Archive for September, 2009

Best Tressed
September 25, 2009

By now, most of us have gotten wind of Chris Rock’s soon-to-be-released comic documentary, Good Hair, but for those in the NYC area this weekend there’s another film, In Our Heads About our Hair, documenting the wide-ranging perspectives Black women have about their hair.  Getting a film made is no easy feat so congrats to longtime friend, Black hair expert and salon owner, Anu Prestonia who brought her passion for healthy heads–both hair and minds–to the project, her foray into film making.

Produced by Anu in collaboration with journalist/author, Maitefa Angaza and educator, Paulette J. Tabb, In Our Heads About our Hair, is directed by recent Brooklyn College Department of Film graduate, Hemamset Angaza (An aside and a gulp! I remember a young Hemamset participating in a children’s art exhibit I curated at Brooklyn Moon).

The 40-minute film screens this weekend at 5:50 pm at the Reel Sisters Film Festival at LIU’s Kumble Theater.  The screening is free, but RSVP is a must.  Dial 347.534.3304 or send an email to with “RSVP” in the subject line.


Fernandun June Terry, from In Our Heads About Our Hair.

Other filmmakers who’ve weighed in on the subject are the visual renaissance man, Andrew Dosunmu with Hot Irons, his 1999 chronicle of Detroit’s annual hairstyling spectacle, Hair Wars. More recently Regina Kimbell and Jay Bluemke took the show on the road with My Nappy Roots: A Journey through Black Hair-itage in 2007.

Financial Intimacy
September 23, 2009

Umpteen years ago when I visited the FIT campus before making the commitment to attend the school, I was paired with a student who was assigned the duty of showing me around. That person was Jacquette M. Timmons. She then, as now was very focused and diligent about executing the task at hand. She was not long for the fashion world, however, and through the encouragement of a mentor, found her passion in the world of finance.

The Fordham MBA has since 1995 developed Sterling Investment Management into the full-service investment education and financial coaching firm it is today, empowering people to be smarter about and with their money. Fast becoming a sought-after speaker on money matters, Jacquette presented at the Tides Momentum Leadership Conference just last month. To see her Tides presentation, click here.

An outgrowth of Women, Money and Romance™, one of the many financial workshops Sterling offers comes Financial Intimacy: How to Create a Healthy Relationship with Your Money and Your Mate. The book, in store on October 1 but available for pre-order now, “goes beyond telling couples how to manage their debt and invest for the future; it shows couples how to make those conversations routine and painless.” (Beverly Goodman, Senior Editor, SmartMoney: The Wall Street Journal Magazine).  Click here for the Publishers Weekly review.

Congratulations, Jaye!


Upcoming book events include:

September 24, 2:00pm

Congressional Black Caucus Author Pavilion

Convention Center – Hall E

Washington, DC

September 25 1:30 – 2:30pm

Baltimore Book Festival Literary Salon

Mount Vernon Place

600 Block North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD

October 7, 6:00pm

Carver Federal Savings Bank

75 West 125th Street, New York, NY

October 21, 7:00pm

Tea Lounge

837 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY

October 27, 6:30pm

Fordham University Graduate School of Business

New York, NY

And She’s Gone
September 22, 2009

And she’s gone. And she’s gone. Summer’s gone. Taking with her Summer’s play…

Stevie Wonder, “Summer Soft”

The season somewhat incorrectly bracketed by Memorial and Labor Days, is for 2009 officially over. It seems to have gone by in a whir. No time to compile my annual list of the best of Summer freebies; my schedule too tight to partake of most. I did manage, however to get in just a few moments worth mentioning. Bear with me now, some notable highlights:

Shake Shack, Madison Square Park

While waiting in the notoriously long line (hey the park is pretty and the weather that day, divine) for a rich chocolate shake, I was approached by a clean-cut, well-groomed older gentleman who leaned in and offered me $100 to let him sniff my neck. Life in New York.


Madison Square Park, one of three Shake Shack locations.


The Governor’s Island funfest was, this year, populated with many references subtle and direct to human consumption and the recycle/repurpose movement.


Secret of 101, Chin Chih Yang‘s meditation on the environmental issues of pollution. The topographical work encourages viewer participation as the audience is invited to add cans.


