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.no.3 oct|nov 2005

“I have just given out my sovereignty, hoping for the best”

Mr. Parpie Jallah- Logan Town, Liberia (The Analyst- Monrovia, Liberia)


Descriptions of the historic presidential election that went down in Liberia on Tuesday October 11th read like a fairy tale.  On a day when the sun and the clouds alternately poured heat and rain on the streets, men and women from all over the nation stood in lines for hours for the chance to cast a vote for a new president.  News from the ground reported no serious accounts of violence or fraud and voters turned out in numbers that would shame American citizens if we had a conscience about such matters.  Supporters from rival political parties sidestepped each other in the streets of Monrovia, trading only insults and taunts and ice grills.  Was it all a dream?


For a country at the very beginning of the recovery process from a brutal 14 year civil war, hope moves beyond hope which moves beyond hope and then moves beyond hope.  And they aren't the only ones.  For if Liberia can dispel the nightmares of blood diamond demon Charles Taylor and his hot rocks, child soldiers and their machetes and a transitional leader (Charles Gyude Bryant) so inept that he couldn't vote in Tuesday's elections because he forgot his registration card at home (true story), then just think what that could mean for the other trouble spots of Africa and beyond. 


Early results point toward a second round run-off between former international football star (and part-time New York resident) George Weah and former Liberian finance minister Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.  With Weah (or King George as he known to his rock star like following) taking 29% of the vote and Johnson-Sirleaf (aka The Iron Lady) receiving 20% of the vote, the two candidates shook off 20 opponents to make the second round.  Whomever the people of Liberia choose, nat creole. hopes beyond hope and then beyond hope that the new president has the good of Liberia in mind.

Welcome to nat creole. Online.  The online magazine especially created to offer an eclectic and accessible guide to the people, places and ideas of the global Arts and Culture community.  In this issue, we offer a dedication to the great August Wilson who passed to soon but will never be forgotten; Visit Jacmel, Haiti with a returning son; Drop in on some of the up and coming designers from the recent Spring 2006 NYC Olymus Fashion Week; Rap a taste with BeanpYe CEO and designer Sabrina Thompson; Look back at the implosion of high fashion glossy Suede Magazine; learn about one family's legacy of organization building in the ivy league; and check the HeadKnot playlist for music to cop

We also that you sign up for the nat creole. Newsletter so we can keep you up to breast on all the goings on around here.  The first issue is scheduled to drop on Nov. 1, definitely check us out.  And, as always, find where to see it all, hear it all, watch it all with the nat creole. Events Calendar. Concerts. Art Openings. Book Signings. Festivals. Symposiums. Dance Performances. Museum Exhibitions and Programs. DJ Shows. Its all in there. Check it out and then bookmark it. It'll be there every night of the week.


.:: features


august wilson. michael romanos

+profile.august wilson

in memoriam.

The death of August Wilson does not simply leave a hole in the American theater, but a huge, yawning wound, one that will have to wait to be stitched closed by some expansive, poetic dramatist yet to emerge

- Peter Marks. Washington Post

On Monday Oct. 17, Broadway's Virginia Theater will become the August Wilson Theater.  Moving from the nether side of Pittsburgh to a marquee on Broadway is a journey found in the movies of American myth makers.  Its the type of journey that keeps Don King waving miniature American flags and hip hop cats cloning clothing lines.  It's the American Dream to the extent that it is the Dream personified.  Rags to riches.  Catfish to caviar.  The whole nine.  But somehow I think August wasn't quite so impressed with all of that.  I can't point to anything that says this specifically.  No banners, no signs, no quotes.  A simple hypothesis.

But let me be direct with my reasoning.  August Wilson, born Frederick August Kittel in the Year of our Lord 1945 to a Black American mother and a German immigrant father on the wrong end of a steel town's streets, was about the work.  He was driven by a sense of ambition that was largely bereft of the navel gazing so prevalent in the artists of the generations that have come after him.  No marketing strategies, no publicity stunts, no cross promotion vehicles, no dress to impress networking happy hours.  After winning 7 New York Drama Critics' Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes and a Tony Award, Wilson was still about the work.  After receiving nearly every accolade and award available to a person who makes a living off ideas, he was still about the work.  The true strength and beauty of August's legacy is the sheer ambition and audacity of his ideas and the willingness to do the heavy lifting necessary to realize his vision. 

Both of these attributes had to be in plenty supply for August to not only cover the expanse of Black life in the 20th century in a 10 play cycle but to do it in the fashion that he did.   Linear thought concludes that the cycle started with the 1984 release of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and ended with this year's Radio Golf.   But that would be too easy and rarely does such creativity come wrapped so neatly.  Instead, the plays come at crazy -degreed angles, masked as seemingly separate creations yet determinedly part of the same free flowing current of schemes and ideas, pain and pleasures, triumphs and tribulations that transverse life in real time.  Each play feeds into a cultural continuum that connects the first play to the last play, the second play to the seventh play, the ninth play to the third play and so on and so on.  August draws a direct line from the first days of the first decade to the close of the century because time is irrelevant.  What is relevant is going deep into the grooves of human experience to tap into that deeply embedded rhythm that allows us to fall down, get up, fall down and get up again.  August was in touch with that. As a result, August was able to successfully condense a century of Black experience into a 20 year burst of literary brilliance.

