Upon my return from Antarctica and the unruly seas of the Drake Passage, I discovered even rougher waters: some unpleasant comments made about me in the feedback section of an Adweek.com story. While I haven’t actually read these comments, I heard some of them are pretty wild. But perhaps most surprising is how many there have been.
Which got me thinking that maybe there is an opportunity here. If people actually enjoy writing about me, why not help them out? So, I am officially announcing BlogAboutLee.com. For an annual fee of just 5 cents (I will accept major credit cards), you can blog about me 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I will periodically offer up new topics for you to blog about, such as “How many black T-shirts do I own?” and “What shade of grey socks am I wearing today?”
There is only one subject that is taboo. And that is my mustache. I hear some people made comments about my mustache, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s hitting below the belt.
What has this world come to when people start picking on an innocent mustache? My hero, Groucho Marx, wore one until the day he died, though it must be said, his was painted on for the first 50 or 60 years of his life. Chaplin had an adorable little painted mustache that made him the most popular star in movies, until Hitler copied it and made that particular style less adorable. Of course, Chaplin was able to capitalize on that unfortunate turn of events in the wonderful movie The Great Dictator. Other great stars with famous mustaches include Oliver Hardy, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Burt Reynolds and the incomparable Harry Reems.
And it’s not just actors. Where would the music world be without mustache superstars Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Greg Allman, George Harrison and Nelly? Can one even imagine a mustache-less Yanni? I think not.
I’m also not ashamed to say it has made me proud to know that so many intellectuals had extraordinary mustaches. Friedrich Nietzsche, Albert Einstein and Hulk Hogan, to name a few.
Dr. Aaron Perlut, chairman of the board of the American Mustache Institute (yes, there is such a thing), has even discussed the benefits of mustaches in sports. None of them were grown with the help of steroids.
I am discouraged, though, that there hasn’t been a president of the United States with facial hair since William Howard Taft in 1913. But I guess a politician with a sneaky mustache would be redundant.
Most recently, in one of the entertainment magazines, they even heralded the return of the mustache, thanks to new ‘stache aficionados Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Johnny Depp.
Of course, what makes this whole thing bizarre is that anyone who has seen me in the last 14 years knows that, along with my mustache, I have also grown a beard. Hey, I’m fashion conscious enough to know that in the ’90s, a mustache needed a beard to be socially acceptable. But truth be told, thanks to my beard, I went from being compared to Sonny Bono to being compared to Jeremiah Johnson. Which is a look that went out of style in the 1800s.
So, like many a rapper, I trimmed my beard to just around my chin, which made me look like Maynard G. Krebs and half of the advertising community. But it also opened my eyes to all types of new styles and trimming techniques. Having tried thin looks, minimal looks, little patches under the lip and the Pete Barbutti look, I went back to the simple goatee. Which some people say looks like a cross between Kanye West and Wolf Blitzer. But overall, the goatee is just adequate enough to balance out my mustache.
Which, I must remember, is what this piece is about. Though again, anyone who knows me also knows that I have worked up the courage to shave off my mustache two or three times in the last 20 years.
Having had a mustache since I was a teenager, I shaved it off in the early ’90s, to disastrous results. When I visited my 96-year-old aunt on the Upper West Side, she mistook her mustache-less nephew for a robber and got heart palpitations. I quickly grew it back.
I also shaved it off again last summer, which caused a barrage of comments like, “He’s trying to look younger,” “He looks pale” and, perhaps the meanest one, meaner than anything on any Adweek.com, and this one came from my wife: “You have no upper lip, grow it back.” Which I reluctantly did.
So, here’s the deal. I invite anyone and everyone with absolutely nothing better to do to visit BlogAboutLee.com. You can write positive or negative things, as long as you don’t go after the mustache.
And remember, hiding behind an anonymous name is a lot more cowardly than hiding behind a mustache.
Lee Garfinkel is the outgoing CCO and chairman of DDB in New York.