Watershed from branding agency MSLK, is a man-made forest of 1,500 plastic water bottles which serves as a visual representation of one second of U.S. bottled water consumption.


80% of these bottles are currently not being recycled. Bottled water is 1,900 times more expensive than tap water, and the toxins emitted by it have been linked to serious health problems, such as reproductive issues and cancers.


Discarded Chair Dragon, Benjamin Jones and Anna Heckler’s 30-foot mythic creature, was assembled from wooden furniture collected on trash day in Brooklyn.


line, 2009 hand embroidered, appliqued, & cut re-appropriated linen, clothesline, clothespins, wind, and sunshine. Joetta Maue’s nostalgic installation was “inspired by the memories and associations of childhood and my grandmother’s back yard.

Afro-Punk Festival 2009

From BMX flips and tricks, a chocolate-dipped skate massive and revolutionary art & adornment to riffs that rattle the bones and awaken the African spirit of punk rock…


Muralist paints the defiant image of a shackled Kunta Kinte from the movie, “Roots.” Saul Williams rips U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”

Strolling The High Line

I love the repurposing of this abandoned 1930’s elevated rail structure into a decidedly urban public park.


Photo: Iwan Baan, from The High Line Blog

Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native Women’s Dresses

Though this wonderful exhibition of the National Museum of the American Indian (at the New York branch at the U.S. Customs House at Bowling Green) closed just days ago, the title above links straight to the comprehensive, well-executed online exhibit. Elk tooth embellishment, immaculate bead work and turn-of-the-century hand painting are just some of the highlights.


On the left: Crow elk tooth dress, ca. 1900, Montana. Hide, imitation elk teeth (bone), seed beads, red wool, sinew. Crow belt, ca. 1900, Montana. Harness leather, seed beads, brass tacks, commercial buckle. Crow leggings, ca. 1890, Montana. Hide, seed beads, red wool, sinew, canvas, cardboard. Crow moccasins, ca. 1890, Montana. Hide, seed beads, rawhide, sinew. On the right: back detail from “Give Away Horses” dress, 2006, Montana. Made by Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty (Assiniboine/Sioux b.1950) Hide, seed beads, thread.


Detail from Sioux Cloth Dress, ca. 1890, South Dakota. Muslin, blue denim, red wool, red, green and black paint, thread.

Tonya Engel

Whilst window shopping BK’s Boerum Hill strip of Atlantic Avenue, I stumbled on a newish, deceptively large cafe. Clover’s Fine Art Gallery & Cafe makes use of the open, spare space and I enjoyed a frothy cappucino and took in the dreamy, oil and encaustic world of Brooklyn-by-way-of-Houston artist, Tonya Engel.


Sewing Room #3, oil on canvas.

Artomatic 2009

The top floors of this annual art event, offered a lovely vista of the DC landscape, including a direct view into Nationals Park, the stadium of the Washington Nationals baseball team. I felt like I was at the game. I went specifically, however, to see the paradoxically ethereal yet earthy installation of a friend whose work I admire, Alex Zealand. I am happy to report that as a result of the inclusion of her Flock, she’s received a commission to create another floating pith piece. I was also introduced to the painstakingly detailed line work of Corwin Levi and the well-executed animation skills of 17-year-old filmmaker Callison Slater’s String Studios.


Flock, 2009, Alexandra Zealand’s grapefruit pith cloud.


Corwin Levi’s Mandala, Pencil on paper, 30″x 22

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Still from The Woes of Marsh, Callison Slater’s 10 minute animated short.

Négritude at Exit Art

Négritude is from Mars/Negroes is from Venus, the Greg Tate-curated segment of Exit Art group show, Négritude gave us the Black Mystery Anti-Panopticon,” a place more mystic than mythic, ’cause the funk is for real.


Backed musically by Burnt Sugar, music critic Siddhartha Mitter performs (in French) the words of Martinican poet and proponent of the Négritude Movement, Aimé Césaire.

The Robert Glasper Double Booked Release Party at Le Poisson Rouge

It started woefully late, but it was definitely a treat to see/hear the prodigious Robert Glasper in a double bill of his two groups, the acoustic Robert Glasper Trio (with Vicente Archer on bass and Chris Dave on drums) and the free-form electric alter ego, The Robert Glasper Experiment (Derrick Hodge on bass, Chris Dave again on drums, and Casey Benjamin on saxophone and vocoder) Given a taste of his new dual-band release Double Booked, I’ll be headed for the iTunes download.


