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 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.