End of the Hat

This is my last and final post about the emotionally vivid cowboy hat, which connects to an item I ran yesterday. Which you need to read along with the comments in order to understand the context. Okay? Do that first and then come back to this.

The Star hotel is a b & b — not a hotel. I stayed there in ’07 and ’08 and was very content to do so. Carol Rixey, who’s been managing until this year (when her son took over), runs it quietly and efficiently but with a kind of personal touch. She makes you feel as if you’re staying in someone’s home back in 1962 or something. My mother would love it if she was still getting around. So would have Gary Cooper , I suspect, if he had dropped by during the Eisenhower administration.

For the Star is a quiet little old-time America trip — a kind of time-capsule remnant of the way it all used to be and feel. (Except for the wi-fi.) It’s a homey little place with family pictures and little knick-knacks on the walls, and it all makes you feel good and settled-down. Carol serves breakfast in the morning, there are always potato chips and pretzels and cheese squares on the kitchen table, and if you’re feeling sick with a fever (as I was last year, beginning on the day that Heath Ledger was found dead) Carol might offer you a homemade remedy or a first-aid pack that she keeps in a box near the front entrance.

But you have to be a mellow, quiet, laid-back type to fit in. Some haven’t. A couple of lesbians going through relationship problems stayed there last year — it was a little bit weird. A pair of Australian party animals stayed there the year before — they were coarse and gross and stank of booze in the morning, and one of them slurped his Cheerios like a pig. But the Toronto Globe and Mail‘s Liam Lacey has stayed there year after year in a very col and quiet way. He gets it, fits in, etc. As I have.


Star hotel”s dining room

Carol is a Texan but she kind of reminds me of my grandmother (my mom’s mom) in a tough way. She’s no softy and won’t take any guff, but she’s maternal and caring in her way. And I came to feel very cared for there. I could talk to Carol like she was family and vice versa. And the wifi is pretty damn good. Not the fastest but always functioning.

So when I said to her last year that I’d like to leave my cowboy hat there so I could just pick up in ’09 where I left off in ’08, I was obviously saying to her (in my head at least, and I can’t imagine how she could have interpreted this any differently) that I’d like it very much if she could be a nice and considerate grandma and hold my hat for me, and that I’d be back to stay the following year. Simple and quite clear all around. I trusted her to get what I meant because, I figured, she surely recognizes the trust and affection that we’ve had between us over the past two years.

But now things have ended badly. Very badly. I just heard from Carol that she considers my having discussed the matter in the column to be a form of blackmail (a somewhat hysterical interpretation, in my view) and that she’s given my hat to the Park City police and that I can pick it up there when I get to town. The fuzz, for God’s sake! She’s brought the cops into this! Talk about a violation of the trust that comes with friendship and the values of good grandma-hood!

The idea that nice people can turn around and suddenly act erratically and illogically (to put it in gentle terms) is not a very pleasant one, but obviously it happens. Good God.


Typical Star Hotel bedroom.

64 thoughts on “End of the Hat

  1. Oh no, not really!? I don’t know if I can laugh any harder at this point. Not in a bad way, just in the absurdity of it all. She isn’t happy for all of the free publicity? Please tell us you’re yanking our collective chain.

  2. Seriously, this story has to be made up. If it IS true, I think I’d call the police as well since Wells is coming off a bit psychotic.

  3. This has got to be some kind of performance art Wells is doing here and this Carol is actually just a character in it. Right?

    If in fact this is all real, I can sorta understand her reaction. And maybe she just left the hat at the police station so you could pick it up there and she’d never have to see you again?

    From a blog reader’s perspective, this whole episode has been absurd and absurdly entertaining, but I can easily see how it might completely weird the B&B owner out. Humor/whimsy like this doesn’t always translate.

  4. moviesquad said it more bluntly than I did, and is probably more accurate – she probably thinks you are — just a little — PSYCHOTIC.

