There were just a few brief moments in the Sixties when a man’s hair might define him. Long hair meant you were against the war in Vietnam, smoked pot, and claimed the Grateful Dead as the best rock band ever, provided you had just ingested some LSD. Short hair meant you drank beer at your frat house, wore a college sweatshirt with your chinos, liked the Kingston Trio, and were planning a political future as a Republican.
Of course, there is no such deciding criteria today, although there are certain suggestions.
For instance, the crew cut, or flattop, is represented in Montana by two of the state’s legislators: Senator Jon Tester (D) and Representative Matt Rosendale (R). A third, Senator Steve Daines (R), slicks his cropped hair back with what appears to be Kiwi shoe polish.
The crew cut is a no-nonsense approach to personal grooming. It takes no special fuss or muss and might indicate to some that the person sporting such a style is a capable, down-to-earth, hard-working kind of guy. Sen. Tester, for instance, operates an organic farm and custom butcher shop in Big Sandy. With his one-and-two-fifths hands, he can repair farm equipment, plow fields and swath hay on the land homesteaded by his grandparents in the early years of the last century. Then he and his wife, Sharla, return to Washington, D.C., where he sits on a wide number of Senate committees.
He’s a moderate Democrat with a degree in music who seems committed to compromise that will serve his constituents and the national good. He’s my kind of guy.
Rep. Matt Rosendale is a carpet-bagging realtor from Maryland who seems racist, homophobic, sexist and something of a Nazi.
He is the poster child for QAnon and a Trump toady.
Rosendale, after being elected to his first term in 2020, has, since taking office, voted to overturn the Presidential election results, voted against Covid-19 relief, and voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act. He declined to support rewarding Capitol and D.C. police for their protection of our Capitol with simple medals and voted against establishing a bi-partisan commission to investigate the attack on Congress. He skipped the vote on the Violence Against Women Act and voted against the Hate Crimes Act. He was one of thirteen members of Congress to vote against the establishment of Juneteenth as a federal holiday celebrating the end of slavery.
Sen. Daines, the native Montanan who was born in Van Nuys, California, has a voting record not much different than his House counterpart.
But let’s turn our attention to the pompadour, that up-swept hair style once sported by Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers and Wayne Newton. Matt Gaetz, a Republican representative from Florida, dons one. The polar opposite of the flattop, it requires much daily care and that, I think, speaks volumes about vanity.
Gaetz, one of the most ardent Trumpsters in Washington (or anywhere else for that matter), seems to be anti-everything that many of us might find good and decent. A borderline denier of climate change and the Holocaust, Gaetz’s ultra-conservative views tend to nauseate moderate Democrats and the closeted Republicans from an earlier age. He’s opposed to abortion, gay marriage, LGTBQ rights, and Colin Kaepernick. He thinks Black Lives Matter shouldn’t and that antifa is an actual club that has secret handshakes, passwords, and collects membership dues.
Ironically, Gaetz graduated from Niceville High School in Niceville, Florida.
When I was a kid growing up in Chicago, there were only a few hairstyles. Greasers, whom everybody assumed were criminals-in-waiting, tended to have their hair coifed in what was politely known as a D.A. (duck’s ass), a variation on the pompadour with a nape-of-the-neck flourish. They also drove low-slung Pontiacs and wore Eagle steel heel taps—the epitome of cool. Walking down the school hallways, clicking their heels against linoleum tiles, any group of them together sounded like a bad tap-dancing troupe on their ways to the classes they were failing.
The Black boys had yet to discover the Afro, just as the Jewish boys had yet discovered the Jewfro. The Black kids wore do-rags; the Jews, yarmulkes—neither of which are hairstyles, but nonetheless reflect certain cultural values and might contribute to hair control.
Most of the boys went to local barbershops—all of which had myna birds, by the way—to get 50-cent buzz cuts. Blacks, Jews and others emerged with their scalps clearly defined by shape.
A bird’s-eye view of President Biden reveals a bald spot that could be mistaken for a yarmulke, although, as a Catholic, he’d be more likely to wear a biretta. Bernie Sanders has disheveled hair that seems to parrot his politics—non-conformist, unconventional, without pretense. Of course, Rand Paul’s hair is equally disheveled, but so are his politics.
Trump sported a combination comb-over, sweep-up that seemed to change color frequently. It’s difficult to reckon his style with his politics, other than to suggest that both were the rather vulgar products of vanity, narcissism, and bad taste. For the record, Don, Jr., wears something of a hybrid pompadour/flattop.
Although there is no shortage of bald men in government, I’ve yet to notice anybody sporting a mullet, the sound of which never fails to remind me of some kind of fish and the look of which never fails to make me laugh.
Ponytails seem in short supply, though a lot of our Congressional females wear their hair styled in flips that I associate with the Fifties. I’ve seen no bouffant or “high hair,” the female equivalent of the pompadour, both styles that seem best-fitted to a woman driving a pick-up truck or Sarah Palin. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia’s most notorious imbecile, wears her blonde locks in such a way that both reminds and bespoils my memory of Peggy Lipton in the “Mod Squad.”
The Kennedy boys’ iconic side-swept bangs obviously ran in the family; Jack Kemp, who ran as Bob Dole’s running mate against Bill Clinton in 1996, had been mocked by Dole as needing a “business deduction for hair spray.”
And former Ohio Rep. Jim Traficant, expelled from Congress in 2002, had as a coif something that looked like a hair helmet from “Planet of the Apes”—toupee-like, it came to a point on top, much like Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy from South Carolina, whose silverish, spikey hair is just a tad like Sting’s without style or soul.
Speaking of England, what about Boris Johnson’s coif? It reminds me of me. Perhaps I’ll run for office.
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
Romanian Beef Sausages
Sausage is my favorite way to eat animal proteins. This recipe is delicious and goes well with buttered spätzle, red cabbage and loads of dark mustard.
3 # lean beef chuck
1 1⁄4 # boneless beef short ribs (fatty ones)
1⁄4 # beef suet
5 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbs. black pepper, coarsely ground
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 pinch ground allspice
1 pinch bay leaf powder
1 pinch ground cloves
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 Tbs. whole yellow mustard seeds
2 Tbs. garlic, minced
2 tsp. sugar
1⁄2 cup water
lamb or beef casing
Grind lean beef through food grinder with 3/8-inch plate, fatty beef through 1/4 inch plate.
In large bowl, mix ground meat with all other ingredients, except water and casings. Add enough water to allow you to work the spices in, knead till well blended.
Stuff into casings and tie into 5 inch links.