Mark Twain for President

(Presently Pondering Politics in Preference to Patronizing Pinking Shears)The other day my 7 year old son asked me a question regarding Helen Keller.  He had heard her name in passing from a friend and wondered why she was of such historical significance as to warrant said friend to drop her name in conversation in lieu of, say, Yu-Gi-Oh or Voldemort.  When my children pose questions to me for which I am a bit hazy on the facts, I have two response options: 1) Fabricate an intelligent sounding retort which makes me seem like mother of the year while omitting any details which could later be refuted by a person of higher intelligence… in these cases I tend to stick with basic politician-type techniques of maximum words/minimum substance (much like my writing); or 2) Google.

I quite like the second option and tend to utilize it with gravitas, unless of course I am hungry, tired, thirsty, checking Facebook,  at the thrift store, haven’t had my morning coffee, belting a song in the car, or just plain lazy.  In the instance of Helen Keller, I decided to go for the Google search with gusto.  Now, I went to elementary school just like everyone else, therefore I already knew some very important facts about Helen Keller before even typing her name and hitting the little magnifying glass to begin my perquisition.  I knew that she was deaf and blind, I knew she had a teacher named Ann Sullivan, I knew she learned to communicate when Ann Sullivan spelled words on her hand, and I vaguely remembered seeing something about pumping water at a well.  However, since my son is a genius (as all children are in 2012), I was aware that my infinite insight into the significance of this luminary would not quench his thirst for knowledge, at least until he realized that she was neither a skilled Duel Card Master, nor hailed from House Slytherin.

And so I optimistically hit ENTER.  To my surprise, not only did I have a teaching moment with my son, I also augmented my archival acquaintance with this honorable recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and found my new favorite historical figure.  Furthermore, I now have my write-ins for this year’s candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States (please don’t lecture me on how my write-ins will take votes away from the Most-Likely-to-be-reElected human being and help cast the Least-Likely-to-be-Human being into the role of POTUS.  My mind is already made up.)

Helen Keller did much more than just refute the phrase “dumb and blind”, though somehow her radical political leanings did not make an appearance in my teacher’s 5th grade lesson plan.  Shocking.  Her many achievements include:

1. The first deaf blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree (Radcliffe 1904)

2. Suffragist, pacifist, radical socialist, birth control supporter, and Wobblie (member of the Industrial Workers of the World).

3. Helped found the ACLU and Helen Keller International (devoted to research in vision, health, and nutrition)

4.  Wrote 12 published books and countless articles, and toured the world lecturing in support of worker’s rights and people with disabilities.

5.  Big in Japan.

6. Not only big in Japan, but also credited with introducing the Akita dog breed to the US from Japan.

7. Some of her biggest supporters were Alexander Graham Bell, Wilhelm Jerusalem, Charlie Chaplin, and Mark Twain… all super cool guys in general, and totally radical thinkers of their time.

Thank you Wikipedia for launching me into an intensive interweb investigation into the life and times of Helen Keller, and subsequently her good friend Mark Twain.  This quest allowed me to formulate my theory that our nifty nation would benefit from electing Mark Twain as the 45th President of the United States with Helen Keller as his running mate (why not Helen Keller for president, you ask? Come on, we all know that America is not ready for a female president.  Don’t be silly).

Wait, but aren’t Mark Twain and Helen Keller dead?  Listen, as I understand it, the only qualifications necessary for presidential candidacy are:

1. natural-born citizen (yes, I thought it said natural-born killer at first too, and no, I don’t want to entertain any of your speculation about our current president… I’m not buying into that particular conspiracy theory at this moment)

2. 35 years old

3. permanent resident of the US for at least 14 years.

I saw nothing in Article II section I clause 5 of the US Constitution regarding having a pulse as a requirement for ruling this land.

The fact that Mark Twain had provisions in his will for his autobiography to be released 100 years after his death proves that not only was he hilarious and freaking awesome, he was also mindful of the welfare of future generations. As I see it, Mr. Twain has already written a witty and exceptionally useful solution to any of today’s most pressing matters, and Helen Keller picked up the slack on any issues that Twain did not tackle.
For example, lets grapple with the sticky business of international affairs: Just take a page from Tom Sawyer and learn how to get others to do our bidding by allowing them to believe that they are lucky enough to be honored with such a task. Its a win-win.  And on the subject of today’s most pressing matter, a woman’s right to her body: I believe that, after turning in her grave upon learning that this issue is still being contested in the 21st century, Helen Keller might direct us towards her letter written to Margaret Sanger on Dec. 8, 1952 regarding the creation of Planned Parenthood, “…Now a tide of enlightenment, slow but sure, shall lift its healing waves from one end of the world to the other until every child has a chance to be well born, well fed and fairly started in life — and that is woman’s natural work as the creator of the human race. Affectionately I salute you, Margaret Sanger, as the prophet and the the woman Prometheus of humanity’s highest physical and mental welfare.”  Then, Ms. Keller would most likely cry for us.

