Barbidoesmiami

How to Stay Sane in the City of No Shame


3 Comments

TED and me and more on Trash Culture…

siding of a building in Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera

OK

I am procrastenating ( I need spell check) writing this new blog.

Its been a while and I have  much to tell you.

Like I have been less than fair to those who may have wondered whether I did get picked to be one of the eight speakers at the TEDxMIA talks on September 13th in Miami’s New World Center.

between the lines

Yes! YES I did.

Maybe I did not post this jolly news sooner because I was kinda in denial.

Like getting it was one thing, doing it another.

And when I write now, I have to be serious and write about what I’m gonna talk about. Fifteen minutes is apparently only 1500 – 2000 words and thats not very much. I have a lot to say. I want to be poignant yet funny yet serious yet positive yet convincing.

I think too much about it, get dizzy with info and ambition and then I start  loitering around the internet .

nature paints with trash

I visit HuffPost to feel manipulated.

Like this trash story about a woman,  Sandy McMillin, who was evicted from Walmart for wearing a string bikini that she had bought there a year earlier (and visibly worn 24/7 ever since).

“Dress code”, was Walmart’s defense.

I have an opinion on the Walmart dress code.  A strong opinion in fact. I’ve had this opinion for a while, like ever since I’ve had the opportunity to shop at Walmart (which opened in Milford circa 2000.)

You see, if  Walmart really had a true customer dress code then I’d be applying for the job of enforcer (or counselor while I evict).

With enthusiasm.

Call me a snob. Call me shallow. But before you do check out the link  to the tattooed/leg-braced/shaven headed  Sandy McMillin, who was spotted shopping for sour cream in the clothing aisle (was she looking for a new top, and decided on sour cream instead?) and her 15 mins of fame interview and  then check out an entire site devoted to the standard Walmart dresscode, link.

Now I dare you to be saintly yourself.

BTW, can someone explain to me why the story of this year’s “celebrity inspired” bikini  trends, where the fashion reporter chirps: “Kate Middleton and Pippa looked white hot and we loved their sporty chic style”  earned prime exposure  spot right under poor Sandy in her once turquoise threadbare bikini top?

Is HuffPost merely cheering me up?

Or is this a novel guerilla tactic to sell the masses a new bikini? Like, “Well, my last year’s bikini is a lot like Sandy’s and I’d rather look like Pippa diving in that white little number so off to the mall I go….?

synergy

Another reason for not writing sooner was that I went to Eleuthera to teach two workshops. (See ,I’m not such a bad person really, just a Walmart bigot for personality texture).

The first one was at the Tarpum Bay Cultural Center (The Prep) which opened officially with my beach plastic jewelry making event. Twenty-three local kids, teenagers, had signed up and on the first morning we went to Winding Bay  for a beach clean up and to collect plastic that we’d turn into jewelry. I had brought the necessary tools and trimmings, aka findings, like wire and earring hooks and stretchy string.

The inauguration of The Prep in Tarpum Bay

I  displayed my jewelry and showed a slideshow of my work so far for guidance.

It’s hard to describe what happens next, but it feels like a breeze of inspiration enters our space and sweeps everyone along to a level of awareness where creation comes naturally.

Like a spell almost.

After lunch the next day I strung a (recycled) fishing rope between the porch columns and everyone, in turn, dispayed the collection they had created. I made a short film of each workshop and here is the first one:

The next beach plastic workshop was at the Haynes Library in Governor’s Harbour.

Haynes Library porch that overlooks the beach

This landmark building was first built in 1897 but was ready to be demolished when Michele Johnson, local superwoman, and her friend Ros adopted it about two decades ago and carefully restored the ruined site to its former glory. To me it is the most beautiful library anywhere. It sits on a slip of land with Caribbean sea/beach on either side. Every summer the library runs programs for the local kids and this year I was invited to be part of the recycling program.The video below tells it all.

Since I taught these two workshops I’ve answered questions about where to buy tools, supplies and findings to make more jewelry. Michele, Shaun, Toni and others have brainstormed about opening a retail outlet, or maybe just have stalls that sell beach plastic jewels to the tourists who leave their artificial floating environment, i.e. cruise ships, to sample some “local” culture.

Now that would be poetic justice, since those floating cities are one of the worst polluters of Eleutheran beaches.

Sabrina from Haiti and beach plastic star at the Haynes Library

Advertisements


3 Comments

Barbi does NYC on July 4th

Its my 25th NYC anniversary.

Twenty-five years ago, July 4th weekend 1986, I moved to NYC.

