8:56 pm - Thu, Sep 18, 2014
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Ms. Wrights Way: Babywearing, Breastfeeding and Pole Dancing

If someone would’ve told me in college that I would be sliding down poles and then ultimately pole dance while babywearing, I would’ve ran the other way because I would’ve thought that person was bat-ish crazy.

Nonetheless, here I am! Pole dancing, baby wearing and breastfeeding.  Who would’ve thought?!

I started my pole journey in 2008.  I returned home from college and met up with friends to catch up and share stories.  One of those stories happened to be about a girl who we all knew from High School, that was now some super paid stripper.  So me being super nosey, I logged onto Myspace, which was hot at the time, to find this girl.  I found her and not only was she a stripper, she was a super cool one that did pole tricks!  I scrolled some more on her page and saw that she owned a dance studio and in this studio they taught pole tricks.  I said to myself, “OMG you can learn how to do this?!”  With that being said, I signed up for a class and have been hooked ever since.
Of course, I was met with much disgust disguised as concern, from many family members and strangers.   Every single one of them implied I was now a stripper with no morals, which didn’t make any sense to me because I wasn’t taking off my clothes nor working in a strip club.  Nonetheless, I loved it and I chose to not care what others had to say.

A year into my practice, I was asked to teach at one of the most popular studios in LA,  Allure Dance Studio owned by Nicole ‘The Pole’ Williams.  I flourished there and we all learned from each other, especially YouTube.   Pole Dance and Fitness was now being featured on Oprah, Ellen, Ricky Lake and multiple reality shows; not to forget to mention competitions were being televised as well as pole competitors.  The message was spreading about the beautiful art.

Red Swan was birthed in 2011 and then soon after I birthed Baby Swan, Miss Shannon Marie.

My message to mamas is:

"Life doesn’t stop because you’ve become a parent. It gets BETTER!!

Mothers you are still allowed to love you and do the healthy things that make u happy. Because if you are not happy you compromise the quality of care for your loved ones; ie your children.

Pole just so happens to be one of mine. And Shannon has become my doubles partner! She even takes #breastfeeding breaks while flying high!” [h/t]

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4:11 pm
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Walker and Evely announced as creative team on Dynamite’s SHAFT

Dynamite announced they would be doing a Shaft comic book a few months back, and now they have announced the creative team: David F. Walker and Bilquis Evely. Walker is a writer and filmmaker and one look at his blog BadAzz Mofo will tell you he’s a complicated man. Plus he wrote a book on blaxploitation films so, yep. that works. Evely is a Brazillian artist who isn’t an obvious choice, but an intriguing one. Variant covers are by Francesco Francavilla, Michael Avon Oeming, Ulises Farinas, Matt Haley, Sanford Greene, and a collaboration between Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz, so you’ll all be wanting that one.

Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce the signing of writer David F. Walker and artist Bilquis Evely to its upcoming Shaft comic book, based on the hard-hitting detective created by novelist Ernest Tidyman and popularized in films featuring Richard Roundtree and Samuel L. Jackson. Slated for release in December, Shaft #1 celebrates the 45th anniversary of an American icon with a wealth of cover art options by industry talents including Francesco Francavilla, Michael Avon Oeming, Ulises Farinas, Matt Haley, Sanford Greene, and a landmark collaboration between Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz.

John Shaft, described as a “tough, take-no-guff detective” and “private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks” in composer/singer Isaac Hayes’ Oscar-winning Theme from Shaft, has gone toe-to-toe with organized crime bosses, stood up to the cops, squared off against kidnappers, and foiled assassination attempts in his novel and film appearances. But who was John Shaft before he became the hardboiled investigator with a reputation as big as New York City itself? For the first time ever, the detective’s origins are explored, courtesy of the new series by Dynamite Entertainment.

“Working on Shaft, one of the most iconic characters in pop culture, is a dream come true,” says David F. Walker. “I’ve been a fan of the character since I was a kid, and especially love him in his original iteration, as created by author Ernest Tidyman. My take on Shaft is steeped in Tidyman’s work, and builds on the world created in the original novels. I’m exploring who he is as a man, as a private detective, and as a cold-blooded killer. This John Shaft is much grittier, more badass, with a complexity never seen in the films. The name may be familiar, and some aspects of the character may be recognizable, but at the end of the day, he will be something new and exciting – especially in the world of comics. This is Shaft the way Shaft was meant to be.”