  5. There’s something wrong with all of you. This was a very relaxed and cool place to stay, and it’s been cool and nice on my part all the way. I was cool when she said the hat doesn’t count as a reservation and I can’t stay there. I got that. And I didn’t lose it when she said I couldn’t have the couch for two nights either. It would have been nice if she’d obliged on that score (having ignored the meaning of my hat-scent gesture, etc.) but it wasn’t the end of the world. But giving my nice cowboy hat to the Park City police? Holy moley! This is my Park City stand-in grandmother we’re talking about here. In my book this is an emotional betrayal of the highest order. And you guys are cynical pricks for calling me psychotic. I was calm all through this stupid-ass episode. I’m calm now except when I think about the Park City cops, and about you four guys. You’re like a bunch of beered-up townies ragging on some guy in a local tavern.

  6. Talk about a violation of the trust that comes with friendship and the values of good grandma-hood!

    But what about the trust between good-natured abiding citizens of the world? Don’t you think that you were the smearer in thsi case, Wells? Cause it playsthat way.

    The idea that nice people can turn around and suddenly act erratically and illogically (to put it in gentle terms) is not a very pleasant one, but obviously it happens. Good God.

    I love your faux indignation here. Hello, this is the pot calling!!!

  7. I would say Mr Wells is pushing it a bit, exaggerating his romantic interpretation of things and keeping a straight face just so the text will read better.

    Just so that he can — as usual — entertain a few of those small and delicate philosophical notions, or poetic notions (although sometimes these are just these cold, misanthropic observations).

    Although I wouldn’t want this to change – I love coming here and reading all this inspired, transient stuff . Still, I sure hope Jeff is at least blushing or feeling some embarressment over this situation. For his own sake.

    But I think there are a lot of giveaways here. The second to last paragraph is exaggerating the police involvement and his expectations of “grandmahood” a little too much.

    I wouldn’t say it’s performance art, but that email with all that stretched angling for a favor has got to be mostly for our benefit.

  8. As soon as I get off work today, I’m starting a band. And we will be called The Hat-Scent Gesture. And we will rock.

    We hope to play Park City in 2010.

  9. Watch out, Jeff. If you’re like me (and I’m sure you are), you probably stash your weed in your cowboy hat. The Park City bacon wait with baited breath. Run from this clear case of entrapment and forget it ever happened.

  10. All I did was post a youtube link to the Travis Bickle “you talkin’ to me” speech! That was in good fun, not coarse!

    Lighten up a little! You knew you’d be in for a ribbing (and high post count) with these crazy shenanigans.

  11. Not everyone thinks you’re psychotic, Jeff, and while Carol taking your hat to the PD was a little OTT, perhaps she thought your reaction to not having a room and your subsequent column posts were a little “erratic and irrational” as you called her above.

    I can actually emphathize with you a little more after your description of the Park as a small, homey B&B and comments about your previous stays. Hat or no hat, I could see someone (after staying there two years in a row) saying “See you next year” and thinking maybe that would be enough to secure a room. Obviously you should have contacted her a few months ago to follow through on a reservation, it really is not her fault.

    I’ve tried to put myself in her place when reading the column but can’t quite get there. I’m not sure why she gave your hat to the PD other than she was upset and just didn’t want to deal with the situation any longer. If she was that upset, then regardless of your stays with them in the past, she doesn’t ‘know’ you very well and is not familiar with your column style. I’d just chalk it up to a ‘live and learn’ experience, Jeffrey.

  12. Of course, all public writings are a form of performance art. Everything we say or do in public is, in a sense, theatre. I am of course mindful of the entertainment aspects of the stuff I write here, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit to laughing an awful lot about this over the past 36 hours. But I ask the ay-holes to consider again – what if your stand-in grandmother who had fed you breakfast and given you tea and other remedies had suddenly turned on you and given a somewhat prized possession to the police rather than allow you to simply come by her place and pick it up? How would you feel about that — cool? Comme ci comme ca? No biggie?

  13. Emotionally Vivid Hat is a great band name too.

    This has to be the sweeps week episode of the Cranky Columnist.

    And p.s. I don’t think that it’s the best way to a woman’s heart to refer to her as your stand-in grandma, unless of course she’s 95.