And the beauty of August Wilson is that he made himself into a playwright, not through a chance encounter with a broadway producer at a cocktail party; but through hard work and dedication.  Even the people that helped him on his path weren't opportunistic enterprises forged simply to establish a career, they were lifelong creative partnerships.  Somewhere along the way, August connected with two people that would help him fulfill his life's work and these relationships told volumes about Wilson the man.  The first was director Lloyd Richards, the first man to bring a Black themed play to Broadway when he staged Lorraine Hansberry's “Raisin in the Sun,” in 1959.  Richards, who served as the dean of the Yale School of Drama and the artistic director of Yale Repertory Theater, played Quincy Jones to Wilson's Micheal Jackson.  He reigned in Wilson's excesses and emphasized Wilson's brilliance, guiding August from community stages to the halls of midtown New York.   For Richards, August softened his stance when he knew it was in the best interest of the project.

The second was Aunt Esther, a woman who grew from a figment of Wilson's imagination into the shaper of his consciousness and the key to connecting the past with the present, the present and the future.  Aunt Esther was over 300 years old before she actually appeared in an August Wilson play but she was there the whole time. She made sense of August's time warps and connected even the most despicable of Wilson's characters to something greater than himself, greater than herself, greater than us.  To Aunt Esther, August listened when he felt that his own experience couldn't capture the moment.  A man of considerable talent and more than a little ego, Wilson nonetheless knew when it was best to follow and when it was best to lead.  And which posture was going to produce the best product.

But even that wasn't what made August the abnormally driven man he was, even this wasn't the extent of his life's work.  What made this man historically significant was the fact that he wanted Black folks to really love their own culture.  It was his fervent hope that Black folks would embrace their own culture, exhibit their own culture, support their own culture.  This is not a hunch.  This is not a hypothesis.  This I know is true because this came from his mouth.  I know this was true because it was implicit in his deeds.  He said it when he debated Robert Brustein on the dire importance of incorporating Black minds to shape Black art.  He showed it when he cancelled the film production of Fences because of Hollywood's inability, or unwillingness, to assign a Black director to the project.  And his perspective wasn't a slight toward the sensibilities of non-Black artists, artisans, culturalists etc.  It was just the simple fact that Black stories are best rendered by Black people.  Its about the work.   

So from the fall of 2005 on, August Wilson's name will be bear one of the greatest compliments afforded a playwright.  Millions will travel to the heart of New York City and see his name on the marquee of a theater that he worked so hard to present his creations within.  And though he died far too young, August lived long enough to stay true to his word.  The completion of his last play brought an end to the definitive exploration of Black life in the 20th century. His fight to place Black American theater on equal footing with the theatrical traditions of other cultures will reverberate for years to come.  The promises he made, he fulfilled. 

Rest in peace August, your work is done.

phillipharvey is the editor of nat creole. questions or comments can be sent to

+ august wilson timeline

1945  Born Frederick August Kittel, Wilson is the 4th of 6 children born to Daisy Wilson and Frederick Kittel in Pittsburgh, PA.  Wilson would eventually adopt his mother's name once starting his writing career

1960  Wilson is falsely accused of plagiarizing a paper on Napoleon Bonaparte.  After years of mistreatment at the hands of his fellow students, this is the final straw.  Wilson drops out of the 10th grade

1962  Wilson enlists in the army but returns to civilian life after one year

1965  Wilson receives $20 for writing a term paper for his sister.  He buys his first typewriter with the money and pursues his interest in poetry.  Thus officially begins his writing career

1968  Wilson co-founds the Black Horizon on the Hill Theater with his friend Rob Penny.  Wilson learns to be the theater's primary director by reading a guidebook from the library

1976  The Homecoming, Wilson's first play, is staged at the Kuntu Repertory Theater at the University of Pittsburgh.  Theater founder Vernell Lillie directs the production

1978  Wilson moves to St. Paul, Minneapolis and gets a job adapting Native American folk tales into children's plays for the Science Museum of Minnesota

1980  Wilson wins a fellowship to the Minneapolis Playwright Center in Minneapolis

1982  Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is accepted by the National Playwrights Conference at the O'Neill Theater Center.   Wilson meets Lloyd Richards, then the Director of the Yale Repertory Theater, and begins a fruitful partnership that would see the duo bring 6 productions to Broadway


Jitney, a play first conceived in 1979, is staged by the Allegheny Repertory Theatre in Pittsburgh


1984  Ma Rainey's Black Bottom opens on Broadway, it is the first of the six productions Wilson would eventually bring to Broadway

1985  Ma Rainey wins the New York Drama Critics award.  He would go on to win six more


1987  Fences opens on Broadway to packed houses, goes on to set a Broadway record with grosses of over $11 million and wins the first of Wilson's two Pulitzer Prizes

1988  Joe Turner's Come and Gone opens on Broadway


1989 Wilson is named “Pittsburgher of the Year byPittsburgh Magazine


1990  Piano Lesson opens on Broadway to rave reviews and wins Wilson the second of his two Pulitzer Prizes

Wilson moves to Seattle, Washington

1992  Wilson receives an honorary degree from the University of Pittsburgh in his hometown where 32 years earlier he had dropped out of high school


Two Trains Running opens on Broadway

Wilson is awarded the Bush and Guggenheim Foundation fellowships

1995  Piano Lesson is adapted for television for Hallmark Hall of Fame.  Charles Dutton and Alfre Woodward star.

1996  Seven Guitars opens on Broadway

Wilson gives his famous speech at the Theater Communications Group conference in which he voices his thoughts about color blind casting and the role of Black theater


1997  Wilson debates Robert Brustein, the famed director and critic who founded Harvard's American Repertory Theater over the merits of all Black theater productions.  The event, which was held at Manhattan's Town Hall, is seen as one of the seminal discussions on theater and sends tremors throughout the theater community

1998  Convenes a conference on African American Theater at Dartmouth that gives birth to the African Grove Institute of the Arts

1999  King Hedley II premieres in Pittsburgh and travels to Seattle before opening on Broadway

2003 Wilson performs his one man show How I Learned What I Learned at the Seattle Repertory Theater

2005  Radio Golf, the final play in Wilson's 10 play cycle, opens in Connecticut

In August, Wilson announces that he has liver cancer August Wilson passes Sunday, October 2, 2005 .

