EL ARTE DEL SOMBRERO

JESÚS RAMÓN IBARRA
El primer sombrero que tuve en mis manos era de mi abuelo: un tejano grande, con manchas en la banda interior y un poco gastada la coronilla. En casa nunca hubo un perchero y mi abuelo, la verdad, no se lo quitaba ni para sus necesidades. Si apelamos a una época en la que el sombrero encarnaba un rasgo de masculinidad y pundonor, diremos que esa pieza era parte de una naturaleza inviolada que venía de un mundo de machos insumisos, aplicados en el amor cortés y el trabajo duro.

El rancho o el pueblo habían trasladado a la ciudad algunos de sus gestos o signos. En las calles había muchos émulos de Pedro Infante imaginando un mundo de progreso y bienestar doméstico. No sé, o al menos no recuerdo si buscaba en la cintura de cada hombre de sombrero esas sendas pistoleras de los western. Supe también que los sombreros no representaban necesariamente la soberbia montuna de los forajidos. Era una simple prenda. Como la camisa o el pantalón. Sin embargo, esa prenda representaba el encomio de una virilidad inamovible, granítica.

Aunque algunos le dan la misma dimensión que la gorra, ésta tiene el carácter informal de un fin de semana en la playa. Solo en el juego de béisbol la gorra es sagrada, inapelable; fuera de ese ámbito, adquiere una dimensión enteramente personal y hasta arbitraria.

El sombrero tejano, en el imaginario de mi adolescencia, está relacionado inevitablemente con el cine: los western que poblaban la pantalla chica, en la permanencia voluntaria dominical, nos han mostrado cómo el sombrero funge como el protagonista incidental de estas epopeyas. Imposible pensar en el Alan Ladd del Shane, en el John Wayne o el Monty Clift de Red River, en el Gary Cooper de High Noon o en el Clint Eastwood de la trilogía de Leone (vaya, o en el Woody de los entrañables Toy Story) desposeídos de esa prenda que les dio un peso específico a sus personajes en esas tramas de héroes y villanos.

popeye doyleHace tres años, no sé bajo qué impulso, me compré un Porkpie hat. Me sentía como un jazzman sin empleo, usurpando funciones simbólicas al adoptar una estética reconocible en la iconografía del jazz moderno. Me sentí como un Lester Young inútil. Aplacado en el sentimentalismo de standars que, al ser escuchados con el sombrero a cuestas, le daban un aire más bien tristón a mi romanticismo musical.

El Porkpie hat, en la historia de la cultura norteamericana, representa el emblema, en primera instancia, de uno de los mejores saxofonistas en la historia del jazz moderno:el ya citado Lester. Llamado Pres (por Presidente, debido a su liderazgo e influencia en las agrupaciones donde administraba su genio) Young es el protagonista de esa hermosa elegía que Charles Mingus llevó a los niveles de un drama conjunto: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. Era raro ver a Pres sin su pieza de fieltro oscura, suerte de corona que acompañó su reinado simbólico de muchos años en la escena musical. Escuchar la pieza de Mingus, por eso, encarna la nostalgia de un eslabón imprescindible para comprender el tránsito de un jazz melódico, apegado al romanticismo de antes de la guerra, a un jazz vertiginoso que prolongaba la frase gracias a los solos prodigiosos que nos regaló el bebop. Un dato: Bird no admiraba a nadie más que a Lester, era su figura icónica, su modelo a seguir.

Otro Porkpie hat célebre corrió por cuenta de Jim “Popeye” Doyle, personaje de Contacto de Francia y de su posterior secuela. Interpretado por Gene Hackman, Popeye usaba el célebre sombrero como un feliz tributo a esos detectives que, llegados del cine negro de los años 40s, mantienen esa estética incólume que navega entre la arrogancia, el desaliño y una elegancia artificiosa. Popeye Doyle es un personaje duro, contrastando con la estampa de gentleman venido a menos que le otorga el sombrero a lo largo del filme. Un sombrero que le da un aire, acaso, de susceptibilidad y candor.

En términos cronológicos, el tercer Porkpie hat debería ser el primero. Buster Keaton llevó el cine mudo a los niveles de una perfección formal, gracias a cintas cuyo humor residía en libretos inteligentes y el uso de muy pocos elementos en la trama. A esto contribuye también, claro, la cara de palo de Keaton coronada por un Porkpie hat inamovible.

No menos célebres que el sombrero de Keaton son, sin duda, el bombín de Charles Chaplin, elemento inconfundible de ese personaje entrañable (Charlot) que busca permanentemente su sitio en el mundo. El stingy brim de Ben Webtser, que es una suerte de fedora de ala pequeña y que parece el faro que guía ese sonido inconfundible del sax tenor mientras organiza piezas como Stardust o Chesil Bridge en una estancia claroscura. O el Fedora invertido de Tom Waits, enmarcando la exultante gestualidad de éste al entonar esos blues que se arrastran hasta el llanto.

Y tú, lector, lectora: Qué tipo de sombreros usas?

Written by r00t

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