La course des barbes / The running of the beards

I've tried to keep this blog pretty chronological for the most part, but I'm going to have to break tradition here for a minute. Reason being, because I just went to Pamplona for the San Fermin festival (also known as the Running of the Bulls), and boom shaboom, there were almost as many redbeards as there were red scarves. 

We arrived in the city around 10am, and the narrow streets were already packed. Everyone was merry as hell, walking around drinking kalimotxo, which is coca cola mixed with red wine. It sounds foul, but with enough ice it's actually quite wonderful. Especially because the first day of San Fermin was a brutal 100 degrees fahrenheit (38 celsius). The folks on balconies were pouring buckets of water on the people below, and it was a true shitshow. 

We roamed and drank all day long, the kind of partying that I was much better at 10 years ago. We'd go from walking through the streets to dancing in sticky, windowless bar caves. And everywhere we went, there were redbeards aplenty. Based on the situation I've described, you can imagine how I didn't want my iPhone out all the time, at risk of being destroyed. So not all the beards I encountered were photographed, but I have a select few for you to enjoy. The guy with the red tuft is one of my favorites, very unique.

La barbe de rêves

Sorry for the delay mes amis. While I was off eating mountains of tzatziki sauce in Greece, someone broke into our place and thieved my computer, therefore my entire photo stash of redbeards. Through email sleuthing, and scouring my iPhone, I think I've rounded up most of them, but ugh, rude as fuck. To make up for my absence, I'll come at you with a tremendously brilliant redbeard. 

I don't know his name, but I believe he's dating-ish my ladyfriend James. She texted this after they face-masked together, and I was beyond impressed. He has a rugged mountain man look about him. The type of man that would usually scoff at the idea of skin care. His tats are intriguing, his eyes are kind, and his beard a deep, passionate rouge. You go James, for finding this luscious creature. Never let him shave that beard.

Barbe rouge et vin rouge

And boom, we've finally reached the Paris times. This striking redbeard was found shortly after we made the move. So in SF, we were living in a furnished apartment. Which means we moved to Paris with basically nothing aside from our clothes, trinkets, pug, and a keyboard piano. When we arrived, we had to buy everything. And an unfurnished apartment in France is like, really empty. We had to buy a refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, faucets, light fixtures, all the normal stuff, like bed, couch, coffee table, EVERYTHING. When you don't speak the language, this is an especially difficult task. Also, you don't really know where to get anything, or where to start looking. You don't even know the word for what you're looking for sometimes. It was stressful. 

But on this particular day, we were on a canapé (couch) hunt. I'd been looking around for awhile, and knew what I was after. Ikea, Conforama, Maisons du Monde, and the other usual suspects had failed me, so I'd finally decided on a comfy, L-shaped gray couch from Bo Concept. It was Sunday, so the only Bo Concept open was near Chatelet. Getting my husband Max to pull the trigger on any expensive purchase is not easy, so by the time we'd picked the couch, bartered the price, and finally paid, I was jubilant. The couch ordeal wore us out, so we wandered around in search of a good bite and chill spot. We settled at a Thai place. Lucky for us, a fiery redbeard also decided to eat at that Thai place, and he sat at the table next to us. I didn't want to interrupt his meal, so I had Max snap a quick shot, right as the redbeard was being spoon-fed by his lady. Perfect timing.

La barbe touristique


While hunting for our Paris apartment last June, a redbeard was spotted. Not on a Frenchman, but what was very obviously, a tourist. He was staring at the Palais de Justice with a gaping maw (or perhaps just yawning), when I found him. I probably should've approached, it's very possible he spoke English, but I think I was in a hurry, off to the next apartment viewing. And the tourists here take pictures of absolutely everything, often with a selfie stick, so I have no shame in taking pictures of them. 

I was with my father-in-law at this particular moment, so I had to explain why I was photographing random tourists. Some people find it very odd that I collect photos of redbearded men, but I believe it's good to have a collection of something. It keeps you curious and seeking new experiences. I collect redbeards, and also crushed pennies. 

Où la barbe rouge grandit / Where the red beard grows


It was hard to leave San Francisco for many reasons, but one of those reasons is because the city is filled to the brim with crimson beards. Maybe it's the whole hipster/hippie vibe, so there are more beards in general, but I used to encounter at least a handful a day. Sometimes when I would spot one, I'd just let him go. Perhaps I was in a hurry, or he was, or it was clear it would be an awkward sitch if I were to ask for a photo. But some strangers had to be stopped, for their beards were just too good to pass up. This man was one of those types.

My buddy Matt League was in town, so I was already in a happier mood than usual. I believe Matt wishes he had a beard of rouge, but his beard is composed of many colors, red, gray, blonde, etc. Anyway, we were tromping through the Mission en route to a bar called The Sycamore, known for its bottomless mimosas and chill back patio. When we passed the redbeard, Matt and I made eye contact. He gave an eyebrow raise and a slow nod, which I read as, "Wooo, that was a good one." I knew I had to act quickly or the beard would escape, so I doubled back and asked the dude for a photo. He was a good sport, people in San Francisco are used to encounters much weirder than this. 

La première redbeard

I've always had a bit of a fascination with redheaded folk, but it wasn't until the past few years that I began to focus on the bearded variety. It happened in an instant. It was one of those euphoric moments, where everything is magic.

I was at Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma, California. Some friends and I had ventured north to swing by the brewery for a flight of beers, and then proceed on to a corn maze. There was live music, people dancing, and then I saw him. A redbeard so distinguished and prominent that I was forced to gape in wonder. I eyed him for a bit, pointed him out to my friends, then made some creepy attempts to take a photograph of his magnificence. 

The spotting of this man is what began my quest to capture ginger beards of the world. He set the standard. I wish so badly that I could go back in time and get a better picture, perhaps interview him a little, really just a get a sense of how he feels about his impressive bristles. Just looking at that thing, you can tell it's been loved. He definitely grooms it, maybe oils it even.

Anyway, seeing this guy was a total Baader-Meinhof situation for me (Baader-Meinhof = when a thing you just found out about suddenly seems to pop up everywhere). I started seeing redbeards constantly. And eventually, I began collecting them. Now I'm living in Paris, France, traveling often, and there are beards of rouge wherever I look. I must say, it's far more awkward to ask someone if I can take a photo of their beard in my broken French ("Je peux prendre une photo de votre barbe rousse?"), but I'm getting better.