The ’70s Bad Hair Blip

Last week I went to get my hair cut.  It’s been a hot summer in Columbus, and in my view hair of any appreciable length just adds to the heat, so I asked the Platinum Stylist to cut my hair extra short this time.  She did her usual terrific job, and when I walked out of the salon, I rubbed my hand over my scalp and realized my hair was probably as short as it has been since I was growing up in the ’60s.

shape_normalFor the first ten years or so of my life, I was a kid with a crew cut.  Dad used “home barbershop” clippers to give UJ and me buzz cuts in the basement of our house.  We went to school and played with our friends — all of whom also had buzz cuts — without thinking about our hair.  But as the ’60s moved forward, we became dimly aware that you were supposed to pay attention to your hair if you wanted to be cool, and those haircuts started to get a little bit longer.

The ’70s, though, were when the hair length really took off.  From a style standpoint, virtually everything about the ’70s, from haircuts to clothing styles to car designs, was an over-the-top disaster.  By the time I reached high school, I was one of the kids in the yearbook with the generic ’70s long hair look — grown down to the collar and then chopped off in the back, and grown down to eye level and parted to some fashion or another in front, requiring you to constantly fling the hair out of your eyes and out of your way.  Sure, your head looked like you were wearing a hairy bicycle helmet, and it was hot as blazes in summer, but that was the price you paid for fitting in.  And in college my hair got even longer.

But when the ’80s rolled around, and I started working as a professional, the hair trend reversed.  Over the last 30 or so years, my haircuts have gotten progressively shorter and more frequent, and I like it that way.  When I think of my haircuts as a kind of chart, it’s an extreme bell graph, with the ’70s being the height of the bad hair blip.  And when you look at a bell graph, it kind of looks like one of those bad ’70s haircuts, doesn’t it?

I’m glad I’m now on the other side of the bad hair blip.

Reelin’ From The Years

Walter Becker died yesterday, at age 67.  Becker, along with Donald Fagen, was one of the co-founders of Steely Dan, the ever-changing band that was a dominant musical force in the ’70s and unquestionably one of the greatest American rock bands of all time.

The clip above from the old rock TV show The Midnight Special — where the band is jarringly introduced by a mustachioed Bill Cosby — captures the group performing live in 1973, which is about the same time I first heard their music.  The song they performed live on that show, Reelin’ In The Years, is a guitar-driven classic that was one of the first Steely Dan songs that caused me to buy their albums.  It was perfect for those high school days, allowing the boys with the bad ’70s haircuts and monster bellbottoms and tight polyester shirts to play some air guitar when the song came on the radio in the car before belting out lyrics that didn’t really make a lot of sense but were great to sing, anyway.

Becker and Fagen were genuises at coming up with the riffs and the obscure, tantalizing lyrics that wormed their way into your head.  Like Neil Young in that same time period, they kept reinventing themselves.  When you bought a Steely Dan album, whether it was Katy Lied or Can’t Buy A Thrill or Aja, or any of the other great albums they put out in the ’70s, you never were quite sure what you were going to get — but you knew it would be interesting.  And you could spend hours debating what the hell the lyrics to songs like Black Cow or Bodhisattva or Deacon Blues were all about, too.  Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, I think of Steely Dan’s Black Friday, and as it plays back in miy mind it stills sounds as great as it did when I first heard it, back in college.

Farewell, Walter Becker, and thank you for adding a little bit of richness and mystery to our lives.  (And 67 seems like a pretty young age to go, by the way.)

Press-On Care

At last night’s game we got a free Edwin Encarnacion jersey.  It’s the traditional design, in a size large enough to comfortably fit most reasonably sized people, and looks pretty sharp.  The jersey features that “press-on” type lettering, however — which means I’ll be giving it kid glove treatment.

I first learned this important life lesson in 1973, when I used my Big Bear bag boy earnings to buy a cool orange Eric Clapton t-shirt with a press-on picture of the Guitar God on the front.  (I know . . . “cool” and “orange t-shirt” are rarely used in the same sent, but you must remember it was the ’70s.) I wore it, put it in the laundry basket for Mom to wash, and got back a fundamentally changed garment.  The shirt had shrunk about five sizes and the picture of Clapton had become a cracked, crumbling, unrecognizable mess.  Gah!  But, because I paid for it with my own money, I continued to use it as one of the t-shirts I wore under my jeans shirt — and avoided buying press-on t-shirts thereafter.

