Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Detroit Zoo Hat and My Homegirl, Lily Tomlin

When I grew up in Detroit I went to the zoo on 10 Mile and Woodward at least a couple times a year. Although I got this particular chapeau on Ebay, I’m certain I had one exactly like it as I never went there without something separating me from the sun. I was quite fond of theme hats as a kid.

I’m not sure exactly what animal is on my zoo hat.

I suppose that’s a bear. Though it looks inbred with a beaver and Golden Retriever. It never made any sense to me that with a baseball team named the Tigers and a football team named the Lions that one of those didn’t get top billing in felt.

At least a tiger made the supporting cast. As did another animal that actually looks more like a bear than the beaver/Golden Retriever or maybe otter mystery animal in the starring role. I’m not going to worry about that though as there’s so much else beautiful that came out of Detroit. Like cars, Vernor’s ginger ale and Sanders hot fudge, the latter two of which remain staples in my refrigerator to this day.

I’m sure I was consuming both the last time I walked around the zoo, which was at least four decades ago.

The Detroit Zoological Park wasn’t the only thing I loved about Detroit. You can read all about my love affair with the city here.

Someone else who was born and grew up in Detroit still feels the love too.

Lily Tomlin and I have been friends since 1984 when we were introduced by Paul Reubens a.k.a.Pee Wee Herman. Lily even used my head to insert her own into for her character, Kate, in her Tony Award Winning Broadway show, Search For Signs Of intelligent Life In The Universe.

Both of us still love Detroit and are looking for something to do together there on a permanent basis.  We don’t know what that is yet but it will most certainly revolve around the arts as coming from the big D had such an enormous impact on what we both do. It also made my once alter-ego, Bubbles the artist, the artist she was, whipping out copy paintings of Lily’s character, Ernestine, like they were on the Ford assembly line, which the star would then autograph so a few more dollars rolled into my coffers.

Now we want a few more dollars rolling into Detroit, where I’ll be heading in April, perhaps with Lily in tow, to figure out what we can do there together. My specific mission is delivering the closing keynote speech at the three day Rust Belt To Arts Belt conference, exploring ways and mental states to turn decaying American cities like Detroit into cities of the future, which I’ve long held my home town can be if it rises from the ashes with both heart and conscience. I’m also going there to conduct my high school marching band playing a medley of my greatest hits in the lobby of the Fox Theatre before a performance of my musical, The Color Purple.

Despite the fact that I can’t read a note of music, including my own, I became obsessed with conducting last October after I was asked to conduct the 350 piece marching band at my college alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, when they played my songs at the Homecoming football game.

You can see the details of the excellent Priority Mail envelope hat I wore then here. Conducting the Mumford band with The Color Purple cast singing along will also give me a chance to wear another excellent hat:

Although I now collect marching band hats –  I’m up to over 30 different color combos though still missing the maroon and blue of the Mumford Mustangs –  my little hat from the Detroit zoo remains one of my favorites. I may not know what kind of animal sits on my head but I know a great city when I see one!

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Categories: Animals, Celebrity, Detroit, Drink, Food, Hats, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Mumford high school, Music, Musical Instruments, Place, Songwriting, Street, Travel, video

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – There’s More Cheese On Super Bowl Sunday Than What’s On The Pizza

In the lexicon of kitsch, ‘cheese’ and ‘cheesy’ are words often used to describe objects that grace the highest echelon of kitsch itself. As if there wasn’t enough cheese to go around on Super Bowl Sunday between the dedicated–to–the-point–of-Camembert headgear and face paint that loyal fans wear to the game, the obscene price of tickets, the even more obscene money dumped into commercials, the melted cheese on the pizza and hot dogs… it’s a veritable wheel of Brie when throngs gather around the TV screen or freeze in the stadium to watch people ram into each other insuring that life after 50 will be spent in the maximum amount of pain possible.

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Categories: Accessories, Animals, Celebrity, Drink, Fashion, Holidays, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Memorabilia, Romance, Sculpture, Sports

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Vintage Harlem Nightclub Shaker and My Weekend at Vitello’s

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not an avid club-goer. It used to be that I wanted to hear every detail of a record under headphones and didn’t want anyone standing up in front of me or humming along next to me when I went to hear someone sing. But now that MP3s and YouTube have become ubiquitous with fidelity crushed down to the size of an ant I don’t care as much about such things. So this weekend I hit one club for two acts. My only regret is that I didn’t bring my vintage noisemaker shakers along to rattle in front of my talented friends who were up on stage.

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Categories: Afro, Creativity, Discography, Hollywood, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, Musical Instruments, People, Place, Songwriting

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Baking A Cherpumple With Charles Phoenix VIDEO!

This short film of my bff Charles and I baking his acclaimed Cherpumple, three pies stuffed inside of three cakes, is as much about a great friendship as it is about a brilliant and inventive edible. A frequent guest of Martha Stewart as well as a vintage slide show impresario, Charles is a kitschmeister of the highest order. We go on weekend drives a lot together, often in search of kitschifyingly wonderful foodstuffs. But recently we had an incredible kulinary adventure right here at Willis Wonderland baking the aforementioned Cherpumple.

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Categories: Art, Creative process, Food, Kitchen, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, People, Recipes

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