Jasper, GA


I’m posting this picture of me and my friend Liz Hepner in 1987 to show the world that I have indeed been the wearer of a mullet, and thus don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to making fun of people with bad hair. In 1987, it was entirely possible to have any kind of hair you wanted, and the only reason I cut my bangs was to keep them out of my eyes. There were no “hair police” around to make me – or anyone else for that matter – feel like I’d just shoved myself into a particular socioeconomic strata, no “Sex in the City” or MTV Fashion Award shows to keep us au courant of today’s styles.

That said, my sojourn here in North Georgia has introduced me to some of the most unfortunate haircuts I have seen in my thirty-six years. Last night, Salem and I went to a local honky tonk called Club 53, where I promptly ordered a Southern Comfort and Coke, something I haven’t done since a night a Spanky’s about ten years ago.

The entire clientele was white, of course, but they were all grinding away on the dance floor while an overhead screen projected hip-hop videos. On cue, the screen lifted up to reveal the house band, and the haircuts therein had to be seen to be believed. I couldn’t get my camera in there, or else you would have been treated to mullets I can only describe as aggressive. The bass player had a crewcut – except for the hair in back went past his ass.

The patrons of Club 53 were an interesting bunch; the women looked great, not overtly cheesy, and seemed to take the fashion of metropolitan cities (or at least Atlanta) seriously. The men, however, like battery technology or cancer research, seemed to be glacial in their forward momentum. Pretty much every guy there would have been perfectly cast in a movie making fun of 1988. I didn’t just see mullets; there were wingbacks, razor-straight cuts over the ears, feathered parts down the middle, and Members Only Jacket-style ponytails. And for some weird reason, I thought I was surely going to get my ass kicked.

The band was playing the Greatest Hits of 1981 (“I Love Rock and Roll,” the Eagles, etc.) and had the dance floor throbbing. Salem told me to look around the room and said, “for every one of you – you know, a sensitive, educated liberal living in the City – there are ten of these people.” And he’s right. Everybody in that dance hall was going to vote Republican, even if Bush himself was discovered to be a child molester. I began to feel the serious pangs of living in a country I didn’t understand. These people don’t look like anyone I know. They’re talking about things I can’t fathom; they are drinking Budweiser and then slapping the ass of their dates on the dance floor.

Suddenly the music stopped, and the band launched into a song that I vaguely knew. It was the last Pink Floyd song to limp onto the charts, the afterthought to their careers. Immediately the dance floor cleared, as the band launched into the serious Math Rock of later Floyd. I mean, they might as well have played Rush. Those patrons who were still sober went back to their booths and stared at the band as if they were playing music from Neptune.

And then it hit me: I knew this band. They were into Dungeons and Dragons and had 20-sided dice in their pockets! They got together as teens and played “2112” and Aldo Nova and listened to the King Biscuit Flower Hour and everyone in junior high school thought they were TOTAL DORKS. Salem bought me another Southern Comfort and Coke, and we stayed another half-hour in this absurd place, because I had traveled so far away from my home to be confronted with the worst haircuts on earth behind a bagful of dry ice, but I was still able to find kinship in utter strangers.

0 thoughts on “müllèt

  1. Tanya

    Ian, Darling. I would have danced had they played Rush!! Glad to know you were south of the Mason Dixon line for a while. Feels good, doesn’t it??

  2. joan

    I happen to live in North Carolina’s poorest county–Swain County, in the western part of the state, in the Southern Appalachians. (It’s poor in large part because 85% of the land here is government owned, mostly Great Smoky Mtns National Park.) Anyway, here in Swain County, we have lots of honky tonk mountain folks and a sprinkling of raft guides and other transplants here for the rivers and the mountains. But most folks here look just like the folks in the bar.
    And guess what. This is a Democratic county. Harvey beat Jessee here way back when. So don’t assume a Republican by a haircut.

  3. cullen

    Just to play a redheaded devil’s advocate, let me affirm as a native western north carolinian from Swain’s neighboring Haywood County that despite some encouraging democratic leanings and progressive political progress in the region, there remains a noticeable lack of reform in good hairstyle conscience. Any trip to the local Wal-Mart will reveal the still-popular dozen or so “rat-tails” and other er, retro looks: semi-permanent frostings, still fresh football mohawks (increases helmet comfort), assorted levels of ‘poofiness’, etc…
    My personal favorite from a recent Christmas trip home (again, Wal-Mart) was a sub-standard mullet and moustache with an appropriately covered receding crown. I know we’re edging onto accessories now, but I know this guy was showing off his gifts from Santa; the head covering was a confederate flag bandana beneath a Dale Earnhardt faux leather baseball cap topped off with a live iguana clinging to his cascading tresses of hair. I’m pretty sure there was some Travis Tritt playing on the store PA.
    God Bless America!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.