Two days ago, I lost my firstborn beard.
All right, so I didn’t really “lose” my beard. I shaved it off using a beard trimmer, too many disposable razors and a despicable amount of shower water. Also, a shaving gel infused with something called “Australian quandong fruit,” but I digress.
Every Wednesday from here on out, we’re giving you a piece of our minds. Actually, more like five pieces. It’s a chance to get a deeper look into what makes the minds behind Kempt tick—you know, beyond the usual Internet handsomeness we’re serving up daily. So welcome to our most personal weekly feature: The Kempt Five.
If you’re wondering why it’s feeling a bit more spring-like on Kempt today, we’d like to direct your attention to the column on the left—where we’ve refreshed our seasonal crop of must-haves.
We’ve conjured a spring fever dream of baseball, gardening and corduroys that don’t have a hint of fall in them. Allow us to show you the way.»
It’s never easy to see the silver lining when your livelihood is in jeopardy, which is why we can excuse all of the unkempt beards we’re seeing skate into training camps now that the NHL has finally returned from its lockout hiatus.
In fact, we’d like to applaud their commitment to letting themselves go. Take a moment to peer into Brent Burns’s thicket of tangled wilderness. It’s at the same time magnificent and horrifying—the man looks like he’s spent the entire off-season running with a pack of wolves. It’s an impressive feat, seeing as hockey players are already considered some of the gruffest athletes out there.
We’ll assume you either ended last night enjoying the sweet taste of victory, or in kind of a weird place… You also might’ve caught the presidential election.
We came away from the whole thing longing for the days of yore, when this great nation was ruled by men as grizzled as their jawlines.
Not since the likes of Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, a fellow by the name of Honest Abe and just about every US president in the second half of the 19th century have we had a president with some sort of facial follicle to pensively stroke while guiding this fair land. Back then it was more unusual to run for president and not have a crazy-ass beard.
Ben Bernanke is a powerful man—and while we’re not saying it’s entirely due to his luxuriant silver beard, it certainly doesn’t hurt.
So when one intrepid journalist tracked down the man who tends to the Federal Reserve chairman’s “ostentatiously silky” beard, we were understandably intrigued.
Apparently, the Fed has its own in-house barber, a well-appointed chap named Lenny Gilleo who claims Bernanke follows the same playbook as most of the bearded gentlemen we know: a trim and shaping every three or four weeks, and a lot of off-handed stroking in the interim. More interesting is that the barber only charges whatever Mr. Bernanke feels like paying.
In other words, when the beard wants you to do something, you do it. Well played, Ben.
We hoped this day would never come.
Unfortunately, this picture arrived over the wire this weekend, and our country’s LaBeouf situation can no longer be ignored.
ROW ONE: Caleb Followill, Kings of Leon; Robin Pecknold, Fleet Foxes; Jim James, My Morning Jacket; Justin Vernon, Bon Iver
ROW TWO: Ray LaMontagne; Kyp Malone, TV on the Radio; Tyler Ramsey & Ben Bridwell, Band of Horses
ROW THREE: Samuel Beam, Iron and Wine; Dan Auerbach, The Black Keys; Devendra Banhart; Alex Ebert, Ima Robot
The bearded indie rock frontman is hardly a new phenomenon. Guys like Will Oldham, Chris Robinson and Jerry Garcia blazed that trail long ago (literally). Given the above collage, though, it appears the trail has been transformed into a well-paved thoroughfare connecting Coachella, Bonnaroo, SXSW, Glastonbury and wherever else present-day introspective rockers gather to perform before thousands of similarly bearded hipsters.
A reminder: it’s best to think of facial hair as an accessory. Ask too much of it and, like a loud pair of shades or an overused pocket square, it will eventually let you down. To that end, we respectfully offer:
We’ve always believed that every American has the right to let their facial hair flourish. But despite our follicular freedoms as Americans, Disney has used its muscle as an employer to keep the Magic Kingdom an entirely beard-free zone… at least, until now.
As of February 3, Disney employees will be allowed to cultivate a beard, mustache or goatee—provided they keep it well-groomed and under an inch in length.
It sounds like good news, but we don’t quite see it that way. Sure, it’ll be great to see a few ’staches wandering the grounds of Epcot, and it definitely counts as a win for beard respectability worldwide—but as long as the Disney brass continues to play Steinbrenner, we’re going to have a problem with it. There’s nothing sadder than being a man forced to shave his sideburns by a shift supervisor—especially if the supervisor in question is dressed as Mickey.
