Midweek Mélange…

Good morning.  I hope the sun is shining wherever you are.  Here in the northeast, we had snow (again!) on Monday and Tuesday, but my weather app is teasing me with the promise of sunshine and temperatures near 50 today!  Welcome to this week’s Midweek Mélange, my opportunity to let my stream of consciousness brain take over and write about what has caught my attention lately.  

My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue…. Oh my, has it ever.  I didn’t own a lot of albums while growing up, but Carole King’s Tapestry pretty much played on repeat throughout my sophomore and junior years of high school.  I didn’t care – probably didn’t even know – that it won the Grammy award for Album of the Year, I was simply drawn to the music.  The photo on the cover made me feel as if she was looking directly into my soul and we had a connection.  We celebrated young lust together (I Feel the Earth Move) and she kept me company on many a lonely Saturday night (You’ve Got a Friend.)  Back in February of 1971 (FIFTY YEARS AGO!) when Carole King’s Tapestry album was released, I could have had no idea how all the threads of my experiences were going to weave together to create my life, but this album is definitely one of those threads. Half a century later, it is still one of my favorite albums and one I would want if I were stranded on a desert isle.  Song lyrics can be powerful and emotive, and this album played a huge part in helping me navigate the awkwardness of my teenage years.  Did you have a particular album or song that spoke to you during your crazy, horomonal youth?  Do you still listen to it today?

Last week I received an email from Vogue.com with the article, These Are the 71 Best Documentaries of All Time.  I perused the list and decided to start with Bill Cunningham New York.  Mr. Cunningham was a unique American fashion photographer for the New York Times.  It is a delightful documentary!  

Mr. Cunningham was born into an Irish Catholic family and grew up in Boston.  He has been quoted as stating his interest in fashion began in church, “I could never concentrate on Sunday church services because I’d be concentrating on women’s hats.”  He attended Harvard University on a scholarship, dropping out after two months.  Drafted during the Korean War, he found himself stationed in France, giving him his first exposure to French fashion.  Back in the States after the war, he became a milliner, making hats under the name “William J”, working out of a tiny studio apartment in Carnegie Hall, where he continued to live for decades.  His hats were fabulous, but I think he truly found his calling when he was given a $39 Olympus camera.  He wrote for Women’s Wear Daily and the Chicago Tribune, and eventually had two weekly columns in The New York Times:  On the Street featuring people on the streets of Manhattan and Evening Hours, chockful of photographs of high society events.

I was aware of Mr. Cunningham as the bicycle riding street fashion photographer in New York City, but Bill Cunningham New York provided me with an intimate peak into his captivating life, as well as giving me a much-needed dose of my favorite city.   

I caught up on some projects this past Sunday morning and did not sit down with a cup of coffee and Mr. Smith to watch Sunday Today with Willie Geist until it was almost over.  Luckily, I caught his Sunday Spotlight on The Women of Gee’s Bend.  What amazing women and what extraordinary quilts!   Gee’s Bend, Alabama is a tiny town, population barely 300.  This small, remote black community has been creating quilt masterpieces since the early twentieth century.  Their works are bold and improvisational, often in geometrics that transform recycled work clothes and dresses, feed sacks and remnants into art.  Turns out, I had a close encounter with these quilters a couple of years ago.  The print in the skirt of Michelle Obama’s portrait dress that hangs in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. was a beautiful reference to these talented women.  At the end of the episode, Mr. Smith turned to me and said, “Women of consequence!”

I hope something inspiring or comforting caught your eye this month.  I would love to hear what is keeping you entertained during this unusual time.                

C’est la vie.

4 thoughts on “Midweek Mélange…

    • Good morning, Nancy! He was such an interesting guy. I loved the hats that he made and that the inspiration started with studying women in their hats at church. Fashion makes me happy too! Thanks so much for reading.

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  1. I think I could recite all the lyrics from the “Tapestry” album especially if I was singing them! I remember a school project where I glued a number of pictures on a long scroll of paper and then I pulled it through the projector while the song “Tapestry” played. Lol. The first “picture” was, I think, a purse of sorts made up of all kinds of words cut from magazines – symbolizing a tapestry of life in my mind. I can still see that “tapestry” in my mind. I think I was in 7th grade! I guess you could call my creation an early music video! 🙂 I wish I could see again what all I put on that scroll so many years ago. #2. I believe I went to an exhibition at the St. Louis Art Museum years ago where some of the quilts from Gee’s Bend were displayed. And I LOVED them. I may have even bought a pack of cards or something based on the quilts. I recall there was concern of the artistic quilts continuing with the younger generation. #3 I haven’t seen that documentary, nor have I heard of Bill Cunningham. But with the home runs you got with #1 and #2, I will have to put it on my agenda. Thanks for an interesting post that reminded me of an album and an art form which I have thoroughly enjoy. Enjoy your day!

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    • Good morning, Betty. #1 – I would love to see that class project and wish you still had that purse picture! In seventh grade, the Tapestry of your life was just getting started! I still listen to this album fairly often. I turned 50 the same year as her Living Room Tour and my husband took me and I loved it. She did reflect that evening that at this point in her life, she wouldn’t write Where You Lead, but we all have life stages. #2 – From the Sunday Morning Spotlight, it appears the Gee’s Bend quilts are getting a lot of much deserved attention which may help keep the tradition alive. Several of the women have very successful Etsy shops. #3 – I found the documentary fascinating. Even without the fashion aspect, Bill Cunningham was an extremely interesting man who crafted his own life.
      Enjoy the rest of your week and thanks for reading!

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