Wednesday, June 27

you're safe under the desk as long as you keep drooling, right?

I've spent much of the afternoon protecting my dog Monk from the thunder. So far, so good. If only there was room for him AND my legs under the desk.

Although it's thunderstorm season and in the 90's I found myself thinking about cold-weather dresses today. Last year I made some with thermal cotton and cotton knit sweaters and I'm looking forward to starting some more.

Here's one from the vault - with some of my now vanished vintage red and black brocade curtains. This was one of my first spiral sleeve experiments.

As soon as I finish re-arranging my sewing space I've got some sweaters ready to chop up, in blue-greens and coral that I can't wait to play with. Normally I'm anti-blue (blue being the favorite color of fathers and landlords) but these made the grade.

Monday, June 25

i thought this blog was about clothes

but I guess right now it's about jazz and clothes. Just before I left for NYC last week I found an essay I wrote a while ago and finally got around to editing it. And so, here it is.

(The picture is Prince Lasha and William Parker at the Vision Festival 6/23/07).

I'm Tempted To Call It Pure.
Small Town Girl Meets Free Jazz
by Helen Carter

Maybe I'm an impostor. Maybe the guy crinkling loud paper in one hand while thumping his vibraphone with the other is the impostor. Maybe I'm the only one who knows this - maybe he is. I love how I can't tell if what they're playing is crap or magic. Sometimes I want to stand and yell BULLSHIT and sometimes I'm moved to tears, often during the same performance. I'm tempted to call it pure. It's direct, raw, undigested, chewed and spat out on the cheap carpet in front of our creaking chairs. It's a spastic sand mandala being simultaneously poured back into the earth while it's painstakingly constructed, grain by grain before us.

If you need a melody to hold onto you might fall over. You might have a seizure. You might furrow your brow and leave, angry and confused. Yes, I've seen straight-up wall-of-blasting horns covers of Coltrane songs but that's about as straight as it gets. More often I've seen someone hissing and spitting into a saxophone mouthpiece without ever hitting a "note". I've seen a grown man blow into the hole of a cymbal that rests on top of his snare drum. I've seen a guy who plays an upright bass with a didgeridoo wedged into its strings, while slurping into a tuba and stomping on a bass drum. And it wasn't clever or gimmicky, although I don't know why you would believe me without seeing it yourself. I've seen a man stand, eyes closed, horn at his side, body slack but receptive, willing to stay still before us in a long silence until he was connected - to us, to the rug, to the bugs and cars outside - and knew just where to begin.

The jazz I see live is some kind of fluke occurrence, an unlikely blip on my city's drab fading radar screen. The shows feel dangerous and exhilarating, even more-so because the venue couldn't be more nerdy and safe: a well-lit community center - smoke-free, with handicap-accessible bathrooms. No drugs, no smoke or cocktails, and they give away free coffee and cookies.

I feel I'm being allowed a glimpse into a world I can't begin to know the shape or depth of, like when I first took the bus into the big city as a young teenager. I saw a movie about Rastafarians. I ate Middle Eastern food. And when that weird sauce that tasted like pickle juice hit my tongue I knew there was much more to the world than I had imagined. I made note, silently disengaging my internal clutch and shifting up to a new gear. I expected the world to be bigger from then on.

Now I live in the "big city" around which my childhood village orbits. And every day the palpable course of its slow post-industrial rustbelt slide into decay are part of my life. I drive through pot holes, past boarded houses and closed businesses. I cringe at the Music Man-caliber plans to attract tourist dollars instead of making it a workable place for those of us who have chosen this as home.

So I spend an evening with these musicians who have gotten off the thruway on their way to or from New York, Boston, Chicago to play for us for what probably amounts to a portion of their tolls. Some seem to be wearing the same dashikis they owned in the sixties, with large shell necklaces, dusty worn loafers and gray sideburns. Some are young pink upstarts, lean and shiny learned apprentices. I imagine they are all prodigal sons, formerly obedient band students who forsook their years of formal training, wasted their parents hard-earned money spent on lessons - all tossed away to pursue this niche within a niche within a niche - gone off the deep end of music where the world unfolds as they create it.

I feel they are my kindred spirits, although I am too shy to speak to them. I wonder how each of them found their way here. And I wonder how I did, though I'm just an observer, a freak watching a freak show, who has learned that the world can grow larger and larger while you sit on a cold folding chair, weeping before beauty.

Wednesday, June 20

Black Hole Sundress

The Black Hole Sundress is done, as well as a small batch of things, all gray and black.

I will indeed have a booth at the Nolita indie designer's market in Manhattan this Saturday. I feel so sneaky, having managed to schedule this the same weekend as The Vision Festival. If I pack up quickly enough Saturday night I hope to see a few folks I've seen play before - William Parker with the Eddie Gale All-Star Band, and Sabir Mateen in the Whit Dickey Trio.

All the painters and poets and writers inspired by jazz used to seem forced and weird to me. It seemed, I don't know, derivative, maybe. When I started seeing live free/avant jazz that all changed. Now I get it. When you create things yourself, especially in the safe shell of your own home, and then you see people doing it collaboratively, spontaneously in front of you and for you, you can't help but be moved.

p.s. 6/25/07 A woman from Finland bought this from me at the market in NY. She said "it's so nice, the way it curves around, it's like I'm wearing a flower."

Tuesday, June 19

a fist-fight, a wilt-fest, a sob-o-rama

If all goes well (if I get a booth) I'll be at the Nolita market in NYC this Saturday.

I'll be traveling down with my etsy pal Dan of Hey Buddy. Not only does he own a van, he's from the city, so I claim the passenger seat. It could all turn ugly given our shared dislike of hot weather. I told him we might have a fist-fight, a wilt-fest, or a good old-fashioned sob-o-rama, and he says he up for all three! But it's only supposed to get to 78 Saturday, so there goes our drama.

And now back to the sewing machine so I have something to sell.

Saturday, June 16

miles davis, on the corner, on vinyl, of course

inspired me while I made an assymetrical black dress this morning. It's called Black Hole Sundress.

I'm not sure if it's done yet.
I think not.
I'll post some pics when it is.