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There is a piece that stands out over the rest in the current exhibition “America on the Move” at the National Museum of American History: a white cap with a snap brim made for Stockton head-wear company Dorfman Pacific.

The main character of the story (picture) is Herb Mills, a longtime member and officer of ILWU Local 10 in San Francisco. The Recordnet.com interviewed him and this is a hint:

He wore the cap for those purposes before donating it along with other artifacts from his maritime career, such as a hard hat and various cargo hooks, to the Smithsonian.

“I’ve got a white cap on right now,” Mills said Tuesday by telephone from his Berkeley home. “It’s a public acknowledgement that you’re a longshoreman.”

At union functions he would wear what once was a nearly universal uniform for dock workers, the “Stetson,” a blue-and-white striped work shirt called a “hickory” and black denim pants, “what we called back then Frisco jeans.”

The museum in particular focused on the transformation of the ports of San Francisco and Oakland from the 1960s to the 1970s as maritime transportation shifted largely from loose cargo to having nearly everything packed into standardized containers.

Where longshore workers once used hooks, hand trucks and pure muscle to move boxes, bales, bags, cases and pallets, oversized machines took over plucking the truck-trailer-size steel boxes from ships’ holds.

“San Francisco was the major port since the Gold Rush, and now there’s not an ounce of cargo that goes through there,” Mills said. Nearly all the trade has shifted to Oakland with its giant banks of container cranes.

Eight triangular sections of cloth form a circle and meet in a white button at the top. Often called the “West Coast Stetson,” this white cotton cap with a visor that snaps to the upper part of the cap was worn by West Coast mariners, particularly longshoremen and sailors. Black “Frisco” jeans and a “hickory,” a blue and white striped shirt, went along with this soft cap that was once a signature part of “the usual rig” that men wore to express their occupational identity. It also had a safety function: as they could be spotted even in the dark holds of ships by men on deck who were lifting and lowering heavy sling loads. By the early 1970s, it became obligatory to wear hardhats, since working aboard vessels and on the docks was a very risky occupation. Today, however, longshoremen still wear the “West Coast Stetson” at special union meetings and events.

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Justin Timberlake, Brad Pitt, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Simpson or Nicole Kidman. You name it. Because, in fact, you choose it. You can go to The Headwear Association’s site and vote for your favorite topper wearer of the year.

In 101 years of history, this Association just started this contest, in which the winner must meet three criteria: to be living, to be well-known publicly (like an actor, athlete, musician or someone easily identifiable to the general public) and to be a hat wearer in their everyday life – not just performing on screen or stage.

Pretty easy, no?

The truth is, the nominees are predictable ones. Why did the Association had to choose the most obvious contestants? It may be that they needed known characters that people instantaneously recognize as hat wearers. Especially, if we are talking about the first time this contest takes place. However, this clearly underestimates the public, who obviously knows where the hat fashion is right now. Names like Jason Mraz, Lady Gaga, Queen Elizabeth and (The One And Only King of Hats) Michael Jackson should have been part of the list, instead of the evident Samuel L. Jacksons and Justin Timberlakes.

More imagination than one would’ve expected from the Association, who began its poll this week. Voting will continue through August 31, 2009. Are we really exited about this? Not really, since it seems to be a contest full of commonplace and monotony.

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Get ready, you hat-wearer. You have few days more to prepare for the celebration of the celebrations, the party of parties, the one event in America that gathers the top of the top of the toppers. It’s not the Oscars, it’s not the Vanity Fair Parties, it’s not the VMA’s. It is the Del Mar Race Track, the thoroughbred racing track at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in the seaside of Del Mar, California, 20 miles north of San Diego. 

It was August 12, 1938, when the Del Mar Club hosted a 25-grand, winner-take-all match race between Charles S. Howard’s Seabiscuit and Binglin Stable’s colt, Ligaroti. It wasn’t just a race. It was actually one of the most popular events in American sports, ranking as the second most important sports event of the year, after the World Series. Here is when Seabiscuit, ridden by Goerge Woolf, won against Ligaroti, ridden by Noel Richardson, in an exciting battle by a nose that has gone throughout time as the most thrilling battle in horse races ever.

 

In 1940 Del Mar became the summer recreational area for many Hollywood stars. Say, Sinatra and Bob Hope. And it hasn’t changed a lot since then.

That’s the event starting next July 22nd.

