Street Fashionista: Joe Northup

Categories:  Fashion   
Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 at 8:15 AM
Street Fashionista: Joe Northup by Leslie McAllister

Father’s Day has passed, and I hope all of you honored your pa in the best of ways. There is no better relationship than the one with dad. We learn much from those that blaze those trails, so setting a good example is undeniably a father’s path.

Our generation is moving into that age where we are seeing Dave Grohl be a father along with members of Rancid and Black Flag and countless other rockin’ cool pops. Dads who once rebelled against their parents are now stepping into that role, and it’s pretty dang sweet! These guys don’t have to retire their studs and safety pins or hang up their flannels – they just have to tuck the shirts in now sometimes.

It’s a tailored, a-hem, punk-rock look that’s really a lifestyle not an accessory. Unarguably there is a style and here’s what it dictates: Fred Perry, Ben Sherman, Doc Martens, Element, RVCA, Vans, Thrasher. You wear khakis and jeans, have bitchin’, colorful tattoos, maybe some rad leather bracelets, high-top Chuck Taylors, long, shaggy hair or super short and clean. You probably have a chain wallet filled with ice cream money for your tinies, a smartphone filled with pictures of your kid doing silly stuff, and if you are super bold and punk-rock, you may also have a bank account.

But what sets you apart fashionably is that you have a voice, a purpose and a reason to wake up every day – to teach your child to stand up, speak up and be real. To the dads!

Who? Joe Northup

Where? Gaudenzia Erie, Inc. (a nonprofit comprised of three treatment facilities: Crossroads, Dr. Snow Halfway House for Men, and Community House for Women and Children, which provides a complete continuum of care, including detox, residential, dual diagnosis, outpatient, and halfway house services), West Fifth Street, Joe’s awesome office with clowns and Ice Cube lyrics on the wall.

Why Joe?  He has that preppy but not-so-preppy punk-rock dad kind-of-thing going – and I like it! I remember Joe from back in the day, and he almost always had his Fred Perry polo, Docs, flight jacket, chain wallet, and jeans on, always looking put together.

He says his best accessory is his wife Dawna (a past Street Fashionista!) and I agree. But I must also add, those tattoos are pretty stinking cool. His freshest ink is on his fingers and it represents Pac Man’s point levels.

Joe is doing really admirable work in the community with Gaudenzia, and I think that is the most fashionable thing about him – mentoring and helping others. What a great example to set for his beautiful and silly boys – dad of the year award!

What We Want to Know:

Tell me about your style. Somewhere along the way things got twisted up and I found myself in one of those “professional careers” so I can no longer get away with wearing a Clash shirt or Integrity tank top to work. I do get to sport a variety of Fred Perry polos or Ben Sherman button-downs. I also manage to find a good number of shirts that fit in with my work but still have some subtle skulls or other little touches that allow me to cling to my punk-rock/working-class roots. 1992 me would probably kick my ass.

Favorite item of clothing? My Docs. Dr. Martens on my feet have always given me that warm fuzzy feeling. Every pair used to tell a story.  Still making stories, they’re just more focused on kids dropping crap on my shoes or stepping in gum.

Most awkward fashion moment? That would be this article.

What would you wear to the opera? Ear plugs.

If you could be a state in the USA, which state would you be and why? The state of relaxation. I have four young boys and 16 addicts I care for daily; I need some relaxation.

What is your favorite man accessory? Hat, sunglasses, cuff links, tie tac? You get it. My wife! (Dawna…Studio Hue…Get your hair did!)

Tell me about your job and its most rewarding moments. I have worked for Gaudenzia, which is the largest inpatient addiction treatment agency in Erie, for the last nine years.  I have been running our men’s halfway house for the last couple years. When I first started at Gaudenzia, I was taught not to take the credit when one of my client’s turns things around and not to take the blame when they don’t.

Overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction is not easy, more people fail than succeed. I have been fortunate to see many of the guys who have gone through our program succeed. Six of our former halfway house clients now work for Gaudenzia.

Many past clients have entered college, built amazing families, and found really good jobs (making more money than I do…human service work, it’s not about the money). It’s these people who inspire me. I love going to work. Every member of my staff is invested in our clients. I realize how lucky I am.

I hold tight to the triumphs. That is the only way to get past the moments when you find yourself at a guy’s bedside, waiting for the nurse to pull the plug on his life. Watching him die alone because his family was so disgusted by the way his addiction had taken him over they did not want to comfort him in his last hours.

Why do you love Erie? Born and raised here. One day the winter may drive me away, but I will always cherish the people I have met here. Beautiful summers, a good sense of community – especially amongst us old punk rockers and arty folk.

Favorite thing to do here in the summer - going to the beach is a dead giveaway, anything else? My family enjoys going for walks, visiting Asbury Woods, Frontier Park, hitting up playgrounds, checking out the fine automobiles on Mondays at the Bayfront, going to flea markets, and listening to bands – not cover bands or Sha Na Na.

If you were the mayor and you could change one thing about this town to make it cooler, what would you choose? Mayor Sinnot seems to be doing a decent job. However, if I could change one thing…I guess I would go with mandatory “We Love Erie” tattoos for all residents. It wouldn’t have to be a large neckpiece, à la your baby’s momma or daddy’s name, just something small and dignified.

Find me out on the town and challenge yourself to get noticed by the Erie Reader!

Leslie McAllister can be contacted at, and you can follow her on Twitter @ShopJuJus. 

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