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Jackie collage
On the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, a surprising twist of circumstances put me smack dab in front of Andy Warhol’s prints of Jackie Kennedy, depicted just before and just after the assassination. The original gold set is housed at Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum, where Jim and I stopped for a mad dash on our way home from a two-day trip to Pittsburgh. We saw the Warhol exhibit when it was at the IMA in 2010, but this time, I noticed new things about the Pittsburgh native.

Pittsburgh Collage copy

Thing #1. Warhol’s most famous works, including the Jackie series, wouldn’t be legal today due to copyright law. The silk-screened prints of Jackie were lifted directly from photographs in commemorative issues of Life magazine and others. He literally cut the photos out of magazines and used them to make the template for the silk screens.

Thing #2. Warhol was a religious person. He was very private about his faith, but Warhol was a devout Catholic who went to mass often. After recovering from a shooting in 1968, he went to church every day. His Pittsburgh relatives always invited Warhol home for Thanksgiving, but he never came. They later learned that Warhol spent Thanksgiving Day at a New York soup kitchen, where he served homeless families. All this is hard to square with the fact that some of his works seem pornographic.

Thing #3. The real Andy Warhol is hard to decipher. Photographs and clips of video and audio suggest a man who was odd to the point of being scary. But the ideas he expressed were kind-hearted and charming, as revealed in some of his famous quotes. After unpacking bags from our trip, I curled up in my bedroom with a book purchased at the museum and found this quote, which mirrored my satisfaction with being at home in my own bed.

“There are three things that always look very beautiful to me: my same good pair of old shoes that don’t hurt, my own bedroom, and U.S. Customs on the way back home.”

Mega dittoes, Andy. Yes, Warhol was interested in fashion. His first published commission appeared in the September 1949 edition of Glamour magazine.

The best is yet to be. Andy was great, but the real highlight of our Pittsburgh trip was a retirement party for a guy who has enjoyed a long, successful career in business. We’re still basking in the send off for this good man and his wife, and realizing how very different things can look in a rear-view mirror. In the day-to-day realities of work, it’s often hard to realize that wherever we are, our relationships with others are what matters. Leaving those relationships is enough to make many a strong man cry. Ray has been a great support to my husband, and we’re going to miss him more than he’ll miss us, especially when he figures out all the good things that lay ahead for him and Roseanne.


For Ray’s retirement dinner at the Grand Concourse (located inside the restored Lake Erie Railroad Station, one of the most beautiful buildings of its kind), I chose one of my favorite vintage coats, a black beauty from the 1960s that hails all the way from Selfridges, a UK-based department store. I also found a genuine soul sister among the guests: a spouse who’s a veteran thrift shopper! Her special gift: radar for clothes that still have the tags on them. She was wearing a pair of drop-dead gorgeous red leather boots—brand new and thrifted! Salute, Miss Kim!

Speaking of a life of hard work and good relationships…If you really want to dive into the vintage heart of Pittsburgh, you might want to reach for Gary Pomerantz’s new book, Their Life’s Work: The Brotherhood of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, Then and Now. Check out Bill Littlefield’s interview with Mean Joe Greene and Franco Harris on Only a Game. This book is a celebration of enduring friendships, and maybe a great Christmas gift idea for a Steelers fan.

How long have you had your oldest friendship? Mine is 40+ years old, thanks to my childhood friend Melanie.

Life is short. Wear the good stuff

P.S. The vintage black coat I wore was part of the same collection as The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pink Sweater. If you like the pink sweater, please remember the charity that the Traveling Pink Sweater supports: the Pink Ribbon Connection. It’s not too late to make it part of your 2013 giving, friends.