It may be that press-on technology has improved in the last 45 years, but I’m not taking any chances.  The EE jersey won’t be seeing the washer, ever.

The Greatest

Muhammad Ali died last night, after a long, twilight struggle with the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s Disease.  His death was a reminder of an era that ended long, long ago.

fistAli was my favorite boxer — hell, he was just about everyone’s favorite boxer — but of course his influence transcended mere sport.  Although he was the greatest fighter I ever saw, his words and conduct had a much more profound impact than he could ever make with his fists.  Ali was one of those crucial cultural figures of the ’60s and ’70s who moved the needle and shifted the context.  He did it when he rejected his “slave name,” spoke out against racism in America, adopted Islam, and changed his name to Muhammad Ali to proclaim his freedom from the old ways of the Jim Crow South.  He did it again when he refused to fight in Vietnam after being drafted, saying he had “no quarrel” with the Viet Cong.  His anti-war stance cost him the prime years of his boxing career, but his words captured, in that special Ali way, the growing American unease with the fighting and dying in southeast Asia.

And, of course, Ali changed the national zeitgeist through sheer force of personality.  He was the flamboyant black man who was unabashedly loud and proud, the sports star who wasn’t afraid to bluntly speak his mind on the issues of the day, the quick-thinking, silver-tongued marketing genius who mocked his opponents, traded gibes with Howard Cosell, and built his fights into worldwide phenomena, and the boxing great with the astonishingly quick hands, the dancing, tasseled feet, and the grit and determination to always fight to the end in some of the greatest matches ever staged.  For a time, he was the most famous man on the planet, and his style and entourage and antics changed the world of sports and celebrities forever.

All of this made an indelible impression on me and every other kid, regardless of race, color, or creed, who was growing up in the America of the 1960s and 1970s.  We all wanted to have the same brilliant flash and dash, the same glibness, as Muhammad Ali.  He was as magnetic and mesmerizing as any national figure I can remember — which made the shaky, diminished Ali of later years, ravaged by his disease, so difficult to see.  The days when the world would stop to focus on one man and one battle in a boxing ring are long past, but Muhammad Ali of that era will live on in memory, and in our cultural history.

The Arc Of Playboy

Playboy has announced that, beginning next March, it will no longer feature photographs of completely naked women.  Sure, there will still be a “Playmate of the Month” — whether there will be a centerfold is still up in the air — but the pictures will be of the PG-13 variety, with women in provocative poses.  It will be part of a redesign of the magazine, which will continue to feature interviews and articles and fiction and a sex columnist but will have more content about liquor and more visual art.

Playboy is struggling to remain relevant in today’s internet world, where photographs of naked women, and beyond, can be found with a few keystrokes.  First published in 1953, Playboy has long been credited for helping to usher in an America with a less puritanical attitude about sex — but its high point passed by decades ago.  Its best-selling issue, which sold more than 7 million copies, was published in November 1972.  Its circulation is down to about 800,000 now.  Other magazines that featured similar content no longer exist.

I haven’t seen a Playboy in years, but I remember the ’60s and ’70s, where Playboy was sold in drugstores from a little rack, separate from the rest of the magazines.  Sometimes the rack was behind the counter, but sometimes it was tantalizingly placed out in the store itself, potentially available to inspection by curious teenage boys who’d heard about it from other kids at school.  Would they have the nerve to pick up a copy and quickly riffle its pages, hoping to catch a peek at a bare breast and not be yelled at by the shopkeeper or humiliatingly seen by a Mom in the neighborhood?  Those days are long gone.

I’m not wistful about the arc of Playboy‘s rise and decline; I’ve often thought that Hugh Hefner is one of those people who has skillfully managed the media to obtain better press and more attention than his actual cultural significance merits.  But Playboy‘s decision to yield the field to the porn sites is an interesting development.  Playboy‘s website stopped displaying nude photos some time ago, and it reports that the average age of its website visitors declined — the teenage boy effect, perhaps? — and its web traffic increased.

Now they will try that experiment with the magazine, and we will finally learn the answer to an age-old question:  do people actually read Playboy for the articles?

