What to Wear in the First Act

Thursday, December 1, 2016

photo: Kathryn Stabile

I used to buy old Rolling Stone magazines from the Fremont Public library in the 90's. They were ten cents each. I devoured them. Cover to cover. The fashion. The album critics. The musician interviews. I read, I studied, I absorbed. I tucked rock and roll tidbits away in my brain. Rolling Stone always had a thing for this lady Patti Smith and her seminal album Horses. Yes, Yes. I'll look into her, I kept telling myself. When I was done reading, then I literally dissected the magazine. I cut all instances of Eddie Vedder out with a scalpel and glued him on my biology notebook. With his Botticelli curls, furrowed brow and a handlebar jawline – he was the epitome of sensitive 90’s masculinity. A real cutie pie, my oh my.

Shhh...this article really isn't about Eddie Vedder at all.

This summer I was in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) when one of those Rolling Stone tidbits came unfurling out of my grey matter. I was walking through the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit, pretending to be cool, but there is a deeply ingrained squirmy patrician aspect to me. When confronted with large format pictures of engorged cocks and Robert Mapplethorpe stuffing a bull whip up his ass, believe me, I wanted to get an eyeful. But museums are a shared experience, where everyone is looking at the art and the people looking at the art. Voyeurism. It’s hard to pretend to be cool when you accidentally make eye contact with a stranger and have a full body blush going. They should hand out masks at LACMA. 

Photo: Robert Mapplethorpe

Anyway, before the pendulum of his sexuality swung the other way, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith were lovers and friends and he took many pictures of her. And there it was, next to a photo of an uncircumcised penis, Patti Smith’s album picture of Horses. I was more than happy to rest my eyes and socially anxious heart on safe, androgynous Patti. I picked up her book, Just Kids, in the gift shop and then Josh and our friends grabbed a (much needed for me) drink. For anyone who some how has an impression that I’m cool, I assure you that I’m not.Cool people don't care. I still care much too much.

photo: Kathryn Stabile
Have you ever felt like things were gaining momentum in your life and something awesome and sort of, fated was going to happen? In September, I started reading Just Kids while I trudged along on the elliptical. I liked Patti’s writing and the weight and feel of her words. Her recounting New York and her climb from abject poverty to rock and roll doyenne in the 70’s was especially interesting. I was twenty pages into it when the Carnegie Library reached out to me, and asked if I would like to attend a private meet and greet cocktail reception with Patti Smith before her reading and concert, part of the Pittsburgh Art and Lectures series on October 10. Of course I would. Jesus. I haven't thought of Patti Smith for at least fifteen years and all of the sudden I had a full house. I finished Just Kids. I listened to Horses. Hell yeah, why didn’t I check this out sooner? More Rolling Stone fashion tear sheets came floating out of my brain.

What I Wore to Meet Patti Smith

Leopard coat: Express, 50% off on sale HERE!
Pussy bow blouse, old, Victoria's Secret.
Leather Waistcoat, old, Mas Nada 
Moto pants, Prana Brenna Pant (so comfortable)  
Heels, Romy 100 by Jimmy Choo, HERE
Purse, old Marc by Marc Jacobs

I dressed like a rock and roll baroness, confident that life was railroading me to some defining and momentous conversation with Patti Smith. That evening, her handlers shepherded her out for a three minute development talk and then she was herded her off to the performance hall and that was it. It was a great performance, but I can’t deny the let down. I'd been so sure.

photo: Kathryn Stabile
photo: Kathryn Stabile

Same with the election. I was confident that America was thoroughly disgusted with a certain candidate and that we would have our first female president. I was so confident. All day November 8, I was floating on air, part of a secret pantsuit society and by 9pm I was sick to my stomach, knowing full well what the end was, but still unable to admit defeat to myself and to women everywhere.This isn't the America that I thought I knew. But what did I know? I was barely even an armchair politician until this election, but this election woke a sleeping giant within me, within a lot of us. Now, we are woke.

As a writer, I have a foot in both the real world and fictional worlds. To be honest, I long for the chaos of the real world to read like a good-triumphs-over-evil story arc. I think a lot of us do. So let's go with that. Many of us are reacting to the election like we just read the story's climax in the third act and we're doomed. But here's the thing, our story isn't finished, in fact, our tale is just getting started. Stories begin in the first act, with an inciting event-that's the thing that sets the story officially in motion. In our case, Trump winning the election is our inciting event. The thing that follows a story's inciting event is called the key event - where the characters (you and I) react. We mourn, we talk with our friends and loved ones, we try and make sense of it, and then we get to work. Donate. Volunteer. Speak up.Fact check. Support investigative journalism by reading it. Or better yet, subscribe to a newspaper. Pester your congresspersons. And don't ever accept hate as the new normal. 

I have hope that one day we will have a woman as a president and that one day I'll shake Patti Smith's hand.

"Anything in life worth having is worth working for.” 

- Andrew Carnegie


In other news. As you know I've been away from the blog. Thing have been busy and exciting! I finished the first draft of my novel. I've started a new story, a young adult fantasy (!) I created a personal writer website (www.merylahfranzos.com) to help me down the path toward future publication, and Josh and I finally went on our official honeymoon in the Mediterranean! - I hoping to make a post on that.

I'd also like to introduce Kathryn Stabile as a new contributing photographer here on my blog. I've known her for quite awhile now, and I'm so excited to have finally worked with her! You can find her and her work on the internet at www.kathrynstabile.com, on facebook, and on instagram @kathrynstabilephoto 

photo: Kathryn Stabile

Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh, 


  1. Wonderful style and fashion dresses. I love all of them. Lovely winter dresses. The design of the winter dresses are so perfect. I think everybody should prefer your collection.


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