So, Mark Twain/ Helen Keller for President 2012, who’s with me?

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Thrifty B-day Booty

Well well, what have we here?

This collection of things represent the loot I collected from my birthday thrifting extravaganza.  We have here “Shary Takes a Vacation” and “Beth at the Supermarket” from the Dolly Darling Hat Box Collection (Japan 1964), a gorgeous vintage gold ring from India, and a fabulous Jamin Puech leather handbag, all displayed proudly on my new deco hamper (w/ Fleur de Lis handles, of course).  How much would you pay for such amazing finds? I got all this (plus a silver ring, an enameled hair comb, and the 3 vintage cotton slips not pictured here) for an unbelievable $25.98.  Sometimes I even amaze myself.  Happy birthday to me.

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Boss Shoot

I love mail.  Though I am well aware that on any given day my mailbox is destined to be teaming with fruitless flyers, vouchers from shops whose thresholds I never plan to cross, and ominous bills for items I undoubtedly should have refrained from acquiring,  I still approach my dropbox with giddy excitement hoping for something splendid: an enticing invitation to dinner or mayhaps a missive of materials for a new mission, at minimum a misaddressed memo from a mistaken messenger.   Yesterday, I reached into my correspondence coffer and pulled out a little green padded envelope.  *Squeal*.

The emerald envelope encased a flash drive containing photos from a shoot I styled a few weeks ago for Rock and Roll Hairdresser Sally Rogerson.  The shots were taken at an awesomely dilapidated 1970′s party house up in the precipices above Beverly Hills. The whole house had the feel of residual lines of coke and the sound of distant disco.  I outfitted the models in pieces from my large collection of vintage lingerie, a red leather jacket I serendipitously scored the day before the shoot, a black velvet 80′s catsuit I’ve been dying to employ, the silk cawlneck jumpsuit I created last year, and a vintage Gideon Oberson bathing suit that my Aunt Lily constructed while serving as chief samplemaker years ago.  A nice time was had by all.  Click here to see some photos:

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Spring Has Sprung

My dear papillons, I have not forsaken you (I have just forgotten to feed you for a while as I toiled over other, more interesting, stuff.  What?  Don’t give me that look).  Anyhoo, I am  smitten with these new spring bows and squares that I hatched specifically for my man RK.  Enjoy. self-tie bow ties and hand-rolled pocket squares

Made from Saved Silk- designer end rolls that are too slight for large production. The industry rejects them as junk, and I redeem them as jewels. Now, call me diabolical, but I iron my hand-rolled hems (…faint…).  What can I say, I live on the edge.  Call me Diabolical.

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Knice Knots

These treats are on their way to a certain blogger’s mailbox.


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Yarn Kitty. A Flea Market Tale.

The other day I was quietly going about my business of stitch witchery, when all of a sudden the little voice in my head started screaming at me. “yarn kitties, YARN kitties, YARN KITTIES!!!!”.  Those two words opened a floodgate of childhood memories for me, some of which I will share with you now.First, a bit of background.  Between the ages of 3 and 17, my mother woke my brother and I up every Saturday and Sunday morning at 5 am (usually by rudely pulling off our warm cozy blankets after the 3rd gentle attempt to awaken us proved unavailing).  Why, WHY, would she do this to us?

Well, to go to Englishtown Auction Sales of course. Yes, but why? WHY?

Because our family business was comprised of selling men’s shirts at the flea market, usually at $8ea./ 2 for $15 (a steal).  My mom’s tag line (recited in a heavy undistinguishable accent) was, “Men’s Sherts, 50 cotton / 50 poly, machine wash and jus heng ‘em up.”  My father liked to berate the customers (not sure why, he was generally a really nice guy).  He would answer their inquiries into the cost of a certain item with the question, “How much would you like to pay?”  When they inevitably said something like, “$5 dollars”, he would respond that they were too cheap to buy from him and send them on their way.  At this point my mom would swoop in with the good cop routine and whisper to the stunned customer that her husband was just a crank and she would hook them up with the good stuff.  Interesting sales technique. For those of you not lucky enough to be from Jersey, or not lucky enough to have visited the famous Englishtown Auction, let me explain. It is the largest flea market in the world.  40 acres of outdoor selling space, 5 buildings with indoor vendors, a tavern, anything and everything you could ever want to buy, and amazing food.  Yes, this is where I acquired my love for digging through piles of junk to find the ultimate score.

