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Growing Up Half Ass[yrian] Zine

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The much-anticipated zine is here! Okay, maybe you haven’t heard anything about it, but it is here.

We have compiled some of our favorite blog posts and created a zine about growing up half-Assyrian and half-white. We made some drawings with watercolors based on our childhood photos and rewrote the stories on our grandmother’s typewriter. It was a lot of work but we are so happy with the result!

If you are in the San Francisco area, come to the SF Zine Fest Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm.

We would like to thank our beautiful mother, Odette, for her olive inspiration, our Aunt Marlin for her always fun parties and stories, Julia for hide-and-go-seek, Larkin for her beauty, Pam for editing on such crazy short notice, Rachelle and Rochelle for the Assyrian writing help, and our friend Jeff from J & N Printing in Belmont for cutting our pages for free!!!

Buy it here on etsy!

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Pink is for Boys and Blue is for Girls

This is how it used to be for much of history. It is really only within the last 60 years that it flipped.

If you look at the many Jesus-y paintings from the Medieval or Renaissance eras, for instance the Annunciation paintings, you will see the Virgin Mary usually wears blue and Jesus or the angel Gabriel usually wears a dark pink or red.

Annunciation, Fra Angelico c. 1437-1446
Annunciation, Fra Angelico, c. 1437-1446

Yes, that is a male angel in pink, he’s just pretty.

Leonardo Da Vinci, Virgin on the Rocks, c. 1480
Leonardo Da Vinci, Virgin on the Rocks, c. 1480

Again, the boy angel Gabriel in pink.

Carracci, Pieta, c. 1560-1609
Carracci, Pieta, c. 1560-1609

Blue was considered a virginal and feminine color and pink was considered a strong, manly color representing the passion or blood of Christ. Whether she is getting knocked up, giving birth, or grieving, Mary is rockin’ blue. Many times the Virgin Mary will wear both colors, representing the impending, well you know, Jesus killing.

A 1918 article from Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department wrote, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

Interestingly, nobody knows for sure why the switch happened. They do know when though, sometime during WWII.

One theory is that since Hitler used a pink triangle to identify homosexuals, pink became regarded as an effeminate color. Yes, it wasn’t just a star for Jews, every color meant something different. A stripe above the triangle meant repeat offenders.

German concentration camp signifiers
German Concentration Camp Badge Colors

Maybe a bit of a stretch, but it sounds like a plausible theory. Now obviously, the homosexual community has embraced the pink triangle as a symbol of pride.

I’m not sure why I am so angered by the color pink forced upon my gender. Maybe it is because I hate that whenever anything is that certain baby pink, it is considered a woman’s issue. Like the pink breast cancer ribbon. Really, that’s the best you came up with? Pink? Dressing babies in an excess of pink or blue is like already deciding for them what their favorite color is. Can’t you just let them decide?

This Smithsonian article cites our 1950’s obsession with consumerism for deepening this pink/blue split. Making parents buy a whole new set of clothing meant doubling their profits. It was fairly common back in the day for both little boys and girls to wear dresses. They usually wore white or pastel colors. Children wearing gender-neutral clothing meant you could pass down your daughter’s clothing to your son. It was simply more economical.

Speaking of cross-dressing children, this great NY Times article discusses “gender fluid” children, or more specifically, “pink boys.” Basically, boys that like to wear dresses. In an attempt to be more understanding in our slightly more homosexual-accepting society, self-proclaimed liberal parents are trying to figure out how to raise a gender-fluid child. We as a society like defining: male, female, gay, lesbian, transgender. But what if your child doesn’t fall into any of those categories? In the article, Alex wants to sometimes wear boy clothes, sometimes wear girl clothes, but still identifies as a boy. He hasn’t gone through puberty yet so who knows if he will be gay or straight? And is that even important?

A line that really stung my feminist core was, “Of course, had Alex been a girl who sometimes dressed or played in boyish ways, no e-mail to parents would have been necessary; no one would raise an eyebrow at a girl who likes throwing a football or wearing a Spider-Man T-shirt.”

It made me stop and think, it’s so true that tomboys are generally culturally accepted. It’s okay to act like a boy but God forbid your son wants to dress like a girl. It goes on to say:

These days, flouting gender conventions extends even to baby naming: first names that were once unambiguously masculine are now given to girls. The shift, however, almost never goes the other way. That’s because girls gain status by moving into “boy” space, while boys are tainted by the slightest whiff of femininity. “There’s a lot more privilege to being a man in our society,” says Diane Ehrensaft, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who supports allowing children to be what she calls gender creative. “When a boy wants to act like a girl, it subconsciously shakes our foundation, because why would someone want to be the lesser gender?” Boys are up to seven times as likely as girls to be referred to gender clinics for psychological evaluations. Sometimes the boys’ violation is as mild as wanting a Barbie for Christmas. By comparison, most girls referred to gender clinics are far more extreme in their atypicality: they want boy names, boy pronouns and, sometimes, boy bodies.

