Barry Friedman's Indian Blankets




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BLANKET OF THE MONTH

January 2013 – I’ve mentioned my extraordinary son Matthew previously… like my three other fine sons and two lovely daughters he has been blessed with the gift of great intelligence and remarkable wit.  At 14 Matthew is my youngest and his brain the most unique because he is autistic and sees things far differently than anyone I’ve ever known.

Autism is a neurological jigsaw puzzle that science and medicine has yet to complete.  In simplistic terms autistic brains are not hard-wired normally and don't process information in the customary manner.  The result can range from heartbreaking to amazing.  For an example of the latter and the most astonishing example of the power of the mind I have ever seen I urge you to meet Stephen Wiltshire, The Human Camera at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8YXZTlwTAU

Autistic children are rarely funny and if so it is almost always accidentally rather than by design.  Not so with my boy.  He is profoundly funny and knows it.  He so brilliantly just analyzed my flawed character that I'm now as utterly convinced he’s a genius as he is that I’m a total winner at being a loser.     

His mother and I parted company more than five years ago and I haven’t lived with a woman since. With that in mind consider this very recent horrifying scenario….yours truly emerging from my bathroom with uncombed hair a tangled mess in tandem with a day or two between showers and five days without shaving. I’m proudly sporting a T-shirt with multiple holes accented with a dazzling array of condiment stains topping a pair of ripped boxer shorts featuring a jaunty screaming chili pepper motif.

    Matthew looks up up from a video game he’s playing, sizes me up and says “God, you need a woman.”

    After I stop laughing I ask, “Do you think I could get one?”

    “Maybe. She’d have to be unbelievably lonely. Of course, after she married you she’d still be lonely.”

     "Do you think I should get a pretty wife?"

     "I think you should get a stupid and lazy wife that will hang out with you all day looking at EBay and Craigslist."

    “What do you think I need to do to attract a woman?”

    “First put on some pants and be a man. Then you’ll have to change everything about yourself.”

     “Really?  Everything?”

    “Yes, everything.  If you don’t believe me ask your mirror.”

    “Ouch. OK, what do I have to change?”

    “Well, you're almost dead and your looks are gone, so you’ll have to concentrate on your personality.  You need to develop qualities you’re missing - loyalty, honesty, a sense of fairness, compassion and most importantly, citizenship.” 

   “You’re a brilliant boy, Matthew.”

   “I’m just a kid from Brooklyn,” he replies.

So that’s how I started the new year – being ripped to shreds by my autistic son who obviously has more clarity than I’ll ever have.  Happy 2013 to me.

For those of you who’d also like to gaze disapprovingly at me I will be exhibiting my wooly wares at the glorious High Noon show in Mesa, Arizona on January 26th and 27th.  It’s the best cowboy and Indian exhibition in all the land and I’ll have a dandy selection there, but the bulk of my very deep inventory can be seen in my home. Anyone who wishes to visit Indian blanket Mecca and possibly be verbally dissected by my son please e-mail me at blanketboy@cox.net and/or call me at 602-595-1157.

Let’s now all gather ‘round for our first featured blanket of the year.  From the Valerie de Laap collection comes this 1920’s Oregon City Woolen Mills Dragonfly variant pattern in excellent colors.  I have a special affection for Oregon City. Their retail store in Tacoma, Washington was a precious stone's throw from my family’s jewelry store.  As the signs in the picture say, we offered credit, but just for fun we made people beg for it. 






December 2012 - When people ask why no Blanket Of The Month and it’s already December 12th, I answer with one simple word – MANILOW.  Here’s  the  Manilowdown!!!!  

Sure, I write the blogs the whole world reads, but Manilow scribbles the songs the whole world sings although ironically he didn’t write “I Write The Songs”, which just happens to be the tune I hate more than anything I’ve ever heard.  He’s the Rodney Dangerfield of music – no respect, I tell ya - he’s sold over 80 million records and yet in 2006 Australian officials blasted his music from 9 p.m. until 12 every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night to discourage teenage gangs from congregating in a residential area..  

So when a free BM concert ticket was offered to me, I had to say yes.  If you want to have a Barry little Christmas, you don’t say no to Manilow! My immediate thought was who could possibly be opening for the legend?  The Captain and Tennille?  Miss Helen Reddy?  The late John Denver?

Barry’s career began in the mid-70s and peaked in the 80s so I knew it was going to be an older crowd. The fact it was ALL handicapped parking was a clue.  I’ve been to many concerts where people arrive by limousine - this is the first where everyone arrived on gurneys.  I didn’t know whether the crowd would actually applaud or just use The Clapper.  I’m 65 and everybody was affectionately pinching my cheeks, patting me on the head and calling me “Kid”.

I settled into my seat trembling with anticipation and politely declined the complimentary IV drip and defibrillation the rest of the audience was enjoying.  I thought it’d be a nice gesture to acknowledge the people sitting on either side of me and flashed them my friendliest smile. They were both dead.  Hey, more Manilow for me.

Next thing I knew my main Manilow was belting out his first number and as if seeing him on stage wasn’t enough two giant TV screens flanked the stage and he was GIGANTIC. Was he Manilow? Was he Mandingo? I didn’t care – I  Maniloved it! 

Let me try to describe the wonder of the plastic surgeon’s art that is Barry Manilow’s noggin.  Frankly, the face lift didn’t go well - when not in concert he poses as himself at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. His cheeks are colossal – apparently he had weather balloons implanted in them.  What I really marveled at is the color of his face – at first glance it seemed the hue of slightly undercooked veal, but upon closer inspection it’s kind of a reddish, pinkish, dusky rose with bewitchingly subtle flecks of salmon. At some point he clearly was flash frozen at sea. 

Have I mentioned his hair? He’s 69 years old and sports a remarkably full head of sandy brown locks so I’m thinking somewhere in India there’s a totally bald woman chanting “Looks Like We Made It”.

I could go on forever about this absolutely delectable cheeseball, but he gave me two hours of rock-solid entertainment and in all fairness I have to pay him the ultimate compliment… like Mandy herself he came and he gave without taking.

Obviously that explains why I couldn’t write about blankets until now, but I don’t plan to wait one moment longer.  From the Allison Bellows collection comes this fabulous pattern from the Knight Woolen Mills of Provo, Utah.  Doesn’t it make you beam?  I certainly hope so, because you know I can't smile without you… I can't laugh and I can't sing…I’m finding it hard to do anything.  I’ll see all of you at the Copa!  





November 2012 – It’s the day following the re-election of Barack Obama and as a public service I would like to inform my readers of what they can expect politically in the years to come.  Our president from 2016-2024 will be this familiar person.




President Clinton will be succeeded by her daughter Chelsea and she will hold the reins of our country from 2024-2032.

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The Oval Office will then be occupied by Parliament-Funkadelic musical leader George Clinton until he runs out of crack.   



Once again the American people have entrusted me to write Blanket Of The Month entries for another four years - gracias, Americanos!  I've rolled up my sleeves and I'm ready to go to work right now. From the Danny McFalls collection comes a very unusual 1920's Oregon City in tri-color ivory, black and grey...coincidentally the same exact colors as Mitt Romney's face this morning.
 



October 2012 – So here it is October 10th and I’m just getting around to writing this month’s entry. I’m really starting to put the “pro” in procrastinate. In fact, truth be told, I was hoping to get “Still Chasing Rainbows” in your hands this year, but that’s not going to happen due primarily to my being incredibly lazy. Let’s all join hands, bow our heads and give a heads up to our bowels and pray that God willing you’ll all have a beautiful new blanket book in 2013.

Possibly I have a medical excuse for my lack of productivity. My pulse has always been low, but I saw my doctor last week and my heart clocked in at 34 beats per minute. That’s an appropriate pulse rate for a marathon runner – I would collapse DRIVING a marathon. I’ve always had zero energy. Do you remember the phrase “tired blood”? I think I may have retired blood. I’m beyond laid back – I’m laid out. Nobody’s even going to know when I’m dead –there’ll be no difference in my activity level.

So with all that in mind I suppose we should all be glad I can muster the energy to even pick a Blanket Of The Month. It took all my will and strength to make the selection, but I’m sure if I lay in a heap for a couple weeks I’ll be as good as new. From the Pendleton Woolen Mills collection comes this extremely early round corner blanket. Round corner production began in 1896 and ceased in 1908 when the mill went idle. The Bishop family revived Pendleton in 1909 and their blankets featured square corners. Why they made the switch from round to square is the great enduring unsolved mystery of antique Indian blanket history.  That being said I don’t know about you, but I need a nap.      







September 2012 - Thought I'd share a photo of my new license plate - how Senor was available in the state of Arizona is beyond me, but it does pose a serious challenge to the racial profiling of Hispanics in the city of Phoenix as practiced by our notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I just don't know how an officer is going to react when he pulls me over and I greet him with "Shalom, amigo!"


    I truly apologize for this being my latest BOTM entry level ever. I have a number of rock-solid excuses that are available upon request if you will be kind enough to send me a self-addressed stamped envelope and a picture of you drinking gin rickeys with any two original members of The Kingston Trio.

    Let’s get down to blanket business. From the Allison Bellows collection comes an absolutely unique trade blanket from an unknown manufacturer. It dates c. 1895-1910 and yes, apparently even Indians couldn’t resist a trendy animal print.  Grrrrr!






August 2012 - There will be no traditional Blanket Of The Month this month.  I received the tragic news that my Uncle Jack died on August 3.  He was the most important person in my life - my inspiration and best friend - and frankly, writing about Indian blankets seems very unimportant at the moment.  He was absolutely the most extraordinary person I've ever encountered and I wrote about him at length in December 2009. If you're interested in reading about a true American original I would direct you to that entry.    
      Many of you know that I was a television writer in Hollywood for years. I was at Paramount Studios one day and ran into Jack Nicholson. We had met a couple years previously and he had no reason to remember me, but he did and we were shooting the breeze. A man approached and said, “I can’t believe it. Jack Nicholson. I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I just want to tell you you’re my favorite actor ever and you have more charisma than anyone in Hollywood.” Nicholson flashed his trademark smile and said, “Jesus, more charisma than anybody? My friend Barry here has known a helluva lot of celebrities. What do you think, pal? More charisma than anybody?” I immediately thought about my Uncle Jack and said, “With all due respect, you’re not even the most charismatic Jack I know.”


