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I would like to introduce you to the greatest male hat model in the world. His given name is Semen, a Russian-Jewish name that means “Heard by God”. The name that his parents gave him after moving to America (but only when they boy was nine years old and the coincidence became known to the family) is Paul.

Paul knew from an early age that he wanted to be a hat model. Even as a toddler, he would put his diaper pail on his head and stare at himself in the mirror for hours.

The world of hat modeling was already a competitive field for women. But when Semen/Paul took to the studios of major catalogs and websites, he cracked the field wide open. Male hat modeling would never be the same.

I got the chance to interview Semen/Paul, and I asked him for the stories behind some of his most famous hat photographs.

"Although this was a particularly challenging hat, mainly due to heft, I just thought about the warmth and joy that it would bring to a pimp on a cold Newark night. I think I really nailed it."

"This hat reminded my of my grandfather. I tried to channel his spirit in the modeling. He killed many dissidents."

"Oh! Ha ha ha ha. I could never forget this one. This hat was very fresh. When we went to shoot the photo we realized that one of the fox's ears was still twitching! Heh heh. An intern had to whack the thing in the head with a bat, just to be sure. Whew! That was a very funny day."

"I had just finished the second season of The Wire on DVD, so the timing of this shoot could not have been more perfect. I really got into the character's head. This was a very intense and very personal photograph for me. It's quite raw. Visceral."

"Another from the same series as above. This was a very emotionally draining shoot. I had to access a part of me that I hadn't touched in a long time. I had to dig very deep."

"You know how sometimes, in magazine fashion layouts, certain accessories are listed as 'model's own'? Which is because the model was already wearing such a fabulous accessory that the stylist just HAD to use it in the photo shoot? That's what happened here."

"This was a photo shoot for charity. A special design for the Shriner's Club of Saskatchewan."

"I feel that this image speaks for itself."


Although I will not be modeling, you should still attend the Yellow Barn Bizarre Dance Unihood Unification Project on Saturday night at the Yoga Zone across from the Y (416 W. Huron).

The Unihood Bizarre Walk is a “not a couture fashion” fashion show of sorts, in that people will be walking in their individual fashions. Please, DO NOT miss the chance to experience Adam Eichner, Majestic bouncer-cum-lawyer-cum-Realtor (but also in full posession of all requisite tattoos and attitude), the good doctor Brande Wix (of Found magazine fame and my New Orleans traveling partner), a guy I think might be my ex-boyfriend, and others walk the walk.

It’s also in celebration of my favorite headwear item, the Unihood, which I’ve already told you all about.

9-10 p.m. Marco & Asim play (It’s pronounced Marco and Awesome, according to my friend Yama, who had their CD in his car. I never listened to it, but he likes them)

10-10:30 “The Bizarre Walk”

10:30-11+ Live Bluegrass

11-? Dancing, music, improv instruments…

As one of the organizers, the lovely Britten Stringwell, put it: “Bring Kids . Babysitters . Bring who you wouldn’t normally . Bring him. Her.”

How can you resist an invite like that?

I was really excited about the Love Bang! this past Saturday night. I hadn’t been since the Ninja Bang, when my friend and I were… ummm… removed… for bringing in our own beverages. How were we supposed to know that the Blind Pig doesn’t serve Sparks?

I think I speak for many when I say getting dressed up is half the fun. Why else would they have themes? I spent a good hour painting a black tank-top with a human heart and the words “I don’t beat, I BANG!”, and was pretty darned proud of myself. My friend wore a bright red slip with black slouch boots and her date dressed in semi-drag, donning a fedora and striped tie. We looked great. We were on the guest list. We had consumed a pitcher of a new drink recipe that’s been going around, although I won’t tell you what it’s called here lest I insult someone (but I’ll tell you that you shouldn’t be as dubious as I was about the combination of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Sparks Plus. It’s amazingly tasty).

We were ready to rock it.

But when we got there we were quickly deterred by the line of freezing people stretching down the block. We went down to the 8-Ball, hoping we could wait out the throng of obviously NOT dressed up, and, frankly, not strange, weird, or interesting people. Sorry to be insulting, folks, but boot-cut black pants and a “cute top,” or baggy, stone-washed jeans and a button-down shirt, are not proper attire for a mixtape dance party. You would stare at us if we showed up (which we never would!) at Rick’s or the Brown Jug, or wherever you go east of Main Street, so fair’s fair.

After our beers downstairs (where a girl dressed in the aformentioned chick uniform was stopped by the bouncer from trying to dance sexily on the bar, and a heavily tattooed friend commented to me that it looked like Delta Delta Zeta had taken over the 8-Ball), we went up to the party. If you can call it that.

The music was completely uninspired. The track list of the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop,” something by Missy Elliot, and “You Really Got Me,” by The Kinks, was fun the first five times I heard it. It was nice to see some familiar faces on the dance floor, but there were far less than the usual Cheers-like atmosphere I’m used to at the party. I had talked to several people earlier in the evening who had said they weren’t going because they just didn’t have “the energy to deal with it.” Seemed like there were a lot of people who felt the same way, including half the people on the dance floor, who danced like they were shaking it to “Everybody Dance Now” at cousin David’s bar mitzvah.

I think that was my last Bang. Who wants to wait in line for an hour and pay 10 dollars to dance with a bunch of sweaty Scorekeepers ex-pats while listening to music that sounds like someone just brought their iPod and plugged it in?

Guess I’m putting my money on the Elks Lodge. Or staying home to crochet and watch “How’s Your News?” on video for the umpteenth time.

It may be February, but Michiganders know it’s never too late in the season to purchase winter gear. In fact, I usually wait to buy said items (gloves, hats, etc.) until January, since they’re all on sale by then, and any true midwesterner worth his or her salt doesn’t need a hat and gloves until it’s cold enough to freeze the snot in your nose on the walk from the front door to the driveway.
Plus, it’s going to snow in May and you and I both know it.

So here’s my suggestion: You need a Unihood.

I have one, and it’s awesome in so many ways. It looks rad, it’s super warm, and it’s made by a really cool Ann Arbor artist, Britten Stringwell. Mine is made from an old down jacket, I think, but the wool and silk ones are dope too. You can pick one up at the shop on Britten’s site.

Since when did leggings, perfectly disheveled hair, an over-sized sweatshirt and Ugg boots become a standard-issue uniform? Let me break this down for you, young ladies of Ann Arbor:

1. Leggings are not pants. I am not averse to leggings, I wear them myself. But they’re supposed to be worn like tights that are thick enough to let you get away with a little less skirt.

2. This comment is going to instantly date me, BUT: I already regret my side-ponytail from the 80s. If you’re going to spend $300 getting your hair colored in Birmingham, at least style it so you won’t want to hide your photos at the bottom of a drawer in 10 years.

3. Over-sized sweatshirts are okay.

4. Uggs are anything but okay. Mine have been at the back of my closet for so long that there is a giant moth in the toe of one of them that I’m too grossed out to pull out, but I don’t really care because I will never wear them again. If you don’t believe me you I’ll stick my phone in there and try to take a picture. Uggs were cute on famous people at Sundance in ’03, and on the rest of us with slip dresses in the spring and summer of ’04.

And if your argument is that this uniform is comfortable, let me suggest THIS. That’s really comfort. Just ask my grandma.

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