Tastes Great, Less Filling, More Testosterone

I’ve been watching TV commercials for more than 50 years.  For my money, the greatest ad campaign in history was for Miller Lite in the 1970s.

The campaign’s task was daunting indeed — get men to drink diet beer.  Diet beer???  For the men of the ’70s, who were used to drinking Schlitz, and Stroh’s, and Budweiser, and other mass-produced beers of the day?  You have to convince beer drinkers to worry about how many calories were found in each bottle, when they’re used to downing a six-pack without batting an eye?  You’ve got to be kidding, right?

So they called it “lite” beer because they knew that calling it “diet” beer would be rejected as totally unmanly.  And, they came up with a memorable catch phrase — “great taste . . . less filling” — even though no beer drinker in the long history of suds ever gave a thought to a cold beer being too “filling.”  And to make the drink even more acceptable in the macho ’70s, they had retired athletes serve as the primary pitchmen for the new beer, in clever, funny commercials that often had the jocks ready to brawl to settle their shouted disagreement about whether “tastes great” or “less filling” better described the brew.  (To get a sense of the underlying testosterone in the commercials, take a look at this ’70s spot involving former NFL middle linebacker Dick Butkus, who was one of the most popular Miller Lite commercial stars in those early days.)

And somehow, it worked.  Miller Lite ushered in an era in which other brewers rushed to offer poorly conceived “light” beers — I once consumed an Iron City Light Beer, and barely lived to tell the tale — and what was at one time an American market that was dominated by a few boring pilsner products offered by large national brands started to diversify.  The trend continued, and now a trip to your local grocer is likely to present you with a dizzying choice of porters, stouts, Belgian ales, wheat beers, light beers, and even non-alcoholic brews, where once only Budweiser and Schlitz and one or two others were found.

I’m not saying that Miller Lite inevitably produced the craft beer explosion, but I do think the Miller Lite ad campaign created a crack in a closed market that soon was knocked wide open, and it did it with a clever name, a clever slogan, and funny commercials with ex-athletes — lots and lots of ex-athletes.  How many later ad campaigns for products for men followed that winning formula?

Final Thoughts On Same-Sex Marriage, And America

The Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling has America talking.  It’s one of those events that can’t help but cause people of all persuasions and perspectives to stop and reflect — not so much on the relative merit of the Supreme Court’s opinion as a matter of constitutional jurisprudence, but rather on the fascinating, shifting, never-set-in-stone course of public opinion in our country.

In many recent conversations with friends, people have shaken their heads in wonderment at the speed with which people in the country have accepted the concept of same-sex relationships and, ultimately, same-sex marriage.  It’s hard to think of any other issue, during my lifetime, where prevailing public opinion seems to have shifted more rapidly.  Millennials have had a lot to do with this change.  At a recent dinner party, one of our friends was relating a conversation she had with her Millennial son about sexual orientation, and he said:  “Mom, to us it’s like being left-handed.”  I thought that was a really interesting — and encouraging — perspective.

On another level, the issue of same-sex marriage shows that, in America, if you wait long enough and pay attention, you’ll notice that things often come full circle.

Those of us who lived through the ’60s and ’70s remember that the avant garde, liberal position in those days was that marriage was passe.  Some people advocated free love and “open relationships” and argued that true commitment couldn’t really be based on a mere piece of paper, others derided marriage as a quaint throwback to the outdated notions of prior generations that could only stifle personal expression, still others pointed to the increasing divorce statistics and argued that the realities of the modern world meant that old-fashioned marriage simply could not work in the fast-paced modern world.  Of course, those arguments didn’t stop most of us from getting married, anyway.

During the ’60s and ’70s who would have predicted that, decades later, the issue of the right to engage in a legal marriage, in all of its get a license from a public agency, say your vows in front of the world, traditional glory, would be at the very forefront of the social change agenda?

Overpromising And The K-Tel Effect

At the library last week I saw a CD with a title that promised so much I just had to check it out.  It’s called Inner Peace for Busy People, and the back cover says “Music Guaranteed to Relax and Renew Body, Mind and Soul!”

IMG_4685Well, that’s quite a guarantee, isn’t it?  Listen to a CD, achieve inner peace, and have your mind and soul renewed in about an hour!  Good thing, because as a busy person I don’t have more time to devote to achieving inner peace and a renewed mind and sould than that.