  14. Jeff, maybe she just wanted to save both of you the embarrassment of having you pick up the hat at the Star. Maybe you wouldn’t be embarrassed but it sounds like she might be. As I said above, if she was upset at the column, maybe it was because she’s not familiar with your blogging style, but let’s face it, in your original post you were putting all the blame on her for your lack of having a room. That could have upset her and rightly so.

  15. Well my grandma could open up on the whup ass with the best of them, so maybe the grandma analogy is incorrect. I think ‘Nice Lady That Runs A Business’ is more correct. You may have presumed too much familiarity Jeff, that’s what it sounds like to me. I don’t know about the cops having the hat, I think she heard that her business was being mentioned in a blog and was the top of discussion and freaked. Just pick up the hat, say no more, and find somewhere else to stay and for pete’s sake – make reservations!

    Remeber, not all of us are beered up townies. We are Midwesterners whose practicality you mistake for being beered up. Jeepers, you are looking for sensitivity on a movie board? I find movie viewers the most cynical lot of the bunch, bless us. Sympathy is for the devil baby.

  16. You should call the PD and start going on about your “cowboy hat,” sans any sort of description or explanation. That would be hysterical…

    What a crazy woman. I work at a commercial hotel, people leave so much stuff there, never a cool cowboy hat. I can understand your sourness. Once was simpatico, now she’s kickin’ to the curb. Time heals all wounds. Throw money at her next year and I bet she’d take it. If you want to that is. New diggs is certainly understandable in this case…

    I’ve never heard of anyone storing weed in their cowboy hat. Seems like an obvious place to me.

  17. I was wondering if writing on your website that she “left you in the lurch” keeps you in the Liam Lacey-Gary Cooper category or is it more like slurping your Cheerios?

  18. I know I’m in the minority but I’m kinda siding with Wells on this one. He’s clearly a romantic. Not that a hat is the same thing as a deposit but I still feel for him. It’s like he lives in the Old West where a man’s word was everything and people had a more In-This-Together kinda spirit.

    What I think he’s really saying is that he wishes he lived in a world where a B & B proprietor in Sundance during her busiest time of year would accept his hat gesture as one of trust between two strangers and let him sleep on the couch. It would be cool if she did that. But she didn’t. And Jeff clearly thought she would and feels let down that she didn’t.

    Plus, he’s clearly just stirring the pot and getting all you commentators crazy and he’s not afraid to put himself out on a limb to do it. And it’s worked! He got Hollywood Wiretap to link to his site!

  19. As I wrote in a post on the earlier thread, I too think Jeff’s mostly in the right here. B & B’s are suppose to be different than hotels, so the “it’s a business” angel doesn’t cut it. I have left things like beach towels and chairs behind at friend’s places which prompted them to say “just means you will be back one day.” The simple minded literalists who keep harping on the hat don’t seem to get this.

    That said, Jeff, you can’t have it both ways. A regular hotel/manager is fair game to be mentioned BY NAME in a column. But your faux granny is rightly upset to have you air the family linen in public. Or at least wait until the whole thing played out, then praise her for being a good egg or rip her one for betraying her over gracious hostess pose as nothing more than an act. Ah, the pitfalls of the editor-less blog – no one to stop you from the faux pas.

    Both of you are right, both of you are wrong here. You might be a little more than she, but doesn’t really matter now, does it?

    GET THE HAT BRAGGING RIGHTS:

    Now, if Jeff had the balls he likes to bluster about, he would stroll into the Park City Police station just like Gary Cooper, say “I understand I can pick up my hat here” and then proudly wear it around town. Because if you don’t, then she wins.

  20. Now that I am an expert on frontier justice/reservations, since Jeff’s hat/scent/pawprints are now at the police department, doesn’t that mean he has a binding/insane right to spend his nights there?

  21. I think we’re all missing an important point here.

    Carol didn’t charge Jeff 11 months’ storage for his hat, which should have been given its own room since it’s so emotionally vivid and all.

    This makes her a sweetheart in my books.

    And maybe Jeff can swap hats with a Park City copper!

