Saturday, January 28, 2012

Strange Thoughts and Golden Eras

What would you carry with you
if you were homeless?
 Strange thoughts tromping through my head today.

I'm still trying to find the hook for my Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles fiction series. All suggestions are welcome. This morning Hannah came to visit me. She's evidently a new character trying out for the cast of the first novel. I admit that I find her to be a very fun person and someone I'd enjoy getting to know better. Actually Hannah wasn't alone, she brought Jake with her. They are homeless or perhaps more accurate, living on the streets. I say 'more accurate' than homeless because I think that they have made a home wherever they are.

I like that Hannah, a woman of many glares and few words, is a knitter. She uses her needles to create warm, unique and versatile gloves for Jake, items to sell in the consignment shop at the artist factory. And when attacked, turns her needle into a weapon to defend herself. She's just crazy enough that no one wants to mess with her -- at least not more than once. Instead of the Southern Grotesque, maybe Hannah and Jake would epitomize the Midwestern Grotesque? Ahhh those literary references make me feel so 'intelligent.'

Note this exquisite dress and surreal setting
from Midnight in Paris

She and Jake fit nicely into my Subversive Stitchers group and I'm so glad we became acquainted this morning. Her appearance motivated me to place a question on my facebook page. "If you were homeless, what would you carry with you?"

My first thought was that I'd be the street librarian because I couldn't leave my books behind. But some more techno savvy friends said they'd bring their Nook or Kindle. Some traveled light, some brought their SUVs or RVs, giving 'homeless' a whole new spin. But we all agreed that we would never give up our art, our crafts, our needles....

Mixed in with these strange thoughts of homelessness and new characters is the afterglow from watching the Woody Allen movie "Midnight in Paris", starring Owen Wilson. (Ever notice what a weird nose he has?) My husband who prefers action to anything artsy or cerebral fell under the films enchantment and we watched it a second time this afternoon. There's something about the dream of finding our 'golden era' or visiting our favorite artists and writers and for me and I guess many others, the Paris of the 1920s seems like a rich age of art and exploration. There's also something to the dream that life never ends, that somewhere these people live on....

The movie is done so well. And anyone who dreams of Paris will appreciate the collage of Paris views that open the movie. It is definitely a film made for Paris lovers. And for some reason one of my favorite moments is when Zelda is contemplating suicide by drowning and the modern day Gil Pender offers her a valium. It made me think about the lives that might have been saved or soothed by modern drugs.... There was something so sweet for some unexplainable reason about that scene. Anyone else fall under this movie's spell?

And if that wasn't enough -- the costumes. Present day, 1920s and the La Belle Epoque with its grand gowns and embroidered waistcoats and feathered hats. So delightful. The beaded flapper dresses, the jet beads, the headbands that are works of art all by themselves.... I admit that every time I think of the 1920s  I think of Mom who came of age in the 1920s-30s. Did she pay any more attention to what was whirling around her than we do? Each era had its own fabric art. Today of course seemed the least appealing, yet the fashions chosen for the few females in the modern setting were appealing and had their own original touches.

And people conversing across several languages. Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein conversing in English, French and a bit of Spanish all mushed together. Makes me want to order my Rosetta French lessons right now.

This may seem like a strange blog for a stitching page, but part of the delight of the movie and my novels will always be the fabric, the fashions, the art. I also want to reference another blog entry I made here a few years back about 'crazy art.' It features some of Zelda Fitzgerald's work and I kept thinking about it every time she was on the screen.

I like the theme of golden age. Finding a time that we think would be a better time to have lived. I'm infatuated with the 20s-40s; but there are others, none of them quite so exciting as before I was born.... Sometimes it seems all too clear that I am always late, missed the heyday, the best times, the golden days. Do you have a time when you wished you lived?

Tasha Tudor in a kinder gentler era
When I was a writer for The Lima News way back when, an author came to visit the area. I was assigned to interview and write about her. She may have been my first profile.

She wrote children's books and gardening books and memoirs. She had a strong following of women who wished they lived in a time before electricity, when things were simpler, more agrarian and pastoral. The author -- have you guessed? Tasha Tudor.

In fact several families in the area substituted gas lights for electric and turned off electric service to their ranch style homes. The women wore long dresses and aprons and baked their own bread. The draw is there for that era as well.

Each era seems ideal, one must try hard to think of something one might not be thrilled about. If only Zelda had had vallium....

But it is such fun to dream.


off kilter said...

Oui, oui to Midnight in Paris. And yes, I loved Tasha Tudor. Also Mary Engelbreit for her "happy" color choices in all her work. I'm a knitter and quilter with a broken hand (the dominant one)& so lots of movies & reading. I can't think of a time I'd rather live visit, perhaps the 40s in the U.S

Dawn said...

Ahhhh so sorry about the hand. Hope it is mending well and you'll quickly be back clicking those needles! Yes Mary E. Although her choices are a little more campy than I'd chose. But definitely happy colors!

I'm also drawn to England in the 40s. I guess I would like an European experience. Hope it doesn't disappear before I get a chance to get there!

Rayna said...

Paris in the 20's - or any time!!