A Soulful Sky…

Twenty Four Years and Counting…

Remembering the life of Nicole Brown Simpson who died on this day in 1994 at the age of 35.

Nicole was an attractive and free-spirited person, loyal to her family and friends and a devoted mother to her two children.

However in June 1994, it was revealed that Nicole had suffered many years of domestic abuse during the course of her relationship with O.J. Simpson and he was to be sensationally acquitted of her murder and that of Ronald Lyle Goldman in October 1995.

Nicole Brown Simpson (1959-1994) with Artist and Storyteller Tee Bylo (A Glass Ball circa October 1993)

And in 1997 the jury of a civil court would eventually return the verdict that held Simpson ‘responsible’ for their deaths.

Despite the divisive issues that had surrounded the trial of Simpson, Nicole’s tragic death was to illuminate a much needed awareness about domestic abuse for in November 1994, a foundation in Nicole’s name was created by the Brown family and many women who upon learning about Nicole’s life and death were to find a renewed strength and resolve to leave their abusive partners.

 

“You Can Close Your Eyes to Reality But Not to Memories.”

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

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Happy Ever After? That’s a Privilege Denied to Many!

Yesterday against my better judgement I found myself wasting several hours of my life that I will never get back again watching the spectacle that was the Royal Wedding!

I really hadn’t intended to but before I knew it, there I was perched in front of the television watching a masterpiece of a public relations exercise in all things H.R.H and I’ve been regretting it ever since.

But it was only a wedding I hear you say!

And yes, it was only a wedding but when I think back to that July day in 1981 as a young teenager and naive monarchist watching another fairy tale wedding and later when we heard the chatter about mistresses, dubious telephone calls, obsessive behaviour and emotional turmoil with the realisation that this fairy tale could never have had a ‘happily ever after’ – I felt duped by the House of Windsor and my cynicism only increases every passing year with yet another promise of a ‘perfect’ Royal event.

The cynic in me also knows that we are subjected to these ostentatious shows of pomp and pageantry from a family who live in an absurd cocoon of wealth and privilege in order to keep the interest level high enough to keep their subjects pliant.

But I also believe that the monarchy will eventually stumble to the finish line what with the apathy of the younger generation, the rise of the ‘self-made’ and for those who long for a more democratic and inclusive country – I only wish that I’d got out of that chair yesterday and turned the damn television off!

Alas! I did not…

However, yesterday was also Nicole’s birthday and if she were still with us – she would have been celebrating her 59th year…

And having shared a lovely image of her on the Facebook page, I lit a candle in her memory and enjoyed a rather large slice of this delicious cake!

Ever heard of the ‘Hatched, Matched and Dispatched’ quip?

Although May 19 was also the day that an ancestor of mine was dispatched as she tumbled down a cliff to her death in the picturesque seaside village of Staithes, famous for it’s connection to the great explorer Captain Cook and delicious fish and chips – the story of which is one for my family history blog; I have a different kind of ‘dispatch’ in mind.

Earlier this month I pulled out a May 1995 copy of Vogue and having shared some of the long and informative article from Marie Brenner on Blogger and WordPress; I was struck by Brenner’s interview with Nicole’s older sister Denise during the course of the murder trial.

“I don’t want to spend my time thinking about what-ifs, what-ifs. Nicole never told us she was battered! She would say, ‘He threw me against the wine cabinet, and then we went out to lunch’…

“What good would that do?… I want to help other women now. This foundation is my crusade for life. Now I am a happy person. I have a mission and a cause.” ~ Denise Brown

In the winter of 1994 and several months after the brutal murder of Nicole and that of her friend Ron Goldman; a foundation was established in her name by her family and although initially known as the ‘Nicole Brown Simpson Charitable Foundation’, this was later changed to the ‘Nicole Brown Foundation’.

In the aftermath of her murder and as the world became privy to the abuse that she endured during her marriage to O.J. Simpson; the campaign against domestic violence was to enjoy something of a renaissance with increased calls from women in search of help, the implementation of vital legislation and the creation of several educational programmes.

