Dylan Sherrard did an extensive write up on beards over on Pinkbike, and I think there are two important themes we can draw out from his lengthy exposition on the face fuzz:
1. Canadians are incapable of irony.
Don't get me wrong, Canadians see us making jokes and talking shit about each other, and I believe they truly want to join in, but they weren't raised in an environment conducive to doing anything funny. Try as they may, in the end most Canadians only reach the distant foothills of funny. Canadians live in a sort of lukewarm purgatory of funny, a place far from rich and complete irony, a place that we in the cognoscente recognize as the most basic form of irony: goofiness.
"Hey, look, I have a beard AND I'm wearing moss as a mustache! Did you ever expect to see someone with a beard AND, wait for it, wait for it, a mossStache? I know, right? I just made that word up, I know, but seriously, how funny is that? And I'm Morgan Taylor, editor for a respected mountain bike website, but here I am being soooooo goofy. How funny is that?"
Goofiness is, unfortunately, a crippling disease in most who suffer from the condition, as it leaves the afflicted in a state that is neither bad nor good; not bad enough to warrant emergency treatment, but not good enough to be fun to hang out with. Often the afflicted don't realize that after treatment life can be better, and many are unaware of their condition, so many suffer with lifelong conditions of goofiness that could be easily treated with even a light dose of shitty friends. In most cases, though, friends of the afflicted cope with the surface level goofiness for months or even years, putting up with the hawaiian t-shirts or the purple pedals for years before finding new friends to ride with.
That's sort of where Dylan's article lives: surface level goofiness. Never reaching the zenith of true self hate, Dylan's writing exists in a world where making fun of himself doesn't hurt. If I had to venture a guess as to how many nights a week Dylan cries himself to sleep, I'd bet zero. After reading his article, I am forced to conclude that he likes beards in a totally non-ironic way. I had to read and then reread the article before I figured it out: he doesn't comment on beards at all, he merely presents goofy reasons why he likes them. There's nothing there.
The biggest single barrier to any Canadian trying to be funny is overcoming their innate "nice instinct." In Canada, making other people feel bad for sport is considered "bad" or "mean" or even "not nice, eh?"
That, combined with a predominantly goofy environment since childhood, creates a nation of humor adolescents, taking baby steps towards things that are actually funny, but never quite reaching adulthood. Attempts at escaping surface level goofiness are common, such as the recent IFHT "how to be a ________" videos seen on NSMB.com:
"How to be a mountain biker" was funny the first time, especially for something made by Canadians. But after so many videos with the same formula ("How to be a road biker," etc) , it became clear that IFHT videos were more of a "color by numbers" attempt, as opposed to the work of a true master painter, like the work we saw on HBcutthecoursein1990.com before their budding artistry was cut short by someone firmly in the non-ironic/non-funny camp.
The photo quality is admittedly bad, but I think it makes the point. Also note Hawaiian
T-shirt guy #2 bringing up the rear, because sheep always travel in herds.
L.A. is the other end of the West Coast humor spectrum. There's a reason every d-bag on the planet comes out of L.A., and that's because the D-bag thing actually works in L.A.. These guys procreate more than stray dogs, so we know someone is picking up what they're putting down.
The driver of the truck pictured above gets respect from 99% of the people he encounters in L.A. It's a simple formula: his truck is bigger than the other guy's Nissan, thus he is cooler than the other guy in the Nissan. No irony, self awareness, or shame required. It is what it is.
This is the same reason Moto BRO Josh grant can sell us a company called "Happy Living The Now" with a straight face and then back it up with this unbelievable photo and the following unbelievable-er mission statement.
Yeah, that's a dude with a soul patch getting his photo taken, in B&W, writing "beautiful rebels" on a mirror with a paint pen. And he's dead serious. Here's the unbelieveable-er mission statement:
"HLTN Collective is a group of family and friends that came together with an undeniable itch to be free to create and do what we want; instead of what the industry told us we are supposed to do. Our driving force is to live life to the absolute fullest while spreading a positive message. Happy Living The Now.
They have an unbelievable itch. You know what, though? I believe them.
Don't get me wrong, Portland is horrible for the exact opposite reason.
"I really love America? Or I'm mocking it? I don't even know what I'm doing anymore."
There is an interesting geographical pattern. Irony on the West Coast is centered in Portland, and dissipates as it travels North and South away from the source. LA is horrible, as is B.C., and if you make it as far south as Tijuana there is no detectable level of irony: they cut your head off, which is probably the single most literal and least ironic act imaginable. People in Seattle and the Bay Area, on the other had, live somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and as a result they're mostly normal, tolerable, and bereft of crippling and transparent character flaws.
They both have technology firms, salt water, Superbowl teams, and people who aren't compensating for decades of confusion and self-loathing.
In a way, it comes full circle. The people trying hardest in Portland are, genetically, the same people trying hardest in L.A. or B.C. The behavior just manifests differently. Maybe it's not genetic, maybe it's because they didn't get hugged enough or maybe they got hugged too much, but whatever went in the shit comes out the same color.
Of course this behavior is a a cry for help, and it's tragic in whatever form it takes, but if I have to choose the form of the destructor, I'll take the harmless emasculated hipster couple over brodozer roid rage guy and his 11 NASCAR babies any day:
Pick your poison.
But back to the main point of this article: making fun of Dylan Sherrard's article. Without further ado, I present the second and final thing that we learned from Mr. Sherrard's exposition on beards:
Beards and no googles go together like Elixir 9's and trashcans.