Given to me a few years back by my mother, it ressembles nothing so much as a blue, floppy oversized beret (without the little nub sticking out the top) because of my traditional fondness for peculiar haberdashery. (It is perhaps described best as a blue, fuzzy prototype of the style of Roots hats that Ross Rebagliati was to so prominently thrust into the public eye. Ah, but I digress...)

Or it would ressemble that, rather, if every available inch of surface on it - front, back, sides, top - was not covered with pins and buttons. Not the "put through the button-hole" kind but the kind with safety pins on the back, frequently sporting some sort of quasi-radical slogan; called "badges" by some, esp. the English. From time to time it has also hosted medals and presently boasts one red ribbon as well.

I had been in the possession of a small button collection at the time of the reception of the hat and had in fact applied them on the previous hat - the Darth Vader sun-bonnet - but only one at a time, as was most fitting for my mood on any given day. Yet a single button seemed so puny on this vast sea of blueness that I buckled down and sprinkled my entire collection, all of eight or nine of them, across the front.

These were all buttons sporting slogans I felt represented my views and personality, primarily acquired at the local one-stop alternative lifestyle stop (Cheap Thrills), and I found that this arrangement worked better (at what? why, as an attention-getting device, of course!) and I resolved to maintain the buttonly presence on the hat. But I had no idea to what levels it would skyrocket...

Friends and family, with this opportunity presented to them, decided to capitalize on my fixation and give me buttons for holidays and my birthday; while the ones I'd originally selected were sentiments I thought represented me well (This is more fun than putting a hamster down my pants! - since rusted off... did that ever represent fairly any part of me?) the estimates of the contents of my head by people one step further away from it were doomed to be less on-the-mark than my own choices. Yet towards the cause of politesse (as well as for numerous contextual reasons) they went on and, for the most part stayed on.

I had not anticipated the snowball effect this was to result in - with a significant collection thus displayed, complete strangers began coming up to me on the street, talking to me about the hat, or not infrequently offering me pins of their own to contribute to the collection. Tickled at the amplification malfunction of the attention-getting device, I accepted them in most cases and good-naturedly put them on in good faith and kept them on. Thus the hat attained a species of public art status, not ultimately representing me or my views as much as a look at what happened to be in our collective pockets.

Before I get down to the manifest of the hat contents (1 head, nearly ripe) er... of what is present on the surface of the hat, there are a few anecdotes which I'll share here regarding my history with the hat because hey, it's a rainy wednesday night and I'm bored stiff. Jack the Bear is a character which most any tourist to Vancouver will be familiar with - a former social worker (now, I fear, drifted to the other side of the social work fence) struggling through project after project for the assistance of the poor and diesnfranchised in our fair streets. One of his more outstanding public works projects was the acquisition of bits of broken jewelery, watches and, yes, buttons (in exchange for beads of power, not a total loss) towards the end of using them as objects in some sort of art assemblage, to be auctioned off to the highest bidder with the proceeds going to buy high-tech bike racks to install in front of the Food Bank, thus ending poverty in Vancouver. Follow? I first came across this character shortly after recieving a major boost to the hat's contents and he spotted me from a block away, eyes lit up like a child in a candy store. "I want that one and that one and that one!" Somehow I managed to shake him with only the loss of my Nagano Winter Olympics commemmorative pin, but it was a harrowing experience.

Okay, enough with the anecdotes for now: I might squeeze some more in at the bottom.

All of my buttons can be categorized under the following headings - for purposes of quasi-useful information I also specify where possible common sources of buttons-of-that-type. So without further ado, the first category of button-types, Vanna, is... (drum roll)

Me, that is, sentiments that I chose because they represent my views more than those of the person whose political agenda prompted them to make buttons promoting their cause: Happy? Better Reduce the Dosage, "Freak Show," Compulsive Collector, CiTR 101.9 fm, Andy Warhol with caption: "Your 15 minutes are up," Keine Angst, "I'm a HEROINE ADDICT: Lover of Strong, Kick-Ass Women," I SURVIVED THE 20th CENTURY, How come all the cool girls are lesbians?, You're not famous until they put your head on a PEZ dispenser, "I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.", Hermits Unite, HI - I don't remember your name either, Formidably Obtuse, Compendium of Useless and Arcane Knowledge, Only those who attempt the absurd achieve the impossible, CBC doesn't always suck, socially constructed, CAUTION: Media - do not swallow, Repeat Sinner.