So, I put the CD on and gave it a listen this afternoon.  Candidly, I really don’t feel any different sitting here in front of the computer — but maybe when you’ve realized life-changing inner peace and had your soul renewed you just don’t notice it.

Anybody who grew up watching late-night TV in the ’70s — specifically, any commercial touting a compilation of songs by K-Tel Records — has necessarily been hardened to brash, over-the-top promises of auditory greatness.  When I was a kid I remember ordering a K-Tel compilation that claimed that it was The Greatest Collection Of Rock ‘N Roll Music Ever Assembled and being vaguely disappointed when it didn’t have some of my favorite songs on it.  Still, even K-Tel stopped short of guaranteeing inner peace.

The CD music was selected by Joan Borysenko, Ph.D, who wrote Inner Peace for Busy People, and Don Campbell, who wrote The Mozart Effect.  If you want to achieve inner peace on your own, just play the following selections in this order: The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan-Williams, Berceuse, Opus 116, by Gabriel Faure, Lute Concerto in D Major – Largo, by Antonio Vivaldi, Symphony No. 35 in C Major – Andante, by Mozart, Concerto Opus 9, No 6 in G Major for Two Oboes, Concerto Opus 7, No. 9 in F Major for Oboe, and Concerto Opus 7, No. 1 in D Major for Oboe, all by Tomaso Albinoni (who must have been pretty inwardly peaceful himself), Piano Concerto No. 1 – Romance/Larghetto, by Chopin, and Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor – Largo, by Beethoven.

Hey, what have you got to lose?

National Siblings Day

00019764UJ has posted something on Facebook about National Siblings Day. I was not aware that there was such a thing, but then it sounds like one of those lame, made-up days concocted solely to sell greetings cards or promote Facebook postings.

Not that your brothers and sisters shouldn’t be recognized. After all, you’ve shared all kinds of meaningful moments with them, and they put up with you during the teenage years — when everyone is at their worst. They deserve credit and accolades.

But if you’re going to do recognize your siblings, why not do it in the way most families do — by posting an embarrassing photo from the early 1970s, with a ludicrous white brick fireplace backdrop and chintzy hanging lamps, when everyone looks like an idiot and the clothing selections are sure to humiliate even the most hardened personality — whether it’s a pink tie, yellow knee socks, some kind of quasi-Germanic outfit, or combdown sideburns? Only my youngest sister Jean looks like a reasonable human being in this atrocity.

Bad Jeans

Today, like millions of other Americans, I’m wearing my jeans. Unfortunately for me, unlike the rest of the country, my jeans apparently suck.

IMG_5978Kish, Russell, and Richard are unanimous: my one pair of jeans should be thrown out immediately, if not doused in pitch, placed on a funeral pyre, and lit on fire in some kind of quasi-Viking ceremony that involves chanting. As they explain it, everything about the jeans is wrong. They’re too light and too blue. They’re embarrassingly frayed at the bottom of the legs. They’re too baggy. They’re very worn, and a few holes are visible here and there. When I wear them, Russell says I look like a deranged homeless guy. (Of course, I’m not sure you can blame the jeans for the “deranged” part.)

The concept of jeans has changed since I was a teenager. In those days, you had one pair of jeans that you wore until they basically fell apart and your Mom threw them away. Patches were cool. Fraying was cool. Holes that were created by your wearing the jeans (as opposed to fake, manufactured rips) were cool. The whole idea of jeans was about comfort, with a bit of counter-culture rebellion thrown in for good measure. I’m confident that, if my ’70s self saw my current jeans, they’d get the thumbs-up sign.

But, at some point between the ’70s and now, things changed. Jeans became a fashion item. People started to buy multiple pairs of jeans, and what was a multi-purpose article of clothing became specialized. People needed jeans in different colors, flares and straight legs, “destroyed” and non-destroyed, with different pocket designs. Pocket designs? I don’t know if my jeans even have one, because I’d never think of looking at a pocket as part of the jeans-buying decision-making process.

So, I’m reconciled to the fact that my jeans should be the source of humiliation. I don’t care. I’m not wearing them to make a fashion statement, I’m wearing them because they’re comfortable. I cling to the old ways. Oh, and one other thing — I’m cheap.

