bayou boogaloo!

i love the bayou boogaloo. for all the years i was away in kentucky post-federal-flood, i was so sad i could never seem to make it here during memorial day weekend (too soon after jazzfest) so i could partake – either as a vendor or just a mid-citizen – in the boogaloo. i mean, come on – a music festival in my own neighborhood! (well i guess an argument could be made that jazzfest is also a music festival in my own neighborhood, but the boogaloo is more of a community, grassroots event, and even closer to where i live than the fairgrounds.) last year, i was FINALLY able to participate as a vendor, and it was glorious. so much fun, so many sales (thanks everyone!), and so great to see so many of my mid-city neighbors!

this year, i have been looking forward to the boogaloo for months. the new orleans craft mafia is again, like last year, offering a free t-shirt recycling workshop adjacent to the kid’s tent, in the “eco” area of the festival. (see the festival map below.) we’ll be out there both saturday and sunday – saturday from noon til 5pm, and sunday from 1-4pm – teaching people how to make tote bags, halter tops and other fun stuff out of old t-shirts, with a minimal amount of sewing. we have a good stash of donated t-shirts already, but we’re still accepting donations – just bring ’em on out to the fest and throw ’em in our bin. if you don’t have any t-shirts to work with, don’t worry – we got ya covered. oh, and at the end of the weekend, we’ll have a little fashion show at 5pm on sunday for you to strut your stuff with your new creations, too!

so yeah. i’ve been looking forward to it. but at the same time, freaking out… because a) i had a really successful jazzfest show at jen’s and sold a lot of t-shirts and signs – which is good, yay for money and sales, but also has left me with not as many of the signs and t-shirts i would like to have to sell at the boogaloo; and b) i started this census job that has been kicking my ass! it’s been a long time since i had any kind of “real” job (meaning worked a job outside of my own house), and it’s been a hard adjustment getting used to both that aspect as well as the strange start/stop nature of census work. for example, on any given day, i: have a daily meeting at 9am for a half hour; might go out to make rounds on a new block i’ve been assigned in the morning for a couple of hours; come home for lunch; spend an hour or so going over all the paperwork from the morning to make sure i have it all correct; go back out to a different block for 2nd or 3rd or 4th rounds, trying to find folks who weren’t home the first time; come home again to cool off and do paperwork; go back out in the early evening trying to catch folks coming home from work who i’m having a particularly hard time trying to find; come home, eat dinner, and maybe even go back out again after dinner before dark, for the pesky hard-to-find folks. and then spend more time on paperwork when i’m home. (and then collapse!)

and all of that only got me like 6-7 hours of actual on-the-clock work. but i’ve been working since 8:45am! so it’s been a big adjustment, to say the least. and has left me little time to think about things like ordering t-shirts to print (much less finding time to actually print them), cutting/sanding/painting wood for signs, and making clocks. and, to top it all off, though i did well at jazzfest at jen’s, it’s the only good market/sale i’ve had in months, so i’ve been begging/borrowing/stealing to pay my bills and am deeply in debt… and we’ve only gotten one paycheck so far from the census. so i didn’t even have the money to invest in buying t-shirts to print, or paint to make signs, etc. (much less the booth fee for vending at the boogaloo.)

so this all came to a head on saturday night, as fae and i were hanging out at home and i was surfing the internet, trying to find some wholesale outlet that actually had the style/color of t-shirts i wanted to order (all my usual outlets were sold out of at least one size and most of them several sizes) so i could order them in time for them to actually arrive in enough time to be able to print them… and i realized, what am i doing? i don’t even have the money to pay for these. nor do i have the money to pay for my booth. and even if i could scrape that up, there’s no guarantee that i’d make it back… just because i sold a lot of 70119 t-shirts last year at the boogaloo doesn’t mean i will this year. sales at markets has SUCKED overall so far in 2010, so why would the boogaloo be any different?

and, as an aside, i have been wracking my brain trying to come up with an oil disaster related design, which i thought might be the biggest seller due to the timing, but i haven’t even been able to find the time to work on coming up with that. (and even if i did, i’d be donating the proceeds to the gulf restoration network, so it wouldn’t be something i’d be making money off of. which i still really want to do, but, it was just one more piece of the puzzle that wasn’t coming together for me.)

