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Friday, July 30, 2010
Pictures from top to bottom: Adrian, Lam, and Melanka Joy
"The opposite of war isn't peace but creation." -Jonathan Larson
One night in February I had vision. In this vision I saw lots of color, I heard lots of laughter, and felt lots of hug. In this vision I had a family, a family, not of blood, but of pure love and acceptance. I couldn't see their faces, but I could feel their energy….
Sometimes, in moments of solitude and quite, my mind will drift back to a year ago. To a time when I was heartbroken and scared; a moment in my life when I was convinced my journey on this earth would be spent alone with no one to trust and no one to love. This time last year, out of my own personal darkness, I decided to move. With sadness in my heart, I decided to start over again. Only one year ago, everything was different. Only one year ago, the people I have grown to love and cherish, were complete strangers to me. But as they say, a lot can happen in a year, and as I learned in my 12 month journey, if I let the universe do what it needs to do, nothing bad will happen and everything will be as it should. Twelve months of massive change in my life. Twelve months of massive growth, and only 12 months to find a massive amount of happiness, love, and family. Ironically the relationships that mean so much to me now, came in the form of an octopus with 12 tentacles called Dodekapus.
Dodekapus, an Atlanta based art collective consisting of artist in every medium, is a group of revolutionaries. With most of its members young people in his or her 20s, Dodekapus has become a resourceful family who laugh, love, and create. A peaceful group of bohemians who not only desire change, but work to make it happen. A group of young people, who in rejecting what society has taught them as truth, moved on from these said teachings to seek truth for themselves.
Within this group there are three people, three friends, three artist, with three stories of their own.
The first time I REMEMBER seeing Adrian, I was standing in line to go to the bathroom at the Dodekapus April 9th show. As I’ve since looked back at footage I recorded**(see below) at the show, I realize now that it actually was Adrian’s fault I had to wait for 20 minutes to use the bathroom in the first place, and seeing him while waiting for the bathroom was, in fact, NOT the first time I had laid eyes on him. While the sun was still up earlier that day, the show had started, and I arrived in Castleberry Hill, late. When I walked in, two men were doing a dance called Capoeira. Of course, me being ignorant to this type of dance, I pulled my flip out to record what I was seeing. They all had yellow shirts on, and Adrian, as I now realize, had a green bandanna wrapped around his head. Bongo drums, tambourines, and other instruments played beside the dancers as they did, what I would call a rather mystical yet somewhat gymnastic inspired form of movement. As the dance progressed, the beats of the drums intensified, and before I knew it, the spiritual world awakened. As I held my flip recorder, I felt the familiar feeling of spirits touching me. I could feel my hair tugged and my shirt pulled. Spirits or no spirits, I was not going to miss this show. So doing what any normal person would do to escape the reality of his or her own personal situation, I turned to Haley (who at that point was also experiencing paranormal pulls and tugs), and simply asked, “Where is the beer?” Haley grabbed my hand and escorted me to the corner of the room. Haley and her boyfriend had a cooler full. All three of us grabbed a can, popped them open, and drank… a lot. I had no intention of drinking at all that night, and if Adrian’s group had not danced, I would not have had to use the restroom. But to be honest, I’m glad they danced, I’m glad I drank, and I’m glad I stood in line to go to the bathroom.
While waiting, with the sharp and intense pain of a full bladder, I stood amongst strangers cursing myself for wearing my skinny jeans, and thus, feeling like if I didn’t pee soon, the button of jeans was going to snap right off. To distract myself from my misery I looked through the crowd to people watch. Directly in front of me stood a Latin looking, rather attractive man doing a live painting. This man had on a red tailcoat, the arms cut off, a red hat, and face paint. I watched as he drew this perfectly straight line across the canvas. Watching the intensity coming from him as he focused on his piece was a pleasure to see, and my focus was only broken when it was my turn to go to the bathroom. This man in the red coat, as it turned out, was Adrian.
