On Sunday, Liz and I spent the afternoon at the East Austin Studio Tour. Austin’s East Side – which has long been largely black and Latino — has been undergoing gentrification for more than a decade, so these days it’s pretty white. But toss in a few hundred art openings and free Pabst Blue Ribbon, and presto – Hipster Central. More…
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.