The virtuoso himself.


RGE’s stylish Casey Benjamin killin’ it on the sax and drummer Chris Dave workin’ it out.

Sundae Sermon

Uptown’s Sunday afternoon, family-friendly gathering in Morningside Park gets the “congregation” on its feet with “positive house music and peaceful tribal vibes,” from Minister of Music, DJ Stormin’ Norman and rotating guest DJs. theHotness founder, Nicole Moore helped us nip and nosh on her Belizean-blend punch and spicy tuna/mac salad.


DJ Beverly Bond guesting while Minister Norm snaps the crowd; “Sermonista,” Michaela Angela Davis.


Four generations: Publicist Lea surrounded by (counter-clockwise from left) her mom, grandmother and daughter.


Left, master hairstylist, Dekar Lawson and Hotgrrl, Nicole Moore. Right, Rick and N Harlem Boutique proprietor, Larry Ortiz.


Just days before the birth of their daughter, filmmaker Shola Lynch joined the fun with husband, Congressional hopeful, Vincent Morgan and their son Julian. Makeup artist extraordinaire, Shade Boyewa-Osborne smiles at darling daughter, Paloma.


“Carlos and Carmen Vidal just had a child, a lovely girl with a crooked smile…”

And finally, kitty-sitting…


While my filmmaker friend, Sonya was shooting in the Caribbean, I cared for her tiny, cute-as-a-button kitten, Violet.

Bronx-Bred Princess Discovers Royal Roots
September 21, 2009

I’d hoped to see the film, Bronx Princess, when it screened at MoCADA’s KIDflix Film Festival last month, but time didn’t permit. I am glad to know that it is being presented through the documentary series, POV tomorrow night, September 22 at 10pm on PBS and will air in its entirety for 30 days. The hour-long, coming-of-age tale chronicles feisty 17-year-old Rocky Otoo’s journey toward reconciliation of her dual legacies: college-bound Bronx teen diva and newly ascended Ghanaian royalty.


Rocky Otto, 17, stands next to her father, Nii Adjedu, the chief of the Nii Okaiman traditional area, ath the family’s palace near Accra, Ghana. Photo: Yoni Brook/Highbridge Pictures

Click here to view the trailer.

Free Harlem Screening: Michael Moore’s Latest
September 21, 2009

Media arts organization ImageNation will present a free advance screening of Michael Moore’s soon-to-be-released, Capitalism: A Love Story on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at Harlem’s Magic Johnson Theaters at 8pm.

With both humor and outrage, Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story explores a taboo question: What is the price that America pays for its love of capitalism? Years ago, that love seemed so innocent. Today, however, the American dream is looking more like a nightmare as families pay the price with their jobs, their homes and their savings. Moore takes us into the homes of ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down; and he goes looking for explanations in Washington, DC and elsewhere. What he finds are the all-too-familiar symptoms of a love affair gone astray: lies, abuse, betrayal…and 14,000 jobs being lost every day. –


Two tickets per person.

RSVP required as seating is limited and the list will close soon. Act now!

RSVP via phone at 212 340 1874 or via email to

Magic Johnson Theaters

2309 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (124th Street and Eighth Avenue)

Well Warranted Shine: Isabel Toledo at FIT
September 18, 2009

Masterful designer Isabel Toledo may be best known for the Inaugural ensemble she created for First Lady Michelle Obama, but the self-described “seamstress” has been honing her glorious craft since childhood and presenting professionally since 1985.

“I really love the technique of sewing more than anything else. The seamstress is the one who views fashion from the inside! That’s the art form, really—the technique of how it’s done.” Isabel Toledo in a 1989 interview with curator Dr. Valerie Steele

Though the Obama commission was certainly a feather in her cap, it did not inspire the retrospective of her work currently up at the Museum at F.I.T, Isabel Toledo: Fashion From the Inside Out. Marking her 25 years in business, the exhibition, planned a year ago, is an extensive look at her impressive body of work and the collaborative process she shares with her husband of 26 years, illustrator, Ruben Toledo.