A few weeks passed, and the memory of watching Adrian paint became just that, a memory. It wasn’t until a few meeting into my arrival in Dodekapus that I got to know Adrian, and realized who he was. After getting to know him I’ve learned that not only is Adrian a talented painter, he’s does amazing sculptures, dances, plays the guitar, plays the drums, and if I do say so myself, is an incredible writer. He is what one would call “A Jack of All Trades.” But not only is Adrian an amazing artist, not only is he Dodekapus’ Revolutionary leader, but he’s also a great man. One that opens his home to his Dodeka family all the time, one that always greets his companions with a hug, one with a great sense of humor, and one with a kind heart.
To my recollection, I’ve never told Adrian about the first time I saw him. I never thought it important to share, but I am thankful I got to see him work. I am thankful for this growing friendship, and most importantly, I am thankful for his presence in my life.
I’ll absolutely NEVER forget the first time I saw Lam, but with Lam, I think that’s true with anyone who crosses his path. How could one forget him? At 5’3,” sharp, skinny, and lean, Lam walked into Java Lords on a Sunday morning in April with tight black pants on, a tight black shirt, and a wide rimmed black hat to block the sun. As a collective, we were going up to the main corner of Little 5 Points to feed the hungry. We weren’t just handing out food left, right, and center. In order for the hungry to eat, they had to either a) draw something on the sidewalk, or on paper provided by us b) play a musical instrument, again, provided by us or c) do some sort of performance art. As we all left Java Lords, and walked up Euclid to the main corner of L5Ps, I noticed that Lam was holding a scarf that wrapped around a deck of cards. Once in the courtyard, Lam sat down under a tree and unwrapped his cards. They were tarot cards. While everyone dispensed art supplies, and set up the food table, I watched as Lam, very quickly start reading the cards for people passing by. My curiosity about Lam grew as the day progressed. After finishing up a Tarot card reading for Haley, she told me that Lam was, also, in a burlesque troop with her. As the only drag burlesque performer in the group, “Lam with a B,” acts were always a huge success, and I looked forward to seeing him preform in the future.
A few days later, Haley and I wound up at a friend’s house for a small get together. We arrived a little late because Haley had just come back from a photo shoot with her burlesque troop. At the house, our friend had transformed his front living room into a fort, with sheets stapled to the walls and pillows lining the floor. Haley and I took our shoes off and climbed in through the manmade, tarp tunnel around the front door. We started talking and laughing with the others at the gathering, and after awhile it came out that I, like Haley, could communicate with the dead. Many people wanted me to do quick readings, and I agreed only if we could step outside, one at a time, so I could focus on the one person’s energy and not be interrupted by other energies in the space. Once outside, I started to read for people, but as I was finishing up one reading, I heard a click, click, click of high heels coming down the street. I turned around, and there was Lam in a beautiful silk dress with high heels, a wrap around his head, and in beautiful make up. Because he is in the same burlesque troop with Haley, he too had just arrived from a photo shoot, and he looked magnificent.
“I’m Lam,” he said, extending his hand to me once he got to the front door. Lam and I never formally met that Sunday in Little 5 Points.
“Brice. I’m Haley’s friend. Nice to meet you,” I said taking his hand.
Lam and I spoke outside about my gifts as a paranormal, and he told me about his gifts reading palms and Tarot cards.
“Who’s my spirit guide?” Lam asked me, as he pulled me over to the side. I read for Lam that night, and in return, he read my palm and cards for me.
In the grown up fort, in East Atlanta, Lam and I became friends. With our growing friendship, I’ve learned a lot about Lam. As a trained Operatic singer, Lam’s voice brings me tears at times. As a dancer, his moves on the dance floor make we want to take dancing lessons. As a drag burlesque queen and women’s study minor, his understanding of a woman’s fight in the world teaches me compassion and helps me feel less alone. Probably one of the best, most fun, and draining things Lam and I have done together is the Dodeka Spirit Tent. At any Dodekapus festival, with the loving support of our fellow collective members, there will be a tent set up with Lam, Haley, our Reiki guy Kregg, and me ready to do readings.