David F. Walker is an award-winning journalist, filmmaker, and author of the Young Adult series The Adventures of Darius Logan. His publication BadAzz MoFo became internationally known as the indispensable resource guide to black films of the 1970s, and he is co-author of the book Reflections on Blaxploitation: Actors and Directors Speak. His work in comics includes the series Number 13 (Dark Horse Comics), The Army of Dr. Moreau(Monkeybrain Comics), and The Supernals Experiment (Canon Comics).

Bilquis Evely is a rising star on Dynamite’s roster of talented artists. Recently she worked alongside writer Chris Roberson on the critically acclaimedDoc Savage miniseries. Her other works include The Shadow / Green Hornet: Dark Nights crossover event with writer Michael Uslan, The Shadow Annual#1, and Miss Fury. Evely’s experience with Dynamite’s pulp heroes has made her the perfect fit for the mean streets of 1970’s New York City in Shaft.

“The response by the media and fans over the announcement of a Shaft comic book series was nothing short of electric,” says Nick Barrucci, Publisher and CEO of Dynamite Entertainment. “Frankly, there’s no one better suited to take the reins on this project than David F. Walker, whose vast knowledge of and appreciation for the genre have been welcome and invaluable in our launch of the Shaft series. Combining his energetic take on this superbad private detective with Bilquis Evely’s impressive artistic skills, and we have all the makings of an explosive comic for Shaft fans to love.”

Shaft #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors’ October Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release in December. Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of Shaft #1 with their local comic book retailers. Shaft will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.

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4:00 pm
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Cosplaying While Black: The Homicide of Darrien Hunt

This[Yesterday] morning I read the link to a news article tweeted to me about Darrien Hunt, a 22 year old Black male who was gunned down by police on Wednesday September 10th by the Saratoga Springs police department.  Several news outlets initially picked up the story as reported by the police and Tim Taylor, the chief deputy attorney for Utah county.  His statement to the press was as follows:

“When the officers made contact with Mr Hunt, he brandished the sword and lunged toward the officers with the sword, at which time Mr Hunt was shot.”

However, several eyewitness accounts state that he never held up a sword nor lunged towards the officers. Witnesses state that Hunt was running away from police when he was shot.  Hunt’s fatal wound was a gunshot to the back.  An autopsy report was confirmed that the entry wound was from the back because there was no exit wound.  This confirms that the statement provided by officers and Tim Taylor clearly is inconsistent with the autopsy findings.

Going back to the issue of the “brandishing of Hunt’s sword”, the so-called sword in question was not a real sword but a fake Katana cosplay sword according to his family.  The week before the incident, was Salt Lake Comic Con. Many cosplayers I know and chat with on social media says it is a common practice to see many cosplayers wearing their attire days after an event. It has not been confirmed if Hunt was cosplaying, but there are some questions that don’t quite add up.

When I got wind of this article on Twitter, from the website ThinkProgress, there was an implication that Darrien was dressed as the anime character Mugen from Samurai Champloo.  The website embedded a tweet from Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) at the possibility that Darrien was cosplaying as the character.

At the time Darrien Hunt was headed to the fast food restaurant Panda Express, and was apparently looking for jobs in the area.  It is not clear if he was dressing up in cosplay for an actual interview, but it’s pretty clear that the relation of cosplaying as an Asian character at an Asian restaurant is certainly something worth investigating.  Furthermore, the fake toy sword that Hunt was carrying was never used in a threatening way according to eyewitness reports.  Eyewitness Jocelyn Hansen, who was pumping gas nearby, took a photograph seconds before he was killed and in the photograph there is no indication that Hunt was a threat.  Hansen also said she heard gunshots and saw Darrien Hunt running away from law enforcement.

The initial statement from Tim Taylor suggested that Hunt “lunged towards the officers”.

So now we have a problem.  We have a 22 year old unarmed Black man dressed in what can be percieved as anime cosplay, holding a fake Katana sword and heading to Panda Express minding his own business.  Darrien Hunt never was a threat to anyone or anything.  A civilian made a report to the police that someone looked “suspicious” walking down the street in broad daylight.  This call was what prompted Saratoga Springs police to profile Hunt.  According to ThinkProgress, a photo was taken of Darrien Hunt walking down the street.  When the photographer was asked why they photographed him, she said she took the photo because Hunt looked odd, but that he didn’t seem threatening.  I should also mention the fact that the town where this homicide by police occurred has a population that is more than 90% white.

The largest knee-jerk response I see on social media whenever an incident like what has happened to Mike Brown, John Crawford, and now Darrien Hunt is:

“Why do we always have to frame this conversation around race?”

My answer to that is, “why do we have to avoid having conversations framed around talking about race?”