The show is organized thematically by the brilliant concepts which reoccur in her work: Organic Geometry, Shadow, Suspension, Liquid Architecture, Shape, Manipulated Surfaces, and Origami.

Unconcerned with fads and trends, the ever elegant Isabel creates fashion that is timeless. Most would be hard pressed to put a date on her designs, perhaps only those followers with an encyclopedic knowledge of her trajectory. The Isabel Toledo garments I pulled for fashion shoots in the mid 90’s would still look and feel entirely appropriate for now.

Though the online presentation is wonderfully executed, the in-person experience is a must for anyone who enjoys fashion, art and the collaborative process. There are just a few days left, the show closes on Saturday, September 26.


From Organic Geometry: Jellyfish blouses and dresses, Ombré silk chiffon. Spring/Summer 1995 Photo, Karen L. Willis.


From Shadow: Red Neck dress, Black lace, organdy, and nude and red chiffon. Spring/Summer 1998 Photo, William Palmer ©MFIT.


From Suspension: Hermaphrodite dress, Garnet silk taffeta. Circa 2005 Photo, William Palmer ©MFIT


From Liquid Architecture: Tequila Sunrise gown, Coral, stone, and olive rayon jersey, and elephant gray, double-faced silk satin. Fall/Winter 1994/1995 Photo, Karen L. Willis.


From Shape: Butterfly Wingspan jacket, Caramel lace, black chiffon, and silk tulle trim. Spring/Summer 2006 Photo, William Palmer ©MFIT


From Manipulated Surfaces: Broomstick Librarian shirtwaist dresses , Undyed silk pongee. Spring/summer 2008 Designed for Anne Klein and hand-painted by Ruben Toledo Photo, William Palmer ©MFIT.


Ruben and Isabel making adjustments to The Dress, which seems to have had breast pockets at the time.

From Origami: Lemongrass dress and coat. Lemongrass wool lace, silk tulle, and silk crepe lining. Dress worn by Mrs. Obama on the day of her husband’s inauguration as President of the United States, January 2009. Lent by First Lady Michelle Obama.


The Toledos, spent from setting up the exhaustive exhibit.

The Museum at FIT

27th Street at 7th Avenue

Tues – Fri Noon – 8pm
Saturday 10am – 5pm
Closed Sundays, Mondays, and legal holidays.

View a video clip from New York Magazine below:

Isabel Toledo: Fashion from the Inside Out/New York Magazine

Talk Through the Hand
September 18, 2009

Noticing the animated use of my hands as I speak, a friend, as an experiment, recently took my prancing paws, tucked them under my seated thighs and said, “Okay, finish your story.”  Interestingly, I could barely get the words out.  My non-spoken language seemed to be essential to fluid verbal expression. My flailing fingers really help to move the thoughts along, particularly when speaking descriptively.

The notion of gestural language keeps presenting itself of late:  the soundless “chatter” of Gallaudet University students riding D.C.’s Metrorail; a group of back-to-schoolers throwing signs; and the patinated “leaves” of a tree sculpture keeping watch over a brownstone Brooklyn block.


Each “leaf” on of this Second Street sculpture depicts a letter of the American Sign Language alphabet.

The words of ceramicist Judith Eloise Hooper come to mind, “hands are silent speakers, communicating through touch and gesture, saying what words often can’t.”  Though I am long familiar with Judith’s beautiful free-form earthenware vases and serving vessels, I only recently learned that the stalwart board member/artist of the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition has launched an Etsy shop devoted to her sculptural series of talking hands.


The hand sculpted, grog-infused clay works have the look of terracotta and depict American Sign Language symbols: left, Whisper and right, Tell.

For further aesthetic exploration check out The Handmade Alphabet, gorgeously illustrated by artist Laura Rankin and inspired by her deaf stepson.

Custom Color Troika
September 15, 2009


A few weeks back, referred by beauty maven Julia Chance, I visited the Color Studio of Three Custom Color Specialists for a sit-down with Co-Founder and Creative Director, Trae Bodge. At the white-walled HQ/ laboratory, Trae and partners Managing Director, Scott Catto and Training Director, Chad Hayduk create a dazzling array of ready-to-wear cosmetic colors and are at the ready to whip up custom blends, the cornerstone of their business. Having trouble finding the perfect shade to complement your skin tone? They’ve got you covered. Is your favorite lip color being discontinued? Have you been inspired by the russet hue of a fallen leaf? No problem, provide them with a color sample — a smear from that coveted lipstick, a fabric swatch, any visual reference to the desired color — and the expert triumvirate will produce an exact match.