And here is the icing on the cake: the Del Mar racecourse is one of the most important hat gatherings of the year in America. It would be libel to compare this with Ascot, with all its royalty, tradition and pomposity. However, it gets close. And even though the hats get sometimes a bit flashy and gaudy, the whole event must be  a major concern for us, in this hat-appreciation space.

Before the race begins, a subtler event takes place: “The One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest.” “People don’t just go to Del Mar for the betting,” hat contest organizer Julie Sarno said to La Jolla Light. “There is a beauty and pageantry and tradition to it that people enjoy. And Del Mar is such a beautiful racetrack, being so close to the ocean – it is really a resort experience.”

This year’s contestants will be judged in four categories: best racing theme, funniest and most outrageous, most glamorous, best flowers and all others. Hat wearers display their hard work during the Hat Parade, and category winners are then invited into the paddock for an awards ceremony. The grand-prize winner will walk away with a 42-inch Toshiba LCD TV this year. 

Diana Cavagnero, a local hat designer and owner of the hat boutique Designer Millinery, has seen the hat contest transform Opening Day into much more than a chance to bet big.

“Del Mar’s Opening Day has become the biggest fashion show of the year – 40,000 people all dressed to the nines and having a big party,” she said.

This season, Cavagnero says to expect yellow-, coral- and plum-colored hats in addition to the always-popular black and white. Sheer fabrics and lace will also be big. And while oversized, floppy hats are synonymous with racing season, Cavagnero said small cocktail hats have been in high demand lately, especially for the racing season. 

So, please, let’s take a look at this outstanding, beyond-time hat generation. After you, my dear sir. 

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The truth is that Judah Friedlander is popular—therefore rich—because of his hats. He is not actually that funny, and as an actor he has only played second roles, not to say extra roles. Okay, I agree, the American Splendor role was fantastic. His stand-up jokes, though, are barely witty and are just a eulogy of stupid, childish humor; bathroom humor, Jackass-like humor, and so on. His role in 30 Rock has been quite successful. But funny? Well, I leave it to you.

The interesting part of his performance as a comedian is that he is always explaining and preaching about his hats. In every single interview, reporters ask him about it and he always tells the same story:

 I make all my own hats and I make up all the sayings. Once in awhile on 30 Rock — I’d say once or twice a season — they will actually write a hat into the storyline. I still make the hats, but they will actually write a comment about my hat that one of the characters will say, or they’ll come up with a plot line that uses the hat.

Here’s how it happened: As a comedian or an artist, you create things. I used to do painting. Or a joke, you think of a joke and put it out there. I was like: Why do we always have to buy clothes that are advertising somebody else’s stuff? That’s one of the amazing marketing things that the clothing industry has done, where it’s become cool to wear clothes that actually have the name of the clothes on it. So all you are is a billboard for a giant corporation that is already making tons of money.

So one could say that mister Judah Friedlander is famous—and rich—because of his casual look and the fact that the media is always lauding it. With his patented hat and his big belly, Judah Friedlander has made a joke of the hat wearing. Let’s see how.

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What’s a Hat?

July 10, 2009

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Thank God we were born in the Urban-Dictionary generation. What’s a hat? Well, let’s ask God himself. Here are 10 Definitions.

1.

(British) slang for condom

wear a hat or you may catch something

2.

To everyone else: A covering for the head.

To parents: A magical cham that prevents people from getting colds.

Mom: Where’s your hat?

Me: I wear a hood

Mom: That’s not good enough

(translation: nothing but a hat can ward off the evil of colds)

4.

Hat is a more intense degree of “hot.”

Many things are hot, but very few are hat.

JB, “How’s is going Phil?”

PJ, “Pretty hat.”

5.

An acronym for Hair Absence Treatment

Hey that bald guy is trying to cover his baldness with a HAT

6.

Yet another name for a Jewish person wearing a yamacha.

Adam Sandler is one funny hat.

7.

South Florida slang for a Jewish person, usually used when they can overhear you; similar to the use of Canadian for blacks.

Caller: Which Black Friday line are you at?

You: Best Buy in Boca Ration

Caller: Oh man I bet there’s tons of-

You: Yep. Hats everywhere, man.

Caller: Oh well at least you’re not at Wal-Mart in Lauderhill, it’s like fucking Toronto over here if you know what I mean.

8.            

The result of millions of hamsters being released into the New York subways and mating with the enormous rats to create a new breed of super-rodents.

Upon entering the hat store, the old man’s left foot was voraciously bitten off by a mob of angry.