July 2012

     I’ve never written a Blanket Of The Month entry any later than the 4th of any month before and if my calendar is correct it appears to be the 7th. So let me start by offering all of you an apology and if you’ll forward your shipping address I’ll send each one of you a pony.
    I seem to be obsessed with something or other every month and this month it’s fitness.  I’ve decided to get in shape and so far that shape would be pear.  Yes, I'm Anjouish.
     Actually, I look really good for my age if you happen to think my age is the Mesozoic.  My problem is I think I should have the same level of fitness I did as a young man and that’s just not realistic.  I was a champion tennis player in high school and could run like a deer, which sounds great but let me assure you the antlers were a pain and I got tired of getting shot at all the time.  On the plus side, I could really jump over the net at the end of a match.
     I’ve belonged to the same gym for eight years and proud to say I don’t know the name of a single person there.  I’m there to exercise, not socialize.  I hired an impersonal trainer – I wouldn’t let the guy say squat. He didn’t like me - there’s a pool at the gym and he suggested I sign up for a synchronized drowning class.
    I didn’t need whatever his name was.  I’ve developed my own routines and the results speak for themselves.  I’m not so much ripped as I am torn.  I have six pack absents.  Venus de Milo has better arms.  I fall off the stationary bikes.  Forget the Stairmaster – I’m waiting for the Elevatormaster.  Don’t even get me started with Jesus and cross-training.
    I’m starting to get carried away, which is how I usually leave the gym so drop and give me fifty and then let’s get to this month’s wooly wonder.  From the Gary Asteak collection comes a Buell Winnebago pattern. A hundred years old and like me still looks great!

                                                                                                                                                                         



June 2012 - I hope you’ll join me in welcoming the latest addition to the Friedman family. He’s a beautiful Akita puppy named Peeve. That’s right, he’s my pet Peeve.
                                                                                                                                

      Don’t you dare wince! Look, I’m well aware it’s not the joke you were hoping I’d start with – but quit your whining and walk it off, you little baby.
      If my mood seems a little more somber than usual this month, it’s because I continue to obsess on my imminent birthday and advanced age. I don’t want to give anyone the impression I’m sensing my own mortality, but aren’t I smelling earthworms? Haven't I started asking for cremate in my coffee? Didn’t I just I change the spelling of my name to Bury?
      On the bright side, I became eligible for Medicare on June 1st so I think I’ll break both my hips now that they’re covered. Senior discounts kick way in on my birthday and that means 10% off all Canadian bacon appetizers at Applebee’s if I can provide proof of a limp and hammertoes. Other restrictions may apply – void where prohibited by law.
      When a man turns 65 it’s a time for serious introspection and I’ve been doing just that. On a milestone birthday like this one a man has to look himself square in his round eyes and take stock with razor-sharp clarity and unflinching honesty. That’s precisely what I’ve done and I've looked back on my life and reflected on my family, career and friends and you know, it really hasn’t been worth it.
      Events, places and people echo through the canyons of my mind and the dry washes of my spirit. My journey has been an American odyssey, an epic voyage that began as a shrieking infant in Cleveland and now continues as a screaming broken down wreck of a man in Phoenix. I’ve covered a lot of miles in these old boots and immersed myself to the hilt in the everchanging tapestry of life, but never – despite enormous pressure - did I convert to the metric system. I stand tall in that knowledge... 5’10”.. not 1.778 meters – that’s completely ridiculous.
      Well, it looks like I’ve made a complete fool of myself for yet another month so let’s get to the damn blanket, shall we? From the Terry Clark collection comes something I can’t begin to identify. Can you? No, you can’t or you’d have your own Indian blanket web site, wouldn’t you?  I’ve never seen another label like it and time has rendered it...much like this blog... unreadable. Throw in the multi-colored fringe and a pattern I’ve never seen before and what we have here is a true mystery. You know what’s even more puzzling? Trying to jam 65 candles into a cupcake.
                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                         


                                                                                                                                                  
May 2012 - To be honest, I forgot all about Blanket Of The Month until this very second and the clock just struck May 4th. I’ve been totally distracted by the thought of my 65th birthday on June 15th. Seriously, aren’t I almost dead at this point? And doesn’t it also mean senior discounts? Aren’t I thrilled I’ll be saving on airline travel, movies and meals? Of course, I’ll be too decrepit to fly, too confused to enjoy a movie and for health reasons won’t be allowed to eat anything other than bee pollen. Today I bought Medicare Supplemental insurance just to make sure I’m totally covered for skilled nursing assistance and foreign emergency situations. God forbid I should break a tibia in Libya.
     I’ve been cranky my whole life, so I might as well be old, too. I’m not good with the looking old part, though. Lately I’ve been noticing women dressing me with their eyes. I’m losing my hair at a rapid pace. I’m walking at a slower pace. I’m getting depressed – this morning I ordered my eggs sunnyside down. The waitress asked me how I liked my coffee. I winked and said, “Honey...just the way I like my women....cold.”
     But there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. After a year and a half the pictures are finally done for “Still Chasing Rainbows”. A graphic designer has been hired and if the printing gods are smiling the new book may actually be in my twisted, aged hands in December. Plus rumor has it I’ve been invited to hold my first book signing at the Smithsonian Museum Of The American Indian. Needless to say, this is a huge honor that the Smithsonian will deeply regret.
     I urge you to visit the new page I've just set up on Facebook....Barry Friedman Indian Blankets. You’ll find some of the images that will be in the new book and some of the same jokes I’ve used here. Unlike other people’s jokes mine are actually way funnier the second time you read them. It's crazy!
      It’s that mystical moment when I unveil May's very special blanket, but what’s up with this? It appears I haven’t picked a blanket at all, but rather a blanket picture from the new book. It’s called “A Cold Night” and was taken by William J. Carpenter in 1915. Doesn't 1915 seem like over a million years ago?  It was only 32 years before I was born. It’s so over.




April 2012 - A slight change since March. I am no longer feeling last month’s compelling urge to be sporty. That ended last week when the wonderful blonde I was dating dumped me into an all I can eat buffet of rejection and clinical depression. I don’t want to say I was in a fetal position for the first few days but I was showing up very clearly on sonograms. One of her many reasons for offloading me was she’s just not in love with me. Like any other woman I’ve ever had a relationship with has been? What makes her so damn special?
     Right before the romantic coup de grace occurred I was lecturing at a charming museum in Meeteetse, Wyoming, a beautiful ranching community about 30 miles from Cody. I stayed at Meeteetse’s version of the Bates Motel. I was there for two days and I was the only guest. There were no cars; no people; never so much as a light on in the office. The museum director handed me the key to my room and I plunked it into a drop box when I left. My bed was made very nicely during the day, apparently by a poltergeist. I should have known it was going to be an unusual experience when I noticed the hanging tag on the door. Rather than saying “Do Not Disturb” it said “Do Not Disrobe”. Instead of a Gideon Bible in the nightstand there was a copy of “Suicide For Dummies”. The 24 hour room funeral service was a first. I know, it seems like this is the perfect place to stop the jokes and end this paragraph, but I’m just not going to do that. The shower curtain’s design was of Janet Leigh bleeding from multiple stab wounds.
     The town – all four blocks of it – was a few minutes walk from the hotel. First stop, Lucille’s Café. I knew exactly what I would encounter there – the same scene that plays out in every small town bistro in the West. I saunter in (it’s Wyoming – you have to saunter, amble or mosey) and immediately encounter six guys who’ve been drinking coffee together at the same table every day for decades. They don’t even have standard coffee cups – those are obviously for babies – no, these hombres have their own gargantuan size stainless steel travel mugs that are refilled every ten minutes with the liquid equivalent of the Bering Sea. They pretended not to be sizing me up, but I assure you one false move or remark on my part would have resulted in the beating of a lifetime. The elderly waitress greeted me with “Hello Barry!”. Obviously I’d just crossed over into the Twilight Zone. I regained lucidity after she revived me with either smelling salts or salty smelts and she then explained she had seen my picture in the local paper and remembered me vividly because mine was the only photo that wasn’t of a heifer. The coffee boys were now deep into an animated conversation about air compressors, but soon launched into a lively discussion about Negroes. I don’t exactly recall the last time I heard the term Negro used, but believe it was about 1970. The fact that there probably wasn’t one within 500 miles of the café was not an obstacle to their conversation and they enthusiastically mentioned how they admire how and I quote "dem people do loves to sing and dance". It’s always so nice to be around true patrons of the arts, but I had to hightail it over to the museum and so left my new friends behind before they inevitably got around to caving my head in with a lug wrench.
     It was a splendid turnout for my lecture and everyone couldn’t have been nicer and there wasn't a racist in the bunch. On the contrary, these were great hard-working people with a love of the land, a deep appreciation of local history and the kind of open-hearted hospitality you never find in our big cities unless you run into some friends of mine in Cleveland and really, how likely is that? Special thanks to museum director David Cunningham and to Dan Ochsner and his great girlfriend Karen who allowed David and I to fish for cutthroat trout on his magnificent Flying River Ranch. This is where the deer and the antelope truly play – herds of them. Canadian geese were chillaxin’ on the river – I think Canada geese is the proper name for the honkers, but I’ve always called them Canadian geese and these really were – I checked their passports. Three were from Ottawa. I treated them all very kindly, because as we all know geese are people, too.
     I may be nursing a broken heart but my eyeballs are working just fine and I’ve picked a dandy Blanket Of The Month for you. From the Danny McFalls collection comes a magnificent Beacon blanket from the late 1920s. This is about as bold a Beacon pattern as anyone could hope for and is extremely rare. In the meantime, if anyone knows a beautiful single female looking for an expert on Indian blankets, do the right thing and introduce us. I can make her a very unhappy woman.





