Sardonic Sistah Says

Observations… Ruminations… Ponderances… & Rants from Another Perspective

Hat Tip to Hat Man

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You don’t realize the impact someone has until you notice their absence.

We were talking on a Facebook wall about the nuttiness of a friend’s husband when suddenly a friend dropped a non-sequitor.

“Remember the guy who always had signs on his hat and all over him he would always be in the library well he passed”


He was a fixture in downtown Cincinnati. He was everywhere: Over-the-Rhine at the Washington Park dedication, down by the River near the new Smale Park, watching people dancing on the Square on a hot summer evening or just wandering around the library. And wherever he was he had a message: Remember Joann Burton! End the War in Afghanistan! Go Bengals!

I remember I took a picture of him two years ago. I was watching the Occupy Cincinnati people, snapping pictures, when he stopped in front of me and asked me if I liked his hat. I told him I did. Then he said, “Take my picture.”

So I took it.

hat guyI posted my picture on Facebook and within minutes I found a story from a local news station that was reporting his death. More and more friends were shocked and expressed sadness. More people posted pictures and if they didn’t have a picture they told a story of just seeing Hat Man/Hat Guy around downtown and reading his message on his hats. He was just that guy that suddenly appeared and made you smile –definitely not as scary as the construction clown or as creepy as Red Shoe/Blue Shoe.

It wasn’t until the news article that people knew Hat Man’s name: Avtar S. Gill.

Cincinnati is not a quirky city. You will never see a movement to keep this city weird like Austin. But we do havae personalities that aren’t always running for city council. And to have a person that touches so many of us who encounter him –or at the very least we don’t cross the street when we see him coming—means something in a place big enough to be called a city but still small enough that we can have an odd person who embodies the spirit of the town that when he passes we miss him.

Because, really, what didn’t he love about Cincinnati? He loved the Macy’s Music festival as much as he loved the Reds. He mourned General Kabaka Oba as much as he was bereaved in the death of Michael Jackson. He was everywhere downtown professing his love of the Bengals, the Freedom Center, Fountain Square –you name it.

Who needed push notifications from when all you needed to do was see his hat to know what was going on in the city?

Looking back on it, I think he carried the burden of loving this city for all of us who are too often disappointed or maybe too jaded to give kisses and unconditional love to the hometown.

Who will love Cincinnati now? And the day we discover he is gone we also find out that we are awarded the 2015 Game All-Star.012213_0446_HatTiptoHat2.jpg

And you know he would have had a hat for that.

Hat Man, if there is a heaven please continue to love us from afar. Put in a good word to the Big Man because with the way the Bengals have been playing for the last 20 years, it doesn’t seem as if they have been getting much love from God.


Written by rentec

21 January, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Posted in blogging

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