In reality though, the highlight of our friendship transpired in the men’s room at Estoria Bar one evening. After walking from a show on the beltline***(see below), I had to use the restroom (again). The line for the ladies room was very long, my friends suggested that I just go into the men’s room. I walked in. The other men in there looked at me funny, but pointed me to the stall. After sitting in the stall for a moment, the stage fright crept it. I left the bathroom, and saw Lam waiting for me outside.
“Did you go?” Lam asked.
“No! There were too many men in there. I got scared.”
“Come on, Baby,” Lam replied back. With that, Lam grabbed my hand and walked right into the bathroom stall with me. He held the door closed and talked to me as I went the bathroom leaving me with a memory I will never forget.
Lam and I will not only spend our lives laughing together, playing together, and creating together, but we will spend time, with Haley, growing together within the gifts the Universe gave us. It’s no coincidence that we met. It was no accident. I always laugh and say, “When our powers combine...” And no, Captain Planet does not arrive, but something does. A mystical force that the three us can’t even explain, and in a time of change and Revolution in the world, Lam is someone I am happy to call family and have by my side.
“Girl! You don’t need a man,” were the first words Melanka ever said to me.
On an April evening, not too long after the Dodekapus April 9th show, Haley and I found ourselves sitting on sofa, in a friend’s apartment, talking about the hardships of being paranormal. Haley, being in a very healthy relationship with a man that fully accepts her abilities as a paranormal, listened as I talked of my struggles with dating. Even though Haley’s boyfriend was ok with Haley’s gifts, she understands that the hardest part about this ability isn’t the attacks and constant visits, it’s frankly, dating. What man wants that bomb dropped on him? What man is willing to accept not only my gifts, but the weird, unexplainable phenomenon that tends to happen around me? For example, doors open and closing, to the normal eyes, by themselves. Who wants to sit with me and watch items being moved around, or my hair being pulled, or the TV turning on and off, again, by itself. Sure, some guys have found it “cool,” but then those are the ones that I tend to feel exploited by, and tend to only focus on that side of me and not everything else, which is not a healthy relationship. Other men tend to act like they’re ok with it, but the minute something “weird” happens or the minute I know something about them (the psychic part in me) that they did not tell me, it sends them running for the hills.
“Seriously! You don’t need a man!” Melanka said as she sat down beside me clutching a can a beer. Here she sat, this beautiful girl, long blonde hair with a red bandanna wrapped around her head, cut off shorts, glasses, and barefoot. She folded her legs up on the sofa to sit Indian style, rested her beer between her legs, and turned her face towards me. Looking dead into my eyes with her piercing, blue eyes, she smiled, and said, “Why do you think you need a man?”
Being completely caught off guard by this stranger, I smiled back at her, and sheepishly said, “I guess I don’t.”
I watched Melanka as she lifted her beer and took another sip. Really? Why wasn’t she freaked out about our paranormal discussion. Most people always have something to say about my abilities. She, for the first time in my life, was someone who honestly did not seem phased one way or the other. Instead, she spent the rest of the night reassuring me, someone she did not know, of my strength and independence as a woman.
As the night came to a close, and we all gathered our things to return to our homes, Melanka reached over to me and gave a huge hug. I have to be honest, it shocked me, but I was glad she hugged me goodbye. When I left, I honestly thought I would never see this girl again, but I was gladly mistaken.
The very next day, when we, as Dodekapus, went to Little 5 Points to feed the hungry, there she was. As it turns out, Melanka not only was she in Dodekapus, she, with Lam, was its creator. It was their brainchild. As we got to the corner of Little 5, Melanka greeted me with a hug again. She grabbed art supplies, handed them to me, and we, with the rest of the group, set up. Never once did she treat me like a stranger. From the minute I met her, in a very comfortable way, she treated me like someone she knew and trusted.