+ ivy league memoir. a family legacy

black student retention in the ivy league

As a youngster, I used to listen to my mother tell me how she and her sister grew up in Ithaca, New York. 

She was always talking about how pretty it was and would go on and on about the Finger Lakes and

the mountains.  It always seemed weird to me since I grew up in the segregated south. I knew about New

York City (I thought that Harlem was the same as New York back then) and Brooklyn because I had heard that

a lot of Black folks lived there.  Back then I figured that Black folks could not possibly live in places like that,

living that close to white people and such.  On top of that it was too cold.  Coming from Richmond, Virginia

this all seemed too strange for me.  I could not really understand how Black folk could live that close to

white people.   

As my mother told me more, I learned that my grandfather, who died before I was born, won a scholarship

to Cornell University back in the early 1900s.  He stayed up there and married a beautiful woman whose

family was one of the few Black families in town.  That was why my mother, the older of two sisters, was

born there in what I thought was a strange, far-away land. And though she is dead now, the romantic visions

of this cold life in a small quaint college town remain imbued within me. 

Her father faced many challenges as one of the very few Black students at Cornell during that time. 

Basically, all of the other Black students shared those challenges as well.  I learned that he bonded

with a number of them and decided to start a Greek Letter fraternity.  It seems at that time there were

no fraternities for Black students and assimilation into University life at Cornell was difficult.  More than

the weather up there was cold. 

Anyway, my grandfather and six of his fellow students were successful in founding the first Greek

Letter Fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha in 1906.  Back then Cornell was daunting; though admitted to study, it

was clear that students of color did not really belong or feel welcome in the community.  At the same time

Greek Letter Fraternities were a key survival system for white men.  They provided social bonding and

academic support for their members.  Logically enough, Blacks could not join them back then.  What

my grandfather and his friends, now affectionately and reverently known as the founding Jewels of Alpha

Phi Alpha, did must have been phenomenal.  They were courageous enough to say that if we cannot join

the fraternities that make you feel welcome and supported at Cornell, then we need to form our own.  There

had been an earlier effort to start a fraternity at Cornell for Black students that was unsuccessful, but

my grandfather and his friends were committed enough to make their goal a reality regardless of the sacrifice.

Alpha Phi Alpha now has members worldwide and boasts in its membership so many accomplished

Black men that it has truly set a proud tradition.  There is so much good that can be said for the organization

that this article certainly cannot do it justice.  If any readers want to know more I would invite them to visit

the Alpha Phi Alpha website,

In a twist of fate my grandfather seemed to have deeply influenced my fate when my opportunity to

attend college came.  Oddly enough, Virginia's resistance to integration gave me a strange break.  The

state started to close schools and actually would pay for students to go to private schools out of

state. Ostensibly this was to help white students avoid the apparent curse of studying alongside Black folk. 

My mother insisted that I apply to private schools and encouraged me to target New England boarding

schools in particular.  Through this twist of fate, I earned a scholarship to the Phillips Exeter Academy and

got additional aid from the state of Virginia so that it cost my family very little for me to study there.

While Exeter was largely a culture shock for me, I survived and learned that smart and good people can

come from anywhere and any background.  I got a good education and for the first time in my life learned to

live alongside whites, both rich and poor. It was academically challenging for me as a teenager from the

South but I survived.  By the time I was ready to graduate, my mother was quite ill and was pleading with me

to target an Ivy League institution.  Again I heeded her pleading but rebelled against the idea of Harvard. 

Too many of my classmates were desperate; it seemed, for that chance.  I was more influenced by a chance

to get to a big city and found out that Columbia was in New York City and the University of Pennsylvania was

in Philly.  My idea of going to college was having the chance to hear live jazz and be bop in particular.  Philly

and New York were it for me.  Fortunately, I got accepted to both.  My mother thought New York was too much

for me.  Without comment here, she obviously did not understand how Philly really was.  But on the basis of 

her opinion I chose Penn.

Roll forward from Cornell in the early 1900s to Penn in the intense and radical sixties.  I found out that not

a whole lot had changed.  There still were not that many Black students attending Ivy League universities

in general and Penn in particular.  You could walk around all day and not really see any.  If you did it was

no more than one or two.  I was blessed to have a Black roommate who was also my Exeter classmate

and one of my closest friends.  I set up my own support system before I got there. 

However, I quickly learned that we had gained admission but had not gained acceptance. Generally I found

that those Blacks who played varsity sports had a little more chance to get some level of acceptance based

on their athletic value and charisma.  I also found out that among the few Blacks there, a number of them

came with high test scores but didn't have the same level of preparation that I did.  By my sophomore year

I noticed a lot of them were flunking out. They were often super bright, by any criteria, but they could not find

any sense that they were welcome in such an academically challenging environment.

By my junior year, I had met as many Black students as I could.  My southern upbringing and

outgoing personality made me want to speak to every Black student that would speak back.  I met a young

man who had come down from Harvard to study law.  He told some of us that Harvard had underground

groups for Black students and that we should start one at Penn.  We agreed and gathered in front of the

library where he staged a speech.  After listening to him speak I decided that I disagreed with him because

his emphasis was on helping less fortunate people outside of the University instead of the students within

the university. 

