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Cowboy Hats

So the only people I actually saw wearing cowboy hats in Texas were, on the one hand, members of the Fort Worth Police Department, and, on the other hand, a bunch of Texas business in New York to ring the opening bell on the stock exchange that I saw watching CNN. So is this whole hat thing some kind of scam? Something Texans only do when traveling out of state? Is Fort Worth legendarily hat-averse? If so, why do they make the cops where it?

June 19, 2005 | Permalink

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» Cowboy hats--yes, we do in fact wear them from Pandagon
Matt Yglesias is wondering about something critical. So the only people I actually saw wearing cowboy hats in Texas were, on the one hand, members of the Fort Worth Police Department, and, on the other hand, a bunch of Texas... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 26, 2005 11:13:47 AM

» Cowboy hats--yes, we do in fact wear them from Pandagon
Matt Yglesias is wondering about something critical. So the only people I actually saw wearing cowboy hats in Texas were, on the one hand, members of the Fort Worth Police Department, and, on the other hand, a bunch of Texas... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 26, 2005 11:17:14 AM

» Cowboy hats--yes, we do in fact wear them from Pandagon
Matt Yglesias is wondering about something critical. So the only people I actually saw wearing cowboy hats in Texas were, on the one hand, members of the Fort Worth Police Department, and, on the other hand, a bunch of Texas... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 26, 2005 11:34:23 AM

» Cowboy hats--yes, we do in fact wear them from Pandagon
Matt Yglesias is wondering about something critical. So the only people I actually saw wearing cowboy hats in Texas were, on the one hand, members of the Fort Worth Police Department, and, on the other hand, a bunch of Texas... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 26, 2005 11:47:21 AM

Comments

If you drive 30-45 minutes outside Fort Worth, or any other big city in Texas, you'll see some cowboy hats. A lot of people seem to expect a wild west show or something when they visit. But the cities are pretty much like any other. Drive through some small towns, though, and you'll get a little more flavor.

Posted by: Mr. Kosa | Jun 19, 2005 8:26:35 PM

I used to go on road trips with my parents to New Mexico in the early 90s, and we drove through part of Texas to get there. I don't really remember much about Ft. Worth and Dallas, but rural Texas was full of cowboy hats. And for good reason. The sun could be quite harsh!

Posted by: Philip Brooks | Jun 19, 2005 11:30:32 PM

If you go to the Ft. Worth stock yards, when they're actually having a livestock auction, you'll see some bonafide cattlemen in traditional cowboy hats. Otherwise, you'll have to head west, past Weatherford (home of Larry Hagman of Dallas fame) before you'll see any. However, visiting small towns in Texas is an overrated experience, in my opinion. Please don't go to the effort, if it's only to see stetsons.

Just an observation from someone who grew up in West Texas in the 50s and 60s, but it seems Texas is following the rest of the country when it comes to hats.

These days you see fewer guys wearing hats of any kind. Men all over the country used to sport fedoras and other kinds of hats with brims. Now only old men still wear them. If anything, baseball caps ("gimme caps" in Texas) are the headwear of choice.

Sic transit gloria mundi

Posted by: DevilDog | Jun 20, 2005 1:51:57 AM

wear did you learn to spell, Matt?

Posted by: mf | Jun 20, 2005 2:00:03 AM

In Austin, I've mostly seen cowboy hats in the north part of town, when the Dell and Applied Materials guys are going out on Friday nights.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Jun 20, 2005 2:00:10 AM

Cowboy hats in the big cities like Dallas and Houston are typically worn by those who like to think of themselves as Cowboys. The kind who own a large chunk of land, but don't keep any cattle. Hence the term "All hat and no cattle."
(These are also the people who clear brush in August when its 100 degrees in the shade, rather than November when it's not.)

In the rural areas, where people spend a large portion of their days outside, cowboy hats are much more common. It's also kind of a provincial cultural item. Plenty in the big cities pretend they are in NY or LA, whereas those in rural areas don't care.

And as to Texans playing the part for y'all yankees? Yeah, we do that. My graduation present for when I finish college will probably be a good beaver hat, especially if I can get into NYU.

Posted by: Chris in TX | Jun 20, 2005 2:08:36 AM

As with the above comments.