Headed by Denise, the foundation pledged to raise awareness about domestic violence through “awareness, education and inspiration”.

What initially began as a poignant tribute to the loss of a loved one and an admirable desire to continue to raise the profile of domestic violence awareness; Nicole’s foundation enjoyed a controversial history from the very beginning:

Nicole Simpson Foundation Management is Questioned

Tax Records Paint a Troubling Picture of Nicole Brown Charity

Charity in Honor of Nicole Brown Simpson Claims Only $66 Left in Assets

20 Years After the Murders, the Nicole Brown Simpson Foundation is Gone

Nor did the Ron Goldman Foundation for Justice – the charity established by father Fred and sister Kim which promised to offer practical and inspired resources for the organisations supporting victims of crime fair any better if a report from the journalist Brian Heiss is to be believed.

Now, I don’t know very much about the law governing charitable foundations in the US but to have your status revoked by the IRS sounds pretty bad to me!

Although Nicole’s foundation still has a Facebook page, the website domain now belongs to a dubious looking ‘Health & ‘Lifestyle site and Ron’s foundation website has been hijacked by an ambulance chaser BUT when I think of the continuing success of other high profile foundations including the Suzy Lamplugh Trust –  it saddens me that Nicole and Ron’s legacies supported by much public goodwill have been dispatched in this way.

I need to console myself with some more cake…

Home IS Where MY Heart Is – Could Yours Be Too?

‘Where We Love is Home – Home that Our Feet May Leave, But Not Our Hearts.’ ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

AND with a generous monthly pledge of $15 on Patreon – YOU too shall feel ‘At Home’ with exclusive access to ‘Nicole’s House’ on my Patreon page.

Inspired by the life of Nicole Brown Simpson, ‘Nicole’s House’ is the story of a 12th scale contemporary home which has enjoyed world wide recognition – however, the story is FAR from over!

With access to my Patreon musings, you can watch as I recreate Nicole’s last home at 875 South Bundy Drive as faithfully as possible.

For with completion scheduled for Christmas 2018, you can now join me in the studio as I work on the ambitious design of another and much larger Nicole’s House!

You’ll have the opportunity to see the completed ‘Nicole’s House’ before anyone else and you can enjoy other Patreon rewards too!

But what IS Patreon? And how does it work?

Although I love what I do and cannot imagine myself doing anything other than this – I do know that in this crazy world of mine that it’s impossible to survive on fresh air with only a diet of hope and the occasional box of donated teabags.

The glue, paint, wood, tools, paintbrushes, fabric and all of the other lovely stuff I use to create my imaginary worlds ALL costs money AND if it didn’t I would either be crawling over hot coals to get to this ‘Land of the Free’ or I’d be spending time at Her Majesty’s Pleasure…

Which brings me to Patreon!

Patreon is a crowd funding membership site for artists just like me – although I’ve yet to find anyone else using this site who creates anything quite like I do!

Beginning with a monthly pledge from a $1 and up which is charged to your card on the 1st of every month – not only will you be supporting me in my work but you’ll also be invited to cross the portal and step into my world!

AND there are also lots of unique rewards to enjoy including exclusive ‘behind-the-scenes’ images, giveaways, tutorials and an anniversary gift.​

A unique ‘little’ something from ‘Nicole’s House’ designed by me will be posted to you on every six month anniversary that you and I have shared together on Patreon – as a ‘Thank you’ for your wonderful support!

And as June 2019 will the twenty-fifth anniversary of Nicole’s death, you will receive an exclusive invitation to buy my tribute to Nicole as a gift for yourself or a loved one with the release of a limited edition beautiful coffee table book.

Your pledge means everything to me as it will allow me to the freedom to design, create and teach and it would be wonderful to inspire others to become a ‘little’ creative too – and you can cancel or amend your pledge at any time!

If you are unable to pledge – that’s OK for knowing that you are still reading this means just as much – Thank you!

Happiest Day of My Life? It REALLY Was!

‘I just want to say that it the happiest day of my life, it really was. And everybody said it would be and it was.’

