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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Intelligent Design: Ancient African Art & Spirituality merges with Modern Fashion

For many people, fashion isn’t just a customary approach to dress. It’s a living art form that allows one to visually articulate who they are. The only limitations that can be placed upon this creative mode of expression exist solely in the human mind. If the sky is truly the limit, then a fashion designer with vision is one who has a mind conceived beyond the restrictions of our earth’s atmosphere.

Louis Narcisse, 39, has all of the makings of one such individual. Eight years ago Narcisse launched Pharaonicorp, a men and women’s clothing line inspired by the artwork of the Nile Valley’s ancient civilizations. “I find the art and architecture of Kemet very regal and inspiring,” says the Haitian A-Moor-ican by way of Flatbush, Brooklyn during a recent interview with Mind Glow Media. “For me, just knowing that it was one of many African cultures that helped to civilize and teach the world makes me proud to be a part of it and represent the African Diaspora.”

While many designers resign themselves to simply crafting the hottest clothing, Narcisse is busy tailoring his dream, which is your imminent return to greatness.

When did you initially realize that you had a strong appreciation for fashion?

Well, from a very young age, I would say. My mom always had a great sense of style and always instilled in my siblings and I that one should always be presentable and mindful of their appearances because it’s how the world judges you. How you dress should be a reflection of the pride you have in yourself. It stuck with me when I started working in my teen years. I remember my mom getting upset that I spent most of my money on clothes and shoes, but she made me that way (laughs).

Why is fashion important to you?

Fashion is important to me because it’s how we define ourselves as individuals, groups and alliances! I’m an artist who has used his talents, personal style, and interests to combine them all into my business, which is Pharaonic Brand Designs. I don’t know if people realize the power fashion has on a global scale, but being in the industry, I see it through a different set of eyes I guess.

Pharaonicorp’s universal selling point is that it inspires its patrons to “Get Back to Greatness.” There were many ancient cultures that can encourage people to do that. What made you decide to incorporate ancient Kemetic (Egyptian) iconography in particular as your personal reference point for that greatness?

I’ve always had a calling to Kemet and many other ancient cultures. I guess it comes out of a sense of curiosity and a genuine feeling of intrigue as to how our ancestors achieved so many feats of greatness. It takes a high level of intellect and understanding of universal laws and sciences to achieve most of what many cultures of Africa have done.

How were you first introduced to the ancient history and culture of the Nile Valley?

I was drawn to it from a very early age, around 3-years-old, to be more exact. That’s around the same time that I started displaying my artistic abilities. I used to draw triangles on blank paper that my mother used to bring home. She used to take us to museums, where I would see all of the ancient artifacts and artwork. From then on, I was fascinated with African culture, especially that of Nubia and Kemet. But I’m amazed by all of the great civilizations throughout the continent and I’ve done my best to learn more about them.

I understand that you recently left your day job with the intention of pursuing your business full time. Was it a difficult decision for you to make? What challenges did you face?

Yes it was, especially with the uncertainty of today’s economy. The corporation I left, I was there for 12 years and a lot of my co-workers grew into family. This industry is changing, and I felt that I learned enough to go out into the world and see what it has in store for me. I believe in what I’m doing and have a great support system of family, friends, and customers who have helped me to realize that it’s now or never! It’s a leap of faith that anyone should take when they are passionate about something.

But as far as the challenges go, you have time management, because before when I was in the corporate world I worked five days a week from nine until whenever. I knew I would be in the office doing what I was paid to do, but now, although free of corporate bondage, I still have to keep that discipline and be sure not to waste precious time and energy. As they say, time is money. Only now, it’s my money and not a corporation’s money being wasted if I don’t use my time wisely.

Also, balancing between family, friends and the business is not easy. I know that opportunity waits for no one, so I make myself accessible whenever opportunities arise. It took some time for family and friends to understand that. I take a time out from it whenever I can, but I know that the sooner my business has legs to stand on it’s own I can devote time to my family and friends. That’s why I Grind for Greatness! I’ve spent many years building Pharaonicorp and Pharaonic Brand Design, so I am mindful of who I collaborate with and make sure that it does not conflict with the message the brand is conveying.

Are you pursuing this business endeavor on your own, or do you have other business partners?

Brother, I started this venture in 2003 and just until this year, I did everything myself. I got to the point where the brand’s reputation and popularity was growing and could not do it all myself, so I called on two good college friends, Ira Davidson and Monique Siders. I had to recruit the help of people who I knew could get the job done, and since I already know and trust them, there were no “walls” to break down. Ira handles Pharaonic Brand public relations, while Monique is the brand’s technical designer and production sourcing coordinator. Now that Team Greatness is in place, it’s easier to build on new ideas and have different perspectives on current and future endeavors. I am looking forward to the company’s growth with the help of my friends.

What is the best piece of business advice that you have ever received?

Hmmm… I’ve received so much useful business advice. The one that always seems prevalent is “Never give up and when success finds you, never forget who you are.”

How would you describe the response that Pharaonicorp has received?