What is it about having conversations about racism and social injustice towards people of color that gets people so on edge?  I’m not just talking about white people here, I’m talking about Black people too!  I was amazed that there were Black people and Black cosplayers that were questioning not only Hunt’s motives that day, but his attire as well.

Seriously?  Are we really going to scrutinize his costume or (perhaps not a costume) and ignore the facts of this case?

If we were to remove the notion that Darrien Hunt was not cosplaying as Mugen from Samurai Champloo and was just walking around town with a fake sword in broad daylight, why would you come to the defense of law enforcement who shot and killed a man in his back six times?

There are also statements reported about Hunt’s history of mental illness and criminal record.  Whenever cases arise of innocent unarmed youth being slaughtered by cops, the media brands the victim as the villain.  I’m curious to know if Hunt had no record whatsoever, what other excuse would be used to rationalize this man being gunned down in broad daylight?

Darrien Hunt’s own mother, who is white, immediately brought up the fact that this case is about race by stating explicitly that her son was killed because he was Black.  His mother says, “They killed my son because he was Black, no white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away”.  Below[Above] is a video from the local news which features Darrien’s aunt, Cindy Moss, also affirming the fact that race played a factor in her nephew’s death.

Stating that race does not play a factor in this shooting condones not only the killing of Darrien Hunt, but also justifies the fact that walking around with a cosplay weapon in broad daylight is enough to earn the label of being considered “suspicious” which are the same words used when John Crawford was killed for holding a Crosman MK-177 air rifle BB gun in Walmart found in the toy aisle back in August of 2014.  In both cases, Hunt and Crawford lived in “open carry” states.

Does the second amendment apply to Black people?  In open carry states are we allowed to carry weapons as freely as white people?  The bigger question is, what exactly constitutes as being “suspicious” in the Hunt case?

The officers responsible for Hunt’s homicide are currently on paid administrative leave.  They have also not been questioned under a full investigation by police.  This is a red flag, because the officers who shot Hunt should have been interrogated immediately after the incident occurred while the event was still fresh in their minds.  We are dealing with yet another case of the police “protecting their own” without any accountability for the events.  Or even any accountability for the fact that the eyewitness reports are in alignment with the autopsy findings and the statement from Sarasota Springs police is unequivocally false.

So what does this story mean for Black cosplayers and the Blerd community as a whole?

The first thing we need to do is NOT let this story scare us nor intimidate us into believing that we should be fearful of cosplaying.  We should still encourage others who may not yet have participated in cosplay to know that there are several communities for people of color to have safe spaces where they can be embrace and be their nerdy selves. If there is little to no news about this incident on other mainstream geek sites that feature cosplayers, then framing this around race is pertinent and they should be called out on their silence.  Even IF this is not an incident where Darrien Hunt was actively cosplaying, the tone has already been set and anyone who is a part of the cosplay community should address this matter.  Many Black cosplayers are concerned about this, and still wonder if they would be viewed as “suspicious” walking down the street.

ALL cosplayers of ALL races should be upset and appalled by what has happened.  This could be any of us in the Blerd community.

The asinine debate of whether Hunt’s attire was “authentic” cosplay or not, is a diversionary discussion used once again to justify the killing of an unarmed Black man who posed absolutely no threat when he was gunned down by police.  I also believe that by finding every excuse under the sun to try to make sense of why Hunt should have been targeted by police does nothing to address the issue of excessive lethal force used by law enforcement.  I implore the Blerds of this community not to be hung up in those discussions, but to support other Black nerds who may have some trepidation about cosplay.  That is what truly breaks my heart here.  I also think that sometimes being Black we feel like we have to make others comfortable by NOT talking about race or what it is to be Black.  Why shun your experience?  Why strip your identity?  Why elect to appease the one institution that continues to suppress and kill us?  Does this solve anything?  Does it help deal with race relations, stereotypes, bigotry, and the fact that white supremacy plays a factor in so many of these cases?

We have to start talking about this.  We need to have an open dialogue.  We need to stop pretending and justifying the actions of law enforcement when they are wrong.  We need to remember that for every Mike Brown, Renisha McBride, John Crawford, Rekia Boyd, and Darrien Hunt; there is another innocent unarmed Black man or woman that will be racially profiled, targeted, and killed for just being Black.