The reason you wear a cowboy hat is purely practical. It keeps your brain from frying in the sun, or it keeps the rain out of your eyes. Outdoors types wear cowboy hats. Indoors types don't unless they're jerks or 'Coca-cola cowboys' (aka dimestore cowboys) or trying to yank the chain of assorted Yankees. (Yankee here translates as 'anyone not from Texas, or a state bordering Texas'.)

The cops wear the hats because they're out in the sun all the time.

The key to decoding hats is that worn or slightly dirty ones are worn by people who have a use for them, and those thousand dollar hats (along with the snakeskin boots with the pants *not* tucked in) are mostly worn by lawyers, bankers, stock brokers and other assorted scum, excepting in church (aka 'sunday go-to-meetin' clothes'). They're trying to look like 'little people' and not managing it. In fact, if you see some old boy in a nice clean new hat and some snakeskin boots and suit and tie, and he comes up to you and tries to get you to agree with anything, don't, because whatever he wants, you're probably going to get screwed on the deal. Like you were sent down to Huntsville (of state prison fame). See Bush, George.

Ball caps (like my fishin' hat) are more practical in most circumstances that don't involve actual ranching. The wind don't rip 'em off your head in the same way.

Of course, the only cowboy hat I have nowadays, is an aussie outback hat.

ash
['I got tons of boots tho.']

Posted by: ash | Jun 20, 2005 3:17:39 AM

Just saw this over at Daily Dissent...

Special Report: Downing Street Play Hardballl on MSNBC.

Posted by: John G | Jun 20, 2005 5:15:53 AM

Country singers wear cowboy hats to keep the stage lights out of their eyes, I understand.

Posted by: Ken C. | Jun 20, 2005 7:32:05 AM

And in the case of Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, to cover up their bald spots.

Posted by: Chris in TX | Jun 20, 2005 9:27:51 AM

Plus: Official uniforms get stuck in the past and get wrapped up in official sentimentality.

Scotsmen dont wear kilts. But Scottish soldiers do.
British policement wear Prussian helmets. Even the Prussians dont do that anymore.

Posted by: otto | Jun 20, 2005 10:12:21 AM

A nice cowboy hat is now a piece of formal wear, often. The things can be quite pricey. They're also appropriate at functions like rodeos and can often be seen at bars in medium-sized cities. As for how it works in Texas, I have no clue because I avoid that state. It has a complex.

Posted by: Matt Singer | Jun 20, 2005 11:01:16 AM

I once went to a reception in Austin full of state senators and Capitol staff and I can tell you that that gang gets into their stetsons in a big way.

Posted by: Evan McElravy | Jun 20, 2005 11:30:21 AM

...but rural Texas was full of cowboy hats. And for good reason. The sun could be quite harsh!"

As a boy growing up in Wheeler County Texas, the sun could indeed be harsh. So we wore straw hats in the summer and baseball caps in the winter. Real, felt, cowboy hats (mostly Stetsons) were the head cover of choice for social days - usually Saturday night at the local theatre and on Sundays.


Posted by: bncthor | Jun 20, 2005 12:34:42 PM

Matt:

Texas is an odd blend of both 'western' and 'southern' The real cowboy country is further west in West Texas. Dallas/Fort Worth is mostly full of urbanites, a large percentage of whom aren't even from Texas.

Eastern Texas has a much more southern feel to it than western. Fort Worth is just on the edge and you really gotta head farther west to get into western land. I currently live in Waco which is 1.5 hours south of Fort Worth. I never see anyone wearing cowboy hats or boots here. Ever. I had to seriously shop around to find cowboy boots for my daughter for her riding lessons. Turns out there's only two western wear stores in this entire metro area of about 200,000 and they are both in backwater strip malls.

If you really want to see people walking around in cowboy hats and boots you gotta go further west to someplace like Cheyene Wyoming or Pendleton Oregon.

Posted by: Kent | Jun 20, 2005 1:02:41 PM

Biggest collection of hats and boots I ever saw was in a mall in Des Moines. Of course, I haven't tried looking for hats, etc., in the real west (but I might, soon). But I was surprised that it was in Des Moines. I got my two felt Stetsons in Laurel, Maryland, of all places. I forget where I got my straw one.

