Hats have been a declining force in the world of men's fashions for more than 60 years. Declining...? More declined. They have been so over for so long. I mean, does anyone reading this actually own anything other than the recently revisited yet eternally risible flat cap, beanie or a ball cap? Wearing a really good hat with a solid brim, no matter how stingy, is so far from the mainstream that I am moved to say, the wearing of one is the last way to win a dick measuring contest with your pants on. (Look, even if you insist on winning your dick measuring contests the good old fashioned way - you can still wear a hat and do it. Imagine how good you'd look?)
The given wisdom is that JFK bears some responsibility for the ultimate decline of the hat - as the first post-war president to overwhelmingly eschew headwear, other than a touch of brylcreem or the 60s Boston equivalent - he wasn't available for comment on this story, so I cannot say. JFK probably did pry the hat from some mainstream heads, but since he was the only saint wearing a suit in our hall photo gallery as a child, (sorry old joke) I'll reflexively leap to his defense and point out that by then the 50s rockin-kids had gotten into pompadours, there were berets for the beats, and the Beatles and the Stones were coming and they just didn't help anything either. They were going to be followed by summer of love hairstyles that even Jimi Hendrix could not entirely subdue with a fedora. The perfect hair for a hat, the short back and sides, well it was nowhere to be found on a self-respecting sixties kid.
Of course, baldies suffered the most, as we most always do.
The sun too had its revenge mapped out.
And so we go, down through time until we reach the present day and you just try finding a half decent hat. You'd be unlikely to find anything at the mall. Even stores like Brooks Brothers will have very little if anything useful at all. So generally you're on your own. Even in downtown LA, the last bastion of all sorts of seemingly historical items, hat stores so denuded of business for so long, are in critically short supply. Like the life support has been turned off, short supply.
This ecological disaster of sorts leads the intrepid to the unlikeliest of locales. And what place these days is more unlikely than Long Beach's Shoreline Village? Talk about stacking least likely to's a-top least-likely to's. The store I sought was the called the Village Hat Shop - I was fearful, not inspired by the name. But oh well, once you wade through tourists intent on cheap beer and expensive ice cream, cockles and muscles on the half shell or whatever other dire snacks can be offered, the Village Hat Shop is an absolute treasure trove, an Aladdin's cave. They must have every conceivable hat design, style, material and size. It is beyond incredible. I'd been searching for a hat, or to be able to choose a specific, reasonably priced hat from a wide selection for a long, long time. I'd bided. I'd waited. I'd worn my red and white England cap throughout the world cup. But when I stepped through the door of the Village Hat Shop, I knew I had arrived and I knew my time had come.
A visit to the Village Hat Shop is like a visit to a traditional haberdasher, except manned by hat hipsters. I found the most knowledgeable staff. My summer brownie, as I call it, is just perfect with it s stingy brim and broad striped grosgrain band. The brown straw diamond crown is Lightweight... Damn! It's dee-lightweight. And I can't wait to get off work to wear it.
Publisher, Lamontpaul founded outsideleft with Alarcon in 2004 and is hanging on, saying, "I don't know how to stop this, exactly."
Lamontpaul portrait by John Kilduff painted during an episode of John's TV Show, Let's Paint TV
Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]
If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]