With an arm firmly around the waist of her adoring husband and as she gazes up at his handsome face; Nicole talks about the ‘happiest day of my life’ to the videographer on the eve of her wedding day and perhaps if history had taken her and her spouse along a different path; February 2 2018 could have been the 33rd year of her union to one Orenthal James Simpson.

Alas, their union as man and wife lasted a mere seven years and all that remains to us of that fateful day in 1985 are the poignant images of the happy couple and that unanswered question; ‘How could it have all gone so terribly wrong?’

It’s probably a question that the poet Lord Byron was also asking himself on this very day in 1816 as his union of 54 weeks to the former Annabella Milbanke was beginning to unravel in a spectacular fashion and although the popular newspapers had a field day with the tales of the poet’s acrimonious separation which hinted at incest, sodomy and murder precipitating Byron’s exile to Europe and which is still  discussed and argued about some 202 years later!

My 3 x Great Grandparents also married on this day in the coastal town of Scarboro in 1868 and as they are buried together in the local cemetery after a long union which produced nine off-spring; I am quietly confident that no skeletons will come tumbling out of the family closet in the very near future but please don’t hold me to it.

Come to think of it, the month of February remains a strong favourite for a family betrothal as my history journals chronicle several more who journeyed into wedlock during this month; myself included; however and in the words of one Judge Lance Ito let’s return to the Simpson matter!

Having shamelessly neglected my Facebook page in memory of Nicole for several week, today I shared a few edited images of her as a bride and although most have been well received, I had to delete some of the abusive comments posted by one visitor to the site who was furious with me for including the name of ‘Simpson’ as if the man she married had no place in the history of her life.

Now, what’s in a name I hear you ask?

The lady herself is known the world over as Nicole Brown Simpson; a name her family still  use and which remained her legal name until her death and  let’s not forget that in those 911 calls recorded in October 1993 when asked her name; she replied that she was called ‘Nicole Simpson’ even though she had been divorced for over a year and despite the fact that Simpson was still  causing her emotional trouble.

However tempting it is to scribble over those unpleasant tales in the narrative of our history and to air-brush those we dislike from our family tree or to simply deny the existence of others who demean our sense of who we belong to; I have always believed that our duty to the truth is to let our history stand; no matter how imperfect or offensive we may later find it.

And as history records that on this day, Nicole believed that she had married the man of her dreams, her ‘one true love’ and that February 2 1985 was for her at least the ‘best day’ of her life.

At Home With Nicole…

Is Nicole’s House a ‘Real’ Model?
Yes, it is a ‘real’ model! And created in 12th scale.

Can I Visit Nicole’s House?
As Nicole’s House has been on private and public display in the past; there are occasions when it can ‘seen’ in person and a subscription to the Brentwood Ghost Newsletter will keep you informed about our studio open-days and forthcoming exhibitions.

What is the Story Behind the Creation and Design of Nicole’s House?
Nicole’s House began life in kit form purchased from an independent dolls’ house supplier with the original design having been ‘tweaked’.

However the house has been created primarily with the use of MDF, plaster, strip wood, paints, mountboard, papier-mâché, air-drying clay, natural foliage and of course with plenty of glue and lots of imagination!

The model remains the exclusive work of Tee Bylo.

Can I Follow the Stories from Nicole’s House?
As well as sharing the stories on the blog The Ghost of Brentwood, you can also follow the news from Nicole’s House on InstagramFlickrTwitterPinterestFacebookTumblr and Google+

And you can now join Tee as she continues the story on her blog A Life Interrupted…

Why the Creation of Nicole’s House?
Beginning with the news of the murders in June 1994 and from the first book she bought in the Autumn of 1994 to the sensational murder trial with the lurid tabloid tales and the campaign to raise much needed awareness against domestic abuse as well as being the subject of a controversial thesis; Tee’s interest in the life of Nicole Brown Simpson has been an enduring constant.

Tee’s contention is that for all of the many thousands of words written about Nicole with the tales of glamour, celebrity, wealth and beauty have only served to make Nicole a remote and insignificant figure – a wrong Tee is determined to remedy.

