Beard Of The Week, Ctd


Our long-time hirsute reader sends an update:

I kept going back to The Dish all day on Wednesday hoping there would be at least one more post after “A Note To My Readers“. It’s been ten years since I started visiting your blog on a daily or sometimes hourly basis, depending on what was happening in the world. I was honored to be a part of The Dish with my BOTD pics on not one but three occasions this year [here and here, including the year-end contest].

I will leave you with one last beard pic in your honor. You will be greatly missed.

Likewise. And every one of these BOTWs will be missed as well. Bonus beards after the jump:

unnamed (36)

I went on an impromptu pre-blizzard hike this weekend with a friend and perennial beard-of-the-week contender. It was a gorgeous day on top of the world in New Hampshire. I snapped this photo of him coming down.

Four years ago I worked up in the mountains with zero cell service. I’d arrive 3500 feet down the trail and spend my precious valley time catching up on the Dish. I missed some VFYWs that summer, but the Dish, and the three NPR stations and CBC that we got up high, kept me in touch with the world.

Another reader:


After reading your post I was in shock and flooded with emotions. Tonight I feel robbed. For nearly three months I’ve been growing this thing with the dream of one day making Beard of the Week! Tonight I just keep staring at my 7mm Kent beard comb wondering what now …

Update from a reader:

I always believed there would be so much more time to write to you… and most importantly to get critical feedback on my beard. Then, out of nowhere, you tell me you are leaving. Then, the first thing I see posted today is the “Beard of the Week, Ctd” with Bonus Beards!!???

I am lost, but not angry… just lost… yeah, lost and thankful and sad.  And I have a beard of sadness, but it is not angry, I promise:

Beard of Sadness

All the best to you and the crew.  I have been a daily reader for ~10 years and will always be grateful to you and your team for ………….   I typed and erased and typed and erased for 20 minutes before saying fuck it. I am grateful for too many reasons that cannot be described well with any kind of brevity.

More beardage:

I know how much you have been flooded with reactions to your departure. I won’t add much to that other than to say thank-you so much for keeping me from becoming a complete knee-jerk liberal gay man over the years. Your presence has deepened my thinking and provided nuance and flavor to my social and political opinions. I’ve deeply appreciated the continually engaging content of your blog and I will miss it terribly.

And just for the hell of it, here’s my Baby Boomer beard to represent one of your most-beloved generations:

unnamed (38)

Be well, Andrew, and best of luck.

Beard Of The Week

A reader writes:

I submit as a candidate this photo of my friend, snapped by his wife, both of Northfield, Minnesota, with kittens Cosmo and Bartimaeus.  She titled this photo “things are taking a turn for the strange today”.  He and I are all among a group of folks who play Nordic Traditional music here in Northfield on Monday nights at the Contented Cow Pub.  We have been playing together for 10 years and I like to think we are the best and largest nordic traditional music jam session west of Bergen.  People have to keep warm here in Minnesota somehow when the nights are 14 below.

Previous BOTDs here.

Beard Of The Week


The back-story:

That bearded guy who’s apparently [Green Bay QB] Aaron Rodgers’ good-luck charm? He’s Wausau’s Jeremy Wilcox.

Wilcox, whose company is a Lambeau Field contractor for the Green Bay Packers, caused a social media stir when FOX Sports TV cameras caught Rodgers tugging the man’s beard right before he re-entered Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions. Rodgers injured his left calf right before the half and sat out two series before returning in the third quarter to lead the Packers to a 30-20 victory that secured a first-round playoff bye and a home game. … [F]ans are joking that Wilcox’s beard was pivotal in the Packers big win.

No joke. James Dator counts the ways:

There are three good reasons pulling this beard is important to Aaron Rodgers.

– It’s a beard that brings him luck.

– He’s wistfully remembering his own beard.

– The beard’s essential oils soften his throwing hand in preparation for the Packers next drive.

Previous BOTWs here. Update from a reader:

You missed the best part of the beard story: “It’s red and 9 inches long, and #Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tugs it for good luck”.