9.

Description of a female that has Hips, Ass and Thighs. (HAT)

Damn that girl has some HAT on her!

The HAT on that chick is rediculous!

10.

Acronym for “Hot Asian Tang.”

See Asian Lover

I was at the mall the other day and I seen the best HAT ever.

Damn, did you see that HAT.

So last night I ran into this HAT, she ws a nice girl…

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Let’s be honest: we all expected it: naked pictures of a trendy woman in a trendy magazine. Both V Magazine and Lady Gaga are known for their edgy fashion sense. So the pictures, which will be available today in newsstands, should not be as controversial and shocking as they seem to be.

What is outstanding of the publication is the hat she’s wearing and the fact that every single publication reporting the pictures is labeling it “Lady Gaga with nothing but a hat”.  Is it actually a hat? Sebastian Faena took the pictures and Gaga was styled by Nicola Formichetti, who experiments with this outrageous headgear, an orbiting and daring headpiece designed by the young milliner Nasir Mazhar. She’s been wearing it for a while and not only Mazhar has been taken to the center of the controversy, but the hat, which has become an infamous piece for Gaga’s fashion credentials.

It’s not our responsibility to judge neither the hat nor the nude. We just let you have your opinion. 

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JJ Hat Center

July 6, 2009

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It is the 1920s. Your name is Harold Rubenstein. You are an executive at Ford Corporation. You are economically stable. You wear a sacque suit, a silk tie with small geometric patterns or diagonal stripes, and a colored shirt of putty, peach, blue-gray or cedar. You wear religiously a black bowler hat.

Wake up. This is 2009. You are not in the 1920s. If you want to, though, go to JJ Hat Center on Fifth Avenue near 32nd Street, the store that calls itself the oldest and largest hat store in Manhattan. Manufacturers owned hat stores in the early 1900s. They were like sponsors. JJs was actually Adams hats, Stetson hats and now Borselino.

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Established in 1911 during the zenith if the hat industry in the country, this store seems to have gotten obsolete. However, it has managed to be the only hat store that survived the radical fashion transformations of the 60s, when hats became an unpractical, outmoded accessory to wear. They say that it was because President Kennedy did not wear a hat in his inauguration. They also say that it was because cars were now small, aerodynamic and sometimes convertible. Whatever the reason is, hats passed from being a necessity to an accessory that only queens and baseball players wore. JJ Hat Center survived this and every other financial, economic, military crisis throughout 98 years. JJ Hat Center is the same store it was in the 1920s.

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Aida O’toole, the current owner, is a fine lady. She welcomes you with a long Marlboro Light on her hand and an old, crippled cat called JJ is running around. She was born in Portugal but got to New York at 2. After becoming a mother, she started working at JJs one day a week 17 years ago, since her husband worked there too. “The day became two days, three, and in the twinkle of an eye I was running the place”, she says. The store has been in four families. Jack Lamberd, the man who sold it to Aida, bought it from his father, John. They were located on Broadway and 33rd since the ‘20s, but they relocated 17 years ago because a Korean firm bought the previous place.

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Of the 10,000 hats they have in stock all the time, most of them are Borsalino fedoras, especially the Como, The Film, The Verdi, The Antonio, The Marco and the Nobel. The prices start in 35 dollars and end around 1000. The costumers start in a funky African-American fellow with a Gay Talese-like suit looking for this summer’s fedora and end with Nicholas Cage and Sara Jessica Parker taking their hat to be reshaped.

It is Monday July 6th 2009, and, if you need a serious hat, go to JJs. If not, says O’toole, “you can always go to St Marks street and buy a 10-dollar straw fedora made in China. Either way, you’re going to end up in JJs one day”.

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It looks like she wears a hat with same the nature she acts. The 24-year-old Australian star of last year’s
Transformers hits the screen again next year with the action-horror Daybreakers costarring Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neil. In the line of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, the film revolves on 2019, when a plague has transformed almost every human into vampires. Then, the movie is the battle between the resting civilization and the new one. Pretty commonplace, right?

Anyway, the point is that the main actress, who said about her character that it is “human, and trying to protect the human race”, was cut yesterday throwing on the hat style in a cute red dress. The black hat: Wide canvas brim, embroidered detail around the brim and top of crown and lined interior. Yes, on a very juvenile blue-eyed look. A hat that kept her fresh, not necessarily interesting.

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(Pictures from splashnewsonline)