“The woman loved life. She loved to entertain, and she went all out when you visited, whether it was for coffee, lunch, to play tennis, to have drinks to eat dinner. You always felt special walking into her world…”

Tanya Brown

And even though Tee has been making ‘Small Worlds’ for many years now and the passion for design remains just as intoxicating; the creation and story of Nicole’s House celebrates the life of a talented and much-loved young woman who relished nothing more than being with her family in the home that she had made for them.​

How Can I Learn More About the Work of Tee Bylo?
You can discover more about the artist’s work with a visit to her official website Creating Life in 12th Scale… or by signing up to follow her blog Tee Bylo and you can also support Tee and enjoy exclusive access to the creation of Nicole’s House on the membership site Patreon.

Tee can also be found on the usual social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and Twitter.

And Your Plans for Nicole’s House?
With ‘pumpkin carving’ planned for Halloween, a turkey to ‘roast’ for Thanksgiving and gingerbread cookies to decorate for Christmas; there is plenty to keep the artist busy in the kitchen of Nicole’s House for some time to come!

With completion scheduled for Christmas 2018, Tee is now busy with the ambitious design of another and much larger Nicole’s House and plans to recreate Nicole’s last home at 875 South Bundy Drive as faithfully as possible; the story of which will be published on the Ghost of Brentwood blog with further exclusive updates available on Tee’s Patreon Page.

There will also be an opportunity to buy Tee’s tribute to Nicole Brown Simpson as a gift for yourself or a loved one with the release of a beautiful coffee table book which tells the story of Nicole’s House and is due for publication in June 2019.

Can I Share the Information and the Images from Nicole’s House on My Website or Blog?
Of course! However, all we ask is that you will remember to fully and accurately credit the artist and her work. Thank you!

Home IS Where the Heart IS! The Story and Creation of Nicole’s House…

For as well as enduring interest in the life and legacy of Nicole Brown Simpson, a passion for the Regency world of the Poet Lord Byron and the occasional bar of chocolate, I am also an artist and storyteller creating ‘Life’ in 12th scale.

AND as one of the most popular ‘Small Worlds’ is still Nicole’s House, I thought I’d share a ‘little’ more about this unique 12th scale house.

 “I just don’t see how our stories compare -I was so bad because I wore sweats & left shoes around & didn’t keep a perfect house or comb my hair the way you like it – or had dinner ready at the precise moment you walked through the door or that I just plain got on your nerves sometimes.

 I just don’t see how that compares to infidelity, wife beating, verbal abuse.

 I just don’t think everybody goes through this…. I called the cops to save my life whether you believe it or not..”

 These are the harrowing words written by Nicole shortly before her brutal murder on Sunday June 12 1994 in the garden of her Brentwood home in Los Angeles as her two children were sleeping.

Nicole’s former husband O.J. Simpson was subsequently arrested, tried and acquitted of her murder and that of her friend Ronald Goldman in a relentless blaze of publicity the following year.

 I began to read about Nicole shortly after her murder in 1994, she was the focus for the research and publication of my BA thesis in 1999 and I have been reading about her ever since.

 She was also the inspiration for the creation of the ‘Ghost of Brentwood’ and now known as ‘Nicole’s House’.

For in June 1994 and shortly before her brutal murder, Nicole was making plans to leave her home in Brentwood in order to escape the abuse and obsession that had characterised her long relationship with Simpson.

 Only days before her death, Nicole had seen a beach house in Malibu available for rent and she was excited and positive at the prospect of a move there with their children.

 ‘Nicole’s House’ is a 12th scale miniature of several narratives:

A recreation of some of the principle rooms at 875 South Bundy Drive as they were discovered in the early hours of Monday June 13 1994 as the investigation into the murders of Nicole and Ronald Lyle Goldman was underway.

Additional rooms are created as a tribute to the style and essence of Nicole who loved the style of interior design that has come to typify the “California Look”.

Finally, as we know that Nicole was planning a move to a beach house in Malibu, ‘Nicole’s House’ is a poignant reminder of ‘what might have been’.

