“Though he works for a software company he looks like he just walked out of the forest: His beard is shaggy, (he wears) the boots and shirt of a lumberjack. The Lumbersexual man, with his savage style, is displacing the Metrosexual in the urban landscape.”
-Rough translation of the opening paragraph of following article from Cochabamba’s “Los Tiempos”:
Fashion is not our forté here at The Mint, but this trend is somewhat personal as we have unwittingly begun to embrace it.
The seeds for this fashion trend, at least in the Portland area, were planted by the publicity tactics of the Portland Timbers in 2011, who at the time began to drape billboards and painted buildings in the city with images of men, women, and children wielding chainsaws and axes. This continues to some extent today.
With this subliminal messaging firmly embedded in our subconscious, we were thrust into the Lumbersexual style via our well publicized tree incident back in 2012, in which an unfortunate household accident caused us to get in touch with our inner lumberjack (Scroll down to the “Black Locust” heading on this link). While we had the larger tree felled by an arborist, we purchased the requisite chainsaw and the other tools of the lumberjack and went at the beast in our yard until we could no more. We left it for the winter.
The following summer, our inner lumberjack was summoned once again when the HOA presented us with an ultimatum to “get the wood off of our lawn.”
While we had the tools (we have since moved up to an 8 pound axe and added a 9′ pole saw to our arsenal), it was not until two years ago that we began to wear a beard. We simply felt it was time. The only time we had worn a beard before was for two unfortunate weeks in the mid ’90s when we contracted the chicken pox at 19 years of age and we were unable to shave under the threat of permanent scarring. When we began to hear reports that men in Miami, who could not grow a beard, were paying up to $8,000 for facial implants, we knew we were squarely in the middle of a fashion trend, a rarity for The Mint.
Where did it all start? While Lumberjacks have been admired, especially here in the Land of Giants, from time immemorial, we like to attribute the latest trend to comedic origins such as Monty Python:
And Red Green:
Whatever the origins, the Lumbersexual is now out of the Forest and into the Urban landscape. For the sake of the trees, it come as a relief that most of us wield iMacs instead of axes.
Whether you loved him, hated him, or had no idea who he was, it is undeniable that Hugo Chávez changed Venezuela forever. As the former democratically elected dictator of Venezuela is laid to rest, we can’t help but wonder, would he still be alive today had he worn a beard?
Yes, you read that correctly. Today, at the Mint, we are reflecting on what, on the surface, appears to be a mere personal preference with regards to facial hair. What does it matter that Chávez wore a beard or not? For that matter, what does it matter whether or not any man chooses to wear a beard?
The answer lies in what the beard tells us, indirectly, about the level of stress that the man is experiencing. Hugo Chávez, from what we understand, did not wear a beard. Was his lack of facial hair an expression of his perpetually paranoid behavior? Fidel Castro, who wears one of the more recognizable beards on the globe, and whom Chávez recognized as at least a political father figure, has lived a good long life despite facing political pressures and mortal dangers similar to those that Chávez faced.
It may be a stretch to say that growing a beard will lead to lower overall stress levels which, in theory, should translate into longer life spans. However, it is not a stretch to postulate, as we do today, that the a man who wears a beard is generally experiencing lower stress levels than his smooth faced peers.
While we generally disagree with socialism and large scale government, especially one that gives dictatorial powers to one or a handful of human beings, we admire Chávez for giving lip service to justice for the poor, even if he did use his position to amass a reported $2 billion nest egg. We also admire his anti-imperialist stance, which became his hallmark. While the hypocrisy of railing against imperialism and then using one’s own position of authority to exercise imperial like control over a land mass is not lost on this author, Chávez filled the lives of many with joy and laughter.
If only he had worn a beard, he may still be alive to see the destruction that his socialist policies will bring.
Chávez’s death leaves Evo Morales as the heir apparent to Castro. Will Evo rise to the occasion? If he does, we recommend that he begin by growing a beard, if not literally, then figuratively, and preoccupy himself with relaxation. Socialism requires charismatic father figures that live good long lives.
If, on the other hand, Evo desires to truly work to improve the lot of his countrymen, we offer our open letter to his Excellency, along with advice to grow a beard, as a roadmap for governance and a long and good life. In his own words, “vivir bien.”
Speaking of vivir bien, We were fortunate to visit Venezuela in 1997, about a year before Chávez took office. We had been invited by our best friend’s adventurous parents to adventure with them on their sailboat, the Lady Jane. You can see a few select pictures of the journey interlaced
In November of that year, they found themselves tied off at a slip in an upscale marina in Barcelona on Venezuela’s Caribbean coast. Their previous sailboat, which had been stationed in the Bahamas, had been wrecked in a hurricane a couple of years before and in order to get their new boat insured they were required to be out of the hurricane belt during the high season.
This condition had lead them to sail for Venezuela, and they had found a miniature paradise. They invited four of us to join them for a vacation.
The trip was unforgettable. After a heart stopping ride from the airport in Caracas, through the jungle to Barcelona in the middle of the night, we acclimated ourselves to the refreshingly slow pace of life at the Marina. We dedicated a bit of time to learning to scuba dive as well as the ins and outs of life as a cruiser, which involves taking short trips in a dinghy, fumigating shower facilities before use, and learning to vomit downwind when the battering of the waves against the tiny ship becomes too much.
One incident which remains etched in our memory is a visit to a local night club. After partaking of a few Polars, the national beverage, we were enjoying the night with perhaps two hundred other revelers when men in fatigues, armed with AK47s began to surround the open air night club.
We froze, yet took comfort in the fact that most around us continued dancing and buying drinks as the troops approached. What happened next was terrifying.
The soldiers separated us by sex and made us line up. One by one, we passed through what amounted to a makeshift checkpoint. As we stood in line, we realized that, being the wise traveler that we were, we had left our passport safely back at the Marina. As we approached the soldiers, we offered the only piece of ID we had, our wrinkled up, sweaty visitors visa.
The soldier took it, gave it a confused stare, and returned it to us as we walked on by.
As the shock began to wear off, we realized that we had been subjected to a simple ID check.
We continued to enjoy the night, if not the rest of the trip, in a sober state. This is how the police worked in South America. It was something unheard of in the US circa 1997.
We soon sailed off to Los Roques Archipelago and a couple of other deserted isles which are every bit as beautiful in person as they are in pictures. It wasn’t The Cove of DiCaprio fame, but in ways it resembled it.
We took port again in Bonaire, which has no fresh water, where the water tank has the words “a gallon of water is more valuable than gold” emblazoned on the sides. We had imported Polar ourselves and watched as our friend’s Father and Captain did the duty of presenting our passports to the port authority, something that was an entirely new concept for us.
We relished island life and our new found scuba talents for a time before returning via Curacao to Caracas and then on home, thoroughly impressed and intimidated by the beauty that was Venezuela and the surrounding isles.
Shortly thereafter, Chávez became President, and from what we understand, Venezuela has not been the same since.
Yet we have been left to wonder during our sober reflections on that trip, was it Chávez, or the visitation of six weary sailors that fateful season that forever altered the fate of this happy south american country?