  22. Amazing that we as a group are more interested in Hatgate than in anything else that’s happened in the entertainment sector this week. Maybe THR should have Borys Kit start coverage. “Jeffrey Wells’ Park City Hat announced a tentative agreement with Chuck Norris Productions to be featured in a series of infomercials. Norris personally will wear the hat in seven commercials for Total Gym in 2009. Park City Hat, who recently signed with Ari Emmanuel, is also rumored to be engaged to Zooey Deschanel.”

  23. Jeff- I’m sorry. Some people are pretty skeeved out by the internet, and deeply uncomfortable about the public airing of things. You live life in a very extroverted style, and some others don’t. I feel badly that it didn’t work out. I know you obviously didn’t mean anything bad by your discussion of this. Other people are just coming from a different place, and you have to respect or understand it. Things being aired in public, sometimes people read different stuff through the lines.

  24. Jeff, while I empathize with you perspective on the situation, and the sense of betrayal you feel over your substitute Park City grandmother wigging out on you, I’m also with Pinko here. You live your life very publicly, and often relay private emails, text messages and conversations here on your blog; not everyone is comfortable with that. Even people who also write in public spaces for a living can (and do) get nervous about what they say to someone if they suspect that any given conversation could end up as public blog fodder. This is a (presumably) older woman you’re talking about here, and you discussing her and her establishment in a very public way probably freaked her out and felt (to her) like you were trying to publicly shame her into accomodating your couch request.

    You’ve scared her, and I would take her gesture of telling you to pick your hat up from the Park City police to be a counterpoint to the gesture you thought you were making by leaving your hat there: she’s telling you, quite plainly, that this whole thing has soured her and she doesn’t want to deal with you anymore. Leave it alone, and find another cool B&B to start over in.

  25. This whole episode, titled either HAT’S ENTERTAINMENT or SYNECDOCHE, UTAH, will be seen in a few weeks as artistically far superior to 90% of the films to be shown at Sundance ’09.

  26. The Hat-Scent Gesture.

    I wish I could get the inevitable YouTube Brokeback Mountain mash-up out of my head.

    It must end with a slow, gliding pan towards the hat in jail, just as the Gustavo Santaolalla score hits the fortissimo part.

  27. Guy wins (and solves Jeff’s problem):

    “Now that I am an expert on frontier justice/reservations, since Jeff’s hat/scent/pawprints are now at the police department, doesn’t that mean he has a binding/insane right to spend his nights there?”

    I can’t wait until Jeff arrives at the police station to claim his hat.

    Wells: I’m here to claim my hat.

    Deputy Fife: Could you describe the hat, sir?

    (Wells sighs in exasperation at the low-thread, flyover rubes)

    Wells: it’s emotionally vivid and it has my SCENT on it!

  28. I get that Jeff liked the fact that he was communicating something with a gesture. It is why he appreciates certain little things, subtle things about films- vibes, insinuation, what not. He constantly is making pronouncements about things that are of course still open to interpretation, but this is the way of the Jeff, and except when it seems he’s crossing some line into possibly some sort of -ist territory, we like it because it is entertaining. In this case he got burned, it is a funny story to tell and another story for someone who has literally dozens of great stories- even if they come about through some pretty large heroic flaws. Jeff’s blog is interesting because our hero shows us his flaws, warts and all and pretty much stays human.

    I would appreciate it if Jeff maybe sent the proprietor a nice apology with some flowers or a bottle of wine- making it clear that he is sorry for the misunderstanding for which he is responsible.

  29. Leaving your hat as currency is such a red state thing to do….cheap, desperate -something George Costanza would do….wait, he did do that! A blue state thing would be to leave your AMEX imprint – Gold Card or above, of course!

  30. EMOTIONALLY VIVID COWBOY HAT

    (THE BALLAD OF JEFFREY WELLS_

    I rode in to Park City

    ‘twas back in aught-eight.

    I knew that my stay there

    was sure gonna be great.

    I had a little gal there,

    to good care of me.

    I’d rustle up some movies,

    she’d brew me up some tea.

    She was just like my granny,

    She knew just what to do,

    If Heath Ledger died,

    or if you had the flu.

