Fashion Freedom ~ Runnin’ Wild

If we look at an overview of fashion history over the past two hundred years – it is quite revealing. The pendulum did swing. It seems that the two world wars had the greatest influence on women’s fashion, which led to the fashion revolutions of the twenties and again in the sixties. When the men went to war, women had to take care of the farms, children, businesses – and in many cases, do the work of a man. It changed things. There was a period of liberation and newfound confidence that developed. Women did not have to be put on display in corsets and hoops. In danced the flapper era, bobbed hair and the Charleston.

The Charleston is a dance that became popular in 1923, when it was featured in the Broadway show called “Runnin’ Wild”. It became a dance craze associated with flappers, prohibition and the term speakeasy. The term speakeasy caught on when a newspaper described saloons and taverns as speak-easies. During prohibition there were many places that sold alcohol. They were raided frequently, but were so profitable – it made no difference. In fact there was a marked increase in organized crime associated with prohibition. In addition to the term speakeasy, the taverns were also referred to as Big ol Ben, Big Toad, Blind Pig or Blind Tiger. The viewing of the animal was argued to be the main attraction. The owner of the establishment would place an animal on display. The patrons would get served alcoholic beverages after they paid to see the animal. They drank and danced the Charleston – frequently with women dancing while the men watched. It is most interesting to know that a song that was written and composed for a Broadway Musical ended up having such far-reaching societal impact with a strong political message. People just refused to have no fun. And although that is a double negative – it turned out okay.

The Second World War was rife with so much propaganda and grief – it took years for the next wave of rebellion to percolate. When it did – the skirts got shorter and some went on acid Kool-Aid trips. There was a generation gap like never before. LSD was a popular drug during the sixties. A Swiss chemist discovered it in 1949. Once they became aware of the psychoactive properties, it went to big Pharma and was marketed by the drug company Sandoz. The drug was widely used recreationally as well as in medical research. The stories of the use of LSD in psychiatry, oftentimes on unsuspecting patients, so their reaction could be studied – was appalling. It was not until there was public outcry over bad trips, suicides and flashbacks associated with the drug, that they stopped using it. Sandoz stopped production in 1963 – however, it was used in medical research up until 1980. The drug was made illegal as a recreational drug in the late sixties.

The sensational death of Diane Linkletter (TV personality Art Linkletter’s daughter) in 1969 became widely publicized, when she supposedly jumped to her death from a sixth story window when high on LSD. This event became the catalyst for beginning the war on drugs. But, in digging a little deeper into the death of Diane Linkletter, I learned that she was not alone in the apartment. The toxicology showed that she did not have any drugs in her system. Many years later, her boyfriend who was with her at the time, was involved in another suspicious death involving a female celebrity. At the very least, it could be said, that Diane Linkletter’s death is a mystery. And the war on drugs was a pointless hoax.

Marijuana does not have the colored past that is associated with alcohol and LSD as far as drama and tragedy is concerned. It was made illegal long before the more potent drugs like LSD. In 1923 it was somehow placed under the Opium Act, yet it is clearly not an opiate. If you ingested a half a pound of it, it would not show up in toxicology studies as an opiate. Nor would it give the same symptoms of overdose as opiates. As we all know, there is a long history associated with attempts to have marijuana legalized. And similar to prohibition – no matter how many raids crop up – it is still profitable. The thing that seems odd to me is that marijuana is not a narcotic, therefore, how can it be classified as one? It would seem that all drugs, regardless of what they are used for, should be classified with some accuracy, and not lumped together with drugs that have completely different properties. After all, drug properties are supposed to be science.

Fashion and creative freedom stem from a certain level of rebellion. I would term it as a peaceful rebellion, since fashion statements do not usually harm anyone (with the exception of six inch heels!) Fashion – like music, poetry, writing, painting, gardening, and interior design – is all about self-expression. Oppression, contradictions, control, and hypocrisy all force change. The greater the effort to control, the more people will find a way to define themselves. Every individual is unique. We hope not to be changed by the rippling effects of conflict and war. We hope not to be robbed of our identity in any way. To allow others to define us is a mistake and waste of potential. From a purely practical perspective, not all styles and trends suit all body types. We can look back into the political context of the different eras that gave rise to the hemlines. Those individual statements contributed to a movement.