March 2012 - I’m having a mid-life crisis. Or not. One probably shouldn't use the phrase “mid-life crisis” when he’s almost 65 unless he plans to live until the age of 130 – I plan to, but may not get around to it. Anyway, back to the crisis. I suddenly have this urge to be sporty and if there’s anything I’m not, it’s sporty. The proof is in my driveway. There’s my workhorse 2006 Toyota van and then there’s my every day zip around town and look like a hobo car, the 2002 Saturn SL2. That’s right, the coveted 2002. That’s the money year, the one everybody wants. It’s hard to imagine Saturn is no longer in business after designing this baby. The only thing that sits lower to the ground than this vehicle is a Munchkin with stomach cramps. Comfortable? No, actually it’s excruciating, thank you. I should have known something was horribly wrong when the suggested options were a chiropractor and Vicodin. It has a V-8 – the drink – and it came with an automatic transmission and a semi-automatic weapon when you realized what you’d bought. The car doesn’t even go in reverse – it goes into remorse. There’s more. It has a steering me wrong wheel, real bucket seats with handles and the sport package consists of a hacky sack and a Wiffle ball. The satellite radio brand name should have been a warning.  Really, the You Can’t Be Sirius? The donut tire is an actual donut. The navigation system is a surveyor’s transit and a copy of "A Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy".  I wanted a Lojack system, but Saturn only offered the Hungry Jack. This actually worked out – once two guys attempted to carjack me and they truly preferred taking the more valuable biscuits.
     I’m dating a highly intelligent, hilarious, beautiful blonde now (and she’s 52, so back off) and she actually doesn’t mind the Saturn. The planet is what she doesn’t mind – she totally hates my car. Eventually she’ll hate me, too, but we’re in the honeymoon stage now and so I feel compelled to become sporty. Since I live in Phoenix the obvious choice is a convertible for those sultry 115 degree days when my genuine solar-heated leather seats can gently parboil my genuinely on-fire ass. How I long for the wind to be whipping through my bald spot. I’ve always looked at old men in sports cars as pathetic and apparently now I've had a nervous breakdown and think I’ll look cool in one. Hey, I’m fun, I’m different! Who am I kidding other than myself? Seriously, shouldn’t I be riding in the back of a hearse? It’s taken some time, but I’ve got my choices narrowed down between a Porsche Boxster and a pine box.
    Now that that’s settled, let’s slam on our brakes just short of a head-on collision with our Blanket Of The Month. From the Beth Rose Miratsky collection comes a singular Pendleton I’ve not seen before and I would date it between 1915 and 1920. A simple banded pattern like this is atypical for Pendleton at any time, but I find it quite appealing. It has a Capps or Racine feel to it but the coloration, weave and binding tells us it’s a Pendleton. Well, it tells me it's a Pendleton and I’m telling you and you can pass the information on to anyone you like. Meanwhile, I’m going for a drive in the Saturn now and scraping the chicks off the bumpers later.

                                                                                                                                                
February 2012 - The spin cycle that is my life continues and today I’m filing my report on the High Noon show and the Tucson Gem & Mineral show. Thousands of people attended the High Noon show including far too many masquerading as gunfighters and banditos. My personal favorite was a middle-aged woman wearing a Stetson that was about eight feet high which nicely accented the bandoleros criss-crossing her torso and the Bowie knife she sported at her waist. I asked her if she was driving an Alamo Rent-A-Car and, like you, she didn’t laugh.
      I sold many blankets, but bought only one - a round corner Pendleton in a pattern I’ve never seen before. You’ll be seeing it in my new book if you’re wise enough to invest in a copy and if not, I wouldn’t want to be you, but that’s just me.
      The blockbuster item at the High Noon auction was a saddle made for Pancho Villa that brought $625,000 plus a buyer’s premium which raised the total to $718,000. I was planning to outbid everyone, but at the last minute realized I’d left my wallet in my other pants. That would have been embarrassing!
      Fast forward to the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show which is an extravaganza that runs for weeks at venues all over town. Thousands of vendors from all over the world offer everything from the finest diamonds to petrified wood, fossils, tanned squirrel tails, meteorites, seashells, framed giant beetles and that 20 ton boulder you’ve always wanted for your game room or den. I bought some items I desperately needed if I was running a natural history museum, but otherwise are best suited for a mental institution. Didn’t my dining room table truly require a sea urchin as a centerpiece?
      What with being so busy and all you’d think I wouldn’t have a moment to pick a Blanket Of The Month, but that’s where you’d be way wrong, amigos. It just so happens I’ve made the time and picked a dandy. If the class will now turn to page 110 of Chasing Rainbows you’ll see a 1904 Pendleton catalog pattern on the top left although the 1904 version would have had a round corner. This square corner model is in better condition than the book example and the Pendleton first label it still bears dates it 1908-1915. Much of its original silk binding remains. I hardly mentioned Pendleton’s silk bindings in my book. Perhaps I was trying to hide something? You certainly have to wonder.




January 2012 - Idle thoughts to start the new year: Just wondering if the manufacturer of Spam, Hormel Foods Corporation, has its computers equipped with Spam filters. Not thrilled with the Gingrich 2012 New Year’s slogan – “Out with the oldt, in with the Newt”.

BIG NEWS: We’re actually making progress on “Still Chasing Rainbows” and are now hoping for late summer/fall publication. The photographs are turning out sensational and the text is beyond brilliant. I think this may be my best work since my epic “Shingles And Shakes: A Roofer Remembers”.

BONUS BIG NEWS: The only show I exhibit at all year, High Noon, rolls around January 28 and 29 in Mesa, Arizona. This is the top Western and Indian antique show in the country and if you’ve never attended, you’ve probably never met me and that, my friends, represents a giant gaping hole in your life. If you play your cards right you may be invited to come to my house in Phoenix and see 150 or so great blankets for sale and my personal collection, which is not for sale, but I welcome obscenely irresponsible cash offers. If you’d like to make arrangements for the tour de farce I can be reached at 602-595-1157 or by e-mail at blanketboy@cox.net  Remember, always free hot dogs and balloons for the kids!

2012’s first Blanket Of The Month is a Capps variant Navajo pattern c.1911 that retains its original label and I won't say anything else about it because my New Year's resolution is to try very hard to be a better listener.







December 2011 - I watched the movie “The Black Swan” a couple nights ago and what a rip-off. It was about a ballet artist and not about swans at all! The mother of the ballerina was played by Barbara Hershey. Eons ago in real life, not the movie, she lived with actor/wing nut David Carradine. Carradine was a vegetarian at the time and said he wouldn't eat any carrot that had been and I quote “cruelly wrenched from the ground.” Against this backdrop of rock-solid sanity Barbara changed her last name from Hershey to Seagull. Here’s the reason why according to Wikipedia: “During the filming of Last Summer, a seagull was killed. "In one scene", Hershey explained, "I had to throw the bird in the air to make her fly. We had to reshoot the scene over and over again. I could tell the bird was tired. Finally when the scene was finished the director, Frank Perry, told me the bird had broken her neck on the last throw." Hershey felt responsible for the bird's death and changed her stage name to "Seagull", as a tribute to the creature. "I felt her spirit enter me", she later explained, 'It was the only moral thing to do.”
      Thank God for Barbara’s career the dead bird was a seagull and not a turkey vulture. Here's my thinking - if you're a movie star named Barbara Seagull you might still put asses in the seats whereas Barbara Turkey Vulture is only going to put carcasses in the seats.  I think about these things so you don't have to.  Don't try to thank me.
     Well, there’s your standard opening for a monthly blurb about antique Indian blankets and I apologize for my predictability.
     I have been making a political comment or two every month and as of three minutes ago it became official - every adult woman in America has now claimed she either had an affair or was sexually harassed by Presidential hopeful Herman Cain. He’s a pizza tycoon and Herman likes to brag he personally hand tosses every woman and don’t even get him started on extra meat.
     That pithy witticism marks the end of this month’s little comedic journey and now we’re pulling into the Blanket Of The Month junction. This selection is from the Allison Bellows collection and is a Racine Woolen Mills shawl c. 1900. Racine used star motifs more often than any other company and to my knowledge nobody there ever changed their last name to Seagull. I only have one picture of the blanket, but take my word for it that the colors reverse on the other side.
     Have a charming Christmas, a happy Hanukkah and a kwality Kwanzaa. I think you’re nice.


November 2011 - Huge news this month and I think it’s pretty obvious what it is.  Kim Kardashian getting divorced? Please! Give the girl some credit for lasting 72 days. That’s over twice the lifespan of the average housefly, although scientists believe Kim carries far more diseases. Is the big news that Israel’s prime minister favors a missile attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear plants? That might make for a dandy episode of “Blowing Up With The Ahmadinejads”, but this story is far bigger than that. Gadaffi killed? That certainly doomed the comedy team of Larry, Curly and Moammar.
     I won’t keep you in suspense a moment longer...the McRib is back!!!! Personally, I have never had a McRib...but McDonald’s legend has it that it was created when McGod took a McRib from McAdam in the Garden Of Eatin’. I’ve done McRib McResearch and discovered there are no ribs in it so in truth it could be called the McRibless. Why not a steakless sandwich called the McRibeye? The fascinating thing about the McRib is that it disappears from the McDonald’s menu for months at a time and then out of nowhere it’s back!!! – it’s like the Nicholas Cage of food.
     I’m always excited to share pictures of a Pendleton round corner blanket and there will be at least 25 in the new book that is coming out sometime within my lifetime barring any major illness or freak household accident.  I am still dealing with the horrors of last month’s appliance mutiny and can already sense my new ones plotting against me. Informal poll: Does anybody else’s toaster have an electric chamber?
    I digress and also regress (after first gressing). As we all know Pendleton only produced round corner blankets from 1896 until 1908. I’d date this one 1900-1905, which is right about the same time I had my last date, so there’s your irony.






October 2011 - To those loyal readers of this monthly feature, I plead guilty to the unpardonable tardiness of this entry. Not that I expect forgiveness, but I come armed with excuses. My air conditioning unit died a horrible death in mid-September when the average Phoenix AZ temperature was about a skillion and five. Cost of the new unit: $4300. Three days later, my toaster drew its last breath. Replacement cost: $42. Two days after that my Mr. Coffee, which had been brewing brilliantly every day for nine years, apparently committed suicide after years of mourning Joe DiMaggio’s death. The Yankee Clipper had been Mr. Coffee’s spokesman for decades and when he died I presume he became the spokesman for Mr. Coffin. My Mr. Coffee lived on, but after Joe’s passing it became depressed, moody and just didn't seem...and I’m really sorry about this...perky. Coffeemaker from Amazon: $61. At this point I felt nothing else could go wrong
      Incorrecto, Barry. Computer crash and burn: replacement cost $900. I decided I need an external hard drive to back up the new computer and that set me back another hundred bucks. The new computer arrives, the old printer stops functioning. $200 buys me a new printer. I then replace a faucet for $112 and believe I have finally quelled the rebellion. I draw a deep breath, go outside to tend my garden and water cascades over me from scores of tiny holes in my hose. New hose: $24. Five days later my dishwasher ceases functioning forever. $725 buys a new one that buries every single piece of my china and silverware in a deluge of hard water stains and multiple layers of detergent residue. I angrily call Sears and suggest they rename my appliance The Kenmore Pompeii. They, like you, are not amused.
      Last night my electric toothbrush decided to change things up and go acoustic. What’s $87 to me at this point?  At this rate I'll be living in a dumpster within a month.
      That brings me to today. I’m driving down the freeway and every time I brake the car shimmies violently. Likely cause: warped rotors. Do I even care what this will cost to repair? It matters not at this point. I have my blankets. There are no moving parts to break down. With even minimal care they last forever. They’re warm and beautiful and give me enormous pleasure.
      Case in point....October’s Blanket Of The Month. From the Danny McFalls Collection comes this 1920’s Oregon City Woolen Mills blanket. Great colors, great pattern. I wouldn't change a thing about it. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
     On the other hand, if it's totally broke and beyond repair it's mine.






