(from 5280 Magazine, February 2009, page 24)
Behind the Mustache
Why Colorado men hang up their razors come wintertime.
Like crops of winter wheat, shocks of male facial hair inevitably start sprouting along the Front Range when the snow starts to fall. Beards keep men warm during their adventures into winter’s drifts, but there’s more to male hirsute pursuits than just insulation—it’s a custom inspired by countless historical figures, famous and infamous, that let their jaw lines go bushy. Here, we examine some Colorado facial hair traditions. —Ron Doyle
Historical inspiration Denver Pyle (left), the Kit Carson County–born actor best known for his roles as Mad Jack in Grizzly Adams and Uncle Jesse in The Dukes of Hazzard. Often worn by Brewery employees; ski guides; lumberjacks Why men wear it Signifies maturity, virility, and readiness to take on the snowy backcountry Lately seen on Kory Lichtensteiger, Denver Broncos rookie center; Tom Hagerman, accordion player and violinist for gypsy rock group DeVotchKa.
Historical inspiration Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, civil rights activist born and buried in Denver, author of epic Chicano poem “Yo Soy Joaquín.” Often worn by Bold politicians; South Broadway hipsters Why men wear it Air of machismo Lately seen on Ron Zappolo, Fox31 news anchor (left); John Salazar, U.S. congressman; Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets forward.
Historical inspiration Horace Tabor (left), deceased U.S. senator and silver baron, buried in Jefferson county. Often worn by Bike messengers; Elvis impersonators Why men wear it Accentuates jaw lines; cushions against chinstrap chafe Lately seen on Jonathan Vaughters, Garmin-chipotle cycling team’s directeur sportif; Jon Stabile, Boulder Bikesmith owner.
Historical inspiration Alferd G. Packer, epileptic gold prospector and cannibal, buried in Littleton. Often worn by University of colorado freshmen; mad geniuses Why men wear it To avoid the itchiness and upkeep of a full beard Lately seen on Todd Helton, colorado Rockies first baseman (left).
Historical inspiration William “Buffalo Bill” cody (left), the cowboy, showman, and medal of Honor recipient, buried at Lookout mountain in Golden. Often worn by master artists and craftsmen; lovers of soup Why men wear it catches accidental dribbles; offers air of indifference Lately seen on Aaron Forman, sommelier/restaurateur, Table 6 (get the dish on Forman in this month’s Singles feature, page 50).