Ann’s Fashion Tarot: Black Friday edition for Walter Becker

A regular person might not think Walter Becker or anybody else would need a posthumous Tarot reading. But, I mean, if you’re even asking that question I don’t really think you love Steely Dan.

Here are some cards that might be useful to Walter, now.

Here is my borrowed saxophone which was ALSO Walter’s original instrument.

Here is my most-public-ever sax debut, for which I wasn’t going to wear shades because what kind of asshole does that, but then I remembered Walter had just died, like the week before, and he was the best at shades, he wore them fiercely and not caring probably not even noticing what you thought. The shades were critical, as I understand, so that he didn’t have to see the audience. Could pretend there was nobody watching, could just be like “it’s just me here doing music.” So, I mean, I felt pretty good about wearing my shades, in tribute.

But then it was time to actually play the thing, and to be honest, I was not prepared. Want-to-throw-up unprepared. So, at that moment, I thought it best to take off the dark glasses so I could see my notes which were written not even as notes but as letters on large piece of poster board on the ground.

Sax courtesy Adrian Barnett. Electric vibe of fabulousness by the Hey JC Band-Chorus-Mob. Photo by Don Olson.

I am exactly 100% sure Mr. Walter Becker would have been unimpressed. Mr. Push-Past-Perfection would have had no time for my unreadiness. No way.

What I do think he might have appreciated, though, was my one-eyed command of the cheat sheet. Audience eye? CLOSED. Notes eye? Open, enough! It was some precision blinder work. I believe he would have appreciated that.

I also imagine, or hope, that he’d appreciate what the cards have to say.

The Tower, well duh, a total flattening, an end, a leveling. I am so sorry but at least the cards are being honest.

Look, though! Look, look, look! Here, in the position of “hopes & fears,” The Star! A fragile dreamydream, whatever’s germinating right now, Walter, this is saying you should nurture that. Just quietly give it what it needs. It’s ridiculous, yes. It’s worthy, even likely, also yes. Yes yes yes. Be still for a while and just let this take shape, take hold.

Ohhhh look. Look where you land, here, in the position of “ultimate outcome.” Here you are at the beginning. A beginning, a time to assume nothing and I mean the kind of “assume nothing/forget everything” that takes work, but do it, just start walking, whatever that looks like now. Oh honey. This is a very good ending, to a reading, to a death. Hello to your new way of walking.

So Mr. Becker. I’m sorry it ended so fast, I know you like to be prepared. I would imagine it bugged you to be robbed of the time to plan and execute perfect farewells. I hope it helps to know the cards suggest good things ahead. They suggest your undauntability. “Dead schmed,” they suggest, and I think they’re saying that ironically because everybody knows you do irony. The cards suggest that if anyone can glare an afterlife into submission and start pulling tones out of the clouds, weaving them into a groove, for nobody’s particular pleasure but also for the benefit of us all, the cards suggest it’s you.

Image courtesy Q107.

Image courtesy of how goddamn bad I honestly really wanted to tour just one time as a backup singer. Hey Walter. Logistics are more challenging now but I am willing to work something out.

Maybe this is the last installment in my Black Friday loveposts to Steely Dan, or maybe not, I’m not sure. While we all think about that you might read my 2015 Black Friday post which involved a speeding ticket here, my 2014 post in chalk right here, 2013 at Mall of America here, 2012 on Front Street (the best one! I think!) here.


Black Friday: A lovepost in clay

I’m like, hey, Caitlin, you think I could get one of you guys to make me six bowls so I can push words into them? I have this idea for my fourth annual Black Friday lovepost to Steely Dan.

Caitlin says, sure, how big you want them. You want six? I can do six.


She did. She made six bowls while we talked about how deep, how wide, what to use for the letters. Important things.

A couple years into this job it still knocks me out how people who spend time here jump right into it like that. They don’t bother with “why.” Not “why bowls?” or “why six?” or “do you think Steely Dan finds it creepy that you do a  thing like this every year?” or anything. Everybody just gets right to the things that matter, they offer some help, and then they get back to their own thing that matters.

If you have a workplace like that, or a family like that, or a posse or whatever you have, spend a lot of time there. It is amazing. If you don’t have people like that of your own, but you’d like some, you can come hang out with ours. It’s the whole point.

Anyway. Couple hours later, bowls!

sure i can do six

Caitlin tells me to wait until they’re leather-hard and then do the lyrics. I don’t know what “leather-hard” means, though, and turns out it’s a not what I thought, so  the first line is sloppy. See the fingerprints on “gonna?” Turns out it doesn’t work to smudge away the first attempt and start over. But, you know, what’s done is done, and I’ve watched the people who hang around here turn screw-ups into fine fine things, so I find myself a paintbrush and go at it. 


The clay gets drier and the lyrics start looking better.


A little better.


