David Simon, hero.

So, the sick irony of my off-handed comment regarding our favorite Big Box store yesterday has just settled in. But moments ago, I heard this absurd piece of news relating the tragic death by trampling suffered by one Walmart seasonal employee yesterday morning at a Walmart in Valley Stream, NY. The anxious crowd of shoppers apparently grew so out of control that the police had to be called in and even they could not assuage the near-rioting people. See, kids? Rampant capitalism is dangerous! Now it has claimed yet another life.

And in such cynical holiday spirit, I happened to watch the end of Season 3 of the Wire last nigth and man. Much as I feel like a chump for writing about television here, I make exceptions for things exceedingly relevant and exceedingly worthwhile. And frankly, if you haven't seen this genius show yet, I feel it my duty to persuade you: this show is one of the greatest things television has ever seen.

Since relocating to the West coast, I am constantly grasping at things to remind me what its like back east. I am terrified I will forget what a Philly accent sounds like. Watching the Wire not only takes me right back to the mid-atlantic, but its portrayal of Baltimore is so close to our bedraggled and beloved Philadelphia that it's pretty much a one stop shop when I'm feeling homesick. I'd go so far as to say that if you have never had the pleasure to visit one of America's decaying urban centers--Philly, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinatti--watching the Wire will get you at least half way there. Now don't get me wrong, they're each unique cities with very different landscapes, but our country's B-list cities share certain similarities. And the intricate complexities of Baltimore that play out in David Simon's show are many of the same things I associate with the FH home court. I'm no spoiler and it's not worth it for me to even begin to describe the infinite substance of the show. But recent history is on my side; the Wire isn't the only awesome thing lately to come out of Baltimore. And not to brag, but I got to see David Simon speak recently and it was hands down, one of the top ten things of my year.

Broken cities are more than just affordable. Frequently the cracks in the foundation, so to speak, create the very spaces for innovation. See: Braddock, PA

FH thrives in a creative community, a city of passion with relatively low cost of living because Philadelphia is a dysfunctional city. And we love that about it. A good friend of mine said recently that his own upbringing in a de-industrialized city may explain why he now calls the broken city of New Orleans his home. For the same reason, I find that I flock to other people, artists, writers and filmmakers who draw on the same multi-dimensional interest in understanding imperfect places. And it's no coincidence that David Simon's upcoming series, Treme is set in New Orleans.

It's often helpful to learn context, I find. And I'm offering up David Simon's cop drama as a facet of context for this little company. You may not understand what I mean until later, but that's okay. So long as the ball gets on rolling.


Sale is extending thru the weekend!

I have decided to extend the one day sale throughout the weekend. Having also been an advocate of "Buy Nothing Day" in the past I was having a moral dilemma while posting this One Day Sale. Being a business we rely on people buying our things, while we personally do not believe in frivolous buying ourselves. Irony at its best, eh?

Enjoy your time off work if you have it! I know I did as I slept 4 hours past normal this morning.

That Carrotmob guy is inspiring.

Black Friday!

Were you all lined up at Walmart this morning bright and early to get your hands on all those toyz? Yeah, me neither. But in honor of this great consumer holiday, here is a little video food for thought about an idea harkened Carrotmob. Sponsored by this new social activism group in SF called Virgance, the project aims to use collective consumption to influence business. Not a brand new idea, sure, but by staging real events where tons of people meet up and buy things all at once, Carrotmob increases awareness of the cause while building evidence for this new stragegy. Watch and learn:

Carrotmob Makes It Rain from carrotmob on Vimeo.

Pretty interesting idea. Whereas I have my own softspot for buy nothing day, I think today's marketplace begs a more complex solution than blanket embargos. It's okay to support the businesses that you think are doing things right. In fact, we really depend on it.


Happy Thanksgiving, etc.