My contention was that too many of the students at Penn were having a hard time academically. It was not

that they were not smart enough or unwilling to work hard enough but that they just did not feel that it was

really their school.  I argued that many of us just felt depressed and rejected at the University on a

community level and it made it that much more difficult to deal with what was already hard.  Well, the

law student from Harvard quietly backed down and gave me the mike.  Sometimes in retrospect I think he

set me up to do what I did.  He may have been reading some Machiavelli or something.

Anyway, from my speech, the small group of students gathered anointed me to start a group. A student

from West Africa agreed to serve as Vice Chairman.  Our purpose was sort of primal.  We formed

the organization to help ourselves survive and graduate.  Some resented that and viewed us as privileged

but did not understand how vulnerable we were and how dispensable we felt. Radicals invaded campus

when we had meetings and tried to make us feel guilty.  Despite this, we formed a group called the Society

of African and African-American Students otherwise known as SAAS.  It survived. It was a sixties solution to

the same problem I imagined and still imagine that my grandfather and his friends had at Cornell. 

The formation of the group caused me some problems with the establishment at Penn but I survived

the turbulent times and graduated.  This is ancient history now but Penn has grown to embrace Blacks

more aggressively than many schools now and SAAS evolved to become the Black Student League. 

Not entirely like Alpha Phi Alpha, but in my own small way, I along with my fellow students who were

members of SAAS worked to keep the flame alive.  Let us not see bright minds in people of

color underdeveloped, destroyed or embittered. 

I feel a psychic connection to a grandfather whom I never met.  I am grateful for his legacy and gift to me. 

I hope this story helps us remember that we must remain vigilant and that those who came before us in

the struggle for rights and opportunities made it possible for us to have even higher expectations and

greater opportunities in the face of challenges. 

My own thinking is that we should not rest too long to revel in the petty pleasures of luxury and success

that “integration” and equal opportunity has brought us largely on the backs of our ancestors. We must

commit to make sure that those students of color who are in higher education not only survive but excel. 

We must help and encourage every student who wants to go to college to find a way to do so.  Whether

Ivy League or not, Historically Black Colleges and Universities or not, we need to stay committed to

young people of color and build on the positive legacy. 

Washington DC based Julian Conway Wilson Jr. is an educator and the grandson of Robert Harold Ogle, one of the seven Jewels who founded Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He is currently working on a book project about estranged fathers and family healing.

.:: art
grandpuba blazer. beanpYe

+questions. answers


sabrina thompson

ceo. beanpYe

JB: When did you start BeanpYe and where did you get the idea?

ST:  Beanpye was officially made public spring of 2005 in Los Angeles, California with an East Coast launching in the fall of 2005 in New York.

I was planning on launching Beanpye in the fall of 2005 until I got the opportunity to be a part of a Fashion Forward Expo on the campus of UCLA.  Every year various companies showcase their gear that caters towards college students with style on the campus of UCLA.  Each year they select 3 new designers to showcase their pieces and I was selected.  The director/producers of the expo saw my work and wanted Beanpye to be showcased along with Juicy Couture, UGG, Nike, Puma, Michael Stars, and Coach.

I got the idea of Beanpye from several different elements:

A—I've always like men's clothing and the sharpness of their designs, especially their sports coats/blazer.  However, I never really saw a plethora of funky blazers made for women AND men.

B—I'm a shopaholic.  However, shopping lately had become a bore because everything was so bland.  I'm a firm believer that most styles are whatever you make it to be.  I could care less if I'm rocking a dress from Wal-Mart or Gucci because ultimately the pieces you are wearing will either be illuminated or dampened by the inner spirit you possess. 

C—Lastly, if I heard another one of my girlfriends say “I can't believe that girl had on MY dress”.  I would always say to them…”honey, it is not your dress… Nicole Miller didn't only make one”.  So, I felt like each person is unique in their own way and should have something exclusive in their closets to wear.


JB: Do you design and handmade all items?

ST: I personally embellish every Beanpye item.  As a start up company and because all of my pieces are one of kind, it is definitely more cost efficient to go hand pick a basic blazer either from a vintage store or a high end department store and revamp the blazer.  So I don't make the actual blazers from scratch.  I'm sure as the company will grow, I will come out with a line that will be semi-exclusive meaning that there will be no more than 10 blazers of that kind made.  However as of now, I want to stick with the branding nature of the company as being high-end, one-of-a-kind designs, with a “funkadelic” flare.


JB: Which came first, the jewelry or the blazers?

ST: The jewelry came first.  I would always make little bracelets and charms as a kid in campWhen I got older I would take my jewelry beads and embellish clothing with them.  When I was a junior in college I took a basic pair of flip flops and studded them out with crazy rhinestones and earth toned wooden beads and sold them to sorority girls on campus who were notorious for wearing flip flops year round. J  I made my first blazer about one year or so after moving to NYC after college and got so many compliments from random New Yorkers as I would stroll down the street….so I put 1 plus 1 together and decided to turn my passion into a business.


JB: What is the price range?  How did you decide on the prices?

ST: Jewelry can range from $35 for bracelets and earrings ---to $140 for extravagant necklaces.  There are no more than 3 pieces of jewelry made of each kind.  Since the jackets are all one-of-a-kind designs, the cost is more expensive because of its exclusivity.  Jackets are $300 on up depending on how much time goes into the embellishment and elaboration of the jacket.  The jacket prices are based on the embellishment labor/time and the type of materials used for embellishments.


