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Stan Stories. Istanbul pt. 1

It’s October 15, 2022. I’m walking up the sandy stairway to my seaside apartment in Carlsbad, CA. My golden retriever, Ferdinand, is damp and salty from our dawn run on the beach before the lifeguards usually condemn dogs on the beaches for the day. A pour over poured and I’m packing my attaché with my indispensables for my 14 hour flight to Turkey, while on the phone with my friend, my mentor, my textile dealer, Beau Ryan. He’s tracking down the coordinates of his longtime compatriot and fellow textile dealer, the illusory Seref Ozen, to provide me with a liaison for when I touch down in Istanbul. I flash into an effulgent daydream while he goes on about which mosques and cobblestones to turn on to reach Seref’s emporium of textiles.

My mind wanders to this keen figure—I call him Stan. I’ve seen him flash in my hallucinatory states before. Stan. The essence. An icon of a Southern California beach dweller; a sophisticated vagabond; a rugged gentleman. He’s unshaven, distinguished, wears linen and exudes a spirit almost Gandhi-like. A storyteller and sustainable crusader, devouring global exploits of cultural discovery and old utility ornament. He’s a conduit of histories, wandering dirt corridors picking up pieces of the past. Amidst his journeys he discovers crusaders of traditions and devours tales of generational trades. A craftsman back in his beachfront atelier, Stan reinvigorates everything he finds into this modern light that shines on these stories. In a pursuit of effortless elegance, he re-envisions, transforms remnants so the stories forge on.

A 14 hour flight, I’m flashing into states of sleep and lucid dreaming, eager to discover what I’ve only heard of this city. I’ve heard legends of women weaving up in the mountains of Anatolia. A country with remnants of the oldest carpets and textiles in the world. Between the Black Sea and Mediterranean sea, this city has grown into one of the largest cities in the world. Over 15 million people live atop 6th century mosques and remains of Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. The streets bustling with merchant traders dealing everything from 500 year old rugs to reproductions and knockoff Gucci handbags. I resort my thoughts to findings of the former.

Flickering into a more lucid state after a 14 hour daydream, stumbling off Turkish air into a cigarette smoke filled city, I have time to splash my face with water in the airport and down a soot filled Turkish coffee before I flag a taxi and struggle to translate coordinates of Seref’s emporium to a Turkish driver. I give him the general area as he drops me on the adjacent side of the Grand Bazaar. What better way to enter this engulfing city than a 30,000 square meter bazaar of smoke filled corridors, lingering tobacco stench and permeating Turkish dessert fumes. 30 minutes to spare before my set time to meet Seref at the other side of the bazaar, I peruse the overflowing madness of bright distractions, entranced in colors of rugs and flavors of spices. Tired and overwhelmed by trying to distinguish authentic versus mainstream reproduction rugs at quick glance, I stumble into my liberator: Seref. Ducking through narrow corridors, Seref nods off gestures of shopkeepers. He asserts his authoritative pathway to the “good stuff”. Musicians plucking traditional Turkish songs of passion fade as we rise above the main Bazaar.
Seref, a retired English teacher, has become a leader in antique Central Asian, and even textiles from around the globe. An erudite, a romantic for beautiful aged works and hand craft. He fell in love with the stories of age decades ago, just like I’m doing now. A true conduit of history. He assures me these streets of the bazaar used to be amazingly full of beauty and authenticity. Much different than the image I have of my first pass through with a mirage of fabricated merchandise. Now things have changed he says. To the tradesman’s account, weavers making reproductions dates back hundreds of years making commission textiles. Only that now these commissions are on a grander scale. And the commissioners are tourists looking to bring back something cheap that tastes like Turkey. The line between antique integrity and modern production varies only to the trained eye.

All of a sudden, a new world emerges as he unveils a wooden door into his coveted entryway. Treasures, and I mean troves of adorned materials I’ve only seen glimpse of on the internet. Eight foot piles of ancient rugs, each with a subsequently more venerable historic tie to another neighboring community of felters or tribe of weavers. Each that Seref has carefully curated over his lifetime. He brews a cup of coffee and stokes a cigarette, while I sift through time capsules held together by woven yarn. Seref sits over my shoulder describing each piece's origin in great detail. His run-ins in Soviet Russia, acquainting himself with rug dealers and proving his righteousness amongst a counter of Russians by matching their vodka inhalation. He divulges stocking his suitcases full of Asian dossiers in Uzbekistan in the 80’s, smuggling them back into Turkey. An archivist, Seref dives deeply into cultures.

I wake up in the neighboring city of Bursa the next day. A city once paved on the Silk Road…

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Tristan, thank you taking me on this journey with you. I can almost imagine your eyes tired each day after combing through all the wonderous textiles. The decisions and choices must be overwhelming. So much thought goes into each piece you develope. I bet the ideas for the end products are just swirling around in your head. How long have you given yourself to fill containers, for the ride home?

Actually, I see by the date this excursion was last year, so I guess I've seen some of your imaginagion for sale already. You are the past going into the future today. All of your garments are relics of history and you're going to give them new life. thanks again..D…


Looking forward to seeing the fabrics you had to buy and what you repurpose so beautifully out of them. Gwenda McDougall Sydney,Oz


Beautifully written , soul filling and other worldly. I can see your journey in my mind. Years ago, I was taken quickly on foot through many corridors in a Tunisian souk. Your description reminds me of my own adventure a little bit. I was brought to a place to purchase a carpet also. Oh how I wanted to stop at each turn, linger and explore the tiny stalls. Just like you described, the sounds, lights, fragrances and people were so different to what I knew . The cobble stones beneath my feet were uneven and ancient. Your writing brings me momentarily into your world of beautiful textiles which give rise to your wonderful creations. Thank you for sharing both!


My head is full of imagery. I literally can smell the city. Dude, you have a wonderful style of writing. Can't wait for more.


This was such an incredible journey! I love how you paint the picture for those who have not been there. The texture, the hidden treasures, the food! I'm so luck I got to be a part of this amazing story!!! So proud!

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