As time past, Melanka and I grew closer. Our conversations grew even more personal, and what started off as two people seeing each other twice a week at Dodeka meetings ended up as two friends talking to and/or seeing each other almost every single day. It wasn’t until one night at Star Bar, months after meeting her, that she brought up my abilities.
“I just want you to know I have a lot of respect for you,” Melanka said to Haley and me behind a crowd of screaming people.
“For what?” I said back to her.
“For your paranormal gifts. I think it’s cool you help people,” she said with a smile.
It shocked me! I honestly didn't think she remembered what Haley and I were talking about that fateful night Melanka and I met.
“Thanks!” I replied.
One Saturday, at Atlanta's Land Trust, there was a festival, Freedom Fest, and Dodekapus was there with our own booth. Next to our booth, we had our spirit tent where Lam, Haley, Kregg, and I worked with people. As the day progressed, Melanka pulled me aside to do a reading, but instead of reading in the tent, we jumped the fence and climbed into a tree house, and for an hour, I read for Melanka, deepening our friendship even more. At the end of the reading, I gave her my evil eye necklace to keep her safe, and told her that I believed she, too, had a gift of vision. I told her that, like my story, Dodekapus was something bigger than our collective. We are warriors for change, and we grow together with our change by creation.
Melanka, like Adrian and Lam, is someone I plan to have in my family forever. She is someone to whom I would give the shirt off my back. What started off as a random girl sitting beside me at a random party has not only become a true friend, but a very important part of my life.
For more information on Dodekapus Art Collective please go to www.dodekapus.org, http://dodekapus.blogspot.com, or visit us on facebook and twitter.
For more information in Lam's performances, please visit Minette Magnifique or "Lam with a B" on facebook.
***Atlanta's beltine is 22 miles of old railroad tracks that run throughout Atlanta. There are now art projects on the Beltline open to public viewing. Dodekapus has a structure, Wickerpus, under Freedom Parkway's section of the beltline.
"Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial art, music, and dance. It was created in Brazil by slaves sometime after the sixteenth century"- Wikipedia
**Below is the video that I recoded of Adrian's Capoeira at Dodekapus' April 9th show.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Being a part of Dodekapus means that, at times, we commit ourselves to other organizations we believe in to assist them in achieving their goals. One of these organizations is Living Walls. "Living Walls: The City Speaks" is a conference set to take place in Atlanta, August 13-15, 2010. This conference is based on street art, and with a long list of artist coming into Atlanta from all over the world; this conference is bound to be a success!
Well... that is to say... a success without a little blood, sweat, tears, and not to mention a new friendship along the way...
Living Walls founders consist of two people, Monica and Blacki, and when they came to Dodekapus for help, it was agreed that we would put on a carnival and the end of June to help raise funds for their kick-starter. We had multiple meetings about our event, switched locations, switched the date, made a huge twister board, put together costumes, got a trampoline, got a kissing booth, cleaned out a bathtub for apple bobbing, and worked well into the night painting signs and decorating the space for the event. Throughout this event planning for our carnival, it was agreed that I, being one of the writers in Dodekapus, would write a proposal for Monica to present to business owners in Atlanta so Living Walls may be granted access to a wall on the businesses buildings. I didn't know Monica that well. I'd only seen her in passing socially, and of course, seen her at a couple Dodekapus meetings, but I was willing to work with her because I believed in her organization.
Before writing the proposal, I went one morning with Monica and another Dodekian, Ana, to look for potential walls around the city. When Monica jumped in the car, she dropped her bag and laptop on the floor, turned and looked me square in the eyes and said, "Oh my God! My hair looks like Kelly Kapowski's!" First of all, her hair did not look like Kelly Kapowski's. Monica is a beautiful Peruvian girl with beautiful Peruvian hair (not that Kelly Kapowski's hair isn't beautiful, it's just outdated). Secondly, the fact that this girl, who was pretty much a stranger to me, just jumped in my car and made a "Saved By the Bell" reference was probably the funniest thing I had witnessed in a very long time. I started laughing and assured her that she looked fine. We drove off to get Ana and continue our hunt across the city, jumping out at random intersections to snap pictures of walls, jaywalking across city street to get to certain walls, being stopped by GA State University security woman because she was convinced that the three of us were, for some reason, trying to find Six Flags in the middle of downtown Atlanta, parking illegally, hightailing it up and down the connector, and not to mention, getting lost between the West End and Castleberry Hill a time or two. By the end of the day, the three of us were bonded, and I not only wrote the proposal for Monica, but also became one of Monica's assistants for Living Walls.
