I've not watched much of the traditional late night shows in my adulthood. In my youth, I was obsessed with what came on after I went to bed. One night in the mid-seventies when I was two or three I was sick, throwing up, and I got to stay up to watch Johnny Carson. During the Iranian hostage crisis, I was vaguely aware of this new show called Nightline. But, when I was eight or nine, and Letterman began on NBC, I was so angry I couldn't stay up. Thankfully my brother used to tape them for me, sometimes, and it just seemed so alive.
Of course, at that time, I didn't know that late night television was largely taped. It was on, and it seemed so vital and important.
And now, watching Conan O'Brien flail his way through a show without writers, it feels that way again. First off, he's got a beard. We'll come back to that in a minute. But, he's spinning a penny on national television to see if he can break a record of 41 seconds. It's silly. But, yet, it's 12:50 at night and I'm up watching it for some reason.
The reason I'm still up is David Letterman's beard. Yes, he had one as well, and looked positively maniacal. Of course, he has writers, but kept the beard in solidarity with the writers. I hadn't heard about that before.
Suddenly, I'm struck by how odd it is to see labor issues on television, and it's interesting, because it's very real. And, Conan's pulling it off in a very big way, and why not? He's a professional, and this is just another challenge. He's got talent, and it's interesting, or maybe I'm just interested because, well...
It's a beard.
I have had a beard for most of this decade, and it suits me, though it doesn't seem to have much acceptance. People don't understand the beard, which I can't understand myself. It's incredibly practical. It's warm during the cold months, and, well, I use a lot less water by not shaving every day.
So, I'm wondering what tomorrow's reviews will say about the beards, which I thought were fantastic to see. If the writer's strike goes on, we'll see these guys with beards for a while, and maybe others will take it up as well.
Just think, too: Two of Charlottesville's five City Councilors will have beards when they convene on Monday. And that includes the next Mayor. Correspondingly, 40 percent of the population should be required to grow a beard. We're a union town, right?