remembering 9/11 today. i was working on Wall Street 2000 – 2002 and lived in Jersey City. before 9/11 i would take the PATH train two stops into WTC and walk across the 4 blocks or so to my job. i spent alot of time shopping in the two years i lived and worked there and many an evening after work, on the way home was spent in Century 21 and the Mall at WTC. i bought this jacket, most likely in 2001, probably in the spring, as i always shop sales. full price? what IS that? the shop was called Barami and it was a sort of boutique. with more unusual pieces for the discerning lady. i love this color and the leather is lovely. it’s a blazer style with hidden giant snap fasteners. walking along the concourse between the towers i never failed to look up in wonder. i have another story about my experience that day, on 9/11, but today i’m writing about this jacket. it’s for sale with it’s history attached.
people ask me “why are you called Meems?” this is the story I tell…
when I was very small, before walking, I talked. A LOT. somehow I figured out that if I refused to walk, I’d be carried. why go to all that trouble? my mother used to carry me from room to room as she went about her mornings. getting dressed, cleaning, pottering… when in the bedroom, she used to put me down in front of the long mirror on the walk-in closet door. I’d sit and stare and point and say “me. me. dat’s me”.
my father picked up on this as he picked me up and christened me MeMe, or Mimi, which morphed into a whole range of sub nicknames such as Meems, Meemus, Meemoramus, and, the most obvious, Motormouth.
for childhood and teenage years these names were reserved for family and very close friends. at some point in college/early 20s, some friends adopted it and i liked that.
it wasn’t until one summer evening about 5 years ago, i went to see two friends who play in a cover band, and as i walked in the singer said “here comes marymeems” and that kind of stuck amongst the british of my friends. and when setting up social media profiles it was always available so here we are. marymeems.
truth? i think the reason i stared in the mirror and declared “me me” was because i was the only person i recognised.
i love this place. it really is like no other “dive” bar in London. it actually feels like a joint you’d find in anywhere USA, except for the fact that it’s decorated with alot of USA stuff, like license plates. the music is always perfect and they adore Jack Daniels in there. it’s the “house wine”! genius.
i (marymeems) participated in a table top sale there on Sunday. it was their answer to Notting Hill Carnival and i was all up for skipping that, making some cash and revelling in my American-ness with other non-Americans. wah-hey! and a yeeee-haw!
anyway back to why i love this place. there is a vibe. a real non vibey vibe. its super chill. perfect antidote to all that is trendy and cool and hipster. note my hipster speak.
i first went there with Nige. there isn’t enough space here to describe Nige’s vibe but i will tell you he is a departed dear friend of the Kiwi persuasion. a funny fucker who loved America/Americans and all of its/their quirks. he especially loved the south and it’s inhabitants. of the female kind in particular if one had a choice. and through Nige i met some other Americans and other lovely people and when he died we had his wake right there at Big ‘ol Reds where even everyone who worked there knew and loved him.
so me and Monkey (rescued from torture by Nige on tour) (see photos) set up shop at Big Red on Sunday. i didn’t mind i only sold three things. i got to think and talk about Nige. and when i did i got the loveliest chills.
my other mother. she’s not too much like me. at all. she’s a real southern church lady. book club, sunday school, art museum docent. surprisingly we do share a great love of fresh summer fruit n veg, some art tastes and some literature. what we do not have in common is fashion. she’s talbots and montaldos. i’m goodwill and grunge. i have been a source of much embarrassment for her over the years at the country club. that feeling would have gone both ways if i’d ever allowed her to pick me up from a gig.
i have had for many years a suspicion that there was a vast vintage collection gathering dust in some closet somewhere tucked away in her house. small snoopings didn’t uncover much, i knew about the 60s shoes in “my” closet, and that there might be some dresses that were special.
this summer she had a scare. they thought they may have to quickly move into a senior community, so i came over to help catalogue the house. nothing prepared me for the beautifully preserved clothes and accessories i am finally allowed to see, and take possession of, but one piece stood out.
“um. MOM… WHY do YOU have THIS??!”
it’s a woven box bag, date unknown. there is the most curious scene going on on top of the box. i call it “three vice mice” there are two taxidermy mice (not sure if they are real mice but the fur is real) sitting in the grass playing poker, drinking and smoking. one of them is topless. it’s a sight to behold.
the detail is incredible. the cards they hold, the ash and cigarettes in the tray, the ice in the glasses. inside is scripted by hand “madame souris, so. laguna, calif.” that is all. preliminary searches on the internet give no clue. maybe someone out there will know something.
she said to me “i have no idea where that came from i dont even remember it”. block out all that sin, she did.
when i was 39 i found her. my birth mother. turns out i am a mini-her. she was a vintage buyer and seller. i say was, because she passed away just 5 years later. that’s all i got time-wise. but i got a lot more oh yes i got her in me.
i discovered vintage in college (mid 80s) i was driving down a road in Greensboro, NC and saw a shop. i stopped. i went in. and i bought a dress from the 60s. i was hooked man was i hooked. over the years i enjoyed selling at flea markets (USA) and boot sales (UK) and now I do it for a living.
but meeting her made this happen. meeting her made me realise where all the bits of me i didn’t understand came from. all the bits my family didn’t get. they’re the nature bit. nature vs. nurture. once i understood this i finally got to BE me. and me wanted to be a vintage dealer.
so here i am. marymeems. we buy stuff.