    She had a little hotel –

    Well, more like an inn.

    Full of coarse Ausralians,

    and fightin’ lesbians.

    When all of my film festin’

    was at long last done.

    I saddled up my taxi cab

    to ride to the setting sun.

    I said, “don’t you worry, Granny”

    I’ll be back next year.

    I’ve marked my terri-tory

    with a special souvenir.

    (Chorus)

    E-motion-ally vivid cowboy hat,

    I love you more than I love my cat.

    You hold my hotel room, while I am away.

    I don’t need a credit card. I live in L.A.

    Now, being a true blue guy,

    I called her back next year.

    While the phone was ringin’

    I popped an ice-cold beer.

    But what ol’ Granny told me

    nearly made me ill.

    My mouth, it flew wide open and

    I dropped my Miller Chill.

    She said, “I’m sorry, Honey,

    but our rooms are booked.

    You didn’t leave a credit card,

    and your room got took.”

    I cried, “You must jokin’

    You must be havin’ fun.

    I left you my dear cowboy hat –

    My Gary Cooper one.”

    She asked “How was I to know

    that you’d do like you said?”

    Hat-scent gestures can’t

    keep a roof over your head.”

    I said, “Just like a dog returns

    to the last place he shat,

    I always come back to the place

    I leave my cowboy hat.”

    (Chorus)

    Oh, Emotion-ally vivid cowboy hat,

    I love you more than I love my cat.

    You’re covered with my sweat and my paw prints

    I ain’t got no use for dollars and cents.

    I said, “you’ve wronged me, Granny

    you’ve hung me out to dry.

    I won’t hold a grudge though,

    I’m not that kind of guy.

    Despite what you may have heard,

    I am not a grouch.

    I’ll do you a solid,

    I’ll crash there on your couch.”

    I blogged all of my story

    for everyone to see.

    I’d show those commentators

    I’m not all that crazy.

    But all of those mouthbreathers,

    my actions they had panned!

    They didn’t know the hat-scent gesture

    known all across the land!

    Ol’ granny didn’t much like

    all her new-found fame.

    She said that I’d blackmailed her,

    and brought her hotel shame.

    She said, “If you know what’s good for you,

    I’d suggest this stops.

    And if you want your cowboy hat,

    I’ve left with the cops.

    (Chorus)

    E-motion-ally vivid cowboy hat,

    I loved you more than I loved my cat.

    You always took good care of me,

    but now your with the Park City P.D.

  31. I’m with Jeff too.

    In the cynical world we live in, Jeff was trying to make an old school gesture, and it blew up in his face, probably making him more of a cynic than he ever was before.

    I myself can’t get more cynical than I already am.

    Living in NY doesnt help either.

    I’m hoping that my future kids will lighten me up a bit.

    Dont mock Jeff too much, because then we may not get some of gems he’s sharing with us now.

  32. Hate to be uber-cynical here but…couldn’t the fact that you see her as your “maternal grand-mother” simply be a case of her being kind to all her guests? I wouldn’t compare it to the guy that thinks that stripper is really into him buuuuut…

  33. The Star hotel is a b & b — not a hotel. I stayed there in ’07 and ’08 and was very content to do so. Carol Rixey, who’s been managing until this year (when her son took over), runs it quietly and efficiently but with a kind of personal touch. She makes you feel as if you’re staying in someone’s home back in 1962 or something. My mother would love it if she was still getting around. So would have Gary Cooper , I suspect, if he had dropped by during the Eisenhower administration.

    This hat used during the time cowboy .

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  34. For the Star is a quiet little old-time America trip — a kind of time-capsule remnant of the way it all used to be and feel. (Except for the wi-fi.) It’s a homey little place with family pictures and little knick-knacks on the walls, and it all makes you feel good and settled-down. Carol serves breakfast in the morning, there are always potato chips and pretzels and cheese squares on the kitchen table, and if you’re feeling sick with a fever (as I was last year, beginning on the day that Heath Ledger was found dead) Carol might offer you a homemade remedy or a first-aid pack that she keeps in a box near the front entrance.

    thanks for this article

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