September 2011 - And now here's Barry with the news, weather and sports:
       In political news, Governor Rick Perry has seized a commanding lead in his bid to become the GOP's choice for the White House. Not that it matters if any Republican wins the presidency, since the Obama administration is not creating any new jobs.
       Hurricane Irene left devastation in its wake but failed to flatten New York City which prompted Internet and newspaper headlines such as "New Yorkers Unimpressed By Irene". That's right, apparently the citizens of the Big Apple weren't enormously relieved, just unimpressed. Of course, all of us are a little bit let down when a storm doesn't destroy everything we own and take the lives of our friends and family. Maybe next time, disappointed New Yorkers.
      Turning now to sports, the Philadelphia Eagles just signed quarterback Michael Vick to a 100 million dollar contract for six years...that's 42 in dog-killing years.
      As they say at the yogurt factory, so much for culture. There is blanket business at hand. I hate to admit it, but I need your expertise. I have been asked to identify the blanket that accompanies young Robert Rinehart in a photo said to be taken in Wheeler, Oregon in 1919. A scrap of that blanket remains in the family's hands and can be seen below. I can't find a picture of the pattern in my files - please let me know if you own a labeled example and help me look smart.





      This month's Blanket Of The Month selection will grace the pages of my new book. Officially, it's a couch cover and found so rarely that there is no danger of my being obligated to pick a Couch Cover Of The Month. This is a first label Pendleton courtesy of Arizona's own Chris Ehrlich.
      Next month in Jerusalem!


August 2011 - I know there has been a lot of debate about my finances and intense speculation regarding my continued ability to pay my bills. Not to worry. Being a man of greater common sense than the chowderheads loitering in our Congress and Senate, I have steadfastly refused to raise my debt ceiling. Instead, and this is genius, I have simply lowered my debt floor.    
     This whole debt ceiling fiasco has spawned a fierce distaste for the infantile posturing of both parties, but more importantly has completely overshadowed news about the most important person in the world - Kim Kardashian.  America's politicians could not have picked a worse time to squabble - HELLO, Kim is engaged and there are a million and one details to be sorted out publicly before her big day! Less news about Kim also means less news about her enchanting sisters, Khloe and Kourtney. There may be a couple more...Kielbasa and Khlamydia?  
     There's a domino effect, of course. If this was the 1950s, there could very well be a Fats Domino effect, but never mind that. Diminished Kardashian revelations also means less press time for the other people I care so deeply about. Because of the government's insatiable need to hog the headlines, I'm not getting all the details I need to emotionally cope with the J. Lo-Mark Anthony split or to properly follow the Jen Anniston story as she goes househunting with her new boyfriend - I think she might be serious about this one!!! 
     I'm hoping these government prima donnas will make themselves scarce now and step aside for the people who really matter. Americans want to have a sense of country again, so a little less John Boehner and Harry Reid and a little more Nancy Grace referring to Casey Anthony as "Tot Mom" at least 48 times in every sentence, please. Thank you all for respecting my privacy during this difficult time.
     It's been over a year since I've featured any Beacon blankets and I aim to remedy that right now with a couple snazzy examples from the Jon Stuart Collection.
     (Private message to Kim K - I really, really love your Mom's idea, but I don't think the post office will assign your ass its own zip code.)




July 2011 - It was 118 here in Phoenix today and my brain must be completely baked because for a second or two I thought Michelle Bachmann is the leading Republican candidate for President and the Cleveland Indians are in first place.  WHAT??? THEY REALLY ARE????  
    Congresswoman Bachmann butchers American history every time she speaks, but outdid herself when she kicked off her campaign in Waterloo, Iowa and proclaimed it the hometown of John Wayne. Turned out it was the home of John Wayne Gacey, The Killer Clown. Oops! I think we can look forward to her claiming that Lincoln freed the Slavs and that Washington said,"I can not sell a pie." Bachmann initially believed God had sent her a message to run for the presidency, but now says perhaps she was mistaken and it was actually either Dog The Bounty Hunter or former "Taxi" star Marilu Henner.
    As for the first place Indians, they last won a pennant in 1954 and mathematicians at MIT just finished analyzing their current roster and upcoming schedule. They can now say with complete certainty that the Tribe will not win the American League's Central Division crown this year, but will possibly contend in the year 73817 if they can bring in two quality pitchers from other galaxies.  
     In other news, photography for my new book, "Still Chasing Rainbows", is done! There are a few tiny things left to do - every picture has to be Photoshopped, the entire book must be graphically designed and oh, yeah, I have to actually write it, BUT the photos are the most important component and they are murderous.
     Speaking of murder, here's a blanket you'll find in the new book. From the Terry Clark Collection comes an absolutely rambunctious Racine Woolen Mills blanket that's better than a hundred years old. (Private note to candidate Bachmann - I'm referring to 1911 and no, Michelle, I'm sorry, you're wrong, that was not the year America entered World War II after the Japanese attacked Pearl Bailey.)  






June 2011 -  Six days gone and no Blanket Of The Month selection? I've never procrastinated this long before, but I've been wrestling with the decision of whether to drop a whole lot of famous names and post a historic picture that has just recently come to my attention. Yes! is what I've decided.
     Although not a musician myself, I have met many a minstrel as I've stumbled through life and for years was a music critic for a chain of newspapers.  One of my oldest friends is Jimmy Fox, the drummer/founder of The James Gang. The group racked up a few gold albums and reached their zenith as a power trio with Joe Walsh as their lead guitarist and singer. James Kent Fox and I met in a summer school remedial math class when we were 15 and have been friends ever since. I went on tour with his band many times and was fortunate enough to enjoy the company of many a household name. I've had breakfast with Jimi Hendrix, lunch with B.B.King, dinner with The Who, late night snacks with James Taylor and the deeply missed Warren Zevon and saw "Deliverance" with the late great Steve Marriott of The Small Faces and later Humble Pie. I've sold Indian blankets to Don Henley of The Eagles, Pete Townshend, Robert Plant, Stevie Winwood and a host of others.
     One potential customer I've never met is a fairly famous guitarist for an English band that seems to have attracted some attention.  A Pendleton is draped over him as his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg looks on. I'm pretty sure that's a guitar pick in his hand and he's literally picking his nose.



May 2011 - As if being killed yesterday wasn't discouraging enough for Osama bin Laden, today Donald Trump insisted he produce an official death certificate. He also questioned how bin Laden ever got into Al-Qaeda considering his poor grades in bombmaking high school. "I heard he was a terrible student and then suddenly he's the world's top terrorist?," Trump said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Let's face facts, the guy was not a businessman of my stature and the real reason he got buried at sea was because he knew I could sell him down the river."     
     A question for Mr. Trump re the commotion he generated over President Obama's place of birth. Don, where's your wife from?  I ask because she'll be the First Lady if you run and, God forbid, win. She's from Utah, right? No? Ohhhh, Yugoslavia!  Yugo, girl!  Now I remember - our President must be American born but there is no such law regarding his wife. Melania Trump would certainly bring unique qualities to the White House. True, she has not been elected to any office, but she has had elective surgery in many offices.
     Two things are suddenly startlingly clear: Trump's a toxic gasbag and bin Laden sleeps with the fishes and so begins the merry month of May.
     We're in the home stretch for the photography on the new book and on schedule for fall publication.  We're approaching 350 blankets shot.  Not all will make the final cut, but one that definitely will is this singular Pendleton round corner from a wonderful Florida collection. Although it doesn't belong to Donald Trump, he's honored and proud to take credit for it.





April 2011 - The obsessively private author Thomas Pynchon and I have been friends for over 30 years. He is not only my friend, but owns a very important collection of Indian blankets I've helped him acquire over the years. I have been to his home numerous times and he's often visited mine. He is a gregarious and charming man....the complete opposite of his public image.  To the world at large he's a ghost, a cypher, a shadowy phantom that might not even exist.
     In all the years we've known each other and for at least the decade before he's allowed no photographs to be published of him and likely never will.  He has become perhaps more famous for this unyielding anonymity than for his brilliant sprawling novels. I can't say a great deal about the gentleman here without compromising our friendship, but I can tell you that while publicly he may shun photographers, that is not always the case privately. I possess more than a few pictures of him shot during our many times together over the years. While on most occasions a glimpse of a camera sends him into a rage, on others he begrudgingly allows a quick photograph...sometimes even eking out an emotionally torn version of a smile.
     We talk a couple times a week...offering up our opinions on topics important and absurd and such was the case this Wednesday evening.  As always he asked how I was doing financially and I replied not so bad but would be doing a great deal better if he would ever allow me to sell a picture or two of him.
     "What do you think a photo of me would fetch?," he mused.  
     "Six figures certainly. Maybe 7 or 8. The sky's the limit," I answered.
     "But how would they verify it's me?," he asked.  "It could be a picture of Joseph Blow. They're not going to take your word for it and I never give interviews."  
     "You could have your literary agent verify it's you and I would be rich. It could be a picture from 1980. It doesn't have to be anything recent."
     "But why would I let you sell my picture for a fortune when I could sell it myself?"
     "Because if you wanted to do that you would have done it years ago."
     "Excellent point," he laughed. "How much do you think you could get for a picture of one of my Indian blankets?"
     "What? You have got to be kidding."
     "Not at all. Publish a picture of any one you want. See what happens. Maybe you'll get rich, Barry. Maybe you won't. Roll the dice. big boy. And just publish one side of the blanket...maybe somebody will pay dearly to see the other side. It could happen. People are strange...I know...I used to be one."
     So here's a picture of one side of Thom Pynchon's c. 1910 Racine blanket. If you want to see the other side it'll cost you.  

    
                   

March 2011 - After spending the last few days listening to Charlie Sheen I've become nostalgic for the clear-headed thinking of Charlie Manson. Like all of us who have blown jobs that pay us 1.8 million dollars a week, Mr. Sheen is on a mission to make the American public understand he did not quit - he was fired.  Clearly it would be insane to quit and make himself ineligible for $400 per week in state unemployment compensation. We should all be more sensitive to Charlie's plight - you try being a single father with five kids and two porn star girlfriends. It's difficult when you want your kids to toe the line and your girlfriends to snort it. Plus it's confusing for Charlie - his kids don't want to be spanked and his girlfriends do.  What with all the unrest in the world the major stories are starting to blend together in a indecipherable blur. Do I have this right? If Moammar Gadhafi is deposed is he planning to star in "Major League 3"?   
     I may be fuzzy on current events, but when it comes to Blanket Of The Month I am locked in on a most worthy selection.  It's a Pendleton I had never seen before Mr. Crow Gellman plunked it down so I could take pictures of it for "Still Chasing Rainbows". The legendary Pendleton designer Joseph Rawnsley modeled that wonderful Indian head as the centerpiece of this design.  We've seen it before without the Hudson's Bay type stripes and the stripped down version is in "Chasing Rainbows", but the stripes take it to another level entirely. I was going to commission Pendleton to make this same blanket with Charlie Sheen's head, but it's stuck far too firmly up his ass. WINNING!              