And if it’s good enough for Merlin…
Anytime you’re away from the office for a week or so, there’s a tendency to let your off-duty stubble grow into a full-scale beard—and judging by this recent snap, that’s just what Robert Pattinson did.
The result is worth a look, if only because it does most everything we want a beard to do. He looks older, has a bit more Victorian dignity (at least above the neck) and enjoyed an extra layer of protection against the English winter.
Our only complaint is that it’s a bit on the Galifianakis side, but that’s nothing a trimmer can’t fix.
With the game tied at 20 in overtime of last night’s Sugar Bowl, Michigan’s 241-pound placekicker lumbered onto the field with the swagger of Denis Lemieux and the biker ’stache of Goose Gossage: decidedly un-kicker-like.
That is, until he drilled a 37-yard field goal dead center through the uprights to win the game.
This was likely Brendan Gibbons’s second greatest moment on the football field. The first came back in high school, when he kicked an 80-yard punt before saving a touchdown by nearly decapitating the returner.
It’s not easy to get a beard named after your blues rock band.
First of all, you’re going to need a beard so outlandish that no similarly bearded person has ever become famous—except for a few Talmudic scholars. Then you’re going to need a hit album, a memorable car and, if possible, some kind of distinctive hand gesture.
All of which is how Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill got the straight-cut, floor-sweeping chin curtain canonized forever as “The ZZ Top Beard,” to the point that it’s now being used to identify bank robbers.
For grooming your own ZZ, Gibbons offers only this advice: “A good conditioner is advisable. Treat it with respect and it will do the same for you.”
Truer words were never spoken.
Part Two: The Moments of 2011
What’s in a 2011 moment? Certainly a few things we never thought we’d see: Charlie Sheen’s crack-induced webcam vlog, a Facebook-inspired revolution in Egypt, a Seal Team Six smackdown on Osama Bin Laden, the discovery of another earthly planet…
Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on the “Zappa.”
What we have here are two distinct types of facial hair—a slightly longer “imperial” up top and a slightly wider “soul patch” down below. Put them together and you’ve got one of the most memorable mustaches in rock history.
As you might expect, there’s a rebellious origin story. “I had a mustache when I was 11,” Zappa told Simpsons creator Matt Groening in a 1992 interview. “Then in high school I added a ‘Genghis’ [below his bottom lip].”
Displeased by Zappa’s appearance, the principal offered him two options: write a 2,000-word essay about proper grooming or be suspended for two weeks. “So I took a two-week vacation. I showed up back in school with a list of all my R&B records by artist and label, and a list of all the ones that I thought I was going to buy for the next three or four months, and that was my 2,000-word essay. I laughed at them.”
You’ve been tapped to play Santa Claus this year, the most beloved bearded man on the planet.
This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. Properly projecting the triplet of “Ho’s” will require core strength. Properly responding to a kid who’s just asked you to save his house from foreclosure requires a good excuse to take a five-minute break. Parents and children alike are depending on you. (As are the 12 “little people” you hired as elves.)
To help with your preparation, we’ve drawn up a few rules and provided real-life cautionary tales of what happens when those rules aren’t followed.
We’re all for ingenuity when it comes to grooming.
Anything having to do with minimizing back hair, for example, is good by us.
But there are three products currently on the market that we’d just assume go away (along with the men using these products.)
To all you Movember men: You’re supporting a great cause, but don’t get all cocky about the length of your ’stache after two weeks.
Not without first meeting Hans Langseth, aka “King Whiskers,” whose 17-and-a-half-foot beard remains the longest facial hair ever grown by a man. (Vivian Wheeler of Wood River, Illinois, grew hers to 11 inches, God bless her soul.)
LinksUrbanDaddy DRIVEN A Continuous Lean A Headlong Dive A Suitable Wardrobe Archival Clothing Art of Manliness Blackbird Blog BULLETT The Choosy Beggar Coolhunting Cool Material DETAILS Die, Workwear! FashionBeans Four Pins GQ Hypebeast The Impossible Cool Jake Davis The Midwestyle Mister Mort The Moment Put This On Racked The Sartorialist The Selby Selectism Valet Vanity Fair Daily Vulture Wax Wane What I Saw Today Well Spent