JB: Where'd you get the names for the different items (Ximara, etc...)?

ST: I wanted to make sure each item had a name and not some code # associated with it.  Each item possesses its own character already and when it's coupled with the buyer's personal characteristic then it makes it even more dynamic.  The jewelry is either named after people I know that I feel like their personality is beautiful and memorable in itself and after world cities in exotic continents such as Africa and Asia. I am influenced by the patterns/deep color schemes I see in African and Asian fabric and stones.  I usually freestyle and make my products with no real concrete theme in mind and when I'm finished I'll analyze and name it.


JB: How is your line different than other custom blazer designers like Se7en Nations and 1Soul Designs? 

ST: First of all, I have to give props to the designers of these companies because they, too, are fusing art with art and have an extraordinary vision opposite of mainstream fashion.

However, Beanpye is different than the Se7en and 1Soul Designs because my work is all one-of- a-kind.  There are no replicas.  Not all of my stuff is politically driven like 1Soul Designs.  I get my inspiration and name the jackets off whatever has touched my heart visually or musically.  Whether it is some form of politics, geography or ripples in water.  One main difference with Beanpye is that it is a company that has an option of being somewhat like a virtual personal shopper/designer.  If a client decides he/she wants a jacket made with their specific thoughts in mind, then whatever color/theme/embellishment desired will be meshed with my vision and the jacket will be made.  This touch makes on the jacket highlight a person's inner spirit and personality even more.

Plus Beanpye, incorporates handcrafted bold jewelry unlike Se7en and 1Soul Designs.  I've been told that the jewelry alone worn with a plane white tank is a conversation starter in itself.  There is so much jewelry, some of my personal favorite, that didn't make the website because they were sold that quickly.


JB: Where can you find BeanpYe apparel?

ST: As of now, my apparel is only web based.  Either customers can buy directly off the site or contact Beanpye directly to discuss options of having something created that they may not see on the site.  I am in the process of placing products in high end boutiques and department stores in New York, Texas, Los Angeles, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Virginia, and France.


JB: What were your proudest moments as far as the company?

ST: Nine days after my site launched a buyer from Bergdorf Goodman's in New York contacted me to discuss my line.  The great reception and success of my New York launch event and the launch expo out in Los Angeles.  I am elated about how quickly the buzz about Beanpye is spreading simply by word of mouth.  I am proud every time I hear a random person on the street walk by and say “amazing necklace” or “great jacket”.  It doesn't take much to excite me.  Every compliment motivates me and ensures me that what I create is touching people.


JB: What were the biggest obstacles for BeanpYe?

ST: My biggest obstacle is trying to juggle my 9 to 5 as a TV producer and my “as I would put it” 5-9 as a designer.  I'm always on the go and if I'm not in the studio producing a segment, then I am at making jewelry and jackets.  So my personal “me” time is very limited.  However, I try to squeeze out time to have personal time or else I will end up without balance…and I don't want that.  It is a challenge, but I enjoy every single minute of it because I love working in TV and I love creating designs.  One career helps me with the other career as far as maintaining vast communication/clients and keeping my creative juices flowing.  I will continue to do both as long as I can handle it and not become overwhelmed. 


JB: Where do you get your inspiration?

ST: Virtually everything good or bad.  I am a very extreme person so anything that catches my attention that is on an extreme/profound level is captivating to me.  I love the brutal honesty of kids and the elderly, sweltering summer days, the classic tunes of Aerosmith and Stevie Wonder, the grimy looking Laundromats near my brownstone, devastating heartbreaks, and the hard bass lines of artists like Mobb Deep or the profound lyrics of Lauryn Hill.  I try to find the beauty in whatever comes my way...good or bad.  From that beauty comes my inspiration for art within my Beanpye creations.

Janee' Bolden received a MFA in Fiction from New York University. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including, The Best Black Women's Erotica 2, Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art, Travel Savvy and Dork Magazine. Janee' is currently at work on her first novel.

+diary. Olympus Fashion Week

Olympus Fashion Week

Spring 2006 Collections/ September 9- September 16th

Bryant Park/ New York City

Fashion Week has come and gone again in New York City.  You know Fashion Week, it's the week where fashion assistants assume the mantle of king and queens of NYC and terms like tropical chic-flowers and lace point to some deep and profound meaning.  As with everything in 21st century New York, Fashion Week is becoming evermore exclusionary, with the various fashion houses vying for the most exclusive show of the year” award.  And of course big bank takes little bank. The large and established fashion houses stay above the fray, the wanna-be large and established houses scramble to make the biggest show of being exclusionary and then there is the rest.  This diary is about the rest.  Walk with us as we take a tour through the little banks of Fashion Week, because hey, one day little bank is going to be big bank.  It may be Fashion Week but this is still America, right?


Friday 9.9 Gottex Show

Gottex is an Israeli label that specializes in women's swim and beachwear.  The designer Gideon Oberson is even called the guru of swimwear in some circles.  I like swimsuits, I like the beach.  I made sure the Gottex show was on my calendar.

The models begin the show with capes draped around their necks.  Super models for real.  The majority of the swimsuits look utterly unfit for swimming but they are beautiful nonetheless.  One model is unhappy that her swimwear bottom keeps trying to become a thong.  The struggle between woman and nylon and spandex continues for the duration of her walk.  I think someone backstage is going to be in trouble.

The most humanizing point of the show happens when a model reaches the top of the stairs to hear her daughter yelling mommy from the side of the stage.  The model looks in her daughter's direction with a light trace of a smile before beginning her walk.  It is a nice moment.