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3:42 pm
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Three Black Professional Women Say Staff at Exclusive NYC Hotel Accused Them of Being Hookers
When Kantaki Washington and two friends were hanging out at the Standard Hotel in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District several weeks ago, none of them could imagine they’d be accused of soliciting prostitution.
On the morning of August 28, Washington, Cydney Madlock and J. Lyn Thomas say a member of the hotel’s security team accused them of being hookers. The women had just come down from Le Bain, a bar at the top of the hotel, and settled in the lobby when several men approached them and offered to buy them drinks. When they sat down at a restaurant inside the hotel, an African-American man approached Washington and her friends and introduced himself. Moments later, Washinton says a security guard from the hotel whispered something in the man’s ear and ushered him away.
"After the security guard ushers the brotha away, he comes over to me and my friends and says, ‘Come on, ladies. You can buy a drink but you can’t be soliciting,’" Washington told AlterNet in an interview. "We were like, soliciting? He said, ‘Don’t act stupid with me, ladies. You know what you’re doing. Stop soliciting in here. We were like, ‘Soliciting what?’" 
Shocked, she asked the security guard if he was accusing them of prostitution. “Don’t act stupid with me, you know what you were doing,” Washington recalls the guard saying.
"Dude, I’m a lawyer and these women are educators," she said in reply. "Why the hell would I be in here soliciting prostitution?" Washington said he answered, "I don’t know but that’s what you’re doing."
Washington and her friends were the only black women in the area and believe they were racially profiled. Outraged, Washington demanded that the guard give her his name and the name of his manager. The guard gave her his first name only and directed her to ther reception desk. When she and her friends approached the manager over their claim, Washington says they were met with indifference. She says the manager then claimed the security guard was outsourced and not technically a staff member.
Several weeks later, Washington received an email from a staff member of the hotel inviting her and “three guests back to The Standard for a bottle of champagne in The Top of The Standard or Le Bain, followed by dinner for 4 (valued at $400) at The Standard Grill.” None of the emails, which Washington provided to AlterNet, addressed the prostitution accusation. When Washington asked about specifics of the offer of dinner in a separate email, the staff person did not mention the prostitution accusation.
"Again, I want to apologize for what happened to you here that evening," the staff member wrote in a reply. "We are extending this table for 4 as a gesture of goodwill for you and your friends, plus one more person. Please let me know when you would like to come back."
After repeated attempts to reach hotel management, AlterNet was unable to get anyone to comment on the incident. 
Cydney Madlock, who teaches at a charter school in Brooklyn, told AlterNet that the offer of dinner and champagne isn’t good enough.
"We should have some formal apology," she said. "And the $400 dinner, we all have careers. That’s nothing. We can afford that ourselves. If I want champagne…what is that? I felt like [the security guard] was talking to me like a dog in the street."
Madlock claims the guard was very hostile and spoke so loudly that other patrons in the eating area could hear their discussion.
"It was crazy," she said. "He was being rude. It was embarassing and we don’t know who was in that restaurant. My principal could have been in there. What kind of effect would that have been on my career?"
J. Lyn Thomas, a dance teacher in Brooklyn, told AlterNet that she is still upset about what happened that night.
"I’m just in shock that, in 2014, this is something that I had to take time out of my night to handle," she said. "It’s beyond what I can imagine could happen in 2014. Three black women, and the only reason why we could be there is because we’re soliciting for sex? That’s ridiculous. A lawyer and two people who teach kids for a living. It was very dehumanizing and very degrading. He did it in front of the entire restaurant and they were watching the whole scene. It was humiliating. I’m still in shock. I still can’t believe that happened.”
This is not the only case in which professional black women were mistaken for prostitutes. In Los Angeles, actress Daniele Watts was detained by Studio City police officers this weekend after being accused of prostitution. She was eventually released. Her boyfriend, who is white and was with her at the time, believes they were targeted because they are an interracial couple. [h/t]

Three Black Professional Women Say Staff at Exclusive NYC Hotel Accused Them of Being Hookers

When Kantaki Washington and two friends were hanging out at the Standard Hotel in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District several weeks ago, none of them could imagine they’d be accused of soliciting prostitution.

On the morning of August 28, Washington, Cydney Madlock and J. Lyn Thomas say a member of the hotel’s security team accused them of being hookers. The women had just come down from Le Bain, a bar at the top of the hotel, and settled in the lobby when several men approached them and offered to buy them drinks. When they sat down at a restaurant inside the hotel, an African-American man approached Washington and her friends and introduced himself. Moments later, Washinton says a security guard from the hotel whispered something in the man’s ear and ushered him away.

"After the security guard ushers the brotha away, he comes over to me and my friends and says, ‘Come on, ladies. You can buy a drink but you can’t be soliciting,’" Washington told AlterNet in an interview. "We were like, soliciting? He said, ‘Don’t act stupid with me, ladies. You know what you’re doing. Stop soliciting in here. We were like, ‘Soliciting what?’" 