so. all of a sudden, it came to me. i can’t do the boogaloo. i can’t afford it, i don’t have inventory, and i don’t have time to think about it. and the second i started thinking about not doing it, i instantly felt relief. i immediately posted something on my facebook page, and thought i was done with it. i slept better and the next few days i didn’t think anything about it. it was actually really nice. sad, but also stress-relieving.

and then yesterday, my friend rachelle offered to share her booth with me, which was so sweet. i thought about refusing, but then i figured if i don’t really need to spend any time making stuff and i just take what i’ve got and make as much fit as i can in part of rachelle’s booth, around her stuff, then it doesn’t have to be stressful and maybe i’ll still make a little money anyways. and i always have fun hanging out with rachelle at markets – we almost always set up next to each other. so thanks, rachelle.

so now i am once again doing the bayou boogaloo. and of course, i am going to try to make a few signs this week, maybe a few 70119 clocks. but i’ll only have a literal handful of t-shirts, and a weird assortment of clocks and signs and cufflinks… and that’s it. not a big effort. but at least i’ll be there.

hope to see y’all there!

unitasker blues…

oh my god, i’m SO not good at multitasking. my girlfriend calls me a unitasker – and she’s right. my brain just works that way. when i have something i’m working on, i like finishing it entirely before i move on to the next. and more often than not, i have a hard time switching gears to do something else if the previous thing isn’t done. so i will own it – i’m a unitasker, yep.

this is relevant only to explain just how scattered i feel right now. i think i mentioned in previous posts that i got hired for a temporary job enumerating for the census. (that means i go door to door trying to count/get info on all the folks who didn’t turn in their census form by april 1st.) it pays really well, and i made it through the first week of training last week just fine. (it was kinda boring to have the training manual read verbatim to me, but that’s how the gov’t does it and i was happy to take their $17.50/hr to sit there and listen.) this week has been sort of on-the-job training in the field, as we’ve all been sent out to tackle our first assignments. strangely enough, i’m finding i actually kinda like the work. it’s a little like being a detective sometimes, and since they started me off in my own neighborhood, it’s been nice getting to meet and get to know some of my neighbors. also contrary to my expectations, i’ve learned i’m pretty good at this. i guess my ever-so-brief stint as a paralegal/investigator for the death penalty defense law firm a decade ago taught me a few handy skills after all.

so yeah, i like the census work ok but the hours have slowed down as the week has gone on, because the higher-ups want us all to finish our first assignments completely before giving us any more. quality control, i guess. many of us, including me, have just one or two locations in our assigned areas to complete (can’t find the folks that live there home, keep going back at all hours of the day/evening trying to find them but so far no luck), which ends up meaning that on a day like today, i only get to log in the 10-15 minutes it takes me to knock on each door and have no one answer. i’ll be lucky if i clock in 2 hours of work today, sadly, unless i get lucky later in the day and find them. (that ain’t gonna pay the bills!)

in the absence of census work today, though, i’m finally getting the time to start listening to all the cds that have been piling up on my desk for my music column that was due, of course, several days ago. so far, lots of interesting stuff, including the new kelis album, deluka (which sorta sounds like a uk version of von iva to me), and this really great queer ragtime/vaudeville artist named sabrina chap (who sounds just like ani difranco vocally on several cuts, but her music is more diverse). i hope i can get through the whole stack today and decide what i’ll be featuring, and maybe even start writing.

meanwhile, fae’s son charles is in town for a week visiting – he just arrived yesterday. they are out running errands right now, but, you know, i’m trying to make time to hang out and do stuff with them, too, while he’s here.

and have i mentioned? i have to finish watching about a dozen lesbian/feminist films so i can then sit down and program the film fest for michfest this summer. by the end of may. ugh.

sadly, my crafty life seems a bit on hold at the moment until i get better at managing my work flow and extraneous projects. i did really well at jen’s jazz fest art show, selling lots of t-shirts, several signs and one clock. better than last year, even, which makes me really happy and grateful (thanks again jen!). but it leaves me in a bit of a dilemma, feeling like i don’t really have a very good amount of stock to be heading into the bayou boogaloo on the 22nd-23rd, which is my next and only market i have scheduled before the crippling heat of summer hits us. so i have to find time to strategize about that: make some more clocks and signs, print some more t-shirts, maybe even come up with a new design or two? it’s just one of my biggest opportunities all year to sell a lot of crafty wares, so i’d hate to miss out. but how to find the time?