It was Liberty Weekend, the weekend of the 200 year celebration of the restoration and centenary of the Statue of Liberty. I arrived here, in the energy axis, in the exact same place, same loft, same bedroom, as I am now.

Cause for reminiscence I’d say.

So:

I came here alone, a cast-off from the London fashion recession which hit as suddenly as a tsunami and swept me and several other designers out to fashion purgatory, doors to my studio bolted shut by my backers, denying me access to stuff like my life-long button collection which they would sell to some rag trade vulture for a few bob.

All because within six months, the magic fashion calendar in which fortunes changes for reasons ranging from a bad review, a wayward fabric shipment, a biggest customer going bust, a factory forgetting to produce an entire order to a performance anxiety related nervous breakdown ( you are only as good as your last collection and your last collection is never good enough),  the exchange rate changed and the pound got stronger, the dollar weaker and all of a sudden those golden American buyers who brought me 50% of my business, decided to “skip” London.

WANTED - my gangsta collection

Suzy Menkes (London Times and Herald Tribune) announced that London designers were out of control, unruly children who needed to be punished until they started treating fashion as a business.

Bullshit!

For several years they had loved our (Malcolm Mc Laren led) anarchic style. It made for great window dressing, and those US windows were enough to keep all of  us  creative maniacs going.

But Suzy decreed we were so passe´, fashion changed into a grown-up place and the new crop of celebrity designers followed.

Never one to sit around in the here and now, I was already in my future (It was not until later that I shed a tear over that lost button collection). I followed the money. I went to NYC where they loved me, and I’d heard that designers could be paid as much as $75.000 a year. I was sick of making do on £12,000 several thousands less than my superstar PR was taking from my business while putting Menkes’ poison in my backers ear.

from a softer collection

Never mind.

NYC welcomed me with a party.

Three-days of festivities, right here at the loft home of my  friends Murray and Gail Bruce.

I felt like I’d landed in a castle in the sky, their 13th floor penthouse with its massive deck and windows all around with views of the celebrated Statue of Liberty, the Hudson river filled with flag-flying boats,the  Twin Towers and to the north-east the Empire state building and the rest of Manhattan.

Their friends (who soon became mine) came from all over the world arrived and stayed. A dorm with dozens of cots was set up in one of the spaces but not much sleeping took place. It was a hippie-like love fest, a free-for-all celebration so typical of the Bruces’ all-embracing style.

I made friends that first weekend who now, 25 years later, are still among my dearest, like  Vicky and Ed, and their daughters, one of whom, Mika, became my twin’s god mother.

I met a  crop of potential boyfriends who kept me busy dating (a concept so different from getting to know guys in Europe)  till I met my husband four years later. Some dear friends have since passed on. Lenny, Bill, Michelle, Norma and recently Midge Steadman. Midge helped me believe in magic and introduced my practical and industrious Dutch soul to an aspect of itself as yet undiscovered: My spirituality.

Midge gave me crystals, passed me to Ashtiana, her Shaman, who in turn helped me enlighten my life, Midge took me to sweat lodges, witches circles, lend me her New Age books, and taught me the medicine wheel, rebirthing, and how to use a smudge stick to erase bad energy from the past.

Midge Steadman

It takes what it takes and these were the tools it took for me to become a woman who could  finally trust and commit to love, marry, have children and experience the passage of time without fear of its failures.

This Independence Day weekend the loft is quiet.

Now that I’m writing this memoir I think that maybe I should’ve thrown a party celebrating 25 years of Barbi in the US of A.

But I don’t look back much.  Not in a speeches and cream kind of way.

I am in awe of these past 25 years however.

How I lie here, same room, same place, and in the next room sleeps my daughter.

A young woman who will turn 15 on Monday,  July 4th 2011.

In the last week she has followed in my foot steps like an adolescent aboriginal sent walk-about on her mother’s turf  (she was part of  a Summer Solstice witches circle on her first night at the loft, posting on her FB status that she is now officially a witch).

Iona is an intern here, with Gail,  my American mentor and her two assistants, Carly and Camryn, in the space that was the inspiration for all the houses she grew up in.

Gail, the only one who called me Barbi

It is so natural for her to be here, so predestined, that words like imprinting, heritage, family, evolution and even love do not capture what seems as inevitable as breast feeding, her first steps in the sand of our Amagansett beach, letting go of her little hand as she entered her first class room (she hesitant then, me hesitant now),  her first sleep-over, money earned and spent, boy friend, her gradual path to independence.

Last night on our way to dinner, we went down and walked out of the building.

For 25 years I have turned right to walk to Hudson Street but Iona turned left.

I followed her….

Iona, my muse and guide