Beard Of The Week

A reader writes:

The recent discussions on The Dish on Gamergate, Dr. Matt Taylor’s shirt, and the the vaguely generalized anxiety over the decline of male culture, has been exhilarating, exasperating, unnamed (19)and maddening!  I can honestly say it’s the single issue where I feel a viscerally negative reaction to parts of your stated opinion.  But, as a bright blue dot in the midst of the deep red state of Texas, I’ve long ago had to learn to look past a few points of disagreement for the sake of a friendship.  And we are still friends, aren’t we?  I hope so.

This debate, along with your long-standing interest in the beard as a quintessential symbol of masculinity and your commitment to highlighting contemporary portrait photography, has actually had a significant impact on my work as a visual artist.  I’m a photographer who works using the technologically obsolete, hand-made process known as Wet Collodion, or Tintype, first invented in 1851.  This is the process that was used by the British photographer Roger Fenton, whose work during the Crimean War was likely influential in the popularization of the long beard for British men in the mid-19th century, as you mention in this post.

My colleague Bryan Wing and I are the team Project Barbatype.

We photograph the men (and women) who compete in Beard and Moustache competitions, mostly in our Texas region, with plans to attend the World Championships in Austria next year.  There is actually an international governing body for this, the World Beard and Moustache Association.

These competitions are usually held in bars and are often fundraisers for various charities, and are, as you may imagine, raucous affairs fueled by much drinking of beer and shouting of obscenities.  They are a total blast!  Coming from the very staid and stuffy art world (which likes to pretend it’s far more subversive than it actually is), it’s refreshing to make work in an environment where crowds gather to greet an image as it magically emerges in the chemical bath with high-fives and cheers of “THAT’S TOTALLY BADASS!!”

The whole phenomenon of the Beard Competition is, as you say and as I hope our Tintype project seeks to emphasize, “a little cultural balancing of the high-tech 21st Century by the mores of the low-tech 19th.”  Many of the competitors dress the part for their turn on the stage, sometimes in very impressive hand-tailored period clothes, others in ironically inspired blue-collar work outfits.  All of them take great pride in the care, maintenance, and presentation of their facial hair.  One of our guiding principles of the project is to produce photographs that reflect that level of handiwork and committed craft.

I have heard criticism from some Art-world colleagues who think our Project, and the whole phenomenon of the contemporary Beardsmen, is simple and frivolous fluff, best dismissed as a backlash against feminism.  But as I see it, there is a very supple and subversive message at work here about the nature of post-feminist masculinity, both hetero- and homo-.  By taking a traditional and easily recognizable symbol of manliness and exaggerating it to the point of absurdity, these folks are simultaneously satirizing and celebrating the arbitrariness of all markers of gender identity. “We men are creatures of pompous posturing,” they seem to say.  “It’s stupid and we know it.  But what the fuck, it’s fun! Look at me! Look at my beard!!”  What could be more male than that?

The competitions have all the hallmarks of an eye-roll-inducing “boys will be boys” permissiveness, but divorced from any malicious intent. Which is not to say that there are no rude comments or drunken exaltations flying around the bar – far from it.  These are guys out drinking after all, and I certainly am not going to start spouting off about “post-feminist masculinity” while at one of the events, for fear of being (appropriately as I see it) run out as a killjoy.

But these competitions are essentially men in drag, as MEN – MANLY MASCULINE HAIRY MEN’S MEN.  As an artsy-fartsy academe who has always felt queasy with unrepentant expressions of male vigor, this is a flavor of masculine identity that I can celebrate without guilt.  And I have to admit, that feels nice.

I have attached a few examples of the tintypes from Project Barbatype to this email, but there are more in the Facebook group, and at my personal website.  We have signed model releases for each of them, and should you care to publish any, we would certainly welcome the publicity!

Beard Of The Week


Genista flags a photo series:

The Singh Project is a wonderful, celebratory look at a modern, multicultural Britain and features members of the Sikh community. British photographers Amit and Naroop are exhibiting 35 very different portraits as a visual exploration of faith, style and identity. These intimate images highlight two very important symbols of the Sikh lifestyle – the beard and the turban (Dahar). The turban in particular is a representation of honor, self-respect, courage, spirituality, and piety. Sikh men (and women) wear the turban to cover their long, uncut hair (kesh), and are also seen in this series brandishing a traditional Sikh sword (kirpan).

Previous BOTWs here.