also, while i’m talking about the bayou boogaloo… some of you will remember that last year the new orleans craft mafia did a wildly successful t-shirt recycling/reconstructing workshop out at the boogaloo. we were mobbed with people excited to learn how to make tote bags, halter tops and skirts out of their old t-shirts, and we got a lot of great press from it, too. plus it was a lot of fun! so how could we not do it again this year? therefore, of course, we are. we’ll be out there selling our eco-friendly and recycled wares, and then also doing two days of free workshops – 12pm-5pm on saturday the 22nd and 1pm-4pm on sunday. we’re looking for volunteers who’d like to help us cut and sew and direct traffic, and we’re also looking for your old t-shirt donations! (now i’m not talking stained and holes-worn-through old t-shirts, but rather stuff you’re not wearing anymore that’s still in nice wearable shape that you’d like to get out of your house and perhaps onto someone else as a skirt or halter or bag!) t-shirt donations can be dropped off early to unique products (2038 magazine street) or whole foods uptown during biz hours or just bring it to the boogaloo – we’ll have a donation box out. spread the word!

so see – what’s a unitasker to do? i really need to be working on ALL these things at the same time, but wow is that hard for me. it’s a major accomplishment that i’ve even managed to update this blog today while doing something else – even if it is just listening to cds. (don’t even get me started on all the various blog posts i want to be writing, on topics ranging from the last few episodes of treme, which i finally found online to watch, to the new police chief in nola, and the goddamn oilpocalypse happening out in the gulf and currently washing up on louisiana’s shores.)

i guess i’ll just keep trucking along, doing the best i can. it’s all i can do.

earth day recap + jazz fest!

last thursday, the new orleans craft mafia had a fun day of teaching folks how to recycle their old t-shirts into reusable shopping tote bags. whole foods uptown was our host, and our workshop was part of their day-long earth day festivities. so mallory, rebekah and i set up our handmade and eco-friendly/recycled wares under a tent on their patio.

my stuff on the left, miss malaprop on the right

rebekah and her booth

we then we created a cutting and sewing assembly line for the demo. whole foods, rebekah and some others donated a bunch of t-shirts, and we had three tables in row: one for the shirts and a cutting station, and a sewing machine on each of the others. at first, we had slow business, with only a few folks coming through the line – though those that did were really excited and amazed at the simplicity of the project. but around 1pm, we had an entire classroom full of school kids who had walked over from the audubon park area show up, t-shirts in hand. so for the next hour or so, we took them 2-3 at a time, showing them how to cut off the sleeves and around the neck, and then trim the bottom of their shirts, turn them inside out, and then mallory and rebekah sewed up the bottom with their sewing machines. flip them back rightside out and voila – your shopping tote is done!

mallory showing the kids how to cut and sew their shirts into bags

the kids loved it, and even got really creative with all the t-shirt scraps. cut off sleeves became headbands and visors; the trimmed bottom edge became sashes and necklaces. they were hilarious. once one kid decided to do it, they all wanted to. but they loved their bags, too.

adults came through too!

the rest of the afternoon was not quite as hectic but that was ok with us, as 30-something kids in an hour was kind of a lot! but we had many happy recyclers throughout the day, and it felt good teaching people a usable skill for recycling something we all have too many of: t-shirts.

and now it’s jazz fest. i lucked out and scored a free pair of tickets (thanks again, rachelle!) which i think fae and i are going to use tomorrow (sunday). yesterday, we went about our days as usual, fae trying to finish up as much of her end-of-semester stuff and me piddling around the house. but at around 6pm, we headed over to jen and mary ann’s house for the first night of porchfest 2010, which is how we affectionately refer to our annual porch hangout tradition.