Makeup artists Trae and Chad cut their beauty teeth with the pioneering 1980’s custom-blend cosmetics brand, Visage Beaute and eventually moved on to a lengthy stint at Kiehl’s where they gained invaluable experience and first-hand knowledge of the particulars of running a successful small business in the beauty/skincare industry. Partnering with Chad’s honey, marketing expert Scott, the duo became a trio and they set out on their own. Launching in 1997 with the custom-blending concept and a few ready-to-wear lip colors, the company has grown to become the go-to brand for custom color and has a loyal following for its expanded line of 250 ready-to-wear colors (everything but nail polish.)

The company prides itself on its quality control and ability to respond quickly as the product is created in-house. Smartly, their business model includes servicing the individual consumer as well as the trade. A bride can get the rosy glow of the first peach she shared with her fiancé, the professional makeup artist can get the silvery green required to transform an actress into a sea nymph. The formulations from powders to crèmes are top notch and painstaking care is given to the “feel” of a product.

A favorite of mine is the Mood Lighting Shimmer Crème, developed with television’s “Make Me a Supermodel,” makeup artist Dina Gregg. A powder/crème hybrid, it glides on easily with the fingertips for subtle sparkle on the face and décolletage. I embrace multi-functionality and love that it is safe to use on both eyes and lips.

From the retro carmines sizzling on-screen in Inglourious Basterds to the fashion and beauty pages currently on newsstands, rubied lips are right now and, dare I say it, red hot. 3CCS offers a timely crimson tide with A Century in Red lip color palette, one shade for every decade of the past century:

Belle Epoque (1910’s)—A rich bee-stung red stain befitting of the Gibson Girls.
Flapper (1920’s)—A deep burgundy crème, perfect for dancing the Charleston.
Platinum Blonde (1930’s)—A true red-brown that Garbo would favor.
Rosie the Riveter (1940’s)—The color that endured WWII, a rich blue-red.
Gamine (1950’s)—A bright orange-red that Lucy would love.
Mod (1960’s)—A “pop” pinky-red gloss.
Disco (1970’s)—A deep shimmering cranberry to boogie down in.
New Wave (1980’s)—A cool, nude red crème for when you feel like a “material girl.”
Virtual (1990’s)—A brown-red crème, perfect for surfing the net.
Futura (for the millennium)—A scarlet-red gloss with a hit of platinum, to lead the way to the next century.


Also noteworthy is the wand gloss, reminiscent of those bought when I first began dabbling in makeup. But make no mistake, this is not the gooey gloss of yore, it is for grown ups (though my eight-year-old friend Aria, who accompanied me to the studio, is delighted with the child-friendly pale pink Trae, mother of a daughter and all-around cool chick, so graciously presented her.)

As a woman of color, Trae is acutely aware of the need for makeup shades across a full spectrum of skin tones. When she appeared in August on QVC to promote the brand’s ready-to-wear Crème Concealer/Foundation, the deepest tones sold out almost immediately. She’s been invited back and will appear tonight on the “What’s in Your Beauty Bag?” segment (10-11pm) to demonstrate six of the ten shades available in the product line. Tune in and place your order. I can vouch for it; it’s a great product.

Do peruse to discover the breadth and depth of product available and the myriad possibility for customization, explore the menu of consultation offerings and get an understanding of the company’s commitment to social responsibility through the special projects and collaborative efforts they undertake. Also check the CBS website for advice on beauty essentials from Trae who appeared just days ago on The Early Show segment, What You Need in Your Makeup Bag.


Remembering Miss Clark
September 15, 2009

On the anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks, my friend Carla, whom I’ve known since fourth grade, spoke of honoring the memory of a wonderful woman by whom we’d both been taught, Sarah M. Clark.

