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Posts Tagged ‘Beard

“The abundance of beards in periods of social unrest, times of revolt or upheaval, should be noted”*…

 

beard

 

You could consume more than half a century of American popular culture, from World War II to Korea to Vietnam to September 11, without encountering many bearded manly heroes; facial hair was generally reserved for wild enemies foreign and domestic, swarthy terrorists and libertine hippies. Even American westerns posited a surprising number of neatly trimmed frontier protagonists, reserving scruff for their foes. Italian-produced spaghetti westerns, which introduced Clint Eastwood’s perpetually unshaven man with no name, seem the exception that proves the rule, deploying beards as to emphasize that their protagonists are deeply flawed antiheroes, operating outside mainstream norms.

In the twenty-first century, however, America’s man of the hour is a follicle farm. Hipsters affect the lumberjack’s hirsute machismo. Genteel movie stars like George Clooney and Paul Rudd tantalize paparazzi with full, bushy beards. Police departments in Michigan and Texas have relaxed their officers’ notoriously strict grooming standards to permit beards and goatees. Faux-folksy politicians like Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former House speaker Paul Ryan attempt to transform their brands with a macho hairy mug—just as John Kerry and Al Gore did a few years earlier, with limited success. Our Hollywood war heroes, armed men who go bump in the night, grow facial hair so voluminous that perhaps their beards are what do the heavy bumping. Even that most American of fictional G.I.s, the idealistic Steve Rogers, returns from a depressive self-exile in Avengers: Infinity War with a sexy beard that says “Captain America has seen some shit.”

The Guardian in 2013 hypothesized that human society had reached “peak beard”; though it may have appeared so, the ensuing six years have not dampened enthusiasm for facial hair. The razor industry nervously recorded a 5 percent decline in sales last year as men’s shaving frequency has continued to decline; producers of shaving accouterments have tried to cut prices and diversify into new grooming products, having apparently accepted that our beards are here to stay.

But why is ours such a hairy century? What began this trend, and what fuels it?…

How did facial hair win American men’s hearts and minds? Thank the war on terror: “The Sum of All Beards.”

* Mihail Sebastian

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As we hail the hirsute, we might spare a thought for Muhammad; he died on this date in 632.  The founder of Islam, he is considered by its adherents to have been a prophet, sent to present and confirm the monotheistic teachings preached previously by Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets– the final prophet.  He united Arabia into a single Muslim polity, with the Quran (the transcriptions of divine messages that he received) as well as his other teachings and practices forming the basis of Islamic religious belief.

220px-Mohammed_receiving_revelation_from_the_angel_Gabriel

Muhammad receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. From the manuscript Jami’ al-tawarikh by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, 1307

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Written by LW

June 8, 2019 at 1:01 am

Hair today…

This outrageous display of facial hair configurations made an appearance at the 4th Annual National Beard and Mustache Championships in New Orleans earlier this month. Luckily Las Vegas-based photographer Greg Anderson was on-hand to give us a front-row seat as the bizarre spectacle of facial hair paraded in front of his camera lens.

The championships involved some 150 contestants from the U.S., U.K., and Canada who competed in 17 different categories. If this isn’t enough, here’s a giant gallery of 164 portraits from the event.

From This Is Colossal

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As we think on tonsorial temerity, we might send illuminated birthday greetings to Louis Lumière; he was born on his date in 1864.  The son of a portrait painter who added photography to his repertoire, Louis joined with his brother Auguste to pioneer cinema.  Their father returned in 1894 from a trip to the U.S. where he’d been enchanted by Edison’s kinetoscope.  The brothers (who’d already pioneered new darkroom techniques for still photography) were excited…  until they understood that Edison’s display could only be seen by a single viewer at a time.  Louis envisioned something different: a projected image that could be shared by an audience, in the same way that audiences share a play.  With his brother’s help, Lumière designed the Cinematograph, a self-contained camera and projector that used a clawed-gear to advance sprocketed film. It was the first apparatus for making and showing films to audiences in a way that would be recognizable today as “going to the movies”; thus the Lumière brothers are often credited as inventors of the motion picture.  In any case, the principle at work in the Cinematograph was the principle used in movie cameras and projectors for more than a century afterwards.

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Written by LW

October 5, 2013 at 1:01 am

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