> Ego Wall


Welcome to Brinson’s Digital Ego Wall. I shot this picture within the first couple of weeks after I returned from Vietnam on April 4, 1968, landing at Washington D.C.'s National Airport about three hours after Martin Luther King had been assassinated, trying to figure out why D.C. looked like what I had left in Vietnam. Taken in the officer’s quarters of Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, it exemplifies that I have always been somewhat self-centered, fascinated by the always aware subject of me.

Geez, that Nikkormat camera, bought on R&R in Hong Kong just before the Tet Offensive of 1968, was stolen out of my apartment in D.C., and the Seiko watch, also bought in Hong Kong, was lost one of the times I was mugged in the City. I have no idea what happened to the wedding ring I bought with my first wife, the mother of my two daughters, Rebecca and Jennifer.

Back in the '70s in my City apartment at Broadway and 75th, there was a small entrance foyer. Since I was still somewhat involved in doing the-a-ta, I had an ego wall of shots from the numerous productions I had acted in, mostly from college, a few from regional semi-pro theatres. I was the student producer of the Masque Society theatre program at Xavier University for four years. When I left Cincinnati to go on active duty with the Army in the late summer of ‘66, I ransacked all the PR files, copping all the production shots of yours truly. There were bunches, so it was a pretty impressive ego wall! To me anyway.

In the fall of '79, about two weeks after I met Sara, who became my third wife of 22 years until we separated in 2001, I went back to Cincinnati for an award ceremony honoring Otto Kvapil, long time Director of the University Theatre Program and my theatre mentor. The god/goddesses bless him -- he died in ‘89 in his early 60s of alcohol-related causes; he used to call me drunk late at night to talk to his special “alcohol counselor”. I took most of my stash of production pictures with me to share with other folks who might be there from my era.

It was a grand event and a grand party afterwards. I was in one of the best times of my life, a new career, a new lady-love, well-dressed with money in my pocket and credit cards in my wallet. Most impressive, I was at the party totally sober, a big change. During college, I used to morosely sit in a dark corner and slowly get shit-faced, sullen, then usually sloppy mean. Here with many old and dear friends, chums from college, I was able to be funny, outrageous, witty, verbose, entertaining, something in my dark days drinking and drunk, I was never able to be.

One woman, can't even remember now her first name, who graduated from X.U. in the early 70s started a conversation with me, telling me I was one of the legends, always highly spoken about by Otto and his wife, Dionne, and the group of Masque Society folks who overlapped my time with her time. One thing led to another, and I let her seduce me. We went back to her apartment on Mt. Adams, the lovely "West Village" part of Cincinnati, overlooking the lights of the Ohio River and Northern Kentucky, where we did what is natural for one night stands. It was the only time in our 22 years together I was "unfaithful" to Sara.

The next morning after maybe an hour’s nap, I was rushing to get coffee and to get to the airport to catch my flight back to Albany, where I was then living, an up and coming rising star in the New York State bureaucracy for Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse Services. Mid-flight I realized I had left the file of production shots on her kitchen table. I didn't know her last name, even the street she lived on.

Soon I was back in the whirligig of my very different life. The next weekend Sara and I conceived our son, Tommy. She moved to Albany from Long Island with her two daughters, Dawn and Jennifer. Life became the messy, wonderful happening that it is. Maybe I made a call or two to Otto and Dionne to try and get in contact with the girl. Don't remember. Anyway that ego wall and the pictures it consisted of is forever gone. Serves me right!

Okay, let’s move right along into this digital iteration of an ego wall of my life . . .