For the last portion of the show, all of the models suddenly become gold.  Blonde hair, gold swimsuit, gold body.  The last of the presentations remain like this until the Oberson appears to end the show. The designer strides down the runway arm-in-arm with one of the gold-body-blond-hair women and hugs her at the end of the catwalk.  As he retraces his footsteps to leave the hall there is a smear of gold across the back of his black shirt.  The fashion designer is messy.  The fashion designer is happy.


Monday 9.12 Charles Nolan


Nolan's show is off campus at a small hall on the lower east side.  I arrive late but find that the show has been held up to allow for the buses carrying buyers from Bryant Park to arrive.

Nolan's fabrics are all mixed blues, creams and blacks and seem geared for a more mature clientele.  The most striking elements of the show are the large floppy hats that fall somewhere between a chef's coif and a sombrero.  When paired with the trunk jewelry (faux pearl necklaces), they actually bring some life to models that are trying so hard to be lifeless that they are, well, lifeless.

An elder model accompanied by a girl three generations her junior steps the catwalk and steals the show.  Hands clapping, mouths whistling, feet stamping, the crowd goes crazy for the intergenerational flair that Nolan has included in his show.   I, too, find it to be a nice touch.  However, when three more such pairings follow, it loses its novelty and I'm back to looking for the floppy hats.

Ralph Lauren, err I mean Charles Nolan, walks out at the close of the show.  He is as boring as his clothes.  I begin looking for the bus back to Bryant Park.

Tuesday 9.13 Zang Toi


Zang Toi is a Malaysian designer who appears to have carved out a nice little niche for himself with a playful and glamorous take on his work.  I'm not certain that he qualifies for the little bank tour but his handlers are open and gracious so something must be up.

Andre Leon Talley, vogue editor-at-large and unquestioned fashion icon, sits at one corner of the runway.  He looks bored as if he has been to a trillion of these things before.  He is bored because he has been to a trillion of these things before

Suddenly, the lights shut off, wild jungle animals sound hungry.  Models appear wearing fatigue wear in soft fabrics and formal suits somehow adapted for jungle wear.  Its bizarre but its fun, I'm having fun.

A bevy of African models are meant to look alike with matching impossible weaves.  But one towers above the rest in height and dominance.  She is having a ball.  I am too until the African models begin wearing coiled chains around their necks.  It is meant to conjure images of African villages but I see chains around Black women's necks.

Zang saunters out at the end of the show.  He is tiny and joyful and bouncing around in a short kilt.  I like him but I wish he hadn't put those chains around those women's necks.


Tuesday 9.13 Y3- Yohji Yamamoto


Now I know Yohji doesn't belong on this tour but I was so enamored with his initial Adidas line that I had to go and check him out.  It was only right.  Held off the Bryant Park campus on Wall Street, the Y3 show looks like something out of a New York movie only it isn't something out of a New York movie.  There is a static line that snakes all the way around the far corner and a short-cut door for the celebrities.  But I don't see any celebrities I recognize, so this isn't a New York movie.

Too tired to stand in line, I walk straight to the front door with my little press pass hanging from my neck.  After being stopped by an irate gatekeeper, a ridiculous conversation ensues:

Gatekeeper:  What is this? (High screeching voice)

Me: A press pass (low, deep yet slightly unsure voice)

Gatekeeper: This means nothing! (High screeching voice)

Me: Oh (low, deep voice)

This is where things get strange.  The gatekeeper reaches out to grab the little press pass around my neck.  I smack his hand.

Me: What the fuck are you doing? (Deep/high voice)

Gatekeeper: This (the little press pass) is bullshit! It means nothing! (High screeching voice)

Me: I don't give a fuck! Don't put your hands on me! (Deep/high voice)

This is the problem with Fashion Week; too much of it has nothing to do with fashion.

Wednesday 9.13 Bryant Park Fashion Central


Decided to just hang around the tents and check out the scene a little bit.  The throngs of people who gather outside the tent give me a taste of the exclusivity that is like a drug to the average New York denizen.  I pass through the crowd like royalty only to be summarily ignored by the press types who hover around the entrance inside the tents.  There are layers to the exclusivity game (as if you didn't know).

I stand around people watching for 30 minutes or so before I realize there is an open bar transpiring.  Bet.  After 3 Maker's Marks on the rocks, fashion chatter is suddenly exciting and irresistible.  I find myself telling a photography crew from the definitive glossy fashion magazine out of the Philippines that tropical chic- flowers and lace is the answer to all of our ills.

Before the night is finished, I notice that I have the distinct ability to get in the way of television crews while they are filmingI don't know where I picked up this distinct talent but over the course of the two hours that I spend meandering around the tents, I find myself wandering through the work of three different camera crews.  Maybe you saw me on television.  I'm the one unconsciously dressed like a bum.  I like to think it is my calling card for the week.

Friday 9.16 Vlassis Holevas


Greek designer Vlassis Holevas is making his US debut in the last show scheduled of the week to be scheduled in the tents.  Sponsored by the Greek National Tourism Council, Vlassis Holevas is billed as an international star in the making. 

Pastel lights bouncing off the white cloth walls of the tent make for a surreal type of environment.  Patricia Fields sits in the front row and it suddenly dawns on me that fashion designers may actually like to check out the work of people in their fields.  What a novel idea.

Holevas' work is colorful evening wear.  The models all wear the same curiously frazzled hairstyle and look like someone is going to steal their bicycles while they are on the catwalk but there is a palpable excitement in the air.  The models stalk around a U shaped catwalk that allows each audience member to get a good look at the designs and the frightened look on the model's faces.  It is the most democratic of all of the shows thus far.

