Thursday, November 01, 2012

Read It: The Facial Hair Handbook

With my days as a "competitive" road racing in the rear view mirror perhaps its time to explore a new arena of competition: competitive bearding. This thought first occurred to me when I was introduced to beard icon (and two-time World Beard Champion) Jack Passion in one segment of Morgan Spurlock's documentary Mansome (2012) on Netflix recently. It was only after it had stopped airing that I came to know about the IFC reality show Whisker Wars in whcih he is prominently featured.

In need of some light reading during my a recent flight west, I picked up Passion's slight tome entitled The Facial Hair Handbook as a means of wiling away an hour or two. While the book does indirectly walk us through he preparations necessary to "compete" at a high level, it does not place us directly in combat with Passion, something Spurlock's film does to moderately entertaining effect. Of course, this facet of Passion's competitive life is at the center of Whisker Wars, so maybe he felt it woudl be redundant.

Self-published by the author, The Facial Hair Handbook runs only 105 pages and offers some basics about simply growing facial hair as well as some finer tips for taking your "game" to the next level. Thus the book's subtitle "Every man's Guide to Growing and Grooming Great Facial Hair." What entertainment that is derived from reading is derived from Passion's anecdotes and witticisms about being a beard icon, as well as his "Laws of Facial Hair," the reason behind which are sprinkled throughout. In many ways, The Facial Hair Handbook is an excellent example of info-tainment, though the intended audience woudl appear to be somewhat limited.

In the introduction to the book, Beard Team USA Captain Phil Olsen presents Passion as the sport of bearding equivalent to Tiger Woods. Passion's bravado and confidence do little to dissuade the reader that he is "all that and a bag of chips." In fact, it would seem that it is Jack's "swagger," mentioned multiple times in reviews and blurbs, that ingratiates him to a world not quite ready to accept this new "sport" as legitimate.

While the grooming tips, product suggestion, and prompts to visit his website result in a quick and informative read, the book I really wanted to read was about Passion's travels across the country to bars for small-time contests, and around the planet bringing home the World Championship. This book, taken in concert with the segment from Manscape, hint at what could be an exciting tale I hope Passion elects to one day tell. Based on this book, all that has to happen is for enough buying customers to ask. Though Whisker Wars covers some of that desired ground, Passion is gleefully painted as the "villain" so much of his more extensive journey, I suspect, remains as yet untold.

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