More rain. 34 of the past 38 days. Death to meteorologists! A pox on all their houses. If only I like rain even of a fraction as much as this young lady seems to.
I’ve been enjoying the current prominence of hipsters–I say prominence in respect to the temptation to write “fad” or “trend” because, unlike a lot of trends, hipsters are not so broadly defined, and much like polygamists and Seattle Seahawks fans they’re always out there, we’re just not used to seeing them in full plumage. I like hipsters because the most fashionable of them wear great hats and the absolute best vintage suits–but mostly I like them for the beards. And, of course, I’m a HIPSTER GOD because I’ve been rocking the whole fuzzy beard thing since, oh, 1986. I’m enjoying the company
I’m not bragging. It’s been lonely. For nearly three decades I’ve lived beneath the tyranny of the baby-faced, listening to peach-faced corporate functionaries drone on about “looking professional” and hearing the sad, fetishisticly fastidious pontificate the virtues of being “clean cut” as if that sort of shorn cleanliness has anything to do with manliness–or if it’s any measure of cleanliness at all. It’s certainly not next to godliness. God had a beard. I’ve seen pictures.
And here’s the thing: simpering suburban worker bees fear the beard, clinging to the notion that “good grooming” is in some way actually “good,” quietly judging–and only the most tremblingly weak may judge, but we judge too. When I look into the eyes of a clean shaven man I assume, until proven differently, that man is not capable of summoning the testosterone necessary to build a better beard. It’s unfair, but I’ve been ask too many times “what are you hiding.” (Answer: my snide sneer.)
Of course, bad-ass rugby guys have been pulling full-bore facial fur for a long time now and nothing says testosterone like a sweaty, mud-covered rugby player.
The list goes on and on. Bearded men are superior. Check out these guys, these bearded bad-ass Pakistani heroes saving the day:
When men shave, they do so in shameful obeisance of an inner force that sings, day and night, of their inadequacy. Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman didn’t bother with razors. Didn’t need to.
Hagrid had a beard. So did GI Joe, Barbarossa, Leonidas, Robin Hood, The Allman Brothers, and all those Old Testament Dudes. Even Jesus had a beard. Jesus and Santa and Mr. Edwards on Little House on the Prairie. Mr Edwards was the only redeeming quality of that steaming pile–him and Nellie Oleson, that bitch.
You know who didn’t have a beard?
So, you know what, I’ll thrilled as apple pie that so many guys are sliding out from beneath the yoke of middle American homogeneity and daring to live like nature intended. I’m happy to fit in, even if it means sacrificing a little bit of my uniqueness. It’s not so bad, fitting in, when it’s society bending to match me, and I enjoy the company. The brotherhood of beards–we don’t even need a secret handshake. It’s like the turtleneck sweaters I love in the winter–when they come back around, style-wise, I’ll enjoy them while they last, store a few in the attic for the future, and look–for just a few, fleeting moments–like I actually give a shit what someone else (except my wife) thinks.
Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season. Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.
Elvis Presley: If Every Day Was Like Christmas
Okay, now we’re getting into the meat of the order. I owned this on vinyl when I was in college, along with albums by Nat King Cole, The Beach Boys, Big Crosby, and The Chipmunks. (Alvin? Alvin!) That’s why I was so popular with the ladies, know what I mean?
Neither do I–but it was a better, more extensive Christmas collection than most undergraduates, circa 1986. The Elvis album is a blast–some classics here, including the title song (try not to sing along with the refrain really, really loudly!), Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me, and one of my all time favorites, Blue Christmas–listen to The King in full on growl, the dude is bringing it. Big time. Not a bad performance on the album, and this is another one you can pick up for a dollar or two if you keep your eyes open. Just make sure you get the one with all 24 songs–there’s at least one version out there that mimics the vinyl record and only has about half as many cuts.
It’s also an example of why this list is a big of a crock–Elvis could very well be in the top 5, but I’ve had this album in one form or another for over 30 years and some things just sound fresher. It’s a sure thing though.
1. If Every Day Was Like Christmas
2. Blue Christmas
3. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
4. White Christmas
5. Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)
6. I’ll Be Home For Christmas
7. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
8. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
9. It Won’t Seem Like Christmas (Without You)
10. If I Get Home On Christmas Day
11. Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees
12. Merry Christmas Baby
13. Silver Bells
14. I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day (Alternate Version)
15. On A Snowy Christmas Night
16. Winter Wonderland
17. The Wonderful World Of Christmas
18. O Come All Ye Faithful
19. The First Noel
20. It Won’t Seem Like Christmas (Without You ….)
21. Silver Bells (Alternate Take 1)
22. Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees (Unreleased Alternate Take 8)
23. I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day
24. Christmas Message From Elvis/Silent Night
“The life and career of award-winning journalist Christopher Hitchens is chronicled in this video collection. Hitchens, in his singular voice, reports and reflects on cultural trends, political events, and the forces that define our Age.”
I certainly didn’t always agree with what Hitchens wrote, but I like reading it. His life seems to me one prototype of what what a writer’s idealized life should be like. There are few famous people I’d meeting, or ever wished I’d met. Hitchens was one of those few:
There’s also this, a nice article that includes a wonderful poem by James Fenton: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/04/remembering-christopher-hitchens.html
And a few others:
I wish I could have James Fenton read a poem when I die.