Meetings and conversations with Monica changed. Oh sure... we still worked and continue to work our butts off for Living Walls, but through our work, we became good friends. We talked about boys, our love for them, our hate for them. We talked about boys we know, boys we have crushes on, and boys from our past we both want to forget. We talked about our parents. We talked about our families. We talked about money, when we have it, when we don't. We talked about art. We talked about booze, and we talked about our need for success in our different mediums of art (Monica is a visual artist who started in street art).
Carnival came and went with success. We had fun, and as with any Dodedekapus event, it got crazy. Monica worked the bar all night, and I nestled back between the kissing booth and the spirit tent. We all worked hard, we all played hard, and we all achieved the success for what was promised to Living Walls from Dodekapus, but being true to our friends, we continue (more so as individuals now) to work with Monica. With the conference being mere days away, I plan to help her as much as I can, this time not just for a simple belief in an organization, but belief in a friend I have grown to love.
Living Walls is something that will shake Atlanta up. It's something that, birthed form the minds of Monica and Blacki, is by far bigger than them, bigger than Atlanta, even. With Monica and Blacki doing interviews left and right, the success of Living Walls is already overwhelming, and I am so proud of my friend, Monica.
ARTIST COMING TO ATLANTA ON AUGUST 7TH TO PARTICIPATE IN LIVING WALLS:
AND MY PERSONAL FAVORITE...
The Paper Twins
** For more information on "Living Walls: The City Speak," the artist involved in the conference, or to donate to the conference please go to www.LivingWallsConference.com. You can also find more information on Facebook.
*** For more information on Dodekapus please go to www.Dodekapus.org or look for us on facebook. You can also view the Dodekpaus Mission Statement in the blog directly below this one.
Our vision is to establish a prominent and accessible local arts culture that sustains artist and fosters a strong connection with the community. Dodekapus plans to build new bridges to the community to allow local artist to become more involved with their neighborhoods. Dodekapus believes local involvement in the arts is an important aspect of developing a healthy local arts culture that is both stimulating and beneficial to the community. Collaboration between artist of different disciplines creates something which is greater than the sum of its parts. Through this creative process, Dodekapus can produce and develop multi-media projects which both help artist develop individually as well as produce work that can be enjoyed locally.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
When I packed my bags in California, I had every intention on staying in Atlanta for the holiday season; however, immediately abandoning this upbringing and hightailing it to New York City to start a new life as a single girl at the start of the new year. Full of writing opportunities, a new outlook on being paranormal, and hope for a better future for myself, it was never in my own personal plan to stay in Atlanta. Why would I stay in here? I grew up in and around this city. In my head, there was nothing here for me. Nothing but pious churches, sweet tea, muggy summers, and bittersweet memories of a childhood I would rather soon forget. There is a saying that goes something like, "If you ever want to make God laugh, just tell God your plans." Well, what the universe had in store for me, in Atlanta, was beyond my wildest dreams. In readings* I do for others, when talking about bad a situation, out of the person's control, I say "Sometimes divine intervention comes in the form of tragedy." It is never easy for me to give out advice, and sometimes I turn a blind eye to what is happening right in front of me. I tend to ignore my personal divine intervention. But for me, my tragedy was the end of my relationship with a man I lived with and loved. My intervention was the universe getting me back to Atlanta. The divine part came in the form of beautiful, blonde, 22 year old girl named Haley.