To learn more about the life of Nicole through the creation of this unique house, follow the link: The Ghost of Brentwood – At Home With Nicole…

Twenty Three Years After THAT Verdict and the Protest Continues!

This is THE post that I should  have shared yesterday but I did not on account of a lack of time, natural light and inclination!

Despite the issues of time and natural light notwithstanding for as I had published six (yes, six!) stories about the anniversary of THAT Verdict by yesterday evening; the only inclination that remained was for me to crawl away into the dark night and watch a trashy movie with only a huge slice of cake for company And no, the trashy movie that I watched was NOT about the Simpson Matter!

For even though the Late (and great!) Dominick Dunne had once argued that the Simpson case was like a ‘great trash novel come to life, a mammoth fireworks display of interracial marriage, love, lust, lies, hate, fame, wealth, beauty, obsession, spousal abuse, stalking, brokenhearted children, the bloodiest of bloody knife-slashing homicides, and all the justice that money can buy’; THE movie that I enjoyed featured quite a number of the above, although thankfully minus the bloodshed for the only ‘corpse’ at the finale was a metaphorical one!

However, enough of my weekend evening television viewing habits and back to the matter in hand – THE Simpson Matter and the incredible realisation that  October 3 2017 marks the twenty second year since the reading of THAT verdict; you know, the one that begins with: “We the jury… find the defendant, ‪Orenthal James Simpson, NOT guilty of the crime of murder… upon ‪Nicole Brown Simpson, a human being…”

For it was on a cold and dark Tuesday evening and I was returning home from my flower shop in the City of York in a car packed with fellow travellers including school bags, grocery shopping and a 11-week old baby, (thankfully silent!) as I turned on the radio to listen to the reading of THAT verdict from some 5,000 miles away.

In her brilliant memoir Without a Doubt,  prosecutor Marcia Clark shares the reaction of Simpson’s defence attorney to THAT verdict as ‘not the verdict I would’ve thought.’… You can say that again Bob Shapiro!

I was so convinced that I would still hear a ‘Guilty’ verdict despite those allegations of LAPD incompetence and the charges of racism that tried (and failed!) to obscure the powerful circumstantial evidence and Simpson’s long history of domestic abuse…

Alas, as it was not to be and at a distance of twenty two years, I thought it would be interesting to share the reactions of some other Simpson supporters and detractors and of their feelings about THAT verdict that I have published on my other blogs and as I felt that a little mischief was entirely appropriate, some ‘creative’ imagery has also been included.

If you click on THIS link you can read the stories from Marcia Clark and Kris Jenner and over at Nicole’s House… Mike Gilbert will take you behind the front door of Simpson’s former abode on Rockingham Avenue and you can join Dominick Dunne as he takes a walk along the tiled walkway at 875 South Bundy Drive.

And from her book Bitch, I have included a controversial essay by the fabulous Elizabeth Wurtzel over on my A Life in Headlines blog including a scathing indictment of Simpson’s guilt from the brilliant Andrea Dworkin and of her observations about the complicated relationship between Nicole and Simpson.

Although I agree with Wurtzel’s belief that Nicole’s death was a ‘stupid waste of a life of a woman’; I do NOT support her assertion that her death supported ‘well-intentioned but still fruitless attempts to make it into a clarion call for domestic-violence awareness’ and here’s my reason why: for since 1994, I have been a witness to subtle and positive change that despite the divisive issues that had surrounded the trial of Simpson, Nicole’s tragic death was to  illuminate a much needed awareness about domestic abuse and that many women who upon learning about Nicole’s life and death were to find a renewed strength and resolve to leave their abusive partners and this STILL continues to be the case, more than twenty three years later.

Do you recall the ‘11-week old’ baby who slept his way through the reading of THAT verdict, I told you about?

Well, this is him in the image above in his 17th year and as THE poster boy for the Real Man Campaign to raise awareness about domestic abuse and on behalf of the UK charity Women’s Aid.

The Nobel Laureate and political activist Elie Wiesal once said that “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

And on that note, I bid you ‘Adieu’ for now and thank you for Remembering Nicole Brown Simpson!