Hey, hipster, Moses called — he wants his beard back 9

Let’s get this straight right off the bat – I’m an old white dude and therefore completely clue free.

I have no idea who the most popular musicians are today (although a young friend informs me it’s not the Beatles and has not been for quite some time). Popular movie stars? Not only have I never seen their work, I have probably never even heard their names. And when it comes to fashion, I just found out that jeans shorts are about as hip as Hush Puppies.

Clearly, my unhip old-dude bona fides are rock solid. But even so, I am completely mystified by the sudden sprouting of Serious Facial Hair on men (mainly).

I’m not talking about the goatee, which seems to come and go – sort of like a cold sore, only not as attractive. Nor am I talking about the ubiquitous “soul patch” (aka “jazz dot”) —  that little spot of fur appended to the lower lip that has long been the choice of uber-cool black dudes and uber-lame white dudes (like me).

I’m talking about the full-grown facial forest that makes your average 20-something graphic designer / social media maven look like Jeremiah Johnson, come down from his mountain to stock up on coffee, beans, and maybe some new grips for his totally sweet single-speed fixie.

When I was a young dude, lots of guys – myself included – wore beards. But my beard never looked like the hair bibs I see around town. I have photos (OK, so they’re actually daguerreotypes) of myself in my 20s and I look like Che Guevara with some sort of skin disease. Seriously – compared to my bearded mug, Johnny Depp looks like Methuselah.

But Today’s Beard is a totally different phenomenon. I kid you not; walk around Austin for a weekend and you’d think you’d stumbled into an Old Testament prophets convention – that is, if Old Testament prophets wore skin-tight jeans and Sailor Jerry tattoos, and drank Pabst Blue Ribbon.

This caveman beard thing has been around for a while, but it now has a challenger in the Most Affected Facial Hair competition – muttonchop sideburns.

Although a newcomer to the field, the muttonchop is giving the Hasidic look a run for its money. Honestly, Austin alone has enough Stonewall Jackson look-alikes to make 10 Ken Burns movies. The town looks like one giant Neil Young look-alike contest.

One thing I do understand about Serious Facial Hair – it sends a strong message. It tells the world, “I am not a conformist”; it says, “I do not subscribe to society’s petty rules about how a man should look;” it shouts, “I don’t care if I ever get laid again.”

OK, on second thought, I was right the first time — I don’t get the facial hair thing.

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9 comments

  1. Speaking of facial hair sightings: Stephanie and I saw the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers in the flesh walking (truckin’?) three abreast along 38 1/2 Street near Fiesta Market last weekend. I can’t swear they were wearing bell bottoms, but mutton chops, and the afro-mustache combo were a genuine backflash!

  2. Not going to post one of the daguerreotypes?

    Funny stuff. Now that you mention it does seem either the tiny patch or the Jedediah!

  3. Could it be that those big, flapping Old Testament beards actually are (counter-intuitively) a turn-on for some women? You know how the Bible sometimes goes off on those long-winded genealogy riffs (“and the union was sanctified between Naomi and Jehosephat, and he planted his seed oft and vigorously in her soil and that of myriad other maidens of the realm, and the fruit of his loins numbered five score and twenty…”)? Well, maybe some women — without even realizing it — are flashing back to their childhood Sunday school lessons and associating Bronze Age facial hair with studliness. The appeal also is strong for chronically lazy young guys. No need to polish your social skills or develop any semblance of wit or finesse — just skip shaving!

  4. Hey Jeff, you irreverant SOB, men with beards are sexy; sometimes. Ok. Maybe rarely – But I do still love me a little scruff with my goodnight kiss.

    Btw, I just recommended your blog to another journalist who is doing a story on the coolest blogs in Austin. Yep. Your qualifies.

    I’m pretty sure that makes you a filthy hipster. Dude.

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