". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ms Franklin's Inaugural Hat

It's mind boggling the idioic talk and behaviors that have been perpetrated around Ms. ranklin's choice of headgear for her appearance at the 44th Inaugural.

It's worse than mind boggling. It's excruciatingly embarrassing.

What makes even so many blowhards who are residents of metropolitan, culturally diverse cities so abysmally blind and ignorant of what they might well see in the streets at least every Sunday, if they just opened their eyes?

News flash for all of you in the the bloviating and so-called fashion industries, which should include at least some knowledge of the history of clothing:

Ms. Franklin's hat is in the venerable tradition of Ladies Church Hats. In the eponymously named comic strip, "Curtis," the mischievous boy, about 11 - 12, amuses himself in some strip arcs with making fun of the hats worn by the ladies of his church, which earns him some serious ear-boxing and talking to by his mom, when she hears him. His little brother threatens to squeal on Curtis, when their mom doesn't hear. See how easy it is to know this? The strip is in most papers that still have comic sections, and your job includes reading the papers, yes?

You see these hats featured annually here in NY Time's coverage of the Easter Parade.You see them on the streets, particularly on Sunday. You saw many of them this last Tuesday worn in honor of the Inauguration, if only to work, though also likely to the many viewing parties here for the swearing in.

But even more than that -- Ms. Franklin's church hat on Tuesday signalled a wider cultural connection, and a lengthier cultural history. Those bows that somebody -- DO YOU HEAR ME, STUPID LITTLE SUPERIOR WHITE BOY ASSISTANT TO RON KUBY ON AIR AMERICA'S "DOIN' TIME"? -- made fun of, as being even bigger than she is -- those bows are points, the points that are part of the art of tying tignons worn by women of color, free or not, throughout South America, the Caribbean and the United States (there are other names for the traditional head scarves, depending on the region).

How you tied your tignon could even be a language that could tell a skilled reader many things, including whether the wearer is approachable by an eligible man.

Women of color in so many places (such as New Orleans, for instance), whether free or not, were required by law to cover their heads. Out of this the women made a fashion statement of style all their own. These arts reach even further back to the arts of the head, the hair and textiles in Africa.

Ms. Franklin's choice of hat on Tuesday was not an arbitrary matter, it was not something she happened to choose. She knew exactly what she was saying to a most significant portion of those she was singing to, and she wanted them to be sure they knew she knew she was singing very specially to them.

So shut up already about Ms. Franklin's hat. Unless you apologize for discourtesy and insults. And don't say, "Oh lighten up, will ya? It's all in fun." Yeah, fun for you, you ignorant unthinking entitled and stupid kid. And you older talking head pundits too.


K. said...

Aretha Franklin is entitled to wear whatever hat she wants without catching flak from people who haven't haven't made an iota of the contribution she has to a better world. I liked the hat, myself.

Molly The Dog said...

I couldn't have said it better myself. You did such a good job talking about the cultural meaning behind that hat. On a more superficial level, Aretha has a big voice which deserves a big hat. AND she's ARETHA so that means she can wear whatever she wants!

Premium T. said...

Ms. F.'s hat was fabulous.

Foxessa said...

Molly, thank you. I'm humbled that you would take the time to comment, with all that you accomplish and do, every day.


Foxessa said...

T -- Her hat also kept her head warm on a frigid day. It's as important to keep the head protected from cold when you sing as your throat.

Her entire ensemble worked to keep her warm, while broadcasting, "elegant."

Love, c

Foxessa said...

Why snippy little dorks who haven't ever been out of their own little geographical coccoons, much less cultural ones, or age groups or anything think they have anything of value to say about such things ... he thinks he was cute and witty and entertaining. He's a fool.

But I've heard and read loads of remarks like this since the Inauguration. His, two days ago, is what really set me off though. I even sent the show an e-mail to set them straight -- though not as, um passionately as I expressed myself here. I didn't hear any corrections Thursday though. And yesterday I was uptown all day so I didn't hear the radio.

Premium T. said...

I even heard a comment on one of the poe-blogs (where they're complaining mightily about E. Alexander) that Aretha shouldn't have sung at the inauguration because she can't reach the high notes anymore. Give me a break! She's earned it! And as I commented on Citizen K.'s blog, she wasn't wearing a hat, she was wearing her crown. Queen. Aretha. Franklin.

Renegade Eye said...

You made your point well.

You should send your link to "Air America."

Molly The Dog said...

Great blog. Thank you for reading mine. I'm now one of your blog followers!

Foxessa said...

T -- Exactly.

There's this book from 2000 which inspired a museum and gallery exhibit that's been traveling for a few years. It also inspired an off-Broadway musical.

Foxessa said...

T -- I'd like to see those people complaining of Ms. Franklin's rendition -- and how cold was it again? -- sing that themselves then. Well, no I wouldn't. They couldn't.

And she did sing. Whereas the YoYoMa ensemble bow-synched to a recording. It was too cold for them. All the musicians around me at the time noticed immediately that this wasn't live, naturally. I'd been wondering how they'd be able to keep their instruments in tune in the cold.

Love, C.

Foxessa said...

Molly! I'm not usually this interesting, be warned, not really worthy of your precious time.

I talk a lot about politics, history and movies. Can't help myself. And Vaquero and what he does.

Love, C.