My family had a store called Casual Center (briefly renamed Speed Limit 55… for which I will take no credit) in the Red Building, which was also home to The Motorcycle Mama, Steve’s Steaks, Pillow Talk, and the Pretzel Guy among others.  The best bagels in the world were in the Yellow Building.  The shore-style French Fry Guy (serving up a paper bag full of piping hot fries topped with vinegar) was in the Blue Building.  The Green Building housed the Army/Navy store where I got my vintage combat boots and old Levi’s in high school.  The stationary/trinket store was in the Brown Building.  Memories from that time are not foreign to me, I dream about the flea market in detail almost every night, in fact a couple weeks ago I was in the lingerie shop of the Yellow Building with Russell Brand (don’t ask me, ask my subconscious). It seems my inner voice really wants to remember Englishtown in all of its glory.  Maybe it wants me to write a book.  Maybe I will.  But for now, just this short story.

I held many different positions at the flea market: At age four I was the cute little kid that lured customers into the shop with, “Hi, welcome to Casual Center, how can I help you today?”  Around seven my brother and I would walk around the flea market during the holiday season wearing aprons full of quarters and selling paper shopping bags for 25 cents each (we made a killing).  At age eight I acquired the long standing, and prestigious, position of ‘sign maker’ for my family (I was the only member who could pen bubble letters).
At 9 years old I started working for the little old lady that sold yarn items at a stand near our store.

Which brings me to the YARN KITTIES.  I can picture the woman’s face clearly in my mind, but i can’t remember her name, so I will call her Mabel.  Mabel made crocheted Barbie Gowns that acted as toilet paper roll covers (don’t pretend you have no idea… unless you are not a child of the eighties… in which case, you have no idea).  She also hocked crochet Christmas ornaments, hats, cozies, and of course her biggest seller, the Yarn Kitty.  I helped her wrap the yarn around the cardboard, pompom style.Since the day last week when my brain started yelling at me, I have been consumed with making yarn creations.  Yes, yes I do fear that I might become the crazy yarn lady whose every inch of usable space is covered in these creations, nonetheless I present to you:

THE YARN OWL.WHOOOOOO doesn’t love the yarn owl?

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Those Guys Rock Bow Ties

ain’t no party like a peanuts party…

snoopy is a P.I.M.P.

Ladies Love Cool C

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A Sweet Treat for You

Bow Tie Quotes By Very Famous People That You May, Or May Not, Know:

“Tying a bow tie is just like tying a shoe.” – Dwight W.   (No really, it is.  Its like tying your shoe in the dark, with one hand, while drunk.)

“[The Bow tie is] my new thing! It makes me happy. It can definitely go a**hole, but it can also be a fabric smile.” – Drew B.  (Fabric smile, I like that.)

“The most important thing to know about the bow tie is: don’t learn how to tie one 5 minutes before you have to wear it”. – Jared K.

“The bow tie is one of the few items that can be conservative but at the same time completely outrageous.” – anon

“Wearing a bow tie is a statement. Almost an act of defiance.” – Rick K.

“A bow tie is like a wrapped gift. If I wore one every day, it wouldn’t be a treat.”- anon

“What we used to say was whoever had the bow tie got to lead the band. There was never any jealousy.” – Pete F.

“Why don’t those bow ties have a perfect knot like mine?” – Dr. Dan S.
(Well, because yours is a clip-on)

“Never, wear a clip-on bow tie. Never admit you even know anyone who does.” – anon

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Evaluate Exigency and Prepare Provisions

Ah, the new year.

2012 might be the last year we have together, at least according to a civilization that hasn’t seen a year unfold in many moons. The idea that our last rhapsody is upon us leaves many questions unanswered, here are just a few:

  1. Will the next evolutionary inhabitants find uses for our discarded iPods, will they even understand Kanye’s subtle nuance by then?
  2. Will people become the new oil?
  3. When the apocalypse comes forth, will the religious foretellers be guaranteed jobs in the new awakening, and will they receive union wages?  Do zombies even need benefits?
  4. And perhaps most importantly, are we, as a society, willing to allow ourselves to be erased from this planet swathed in grunge-tastic prairie dresses and brown topsiders with the laces spiraled at the end?

Listen, the 90′s were great and all, but is a rehashed version of the first Lollapalooza the way we choose to be remembered by the highly evolved telepathic floating creatures that will one day write our history?  Be honest.  I for one, have been planning this year’s wardrobe for quite some time.  I have collected enough 1940′s frocks to ensure that on any day the s*%t finally hits the fan, I will go down in a glamorous blaze of glory.  Presumably with the song “Blaze of Glory” blaring from my now useless iPod (because really, Bon Jovi will always stand the test of time).This little diddy is slated as day 134.  Not pictured is the feather headdress and hand beaded clutch that will be gripped in my cold dead skeletal hand.

Sitting in my secret headquarters sewing bow ties in full evening regalia is not as easy as it sounds (especially when there is an elaborate headdress involved), but I persevere.  And besides, bow ties make me giddy.(apparently a Brooklyn street artist shares my bliss.)

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A Tutorial. For those Who Don’t Know.

Here is a little help for those untrained in the art of tying a bow. Tie it, you’ll like it.

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