February 2011
-
I know...I know...February 3rd and still no Blanket Of The Month...but thankfully I've got a boatload of excuses. First, I exhibited at the High Noon show and talked blankets for three days straight until I could no longer stand the sound of my own voice. (Incidentally, my voice has often been compared to John Lennon's, although very unfavorably). Rather than the customary socializing in the evenings with my fellow dealers, friends and customers I raced home every night to photograph blankets for Still Chasing Rainbows. I was getting less than three hours of sleep a night and that's not good - I usually have less energy than a sloth after 8.  The day after High Noon concluded I journeyed south to attend the annual Tucson Gem Show and spent a great deal of money on items that seemed absolutely critical at the time but insane now that I'm staring at them at home. One of my purchases was a sacred lingam stone from India, apparently way less sacred to the seller than the $40 I paid for it. And isn't it far more likely it's from Indiana than India? Just to make sure I'm giving you enough excuses for your blanket buck, I've also had three shifts of house guests AND had to cover hundreds of frost-sensitive plants in my garden because it's dipped below freezing the last two nights here in the Arizona desert. Seriously, how much more can one man do? 
     You'll be delighted to know blankets are pouring in to be photographed for the new book and I think it's safe to say it's going to be the greatest book ever published, although Andy Varipapa's "Ten Tips To Better Bowling" is right up there. 
     Now let's get down to business.  Please humor me and scroll down to the July 2008 Blanket of The Month and then return here and feast your eyes on its big brother - a very early Racine that's the closest thing to a Navajo Germantown eyedazzler ever seen in a trade blanket.  I know I was late this month, but wasn't it worth the wait?



               

January 2011 - Happy New Year to Juan and Al.  I was hospitalized last month and after being released have seen more doctors than I have in my previous life combined.  One of my best friends died recently and others are seriously ill.  This is what the golden years are truly all about - giving physicians all your gold.
     I've been in denial re my advanced age and the changes time has wrought on my face and body, but reality has arrived thanks to The Three Stooges.  I was watching them today and realized I'd finally achieved old age when I thought, "You know, Moe looks great and Larry really has a nice head of hair."
     It's obviously over, but before I go I'm getting "Still Chasing Rainbows" done and published this fall.  Believe me, we've been photographing some unbelievable blankets. I'm thrilled about the blankets and palpitating about the extras that'll be included like this month's Blanket Of The Month entry...not blankets, but two pages of an extraordinarily rare Buell catalog from the Chris Odgers collection.  The new book will feature not one, but two complete Buell catalogs that have not been seen since 1912. Again I was guided by Moe who always said, "Pick two!"
     Business Barry needs to mention I will be exhibiting at the fantastic High Noon Show in Mesa, Arizona on January 28, 29 and 30.  It's the best show in the country for antique Western and Indian material and this year Cindy Rennels will be on hand to sell her wonderful vintage trade and camp blankets, too.  If you're in town early and want to drop by and see my entire inventory call me at (602) 595-1157 or e-mail at blanketboy@cox.net and mention I sent you to me so I can pay myself a commission.
   




( Alas, the links mentioned below are now dead.)

December 2010 -  Last month I mentioned I had written an article about basketball star Steve Nash and would be making the acquaintance of singer Gary Brooker. Here's the update on both scintillating stories!
     My article said that Nash, a Canadian citizen, would be leaving the Phoenix Suns to run for mayor of Victoria, British Columbia. I'll be darned - turns out I made the whole thing up!  Chaos ensued. This is the link to the local CBS-TV piece on the hijinks and includes a telephone interview with me.  http://www.kpho.com/local-video/index.html?grabnetworks_video_id=4402958 Their reporter asked for a picture of yours truly to accompany his report and didn't I send him one of my oldest son?  
     As a bonus I am throwing in a link to a National Public Radio interview I did.  http://kjzz.org/news/arizona/archives/201011/hn_fakenewtimes   I discuss this hoax and a few other little white lies I may have told in the past.
     I met Procol Harum lead singer Gary Brooker after a magnificent performance in Los Angeles and it went splendidly. He was slowly sipping a glass of red wine when we began conversing and my sparkling banter must have really put him in a celebratory mood because he was chugging the bottle within three minutes. That the guy totally loved me was obvious during the concert when he clearly looked right at me and sang, that's right, "A Whiter Shade Of Pal".
     It's debatable whether this month's blanket is an Indian blanket. A couple puny lines of geometric pattern do not an Indian blanket normally make, but this blanket belonged to an Indian fighter. Major General David S. Stanley won the Medal Of Honor for his valor in the Union Army and after the Civil War headed the Yellowstone Expedition of 1873. Stanley and his regiment were dispatched to stop Indian raids in west Texas in 1879.  He went to Santa Fe in 1882 as commander of the District of New Mexico. In March 1884, he assumed command of the Department of Texas. He died in 1902 and this blanket dates from 1890-1900.  I find it astounding that I know what this guy did all those years and yet don't have a clue where I was or what I was doing from 1965 through 1980.
     And with that, this month's entry is history!
  




   
November 2010 -   This is going to be a memorable month for me, which is unfortunate because I'm getting so old I can rarely remember anything. However, here are two things I think are going to happen. On the 4th an enormously long article I wrote about Phoenix Suns basketball star Steve Nash will be the cover story of the Phoenix New Times newspaper. You may well be reading about the article's explosive contents in your local paper, the Internet and/or hearing about it on national television. I likely will become internationally famous and live a grand life of epic proportions. Or I can just stay right here and continue to be completely delusional.  
     Please try raising your ancient hand if you remember Procol Harum's 1967 enigmatic hit "A Whiter Shade Of Pale". While that ditty is certainly their signature song, over the years the band created many classic albums that all showcased the soulful, evocative voice of lead singer Gary Brooker, who is now 65. I was a mere lad of 20 and he two years my senior when AWSOP hit the charts and we've been great friends ever since. Well, he's actually been my imaginary friend, but that's all about to change when Mr. Brooker and I finally meet for the first time on Sunday, November 14th in a little California city I like to call Los Angeles. I have contemplated  the scene in my head many times over and it always plays out the same way - I tell Gary, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, how thoroughly his singing has entertained and comforted me over the years and he sighs with enormous relief as I'm hauled away by security. But as I leave...and this is the genius part...I endear myself to him forever because I skip the light fandango and turn cartwheels 'cross the floor.  No way he's not going to love that.
     So that's what's happening.... I'm going to be society's darling and Gary Brooker and I are going to be doing all kinds of fun stuff together and meanwhile you can look at this blanket that has a great history. It belonged to Charles Ferguson, who was the Pendleton mill foreman from 1901-1906.  During that time, the mill made only round corner blankets, so what's this? A blanket he acquired after he left Pendleton or a prototype or even the product of another company? I think it's a Pendleton made between 1908 and 1910 and the pattern is truly one of a kind. I'd continue writing, but I really have to get ready for a big party where witty, beautiful people are all going to make a huge fuss over me.   

 

 


October 2010 -
My son Matthew turns 12 tomorrow and is getting a jump on being a teenager by already being utterly dismissive of me. We were driving yesterday and I was shooting the breeze yakking away about nothing.  After an ominous silence from his portion of the car, Matthew turned to me and said, "So when did you turn into my wife?"
   
On the national front, I'm still twitching with excitement from my trip to Washington to participate in the Glenn Beck rally. Thank you, Glenn and Sarah and all your followers for restoring America! I filmed every God approved minute and will be releasing it as a feature film entitled "Beneath The Dignity Of The Planet Of The Apes".
     Photography for "Still Chasing Rainbows", the sequel to my first book, begins this month and I hope to have it in your hands next year. If you haven't contacted me about the possibility of having your blankets included, get off your lazy ass and contact me. I'm giving away new cars to the first 50 callers and, as always, free balloons and hot dogs for the kids!      
     There is a glitch in my Web site program and I'm having a difficult time getting images of both sides of each blanket to appear, so you may be seeing one side or both.  If you're seeing both sides plus an aerial view, please consult your opthamologist.
     This month's blanket is a screaming Racine c. 1900-1910, a superior variation of the pattern shown on the bottom right of page 183 of "Chasing Rainbows".  Incidentally, that is a very dark picture, but enough about the state of my mental health.   




September 2010
- For those of you interested in my love life, my romantic advisers keep telling me the way to go is friends with benefits. Fine...who's got dental?
     It seems so obvious, but why have I never heard of anyone getting plastered in Paris?
     August's big story was a California man's garage sale find of glass negatives proclaimed by his representatives to be the work of Ansel Adams and worth 200 million dollars. Ansel Adams' estate maintains they are absolutely not the master's work and rounding off to the nearest number are worth zero.
     Staggered, but not knocked out by this blow, the wannabe tycoons say, "OK, maybe they're not Ansel Adams' work, but what about John Quincy Adams? Right, cameras didn't exist when he was alive. Then how about Patch Adams? No, that was a Robin Williams movie role. Uh...Edie Adams? The singer/actress? Come on, she was married to the comedian Ernie Kovacs! Damn, you don't remember them? Wow, we'll get back to you."
     After exhaustive research, they now believe the negatives are worth over 300 million dollars and are unquestionably the work of Grizzly Adams.
     How sure are they? "Hey," a group spokesman said confidently, "does a bear take photographs in the woods?"
     I think maybe he should have said "of the woods", but that's Monday morning quarterbacking and feels nitpicky and ill-timed since this is already Wednesday.
     With all that in mind, what better moment to introduce September's Blanket Of The Month? I give you a very rare Racine Woolen Mills blanket that dates a few years north or south of 1900.  I've only seen a few in this pattern and this example is in superb condition.  Of course, I have left the dirt smudges on my camera lens to give the illusion the blanket has ghostly circles floating languidly over its surface. No wonder critics everywhere have called my work "despicable and an unforgivable affront to all that is good".  
    The blanket has an unnapped finish (I'm talking no fuzz), an extremely dense weave and feels very luxurious to the hand. I'm sure there are many things that feel luxurious in your hands, but seriously, wouldn't it be better if you kept that information between you and your parole board?

          



August 2010 -  Finally addressing the explosive tapes recorded by his ex-girlfriend that threaten to destroy his career, Mel Gibson struck back today and claimed his troubles are the result of a simple slip of the tongue. In a message to his fans worldwide Mel said, "Hey, didn't I mean to say "Blue me!"