In the comments section (many I have to skip because they will make my blood boil), a reader eloquently states, “It is, to me, very sad on many levels that boys who want to dress in dresses [and] skirts are vulnerable to bullying and judgement. The whole problems with gender identity issues lies pretty much in the reality that society denigrates women. Period.”

What is so shameful about being a woman?

I suppose my point is why force a color or a way of dress on a child? I do not believe that gender is only a societal construct, but I also do not see a need to push the genders further apart.

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Photo: JeongMee Yoon
20130619-112841.jpg
Photo: JeongMee Yoon

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Quilting: The Opposite of Instant Gratification

I subscribe to hundreds of blogs, mostly design and art blogs. I will see about 300 blog posts a day, a few per second. Next, next, next. The image overload is mind altering. I usually tell myself I will look at them for inspiration but most likely I will end up feeling bad about myself because everybody is always making cooler shit than me. The ones that I like end up on my Pinterest. I am an addicted Pinterest user: pinterest.com/ssm818. It’s public but not invasive. I love how visual social media, like Pinterest, has become. I remember in high school one of my first encounters with social media was xanga. It was a wordy, text heavy journal. Or I guess more like an online diary. I think mine is still up . . . xanga.com/shaba_the_hut. My bff pimped it out for me. Little did she know what she was doing was graphic design! Anyways, you had to pay for xanga premium in order to post your own photos. Not exactly an emphasis on imagery. Then came lord what was it? Well some more crap. Then myspace, putting more of an emphasis on photos. Facebook, the same. Twitter – basically instant messaging. Instagram – my newest addiction! Image only. And only one at a time which I think is perfect. Then obviously Pinterest. So many images, so little time.

As a graphic designer, it is exciting to see websites condense their information to images. This means they are conveying information in a more efficient and visually appealing way. Designers should be asking themselves everyday–how can we make this information more clear? The more words, the less likely someone will read it and the less likely you will get your point across.

But what is this image overload doing to us? Well I can tell you I haven’t finished a novel in years. Starting them yes. Finishing, no. I have a sneaking suspicion that my patience is being depleted.

So one day, I was at a friend’s house. Actually, it was Sunshine’s, from my previous post about communes. She was working on an amazing quilt made of Crown Royal bags for her brother.

crown royale quilt
If you are an alcoholic craft-person, this is the project for you

I wanted to start a quilt but the idea of starting a full size quilt was daunting. So Sunshine showed me some quilting books and I decided to do some throw pillow covers. I have had a bunch of squares of different colored pieces of silk that my mom had given me from 30 years ago! At the time, she was a fashion designer working for someone who was into tie-dyeing. So I decided since I already have the material, it will be cheaper and more special than buying throw pillows. Usually my rule is that I only make something if it is cheaper than buying it and/or what you want doesn’t exist. I am totally in support of making things but if I decided to make everything, nothing would get made–so I get a bit picky.

So I got sewing, got greedy, and rushed. Many hours later I ended up with something that looked like it was made by a drunk child.

See?
See?

I ended up seam ripping the whole thing and quilting it by hand. I found something very meditative about doing this hand embroidery. Even the seam ripping wasn’t too terrible. I could carry on a conversation, half watch tv, or just listen to music while doing it. It was a relaxation I have not felt for a while.

The end result. Was this post a thinly veiled attempt to brag? Possible...
The end result. Was this post a thinly veiled attempt to brag? Possible…

But I sort of realized how ridiculous making these pillows were. After buying extra fabric for the back of the pillows, the pillow forms themselves, a quilter’s pizza cutter thing, and thread and needles, I had spent $80! The money plus the approximately 40 hours I had spent on them made me think, why didn’t I just get this shit at IKEA? At this, my man-friend got a bit defensive. He is into woodworking and if he had his way, would make everything. Tables, kitchen islands, sofas, you name it. (I must say he has already made us a beautiful kitchen island). I usually have to talk him down from the ledge. I reason that it would take way more time and money to make a sofa then to buy one. Like I said, I am totally in support of hand-making as much as you can, but at what point is it too much? Now if you want something very special or custom then it’s totally worth the extra time and money. Or sometimes you can really make it for less than what you could buy it for.

