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I Love Mid-City!

After Katrina, when I was displaced in shock in Louisville, KY, one of the ways I tried to cope with my new-found reality was by making t-shirt designs. Not only was it a way to try to make some money, as I was largely unemployed and in this new city where I didn't have the outlet to sell the things I make like I did back home, but I was also really searching for a way to feel connected to the plight of my community, of those who were back in NOLA already or who never left. I also figured there were plenty of displaced folks like me feeling exactly the same way. I wanted to make things that would inspire and buoy the spirits of New Orleanians no matter where they were, to give them something fun and stylish to wear to proclaim their pride and determination to return and rebuild. (We were, after all, taking a beating in the press, if you'll remember.)

One of those designs ended up being my "70119" sacred heart design, a simple stencil line drawing of a sacred heart with a tattoo-style sash across it with the numbers 70119 in it - my zipcode. My friends from Mid-City, many of whom were back and struggling with the ruins of their homes and lives, had said, "why don't you make some kind of Mid-City shirt?" since other parts of town were getting a lot more media interest and press for being hard-hit, even though Mid-City was one of the hardest hits areas of town. My love for Mid-City is and has been long and deep; I've lived in the neighborhood since about 1993 or '94. My original idea incorporated the word "Mid-City" and a fleur de lis, too, but that ended up being way too much going on - so the final design was simplified to just the zipcode, 70119.

At the time, I didn't really have the means to sell shirts that I handmade via spray paint stencil except on my few visits down to New Orleans, so I started putting the designs up on Cafe Press to make them accessible to everyone everywhere. My original idea was to do a series of ALL of the New Orleans zip codes, so that folks in each neighborhood could express their pride. But after posting a number of them online and finding that only a few of them sold, I decided to just stick with the 70119 and to make a more general NOLA version. Hence, my "NOLA" sacred heart design, which I have continued to print over the years due to its popularity.

In recent years, I've started migrating all my stencil designs onto silkscreens so I can print them nicer and with eco-friendly water-based inks, in my effort to go greener. (Also, the silkscreen ink lasts a lot longer than spray paint on fabric.) I did the NOLA heart design a while back and print it periodically, but hadn't ever gotten around to making a screen for the 70119 design, despite many requests over the years.

So here it is, finally, just in time for the Bayou Boogaloo this weekend, the free music fest that happens in my beloved Mid-City on the banks of Bayou St. John. It seemed a fitting time to print the design, and I hope folks in the 'hood will still have interest in proclaiming their love of the 70119!

Hit me up or come by the Boogaloo early to get yours. I've got a very limited supply of these, and I hope they'll go fast! (If you somehow miss out, I'll probably be taking orders after the weekend for another short run, so just jot me an email.)

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