Category Archives: Fashion
(read time 7m22s)
I found Trish and settled in the seat to her right. She scored us an ideal location, perfect line of sight to the podium, a couple rows back. The aisle was two seats away, good. There’s the door. Got my noise cancellers around my neck, check. I’m fully prepped to endure crowd anxiety for this momentous occasion: an evening with my teacher, Chuck D of Public Enemy. I open my Darth Vader notebook and prepare to shorthand whatever lessons I can gather today.
I noted my inflammed joints and stiff hip from a week of unusually low temperatures, and imagined what it’d be like now to kick up into a one-handed handstand from a flattened cardboard box. My seven year old hands clapping along to the beat, sidestepping to the tempo, watching my brother attempt to breakdance. As I entered into the obligatory, “Go ‘head, go ‘head…” with the other block rockers, I thought, yo that kid is WACK! Hours spent in my room, duplicating what I observed on the cardboard then snapping it tight. My brother wouldn’t let me join his crew, but I figured, one day I’ll have my own, so I better be ready.
A group of three slide from the left into the row in front of us, and I see the muscular man in a blue t-shirt intends to take the seat in front of me. As I scrutinize his eyes and nose, I feel certain I know him. Personally? Historically..? Been a lot of places/seen a lot of faces… My mental Rolodex is spinning wild. He sits down, and I’m relieved his sculpted shoulder doesn’t impede my view of the podium.
We’ve just finished playing Masters of the Universe and my brother has a swell idea: let’s be DJ s! He orders me, as is his right as the elder, to pick some vinyl records from our parents’ collection. Tina Turner’s Break Every Rule? no… Michael Jackson’s Thriller? no… Commodores..? Hmm. Nah. So I grab Kenny Rogers’ 1983 Greatest Hits. That one’s mom’s. She won’t miss it.
I watch my brother and his friends pull the vinyl back and forth, three fingertips along the grooves, making the now iconic rip rip rawr a la Jam Master Jay of Run DMC. We giggled once the record was left to play, only to interrupt his vocals:
You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille/ rip rip a fine time/ rip a fine time/ rip rip
We didn’t know scratching the record might actually cause scratches to the record, and once mommy told daddy, our DJ days were squashed!
A thought fills my head: what if you get a chance to speak to him? Mr. D..? Mr. Chuck? Can’t just call him Chuck, he’s not your friend. Consummate confusion of mine; how to formally address an emcee. Madame Lyte? Mr. Cool J? I never could come up with a cool MC name. Heck, I wasn’t even a good emcee to begin. Middle school lunch room, two rows decide to enter into freestyle rapping. Me, the closet poet and at the time, theater kid, went up against my best friend. Oh I got her, I was sure, she don’t know about rap! So I busted out something so generic: My name is Vonnie, and I’m here to say… surprised that wasn’t followed by a round of boos. She stands up, smug faced, and I immediately realize I have failed. I still hear the smackdown clear in my ears: C to da A to da R-OL-I-N-E/Sweet/Ahh!/Like caramel candy…
Grimace. Melt. Never battle rhymed again.
The poetic political enemy takes to the podium and I grin big, taking in the fitted cap, the wide stance, then eagerly press pen to paper. Chuck’s voice has a signature resonance, and everytime I hear it, I’m called to listen; I the faithful, he the muezzin. Listening to Public Enemy, these “radicals” telling you to question authority and call out injustices, conflicted with daddy’s job, and the environment we lived in. As hip hop flourished into a global movement, hitting the Armed Forces Network radio airwaves and featured on MTV Europe, daddy was adamant in keeping those sounds and influences out of the home. Disobedience meant repercussions:
Playing Salt ‘N’ Pepa too loud from my little red boom box smack!
Dad home early from work, caught wearing sneakers with no shoelaces twack!
To no affect, of course. I’m still pissing people off with my principles to this day.
— Von Simeon (@VonSimeon) February 27, 2015
My teachers – musicians, storytellers, poetic prophets – provided examples of how to protect my mind, gave me fodder for philosophy, reminded me bruises may break my skin but never my soul. It dawned on me as Chuck D reminded the collegians how valuable intelligence is, Hip Hop saved me from abandoning my wits. The movement, not just the music, fortified in me that my art is just as powerful a weapon as a machine gun, that I could equally call for change or kill a man simply by placing the right set of words together. My teacher lamented that we remain a society too caught up in SocMed to truly understand our reality for what it is: too much individualism, too little discourse, too few moments when information technology doesn’t intercede in decision making. Oh my gosh, I realize, I attack those very issues every day, on this blog, in my prose, and in my freestyle poems. Good job MC Von, you paid attention.
As he entered into the original days of hip hop and the struggle for equal air play, Chuck pointed out, “The Cold Crush Brothers were selling out shows, never blew up, never got their fair share of airplay…” Ah yes, nodding in my seat, I remember the Cold Crush crew, and then Chuck D extends his right arm my direction and says, “Charlie Chase is sitting right there, he can tell you…”
Rolodex stops at Cold Crush Brothers. The DJ. DJ Chase. DJ CHASE IS SITTING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.
