These are bad times in Motown.
The auto companies -- once the lifeblood of this city -- are barely holding on.
The Detroit Public School System is wrestling with a deficit of over four hundred million dollars.
And our former mayor just got out of jail today; his ex-girlfriend is still serving time.
No wonder we cling to any ray of sunshine we can find. Last week we got a big boost when our hometown girl, Aretha Franklin, sang “America” at the inauguration of President Obama. And in the days since, people can’t stop talking about That Hat. Everybody wants one just like it. And the Smithsonian doesn’t just want one like it -- it wants the actual hat that Aretha wore at the inauguration! I guess I just assumed that Ms. Franklin purchased her headdress at some swanky showroom on 5th Avenue in New York City or Rodeo Drive in L.A. So I was shocked to discover that she bought it right here in Detroit, at an unprepossessing storefront shop called “Mr. Song Millinery” sandwiched between an abandoned business and the "Praise Him Beauty, Barber and Nail Salon" on Woodward Avenue...only four blocks from where I work!
That’s the most exciting thing that’s happened within four blocks of me all year.
In fact, I was so excited by this news that, on the way to work today, I pulled over in front of the shop, rolled down the window, leaned into the passenger seat and shot this photo:
Yeah, I could have gotten out of the car to take the picture, but I was running late, plus it was pretty cold outside. (Besides, I was afraid one of my co-workers might drive by, see me taking pictures of a millinery shop, and think I was the biggest dork in the world.)
On the way home from work, I stopped my car on the other side of the street and took this pic:
Luke Song, the Parsons-educated designer who created That Hat has been swamped with orders ever since the inauguration. Who would have thought that Detroit would get so much positive press during our darkest days -- all because of a hat? To celebrate this event, I decided to order a few hats myself...to share with some of our fictional friends....
Like the quiet old lady
And the kid in the bed,
Every children’s book character
Should have a hat on their head.
Whether you’re Harriet
Or whether you’re Hitty,
Whether you’re Horton-sized
Or Little, itty-bitty.
You may be a Giver,
May be a receiver,
Maybe you’re Wally
Maybe you’re Beaver.
Whoever you are,
If you reside in a book.
You need to get hep
To fashion’s new look.
Holling needs headgear,
Shakespeare a chapeau.
But Bart Cubbins has too many.
(If he asks for more, just say no!)
Thanks to Detroit,
For starting this styling.
Somewhere, I think,
William Steig may be smiling.