However you find yourself today, in a crowd of people, at a family sit-down, on your ownsome, outdoors, near a hearth, pot-luck style, turkey oriented, tofurkey oriented, stuffed to the brink, politely still hungry, drowsy, captivated, cooking, indulging, drinking, abstaining, friendly, family, north, south, east, west, in the city or the country...

Hope this Thanksgiving holiday is a happy one for you.

sending our love your way,
Fabric Horse.


Sale! Online Friday ONLY

Yes, we decided to jump on the bandwagon this Friday and put some of our waxed canvas items on sale. Most utility belts will be 15% off in just two measly days. So gear up and get ready. Sales valid on orders processed Friday November 28, 2008 only. Please email us at info@fabrichorse.com with any questions, comments, or concerns.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!



M.I.O. No, not a new riff on the hipster heroine of Paper Planes fame, nor a new-fangled military acronym for a soldier Minted In Oklahoma. Made in Oakland, MIO for short, is a new fair-wage not for profit sewing studio in the Fruitvale neighborhood of East Oakland. Funded by a $700,000 Federal grant, the studio aims to redefine the parameters of a textile factory and create over sixty living wage + health benefited jobs for skilled women while doing it.

Seamster Irene Torres at MIO
Photo by Jenny Pfeiffer for the East Bay Express

Many small-run designers seeking local, more accessible and not to mention equitable ways of making their products have few options for doing so. For those handful of factories still located in the U.S., you have to order a plethora if you order one. But MIO's no-minimum policy means that any designer has access to the resources of efficiency and skill offered by a factory set-up, without the harsh lighting or poor ventilation. However small, the amount saved by this efficiency without added shipping can benefit the finances of a small operation dramatically. MIO offers a full range of services, taking a designer's idea all the way from inception through to finished garment. Eventually, the organization also plans to sort all its fibers waste and process them back into fabrics which they will use to manufacture their own line of products. The building they occupy was renovated using green building materials (LEEDing by example!). And according to the recent article, they're even looking into getting machines that allow the operator to stand, a more ergonomic and therefore sustainable position.

I learned of this inspiring bunch through a Feature in the East Bay Express titled "Slow Fashion" featuring a handful of Bay Area designers doing their part to stay local and incorporate sustainable practices into the fashion community. Likening the movement to the similar trend in food systems was rather apt; the author relayed the growing demand by consumers for information on how and where their clothes come from. Especially in these hard financial times, I think people will more and more turn to handmade, especially on the local level, when they do choose to spend money on fashion. It's no coincidence that Made In Oakland's moniker articulates the studio's location. Just like quoting the county where a peach was grown, MIO is named for a city in California. They are proud of being from here. And they should be.


Springboard Media in Philadelphia is amazing. Go and support them if you live here. I called them up this morning to see if I could do anything to find my emails. Chad from the tech support spent almost 20 minutes on the phone with me helping me out, without having to pay them. They deserve our customer support. I have all my emails back, except the ones from yesterday, but thats OK! Thanks Springboard, you are the best.


Many apologies, I lost all my emails

I have been spending all day, and really most of my week, upgrading my 2004 ibook G4 to Leopard. I was double careful and backed everything up, twice I had believed actually. It appeared all my email history had saved, but in fact, it all vanished. I like to think it was into the interweb's thin thin air, but what can you do? I had almost 30 unread emails I had been putting off reading (including those not from customers or dealers) because my attention was on the prize.

If we have had pending email conversations PLEASE email me back as I have an undiagnosed case of ADHD. There are many many things racing around in my brain and I just might forget about your email. I apologize profusely . . . THANKS!

Carrie Collins (this includes all info@fabrichorse.com emails)


Too Much

As promised back in July, we are committed to bringing you all manner of pictures involving animals and FH. This one comes from Box Dog and features their new puppy, Taco, SLEEPING IN THE LOCKHOLSTERS. And see how the picture has managed to capture the wheel dreams dancing in his little dogg head?

I am dying about this one. Cute times a kermillion.