Thanks to guest blogger, Carla Garnett for sharing her reminiscences:

Sarah Clark was the teacher every kid wanted for 6th grade—just strict enough that the classroom never fell into free-for-all, just cool enough so that class time was never too predictable. I wasn’t lucky enough to be assigned to her homeroom, and even now I clearly recall the disappointment. I did get into her math class, though. So for about an hour a day, I experienced the hipness that was “Miss” Clark’s class. (I never knew whether she was married. I remember speculating on what guy might be smart and suave enough to complement her, though. Some glorious combination of Billy Dee and Sidney, no doubt. I was saving Michael for myself, you understand. You know how pre-teen girls do.)

Miss Clark always dressed like she’d stepped right out of the pages of Ebony magazine (our fashion bible back in the day. Jet for the who-to-know, but Ebony for the what-to-wear.) All the latest styles. Gauchos. (Father, forgive us.) Ponchos. (It was the 70s, after all.) Hair done just so. I mainly recall the air of confidence she wore. That was most enviable of all, to my way of thinking. Elementary school life can be so harsh, and the culture at Keene in northeast D.C. was no different. Oh to walk with the self-assurance of Miss Clark, I would often think. She couldn’t care less about fitting in or being popular.

I remember that we talked about a lot of current events in her class and sometimes never got around to the textbook math. That was fine for me, because math was never my strongest subject. I dreaded numbers then, and they’re still not my best friend. Word problems were/are an instrument of the devil. Fortunately, most of the time Miss Clark’s lesson plans were very different.

Only much later—long after leaving Keene—did I realize her instruction was deeper than the textbook. In one memorable hour, we discussed the energy crisis at length. She managed to impart the basic concepts of economics, supply & demand, statistics, geography and politics in approximately 50-some minutes. Math suddenly had meaning for me! Thank you, Miss Clark. I wish I had gotten to tell you how good you were. On Sept. 11, when I learned you were on one of the fateful flights, I grieved—for your family and friends who had known you intimately, certainly, but also for the hundreds of kids like the 11-year-old me, who will never know you as a role model, and never experience the joy of Miss Clark’s class. Rest in peace, Miss Clark, knowing that so many of your lessons fell on fertile ground.

Carla Renee Garnett is a proud product of Washington, D.C. public schools, and still makes her home in the metropolitan area.

Sarah M. Clark, was engaged to be married to John Wesley Milton and at 65-years-old was still committed to educating the children of DC Public Schools when she and 11-year old stellar student Asia SiVon Cottom, boarded American Airlines Flight 77 bound for California, one of three student-teacher pairs from the District selected to participate in a program at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary near Santa Barbara. The National Geographic Society-funded marine research project and educational outreach program, Sustainable Seas Expeditions was to “make geography and the environment come alive for these committed, talented teachers and their star students by putting them into the field with scientists and researchers,” (NGS president and CEO, John Fahey, Jr.)

Their plane, tragically, was the one that slammed into the Pentagon where friend of my Virginia family, 36-year-old Peggie Hurt, had only two weeks prior started a new civilian position as Army accountant. Rest in peace, all.


Sarah Clark, Asia Cottom and Peggie Hurt

Pray Him Up
September 10, 2009


This evening, whilst the fashion world begins its semi-annual, champagne swilling parade of what’s next, one of the dearest people in my universe will board the first leg of his journey to Afghanistan where he’ll begin a yearlong deployment as a broadcast journalist for the US Army. A fount of creativity, Specialist Gabriel A. Tolliver, will provide support for media operations from the base at Kandahar. His filmmaking background, progressive thinking and Cancerian sensitivity will serve him as he dispatches stories from the front.

The question of whether he was “in his right mind” when he chose to serve is, I suppose, easily answered yes as my favorite Southpaw (after my Pops) by nature operates in his right brain. My opposite handedness with its inclination toward linear processing makes it difficult for me to wrap my brain around this choice, but his mama, a woman of faith, a woman who perhaps trusts in the “big picture” thinking of her left-handed youngest child says, “Sonny, something good will be coming from this.”

I ask that you keep a good thought, light a candle, pray to the God of your understanding that he be shielded mind, body and soul from harm and returned to the land of his birth to tell the tale and share the truth.


ACU (Army Combat Uniform) Universal Camouflage Pattern marks Gabe’s government-issued Bible.