It’s Black Friday! The day we celebrate the Steely Dan tune commemorating a failed ploy to corner the gold market on the New York Stock Exchange. That was in 1869, the epic crash that was the original “Black Friday.”
In 1975, Steely Dan released “Black Friday” on Katy Lied, the band’s third album and the first one they made with mostly session musicians. That was because the real band quit because they were so tired of Walter Becker’s and Donald Fagen’s obsession with perfection. I mean my God you guys. Forty takes, or something like that, that’s what they made everybody do.
Steely Dan’s defectors went off to join the Doobie Brothers, and Walter and Donald got what they wanted out of the session musicians, so everything pretty much worked out and both bands served me really well through some preteen years when I was learning how to sew.
If you’ve never pinned together fabric on the basement floor, kneeling on a cardboard grid that’s made exactly for cutting out fabric, with a horn section in the background on the basement radio, and your whole family is upstairs, and nobody’s bothering you because you’re working on a 4H project so this is SERIOUS and you need some ALONE TIME to plan this thing, you should. I mean you should.
Push it to perfection, Becker and Fagen used to say, and then go past perfection. Past it. I didn’t know any of that when I was listening to the radio in the basement, but I think it’s something you can feel. I’m sure I felt it. I am sure it accounted for my ambitious if also unsuccessful techniques in terms of pleating, hand-sewing, iron-on crystals. Visions that transcended the Butterick pattern envelope and floated out behind me, as if with a fan, as if with a box fan brought down to the basement just to see.
I mean, if you were to hold up the fabric. Just to see.
Just to enjoy something while it’s a pinned-together possibility, not yet a failed ploy or an epic crash. Not yet a thing for your mom to come downstairs and fix.
You can probably get Katy Lied right now at TuneTown, which is having a big-deal Black Friday sale. You can borrow my cardboard grid if you want. I can’t loan you my box fan because I might sometimes still use it.