But the sun is the reason for wearing a cowboy hat. It's better than a ball cap, 'cause my neck gets burned very quickly if I protect my face, and wearing it backwards makes me look like Marshall Mathers ('cept for that old and overweight look I add to his pasty whiteness).

My typical hat to wear in DC is an Aussie slouch hat or a Panama hat, though I do wear the cowboy versions regularly. Not that I'm a cowboy -- I just sing their songs -- but I'm not surprised that certain areas tend to be hat country and other places don't.

Ed

Posted by: Ed Drone | Jun 20, 2005 1:56:05 PM

Hey Matt:

I'm not sure what your email address is, but I wanted to theorize on your gay/jew theory posted on the Tapped blog.

I think that Weimar-era Berlin decadence was often associated with urban Jewish artists and homosexuality in the process that led to the Nazi rise to power. The German Volke called the art of that era 'Entarte Kunst'.

But thanks to Rupert Murdoch, Bill Kristol and the NeoCons, we're apparently not allowed to draw Hitler/Nazi comparisons, as the grandchild of one of his main investors is now the prime creator of reality, and has finally teamed up with the Christian Zionists...

1920s corporatist tribal manipulation has returned, and has now parasitically found a way to delegitimize any platform in which we may draw comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis.

This is because consolidated media owners are now directly involved in the manipulation the rural rabble not on the basis of German 'Volke' mythology about rescuing essential 'German character' from the urban Jewish Faggots. Now it is done on the basis of evangelical textual fundamentalism, rescuing Christ himself from Satan (who seems to still be a Jewish Faggot).

Did you ever see the forgotten New Wave Movie Musical 'The Apple' from 1980?

'The Apple' explains it all. Media consolidation, show business, religious enslavement. It's all in 'The Apple'.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00026L7P4/qid=1119311906/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/104-6351653-9439938?v=glance&s=dvd&n=507846

Posted by: negropontedeathsquads.com | Jun 20, 2005 8:03:15 PM

Real cowboy hats = WEST Texas. Every car my El Paso family ever had also had a spring-loaded wire cowboy hat holder above the rear-view mirror...

Posted by: zota | Jun 20, 2005 9:03:01 PM

Downing Street went prime time today on Hardballs...

here's the scoop for any who missed it.

Posted by: Jeff in MI | Jun 20, 2005 11:43:11 PM

Some of the cotton and peanut farmers I've met around Lubbock wear cowboy hats, but most of them work in 'gimme caps', which hold up better than straw to a tractor running over them.

Rodeo types (of both genders) wear cowboy hats as a part of their regular apparel. That's just the way it is with those folks.

Gentlemen of my grandfather's generation usually kept a nice Stetson in a box in the closet, which they wore only for formal events.

If you go to Austin, you'll still see those on the empty heads of our legislators, and those who wish to be photographed with them.

Cowboy BOOTS, on the other hand, are still pretty normal.

Posted by: s_bethy | Jun 21, 2005 2:28:56 AM

I didn't know anyone who wore a cowboy hat when I lived in TX, but I knew plenty of people with cowboy boots. Cowboy boots and baseball caps.

Or, for formal occasions -- the Texas Tux: Cowboy boots, jeans, tuxedo shirt, bow-tie, and coat.

Posted by: Ikram | Jun 21, 2005 11:06:58 AM

I think you all are mistaking Jokes for actual beliefs

Posted by: Yglesias | Jun 23, 2005 7:34:43 AM

"I think you all are mistaking Jokes for actual beliefs"

Drat! It would appear that I've overcompensated for my chronic problem with mistaking peoples' beliefs for actual jokes.

Posted by: s_bethy | Jun 23, 2005 9:09:02 AM

I once appeared in a state court in Dallas. The judge was wearing jeans and boots under her robe.

Posted by: DC lawyer | Jun 23, 2005 10:04:36 AM

I live between the King Ranch and the Waggoner Ranch. Everyday, I see cowbot hats on older gentlemen, real cowboys, rodeo folks, and just about every highschool boy around. I grew up with cowboy hats, blue jeans, and boots. It is part of the rural Texas culture that you can't find in the big cities.

Posted by: jason | Jul 19, 2005 12:27:52 PM

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