Then I get cocky.


Also, it gets late. Midnightish late. Kind of expected this to be a quick thing, when Caitlin got started around 7 p.m. It probably could have been quick. Except that it felt so good, and silent, and, you know, the world falling away and all that.


Just the quiet and the clay and the sweetest damn set of letters.

let it roll

By now it’s reeeeally late and I clean the place up like I’ve watched them do in here, put my six bowls on the shelf to keep drying, lock up. Head home. Start wondering why I’ve never tried this. Like, what would happen if I did more of this.

Couple blocks later, St. Peter’s finest pulls me over. He goes, ma’am, you know you don’t have your lights on? Where you comin from?

“The Arts Center. I’m the director there.”

I don’t know why I added that. Upon reflection, I don’t think it elevated the Arts Center’s stature or my own.

The officer was cool, just let me go, also pointed out my driver’s side bulb was out and said to drive home with the brights on so I wouldn’t not-see any deer.

It’s a really supportive community for the arts we have here. Incredibly supportive. I didn’t ask whether he was a Steely Dan fan. Probably he was. Probably I didn’t ask because, you know, a person can only take so much bliss and still drive home.

oh man oh man

Get your own bowls — and vases, vessels, platters, cups, things you had no idea you needed — at This Show is For Sale at The 410 Project, an invitational of functional pottery curated by Juana Arias.  Reception tonight 7-9 p.m., and everything is for sale to take with you right then and there. Like, the $20-$50 range. So do-able. Such beauty. Happy shopping.


You can read the 2014 Black Friday post here. And 2013 is here. And 2012 is here. They haven’t called me yet to sing backup on a tour or illustrate an album cover. I know, I don’t get it either.

Black Friday with The Dan and a box fan

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.”

black friday 1869

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.

katy lied

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.

the presewing stage

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.

the draping stage

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.

the box fan stage

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.

mom can you

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.


Read last year’s Black Friday post, a Steely Dan/Mall of America mashup, here. And the year before that, a Steely Dan/Front Street mashup, here. You guys I just really love Steely Dan.

Black Friday, a Mall of America/Steely Dan mashup

For my shopping friends and my Steely Dan-loving friends, which I think covers all my friends, here’s what you missed today at Mall of America. Here’s the song so you can listen along.

When Black Friday comes I'll stand down by the door And catch the grey men when they Dive from the fourteenth floor

When Black Friday comes I’ll stand down by the door
And catch the grey men when they dive from the fourteenth floor

When Black Friday comes
I’ll collect everything I’m owed

And before my friends find out / I'll be on the road

And before my friends find out

I'll be on the road

I’ll be on the road

Don't let it fall on me

When Black Friday falls you know it’s got to be
Don’t let it fall on me

When Black Friday comes I'm gonna dig myself a hole

When Black Friday comes
I’m gonna dig myself a hole

satisfy my soul

Gonna lay down in it ’til
I satisfy my soul

Gonna let the world pass by me

Gonna let the world pass by me

The Archbishop's gonna sanctify me

The Archbishop’s gonna sanctify me

And if he don't come across I'm gonna let it roll

And if he don’t come across
I’m gonna let it roll

When Black Friday comes I'm gonna stake my claim

When Black Friday comes
I’m gonna stake my claim

I guess I'll change my name

I guess I’ll change my name


Discussion of the lyrics by Steely Dan freakjobs here. Backstory about the Friday in 1869 when a couple investors tried and failed to corner the gold market here. My last Black Friday love poem here. Reversible shearling/purple mink coat I would LOVE for you to buy me here.

Black Friday, a Front Street/Steely Dan mashup

I’m going to tell you how to shop on Friday. Start at the corner of Front and Liberty facing diagonal. Aquarium supplies are to the right, the yoga studio is behind you, the jail is straight ahead. You can’t get that kind of balance at the mall.

Walk to Fillin’ Station and get coffee.

The 410 Project. Buy art, see artists.

Once Read Second Hand Bookstore and Exchange. Buy books, look at old magazines, pet the cat.

Sun Moon Yoga Studios. Just walk in there and Mona will sanctify you. Even if you’re cold and broken and can’t forward-fold.

Mystic Emporium. Tarot, crystals, numbers, everything, no bullshit, best incense selection in town. Readings by appointment. Call Sally: 507-388-9913. No, I’m serious. Call her. She does parties.

Keep walking.

Now you’re at Tonn’s Cambodian. Now you have everything you need.

Now you have coffee, now you have art, now you have walked close to the jail but not inside it. Now you’ve touched a brittle Rolling Stone. Now you have felt Mona’s hands tuck a blanket around your feet and press your shoulders down into the ground. Now you have bought a multi-pack of Nag Champa and been told you’ll make it through the year. With these things in your pockets and Steely Dan in your hearts, go forth into the holiday season.