“Don’t. Explode,” My inner sargent-at-arms instructs. I shudder with pure excitement, then chuckle a bit. My big bro can suck it!!
I wanted to pull DJ Chase towards me and exult, “You know, I used to DJ my friends’ house parties? I love music! I love youuu!”
Phone is ringin/oh my god Get it together..
I still dance but I’m afraid if I start popping I won’t be able to push my bones back into their joints! I may not have vinyl to scratch, but I’ve got eclectic playlists out the wazoo, and I share what’s new to me every week on Turn It Up Tuesday. While my spoken word sucks, my written word is vicious, and now, available in book form.
Knowing there are few moments in life when you can credit people who’ve positively influenced you, after the presentation I quickly, timidly tapped Charlie Chase on his shoulder. He was slow to turn then presented a warm smile once he saw me. I fought the tremors to tell him, “I just wanted to shake your hand and let you know because of you I wanted to be a DJ.” He was kind enough to shake my hand tightly, then asked, “What’s your name?”
What’s my muthafuckin’ naame..?
“My name is Von Simeon. I’m a local artist. Thank you for your time.” Zoom! Towards the door.
“You handled that very well,” Trish complimented. I could feel the tremors building up. There’s no way I can approach Chuck D in this state, so I’ll just follow him on Twitter, @MrChuckD.
Oh. So it is the full emcee name after Mister or Madam. Good to know.
Now this was a cool event. This unique pub crawl, arranged by Wordier Than Thou, a local literary organization, and hosted by businesses in downtown St Pete’s Grand Central District, featured published writers reading from diverse works as the audience enjoyed drink specials and grub! As the night grew later, our presence on the mics were a bit confusing to the normal barflies. I personally found our district occupation revolutionary!
My contribution was a challenge because the cafe did not have a working sound system, so I stage projected my voice for a full 15 minutes! Going from rarely speaking to performance delivery hurt like a muthafucka, but love is pain, and I love to share from my novel, I Blew Up Juarez. :)
Some photos and videos; more can be found on Facebook and at Wordier Than Thou’s YouTube page.
Do not drink kratom right before a performance:
Keeping St Pete Literary:
Wanna play the I Blew Up Juarez Drinking Game? The 12 minute interactive video is posted on the Facebook Page. Go Like and enjoy (alcohol not necessary but highly recommended)
It was in front of him the whole damn time!
You’d think with his constant facing toward the television console, he would’ve caught on.
We agreed on celebrating Valentine’s Day this year, but Book of Mormon was in town only until February 2nd, so I asked to push up my segment of V Day to last Wednesday. He wanted to know who/what/where/why, but I, fully invested in being an awesome GF, told him nothing!
What I did tell him was exactly what to wear, when in the day he would need to be dressed in such clothes, and that he’d need a proper sport coat.
Now, granted, Broadway shows don’t require structured dress in this century, but I’m of the school of thought that, if you are an aficionado of the arts, you need to look the part.
As I predicted, BF looked like Christmas morning once dressed and coiffed. He’s got those awesome eyes which change color depending on his wardrobe, and that evening, his eyes were solid blue.
Myself, I found a lovely red wrap dress to compliment my blood red dye job, then affixed a classic pair of high-heeled shoes to my feet, nicknamed “Run To Canada”! :D (great story there…some other time.)
Over the bridge and to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, its facade beautifully bathed in majestic purple. We journeyed a bit to our seats (hey, I’m an artist, not a pharmaceutical rep) then immersed in the brilliance that is Robert Lopez, Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
This show, right up our alley. We enjoy South Park and regularly engage in the meta of the show (PEWWDEEPIEEE!) and we also share an appreciation for live performances. Since I met BF, we’ve done outdoor concerts, classical music conciertos, and way more movies in our six month tenure than I’ve watched in the last six YEARS. I absolutely love that I have someone in my life who equally enjoys culture and crass as I do!
No, I won’t indulge you with a review, other than to say, GO SEE BOOK OF MORMON AND LAUGH YOUR BALLS OFF.
As it was late, and we hadn’t made definitive dinner plans, and we were in Tampa, Florida, the BF made an executive decision:
“We are going to The Penthouse.”
Stunned to silence by this glorious declaration, I eagerly surfed their website and hurriedly placed a dinner reservation for 11pm. We arrived on time, and with no wait.
Well, that’s because everyone was around the catwalk!
Ladies freaking out about eating at a strip club steakhouse: do not be alarmed. The poon is well away from the service area, so no lap dances into the lettuce!
We ordered two 12 oz New York strip steaks medium – mine smothered in roasted whole garlic and bleu cheese – then dined to contentment as sparkly skinny women shimmied against gold poles before us.
Blue eyes met brown eyes and agreed to get home. QUICKLY.
I believe I have Valentine’s Day mastered.
Axiom: People who provided you a gift, directly, within this past holiday season, for whatever reason, qualify for a ‘thank you’ in voice or written form.
In voice is absolutely the best, especially if more than a year has physically separated the two of you. Written is a close, artistic second, in that you HAVE to use paper and whatever liquid you write with – Blood of the Damned is good, I lean towards Tears of The Foresaken m’self – and…you have to use words that auto pop from your thoughts. Ooh.