Direct From the ’60s, I Give You The Light Blue American Express World Travel Service Bag

When we cleaned out Mom’s condo to get it ready for sale, we removed a bunch of stuff that had been stored in cupboards and closets and ignored for years.  The paraphernalia was distributed among the five kids, to be examined later.

Among the boxes and bags that I received were two very old movie projectors, an old slide projector, slide carousels, a Super 8 hand camera, and lots of old movies from the ’70s.  They are found in two light blue, high-quality plastic American Express World Travel Service bags.

IMG_3727Richard and I are going to have to figure out how to work the projectors, but for now I want to focus on the American Express World Travel Service bags.  They are chock full of maps, passport cases, American Express travel tip booklets (one is entitled “Priceless Travel Secrets” in Laugh-In era typeface) and other items that harken back to a day when travel was a great adventure, something that you dressed up for and anticipated.  In those days, you went to an American Express travel agent to help plan your trip, and the agent gave you “free” stuff that made the impending journey even cooler — stuff like these little blue bags.  They reek of the ’60s and early ’70s, these little blue bags, like props you might see to set the time period on Mad Men.

The American Express bags belonged to my grandparents, who loved to travel and paid careful attention to every tip and suggested technique.  I can just imagine them holding this bag stuffed full of cameras, film, itineraries, and booklets as they boarded a Pan Am prop plane for the transAtlantic trip, both wearing hats and dressy attire, passports secure in their passport case in one suit coat pocket, American Express Traveler’s Checks carefully stored in their special holder in another pocket.

It was a different time then.

Argo . . . And Reality

Argo is an excellent movie about getting six Americans out of Iran after the U.S. embassy was taken in 1979 and the seemingly endless hostage drama began.

It’s one of those films that’s “based on true events.”  I’ve always wondered what that means, so after enjoying Argo I did some checking on how much it deviates from the actual events.  The BBC has a good comparison of reality versus the Hollywood version, and the answer is — Argo deviates quite a bit.  A good rule of thumb when watching the movie is that anything that seems especially dramatic is either invented or highly modified.

Still, Argo is a very enjoyable, high-tension ride.  As Iranians breach the gates and pour into the U.S. compound, six embassy employees escape.  They make it to the Canadian embassy, and then American government has to decide how to get them out.  Ben Affleck plays a CIA operative who is trained to extricate people from hostile territory, and he concocts the idea of having the six Americans play Canadians scouting for locations for a fake sci-fi movie called Argo.  The first part of the movie follows Affleck as he sets up a phony production company, buys a script, and sells the idea to his CIA bosses; the last half of the movie sees Affleck in Iran, rallying the six Americans and steering them to their hair-raising escape.

Affleck — who I’ve always viewed as something of a cinematic lightweight — is excellent as CIA agent Tony Mendez.  John Goodman and Alan Arkin bring humor to the Hollywood end of the film, and Bryan Cranston turns in a fine performance as a CIA official.  The actors playing the six Americans hoping to be freed are entirely believable as terrified people who feel that the noose is tightening but don’t know what they can do about it.  Those of us who lived through the Iranian hostage crisis will cringe at the scenes of the embassy being taken, the declarations of the hostage takers, and the mistreatment of the hostages themselves; more than 30 years later, I was surprised to learn that I still feel intense anger about the entire episode.  You’ll also shake your heads, I predict, at the classic ’70s hairstyles, bushy moustaches, and vintage clothing.  The ’70s were, indeed, an exceptionally ugly decade for fashion.

Go see Argo, if you haven’t seen it already.  It’s exciting Hollywood fare — but don’t forget that it’s Hollywood fare.

His Way Was “My Way”

NPR has been running a series on “Mom and Dad’s record collection,” where celebrities and average folks talk about a record their parents had that was associated with a particular memory or otherwise had a special meaning.

In the Webner household of my youth, Mom and Dad had an eclectic album collection — including some 78 rpm records — that featured classical pieces, swing, big beat, and the OSU marching band.  They didn’t often listen to music, but when they did, one song stood out ahead of the rest:  Frank Sinatra’s recording of My Way.

My father was by nature a quiet person, but give him a drink or two and My Way would be taken from its place of honor on the record rack and played like it was the national anthem.  If my Uncle Tony were in town, he and Dad were likely to stand up, spread their arms wide, and belt out the song with great gusto.  The lyrics, about a dying man who reflects on his life and the blows he’s taken but is proud that he did things his way, obviously spoke to something deep within them.  To others, the song might seem like a maudlin and over-the-top bit of self-congratulation by a stubborn egotist.

