As a dude rarely seen in public without a hat, I'm disappointed that I never made the connection:
Dr. Seuss was a hat guy! My first clue should have been the main character in that classic children's tale, "The Cat in the Hat." Of course, that crazy cat looks pretty rational next to the hat-fueled whimsy of "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins," his 1938 book about a boy who repeatedly removes his hat to be polite, only to find it magically replaced by ever-fancier ones.
Dr. Seuss' hat fascination is the focus of "Hats Off to Dr. Seuss," an exhibit to mark the 75th anniversary of the "Cubbins" book that runs exclusively through Jan. 5 at Avondale Artworks (avondaleartworks.com) in Jacksonville. The gallery is one of roughly 30 nationwide (and one of six in Florida) licensed to display and sell authorized works by Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss.
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Another thing I liked about Dr. Seuss: He had a secret closet, where he kept roughly 30 of his "midnight paintings," artwork that he created out of the realm of his famous children's books. A sample of that work also is part of the exhibit, including "Green Cat With Lights," painted under the alias of Stroogo Von M so that he might obtain honest opinions of his work not based on his reputation.
For more background on the exhibit, Avondale will host an opening reception featuring Seuss art expert Bill Dreyer from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5. He will discuss the hats — an assortment that ranges from a fireman's brigade helmet and drum major's hat to the original striped stovepipe "Cat in the Hat" headgear — in the context of Seuss' books and paintings.
I like it, Sam-I-Am. I like green eggs and hats, er, ham.
There's also plenty to like in the business district next to the gallery. A few doors down, Mojo No. 4 Urban BBQ and Whiskey Bar offers Southern-style dishes such as shrimp and grits and more than 250 varieties of whiskey, enough bottles to nearly cover one of the walls.
About 5 miles south on nearby U.S. Highway 17, the Chamblin Bookmine (chamblinbookmine.com) is packed with thousands of books from the store's warehouse of more than 2 million titles. For fishermen and sunbathers, the Jacksonville Pier on Jacksonville Beach is about 20 minutes west of downtown off Beach Boulevard.
A good place for a book.