Jokes, Gags, and Similarly (Presumedly) Funny Stuff: (Predominantly produced by a company named Ephemera, predominantly purchased at the aforementionned Cheap Thrills.) I'm Not Involved: Arts UBC, Post Cool, What Exactly is that Haircut Trying to say?, That's Mister Fuckhead to you!, My Lifestyle is Illegal in 13 States, Merde Happens, Humping your leg is my way of saying Hello, In British Columbia you don't tan... you rust!, A mind is a terrible thing to confuse with an egg, Official Member of the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy, I don't need your attitude. I have my own., Save the Pinatas from Senseless Beatings, Visualise Whirled Peas, "If you don't like your lot in life, change your life a lot", Automation will never replace us... How would you invent a goof-off machine?, Everything I Need To Know About Life I Learned by Killing Smart People and Eating their Brains, Atheism is a non-Prophet Organization, PANIC NOW and avoid the rush!, Altered, As long as they think we're crazy, we're safe, I had sex once - tasted like chicken, Can't sleep - clowns will eat me, Swinger, It's SICK the way you people keep HAVING SEX without me, "I should have realized she'd be dangerous when she told me how, when she was a kid, when her mother showed her a picture in a book, of lions eating Christians in a Roman stadium, she burst out crying, and when her mother asked why, she pointed to one lion and whimpered, "Look, this one hasn't got a Christian.", runs with scissors, I saw God on the #14 Hastings bus.

Environmental, Political, Anti-Authoritarian Radical Protest Pins: (Acquired on Commercial drive, at Spartacus Books, the Under the Volcano festival and at the WTO protests.) I Care! (Support your local SPCA), UNICEF - don't worry, these get much more hardcore - Free Trade is Treason, Class War: Just do it!, Isolation determines health, (a red fist of socialism), Property is Theft, Drinking Driving Counterattack logo, Destroy Fascism, Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle, Democracy; Human Rights; Free Speech, Rock Against Prison, Mr. Policeman is not your friend, Education is a right, "Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, Restore," Think Globally Act Locally, Question Authority before they question YOU, Wearing Buttons is not enough, Mutants for Nuclear Power -), Important Issues (being swept under a rug), Ignore your rights and they'll go away, Subvert the Dominant Paradigm, Organize, Ignore the man behind the curtain, Nice planet... lousy service, I recycle, Humans aren't the only species on the Earth - we just act like it, If you think education is expensive - TRY IGNORANCE, Non-smoking, pro-choice, anti-apartheid section, please, Guns don't kill people - they just make it real easy, Consumerism doesn't bring you closer to your kids, GO BY BIKE, Speak truth to power, If Gay and Lesbian people are given civil rights, everyone will want them!, Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, McMurder, God votes NDP, Nolite te bastardes carborandorum, Your silence will not protect you, I'm NOT American, "I didn't go to work today. I don't think I'll go tomorrow either".

(properly a sub-category of the above, but well-enough represented to deserve a subcategory of its own) Expressions of Women's Rights and pro-choice sentiment: (Mostly acquired at the annual Rock for Choice concert series.) Pro quality of life, "Pro Sex, Pro-Choice," If men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament, Choice, Vasectomy Prevents Abortion, Never Another Battered Woman, In commemmoration of the 14 women killed in Montreal, December 6, 1989, words of hate create acts of hate, NO MEANS NO, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did backwards and in high heels, (male and female babies looking in their diapers) "Oh, so that explains the difference in our salaries",

Gratuitous Cultural References:Free Truman, Wonder Warthog, the face of Jack Nicholson as The Joker, a Felix the Cat head, Felix the Cat fan club, Love Life a Mess: Last Night, I am having fun - with Zippy, Blues Brothers 2000, Zippy the Pinhead, Go Speed Racer Go!, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Xena Warrior Princess, Never Mind the Bollocks here's the Sex Pistols, (Sailor Moon and Luna), (a very disgruntled looking Pikachu).

Non sequiturs: (Mostly got in thrift stores.) The face of a happy brachiosaurus, "Work to Walk" (?), Jump Rope for Heart, cat saved my, Stephan's (?) PNE badge, TOY CARS! Take One Home Today!, What do Elephants have to do with Plastics? ASK ME!!, Thank you very much Milk, it's time for something new! in the international district, "Dod"'s Chevron badge,

Quotations from People More Famous than Me: Society often forgives the criminal, but it never forgives the dreamer - Oscar Wilde, Imagination is more important than knowledge - Albert Einstein, Art is the only way to run away without leaving home - Twyla Tharp, The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it - Oscar Wilde, It's never too late to be what you might have been. - George Eliot, Praise the Children and they will Blossom - Irish Proverb, Art is anything you can get away with - Marshall Mcluhan.