What was it about My Way that has such resonance for a car dealer and a stockbroker?  How many shopkeepers, pharmacists, accountants and other members of the corporate culture of the ’60s and ’70s similarly identified with the character in that song?

I think the attraction of the song was aspirational.  These were men who had their jobs and did their jobs, providing for their families and, in the process, undoubtedly making countless compromises.  They might go out for a drink after work, but for the most part they played their well-defined role in the world.  They identified with the rugged individualist in the song who insisted on doing what he pleased, even if their lives didn’t necessarily permit them to be that person.  When the song was played, it was a chance for them to let that tamped down inner individualist roar, in a way he never could in real life.

Asking For Outfit Guidance From The Fashion-Challenged

Every morning my lovely wife takes great care in assembling her outfit, thoughtfully matching her skirt or pants, blouse, sweater, shoes and a fashion accessory like a scarf or pearls.  And then she foolishly throws caution to the winds by asking me what I think of the final combination.

I always say that her choices look good — because, in fact, they always do.  The unfortunate reality, however, is that my opinion is without value because I have absolutely no fashion sense.  I can’t distinguish between subtle shades of black.  I don’t know when — if ever — it’s appropriate to wear plaid.  I have no clue which colors “go together” and which colors “clash.”  (“Clash” seems like pretty violent imagery for a clothing-related issue, incidentally.)  Indeed, I can’t even figure out how to hang up most of Kish’s clothes, what with all of the mysterious straps and outsized or undersized holes, much less express a meaningful view of whether they logically should be worn together.

I probably inherited my fashion obliviousness from my father.  During the ’70s he plunged into the outlandish clothing trends of the decade with reckless abandon, going all in for brightly colored Sansabelt slacks, loud checked jackets, white loafers with the gold buckles, leisure suits, and shirts with zippers.  It’s probably fortunate for me that, as a lawyer, I’m expected to wear basic gray or blue suits, white shirts, and some kind of drab tie.  I can manage that without embarrassing myself.

So this morning, Kish will ask how she looks, and I’ll say she looks great as she always does.  Lately, though, I’ve been noticing that after I express my heartfelt opinions she’s likely to go change her outfit, anyway.  Maybe she’s not relying on my sense of chic after all.

That ’70s Shirt

For some reason, I still have a shirt that I got when I was in high school.  I probably bought it around 1973.  It is a blue patterned shirt with a front pocket.  The basic label, the one placed under the collar at the back of the neck, has long since fallen off, so there is no way of telling who sewed and sold the shirt way back when.  We will never know if it was Sears, or J.C. Penney, or Lazarus, or The Union, or some other long forgotten retail or department store chain.

The '70s shirt

The only remaining label is a little tag that says the shirt is 50 percent cotton and 50 percent synthetic and is machine-washable.  No kidding!  The shirt probably has been washed thousands of times — so many times, in fact, that the pattern and color have been worn off the collar, leaving big blank spots.  Over the years, the shirt also has become gossamer thin in places, like around the elbows and at the shoulders, where you might stretch the shirt a bit putting it on.  Still, it obviously was well-sewn and well-made — the fact that it has survived for more than 30 years is a testament to its quality.

I’m not quite sure why I’ve kept it for so long.  It definitely was a favorite shirt in high school and college, worn with the collar open, a Clapton or Neil Young t-shirt underneath, and the sleeves rolled up.  It saw its share of classes and desktops, of campus bars and typewriters, of summer internships and newsrooms.  At some point — probably when we lived in the D.C. area — I stopped wearing it regularly, and it was placed in the back of the closet.  There it nested and remained, without being seen or worn much.  I don’t know when I last put it on, but I’m confident it has not been for decades.  After a while, the shirt became less an article of clothing and more of an object of tradition to be ritually carted from new home to new home and placed in a closet to keep watch over the other garments.

I’ve now had it for so long that it almost wouldn’t be my home if the shirt weren’t around.  In a weird but real way, it is comforting to have an item that I actually had and wore when I was a callow youth.  It makes me realize that, under the years and the grey hairs and the pounds, at least a part of that pimply kid still lurks.