For what started out as a sketch on a post-it note, to what it is now, overwhelms me even today. I think one of the most gratifying moments is when I get a message from a customer or supporter thanking me for what I do because my designs have helped them empower themselves to get through some of life’s difficult moments. The fact that Pharaonic Brand Designs touches people on an emotional level is worth more than all of the gold in the world.

There is someone out there reading this article who has an incredible talent, but they are afraid to apply it and face the uncertainty of going into business for themselves. What advice would you give them?

I would say have no fear, because we are all destined for greatness! That is what Getting Back to Greatness is all about. Do all that you can to make your dreams a reality. There is a wealth of knowledge right at your fingertips. Research what it is you want to do, take classes, inquire about apprenticeships or internships. Also, you may be as self reliant as I am, but you will still need a strong support system behind you. It makes the journey not so lonely.

Are there any new campaigns on the horizon for Pharaonicorp?

We have so much in store in the coming months and have been pacing ourselves so that we can time and calculate every move that we make. Now that I have a team in place, for the last several months we have been working on the back end of the business and making sure that we will be here for a very long time.

I have some design collaborations I have been negotiating, as well as some new Pharaonic Brand collections we will be introducing for next year. Our focus is on expansion and global recognition. By 2012 I want greatness to be on everyone’s mind as well as on their bodies (laughs).

I just want to thank the creator and all of my ancestors who guide my hand and thoughts. Thank you to all of my friends, family and all of those who have supported Pharaonic Brand over the years. I appreciate you all for believing in what we do.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The God Down Below: A Conversation with Chaos

The odor was something like athlete’s foot and stale pork roasted in hellfire and brimstone. A gruesome scene from Dante’s Inferno had leapt off its tattered page and come to life at 1952 Newton Lane. Andrew Noble recognized that he needed to stop eating hamburgers and French fries during his lunch breaks. He tried to convince himself that he could kick the habit if he really wanted to. However, that mouth-watering aroma contrived by fast food scientists wearing white lab coats had called him once, many years ago, and never forgot his name.

At $7.96, Noble’s so-called “value meal” was pretty cheap. But when he dropped his stool, he played the fool, as his nose paid the ultimate price. The beautiful bathroom that Noble’s wife Margaret had designed was transformed into an awful mazmorra, not unlike the ones that Moroccan emperor Muley Ishmael had built to stash his terrified Albion slaves. The foul stench was hell on earth, and the worst part was that Noble hadn’t even dropped his seven-pound abomination of desolation. After 18 minutes of excruciating pain, Noble dropped it like it’s hot as though he had just hopped on a remix with Snoop Dogg and Pharrell. 5…4…3…2…1. Plooop!!!

Noble hated when the toilet water splashed against his ass every time he took a shit. But he’s so brain-dead and lethargic from the toxic meals that he eats that he can’t muster the will to even dodge Poseidon’s wrath. When you eat seven pounds of Het Heru a day, taking a shit becomes a question for which the water in your toilet will always have a wet reply.

Noble wiped his muddy behind then slammed the toilet lid shut, sprayed some air freshener, opened the window, then proceeded to make his way out of the bathroom. As soon as he had one foot out the door, he heard a voice that boomed “WASH YOUR HANDS MOTHER FUCKER!!!” The voice seemed to appear out of nowhere like a bushel of seedless grapes.

Noble jumped, as he was taken off guard. He knew it came from the bathroom so he went back in and started looking around. He looked at the open window and remembered that he had opened it to air out the filthy slave dungeon that his rapacious appetite had created. Perhaps there was a wheelchair-bound man from another house with a voice like Destro’s from the G.I. Joe cartoon staring at him with binoculars while he was taking a shit. “I SAID WASH YOU HANDS, YOU FLITHY BITCH!!! I COMMAND THEE, SO LET IT BE!!!”

Noble realized that the voice that he heard was coming from the toilet which he forgot to flush. He opened the lid, and to his own surprise, he saw the blackest face that he had ever seen in his life outlined in neon green ectoplasm mean-mugging him from the toilet bowl. It had cherry-red eyes, which served as a nauseating reminder of the two vanilla shakes with the cherries on top that he sipped earlier in the afternoon. The monster’s teeth were potato wedges which seemed to be sharpened to perfection.

“What the fuck!!!” Noble exclaimed before reaching for the plunger in a desperate effort to pummel the crusty Black face that was cursing at him from the toilet bowl. The face just laughed and mocked Noble’s failed effort to get rid of him. “WHO DO YOU MISTAKE ME FOR PUNY MORTAL, ABNER LOUIMA? YOU DON’T REALLY BELIEVE THAT YOUR PRIMITIVE WEAPON CAN HARM ME, DO YOU?” it bellowed. “Jesus Christ!!! Margaret, I think we’re gonna need a new toilet!!!” Noble cried, but his wife could not hear him. The volume was too high.