Shocked, she asked the security guard if he was accusing them of prostitution. “Don’t act stupid with me, you know what you were doing,” Washington recalls the guard saying.

"Dude, I’m a lawyer and these women are educators," she said in reply. "Why the hell would I be in here soliciting prostitution?" Washington said he answered, "I don’t know but that’s what you’re doing."

Washington and her friends were the only black women in the area and believe they were racially profiled. Outraged, Washington demanded that the guard give her his name and the name of his manager. The guard gave her his first name only and directed her to ther reception desk. When she and her friends approached the manager over their claim, Washington says they were met with indifference. She says the manager then claimed the security guard was outsourced and not technically a staff member.

Several weeks later, Washington received an email from a staff member of the hotel inviting her and “three guests back to The Standard for a bottle of champagne in The Top of The Standard or Le Bain, followed by dinner for 4 (valued at $400) at The Standard Grill.” None of the emails, which Washington provided to AlterNet, addressed the prostitution accusation. When Washington asked about specifics of the offer of dinner in a separate email, the staff person did not mention the prostitution accusation.

"Again, I want to apologize for what happened to you here that evening," the staff member wrote in a reply. "We are extending this table for 4 as a gesture of goodwill for you and your friends, plus one more person. Please let me know when you would like to come back."

After repeated attempts to reach hotel management, AlterNet was unable to get anyone to comment on the incident. 

Cydney Madlock, who teaches at a charter school in Brooklyn, told AlterNet that the offer of dinner and champagne isn’t good enough.

"We should have some formal apology," she said. "And the $400 dinner, we all have careers. That’s nothing. We can afford that ourselves. If I want champagne…what is that? I felt like [the security guard] was talking to me like a dog in the street."

Madlock claims the guard was very hostile and spoke so loudly that other patrons in the eating area could hear their discussion.

"It was crazy," she said. "He was being rude. It was embarassing and we don’t know who was in that restaurant. My principal could have been in there. What kind of effect would that have been on my career?"

J. Lyn Thomas, a dance teacher in Brooklyn, told AlterNet that she is still upset about what happened that night.

"I’m just in shock that, in 2014, this is something that I had to take time out of my night to handle," she said. "It’s beyond what I can imagine could happen in 2014. Three black women, and the only reason why we could be there is because we’re soliciting for sex? That’s ridiculous. A lawyer and two people who teach kids for a living. It was very dehumanizing and very degrading. He did it in front of the entire restaurant and they were watching the whole scene. It was humiliating. I’m still in shock. I still can’t believe that happened.”

This is not the only case in which professional black women were mistaken for prostitutes. In Los Angeles, actress Daniele Watts was detained by Studio City police officers this weekend after being accused of prostitution. She was eventually released. Her boyfriend, who is white and was with her at the time, believes they were targeted because they are an interracial couple. [h/t]

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3:29 pm
7 notes

RECLINING NUDES - This piece was inspired by the cubism of Duchamp’s “Nude descending a staircase” However, the angles and hard lines are replaced by curves. So instead of cubism it is curvism. There are a total of 10 female nudes/faces/bodies in this composition. Can you find em?

RECLINING NUDES - This piece was inspired by the cubism of Duchamp’s “Nude descending a staircase” However, the angles and hard lines are replaced by curves. So instead of cubism it is curvism. There are a total of 10 female nudes/faces/bodies in this composition. Can you find em?

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5:46 am
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10:16 pm - Tue, Sep 16, 2014
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10:09 pm
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Deep Sea Explorers Stumble Upon A Creature They Can Hardly Believe Is Real

While there are no shortage of wacky ideas in science fiction about what creatures from other planets might look like, many weird and remarkable creatures can actually be found right here on Earth.

Recently, a team from the Nautilus Live expedition piloting a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) happened upon one of the most fascinating-looking lifeforms in the world: a rare, purple siphonophore roving through the ocean’s depths. Even the experienced deep sea explorers, well-acquainted with the marine animals, had a hard time accepting that what they were seeing was really real.

“Wow. Okay, that’s awesome,” says one ROV operator. “I can’t believe that’s a living thing.”

Amazingly, although this appears to be a single jellyfish-like animal, it is in fact a roving colony made up of thousands of individual organisms, called zooids, each contributing to the whole. However, more than just its otherworldly shape, this specimen’s purple coloring is said to be rather unusual as well. 

Deep Sea News writer R.R. Helm calls it a “shocking shade”, remarking that this footage truly stands out.

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10:05 pm
5 notes

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10:02 pm

AFTA-1 La Samba3 | Aftathoughts Vol. 1 (2008)

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