! i’m still too angry! lol” or some variation of such.

One of the third degree black belts  is telling me all he can about OSensei as we break down from meditation so they can have the floor for open mat when he suddenly crows that he’s going to tell the immediate sensei [for that particular dojo] what happened.

some of the higher-ups are like “Come on~try it~”

“You’re only saying that because yall KNOW i’ll get addicted~” i reply as i head out.


“Not yet!” I growl.

The meditation leader tells me he has something for me on the way to  his car.

He pulls out a book and gives it to me. It’s HIS. My jaw drops because he’d never told me he was a writer too…and we get along famously…so he’s been my first writer friend in New Orleans for like four months without me even Knowing. Which sounds like “well so?” without the understanding that i’d been getting pressured to go meet other writers here. for the past few in  a not so cool way.

It just flowed from post to post….even got me to venture into the French quarter during the French  Quarter Fest- which had some of those who work the spots I frequent be like “WHY on Earth are YOU out in all of this madness?!” & “Please tell me you did NOT come out in all of this for some Potato chips!!” lol, but it was cool. I got in early and out early. It was still packed, but I finally got to go into St. Mary’s- a church I’ve been trying to see since my 2nd day ever in  NOLA in 2008, but it’s always been closed- for a concert by the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans…. that broke into  One song a carac named Anadyr from the trilogies is SOoooo going to be singing in this one scene rewrite, and  then into the only song from the movie the Blues Brothers that is an actual Blues standard.

…add to that  what-upping my African vendors at the French Market as live music swelled from every direction and  scoring a handful of quartz with actual ribbon-like glitches of real jade embedded in it at a secluded spot ran by retired Ballet Maestros, Mistresses and Opera singers who make my day every time I venture  forth across their threshold…

Lots of lovelove~love today in the god loves NOLA way.




30 days off/On the wagon AOLAB 5APR2014.

So it is official.

Outside of a slight gray area slip sip due to taking communion the other day in an ornate church down in the CBD, This April I am off Alcohol. In its entirety. In New Orleans. Working part-time at the party vortex that IS India House.

yep. It’s been a long time coming. Just by breathing in the atmosphere alone within city limits you can end up with a blood alcohol level of like .8. & i’m like the superlight weight these days…but frankly said, over the past quarter I started noticing that its not even doing the same thing in my system anymore.

I USED to be lit off just one beer for like ages…which was comedy in itself due to going to college in the middle of the grain alcohol country that IS Ohio, slamming through all levels of inebriation underground in NYC and abroad, then doing business in Japan where you don’t DO business without being able to get controllably shit-faced with the salarimen.

But from like November onward I watched it shrink from a glass or two of wine with dinner with no issues, to  not even being able to stomach a whole beer by the middle of February. I moved gingerly to Mead- like a shot of Mead dining out, solely for shits & giggles for the Valkyrie in me. I may have had four glasses of wine last month, & like half a bottle of champagne while watching Dog Day afternoon or something…but I really haven’t enjoyed it. & I used to enjoy wine immensely. When I drank bad wine(it can go bad?! iiii know! I thought that was an urban legend too!) & was hellishly shiested for like a weekend, I Finally was like “Woman, your body is trying to tell you something.”So I started looking into what can feasibly happen when you stop imbibing..

My inner-add-on to all this is that both of my grandfathers drank, as did most of their generation after coming back from WWII, I guess. & both families went through a lot due to that long before I arrived on the scene. I grew up surrounded by the silence of the scar tissue from the unspoken about things they apparently did. But at the same time, one of them used to give us shots of gin to calm us the frank down when he baby-sat. & it worked lol. And it is why  I cannot drink Gin to this day lol[and possibly why my tolerance was so high when I was younger lol].They’re both home in Heaven now, but I’ve been aware of their hearts in the spirit a lot lately. Which helped me decide to just test it out and see.

In one way I thought this out a lot. In another way, yes this means during Jazz Fest its a no-go…which i’d forgot about, but the only day i’m keen on is Santana day,& i’m not really one to be dropping cash on festival price gouged beer as it is. The slip-up that God gave me a pass for- I really wasn’t even thinking about the wine when I went up to take the wafer- was also something that has to factor in. It may also mean i’m not making any Italian food all month because my sauces love to be drunk, burning off prior to eating or not lol.

Another place I was encouraged in this was in that Sharon Stone article for Shape Magazine. It was the first time i’d heard what I was witnessing in me regarding the shift happening to someone else. So perhaps this is par for the course. I came out of Ethereal enjoying food in a more sacred way. Maybe that can happen here. Better wine, less often.

Or it may be like how the 2nd of April felt after being on fish the brunt of March. & by “felt” I mean “devouring BBQ beef brisket for dinner after a lunch of leftover duck after a dinner that started with bone marrow-” whilst planning a BBQ run to Memphis all on surreal autopilot. Though I pray to God it won’t be… although, I have a sneaking suspicion that Mongolian beef two nights in a row after all that MAY be why i’m feeling a little ‘eh’ today. It may very well be I’ve congested myself up w/this feasting after a month of clean-eating &my body is simply not amused.  We’ll find out, because i’m hitting a festival the week I come off of this.

But the funny thing was…as soon as my body realized I was seriously  not playing about April[which wasn’t until the last week of March]…I had what went down like the Best glass of plum wine of my Life  on Saturday. But by the same token, my true last drink, a “Belle Epoque” from Restaurant R’evolution on the 31st was not so special at all…because I could taste that they didn’t just change the glass, they tweaked the recipe. For me? That’s a little too much awareness. & made me underscore walking this out.

I’ll keep you posted.

No, I don’t have a name for it, but we know i’m gonna name the whole deal Something.

Be Blessed & see you on the other side.