Margaret was bumping “Umm Hmm,” by Erykah Badu as she sang into her curling iron in front of the couple’s bedroom mirror. Margaret was wearing nothing but a silk teal bathrobe with hot-pink bunny slippers. Singing her favorite R&B songs while she stood in front of the large mirror on her bureau made Margaret’s nipples hard and her vagina hot and moist. She didn’t have the “perfect” body, but she felt so beautiful and secure in her womanhood. Margaret would stand in front of her mirror while imagining herself performing in front of jam-packed stadiums across the globe as attentive fans stood entranced by her natural elegance as they sang along with her every word.

Margaret is a taut tandoori beauty who walks with a zesty Adobo flow. Fresh thyme, parsley, and curry powder seem to color her spicy ways. As a hard-working corporate executive, and 38-year-old mother of four children, Margaret was proud of her physical appearance—stretch marks and all—and so was her husband, who was having a tough time in the bathroom. Noble started to hyperventilate before he could muster enough composure to ask the angry Black face who he was.

“Who am I? Hahahahaha!!! If Ausar is the eye above the throne, then I am surely the darkness down below. I am the god of anarchy and revolt who stands at the forefront of every bowel movement. I relieve men of their bonds, like conniving crooks on Wall Street. Humanity’s ass is my avenue. I occupy all streets. Those who fear me, follow me!!! Those who oppose me, die!!! I am the chaos bringer, the coffin filler—the primordial herald of doom!!! I receive libations at Kom Ombo, and burnt offerings at Kartoum. I'm the shit!!! Lord Sutekh!!! Not the doodoo you know as Heru!!!”

Noble was dumfounded. After years of eating greasy fast food he actually shat the Kemetic god Set-Typhoon who was cursing at him from the inside of his toilet bowl. Noble recalled his college days when he was into the whole Afrocentric movement, and would read books on ancient African religion and mythology. But there he was, far removed from the days of his youth.

Noble went from being a Black separatist rebel who wrote poems about Black love and nationalism at the University of California at Berkley, to an assimilated Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author who was happily integrated into white society. Talking to the god Set frightened the shit out of Noble, but it also made him realize how far removed he was from the young man he used to be.

Noble was a homeowner with a high paying job and a beautiful wife and kids. By most people’s standards, he was a tremendous success. Still there were moments, like when he was the only Black man at an all-white fundraising dinner, when Noble wished that he could let that young radical loose and “bang on the crackers,” as he used to say as a teen. However, Noble couldn’t do it—and that’s not to say that he ever did—because when it came to harming white folks, he was all talk and no action. Noble was psychologically divorced from his youth, not necessarily because he wanted to be, but because he just didn’t know who that young man was anymore.

To Noble, that kid was just a caricature from his angry, misery-laden past. As a college student, Noble would preach to anyone who would listen to him about the evils of Crazy Horse malt liquor and its adverse effects on the Black man’s reproductive system. Yet there he was, several years later, celebrating Thanksgiving, a holiday that commemorates the unscrupulous slaughter of Native American heroes like the cheap liquor’s namesake. Noble had fully assimilated into white society, nevertheless, he always felt like a sitting bull in a room full of eager matadors. Money isn’t a mood-changer; it’s an opiate that induces amnesia. Noble was a traveling man who had forgotten his way on his path to Orion's gate.

The god Set-Typhoon was committed to helping Noble to find his inner darkness so that he could discover his inner light. Every man is a Light Bearer. However, he must seek the treasures of darkness if wishes to unearth the precious gold, emeralds, and rubies that lie buried deep within his “chest.” After spending an hour getting better acquainted with the purported Nemesis of the Nile, the Pulitzer prize-winning editor knocked back ice-cold bottles of brass as the seconds on his digital tape recorder walked unmolested through the corridors of time. Noble managed to capture most of his Q&A with the god Set. What follows is a poignant, eye-opening dialogue concerning man, God and civilization.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Janet Jackson: The Emerald Goddess of Arabia?

Janet Jackson is on the cover of the new Harper’s Bazaar. Interestingly, it’s the Arabian version of the fashion magazine. In a few of my blogs, most notably The Secret Herstory of Islam, I’ve pointed out that the ancient Arabian goddess Al Uzza is associated with the color green, just as Venus, Ishtar, Heru Het, and Oshun, who all embody the Pleasure Principle.

Green is also the official color of Islam, which has roots in goddess worship. The cresent moon is seen at the top of the dome of mosques across the globe, while Janet's world famous brother is known for his “moon” walk.

The Jackson family is from the state of Indiana, where members of the Black Ben Ishmael clan settled during the 18th century. The Ishmael clain had a reputation for being great dancers and musicians. Perhaps I’m just crazy and these are all coincidences. Maybe, maybe not. I’ll leave it to you to decide.

According to the Bible, Ishamel who was a son of Abraham, was the grand patriarch of the Arab nations. One of Janet’s biggest hits was “Rhythm Nation.” Maybe…just maybe…The Holy K.O.R.A.N is a book containing Knowledge ORHYTHM Astronomy and NATIONhood. Al Uzza weighs a ton.