The distinction to be made about Runnin’ Wild – is that it was not so much about being bad, as it was an expression of freedom. After all, if you look at either the flapper style or the Charleston, they are hardly sinister. Even the flapper’s response to prohibition was not all that bad. They actually made a point…when they kicked up their heels.

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2014). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Tacky Trends & Tight Tautologies

The word tautology has a nice ambiguous ring to it. It originated with the ancient Greeks who soon saw it as the mere repetition of words to support an argument. The logic behind it, a concept which later cropped up in propositional mathematics – is that if you reword and say the same thing over and over, each statement will fill the contingent of logic, support the argument and make it true. There is a formula.

In the forties and fifties Rudolf Flesch contributed to the recognition of tautologies in the written word. He wrote titles like “The Art of Clear Thinking” with a chapter title “How Not To Be Bamboozled”. He also wrote “The Art of Plain Talk”. Gotta love this guy!

But isn’t repetition with a few variables thrown in, the only way to reinforce something? Tautologies are getting tighter. It is the contraction of the sheer volume that must now be sifted. The information age is causing them to shrink – like wool in a hot washer. If you take out all superfluous words and repetitions – it strips the wordy embellishments to reveal the core. Padded writing is sort of like a glitzy, tacky overdone outfit.

Now, we have SEO’s and key words. We have a skeleton of tautologies in every realm. We just have to remember – that repetition – doesn’t necessarily mean that something is true or authentic. Authenticity has a solid ring to it. It holds onto some class. Maybe stripping away all superfluous and repetitious words brings us closer to poetry…since poetry says as much as possible with as few words as can be gotten away with. Therefore the core concept often has an elemental truth.

It might be on the horizon to drum up SEO’s out of a poem or a song…and like birds in the forest – the white noise is lost, leaving only the voice.

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2014). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Old Spinning Wheel

The other night I was talking to a woman about how certain aptitudes seem to come down through the generations, like it is in your blood. She was telling me about her own history in Prince Edward Island coming from a background of artists and how she learned about, and developed an appreciation for beautiful things.

My earliest recollection of my Swedish grandmother, is of watching her spend hours upon hours, spinning and carding wool. I knew she found solace in the rhythmic constancy of the spinning. She also made beautiful quilts. She fashioned bits of satin into flowers of all different colours, to create a big bouquet in the center. Then she would embroider stems and apply the leaves. Sometimes she made the flowers out of a combination of fabrics – brocades, velvet or printed cottons. The quilt, with its layers of wool in the center, was her canvas.

The spinning looked simple enough. As an adult, I have not had a chance to study  many spinning wheels. When I did, I realized it is not that simple. I chatted with a woman who does spin, and is quite passionate about it. She said she had learned how to spin from watching You Tube videos, which makes a great deal of sense, since you can pause it and go over sections, you don’t yet grasp. She also explained, how at first it is a real struggle, like you want to tear your hair out. But then – when you get it, you can’t understand why you found it so difficult. I told her about my grandmother and how it almost seemed like spinning was an escape for her, and a way to relax – while shutting the world out.

From what I have read, spinning is an art form. Like other art forms, there is a variety of ways to approach it. In essence it is the art of twisting fiber, fleece, wool, silk, alpaca, angora, mohair, flax, etc. into a continuous thread. It can be spun thick or thin, plyed or unplyed, dyed, or left natural.

The You Tube website is called “The Joy of Spinning”. It turns out spinning does have an effect on the limbic system, and pathways in the brain, to create a sort of Zen-like state. You get into a flow, yet at the same time, you have to maintain concentration.

Although I don’t know how to spin yarn in the real sense, I am most convinced there is joy and relaxation to be found in doing so.

Because my Grandma proved something to me long ago…Our brains like to spin!

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2014). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ladies on the Map

Ladies Wear Many Hats ~ An Inside Passage Poem

 

Ladies Wear Many Hats

Ladies wear many hats ~

We put the lady on the map,

To illuminate despair –

To journey where we dare;

To follow rivers to wilderness,

To fly and then return to nest.

To soften contours of the stone –

And pave the road with poems.

Valerie J. Hayes

Early 1900's With Real Bird

Early 1900’s with Real Bird. This Practice was Banned in 1909

1960’s Velvet Rose Hat

1940's Black & White

1940’s White on Black

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1950’s Scarlet Glamour

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2014). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.