This is tough because your thumbs are not hitting a keypad. This is tough because you can’t click on a Like and be done. This is tough because the Internet can’t do it for you. This is you acknowledging a human being and beaming out from your belly that you CARE.
Rule 1: Do NOT let more than two weeks pass before emoting/composing a thank you. It looks like you don’t care. Yes, we know you don’t care, but don’t emphasize it by letting time slip by!
Rule 2: Don’t ask why. Do ask how. This is where your buddy Von comes in.
My credentials: a faithful reader of Miss Manners throughout childhood, a teen-aged reviewer of the smattering of social decorum guides provided by Il Mama, and several years’ experience composing cordial correspondences for big suits, tenured profs, and a couple of Star N Bar maniacs!
Here’s the order of events:
1: Standard greeting
2: Thank you sentence
3: Gift acknowledgement
4: Empowering statement
Don’t get too verbose; think Hemingway over Faulkner. Here’s one I’m flinging off the top of my head:
1: Hello Mabel,
2: Thank you for the lovely card and wonderful gift.
3: A gas card is a hot commodity for an SUV driver like me!
4: It’s nice to know you care about my safety on the road.
5: May the New Year be filled with new and exciting adventures for you!
6: Fondly, Bubba
See? Super easy. And…super respectful. Remember the last time you received a handwritten letter? Now, can you imagine how your handwritten letter is going to blow your gifter’s mind? Especially if you’re the type who’d rather update his Facebook status than say hello to the person standing next to him? Keep ‘em guessing, I always say. Doing the unexpected to express appreciation is the sexiest thing one person can do to another with clothes on. ;)
Now let’s do a real one together. This goes to Lani D, the Blogger Outreach Coordinator at East Dane clothing company..
Happy New Year! Thank you for the gift certificate, and what perfect timing; I scored a cozy Cheap Monday knit sweater to replace an eyesore of a cardigan.
This contest was a great way for me to learn about East Dane. Your site is bookmarked for future visits!
May you continue to experience happiness and excellence throughout 2015.
Sincerely, Von Simeon
Two weeks from December 25th is January 8th, so get those Thank You letters out quickly!
All summer long, my naturally curly tresses stayed in various forms of braid. Not only is this a way to combat Florida’s famous humidity, but a natural means to encourage growth. Results: three full inches of new growth, softer kink, and even layers!
Why heap pounds of hair onto your scalp when you can suck it up, be patient, and grow it out healthily? Think long term ladies (and gents of the stylish way)!
Every event has its own outfit. Every outfit contributes to the show. I didn’t learn this from a fashion magazine, I learned this from a grown man wearing an arrow through his head!
Steve Martin wants to get you to dance the King Tut? He throws on a Pharaoh’s crown. Needs to prove to you he’s a normal (crazy) guy? Steve Martin pushes on bunny ears! He doesn’t do it to feel complete; he does it to engage his audience. In person, he’s quiet, introverted, and even distant, as I read about him years ago. Kindred I feel, and thus, do my best to emulate.
Given the choice of sitting on a couch listening to talented storytellers, or, standing under spotlight to tell a tale, I’m likely to be in my baggy sweats, legs curled under me, rapt in attention. But, there are moments when the crowd becomes the crowd pleaser. My most recent event found me wrestling with that discomfort: while I enjoy writing and I love my stories, I’m worn out from stage life and the spotlight. However, if I’m trying to profit off my art, I gotta do the arty thing and get on stage with it! Yikes.
For me, it’s not a nerves thing. It’s more of a fun-ed out thing; the more time I spend reading completed art, the less time I’m spending on incomplete work and I’d rather invest my time at the computer screen. So, when I find myself wrestling with the duality of solitary writer/crowd performer, I settle my nerves with a simple question: WWSMD?
Steve Martin would coat, shellac, paint, tighten, sculpt, mould, highlight, tweeze, press, scald, twist, puncture, squeeze, and freeze spray for SpookEasy! Here’s what two solid hours ended up with at my vanity:
Since I read from Night Walkers, a Horrified Press anthology featuring ‘creatures of the night’, I dressed as a glamorous gangster, and introduced myself as ‘Queen of the St Pete Underworld’ before launching into my short fiction, “Tokyo Rose,” a story of a woman’s slow, terrifying downspiral during an evening at a martini bar. I am actually not sure when the book will be released, but I imagine if you visit their Amazon page, you’ll be able to find it eventually. See?? Proof that I’m not into the marketing end of things!
You do performances to keep people abreast of your art, but you be a writer – you exist as a solitary individual ensconced in the deep folds of imagination, preoccupied with hours upon hours of unrelenting play, to create what brings you joy, and, maybe, develop that creation into a format worth sharing, should you choose to do so. Being is so much easier than doing, but doing can be a delight!
Here’s a few pics with me as The Glam Gangster, courtesy of Community Cafe’s Facebook Page:
Also went ahead and got some head shots taken before the eyeliner seeped into the crow’s feet! :D I’m using this one as my new Avatar. Ya like??