In June's entry below I mentioned that one of the world's great collections would be landing here in July. That exciting event has been delayed and delivery is now expected within the next few weeks. One of the blankets in that collection is pictured below - the Pendleton Dr. Whirlwind pattern and so named by collectors after a member of the Cayuse tribe wearing the pattern in a vintage photo snapped by the famous Oregon photographer Lee Moorhouse. The blanket was certainly owned by Moorhouse as it was seen in numerous other photos he took and part of an Indian artifact exhibit he often mounted. The Dr. Whirlwind pattern is shown on page 80 of my book, but this example is far more striking in its coloration. Many collectors consider this Pendleton's most dynamic pattern. It was first offered in the company's 1902 catalog.








July 2010
- It's currently 111 degrees here in Phoenix AZ, but of course it's a dry heat so it only feels like I'm in the burning bowels of Hell trapped in a flaming choke hold being unmercifully applied by Satan. Naturally, this makes me think of wool Indian trade blankets because everything makes me think of Indian trade blankets. What I'm pondering this month is that the vast majority of blankets were not the dynamic patterns and colors you see featured on this site. For the most part manufacturers churned out primarily earthtones in less than powerful patterns and after 80 or 100 years the ravages of time can dull their appeal tremendously. In my opinion Oregon City blankets - the less flamboyant patterns, mind you - fare the worst. In even average condition the life seems completely drained out of them and what's left is uglier than Chanukkah at the Ahmadinejad's house. In bad condition they're scarier than having all your money in British Petroleum futures. BUT what did they look like when they were brand new?  Can I tell you how delighted I am that you ask? It just so happens they looked exactly like the mint condition 1920s Oregon City pictured below. With serious wear it would perhaps be more repulsive than Rosie O'Donnell in a pie-eating contest, but in factory new condition it's more sexy than yes, it's your turn to think of an analogy.  

 
    
June 2010 - Your time has come, Beacon enthusiasts.  I have heard your impassioned pleas for pictures of the cotton creations and here are three that have miraculously retained their factory cardboard labels for over 80 years each. This trio will have to satisfy the cotton coalition for awhile because the woolen winds are swirling. A bitter divorce (is there really any other kind?) has resulted in my purchasing one of the world's great trade blanket collections and it will be landing here in July. Also, don't forget to mark your calendars - my birthday is June 15th.  I'm  planning a celebration at home with all the people who love me. Hopefully, Jessica Simpson and Megan Fox can just enjoy the cake and ice cream without fighting over me like they did last year. I'm dreaming - obviously this is just some sick fantasy and neither woman is going to be anywhere near my birthday party. Yeah, only because Kim Kardashian and Scarlett Johansson won't let them!







May 2010 - SHOCKING NEWS! After a mere 8 years of procrastination and sloth, I AM WRITING THE SEQUEL TO "CHASING RAINBOWS"! I've found a printer and now the real work begins - amassing 500 or so GREAT photographs of trade and camp blankets.The goal is to not duplicate any of the blankets shown in CR - and I need your help! Yes, you! This is going to be my last blanket book and I want it to be as comprehensive as possible. If you own any blanket patterns missing from CR let me hear from you - I also want to picture blanket company catalogs, promotional material and historical photographs of Indians wearing trade blankets. I need the help of the entire lunatic blanket collecting community to make this a killer book - the world needs to see your stuff!  If a photo of your item makes the final cut, YOUR NAME WILL BE IN THE BOOK AND YOU'LL BECOME OBSCENELY WEALTHY AND INTERNATIONALLY FAMOUS!  Did you ever dream life could be so sweet?
     Contact me today before you forget at 602-595-1157 - NOTHING is more important than this and no, I am not exaggerating. Imagine having me show up at your home to take pictures of your collection. Then imagine serving me your rarest meats and cheeses. Did someone just say ice tea and all I can eat sushi? Oh, you shouldn't have!
     After you're done talking to me hurry back here and covet this sensational Knight blanket. Look familiar? Scroll down to February's blanket...HELLO, same pattern! This is what makes blanket collecting so darn fascinating...I'd never seen this design in 41 years of searching and then find it twice in four months. Maybe I'll find another one next month.  Hey, stranger things have happened...OK, no, actually they haven't.
     CALL ME! 




April 2010 -
  Whereas each month I try to showcase a unique blanket, I am breaking from tradition this one time to present an absolutely unique photograph of my friend of 45 years, the exceedingly anxious comic Richard Lewis. If you know Richard from "Curb Your Enthusiasm" or any of his hundreds of network TV appearances and concerts you know he ALWAYS wear black. Not in this picture, my friends.  He stayed at my house last weekend and yes, those are his pajama bottoms.  He's posing with my sons Ethan on the left and Matthew in the center - now about 7 years older than their photo on my Home Page. Matthew is autistic, yet sees things far more clearly than anyone I know. Before this picture was snapped Richard had just tried to dazzle the boys with his humor -  he had scored with Ethan, but Matthew was clearly unimpressed.
     "Seriously, Matthew, what do you think of me?," Richard asked.
      "Freakish," my son replied..        
      When you're the most neurotic man in the world it is not an easy thing to be destroyed by an 11 year old boy. What ensued was a classic Lewis rant.
     "Wasn't that a little bit harsh? Must you be so judgmental? Could you be funny if there was a 7 foot cardboard Indian standing behind you making anti-Semitic remarks? Don't I already have low self-esteem? When I was your age my mother put up a Jewish satellite dish - it brought in problems from other families. And did I mention my parents didn't want me? When I was born didn't my mother charge me for labor?"
     Matthew rolled his eyes and looked sorrowfully at me, then Ethan and finally turned his gaze to Richard and said, "I'm autistic. What's wrong with you?"


            
March 2010 - I never talk religion or politics, so let's get them both out of the way.  For three years a very serious man who sold old mining artifacts set up next to me at the High Noon Show.  We exchanged cordial hellos and goodbyes, but very little beyond that.
  Overhearing his conversations it became clear he was deeply religious and in fact a Baptist minister.  By year four it apparently was painfully obvious to him I desperately needed help from on high.  During a lull in the show he turned and said, "Can I ask you a personal question?"
      "I suppose," I replied. "If it's too personal, I just won't answer."
      "Fair enough," he said. He then looked me straight in the eye and asked, " Barry, what is your personal relationship with Jesus?"
      Immediately I answered, "Blood relative." End of our conversation.  Forever.
     As for politics, I don't want to imply Sarah Palin is dumb, but if I gave her a penny for her thoughts she could give me change.
     Any further questions regarding my politics or religion? I thought not.
     If all of you kids will now scramble to page 287 of your well-worn copy of my brilliant book "Chasing Rainbows: Collecting American Indian Trade & Camp Blankets" you will see a very lovely Oregon City blanket.  Below is the same pattern with an OC first label circa 1911 in a two-color monochromatic treatment, the only one I have encountered in this pattern. Nor have I collided with any other two-color Oregon City blanket except a Totem Pole pattern that I recall was grey and white. I can't explain why the blanket looks like it has distinct panels on the lower half of it, either - something likely went amiss in the weaving process .  Below that is the same pattern in a very snazzy color combo - there is no particular reason for picturing it other than I can, so why not?  Color me whimsical.  







February 2010 -
Inspired by Mark McGwire coming clean on his steroid use, I would like to set the record straight once and for all and confess that yes, damn it, I did go through an entire box of Luden's Wild
Cherry Cough Drops during the 1997-1998 cold and flu season.

     The High Noon show was excellent with many friends on hand and many blankets sold and on their way to some important collections.  On the buying end nary a blanket did I purchase - there were very few outside of what I was offering and none sufficiently rare to interest me.  This makes Barry a
very sad little Blanketboy.  Obtaining great blankets is what we wool junkies do and if we're not buying, we're dying.
     But chins up and raise your glasses high to the blanket I promised you last month from the mysterious Knight Woolen Mills of Provo, Utah.  No catalog has ever surfaced from this mill and we have no idea why or for exactly how long they manufactured Indian blankets, but I do know this particular example is museum quality and as good a trade blanket as one could ever hope to find - this would be a crown jewel in the most advanced collection. Take note of the gently rounded corners - always found on Knight blankets and a much less radical corner than the legendary Pendleton round corners. It's unbelievably heavy - I'm guessing at least a pound heavier than any blanket of similar size from any other manufacturer.  The condition is pristine and the pattern and colors superlative. I trust you all will enjoy this one and until next month have a great Knight!  






January 2010 - Yet another decade begins in which each time I go to the supermarket I will be asked if I want stamps and ice and I will politely and consistently decline. Am I totally out of step with the rest of society?  Are there a lot of people mailing ice?
     There was a blue moon on New Year's Eve. Now I'm concerned the moon may be made out of blue cheese and I have no idea what wine complements it properly. Obviously this is going to be a baffling decade for me.
     I'm going to skip my usual drama this month and cut to the chase. I will be
exhibiting at the High Noon show January 30-31 in Mesa, Arizona.  If you're going to be in town for the show and want a tour of Barry's Blanket Biosphere e-mail me at blanketboy@cox.net and/or call me at 602-595-1157. High Noon is the best antique cowboy and Indian extravaganza in the country and I spare no expense in creating the most cutting edge presentation of any of the 150 plus exhibitors.  My piles of blankets maniacally strewn about as if rifled through by a burglar frantically searching for cash and jewelry might at first appear sloppy and unprofessional, but it's actually a look so sophisticated that I doubt anyone will fully understand it during my lifetime. Such is fate or as the French so eloquently put it, "I surrender!"
     The blankets gods smiled upon me last week and I acquired a group of very rare trade blankets including next month's featured blanket - the flat out best Knight Woolen Mills blanket ever found - be here February 1 and behold perfection! For this month's selection we turn to one of my very favorite pictorial Racine patterns - scroll down and you will see it in several different color combinations - but this freshly acquired example is in my favorite combo of black and red.  Happy New Year and may all your blankets be heart smart and gluten-free.






