Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Abbreviated History of Gentleman Thug Life through Male Millenery

Anyone who has made a home visit to see Junk Thief is well aware of the always congested hat stand. And, yes, it's covered mainly with hats not caps. Now we have no complaint with caps per se and do have a few in our collection.

However we do object to caps being used as a place to put a message, advertisement or random logo. These caps, often called ball caps, really should be worn only if they do celebrate a particular team of reverence, such as this one for Cuba back in the days when Fidel was known to make his way onto the diamond.

Those that tell people how bad you are, what a hot babe you are, etc., should not see the light of day. If one wishes to use hats, caps or other accessories to announce criminal behavior it should be done through the demeanor of the aforementioned headgear, not some vapid slogan embroidered above its brim.
Thus not only our hat stand but closet and even offsite storage are filled with very few caps but plenty of fedoras, Panamas, bowlers, porkpies, bucket hats and other appropriate headgear.

The question remains: Do any of these more specifically announce that one is a junk thief or, if you prefer, a gentleman thug?

One of the earliest examples was Raffles, the E.W. Hornung Victorian who was alternately called the gentleman thief or gentleman thug and was typically pictured wearing a top hat, and sometimes an eye mask on the order of Zorro.
Far less a gentleman but clearly a thug, Macheath from both the stage and film portrayals of Macheath/Mackie Messer/Mack the Knife in Weimar Germany's Die Dreigroschenoper/
Threepenny Opera
favored the bowler.

When Lincoln Kirstein decided in the 1930s to pose for Walker Evans, he opted for a bowler's brim to disguise his eyes as he let a stink stick droop from his lips.

Kirstein was probably much more a gentleman than a thug, but his posing was long an inspiration for Junk Thief who owns more than one bowler but has yet to find the one that perfectly captures the appropriate Weimar vibe of channeling early Victorian London.
So, what truly is a thug hat? Or, more appropriately a gentleman thug hat?

Wouldn't Macheath's creator, Bertolt Brecht, know a thing or two about that? Brecht was something of a Junk Thief himself since he reportedly stole the better part of his work from others or took credit for work originally written by his wives, girlfriends and apprentices.

We've heard this particular cap -- and yes, we agree that it's a cap not a hat -- a number of things including newsboy cap, flat cap, cabbie cap. But according to a source no less definitive than J. Peterman calls it a thug cap, and they have marked theirs down from $119 to just $92.

Now if paying so little for a cap makes you feel less like a gentleman, check out local Cable Car Clothiers which has one for $268. They also are your go-to source for plaid deerstalker hats for just shy of $300. (We here at Junk Thief are still conflicted about the new Sherlock Holmes movie opting for not featuring the titular character in a deer stalker.)

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At 12:22 AM, Blogger Lorenzo Lapis Lazuli said...

Ah, junk thief, your very name is elegance!

At 6:16 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Lorenzo - Gracias.

At 9:45 AM, Blogger Bryce Digdug said...

I once knew a flamboyant meterologist who bought all his clothes at Cable Car Clothiers (did they move their shop upstairs?). Then he would have them repair his tweeds. He was very frugal though. He kept his empty Gran Marnier bottles and replaced the contents with a cheap liqueur. He also smoked a pipe. Cable Car sells the kind of jackets that have pipe pockets. I think he may have had patches on the elbows. Though living an alternative lifestyle he claimed that smog "comes from trees." Doesn't make me proud to be Norse.

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Bryce - Wow, I guess I didn't realize that Sebastian Cabot was once a meteorologist. Most of his tweeds were hand-me-downs from Burl Ives anyway.

At 6:44 AM, Blogger Bryce Digdug said...

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