Icons, so named because they show an image with no text: (a snake coiled around a socialist fist), (apartment buildings and a busy street), (a dove and a lyre), (hand holding a microphone), (face of a Chinese dragon), (a fierce T-Rex), (skull with a candle in it), (a book with two faces on it), (eye in pyramid), (grumpy moon), (beatnik with goatee), (peace dove), (no coat-hangers)

Places I've been: Stockholm Water Festival 1999, Sergels Torg, A hand of benediction gotten in Notre Dame - pointing deliciously at the sacrament pin (an aberration; the single pin almost doubles the total button value of the hat... anything that expensive makes me nervous wearing it out of the house), Amsterdam, the front of Notre Dame de Paris,

Pins: Pins Factory (a free promotion pin got in Stockholm), Bullwinkle in a fireman's helmet, Hobbes, rubber duckie in sunglasses, Che Guevara, a Canadian flag, Wild Rose Foundation, a Red Deer, a golden piano keyboard, Bajs! Smaken man aldrig glommer!, Winnie the Pooh, the logo of the Stockholm MOMA, a yin-yang, a Viking longboat

Computer-related and computer culture buttons: The Internet: Now you can meet millions of losers, Microsoft Certified Professional,, (a man holding an Apple under his arm with his head in it), Highway sign reading "Internet" with a stylized happy mac in it, I Surf the Real World, I Haven't Lost My Mind - It's Backed Up on a Disk Somewhere, Woah! This is like a live chat room!, Warranty Expires 11:59 12/31/99, I had a life once - now I have a computer & a modem, I married my computer and we're visiting this nice town on your honeymoon, Shouldn't you be home downloading porn off the Internet?, Where'd you lose those social skills - an Internet chat room?, It's a great asylum - we even have internet access, Welcome to Hell... here's your copy of Windows.

Miscellaneous: I (heart) coffee (untrue), a non-freaky clown face, VSO, Fringe Magic, Mardi Gras, Delirious, Local 52 AUPE, (a dragon shaking a tambourine in its tail), Comic Book Confidential, Vertigo Comics, American Polygraph Assoc., How Proust Can Change Your Life, Public Campaign (Clean Money, Clean Elections), See BC on CBC, The Vancouver Sun / Garbage, top of Russian paratrooper medal, Department of the Conspiracy: Alien Abduction Division, a psycho baby face, a grumpy moon, (Ernie and Tinky Wink holding hands), Go Fly a Kite, Kiss Kiss Smack!, Eat your Vegetables, Most buttons are a joke, Specials, Fraser Valley Regional Library, 1LWU Local 5000 (Vancouver Longshore).

Fallen off or removed: Welsh dragon (keeps opening and falling off - too nice to lose), Hoppy Easter (birthday present from tlf - contains a LED and battery: the bunny's nose flashes. Unworn for battery conservation), bottom of paratrooper medal (torn off in Red Hot Chili Peppers mosh pit at Pukkelpop in Belgium), "I've got a Jones for a Jones" Jones Cola bottlecap-pin, Only those who attempt the absurd achieve the impossible, It's not my fault I'm always right, DC logo, Everything I Need to know I Missed in Kindergarten,
First snow, then silence.
The thousand dollar screen dies
so beautifully.

If you want to be a part of this unique historical artifact, send me pins at:
648 east Keefer street,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada, V6A 1Y4.

Technically speaking, the hat is full full full - I might be able to sneak one or two small ones on but the surface space is pretty much taken up completely (and no, I'm not going to start putting them on the _inside_, and no, I'm not going to start keeping the buttons on my coat) so if you have something for me be aware that the only way a button can get on is dead man's boots! - which means that it will assume the place of any button already on which happens to be less k-r4d++ than the one you send me.

Though I have plans to ultimately donate the chapeau to some sort of museum or art exhibit, in the meantime I have entertained notions of putting up a web-page using pictures taken of my head from 360 degrees, to be stitched into a VRML object that my head can be rotated and individual buttons selected to bring up a close-up with all sorts of the gooey contextual information that I omitted (would you believe that, massive as this node is, each button has a story of its own?)... for hardcore enthusiasts of extreme headgear. (...while wrestling alligators?)

I can't really conceive of saying more about my hat at this juncture where I have as much to say and do on other topics as I do now, so I will terminate this with a pointer for those who are interested in getting a gander at this abomination:

I can solve one of the non sequiturs for you: "Jump Rope for Heart" was the name of a charity program done in the United States a few years back in various elementary schools, where you'd get relatives and friends to donate a penny or two for each time you jumped rope. Then, everyone in the grade got in the gym one day and had a marathon jump rope session. All the money collected went to some sort of heart disease research.

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