       
December 2009 - I'm listening to Bob Dylan's latest CD "Christmas In My Heart" and I can only hope it will inspire the very prolific rapper Lil Wayne to record his salute to the Hebrew holidays "Sukkos In Your Tuchas".     
     Now that I've gotten that joke out of the way, I must discuss my Uncle Jack who recently turned 80.  My uncle, known in most major American cities as Jack Weinstock, is cooler than anyone you've ever known or will ever meet. He's been a high performance race driver, ridden motorcycles at terrifying speeds, captained his very own extremely large boat, been the head clown in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, is a world-class cook and has married and divorced two absolutely stunning redheads named Sharon. He's been millions of dollars in the black followed by even more millions in the red several times over and then finally in his 60s introduced washable silk clothing to the US and made so much money even he can't blow it. Now he drives the most beautiful Bentley convertible you've ever seen and is married to a gorgeous redhead named Sandy (thus breaking out of his Sharon rut but still loyally sticking with the letter S) and lives like the king he is in a magnificent apartment in Aventura, Florida.
   Prior to that he resided in Connecticut where he had a 10 foot statue of the Blues Brothers in his living room, kitchen mats that said "Hi, I'm Mat", a complete set of life-size fiberglass farm animals in his backyard, a robotic dog that greeted visitors at the door and a garage full of never-opened gadgets that included Microphone In A Briefcase and The Solar Waffle Iron. He's had two bypass operations, multiple angioplasties, several stents, a pacemaker and was pinned under a runaway Mercedes that came through the wall of a Manhattan restaurant where he was drinking cheap wine and suffered what we were told was a fatal or at the very least massively destructive brain injury. Three weeks later he was better than new tossing candy to fellow motorists while dressed as the Easter Bunny complete with ears. The man can not be killed - he's like a Jewish cockroach. Spitting in Father Time's face, he has retained all his hair and has grown shockingly handsomer as he's aged - so he's either a premium specialty cheese or a goddamn freak.
   When he turned 80 I knew something special was coming and I wasn't disappointed.  He left high school at 17 to join the Army and so he missed his senior prom.  He remedied that a couple weeks ago when he threw himself his Senior Senior Prom for 140 friends and family members...most in 1950's clothing who danced to an 11 piece band, drank malts and many other drinks that had considerably more vodka in them.  The entire event was highlighted by a hip-hop dance routine set to 50 Cent's throbbing "In Da Club" showcasing my uncle as lead dancer (of course!) and star (what else?) complete with four back-up dancers.
    It's time for all of you to meet my Uncle Jack in person and feel instantly diminished so please click on this link http://www.miamiherald.com/news/miami-dade/communities/story/1343296.html and read the article and watch the video.  Seriously, don't you wish he was your uncle?
    Per usual, what does any of this have to do with Indian blankets?  Well, pretty much zero, but I can't tell you how much it thrills me when my uncle looks at me with wonder in his orbs and says,"I just can't get over that you're the world authority on something." So I'm feeling pretty good about myself because the coolest guy in the world thinks I'm cool. Maybe I'm the second coolest guy in the world? No, number one is my Uncle Jack and then Jack Nicholson. That drops me to number three at best but now I'm thinking there's Muhammad Ali, Sean Connery, DeNiro, Pacino, Tiger Woods before the car accident, etc., etc. OK, obviously I'm well out of the Top Ten, but try having Johnny Depp identify Indian blankets...can NOT do it to save his life!
    So look and learn, Johnny.  I was going to feature some Beacon blankets this month, but that was before uber-collector Gary Diamond sent me photos of his latest monumental find - a missing link in the evolution of Racine trade blankets.
    What we see in thousands of photos from the late 1800s are Indian women wearing Victorian shawls - a great many of them Racines. Racine shawls of this era were predominantly brown or grey and always featured framed patterns - unpatterned centers framed by a decorative border on all four sides. A typical example is seen in the first photo below. Over time Racine produced well over a hundred different border designs - stars, leaves, paisleys and floral patterns generally.  Eventually that frame became more Indian-looking in composition and then Racine transitioned into multi-color full-blown Indian patterns. Racine Indian blankets are usually banded patterns - bands of design separated by bands of solid color.
   I believed that was the clear evolution of Racines until Mr. Diamond's recent find of the blanket in photo two - the first Racine blanket to my knowledge that presents a clearly Victorian pattern in band form rather than a frame. Perhaps this was a fluke pattern and Racine returned to its framed ways. However, the possibility must now be considered that this style begat Racine's wonderful Indian trade blanket banded patterns with a splendid example appearing as photo 3.
    Anyway, Gary's blanket is really cool, but in no way cooler than my Uncle Jack, who unlike the wannabe in the Dos Equis ads, is truly The Most Interesting Man In The World. Stay thirsty, my friends.
.






                         
November 2009 - You may have noticed that each Blanket Of The Month entry is longer than the one that preceded it and it's all because of you! After all these months in your company I've overcome my shyness and just feel so comfortable around you I've become positively chatty! (Even my gay readers have to admit that's the gayest sentence they've ever read). Don't you worry, I'll gladly talk about blankets but our relationship is so much more than that now.  I feel I can share my life with you - in fact, you're welcome to be me for as long as you want - that will free me up to concentrate on my three real passions - off-roading, clogging and stump removal.  I'll be frank and you can be Sinatra, October was not good to me. It ended last night with Halloween and coincidentally the month began with a court appearance versus a witch. In-between I masterminded two massive business deals for friends who apparently were so overcome with rapture of the deep profits that they neglected to offer me so much as a farthing. Fortunately, I am a man who does not let failure go to his head. I am channeling my frustration and rage by personally digging up my entire front lawn armed only with a pick and shovel. Why wouldn't I hire laborers to do this backbreaking work for me? Two excellent reasons: I'm cheap and I'm stupid.  And why would a cheap and stupid man dig up a perfectly good lawn? You just asked a great question that deserves my very best explanation! I live in Phoenix, Arizona - part of the vast parched Sonoran desert. Grass has absolutely no business in a desert - every single blade is an abomination and a slap in the face via Bermuda to Mother Nature. I am going NOT green and creating a more natural environment that is a true celebration of native habitat - a barren Godforsaken expanse of naked scorched earth and sun-blasted rock fit only for lizards, rattlesnakes and scorpions. I am now in the third day of demolishing my entire front yard with at least four more days of destruction ahead of me. I have mightily swung my pick so many times that I am now permanently bent over and look like a Jewish anteater. My back and legs are infernos of agony and my arms are worse. My face and hair are caked with dust, my clothes reek of sweat but in the end all my toil will pay off for I will have a desert landscape so grotesquely realistic, so horribly natural, so unspeakably bleak it will kill all hope in any human that gazes upon it.
     Which naturally brings me to this month's blanket. An eyedazzling Racine shawl circa 1895-1900 and I apologize, but I only have one picture of it. Interesting angle I photographed it at. And the fuss they made about Ansel Adams! Just like my yard, I say dig it!

  
October 2009 - There's nothing like a court appearance to begin the month and October 1 will find me cast in the heroic role of plaintiff in a nasty little matter concerning a very expensive fire in my office that the Phoenix Fire Department has determined was/is arson. So while you're looking at this fantastic trade blanket I will be staring into the rotten little eyes of the person who is suspect #1. Who's got fire jokes?  I've heard quite a few so far. Yes, of course I will be sliding down a pole this morning. No, I haven't priced Dalmations and yes, Denis Leary is my attorney.  Anybody got an old flame reference?  How about I've met my match? Thanks very much, I do feel the burn and sorry, I am absolutely not carrying a torch.
     Let us not forget that after a fire the cycle of life begins again and with it comes new growth....which would be just great if my office was a goddamned forest, but does a goddamned forest have leather sofas and coffee tables? I think not. So listen up, all ye would-be arsonists, I will be avenged...I'M BARRY, NOT BAMBI!
    So this is some blanket, huh? It's the finest example ever found of a Buell Chief's blanket. In its 1910-1911 catalog Buell calls this pattern the Hanolchadi (allegedly Navajo for "old chief") and let's not kid each other, you can't pronounce it and neither can I. Notice the very gently rounded corners as compared with the blatantly rounded corners on the earliest Pendletons. 
    Look it over carefully.  There's no rush. Slow way, way, way down...seriously, where's the fire?     
    
       

September 2009 - It's currently a very pleasant 109 degrees and what other man, woman, child or coyote residing in Phoenix, Arizona could be obsessing over wool blankets except yours truly?  I assure you the correct answer is none and I am rounding off to the nearest number. But obsessing I am and I have always been unhappy with the picture on page 184 of my book.  If you'll all now turn to that page, class, you will see the picture that has always haunted me and caused me so many sleepless nights (to be fair, it's either that picture or the fact I sincerely believe my girlfriend will kill me in my sleep.) The book image was shot in dismal light with a malfunctioning flash and so today we ask you to direct your eyeballs to two much brighter pictures of the same blanket taken in my massive kitchen. As we all know, the pictures produced in my kitchen are state of the art and many amateur photographers ask me how I am able to consistently produce such superior shots. Well, I guess it's just God-given talent that obviously you will never have, OK?  Moving on while you reorient your lives and dreams, this blanket was identified as the Class Y in the Racine catalog, but called the Yuma in the Shuler & Benninghofen catalog. You may call it either Todd or Leonard.




August 2009 - My fondest wish is that each and every one of you will consider my site the intellectual hub of the vintage Indian blanket world with an emphasis on anything Jonas Brothers.  Which one is your favorite - Curly or Shemp?  While you're mulling over your selection allow me to present a shawl that offered unique identification challenges. Because I'm senile the pattern didn't ring a bell.  The very fancy fringe, sheared finish and psychedelic red/white banding whispered Racine to me, but the edges of a label remained and no Racine has ever surfaced bearing a label.  The size perfectly matched that of a Pendleton label and some of the shawl's colors were straight from the Pendleton palette. I judged the blanket to be circa 1910-1915 and it seemed too bold in its coloration to be a Pendleton of that era and lively and beautiful enough to be a Racine.  How could I then explain the label? Well, I couldn't while being sober and a fully labeled example of the same pattern in a very private collection is conclusive proof that this is a Pendleton Beaver State first label c. 1915.  Wait until I tell the Jonas Brothers - Moe will go nuts!





July 2009 - Those of you who have the misfortune of knowing me personally can vouch for the fact I take nothing more seriously than the selection of the Blanket Of The Month. I truly had an amazing Hamilton blanket picked out for July but then I thought no, I've been way too easy on you people...let's be honest, you've been spoiled rotten and you know it.  Month in and month out a gorgeous blanket.  Well, here in the real blanket world it can get mighty damn ugly sometimes.  To illustrate that very fact and illuminate some of the unimaginable visual dangers I face every single day I have selected a 1920s Oregon City in everybody's favorite color combination - orange and purple. If this was a suit Prince wouldn't wear it. If it was a dress Dolly Parton wouldn't be caught dead in it, but some lunatic at Oregon City thought this combo would sell well and everybody else in the decision-making progress obviously agreed.  What kind of mind-altering chemicals could they have possibly been exposed to? I'm sorry...I'm being too critical...because when you look at this blanket with an open mind you have to admit it matches...well, absolutely nothing.




 
June 2009
- In a day highlighted by international complaining and weeping I will turn 62 on June 15.  One of my fellow baby boomers was feeling immortal one day and claimed 60 was the new 40. That statement was clearly insane.  Let me assure you 62 is the new 190.  Nevertheless, I continue the relentless hunt for Indian blankets and a quality urologist.  Why does anybody become a urologist? Did I not hang out with the right kids? Because as I recall none of them were that interested in urine. At what point does a young man or woman choose to make human liquid waste their life's work?  "Let's see...I'll become a doctor...yeah, maybe a great heart specialist....nope, I've gotta go with urine!"
    