Just Food

A week ago, Friday night was the usual Art Murmur Festivities in Oakland and I attended. The opening for the group show "Food Justice" at Rock Paper Scissors was a particular draw, for me anyway, and judging from the usual horde-sized turnout I'd say the topic seems to crowd some other people's minds too.

Maybe it's just California, but the whole foodsystems-MichaelPollan-Urban-local-slowfood thing has started to infiltrate pretty much...everything. It seems that nothing is safe from the consideration of where and how your food is grown. Especially in the design world, people whose job it is to produce and promote aesthetics are now pulling on the ideas of locality and seasonality for the substance of their work. See also: Slow Food Nation. The boundaries between design and action are more blurred today than ever before, as innovation has become the battleground for the shaping of our society's future. Call me postmodern, but I see design, economics and science so intertwined at this historic juncture that it is sometimes difficult to tell the three apart. And I'm all aboard this smushsmash of issues. Of course the exhibit at RPS seemed only too timely and so I headed over for a closer look.
The show touched on all facets of our local East Bay alternative food production rockstars: People's Grocery, ForageOakland, the Secret Cafe and CitySlicker Farms Backyard Garden Project. Rock Paper Scissors contributes more regularly to this movement by providing a pickup point for the people's grocery Grub Box program.

ForageOakland contributed maps of the North Oakland Neighborhood documenting the location of found fruits and edibles. And SecretCafe, a house turned sometimes restaurant, displayed an archived collection of menus: each illustrated carefully and beautifully and hung about for all to see.

The real centerpiece of the show, however, belonged to the Backyard Gardeners, who as part of RPS's Community Collaboration Project used Holga cameras to document each other, their surroundings and the gardens they've sewn in an attempt to bring real food to their neighborhood.

For those who know it, West Oakland's unique situation within the food justice struggle demonstrates the severe reality of inaccessibility to quality foods in low-income neighborhoods. From People's Grocery,
There is only one supermarket to serve over 25,000 people...With a short supply of full-service grocery stores, many residents depend on over 40 convenience stores for their food shopping. These convenience stores carry mostly canned, processed, and poor quality foodstuffs and promote the consumption of candy, chips, liquor, and cigarettes. A 1998 community food assessment of West Oakland showed that only three of these convenience stores offered a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables (Farfarn-Ramirez, 1998). Prices at convenience stores were found to range between 30%-100% higher than prices in supermarkets.

Though some indirectly, each of the contributors to the exhibit address the issues surrounding our food systems in their own way. Some point to the abundance of foods in the urban landscape ready for the picking. Others illuminate the intimacy and sociality lost by the factory farming and sterilization of commercial food commodities. The juxtaposition of each of the components paints a truthful, critical and most of all hopeful picture of emergent views on food justice. The show stays up throughout the month of November, but more importantly I'd encourage anyone with free space to curate a show like this one. Different to your own place and the facets of food justice prominent in your own community, but present. Because I promise you it's present. I'd venture that if you go looking, you're likely to find some pretty remarkable folks at work doing similarly radical food justice work in your own city. You won't even have to look very hard.


Educational & Entertaining

I watched this incredible documentary the other night all about the UMWA strike in Kentucky in the 70's. For me, it was one of those things that you can't believe you hadn't seen til now. Truly a "Where have you been all my life!" moment. I have this sneaking feeling that not many people of our, er, generation have seen it, based solely on my having to repeat the title every time I mention it to someone new. But this, friends, is a travesty.

It's called Harlan County U.S.A. The film documents the miner's struggle to organize under the heavy shadow of Duke Power Company in Harlan County, Kentucky. This small instance was just one case of a local branch of the UMWA (United Mine Workers of America) but their feud with Duke Power was indicative of the same kinds of struggles faced across the country between the coal miner's and their bosses. Director Barbara Koppel does a brilliant job weaving together footage of the strikers & scabs, the national media coverage and clips documenting the music that evolved within the mining community. For me, the best part of her coverage was the coverage she provided of the striking workers' wives and the huge role they played in picketing and organizing on behalf of their husbands. She later described in an interview,

The women for me were the people who were the strongest. were the most passionate. Who weren't afraid of, you know, semi automatic carbeans with tracer bullets, would just get right out there on the picket lines. Because they had watched their grandfathers and their fathers die from black lung.