jen and mary ann live a few blocks from the fairgrounds, and on one of the heavier trafficked corners for folks exiting the fest, so we’ve made it a tradition, hanging out on their porch as fest lets out, watching all the people go by. (this is the same location as the jazz fest art show i mentioned in previous posts, which, by the way, is still up through the end of the second weekend of jazz fest.) it’s not quite as much fun as being out at fest and hearing all the music and eating all the food, but it’s pretty entertaining, and a good substitute for those of us who can’t afford or just don’t like to deal with jazz fest every day. and with all the folks jen and mary ann know, along with all their neighbors, it can get to be a pretty big gathering. in fact, tonight there will even be a band playing next door, the all-girl blues band 30×90 (which features my friend sticky t, formerly of blues sister).

my stuff at jen's jazz fest art show

so yeah. it was pretty mellow last night, being the first night of fest. but it was still nice to get out of the house and see folks. we’ll be heading over there in just a little while for tonight’s festivities. and then tomorrow, assuming fae gets all her work done and i’m feeling up to it (not been feeling so great today), we’ll use those free tickets to partake in a bit of jazz fest ourselves. of course, porchfest will still be in effect afterwards, until it’s time to go watch treme of course. tomorrow will be a marathon!

but that’s jazz fest. i can’t believe i used to go every single day, all day, from 11am – 7pm and then do porchfest and even sometimes go out afterwards! wow, i used to have a lot of energy! but no more. now i have to pace myself and take it easy, or i pay for it. but i still love jazz fest time in the city. everyone is happy, there’s music everywhere you turn, locals are all having parties at their houses, and almost everyone has houseguests from elsewhere. (somehow we ended up with none this year.)

not sure if we’ll get to do some of the fest next weekend or not, but i hope so. we’ll see how the week goes. but for now, happy jazz fest!

celebrate earth day with the new orleans craft mafia!

with everything that’s been going on lately (jen’s art show, crawfest, alternative media expo, etc.), i’m a little late on the draw getting the word out about this fun earth day event that the new orleans craft mafia is doing. but better late than never, right?

so what is it? well, some of you may recall at last year’s bayou boogaloo that the craft mafia did a free t-shirt recycling workshop/demo in the eco-village of the festival. we ran sewing machines on solar power and taught festival-goers how to modify t-shirts into things like halter tops, skirts and tote bags. we were SOOOO incredibly busy, beyond our wildest expectations. the lines were steady all day and people were excited to learn how to reconstruct old garments into something new. we got a great write-up in the times-picayune, a spot on abc26’s morning show a few weeks later, and we recycled a whole helluva lot of t-shirts that weekend!

we’ve been wanting to do more of that kind of educational outreach, so we decided that there was no better way to celebrate earth day than to offer another t-shirt recycling workshop. we’ve partnered up with whole foods market uptown (5600 magazine street), and we’ll be out front on their outdoor patio starting at 11am, setting up our handmade and eco-friendly wares for sale… and then at 1pm, we will begin offering recycling sessions throughout the afternoon, showing shoppers how to turn their old t-shirts into fashionable and reusable shopping totes!

the fun will continue until 6pm, hopefully catching both the lunch and dinner/after-work crowds. whole foods will have some other activities and specials going on inside the store, and will also have buckets out to collect bottlecaps, jar lids and other such items that crafters like us utilize in their recycled wares. we will also be accepting t-shirt donations for this and other upcoming t-shirt recycling demos around town. so please drop off your recyclables to us on earth day!

the weather is forecast to be lovely, so consider it your warm-up to the first weekend of jazz fest. and of course, it’s never too early to start thinking about gifts for mom for mother’s day, which is coming up really soon (may 9th!). so drop by if you’re in the neighborhood and tell yer friends!

edited to add:

here’s a list of other things going on at whole foods uptown for earth day:

Earth Day Festivities 12 pm to 4 pm:

**Green Light NOLA – info on energy efficient lighting, sign-up for free bulb replacement
**New Orleans Food & Farm Network – free seed give-away, compost display & how to’s, gardening advice
**Re-Cork Info, Cork Collecting, Cork Craft Design Contest
**RePax Reuseable Bag Vendor – bringing in the “plastic bag monster,” a huge sumo wrestler type costume of used plastic bags, contest to name it and collection of used plastic shopping bags.
**Let’s Retake Our Plates info table with giveaways & plate graffiti
**Green Product Giveaways
**RE-purposing NOLA Piece by Peace – recycled fabric from local hotel renovations turned into Jazz Fest pants & sarongs, burlap coffee sack bags