Now with more cats.

The One That Got Away

Anyone who has known me since I moved away from NYC (the Second Stupidest Thing I Ever Did) knows the story of the one that got away. Shortly before I left the city, I was shopping at the Fiorucci's around the corner from Bloomingdale's. Not that I could afford anything, but that wasn't the point. I found this shirt. There had never been a shirt more expressive of my personal sense of style. I coveted it, and when I tried it on, it was as though it had been cut and sewn for me. It was real chamois, in a buttery palomino color. The neck was scooped and the collar, hem and cuffs were all raw edges of the hide. It closed with silver conchos. There were only two seams and they went along the sides and up and under the sleeves all the way to the ends, which were mid-finger tip. The shirt itself was hip-length. It was also as much as two months rent on my studio apartment in the Village (as I recall, $400 a month or there abouts, but we are talking 1977.) They had to throw me out of the dressing room to close the store. I wept bitter tears over that shirt, and have drawn it in sketchbooks and on cocktail napkins ever since.

That's right, thirty-seven years of lusting after that damn thing.

Two weeks ago, when we were in Jackson Hole for the Big Ass Year of Turning Sixty Extended Pub Crawl and Party, I saw a leather shop's ad in the art guide, and said, I have a feeling if I'm ever going to find that shirt... And so we all went. And there it was. White, not palomino, made of elk hide instead of chamois, and with elk horn buttons instead of conchos, but it fit like a glove and I no longer pay rent.

The one that got away is now in my closet. If a piece of clothing could be a spirit animal, it would be this shirt.

the one that didn't get away
It has been a very long time since Miz Shoes turned in a book report, but here goes.

I just finished The Book of Life, the (per the web site) long-awaited finale to a trilogy. That's true. The release date was set back many times, and the book was languishing in my Amazon basket, waiting. I got it, dragged it home and sat down to read. What a freaking disappointment.

The first two thirds of the book are back story for anyone who hasn't read the first two books. Characters are rehashed and highlighted, relationships briefly noted and idiosyncrasies duly recounted and beaten to death by repetition. The protagonist's house, which spent the first two books becoming its own sentient character is left dangling. The plot line is brought up to the present and once all the pieces are in place for the climactic and violent resolution, the author handles it thusly: Well, that happened, and everyone got hurt and needed time to recover and then, happily ever after, with enough loose ends to write another three books.

No, really. You slog through three volumes of diminishing interest and writing quality to get to the big battle between the good witches and the vampires who love them and the dark, evil, string-pulling psycho army of darkness, and what you get is a long chapter of lead up, with lots of gory nastiness that turns out to be illusion only, and then a battle that isn't written at all. It's just: and then they fought and the good guys won, but not without pain, but we aren't going to get into that either, just imagine it for yourself, and the hero is badly hurt, but we'll let him heal in privacy and come back to him when he's better.

It feels like the publishers wanted another block-buster series, and talked an author writing her story spread out over three books, when all she had in her was one long volume. I spent the summer re-reading some other romantical/fantasy/historical series (Dorothy Dunnett's House of Nicolo, which is absolutely exquisite) and the entire Outlander up to and including Gabaldon's latest volume, and not only is Ms Harkness not in the same league as those authors, she isn't even ready for the minors.

But what really irked me, what was really just laziness on the part of the author and her editors was the running "joke" that the heroine's mother and the house itself were huge Fleetwood Mac fans, and so the 1975 album "Fleetwood Mac" is on continuous play in the aether, but Diana (our hero) hates it. While this is an acceptable, if not truly witty gag, the album in question is repeatedly referred to as their first album. It is not. Even the most cursory of glances at Fleetwood Mac's Wikipedia entry or discography would have made that clear. It was the first album with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. The band itself had been around since 1967. They were a respectable, if not huge, draw during the British Blues era. It is this complete ignorance of rock and roll history that chaps Miz Shoes' ass so very, very much.

Lack of historical accuracy and perspective is what soured me on "Mad Men" as well. In the first season there was a scene where someone has just returned from a Florida vacation to say that mosquitos aren't the only thing in Boca with big noses. It was a throw away line to indicate complacent anti-Semitism. Except. I'm a Florida native. In 1960, the moneyed Yankees wouldn't have been going to Boca, they would have been going to Palm Beach or Miami Beach, to the Fountainbleu or the Deauville or even to Cuba to gamble. If you can't be arsed to the do research, then don't use the references.

How to Make a Million

So here's my latest get rich quick scheme: First, own a sports bar. Second, get STARZ on your digital. Then, make the night that Outlander airs Ladies Night, turn every screen on to the show, and give any man in a kilt his first shot of scotch free. You are welcome. Let me know how it works out for you.

Strawberry Letter 22

Today in the studio (hey, just because it's only a spare, very small, bedroom crammed with art supplies and three desktop surfaces doesn't mean I can't give it a grandiose name), I spun up a very pink batt and plied it with a magenta metallic commercial thread. It is very, very fluffy and may need to become a long, very skinny scarf. Just under 200 yards of Batts in the Belfry spun rough and plied with a commercial metallic thread, I call it Strawberry Letter 22.

Strawberry Letter 22
This morning I floated in the pool. As I was drifting and considering the luxury of time and idleness, I pondered the old chestnut about youth being wasted on the young and came to the conclusion that it is uttered as truth only by those whose own youths were misspent in a manner far less amusing than my own. Looking back at those years between high school and marrying the Renowned Local Artist, there are episodes of hair-raising stupidity, randomly located habitations, jobs and attention-spans that were lucky to last as long as two years, and absolutely no qualms about trying anything once. I do not consider that time wasted. At the same time, there were close to 40 years spent slaving away for the man, in one form or another. Forty years of keeping my nature tamped down, money seeping slowly into my retirement accounts and stock-piling art supplies. Neither were those years wasted. Now, in this year of turning 60, all of that is coming to fruition. Time to go use some of those art supplies.

bird beading
The other week I bought a pair of Fluevogs. When they arrived, and I opened the box, the smell was so familiar: it was the smell of new Hush Puppies. I held my new shoes, closed my eyes and I was back in the Stuart Department Store. Max
This is a photo of my dad, standing in his office in the back of the store. I wish I had more pictures of the store and the back rooms. The store was my playground when I would go with Daddy at night or on Sundays. I climbed the shoe cases. I explored the dead stock. I tried on everything. I rearranged the showcases. I'd take a nap on the stacks of pillows in the bedding section. My uncle and grandfather shared an office with a glass wall that overlooked the store. It was a short flight of steps up had a view of the entire sales floor and both entrances. There were sewing machines and an ironing station and this really horrible, gnarly thing that always looked like a half-chewed cigar, but was a bundle of scraps from shortening mens' trousers, and Grandpa used it to dampen stuff he was pressing. It was light and airy. My father's office space was behind and below theirs, and had no windows. It was full of boxes and papers and the store safe and a table for unpacking and tagging stock, another table where he did the dyeing of matchable shoes. There were shelves of stock and rafters full of stuff. The cabinet he is leaning on in this photo held catalogs and fabric swatches and paperwork of all sorts.

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