Not only did this film win an academy award the year of its release in 1976, but Harlan County USA is also one of the distinguished films among the esteemed Criterion Collection. Pretty much this means that if you don't like it, you're on your own. It's that good.


Total World Domination

Our bro dogs over at box dog bikes sent us this snack. We thought we'd share it, because that's just what you're supposed to do. They got it from Mission Mission, a blog from San Francisco, who were passing it along from a friend of theirs who's living in India...

long story short, it's a news article from an English newspaper in India and it is very, um, pertinent:

hug that waist
the fashion conscious in the city are making a style statement with the trendy multipurpose waist bags

if you want to light up a plain boring outfit just wrap a trendy waist bag around your demins or dresses, and it will instantly lend you a cool funky look. waist bags are gaining immense popularity amongst people from all genres of life. a college student flaunts a new waist bag to stand out in a crowd of students carrying backpacks, and women in their twenties wraps her slim waist in leather waist pouch like a belt to freely dance at the pub.

“camouflaged military prints are really in vogue. a simple one-colour dress with a military waist pouch spells some great style. leather waistbands with a small pouch to keep your mobile and wallet will look great with your clubbing outfit,” says nachiket barve, fashion designer.

waist bags add zing to your outfits with a playful attitude. plenty of active men and women who often car travelling across the city or on tours are opting for these bags.

waist bags give the women a sharper look, which is different from the regular girly look. these bags also enhance your waistline giving you a good shape. silk waist bags with moroccan prints, and camouflaged flowery prints, block print and lastly the waist pouches are the new trends. “whether you are travelling to the mountains or taking a sunny beach break, the waist bags can be taken anywhere, anytime,” adds barve.

the multipurposes of the bag for many, are the reason of popularity. “i love carrying waist pouches to clubs and it serves the purpose of a bag and accessory as well. also, during outstation shoots, i don’t have to bother about leaving my hand bag anywhere since the waist pouch fits in my cell phone, camera, cards, etc.,” says aanchal kumar, model.

these bags are available across a wide price range depending upon your requirment. you can pick up a trendy waist bag of the colaba causeway streets or fashion street for just rs 300. if you are into branded apparels, you can go to any of the branded stores and shop for a leather waist pouches for anything between rs 800-1500.

so, the next time you go to the pub at night, give your waist that extra zing and party hard.

Really, this could be a commercial for FH. Or evidence of our multicultural appeal, in any case. The photos originally presented with the article were unavailable, but this one seems to serve well as a stand in.



Woah. WOAH! A lot has happened since last I updated this little blog. We were too busy CELEBRATING over here. Remember how psyched we were way back in April? Well multiply that primary enthusiasm by another six months and then you will begin to approach the level of anxiety and anticipation about Tuesday's results. I think I was honestly too nervous to bring up the election again before it happened, a little worried that the Bradley Effect might happen, sort of concerned that we were in for another disappointment even after all the hype, terrified about the possibility of a Mccain-Palin victory. A defense mechanism really, so that if the unthinkable happened I wouldn't have to crawl into a hole never to emerge. And even after the networks called not only Ohio, but also our dear, dear Pennsylvania for Obama, I was still nervous to believe it. That we had actually won this thing.

But we did it. A belated and probably redundant congratulations to everyone who did anything to help this campaign be so historic and successful! I know I'll never forget the feeling of seeing such a candidate win even as I doubted it could happen. And that speech? Don't even get me started...

I know the Mission in San Francisco was brimming with election night excitement, despite the unfortunate Proposition 8 results. I hope you found a way to celebrate in your own neck of the woods.