The Pinstripe and The Rebel

The Pinstripe. This seemingly simple design pattern has had a long and weird history. Apparently in the middle Ages wearing striped clothing was considered to be an outrageously disrespectful act.
According to historian Michel Pastoureau's book, The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes, He tells a story of a 14th century french cobbler who was sentenced to death simply for wearing stripes in public. (I'm sure there's more to that story). But apparently at that time, striped clothing was considered wildly scandalous and was only "illegally worn by social outcasts, jugglers, clowns, street performers and hustlers"...
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Then in the 1800's the Pinstripe had a brief run as the infamous standard prison uniform in the U.S..... Scandalous yet again.
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However, around the same time in coastal France, stripes had become the chosen pattern on the woven shirt worn exclusively by the French navy. This striped, boat neck styled wool top had exactly 21 horizontal stripes on it (one for each of Napoleon’s victories) and was officially known as a "matelotor marinière" or Breton top.
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And then..... At last.... Coco channel gets her hands on the Pinstripe. She acquires a Breton top of her own while on holiday which in turn inspires her ground breaking 1917 nautical themed design collection. she would often wear the classic striped top tucked into a pair of wide legged trousers. Coco became famous for introducing elements of masculine style into the female fashion mainstream. She was bending gender norms at the tale end of the Victorian era.  Her fashion forward approach was unheard of at that time. She was metaphorically burning the corset and telling women that they could rewrite they're own style.

And they did! Radicalized fashion Indeed....Thank you Coco. Thank you Pinstripe.

Road Dogs

I picked this baby up almost 10 years ago....this October. I've carried her around with me for so long. I packed her up and carried her on my back while I tramped  around the U.S....For years. She traveled with me to the blueberry harvest fields of Maine. To the vineyard harvest fields of the Arizona Verde Valley. To an art farm in Vermont. To the wild boroughs of NYC. To an apple tree farm in high desert New Mexico. To the mossy ageless forests of northern California and the PNW. And then back to Appalachia. So many incredible moments.... I'm at a loss of how to emotionally catalogue and honor them all. Carrying her with me became a ritual. (And the awareness of the immense privilege that I'm granted by simply being able to acquire her is definitely not lost on me either #nohumanisillegal ). I've covered this land by car, plane, train, foot and alot of greyhound buses. She's crossed the country with me 14 times in 6 years.....but I have never actually used her. Until now. In the "11th hour" and in the last few months before she expires later this year..... We're taking another trip. We're gonna drive down the golden Mediterranean coast and take a long deep breath. What a decade we've had together. We fly this Thursday.

Spain... we're coming for you.

The poet of Mermaid Avenue

Years ago when I lived in Brooklyn, I took a long train ride out to Coney Island as a sort of "pilgrimage" so I could stand out in front of Woody Guthrie's house on Mermaid Avenue. (I also wanted to visit Coney island because of the film The Warriors.... but that's another story for another time...lol).

It was in this house where he lived with his wife Marjorie and their children right after the war, where he wrote a large portion of his song catalogue, where he mentored younger songwriters, where he took a break from the road. Where he wrote the song California Stars!

Years later... And long after Woody had died, musician Billy Bragg and the band Wilco put out a 3 volume collaboration album. They wrote the music and Woody wrote the lyrics. All of these beautiful words written by Woody but never recorded or even turned into a finished song until the album Mermaid Avenue was made. I loved that album. It became the soundtrack for that time in my life.

After all these years ...... You're still one of my favorites.

Rage on Rebel Poet!

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Woodrow Wilson Guthrie born in Oklahoma July 14, 1912

Queens of Nashville

Kitty Wells..... The "Queen of Country Music". The one and only. I've had her playlist on heavy rotation lately. She forever broke down the walls for women in the heavily male dominated world of country music. In 1952 she recorded the famous song "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" as a type of answer ballad in response to the Hank Thompson song "the wild side of life". In his song he lyrically reprimands "seductive" women for leading those poor married men astray. However in her version..... She steps it UP with the line "It's a shame that all the blame is on us women"..... And it Blew. Up. The. Charts! People were freaking out. They were in shock that a woman in country music (or anywhere for that matter) would even have the sheer nerve. She flipped the script.... And they loved her for it! And I love her for it. She laid down the bricks for other women to have a voice in the industry. In 1993 the power trio...Dolly, Loretta and Tammy Wynette recorded an incredible cover in honor of the original song that had paved the way. ( Kitty sang a cameo).

On that note.... gonna hit the road now. Gonna catch myself a 4 o'clock greyhound bus to Nashville, Music City. (Because I guess you got to live your life like a country song sometimes).

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Kitty Wells on stage at the Grand Ole Opry

Slow Craft (or at least my experience of it)

I do NOT do things quickly by nature. It’s not really intentional and to be honest at times it’s been quite a hindrance. It’s hard for me to make decisions (even tiny ones) and new things often scare me. But i’ve started to realize that the slower, methodical manner in which I tend to approach projects, art, life, simple errands….. Is actually (in its own way) a small act of rebellion. An effort of social resistance in a world that pinches and shoves and hurries our lives along at an impossible pace…. And often times just leaving us numb.

But we are still here. We can still hold onto our humanness. We are allowed to feel something soft. We are allowed to take a breath and build something meaningful….. And with our own hands if necessary.

Years ago I found a folded up note in a grocery store parking lot. It was some kind of hand written list or poem that somebody had dropped. Most of it was illegible….. But the last line…. I still remember. It read:

“This moment is not a distraction “.

I like that.

This moment matters. What we do and how we do it and how it makes us feel Matters.

We matter. What we are creating matters. The stories that we are writing matter. And what we will eventually leave behind matters as well.

So let’s get to work. Let’s build something good. This can work.

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Bread & Puppet block print