Last week I was headed home from work, it was Saturday night after 11, and the train was full of young people headed downtown (or to Bushwick/Williamsburg) for a night out. As a writer, I am an obsessive observer, and I look at people.
What I noticed that night was that there was an overabundance of very fit young men in tight suits and shaved heads. I call it the Vin Diesel look, but that’s a little extreme.
It can also be called the Die Hard look, in honor of Bruce Willis, who actually pioneered the look. But most of these young men would probably say: “ Who’s Bruce Willis?” if you mentioned him.
So I counted at least ten of them, mostly Latino, a couple of African-Americans, and a couple of white ones, and not all wearing suits. There was a group of five who were together, they were wearing the suits, tight fitting shiny suits and shirts with open collars open to the sternum to show off those gorgeous pecs. Let’s roll that beautiful pec footage.
For me that seems like a lot of work; an awful lot of going to the gym; and shaving your head every day MUST be a lot of work.
There is a companion to that look, the stubble look (sported mostly by men loosing their hair anyway) where they have a two-day shadow (as opposed to a five-o’clock shadow) of hair all over their face and head.
Again, it must take work, or at least a special kind of electric razor to achieve a 32nd of an inch’s worth of stubble all over your head. I worked for a guy like that, an Irish-Italian guy named Glen who it was rumored was on steroids, but he was balding, and I’m pretty sure he was a Vin Diesel aficionado. He once asked me if I was going to “The Parade” one first week in June.
“What parade?” I asked.
“The Puerto Rican day parade.” He said.
“What would I want to do that for?” I asked, and then remembered he had a Puerto Rican fiancé. I think they are still engaged.
When I was that age, the age of the young men on the train, not Glen, there were more important things to do than go to the gym and shave my head, though I did both those things during my brief stint in the U.S. Army. I went to the gym in the army when I was broke and bored, and I shaved my head once.
I had to shave it, what happened was that when we were told we’d be getting another haircut just two short weeks after the first, and we had to pay for it, I decided I would do it myself and borrowed an electric razor from someone. I gave myself a mohawk; after all I was on my way to an airborne unit (they famously gave themselves mohawks to scare the Germans in WWII); and it was 1980- and I was sort of a punk rocker.
But the Drill Sargent wasn’t having it, he told me to “get that shit offa your head” and I went up to make it more even.
That was in January in Georgia, and I froze my head off that January. If you shave your head in the winter, you’d better have a good hat.
Before I went in the army I wore my hair in a sort of Afro, just curly and standing up. In high school I had the distinction of having the second biggest Afro in Brooklyn Tech, my friend Richie had the biggest, even though he was Jewish. Neither of us went to the gym to exercise, and when we HAD to go to the gym at Tech we smoked pot in the stairwell leading up to the track.Luis and Me in 1973
On the other end of the modern style spectrum are the skinny white boys who sport a 1930’s hillbilly look. They all wear hair that is very short on the sides but long on the top, carefully combed back away from the forehead. A lot of them compliment this with varying lengths of beard, depending on how hillbilly you want to look. They wear crisp shirts tucked into slim jeans or “trousers” and often wear suspenders. Or “braces.”
The slim jeans (or trousers) are then carefully rolled up to show off very expensive “work boots” that have never seen a days work in their lives; preferably $400 Red Wing boots made exclusively for J. Crew. They all look like clones of George Clooney in “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?”
Any way, this is all just an observation (and an opinion, I guess); and I’m glad all I needed was jeans, t-shirts, and the ripped-up black motorcycle jacket I won in a poker game to look cool when I was young.