Holevas steps out for the show's finale.  Aside from his own frazzled hairstyle (part of the ongoing, inexplicable 80s revival?), he is smooth in his black suit and open white shirt.  Furthermore, he is the most proud person I have seen all week.   The sharp suit and the look on his face is everything that is good about Fashion Week  

.:: music | dance
long live the kane



by CD


Proper beats as the leaves change


Static  2005

Abb Records

Benny Sings

Champagne People 2005

Sonar Kollektiv Records


Runbox Weathers 2005

Sonar Kollectiv Records

Download it @ iTunes!  
Download it @ iTunes!  

The Bay State is well represented by the trio of Tableek, Hanif, and Roddy Rod.  Named after the highway that runs straight through Massachusetts, Maspyke offers up beats for the trunk and rhymes for el mente.  You may remember this group from an appearance on Mark Farina's 2002 Mushroom Jazz 4.


Remember when pop music made you feel good?  I guess it takes the Europeans to remind Americans about what the possibilities of pop music really are (see Jamiroquai and Loose Ends).  Benny Sings, a Netherlander, creates an album that is, for lack of a better term, groovy.


Swiss beats…literally.  Bern, Switzerland bred Dimlite puts together an album for those who like to keep it abstract. Instrumentals that ain't so glossy like those of Pete Rock or J Dilla but are still quite heavy, heavy, heavy.  Speakers pushing major watts necessary for full and utter appreciation. Back to the Universe” (Slapped Eyeballers remix) highly recommended.

McCoy Tyner, Piano

Alice Coltrane, Harp

Wayne Shorter, Sax

Gary Bartz, Alto Sax

Ron Carter, Bass

Elvin Jones, Drums

McCoy Tyner

Extensions 1970

Blue Note Records


Metro Area

Metro Area 2002

Environ Records

Download it @ iTunes!   Download it @ iTunes!
I mean pick a McCoy Tyner album:  Inner Voices, Sahara, The Greeting.  But if I were trapped on an island somewhere, and I had to choose only one Tyner album… I'd try to swim back home!  His work is just so compelling and enthralling.  An incredible cast on this one including Gary Bartz and Elvin Jones.  Pop this in your trunk and see what happens.   A few years old, but it still feels real good.  Producers Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani blend Chicago, NY, and Detroit house into this good vibe album.  Light one up with this...




CD has recently been sent in a blockbuster four team, eight player deal from the Atlantic (NYC) to the Northwest Division (Seattle).  He plans on continuing his success as a premier assist man and long range shooter.


CD can be reached for comment at

.::literature | travel
louisiane St. Fleurant

+travel memoir. jacmel, haiti

after the dance & other reflections of a haitian expatriate

sekou aka ducarmel

A short time ago, Nat Creole Literary Editor Brook Stephenson asked Haitian born- Brooklyn based writer Sekou Aka Ducarmel to write a review of After The Dance, Edwidge Danticat's reflective novel on the carnivals of Jacmel, Haiti for our pages.  What transpired was something beyond our expectations.  Inspired by Danticat's word and evocative imagery, Sekou delivered a piece so personal, so powerful, so beautiful that we had to share it with the world in its full glory.  What follows is a love letter to Ayiti, Sekou's homeland of Haiti.  Enjoy. 

In the early 80's I first moved to NYC and experienced ridicule and discrimination simply for being Haitian. With the mass media blaming Haitians as the originators of the HIV disease, seventh grade through high school was rough. You had to know how to protect yourself, but if you were Haitian you really had to guard your grill.  We spoke differently, so it wasn't easy to front like you were from another English-speaking island. Creole is a beautiful language, but I only spoke Creole when I moved to America not English. There was a language barrier. I was thirteen. Did I miss Ayiti when I moved to America? Yes I missed Haiti but I had only existed in two places - New York, where I came to in the summer times, and Haiti.

The land known now as the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Hispaniola, has a history that dates back to the island's original inhabitants, the Arawaks. The Arawaks were virtually wiped out by the Spaniards. After years of fighting between the French on the west side and the Spaniards on the east, the island was eventually divided. Haiti became a French colony and the Dominican Republic a Spanish colony.

Even though they were bloody times when I was younger in Haiti, I didn't really have any negative experiences growing up under the Papa Doc regime. I lived in a family-run "pension" or boarding school/ home while my parents grinded real hard in NYC as new Haitian immigrants.  The educational system in Haiti was fantastic. We had a top-notch education. School was really strict though.  Teachers were permitted to whip that behind with a stick and make students stand on their knees for hours if you didn't act right. In retrospect, Ayiti on the whole, was nothing but fun for me as a child. I was fortunate to not have to fetch water and tend to livestock. I tried to milk a cow once. It wasn't a pleasant experience. Just being in the yard and climbing the coconut trees was fun. I really remember being a kid for real. I tried to balance a bucket of water on my head too, but I had to give that up for making slingshots with rubber bands and stripes of leather. I remember seeing old men in thin straw, stringy hats and fiery red scarves, but I never knew that they represented Azaka, the patron god of agriculture. That I learned from Edwidge Danticat's book After the Dance. What I really remember was the food. We had a bakery on the premises. That's what it was like for me growing up in Port–Au-Prince.

I visited Jacmel for the first time in 2002. It was my first trip back to Haiti in twenty years - needless to say I was very excited. I came to the States after the first thirteen years of my life in Haiti. I remember horrific tales about demons, and zombies, but I had never been to Carnival in Jacmel or anywhere else in Haiti for that matter. I have just been to the ones in Brooklyn on Eastern Parkway.

