November 25, 2007


Fun with facial hair

I have sported facial hair of one style or another for close to half my years. The predominant sculpting has been a Van Dyke. There is debate about the difference between a Van Dyke and a goatee, and aside from the standard definition, most of us FH afficiandos would concur that the former is a fuller variation of the diminutive latter, a sort of combo ‘stache-chin beard à la:

Sir Anthony Van Dyck, 17th century Flemish painter and source of the nomenclature,

Reverend Jim Ignatowski,

Evil Spock (with apologies to Evil Spock) and of course,


There seems to be some debate about whether or not the mustache is connected to the beard in the Van Dyke, but to me that is just wasteful discourse in the light of more important matters at hand. On the other jaw a goatee, as noted, is just the whiskers on the chinny chin-chin, again displayed by real and fictional dudes alike, such as:

Norville “Shaggy” Rogers,

Maynard G. Krebs,

Dizzy Gillespie and of course,

Uncle Sam

Again, time-wasting hair-splitters would whine endlessly about the distinction between a goatee and a soul patch, a debate for which I have little tolerance. I mean really, who is going to save your soul patch when we all know goatees go to hell? And with puns like that I probably deserve to be down there holding the door for you when you arrive.

In the midst of the usual Googling that accompanies any good blog post one can be confident to yield a result that will freak one out. This time it’s HERE. It seems some people are into collecting beards, and I now realize that I’ve been a bit careless on those early morning bike rides through the woods during turkey season.

In “A Brief History of the Goatee” John Sulak dug up some interesting factoids:

• The first goatee may have been worn by Satan. The devil's image is based on Pan, the ancient Greek half-man, half-goat deity. When early Christians began abolishing pagan religions and their gods, they needed someone to play the heavy. They chose Pan, a lover of music, dancing and sex. His flute was replaced by a pitchfork and he was transformed from the god of woods and pastures to the ruler of hell.

• During the last days of the French Empire in the mid-19th century, the “imperial” was worn by Napoleon III. Wax or pomade was used to bring chin whiskers to a sharp point.

• In America, imperials became popular with officers on both sides of the Civil War. The look remained in vogue after the war, thanks in part to Buffalo Bill Cody, who toured the country with his Wild West Show.

• In late 19th-century Paris, poets, painters, intellectuals and dropouts — collectively known as bohemians — lived together in poverty and rebellion. For them, the goatee was a symbol of their free-spirited nature.

• By the 1940s, America had its own bohemians, but trendy haircuts weren't their thing. After World War II, the stereotypical “beatnik” look — goatee and black beret — was copied from jazz musicians of the time.

In America the goatee disappeared for twentysome years from the late 1960s through the punk, disco and new wave ages. “Only a person who was completely cut off from popular culture would grow such a beard,” Mr. Sulak wrote in 1996, about the time that goatees were experiencing a resurgence.

And so we come around the circle back to me. I’ve worn a Van Dyke for at least 10 years now, and for the past several weeks I’ve been pausing before various mirrors and thinking that I’m not a Major League baseball player, I’m not into Civil War re-enactment and I just sold my pickup, so perhaps it’s time for a change.

When facial hair reconstruction is undertaken, no man can resist the frolic of the incremental removal. In my last adjustment from full beard to Van Dyke I sported some killer mutton chops for about three weeks. With a bit of pomade to slick back medium-long hair, I took great delight in my menacing look. This time around, thinking as a blogger I say, “Why should Jefe have all the fun?” So with that in mind I figure on starting a new trend (see Rich Cohen‘s interesting and hilarious experiment at, and thereby submit to you without further ado:

Der Fuhrer’s Imperial Keel Boat

I figure a few days will be good to drive the wife batshit. Just kidding - she got the best of me by not even noticing it at first, and now it’s already been reduced to a chin style that can best be described as “The C. Everett Koop.” Of course I’m weirding out a bit on the bare lip sensation, testing it out on spouse lips, baby cheeks and doggie ears. This style will likely be reduced to a “Soul Strip,” that is, a removal of the bow and stern of the aforementioned watercraft. You know I’ll keep you posted.

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Who knew facial hair could be such good fun?! You look menacing, alright.
Ha ha! That's funny! You think it'll take a FEW days? ;)

Fix it baaaaaaaaack!
My eldest brother, the king of the time-wasting hair-splitters, will insist ad infinitum that it cannot be a Van Dyke unless it's pointy.
Every time I look at you I almost call you Coop. I look forward to the soul patch. Tres sexy.
Too funny ... I had no idea that facial hair could be so enjoyable. Maintaining my ridiculously well-groomed David Niven-esque moustache is just one huge pain in the proverbial arse, as I'm sure you can imagine.
Now you've got me thinking about growing my hair out on my, um, legs so that I can do fun shaving things with it.
People notice if I don't shave. They think I'm growing a beard after a day. I have't had a beard in a while because they drive me nuts for the first few weeks.
I am simultaneously repulsed by and attracted to your keel boat, my friend!

And though I change my facial hair frequently, my most common is a variation on the Van Dyke -- the El Diablo.

I also believe I recoganize that picture of Satan as being from Tenacious D's "Fuck Her Gently" video?
Only if they stole it from South Park.
Did I see your face on the post office wall? I could swear it was you! ;)
I toyed with the notion of facial hair once. I started to grow a goatee, and had about a week and a half's worth of it, when the MonkeyWife mentioned it made me look like a somewhat non-confrontational, intellectual Marxist.

In other words, it fit me perfectly, but not the image I hoped to portray.

Needless to say, I've been clean ever since.

Ook ook
Respect, mate... every time I try the Hitler one it lasts an average of 11 and a half minutes before I'm ordered to remove it... ("Unt I muzt obey ze ordersss!")

Funnily enough, I've got a rather unruly Van Dyke at the moment... although more often I'm found with some sort of Ignatowski.
You're right, Joe. I was confusing the SP Satan with the TD Satan, which is here.
Go for the ZZ Top look and be damned.
Is it as itchy as it looks?
Joe - tell yer bro not to be such a dick on the Van Dyke.

Sweet B - 10 years you wait to tell me dis?

David - I don't think I could pull off the ridiculously well-groomed David Niven-esque moustache with the dishwater blond bristles. On the other hand I could combine my lack of poise with a loud plaid jacket and have people thinking I'm a used car salesman.

DCup - when guys complain about the "itchy stage" of growing a beard, they know nothing of the legs a'scratchin' (unless they are a nancy-boy road cyclist).

Mathman - you've got the Homer Simpson syndrome, eh? You don't ride a road bike do you?

Jefe - I must see this El Diablo. Is it like what Dizzy's got in the pic I posted?. Thanks for the TD link - that is hilarious (good thing I have the NC-17 warning up in the sidebar).

Nat - That's my evil twin Scobrus, who is wanted in six states for malicious hyperbole.

Fez - if it made you look like a somewhat non-confrontational, intellectual Marxist, you obviously were wearing your beret and not your fez.

Cheezy - I bopped around the house for about an hour wearing the toothbrush.

Lucy - It remains to be seen how long the soul strip will get.
Well, at least you don't have that "snatch patch"....I mean "soul patch" under your bottom lip. That look annoys the crap outta me! Except on Apolo Anton Ohno, cause he's just hot.
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