Anyways, I guess the point is maybe I was wrong. If you make something, even if you could buy it for way cheaper, you are putting pride into something that will be in your home. So at the end of the day, it is worth it. Maybe knitting next?

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synchronize: what we are all doing at the same time

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I watched a tiny piece of Christian Marclay’s The Clock at SF MoMA last week. From 4:37 – 5:05 pm or so. If you’re like me and had not heard of the work before, he (and most likely an army of unpaid interns) stitched together thousands of movie clips that reference time and matched each clip up to the actual time, minute for minute, for 24 hours. I thought it’d be a crazy hodge podgery, but the scenes, despite being from completely different movies, flow into each other quite well and create a unique narrative. It also makes for a great game, who can spot the clock reference first.

What I liked most about it, was thinking about what specific activities are time-bound. Around 5pm I saw:

sitting in an office eying the clock

working in factories

punching time cards

leaving train stations

meeting people

talking on the phone…

This made me think about our synchronous activities. If I’m eating breakfast at 7:30am, how many 1000s of other people are doing the exact same thing at this moment? Doesn’t it remind you of that scene from Amelie? The part where she wonders how many people are having an orgasm at this precise moment. And there’s something very comforting about this normalcy. I find comfort in the communal nature of every task, even if I’m doing it by myself.

What most commonly happens at 12 midnight in movies? New year’s or turning back into a pumpkin. What about 3am? Something dark, dangerous, or naughty?

What else is going on at this precise moment in time?

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Portraits of Strangers

I recently went on a business trip to Shanghai and Seoul. One week in each city. Like many folks on Instagram, I enjoy taking photographs of people I don’t know in public. Strangely, I realized that the majority of photographs I take on the street are of men.

MEN

shanghaistreet4

Often, these men were in motion…

photo 3

Most of the time they don’t notice me. But sometimes they stare back.

shanghai_street

seoul_street1

Sometimes they were from a distance.

photo 4

I noticed that I took more photographs of women in the subway.

WOMEN

seoul_subway2

Sometimes they were asleep.

seoul_subway1

Often, I was trying to keep up…

photo 1

Sometimes, I felt overdressed…or underdressed?

photo 2

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12 to 13 inclinations

We had a great time musing and rambling this year about art, design, and social awkwardness. Thanks for reading.

I hate the word “trend” so we’ve compiled “inclinations” for you instead. These are some of our favorite things from 2012 that we hope will continue into 2013. We love:

SAMSUNG

1. All that is hand-crafted, locally-produced, crunchy granola goodness. Shout out to Public Glass, Workshop, San Francisco Center for the Book, Allied Arts Guild, in fact to all craft fairs, art walks, um, Portland, popup hoodletterpress workshops, wood workers etc. etc.

SAMSUNG

2. DIY lovin for food. Who in your life isn’t making their own bread, cured meats, cheese, pickling, and making a batch of micro-brew in their tub at this very moment? Mawana winery and micro-brew in Los Gatos is our fave (but we’re biased). It’s so local and micro that it doesn’t even have a website.

3. The back-to-the-woods look. Wood paneling, well, everywhere – in restaurants, cafes, apartments, bus stops. Cabin porn. Amish chic but with iPads.

4. Commune living (but with toilets), live/work lofts, and nude frolicking.

5. Reupholstering and repurposing in general. Why build new when there is so much out there already?

6. Moving our bodies in new (and I guess, old) ways. More walking, bike lanes, self-driving cars. Here’s hoping that BART actually gets extended from Fremont to San Jose (gotta believe it’ll happen guys).

SAMSUNG

7. Knowing where our food comes from. CSA, food co-ops, exchanges, foraging. local, local, local. Urban gardens. Urban beekeeping.

8. Shifting from “users” to “people.” Standing up for our digital rights, and have a better understanding of where our data goes and who makes $$$ from it.

9. To start reading again. Big, hefty tomes at that.

10. Single-tasking.

11. Business models that don’t involve selling our data to marketers. For example, let’s take Louis CK. He produces his own content and sells directly to fans on his own website. Beautiful. Or take my friends’ design/build shop, Pas de Chocolat. Their motto is, “if we don’t do it ourselves, we do it with collaborators who share ownership.” Isn’t that cool?

12. Shorter commutes. I propose moving all of the Bay Area into San Francisco. Then we can make some real public transport and call it a day. This week I’ll drive to San Jose, San Francisco, and Berkeley for work. This is not OK.

13. Beards and the cool barber shops that go with them.

Last note. Something that we’re happy to see go: All things apocalypse related. I’m looking at you History Channel.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!