I seem to have wandered a bit off-topic.  Focus, Barry!
   Verily, let the news ring out to every corner of blanketdom.  Birthday Boy's choice for Blanket Of The Month is an extremely odd, yet very appealing shawl that is unlabeled, but I believe to be a 1920's Oregon City.
  Ordinarily I am a condition freak, but I have owned this blanket for close to ten years despite it having thin spots and even a few holes. Why would I do such a thing? Because it is the only example of the pattern I have ever seen and unlike Dane Cook it makes me laugh.  It's a very happy looking blanket and let's face it, when you start applying human emotions to an Indian blanket isn't it time to be institutionalized? This is what I mean about turning 62. Next month I may be talking about dancing the rhumba with a blanket or inviting one to a romantic dinner. It's very hard to watch myself mentally deteriorate like this, but it could be worse.  I could be a urologist.



        
May 2009 - I rarely run across a blanket that leaves me dumbfounded, but color me stumped on this remarkable very early wool trade blanket. I have absolutely no idea who manufactured it - if I had to guess I'd say Buell but why guess when I can be blissfully ignorant instead? This came from the estate of Milton K. Paine of Windsor, Vermont. Mr. Paine was a druggist who concocted the wildly popular "Paine's Celery Compound" and sold the rights in 1880 undoubtedly for a very handsome price.
     I quote the potion's magical powers - "Thousands of lives that are now fast wearing out would be prolonged if Paine's Celery Compound were in each instance used to stop those ominous pains over the kidneys, to build up the rundown nervous strength, and cure permanently those more and more frequently occurring attacks of headache and indigestion."
     For those who didn't suffer reoccurring headaches, an evening dose or two of Paine's with its 21% alcohol content could get them jump-started first thing the very next morning.





April 2009 - This is probably the most atypical Oregon City Woolen Mills blanket I've ever encountered and the only example of this pattern I've ever seen. It bears the very first OC label so I would date it c. 1905-1911.  The design looks Scandinavian with its snowflake motif and I can't recall seeing a pattern from any company remotely like it.  Of course, at my age I don't recall brushing my teeth this morning so don't go by me.





March 2009 - Since I suppose I'm a liberal it's only fitting that I am quoted liberally in this month's issue of Phoenix Home & Garden magazine in a lovely article on America's most unique commercially made textile - the American Indian trade blanket.  Let Hefner have his little Playmate Of The Month thing if that makes the old boy happy, but everyone knows the truly classic beauties are showcased as Blanket Of The Month and may I remind you....no airbrushing needed here!  This month's honey is a hot little number made in the 1920's by Oregon City Woolen Mills.  We don't see this big bold pattern from OC very often...it measures a very voluptuous 60" x 72" and it just loves cold romantic evenings and its turn-offs are washing machines and moths.



February 2009 - After a spirited debate with myself I've decided to feature yet another Racine Woolen Mills blanket this month.  This baby is extremely rare and approximately a hundred years old - the same age I apparently appear to be to the entire female gender.  I can actually sense women checking me out and mentally dressing me.  But I digress - enjoy the Racine while I continue muttering to myself.





January 2009
Many of Barack Obama's closest friends call him Barry and because inevitably we will be confused for each other I have beefed up security and named a cabinet - in my case a medicine cabinet I now call Antonio. As my first official act of 2009 I present to you, the people, a dead mint Capps Hualpai pattern blanket c. 1911. 



 

   
December 2008 - I say a fond goodbye to 2008 and its fiery pit of economic doom and a cheery hello to the only blanket pattern ever made by three companies - in this case Oregon City, Beacon and Pendleton. Who made it first? I can say with complete certainty that I haven't a clue. There is one original here and two cases of outright design thievery - one of the culprits was likely Beacon who made their copy in cotton for a tenth the price of the two wool versions. I do know all were made in the 1920's and it's one of my all-time favorite patterns.  Directly below is the Oregon City version:




And now the Beacon:



And lastly the Pendleton:


          

November 2008 - It has just dawned on my seriously thick head that I have not had the common decency to name a single Capps blanket as Blanket Of The Month.  That madness ends right here right now with this Capps Shoshone c. 1911 and a classic pattern by any standard. This blanket has been in my personal collection for years and that's where it's staying!




October 2008 - Today the Dow plunged to a 4 year low, banks are failing, economists are predicting a gloomy financial future despite the $700 billion dollar government bailout and that's why all the smart money continues to go into vintage Indian blankets! A tip of the Friedman fedora to Chris Odgers for allowing me to picture one of the prizes of his fine collection. This blanket appears in both the Racine and Shuler & Benninghofen catalogs - designated only by a style number in the Racine catalog but named the Montana in the S & B catalog.




Ah, September and Hurricane Gustav just blew this 1923 label Pendleton shawl my way - a very rare pattern and truly startling coloration for that era. This is a color palette I would expect to find in a modern Pendleton.




Already August 2008 and I have a treat for Racine fans this month - two variations of the design theme as seen in the fantastic December 2007 shawl (don't be lazy - scroll down and check it out!). The fringe is almost completely missing from the first example but I don't care because I'm crazy about it! Elegant simplicity - two color blankets from any company are extremely rare.




This baby features multi-colored fringe and the design laid out on a banded field - 'tis lovely!




Fantastic news for the fans of my horrendous photography!  Instead of incredibly amateurish shots taken in my kitchen I'm celebrating July 2008 by shooting even worse photos in my office.  The locale may have changed, but my commitment to provide you the absolute worst in home photography remains unwavering! Here for your viewing...I hesitate to add the word pleasure...is a  Racine Woolen Mills blanket the likes of which I've never seen. I believe this to be either a presentation blanket or an "end of day" blanket in which a factory worker had a bit of time on his/her hands and decided to be creative. The result is far too labor intensive to have ever been a stock factory blanket. There are SEVEN different colors of fringe - all hand-tied, of course as this blanket is pre-1900. As if this wasn't wondrous enough, I have never seen another example of the pattern. This is my version of 4th of July fireworks - long live the Republic!



June 2008 is Barry's Blanket Bonus month!  Free balloons and hot dogs for the kids and TWO blankets for you!  I've been remiss in picturing a great Beacon and here is an unused late 1920's example retaining its original factory cardboard tag.  The blues in this blanket are truly blue-tiful.





And here's the most unusual Pendleton round corner I've ever encountered.  Someone was asleep at the wheel and an errant spool of black wool found its way into one part of the blanket and wasn't repeated elsewhere!  This wonderfully busy design  continued into the 1920's in a square cornered version, but this is the only round corner in this pattern I've ever seen and dates to 1904. 



 
May 2008 brings me yet another opportunity to showcase my non-existent photography skills AND my tiny kitchen by presenting both sides of Oregon City's most famous blanket...the Happy Hunting Ground.  Look closely in the design for the kitchen sink since everything else is included.






     It's high time to feature an exceptional Oregon City Woolen Mills blanket and here's a beautiful banded shawl in as-new condition c. 1915 for April.  My girlfriend will be delighted that the top of her lovely noggin makes an appearance in the first photo. She ducked for cover on the second to avoid all the blanket paparazzi that follow us everywhere.



     March 2008 already and here's a blanket from one of the lesser known mills that occasionally made Indian blankets - the Portland Woolen Mills which manufactured not in Portland, but rather St. Johns, Oregon and began production in 1904.  Like the December 2007 Racine below this blanket incorporates the swastika in the design - a symbol that always guarantees a trade or camp blanket was made before America entered World War II.
     Time for a history lesson. The swastika has been used for thousands of years and even predates the ancient Egyptian symbol the Ankh. The swastika was widely used in many cultures including those of ancient Troy, Tibet, China, India, Japan and southern Europe. The "twisted cross" even adorns Mayan temples. The word comes from the Sanskri
t svastika - "su" meaning "good," "asti" meaning "to be," and "ka" as a suffix. The swastika represented abundance and prosperity - depending on the cultural group it symbolized life, sun, power, strength, good luck and the four cardinal directions.
     To Hindus, it is a symbol of the sun and its rotation. Buddhists consider it a diagram of the footprints of Buddha. Among the Jainas of India, the emblem is a reminder of the four possible places of rebirth: in the animal or plant world, in Hell, on Earth or in the spirit world. The swastika's meaning to the Hopi people has been described as a depiction of the migration routes Hopi clans took through North and South America.
    
Until the Nazis adopted the symbol the swastika was widely used on all manner of items including cigarette and calling card cases, watch fobs, poker chips, coins, signs, postcards and even in American company names like the Swastika Cement Company. The symbol was popular as a good luck charm with early aviators - a swastika was painted on the inside of the nosecone of the Spirit of St. Louis.  Swastikas are carved into the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., the Philadelphia Museum of Art and many historic movie theaters and hotels - there was a Swastika Hotel in Raton, New Mexico.  During World War I the swastika decorated the shoulder patches of the American 45th Division. The symbol is often referred to as "whirling logs" or "rolling logs" in modern descriptions of pre-World War II American Indian items.  Native Americans used the symbol on  jewelry, souvenir spoons, basketry, rugs, etc.
     In 1940, in response to Hitler's regime, the Navajo, Papago, Apache and Hopi people signed an anti-whirling log proclamation. It read, "Because the above ornament, which has been a symbol of friendship among our forefathers for many centuries, has been desecrated recently by another nation of peoples, therefore it is resolved that henceforth from this date on and forever more our tribes renounce the use of the emblem commonly known today as the swastika . . . on our blankets, baskets, art objects, sand paintings and clothing."
     I see my time is up so without further delay here's the Portland Woolen Mills blanket...a wonderland of weft and warp.


    

     February 2008 showcases a magnificent shawl - one of my favorite Racine patterns in a screaming bubble gum pink with forest green fringe. It's a hundred years old and the condition is absolutely flawless. An Indian woman wearing this would have been visible not only to her immediate tribe, but to tribes on other planets.  The circle visible in the first picture is on the camera lens, not the blanket. If you're bored why not write an amusing caption in it?






     We're starting 2008 with a classic round corner Pendleton.  The company produced round corner blankets from 1896 through 1908 and they are highly prized by collectors. The colors are outstanding in this example.








     December 2007's Blanket Of The Month is an extraordinary Racine pictorial shawl.  This blanket has a history of being in one Indian family's hands for well over a hundred years and originally belonged to a female cousin of Chief Joseph's.  As this blanket dates to the period when Joseph was still alive, I have no doubt whatsoever he saw this blanket being worn. 





November 2007

     Both sides of a unique Racine Woolen Mills shawl manufactured for the Indian trade about 1900. Polka dots - who'd have thunk it?



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