Once I decided to stay in Atlanta, I began my quest of building a life for myself. As is true in every one's life, I tend to meet people through other people I have known before in my life. With the magical help of facebook and other social networking pages, my chain of friends began to grow. This chain, one night, led me to Young Blood Gallery, an art gallery on N. Highland nestled between Little 5 Points and the Highlands. Once arriving at Young Blood, I was greeted by a man named Jeremy. This man was dead, and wanted to talk to me. Not sure of what to do in this situation, since I was amongst strangers, I turned to my friend Elizabeth (who brought me to Young Blood and knew of my abilities) and asked her for help. "Just tell the owners," was her response. After gathering up my nerve (after all I still struggling with NOT wanting to look like a freak), I walked up to the manager, Jen, and told her about Jeremy. To my surprise, Jen and the owners were OK with what I am, and they had plenty of questions for me. We talked for a few minutes, and as we were departing I remembered them saying something about a girl named Haley, who worked there too, and could see the dead just like me. Letting it pass, I left Young Blood that night totally unaware of the friendship that was about to enter my life.
A few days later, I received a message and a friend request on facebook from Haley. In her message, she asked if we could meet and talk. We exchanged numbers and agreed to meet at Carroll Street Cafe, a little cafe in Cabbage Town. On a cold Wednesday morning in February, I met the girl who would end up warming my soul, and therefore, my life.
Once in a comfortable environment, Haley and I spoke of many things. Growing up in Macon, GA, Haley's story was very similar to my own. She, too, had her fair share of attacks, visitations, and the constant harassment from beings not in physical form. We spoke of our stomach "situations," for being a medium (as another medium described to me) your soul and spirit are on a different levels than the average person, thus, your body can't keep up, leaving the medium with terrible digestive problems. We spoke of our desire for all individual to be equal, and our personal fight to allow any people the right to marry. We talked of our desire for peace and acceptance among mankind, and our love for animals. I, on the verge of going vegetarian, and Haley, someone who had been vegetarian and vegan at different times in her life, both have the ability to see and feel animal spirits, leaving us with a constant struggle not to eat another being, created by God, with a spirit and a soul. As our friendship progressed, Haley and I became best friends. A friendship, unlike others, for Haley and I understood each other. Our conversations left that of paranormal phenomenon and moved on to other things, but deep down, we knew that out of every person we each knew in the world, we were the only two that understood what a "bad day" truly meant. We started doing readings* together, using our abilities to help people, and using each other to grow in this gift the universe had given us. "I think we were sisters in past life," Haley said to me one afternoon in the car. I shook my head yes. I had known Haley before, and would continue to know Haley throughout the rest of this life, and whatever lives we have left on this earth.
On Friday April 9, 2010, Haley called me. "Come to an art show tonight," she said. "It's in Castleberry Hill, and I want you to meet my art collective." I agreed to meet her there early, but due to getting lost and circling the Georgia dome multiple times, I arrived late. Finally, what I walked into would, again, change my life for the better. In this room of was a bunch of young people... all artist, pure artist. There were paintings on the wall, live work going on, bands preforming, and people dressed in costume with body paint from head to toe. The night was pure madness, good madness, and as the night ended, I went home with a smile on face.
Soon after the April 9th show, Haley got me to come to the collective meetings. Soon after that, I got involved with this art collective. Soon after that, I became friends with the other artists. Soon after that, these artist became my family. A family that I would miss even if I never met them. A family that I would do anything to help. A family that fully accepts me not only as a creative writer, but as a paranormal girl. A family that ends every conversation with "I love you." In such a small amount of time this group of people, who months before were complete strangers, became one of the most important things in my life. I thank my lucky stars everyday that my relationship with my ex ended, and therefore, these people came into my life.... my family.
This family is known as DODEKAPUS.
*Readings is the word that I (and Haley) use to describe what we do when we work with others on a paranormal level. It involves "reading" into people's energy to see and communicate with spirits that might be following that particular person.