The world needs a new Bearded Idol.
More importantly, I need a new Bearded Idol.
For too long now, that idol has been the very bearded Chuck Norris. I need someone new to refer to when trying to capture the true bearded manliness of a situation.
First, I tried to think of what the perfect Bearded Idol would sound like. He must be gruff and manly, with a voice capable of moving mountains and inspiring thousands. Before I saw a picture of him, I always pictured former sportscaster Keith Jackson as having a thick, burly beard.
But, as it turns out, Keith is as clean-shaven as they come.
Without delving too far into pogonology, the intricate study of beards, I decided to randomly search around the internet, looking for my new Bearded Idol. This is, after all, something that I’m doing to distract me from actually doing my job while at work, so I can’t invest that much time into it. It’s not like I have a research grant or anything.
Hint, hint, Bill Gates.
First off, the Bearded Idol has to exemplify manhood in all it’s virtuous forms. This immediately disqualified some of the more notable bearded names from the list, such as Bob Ross
and Jim Henson.
Here’s something I’ve always wanted to say, and, thanks to the powers that be, I finally get to: MORE AFTER THE JUMP…
Next, the beard in question has to be a true beard. Mustaches are not to be counted.
No matter how cool the wearer of said mustache may be. Sorry, Sam Elliot.
Neither are muttonchop sideburns.
My sincerest apologies, random dude whose picture I found after searching for “sideburns” on Google.
This has to be a real, full-blown beard. Well trimmed is okay, but unkempt and wild is also very acceptable.
Also, the bearded man in question has to be a pillar of virtue. Someone that, even if they didn’t possess a wondrous beard, you would look up to for guidance (most likely form of guidance: growing a kick ass beard).
This disqualified the esteemable Ernest Hemingway, since his excessive boozing and eventual suicide basically canceled out his amazing literary talent when regarding him as a famous bearded figure.
Abraham Lincoln is right up there in the pantheon of bearded figures throughout history.
But, he’s a bit too obvious of a pick. EVERYONE chooses Honest Abe when thinking about great historical figures who had beards. I wanted this choice to be different and fresh.
Also, have you seen pictures of him beardless? He looks like a ninny.
Which leads me to another qualifying factor; the Bearded Idol has to look just as idol-ish without his beard as he does with one. No beardless ninnys here.
Of course, musicians are always fertile ground for idols. In the field of beards, this is no less true. Bob Dylan grew a decent scraggly tour beard for a time, even though I can’t find a picture of it online, I know it existed.
Of course, there’s always Willie Nelson.
Who very well could be an idol to many, with his Zen-like, pot-induced peace of mind and significant musical chops. He’s a finalist for sure.
Unfortunately, having met Willie personally, I’ve discovered that he’s incredibly wee. This is a major no-no for any aspiring Bearded Idol. A Bearded Idol must be the epitome of manly man and that includes having a manly stature.
Another musician on my list is the oft-scraggly bearded Jeff Tweedy,
leader of the band Wilco. He grows a mean I-don’t-care-what-you-say-I’m-not-shaving beard. Also, he’s battled alcoholism and drugs, is one of the great songwriters of our generation and certainly knows how to assemble a killer band. But, as evidenced by a few notable public outbursts, he’s kind of a whiner. A true Bearded Idol cannot be a whiner. That is a major knock against him. But, he did write the album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which more than makes up for whining.
So, who is my choice for the new Bearded Idol? Who is my pick for the man that should be referenced when referring to bearded manliness of the highest order?
Now, I know that this is a bit of a controversial choice. He was often photographed without a beard, and when he did have facial hair, it was most often in the form of a stout goatee. Which, some would argue, is not a true beard. That may be a matter of conjecture, but the stout goatee with evidence of sideburns is enough of a beard to qualify, and under those guidelines, Mr. Steinbeck certainly qualifies.
Also, he looks as manly without the beard as he does with it, a distinct advantage over the last two men that I mentioned.
Oh yeah, and was probably THE greatest American writer of the 20th century and one tough sonofabitch, frequently traveling across the country in a camper on a whim.
So there you have it, America.
Your new Bearded Idol: John Steinbeck!