The Beard Craze
by Jeff Costello, March 30, 2016
Okay, what is it with the beards? As a fashion trend, it seems a lot of young guys are sporting them. Of course there have always been men with beards, though usually older. Some because they don't like shaving, some perhaps to cover what they regard as an inadequate chin. Some just as a permanent fuck-you middle finger to all that is normal. Hooray for that, but I doubt mild-mannered "hipsters" at Microsoft give it much of a thought.
The late Larry Moyer, a New York beatnik type, avant-garde film maker and transplant to the Sausalito waterfront, never in the forty-plus years I knew him was clean shaven. He was close friends with Shel Silverstein, author of children's books, cartoonist and songwriter, another transplant to boat living on the waterfront. Shel also wore a beard but shaved his head bald. This look is very popular now and Silverstein was way ahead of his time. As the story goes, Moyer's demise (at age 92) was hastened when he set his prodigious beard on fire while lighting his pipe, which likely contained tobacco, because if I'm not mistaken, he smoked his pot in joints.
These days full beards are everywhere and I find it odd that it coincides with that whole muslim thing. You know, "terrorists, jihadists." Those guys all have beards, and paranoid politics being what they are, is their look influencing the hipster crowd? To my eyes, there's something not quite right about twenty-somethings with long beards. Do they have problems at airports? Do they secretly admire the jihadist look? Do they think it makes them more manly-looking? Here in the flyover zone (Colorado) there is a preponderance of redneck/cowboy types, Broncos fans who probably like Donald Trump, with his promise to ban muslims from the U.S.A. (shout it in unison: U-S-A! U-S-A!). So why are so many such guys imitating the look of some weird foreign "bad guys?"
These are not old beatniks or crusty Duck Dynasty types, or orthodox Jews. They're young men being "stylish." Is it television? Photos and videos of muslims abound on the screen. Does the facial hair idea just seep in? If muslim fanatics are considered dangerous, does the guy behind the counter at 7-11 think his beard might scare off robbers?