My mother's family is from Jacmel. When I went to visit, my cousin and I traveled on a big yellow school bus on a road spiraling up around the mountain karate en route to Jacmel.  The view was breathtaking and frightening at the same time. As the narrow road twirled up the mountains, I could see the steep rolling hills down below, lush forests, and more mountains.   The ride to Jacmel from the city was about three hours. Upon arrival, I knew I had reached somewhere special after seeing bright colorful little houses and walls decorated with advertisements and fading campaign posters of Jean Bertrand Aristide. My Aunt Madia gets really excited talking about growing up there but it was mainly the fact that Jacmel had electricity twenty four hours a day and the town operated independent of the politics in the city that made it stand out to me.  Besides Carnival, I wanted to reconnect to my roots, feel the vibes, meet some artists and just chill.  I didn't get to do much exploring because my cousins wanted to head back to the city. For real, though, Jacmel had its own vibe. Where I was staying in Port-Au-Prince, Carrefour, it was hustle and bustle city life. I didn't see that in Jacmel. It was a lot more laid back but touristy. 

My first and last trip to Jacmel was brief.  It was in March, pre-Easter holiday. From central Jacmel's Rue Baranquilla Street, we rode on mini scooter-taxis to the beach. The road was smooth and on each side of the road were lush green fields.  The wind blowing a cool breeze through us had me really amped.  I couldn't wait to get to the beach. I had been stuck in the hustle and bustle of Port-au-Prince for a week and I desperately needed to see some nature.


I got a chance to groove a little with a Rara band near the beach. Danticat speaks of Ti Mouyaj beach in her travel writing work and it is reminiscent of the beach I visited in Jacmel. The scene is out of this world with crisp clean water, smooth white sands and a breathtaking view of the mountains in the background. After a heavenly bath on the beach, I ate some fried plantains and fish Haitian-style with pickles and a concoction made of cabbage, hot peppers and carrots.  I started to record the Rara band on my video camera but I had to refrain from that after getting some funny looks. I didn't want to appear too much like a tourist.  

Although I was too young to go to a Jacmelian carnival, I remember the anticipation and excitement of it all.  Being in Jacmel brought all of those feelings back.  I recalled having visions of Baron Samedi, the vodou lwa of the cemetery. Never knew then what it was, I just remember that black suit and top hat. In Jacmel's Carnival, there are giant papier-mâché masks. I can just visualize the beautiful spectrum of colors recalling building my own kite as a kid, using papier-mâché of red, blue and yellow.  According to Danticat, during Carnival season the children would dress in shredded skirts and paint their faces. This would show the Awarak Indian ancestry of the original inhabitants of the island.  My godmother was a mulatto and constantly annoyed me with her French mentality. In her mind, everything French set the standards-light skin and so-called pretty hair not to mention the language.  You had to speak French otherwise you were considered ignorant and unrefined.  As noted in our history, slaves and mulattos have their own leaders and they fought each other and the white colonists. Eventually, the slaves and mulattoes came together to fight the battle that lead to Haiti's independence in 1804. However, the class system remained intact.  The rest is history.

Danticat's book sparked many other memories from Carnival. Especially the costumes and masks that are worn and the many different messages they convey and the revelers at the Carnival with stretched condoms on their heads reminded me of using condoms to make my makeshift football (soccer).  Using strips of clothes, I would wrap the inflated condom with the strips of fabric a few times to cushion and protect it from getting punctured and to seal it off nicely.  I used a couple of nylon stockings to finish my ball making process.  It was one of my favorite pastimes, making the ball and getting some fun games poppin'. Growing up there we had to get creative. We didn't have the TV or video games luxury. Life is simple, possibly, simply better. Playing marbles in the dirt was my favorite game. My summers in Kenscoff, a small rural town about an hour outside Port-Au-Prince, were spent horseback riding and taking long walks through the forest.

Carnival actually is a renewal as one of the revelers stated in Danticat's book, marking the beginning of a new day. A message that is increasingly important in facing the AIDS issue in Haiti. AIDS indeed has left a stigma on Haitians.  The AIDS stigma still remains prevalent in Hollywood. I was really disgusted after paying to see “How Stella Got Her Groove Back" when it was commented during a scene that Haitians have a history with AIDS. I personally feel this is due to the fact that Haiti is the world's first black republic in the Western Hemisphere. There's always been a vendetta against her. The current state of affairs though is not so cool.  Haiti is filled with homegrown corrupt politicians and American invaders.  Times have really changed.  I thank my parents everyday for giving me the opportunity to experience life in Haiti as a youth. The renewal I experienced from this trip was a reconnection. I met cousins I never knew, aunts, uncles and being there gave me a real sense of identity.  It really shaped who I have become today.  Better schooling definitely gave me an advantage.  Being bilingual is truly an asset.  I love to travel and have had my passport since I can remember. My grandmother being a healer has inspired me to follow that path as well.  As a DJ, my interest in various types of music was due to being exposed to so many different cultures growing up. I would love to do a set of roots music in Haiti one day.  I wanna show my people how roots music from other parts of the Diaspora are all connected.  Its Mama Afrika at work and the vibes in Ayiti are certainly Afrikan.  I'm hoping for change to come soon. I can't wait for the day when I'll be singing my favorite childhood song to the beat of a Rara band singing along… padi sa, padi sa, padi sa, padi sase louanj o...

sekou aka ducarmel jr. is a brooklyn based writer who was born in Port-Au-Prince Haiti

nat creole.

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Sekou aka Ducamel Jr.
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